R.I.P. Terry Jones (1942 – 2020)

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Being of a certain age myself, I shouldn’t be surprised that my heroes in sport, the fine arts, science, and so on are passing on from this Life at a greater rate than other generations. But it is no less painful and surprising to hear of it, especially today as we mourn the passing of actor/comedian Brian Jones, one of the members of the English comedy group Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

Monty Python was/is everything to me, one of the two or three main influences on my creative life. No matter what fine art one pursued, my friends and I found inspiration and great joy in the absurd genius that was their TV show and movie projects, attempting to translate their effect into our own works. Like RUSH in music, or Paul Klee in painting, I wanted to make works that affected myself/others as much as MPFC affected me. And there was also the other great aspect of MPFC: how it spoke to the burgeoning intellectual in me at time(s) when I felt alone in my interests, having grown up in a small town that seeming went out of its way to value nothing more than heavy drinking, fighting, sports, and more heavy drinking.

Terry Jones was my favorite MPFC member, and his portrayals of angry old ladies in particular were always the highlight of any episode (including the picture of Jones above as the mother of “Brian”, a character who (against his will) is proclaimed a Messiah. Outside of MPFC Jones was a polymath of particular renown: writer, producer, children’s author, poet… the list goes on. And at the end of the day, he still remained the most important thing: extremely funny. His MPFC characters are to me the most memorable, and there are so many to list that it would almost seem strain credibility to imagine all of them could be consistently hilarious (trust me… they really were!). My life was and always will be made sooooo much better by throwing on a MPFC episode on DVD and dialing up an episode featuring a classic Jones character, and I certainly plan on doing that today.

R.I.P. Terry Jones and enjoy you newfound home in Heaven, because you have certainly earned it with all the decades of side-splitting laughter you have poured out onto the world. No doubt you are sitting on a cloud somewhere signing autographs and cracking jokes for your fellow angels… with “as much gold as you can eat”. 

Neil Peart (1952 – 2020)

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It is with complete heart rending misery that I report to you all that Neil Peart, drummer for the progressive rock trio RUSH, has died at age 67 of brain cancer. Millions of musicians around the world are in mourning right now, as Neil’s work was an inspiration and path forward in how to create art. His virtuosity and ability to compose brilliant drum beats made musicians from all genres of music fans of RUSH, even if they were not drummers themselves. Pretty much every RUSH album has some song, musical passage, or literary reference by Peart that has become part of the RUSH linga franca that musicians of all sorts “speak” to each other. In fact, Peart is so well regarded he has also become a cultural touchstone, being the go-to archetypal rock intellectual often referenced in comedy or literature. Peart, also the band’s main lyricist, wrote about subjects beyond the pale of the average rock band, introducing many to the work of Ayn Rand, sci fi concepts, fantasy writing, and other such things that made you want to run to the library to find out exactly what author, book, or word he was referring to. 

You never stopped learning if you were a RUSH fan. I remember being fascinated by the instrumental “YYZ” (from the album Moving Pictures) when it was first released, curious as to how Peart composed the song’s main rhythm. YYZ is the airport identification code for Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, and the song’s main rhythm is Peart’s repurposing of it from the airport’s VHF omnidirectional system’s Morse Code broadcast, set in the time signature of 10/8. These kinds of fascinating aspects of RUSH’s music appear so often that just focusing on the basic elements of RUSH’s music is a great education in composition, bass/guitar/drum skills, lyric writing, improvisation, harmony, melody, odd time signatures, and so on. For a young, aspiring intellectual growing up in the 80s, this was extremely exciting stuff, better than most anything one might hear on the radio (though I do indeed love New Wave pop as well). RUSH and Peart were an inspiration and guide, virtuosic and relatable: music that stoked a great fire in your heart and mind. 

RUSH, officially disbanding in 2018 due to age-related health issues, was one of those bands whose fans were extreme in their love. You were never just kind of a RUSH fan. Once you heard the song or album that brought you into their world, you were deeply passionate, obsessing over their work no matter what era of the band’s (multigenerational) discography you were living in. For me personally, 1980 – 1990 is the era that really captured my heart and mind, and most of my favorite songs of any kind are by RUSH from the studio and live albums released during that time. The studio album Signals is particularly significant for me, as the song “Subdivisions” really spoke to me about the “restless dreams of youth” and the more stultifying aspects of suburban life. 

RUSH and Neil Peart for me especially have been THE inspiration for my life as a musician. At every stage of my life RUSH was there. There is a RUSH album or two for every major phase of my life, and each bring back such majorly fond memories. These albums revealed new possibilities in music, even though I was not interested in exclusively playing rock as a career. Neil made me want to do something, anything, on the saxophone that made me feel as good as what Neil did with his drumming. From the classic beat of “Mystic Rhythms” to the opening attack of “Anthem” to the shifting 13/8 breakdown of “Jacob’s Ladder,” Peart’s drumming was like reading The Lord of The Rings… every second was an adventure (Peart’s lyrics even introduced me to the Lord of The Rings triology itself back in the 70s via the lyrics of the song “Rivendell”, from the Fly By Night album).

Losing him almost literally tears a piece of Life out of me, like removing a battery. You will see this written and spoken on the Internet all over the world from now on, how incredibly huge this loss is for RUSH, drummers, and music in general the world over. It is crushing, complete misery, and I can’t even imagine what a nightmare the other members of RUSH must be going through to lose such a great friend and musical soulmate. It is so strange to now live in a world without Prince, David Bowie, and Neil Peart, three of the great 20th century masters of rock music. So deeply miserable and depressingly strange…

Tonight millions of musicians around the world are in pain. “The Professor” has succumbed to that wicked usurper known as glioblastoma, a super-aggressive brain cancer that kills 95% of its victims within just over a year. The fact that he fought it for 3. 5 years before passing away is typical Peart: unable to do anything without some great degree of excellence.

Rest in Great Peace, Neil, and thank you SO MUCH for all the brilliant concerts. Thank you SO MUCH for Signals, Grace Under Pressure, Moving Pictures, Permanent Waves, Power Windows, Hold Your Fire, A Show of hands, and Presto. Thank you SO MUCH for “Ghost of A Chance”. Thank you SO MUCH for your brilliant use of snare rudiments in you drum beats and solos. Thank you SO MUCH for composing drum beats that supported the lyrical content emotionally as much as sonically. Thank you SO MUCH for making it OK to be smart and love hard rock! Thank you SO MUCH for introducing generations of young Canadian musicians to time signatures like 13/8 and 5/4. Thank you thank you thank you (and Geddy and Alex) SO VERY VERY MUCH for taking a couple of minutes out of your evening to talk to me at the Canadian Songwriter’s Hall of Fame gala!!! Thank you SO MUCH for the insanely powerful drumming in “Cygnus X-1”, “Anthem”, and “Bastille Day”!! Thank you SO MUCH for making Life so much better, so much more livable. You will be DEEPLY missed!!!

 

 

 

Happy New Year and Hug Your Monsters.

あけましておめでとうございます。

私は2020年があなたのために偉大な年であることを望みます!

 

As you all know, on January 1st I reveal a new Japanese word to summarize the overall theme of my upcoming annual activity. I have been doing this in the back of my mind for years, but only recently began blogging about it. December 31st is a reflective rather than celebratory day for me, as I had spent dozens of years performing on New Year’s Eve as a jazz musician and was tired of always having to recuperate on the first full day of the year rather than enjoy it refreshed and mentally organized, prepared to put a full year’s worth of strategies and effort into effect. This means spending the day thinking about who I was and where I was headed in Life: not making New Year’s “resolutions,” but rather choosing strategies towards goals with which I would hone and improve my life. So the last couple of days before New Year’s Eve have now become my time to choose and strategize around a Japanese word/theme for the coming year.

For example, in 2016 I chose the word kakan: to be bold or determined in thought and deed. Then in 2017 I chose henkō: change, or alteration, assessing what being bold in 2016 achieved, and how I could improve on the results. This of course means understanding failures, correcting mistakes and re-strategizing successful ventures to be even more successful. In 2018 then I chose the verb naru, “to become”. If we change ourselves we then become something else: something better, something worse, but at least there is a becoming. So I chose to analyze all the things I had become through the changes made in 2017 and 2018 to see what strengths and weaknesses were present in my career, health, financial dealings, etc. What I had become thus meant there were new things to change, and more importantly engaging in kaiketsu, “solving,” or “change from dissonance to consonance,” making 2019 a year of solving things rather than letting them remain unchanged and unchallenged.

This theme of being emboldened to go through various alterations and solutions on the path of becoming leads me to my theme for 2020 (and possibly an apt theme for the entirety of the new decade): hug your monsters (Jap: “hug the monsters”,モンスターを抱きしめて). It might be better expressed as hug your ‘strange creatures’ (Jap: 怪獣を抱きしめて), but I think ‘hug your monsters’ is a nice succinct phrase in English.

While having coffee recently with a friend, she shared with me a reoccurring dream she had when she was younger, ostensibly a “nightmare” with a unique twist. In it she was being chased by a monster of some sort until one night she ignored the option of either ‘fight or flight’ and instead stopped and hugged the monster instead. At that moment the monster revealed that it indeed had friendly intentions and was trying to deliver some piece of good advice, which was always cut off by her waking up a moment too soon. The monster, like the future version of Anne Henderson in the classic Twilight Zone episode “The Spur of The Moment,” is a bringer of help, though in appearance may not seem so. My friend’s rationale was since that neither fighting nor ‘flighting’ worked in the dreams, a hug might solve her dilemma. It was embracing the ‘monster’ that revealed its true intentions, not reactive stances against it. Open engagement not reactive stance not only solved the mystery as to why she was being chased, but also revealed that there was benefit to be had in that instance. That she never received the message seems now in hindsight much like an open, encouraging call to seek the message in Reality, that the dream is merely incitement to determined becoming.

Hug your monsters? What are your monsters? What aren’t? Which are which, and what are they saying to us? In all of our lives there would seem to be more than a few monsters to hug these days. We aren’t called to embrace monstrosity, but certainly can embrace the fact that monstrosities exist. To deny Reality is to limit oneself in a way that denies significant opportunities to heal and grow and become. There are certain monsters that one should fight and ones that should be run from. But how many have we found a way to hug, to embrace in order to receive wisdom from rather than a bite mark? Hug your monsters.

What monsters are there for the hugging? Are they political? Do you not like your local representative(s)? You can run from them (sit around and gossip about them while doing nothing to fix the system), or protest them (yell a lot), or maybe get educated and involved, join committees, volunteer at charities and schools, and maybe even run for office yourself. Nothing says, ”hug that monster” like volunteering and donating to ensure poor schoolchildren get free breakfasts and lunches. Nothing embraces and defangs evil like goodness. Nothing softens and wipes out depression like giving others the opportunity to be happy. As monsters are embraced so too are you, as they are your monsters, you are in essence hugging yourself. What haunts you is you. Your monsters are what are within you, no matter how external things may seem. If someone angers you, it is your anger that will be remedied by dealing with both the circumstances and the other person involved. My friend’s nightmares were exactly that, her nightmares, occurring within her dreamscape, fictions of her mind that represent real emotions: a neurological puppet show put on by her subconscious mind, based on the true story of real feelings from her life.

So let this year be the first of many wherein we get around to finally hugging our monsters, the things that we are scared of (have avoided) changing or becoming. Let this be the year that we stop ignoring the parts of the puppet show that make us uncomfortable, the parts we pretend are not essential to the story of our becoming. The monsters are there to help, if we understand how they can help. Let 2020 be a hugging year, rather than a punching or running year.

Hugging is more fun, and better for the soul.

BATMAN original series Quiz

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As it is December 31st, I thought I would wish you Happy New Year’s Eve with a (hopefully) fun little quiz based on the entire first season of the original Batman TV series (1966 – 1968). A live action comic book-based sitcom, Batman featured the crime fighting antics of Batman (Adam West) and his teenaged sidekick Robin (Burt Ward) as they worked to foil the evil schemes of such iconic villains as the Joker, the Riddler, Cat Woman, False Face, Mr. Freeze, Bookworm, and the Penguin.

Filmed in saturated color, with entertaining tongue-in-cheek humor by the narrator, Batman is still to this day great fun to watch and classic must see television for the sci-fi fan. If you have not watched any episodes of Batman, I highly suggest you find it on a streaming service or buy the complete series on DVD or Blu-ray. It is completely worth it. I will be adding to the list of questions every once in awhile, so come back and check this post out again sometime for more trivia culled straight from the actual episodes.

Here we go…

In the first season what is a unique feature of the two weekly episodes? The titles rhyme (due to a single plot being played out over two episodes). 

In which first season episode does the hilarious “Batman tries to get rid of a bomb” scene occur? None. it actually appears in the Batman cinematic feature film released between Season One and Season Two. What is Batman’s epic one-liner at the end of the sequence? “Somedays, you just can’t get rid of a bomb!”

In the very first episode (“Hi Diddle Riddle”) where does the very first crime of the series take place? In the Republic of “Moldavia”’s Pavilion at the World Fair in Gotham City. What is the crime? A traditional Moldavian ‘friendship cake’ explodes. Who is the first villain of the series, responsible for the cake explosion? The Riddler. What is the name of the discotheque Batman does the Batusi in? What-A-Way-To-Go-Go. When offered a side table at the discotheque what series classic comedic line does (fully costumed) Batman deliver to the waiter? “I’ll stand at the bar…I shouldn’t wish to attract attention”!

The Batmobile was a custom redesign of what real life concept car? The 1955 Ford Lincoln Futura. What is the Batmobile’s license plate number? 2F-3567. Where is the actual manor used to portray the exterior of Wayne Manor located? Pasadena, California (380 South San Rafael Avenue). 

In the corner of the closing credits of many episodes later on in the series there is an approval symbol. What organization is it from? The Catholic League of Decency (concerned primarily with Burt Ward’s costuming: so much so that the producers had him take special medication to keep his genitals from creating too much of a bulge beneath his tights).

In “Smack Dab In The Middle” what priceless treasure is the Riddler is trying to steal? A bejeweled Moldavian wooly mammoth stuffed with ancient postage stamps. The Batman TV series is famous for using onomatopoeia similar to ones used in comic books. What is the first one used on the show?”Krunch!” 

In “Fine Feathered Finks” Burgess Meredith appears as villain The Penguin. What iconic movie role would Meredith later play? Rocky Balboa’s trainer Mickey in Rocky. Meredith also appeared as the main character inn the episode “Time Enough At Last” on what other iconic 60s TV show? The Twilight Zone. What is a “Bat Turn”? When the Batmobile uses double drag parachutes to make a 180-degree turn at high speed.

In “The Penguin’s a Jinx” The Penguin mentions his hideaway, which occurs only once in all the series’ Penguin episodes. In what American state is it? Alaska.

In Episode 5 of the series, what iconic villain appears in the series for the first time? At the beginning of the episode whose music is Robin playing on the piano? Chopin. What actual opera is being performed when Batman and Robin are fighting The Joker at the opera house? Pagliacci. What legendary jazz musician expressed interest in playing the role of The Joker? Frank Sinatra. What phrase appears for the first time (in narrated form) in the closing moments of this episode? “Same bat-time, same bat channel!”

In “Batman is Riled,” what series go-to phrase does narrator William Dozier say for the first time in this episode? “What’s this?” The secret button that opens the Bat Cave is hidden in the bust of what iconic English writer? William Shakespeare.

In “Instant Freeze,” what is the name of the pro baseball team? The Gotham City Eagles. At what minimum temperature must Mr. Freeze’s body be kept at? 50 below zero. What amusing battle occurs at the Diamond Exchange? Batman and Robin must fight 5 impostor Batmans and 5 imposter Dr. Freezes simultaneously.

In “Rats Like Cheese,” what machine do doctors use to thaw Batman and Robin? A “Super Hypertherm De-icefier.” Which teams are playing at the charity baseball game? The Gotham City Eagles versus the Windy City Wildcats. What German phrase does Mr. Freeze use when Batman and Robin are beating up his henchmen in the climax of the episode? “Das ist schrecklich!” (that is horrible).

In “Zelda The Great,” what phrase is used for the first time in written form at the close of the episode? “Same bat-time, same bat channel!” What rare act does villain Zelda do in this episode? Break the fourth wall and speak to the viewership. How far away does a road sign state that Wayne Manor is from Gotham City itself? 14 miles.

In “A Death Worst Than Fate,” what doesn’t happen for the first time in the series? A large “Bat Fight” between Batman and Robin, the main villain, and/or any henchmen. What was the original title of this episode? “Zelda Takes The Rap.”

In “A Riddle A Day Keeps The Riddler Away,” what is the solution to the riddle “when is a person like a piece of wood?” When they are a “ruler.” Actor Reginald Denny (King Boris) was not only a British amateur boxing champion, he was also a pioneer in the invention of UAVs: unmanned aerial vehicles aka drones.

In “The Thirteenth Hat,” what is the Mad Hatter’s real name? Jervis Tetsch. When Batman and Robin are admiring a sculptured piece of marble, what dialogue mistake does Robin make? He pronounces the name of the sculptor Carnata “Carnato.” How does The Mad Hatter plan to kill Batman? By putting him through various machines designed to stretch, crop, and/or shred material for the purpose of hat making. Who does Hermione Monteagle (the old lady at the hat store) blame for the hat theft? “The Communists.”

*Note: It is interesting to see real world propaganda end up in a TV show like Batman, since America had left the McCarthy Era behind in the 1950s. But the top secret Venona Project revealed that Soviet infiltration and espionage was indeed taking place at a higher level than the public suspected. McCarthy, in his wrongful and illegal accusations of many Hollywood artists (many whose careers were destroyed), had in fact inadvertently called a threat greater than even he imagined.

In “Batman Stands Pat,” what is the name of the bowling alley owner? Turkey Bowinkle. What happens when The Mad Hatter and his henchmen try to drive off in the Batmobile? It remains immobile and fireworks shoot out of its exhaust pipes.

In “The Joker Goes To School,” what does the vending machine in the gym dispense? Silver dollars (instead of milk). What does the library’s candy machine dispense? Negotiable stocks and bonds. How tall is the Joker’s (as revealed by his mug shot)? 6’6”. When Batman and Robin are chained to electric chairs, what slot machine fruit combination will turn on the electricity? Three lemons.

In “He Meets His Match, The Grisly Ghoul,” how does the narrator describe the milk vending machine dispensing silver dollars? “Holy cow juice, it’s easy living!” What is the name of the Canadian perfume Joker gives Suzie? Un Nuit Sans Fin (“an endless night”). Why is it called ‘an endless night’? Because the perfume is poison (the ‘endless night’ is death). What play on words do the writers add to Batman’s dialogue at the bar? The name of the opposing team at the upcoming basketball game at Woodrow Wilson High School is “Disko Tech” (discotheque).

In “True or False-Face” and “Holy Rat Race,”actor Malachi Throne plays the titular villain, the shape-shifter False Face. Throne also had the distinction of appearing on the three most iconic sci-fi TV shows of all time. Name them: Lost In Space, The Outer Limits, and The Twilight Zone (all original programs from the 1960s). In the opening text, who is credited as playing the role of False Face? “?” (a joke playing on the fact that Throne wears a special mask when showing False Face’s “actual face”). What auditory joke is used during the episode? When False Face’s assistant Blaze jumps out of the window and falls onto a giant inflatable safety mat, the sound FX slide whistle makes a ‘rising’ sound. What is the name of False Face’s getaway vehicle? The Trick Truck.

In “The Purr-fect Crime,” while Robin is attempting to play a game of four level chess he utters the phrase, “Holy Reshevsky!” To whom is he referring? Samuel Reshevsky, a Polish accountant who later became one of the world’s top chess players. Though more than one actress played the role of Catwoman, who plays her in this episode? Fan favorite Julie Newmar. This is the first episode in which you get to see what (hint: Batmobile)? The view from inside the Batmobile as it is being driven. At the end of the episode the closing cliffhanger text is a reference to a phrase used earlier in the series. What is it? “Same Cat Time, Same Cat Channel!” (in reference to “same bat time…”).

In “The Penguin Goes Straight,” what business does the Penguin start? “The Penguin Protection Agency, Incorporated”, a private wealth security business. How does the Penguin attempt to kill Batman at the amusement park? By promising two policemen he will donate $1000 to charity if they shoot at two red balloons in front of a curtain in a shooting gallery (directly behind which stand Batman and Robin, both bound).

In “Not Yet He Ain’t,” what Bat vehicle is used for the first time? The Batcycle. What real world motorcycle was modified into the Batcycle for the show? A 1965 Harley Davidson (used only once). What other real world motorcycle was used as the basis for the redesigned Batcycle for the rest of the series? A Yamaha Catalina 250. The detachable, self-propelled sidecar from the Yamaha Batcycle was later sold at auction for how much? $30,000.

In “The Ring of Wax,” which villainess is Riddler’s accomplice? Moth. What rare book is Riddler seeking? Lost Treasure of The Incas. In the second part of this weekly plot (“Give ‘Em The Axe”), what is the first torture device Riddler shows Moth? “The Maiden’s Bath.” Actress Linda Scott (Moth) eventually retired from the television business and became successful doing what? Selling real estate.

In “The In Joke Trumps An Ace,” what is the episode’s first item the Joker is said to have stolen? A henchmen kidnap the (portly) Maharaja using a forklift. hole from a golf green. What odd activity do Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson do to enhance Grayson’s visual memory? Put together a jigsaw puzzle with the pieces upside down. When a misty yellow gas on the golf course incapacitates the Maharaja and his servants, what comic line does Batman deliver? “This could be an emergency!” What visual gag happens next? The Joker’s henchmen kidnap the (portly) Maharaja with a forklift.

In “Batman Sets The Pace,” which of the Batcave’s ring binders does Batman consult to discover what kind of gas Joker used? The Pattern Identification Manual. What type of mathematics does Batman use to locate Joker’s hideout? Trigonometry. What is the plot twist at the end of the episode? The Joke was in disguise masquerading as the Maharaja the entire time. Asian actress Bebe Louie (store clerk) appeared in what classic 80s sci-fi TV show? Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.

In “The Curse of Tut,” the “giant Sphinx” in the park is actually which Egyptian god? Apis. Batman mistakenly dates Queen Nefertiti and King Tut’s clothing to the 14th dynasty when in fact they are from which (later) dynasty? The 18th. It is implies that the youthful Queen Nefertiti is Tut’s wife when in real life she was his step-mother and mother of his wife Ankhesenamun (ergo, his mother-in-law as well!). When does Batman make this mistake again? When Bruce Wayne dates a sarcophagus to the 14th Dynasty, 1500 B.C, when it is actually the 18th Egyptian Dynasty. What food distasteful to King Tut does Nefertiti eat in the getaway truck? A hotdog. What comedic line does King Tut regally deliver in the getaway truck after kidnapping Bruce Wayne? “I must proclaim my reincarnation to the faithful… give me the telephone!”

What mistake appears at the beginning of “The Pharaoh’s in a Rut”? You can see a rope pulling Bruce Wayne’s gurney toward the cliff. What sporting event do Tut and his harem watch on TV? A demolition derby. What is “oda wabba samba”? According to Batman, a 14th Dynasty phrase meaning the “the hour of the hyena,” when ancient super-criminals usually strike. What time is oda wabba samba on a standard clock? 6 pm. For the first time in the series, who other than Batman drives the Batmobile? Alfred, as Robin doesn’t have a driver’s license! This episode is a series classic due to what? Batman’s particularly frenetic version of the ‘Batusi’. Actor Victor Buono (Tut) also appeared as a mutant in what classic sci-fi movie? Beneath The Planet of the Apes. Actress Ziva Rodann (Nefertiti) co-starred in which thematically related horror film? The Pharaoh’s Curse. She also once toured across America promoting what? Israeli wine.

Like the Joker telling jokes, or the Riddler using riddles, in “The Bookworm Turns” how does the Bookworm go about scheming and committing crimes? Using the plots of various books as clues and guides. He also uses which particularly suited weapon? An old book that releases sleeping gas, i.e. the kind of book that “puts you to sleep.” For the first time in the series, Batman uses what unusual “Bat” device? An unnamed driver sent in a light blue “Batmobile Parachute Pickup Service” van after a Bat-turn (!). In the first of many times in the series, a special guest pops out of a window as Batman and Robin are scaling a building. Who is the guest? Jerry Lewis.

In “While Gotham City Burns” what does Bookworm steal from Wayne Manor? A “priceless, first edition” cookbook. What Latin phrase is written on the inner page of the giant book Batman and Robin enter, and what does it mean? Ex Libris (“from the library of…”). Though actor Roddy McDowall plays Bookworm, he is best known though for playing a major character in what iconic sci-fi film series? The Planet of the Apes. He also voiced one of the robots in what lesser-known Disney produced sci-fi film? The Black Hole (nominated for Academy Awards in Cinematography and Visual Effects).

In “Death in Slow Motion,” what cultural event are the citizens of Gotham attending? A silent film festival. What is the answer to the riddle, “why is a musician’s bandstand like an oven?” Because that is where he makes his “bread” (money). How does the Riddler rob the bakery? By hitting the security guard in the face with a pie made of “sleeping cream.” How does he open the vault? With an exploding éclair. For the first time in the series what happens during the usual group fight with onomatopoeia? Batman and Robin are not involved, as it is between members of a temperance party under the influence of Riddler’s temper tonic.

In “The Riddler’s False Notion” what does Commissioner Gordon get to do for the first time in the series? Visit the Batcave. What color should Pauline’s chemical lie detector test turn if she is telling the truth? Red. What other series first occurs in this episode? Batman and Robin kiss someone (on Aunt Harriet’s check, simultaneously).

“Fine Finny Fiends” opens with a sunny overhead view of Gotham, when in fact it is a shot of what? Central Park in New York City. What is the “Penguin Box”? A brain-washing machine used by the Penguin on Alfred. What real world Yale student society is Bruce Wayne’s great grandfather said to have founded? Skull And Bones.

In “Batman Makes the Scenes” what is the name of the ship Batman and the millionaires gather on? The Gotham Neptune. What color is Batman’s utility belt?Yellow. When Batman hits a henchman with a box, what woman’s name appears as the onomatopoeia? “Pam!”

 

 

THE FLY original trilogy quiz

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One of the great joys of living in a digitally advanced age is having access to high quality copies of old media, in particular my favorite science fiction television shows and films from the mid twentieth century. In this case I am referring to The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Space: 1999, Lost In Space, and the original The Fly sci fi horror film trilogy. That is well over 300 episodes of television at least, a rich mix of story telling and action. So as I wanted to do something special this year, I thought it would be fun for all you fans of trivia games to have a giant list of questions you can break out at (nerd) parties and really test your friends’ knowledge of the series’.

Having memorized a lot of Monty Python’s Flying Circus dialogue when I was younger, I discovered the secret to developing a deep knowledge of a show was to begin by having a solid framework on which to hang more obscure details. That meant knowing something about each single episode in a way that helped me remember which was which, so I didn’t have to remember the episode numbers: using images, names and such as mnemonics. So here in the last days of the decade (goodbye 2010 – 2019!) let’s have some fun with the old shows, and I hope you enjoy all this. If you can watch and remember some small bit from every episode of The Twilight Zone for example then you are equipped to ace any sci-fi trivia contest anywhere. I will also be including trivia from FUTURAMA as a fun little bonus for all you super nerds out there who share my love of the show.

Continuing on with the series, here is a basic quiz focusing on The Fly (1958), The Return of The Fly (1959), and The Curse of The Fly (1965). Though they are cheaply produced B movies, each has its own charms and are the basis for a whole generation of sci-fi horror to follow: entertaining precursors to such great classics as Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979), and John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982). I use the 1982 Thing as an example (even though it is a remake of The Thing From Another World from 1951), due to the particular human mutation aspect of the Fly films: the grotesque transformational aspect evident in The Curse of The Fly especially. I will be adding to it in the coming days, but for now here is a good little starter quiz that will hopefully whet your appetite for more.

 

The plot of The Fly (1958) was adapted from a short story by George Langelaan published in what magazine? Playboy.

In what city is the film set? Montreal, Canada.

What is the name of the experimental scientist who invents the device that transports matter via molecular disintegration? André Delambre.

What is the name of the device? The disintegrator-integrator.

Who kills Delambre and how? His wife Hélène, using a hydraulic press.

Hélène Delambre is played by actress Patricia Owen, whose last professional appearance as an actress was in 1968 on what TV show? Lassie.

Delambre is played by actor Al Hedison, whose daughter Alexandra is married to what Oscar winning actress? Jodie Foster.

Delambre’s brother François is played by what famous actor? Vincent Price.

What mishap occurs when Delambre tries to send a Japanese ashtray through the machine? It comes out fine, save for the manufacturing label being printed out backwards. What does the label say? “Made In Japan.”

What is used as the first living test subject? A cat named Dandelo.

What mishap occurs during Dandelo’s transport? He is sent off into another dimension, heard meowing yet invisible. The concept of a scientific experiment that makes a cat invisible occurred 18 years earlier in what sci fi comedy? “The Invisible Woman” (1940). 

When Delambre’s own transport goes wrong, what mutation occurs? He and the fly switch heads and a left arm (though Delambre keeps his own mind).

The Return of the Fly (1959) was released as a double feature along with what other movie? The Alligator People.

This movie is the subject of a song by what famous punk band? The Misfits.

The Return of The Fly was noticeably different from The Fly in what way? Return… was shot in black and white rather than in color like the original.

Who was the only returning main cast member from the original? Vincent Price.

André Delambre’s son Philippe is played by actor Brett Halsey, who later appeared in an episode of what 80s sci-fi TV show? Buck Rogers in The 25th Century. Halsey’s first wife Renate Hoy won what contest? Miss Germany, 1952.

This movie opens with whose funeral? Hélène Delambre. According to the opening narration by François, what (in part) did she die of? A shocked and unsteady mind caused by dreadful memories.

What major continuity mistake does the movie commit soon after? François and Philippe (François’s nephew) visit André’s lab in the basement of the Delambre Brothers factory, though the lab was located in the basement of Delambre’s home in the original film.

What care do Philippe and Alan drive to the mansion? A 1958 Simca Aronde Océane. What car does Alan later sneak away from the mansion in? A 1959 Plymouth Belvedere (not a 1958 Plymouth Fury as some trivia games suggest).

At the mansion they meet a young woman named Cecile, who is Philippe’s wife, girlfriend, or friend? The movie doesn’t specify.

What is the first living thing Philippe transports in his new disintegrator-integrator? A guinea pig. What happens? The guinea pig comes out “giant” (the size of a small dog).

Philippe’s assistant Alan Hines turns out to be what? An industrial spy (named Ronald Holmes).

What happens to the combination police officer/rat Holmes “hides” in the machine? They switch hands and paws.

Though The Curse of The Fly (1965) is the third film of the trilogy, released in theaters, it did not get a home release until what year? 2007.

This film is significantly different from the first two in that it contains two very distinct features. What are these features? An opening scene showing a woman escaping from a mental institution in her underwear, and no scenes containing a single mutated human/fly.

What character is related to the Delambres? Martin Delambre, the great grandson of André. What two characters are conspicuously absent from the film and its backstory? François and Philippe Delambre. Martin Delambre is played by actor George Baker, whose appearance as Tiberius (in the 1976 TV drama I, Claudius) partially inspired what George R.R. Martin Game of Thrones character? Stannis Baratheon.

What continuity error is made in the film? A photo supposedly of André in his mutated form is actually a production still of Phillipe’s mutant form.

Actor Burt Kwuok, who plays a Chinese servant in this film, is best known for what film role? “Kato” in the Pink Panther series. Together with actress Yvette Rees, also playing a Chinese servant, Kwuok and Rees’ character names form what Asian country? Tai-wan.

What is the major plot twist surrounding the concept of “the human/fly” in this film? Instead of transforming into a human/fly, Delambre has inherited fly genes intermingled mixed with his own human genes, which cause him to age rapidly (within minutes) unless he injects himself with a special antidote.

What teaser appears at the end of the film? The sentence “Is this the end?”

 

Un-Believable!!

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I am always extremely humbled and honoured when anyone takes any interest in the art of graphic score composing, which is a mostly avant-garde and, some might say, arcane art form (read: of value to almost no one outside of a few creatives around the world). I never planned to be a graphic score composer, a person who invented their form of musical notation with its own system of rules. But one thing led to another and years later here I am again, shocked and amazed at the news that an innovative London educational initiative supported by the Royal College of Music and Royal Albert Hall has mentioned my work in one of their educational resources!!

“CONVO”, a compositional workshop/rehearsal resource pack published through the Tri-borough Music Hub includes a section on music notation and lists my work “CHOLLOBHAT” as a “great example” of a graphic score. I am not one of those people who ever thought anything I did would garner attention like that. As a saxophonist you play in public, sure, which is getting paid for getting people to come to a place and pay attention to you. As an ethnomusicologist you get people to pay attention to the facts contained in your research in classes, articles, and speeches. But “attention attention”, as in recognition for what others see as notable qualities in the work in itself? And residents of London are being taught this as part of their musical education, with support from the Royal College of Music? Unbelievable! I am just a small town Canadian prairie kid, who grew up in the middle of nowhere in freezing cold winters.

Let this be the takeaway lesson: ALWAYS be yourself… you NEVER know when what it is you believe in will help others be themselves and stand behind what they believe in. And it is NEVER too late to start…

LOST IN SPACE: Original Series Quiz.

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As I mentioned in the first post of my Twilight Zone Quiz, one of the great joys of living in a digitally advanced age is having access to high quality copies of old media, in particular my favorite science fiction television shows from the 1960s: The Twilight ZoneThe Outer Limits, Star Trek, and Lost In Space. That is over 300 episodes of good old fashioned TV! Since I wanted to do something special this year, I thought it would be fun for all you fans of trivia games to have a giant list of questions you can break out at (nerd) parties and really test your friends’ knowledge of the three series’.

Having memorized a lot of Monty Python’s Flying Circus dialogue when I was younger, I discovered the secret to developing a deep knowledge of a show was to begin by having a solid framework on which to hang more obscure details. That meant knowing something about each single episode in a way that helped me remember which was which, so I didn’t have to remember the episode numbers: using images, names and such as mnemonics. So continuing on from my Twilight Zone trivia posts let’s have some fun with the old shows, and I hope you enjoy all this. If you can watch and remember some small bit from every episode of a series then you are equipped to ace any sci-fi trivia contest that goes anywhere near the 1960s. And as Professor Farnsworth always says, “Good news, everyone!” I will also be including FUTURAMA, Space:1999 and (the original) Battlestar Galactica trivia as a bonus for all you super nerds out there who share my love of these shows.

This time we will be going through all three seasons of the campy sci-fi adventure show Lost In Space (1966 – 1968). Though it started as an adventure show, its fantastical plots and exaggerated characters (such as the evil, humorously ineffective Dr. Smith) soon turned it into a camp/fantasy show, similar to Bat Man, which was on the air during the same period. One such example of this is “The Great Vegetable Rebellion” wherein Dr. Smith is turned into a poetic, tree hugging celery-being by Tybo, a half man/half carrot.

  • What is the name of the ship? The Jupiter 2.

2. What organization oversees its journey? Alpha Control. What is its mission? To colonize the planet Alpha Centauri.

3. What year does the Jupiter 2 launch? 1997. Who are its occupants? The Robinson family: Professor John, his wife Maureen, daughters Judy and Penny, and young son Will, a pilot (Major Don West), the endlessly scheming and incompetent Dr. Zachary Smith, and an assistant robot.

4. Why are the Robinson family actually lost in space? Dr. Smith (working as a saboteur for an unnamed foreign power), programs the mission’s robot assistant to destroy the ship after it has launched. Why is he also lost in space? He is accidentally trapped onboard the Jupiter 2 when it launches.

5. What phrase do the majority of the series’ episodes begin with?” Last week… as you’ll recall…” Narrator Dick Tufeld was also known for what role on the show? The voice of the Robot. What is Dr. Smith’s catch phrase throughout the series? “Pain…the pain!” What is Smith’s recurring excuse for getting out of any and all work? His back is always “feeling delicate.”

5.5 What is the end goal of Dr. Smith’s ongoing (and inevitably poorly thought out) nefarious schemes throughout the series? To return to Earth. Smith constantly insults the The Robot using what literary technique? Alliteration (the repetition of initial letter sounds in neighboring words, e.g. mechanical monster, traitorous tintabulation, etc.). 

6. What is the official yet hardly used name of the robot’? B9 (“benign”). What is B9’s unofficial catchphrase (though he only uses it once during the series)? “Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!” Bob May, the actor who wore the Robot suit, appeared in an episode of the television series The Time Tunnel as what real life dictator? Adolph Hitler.

6.5 What is the name of Penny Robinson’s pet alien? Debbie the Bloop. What real life animal was used for the character? A chimpanzee wearing a special headpiece and diaper, both made of fur.

7. What award was the first episode nominated for? An Emmy (for special effects).

8. What legendary sci fi film composer wrote the theme song and music for several episodes? John Williams (Star Wars), credited as “Johnny Williams”.

9. In “The Oasis”, how does Dr. Smith use the last of the water supplies he steals from the Robinsons? He takes a leisurely shower (assisted by The Robot holding a hose).

10. In “The Sky Is Falling” what toy do the alien child and Will Robinson play with? A ball that flies and returns like a boomerang. Guest actor Don Matheson (Letho) also appeared in the episode “Revolt of The Androids” as what character? IDAK Alpha 12.

11. In “Wish Upon A Star” what is the final “item” Dr. Smith conjures before the alien takes away his wish-granting machine? A butler.

12. In Episode 12 (“The Raft”) what planet does Dr. Smith think he and Will have crash landed on? Earth. Where have they actually landed? Priplanis, the planet from which they left.

13. What “alien monster” is Dr. Smith afraid of in Episode 13? A small dog.

14. In “Attack of the Monster Plants” what monster steals the Robinson’s fuel? A plant controlled clone of Judy.

15. In “Return From Outer Space” what planet is Will transported to? Earth. In what U.S. state does Will land? Vermont.

16. What other TV show did Dr. Smith (Jonathan Harris) and The Keeper (Michael Rennie) appear in together, other than in the Lost In Space episodes “The Keeper” (Part 1 and 2)? The Third Man.

17. In “The Keeper: Part 2” what “monster” is left behind by The Keeper as a punishment for the Robinson family? Dr. Smith.

18. “The Sky Pirate” guest actor (Albert Salmi) also appeared in episodes of what other 60’s sci-fi themed anthology show? The Twilight Zone. What tragic real life crime did Salmi commit? Murder-suicide (his wife).

19. In “Ghost In Space” how does Dr. Smith try to contact his Uncle Thaddeus? With a ouija board. Trivia: the ouija board started out as a 19th century ideo-motorological parlour game until it was adopted as a spiritual tool by occultists.

20. In “War of The Robots” what famous cinematic robot appears as an unnamed alien nemesis for B9? Robbie The Robot. What movie is Robbie most well known for known for? The Forbidden Planet. What real world connection do B9 and Robbie have? They were both designed by art director Robert Kinoshita. What emotion does this alien robot create in B9? Jealousy, as Robbie is technologically superior to him. Which character does not appear in the episode? Penny, as actress Angela Cartwright was elsewhere filming parts of the next episode (“the Magic Mirror”).

21. Which character does not appear in “The Magic Mirror”? Will (Billy Mumy), as he was back on the main set with the rest of the cast filming scenes for the previous episode “War of The Robots”. Which classic Twilight Zone episode made Billy Mumy a sci fi icon? “It’s A Good Life,” wherein he played a malevolent six year old who terrorizes a small Ohio town with his supernatural powers. What other 60s TV series’ did guest actor Michael J. Pollard (the boy Penny meets in the mirror) appear in? Star Trek and The Andy Griffith Show.

22. Which soon-to-be-famous actor plays the young boy (Quano) in “The Challenge”? Kurt Russell. Michael Ansara, the actor that played Quano’s father (“The Ruler”), also appeared in what other sci fi series? As “Killer” Kane in Buck Rogers in The 21st Century, and the Klingon Commander Kang in Star Trek (one of the first three Klingons to appear on Star Trek, along with John Calicos, who also played the traitor Baltar on the original Battlestar Galactica series). What is actor Jonathan Harris’s connection to John Colicos and Battlestar Galactica? He voiced Baltar’s robot subordinate Lucifer. At the end of the episode what does The Robot express personal disgust for? Dr. Smith’s abstract painting (which Smith refers to as his masterpiece).

23. “The Space Trader” guest actor Torin Thatcher appeared in a 1937 staging of Hamlet with which actor (playing the role for the first time)? Lawrence Olivier. Thatcher also appeared as Marplon in which Star Trek episode? “Return of the Archons.”

24. What is the name of the planet in “His Majesty Smith”? Andronica. What object does Will find that Dr. Smith convinces him to relinquish? A crown. How do the Robinsons come to suspect something is wrong with Smith? He (his clone) starts working hard, behaving kindly, and asking the Robinsons to affectionately call him “Daddy Zach”. Thousands of viewers called CBS the evening that this episode was postponed due to what major event? Live coverage of an actual spaceship (the Gemini VIII splashdown).

25. In “The Space Croppers” what creature attacks Penny, Will, and Dr. Smith? A werewolf. What makes Judy jealous? The farmer’s daughter (Effra) flirts with Don.

26. In “All That Glitters” what does Dr. Smith accidentally turn Penny into? A platinum statue.

27. In “The Lost Civilization” what leads Don, John, and Will to the cave where they find the underground city? They are looking for potable water. Child actress Kym Karath (the princess) is most well known for her appearance as the youngest child (hint: “Gretl”) of a certain family in what iconic movie? The Sound of Music. What other Lost In Space actress also appeared in The Sound of Music? Angela Cartwright (Penny), as Brigitta.

28. In “A Change of Space” what happens to Dr. Smith at the beginning of the episode? He falls into a pit of cosmic dust. What effects does the six dimension traveling space ship have on Will and Dr. Smith? It makes Will a genius and Smith a frail old man.

29. In “Follow The Leader” the alien spirit gives John Robinson the technical knowledge to do what? Repair the Jupiter 2. What similarity does this episode have with the movie Return of The Jedi? The ending involves a father refusing to kill his son while under the influence of a dark force. Trivia: though the next episode is the first color episode, the epilogue of “Follow The Leader” is actually the first moment Lost In Space is seen in color. What color are The Robot’s claws? Red.

30. “Blast Off Into Space”, the first episode of season 2, is known for what distinction? It is the first full episode in color. What colors are John and Maureen’s uniforms? Green and yellow. What colors are the Robinson children’s uniforms? Yellow and scarlet. What is the name of the monument Dr. Smith erects in his own honor? “Spirit of Space” (to celebrate his “contributions” to space exploration!). Why does the statue come alive? Will and Smith accidentally spill cosmonium on it (a rare substance that contains the quintessence of Life).

31. In “Wild Adventure” Dr. Smith is lured outside the ship by a strange alien woman named Lorelei. When Lorelei first appears, how does she communicate? By sighing and singing. Later on in the series she returns in what episode? “The Girl From The Green Dimension.” What is her name in that episode? Athena. Actress Vitina Graham (Lorelei/Athena) retired from acting in 1986 and became successful in what business? Real estate.

32. At the beginning of “The Ghost Planet” Dr. Smith thinks the ship is burning up. What is actually happening? The ship is emitting “St. Elmo’s Fire” (luminous plasma). Why is this an actual real-world science mistake? St. Elmo’s Fire is emitted from pointy objects, yet the ship is rounded. What is the name of the robot that greets and attacks B9? Officer 0-9 (oh-nine). What does 0-9 offer Dr. Smith a great treasure in exchange for? The Robinson family’s weapons. What is Smith then forced to do? Work on an assembly line.

33. What is the name of the reclusive humanoid in “Forbidden World”? Tiabo. How does Dr. Smith turn himself into a living bomb? He drinks what he thinks is a “marvelous beverage” which turns out to be explosive. Actor Willy Cox (Tiabo) plays which three characters in the episode? Tiabo, General Andos, and an unnamed army officer. What is the secret Tiabo is hiding? What happens after Dr. Smith casually mentions the highest tribute one human can pay to another is sacrifice their own personal safety? B9 decides to blow Smith up by attaching a cable to his belt and running a charge through it via an old-fashioned plunger detonator. How does B9 decide to test the effectiveness of the antidotal pills Smith takes at the last moment? He presses the detonator. Willy Cox was close friends with which super-iconic actor? Marlon Brando.

34. In “Space Circus” (as he does in all episodes) what happens when Dr. Smith is confronted with sudden danger? He shrieks. As a part of Dr. Marvello’s amazing space circus, what does Nubu The Magnificent juggle? Cosmic forces. What trick does he perform for the Robinsons? Makes his own head disappear. For the first time in the series The Robot and Smith do what? Sing (B9) and sing/dance (Smith). What song do they perform? “Tip-Toe Through The Tulips.” Actor James Westerfield (Dr. Marvello) was once room-mates with fellow actor George Reeves, who himself was famous for what iconic role? Superman (the 1950s TV version). Actress Melinda O. Fee (Fenestra The Queen of Mystery) is most well known for her role as Mrs. Webber in what famous horror movie? Nightmare on Elm Street 2.

35. Like the first couple of episodes of the series, “The Prisoners of Space” uses what? Previously filmed footage from the pilot or Season One. What organization is investigating the Robinson’s for various crimes? The Galactic Tribunal of Justice. What crime is Major West accused of? Leaving a “contaminated” wrench floating in space.

36. In “The Android Machine” Dr. Smith accidentally (and unknowingly) orders an android named Verda from what? A giant vending machine owned by The Intergalactic Department Store. How much does she cost? 100 “thalastros.” What happens when Dr. Smith continues to tamper with the vending machine? He ends being stuck in a muskateer costume he can’t remove. Verda teaches Will and Penny about the first creature to explore outer space. What was his name? Formale (“for-mall”). Actress Dee Hartford (Verda) and actor Fritz Feld (Mr. Zumdish) share what connection to the Marx Brothers? Hartford is the former sister-in-law of Groucho Marx, and Feld appeared in the 1939 Marx film At The Circus. Hartford also appeared in the Twilight Zone episode “The Bewitchin’ Pool,” which is known for being what? The last episode of the series.

37. In “The Deadly Games of Gamma 6” what are the gladiatorial Gamma “Games” actually meant to be? A way to covertly test the strength of a shadowy alien leader’s enemies. What makes Smith think he is almost guaranteed a victory in the games? He is to fight a little person (Geoo). What is Smith’s fighting name? “Tiger Smith.” What does Smith discover to his great chagrin? Geoo can turn invisible. What will happen should Dr. Smith lose? Earth will be invaded by aliens. Actor Mike Kellin (Myko) appeared in the Twilight Zone episode “The Thirty Fathom Grave” as which character? A Navy sailor driven insane by survivor’s guilt. Actor Peter Brocco (the alien leader) was not able to work as an actor for a period of time due what? Being blacklisted (considered a possible Communist sympathizer/agent) in Hollywood during the McCarthy era). Brocco is also one of a very few villain actors with what distinction? Being killed off in two different episodes of the 50s television version of Superman.

38. In “The Thief From Outer Space” what three tasks must Will endlessly repeat to keep the alien furnace running? Pedal a stationary bike, work a giant set of bellows, and spin a large wheel. What mistake does actor Billy Mumy (Will) make during the initial furnace scene? At one point he pedals the bike backwards. What title does the thief dub Will? Assistant thief. How does the thief threaten Dr. Smith during his interrogation? Death via a giant razor-sharp pendulum. The thief’s personal slave is played by 6’9” actor Ted Cassidy, who became famous for what iconic character in what other 60s television series’? Lurch in The Addams Family. Cassidy also did some narration for what 70s sci fi show? Battlestar Galactica (Cassidy voiced the Imperious Leader for some (deleted) scenes in the pilot before Patrick Mcnee was hired for the series). What connection do Malachi Throne (the thief) and Ted Cassidy have in common? They both appeared in episodes of Star Trek. Throne appeared on the 60s television version of Batman as what villain? Falseface.

39. In “Curse of Cousin Smith” what is Will almost injured by at the beginning of the episode? A falling suitcase. Why is Dr. Smith terrified to see the visitor? The visitor is his cousin, who is secretly hell-bent on killing him. Why? In order to inherit a fortune from Smith’s late aunt. How does Cousin Smith first try and kill Dr. Smith? With an explosive pie. How are Cousin Smith and Dr. Smith almost killed at the end of the episode? By a malevolent mobile slot machine. What is Dr. Smith’s favorite food? “Space” ragout with mushrooms.

40. In “West of Mars” what is unique about Zeno, the interstellar gunslinger? He is Dr. Smith’s mirror double. Actor Allen Melvin (Space Enforcer Claudius) played multiple characters on many television series during the 60s. On Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. he played which reoccurring character? Sgt. Hacker, the camp mess sergeant who tries (and completely fails) to teach Gomer the basics of preparing a meal. What legendary 1950s pin-up girl is interred in the grave beside Melvin’s? Bettie Page.

 

 

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