I haven't been online much for the last few days. In fact, I've been feeling pretty down, and haven't felt like doing much except sitting in my recliner and watching DVDs. Tonight's the first time I've been productive in several days.
The primary reason for this latest bout of depression is a betrayal by a former friend, someone who's wronged me – and continues to do so – but is getting away with it because I'm not in a position to put a stop to it. It's especially painful because I considered us to be very close for over fifteen years and always thought him to be a moral, ethical guy. (He certainly thought so!) But in the last couple of years that has changed, and several of his other friends (some of them are "former" now, too) and I are at a loss to explain what's happened to him.
Anyway. It's been a rough week or so. Stan Winston, the special effects wizard behind some of the most influential movies of my generation – The Terminator, Predator, Aliens, etc. – has passed away. Regular readers of this blog (and it still amazes me that there are any!) will know of my disdain for shoddy computer generated effects in fantasy films and my preference for well-executed, hand-crafted FX work – well, Winston was the master of practical (physical, on-set) effects. He and his studio always created the most believable creatures and effects, and his passing is a great loss for fantastic cinema.
Cyd Charrise has passed away as well. I'm not what you'd call a big fan of musicals, but my wife is. Therefore, I've watched a lot of them, and enjoy them well enough. But out of all of them, the female dancer I always liked best – for her beauty, charisma, grace and stunning, sexy long legs – was Cyd Charrise. Even before I knew who she was, I lusted after her as a nameless dancer in a green dress in Singin' In the Rain, and her co-starring role with Fred Astaire in Silk Stockings (a musical remake of Garbo's Ninotchka) is delightful. She was a unique beauty.
I traded in some old DVD's last week and picked up the first seasons of two 60's television classics – The Invaders, with Roy Thinnes, and I Spy, with Robert Culp and Bill Cosby. I've seen a fair number of I Spys before – they used to air it on Nick At Nite years ago, and I had a handful of episodes on VHS – but I'm still amazed at the quality of the scripts (especially those penned by Culp himself) and the authentic international locations. Producer Sheldon Leonard somehow worked out a way to shoot on locations from Hong Kong to Africa on a television budget, and that verisimilitude helped make I Spy the most realistic of the 60's spy shows. It's a fun show, too, thanks to the stars' easy camaraderie and witty banter. The whole series has just been re-released on DVD for only fifteen bucks a season!
It's great stuff.
As to The Invaders – I'd never actually seen an episode before. But when I was a kid, I had an Invaders Big Little Book and a TV tie-in Whitman hardcover novel written for kids (I also had the Voyage To The Bottom of the Sea and Star Trek ones; the Voyage one is awesome!), and both of those Invaders books scared the pee out of me. The idea that malevolent aliens were on Earth, virtually indistinguishable from you or me, and only one guy knew about them – well it was a bit much for my seven-year-old mind. And I really related with David Vincent – no one listened to me, either!
So now I finally get to watch the show... and it's really quite good. Smart scripts, fine acting by Thinnes and some of the era's best and most familiar character actors, and a palpable paranoia. You can see clearly where this series greatly influenced Chris Carter's X-Files, along with Kolchak the Night Stalker, so it's quite fitting that both Thinnes and Darren McGavin later had roles on the Files.
Finally, the first issue of Femme Noir: The Dark City Diaries was supposed to be in shops on the 25th, but it's been delayed at least a week due to an error at the printers. The mistake was caught before the book was actually printed, I believe, but correcting the problem caused a delay. Now I'm told that it should be on sale the first Wednesday in July. I'll let you know if that changes.
Keep your fingers crossed.