Tag Archives: Tom Servo

October 2014: Chiller Theater!

27 Oct

October 27, 2014

I LOVE the Chiller Theater convention. Twice each year in Parsippany New Jersey, hundreds of actors, artists, wrestlers, former child stars, musicians, and yes, even people involved in horror movies, come together and, when you factor in the huge dealer area, you get a convention that is always fun. I’ve been going for five conventions in a row, and despite Parsippany being a little inconvenient (would it be that hard to hold it in NYC?) it is worth the trip.

Before I go on, let’s check in on Greg “The Hammer” Valentine. In past years, though I am sure, absolutely positive, (I say that from a CYA legal perspective) that he was stone cold sober, he gave every appearance of being drunk. Was he? I have no evidence but, if he or his lawyer is reading this, I’m sure he hasn’t had a drink since dyed his hair black and tagged with the Honky Tonk Man as Rhythm and Blues. Though he looks perpetually drunk.

Hulk Hogan Fan Appreciation Day at Toyota Park - July 10, 2009

So how does he look this year? Pretty much the same.

Hulk Hogan Fan Appreciation Day at Toyota Park - July 10, 2009

The only difference is that I got up close to him, walked right by him, and his face, while looking exactly the same, looks ridiculously heavy, as if his flesh and skin weigh far more than normal flesh and skin and is about to slough off his face. Years of hard living will do that.

Brutus Beefcake was there and he just looked sticky.

But there were high points aplenty this year.

100_0602 blogI met Joel “MST3K” Hodgeson and took a picture with him and Tom Servo, one of the show’s wisecracking robots. Joel Hodgeson may be the nicest guy I ever met at this convention. When I spoke, he listened and made eye contact. He didn’t try to rush anyone despite the long line. He said nice, positive things, smiled all the time, and was so sweet and earnest that I am sure he was out in the parking lot handing out tracts after the show.

True story: As I was entering the room where he was signing, we bumped into each other as he came out of the bathroom. This is now my second celebrity bathroom story.

Saarah and I also had a professional photo taken with Henry THE FONZ! Winkler. For a fee, you can have a professional photo taken with a celeb, with pro lighting and a pro taking the picture. I know from personal experience that Henry Winkler is a very nice man, very generous with his time, and he has a reputation for being good to his fans, so this experience struck me as odd and out of character.

There were about 20 people in line to take a picture with Winkler. The line moved ridiculously fast. When we got near the front, the assistant told us that, as soon as the guy ahead of us was finished, we should jump in and get ready for the picture. I was told that’s how he liked to work. I barely had time to put down the bag I was holding and get next to him. He stuck his hand out, I shook it, and I got five words into “this is a pleasure to-“ when Henry said “HIYAGLADGREATAKATAKA” and the director said “hold it!” and the picture was taken and we were shooed out. Seriously, maybe he had dental work, but though he was smiling a big, sincere smile,  his teeth never parted and he spoke so fast I really have no idea what he said. And it is too bad, since I have a “seven degrees of separation” sort of legit connection to but never got a chance to tell him.

After that, there was the usual assortment of Godzilla actors, Debbie Gibson, and the cast of Good Times and although I couldn’t get close to him, Jimmy Walker seemed to be having a ball. (And yes, he was wearing that silly J.J. Evans hat.)

We were here on Sunday, only the second time I didn’t make it on a Saturday. My only disappointment was that they ran out of Chiller glasses the day before. Every year, the convention sells a commemorative glass with a horror personality on it. In the past they had the likes of Lon Chaney Sr. from London After Midnight and Bela Lugosi from White Zombie. This year’s glass had Edgar Allan Poe, which I feel isn’t that big a deal. It isn’t hard to find Poe stuff. But if anyone would like to like to sell me one so I can keep my collection intact, drop me a note in the comments below. But being here on Sunday had one advantage- much less crowded.

The guest list changes for every convention so, with the exception of some wrestlers, Zacherly (the Cool Ghoul) and some indy guys from some Sherriff Joe film (WHY? Not impressive.), the lineup for the April 2015 show will be nearly 100% different. It is a different convention every year. I’m already looking forward to the next one.

You can read columns about past shows 1, here, 2, here, 3, here and 4, here.



Late Night Movie House of Crap: Mr. B Natural

13 Jun

June 13, 2012

A couple of years back, in the pre-Late Night Movie House era, I posted Some Monday Afternoon Mystery Science Theater 3000 featuring one of the best and notorious shorts they ever riffed over, Mr. B Natural. (Funniest line? Joel mooning “Mr. B you’re hot!”) I’ll take the lazy high school term paper writer way out and copy from wikipedia. In case you didn’t know it, wikipedia is available in over 285 languages, so the next time some foreign power starts running down the American educational system, just tell them that fact. Then wait for their country’s test scores to drop too.

Mr. B Natural is an androgynous figure, a “hep pixie” who is meant to embody the “spirit of fun in music”. In this capacity, the character inspires children to take up band instruments. The name is a pun on the musical notation B♮ (B natural), as the character explains: “that’s what your feelings of music are, as natural as you can be.”

The character also acts as a kind of nascent brand mascot for C.G. Conn musical instruments, though Mr. B Natural made no appearances for the company beyond the one film.

Conn provided details about the film in the Spring 1957 issue of their magazine, The Baton, distributed to public school music teachers: “Mr. B Natural is the spirit of music in everyone…a sort of LepreCONN who is always no more than an inch away from the fingertips of anyone. Mr. B has a code however, that prohibits him from showing himself for anyone unless he reaches out and calls for the spirit of music. In full color, Mr. B Natural entertainingly answers the call of Buzz, a shy, reticent teen-ager and for twenty-six minutes and forty seconds explains how music and playing a musical instrument will help develop posture, breathing, self-confidence, coordination and in general a young person’s character. Mr. B gives both youthful and adult audiences ease to take instruction in the values of music. The Film is being made available by the Band Instrument Division of Conn through Conn dealers everywhere.”

In captions for the productions photos included in the three-page essay, the title character is consistently referred to as “he”, an indication that Conn intended Mr. B to be of the male gender. However, in an instance of reverse-gender casting similar to the casting of Mary Martin as Peter Pan, (“Mary Martin syndrome” as Kevin Murphy says when writing about his experiences with the short film), the role was cast with an actress, Betty Luster, who had been a television musical variety star only a few years before.

The action opens upon the musical stave in which Mr. B Natural lives. Mr. B addresses the audience directly, in an effort to appear welcoming, and explains what it means to be a spirit of music. Awaiting a person’s call for help, Mr. B evinces sympathy and concern for lonely junior high student Buzz Turner.

Buzz shows an interest in music like the more popular kids at school, but is so shy that he makes excuses to not attend a dance, even when a girl directly invites him. Dejected, Buzz returns home and puts on a record. This magically summons Mr. B into the adolescent boy’s bedroom, whereupon the pixie uses magic, music and dance to convince Buzz to take up playing the trumpet.

In visiting the music dealership, Buzz’s parents are reassured by the salesman that buying a trumpet is “simply making a small investment in your son’s lifetime personality.” When Buzz mentions that he didn’t care what make his new horn would be, he is upbraided by Mr. B Natural, and is treated to a detailed description of the C. G. Conn factory and laboratories.

Through the gift of music and the help of his mysterious friend, Buzz finds the confidence and assertiveness he needs to try out for the school band, impress girls, and play solo at concerts and school dances.

A “hep pixie”? Really?

Anyway, it doesn’t take much for me to post this short because it really needs to be seen to be believed, but unlike the first time I put this up I have the original, uncut, and unriffed version for you to enjoy, with footage cut out of the MST3K version.

But don’t worry, I’ll post the Satellite of Lover version right below.

And now…BEHOLD!

Here it is, the amazing classic Misite riff:

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