Friday, February 24, 2006

Camera Obscura - Decades Defining The Bad Guy

The focus today is on the sadly obscure career of an actor whose work spans movies and television from the 1940s to 2006 and likely will continue for many years - at least I'm sure he will keep working as long as he is alive, but in addition to the acting he's also a winner of the Purple Heart, and perhaps is best known for being bad guys in biker movies, westerns, courtrooms, horror and action films, comedies, and claims to be a direct descendant of Daniel Boone and Kit Carson. And he's still at it, and is apparently working on a book to tell his life story.

As I was growing up, it seemed he was in almost every TV show playing some bad guy and when he appeared as Conan the Barbarian's dad in the 1982 movie (that's where the screen capture above originates) it seemed a natural. I recently read an interview where he says he mostly ad-libbed his dialog with the young Conan:

Bill: I wrote the whole speech. They hadn't written one. Every now and then [director John] Milius would come to me and say, "I want something about fire and wind and steel." The line he liked best was "For no one, no one in this world can you trust. Not men, not women, not beasts. This you can trust." [points to sword] He loved that line.

Q: Didn't the review in Time magazine say something like the movie started going bad when you stopped talking?

Bill: Something like that maybe. [a little smile]"

Some quick highlights might jog your memory - he played in the final episode of the 1960s "Batman" TV show as a character named Adonis; he was also the last actor to play The Marlboro Man in the last Marlboro television ad; he was the villainous Falconetti in the first TV-miniseries "Rich Man, Poor Man"; and he was in a bare-knuckle fighter who fought with Clint Eastwood in "Any Which Way You Can", a brawl the demolished half the town.

He began at the age of eight in small roles, in "Ghost of Frankenstein" and a small part in the musical "Meet Me In St. Louis." He found fame after some television roles in "Perry Mason" and many TV westerns as a young man and then hit the silver screen again in the biker movie classics "Run Angel Run" and "Angels Die Hard".

I happened to see an old movie the other night in which he was the son of a vampire who had turned vampire hunter called "Grave of the Vampire", which set my memory of William Smith in motion. And a little min-bio at IMDb had more details about this highly educated actor who has appeared in about 300 plus movies. Outside of acting, he earned a Purple Heart in the Korean War, held a Guiness World Record for reverse-curling his own bodyweight (someone has since surpassed his record), he was a two-time Arm Wrestling Champ, has a 31-1 record in amateur boxing, and on and on the list goes. (We're talking a career that goes through "Dukes of Hazzard," "Lassie," "Simon and Simon," "Fantasy Island", "The A-Team," "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century," "Deep Space Nine," "Knight Rider", and on and on and on.....)

For the next day or so, I happened to see him over and over on various movie channels, such as the often forgotten Western comedy "The Frisco Kid" with Gene Wilder and Harrison Ford, and then late yesterday, in his villainous turn as Col. Strelnikov in "Red Dawn".

More recently, he's been voicing the character of Dragga in the "Justice League" cartoon series and is still working on some direct-to-DVD movies for 2006 release.

Few, if any other actors, can claim to have worked with so many legendary performers in movies and TV and if he does ever write his autobiography, it will be a book that sprawls across the history of television and movies.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Monster Cat of China

In yet another shameless attempt to appeal to people who surf the internets looking for pictures of cats, and I do mean big, fat, cat -- here is the Monster Cat of China.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Of Ports and Power

Comedian Steve Martin's old routines appear to be part of the Bush administration's policy and Congressional oversight. Martin used to do a bit about how he had the perfect excuse for any mistake or problem. Three simple words: "I didn't know."

Americans stunned that non-U.S. companies control U.S. ports?

Congress says: "I didn't know"

Rumsfeld says: "I didn't know"

Bush (via the always funny Scott McClellan): "I didn't know."

I wonder how many Americans/Cabinet/Congressional chairmen are aware that company Westinghouse has been sold to Toshiba, making it one of the largest providers of nuclear energy in the world?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Oil Addiction and Tennessee Science

Sorry, but I am deeply skeptical of the President's recent pep-talks about the problems of oil addiction, since he and his VP are drenched in oil dollars, and his secretary of state once had an oil tanker named after her, until she was appointed to the cabinet when they renamed it. And yes, encouraging alternative energy sources is a fine idea that dates back many years.

Although, one of Exxon's senior VPs, Stuart McGill, says it's ridiculous to consider ending the addiction, and that if America were to be more active in developing positive trade relations with other countries for energy needs, the world's political strife would become more stable.

Given that the President's recent trip to a high-tech lab where employees had just been laid off, though re-hired just before the visit, these speeches appear to be just that - speeches.

Tennessee has a major voice in government regarding Science and Commerce in Bart Gordon, who recently issued his own ideas about alternative energies and legislation to support it's development:

We’ve been chipping away at energy policy for years — increasing production here, a tax incentive there, funding energy R&D when it’s convenient and letting programs languish when it’s not, even regarding energy conservation as a “personal virtue.” It’s time we think of new ways to approach this problem. Decades of energy research only pay off if truly innovative technologies come to fruition. Frankly, we’re still using technologies from the 19th and 20th centuries to address the problems of the 21st century. Replacing “traditional” energy sources requires an unprecedented basic research and technology-development effort, not the same conservative approach that has kept us where we are."

Gordon also backed the need for realistic goals and more scientific support at NASA during congressional hearings, where he said - "
I want to make it clear that I don't want to see Congress signing up for another big, underfunded hardware program, that winds up costing more, doing less and cannibalizing other important NASA missions," Gordon said. "We have been down that road too many times in the past, and I've got no desire to do so again."

Recent announcements about plans for a Spaceport in the United Arab Emirates, and a smaller one in New Mexico reveal a contining trend that both non-U.S. and private developers are pushing technology while we linger on out-dated programs at NASA and the Bush Administration has a long record of belittling Science.

In some related news,
efforts are underway to attract a massive National Bio and Agro Defense Facility to Pulaski, TN which boasts high tech jobs even though it means some very dangerous diseases will be under review and research.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Cat of Joe Bunny

So I'm having coffee and catching up on my morning reading and considering ideas from the past few days to talk about and then I see it.

I've been selected by Newscoma (along with most every blogger I personally know here in ET) to answer a few questions in a tag-list and present some personal details to readers. I was actually working on the perpetual puzzle of why it is that serious posts I make, say the corruption and greed in the state's school board association (oh, the children, Joe, the children!!), gets little attention but a picture of a big bunny brings readers and comments in droves.

In my unschooled web-walking, I have found indeed that a site with pictures of people's cats or dogs or hamsters or bunnies get far more visitors than anything else. Maybe I should rename this page "Cat of Joe Bunny".

But I'm avoiding the tag game. So here we go - as I understand it, I pick five others to answer these same queries, but that list will appear at the end of all this.

What were you doing 10 years ago?

- Using a 114K modem to access the internet, which was like watching paint dry.
- Being on call 24/7 as a radio news director.
- Working with some incredibly talented friends on a half-hour comedy show for public access TV in Knoxville and also performing with them in a touring improv comedy act, both called "Full Frontal Comedy". ("Jurassic Pork Sausage" and "Elmo's Topless Clogging Bar" were the things I was writing then.)

What were you doing 1 year ago?

- Using a cable modem to access the internet, which is like sliding down a bobsled run compared to that 114K modem.
- Working solo to write, produce, and host a morning talk radio show which was so good it terrified the guilty and entertained everyone in 100 mile radius awake and listening to the radio. Yes, I was and am that damn good. Though the worldwide broadcasting the internet allows is much more satisfying.
-Taking a lot of naps and moving into a new apartment.
-About three months away from seeing the radio station where I was working get sold to someone who would fire me in the middle of a show so the guilty could get back to business and local voices would be silenced.
-Playing the "Star Wars: Bounty Hunter" game a lot. And "Hot Shots Golf 3".

Five Snacks You Enjoy

-Um, let's see ... if it's food I like it. What makes it a snack? That it isn't served on a plate or with silverware???
-Any kind of chip in a bag.
-And I'm with Newscoma on the plain ol' Hershey's chocolate.
-Is that five yet? No? Then I'l have some more chocolate, thanks!

Five Songs To Which You Know All The Lyrics

- Anything by the Beatles
-I think I know most of all the lyrics to "Thick As A Brick" by Jethro Tull
- "When I Paint My Masterpiece" by Bob Dylan
-"Summer Wind" by Sinatra
-"Where It's At" Beck
- And no, I will not sing for you.

Five Things You Would Do If You Were A Millionaire

- Live on a yacht
- Buy an Arriflex movie camera
- Edit the footage on an Avid computer system
- Give some money away
- Fish

Five Bad Habits

- Hope
- Fear
- Belief
- I started smoking cigars after I had been off cigarettes for four years and boy is my doctor mad.
- I often like people.

Five Things You Would Never Wear Again

- Um, I hardly am a fashionable or stylish person. I still like t-shirts and jeans and tennis shoes. So I don't wear a tie unless it is an emergency. But I wouldn't ever wear those stupid stack shoes that I and everyone wore in the mid-70s like we was pimps or Huggy Bear or something. I'm still not sure why I caved into that particular type of footwear, so I blame peer pressure. I would however gladly wear those black and white checkered Vans again if I could find them, even though they look really stupid.

Five Favorite Toys

- This computer
- And I don't play with them, but I have a couple of cool looking Silver Surfer action figures and a few Buffy the Vampire Slayer items which are still sealed up in their boxes but on display. The Silver Surfers, however, are not boxed up. Kind of kills the thrill of surfing to be boxed up.
- My PlayStation2, though mostly I use it nowadays to play DVDs.
- My CD player.

Ok, now for who I would like to answer these same questions.

A cat
A bunny
A dog
A hamster

Sunday, February 19, 2006


According to press statement read by hunting accident victim Harry Whittingrton:

My family and I are deeply sorry for all that vice president Cheney has had to go through this past week. We send our love and respect to them as they deal with situations that are much more serious than what we’ve had this week."