Next, To Thwart Casanova Frankenstein

Hey, the Bowler has to have her his priorities:

Man fills bowling ball with father’s ashes — then bowls perfect game

Although I did not watch Mystery Men with my boys on Spring Break last month, I did watch it with them earlier this year.

Not that I would have needed to see it recently to make this connection. Although it was not played over and over on Showtime while we lived in a trailer, it was something I saw when I was young enough to make an impression, and I’ve watched it a couple of times in the intervening twenty-some years.

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The Interleaved Movies of Spring Break

In addition to spending the days together, I made a point of watching movies this week with my boys. We watched six from Monday through Friday:

Night Movie Daddy Always Says
From This Movie
Monday Fletch
“I charged [it] to Mr. Underhill’s American Express Card. Want the number?”
“Can I borrow your towel for a sec? My car just hit a water buffalo.”
Although the oldest bet me five dollars he would not laugh through the movie, he did; both boys liked the dog chase in Utah.
Also, as I mentioned, my boys have heard the soundtrack of this film for a decade or more, so their eyes lit up when a song played that they recognized.
Tuesday Real Genius
“That’s a wonderful story, Bodie. I noticed you’ve stopped stuttering.” There were no bets, but they liked it.
Wednesday Airplane!
“Looks like I picked the wrong week to….”
[Definition of what it is], but that’s not important now.”
You know, the parodies don’t age very well for a new generation because they don’t recognize what’s being lampooned.
Thursday Top Gun
“I feel the need, the need, for speed.”
I mean, I guess. I am not sure I quote this film much.
The oldest was ready to enlist. So it has the intended impact even almost forty years later.
Friday Hot Shots!

Hot Shots! Part Deux
“Why me?” / “Because you’re the best of what’s left.”
To be honest, I don’t quote either of these movies much either.
The boys did not like the movies much; again, the parodies don’t age well, even though they saw the film the first one of these two was parodying the night before. They liked the second one better because it had guns they could try to identify from their video games.

When looking for these films in the disorganized library, I thought it was on VHS because I remember getting it on VHS for my dad, who liked the movie. But I must not have come away with that VHS–we own both of them on DVD.

Fletch and Real Genius were on videocassettes that held up and looked pretty good even though I bought them both probably twenty-five or thirty years ago and watched them a bunch in those early days. Top Gun was also on VHS and looked pretty good; it’s not a first pressing or whatever, though, as it lacks the contemporaneously controversial Pepsi commercial. The first time I saw Top Gun was in the trailer park at Jimmy T’s trailer; his father got it right when it came out. I am not sure if I’ve seen it since.

I titled this The Interleaved Movies of Spring Break because look at the connections between the films:

Fletch Real Genius Airplane! Top Gun Hot Shots! Hot Shots!
Part Deux
Val Kilmer x x
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar x x
Lloyd Benson x x x
Harold Faltermeyer x x
Bunny slippers gag x x
Popcorn x x
Scenes at air fields x x x x x x

You see? They’re all connected.

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Truth, Unspoken

Disney CEO says there’s no ‘going back’ to old way of movie watching:

Disney Chief Executive Bob Chapek said the pandemic has likely permanently narrowed the window for movies to play only in theaters.

Pre-pandemic, cinemas depended on an exclusive 90-day window to screen films before they were made available to home distribution channels, such as pay TV and streaming services. But now, studios are tinkering with that timeframe, either shortening it or doing away with it altogether.

“The consumer is probably more impatient than they’ve ever been before, particularly since now they’ve had the luxury of an entire year of getting titles at home pretty much when they want them,” Chapek said late Monday at a virtual conference hosted by Morgan Stanley.

Also, major media corporations are tired of having to split the ticket price with movie theaters and of selling movies on physical media which users can watch over and over again with no recurring revenue to the major media corporation.

C’mon, man. We know that the consumer isn’t jumping; he’s being pushed.

Full disclosure: I own some Disney stock, so I’m benefitting in some small way from modern day robbery barony. But I’m also going to have to start hitting yard sales this year for backup DVD players to store with my backup VHS players.

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A Geek, Frozen In Amber

Page Six has a weekly round-up of celebrity pictures, and this week’s includes a misattributed star:

C’mon, man. Everybody knows Morena Baccarin was the star of Firefly.

I mean, it’s not quite twenty years old, ainna?

And, to be honest, we have reached a point in time where I don’t even bother to see some big tent science fiction and comic book movies. I’m not sure it’s because I’m an old man or because that sort of thing is just so… common these days.

False dilemma! It could be both.

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On Rush Hour (1998)

Book coverIt’s our new-ish New Year’s Eve tradition with the boys to watch a movie and play a game to pad the hours until midnight, and this year we watched Rush Hour. Which, apparently has two sequels.

I don’t remember if I saw this film in the theatre–I can hardly imagine a time where we went to the theater and saw ten or more movies a year. I don’t know if I see that many at home these days. But that’s because all my books are calling in way the my accummulated videocassettes and DVDs are not. This film, though, was on a DVD, but it’s a little clearer now that we’re running it through a different receiver.

If you don’t remember the plot: Basically, Jackie Chan is a Hong Kong police inspector who breaks up a crime organization right as the British are handing Hong Kong over to the Chinese. The Chinese consul to Hong Kong ends up in Los Angeles with his wife and young daughter, who is close with Jackie Chan (come on, Jackie Chan is playing Jackie Chan, as he always does). The daughter is kidnapped for ransom by the very criminal mastermind whose organization was disrupted in Hong Kong, and the consul imports Jackie Chan to help the FBI. The FBI, though, wants nothing to do with the inspector, so they bring a loud, brash, unconventional LAPD detective, Chris Tucker, playing Chris Tucker, to entertain Chan. But they end up solving the crime after various set pieces and beginning to understand each other’s culture.

So it’s a funny movie. But twenty years on, the honeymoon for Hong Kong is over, and one cannot help but wonder how much the Chinese government influenced the film to put China in the best possible light. Even then. I didn’t sit through the credits, but I would not be surprised to see at the end a thank you to some Chinese agency or bureau. Twenty years on, we all look at things with a bit more of a gimlet eye.

But the film is my boys’ first exposure to Jackie Chan (and Chris Tucker). A virtual decision tree unfolds: What next? The Jackie Chan path? Rumble in the Bronx? That’s rated R. Perhaps Legend of the Drunken Master? Or the Chris Tucker path? Certainly not Friday, but they’re old enough for The Fifth Element by now. What about the Jackie Chan+1 fish out of water path? Shanghai Noon has Jackie Chan playing Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson playing Old West Owen Wilson. I haven’t actually seen that one yet. However, it would require buying the movie–and we own many of the others listed, and I’m saving my money for jazz and metal CDs.

Time will tell, and it could very well say, “You won’t decide this question until next New Year’s Eve.”

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On High Anxiety (1977)

VHS coverI’m a little late writing this one up–this is the film we watched on Thanksgiving, but I have had it sitting on my desk since then and a text file with the title in it (I do my drafts for these On… posts and the book reports in a text file editor before I copy and paste them onto the blog–clearly, I had one such post eaten by blogging software at some point in the past or I just wanted to template out the basics of each post–the title, the image, and back in the old timey days the Amazon affiliate link). So because I am very slow in reading these days–David Copperfield is like 750 pages, but I’m enjoying them–I have decided to tell you about what I watched two months ago.

You know, you kind of had to be there for the early Mel Brooks. I mean, stuff like Blazing Saddles remains funny and quotable unless you have a modern mindset where That’s not funny. Somehow, it’s crude but not crass. Or maybe I hold it in enough esteem that I overlook its crassinosity. Later comedies like Space Balls and Robin Hood: Men in Tights were hit or miss with me–they have a more modern speed and sensibility, unlike this film and Young Frankenstein (which I rewatched a couple years ago)–they move more slowly and require a little familiarity in the material that the film spoofs. In the middle 1970s, we saw those films on television on weekends. In the 21st century, not so much.

At any rate, this film spoofs sixties thrillers, especially Alfred Hitchcock movies. A noted psychologist is recruited to run an asylum where people have mysteriously died, including the most recent head. He discovers that some of the other staff are keeping rich inmates against their wills and after they’re cured–and the Mel Brooks character is dealing with his own Vertigo-like issues that come into play. I would say the name of the character, but, come on, as with Abbott and Costello in Africa Screams!, Mel Brooks, Harvery Korman, and Cloris Leachmann are playing their respective characters, the ones they tend to play in all these mid-Brooks movies.

So it was amusing to me in a I see what you did there fashion. Both of my boys watched it, which means the older one is growing in his cinema appreciation to be able to sit through something more slow-moving than a ten minute speed run YouTube video. They laughed at one bit, but the youngest proclaimed it a bit cringey. You remember RiffTrax, the thing where you can record your own commentary a la Mystery Science Theater 3000 on a movie? I think if you mashed up 21st century young people watching old movies, you would probably have pure comedy gold. Actually, someone has probably already done that as Kids Try To Figure Out and Reaction videos are all the rage. Or so I heard; I only use YouTube to watch Mizuho Lin sing and my accountant cast pods.

Also, whilst we’re on the subject of Mel Brooks’ usual suspects, I have recently discovered that Madeline Khan was all that.

I mean, my early exposure to her would probably have been Blazing Saddles, where the blonde look really didn’t work for her, and Oh, Madeline on television, which she did when she was forty-one, which was to then-me old but to now-me young. I didn’t really like her voice when I was eleven or twelve either, but it has grown on me since.

Also, she was older than my mother, so that would be a definite deal breaker for an eighties kid. I am not so sure how that would be now, as women might be looking better later in life, or maybe I’m just later and life and think so. It would make for an awkward conversation with my boys, one that I will avoid for the nonce. Boys, given that your mother is the most beautiful woman in the world, what about Elizabeth Hurley who is sixty?

Still, back to the film we’re talking about. Or more related topics. When researching this film, I discovered Silent Movie which I had not heard of. It sounds like Steve Martin’s Bowfinger. I’m going to have to look for that one at garage sales. And, probably, have to order it someday when I’m feeling profligate and think about the film again–perhaps whilst reading this post in the future.

While researching the preceding paragraph, I discovered that Heather Graham and I were born in the same hospital, albeit a couple years apart. Huh. I will be sure to mention that the next time we see something with Heather Graham in it, probably License to Drive since I have boys coming of that age. Of course, I will act as though I always knew it as I always know everything about Milwaukee.

The end, he said, before he fell more into the Wikipediaverse and didn’t get anything of value at all done today.

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On Africa Screams (1949)

Book coverOn Sunday evening, my beautiful wife and my oldest son were out of the house for a church youth group event, so the youngest and I had an opportunity to watch a film. So I picked this one because the youngest is a good sport and will watch black and white moviews with his father. Also, Big Brother Alphabet says I should watch some Abbott and Costello.

In the film, “Buzz”–Abbott–and Stanley Livingston–Costello–work in a book store in New York when people come in looking for an out-of-print book with a map of Africa in it. Although they do not have the book, the people offer Costello (come on, I’m not going to call them by their character names because they’re not playing different characters–they’re playing Abbott and Costello) large sums of money to draw the map. Abbott catches on that there’s bigger money involved and inveigles them onto a safari whose purpose is ostensibly to capture wild animals, but in reality seeks diamonds. So it sets up several set pieces with African animals, bad guys, and cannibals.

The film comes from 1949, which means I would have seen it as a kid when it was a relatively fresh 30 years old instead of (shudder) 70 years old. My son watched it silently for a while, but toward the end he found some of the bits amusing and laugh-out-loud funny. So some of it endures. I was amused, too, but I was steeped on Abbott and Costello bits and movies growing up–enough that I prefered them to Laurel and Hardy.

Researching the film led me to some interesting tidbits. First, by the deep-dive research of looking at the credit card, I see that Shemp Howard played a role in the film. I didn’t recognize him, but that means this film is Abbott and Costello and a Stooge. So it was like a bonus.

Also, two of the bits in the book come when Costello, who has been played up as a great African hunter, tells exploits to two men he meets. One is Clyde Beatty and the other is Frank Buck–both actual celebrity animal collectors who played themselves. I have to wonder who amongst the audience in 1949 would have recognized them and gotten the joke before the moment when they reveal their real identities to Abbott and Costello. I mean, this is before television. I would have had a tough time picking Marlin Perkins out in a movie in 1980. Of course, when Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom came on, I often changed the channel. Which is why I can hear Perkins saying the title of the program but not much else about it.

At any rate, an amusing little film that you probably won’t find streaming anywhere even though I’ll bet it was on television plenty back when we only had limited options.

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Like A Modern Sports Record

The headline on the article is a little more, erm, accurate: ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ hauls in $16.7M with highest box office opening during COVID:

Released on Christmas Day, “Wonder Woman 1984” was the highest box office opening of the pandemic, hauling in $16.7 million in ticket sales in the US and $36.1 million globally, according to Warner Bros.

During the football game on Sunday night, they mentioned that Aaron Rodgers was about to break–and broke–the record for the most touchdown passes thrown in the second quarter of a regular season game.

Sports records, and apparently all records, are getting very granular indeed to make sure that every game or every movie or every celebrity somehow gets to break one in an artificially historic moment every time they make a doody.

Question to ponder: Is it more because of the modern participation trophy mindset (I have a collection of medals for runs and triathlons I have merely finished kept separate from medals for events where I actually, you know, won or placed) or is it more because commentators and talking heads of all stripes have to fill up the dead air with something? Or is it an even balance of both?

(See also: Davante Adams, Aaron Rodgers become Packers’ record-setting connection for more granular Historic Record news.)

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Clearly, Not The Source Of My World-Famous Dying Tauntaun Impression

In a recently released video showing a Rare, behind-the-scenes look at ‘The Empire Strikes Back’, Mark Hamill mentions the tauntaun dance which is three steps and then you fall down.

Which is completely different from my famous (that is, mentioned once on this blog in 2003) dying tauntaun impression.

Which is more than three steps this way, rolling the head, making a tauntaun sound, and then falling down.

See? Completely different, and Mark Hamill can fight me for the international rights to it if he sees fit.

(Link via Neatorama.)

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On The Three Stooges: 6 Full Length Fun Flicks

Book coverSo on Wednesday, November 4, the night after we watched Sergeant York, I wanted to watch To Hell and Back with and about Audie Murphy; it was then that I learned it was the wrong region DVD. So I cast about looking for something, and I thought I would pop in this video which I got Spring 2019 at the church garage sale (I was going to say last Spring, but it suddenly occurs to me that 2020 has somehow almost passed–what have I been doing? When and where were the seasons?). I thought maybe the boys would want to watch these, but they did not.

So I watched them alone.

Continue reading “On The Three Stooges: 6 Full Length Fun Flicks

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I Don’t Need To Read The Article; I Know The Truth

This movie, apparently, is Wisconsin’s ‘favorite’ horror movie.

Come on, it’s surely this one:

Well, I did read the article. Apparently, it’s locally grown The Love Witch which is a comedy horror film whose DVD sells for $32 on Amazon.

So I will have to take a pass on it. Besides, I just placed a DVD order which probably means I’m topped off on movies for the year. And, unfortunately, I actually only ordered two which offers sad testimony to how few movies I watch these days.

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The Wall Street Journal Explains

Okay, I am a little behind in my Wall Street Journal reading, again. Which is basically my normal condition when taking the paper. So I have only now come across an article from September 24, 2020, that explains a little more about why it’s often hard to find movies you want to see on streaming services–Why Some Classic Films Still Aren’t Streaming, From ‘Jungle Fever’ to ‘Silkwood’.

Again, note that the “classics” here date back to the 1980s or the 1990s, which means the dark ages where the films were available on videocassette and/or DVD.

Back in 2016, a little before I was making predictions about how fast I would read the remainder of my books in The Executioner series, I lamented I could not find several movies I wanted to see on the streaming services of the day:

After reading a listicle about John Hughes’ Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, I wanted to watch She’s Having A Baby because it’s the most adult of his coming-of-age comedies (and I plan to come of age sometime soon). But it’s not on Netflix nor Amazon Prime.

Then I got to thinking about funny Christmas movies my children might like to watch with me since White Christmas, Holiday Inn, The Bells of St. Mary’s, or The Bishop’s Wife are a little black-and-white for them, and they’re not old enough for Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, or Gremlins. So I checked Netflix and Amazon Prime, and again I was disappointed.

And that I joined a video store in 2017 because it had the DVD of a film I needed for a writing assignment:

Now, gentle reader, you might remember my December rant on the limited catalogs of streaming services (What I Want To Watch, When I Want To Watch It). I still feel that way, but I’m pretending to be frugal now. I had to watch Johnny Mnemonic for a writing assignment (which I read back in 2006), and of course, Amazon Prime and Netflix don’t offer it. My beautiful and sultry wife has a membership at the local video store, Family Video, so we went there to get a film for the boys and to see if the shop had Johnny Mnemonic. They did.

That was years ago. I said about streaming:

Netflix and Amazon Prime streaming are good when you want to watch something as they give you a lot to chose from. But I often do not want to sit down and watch something; I want to sit down and watch a particular film. So physical media still have a vital role in that. Much like the old independent video stores offered something other than the newest releases at Blockbuster.

That was back when you really had two streaming platforms to choose from. Now, every media company has its own twelve-buck-a-month service and is slowly reclaiming its library by letting licensing to Amazon and Netflix lapse. Which means everything that was available is still available streaming, but it’s spread over a rapidly widening set of subscription services.

Although a flack at Fandango says it’s only onesies and twosies that are not available, my experience has proven that the onesies and twosies and foursies and twelvesies coincide with what I want to watch. The newspaper explains why so many things are not available on any streaming source:

The causes of unstreamableness vary. For films made before digital distribution existed, it can be unclear who owns streaming privileges. Restrictions on digital use of the music in a film can hold it back. Some “unstreamables” are movies that have been shunned across all platforms, for one reason or another, like Disney’s “Song of the South,” with its racist stereotypes, and the last Woody Allen and Louis CK films, made by tarnished directors.

A film can also simply become buried in a company’s holdings. For those who want to release older films in new formats, hunting down rights holders can become a Watergate-like investigation. After decades of mergers and acquisitions, the corporate owner of a film may not even know it’s the owner.

So, as you might expect, I still look to buy DVDs and VHS cassettes at garage sales and whatnot and, when I get the idea that I want to watch a particular film, I order the physical medium on Amazon.

Also, I am a curmudgeon.

Thank you, that is all.

Also, follow me for more breaking news from the Wall Street Journal from weeks or months ago.

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I Would Have Signed This Petition

James Hong, ‘Hollywood’s most prolific actor,’ may finally get Walk of Fame star:

He has more credits than nearly anyone in Hollywood, yet he still isn’t a bona fide “star.”

In his legendary career, actor James Hong — who recently went viral as “Hollywood’s most prolific actor” — has accrued more than 600 acting credits and inspired countless careers, yet he still doesn’t have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Now, a growing group of fans is actively trying to change that for Hong, 91, whose diverse projects include “Seinfeld,” “Big Trouble in Little China” and “Blade Runner.”

Also Wayne’s World.

Hopefully he gets the star. Although, to be honest, the headline aside, I would not have signed an Internet petition because I think they’re worthless and a waste of time. I prefer to spend my worthless and waste of time on an old timey Web log.

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A Mistake I Should Never Make

I mentioned that I did not watch Ice Pirates with my boys when we wrote Robert Frost’s “Fire and Ice” this spring.

However, my oldest boy talked about herpes for some reason today, in passing, as a meme joke of some sort, and the film features a Space Herpe, so it was time.

My youngest went for a bike ride with his beautiful mother, and my oldest, the sophisticated cinemataster that he is, only made it through half, so I watched it mostly myself. And I made a mistake.

When Killjoy appears, I recognized it was a former football player gone Hollywood, and I initially thought Lyle Alzado, but it’s actually John Matuszak.

Lyle Alzado
John Matuszak

You might understand the confusion. Defensive linemen from the 1970s who went to Hollywood who had dark hair and beards and played supporting roles in sometimes cheesy offerings. One could throw Merlin Olsen in this mix, but his hair was dark enough to not quite look the same, plus he had his own starring roles on television which cemented his distinction a bit. Also, he’s a little older than the others, as he played in the 1960s (as recounted in Jerry Kramer’s Instant Replay which I reviewed in 2004 and 2015.)

I say I should never make the mistake between Alzado and Matuszak because Matuszak was from Milwaukee and played a year of college football at Mizzou. So he should be on my list of “He’s from Milwaukee, you know” and has not been so up until this time. And he will be from now on.

Not that I won’t still have to think when I see one of them in a movie or television show from here on out. They do look enough alike for my confusion, don’t they? Humor me here, gentle reader.

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This Weekend’s History Lesson

We’re spending time at home again, so we have had the opportunity to watch a couple of films over the weekend.

Such as this history lesson:

Which is not much of a history lesson at all, given that it’s purportedly set in the protodynastic period in Egypt which runs like 3000 B.C., when two actual Egyptians bore the title King Scorpion, and the Rock plays the last of the Akkadians, which is is out of time since the Akkadian empire did not rise until about 2300 B.C., seven hundred years after, and the “Akkadians” are assassins, which seems to be patterned on the Order of Assassins from roughly 1100 A.D.

So, that is to say, it was not a very good history lesson at all but rather a lesson not to get your understanding of history from the cinema.

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Starring Rachel Roberts As Erica

An A.I. robot named Erica was cast in the lead role of a $70M sci-fi film:

An enterprising sci-fi film crew has devised an ingenious way to shoot their film while circumventing coronavirus concerns — by casting a real-life A.I. robot named Erica. The move marks the first time a movie will star an artificially intelligent actor, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

“She was created from scratch to play the role,” says Sam Khoze, a visual-effects supervisor behind “b,” the $70 million science-fiction film in which Erica will star. The flick, backed by Bondit Capital Media and New York’s Ten Ten Global Media, follows a scientist who finds a glitch in his DNA-replication research and helps the artificial organism he designed (Erica) escape, according to the outlet.

Sounds like the story they fed the media about the 2002 film Simone:

Will 2002, the year of Simone, Andrew Niccol’s feature film, come to be seen as another pivotal moment – the moment that the power of illusion surpassed that of reality? Will that year of the first “real-or-fake?” feature movie actor be seen as a symbolic bookmark locating the era when we could no longer tell, nor care if we could tell, what is authentic?

Critics did not agree about Simone. Reviews ranged from raves to pans, with many critics in the “mixed” camp. However, intelligent commentary seemed in agreement that it was the premise of Simone, which delivered its potential promise. That premise is that an entirely fake actress, digitally created by a desperate movie director (Al Pacino), could woo an unknowing audience and become a phenomenal star.

But there’s more. Just as Simone, the centerpiece “character” of Niccol’s film, turned out to be a fake, the actual actress who portrays Simone, turned out to be real. Although Niccol, Pacino, and even the film’s credits claim that “Simone”, the digital character, played “herself”, members of the press have revealed that Simone was in fact enacted by Canadian supermodel Rachel Roberts.

Sounds very similar indeed.

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Making the Leap to the Small Screen

As I just read the Tron: The Storybook, I had to right away, wherein “right away” means in a week or so, watch the film.

As we’re watching, I see the character Bit:

and I think, what else have I seen him in?

Then, today, it finally hit me: He was also in the television series Automan:

Although the role on television was not a speaking role, it looks like it was physically demanding.

In Automan, he’s credited as “Cursor” as Himself. I guess the first appearance in Tron was uncredited, and he must have left the industry after the television program.

I wonder whatever became of that guy.

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Is Our Movie Critics Mathing?

From the story The Real Story Behind the ‘Star Wars’ Opening Weekend 43 Years Ago:

This was 43 years ago, a gap as great as 1924 was to 1977.

Bro, do you even add?

I suppose we’re just lucky he didn’t show the Common Core math techniques he used to get there with boxes and estimation and reduction and regurgitation until one goes through eight steps to arrive at the wrong answer. But you followed the process and will be rewarded!

(Link via Instapundit.)

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