Classic Hollywood Author Interrogations – Martin Turnbull

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FIND THIS AUTHOR ON:

AMAZON, SEE?        FACEBOOK, SEE?

AND HE’S EVEN GOT A WEBSITE, SEE?

INTERROGATION BY JAKE DASHING, PRIVATE EYE

BOLD=JAKE; ITALICS=MARTIN

Turnbull is his name. Martin Turnbull, though I assure you, when it comes to bull, he’s not turning it. He’s a bonafide Old Hollywood expert sure enough.  He’s worked as a tour guide, providing tourists and LA locals alike with access to Beverly Hills mansions, Hollywood hills vistas, and according to his Amazon author page, he’ll even share where all the bodies are buried. 

Nine years.  That’s how long he spent volunteering as a historical walking tour docent with the Los Angeles Conservancy. Hell, the fella was even a tour guide for a summer at Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank.

If old style Tinsel Town is your bag, you’ll want to feast your peepers on Turnbull’s books, particularly his Hollywood’s Garden of Allah series.

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Q.  Take a load off, palooka, ‘cuz you’re gonna be here awhile, see? First thing’s first. This obsession of yours with the Hollywood of days long past. Where did it come from and what drives you to keep it going?

A.  It all goes back to my school vacations. There was nothing I liked better than to spend my days watching old movies on TV. One of the TV stations had a Midday Movie where they’d show an old Hollywood movie every day, so that was my version of heaven. Then, in 1987, Lauren Bacall published her memoir, “By Myself,” and she did a book tour in Australia. When she came to Melbourne, I was amazed. I couldn’t believe that someone who I’d only known on my TV screen was actually in the same city as me. It wasn’t like I thought these old Hollywood movie star type people weren’t real, but when you’re 16 and living in Australia, those 8000 miles between Melbourne and Los Angeles – not to mention those 40 years in between – lend everything connected with golden-era Hollywood an aura of otherworldliness that I never expected to connect with. I went right out and bought her book, devoured it, and then set about reading every memoir, biography, and autobiography of the stars, directors, moguls – anything I could get my hands on.

Q.  Bogie.  Bacall. Bette Davis.  Errol Flynn. James Cagney. Judy Garland. Clark Gable. Joan Crawford. Greta Garbo. Grace Kelly. Fred Astaire.  This is just a sampling of the many classic stars you list as your favorites on your Amazon author page.

If you had to pick one as your absolute, all-time favorite, who would it be and why?  

A.  Oh boy, talk about your Sophie’s Choice. If you MAKE me choose, I’ll probably have to go with Garland. That’s mainly because she had that unique ability to have you laughing your ass off one minute, and literally a split-second later, there’d be a look in her eye, or a tremble in her lip, or a break in her voice, and your heart would go out to her. She had that rare combination of vulnerability and accessibility fused with extraordinary talent and singing voice like no other.

That’s what made the stars back then “Movie Stars” with a capital “M” and a capital “S.” Anybody from that list of stars you mentioned was the same – there was nobody else like them. They each possessed those mystical, magical qualities that came together in one person and somehow projected from the screen and spoke to a whole generation of moviegoers. And still do!

Q.  Kids these days. What with their new fangled computer-ma-bobs and beep boop machines, they drive me crazy.  They’re into blockbusters now. Flicks with fancy computer graphics.  Big budgets and special effects galore.

If you had to talk one of these whippersnappers into giving the likes of Bogie and his ilk a try, what would you say?

A.  Hmmm…I’d probably try and describe how movies were made back then—how the studio system was set up and geared toward producing a movie that went about trying to tell a story without having rely so heavily on post production visuals. If you read autobiographies of directors, they talk a lot about the work that went into a developing and refining a story until they had something workable, appealing, commercial, different, and worth telling. I just finished reading the autobiography of Vincent Sherman, who directed both Bette Davis and Joan Crawford at the top of their game, and he talked a lot about working and working and working on the story until they had it right. There was no talk of distracting the audience or filling stretches of the movie with robot duels or space battles.

Q.  This site is about “Pop Culture Mysteries.”  Bookshelf Q. Battler has sent me on a mission to answer questions about movies, music, books and other forms of entertainment.

Here’s one inquiry I have about Casablanca. Would the ending have been as good had Rick told Ilsa to stick around?

Sorry, 3.5 readers.  Apparently I was supposed to shout “SPOILERS!” before saying that but you’ve had seventy plus years to watch that damn movie, so quit your belly aching.

A.  Ah, well, now you’re talking about one of my all-time favorites. My theory about the longevity of Casablanca is that one of the reasons why its lasted so long is because it didn’t fit the standard Hollywood ending where the male and female romantic leads walk off into the sunset together—or in this case, into the fog. As bittersweet as it is, the ending of that movie is more realistic, and more importantly, it feels right. Casablanca is about The One Who Got Away, and what we’d do if we had a chance for a do-over. I suspect that many of us have a One Who Got Away in our past, but few of us get to have a do-over. Casablanca gives Bogie that rare opportunity, but he’s pragmatic enough to see that what happened in Paris ought to stay in Paris. Yes, he still loves her, but he loves her enough to do the right thing by her, and lets her escape. He tells her that eventually she’ll regret not getting on that airplane, and he’s right. She would. So Bogie makes the greatest sacrifice for love, and we all love him for it. And the fact that the filmmakers had the nerve to not let the two stars end up together was brave and, in my opinion, helped turn a good movie into a classic.

Q.  Hollywood’s all about reboots and remakes these days.  They’ve done it all and now they want to do it all…again.

Is there one old classic you’d like to see updated for modern times?  Or are you like me and would prefer those gems stay as is?

A.  All you have to do is look at the remakes of The Women to know the answer to that question. In 1956, they remade it into a musical called The Opposite Sex. And in 2008, it was remade again as a non-musical comedy called The Women. I am a huge fan of the original movie and while I don’t hate-with-a-passion either of the remakes, it’s very clear that the original was a lightning-in-a-bottle miracle that brought together the perfect cast, story, director, costumer and editor, and resulted in a production that can’t be bettered. In my view, all movies are a reflection of the times in which they were made and should be viewed as such. Some remakes are successfully done, but in my view it’s lazy storytelling. Surely there are many, many more stories yet to be told?

Q.  Your Hollywood’s Garden of Allah series begins at a time when moving pictures give a “slug” to Tinsel Town’s silent film industry. For the uninitiated reader, can you explain why the transition from silent films to movies was such a trying time?

A.  To quote Norma Desmond: “There was a time, you wouldn’t remember…” and she was actually kinda right. Before the talkies, the movies were an entirely visual medium. They had title cards, but they were used sparingly because it was felt that the whole point of these new-fangled flickers called moving pictures was the ability to tell a story visually—and entirely visually.

They needed people with not just great faces, but who were somehow able to reach through the screen and evoke an emotional response with each individual audience member. If you wanted to hear people speak, you went to the theater. If you wanted to see them, you went to the movies. In the minds of many people at the time, the introduction of talkies got in the way of the visuals. They were a distraction and a degradation of the art form.

Also, because the movies were silent, they could be shown to anyone in any country and the audience would understand it because language wasn’t an issue. But with the introduction of audible dialogue, it meant that the movies would only play in those countries that spoke English. The studios now had to go to the trouble of dubbing and subtitling whereas they didn’t before.

And thirdly, this was a time when the studios owned their own extensive chains of movie houses. Transitioning to sound meant going to the enormous expense of installing sound systems in each theater. It took the Powers That Be a while to come to grips with the reality that progress was marching ever forward and if they didn’t keep up with the times, they’d be kicked to the curb.

Q.  The Black Dahlia.  Who did it?  Come on, bub. It’s time to make like a canary and sing, see?

A.  I ain’t no stool pigeon. I ain’t blabbin’, I tells ya, and none of you low-down dirty birdies can make me.

Q.  Speaking of dead bodies, what’s the worst crime or scandal in classic Hollywood’s history you can think of?

A.  The one that springs to mind was the whole scandal surrounding the Fatty Arbuckle thing in the early 1920s. Between November 1921 and April 1922, Arbuckle had to defend himself against accusations of rape and manslaughter after a weekend-party-gone-wrong resulted in the death of Virginia Rappe.

After the first two trials resulted in hung juries, he was acquitted in the third trial and even received a formal written statement of apology from the jury.  Despite this outcome, Arbuckle’s career shot down the sewer and never recovered. Even worse, he became the poster boy all the depravity and moral turpitude that the conservative element was holding Hollywood responsible for. Arbuckle was probably no saint, but he didn’t deserve the treatment he got at the hands of the US justice system.

Q.  You were a Hollywood tour guide for a long while.  If some schmuck reading this visits the City of Angels for the first time, what’s the one spot he absolutely has to take in before he hauls his sorry carcass back to whatever two-bit burg he comes from?

A.  Dude, Los Angeles is home to over 18 million people and covers 4,850 square miles, I can only give you ONE spot? Are you freakin’ kidding me? I can’t give you one spot, but I can give you one short list:

  • Hollywood Forever Memorial Park is a cemetery where a lot of old Hollywood stars are buried. 60000 Santa Monica Boulevard. Historian Karie Bible does a wonderful walking tour www.cemeterytour.com
  • The Los Angeles Conservancy does a series of terrific historical walking tours, mostly around downtown L.A., which I highly recommend: https://www.laconservancy.org/tours
  • The Biltmore Hotel in downtown L.A. Built in 1923 and has been restored to its glory.
  • Hollywood Max Factor Museumwww.thehollywoodmuseum.com
  • Bradbury Building, Downtown LA
  • A guy called Philip Mershon does a great walking tour of a 4-block stretch of Sunset Boulevard east of Vine Street. It’s amazing how much happened on this short stretch. His tour is one of my LA must-do’s: http://www.felixinhollywoodtours.com/

Q.  You’ve been all kinds of helpful during this interrogation so I’ll cut you some slack.  I’m not saying I’m going to let you go.  I’m just going to leave the door open and turn around.  If you walk out, no one’s the wiser, see?

Before you put your feet on the street, the 3.5 readers of this site are aspiring writers. Any last minute words of wisdom for them?

A.  I have three words of wisdom: persistence, persistence, persistence. I’d say at least 80% of what people think goes into becoming a writer — inspiration, talent, craft — comes from dropping your butt into your chair / sofa / bed / hammock / position of choice and start tapping that keyboard. Even on days when you don’t feel like it. In fact, I’d say especially on those days you don’t feel like it. Even if you hate every word of what you’ve written. You can’t polish or improve or edit or re-write something you haven’t written. So stop talking about it, stop thinking about it, stop dreaming about it, and just DO IT.

EPILOGUE: Another day, another interrogation.  Facts gathered like so many pieces to a cardboard puzzle. Turnbull laid all those pieces out on the table and helped me connect them together. I respected him for being a straight shooter, so much so that I was dying to read Reds in the Beds, Turnbull’s latest book, now available on Amazon.

You’ll want to grab a copy, 3.5 readers, because if there’s one thing this private dick knows, it’s that a good page turner is like a good woman – hard to find one, but once you do, you won’t want to let go.

 

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Pop Culture Mystery of the Week – Is it Possible to Still Be a Fan of the Cosby Show?

INTERNAL MEMO

FOR BOOKSHELF Q. BATTLER’S 3.5 READERS ONLY

TO: Bookshelf Q. Battler, PCM Webmaster

FROM: Delilah K. Donnelly, Lead Counsel for the Bookshelf Battle and Pop Culture Mysteries Blogs

POP CULTURE MYSTERY: Is it Possible to Still be a Fan of The Cosby Show?

Mr. Battler,

As 2015 wanes to a close, the latest news reports are that legendary comedian Bill Cosby has been criminally charged with sexual assault.

Your 3.5 readers want to know whether or not it is ok to still be a fan of Mr. Cosby’s show.

What will you tell them?

Regards,

Delilah K. Donnelly, Esq.

Hello 3.5 Pop Culture Mysteries Readers.

The Cosby Show.  Growing up, my fellow Generation Xers and I were captivated by this show.

Why? Three reasons off the top of my head:

  • It was the first TV show that portrayed a successful, accomplished black family. Cliff (Bill Cosby) was the neighborhood ObGYN, familes of all different backgrounds trusting him to deliver their babies. Clare (Phylicia Rashad) was a high level attorney. They had five kids, ranging from Sandra, the eldest who was in college when the show began to baby Rudy, thus young viewers from 4-22 had someone just like them to connect with on the show.
  • In the 1950’s, white viewers tuned in to get fatherly advice from Ward Cleaver, father of Beaver Cleaver. In the 1980’s, white people tuned in to get fatherly advice from Cliff, father of Theo.  It was a sign of progress that in the lexicon of 1980s’pop culture, a black man was looked to as “America’s Dad.”
  • It was a really good show! Everyone has their favorite episode. Mine is the one in which Cliff and Theo argue over whether or not Theo should go to college. Cliff teaches Theo how tough life is by doling out some monopoly money to his son, only to take it all away as he lists off one expense after another. Theo, like most kids, was used to being taken care of by his parents so the hard knocks of life had never dawned on him.

But now, our happy memories of a TV show that made us happy when we were kids are tarnished, aren’t they, 3.5 readers?

Is it necessary to get into the details of the allegations?  You’ve all heard about it by now. Women with claims about drugs and Cosby doing…well…ok just go ahead and crack a joke already.

“So you see, you’ve got to put the pills in the New Coke and then you take out your pudding pop and…

Pudding pops. Damn it, those were delicious. Do they still make those? Someone find out and tell me. I need me one of those.

No seriously, they were frozen hunks of pudding on a stick.  Pure bliss.

Kodak film, frozen pudding, I’ll tell you New Coke was the only product the Coz steered us wrong on.

Anyway. Yes. This is certainly a sad situation. He brought us all a lot of happiness and now its like our pop cultural dad had this whole other side to him.

But is it possible to still be a fan of the Cosby Show?

Well, let me put it this way.

You liked the show when you were kid. If you think about your favorite episodes and still laugh, there’s nothing wrong with you.

But at the same time, it is understandable that various media outlets, from television to streaming media, are removing The Cosby Show from their offerings.

No one wants to be associated with…well…you know.

Its unfortunate because there were a lot of good lessons for young people on that show but at the same time, its impossible to separate the show from Bill’s “other side.”

So the short answer to this “Pop Culture Mystery” is:

  • If you still like the show, there’s nothing wrong with you. It was a major pop cultural phenomenon that touched the hearts of a lot of people. Also, the rest of the cast, i.e. those kids we grew up with who are adults now, never did anything wrong so its unfortunate for them that the show they worked on has been so badly damaged.
  • But, if you want to still be a fan, you’ll have to do so inside your head because understandably, no one wants to carry the show anymore and it’ll become more and more difficult to find.
  • If you loved the show but now you can’t watch it without thinking about all the bad stuff…you’re normal. I liked that Cliff and Theo exchanging the Monopoly money scene, but I can’t watch it now without thinking about everything that’s been in the news lately.

In summation, if you still like the show, it’s ok. If you can’t stomach it now, it’s ok too.

And either way, it’ll be harder and harder to find an outlet to watch the show on.

Thanks for reading, 3.5 readers and if you have a Pop Culture Mystery, be sure to share it in the comments.

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Pop Culture Mystery of the Week – Was Clark Griswold Really in That Much Financial Trouble in Christmas Vacation?

INTERNAL MEMO

For Bookshelf Q. Battler’s 3.5 Readers’ Eyes Only

TO: Bookshelf Q. Battler, PCM Webmaster

FROM: Delilah K. Donnelly, Lead Counsel for the Bookshelf Battle and Pop Culture Mysteries Blogs

POP CULTURE MYSTERY: Was Clark Griswold Really in That Much Financial Trouble in Christmas Vacation?

Mr. Battler –

Delightful to be in touch this joyous yuletide season. Christmas Vacation starring Chevy Chase is a perennial holiday favorite season, especially for your 3.5 readers, who enjoy good humor but for some reason, visit your websites regardless.

In this classic, Mr. Griswold puts a deposit down on an in-ground swimming pool but fears he will find himself in financial ruin when it appears his Christmas bonus will not be coming through from his company.

Pardon my suspicions, but something is amiss, is it not? Was Mr. Griswold ever in that much danger with his finances?

Happy Holidays to You and a Splendid New Year,

Delilah K. Donnelly, Esq.

Merry Christmas to you to, Ms. Donnelly, and even though Jake hates my guts, wish him well for me just the same.

What a timely Pop Culture Mystery!

I love Christmas Vacation. I watch it every year. So many fantastic quotes:

  • “The shitter was full!”
  • “Can I drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?”
  • “Hey Griz, you’re not doing anything productive, go get my stogie!”
  • “Grace? She died thirty years ago…”

Tell me your favorite quote from this movie in the quotes. Meanwhile, I’ll carry on with the mystery Ms. Donnelly has laid out for me.

You remember the scene, don’t you?

Clark’s niece, little Ruby Sue, is sad. She fears she will get no presents because she didn’t get any the year before. Her drunk, dimwitted, unemployed war veteran with a plate in his head father has no money and the whole family lives in an RV.

So naturally, Clark whines that he’s going to be in deep doo doo because he put a $7,500 deposit down on an in ground swimming pool and if his Christmas bonus doesn’t come in, he won’t have enough money to cover the check he wrote.

Does that situation suck? Yes.

Could it cause him some financial woes?  Sure. The pool company will likely want the money anyway as a deal’s a deal. He doesn’t have the $7,500 handy in his account. There will be an overdraft fee. A debt collector will harass him until he coughs up $7,500 big ones.

But really…at worst, he’ll be out $7,500.  Is that a lot? Hell yes it is. I’ll bang my head up against the wall for hours if I ever lose $7,500.

Is it going to put Clark on the verge of bankruptcy?

Doubtful. Consider:

  • From the “kiss his ass, kiss my ass” scene we know Clark is a mid-level executive. There are some asses he must kiss and some people who must kiss his ass. So he makes a decent salary.
  • He owns a large suburban home, so grandiose in size that it fits his and his wife’s extended family.
  • He has money to burn on things like a hockey jersey, personalized with his name on the back.
  • He is able to buy presents for his kids and Eddie’s kids.
  • The extraordinary electric bill that must have come from all those lights on his house was never a concern for him.

All in all, Clark’s not rich, but he’s not suffering either. Losing $7,500 because his employer screwed him on a bonus caused him understandable agitation, but he’d bounce back from it.

At the end of the day, he’d probably have to take out a modest loan to pay the pool company the sum of the bounced check, then suffer with a hole in his back yard until he saves enough to have the pool actually installed.

Stop freaking out in front of your family, Clark.  Actually, don’t. It’s funny and your boss really was a sack of monkey sh$t.

Wheres the tylenol?

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Enter the Blonde – Revised Edition – Now on Wattpad

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It was the day that Jake Dashing returned to his office to find a beautiful blonde attorney sitting in his desk chair.

She came with an offer: solve 100 “Pop Culture Mysteries” for her eccentric client, the notorious nerd blogger Bookshelf Q. Battler and in exchange, said nerd will dish the details on how Jake can return to his own time.

Delilah K. Donnelly. Was she an angel with the answer to Jake’s prayers, or like so many dames before her, was she just looking to dance the Charleston on Jake’s ticker?

Only time will tell.

Bookshelf Q. Battler reviewed the report Jake filed on this matter earlier this year, fleshed out the details and slapped it up for public consumption on Wattpad.

You can find it in Pop Culture Mysteries – Season One.

Right after the story there’s an ad from the American Organization Against Anti-American Tomfoolery advising you on how to figure out whether or not your neighbor is a smelly communist.

You can never be too careful when it comes to those pinkos.

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Read Pop Culture Mysteries – Season One on Wattpad!

Greetings 3.5 Pop Culture Mystery Readers,

Bookshelf Q. Battler here. Just wanted to clue you in on some exciting news.

Jake Dashing has been solving pop culture mysteries for me for six months now and I’m in the process of putting his reports together so that you’ll be able to read them on this site starting April 1, 2016.

Can’t wait? I don’t blame you. Whenever I finish editing one of Jake’s reports, I slap it up on Wattpad.

Fun fact – Pop Culture Mysteries-Season One is climbing the charts on Wattpad’s Mystery/Thriller section. In just a few days it entered the top 1,000 and currently it is ranked #642.

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Go on. Take a peak to see what all the fuss is about. You know you want to and you’ll get the chance to give me, BQB, feedback about how to make your Pop Culture Mysteries reading experience better.

Thanks for your support, 3.5 readers, and good luck with whatever you are working on.

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Pop Culture Mystery of the Week – Why Does Captain Kirk Like Sabotage?

INTERNAL MEMORANDUM

FOR THE EYES OF MR. BATTLER’S 3.5 READERS ONLY

TO: Bookshelf Q. Battler, PCM Webmaster

FROM: Delilah K. Donnelly, Lead Counsel for Bookshelf Battle and Pop Culture Mysteries

RE: New Star Trek Beyond Trailer

Good day, Mr. Battler. Paramount has released a trailer for the upcoming film, Star Trek Beyond. Featured prominently is the rap song, Sabotage off of the Beastie Boy’s 1994 album, Ill Communication.

I dare say your 3.5 readers are in an absolute dither. I’m receiving inquiries such as “Does it make sense for a 1990’s song to appear in a film set in the future?” and “How would Capt. Kirk even know about this song?”

I’m simply much too attractive to feign an interest in science fiction, Mr. Battler, so I shall leave this matter in your capable hands.

Regards,

Delilah K. Donnelly, Esq.

Thank you, Delilah.

And welcome, 3.5 readers, to the very first “Pop Culture Mystery of the Week.”

Jake Dashing can’t solve them all and when he does, he usually gets longwinded and more concerned with himself than the actual answer.

So once a week I hope to take on a pop culture mystery of my own, without the hardboiled noir talk, as fun as that is.

When this site officially kicks off  later this year, I’m going to hand this responsibility off to a trusted associate, a shadowy information broker who goes by the name of “Informant Zero.” Nothing could go wrong there, I’m sure.

And 3.5 readers, if you’re a writer who is into pop culture, I might even assign you a week to solve a pop culture mystery of your very own. I know. Try to contain your excitement.

First, let’s take a look at that trailer Delilah was talking about:

Star Trek Beyond – Trailer (2016) – Paramount Pictures

Ahh, the Beastie Boys. What rebels they were and Sabotage was certainly a rebel anthem. Why, even a young BQB was known to walk around playing a Beastie Boys cassette tape on his Walkman with the Sabotage part worn out.

Kids, there was a time when not every song was instantly downloadable so you had to go to a music store and buy actual, physical cassette tapes. They were these plastic rectangles with information printed onto this material wrapped around spools and…no. You know what?  That’s a pop culture mystery all by itself.

Capt. Kirk is a character from the future.  He’s the main star of a science fiction franchise. How the heck does he know about Sabotage? Why would he be a fan of it? Why would he play it for his crew?

Simple. 3.5 readers, let’s look at Star Wars.  That series is set a universe that’s a mix of sci fi and fantasy. If Earth exists within it, it doesn’t have a place in the storyline. It’s not mentioned at all. Accordingly, it would make no sense for Luke Skywalker to dig a 1990’s rap.

Star Trek, on the other hand, is set in the 23rd Century (that’s the 2200’s for you people that don’t know your centuries) and Earth exists!

And if Earth exists, then Earth’s history exists as well. Holy Crap, I bet to a person from 1770, we 2015 people would come across as futuristic space weirdoes. They’d have no idea what to do with us.

But you know about Beethoven, don’t you? He was born in 1770 yet there are people in 2015 who know enough about his music that they can appreciate him today.

Think about the songs, books, music, and movies you enjoy today.  All of this stuff that seems new and exciting will one day be looked on as classics to future people.

Beyonce? Classic artist. Kanye? Classic artist. Fifty Shades of Gray? Classic work of literature. Whodathunkit?

While the 2200’s seem far away from us (none of us will live to see them), they aren’t that far off when the totality of human existence is taken into consideration.

Space exploration is still relatively new in the Star Trek universe and what is Starfleet’s mission? To boldly go where no man has gone before. Kirk and his crew are space explorers, pushing the limits of a new frontier the way that explorers like Magellan did on our planet years ago.

What’s my point? If it’s not unusual for a classical music enthusiast to sit back and relax with some Beethoven in 2015, then it won’t be unusual when someone in the 2200’s, say the Captain of the Enterprise, for example, wants to get freaky with a Beastie Boys hit.

It makes sense that Kirk would love the Beastie Boys. They were the musical rebels of their day, as Kirk and co. are the space voyaging bad asses of theirs.  Mike D, MCA, and Ad-Rock pushed the rap game to new heights, while that mischievous Kirk is always pulling an end run around his superiors in the Starfleet high command.

Hell, I hope future people will dig the stuff I enjoyed when I was growing up. You know, I envy today’s kids. They can watch new movies and there’s still a whole plethora of awesome movies from the 1980 and beyond for them to discover.

You know what my parents’ generation had to offer me when it came to movies?

Well, to be fair, they had some pretty sweet noir cinema, which inspired this blog. Although if we get into semantics, noir might really be my grandparents’ bag.

Anyway, the baby boomers had some good stuff to offer but to me, a kid who grew up in the 1980’s and 1990’s, most of that just came across as old black and white nonsense, and I’m not going to lie, a whole metric sh%t ton of it involved singing cowboys. Singing cowboys!!!

Meanwhile, flash forward to my heyday. The Rock with Nicolas Cage and Sean Connery. Face Off with Nicolas Cage and John Travolta. Terminator 2: Judgment Day. 

I can take some of the best action movies of the 1990’s and make an argument that they compete with what’s out today.

I didn’t have that when I was a kid. I had my parents’ black and white singing cowboy mumbo jumbo.

That’s why I envy todays kids and that’s why I REALLY envy the people who will come along in Capt. Kirk’s day. They’re going to have so many selections to choose from when it comes to their entertainment.

It boggles the mind to think about it and not to be macabre on a lighthearted site but I get sad to think about all the future stuff I’m going to miss out on.

So kudos to you, Capt. Kirk, for your great taste in music, and more kudos to you, JJ Abrams, the first nerd in history to be at the helm of Star Trek AND Star Wars AND be able to understand why Sabotage would kick ass in Kirk’s world but confuse people in Luke’s.

I hope you enjoyed this very first Pop Culture Mystery of the week, 3.5 readers. Technically, this site doesn’t really launch until April, but I’ll do my best to get out one post like this per week regardless.

May the force be with you and live long and prosper.

Also, I can’t stand it, I know you planned it, I’mma set it straight this Watergate…

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Character Profile – Capt. Thaddeus Talbot

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A veteran of World War I, Captain Thaddeus Talbot was one of few honest cops during Mugsy McGillicuddy’s de facto ownership of the city. He survived as long as he did by walking a fine line, refusing to ignore corruption when it right in front of his face, but never going out of his way to look for it either. “See no evil, hear no evil, don’t get a .38 shoved up your ass by evil,” he advised his men.

He was in charge of “The Irregulars,”a unit unofficially designated as the Mayor’s public relations tool. Talbot and co. would chase down headline grabbing cases in an effort to draw press attention off the Mayor, who was widely believed to be one of many public officials’ in McGillicuddy’s pocket.

In the later period of his life, Talbot got through his days by dreaming of his imminent retirement – moving to a cabin by a lake with Mrs. Talbot, fly fishing and long, luxurious naps.

But then Jake Dashing came into his life, becoming an obnoxious irritant to his plans, as well as his ulcer.

Known for a mouth that would make a sailor blush, the good captain was a Rembrandt of obscenity. Inappropriate words were his paint and Dashing often ended up as his canvas.

And who could blame him? The poor old timer ended up in a vice, squeezed on one end by the Mayor who demanded McGillicuddy get a free pass, and Dashing, who yearned to slap a pair of cuffs on LA’s most nefarious criminal mastermind, no matter the collateral damage.

All the poor guy wanted to do was fish.

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Character Profile – Mugsy McGillicuddy

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Al Capone. Lucky Luciano. Meyer Lansky. Bugsy Siegel. As terrible as these gangsters were, they all had one thing in common.  They all, at one point in their lives were heard to say to their henchmen…

“WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T LEAVE ME IN THE SAME ROOM ALONE AS THAT PSYCHOPATH MUGSY MCGILLICUDDY!”

Bald and overweight, Mugsy had, as the old cliche goes, “a face only a mother could love.” The only catch is that a young Mugsy killed his mother in a dispute over his messy bedroom, thus putting him on a crash course with the juvenile justice system and even worse, leaving him with no one to love his butt ugly mug at all.

That was ok by him. Love? He had no use for it. Respect? He could care less. What he wanted more than anything else was to be feared and in his rise to power over the Los Angeles underworld, he spilled more than enough blood to leave the citizenry petrified.

Of course, he never openly admitted to being crooked. Publicly, he relished the “I’m just a legitimate businessman being persecuted by the system” routine whenever the occasional honest cop started sniffing around.

There were few of them.  Half the force was on Mugsy’s payroll. The other half was so frightened they turned a blind eye.  Drugs, prostitution, gambling, racketeering, fraud, extortion…the City of Angels was Mugsy’s oyster.

But he made a grave mistake when forced an up and coming boxer named Jake Dashing aka “The Jersey Jabber” into throwing fights by threatening his then girlfriend, Peaches LeMay.

Jake held a grudge, one that bore juicy fruit years later…

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Character Profile – Muffelia “Muffy” Bordeaux

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Muffy. The Muffster. The Second Mrs. Dashing. She was a Cajun coquette from the Bayou that Jake met when he was at the top of his game, making moolah hand over fist as a private dick to the stars.  A classy broad on his arm, a finely tailored suit jacket on his back and piles of dough in his pocket and Jake was happier than he’d ever been.

Then it all came crashing down when Muffy shot Jake six times then ran off to Tahiti with Jake’s boorish younger brother, Roscoe.  Well, Roscoe thought he was headed to a sunny beach, anyway.  Instead, he ended up taking a dirt nap, feeding the earthworms with his high grade personal protein.

Was Muffy everything she seemed, or was there more to this femme fatale?  That was a mystery for Jake to solve. All he knew was that she was a crack shot, but missed every organ.

If that’s not love, what is?

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Character Profile – Peaches LeMay

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Jazz aficionados the world over know her as Peaches LeMay, the sultry siren of stage and screen who took Hollywood by storm in the 1940’s and 50’s.  To this day, film buffs heap praise on her award winning turn in Away With the Fire, and her singles are staples of any classic music lover’s collection.

But before she became America’s sweetest peach, she was Jake Dashing’s first girlfriend.  To him, she was Hettie May Blodgett, the girl he grew up with in Bayonne, NJ.

As a couple of eighteen year olds with stars in their eyes, Jake and Hettie hopped an LA bound train, hoping for fame and fortune. Jake wanted to be an actor while Hettie had her sights set on singing.

The deal worked out amazingly for Hettie.

As for Jake?  Well, since he’s currently a washed up private dick in the employ of a nerd blogger who is only able to attract a mere 3.5 readers, one might say our favorite gumshoe drew the short end of the stick on this one.

Still, like an Olympic runner, Jake carries a torch for her.  He blames himself for their breakup and thinks of her often.

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Character Profile – Agnes “The Librarian” Abernathy

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She’s a book slinging badass, a master of the Dewey Decimal System, and the faster shusher in the West. She’s Agnes Abernathy, Jake Dashing’s overworked, under appreciated research assistant.

Having held the position of reference librarian at the Montoya Branch Library for decades, she’s seen her beloved book haven shift from a bastion of knowledge for the community to a de facto shelter for down on their luck homeless folk with nowhere else to go.  Ever the public servant, she puts on the happiest face she can and goes out of her way to help her patrons, even though they heap all manner of abuse on her.

Her most difficult customer as of late is one Jake Dashing.  He has no clue how to use computers and bullies Agnes into doing his pop culture homework for him, so much so that Bookshelf Q. Battler often wonders why he doesn’t just fire Jake and hire Agnes, thus cutting out the middle man entirely.

While Agnes routinely reprimands Jake about his laziness and lack of manners, there’s a part of her that doesn’t mind the intrigue that comes with being a pop culture mystery researcher.  Between budget cuts that lower the quality of services her library can provide, a population convinced that the Internet has made libraries obsolete, her retirement looming on the horizon and a husband with failing health to take care of, she begins to look at Jake’s research requests as her chance to add some much needed adventure to her life.

Of course, she won’t tell that bum that.

Be on the lookout for “Agnes’ Indie Book of the Month” in which our resident book jockey will promote books she’d like to see in her library.

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Character Profile – Delilah K. Donnelly, Esq.

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As one of the top power brokers in Hollywood, Attorney Donnelly is the woman the elite call on whenever they’re in a pinch.  From celebrities in need of her remarkable contract negotiation skills to less than savory individuals looking to stay out of the clink, her schedule is full and she has the billable hours to show for it.

Thus, one of the greatest mysteries of all time is why a woman of such an extraordinary high caliber will, without fail, drop whatever she is doing when her pro bono client, Bookshelf Q. Battler, the lowly nerd in charge of Bookshelf Battle, calls on her for assistance.

Her client list includes captains of industry, stars of stage and screen…and a guy with a blog that only attracts the eyes of 3.5 readers.  Doesn’t make much sense, does it?

Ms. Donnelly is fiercely loyal to Mr. Battler and he, in turn, speaks of her with the utmost admiration.  Why Ms. Donnelly and Mr. Battler share such mutual respect for one another is a secret they’ve yet been willing to share publicly.

Detective Jake Dashing has made it clear that if he ever runs into Battler, he’ll strangle our beloved nerd into dishing the information he needs to get back to the 1950’s, thus ending this website’s run way too early.

BQB can’t have that, so Ms. Donnelly serves as an intermediary between Dashing and Battler.  She delivers BQB’s pop culture mystery questions to Jake and forwards Jake’s reports to BQB.

Jake has developed an overwhelming crush on Ms. Donnelly.  He’s spent his life searching for his “unicorn” a woman who not only has both brains and beauty but most importantly, doesn’t use those assets for evil purposes.

Our fedora sporting hero is convinced she’s his special lady.  Moreover, as a 1950’s fella, Jake’s aghast by “dames in trousers” and is attracted to Ms. Donnelly’s classic, fashionable style.

It’s a look she’s known for all over Hollywood.  Whether representing a client in court, out for a night on the town, or simply relaxing, Ms. Donnelly has never been spotted wearing anything unworthy of being sent down a fashion show runway.

As head counsel for Donnelly and Associates, her net worth is estimated to be higher than you 3.5 readers can count, though she often donates generously to charitable causes and has been known to advocate for the less fortunate (even people lower than Bookshelf Q. Battler and that’s pretty low).

Few details of Ms. Donnelly’s past are known and she and Battler certainly aren’t sharing them.

Will she ever succumb to Jake’s advances, or will she continue to treat him like the washed up bum that he is?

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Character Profile – Jake Dashing

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His name’s Dashing. Jake Dashing. He’s a sleuth, a gumshoe, a shamus, a private dick, and as of 2015, a less than willing servant for nerd blogger Bookshelf Q. Battler.

Tracking down the answers to questions about entertainment is definitely a step down for this legendary lawman. After all, he did bring down Mugsy McGillicuddy’s LA operation and there are rumors floating about that he even punched Adolf Hitler in the face, thus bringing World War II to a grinding halt with his fists of fury.

Born in Bayonne, New Jersey, a young Dashing fancied himself an actor so he hopped a California bound train with his then girlfriend Hettie Blodgett, who you may know today as Jazz songstress Peaches LeMay.

While Hettie’s star shot straight up, Dashing was quickly advised by Hollywood’s hot shots that he couldn’t carry a movie in a bucket, even with an extra set of hands on the handle.

A down and out Dashing turned to boxing, found fame as “The Jersey Jabber,” but it was fleeting. Mugsy’s boys put him in a pickle and made him take a dive, see?

Peaches only had half the story, assumed her man was a bum, and hightailed it away as fast as her getaway sticks would take her.

Dejected but not defeated, Jake joined the Army, fought in World War II, and, as he tells it, was recruited for a top secret mission to cold cock Der Fuhrer in Der Snotzenboxen.  With that, Jake was set on a life long path of being a perpetrator of daring do, the man that people call on when things need to get done.

After some time in Hong Kong and Cuba, Jake made his way back to the United States, took a job with the LAPD, and made a name for himself as an honest go getter who couldn’t be bought.

Sadly, a fracas with his partner Mickey Finn over allegations of impropriety with his first wife led to Jake quitting the force.

At the time, it seemed like a great decision as he opened his own shop, “Dashing Investigations,” and made a killing airing or hiding celebrities’ dirty laundry, depending on whoever was paying more.

But handle enough dirty laundry and sooner or later the stains are bound to stick on you.  Add a scheming second wife and a drinking problem that chased away his loving third wife, plus one last score to settle with Mugsy and things were bound to go kablooie.

In 1954, feeling crushed under the weight of it all, Dashing parked his keister in his desk chair, laid his head down for a nap, but didn’t wake up again until 2014.

He put that Rip Van Winkle fella to shame.

Cell phones. Computers. Everyone and their uncle has one and they’re never not using them. Political correctness. Dames in pants.

None of it makes sense to a 1950’s man and he wants to get back to his own time pronto, yesterday even.

Bookshelf Q. Battler, the notorious nerd blogger, claims to have the straight skinny on why Jake fell asleep for 60 years and how he can return home. But before he spills the beans, Jake will have to solve 100 pop culture mysteries and file his reports so BQB can file them online.

BQB’s attorney, Delilah K. Donnelly acts as a go between Battler and Jake, and between you and me, Jake’s got a bit of a thing for her.

Then again, he always was a sucker for a pretty face.

 

 

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What is a Pop Culture Mystery?

Hello.

Bookshelf Q. Battler

Bookshelf Q. Battler

I’m Bookshelf Q. Battler, a world renowned poindexter, reviewer of pop cultural happenings, and a champion fighter.

If you’re one of my regular 3.5 readers over at  The Bookshelf Battle Blog,  thank you for following me over here.  If you’re a new reader, thanks for stopping by.  I could always use more readers, though somehow the more I get, my hit counter never gets higher than 3.5.  Weird.

WHAT IS A POP CULTURE MYSTERY?

I’m glad you asked.  A Pop Culture Mystery is a question involving some aspect of the entertainment industry that is so vexing, so confusing, so absolutely confounding that it absolutely boggles the mind.

Some examples:

  • In Star Wars, who shot first? Han or Greedo?
  • How did Doc and Marty from Back to the Future originally meet?
  • What happened to the original Brady spouses?
  • Who let the dogs out?  Who? Who? Who? Who?

SO WHAT IS THIS SITE ALL ABOUT?

I’m glad you asked, new and old readers.

See that bodacious blonde way up in the header of this blog?

That is Ms. Delilah K. Donnelly, my attorney and representative in all matters. Boy, has she saved my oily hide and pulled my bacon out of the fire more times than I can count.

I suppose she won’t always be up there, so here’s another snap of her:

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Delilah K. Donnelly, Esq.

I know. She’s easy on the eyes, but let’s try to keep this professional. She’s an accomplished officer of the court after all, and I could not have put this site together without her adept negotiation skills.

Perhaps you’ve heard of legendary lawman Jake Dashing? History buffs can tell you that he ranks right up there with the likes of Elliot Ness and Melvin Purvis.

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Jake Dashing

Ness brought down Al Capone, Purvis took out John Dillinger and Dashing?  He brought an end to the stranglehold that notorious mobster Mugsy McGillicuddy had on the City of Angels, a miraculous feat that no one ever thought would be possible at the time.

The world has long believed that Dashing died not long after that.  The world is wrong.

He didn’t die.  He just feel asleep at his desk in 1954 and slept for 60 years until he finally woke up again in 2014.

Now that’s some Rip Van Winkle action.

Dashing spent a year trying to figure out what happened to him with no luck.

That’s where I come in. You see, I know why Dashing had a six decade nap. I know how he can get back to the 1950’s, the time period he feels most comfortable in. I know how to return him to his old life.

I should just tell him, right?

Well, that would be the just and moral thing to do but I’m trying to get some stats up in this piece. Unfortunately, that means having to do unsavory things.

Thus, with the help of Attorney Donnelly, I struck a deal with Jake:

  • He’ll solve 100 Pop Culture Mysteries for me and file reports that I’ll publish online.
  • After the 100th report is filed, I’ll tell him what he wants to know.
  • And unfortunately, since Jake’s holding back an intense desire to strangle the shit out of me until I squeal like a pig, he and I will never meet in person. We’ll rely on Ms. Donnelly to be our go-between. She’ll deliver my questions and collect Jake’s reports.

Sounds awesome, doesn’t it? Well, no, not for Jake.  But hey, I know you have your choice of blogs to read so when you’re making that decision, keep in mind there aren’t many bloggers who care enough about your entertainment needs to black mail a badass hardboiled noir detective who could literally murder me with his pinky finger without flinching.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!

  • Jake’s had plenty of adventures in his past that he’ll share, and he’ll clue us in to what’s going on as he tries to make it in modern day LA.
  • If you’re a mystery writer, Jake will interview you in his typical private detective style.
  • If you’re a pop culture enthusiast, I’ll deputize you so you can solve a pop culture mystery of your own and promote your work at the same time.

WHEN WILL IT START?

Ah, there’s the rub. Jake’s been filing reports for Bookshelf Battle since June. He grabbed enough attention from my 3.5 readers that I became convinced that he needed a blog of his own.

But I need some time.  So I’ve given myself a deadline of April 1 to get all of Jake’s reports and other material ready to go.

WHAT DO I DO UNTIL THEN?

  • Follow this blog so you’ll be ready to go April 1.
  • If you’ve got a pop culture mystery you’d like to put Jake on, tweet it to me at @bookshelfbattle
  • Check back here as I’ll be posting more updates as April 1 begins
  • Follow and read Bookshelf Battle.  While I’m no Jake Dashing, I am an adventurer in my own right. My blog is a chronicle of my attempts to become a writer, and the aliens, yetis, mad scientists, zombies and other bizarre characters I cross paths with along the way.
  • If you have friends, tell them all about this!  If you don’t have any friends, that really sucks. Take a long, hard look at yourself, make some positive life changes and find a friend! Then tell him or her about my blogs. Remember, the key is to tell them.

I’m very excited about this project and I hope you are too.

Sincerely,

Bookshelf Q. Battler

 

 

 

 

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Did Rocky Beat Apollo?

A lot of people who haven’t seen the original Rocky (1976) believe that Rocky defeated Apollo at the end of the film. After all, the hero always gets his victory in every movie, right?

Wrong! The film, and the several sequels, have always asked viewers to question the concept of “victory.” Life will constantly try to knock you out. You may not get a traditional win, but as long as you keep getting back up on your feet, you’re still in the feet.

Thus, when Rocky, a total nobody, was selected to fight Apollo in the first film, he found fame just by going the distance. Rocky was able to take a lot of punishment in the ring, something everyone has to do in order to get through life and be successful at anything.

Rocky did knock Apollo down early in the match, but Apollo got back up. It was the first time an opponent knocked Apollo down. Post-match, the bout was decided by a split decision in favor of Apollo.

So Rocky lost. That ending went against the grain of most movies. The hero always wins! But technically, Rocky did win. He was considered a loser, a bum, but he got in the ring, gave it his best, and gave Apollo the toughest fight of his career.

You may not win the way you wanted to, but keep in the fight and good things will happen.

In Rocky 2, Apollo demands a rematch. Here’s where Rocky gets his traditional victory. Rocky knocks Apollo down but falls down himself from exhaustion. Both fighters are on the mat, scrambling to be the first to stand up before the end of the referee’s ten count.

Rocky stands up before Apollo and wins. So yes, if you stay in the fight long enough, you may even get your traditional victory too.

SHORTER ANSWER: In Rocky 1 – No. Rocky loses to Apollo. In Rocky 2 – Yes. Rocky beats Apollo.

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How Was Everyone Related to Each Other on Full House?

With Fuller House coming to Netflix, a refresher on the Tanner family from the 1980s-1990s sitcom Full House is in order.

Bob Saget played local TV personality Danny Tanner.  He and his wife had three daughters – DJ (Candace Cameron), Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin), and Michelle (played at the time by the Olsen twin toddlers Mary Kate and Ashley).

Danny’s wife died.  His childhood friend, Joey Gladstone (Dave Coulier) and brother-in-law Jesse Katsopolis (John Stamos) move in to help Danny raise the kids.  A noble move indeed.  When was the last time a friend or in-law did anything for you?

Uncle Joey was mostly there for comic relief.  That goofball doing his cartoon impressions for the kids was adorable.  Uncle Jesse and his rock and roll aspirations were mostly an effort to make the show less square.

Over time, the family grew.  Notable additions include Kimmy Gibbler, DJ’s annoying friend who always let herself in and helped herself to the Tanner’s food and or stuff.  Every family knows a kid like that, right?

And finally, Danny’s TV co-host Rebecca (Lori Loughlin) fell in love with Uncle Jesse.  They got married and had twin sons, Nicky and Alex (Blake and Dylan Tuomy-Wilhoit).

Alas, the Tuomy-Wilhoit twins never ended up with half the media empire of their Olsen twin co-stars.

Admit it.  You never heard of the Tuomy-Wilhoit twins until this very post, did you?

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What Does CHUD stand for?

A chud or C.H.U.D. is a “Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller.”

Chuds were found in the 1984 cult slasher film “C.H.U.D.” about flesh easting monsters who live under New York City, devouring their victims in a zombie-like manner.

The sequel, C.H.U.D. 2 – Bud the Chud (1989) was less serious…well, as if any film about a cannibalistic humanoid underground dwellers can be serious.

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