Posts Tagged With: movies

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.

Categories: The Skinny - Drama | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Categories: The Skinny - Horror | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Classic Hollywood Author Interrogations – Martin Turnbull

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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.


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
  • The Los Angeles Conservancy does a series of terrific historical walking tours, mostly around downtown L.A., which I highly recommend:
  • The Biltmore Hotel in downtown L.A. Built in 1923 and has been restored to its glory.
  • Hollywood Max Factor
  • 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:

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.


Categories: Classic Hollywood Author Interrogations - Martin Turnbull | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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


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?


Categories: Pop Culture Mystery of the Week | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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



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.


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…

Categories: Pop Culture Mystery of the Week | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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