Monday, June 11, 2018

Pheaturing Martin Grams Jr.

Hey, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Monday. How are you doing? Man, IHOP is rebranding in a big way. Earlier this month, the International House of Pancakes announced their plans to scrub the 'P' from their abbreviated title and replace it with a 'B.' However, the restaurant chain did not reveal what the 'B' would stand for until this morning. Of course, everyone assumed that the 'B' would stand for 'breakfast,' but everyone who assumed that was dead wrong.

Yep. IHOB stands for the International House of Burgers. Vegetarians everywhere are shaking right now. IHOP changes its name to IHOB. Along with the name change, IHOB also announced their new, burger-centric menu, which includes seven new varieties of steak burgers including a Jalapeno Kick burger, a Mushroom Swiss burger and a Mega Monster burger.  What to do you think of the new International House of Burgers? Will the name stick or is this all one elaborate marketing ploy? Will they finally come up with a hamburger patty between two pancakes!? I just made that up, but if you decide to use that, please pay me IHOB. 
Catching a solid Freudian slip is fun no matter what. But catching a Freudian slip that shades Trump coming from the mouth of a "Fox and Friends" host?! That, my friends, is a priceless moment to both witness and savor. On June 10th, during a "Fox and Friends" segment discussing the president's upcoming summit meeting with North Korea's Kim Jong Un, host Abby Huntsman had a beautiful slip of the tongue when she called Trump a dictator. "This is history. Regardless of what happens in that meeting between the two dictators, what we are seeing right now... this is history," Huntsman said. The shady and deeply accurate Freudian slip went without comment or correction, since Huntsman's guest was the former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci. It's likely that The Mooch was too busy fantasizing about photoshopping Steve Bannon into the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and thus, didn't even notice Trump was called a dictator on national Conservative television. "He’s a disruptive risk taker. He’s willing to break what would be the usual bonds of not going to a meeting like this," Scaramucci responded, blissfully unmoved by the moment. While Scaramucci didn't seem to give a nod to Huntsman's accidental shade, a whole lot of people on noticed the moment. You know it's gotten dark when even Fox is calling a spade a spade, or in this case, a dictator a dictator. 
Chris Mau was out on a walk with his 8-month-old daughter, Kali, when he realized she needed her diaper changed. He popped into a McDonald's in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and was greeted by an all-too-familiar sight for dads... a men's bathroom without a changing table in it. Frustrated, Mau took to Facebook to air his grievances. "I'm getting pretty sick of having to change my daughter on a disgusting floor because the only changing table in the place is located in the women's bathroom. It's crazy to imagine I know but there are guys who take care of their kids too you asshats," wrote the 33-year-old father of four. "If it's a public place with public restrooms in the generation of equality among genders and races then how about making sure us fathers can change our children's diapers on a goddamn changing table like the mother's can. Am I asking too much?" In his post, Mau also explained that he walked to the McDonald's with his family, so he could not change Kali's diaper in the car. There was also no counter space in the men's bathroom. Parents everywhere commented to commiserate with Mau. At time of publication, Chris Mau's Facebook post went completely viral and has been shared over 144,000 times. Mau elaborated on the incident by creating a post on Love What Matters, "Almost everyone who has reached out to me has agreed that this problem is a stupid problem to have, but a problem all the same. It’s solution is simple to install and rather cheap, so in this day and age there is no excuse to why there isn’t a changing station in every public place with public restrooms," added Mau. "After all, being a parent is the most challenging and rewarding job you’ll ever have, and with the good will come the bad, but to have to form a last second plan for a diaper change in a public bathroom that decided not to install a changing station is unnecessarily unacceptable. It takes an entire village to raise a child. I honestly hope this post will reach all the right people and good things come of it for all parents and children alike." 
It's one hundred percent true that racism is a huge problem in this country. But recently a picture of a group of teen girls went viral because people thought it was racist even though it really wasn't. In this case, it was important to know the whole story before getting outraged. 

The teen girls were a group of Santa Fe students who'd been given tickets to a Houston Rockets game. All the girls (all white) were holding hands, but one girl stood alone, and she was black. And some people assumed it was because the other girls were racist and didn't want to touch her. One person tweeted...

And that tweet went viral, receiving over 100,000 likes. And other people were quick to point to racism, too. Other folks on Twitter advised that people not jump to conclusions. The whole thing got so out of hand that the girl's mother stepped in and tried to set the record straight. She tweeted,...

Of course, that wasn't enough for some people, like this person who asked if the girls were here friends, then why weren't they holding her hand? And once again, mom took the time to explain, "My daughter didn't want to cry before she had to sing [the national anthem] and holding hands would have caused her to start crying that's the story nothing about race." And THEN someone had the audacity to ask for proof that the girl was even her daughter (because her mother is white). And even though she didn't have to, the girl's mother tweeted a picture of the whole family together. She slyly added that she would not be sharing her daughter's birth certificate. Someone else wondered how the girl would learn about being black if she was in a white family, with all the attendant privilege that affords them. Her mom had the perfect comeback, "I let her read these posts. Y'all are doing a damn good job." Finally, the girl, named Nicole, posted a video of her own, using her mom's Twitter account. In it, she says, "I'm the one who was singing the national anthem. This IS my mother. And no, not the whole town is racist. So please stop calling my friends 'racist assholes.'" Her sister, who is also white, appears briefly in the video, and jokingly holds her hand. But some people still just wouldn't let it go, saying the image looked like a case of racism. That one got a reply from someone who pointed out that the picture cropped out other girls not holding hands. Lots of people supported the family. Someone posted a picture of his own family and told Nicole's mom, "Keep being an example." Despite all the hubbub, Nicole's mom tweeted that the post had shown her that were "some awesome people out there." 
Most of us, at some point or another, have had the uncomfortable experience of having to fend off the advances of someone we're definitely not interested in. Especially if you're a woman... but also if you're a man. Feminism!!!!!!! Sometime, no matter how many times you call someone "buddy!" or curve away their advances, they still feels entitled to your phone number at the end of the night. So now you're in the uncomfortable position of having to give your phone number to someone you've been trying to avoid all evening like HPV in your 20's!? And much like HPV, creeps often prevail. Which is why this woman's "solution" to the problem went viral. Someone who goes by @tricookingqueen on Twitter shared four fake "hotline" numbers to give to creeps who ask. Her tweet was retweeted over 100,000 times (before you get your hopes up, like I did, only the first number actually works as promised)...  

Except for the first one, the numbers aren't real. The Internet is a garbage heap full of shiny lies. But the rejection hotline works! And if you need backup, there is also a real phone number, the Feminist Phone Intervention Line, that you can give to the next creep who tries to get your digits. That number is: 669-221-6251 If you call or text, you get an automatically-generated message with a quote from bell hooks, the pen name of feminist author and activist Gloria Jean Watkins. If you want to help a lot of people, share this number with every woman (and man! and non-binary person!) you know. Trust me, they're going to need it one day. 
I was thinking, instead of doing this blog thing I should be listening to this album...

Ummm... maybe not. You know, some people just strayed too far from "Gods" light... 

Ummm... moving on... Okay, I've said this before, there's one thing about the Internet that rocks is you can see porn for free. But the problem with that is someone might go look at porn and forget about reading the Phile. So, I thought what if I showed a porn pic here. Then I thought what about if you are at work or school... I don't want you to get in trouble. So, I came up with a solution...

You're welcome. Here's another "stop weight bigotry" poster...

Man, those Marvel people sure do a good job with their stunt man doubles...

Maybe. So, there's still some Royal Wedding souvenirs if you are interested. Like these Harry and Meghan handmade earrings...

It looks just like them! Some high school seniors are really killing it with their high school year books this year.

Hmmm... I don't quite get it. Hey, are you a fan of the movie Solo? Well, there's a new Mexican version coming out...

Hahahahaha. If you're thinking of cheating on your loved one you might want to think twice after seeing this...

Okay, now from the home office in Port Jefferson, here is...

Top Phive Things Heard At A Pride Celebration
5. Happy Pride month! Don't forget to draw a rainbow on your doorpost before sundown so Mike Pence passes over your house.
4. Can't believe no one has said this yet... HAPPY PRIDE MONTH to the Loch Ness Monster, who is a lesbian.
3. Ariana Grande let her ponytail down and Reese Witherspoon is coming back for Legally Blonde 3? Pride Month is LIT it really is over for the heteros.
2. It's Pride Month which means every time I utter the phrase "I'm gay" you have to stand up and clap.
And the number one thing heard at a Pride celebration is...
1. I hope that Frog and Toad are having a great Pride Month.

Hahaha. If you spot the Mindphuck let me know. Okay, now for a pheature titled for no particular reason...

It rains diamonds on Saturn. Lightning storms turn methane into soot that hardens into chunks of falling diamonds. This could be the most popular form of precipitation in the solar system, because scientists think it also happens on Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune.

Why don't toothpaste companies make a drowsy toothpaste wo when you brush before bed it helps you sleep?

Despite having the best words, President Donald Trump sure doesn't know what a lot of them mean. On June 7th's morning tweetstorm covering topics from Debbie Wasserman Schultz's email server to wishing Kim Kardashian's friend Alice Johnson "a wonderful life!" Trump pulled an Alanis Morissette and misused the word "ironic."

Um, couple of things. Trump decided to emphasize the fact that he misused the words by also defying the laws of capitalization and writing "ironic" with a capital I. As the dictionary so generously pointed out, the definition of "ironic" is not whatever you want it to mean, Mr. President. It's just like that time Alanis Morissette sang a whole song called "Ironic" listing circumstances that were merely unfortunate but not ironic, the misuse of "ironic" actually being ironic. The tweet also begs another question. Who is America's enemy: dictator King Jong Un or the neighbors to the north?

A blind guy on a bar stool shouts to the bartender, "Wanna hear a blonde joke?" In a hushed voice, the guy next to him says, “Before you tell that joke, you should know something. Our bartender is blonde, the bouncer is blonde. I’m a 6 foot tall, 200 pound black belt. The guy sitting next to me is 6 foot 2, weighs 225, and he’s a rugby player. The fella to your right is 6 foot 5, pushing 300, and he’s a wrestler. Each one of us is blonde. Think about it, mister. Do you still wanna tell that joke?" The blind guy says, “Nah, not if I’m gonna have to explain it five times."

Today's guest is the author of "The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic," the 81st book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club. Please welcome to the Phile... Martin Grams Jr.

Me: Hey, Martin, welcome to the Phile, sir. How are you?

Martin: Thanks, I've read this blog a lot so it's fun to be a guest on it now.

Me: Cool. You have authored sooooo many books about TV shows and such. Your book "The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic" is the 81st book to be pheatured on the Phile's Book Club. What led you to write about "The Twilight Zone"?

Martin: Actually I've written books on a number of subjects from "The Green Hornet" to "The Shadow" and "The Time Tunnel." "The Twilight Zone" I just came across a bunch of material about Rod Serling that had never been published and was not open to the public. I realized wow, there's enough material here that should go public. So, it's kind of what any researcher does, go on an archeological dig and publish the findings and viola. I didn't realize the book was going to take off the way it did.

Me: What kind of access did you have researching the book?

Martin: Letters, different archive items. The records that I was going through were like his corporate financial records, day to day production sheets so they knew exactly where to film on location. Critics by Serling in later years, there's stuff he toyed out for "TV Guide" he never published like ideas he came up for the stories.

Me: How long did it take you to put the book together?

Martin: The time I decided to do the book until the time it got published... about 8 months.

Me: What was the process like?

Martin: The process was kind of simple, anything was pretty much organized by file, date, years. But of course I had to review and read everything. It was kind of like data entry, I typed it all into a computer, put it into a date base. I had grammatical proofreaders go through to make me look like an English professor.

Me: What is some of the information you discovered, Martin?

Martin: There's so much material. If someone wanted to know where a microphone was on screen, and it shouldn't of happened, but it accidentally happened twice. Right down to why they have two different titles for one episode and two episodes why they were filmed twice and footage from both production were edited together to make one episode. There was so much trivia.

Me: What was one of the coolest things you discovered?

Martin: If you're familiar with "The Mighty Casey" from the first season hey actually filmed it not with Jack Warden but with Paul Douglas. Douglas passed away and Serling said, "We can't air this, not with Douglas being his last TV appearance." The network said, "No, you can air it. He signed on to do it, he played it good, it's just good enough." Serling said it just didn't feel right. Out of his own expense, not out of CBS's expense he had the entire film done a second time with Jack Warden playing the role.

Me: You studied the music from the TV show as well. What was it about the music that made it stand out?

Martin: Rod Serling was blessed with a number of musicians like Bernard Herrmann who were very gifted musicians and who one out of three episodes strike a chord and it really goes deep. Many times people who were on a cheaper budget for TV shows would generally out together a music score that was just good enough and it was used. Most people don't know it but in the 1950s CBS had built up a stock library of music. Originally they started using the music from that and the musicians said, "You got to give us a job here. You can't just use music you saved up in a library for your productions." So a bunch of lawsuits occurred and the result was the judge said fine. Thirteen episodes for every television show ever made had to have original music scores. The rest could be stock library. If you look at it, anything from "I Love Lucy," to "The Andy Griffith Show," to this case "The Twilight Zone" if you do the math and check into it 13 episodes of a season of a show had an original score composed the rest is all stock music that they were using over and over. A lot of times you might notice the same music cues from one episode would be used for another episode because it was a strong emphasis on one scene and you might think that sounds familiar. Of course CBS built up such a stock library in the 1970s when Himan Brown did "CBS Radio Mystery Theater" the radio program he used the CBS stock library and you can hear a lot of the same music cues he used in those episodes.

Me: Okay, there's so many episodes we can talk about, Martin, and I haven't seen a whole lot. Pick an episode and tell us a little tidbit about it that most people wouldn't know.

Martin: Okay. "The Invaders." That episode was basically an all music episode. Some of those music cues pop up later third, fourth, and fifth season episodes but only cues. I don't know why they didn't recycle so much more of it because it it was a great score. I know Agnes Moorehead, she was hired to play the role only because he had done a radio drama in the the 40s called "Sorry Wrong Number" which is almost a one woman performance and the producer talked to the director and said, "It'll be funny if we had the woman who was known for talking for most of the role play the role of the silent woman. No dialogue whatsoever." The trick part she was supposed to be an alien at the end, and the whole time you watch the episode you think she was from Earth. They said, "That's half the confusion. If she doesn't say a word like it says in the script you'll never suspect anything. When she speaks English you'll go wait a second, she speaks English too." Th trickier part was how do they create little aliens to invade and at the end to be human. They said, "The only way we can do this is with space suits. It'll be realistic enough." Apparently the director, Douglas Hayes, he's driving to the studio one day and he passes a Michelin and sees the Michelin Tire Man. He goes, "Bingo. I know what to make it look like." He goes to do the little conceptual sketches, they make the little hand puppets and it was exactly how they sketched it and that's how they came about having those little suits.

Me: Did they ever reuse props like they did music?

Martin: Funny enough in "The Invaders" the saucer was originally created as a prop for Forbidden Planet, in 1956 on MGM. If you notice with a lot of the props you'll see a lot of stuff from The Time Machine and Forbidden Planet recycled on that. This was the case where they took the model and slapped the U.S. Air Force sticker on the side of it and they said good enough, that will represent the United States of America on planet Earth. They used that prop a number of times.

Me: So many guest stars appeared throughout the show. What are some of the most memorable ones?

Martin: Well, Burgess Meredith did 4 and Jack Klugman did 4, so they both are tied for the most number of appearances. Klugman told me personally the one thing he always admired was he you got to do a Rod Serling script for "The Twilight Zone" you had a really meaty role. You weren't in there to do like most 50s television dramas. With those shows you were the guest appearance on screen for 5 minutes of a 25 minute episode. If you look at it he's got a point. Burgess Meredith was basically the lead star, Roddy McDowall is pretty much the lead star, Anges Moorehead was the lead star. That's why Klugman said every time he got the phone call for "The Twilight Zone" he said he'll take it, he never read the script in advance. It was one of the roles with everybody in Hollywood wanted to do that show.

Me: How popular was the show back then?

Martin: It wasn't as big as a name as you think it is today, it was at 10:30 on Friday night on CBS so it really didn't have the ratings it could have if CBS had given it a better time slot. But it gained cult status over the years and when the stars became famous for other programs like Peter Falk did the episode "The Mirror" and eventually became Columbo. If he hadn't gotten "Columbo" he would of been one of those support actors that you don't know today but you see a lot.

Me: How did Rod Serling create "The Twilight Zone"?

Martin: Well, he liked science fiction and he always liked fantasy. He wanted his own weekly anthology but he also wanted to tell the stories like on "Playhouse 90" and "Kraft Theater." The censors and networks would go through and clean the scripts up to a point he said they were unrecognizable. He figured if he could be the producer of his own show, he was called the associate producer on this, he had a say of what would and not be on the program. It was a little bit unusual at the time but is now standard today. In 1959 it wasn't and CBS did not want to spend a lot of money on the show. A situation comedy would have cost about $45,000 and that is recycling the same living room set over and over. For "The Twilight Zone" they had to have a different set each time. They couldn't use the same living room set week after week so the budget had to go up. He fought with CBS and I think the first season the average cost per episode was about 95,000. CBS owned 50% of the show and Rod Serling owned 50%. He paid for half of it which was the cost of a regular program. Serling did make a profit as a result and it made him quite a wealthy person in the long run. He sold out in '64 but no one knew reruns were going to be profitable. He had a larger budget than most programs, he was blessed with that. Being associate producer he had a say with story, production, cost, and when CBS put their foot down on the ground and said look, if you can't do it for less than 80,000 and they paid 40,000 he could still pay the difference and not harm the quality of production. So he basically got a gift horse in the mouth.

Me: Is it true that the show was shot on video?

Martin: Long story short there are 6 episodes on the second season that are video taped. The purpose of the video tape was it cost budget decision. Basically CBS at that time had opened up Television City in Los Angeles. They created a studio to film indoors and they could tape a scene and rerecord over them and that is what they would do. I said normally 45,000 spent on a comedy CBS thought that was a good profit, and when they were spending that money themselves they were only getting 50% of the profits for "The Twilight Zone" they kept pushing Rod Serling to doing one man performances. Which is why you see "Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room" and "The Invaders" and so on. Then they convinced him to do a half a dozen episodes on video which Rod Serling always said was a horrible decision but he went with them because he wanted to keep them happy. At the end of the half dozen they thought it worked out well, he said no, he didn't like it and there was a little dispute. He eventually said, "Fine, whatever you guys want, I'm leaving and we're not going to do anymore on video tape and I'll pay the difference if necessary." Apparently he won that decision but that's why you see some episodes that look like they were shot on video tape.

Me: You have a blogspot, Martin. What are some things you out on it?

Martin: I try to put stuff that is interesting. I like your blog a lot.

Me: Thanks. What's the story of the film fest you put on, Martin? This is kinda cool.

Martin: My wife and I put it on every year in September to support the St. Jude's Children's Hospital.

Me: That is cool. Martin, thanks so much for being on the Phile. Please come back and I'll put one of your other books in the Phile's Book Club.

Martin: Thank you, Jason.

That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Martin Grams Jr. for an interesting interview. The Phile will back next Sunday with the Father's Day entry pheaturing legendary guitarist Joe Satriani. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

Not if it pleases me. No, you can't stop me, not if it pleases me. - Graham Parker

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