• Make the Haunted Mansion's Hitching Ghosts Who Follow You Home

    The Haunted Mansion, no matter what Disney park it's in (California, Orlando, Paris, or Tokyo), has been a fan favorite since it opened at Disneyland in 1969. For years even The Walt Disney Company would refer to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride as the last attraction which Walt personally supervised, but that's baloney. Walt was shown concept art and models of many of the effects that would appear in The Haunted Mansion which eventually opened years after his death.

    Which brings me to today's Halloween offering. The three Hitchhiking Ghosts appear infrequently in the ride, however they have become the iconic characters most identified with it. Years ago, Disney published three paper sculptures on The Disney Blog that allowed you to download, print out, and construct three very special models of the Hitchhiking Ghosts—their heads turn and follow you as you pass them by.

    The effect is based upon the ancient optical illusion known as The Hollow Face. Most simply, a cast of a face is made in a concave (or negative) sculpture. If you look at the cast with one eye closed and walk by it, the face will appear to turn and follow your movement. The Walt Disney Company obtained a patent on a new process that lit the reversed face in such a way that it was more easily viewable while both eyes are open. These busts appear several times in its Haunted Mansions.

    To see the sculptures created for you to download by Disney, watch this movie (since the camera has only one eye, the turning effect works very well).

    And now it's DIY time: click on each image below, download it. Print it out on cardstock and follow the instructions to create your own Hitchhiking Ghosts that will watch the trick or treaters and follow them as they go home. To increase the effect of the heads turning, wink at the ghosts as you pass them. They'll appreciate that.




    All Materials Copyright Disney.

  • A Halloween Treat: A Monster Mash Mashup

    Bobby Pickett's song "The Monster Mash," was first released in August 1962 as a 45 (that was a tiny record just larger than a CD that held one song on each side—a "single"—for those of you younger than … me). It was written by Bobby Pickett and Leonard L. Capizzi and although it's a silly novelty song, it has endured as deeply as any of the rock and roll classics that appeared at the same time.
    Everyone knows "The Monster Mash"! If my dead grandma popped out of the ground and started to sing, there's no question what tune would emerge from her desiccated lips.

    So, since Halloween is upon us, here's a trio of videos in the spirit of the season. First up is Bobby Picket singing his original tune at the time of its release; second is one of the many mashups of clips from monster movies set to the tune (this one relies heavily on the fabulous flick Carnival of Souls—an excellent choice to watch on the 31st); and finally there's a genuinely creative parody (a parody of a parody!) from The Key of Awesome that brings the song up to date and tweaks the simple horrors of earlier decades.
    Enjoy them … while you can.

  • Don't Look at My Nipples

    Free the nipple!

    Cover the nipple!

    Free the nipple!

    Cover the nipple!

    Kind of like our country right now.

    If you were to read the title of this post you would assume that it refers to female nipples—that which dare not be revealed. However in this case it refers to male nipples … in Japan.

    It's so hot and humid in Japan during the summer that sweat pours off you continuously while outside. There's no way to keep a shirt (or anything else) dry. Evidently Japanese women are offended by the slightest protuberance a man's nipples might cause through his shirt.

    Over at SoraNews 24, there have been multiple articles on this issue—like half a dozen over the last few years:

    Unlike women, men don't have to worry much about such wardrobe malfunctions, but that doesn't mean that the sight of a man's nipples protruding through his shirt is a scenic view. An online survey by Sirabee revealed that 84.3% of the 750 women surveyed thought that men's nipples being visible through a T-shirt is a turn off … most of the women who answered NO to visible man nips stated that it's "gross," "narcissistic," and "dirty."

    At first, a male version of pasties was sold—you peeled them off and de-nippled yourself.

    This video yells "ouch ouch ouch" in a big way! Most Japanese men have little hair on their chests, so maybe I'm projecting, but still …

    The problem of protruding male nipples is seen as so severe that a company has started manufacturing specially knitted "bra" shirts for men with a slight cavity that will nestle the nipple, preventing it from protruding in an offensive manner.

    Here is an ad from another Asian country where Ralph Lauren Polo shirts are designed specifically for a male nipple peek-a-boo.

    I've been to Japan numerous times and can never recall seeing a woman's nipple protrude through her garment. That said, over on Gizmodo I found this box of Japanese female nipple enhancers. Frankly, I find it all rather confusing.

    Via Sora News 24

  • Bite Me! Check out the Japanese gameshow behind the memes

    This is not new news, it's old news. But maybe you haven't seen it, and it's so nutty that I feel compelled, with a box of Williams Sonoma Peppermint Chocolate Bark sitting open in front of me, to share this with you.

    It's a Japanese game show where a curtain is whisked open to reveal a room, and the contestants are shown items in that room, such as a shoe or a picture frame, or a table, or a plant, that are highly unlikely to be edible. They are asked to guess if it's edible or not and then bite it.

    Oddly, some of the items turn out to be stunning edible versions of things you would never consider chomping on. The video will give you a chuckle … just don't take a bite out of anyone sitting next to you. I take no responsibility if your significant other mistakes you for one of the walking dead.

    Via Kotaku

  • Piggies on the Parkway

    Haven't we all seen a lot of pigs on the parkway? You're driving along and happen to notice that the person in the next lane has their digit buried halfway up their snout, digging for truffles. And don't ask me about what happens next—I just can't deal with it. I can understand when 3-year-olds engage in this type of behavior, but adults just should not be doing this.

    What you don't expect on the parkway are real pigs … pink, porcine, and on the run!

    An unhappy situation on a Japanese highway: a truck full of big fat piggies are on their way to meet their destiny when—all of a sudden—jailbreak! The truck crashes into a stalled car and the pigs make a mad dash for freedom, little hooves tapping on the asphalt, except they're on a busy highway and there's no place to go. The scene was captured by an NHK News helicopter.

    In many countries there would be a grassy median in the center, or an easy getaway off to some grazing on the side of the road. But in Japan highways are often elevated, and since they pass directly next to homes, there are large sound deflecting walls on most of them. So, alas, the piggies were trapped and made the best of their few hours of freedom by lounging.

    No pigs were injured in the making of this post. All the rascals were rounded up and returned to a new truck, where their journey to the great beyond resumed.

    Via NHK News

  • Nemo and Friends SeaRider Opens at Tokyo DisneySea

    Disney fans here have been much preoccupied with the retheming of "Tower of Terror" to "Guardians of the Galaxy—Mission Breakout" at Disney California Adventure, and the opening of Pandora at Animal Kingdom in Walt Disney World. On the other side of the planet at Tokyo DisneySea (one of the best Disney parks in the world—ask anyone who's been there, or just look at a photo below) the latest attraction to open is "Nemo and Friends SeaRider." The new ride, which opened on May 12, replaces one of the park's 2001 opening day attractions, "Stormrider." That ride was kind of like a bigger version of "Star Tours," but not nearly as good. You could see the seams all over the large screen, thus destroying the illusion that you were supposed to be looking out a large observation window at the front of a new type of plane. Said aircraft was designed to drop a "fuse" into the center of a hurricane which immediately dissipates it. The ride was not the best thing Walt Disney Imagineering has done, and it usually had the shortest line in Tokyo DisneySea, about 20 to 40 minutes in a park where two- and three-hour lines are the norm.

    They just fixed it by redoing the entire thing with an overlay from the film Finding Dory. There are many Disney park enthusiasts who bemoan the conversion of a ride with an original storyline and characters to that of an Intellectual Property ("IP") which Disney owns. Personally, I don't care as long as the ride is good. And from all reports "Nemo and Friends SeaRider" is good. As in the film Fantastic Voyage (or Disney's own ride "Body Wars" which had a propensity to make its riders barf), you enter a vehicle, in this case the SeaRider, which is then magically reduced in size. Thus you are able to participate in the frolics with Nemo, Dory, and the other anthropomorphized undersea critters.

    What surprised everyone on opening day is that there are at least two, and likely more, different films and ride sequences, making subsequent visits a necessity (at least for the Disney-infected, such as myself),

    So take a looksee! 

    Via Disney and More.

  • Johnny Depp Pimps Beer in Japan

    Pirates of the Caribbean 5 not to your taste? How about some ice cold Japanese Asahi Super Dry beer? I can't get enough. Whether Johnny Depp loves the beer (or just the millions of bucks he was paid by Asahi for making this Japanese TV commercial for their beer) we shall never know.

    Hollywood stars (Paul Newman, Tommy Lee Jones, and many others) have a long history of making commercials in Asia that no one in the west is supposed to see. But these days the internet leaves nothing unseen, and so heeeeeeeerrrre's Johnny!

    Via SoraNews 24.

  • Sweet 16 on the Subway

    This cute video is circulating which shows a group of people, led by a young woman, who want to throw a very brief birthday party for a friend on a subway car in New York City. The friend is unknowingly being guided into this situation by an accomplice. Banners and balloons, blow-ticklers, sashes, and whatnot, are all prepared in the space of a few minutes (two subway stops) before the birthday girl enters the car and suddenly it's all surprises, hugs, kisses, music, dancing, and cupcakes.

    Isn't that heartwarming? Doesn't it just make you feel great about New York.

    It's fake. Notice that none of the birthday partiers are older than, say, 25, and they're all so incredibly attractive.

    The so-called "friends" in the subway car are actors and actresses who work for a company called Improv Everywhere.

    Improv Everywhere is a New York City-based comedy collective that stages unexpected performances in public places. Created in August of 2001 by Charlie Todd, Improv Everywhere aims to surprise and delight random strangers through positive pranks, or "missions."

    The director of "theater company," Charlie Todd, writes on their website:

    For years the subway has been our favorite performance venue. We've had pizza parties, talk shows, wedding proposals, and even time traveling twins. For each of these projects we create a scene that gives random people the option to say yes and be part of something awesome. If you haven't figured out by now, this was not a real a surprise birthday party. Jenny was an actor along with everyone else in our group. The real intent behind this stunt was to see if we could get an assortment of random commuters to play along. Can strangers in a subway car come together and have a party? The answer, much like it was 15 years ago, is yes!

    The bewildered looks on the faces of the actual passengers in the subway car as they're being snookered belie the dual nature of the experience. They're quietly sitting, reading, sleeping, eating. They really only want to get to their destination as soon as possible and get off the train. They're fooled into believing it's someone's birthday, their emotions manipulated, and they join the celebration—and then they're told, "Hey, we were just having some fun. It's nobody's birthday." They've been duped for the purposes of posting the event on social media.

    Every single legit subway rider in that car had to sign a legal release allowing the video to be posted online. "We're all going to be in a video!" If you don't believe me, here's a screen grab from one of their earlier subway performances, and the guy with a blurred face is someone who wouldn't sign the release.

    Legal release? Everything's cool! Now you know why the old ladies and kids are seen eating the cupcakes. Because what New Yorker would eat food given to them by a stranger? Not one … unless you sign a legal release and then you're pals.

    That's life in the 21st century. 

    Photos by Ari Scott.

  • An Eel in the Keel

    1. Chinese man is constipated.

    2. Chinese man remembers an old folk remedy.

    3. Remedy involves inserting a live eel up your bum.

    4. Chinse man goes to hospital.

    Seems like a foregone conclusion that if you insert a live eel in your rectum, health problems will ensue! The slippery monster ate through part of the guy's intestines and went for a swim. The man went to the hospital to have it removed.

    I don't really have to say anymore because here's a video from Chinese news with a CGI reenactment of the whole fiasco. From the music, the little green cloud, and the gas mask it appears that Chinese news takes this to be a comedic episode. Just remember this the next time you go out for a nice unagi dinner.

    Via SoraNews 24.


  • Blimp Style Pancakes

    Light, fluffy, big and round … yeah, I'm talking about pancakes. But not those flat things that look like a round napkin that you cook on a griddle, but the Japanese kind that you make with a rice cooker.

    Doesn't every self-respecting household have a rice cooker? If you don't, then you should! And here's one more nifty thing you can do with it.

    Get yourself a box of pancake mix plus any extra ingredients it calls for such as water, eggs, whatever. 

    Dump it all into the removable pot from the rice cooker and give it a healthy mix.

    Put the pot into the rice cooker and turn it on for about 45 minutes. (Like bread baking machines, rice cookers do all the work for you.) When it's done, turn it over onto a plate with a good shake and out comes a light fluffy blimp of a pancake.

    Major yum.

    You can also add cocoa powder and … heaven … get a chocolate pancake.

    It sounds nutty, I know, but it works if the evidence of success on Instagram is any indication. You can also add chunks of chocolate, fruit (blueberries or bananas), and lots more when you mix the batter. Think in terms of utter pancake debauchery—liberate your palette from those flat things the rest of America is eating.

    And one more thing:

    As tempting as these all look, though, the single greatest advantage to making your pancakes this way isn't the flavor, but the ability it gives you to enjoy a hot meal as soon as you wake up. All rice cookers have timers and a function where low heat is used to keep the rice warm after it's finished cooking. Mix your batter the night before, hit the start button just before you go to bed, and come morning, you can be enjoying your fluffy pancakes almost before your eyes are completely open.

    Via Rocket News


  • Reflecting on Godzilla and the Bomb

    Behold, Godzilla, King of the Monsters!

    The original Japanese version of the film, Gojira (which few Americans saw until a decade and a half ago when it first appeared on DVD), was produced in 1954, just nine years after we dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II. When the heavily Americanized version of the film came out in 1956 it had been retitled, Godzilla, King of the Monsters!

    About the Japanese version, Gojira, film scholar Tim Lucas writes [the film is] "dark, melancholy, crushing, and relentless" in his late lamented magazine Video Watchdog (Special Issue 2, 1995/96).

    On Wikipedia, Producer Tomoyuki Tanaka is quoted as saying, "The theme of the film, from the beginning, was the terror of the bomb. Mankind had created the bomb, and now nature was going to take revenge on mankind." Thus Gojira is a dramatic embodiment of the earth's rebellion against man's stupidity: a blow-torched stomping rumination on the horrors of the atomic age,

    The idea of a big rubbery monster emerging from the ocean sounds silly, however Gojira is anything but. The destruction it causes, though the special effects are primitive by today's standards, is genuinely horrific. You might be one of those folks who chuckle at the marvelously-crafted miniature cities being destroyed by what is obviously a guy in a monster suit, but if you think about what it really means, your laughter should catch in your throat. The film has a prominent anti-nuclear message and is one of the earlier films to shove it right in your face.

    Lucas's description of "dark, melancholy, crushing, and relentless" perfectly describes the savage devastation caused by the seemingly unstoppable monster. From hell it came. Few seem to escape: either you are crushed or roasted alive. Survivors who witnessed the actual effects of the atomic bombs in both Japanese cities describe peoples' flesh melting from their bodies.

    When an American distributor bought the rights to release the film in the U.S., the anti-nuclear message was mostly deleted (go America!) and the film was dubbed into English with dialogue being changed in the process. The original Japanese film runs 96 minutes; the American version cuts 16 minutes of the original and runs approximately 80 minutes. It's also padded with scenes of Raymond Burr as a reporter filing dispatches throughout the film. So, if you remove all the scenes of Raymond Burr even less of the original film exists in the English version. Cut were scenes of Japanese social culture and politics, and the bulk of the anti-nuclear message, leaving a mostly solemn film that still works, albeit with more focus on the monster and less on the reason it exists and the country which it terrorizes.

    Both films are worth experiencing, and quite different. The segments with Raymond Burr are surprisingly well integrated in the U.S. version, with recreated sets and doubles standing in for the Japanese actors, and his narration adds even greater solemnity to the horror. He is the perfect messenger of doom. But it is the Japanese version that fully reveals the insanity of nuclear weapons. If you haven't seen it you're in for a surprise, and as a warning against the use of nuclear arms, it ranks with The Day After, a 1983 telefilm from which scared the hell out of most of America—43 million people watched its original broadcast and saw a radiation-burned Jason Robards wandering through a United States in ruins after a nuclear holocaust.

    The best way to watch both versions of Godzilla is the Criterion Blu-ray, which has excellent transfers of the films and ample extra features.

    The terror embodied in Gojira now seems more real than at any time in the last quarter century. North Korea is engaged in a mad race to build and launch nuclear-armed Intercontinental Ballistic Misses. It is likely the country could annihilate most of South Korea and Japan before other nuclear-ready countries could retaliate. And it only gets worse from there. World leaders don't know how to cope with this. There is a sense of rational destabilization that makes Godzilla more timely than ever.

  • Easter Magic at the Tokyo Disney Resort

    My friend Yasuo Amano, whose themed magic I've posted here before, visited The Tokyo Disney Resort for two days and sampled their seasonal Easter events. If you've only been to a Disney park in the United States, the incredible theming they do at the two parks in Tokyo will blow you away. There are Easter decorations everywhere at Tokyo Disneyland, a full Easter parade at Tokyo Disneyland and a special show at Tokyo DisneySea, hundreds of pieces of Easter merchandise, and even special food for the event. 

    Amano not only shot a great montage of the Easter festivities (which continue for three months), but he also created some special Easter-themed magic and incorporated it into his visit.

    Above, an official video showing the Easter celebrations at the parks. Below is Amano's video of his personal visit and Easter-themed magic tricks.

  • Death to the Roach

    After my parents got divorced in 1965, I lived in a one-room apartment with my mother at 56-10 94th Street, in Elmhurst Queens. The apartment had a small alcove, and a wall was built to separate it from the rest of the space, and that was my room.

    Our apartment was next to the incinerator room. For those of you born before recycling, you tossed your open bags of garbage down the chute, where it was burned. Some lazy jerks couldn't be bothered to open the chute's door, so they just left their bags of garbage (usually just open paper grocery bags) on the floor. Guess who's coming to dinner?

    Unsurprisingly, we had a lot of roaches in our apartment. I became inured to them after several years; if you've never had a roach infestation, you'd be shocked at how awful thousands of them smell. I became so used to them, in fact, that one night I was sleeping and woke up to see a little brown figure sauntering down my arm. I blew it off and went back to sleep. Just like that.

    When I remember that awful smell and the shadows of those little pieces of shit scuttling around in the dark it gives me a shiver.

    After moving into my own place in Manhattan, where the little fiends were already in evidence, I bought a bug bombing gas fogger for every room. Set each one off and ran the hell out of there. Came back a day later and cleaned up. No roaches. I was not about to let those little turd-dropping brown prehistoric bug-ass mothers into my domain. Yeah, they've been here since the dinosaurs and will still be here long after the human race is gone, but I don't have to know see them.

    Which leads me to this article I found on SoraNews24 (nee Rocket News), about an astoundingly easy way to rid your abode of cockroaches. Posted on Instagram by @adreamorreality, the remedy is stupidly simple: fill empty tea bags with dried peppermint leaves.

    While @adreamorreality affectionately calls the bundles "mint bombs," they're not explosive booby traps. Instead, the scent of the oils present in the peppermint is highly repulsive to cockroaches, and so the packets work as non-lethal repellants. In spots that are ordinarily especially attractive to the pests, such as underneath the sink, @adreamorreality recommends leaving two mint pouches.

    This is the only thing which causes me to wish the internet existed when I was a kid.

    Postscript: Earlier this month, on April 11, my old apartment building in Queens, The Monte Plaza, burned down. I had not been there since January, 1992 when my mother died, so I didn't get to yell "GOOD FUCKING RIDDANCE!" to the half million cockroaches who got their asses toasted in the fire (fortunately no humans were harmed).

    Al Jones, a reporter at 1010WINS, the all-news radio station in New York, snapped this photo and uploaded it to Instagram.

    Meanwhile, there are still millions of folks living in roach-infested apartments and homes, spraying dangerous chemicals all over the place to kill the bugs. That's bad for them, and their kids and pets … and the bugs will come back. So, spread the word: dried peppermint leaves in tea bags. Would have changed my life.

    Via SoraNews24

  • Colonel Nedley Lostmore, Doctor of Jungle Medicine

    Hidden inside a bazaar, off the beaten track, in an adventurous land far from civilization, where the paths are thick with dense vegetation and an ancient temple can be seen in the distance, one can meet the self-proclaimed "Doctor of Jungle Medicine," Colonel Nedley Lostmore.

    He has, in fact, lost more than most of us since all that remains is his head … his shrunken head. Despite this seemingly insurmountable dilemma, the good doctor (known to the natives as "Shrunken Ned") dispenses medical advice for up to 16 hours a day depending on his mood and the season.

    It's not free, though, and he's quite up front about that—until you part with two bits he won't even look at you.

    To see the wooden contraption that is Shrunken Ned, you'd think it was built in the late 1950s or early 60s, and has been at Disneyland for most of the park's existence. But while one group of The Walt Disney Company's Imagineers were busy developing the most sophisticated ride in the history of the park, "Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye," another group designed a retro coin-op machine that, like so many of its fortune-telling ancestors, dispenses a card of wisdom (of a sort) at the end. He's been the sole medical practitioner in this corner of the jungle since 1995.

    So, while Colonel Nedley Lostmore has only occupied his little spot in the South Sea Traders shop for 22 years, it seems like he's always been there.

    Why is he such a popular MD? For one thing, he does not suffer fools and if you're an idiot, he'll tell you. He's snarky. He likes bad puns. The medical advice he tenders "below" is more likely to kill you than save you, but as far as doctors go, he's cheap. Dirt cheap. Two bits, remember? The Doctor will see you now …

  • Hey, Let's Call the Cast of Star Trek

    In 1990, probably around the time that the last film with the cast of the original Star Trek TV show had just finished wrapping up the principle shooting of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (which came out in 1991), MCI somehow managed to wrangle all the cast members, including William (I-Really-Don't-Want-Anything-To-Do-With-The-Rest-Of-You) Shatner into making this commercial for MCI for their new "Friends and Family" package.

    MC-who? For many of us over the age of 40, that was our phone company before it sailed into the corporate void and was bought and put into stasis. It still exists, and is now owned by Verizon, but are there any MCI customers still out there? Maybe they are marooned on the planet where Kirk died after living in a time warp for a century before being killed in a meaningless gesture in Star Trek: Generations. Or maybe he died on some other planet … I've managed to erase most of the movie from my mind.

    While the commercial's dialogue never rises above late 1980s television cheese, at least it attempts to feed into the actors' onscreen characters. Of course Leonard Nimoy comes off best—he was always the coolest guy on the bridge.

  • Sgt. Pepper gets a good dusting off at 50

    If you're old enough, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is one of the greatest records ever released. There are enough of us who can recite the lyrics to start a revolution. And just when you think things can't get any better, you realize that they're getting better all the time.

    In honor of the 50th anniversary of the release of the original Sgt. Pepper album, the Beatles have produced an enormously "wantable" six disc CD/Blu-Ray combination package with replicas of all the original paper inserts plus a whole lot more.

    That's all I've got: watch the video. It's $149 at Amazon, but I bet the price will drop before release on May 26th.

    More detailed information for the obsessed!

    CD 1: New Stereo Remix

    1. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
    2. With A Little Help From My Friends
    3. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
    4. Getting Better
    5. Fixing A Hole
    6. She's Leaving Home
    7. Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!
    8. Within You Without You
    9. When I'm Sixty-Four
    10. Lovely Rita
    11. Good Morning Good Morning
    12. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
    13. A Day In The Life

    CD 2: Sgt. Pepper Sessions

    1. Strawberry Fields Forever—Take 1
    2. Strawberry Fields Forever—Take 4
    3. Strawberry Fields Forever—Take 7
    4. Strawberry Fields Forever—Take 26
    5. Strawberry Fields Forever—Stereo/Giles Martin Mix 2015
    6. When I'm Sixty-Four
    7. Penny Lane—Take 6
    8. Penny Lane—Vocal Overdubs and Speech
    9. Penny Lane—Stereo / Giles Martin Mix 2017
    10. A Day In The Lif e- Take 1
    11. A Day In The Life—Take 2
    12. A Day In The Life—Orchestra Overdub
    13. A Day In The Life—Hummed Last Chord
    14. A Day In The Life—The Last Chord
    15. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band—Take 1
    16. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band—Take 9
    17. Good Morning Good Morning—Take 1
    18. Good Morning Good Morning—Take 8

    CD 3: Sgt. Pepper Sessions

    1. Fixing A Hole—Take 1
    2. Fixing A Hole—Speech And Take 3
    3. Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!
    4. Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!—Take 7
    5. Lively Rita—Speech and Take 9
    6. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds—Take 1 And Speech
    7. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds—Speech
    8. Getting Better—Take 1
    9. Getting Better—Take 12
    10. Within You Without You—Take 1
    11. Within You Without You—George Coaching The Musicians
    12. She's Leaving Home—Take 1
    13. She's Leaving Home—Take 6
    14. With A Little Help From My Friends—Take 1
    15. Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise) Speech and Take 8

    CD 4: Sgt. Pepper in Mono

    1. Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
    2. With A Little Help From My Friends
    3. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
    4. Getting Better
    5. Fixing A Hole
    6. She's Leaving Home
    7. Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite!
    8. Within You Without You
    9. When I'm Sixty Four
    10. Lovely Rita
    11. Good Morning Good Morning
    12. Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
    13. A Day In The Life

    Bonus Tracks

    1. Strawberry Fields Forever
    2. Penny Lane
    3. A Day In The Live—First Mono Mix
    4. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds—Original Mono Mix
    5. She's Leaving Home—First Mono Mix
    6. Penny Lane—Capitol Records Mono Mix

    Disc 5 (Blu-ray): Sgt. Pepper in 5.1 surround sound and hi-res stereo

    1. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
    2. With A Little Help From My Friends
    3. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
    4. Getting Better
    5. Fixing A Hole
    6. She's Leaving Home
    7. Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!
    8. Within You Without You
    9. When I'm Sixty-Four
    10. Lovely Rita
    11. Good Morning Good Morning
    12. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
    13. A Day In The Life
    14. Strawberry Fields Forever
    15. Penny Lane
    16. The Making Of Sgt. Pepper
    17. A Day In The Life
    18. Strawberry Fields Forever
    19. Penny Lane
    20. Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
    21. Audio Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
    22. Sgt. Pepper's Audio Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
    23. Strawberry Field Forever/ Penny Lane Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
    24. Video Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
    25. Making of Chapter 1 Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
    26. Making of Chapter 2 Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
    27. Video Setup Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

    Disc 6 (DVD): Sgt. Pepper in 5.1 surround sound and hi-res stereo

    1. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
    2. With A Little Help From My Friends
    3. Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
    4. Getting Better
    5. Fixing A Hole
    6. She's Leaving Home
    7. Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!
    8. Within You Without You
    9. When I'm Sixty-Four
    10. Lovely Rita
    11. Good Morning Good Morning
    12. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
    13. A Day In The Life
    14. Strawberry Fields Forever
    15. Penny Lane
    16. The Making Of Sgt. Pepper
    17. A Day In The Life
    18. Strawberry Fields Forever
    19. Penny Lane
    20. Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
    21. Audio Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
    22. Sgt. Pepper's Audio Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
    23. Strawberry Field Forever/ Penny Lane Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
    24. Video Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
    25. Making of Chapter 1 Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
    26. Making of Chapter 2 Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
    27. Video Setup Menu / The Beatles / Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band


    Via Super Deluxe Edition

  • The Death of the Exorcist

    With the death of author William Peter Blatty on January 13 at 88, I could not help but be reminded that, exactly 43 years ago on that date, at age 15 I first saw The Exorcist, for which he had written the screenplay based on his earlier book. He also exerted strong control over the production.

    It was a time when I was able to see many films due to a decent allowance from a generous father. The previous year, my mother had taken me to see The Godfather at the Loew's Orpheum theater on 86th street just off Third Ave in Manhattan.

    It was a big deal because at age 14, and at that time in 1972, there was a lot in The Godfather most kids my age had never seen (we still had only seven TV channels; no cable, no internet). To top it off, a friend of mine was an usher at what I hazily remember as a Trans-Lux Cinema on Third Avenue just off 57th street, and he offered to sneak me into a showing of Last Tango in Paris. I was a big Brando fan, and I definitely saw a lot in that film I had not seen before. (On the other hand, you've probably never seen an usher in a movie theater.)

    I'd also watched about 10 zillion horror movies on WPIX's Chiller Theater during the preceding decade, and was extremely curious about why people were so freaked out about The Exorcist. Instead of going on opening day, my usual habit, I decided to wait until the lines abated. The film had opened on December 26, but the usual one-hour lines were stretching to three hours. I could resist only a few weeks and on Sunday morning January 13, 1974, I took an early train into the city from Queens to see the 10:30 am show and arrived at 9 am, hoping to beat the crowd. To my dismay there were seemingly hundreds of people ahead of me.

    Growing up in New York, for many years it was commonplace to wait in line an hour or more when a film opened. There were no reserved seats and for most films no way to purchase advance tickets—it was dog eat dog in the scrum outside the theater, regardless of the weather. Not sure what it's like now. It was a shock when I moved to Washington, DC, in 1991 and could arrive at the movie theater five minutes before the film began.

    Anyway, on that particular day it was damn bitter cold with a piercing wind. I just looked it up online to reconfirm my memory and the high was 27 degrees, with a low of 12 degrees. Damn freeze-your-ass-and-make-you-wish-you-were-dead cold. Hundreds of people shivering in what felt like sub-zero temperature, standing on a concrete sidewalk in Manhattan (the cold comes up through the bottoms of your shoes), with the wind slicing right though our coats, waiting to see a horror movie. Yeah, I know … crazy.

    Because it was the first showing that day, we didn't have the usual pleasure of watching the audience for the showing before ours leave the theater. In Manhattan this was always a huge part of the spectator sport of waiting in line for a film. Five years later, when we were in line for the first Alien film, the people leaving the showing before ours had pale white faces and open mouths. They looked seriously disturbed. Perhaps if I had seen the faces of those leaving The Exorcist on that cold day in 1974 I might not have gone inside and seen this.

    Now you might be wondering what was I doing at age 15 going to see an R-rated film, particularly one as foul-mouthed, intensely disturbing, violent, and gory as The Exorcist. Well, I never saw a movie theater in Manhattan check an ID. If you waited on line and paid for your ticket, in you went (unless you were obviously 10 or 11).  

    It was freezing outside, and pretty chilly in the theater as well (Manhattan theater owners were always trying to save money by scrimping on the heating and air-conditioning). This made the scenes in the possessed Regan's bedroom where everyone is cold and you can see their breath seem even more true to life. (The set was built on a refrigerated set just for that purpose—it seems the devil doesn't like it hot.) Here's director Bill Friedkin wearing a winter coat and hat on the set.

    Last year I wrote about John Carpenter's film The Thing, and the reactions it elicited from a crowd at an unannounced preview: people running from the theater, the smell of cookies tossed wafting through the air, and screaming. The reactions to The Exorcist were entirely different. No one vomited except on the screen. I didn't hear any screams. Stunned silence is all. That, and people leaving. The first large batch fled during the scenes of the medical tests where a needle is inserted into Regan's neck and blood spurts out. Health care as horror.

    Most people stayed in their seats after that, though some more folks hot-footed it out of the theater while Regan was doing you-know-what with the cross … yeah, and your mother knits socks that smell.

    In case you think that I'm exaggerating about the crowds and people leaving the theater, watch this.

    Most people don't realize how many actresses were involved in portraying Regan. Linda Blair, nominated for an Academy Award, is the one we readily see. For some scenes, however, the possessed Regan was performed by actress and stunt woman Ellen Dietz. Once you've seen the film a few times and get past your emotional reactions, it's easy to see that Dietz looks quite different than Blair in the demon makeup. Dietz also portrays "Captain Howdy," the flash frame image demon who pops up every now and then and makes you jump in your seat.

    Dietz was interviewed on media mike's website:

    I did a play in New York and an agent saw me in it. He signed me and a casting notice came out looking for somebody who was 5'2", strong and could act. They asked to see me. I read the book and did a few improvisations for the casting director. I then met Billy Friedkin (the director of the film) Dick Smith (the makeup genius behind the look of the film), Linda Blair and her mother. Then I went up to Dick Smith's studio, which was amazing. They had to make me look like the demon. I didn't have to look like Linda. I wasn't her stand in, I wasn't her stunt double. I wasn't many of the things people think I was. I was an actress signed to play the part of the demon that possessed Regan. And once they found out I could handle the role physically I did a screen test. I was originally supposed to work on the film only during the masturbation scene but I ended up working on it for six months. The good news is that, as a principal actor in the film, I still get residuals. There were a total of six people who played Regan when she was possessed. There was a stunt double, a lighting double. There was Mercedes McCambridge, who did the voice. There was Linda Blair, there was me and there was another girl who did the spider walk. It was something they didn't want known at the time. They wanted everybody to think that this 12 year old girl had done all the work. That's why my name isn't in the credits … they wanted to keep the illusion that it was all one performance. In retrospect I should have asked them to put my name in the credits as a different character … that would confuse everybody.

    Here's Dietz with makeup artist Dick Smith setting up a method for the green-pea vomiting that ultimately was not used.

    The rumors in Hollywood of how much or how little Linda Blair did were said to have sabotaged her shot at an Oscar for Best Actress, an honor she might otherwise have deservedly won.

    Below is a snippet of Linda Blair's performance recorded on set, followed by the same scenes dubbed by Mercedes McCambridge. From the Associated Press:

    McCambridge was hired to portray The Demon in William Friedkin's 1973 smash hit The Exorcist. After weeks of what she called the hardest work she had done for a film, she had been promised prominent mention in the credits. But when she attended the preview, her name was missing. As she left the theater in tears, Friedkin tried to explain that there had been no time to insert her credit. The Screen Actors Guild intervened and forced her inclusion in the credits.

    One could write books about The Exorcist (several have), but instead I'll leave you with a few personal reminiscences.

    I went to a sleepaway camp, Chipinaw, in the Catskills for over a decade. I was often in the camp show, and one year the drama counselor was Bill Forsythe. Since he had been in a touring version it was decided that we would do Grease. Bill was a great guy and we had a lot of fun putting on a bowdlerized version of the show. On Saturdays we would go into Monticello and do our laundry and hangout. At that time, when he was young, Bill had a round face and a slightly piggy nose. He told me that he would go to showings of The Exorcist and, during the scene where the possessed Regan's head spins, he would puff his cheeks up and slowly turn his head around, spewing air in a scary way, much to the horror of the people who were sitting directly behind him. They screamed! Years later I was sitting in yet another movie theater watching Raising Arizona and there was Bill, now "William," portraying a dumb-as-rocks kidnapper along with John Goodman.

    My second story is about my friend, poor Mario Gonzalez, who worked at Lou Tannen's Magic Shop on Broadway and later ran his own magic shop on Long Island. Lovely guy, he'd been raised in a very strict, devout Catholic household. After he saw The Exorcist he had nightmares for 20 years. He broke out in a sweat just talking about the film. After a while, he stopped talking about it … but he still carried the fear.

    I carried no fear, but also had no idea that Max von Sydow, who played Father Lancaster Merrin, was not 75. This is perhaps the ultimate illusion created by makeup artist Dick Smith for the film: von Sydow was merely 40 at the time.