April 6, 2013

Pay it Forward, Liebster-style

The Liebster Award - Pass it on!!
Now Playing: The Liebster Award (Date of origin?)

Pros: Knowing that someone out there appreciates your work
Cons: The terrible, awesome responsibility of passing the award on to other worthy blogs

Recently I've been getting out more into the movie blogosphere, checking out some new (to me) blogs, being more social, commenting (and being commented on in return), liking (and being, gulp, liked in return -- "You like me, you really like me!"), and just generally not settling for the same old, same old. (Those who knew the old, cantankerous, anti-social Brian best are wondering what the aliens did with the body, and how they should handle this obvious impostor -- Hand grenades? Flame thrower? Installing a million volt electrical grid in the hallway outside of its office and luring it out to be reduced to a smoldering pile of ash?)

Anyway, in my explorations, I had come across mention of this thing called the Liebster award, and a graphic that looked something like the UL Underwriters Laboratories' Seal of Approval for blogs, only pinker (and with a cute heart in the middle). Just as I was starting to wonder what it was all about, bingo!, I got an email from Karen at Shadows and Satin (check it out!) nominating my blog (as well as 10 other very worthy endeavors) for the Liebster. It quickly dawned on me that this was not your usual garden-variety award that just sits there collecting virtual dust, but rather something dynamic and brilliant that helps struggling bloggers "pay it forward": to be appreciated, and to appreciate in turn in an ever-widening circle of fellowship and community. And of course, to get to know the people (or the alien impostors) behind the blogs just a bit better.

The blogosphere
For some reason, whenever I encounter the term
'blogosphere,' an image like this pops into my head!
As I understand it, as a recipient I have to a.) reveal 11 random facts about myself; b.) answer the 11 challenging questions Karen has carefully drawn up; and c.) pay it forward to 11 more deserving bloggers. Whew! Well, here goes:

Eleven random facts about yours truly

1. I vowed never to join Facebook right up until about a year and a half ago, when I joined. Now, in addition to my personal page, I maintain a companion page for this blog. Can someone give me some advice on how I can gracefully extricate myself?

2. My wife and I love animals, period. At one point, our little family was up to 3 dogs and 3 cats. We love them all dearly, even as we spend hour upon hour trying to get the pet hair out of our clothes, the furniture, the rugs, etc.

3. In junior high school, I published two spectacular issues of a science fiction fanzine, Fanactic. I regularly corresponded with Lisa Tuttle and Darrell Schweitzer, two fans who would later become celebrated science fiction/fantasy writers. Tragically, I did not become a celebrated writer (until now).

4. Related to the above factoid, I also corresponded with Dean Koontz, who at the time was an up and coming writer and still teaching public school in Pennsylvania. When I reacted ambivalently to one of his books, he sent me a scathing 3 page, single-spaced letter, and I never heard from him again.

5. I am a huge baseball fan. I love putting on the cap and jersey, going to the park, and guzzling down outrageously over-priced beer and hot dogs. Tragically, 2 balls have been hit directly to me in the stands, and I muffed 'em both.

6. As a kid, I wrote and performed plays in my parents' garage based on the Universal monster movies that I was glued to on Saturday nights. Later, I made Super 8 monster movies with friends. Tragically, I did not become another Steven Spielberg or George Lucas.

7. I love German Expressionist art, and I especially appreciate its influence, courtesy of expatriate German filmmakers, on American horror films and thrillers of the '30s and '40s.

8. I have long been on the cutting edge of technology -- for example, I was an early digital photography adopter. But I'm older now, and the desire to be the first on my block with the latest techno-gadget now competes with my instinct to save for retirement.

The original Outer Limits TV show
9. I prefer the original Outer Limits TV series to the original Twilight Zone. (Heresy! Light the fires!)

10. When I was younger, I made fun of old folks (including my parents) who retired to places like Florida and Arizona. Now I'm not sure I can make it through one more snowy winter.

11. I love doing backyard movie parties, with a projector and roll-up screen. I did two last year, and am looking forward to getting the equipment out again when the weather warms up.

Thoughtful Answers to Karen's Questions

1. What movie do you watch every time it comes on TV?

The Big Heat (1953): Fritz + Glenn + Gloria + Lee = must see movie TV (hey, that rhymes!)

2. What’s your favorite movie musical?;

My Fair Lady (1964). Love the music! Love Audrey! Love Rex! (in a very detached, manly sort of way).

3. What classic movie star would you have most liked to meet?

Vincent Price -- for his erudition, his love of art, his cooking -- an all around Renaissance man!

Gravesend Manor (TV show) cast, circa 1960s
The Duke, Malcom and Esmeralda, cast of
'Gravesend Manor' (Claude not pictured)
4. What’s your most treasured movie or TV-related possession?

An autographed picture of the Duke, Malcolm and Esmeralda from the Saturday night horror host show Gravesend Manor, broadcast in central Iowa back in the mid-sixties. A grade school friend's dad worked at the local TV station.

5. If you could make a living doing whatever you wanted to do, what would that be?

Running a classic film revival theater in New Orleans.

6. What’s your favorite movie western?

Man of the West (1958), with Gary Cooper, Julie London and Lee J. Cobb. Intense, gritty, surprising -- the last great film for both director Anthony Mann and Coop.

7. Have you ever had an encounter with a movie or TV star?

A long time ago in a universe far, far away, Margot Kidder did a benefit appearance for a congressional candidate I was working for. I got to drive her to the airport. She was friendly, gracious and down-to-earth -- just delightful!

8. If you could program a perfect day of movies on TCM, what would be the seven films on your schedule?

I'd do a Fritz Lang retrospective: Metropolis, M, The Testament of Dr. Mabuse, Fury, Scarlet Street, The Big Heat, and While the City Sleeps

9. Who are your top five favorite fictional characters?

Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Bosch, Alex Delaware

Poster - Forbidden Planet (1956)
10. What movie have you seen more often than any other?

Forbidden Planet (1956). I shed a tear every time for poor Morbius.

11. Bette Davis or Joan Crawford?

Joan Crawford. What can you say about a career that includes The Unknown (1927), Mildred Pierce (1945), Humoresque (1946), The Damned Don't Cry (1950), Strait-Jacket (1964), and Trog (1970)?

Now, to pass on the Liebster to the next set of insightful, worthy blogs that you'll definitely want to check out:

Classic Film and TV Cafe

Journeys in Classic Film

Krell Laboratories

The Last Drive-In

Outspoken and Freckled 

Random Ramblings of a Broadway, Film, and TV Fan

Scared Silly: Classic Hollywood Horror-Comedies

She Blogged by Night

Tales of the Easily Distracted

Thrilling Days of Yesteryear

Wide Screen World

And, if they're so inclined, my questions for them:

1. What is your guiltiest movie pleasure?

2. What is your favorite character actor/actress?

3. What movie would you show to an alien visitor to best illustrate the meaning of life on earth and being human?

4. What movie made prior to 1970 would you show to a teen or twenty-something who insists that nothing that old could be any good?

5. What movie or actor/actress that you were indifferent about or maybe even disliked at the start, has grown most in your estimation over the years?

6. What movie or actor/actress has declined the most over the years?

7. What actor or actress is most like you?

8. Which would you prefer to do: direct, produce or write?

9. What 3 neglected, underdog movies are most deserving of a revival on TV, DVD and/or online?

10. Boris Karloff or Bela Lugosi?

11. What unfamiliar movie genre terrain are you most keen to explore?


  1. Congrats on the Liebster! Yay! It is well deserved.

    And, I will make myself available for the next time you're hosting a back yard movie party.

    1. Thank you! Just so you know, once I get the movie party schedule set, I will give you first crack at special reserved seating at a very affordable price!*
      *(Airfare not included)

  2. Brian, your responses were a sheer delight. There's so much to respond to, I scarcely know where to begin! So I'm just diving in -- I love The Big Heat, too; I once owned a copy of one of Vincent Price's cookbooks, but my brother used it to wedge our luggage on top of his van during a family road trip and it went flying down the highway somewhere in Indiana; the backyard film party sounds like the coolest thing ever; and your experience with Dean Koontz is a hoot! (what was the book about which you were ambivalent?) Cheers!

    1. Thanks Karen! (And thank you for bestowing the Liebster award in the first place.)

      I lived in northern Indiana for a good deal of time in the late '80s and through the '90s, so who knows, I might have run over your cookbook in my car after it went flying out! :)

      The Koontz book was The Pig Society, (c) 1970 (non-fiction by the way, and co-authored with his wife Gerda). There seems to be some revisionist history going on, as supposedly now Dean disavows much of the book's content, claiming the publisher fiddled with his manuscript. All I know is that he sent me a copy way back when to review, so he must not have been too unhappy with it!! See: http://koontz.iwarp.com/pigsociety.html

  3. Brian, love your answers! Sign me up for the Fritz Lang marathon and I, too, feel sorry for Morbius (hey, it was just a father id thing). While I favor the Anthony Mann-James Stewart Westerns, MAN OF THE WEST is an exceptional example of the 1950s "adult Western."

    1. Okay, I will extend the same offer to you-- if I do the Fritz Lang marathon as a backyard movie party weekend, you get first dibs on reserve seats (but remember, airfare is not included). :)

      I hear ya about the Mann-Stewart westerns. Like any decent, loyal Jimmy Stewart fan, I have the 6 disc western collection (plus I own The Naked Spur separately).

  4. Hi, Brian, nice to meet you and your blog! I also remember dial-up phones, and even have one, yet I'm only 19. I'm a classic film fan and it's great to know more and more bloggers who share the same passion.
    If you want to know more about me, there is a video I made about James Cagney in my blog right now.

    1. Hi Le!
      It's great to know there's a whole new generation of fans and reviewers who are so eloquent in their appreciation of classic movies. Your video tribute to James Cagney is very well done!

  5. Loved your answers! I have never seen Man of the West and just now added it to my queue. I'm a huge fan of Julie London, and somewhere this morning (I've been on so many pages I've forgotten where!) I saw a poster for this exact film. Now that you've listed it as a fave, I'm watching it!

    My mother lived in St Louis where Vincent Price was born and met him twice, even though I'm not sure he spent much time there. Both times were during events he attended, though I no longer remember WHAT those events were. Mom's assessment: "He was polite." LOL

    1. Hi Stacia!
      I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by Man of the West -- Julie London gives a superb performance! Also look for Royal Dano in a small, but scene-stealing role.

      You know, your mother may have hit the nail on the head as far as Vincent's unique persona. He was ever so polite as he strapped you down to be cut in half by the pendulum's blade -- that's what made him so scary! :)