Tag Archives: politics

[November 8, 1962] Late Night with the Journey (Johnny Carson, Merv Griffin… and Steve Allen!)

[if you’re new to the Journey, read this to see what we’re all about!]

by Victoria Lucas

When I got back from Stanford in June, I was ready for a little TV.  I didn’t take one to school and didn’t have time to watch it anyway.  I worked most of the time I wasn’t in class or doing homework so I could stay in school.  I got a student loan, and paying off that and paying the mortgage on my mother’s house where I lived is difficult, so I type papers and theses here. 

I’m often also at work evenings—my salary includes coming to work on weekends so I can run the box office for the Drama Department where I’m the secretary—and if I’m not doing that I often work on community productions, like the ones for Playbox or the dinner theatre, or act as a “clacker” for the Drama Department productions or others (clapping and laughing loudly).  And I go to concerts.

About the only time I have to watch TV is late at night — after I can’t type any more, the rehearsals are over, the concerts done with, the occasional parties over, the box office closed and plays over.  I used to watch Jack Paar on “The Tonight Show,” but I understand he walked out, and his last show was March 29.  I don’t know, I guess I tried some of the guest-hosts (Merv Griffin, Arlene Francis, et al.) they had on in his place, but none I watched caught my fancy.  (Griffin went into daytime TV, interviewing people.)

I understand Johnny Carson finally replaced Paar October 1.  But he didn’t catch my fancy either.  I think only of seeing him in “Who Do You Trust?” his daytime show I would see when sick at home with the TV for company, and I don’t like the way he mocks housewives.

So I twiddled the dial and into my room at the back of the house walked Steve Allen, laughing.  He used to be the host for “The Tonight Show.” In fact, he started the thing.  But now he has the theatre where the show is taped named after him and can do pretty much anything he wants.  Carson wears tailored suits that look expensive and his humor—what there is of it—is deadpan.  That’s OK, but by the time I turn on the TV at night I want laughter, lots of it.  I want Steve Allen yelling “SMOCK SMOCK” back at the audience when they make bird noises at him.  I don’t mind if he dives into a pool full of Jello or his other opening stunts.  (It gives me time to get settled until the screaming dies down.) I want Steve Allen leaving the studio to accost some unsuspecting passers by on the streets outside or at the very least making fun of the people at Hollywood and Vine. 

OK, there’s an occasional guest, but between guests and his piano music, he laughs and does crazy stuff and breaks himself up laughing when he sees himself on a monitor.  And I love it when he has his wife Jayne Meadows on.  One word that has been applied to him explains why I like to watch Allen: unpredictable.  I like music that surprises me, theatre/movies with endings I can’t foretell, jokes with punchlines I can’t anticipate.  Wrap all that up with intelligence, eloquence, musicianship, and a sense of humor that won’t quit, and you’ve got Steve Allen.  If you aren’t watching him already, I suggest you start.

Incidentally, Lionel Van Deerlin won his seat in the California election for the 37th District Tuesday.  I didn’t stay up eating a pomegranate while waiting for election results the way I used to when I was younger, but kept an ear out for the results.  Remember, he’s the guy who was newscaster and news director for local television after an unsuccessful run for Congress 4 years ago.  It’ll be interesting to see what a Democrat from the usually Republican San Diego will do for a change.

[Sadly, but expectedly, the unincorporated community of Vista will be represented henceforth by James B. Utt, who is somewhere to the right of Atilla the Hun.  At least Governor Brown trounced Tricky Dick! (Ed.)]

[Jan. 5, 1960] Perpendicular to Up (4D Man)

What is it that separates schlock from the sublime in a science fiction movie?  To the nondiscriminating, I suppose they all look the same.  The same may go for the discriminating, but for opposite reasons.  I know I have very high standards when it comes to my science fiction.  This is the price I pay for having read so many excellent stories.  Thus, for me the visual medium generally lacks, though there are exceptions.

So why do I keep going out to the drive-in?  Well, occasionally there are good films, and if I know what I’m getting into, I can enjoy a bad film.  Science fiction movies are generally dreadful, so I am well-prepared for the experience. My daughter, though only 10, is a discerning person, herself, so we always have good conversations about films afterward (and during!)

Last week, 4D Man was on the menu.  It was made by the same crew that brought us The Blob.  In brief, it involves a fellow who is convinced that, using the powers of his mind and some field-generating doohickey, he can force solid objects through other solid objects.  He brings it to the attention of his sober, scientist brother, who eventually masters the art.  In the process, the brother becomes a monster, for the application of said art causes rapid aging, and the only way to regain youth is to steal it from others.  He becomes a sort of vampire, and his ability to become insubstantial renders him all but invulnerable.

The trick is to push really hard.

Quite an odd duck, this movie.  For one thing, the sci-fi twist doesn’t really get involved until halfway through.  Instead, we are treated to a love triangle between the brothers and the elder brother’s colleague/assistant.  I say treated because I actually quite enjoyed this part.  In particular, I was happy to see that the colleague, played by the talented Lee Merriwether, was intelligent and independent.  When the younger brother, whose actor’s name escapes me, attempts to nobly decline the lady’s attentions in deference to his older sibling, she makes it perfectly clear that she is her own woman, and she chooses who she wants.  She is also, ultimately, the hero of the movie, managing to vanquish the monster rather cleverly. 

Scientists doing Science.

I think The World, The Flesh, and the Devil taught us how to resolve this situation.

There is a lot to enjoy about the movie.  Robert Lansing plays the older brother in a competent, understated manner, and he is a pleasure to watch.  As I mentioned upstream, Lee Merriwether’s smart scientist character is a breath of fresh air.  The younger brother’s actor is eager, if nothing else.  One might find the incessant jazz soundtrack somewhat off-putting, but I liked it.  The special effects are inexpensive but convincing.  It’s in color, which is still uncommon for sci-fi films.

Big brother masters the art of pushing….

…and uses it predictably.

But is it worth the price?

But how was the science, you ask?  Well, it’s ludicrous, of course.  The younger brother attempts to attribute the power of matter phase-through to a fourth-dimensional field that acts as an amplifier for the talented mind; hence, the movie’s title.

I think it’s hogwash.  It’s easier to believe that both brothers are mutants, and that the older brother, with his more-disciplined psyche, is able to master the ability.  This hypothesis is strengthened by the fact that Lansing’s character is able to phase even without the field generator.

From the reviews, it does not appear that 4D Man will beat out The Blob in popularity or box office.  I attribute this, in part, to the lack of a catchy theme.  It’s still a fun 90 minutes if you look at it as a live-action comic book, however, and worth it for Merriwether and Lansing.

By the way, in case you’ve been under a rock the last few days, Senator Jack Kennedy has tossed his hat into the presidential race for this year.  It is encouraging to think that my chronological peer could run for this nation’s highest office.  On the other hand, my political sympathies tend to be more in line with those of Hubert Humphrey and (the yet undeclared) Stuart Symington.  Or Nelson Rockefeller, whose star rose and fell last year.

Just please please don’t give us Tricky Dick in November!

Note: If you like this column, consider sharing it by whatever media you frequent most.  I love the company, and I imagine your friends share your excellent taste!

P.S. Galactic Journey is now a proud member of a constellation of interesting columns.  While you’re waiting for me to publish my next article, why not give one of them a read!

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