Category: Trivia

THE PHANTOM – The Man Who Cannot Die!

Bottleneck Gallery posted The Phantom print above as well as another (with variants of both) by Henrik Sahlstrom.  Seeing these posters took me back to my childhood.  For a brief time I was a fan of The Phantom.  He appeared in a comic strip in my local newspaper (Terre Haute Tribune-Star).

The Phantom was created by Lee Falk.  The first Phantom newspaper strip appeared on February 17, 1936.  The Phantom wore the purple costume you see in the art by Sahlstrom. In the series, set in the fictional country of Bangalla, Africa, Christopher Walker was the first Phantom who took on the hero identity when his father was killed by pirates.  Walker passed the identity down to his son and so it went with each new generation.  The Phantom became known as “The Ghost Who Walks” and “The Man Who Cannot Die”.  Although he has no super powers, the Phantom is smart and strong.  He lives in a cave that looks like a skull with his pet wolf, Devil.

Over the years, The Phantom has been adapted from the newspaper strips to comic books, movie serials, animated series, a live-action series and a feature film!  At it’s peak The Phantom newspaper strip reportedly had an audience of over 100 million readers daily.  Even more amazing is the fact that the strip is still being published today! The Phantom is truly the man who cannot die!

Alexander Graham Bell: Surprising Facts You May Not Know!

Most everyone knows that Alexander Graham Bell is credited with inventing the telephone.  After reading 10 Things You May Not Know About Alexander Graham Bell at, I learned more interesting trivia about him.  Before you click over, here are three of my favorites…

Bell developed a wireless telephone. (He called it a photophone which used light to transmit sound! This is ore than 100 years before cell phones.  Although technology of the time prevented it from being used widespread, Bell considered it his greatest invention. – Craig)

He invented a rudimentary metal detector in a quest to save the life of a president. (Bell was brought in to assist in an attempt to save President Garfield’s life.  Sadly, Bell was unsuccessful, hampered by Garfield’s doctor and wire bedsprings! – Craig)

Picking the last item was tough so here’s a combo: Thanks to Bell, Helen Keller met Annie Sullivan; Bell designed a world record holding speedboat; the unit of sound measurement, decibels is named for him and all phone service in the US and Canada was silenced for one full minute the day Bell was buried.  Click over to the article for full details on these and other facts about Alexander Graham Bell. – Craig

“Men in Black” (1934) starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

Men in Black (1934)

Director:  Ray McCarey

Writer:  Felix Adler

Stars: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Curly Howard, Phyllis Crane, Charles Dorety, Billy Gilbert  and Bud Jamison

Tagline: A TONIC for the “BLUES”!

The Plot…

The boys are recent graduates (because they’d been there too long) from a medical school sent to work at a hospital.  There our guys respond to a variety of calls with the type of success/zaniness you’d expect.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Men in Black was the third Three Stooges short and the only one to ever be nominated for an Academy Award. (It was nominated for Best Short Subject – Comedy. If only it had won.  Can you imagine future ads proclaiming The Stooges as Academy Award Winners?)

Curly forgot a line and adlibbed his famous “Woo-woo-woo” which would go on to become one of his trademark phrases.  Men in Black also contains many bits that would often turn up in Stooges shorts – the boys going into a quick huddle; breaking a plate glass door window repeatedly as they run through/by; pulling objects (bicycles, a horse, a go-cart) out of a closet that are obviously too big to fit, etc.

Men in Black earns 5 of 5 stars.

“Loco Boy Makes Good” (1942) starring The Three Stooges / Z-View

Loco Boy Makes Good (1942)

Director:  Jules White

Writer:  Felix Adler, Clyde Bruckman

Stars: Moe Howard, Larry Fine, Curly Howard, Symona Boniface, Heinie Conklin, Vernon Dent, Charles Dorety and Bud Jamison

Tagline: None.

The Plot…

When the boys learn that an old woman is going to lose her hotel, they decide to help her raise money to save the place.  Our guys help her spruce up the joint (with their usual success).  They then put on a big show with Curly accidentally ending up wearing a magician’s coat.  What could go wrong?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Four years after Loco Boy Makes Good‘s release, Harold Lloyd, the silent film star, sued Columbia Pictures for copyright infringement.  Lloyd won.  Clyde Buckman, the director of Loco Boy Makes Good also directed Lloyd’s film Movie Crazy.  Both featured the same magician’s coat sequence.

Loco Boy Makes Good earns 4 of 5 stars.

Philip Marlowe – Who Played Him Best? Ranking the Actors Who Played Him!

 Rory Doherty at Paste recently posted Every Philip Marlowe Performance, Ranked. Before you click over, here’s a comparison of our rankings and my thoughts on each.



9. Robert Montgomery,
Lady in the Lake (1947)

* George Montgomery, The Brasher Doubloon (1947)

8. George Montgomery,
The Brasher Doubloon (1947)

* James Caan, Poodle Springs (1998) – Haven’t seen yet.

7. James Caan,
Poodle Springs (1998)

* Liam Neeson, Marlowe (2023) Haven’t seen yet.

6. Liam Neeson,
Marlowe (2023)

6. Elliot Gould, The Long Goodbye (1973) – This didn’t work for me. Gould wasn’t my idea of Marlowe and the film just didn’t resonate with me.

5. Robert Mitchum,
Farewell, My Lovely (1975)
The Big Sleep

5. Robert Montgomery, Lady in the Lake (1947) An experiment that failed. Shot so that the audience sees everything from Marlowe’s perspective, it plays like a modern video game with little action.

4. Dick Powell,
Murder, My Sweet (1944)

4. James Garner, Marlowe (1969) Garner isn’t a bad Marlowe plus we get Bruce Lee too! I’d have like to have seen Garner play Marlowe again.

3. James Garner,
Marlowe (1969)

3. Robert Mitchum, Farewell, My Lovely (1975) & The Big Sleep (1978) Mitchum plays an “older” Marlowe. He’s not in his prime, but Mitchum at any age is a winner. Plus we get Sly Stallone in Farewell, My Lovely.

2. Humphrey Bogart,
The Big Sleep (1946)

2. Dick Powell, Murder, My Sweet (1944) Powell was best known for lighthearted musicals prior to this. Surprisingly he makes a cool Marlowe!

1. Elliot Gould,
The Long Goodbye (1973)

1. Humphrey Bogart, The Big Sleep (1946) Bogart is easily my favorite Marlowe. If only he had made more

Although Doherty limited his rankings to the movie Marlowes, I want to make mention of Philip Marlowe, Private Eye (1983 – 1986), a series that ran for 3 years on HBO. Powers Boothe played Marlowe. It’s been decades since I saw the series, but I remember it fondly. I need to revisit it.

John Wayne’s Best Films!

Jack Hawkins at /Film ranked his favorite John Wayne films.  It got me thinking about how I’d rate the Duke’s best.  So without further jibber-jabber, here’s how thinks shook out.



10. The Cowboys 10. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
9. Stagecoach 9. The Shootist
8. Fort Apache 8. Red River
7. The Longest Day 7. 3 Godfathers
6. El Dorado 6. Rio Bravo
5. Baby Face 5. Hondo
4. Hatari! 4. True Grit
3. True Grit 3. The Cowboys
2. The Shootist 2. Stagecoach
1. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance 1. The Searchers

Challenger Shuttle Disaster Facts That You May Not Know

On this day in 1986, at 11:38am EST, the space shuttle Challenger lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida. On board were F. Richard Scobee (Mission Commander), Michael J. Smith (Pilot), Mission Specialists Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnik, Payload Specialist Gregory Jarvis and Payload Specialist/Teacher Christa McAuliffe. Seventy-three seconds into the flight, the shuttle broke apart in a cloud of fire. There were no survivors.

I was a middle school science teacher in Holly Hill, Florida on that day.  I’d just walked my students to lunch.  Since the shuttle was going up, I walked outside. We could see shuttle launches once they reached altitude.  It was cold so there were only a few of us watching.  We saw the shuttle vapor trail and it looked like a normal launch until it didn’t.  We all commented that this launch was different.  We’d never seen a vapor trail split like that before.

I went to the teacher’s lunch room.  As I was sitting down we received word that the shuttle had exploded.  We ate in silence.  I picked up my students and we went back to class.  Students had so many questions.  At that point we had no answers.  One of my students, a class clown, said he wished there had been more teachers on board.  The class shut him down quicker than I could.

Today posted 5 Things You May Not Know About the Challenger Shuttle Disaster.  Before you click over for the full story, here are my thoughts on each.

1. The Challenger didn’t actually explode. (Although news media and even NASA at first referred to the disaster as the result of an explosion, it wasn’t.  There was a leak from the fuel tank and a fireball but not an explosion.  Many still think the Challenger exploded. – Craig)

2. The astronauts aboard the shuttle didn’t die instantly. (This was the topic of much speculation.  It’s rumored there are tapes which have never been released of the astronauts aware there was a major problem.  I hope that they lost consciousness and the end came quickly for them. – Craig)

3. Relatively few people actually saw the Challenger disaster unfold on live television. (Living in Florida, shuttle launches have always generated a lot of interest.  Since we’re close enough to see launches once they reach altitude most folks will go outside to watch.  On that January day, because it was so cold, there were only 3 or 4 of us watching. – Craig)

4. In the aftermath of the tragedy, some suggested that the White House pushed NASA to launch the shuttle in time for President Ronald Reagan’s State of the Union address, scheduled for later on January 28. (There was pressure, but it wasn’t from the White House.  Ronald Reagan was applauded for his words about the astronauts. – Craig)

5. More than a decade after the Challenger disaster, two large pieces from the spacecraft washed ashore at a local beach. 

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 10 Best Movie Characters!

Simon Bland at /Film took a look at his choices for The 10 Best Arnold Schwarzenegger Roles That Aren’t The Terminator.  I thought I’d play along, so before you click over, here are how are choices play out (in no particular order)…



Dutch – Predator Dutch – Predator
John Matrix – Commando John Matrix – Commando
Jack Slater – Last Action Hero Mark Kaminski – Raw Deal
Julius – Twins Ivan Danko – Red Heat
Dt. John Kimble – Kindergarten Eraser – Eraser
Mr. Freeze – Batman & Robin Rottmayer – Escape Plan
Quaid – Total Recall Quaid – Total Recall
Trench – The Expendables Series Trench – The Expendables Series
Harry Tasker – True Lies John ‘Breacher’ Wharton – Sabotage
Conan – Conan The Barbarian Conan – Conan The Barbarian

Kevin Costner’s Ten Best Movies!

Hunter Cates at /Film posted The 14 Best Kevin Costner Movies, Ranked.  That got me thinking about what I would choose as Kevin Costner’s best films.  Here are how Cates and my rankings turned out.



10. Thirteen Days 10. 3,000 Miles to Graceland
09. The Upside of Anger 09. No Way Out
08. A Perfect World 08. Silverado
07. Hidden Figures 07. The Bodyguard
06. No Way Out 06. Waterworld
05. The Untouchables 05. JFK
04. JFK 04. Dances with Wolves
03. Dances With Wolves 03. Revenge
02. Field of Dreams 02. Open Range
01. Bull Durham 01. The Untouchables

Craig’s “The Best of 2022”

As we start 2023, let’s pause for a look at the BEST OF 2022. I hope you you see something that you enjoyed or gets you interested to check it out. Here we go…

Movies and Limited Series

In 2022, I watched 409 movies and limited series. That number is up 37 from last year. None were seen in a theater! My favorite films and limited series released in 2022 included (in alpha order):

  • The Batman
  • Better Call Saul: Final Season
  • The English
  • God Forbid
  • Interceptor
  • Interview with a Vampire: Season 1
  • Ozark: Final Season
  • The Patient
  • Primal: Season 2
  • Reacher: Season 1
  • RRR
  • Star Trek: Strange New Worlds
  • Top Gun: Maverick
  • Werewolf By Night

Tulsa King would have made the list, but since the season hasn’t finished yet, I haven’t added it. It will definitely make next year’s Best Of list.


In 2022, I read 37 books (2 less than last year). My favorites from this year included (in the order I read them):

  • Love & Bullets Megabomb Edition by Nick Kolakowski

  • Boise Longpig Hunting Club by Nick Kolakowski

  • The Devil’s Own Piss… by Whiskey Leavins

  • 61 Hours by Lee Child

  • Ice Station by Matthew Reilly

  • At Their Own Game by Frank Zafiro

  • IQ by Joe Ide

  • Murder in Grease Paint by Whiskey Leavins

  • And Sometimes I Wonder About You by Walter Mosley

  • Righteous by Joe Ide

  • Trouble is What I Do by Walter Mosley

  • Once Upon a Time in Hollywood by Quentin Tarantino

  • Later by Stephen King

  • Down the River unto the Sea by Walter Mosley

I’m surprised I didn’t read anything by Joe Lansdale this year. How did that even happen??

My Most Popular Posts of the Year

I continue to find some surprises in what became my most popular posts each year. Here are the top ten for 2022 and some thoughts for each…

10. Top 10 Most Iconic Horror Movie VillainsDropped from #7 last year. Second year in a row to drop.

09. Batman & Manbat by Marshall Rogers & John Beatty! New to the list!

08. The Different Covers for David Morrell’s First Blood. New to the list!

07. “Clean” starring Adrian Brody – The Poster and Trailer are Here! New to the list!

06. Gadot & The Rock Strike a Pose – was in the 8th spot last year.

05. Evidence Points to NEW Suspect as the Zodiac Killer. New to the list!

04. Louis Meyers: Evidence He was the Zodiac Killer – came in the #3 spot last year and #2 the year before.

03. Dracula Through the Ages – was in our 4th spot last year. Flipped places with Louis Meyers.

02. The TWILIGHT ZONE New Year’s Eve Marathon is Coming and the Full Schedule is Out!was the most popular post last year but was beat out this year by Schwarzenegger and Williams.

01. Schwarzenegger in “King Lear” & Robin Williams in “Jack and the Beanstalkregains the #1 spot for the year.

My All-Time Most Popular Posts

The top 4 didn’t change and only one new post broke in to the All-Time most popular posts. Let’s see how things shook out…

10. Joel Osteen in Jacksonville – dropped one spot from 7th to 10th. Two years in a row of drops. May not make the list next year.

09. Gadot & The Rock Strike a Pose – was in the 9th spot for the last two years.

08. The TWILIGHT ZONE New Year’s Eve Marathon is Coming and the Full Schedule is Out! New to the list!  I love the love that the TZ is getting!

07. Steve Reeves as Superman – was the #5 all-time most popular post last year.

06. Dracula Through the Ages up from the 10th spot. Vampires are in.

05. TOP 10 MOST ICONIC HORROR MOVIE VILLAINS! – from 6th to 5th. Two years in a row of moving up!

04. New Billy the Kid Photo Discovered – No change!

03. Zodiac Killer Code Cracked? – No change!

02. Louis Meyers: Evidence He Was the Zodiac Killer – No change!

01. Schwarzenegger in “King Lear” & Robin Williams in “Jack and the Beanstalk” – was #1 last year and continues to be our most popular post of all-time.

It’s always interesting to see which topics resonate with fans and continue to be popular long after their initial post.

Variety: The 100 Greatest Movies of All Time!

Variety recently sought input from over 30 of their critics, writers and editors to come up with a list of The 100 Greatest Movies of All Time. The list isn’t thought to be definitive, but more to stir up discussion. So in that spirit, here are my thoughts on the list…

I’ve seen 59 of the 100 movies listed. Here’s the breakdown:

01 – 10: 10

11 – 20: 05

21 – 30: 08

31 – 40: 09

41 – 50: 06

51 – 60: 05

61 – 70: 03

71 – 80: 02

81 – 90: 06

91 – 100: 05

Using just Variety’s Top Ten, here’s a comparison to how I’d rank them.



10. Saving Private Ryan (1998) 10. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
09. All About Eve (1950) 09. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
08. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) 08. All About Eve (1950)
07. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) 07. Seven Samurai (1954)
06. Seven Samurai (1954) 06. Citizen Kane (1941)
05. Pulp Fiction (1994) 05. Psycho (1960)
04. Citizen Kane (1941) 04. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
03. The Godfather (1972) 03. Pulp Fiction (1994)
02. The Wizard of Oz (1939) 02. The Godfather (1972)
01. Psycho (1960) 01. The Wizard of Oz (1939)

The Day the Music Died: The Story of Don McLean’s American Pie (2022) / Z-View

The Day the Music Died: The Story of Don McLean’s American Pie (2022)

Director: Mark Moormann

Starring: Don McLean, Peter Gallagher, ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, Jiles Perry “J.P.” Richardson Jr. aka The Big Bopper, Garth Brooks, Brian Wilson  and Tyson Fury

Tagline:  None.

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

In December 1971, Don McLean’s American Pie single was released.  It went to #1 and held that position for four weeks.  At the time it was the longest song (8 minutes and 42 seconds) to enter the Billboard charts.  At the time a single of that length was unheard of.  American Pie was a worldwide hit topping the charts in the UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.  Fifty years later and people of all ages know the words to the song, but speculation runs rampant about their meaning.

Don McLean wrote the song as a musical poem open to interpretation.  While McLean admitted that “the day the music died” referred to the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper, speculation was that the song also referenced the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, political protests and more.  McLean would never confirm or deny the meaning of his lyrics.  He was quoted as saying, “You will find many interpretations of my lyrics but none of them by me … Sorry to leave you all on your own like this but long ago I realized that songwriters should make their statements and move on.”

The Day the Music Died: The Story of Don McLean’s American Pie looks at the genesis of the song, it’s impact on the world and Don McLean shares the meaning of the lyrics.  I was in 7th grade when American Pie was released.  Everyone, including adults, were talking about the song and it’s meaning.

I enjoyed this documentary.  It was cool to see the struggle McLean had in getting the lyrics just right.  Then to learn (and see) that the producer and musicians knew that they had something special, but the recording session wasn’t working until.. (I won’t give it away),  While I’m glad that Don McLean has confirmed the things that inspired his lyrics, I’m taking the perspective that like all poetry, once it’s released, it is up to each individual to determine what the poem means to him/her.

The Day the Music Died: The Story of Don McLean’s American Pie earns 4 of 5 stars.

The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966) / Z-View

The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966)

Director:   Alan Rafkin

Screenplay by:  James Fritzell, Everett Greenbaum and Andy Griffith (uncredited)

Starring:  Don Knotts, Joan Staley, Liam Redmond, Dick Sargent,  Skip Homeier, Reta Shaw and Charles Lane


The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Luther Heggs (Knotts) is a typesetter for the local newspaper.  He dreams of being a reporter.  Luther also dreams of having Alma Parker (Staley) as his girl.  Unfortunately Luther becomes an easy target for jokes when his reports of a murder turn out to be just a drunk knocked unconscious by his wife.  Ollie Weaver (Homeier) a reporter for the newspaper is especially cruel to Luther and to make matters worse, Ollie is dating Alma!

Luther gets a chance at redemption when his boss assigns him a story — Luther will spend the night in a haunted house where a brutal murder occurred years ago.  Despite his fears, Luther spends the night.  Strange things happen that could lead to solving the murder mystery… if anyone will believe Luther!

Don Knotts starring in The Ghost and Mr. Chicken is a natural.  Knotts was built to play Luther.  Luther’s dream girl, Alma was played by Joan Staley and she was also built — she was a Playboy playmate of the month!  Fans of The Andy Griffith Show will recognize the similarities between The Ghost and Mr. Chicken and an episode of the tv show.  It was Andy Griffith who suggested that the episode would make a great feature film starring Knotts if the idea was expanded for a new character.  Knotts recruited James Fritzell and Everett Greenbaum, writers on The Andy Griffith Show to come up with a screenplay.  Knotts also suggested Alan Rafkin (who directed several episodes of the tv show) to helm the feature.  There are also cast members in the movie who appeared on the tv series.

The Ghost and Mr. Chicken rates 4 of 5 stars (and higher if you’re a kid).