Monday, December 5, 2016


Disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner, who recently left a rehab clinic for cybersex-addiction treatment, is calling friends in the restaurant business for a job.

Insiders say Weiner is leaning toward a Chinese restaurant since he's famous for his pulled pork.

A half hour later, Chang-Kuei was hungry to die again.

Emma Morano, who recently turned 117, is believed to be the last person alive to have been born in the 1800s. Morano has a daily diet of biscuits and two raw eggs, never touches fruits or vegetables, doesn't get out of bed, hasn't left her house in 20 years, is very deaf and blind, and spends most of her time sleeping. 

Asked what she attributes to living so long, Morano replied, "You call this living?!"

Unfortunately, that includes remembering who they had sex with.

In his honor, a 21-gun salute was fired in a jail cell filled with dissidents.


Wednesday, November 30, 2016


If anyone can be considered both legendary and forgotten, it's Fred Allen. For over 15 years one of the most popular of all radio comedians, he's remembered now only by show business archaeologists. 

Allen's sole leading movie role, as Fred Floogle in It’s in the Bag!, made at the height of his radio success, was his last shot at Hollywood stardom

Unfortunately, he would have to be content with staying on radio for another four years. For while there are strange comedies, and there are strange comedies, It's in the Bag! is a STRANGE comedy that probably baffled as many of his radio fans as it entertained. It was probably ahead of its time in 1945; perhaps it still is.

Floogle and Parker look forward to being in-laws.
The story, freely adapted from the 1928 Russian novel The Twelve Chairs, certainly sounds like a wacky comedy. Fred Floogle happily gives up his flea circus when left his uncle’s $12-million estate, allowing his daughter to marry Perry Parker, the son of an allegedly rich insecticide magnate who's actually just as broke as Floogle. 

Unfortunately, most of Floogle's inheritance has been ripped-off by the uncle’s lawyers; all he has coming to him is a pool table and five chairs. It’s only after selling the chairs to an antiques dealer that he learns one of them has $300,000 hidden inside its seat. Floogle has to track the chairs down to their new owners to get the money. 

Crooked lawyer John Carradine has
arranged for Fred to get hit by a car; just one
of the movie's many "comedy" highlights.
It’s in the Bag! starts off promisingly, with Fred Allen (as himself) addressing the audience in his flat, nasal New England twang, as he makes sardonic comments about the cast and crew throughout the credits. 

One of the credits is unexpected: Alma Reville, aka Mrs. Alfred Hitchcock, the writer of Suspicion, Shadow of a Doubt and The Paradine Case. This possibly explains the plethora of murders, both attempted and successful, including that of Floogle's precocious adolescent son, Homer. 

Allen must have realized the final cut was not only a little gruesome but often quite sluggish -- the kind of back & forth dialogue that worked so well on radio grinds many scenes to a halt. Plus, much of it isn't particularly funny to begin with. 

This is where things get strange. Instead of doing re-shoots as is typical, Allen (as himself) added narration throughout the movie while the onscreen actors, including himself, continue to speak their dialogue. This must explain comedy writer Morrie Ryskind’s credit for his “special contribution.” Thanks, Morrie.

"You mean I have to speak even more narration?!"
Initially amusing, then confusing, the narration devolves into irritating, like having to listen to some big mouth in the row behind you trying to impress his date with his alleged witticisms. More than once you feel like shouting, Shut up! I’m trying to watch the movie! Even if the original dialogue isn't funny! 

And stranger still, there are prints in circulation missing the narration entirely; perhaps it was added after an underwhelmingly-received premiere. If so, it meant early audiences missed Fred's endless, endless jokes about in-laws, relatives and studio executives. Well, maybe "missed" isn't the right word.

Fred is confused by Jack's rouge and lipstick.
The producers must have been nervous about Allen's potential box-office, since he’s surrounded by a bunch of radio guest stars. In what was clearly a favor to his real-life friend, Jack Benny plays his stereotypical cheap self, only with material that would have worked far better on TV in the '50s; director Richard Wallace appears to hold every shot to allow for audience laughter which never comes. Further distracting is Benny's strawberry-blonde dye job and strangely feminine make-up. Well!

Minerva Pious plays Mrs. Nussbaum, a regular character from Allen’s radio program. Her appearances were always a highlight, but you'd never know it here, since much of her dialogue is obliterated by Allen’s narration. I bet she loved that. Oddly, her Yiddish accent often sounds like Gilda Radner's Latina Roseanne Rosannadana. I told you the movie was confusing. 

Jerry Colonna is shocked to get better material than
the star of the movie.
The wonderful Jerry Colonna, on the other hand, scores major laughs as a deranged psychiatrist, while Don Ameche and Rudy Vallee’s understated, self-depreciating performances contrast with Allen’s often-sledgehammer delivery. 

William Bendix has just been shot by six other
gangsters. I told you it was a comedy.
Also supporting -- make that overshadowing -- Fred Allen are great character actors, including Sidney Toler (sounding an awful lot like his Charlie Chan alter ego) as  a cop, John Carradine as a murderous lawyer, Robert Benchley as Parker, and William Bendix as a delicate gangster who ingests vitamins by the jarful to calm his nerves.

It’s in the Bag!, then, is a veritable time capsule of the 1945 entertainment world, with one of the biggest names of all in the lead. 

But in the end, It's in the Bag! is as much of a chore as it is a comedy. Too much plot, too little story and, if it’s possible, too many jokes. At its best moments, like the hilarious sequence in a movie theater the size of a dirigible hangar, or every time Jerry Colonna opens his mouth, it seems to anticipate Monty Python. 

Then there are other, silly scenes where you just want them to get on with it. After watching It's in the Bag! three times over the years, I've come to appreciate it; I just don't laugh all that much. As his engaging memoirs Much Ado Me and Treadmill to Oblivion demonstrate, Fred Allen was the rare wit who was actually funnier than many of his own jokes.


Tuesday, November 29, 2016


I'm not part of the crowd that considers the gentlepersons of the press to be lying scumbags. In fact, my major television viewing is devoted to all things news. Even the two HBO series I regularly watch, Real Time with Bill Maher and Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, are news-related.

But, man, just as the "real" news programs promise to do a better job after totally screwing up the 2016 election, they start playing right into the hands of the skeptics -- and when it comes to Trump voters, "skeptic" is too mild a word.

Let's start with something relatively minor and unrelated to the election. Over the weekend, Yahoo! News published a photo captioned "Miguel Diaz-Canel", who would be Raul Castro's eventual successor.

Yet even a guy like me, who didn't graduate from the Columbia School of Journalism, knew immediately that the guy in the photo was actually Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. 

Compare the two men above. It appears that having a pair of eyes, a nose, and a mouth is enough to confuse news professionals. But what can you expect from a site that boasts Katie Couric as its leading reporter? In fact, what can you expect from a site called Yahoo! News? 

Yahoo! News' press corps.
Meanwhile, a CNN pundit was complaining that Donald Trump used his Twitter account to connect with his fanbase rather than going through them -- something like the way Catholics have to go to confession rather than talk to the Big Guy Himself. And this was after many reporters openly admitted giving up all objective pretense, re: Trump. 

It never occurred to any of the pundits whose general line was, Why go through the boring job of actually holding election? Hillary's going to win!, that you tick off voters who, you know, are supposed to decide the winner. 

Trump's favorite band.
Then there was yesterday's Twitterstorm from the Wizard of Trump Tower regarding... Well, what was it about, anyway? I can't remember, can you? Of course not! That's the point!

Still, the press pounced on it. He's at it again! Why is he tweeting at four in the morning about [LATEST OUTRAGE HERE]? Reporters were on it like coked-up puppies chasing a laser dot... conveniently distracting them from the fallout of Kellyanne Conway's disastrous, off-the-reservation appearance on Meet the Press

It took reporters all day to figure out they'd been had. Trump's done it again! He made us drop the bone in order to chase a laser dot! This was, what, the 75th time he's pulled this trick -- and they still fall for it? While people admiringly compare Pres. Obama's presidential style to three-dimensional chess, Trump is playing three-dimensional Battleship at 120 frames a second with  4K resolution: it's so clear and clean that it doesn't look real. When you hear the talking heads discourse on how the President-Elect doesn't know what he's doing, take it with a garbage truck filled with salt.

Still better was MSNBC's coverage of yesterday's attack at Ohio State University. Let's review the timeline. Just days after ISIS' "Dear Abby" advises would-be terrorists that guns aren't necessary to kill Americans when cars and knives will do, a student from Somalia -- an ISIS stronghold -- deliberately jumps a car over a curb into a crowd of students. He then gets out and starts slashing away with a knife.

So it's quite understandable that one of the reporters suggested, on the face of it, that there was no evidence the attack was planned, and that it could have been "a case of road rage." 

A case of road rage. 

Do these people not remember that it was voters' mistrust of the press that helped get Trump elected? I'm starting to think that, for all their wailing, journalists want him to serve eight years. 

This puts me in the Christmas spirit.
Let me end with a personal observation. A few days after the election, a B-level reporter from MSNBC had been doing a piece on the security nightmare that was now enveloping Fifth Avenue in the heart of New York's Christmas-shopping district, now that Trump Tower was becoming the Manhattan offshoot of the White House.

He and his brethren had been given the heave-ho from their set-up directly outside Trump Tower, and were now across the street. Naturally, he was bent out of shape by local and federal police presence ruining his previous cool camera shot. 

I walked over to Trump Tower to check out the scene for myself. Sure enough, when I arrived at 57th Street, the area was sealed off tighter than Dick's hatband, as they used to say. Fifth Avenue was closed to vehicular traffic all the way to 53rd, as were one or two cross-streets. 

The block directly outside Trump Tower was patrolled by Very Serious Security; you needed a really good excuse to pass through the police line. Nosiness not counting, I decided to check things out from across the street.

There was the same B-level MSNBC reporter that I had watched on TV earlier; the one who was so upset about the protection provided for the soon-to-be 45th President of the United States. 

What you couldn't tell from TV was that he was about 5'9". While giving his latest report, he was standing on a packing case to make himself look bigger. 

There's an analogy to be made here, I believe.

Oh, I almost forgot. All the anchors and reporters warned that if Donald Trump were to be elected, the stock market was going to tank tank tank.

Three weeks later, their IRAs and 401Ks were higher than they've been since spring. And you know that ticks them off.


Monday, November 28, 2016


As the United States awoke from a year of uneasy dreams, it found itself transformed in its bed into Trumpland. 

And it was shocking. Except for anybody who wasn't relying on their own narrow point of reference. What happened can be explained only by a math assignment. And don't worry, it's multiple choice:

Overconfident Democrats + Media Reliance on "Inevitability"  ÷ Angry Populace x Press Not Seeing the Forest for the Trees = ?

A) Hillary Clinton Loses Election
B) Pundits With Ostrich-Sized Eggs on their Faces
C) New York Times Editor Saying, "Didn't They Listen To Us?"
D) All of the Above

I know -- too easy! But not for the aforementioned press, which still insists on playing by the 1992 edition of The Official News Reporting Handbook, published by Glaring, Bias & Fatuity. 

The big complaint on Meet the Press yesterday: Trump's not choosing his cabinet the way it's always been done! True. The same way he ran a campaign in a way that had never been done -- and got elected over his all-but-carved-in-Mt. Rushmore opponent. The powers-that-be in every business always claim to value out-of-the-box thinking... until somebody actually does it.

And when it doubt, refer to Trump's cabinet choices as "hardliners." Question for Martha Raddatz of ABC News: what were the people who took hardline stands on Obamacare, invading Libya, and the Iran nuclear deal? Oh, those were Obama and his loyal supporters.

Don't worry, the press is on top of things now. You can go over to C-SPAN's live, 24/7 camera pointed at the President-Elect's private elevator at Trump Tower to see who's visiting. It would have been cool if they had a similar set-up at the Clinton Foundation.

One complaint you hear from the losing side is, The morning news shows always put Trump on the air when he called in! You know, David Brock and Sid Blumenthal might, just might have suggested that Hillary Clinton call in immediately afterwards to refute everything Trump just said

But that would have led to unpredictable questions from the folks on Morning Joe. And when your candidate has the ad-libbing abilities of a late-in-life, cue card-addicted Bob Hope, it's best to keep quiet now and complain later.

Then there are the Clinton lackeys who questioned Trump's patriotism for floating the idea of possibly questioning close election results... and are now currently saluting the "recount" flag for Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. What's terrible for the goose is apparently utterly delicious for the gander. 

It's time to get rid of the Electoral College once and for all! comes the cry. It sounds so easy, like getting rid of a coffee stain on the kitchen counter. All you have to do is convince the 47 states that are sure to be outvoted by New York, California, and Texas every four years that it's for their own good.

The general lay of the pundit land, then, is much like what Fifth Avenue will be this holiday season with tightened security around Trump Tower: messier than ever, and best to be avoided until next year.

You may get the idea that I voted for DJT. You would be wrong. I reside in a state that allows write-in candidates. And so I went the only choice I could live with:

You'd sleep easier at night, wouldn't you?


Thursday, November 17, 2016


Because of some recent arcane political event, you might not have noticed the real news that has people in a state of turmoil. As with kids these days, your astrological sign isn't what it used to be:

However, Steve Bannon will always look like he
was born under the sign "24 HOUR BAR --
It's like those commercials for with the guy who thought he was Irish but discovered he was German. Or maybe he was Indian when he thought he was Eskimo. 

That unlucky 13th constellation, by the way, is Ophiuchus -- which sounds like an old-school comedy Italian father talking to his good-for-nothing son. "Hey! Get offa-you-chus and get a job!" 

Hey gang, meet your new neighbor!
Ophiuchus, like an unwanted house guest, has taken it upon itself to settle in with the longtime residents of Astrology, Inc. whether they like it or not. Any mail to it can be forwarded to the address of November 29 to December 17. 

This created some concern on my part, since it initially appeared that my wife would be unceremoniously shoved from her Sagittarius plane without a parachute, which would be a flat-out dealbreaker for me.

But it looks like the joke's on me. While she still calls the Archer her chief counselor, my sign has backtracked from Aries to Pisces. This might not seem like a big deal to you, but it has far reaching effects: I have gone from being the bold, headstrong ram to the slithery, soon-to-be-hooked fish. 
Two fish, in fact, in what some regard as
an unnatural sex act. 

Once a powerful, warming fire, I have become a wet vertebrate. No longer is my life's pursuit the thrill of the moment. Instead, I now want to avoid feeling alone, and to connect with others. My vibration, once enthusiastic, is now erratic. Thank you, Ophiuchus, for destroying the identity that I thought was mine for 60 years. 

Or not. According to the noted science journal Glamour, NASA hasn't changed my sign at all:

Whoa, looks like I dodged a bullet that time! 

Or not again. Because between "enthusiastic" and "erratic," most people who know me would know which best fits. And living for "the thrill of the moment" is about as accurate as claiming a Hindu background. I'm more of the "thrill of complacency" kind of guy. 

Or not yet again. For in my research on this astrological hoo-hah, I discovered this:

Holy cow, that is so meIt looks I've been a Pisces, then, all along without realizing it. Dr. Ophiuchus, whom I formerly considered a quack interloper, was in reality the diagnostician I'd been looking for my whole life.

Unless... I ask for a second opinion:

Well, hell, that's me all over the place. How can one man be in two constellations at the same time? As the experts at Glamour would tell you, it's all comes down to the magic of astrology. Now excuse me while I escape to my world of being a great yet terrible world-famous writer. 


Wednesday, November 9, 2016



  • 12 major wars
  • Approximately 100 smaller wars
  • Slavery
  • Over 50 recessions, depressions and panics
  • Two presidential impeachments
  • One presidential resignation
  • Two vice-presidential resignations
  • Over 50 political assassinations, including four presidents
  • 14 presidential assassination plots and attempts
  • Over 200 years of Indian, racial, and religious massacres
  • 150 years of the Mafia
  • At least 12 major medical epidemics, including polio, smallpox, and AIDS
  • At least 80 major earthquakes
  • Terrorism
  • Homegrown Communists and Nazis
  • An annual barrage of weather-related disasters and deaths
  • Centuries of political, cultural and racial riots
  • Never-ending racism
  • Crack, crystal meth, and opioid addiction


Tuesday, November 8, 2016


Some of you might be too young to remember, but there used to be a time when Republicans didn't want anything to do with Russia, while Democrats figured the Kremlin wasn't going anywhere, so we might as well find some common ground with them Russkies. Man, does that seem like a long time ago. Like, when Obama was first elected.

The closest thing to a succubus you will ever see.
Another thought occurred to me as I watched MSNBC's coverage of Bruce "I Am a Working Man" Springsteen performing at Hillary Clinton's rally in Philadelphia last night: Does he know that Hillary is Wall Street's choice? Or that Hillary convinced Barack Obama that it would be a good idea to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi? And that by doing so, she helped to create the current refugee crisis? And that she's proud to have the support of Henry Kissinger? 

To his credit, Bob Dylan never publicly supported a presidential candidate. But it would have been a hoot to see him show up at Hillary's shindig last night to sing "Masters of War," before leaving the stage to the cheers of a clueless crowd.

The host of The Apprentice, not To Tell the Truth.
As for Donald Trump -- well, he can take pride in the Washington Post awarding him 4 Pinocchios a record-breaking 55 times for his untruths during this race -- more than all the Republican presidential candidates of the last four years combined. They might as well retire that award.

Notice I said "untruths" rather than "lies." Lying, I think, takes at least a little thought. Trump, however, just says whatever pops into his orange head whenever he opens his mouth. In fact, I think it skips his head entirely, and goes straight to his epiglottis, before it rises to his lips like a tsunami carrying a mountain of trash.

And yet, I felt obliged to participate in the farce known as Voting in New York. Farce, because every politician with a (D) after his or her name is almost guaranteed a job for life. (It took Staten Island to put Republicans Rudy Giuliani and Mike Bloomberg over the top, a feat I will not see again in my lifetime.) 

"There's that one voter -- kill him!"
Just to give you an idea of what it's like, let me share a true story with you. I have a friend here on the Upper East Side who, in 2013, voted for Republican Joe Lhota for mayor over Bill de Blasio. 

The following day, he looked at the New York Times' analysis of how each district voted. My friend was the only person in his district who voted for Lhota. All de Blasio needs is a pair of aviator shades, a khaki-colored military uniform, and the capacity to give three-hour speeches in Spanish every week.

When my wife and I went out to vote at 7:00 this morning, we figured it would be a long line -- but not the around-the-block long we were confronted with. She stuck it out as long as she could -- 20 minutes -- before leaving for a dentist appointment. It would take me another half-hour before I reached the door. I envied my wife's dental rendezvous.

Just don't expect it to make a
difference in New York.
New York replaced the charming, fast, efficient, old-school voting machines in 2013 with a weird hybrid of paper ballot/electronic scanners which makes it twice as long to vote -- and all for only $95-million. 

Why? Well, hell, what else are they gonna spend 95-mill on -- cleaning the streets? And God forbid you go outside the little oval that you need to fill in, which not only forces you to get another ballot, but brings back horrifying memories of sweating out the SATs. 

At least you have the chance to write in the candidate of your choice. It doesn't do any good, of course, although it feels good to vote for a president. But this is New York, so the outcome of this race was already a lock when Hillary Clinton became First Power-Hungry First Lady in 1992. So much for democracy in action.

As for the "down-ballot" folks... well, like I said before, the "D" candidate gets an "A" every time. This year, the seven or eight judges up for re-election -- Democrats all -- ran unopposed.

Did I say "democracy in action" earlier? Make that democracy inaction.

One of the first presidential campaign commercials. Substitute "Mid-East" for "Korea", and you realize not a goddamn thing has changed:

Sunday, November 6, 2016

BREAKING NEWS: 11/6/2016

Scientists at MIT have developed what has been described as "bomb-sniffing spinach."

The first place they intend to grow it is the programming department at NBC.

Robert De Niro refused to pose for a photo with Arnold Schwarzenegger last week, telling the actor and former Governor of California, "If you're supporting Trump, I want nothing to do with you."

Schwarzenegger replied, "If you're the guy who starred in Dirty Grandpa, The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle, The Big Wedding, New Year's Eve, Shark Tale, Mary Shelly's Frankenstein, We're No Angels, Night and the City, Last Vegas, Righteous Kill, Cop Land and those goddamn Fokker movies, the feeling is mutual."

In Utah, Ryan Grassley says he was charged $39.95 for holding his newborn son moments after his wife gave birth.

Demanding an explanation, Grassley was told it was part of Obamacare's promise, "If you hate your outrageous medical bills, you can pay your outrageous medical bills, sucker!"

Two-time Emmy winning news anchor Jim Walker has quit his job in order to pursue a full-time career starring in gay porn movies, telling an interviewer, "I'm just as comfortable in a suit as I am in a jockstrap."

When told of the comment, Greta van Susteren said, "I thought I was the only one."

Several British physicists claim that humans have souls which live on beyond physical death.

The downside to their research, they added, is that it means the U.S. presidential election really will last forever.


Thursday, November 3, 2016


The last time I dated someone younger than me was over 30 years ago. I don't remember the exact age difference, but it was somewhere between two and four years. It was, as I recall, the only time I was older in a relationship; I tended to be equal in age or younger, but not by much. 

Musicians tend to stick to their own age, however. That is, until they reach 30 or so. The age difference isn't so much at first; after all, they're still relatively young. But by the time they're 50, the gap starts to widen like the Verdon Gorge.

This seems to especially true with British babyboom rockers. And "rockers" is what they look like they should be resting in, rather than the women they're currently with. Three of the more prominent of their ilk have been seen hobbling about town lately with their sprier halves. 

Melanie holds the bag containing Mick's pills, Just For Men,
Ben-Gay, Centrum Silver, and prune juice.
Of all of the guys who would be considered predators if they weren't in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the most famous is Mick Jagger, 72, who for over half a century has spread his seed like a farmer on a bender. 

His latest flame (although judging by her age, should be considered a candle wick) is 28 year-old Melanie Hamrick. Their 44-year difference didn't stop her from getting pregnant by a man who could easily be mistaken for her grandmother. Melanie has put her ballet career aside in order to be the latest non-Mrs. Jagger and all that it entails, i.e., a monthly direct deposit.

Mick Jagger: Allies invade Normandy on D-Day.
Melanie Hamrick: The first internet connection from the U.S. to Europe is completed.

What's he doing with an old bag like her?
Speaking of the Rolling Stones, Ronnie Wood, 68, recently became the proud grandfather of twins with his wife, Sally Humprheys, who, at 38, is positively geriatric. This makes Ronnie something of an outlier among his peers. And unlike Mick's newest bundle of joy, Ronnie's twins won't be considered bastards, since he and Sally have been married for an astonishing six years. It must be love! Either that, or a pre-marital agreement that would be wildly unfavorable to the missus.

But something Ronnie does have in common with Mick is a face that resembles a recently-excavated pterodactyl. When women say these guys are "sexy," you can bet that they spell the word with a dollar sign instead of an S. Hey, a girl's gotta work for a living!

Ronnie Wood: The State of Israel is founded.
Sally Humphreys: The first computer board bulletin system (BBS) is developed.

Is that an iPhone Jimmy's holding, or a
container of Viagra?

Guitarist extraordinaire Jimmy Page, 72, wins the age gap award, thanks to girlfriend Scarlett Sabet being a blushing 26 years old. I have no idea what a conversation is like between two people with an age difference of 46 years, other than, "What does DVR mean, Scarlett?" 

But unlike Mick and Ronnie, Jimmy at least looks human. Too, he has no problem letting his hair go gray; the other two guys are still trying to convince people that their combined ages doesn't equal your average oak tree. 

Still, Jimmy looks like he's just returned from taking his grand-niece out to dinner following her college graduation. This is understandable, since Scarlett was born 22 years after Jimmy formed Led Zeppelin, and 27 years after the Yardbirds' creation. If I were him, I'd be over under sideways down, too.

Jimmy Page: Italy is declared a republic.
Scarlett Sabet: The first search engine is created.

If you think all of the above was crazy, check this out. Here's Charlie Watts and his wife Shirley in 1964:

And still happily married in in 2016:

Damn! Has he no shame?


Wednesday, November 2, 2016


In a time when celebrities regularly run for public office solely on the strength of their name, The World's Greatest Sinner appears to have been quite prescient. Clarence Hilliard,  bored with being an insurance salesman, makes the obvious job switch to spiritual leader. Although an atheist, he renames himself God Hilliard, quickly gaining followers in his movement. Today, they're known as Clinton voters.

Succumbing to temptations of the flesh and otherwise, a mysterious stranger convinces him to run for president. But as Hilliard goes further down the rabbit hole of his own strange creation, he commits a blasphemous act in order to force the real God to make Himself known -- and does He ever.

Before going further, it's important to know that your appreciation of The World's Greatest Sinner depends on your tolerance for technical incompetence, as it makes Plan 9 From Outer Space look like Days of Heaven. Not a minute goes by when you're not in awe of just how badly made a movie can be.

Every possible flaw that a movie can feature is on full display -- bad sound, sloppy editing, out-of-focus close-ups, obvious dubbing, 5-cent special effects, stiff line-readings... No wonder why the guy who scored The World's Greatest Sinner referred to it as "the world's worst movie" on national TV shortly after its release.

BUT... if you can make it past the first 10 minutes -- an admittedly questionable chore if you were expecting a whiff of professionalism -- Sinner provides the kind of rewards offered only by a movie-maker who careens boldly against the cultural tides of his time, putting on screen his deepest personal beliefs, unashamed of his emotions, daring you to experience what he's feeling every second of the time. The World's Greatest Sinner might not be a good movie, but it's definitely a great one.

Timothy Carey welcomes you into his world.
And its greatness is due to star/writer/director/
producer Timothy Carey. Something like the Christopher Walken of his day, Carey was the ultimate idiosyncratic actor. But whereas Walken pulls you in with his quiet, not-of-this-earth delivery, Carey not only wears his emotions on his sleeve, he throws them at you with the force of Nolan Ryan and a deep, rumbling voice that forces you to pay attention, if only because you're afraid what will happen if you don't.

Without his -- and there's no other word for it -- genius, Sinner would be unwatchable. For Carey revealed the power that pop culture had over the masses that few movie-makers did at the time, and transferred it to his character, in a bold, wild fashion unknown in studio movies. 

Shake, rattle and what the hell?
Hilliard, witnessing the mania that a garage band has over its audience, finally finds his ticket to the big time. He hires his own musicians, dons a gold lame suit, and goes on tour. To watch Carey awkwardly shuffling across the stage before dropping to his knees in front of a frenzied audience and screaming "Please, please, please, please, please take my hand!", and writhing onstage like a worm after a dose of meth, is an utterly mesmerizing, bizarre 16-mm fever dream. 

It's also proof positive that Carey possessed more courage in this one scene than most of today's actors achieve in their entire careers. When you think back to the accolades heaped upon Johnny Depp for wearing eyeliner to play a pirate, it's quite sad how easily impressed moviegoers and critics have become.

Next stop: Fox News commentator.
As Hilliard's followers celebrate their own super-beingness by rioting in the streets, he's sweet-talked into entering politics by a proto-Karl Rove-like campaign manager who is ultimately unmasked as Satan. 

This anticipates by two years the California GOP honchos who convinced Ronald Reagan to run for Governor after watching the sway he held over his audience when delivering a speech on behalf of Barry Goldwater. And no, I'm not saying they were Satan in disguise. Karl Rove, however, is another matter.

Sinner premiere: Carey addresses
the crowd while Zappa waits for
a check that will never arrive.
There's no point in listing anyone other than Timothy Carey in the cast of Sinner; you haven't heard of them. You would, however, recognize the narrator, Paul Frees, who might as well have "Ubiquitous Voiceover Artist" as his middle name. Look at his CV on Wikipedia -- if you lived between 1950 and 1986, trust me, you know him.

Then there's the aforementioned composer of Sinner's score, 21 year-old Frank Zappa. Zappa's trademark atonal music -- and his love for zany xylophones -- are unmistakable. His later unkind words about the movie might come down to not being paid for his work. A thing like that can cloud a guy's opinion.

How can you resist?
But The World's Greatest Sinner belongs to
the incomparable Timothy Carey. A favorite of young, scrappy directors, Carey found success in two early Stanley Kubrick movies, The Killing and, especially, Paths of Glory, where he steals every scene he shares with star Kirk Douglas. Always picky about his work, he turned down roles in the first two Godfather movies, continuing his lifetime choice of concentrating on more personal projects. 

And none were more personal than The World's Greatest Sinner, a movie widely condemned in its day  -- that is, when it wasn't ignored -- but, like Timothy Carey himself, is now rightly considered a legend. 

Even the Beatles were Carey admirers. An alternate cover shot of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band reveals his profile to the right of Ringo. 

Carey's photo is a still from The Killing, where he's aiming a rifle. If you follow what would have been the trajectory of its bullet, it leads straight to John Lennon. 

Even his photo was prescient.



The trailer for The World's Greatest Sinner. Let me know what you think.

And just for the heck of it, here's young "musical bicyclist" Frank Zappa on The Steve Allen Show. Imagine what audiences in 1963 thought of it. (Frank enters around the 40-second mark. He talks about the scoring of The World's Greatest Sinner at 2:50.)