Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hoppy Birthday, Uncle Billy's!

In honor of Uncle Billy's 2nd Anniversary, here's my review of the Austin BBQ/Microbrewery from, where you can dig dozens, no, make that hundreds of my write-ups.

Uncle Billy's Brew & Que offers two of my favorite things under one roof: Texas barbecue and craft-brewed beer. That in itself would almost be enough to ensure a good review, but I am happy to say that Uncle Billy's delivers the goods beer-wise as well as with their tasty barbecued meats.

Brewmaster Brian Peters used to do his thing at the Bitter End, the Austin brewpub that was much beloved but unfortunately shut down after a fire in 2005. He was also a founder of Live Oak Brewing Company. He was brought in to revamp Uncle Billy's brewing operation in 2007, and since then he has brought things to another level.

Among his creations featured as regular taps are:

Organic Amber: A smooth amber ale brewed with organic barley, malty with mellow hoppiness; very nice indeed.

Axe Handle Pale Ale: My favorite of the full-time offerings at Uncle Billy's, a dry-hopped pale ale with a kick. Well-balanced and flavorful, perfect for washing down a plate of ribs.

Back 40 Blonde Ale: The name is decidedly down-home, but this is an authentic Kolsch-style ale made with German malt and hops. Ideal for quenching your thirst on a 100-degree afternoon while relaxing on Uncle Billy's outdoor deck.

Haystack Hefenweizen: Wheat beers are not my fave, but this is an excellent example of the style, an unfiltered Bavarian-style weiss with, according to the menu, "banana and clove notes."

Uncle Billy's also features a rotating hop tap featuring their heavy-hitting IPAs and seasonal specials, and a dark and malty tap featuring delicious porters and stouts. They offer samplers (5 ales for $8, 6 for $9), as well as guest taps from other local brewers. On Tuesdays, pints are $2 all day.

If you opt for take-out, you can also enjoy Uncle Billy's microbrew in half-gallon growlers to go ($16, with subsequent refills at $10).Now, on to the barbecue. All meats are served family style, with your choice of beef brisket (lean or moist), pork ribs, chopped beef, pulled pork, sausage, and smoked chicken or turkey. May I most heartily recommend their incredible jalapeno cheese sausage, which balances the smoky, spicy, and cheesy in equal increments. Delicious.

Props for Uncle Billy's zesty sauce, which combines Southern twang and Texan pepperiness in an explosion of flavor that complements the taste of the various meats very nicely.Sides include outstanding potato salad, cole slaw, baked beans, glazed carrots, mac & cheese, and potatoes french fried or mashed (sadly, they do not offer any country gravy to go with them taters). For starters, try the homemade fried pickles (awesome), or the BBQ sliders, the smoked chicken wings (served with Buffalo, spicy BBQ, or their mind-melting habanero sauces), or the chili & queso fries.There's also a kids' menu featuring sausage wraps, corny dogs, chicken tenders, and grilled cheese sandwiches.

Located on Barton Springs, just down the road apiece from the Green Mesquite, another top Austin rib joint that offers damn fine BBQ, but I tend to favor Uncle Billy's, thanks to their unique combination of brew and 'que. My compliments to the owners, Zach Fuentes and Bob Gillette, and master brewmeister Brian Peters for a great job all around.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Jeff Conolly Interview, Pt. 1

I stumbled across this 2001 interview with Jeff "Monoman" Conolly of Lyres and DMZ fame, conducted by Dutch garage maniac "King" Koen Goossens for his website, "A Peek Inside Jeff Conolly's Record Collection." I decided to republish it here on the BLOG! for the following reasons: first, I love pretty much everything Jeff's bands have ever recorded; second, this is one of the few in-depth interviews I've seen with the elusive Mr. Conolly; and third, it was originally done in ALL CAPS and trying to read it gave me a headache. As a former newspaper editor, I couldn't resist giving the interview what Terry Southern liked to call "a little of the good ol' tightening and brightening," making it much easier to read than the one on APIJCRC.

For optimum enjoyment, please tune in The Mal Thursday Show #4: Songs the Lyres Taught Us.

Here's Part One:

KOEN GOOSSENS: How did you first become interested in music? What music did you grow up with? When did you start playing the organ?

JEFF CONOLLY: I remember being four years old and the day we moved away from Albany, New York....We said goodbye, visited some family who had an electronic piano/organ, but it looked just like a regular piano. Also, I used to bang away at my grandma’s baby grand when we stayed with them in New Hampshire. There was a Sears Silvertone record player that my parents owned and they had a few LPs, not much. I think I really liked Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf,” that got heavy play, and also “76 Trombones”…That was kinda the “96 Tears” of its day.

KOEN GOOSSENS: What was the music scene like in Boston when you joined DMZ?

JEFF CONOLLY: Very local, not much, the real rock ‘n’ roll groups were very underground. Then in the spring of 1976, it just kinda appeared all of the sudden everybody wanted in on this thing and it turned into a scene, almost overnight. Remember, this was the 200-year Bicentennial Anniversary of the USA, and people in Boston were very energized already.

KOEN GOOSSENS: It’s a widespread rumor that almost every musician in Boston joined your ranks at one time or another. I checked the DMZ/Lyres Family Tree and the list is pretty impressive indeed. How come DMZ and Lyres have had so many different line-ups?

JEFF CONOLLY: That’s an exaggerated rumor, of course. The music that DMZ and Lyres were perpetrating was not the kind that lent itself to great success on a commercial scale. People left to go back to University, to better-paying bands, like what became the Cars. DMZ and Lyres have musical leanings that make stability of the line-ups nearly impossible. I get along with almost everybody who’s been involved.

KOEN GOOSSENS: The list of songs that DMZ and Lyres did cover versions of is quite impressive as well. Where did you find all these nuggets? Are you a big record collector? When did you start collecting records?

JEFF CONOLLY: My favorite and first band were the Searchers and they were the role model for me as far as searching out undervalued songs and ideas. That pretty much underscores 99.9% of all my activity. There’s that intoxicating rush of “hearing” a song that’s been there all along, that makes you say, “Where was I? How come it took me so long to find this?”

KOEN GOOSSENS: Some of the original versions appeared on ’60s garage comps long after you decided to cover them. Did you get any credit for that? After all, it was you who re-discovered them in the first place.

JEFF CONOLLY: I’ve gotten a tiny amount of recognition, but I’m not fooled by that – it’s the songs and recordings that are the real payoff. Another huge payoff for me has been the chance to actually meet some of these great people who are the real creators. I’m talking guys like Vladimir Tax [the Outsiders], Kenny Daniels [Kenny & the Kasuals], Rudy Martinez and Frankie Rodriguez [Question Mark & the Mysterians]…I don’t consider that “name-dropping,” but I could do that, too…It’s just not that important, although you do get a certain rush…

KOEN GOOSSENS: Is it important to you that a song/band is obscure before you do a cover?

JEFF CONOLLY: I think it matters in the sense that it makes you feel like an explorer who’s made a discovery and you shout “Eureka!” then of course, later on, you find out that Billy Childish already did a re-recording of it ten years ago…

KOEN GOOSSENS: I got lots of feedback from people that were amazed that so many songs they thought were Lyres originals are in fact covers. You have the gift to totally make cover songs your own when you record them. Maybe that’s why people think they’re original Lyres tunes. When you listen to On Fyre, for instance, you don’t get the impression that there’s five covers on the album at all. They all have the unmistakable Lyres touch.

JEFF CONOLLY: That’s a nice compliment for the band and myself, thanks. I can’t really comment on that, because it’s something I’m trying to deal with all the time…

KOEN GOOSSENS: When DMZ started doing songs by Northwest bands the Sonics (“He’s Waiting,” “Shot Down,” and “Strychnine”) and the Wailers (“Out of Our Tree”), they were completely unknown to most of us. I had to wait until their stuff was re-released before I had a chance to hear the original versions.

JEFF CONOLLY: Well, you could accuse us of exploiting the originals. That’s fair, too.

KOEN GOOSSENS: Obviously, the Stooges were a major influence on DMZ, weren’t they? I think that you are one of the few people that can really handle a Stooges cover…I’ve heard dozens of bad Stooges covers, more than I care to remember. Why do you think it took so long for the Stooges to get the credit they deserved?

JEFF CONOLLY: I think the Stooges were totally, totally misunderstood by the rock audience when their first album came out in 1969. But I don’t think that the group “Open Mind” did very well that year, either. There were lots of bands that were so far ahead of the ’60s, even back as far as 1966, that there was simply no chance of any real sort of recognition. And that’s probably the way it was supposed to be. It probably made that music all the more angry and counter to everything else that was accepted back then. By the time of the Stooges’ second album, even people in my school were aware that something very, very strange was coming…There were only a few people back then who had ever listened to the second Velvet Underground LP, let alone understood it.

The one guy who slipped through this net was Jim Morrison. A total disturbing freak. A lot of people liked the Doors’ recordings, but got turned off by the live “performance.” It was simply too advanced for a lot of people. Of course, across the ocean, it was easier for people to “hear” what was going on in the USA. There were plenty of advanced, ahead of their time recordings produced in the UK and the Continent as well. It took a newer, younger crop of creepy like Johnny Lydon, et cetera, kids that were born in the ’50s, to make it acceptable, finally, for lots and lots more people to finally come around and say, “Yeah, aren’t the Stooges great?” – only ten years later! That’s the way it is in music sometimes: you need that distance to really something…However, I don’t see myself enjoying Britney Spears or ‘N’ Sync ever! Not ten years from now, not ever!!!!!

KOEN GOOSSENS: The Outsiders are undoubtedly big faves of yours. Lyres have covered no less than four Outsiders songs [“I Love Her Still, I Always Will,” “Sun’s Going Down,” “Teach Me to Forget You,” and “Touch] and one more by their lead singer Wally Tax [“You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me”]. What, in your opinion makes them so unique?

JEFF CONOLLY: They did their own stuff. Period. They are unique, very, very artistic, but at the same time, very brutal and frank.

KOEN GOOSSENS: You must have been very proud when you did the VPRO show together with Wally Tax. Was that the first time you guys met? Whose idea was it to team Wally Tax and Lyres?

JEFF CONOLLY: The promoter, Wim, said he had a “surprise” for me. That’s all I remember. I was very nervous and very freaked out that day, but I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything in the world. For me, it was a hallucinatory, magical day. It sounds conceited, but I’m proud of some of the things I accomplished during that period. I’m allowed to be proud of that! Right now, I’m trying to get together with Dave Aguilar, the singer of the Chocolate Watchband. He works right up the road from where I live, at Harvard University. We’ve been friends for a few years now…

KOEN GOOSSENS: Was Wally Tax aware that you guys were covering his tunes halfway around the world?

JEFF CONOLLY: He’s got his finger on a lot of pulses – he’s very aware and a great person to hang out with, even when he’s down, he’s still very witty, and often quite hilarious. [Tax died in 2005.]

KOEN GOOSSENS: Let’s talk about the Kinks. Collecting Kinks covers is one of my passions, and you’ve done no less than five Kinks covers! “Tired of Waiting,” is especially cool. I reckon it to be the best Kinks cover ever. It’s so different, you kinda took it to anther level. I never really liked the original Kinks version – although the newly released BBC version really smokes! – but Lyres made me notice what a great song it truly is. Where did you get the idea to give it that slow, menacing approach?

JEFF CONOLLY: Kenny and the Kasuals meets Ray Davies…Back then it seemed an OK mutation.

KOEN GOOSSENS: DMZ did cover versions of songs by other British groups like the Pretty Things, the Troggs, the Beatles, the Stones, Them – How did the Boston audience respond to this, way back in the mid-’70s? Were there any other bands from Boston that played this material?

JEFF CONOLLY: Some of these rock tunes translate better than others. DMZ and Lyres always had a bit og the “think tank” streak in it. All the other bands did it to some extent, but we were the ones that “painted ourselves into a ’60s corner,” according to one big guy…


Jeff Conolly Interview, Pt. 2

In Part One of Koen Goossens's 2001 interview of Jeff Conolly of Lyres and DMZ, originally published on the "A Peek Inside Jeff Conolly's Record Collection" website, the artist formerly known as "Pokemonojeff" gave the skinny on the roots of Lyres and DMZ, and his fondness for the Searchers. Here he discusses the Fugs, Pete Best, and other, even more arcane cover versions. To enhance your enjoyment, please tune in The Mal Thursday Show #4: Songs the Lyres Taught Us.

And now...Part Two:

KOEN GOOSSENS: On the Matador CD version of the On Fyre album, there’s a Kinks cover [“Never Met a Girl Like you Before”] that wasn’t on the original LP. Were you initially thinking of putting three Kinks covers on that record? The whole LP has that distint Kinks feel – “I’m Telling You Girl” also has those chunky Kinks-styled guitar chords.
JEFF CONOLLY: When we recorded the stuff for On Fyre, we weren’t thinking at all!

KOEN GOOSSENS: There’s also two Pete Best covers from that period [“I’ll Try Anyway,” “The Way I Feel About You”]. Isn’t it sad that he’s always referred to as “The Beatle That’s Best Forgotten” or something like that? Was there any special reason – other than the fact that they’re utterly great – to record two Pete Best songs?

JEFF CONOLLY: I’m obsessed with the “underdogs” of the pop world. They’ve experienced so much hustle and disappointment. Right now, I’m totally strung out on Tony Jackson, but that’s OK, because he’s where I started out in rock ‘n’ roll in the first place. My first LP was the Searchers’ Live at the Star Club.

KOEN GOOSSENS: You’ve also done three songs by the late, great Otis Redding, and it seems like they were tailor-made to suit your vocal range. Any comments on that? When you did the second version of “She Pays the Rent” on the Lyres Lyres album, you gave it the unmistakable Otis approach, much different than the first version. It’s like a completely new song.

JEFF CONOLLY: I wanted to distance myself from the Nomads at that moment [The Nomads had recently covered “She Pays the Rent” in the style of the original, faster version]. Now, I’m happy to be their friend, if they’ll have me!

KOEN GOOSSENS: What the Nomads were doing in the mid-’80s was basically just exactly what DMZ had been doing all along, seven or eight years before that. It’s like a full circle, isn’t it?
JEFF CONOLLY: I had a blast playing our first Continental shows with those guys in 1984 and we got to do it again in 1997 with Question Mark and the Mysterians. They were as great as ever. I miss Tony Carlson, the bass player, but he got married or something like that.

KOEN GOOSSENS: You also covered three songs that originally released as 45s on the IGL label [“But If You’re Happy” by the Scavengers, “”Don’t Tell Me Lies” by the Esquires, and “Never Be Free” by Dale and the Devonaires]. And once again, the Lyres’ versions got released before Get Hip and Arf! Arf! released their IGL compilations. IGL issued a plethora of great singles. Are you a collector of IGL 45s?

JEFF CONOLLY: I love “wimp rock”…It’s hard to sing well that way, you really have to be 14 or 15 years old to do it right.

KOEN GOOSSENS: Let’s move on to the really obscure stuff now. Where on earth did you dig up the unbelievably great version of Sandy Sarjeant’s “Can’t Stop the Want”? It took me ages to find that one! And long after Lyres did their version, a demo version by an unknown British band appeared on the Purple Heart Surgery comp, and it’s just as ravishing as your version. And I’m sure you’d never heard the version by the unknown band when you did yours.

JEFF CONOLLY: I have that Beat Club ’67 LP, and that’s how I “learned” that song…As soon as I heard that version, I knew it was a masterpiece, so I “constructed” my own mod arrangement for Lyres. I think I did some pretty good “sleuthing” that time. Later on, there’s a freakbeat reissue with the demo version of “Can’t Stop the Want,” and guess what? Boy, did that make me feel good!!!...I’d never heard that version, so that tended to confirm my “instincts” about the tune! Man, I was psyched, proud, it gave me a rush, because it said, “You heard the song for what it was,” a great freakbeat rocker.

KOEN GOOSSENS: It seems like you collect garage stuff from other European countries as well: “Seven” by the Sevens, from Switzerland, “Give Me Your Love” by Les Copains, from Germany. Any other European garage obscurities that you’d like to give a go?

JEFF CONOLLY: Same story, if I think that I can “do something” with a recording that I get turned on to, or maybe “get something” out of taking it apart, seeing what makes it work. It’s still that boorish think-tank shit again…

KOEN GOOSSENS: Lyres’ Live at Cantone’s LP featured two songs by related bands, the Customs and Classic Ruins. Did Frank Rowe write “Geraldine I Need Money (More Than I Need You)” especially for Lyres? The Classic Ruins’ version was released in 1986, years after the Lyres version.

JEFF CONOLLY: No, he’d been doing it for a few years. I was pretty whacked out on that one…I think I heard an organ part and decided to give it a try, plus we split a single with them that didn’t exactly ever come out where they did an incredible “How Do You Know.” Unbelievable singing from Frank Rowe.

KOEN GOOSSENS: What version of “Busy Body” inspired you to cover it? Rot Lee Johnson’s original or later versions by the Jolly Green Giants or Jimmy Hanna and the Dynamics?

JEFF CONOLLY: I can’t remember…That was a big rule: no original copy of the 45, no re-recording.

KOEN GOOSSENS: You covered quite a few songs that were originally written during the 1950s that are more familiar in later, 1960s versions. Who, for example, inspired you to do a version of Frankie Laine’s “Jezebel”?

JEFF CONOLLY: The Teddy Boys’ recording is unbeatable and I was hooked on trying to recapture that wimp-rock singing style in a gig setting…at the time.

KOEN GOOSSENS: Same thing with Jimmy Reed’s “Ain’t That Loving You Baby,” a la the Beau Brummels? And what about Chris Kenner’s “Sick and Tired” or Bill Haley’s “Skinny Minnie”? Lee Curtis and the All-Stars’ version is really wild!

JEFF CONOLLY: More of the same, just trying to find songs that “fit” and make people feel rocked-out at the gigs, really…”Sick and Tired” is through the Searchers’ Live at the Star Club with Tony Jackson, again. That’s such an inspiring record – it really captures that sickening feeling of playing a rock date in Hamburg.

KOEN GOOSSENS: Have you ever heard Perry Como’s original version of “Glendora”? I ask you this question because I’m sure you took the Downliners Sect’s version as your inspiration and not Perry Como’s. I was pretty amazed to learn that Como ever recorded such a sick song!

JEFF CONOLLY: It’s sickening…Greg Shaw sent us a demo tape in 1976 and that help start a pattern of learning “underappreciated classics” for DMZ and later in the Lyres…That’s just what happened. None of this was planned, it just evolved into this learning curve…

KOEN GOOSSENS: Not too many people noticed it, but didn’t Roky Erickson copy the Lyres sound – complete with tremolo guitar – for his song “Don’t Slander Me”?

JEFF CONOLLY: Roky Erickson never copied anyone!!!

KOEN GOOSSENS: The Chesterfield Kings/Lyres split single where you covered each other’s tunes was a nice surprise. Whose cool idea was that?

JEFF CONOLLY: Andy Babyuk is a real nice person, and he suggested it to me. It took a long time to get that out. It came out twice, you know, with different Lyres tunes by the Kings.

KOEN GOOSSENS: “Frenzy” by the Fugs was another great choice for a DMZ cover. Such a great song that is.

JEFF CONOLLY: That second Fugs LP was total revolutionary mind-blower back in 1966. We used to have to hide it from our parents! What’s the big deal about Lou Reed? “Frenzy” is just as rockin’ as anything he’s ever done. “Cycle Annie”? Nah, not as brutal, too scholarly…

KOEN GOOSSENS: When can we expect a new record of yours?

JEFF CONOLLY: The new DMZ Live at the Rat came out really nice on Bomp [the five remixed 1976 recordings were originally issued as two 45s on the Chunk label in 1995]…And Lyres records are ready for release right now, but nobody has any money! All the record labels are broke!!!

KOEN GOOSSENS: One last question: please let it be known to the world just exactly who did the original version of “What’s a Girl Like You (Doing in a Place Like This)” because I haven’t got a clue.

JEFF CONOLLY: That’s a group from Cincinnati, Ohio called “Them” on James Brown’s King label. They later changed their name to “It’s Them” because Van Morrison got pissed!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Glyph Jockey Baseball Card: Sid Vicious

Here's another in the series of Rock 'n' Punk baseball cards from the incredible GlyphJockey. This time, it's hard-hitting rookie John Ritchie a/k/a Sid Vicious:

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Cold Turkey Computer Withdrawal

Loyal readers o' the BLOG! may recall that I had rededicated myself to producing more and better blog entries at the beginning of the year, vowing to knock out five posts a week.

Sadly, we have had some unfortunate losses of late. First, my 4 year old son's old IBM Thinkpad laptop gave up the ghost, then my 2002 Dell desktop shat the bed, its bloated hard drive taking a mess of documents and images with it to the grave. After that, we ponied up the dough for a decent Toshiba laptop, in time for me to finish Florida Rocks Again! #36, but then my wife's HP laptop stopped working, within days of the expiration of her one-year warranty, natch (apparently there's a class action lawsuit in the works, due to this model's faulty soldering).

So I've had to let my wife use my laptop, while I must confine my online activities to working hours, a practice known to HR types as "cyber-loafing."

Not wanting to get shit-canned over excessive cyber-loafing, I have been forced to neglect my bloggery. However, today is one of those days where I have absolutely nothing to do, so a-blogging I will go.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Attack of the Giant Leeches

When I was in Florida last week, I got to watch old episodes of my movie series Surreal Cinema on Channel 22 in St. Augustine. The 11:00 slot on Friday night was the steamy, depraved low-budget swamp horror, Attack of the Giant Leeches. Here’s the script for that episode, later adapted into a movie review on

JM Dobies here, a/k/a TV’s Michael West, serving up another heapin’ helping of celluloid slop cooked up in a bubblin' black cauldron forged from used motorcycle parts, pawnshop shotguns, and melted down pieces of movie projectors salvaged from closed-down drive-ins and condemned all-night grindhouses. The posters for this movie promised "crawling horror" and "massive blood sucking monsters" and asked, "What was the terrible power of the demons of the swamp"? For the answer to that and many other loaded questions, I submite for your approval Attack of the Giant Leeches from 1959, directed by Bernard L. Kowalski.

This movie is set in the swamps of Florida, even though it was filmed entirely in Los Angeles, with the LA County Arboretum and Botanical Garden filling in for the Everglades. And since it was made by a bunch of Hollywood city slickers, the stereotypes fly thick and fast: you got your gator-poachin', shine-drinkin' no-count, your round-heeled, backwoods tramp married to a profusely sweating fat slob, and of course, your beefy, brawny, and brain-dead swamp stud who's a-carryin' on with Jezebel behind the fat man's back. You can call 'em cliches if you wants to, but I calls 'em what they is: Leech food. Giant Leech food. Now speaking of them pesky giant leeches, they rank among the hokiest monsters in the history of monster movies, looking nothing like leeches and basically resembling what they are: guys in glad bags with big old octopus tentacles on 'em. Keep an eye out for the scuba tanks on their backs. It'll only add to the enjoyment as you withstand the puckered, sucking maelstrom that is Attack of the Giant Leeches.

In case you're wondering where you've seen the guy who plays moonshine-swillin' otter hunter Lem Hunter, I'm a gonna tell ya. It's none other than George Cisar, who you may remember from his performance as travelling salesman Joe Flake, another guy with a fondness for demon alcohol, in the all-time classic Billy the Kid vs. Dracula. You may also recognize him from his recurring role as Cyrus Tankersley on the TV series Mayberry R.F.D., which was essentially The Andy Griffith Show without Andy Griffith or Don Knotts. In other words, pretty much useless, although it did have some nice bits with Goober. There you have it, in a nutshell, the highlights of the career of George Cisar, whose character Lem Sawyer is the first person to encounter the Giant Leeches of the title.

The director, Bernard L. Kowalski, made his bones making such Grade Z flicks as Hot Car Girl, Night of the Blood Beast, Krakatoa, East of Java, and Women in Chains, but it was in television that he made his fortune. In addition to directing episodes of such shows as Richard Diamond, Private Eye, Columbo, Wild Wild West, and Baywatch Nights, he also had a piece of the action on the hit series Baretta and Mission: Impossible, so he presumably cashed in bigtime when the latter became a massive movie franchise. For Bernie's sake, let's hope he held on to his piece of that show.

The script for Attack of the Giant Leeches was written by tough guy character actor Leo Gordon, who started out as an actual tough guy, doing a stretch in San Quentin for armed robbery, before going on to play one on screen. As an actor, he appeared in such freaky flicks as Lure of the Swamp, Kitten with a Whip, and I Hate Your Guts. In addition to his brilliant screenplay for Attack of the Giant Leeches, Gordon also wrote the Corman quickies The Wasp Woman, The Cry Baby Killer, and The Terror, on which he collaborated with Jack Hill, the mad maestro behind Spider Baby.

Our hero, the poacher-hatin' game warden Steve Benton, is played by Ken Clark, perhaps best known for his portrayal of Stewpot in the 1958 musical South Pacific. But that movie was the exception rather than the rule when it came to Clark's resume: more typical were his roles in 12 to the Moon, On the Threshold of Space, and the junk he made in Italy during the '60s, including Hercules Against the Mongols, Son of Hercules in the Land of Darkness, and Hercules Meets GenghisS Khan in Hell, as well as the barrel-scraping James Bond knock-offs Operation Istanbul and Mission Bloody Mary, in which he portrayed Dick Malloy, agent 077. The same pattern repeats itself with the rest of the cast.

Yvette Vickers, who plays the no-good cheatin' Liz Walker, also appeared in Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, Juvenile Jungle, and Reform School Girl. Bruno VeSota, who plays her clueless husband Dave, was also in Creature of the Walking Dead, Daddy-O, The Choppers, Hell’s Angels on Wheels, and The Wild World of Batwoman. VeSota was also something of a triple threat, having written and directed 1954's The Female Jungle, one of Jayne Mansfield's earliest films, as well as directing Invasion of the Star Creatures and The Brain Eaters.

Released in 1959, Attack of the Giant Leeches somehow lost out to Ben Hur for Best Picture at the Oscars that year. Actually, it did get a Golden Globe as Bruno VeSota won for Best Suicide by a fat guy in a supporting role in a monster movie. In his acceptance speech, Bruno thanked Roger Corman, the Hollywood Foreign Press, his agent, his mom, and, last but not least, the Giant Leeches.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

More Tales from the Archives

Here is the cream of Florida Rocks Again! episodes to be found in the archives of (click on show title to listen):

Florida Rocks Again! # 33: A Florida Rocks Again! Christmas

Florida Rocks Again! #32: More of the Ones That Got Away

Florida Rocks Again! #31: The Ones That Got Away

Florida Rocks Again! #28: Coverama 2

Florida Rocks Again! #27: Miami: Where the Action Is!

Florida Rocks Again! # 25: Girls, Girls, Girls

Florida Rocks Again! # 24: Rockabilly Riot

Florida Rocks Again! # 23: Night and Day

Florida Rocks Again! # 22: Fuzz Feast

Florida Rocks Again! # 21: Cryin' Time

Florida Rocks Again! # 20: Florida Time

Florida Rocks Again! # 19: Love, Love, Love

Florida Rocks Again! #18: Orlando Rocks Again!

Florida Rocks Again! #17: Hey, Man

Florida Rocks Again! #16: The "I" Decade

Florida Rocks Again! # 13: Coverama

THE MAL THURSDAY SHOW #13: The Ballad of Mal Thursday

THE MAL THURSDAY SHOW #12: All Kindsa Girls, Pt. 2

THE MAL THURSDAY SHOW #11: All Kindsa Girls, Pt. 1

THE MAL THURSDAY SHOW #10: Surprise, Surprise

THE MAL THURSDAY SHOW #9: Sons of the Stage

THE MAL THURSDAY SHOW #8: Here We Go 'Round the Mulberry Bush

THE MAL THURSDAY SHOW #7: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

THE MAL THURSDAY SHOW #6: The Girl-Getters


THE MAL THURSDAY SHOW #4: Songs the Lyres Taught Us

THE MAL THURSDAY SHOW #3: You're Too Hip, Baby!



Sunday, April 12, 2009

Surreal Cinema Easter Marathon

A big thanks to my man Derrek Dembeck at WQXT Channel 22 in St. Augustine for running seven episodes from my two-year run as host of Surreal Cinema over Easter Weekend, starting with a double bill of The Monitors and Attack of the Giant Leeches on Friday night and leading up to an Easter Sunday marathon of The Black Room, Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein, Abbott & Costello Go to Mars, and Spider Baby.

I hadn't seen the show since I blew town, and it was a gas to dig it once again while visiting the Oldest City.

Roll it, Clyde!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Florida Rocks Again! #36: Mal's Florida Favorites, Vol. 2

Here's another heapin' helpin' of Mal's favorite 45s and rarities by the all-time greats from the Sunshine State. Choice cuts from the Allman Joys, the Nightcrawlers, the Montells, and Beaver Patrol, plus the Tropics Story as told by Charlie Souza, and much, much more.

Produced by JM Dobies and Jeff Lemlich in Living Monophonic Sound.

THE TROPICS: As Time's Gone
WE THE PEOPLE: You Burn Me Up and Down


THE HISS: Bomp Bomp Bomp

THE TROPICS: You Better Move/I Want More/For a Long Time/Time/Tired of Waiting/Still Get a Chill


Saturday, April 4, 2009

512 Brewing Company IPA: My New Favorite Ale

Austin is, to paraphrase Hemingway, a moveable feast. There's never a lack of places to go, whether you're looking for live music, great food, or great beer. The latter is particularly prized around these parts, and there is more than a few excellent local brewers. While I have enjoyed several locally-made brews from Real Ale and Live Oak, and the in-house offerings at Lovejoy's, North by Northwest, and Uncle Billy's, my favorite local beer is without doubt the fine ales flowing forth from the 512 Brewing Company.

My first exposure to owner/brewmaster Kevin Brand's brewing prowess was last fall, when I attended a late-afternoon screening of Quantum of Solace at the Alamo Village Drafthouse. I went with my friend Tim Cummings, and over the course of the film, we shared two pitchers of 512 Pale Ale. While the Alamo Village doesn't have the draft rack of some of the other local Alamos, I don't mind because they've got 512. In any case, I was sold. Tim, on the other hand, was a bit disoriented and unable to follow the plot thanks to the Pale's 6% ABV.

Founded in 2007, 512 Brewing Company is currently only available on tap at local bars, restaurants, and of course, the Alamo. I discovered 512 IPA at Trudy's, a Mexican place on Burnet, not far from where I work. This is my new favorite ale. According the 512 website, it is "a big, aggressively dry hopped American IPA with smooth bitterness (~65 IBU) balanced by medium maltiness. 100% US malted grains, loads of hops, and great Austin water create an ale with apricot and vanilla aromatics that lure you in for more."

And with a 6.5% ABV, it doesn't take more than a couple to get you going. While I tend to favor local brews, I would love the 512 IPA regardless of where it was brewed. That it's fresh, made locally in small batches, and all the more delicious for it, only adds to its appeal.

I look forward to the company bottling this stuff, so the rest of Texas can taste the genius of 512.