Category Archives: Out of the Past

Star Wars Meet(s) the Beatles

The iconic 60s rock album meets the iconic 70s movie, in the mash-up you never knew you needed.

The album, titled Princess Leia’s Stolen Death Star Plans, comes from Palette-Swap Ninja, which is a collaboration between keyboard player and digital drummer Jude Kelley and singer/guitarist Dan Amrich. They describe it as a “geek-culture parody project”.

They’re releasing it just in time to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the release of Star Wars, on 25 May 2017, and the 50th anniversary of the release of the Beatles’ album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, on 1 June 2017.

Download the full album, free at Palette-Swap Ninja.

Happy Anniversary, Buffy!

It was 20 years ago today, as the old song goes, that the first episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer was televised on the long-gone and much-missed WB network. The show, based on a moderately successful but mediocre movie, survived an uneven first season (i.e. some of the first season episodes are really, really pathetic) to become one of the great pre-Golden Age television programs.

Or maybe, as Lucy Mangan wrote in The Guardian today,

The Sopranos is generally held up as the inflection point for television-as-art – the moment the medium matured and had to start being taken seriously. But Buffy was there first and doing extraordinary things before the conflicted Mafiosi hit the screen…”

—from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer at 20: the thrilling, brilliant birth of TV as art”*

The Scooby Gang, and friends.  And foes.

A personal story.

Back in 2002, I became seriously ill with what’s now called COPD. I went to my doctor on the morning of 12 November, and she immediately sent me to the ER at Washington Hospital Center. I didn’t get a room until a few minutes after 8 PM, but there was a silver lining, because once I had access to a TV set, I was able to catch most of that night’s episode of Buffy.**

I was hospitalized for three weeks, and instructed to recuperate at home for more than six weeks after that. During the entire time, my wonderful mother–who had turned 80 on the day I was admitted to the hospital–called me at least twice a day, just to make sure I was all right. The only time that was off-limits for phone calls was Tuesday night, between 8 and 9 PM, when Buffy was on TV.

So, yeah. I guess you could say I’ve always been a fan.

Bonus Feature

In this fan re-mix, Buffy takes on the most horrible vampire of all, with predictable results.

Another Bonus Feature

Here’s the original, never-aired pilot episode for Buffy, with a different Willow and a much sillier tone.

*The entire article, and the related stories on The Guardian site, are worth reading.
**It was a great episode, too! “Conversations with Dead People”.

Not Your Grandfather’s Archie Comics

“America’s Typical Teen-Ager”—even though he never was, isn’t now, and never will be—gets a 21st century makeover on The CW this month. It surprised me to learn that Archie Comics are not only still being published, but that the Archie Comics company is apparently thriving. Is Mad magazine still around?

FWIW, Archie first appeared in a comic book on 22 December 1941. We don’t know his birthdate, but given that he was already a teenager when he made that first appearance, lets assume he was born ~1925. That would make him a spry 92-year-old today.

Archie’s First Appearance

If The CW is to be believed, Archie and the gang have certainly aged well, but their hometown of Riverdale has taken on an ominous, dangerous aspect, as if George Bailey’s Bedford Falls had mutated into Twin Peaks instead of Pottersville.

Here’s a look:

The World’s Hottest Nonagenarians

KJ Apa as “Archie Andrews” and Cole Sprouse as “Jughead Jones”

Camila Mendes as “Veronica Lodge” and Lili Reinhart as “Betty Cooper”

Archie’s parents, btw, are being played by Luke Perry and Molly Ringwald.

Riverdale debuts on 26 January 2017.

Lunch at the Oldest Restaurant in the World



“We lunched upstairs at Botín’s. It is one of the best restaurants in the world. We had roast young suckling pig and drank rioja alta. Brett did not eat much. She never ate much. I ate a very big meal and drank three bottles of rioja alta.”

–Ernest Hemingway, in The Sun Also Rises

It’s called Botin, and it’s been serving meals since 1725, which, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, makes it the world’s oldest continuously operating restaurant. Among its many claims to fame—OMG, Nancy Reagan Dined Here!—Francisco de Goya worked at Botin as a waiter before being accepted into the Royal Academy of Fine Arts.

So of course it was on my list.

Sopa de ajo con huevo

Sopa de ajo con huevo

Sopa de ajo con huevo is garlic soup, with egg. The egg was added raw, and cooked by the heat of the stock. The soup had a mild, not terribly garlicky taste.


Cochinillo asado

Botin’s signature dish is Cochinillo asado, aka Suckling Pig, roasted in the restaurant’s original 300-year-old wood-fired oven. With a side of potatoes, it couldn’t get any more basic than this.

Tarta de queso con chocolate blanco

Tarta de queso con chocolate blanco

The best part of the meal:  Cheesecake with white chocolate.

The food was fine, but not terribly memorable, except for that cheesecake with white chocolate. Despite Hemingway’s claim that Botin is “one of the best restaurants in the world”, well, he wrote that almost 100 years ago, and things change. Today, you dine at Botin not for the food, but for the history.

Morning at the Temple of Debod

Let’s start at the very beginning….


For 2,200 years, up until the 1960s, the Temple of Debod stood near the Nile river in Egypt.

But by the middle of the 20th century, after two millennia of annual floods, the Egyptians decided to tame the Nile, with the construction of the Aswan High Dam. A problem: The resulting reservoir would leave 22 significant monuments and archaeological sites under water.

UNESCO organized a rescue. Some of the sites were relocated within Egypt, and four of them were given to countries that contributed to the scheme. The US, for instance, was given the Temple of Dendur, which was sent to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York.

Madrid got the Temple of Debod.

And that’s where I began my exploration of the city.

The temple sits in a large, beautifully landscaped park in central Madrid. Unlike the temple at the Met, at the Temple of Debod you can actually enter—but not photograph—the bare inner rooms. That made for a much more intense experience.

A perfect start to my visit!

Hannibal Lecter Wants to Sell You a Car

This is a short video from the UK called Le Fantôme, and it’s described as “A Jake Scott film starring Mads Mikkelsen.”

It’s a cookbook!

No, wait. That’s not it.

It’s a commercial!

That’s it.  It’s a commercial, an eight-minute commercial, for Ford Edge, and it stars the great Mads Mikkelsen, Hannibal Lecter himself.  I guess that’s why I had that little Freudian slip about cookbooks.

As if an appearance by  Mikkelsen isn’t enough to make this required viewing, the character “The Widow” is played by the legendary Barbara Steele, Queen of the 60s Gothic Horror Movies, and noted for her role in Fellini’s . She’s 78 years old now, and this is only her third film appearance since 1980.

The film is eight minutes of delicious.