Category Archives: coast to coast am

Art Bell, Again

Yes. Again. Seriously. I don’t believe it, but then again, yeah, I do. Because he’s done it before.

This past week legendary radio host Art Bell quit his radio show. Again. The current incarnation, “Dark Matter,” broadcast on satellite radio by Sirius XM, is over. Bell cited technical concerns, as well as a small audience. In other words, it was hard.

And it’s not like he hasn’t done it before either. He’s quit before, or left under mysterious, sometimes highly suspect, circumstances, with little advance warning, or concern for his audience – no matter how big or small. As a matter of fact, he may well be more remembered for his vanishing acts than his radio act when history is done with him. He quits so often, it’s almost an industry joke.

The way he has left, and the reasons he’s given, all indicate one thing. Art Bell was doing this show for himself – not his audience, his fans, his loyal listeners. This was about him, not us. We would have listened without guests, without callers, and without a clear signal. Surely I’m not the only one who listened years ago with crappy reception from an AM station two cities ago, am I? It was hard for him. Again. So he quit.

Yeah, I’m angry, but that doesn’t dispel the man’s talent as a broadcaster, talk radio host, and interviewer. I would rather listen to bad Art Bell reruns than the best George Noory interview on Coast to Coast AM. At least Art would study up on his guest, ask intelligent questions, and not nap during the interview.

But now, not only is Art gone, but Coast to Coast AM has left Sirius XM as well. I am forced to rethink my satellite radio subscription once again. I love Opie & Anthony and Radio Classics, EW Radio, and I’m digging the sadly temporary David Bowie station, but really the only time I have dependably to listen is late at night, the former realm of Art and Coast.

Art has left me high and dry once again. I should have seen it coming. I hope Sirius XM saw it coming, and wrote that contract appropriately. I hope the quitter pays. Thanks, Art, for six weeks at least.

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Conspiracy Theory

Conspiracy Theory ~ It’s one thing to watch a movie you didn’t really have any interest in that has been recommended by someone whose opinions you trust and respect. You may not want to see it, but usually it’s an adventure, and an unexpected delight. What happens when the recommendation comes from someone whose opinions you do not trust or respect? Such is the case with Conspiracy Theory.

You might think the subject matter would be of interest to me because I’m such a Coast to Coast AM junkie, but the truth is, when they start talking conspiracies, I zone out. Give me Bigfoot and UFOs any day over that crap. Nothing against Julia Roberts, but I think she’s lazy. She has two modes – Oscar nom, and give me the check. Most of the time I think it’s the latter.

And then there’s Mel Gibson. Mel has fallen out of favor for very solid reasons, but for me he was always on the brink of parodying himself, always a Keanu Reeves ‘huh’ away from ever being a good actor. And then there’s all the other stuff he’s done and said. I can’t help seeing the Daffy Duck version of him from “South Park” now whenever I see him.

Already Conspiracy Theory has several strikes against and I’m still paused on the WB shield. Let’s hope it gets better. Now I realize that Gibson is playing someone is apparently mentally unhinged, but I’m sorry the credits haven’t finished running, but he is already firmly Daffy Duck-ing in my head.

Also what bugs me early on is that the conspiracies put forth are the generic Hollywood version of conspiracy theories, not real conspiracy theories. It also feels very dated, as if it was written at least a decade before its 1997 release date. The dated performances of 1980s big names Gibson and Roberts certainly don’t help.

Gibson’s Daffy Duck meets Curly Howard performance as a paranoid cab driver who’s been brainwashed by the government makes you think you’re getting a comedy and clashes horribly with the real tenor of the flick. It’s a dark dark film, although you’d never know it watching Gibson cavort.

He’s doing schtick, so when Patrick Stewart shows up doing his Marathon Man bad guy imitation and shoots Gibson up with LSD, you can’t help but wonder what the hell you’re watching. Oh, and Julia Roberts? She’s about as interesting as old wallpaper in this movie. Her dye job has more charisma than her performance.

This is a long movie, and it’s made even longer by the overacting and under-acting of the leads, the over-explanation of the plot, the overbearing score, and the horrific and ridiculous ending. I was pretty sure I would hate this movie, and I was right.

Satellite Radio Reshuffling

A couple weeks ago one of my favorite satellite radio channels, Book Radio, disappeared, replaced with something called Rural Radio.

Here’s the official word from SiriusXM Radio: “As of July 15, SiriusXM Book Radio is no longer available on SiriusXM, but our commitment to books and authors remains high across many channels. Classic radio theater and stories continue on RadioClassics (SiriusXM channel 82), and audiobooks air on our “Late Night Read” show at night on SiriusXM Stars (SiriusXM channel 106).”

I would much rather have had a 24/7 channel dedicated to audiobooks, but at least something of what once was still exists in some form. Of course, that’s not the only worry I have had of late about satellite radio.

Those of you who know me, or are regular readers here, know that I am a huge Coast to Coast AM fan. Or at least a huge fan of some of the show’s content and some of its hosts. Due to ClearChannel and SiriusXM parting ways, C2CAM will be leaving satellite some time in August. Despite my problems with its content, it is, along with Opie & Anthony and Radio Classics, among others, one of the major reasons I subscribed to satellite radio to begin with.

My worries are over. This week, Art Bell, the original host of Coast, and innovator of that now much-copied radio format, has announced his return from retirement. Not only that, he will be returning to the microphone on SiriusXM Indie Talk Channel 104. Outside of C2CAM actually returning to its glory days, original programming, and hosts, this is a win-win situation for me. The show begins September 16th.

I’m happy, and I won’t miss George Noory falling asleep, doing crossword puzzles, or just not paying attention to a guest on air at all.

Let Coast Be Coast

We’ve talked about my radio habits and obsession here before. Up until I got satellite radio, I still enjoyed exploring the AM dial in the middle of the night. Some time in the late nineties I discovered Art Bell and Coast to Coast AM.

This was more than a year before Art finally came to Philadelphia, syndicated on 1210 AM. I remember an intriguing and heated discussion about UFOs and alien abductions. I also remember that night getting out of my warm bed to log on the computer at around three in the morning to see the artist’s rendering of the aliens, you know, a visual to go with the audio. Yeah, I was hooked, and have been for close to fifteen years.

Mostly I was delighted to find talk radio that was not about politics. I could hear that nonsense anywhere and any time. I like different in my talk radio. It’s probably why I have been attracted to things like Howard Stern, Opie and Anthony, Dr. Ruth, Dr. Drew, radio dramas, audiobooks, and Joe Frank. Coast to Coast AM was definitely different.

I was overjoyed when the program found its Philly home and was a faithful listener almost every night. My insomnia proved helpful in that endeavor. Night after night I listened to a myriad of guests and topics, always in the realm of the paranormal. That was Coast’s forte. If you wanted intelligent (and sometimes not so) discussion about ufology, cryptozoology, mythology, pseudoscience, conspiracy theories or anything involving the odd or surreal, Coast to Coast AM was for you.

There’s a lot that can said about the host Art Bell. Surrounded by rumor and conspiracy himself, he was and is a consummate radio professional. No matter the insanity or unlikeliness of the guest or caller, he was always fair, entertaining, and at the top of his game. There are few talk radio hosts as sharp and composed as Art Bell.

Due to personal issues, Art has had to retire from radio and the show several times – the final time was in the late 2000s. He has been replaced the last time by George Noory. George is quite talented himself, but every time I hear an old Art show, it becomes quite obvious how inferior the replacement is to the original host. He never challenges guests or listeners, is often uninformed, and frequently seems inattentive or not even listening to guests and callers.

Noory also seems to have a problem with open lines. He doesn’t do it that often. Anyone who knows talk radio knows that it’s not about the host, it’s about the callers. Art knew this, and his regular technique was to not screen callers as is usually done – he just put them on the air. Often open lines was the best part of the old Coast to Coast AM. Since George has come in board, there also seems a shift in topic, more toward politics, and current events. I’m not happy with that at all.

The two biggest nights of the year on Coast to Coast AM are New Year’s Eve and Halloween. On New Year’s Eve they take psychic predictions for the upcoming year, and on Halloween, the show becomes ‘Ghost to Ghost’ as callers tell ghost stories. I love Ghost to Ghost. However, it too has gone downhill in recent years. Noury screens the calls, taking away the spontaneity, as well as the need to think on his feet, I suppose.

This year, last night, Noory even cut short the program by taking up the first hour with news, and an interview with a security expert. Seriously? Real Coast to Coast topics are rare enough recently, and now you’re truncating the best show of the year??

It’s no wonder that other radio programs similar to the original Coast to Coast AM, like Ground Zero with Clyde Lewis and A View from Space, are growing in popularity and Coast is falling. Politics and current events can be heard anywhere on the dial, the topics that made Coast great can not. I want my show back.

Please! Let Coast be Coast!

Hoax Hunters

Folks who know me personally know I’m addicted to Coast to Coast AM late nights. They cover lots of different topics on the show, now hosted by George Noory, but the nights that I love are the ones about UFOs, cryptozoology, and conspiracy theories. Yeah, I’m a nut for that stuff. Add in that I grew up in the Pine Barrens of South Jersey, where nobody jokes about the Jersey Devil when they’re outside at night – you know I’m a sucker for the new Hoax Hunters comic from Image.

Writers Michael Moreci and Steve Seeley have created quite a phenomenon with Hoax Hunters. It’s everything I could want, it’s Coast to Coast AM mixed with “X-Files” in comic book form. Described as “Cryptids. Aliens. Monsters. All the world’s bizarre secrets–what if they were real? Their existence would be debunked by a reality TV show! HOAX HUNTERS is that show, publicly disproving all variety of lore. But their real goal is the opposite: as the world’s dark corners surface, the HOAX HUNTERS cover them up. They demonstrate that the truth isn’t out there.” Again, what more could I want? The creators have even promised a Jersey Devil appearance in the future.

There are two issues of new material out now, plus a ‘zero issue’ that collects the stories that first appeared as back-up in Hack/Slash #1-10. Get out to your local comics shop now and check them out! This comic rocks!

Hoax Hunters has a website and blog that you visit here. And don’t forget to check out this episode of the Biff Bam Popcast featuring Michael Moreci and Steve Seeley!

Dark Knight Rises Prelude

Everyone knows basically what happened Thursday night in Aurora, Colorado. The tragedy that is being called by the news media, the ‘movie massacre,’ is now inextricably tied to the film The Dark Knight Rises.

I was up late Thursday night when I heard about it on the top of the hour news during Coast to Coast AM, and immediately clicked on the television news. Like 9/11 or Columbine (not all that far from Aurora) I was one of millions glued to my TV watching and waiting. I finally dozed off to images of the tragedy.

Later that afternoon, I kept plans to see The Dark Knight Rises despite everything. Things were a little different at the theatre. Bags were checked, we weren’t allowed in to the theatre until just before the show, and nobody was in costume. I think this may actually be the end of that. No more costumes, and maybe even no more midnight release showings.

Another difference was that there was no chatter before the movie. No one was talking. It was very disconcerting. Usually on opening day, everyone is excited, not this day. I suppose everyone was thinking about the shootings.

One specific preview, for Sean Penn’s new film Gangster Squad made children jump, women gasp, and grown men scream. It depicted men with guns shooting through a movie screen and then into the audience. I hope Warner Bros. has the sense to pull this preview for the time being. The audience was shocked and horrified.

I am left numb. I enjoyed TDKR but am unable to write about it yet. Maybe tomorrow or the next day. My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of this tragedy and their families and friends.

Random Tater Pic of the Day #35

Potato Patch Animals

2012

2012 ~ A close friend of mine said the other day that she would watch John Cusack read the phone book. I have to wonder if she’s seen this gem…

The real star here is the special effects. It seems like co-writer/director Roland Emmerich just didn’t get to destroy the world enough in Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow (and that’s not even mentioning how he destroyed Godzilla, grrr…) and had CGI effects leftover. That said, this wannabe Irwin Allen has created stunning disaster imagery that is almost worth the price of admission (or rental), if only a story went along with it.

The film’s structure revolves around the solely Western idea that the world will end when the Mayan calendar ends in the year 2012. To me this always seemed absurd. The calendar ended because the guy carving it got tired and just ended it on the last cycle. Remember no keyboards or pencils then, just chisels – it was hard labor. Anyway, the world’s going to end, cue special effects and let your butt get numb.

John Cusack is writer Jackson Curtis (who just happens to have written a book about Mayan ‘prophecy’) who struggles in the midst of the disaster to save his estranged family. The hilarity, and unbelievability factor, ensues from there. I have to wonder however if John had some gambling debts or alimony payments we don’t know about he had to cover with this flick. It certainly couldn’t have been the script that lured him in. Woody Harrelson, on the other hand, is actually quite a hoot as an ersatz Art Bell type radio show host.

The chase scenes will certainly make your heart race, and if only this would have been in IMAX… See it for the effects, and only if you don’t have to pay for it.

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The Men Who Stare at Goats

The Men who Stare at Goats ~ Take a whole lot Coen brothers flavor and mix well with the typical content of late night radio’s Coast to Coast AM, and you’ve got The Men who Stare at Goats.

Director Grant Heslov and screenwriter Peter Straughan want very badly to be the Coen brothers that it hurts. You can feel it through the screen. And just about the only good thing that can be said about this particular factor of the film is that this is much much better than the Coen’s last project, Burn After Reading. Though they both had George Clooney, I don’t think you could pay me to see Burn again. Goats, I’ll definitely see again, but I’ll wait ‘til it’s on disc.

The story is based supposedly on fact, but mostly based on the book of the same name by Jon Ronson, the notorious British gonzo journalist and documentary filmmaker who frequently stalks secret organizations and conspiracy theories. Crazy stuff, yes, but also enjoyable. Hey, if I didn’t love this stuff myself I would be a C2C AM fan, and would consequently get a lot more sleep.

In this semi-autobiographical semi-truthful film, Ewan McGregor, Jedi Knight from those Star Wars flicks, plays a fictionalized version of Ronson who meets up with George Clooney – a real live super-soldier Jedi warrior with psychic powers who’s on a secret mission for the government in Afghanistan. From there, hilarity and an amusing montage of flashbacks ensue. The juxtaposition alone of McGregor not buying the Jedi talk is funny enough, but Clooney’s quirky Lyn Cassady is a hoot.

While the story falls apart late in the film, the performances are all high quality and entertaining. Another Coen favorite Jeff Bridges is very good as the new age Jedi master as is Kevin Spacey as another of his more smarmy students. The interplay between all the actors is cohesive, especially with Clooney and McGregor when the flick is in its buddy movie phase. This is good stuff. Recommended, but be prepared for a wacky ride. Heck, this could be a Coen film, a good one.

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