Thursday, March 8, 2018

Jay Curtis and Disasterpiece Theatre

Fans of Mystery Science Theater 3,000 and Rifftrax may think that they invented the genre, but it was Jay Curtis and Bruce Mueller who had the first TV show based on telling jokes about bad movies while viewing them.


In 1980, the two film editors at XETV Channel 6 created a TV show called Disasterpiece Theatre that was broadcast from Tijuana into San Diego.  They "riffed" on really bad movies long before Mystery Science Theater 3000 premiered in 1988.  

Jay Curtis hosting Disasterpiece Theatre as Sal-U-Lloyd
Jay Curtis hosting Disasterpiece Theatre as Sal-U-Lloyd
The show consisted of host segments and sketches with Sal-U-Lloyd (Curtis), The Other Guy (Mueller), and a variety of special guests; including Whoopie Goldberg, Richard Simmons and Michael Medved. Jokes were delivered during the movies by text overlay and by re-dubbing the audio to include sound effects, comic voices, and jokes. Sal wore a black suit and white Capezio dance shoes and drove an Edsel. A variety of oddball characters were portrayed by Mueller

Theme song written by Frank Trani and the Awesome Brothers.

Disasterpiece Theatre premiered on Friday June 13, 1980 with the film, The Thing That Couldn’t Die. During one of the host segments, Sal fake-interviewed the star of the film, Johnny Cabeza played by Bruce Mueller, whose disembodied head appeared sitting on a chair as Sal talked with him about his film career.  

The following week they screened 18 and Anxious starring Jim Backus and Jackie Coogan. Coogan doesn’t always wear his toupee during the movie and that was an easy place to mine jokes. The guest for the host segments was Bruce Mueller as Pelvis Peacock, the world’s worst Elvis impersonator. 

Sal-U-Lloyd -- Jay Curtis
Sal U Lloyd, host of Disasterpiece Theatre
Disasterpiece Theater showed more than just sci-fi and horror films. They also riffed on several westerns, a Kung Fu flick and the musical Panama Sal. During the host segments, Sal U Lloyd recounted the history of the Lloyd family: Sal and brother Freddy were born Siamese twins joined at the back. Later it turned out this was the result of an accident their mother Celia had with some super glue. Sal remarked that he once swallowed a ship full of ex-lax and polluted the Sea of Japan. Sal then attempted a singing career with the song Key to My Condo that was a spoof of the song Beat Of The Bongo from the movie. 

During Halloween, the classic Dracula was shown -- supposedly at gunpoint. Mueller as Freddy, the show’s producer, pointed a shotgun at Sal off camera til the film began. At the end of the movie, Freddy said they would go back to showing bad movies next week because by then Sal was holding the shotgun. 

Once during the Thanksgiving show, Sal put an apple in Producer Freddy’s mouth and chopped vegetables over him. The most popular movie on Disasterpiece Theatre was Shriek Of The Mutilated. -- so popular it was shown three times

"Sal-U-Lloyd" (Jay Curtis) and "The Other Guy" (Bruce Mueller)
"The Other Guy" (Bruce Mueller) and "Sal-U-Lloyd" (Jay Curtis)
In mid-January 1981, the show was moved to Saturday nights in the hope of improving the ratings. Sal had the Edsel loaded up with potted plants and a totem pole so they could move to the next night. But The Other Guy (Mueller) was missing. It turned out he was tied up in a basement, but managed to free himself and get to the studio in time for the show. 

"Disasterpiece Theatre" was a huge local hit and enjoyed a dedicated following, even beating out Saturday Night Live in the area ratings once, and Sal U. Lloyd became a local celebrity.
Jay Curtis, aka Sal-U-Lloyd on the cover of Tuned-in Magazine
Jay Curtis, aka Sal-U-Lloyd on the cover of Tuned-in Magazine
Sal U. Lloyd often portrayed himself as a big loser who hates his job. In one episode, he explains his position: "I'm sick of television... I wanna be a rock and roll star. I wanna make some money." He is often seen suffering some kind of brain damage after showing a movie. Several times, Lloyd has a run-in with the network producer, George Mucas (obviously a parody of George Lucas), who hates the show.  

In June 81, the show celebrated its one year anniversary much to the dismay of Freddy the Producer, played by Mueller, because he had been trying to get the show off the air. Freddy presented a "Relevation of Degradation" to viewers in the hope this would end the show. He showed clips from past movies Big Boy Rides Again, Alien Factor, The Mole People, Spiderwoman Strikes Back, Revenge Of The Creature, and Trog. Skits from previous shows included, Harry Johnson’s Lite Beer, Shock-O-Matic, Racket Squad, French Connection, 3-Popeye Doyle meets Popeye the Sailor and the Eddie Haskell Show. 

Sal U Lloyd

The following week Jay Curtis went on vacation and a rerun of Monster Zero was shown. The movie House of Horrors was previewed for the next week. Several days later Curtis returned from vacation and found out that in his absence the station executives had cancelled the program. It was replaced by a show called Creature Feature that screened horror flicks without a host or commentary.

Disasterpiece Theater always played the song, Goodnight Sweetheart as Sal drove the Edsel out of the studio at the end of the show. And like the Edsel, Disasterpiece Theatre was ahead of its time, pulled from the market too soon and is now considered a classic.

Additional Disasterpiece Theatre Videos:

Sadly, very little video survives from Disasterpiece Theatre because the budget was so low that the producers had to reuse the video tape by taping over previous episodes. And the video that does survive is very poor quality, because in those days the show was taped off the air and onto VHS. By the time the tapes were digitized they were in bad shape. But for fans of the show, these few clips bring back some great memories.

The Worst of Disasterpiece Theatre #1 

The Worst of Disasterpiece Theatre #2 

The Lion Tamer - Disasterpiece Theatre

Gary Cocker Tribute - Disasterpiece Theatre

Sal reads fan mail - Disasterpiece Theatre

Godzilla fights Anguirus - Disasterpiece Theatre 

Mecha Sal U. Lloyd Disasterpiece Theatre 

Richard Simmons on Disasterpiece Theatre 

Disasterpiece Theatre Preview 

Visit the "Sal-U-Lloyd" YouTube channel here 

Needless to say, if anyone has any old tapes of the show you'd be doing fans a solid by uploading them to YouTube.

Disasterpiece Theatre Theme Song

Well, have you seen any good movies lately?
Well, you're not gonna see one tonite.
I hope you're in the mood for something really lousy.
'Cause if you are just hold on tight.
Well, our boy Sal U. Lloyd is gonna take you on down.
to where the silver screen gets covered with slime.
So come on in, you're just in time for a disaster.
This is Disasterpiece Theater.
This is really gonna be a disaster.
This is Disasterpiece Theater.
Say, you probably never saw anything this bad, boy, in your life.
This is Disasterpiece Theater.
I mean this is really, really rotten. Whoa!
This is Disasterpiece Theater.
Who writes this junk anyway?
This is Disasterpiece Theater.
Oh! Pass the popcorn.
This is Disasterpiece Theater.
Oh! Argh!
This is Disasterpiece Theater.
This stuff oughta be against the law!
This is Disasterpiece Theater.

Disasterpiece Theatre Fans 

Disasterpiece Theater poster made by a fan
Disasterpiece Theatre poster made by a fan

To say I was a "fan" would be an understatement. I really loved the show. I bought the T-shirt and even got an autograph from Sal U Lloyd shortly after the show ended.

Me wearing a Disasterpiece Theater T-shirt in the early 80s
Wearing an "official" Disasterpiece Theater T-shirt in the early 80s

Autograph of Jay Curtis as Sal U Lloyd
Autograph of Jay Curtis as Sal U Lloyd

Jay Curtis Bio

Jay Curtis was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, April 03, 1950. He attended Montclair State University in New Jersey, studying English and later New York University where he studied film. In 1976, he relocated to San Diego where he began working at XETV.

Young Jay Curtis
Young Jay Curtis
After his show ended, Curtis became member services manager for BPME (Promax/BPA) and hosted its video magazine program.

Jay Curtis after Disasterpiece Theater
Jay Curtis after Disasterpiece Theatre
In the early '90s, Curtis came to CBS as its in-house on-air brand manager. Working with the late Ron Scalera in marketing, the network rose to become No. 1 in viewership.

Known as "The Creative Lifeguard" for his talent at coaxing creativity out of people, Curtis also did work for NBC, Fox, the NCAA, the NFL and several other major production houses. He also directed stars David Letterman, Bob Newhart, Dick Van Dyke, Dan Rather, George Clooney, Ray Romano, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Cheech Marin.

Jay Curtis was diagnosed with ALS in 2015. While coping with the disease, he produced two books of poetry, In and Out of Dreaming and Flaws in the Road. On January 26th 2018, Curtis' son, J.T. Curtis announced that Jay Curtis, aged 67 years old, had passed away. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Funny Vintage Ads (10)

Advertising has always been an interesting way to look at history. But when you see these vintage advertisements, the past seems a lot weirder than you thought.


Van Heusen Man's World Ties
 "For men only! . . . brand new man-talking, power-packed patterns that tell her it's a man's world . . . and make her so happy it is."
Because every man wants a magical tie that will transform women into slaves!


Atomic Age Air Rifle

"Wow! What a gun. Actually fires up to 40 feet. Safe to use indoors or out. Get yours today!"
Note that it says "Atomic Age" rifle, not "Atomic Rifle" and it was just a small plastic pop-gun with a doomsday name.


Fleischmann's Yeast -- Bread and Ambition

Fleischmann's Yeast, Bread and Ambition (1920) by Norman Rockwell
The Fleischmann brothers built a yeast plant in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1868 to manufacture a compressed yeast cake that revolutionized home and commercial baking in the United States.


Pears' Soap - The White Man's Burden
The White Man's Burden is a reference to an 1899 poem by Rudyard Kipling inviting the United States to assume colonial control of Philippines -- to take up the "burden of Empire" supposedly for the sake of the "uncivilized" natives.  It was a common belief at the time that white men had a moral obligation to rule the non-white peoples of the Earth. 


Tipalet - Blow in her face and she'll follow you anywhere

The secret to impressing your lady is to get a big mouthful of smoke and exhale it right as she leans in for a kiss. What woman could possibly resist?

If Life's Grim Without a Him
"If Life's Grim Without a Him ... Remember --"
That's better than being sexually assaulted by some random guy.


To wake up gay in the morning

This guy seems a little too happy about it.


Successful marriages start in the kitchen!

"Now the new mistress of the house can go right ahead with some of those girlhood dreams -- planning lovely meals for her man..."
This happy bride was so anxious to get started living her dream, she went straight from the marriage ceremony to the kitchen!


Monkey Brand - Won't Wash Clothes

In the 1880s, Benjamin Brooke’s Monkey Brand Soap was a versatile product with the capacity to clean almost any object or surface but “It Won’t Wash Clothes.” In an unusual marketing strategy, priority was given to promoting what the product couldn’t do ahead of what it could do. Social and cultural historians believe that the monkey was used as a symbolic commentary on Victorian attitudes towards race, gender and class.


Should I leave you on the doorstep mom?

"BABY: Shame, Mom -- saying you'd leave a nice baby like me on the doorstep. I should leave you!"
"MOM: But lamb -- you were driving me wild with your fussing . . ."


Non-explosive Lamp Company

The Cleveland Non-Explosive Lamp Company was incorporated in 1868. This early advertising pamphlet claims, "No more shocking deaths and terrible fires from coal oil lamps exploding or breaking."


Formula X
"Is your bust large? Reduce that bulging matronly chest-line to the slender, girlish lines of youth. Just apply FORMULA - X treatment at home and watch your breasts grow slim and young-looking."


Kelloggs Krumbles -- Gay Parties Guaranteed

 Krumbles cereal began as an attempt by Kellogg's to make shredded wheat biscuits. Unfortunately the biscuits crumbled in the package and instead of trying to make biscuits that wouldn't crumble, Kellogg's decided to crumble the broken biscuits even more and sell them as Krumbles cereal. How that relates to "Gay Parties" is anyone's guess.


Schlitz -- the beer with sunshine vitamin D

 "Schlitz, with Sunshine Vitamin D, gives you the sunny source of health you need the whole year round. Beer is good for you—but Schlitz, with Sunshine Vitamin D, is extra good for you."
Whether vitamin D beer did any actual good for consumers' health is unknown, but it wasn't very profitable for Schlitz. Their Vitamin D beer stayed on the market for only two years, from 1936 to 1938.


Practo Hair Grower - Remarkable Machine Grows Hair or Your Money Back

 "Just attach this simple, trouble-free device to a water faucet. No water touches your hair or scalp. Only the pressure of the water is used to produce Intermittent Vacuum, forcing rich, life-giving blood in and out of the deep-lying blood vessels that nourish the hair roots."



 From 1914, until banned from the mails in 1942, this back-stretcher promised health and height but operated more like a medieval rack.


Jolt Cigarettes -- Do you tell yourself you smoke too much?

 "If you smoke a lot . . . enjoy cigarettes tremendously . . . you J - O - L - T your nerves when you cut down! But this self-denial is unnecessary now. You can smoke all you like if you smoke the new miracle-mint Julep Cigarettes. Symptoms of over-smoking disappear! No "dark-brown" taste . . . no more "burned-out" throat . . . no "tobacco-tainted" breath. It's a triple smoking miracle!


Chubbettes -- How happy can a chubby girl be?

"How happy can a girl be? As happy as a hit with a rollicking beat, or a serenade in a dreamy mood... as happy as one whose extra young pounds have been delightfully transformed by the designing magic of Chubbettes."
Was there ever an overweight kid who greeted the news that Mom was buying her some "Chubettes" with delight?


Wizard Suspenders
"The Magic Cord Does the Trick"
so you can give yourself a wedgie.


 Pemberton's Tonic - French Wine Coca

Coca Wine was first developed in 1863 by Angelo Mariani. His brand “Vin Mariani”, made from Peruvian Coca leaves and Bordeaux wine became an overnight success.
In 1880s Georgia, a pharmacist named John Pemberton developed a beverage based on Mariani’s version, called Pemberton’s French Wine Coca. When Georgia passed the Prohibition legislation in 1886, Pemberton scrambled to come up with a non-alcoholic version; replacing the wine with a syrup and naming it Coca Cola.


Canada Dry Ginger Ale - It's Gingervating!

In 1890, Canadian pharmacist and chemist John J. McLaughlin of Enniskillen, Ontario opened a carbonated water plant in Toronto. In 1904, he created Canada Dry Pale Ginger Ale. When McLaughlin began shipping his product to New York in 1919, it became so popular that he opened a plant in Manhattan and Canada Dry Ginger Ale, Inc. was born. Canada Dry's popularity as a mixer began during Prohibition, when its flavor helped mask the taste of homemade liquor.


Columbia Graphophone

The Graphophone was patented in 1885 by Alexander Graham Bell as a business dictation machine. It included a primitive microphone and used wax cylinders to record and play back sound.


Ethel's Edible Under Garments

Despite the vintage look of this ad, edible undies were born late one night in early 1970s Chicago, when young entrepreneurs David Sanderson and Lee Brady were smoking pot. Sanderson recalled. "I remembered my older brother used to say, ‘eat my shorts." Like ‘buzz off.' We said, let's make shorts you can eat! And everyone thought we were totally bonkers."


How and What to Tell a Communist

"When a Communist goes to work on you tell him that you are on to him and his dirty game. Tell him, further, that you think it your patriotic duty to make his activities known to others and to the police."
As the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States intensified in the late 1940s and early 1950s, hysteria over the perceived threat posed by Communists in the U.S. caused Americans to turn on each other.


 Victory! Congress Passes Daylight Saving Bill - Get Your Hoe Ready

 During World War I (1914-1918), in an effort to conserve fuel, Germany began observing Daylight Savings Time in 1916. The rest of Europe soon followed. The plan was not adopted in the United States until the Standard Time Act of March 19, 1918. The idea was unpopular and Congress abolished Daylight Savings Time after the war, but it has been brought back many times since. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 set the duration of DST at 5 months.


Celebrated Home Washer

The Home Manufacturing Company began in New York City in the 1830s making pins. The company produced the Home Washer with a "German Wringer" from 1869 to 1924. Although it wasn't automatic (someone had to turn the crank) it was a dramatic improvement over the washboard.


Color-Tone Originals - Negro Christmas Cards

The modern Christmas card industry began in 1915, when a Kansas City-based postcard printing company started by Joyce, Rollie and William Hall, published its first holiday card. A decade later Hall Brothers company changed its name to Hallmark.
By the 1950's greeting card companies were running ads in magazines seeking people to sell their greeting cards for "fun and profit."


Are You Cocky?

Large penis giving you overconfidence?
Wait, how is this a problem?


Men Are Funny That Way

"No wonder he won't give me a tumble.
That shameless hussy has been brushing her teeth!"


Romulan Ale

Romulan ale was a strong, blue-colored alcoholic beverage created by Romulans in the Star Trek television show. In the 23rd century it was illegal to possess in the Federation, but some low-level smuggling took place nonetheless.
Romulan Ale. Why, Bones, you know this is illegal.
I only use it for medicinal purposes.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Collateral Damage from the War on Opiate Abuse

Collateral Damage from the War on Opiate Abuse

Chronic pain patients are not drug addicts!

Imagine that you are taking opiates for chronic pain. After a relatively short period of time you will develop a dependency. And if your supply of pills is interrupted for any reason, you will suffer withdrawals, the same as if you were an addict who has been taking opiates for fun. The withdrawals will certainly increase the extreme pain you'll be experiencing because you don't have opiates to keep your chronic pain in check.

This scenario is experienced every day in America by thousands of people who suffer from chronic pain and who are dependent on opiates to lead a normal life. I'm not talking about acute pain, which is short-term. This is about chronic pain. And I'm not talking about opiate abuse or addiction.  

People often confuse opiate dependence with addiction. It happens so often with medical professionals these days that it seems intentional. Taking opiates for chronic pain will result in dependence and increased tolerance. These things can be managed and are not signs of addiction. It is the responsibility of the doctor and the patient together to manage the dosage so that it's only enough for adequate pain relief.

Addiction happens when people begin taking opiates for mood enhancement. Once you cross that "Red" line, addiction will follow. Signs of addiction include taking increasing dosages for recreation without giving a thought to the negative consequences that will result.  

So let's not treat people who are dependent on opiates as if they are addicted. The fact that someone is dependent on opiates to lead a normal life is not a problem that has to be solved. Opiate dependence is no different than a diabetic's dependence on insulin, until/unless someone makes the choice to abuse it.  

One thing Americans seem to be very proficient at is overcompensating. 

The opiate crisis was caused by too many prescriptions for people who didn't need them and irresponsible behavior by patients. The solution now includes preventing people who suffer from chronic pain from getting the opiates they need at all, or subjecting them to systemic delays and third-party reviews put in place to slow the prescribing process. 

New rules for pharmacies mean that pharmacists can decide on their own not to fill your prescription, to reduce the quantity, or they can delay processing it for several days while they "check the drug abuse database." 

Pharmacy Benefit Management Companies like Express Scripts (now there's a misnomer) give themselves 7-14 days to fill a prescription and the average is 3-5 days. Then the transit time through the US mail can take another 3-4 days. If your doctor won't let you request a refill early (and most won't, because...Opiates!) then you will have to make your 30-day supply last for 37-38 days or more every month, and if you run out...well, that's just too bad. Our systems and processes were put in place to reduce opiate abuse, and you'll just have to live with it.

Your doctor, who wishes they didn't have to write any opiate prescriptions, because they don't want the hassle and the attention of the DEA, begin to think they're doing you a big favor. So you shouldn't complain about delays or ask them to make any accommodation like ordering refills in advance or increasing the number of pills, so that they last 38 days instead of only 30. They are usually sympathetic, but they are not going to put themselves at increased risk by adjusting any policy they think protects them. And if you complain, you run the risk of having that interpreted as "addictive behavior."

So where does this leave people who suffer from chronic pain? They are paying the price for the bad decisions and drug abuse of others. If opiate addicts don't get their pills, they at least have alternatives -- there's always heroin, Methadone, etc. If chronic pain patients don't get their pills, they go through withdrawals and many will die either from the withdrawals, the inevitable depression that comes from being in that predicament, or from the damage to their health from severe untreated pain. 

Opiate Withdrawal

In 1996, the American Pain Society introduced the notion that pain should be regarded as the “fifth vital sign.” Standardized guidelines for assessing patients’ perceived pain levels (self-reported on a scale of zero-to-ten) were adopted in 1998, and updated by the Federation of State Medical Boards in 2004. As a result, many doctors began to aggressively treat pain with opiates; some were too careless, and others weren't paying attention to the warning signs of addiction in their patients. 

So who is responsible for the opiate epidemic? 

The media, law enforcement and some politicians want to blame the drug companies and doctors, but they don't seem to want to assign the blame where it most properly belongs; on the people who made the decision to abuse opiates. 

Addiction doesn't happen by accident or because your doctor gave out "too many" pills. People who become addicted did so because they made the decision to use opiates for mood enhancement instead of pain relief. They deserve our compassion, understanding, and help. But they are not being helped by us ignoring the behavior that got them in trouble, just because some lawyers want to sue the drug companies for negligence. After all, it's the opiate addicts who were the MOST negligent.

Many millions of people are in extreme pain every single day and all too often they are not able to get the medication they need. Many more people die from not having the prescription pain medications they need, than die from the drug abuse the government is trying to prevent. One of the major causes of those deaths is the overuse and abuse of OTC NSAIDS like acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) by people who are desperate for pain relief.

Untreated severe chronic pain can happen to you, or someone you know, especially if you live in a rural area. Freedom from chronic pain should be a fundamental human right. Don't accept lame excuses from your doctor or your pharmacist. Don't let anyone equate dependence on opiates for a legitimate medical reason with opiate addiction. 

You can make a difference, and you should try, because you and everyone you care about is at risk for having their life destroyed by chronic untreated pain.

You're in chronic Debilitating Pain and would like some painkillers to make life tolerable? Sorry, those are addictive, Try some Advil!