<![CDATA[Art Wheeler Music - Blog]]>Tue, 12 Dec 2017 05:19:24 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Watching The Room]]>Mon, 11 Dec 2017 08:00:00 GMThttp://artwheelermusic.net/blog/watching-the-room
​For a long time, I have been a fan of cult films and movies that are considered “bad”. I am always looking for bad films that I haven’t heard of before. A few years ago while looking at the CNN website, I saw a link to an entertainment article that said “A Room with a Cult Following”.  Before I clicked on the link, I assumed the article was about the film A Room with a View and I wondered why it would have a cult following. It turned out to be about a film called The Room by a first-time filmmaker called Tommy Wiseau. I found a copy of the film and decided to watch it by myself.  I was sleepy the night I started watching it but didn’t want to fall asleep on it, so I stopped about halfway. The next night, I finished watching it. I had watched it in our living room and my wife was already in the bed for the night. She had not fallen asleep yet when I walked in and told her that I thought I had just watched the worst movie I had ever seen in my life.  She could tell I was serious. She had watched with me many of the worst films ever made and for me to declare this one as the worst was saying something. She was sick and stayed at home from work the next day.  She watched it that day and she agreed.  While she was watching, she texted me a running commentary about how bad it was.
​I don’t want to do a full review of the film, but you need to know a little about it to appreciate how bad it is.  The film was written, directed, produced and stars Tommy Wiseau.  He has a hard-to-understand European accent. He is also reluctant to tell people where he is from. He stars as Johnny, a banker that is engaged to his “future wife”, Lisa. In turn, Lisa is attracted to Johnny’s best friend, Mark.  It’s a typical love triangle story but has tons of other plot lines that go nowhere and odd characters that add nothing to the story other than unintentional humor.  Among the things that make this film bad are:
 
  1. A male character whose age is hard to determine named Denny. He likes to hang out at Johnny’s apartment, Johnny is paying for him to go to school and he is involved in drug deals that went bad.
  2. Lisa’s mother casually announces that she has breast cancer and there are no other references to it.  Lisa responds, “Don’t worry about it.”
  3. Johnny likes to pitch a football around with his friends when they are about arm’s distance away from each other.
  4. More close proximity football later in an alley and all the participants are in tuxedos.
  5. Tommy Wiseau should never have nude scenes an any film. Unfortunately, in this one he does.
 
This film has developed a cult following similar to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. But even if you like that one, I recommend that most of you do NOT see The Room. Item #5 in the list above is the primary reason most of you should not see this film.  Even if nudity in films doesn’t bother you, there are just some people you should not see when they are not wearing clothes.
 
I discovered that the easiest way to make it through this film is to watch it with commentary from the Rifftrax guys.  Rifftrax is a company formed by some of the guys from Mystery Science Theater 3000.  For those of you not familiar with that show, it featured a man and 3 robots watching bad movies and making fun of them.  Through their Rifftrax company, they record commentaries for films that can be synced with films.  My family are big fans of Mystery Science and Rifftrax.  We introduced them to The Room with the Rifftrax commentary to make it easier to watch.
 
A couple of years ago, we discovered that the guys from Rifftrax did live events where they riff on a film in front of a live audience. These live shows are broadcast nationwide. Many of them originate from a theater in Nashville.  When we found out they would be live riffing The Room in May of 2015, we knew this would be a family outing. Not only did we get to see The Room on the big screen, we would get to see the Rifftrax guys in person.  While we were waiting in line, a couple of the Rifftrax guys came out and mingled with the audience.  It was a perfect night and an experience we didn’t think could be topped.
But in August of that same year, we were able to go to St. Louis to a midnight showing of The Room with Tommy Wiseau there in person.  He did a meet and greet before the show, signed autographs and pitched football with fans. He did a Q&A before the film. My son went to the restroom during the movie and Tommy was pitching football with fans in the lobby.

Greg Sestero is the actor that portrays Mark in The Room. He wrote a book called The Disaster Artist about his friendship with Tommy Wiseau and the making of The Room.  As I write this post, they have just released a film based on this book starring James Franco.  We went to see it last night.  It is a good movie that accurately recreates the scenes that make The Room such a challenge to watch.  While this new movie is good, I believe that most of you shouldn’t see it either.  James Franco recreation off Tommy Wiseau’s nude scenes is a little too accurate.  Unless you are a hardcore bad movie buff, don’t see either film. If you must know more about The Room, talk to me or email me.  
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<![CDATA[Inflatable Baby Jesus Ukulele Chords]]>Mon, 04 Dec 2017 08:00:00 GMThttp://artwheelermusic.net/blog/inflatable-baby-jesus-ukulele-chords
A few weeks ago, I performed Inflatable Baby Jesus during the worship service at our church.  Hopefully, you have listened to the song and know that there is a ukulele part. My pastor plays ukulele and played that part during this performance.  I put together a chord sheet that we used during the performance. I thought you ukulele players might like to have a copy so you can play along with my recording.
inflatable_baby_jesus_for_ukulele.doc.pdf
File Size: 54 kb
File Type: pdf
Download File

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<![CDATA[Kangaroo on the Loose]]>Thu, 16 Nov 2017 08:00:00 GMThttp://artwheelermusic.net/blog/kangaroo-on-the-loose
​In my hometown of Alamo, Tennessee, there is an exotic animal park.  When I was growing up, one of the local farmers had several buffalo. These were a rare sight in West Tennessee. The farm where they were located was on a major highway near town. They were always something to keep an eye out for when travelling down this highway. Over the years, he added more different animals to his collection and later opened a drive thru park that has become a tourist attraction for the area. 
​My father was the fire chief for the city of Alamo for several years and served in that capacity when the animal park opened. He his Emergency radio that he used for fire calls also picked up any police calls.  One night after the park opened, he heard a report on his radio that the kangaroo had escaped.  There was no need for the fire department to respond to this call but he followed the reports because, well, it’s a kangaroo on the loose. How often do you have a kangaroo loose in your town? 
 
The safari park is located beside a four-lane highway just outside of Alamo. The town is on the other side of the highway.  The kangaroo had made its way into town.  My dad found out about this when he heard one of the police officers report, “The kangaroo is on the north side of Koonce Street!!” Koonce Street is inside the city limits in a neighborhood on the side of town closest to the safari park.  A few minutes later, there was another report. “The kangaroo is on the SOUTH side of Koonce Street!!” Soon after that came another report. “The kangaroo is on the NORTH side of Koonce Street!!”  Every few minutes there was a new report about the kangaroo swapping sides of Koonce Street.
 
Soon the reports changed when the kangaroo attempted to return to the safari park, only to be hit by a car when crossing the four-lane highway.  That was went the fire department was called out to assist with the wreck.  
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<![CDATA[Inflatable Baby Jesus]]>Thu, 09 Nov 2017 08:00:00 GMThttp://artwheelermusic.net/blog/inflatable-baby-jesus
​The years have not been kind
To the figurines you'll find
Scattered ‘round my lawn at Christmas time
They're plastic, illuminated
Not inflated or animated
By modern standards they are somewhat dated
Their bodies cracked and worn
And some are even torn
Purchased years before my kids were born
Before they get misplaced
Or my family is disgraced
I think it’s time the whole thing gets replaced

I’m looking for an inflatable baby Jesus
To decorate my lawn this Christmas eve
And I’m looking for an inflatable Christmas stable
With an inflatable star that everyone can see
And I’m looking for an inflatable Joseph and Mary
With lights inside to show us all the way
To get to the inflatable baby Jesus
To decorate my lawn on Christmas day
 
Yes I’m looking for an inflatable baby Jesus
Lying in an inflatable manger and hay
An inflatable cow and an inflatable donkey
All anchored down so they don’t blow away
Inflatable sheep and an inflatable camel
Kept behind an inflatable fence
Inflatable shepherds and inflatable wise men
With inflatable gold and myrrh and frankincense

I’ve got a brand new snowman
And a great big Santa Claus
His head turns side to side and he waves
And a bunch Christmas penguins
Sliding down a slide
And dancing reindeer pulling on a sleigh
 
But I really need an inflatable baby Jesus
Because the plastic one don’t work no more
And I cannot find an inflatable baby Jesus
When I look for one at my local store
If you see an inflatable baby Jesus
Pick him up and send him on my way
So I can have an inflatable Baby Jesus
To decorate my lawn this Christmas day

Art Wheeler © 2017
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<![CDATA[Why the Three Stooges Scare Me]]>Thu, 26 Oct 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://artwheelermusic.net/blog/why-the-three-stooges-scare-me​There are a handful of Three Stooges shorts that have scary stories.  When I was a kid watching these films, I saw them way more often than I saw any other horror movies.  They were just scary enough to introduce me to the pleasures of horror films.
​One of the earliest of these is a short with the title Spook Louder.  The Stooges end up in a house that is supposedly haunted. They encounter three criminals dressed in Halloween costumes.  The guy in the skeleton costume was the most frightening character in the movie.  At one point Curly is “chased” by a balloon that is attached to his jacket. The balloon is round and has a frightening face drawn on it.  The balloon gave the skeleton guy a run for his money as the most scary character in the movie for this little boy.
​The Stooges upped their game for fright in the short, If A Body Meets a Body.  This film features a parrot that ends up inside of a skull. When it walks across the room, the feet look more like they are rolling than they look like bird feet walking.  Later, the parrot starts flying and grabs a white sheet.  It has a ghostly appearance. It flies around creating a lot of excitement for both me and the Stooges. 
​The short, Idle Roomers is notable for a wolfman character that was just as scary as any of the Universal studios werewolf characters. The look of the makeup had a young Art Wheeler convinced that this is what this guy really looked like.  It also features a mirror scene between Curly and the ghoul that is like the Duck Soup mirror scene.
​All the shorts I’ve mentioned so far featured Curly as the third stooge.  One of my all-time favorite Stooge shorts is The Ghost Talks, which is a Shimp short. The boys are movers and they are at what appears to be a castle on a stormy night. They encounter a suit of armor that is possessed by the spirit of Peeping Tom.  He is waiting for the ghost of Lady Godiva to come through.  The Stooges also encounter “Red Skeleton”.  This was just the right amount of scary for a young kid. It also had the sex appeal for a little boy just learning about Lady Godiva.  
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<![CDATA[Why Laurel and Hardy Scare Me]]>Thu, 19 Oct 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://artwheelermusic.net/blog/why-laurel-and-hardy-scare-me
​The best horror films also make us laugh.  Any time you go see a horror film that has a moment where the audience screams, it is always followed with laughs.  Many comedians have made horror/comedy films. Laurel and Hardy went into this territory with their film Oliver the Eighth.
In Oliver the Eighth, Oliver Hardy responds to a newspaper ad from a wealthy widow in search of a husband.  Oliver visits her with Stan Laurel tagging along.  It quickly becomes evident that the widow intends to marry and murder Oliver just like she did to all her previous husbands, who all were named Oliver.  Stan and Ollie end up spending the night at the house but try to stay awake so that the widow doesn’t kill Ollie.  Comedy and tension build as their attempts to stay awake either fail or injure the boys.  Just as the widow is about to kill Ollie, he wakes up from the dream he was having all along. 
 
This is one of the most memorable Laurel and Hardy shorts for me because Mae Busch is truly a scary woman. She shows up in several other Laurel and Hardy shorts but it was years before I saw any of those.  When I first saw those other shorts, I didn’t like here very much because of this film.  She plays a convincing homicidal maniac.  I have finally warmed up to her in those other roles but this one features her at her most frightening.
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<![CDATA[Why Pamelyn Ferdin Scares Me]]>Thu, 12 Oct 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://artwheelermusic.net/blog/why-pamelyn-ferdin-scares-me
I doubt if very many of you recognize the name Pamelyn Ferdin.  But if you grew up in the 1960’s and 1970’s, you would have seen her in countless television shows.  Younger kids would know her face if they ever watch Brady Bunch reruns.  She was the voice of Lucy Van Pelt in many of the Peanuts movies and specials although she didn’t do the Charlie Brown Christmas Special. She also played a dead girl in a TV movie called Daughter of the Mind.  At the time, this was the scariest movie I had ever seen. 
Early in the film Ray Milland is driving down the road and he comes up on an image of his daughter.  He stops and talks to the ghostly image.  He is convinced it is the ghost of his dead daughter.  One of the freakiest things she says to him is “Oh daddy, I hate being dead!” 
 
There are scenes where he sees her in the bedroom of his house.  There is also a dollhouse in this room. I have a lifelong aversion to dollhouses because of those scenes in this movie.  I’ve also been creeped out by Pamelyn Ferdin because she played the dead girl. 
 
Today when I watch the film, it doesn’t pack the same punch. I think of Ray Milland with Rosey Grier in The Thing With Two Heads and with the frog in Frogs and I laugh.  Seeing Ed Asner, who plays a cop in the movie, takes me out of the story too. Pamelyn Ferdin still gives me chills when she delivers her lines.  When I found out that she did the voice of Lucy in the Peanuts specials, it made those seem a bit scary too.
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<![CDATA[Why Dana Andrews Scares Me]]>Thu, 05 Oct 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://artwheelermusic.net/blog/why-dana-andrews-scares-me
​A few weeks ago, I saw the film noir classic, Laura for the first time. It is probably the film that Dana Andrews is best known for but I know him better for a handful of science fiction and horror films he made in the 1960’s.  My favorite of these is a British film called The Frozen Dead
The Frozen Dead is, in my opinion, the greatest severed head movie ever made.  Yes, it has Nazis and a mad scientist but the severed head is the real reason to watch this movie.  I was in high school when I saw it for the first time. A local channel ran a Creature Feature late on Friday nights and this was one of the films in their collection.  I saw it for the first time and was hooked.  It tells the story of a German scientist who has frozen Nazis with the intent of bringing them back to life.  His niece and a female friend from school come to visit.  The scientist’s mad assistant chops of the friend’s head because they need a brain for their experiments. They keep the whole head alive in a box on a table in the lab. The head on the table is the whole reason to watch this movie.  The brain of the head is exposed and there are tubes with liquid connected to the head. In most of the scenes where they show the head, it is dimly lit giving each scene an eerie feel.  The head communicates telepathically with the niece but it also speaks the words in a near whisper. The laboratory also has a wall of severed arms that the head can control.  Of course, the Nazis get beat at the end and the niece hooks up with the young scientist who saves the day. The film ends with the couple trying to figure out what to do with the head as it speaks the most memorable line, “Bury me!”
 
Dana Andrews plays the German scientist. He is about a scary as any mad scientist in most movies with mad scientists.  Now the head in the box is scary. Don’t confuse it with the head on the table in The Brain That Wouldn’t Die. That’s another fun scary film but the head isn’t nearly as scary.
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<![CDATA[Our Experience with Epilepsy – The Later Years]]>Thu, 21 Sep 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://artwheelermusic.net/blog/our-experience-with-epilepsy-the-later-years​I’ve talked about our early experiences with epilepsy in my previous two posts. My wife had no seizures during the time she was pregnant with our three children or any of the time between the pregnancies. About two years after our third child was born, my wife had another seizure. Almost a year later, she had another one. Like every other seizure she has had in her life, these occurred at night. 
I was more prepared for these seizures that the ones before. During both seizures, she screamed before she started convulsing. She also fell out of the bed. My response both times was the same.  I got out of the bed and looked at the clock. I made a mental note of the time because I knew that the doctor would ask how long it lasted. Next, I went over to check on her to make sure that she wasn’t hurting herself. Both times, she knocked over a flimsy table we were using as a night stand. The tables always fell out of the way and luckily the lamp on the table didn’t break. One of the times she fell with her head close enough to the wall that it was hitting as she convulsed so I pulled her away from the wall. Other than that, I left her alone. The first time, I left the room and went to the kitchen. I found our insurance book and started looking for the names of neurologists who were in our insurance network. I also wrote down the start time of the seizure both times and waited for it to stop before I helped her back into bed.  They put her back on medication for several years after the last seizure.
 
She has been off medication and seizure free for several years now. I was more prepared for these seizures that the ones before. During both seizures, she screamed before she started convulsing. She also fell out of the bed. My response both times was the same.  I got out of the bed and looked at the clock. I made a mental note of the time because I knew that the doctor would ask how long it lasted. Next, I went over to check on her to make sure that she wasn’t hurting herself. Both times, she knocked over a flimsy table we were using as a night stand. The tables always fell out of the way and luckily the lamp on the table didn’t break. One of the times she fell with her head close enough to the wall that it was hitting as she convulsed so I pulled her away from the wall. Other than that, I left her alone. The first time, I left the room and went to the kitchen. I found our insurance book and started looking for the names of neurologists who were in our insurance network. I also wrote down the start time of the seizure both times and waited for it to stop before I helped her back into bed.  They put her back on medication for several years after the last seizure.

​She has been off medication and seizure free for several years now.  
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<![CDATA[Our Experience with Epilepsy – The San Antonio Trip]]>Thu, 14 Sep 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://artwheelermusic.net/blog/our-experience-with-epilepsy-the-san-antonio-trip​I talked my first experience with my wife having seizures in my previous post. She didn’t have any issues until the end of that year as we prepared to visit my mother-in-law in San Antonio.  My wife and I had planned to travel with her brother and his wife to Little Rock, Arkansas on New Year’s Eve. We had booked a flight from there to San Antonio early on New Year’s Day. 
​Our bags were packed before we went to bed the last night we spent at home before the trip. We went to bed relatively early so we would be well rested for the road trip the next day.  That night, my wife had seizures twice. They were not as bad as the first time but they were bad enough to wake me up.  The previous seizure gave me enough experience that I didn’t freak out. At some point between the two seizures, she woke up again and went to the bathroom and I woke up then too. When she came back, she saw our luggage in the floor. She asked me what it was doing there. I told her we were going to visit her mother. She asked me if she lives in San Antonio and I replied yes. I noticed that she was about to get upset. I told her that she had a seizure that night and that whenever that happened, she had trouble remembering things for a short time. I encouraged her to go back to sleep and if she was having any trouble remembering anything the next morning, we would deal with it then.  That seemed to satisfy her.
 
The next morning, she seemed to be doing fine. I thought she might want to go see a doctor before we went on the trip. She thought that they wouldn’t find anything different from the first time and she could just as easily go to the doctor when we got back from the trip. She wanted to see her mom so our travel plans did not change.
 
We drove to Little Rock that day and celebrated New Year’s Eve very early that evening. We needed to get to the airport early because of an early departure time. It didn’t bother me to get in bed early because I really had not gotten much sleep the night before. I got in the bed and was face-up, staring at the ceiling of our hotel room. I closed my eyes after a few seconds but was still awake because I don’t usually sleep on my back.  It seems like it was just a couple of minutes when my wife said, “I don’t feel so good.”  I’m afraid this will be a repeat of the night before.  I asked if she is alright.  She says “Yes, I’ve got some spaghetti and power tools.”  To try and help me remember exactly what she said, I repeated her words to her asking, “Spaghetti and power tools?” She replied confidently, “Yes!” Soon I rolled over and went to sleep. We spent a week in San Antonio and my wife remembers very little about that trip. On our next visit to San Antonio, she would say things like, “We need to go to the Alamo because we’ve never been there before!” or “We need to visit the Riverwalk because we’ve never been there before!” when we did all of that on the first trip.
 
Her doctor put her on medication to control the seizures. She took this medicine until she got pregnant with our first child. They took her off the medication at this point because the effects of the drugs on the child were potentially more dangerous that the effects of a seizure. She remained seizure free until after our third child was just about 2 years old.
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