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How HBO Helped Shape My Pop Culture Consciousness

  When I was very young, my family could not afford cable. This meant we watched what we could pick up on our antenna. This meant 3 or 4 channels, depending on the weather. We got 2 out of 3 of the big networks, (or all 3 on a clear day) and PBS. Home video was a thing, but not for people in our economic bracket. This limited me very much in what I saw. Remember, there was no internet back then so you only got to see movies in the theater or when one of the networks showed it, edited for content and to allow commercials every 13 minutes or so. Sometimes, if you were lucky, there would be a comic book adaptation, novelization, or a record that condensed the story to fit on an LP or series of 45's. (If you don't know what those terms mean you should google vinyl records, though I do have a planned post that will cover it too.) Then everything changed. My parents were friends with a couple who had a son who was a few years older than me. They were a little higher up the socio-econ

My Star Trek Memories

 One of my very earliest memories is watching Star Trek with my dad. I must have been 3 or 4, it ws before I had started school. This would have been some time in 1979 most likely, after Trek had gained it's second life via syndication. The episode was The Squire of Gothos. My dad fell asleep on the couch while we watched. But it started a life long love of both science fiction and Star Trek in particular with me. I remember immediately after the episode ended, I ran out to the front yard, picked up a stick and re-enacted the sword fight scene with a nearby tree. I watched the show any time it was on from that point forward.  Another memory of "playing Star Trek" that happened a few years later involved me draping a red shirt over a lamp to create a red alert. The lamp burned a hole in the shirt, and my mother was less than pleased with me. That didn't keep her from buying me my very own Star Trek uniform shirt though. I got blue because Spock was my favorite characte

Sam Cooke's Sad Demise

Sam Cooke started out as a gospel singer, working in groups like the Soul Stirrers. He moved on to pop music and has great success with songs like You Send Me, Chain Gang, and Twistin' the Night Away. He had become one of the great soul singers of the 60's, and was taking a big new step in his career by releasing a protest song influenced by Bob Dylan, A Change Is Gonna Come. Hw as looking to start his own label and was positioned to become a major force in the music industry. But not all was well in the world of Sam Cooke.  Sam's wife had given him two daughters before she delivered the son he had always wanted, but Sam got it in his head that the boy did not look like him. He began beating his wife, who turned increasingly to drugs in an effort to escape the abuse in the only way she could. Then the boy was left unattended and fell in the pool and drowned. Now that the child was gone, Sam decided he was his child after all and blamed his wife for the boy's death. Unfo

King Curtis' Violent End

Curtis Montgomery was born in Fort Worth Texas in 1934. He took up playing saxophone at the age of 12, and became very good very quickly. He passed up college scholarships to join a band, and it payed off for him. He gained a reputation as both a musician and an arranger, going by the name King Curtis.  He developed a recognizable, distinct sound known as yakkety sax. If you've listened to much rock and roll of the late 50's and early 60's, you've heard it.  Curtis worked with a wide range of musicians, including The Coasters (this is how I first became aware of him), Aretha Franklin, Duane Allman, Buddy Holly and Waylon Jennings.  He recorded three songs with Jimi Hendrix that were never released and were tragically lost in a fire. In 1971 Curtis' hayday may have been past, but he was still working and well regarded. But one day in August the music from King Curtis was cut off. The details seem to be uncertain, as versions if the event vary. Curtis was entering his

Susan Cabot's Bizarre Fate

Susan Cabot was a star of many B movies, genre films that weren't as prestigious and didn't have the budgets of the more mainstream movies. She had a rough road getting there, and after a relatively short time in the spotlight she fell back into a rough and troubled life. Her father abandoned the family when she was young, and her mother was institutionalized. She was shuttled between 8 foster homes, experiencing abuse along the way. She made good, though, eventually finding herself in movies with the likes of Lee Marvin, Tony Curtis and Rock Hudson. She had a relationship with King Hussein of Jordan that lasted several years. This was remarkable since he was Muslim and she was Jewish.  He was likely the father of her only child, son Timothy. Timothy was born with dwarfism, but received gruesome treatments involving injections of a hormone derived from the pituitary gland of dead bodies. King Hussein never acted as the boy's father. Instead Susan's second husband adopte

Barbara Payton Trashy and Tragic

 Barbara Payton may be the grimmest and the sleaziest story I have done yet. From all accounts Barbara was a looker from a very early age, and also learned at that early age how to use her sex appeal to get what she wanted. Her parents were drunks who allowed her to drop out of high school, since they didn't believe that education was important. She married at 17, but after she had her son she decided that rather than be a housewife she wanted to pursue a life a glamour and fame. Being the right combination of hot, easy, and marginally talented, she didn't have much problem making her dreams of stardom come true. She was said to have had affairs with most of the big movers and shakers of 1950's Hollywood, most of them married at the time. She finally met Franchot Tone, an actor who had once been married to Joan Crawford. She became engaged to Tone, but then met Tom Neal. Tom a another actor, but in smaller budget movies than Tone. Another thing Franchot and Tom had in commo

Carol Landis Throws It All Away For Dr Doolittle

Carole Landis was a pin-up girl. Carole Landis was a movie star. Carole Landis was a very damaged young woman. She was born on January 1st 1919 as Frances Ridste. Her father split when she was young. Her mother married another man after that, who may have actually been Carole's biological father as her mother was having an affair with him. He also left when she was young. Being abandoned by two dads really did a number on her psyche. The sexual abuse she was said to have suffered at the hands of a family member surely didn't help. Frances was obsessed with movies and wanted to be a star. She changed her name to Carole after  Carole Lombard . She dropped out of school and went to work as a dancer and as a singer before heading off to Hollywood to become a star. She got a bit part in the original A Star Is Born, but her big break was in One Million B.C.  Her figure and skimpy costume shot her to stardom, just as would happen to Raquel Welch decades later when she starred in the r