Thursday, July 31, 2008


In last night's episode our favorite contestant was voted off the CBS prime time program -- GREATEST AMERICAN DOG. The entire staff at Needtovent mourns the untimely exit of Tilman, skateboarder extraordinaire, whose personality personifies what we most admire in man's best friend.

This egregious decision by the not-so-esteemed panel of judges should not go unpunished. For Wendy Diamond and Victoria Stilwell we can only dream that some day they will suffer incarceration under the reincarnation of Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS. As Darryl Royal once said, these offending officials will quickly learn the difference between "come here and sic 'em." And as for the third judge, Mr. Allan Reznick, a little pooper-scooper time with Scooter Libby is definitely in order. Unless, of course, he could be VapoRubbed by Sir Michael Vick.

Yes, Tilman's banishment is a severe loss and the show's ratings may very well suffer -- especially in and around Athens, Georgia. However, given the free time he now has, maybe Tilman should be added to "The Short List" of current Vice Presidential Candidates. According to Needtovent's prized, professional pundit panel of political vetters and dog racing bettors, the current Short List for two of the primary Presidential candidates include Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Wesley Clark, and Evan Bayh on the one hand (the left hand) and Mutt (or is it Mitt? or Moot?) Romney, Bobby Jindal, Condoleezza Rice, Michael Bloomberg and Tim Pawlenty on the other hand. That's pawlenty of "dogs" already in the running -- why not add one more?

It should be noted that Bob Barr has already selected his V.P. running mate, Wayne Allyn Root. Once again, the Libertarian Party is way out in front of the elephant and the donkey.

Friday, July 25, 2008


While it is a commonly known fact that all dogs go to heaven, thanks to the Tiffany Network a select dozen are also going to a new reality show. Twelve extraordinary teams of dogs and their owners -- from pageant competitors to those simply trained at home -- will live together and compete against each other in challenges that put the owners' ability to train their dogs to the test. Each week the judges eliminate one dog and their "master" (or is it the other way around?). The last remaining team will walk away with a $250,000 cash prize and the title of "Greatest American Dog."

The show is hosted by Jarod Miller, at age 25 he is the youngest accredited zoo director in America. Apparently the initial choice for the hosting job was Travis Brorsen, a graduate of Oklahoma State University who was born and raised on a small farm outside Perry, Oklahoma. Upon graduation he moved to California with the observation that, "It was either go back home and drive a tractor or move to the beach -- the decision was easy." We cannot help but wonder why Travis was given the boot before the first episode was shot, although his alma mater might provide a clue. After all, Stillwater isn't exactly known as being a haven for on-camera charisma. (Think Mike Gundy...)

And speaking of the beach, we at Needtovent have a favorite competitor -- a fabulous English Bull Dog named Tilman who loves to hang out with his owner to do a little skimboarding when he isn't skateboarding or snowboarding.

If you love dogs this is a show worth collaring.

If you don't love dogs then you must be a card-carrying militant member of the Black Panthers, a Republican's Prada-shod Trophy Wife or a knife-wielding Korean Chef -- may God have mercy, respectively, on your soul, on your sole and on your Seoul.

One last thought -- wouldn't it be terrific if Fred Willard was brought in to do the commentary for the finale?

Thursday, July 24, 2008


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
Charles Dickens, A TALE OF TWO CITIES
English novelist (1812 - 1870)

In 1969, Warner Brothers/Seven Arts released THE WILD BUNCH -- arguably one of the greatest Westerns of all time. The stellar cast included such luminaries as William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan, Edmond O'Brien, Warren Oates, Ben Johnson and the always engaging Strother Martin. Fast paced, beautifully photographed and full of hard-hitting action, the film has become a classic thanks to the uncompromising and controversial vision of its Director, Sam Peckinpah.

Although the setting may be the Mexican Revolution of 1914, Peckinpah effectively injects a carefully orchestrated subtext which reflected the concerns of many regarding the continuing loss of individual freedom and the undeniable risk associated with questioning the status quo at the end of the 1960s. Like the gunslingers on the screen, Peckinpah was convinced that in the United States, at least, the nonconformist was no longer welcome or safe. As a result, THE WILD BUNCH is just as much about the revolutionary time in which it was made as it was about the Old West. All things considered (especially the perceived loss of individual freedom and privacy thanks to certain provisions within the Patriot Act), THE WILD BUNCH is as relevant today as it was some 40 years ago.

Unchanged men in a changing land. Out of step, out of place and desperately out of time.

There is a school of thought that insists that no art of any quality can possibly be produced inside a commercial structure whose principal aim is profit. Although Peckinpah worked within the mainstream Hollywood studio system with all of its built-in constraints and corporate cultures, he consistently found ways to accommodate his masters while bringing to the screen not only universally-avowed artistic triumphs, but motion pictures with profound personal viewpoints and multi-layered subtexts which operated on several levels all at once. In this regard Peckinpah stands alongside Alfred Hitchcock, Howard Hawks, Nicholas Ray and John Ford as one of America's most noteworthy, recalcitrant and complex filmmakers. In more recent times, only Oliver Stone has, perhaps, earned a comparable reputation.

Irascible, impulsive, irrational, both on and off the set, Peckinpah fully realized that the Western was the one genre that would enable this auteur to express himself and his political beliefs more freely than with any other type of motion picture. (The only other possibility would be Science Fiction).

A salute, then, to Mr. Sam Peckinpah and to nonconformists everywhere...


Over 90,000 rounds of blanks were discharged during filming. This is reportedly more rounds than were fired by both sides combined during the entire Mexican Revolution.

Body count -- 145.

Peckinpah, along with co-writers Roy N. Sickner and Walton Green, was nominated for an Academy Award. He didn't win; this was his only Oscar nomination.

Monday, July 21, 2008


Review by Jerry L. Nelson

The most recent entry into the restaurant world in nearby Blanco, Texas identifies itself as The Land Cut Seafood and Bistro, located at 306 Pecan Street (in a location that formerly housed the Mexican Restaurant Oso)...conveniently located next to the police station, for, if ever a food crime was committed, it was committed last evening on my party of four. I simply can not digress here. I’ve got to get right to it and maybe, just maybe, save others from what we endured.

The first indication that things were headed south occurred as we approached the front door to enter. We were met by the cook headed out carrying a trash can. I guess they don’t have a back door, possibly to prevent customers from running out the back without paying. We continued on. Nothing’s changed...still the same old display cases as when it was Oso. I would imagine still the same old cookies being sold by the register. We were ushered into the patio room in the back and told it was much cooler out there. It was comfortable and the furnishings appeared to be new. A cheerful young thing suggested we order margaritas...we did. It seems our cheerful young thing was so young she had to get someone else to serve them; she won’t be eighteen for three more months. No problem.

We were given computer printed paper menus...mine was extremely food stained. The selections looked enticing. Friend and his Significant Other opted out on the appetizers (what did they know we didn’t?). The Child Bride has always liked raw oysters on the half shell and I have usually been able to get down one or two just to keep things interesting so we went for a half dozen. Now, bear in mind, the menu said oysters on the half shell and that’s exactly what we were served...six oysters from a container that were placed atop the cleanest and most pristine oyster shells which had obviously been through the dishwasher more times than a John Cameron Swayze Timex. There was no bits of know, all of the things that make oysters on the half shell so good. In addition, they were not even cold and just barely cool. We had to ask for red sauce and crackers. I ate one and the Child Bride of more than four decades could only choke down two. So much for any late night friskiness.

On to the entrées... The choices were quite varied and all sounded good. I settled for the Lafayette, a herb-encrusted snapper filet topped with a grilled crab cake ($15.95). The Child Bride could not narrow down her choices so she went for the Seafood Platter ($19.95) -- Flounder, Scallops, Shrimp, Oysters and Crab Cake...all fried. Friend said his favorite fish was Sword and there it was, right on the menu ($15.95). His comment after ordering it was, “Most places just don’t get it right. It’s usually dry and overcooked.” His words would come back to haunt him. His Significant Other is a fried shrimp (small order $11.95) fan and even said she actually liked the frozen version you buy at the market...the only one among us not to be overwhelmingly disappointed with the meal.

Let me take them in the order listed above.

The herb crust on my snapper consisted of some dark green bits of plant life I could not discern...nothing crusty about it at all. The crab cake that topped it reminded me more of what we were served every Friday at Carl Schurz Elementary in New Braunfels. It had been flattened, charred and was red in color...more of a disgusting salmon croquette. The snapper filet itself could not be cut with just a fork. I had to use my knife to hack through the overdone, obviously previously frozen slab of something they were trying to pass off as fish...I thought it might take dynamite to achieve that kind of texture...but enough about me. The Child Bride started piling her fried fish on my plate hoping I would help her eat what she absolutely had no idea of. I took one bite of what was supposed to be fried flounder and bit down into a large mouthful of crisp batter. No, thank you.

Friend’s words proved prophetic and he managed to down about four bites of the swordfish before pushing his plate to the side. As I mentioned, his Significant Other actually tolerated the fried shrimp.

The wine list consisted of four wines, one of which I have no memory. The three that frighteningly come to mind were a Merlot from some non-descript vineyard, a White Zinfandel and your typical California Chardonnay. We opted for beer.

The front of the menu boldly proclaims the fish to be fresh. If this is the case, the owners of The Land Cut need to march right next door and file charges against their purveyors for deceptive trade practices. Dessert was simply out of the question. We paid way too much and left a respectable tip for the cheerful young thing and miserably made our way to the front door.

I am truly amazed at how a restaurant can buy from the same suppliers all of the other restaurants deal with, there aren’t that many of them, and yet serve food so disastrously worse than the others. Wait...I’ve got it. The cook wasn’t taking out the garbage...he was bringing it in.

Friday, July 18, 2008


"From Hollywood, almost live, it's THE GONG SHOW!"

And what a show it was.

Where to begin? The catchy theme song played by the brassy Milton Delugg Orchestra? The scandalous, shocking comments from the sexy, sultry (or should I say slutty?) Jaye P. Morgan? The incessant incendiary insults from The Unknown Comic? The sweet soulful shuffle by the show's original janitor, Gene Gene, the Dancing Machine? The perky Popsicle Licking Twins (whose act got the show pulled from the air lickity split)? Or do we need to start with the impish impresario, the producer provocateur par excellence -- Chuck Barris?

Clearly it is Mr. Barris who deserves the majority of the credit. Many subsequent shows have tried to capture the lighthearted insanity of the original (Barris' own THE $1.98 BEAUTY CONTEST and the current AMERICA HAS TALENT being the two most successful), but the vast majority have fallen flat -- flatter than a Sarah Lawrence coed.

Now let's do keep in mind that there is a difference between flat and flatulance. Enter THE GONG SHOW WITH DAVE ATTELL -- a program so foul in concept and execution that it stinks, literally and figuratively.

Remember the famous comment made by Senator Lloyd Bentson to Dan Quale during the 1988 vice-presidental debate: "Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy."

Well -- "Mr. Attell, you're no Chuck Barris."

Given the fact that THE GONG SHOW WITH DAVE ATTELL is undeniably the worst program in Comedy Central history, the less said about it the better. Accordingly, we at the Needtovent Intergalactic World Headquarters have decided that a simple Haiku Review is all that needs to be written:

by Robert A. Nowotny

Repugnant rip-off
Bigger flop than Fosbury
Gonged and forgotten

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


(A quick note to NASCAR fans everywhere -- HELLBOY II is not a film about Kyle Bush. As for all residents of New Braunfels, Texas -- HELLBOY II has nothing to do with the second born male child in the Reininger family.)

Based on the comic book by Mike Mignola, HELLBOY II is cinema fantastique at its finest. The opening scenes find Professor Trevor Bruttenholm (John Hurt) reading a rousing fairy tale to his adoptive son, Hellboy (Ron Perlman). Seems that back in ancient times there was a brutal war between humans and everyone/everything else -- monsters, goblins, trolls, the Tooth Fairy, just about every frightening creature that surely inhabited the dark recesses under your childhood bed.

Eventually a truce was declared; the humans were given the right to live in the cities and the trolls et al were given the forests. As time went by, however, the humans reneged on their end and began building shopping malls, parking lots, subdivisions and Starbucks everywhere. With this unabated encroachment, evil Prince Nuada (Luke Gross) defies his father (the reigning king) and pledges to declare war utilizing the Golden Army, a fighting force of enormous mechanical warriors 70 times 70 in number. The only thing standing between him and his ability to awaken these slumbering behemoths is his sister, Princess Nuala (Anna Walton), and she needs help. Lots of help.

Yes, mankind's defense rests primarily on the abilities of Hellboy, his girlfriend Liz Sherman (Selma Blair), his best friend, Abe Sapien (Doug Jones) and other associates employed by the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense. As the taglines for the film state, saving the world is a hell of a job and, believe it or not, Hellboy is the good guy.

Thanks to Director del Toro, Cinematographer Guillermo Navarro, Production Designer Stephen Scott and a highly talented special effects crew, HELLBOY II is the best big budget film of the year. All $72 million is where it should be, on the screen, and while the movie is extremely entertaining throughout, two scenes in particular stand out.

The incredible Troll Market makes the extraterrestial cantina on Tatooie look as outright boring and bland as a Baptist barbecue in Bulverde. Director del Toro's unique and vivid imagination bombards the screen with a breathtaking beastiary that one needs to see over and over again if all the imbeded nuances are to be discovered. What a treat, I've never seen anything quite like this -- and I've been to a flea market in Ponca City.

The other fabulous scene finds Hellboy and Abe in drunken reverie serenading one another. You'll never hear Barry Manilow's "Can't Smile Without You" again without recalling HELLBOY II...and doing so with a great big smile on your face. This is an unforgettable scene that will surely take its place in cinema history along with other memorable movie moments like the campfire scene in BLAZING SADDLES or Slim Pickens riding the atomic bomb in DR. STRANGELOVE or the passage of the ocean liner in the fog in Fellini's AMARCORD. Having said this, please remind your Uncle Bob to steer clear of Tecate Light.

A final comment: The dialogue in HELLBOY II is blessed with an abundance of humor and wit (caustic and otherwise). Many of the best lines have already been mentioned in other reviews ("I know; I'm ugly!"), but our favorite has to be: "I'm not a child, I'm a tumor!"

I don't think we have ever heard that before. Not even in Roe v. Wade...

Monday, July 14, 2008


We at Needtovent didn't think that there was anything in the world thinner than a Republican's lips.

We were wrong...

Seems the skin of the Barack Obama Campaign Gurus deserves this dubious distinction. How in the world can these high-ranking advisors possibly condemn as "tasteless and offensive" the cover for the upcoming July 21 issue of THE NEW YORKER? Talk about missing the point, Little Oblio. The purportedly well-educated Obama political machine clearly doesn't understand the meaning of the word "satire."

With full realization of what can be read into this final comment, we can only say: "A mind is a terrible thing to waste."


Last night's telecast of the Miss Universe Pageant was viewed by over one billion people worldwide. This incredible number occupies the same ratings stratosphere as Soccer's World Cup and the Olympics -- we can think of no other event that comes close. Of course, the staff at always takes the time to tune in and last night was no exception.

This year's winner is Miss Venezuela, Dayana Mendoza, who is pictured above. Ms. Mendoza is just the latest contestant from the land of Hugo Chavez to impress the international panel of judges. In fact, no country besides the United States has done as well in this competition, with Miss Venezuela collecting five (5) titles during the fifty-six year history of the event. Add to this total...

6 1st Runner-Up
5 2nd Runner-Up
4 3rd Runner-Up
2 4th Runner-Up
with an additional 34 advancing to the Semifinalist Round

As for Miss America, this year's representative for Uncle Sam was Crystle Stewart who surprisingly followed in the footsteps of last year's Miss America, Rachel Smith, by falling to the floor as she made her entrance in the evening gown competition. Who said history doesn't repeat itself?

Speaking of history, we have 1951s Miss America, Yolande Betbeze, to thank for the creation of this exceptional event. You see, Ms. Betbeze refused to pose in a swimsuit that year and Catalina swimwear, a major sponsor of the Miss America Pageant, pulled its support. One year later they helped establish both Miss Universe and Miss USA. I wonder what Bert Parks thinks.

In closing, here's what the staff at thinks --

While Miss Venezuela can eat crackers anywhere she wants in our little Texas Hill Country abode, there were other contestants that we thought were even more beautiful. There's always a Keebler product on hand awaiting any of these six should they ever want to visit the limitless shopping opportunities that abound right here, in Bulverde, where things of beauty are as rare as Obama supporters.

Miss Czech Republic

Miss Poland

Miss Honduras

Miss Ireland

Miss Argentina

Miss Malaysia

(Please note that Miss Bulverde is not pictured. Perhaps a future posting regarding some other topic -- "the many uses for paper bags," for example -- will include her image.)

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


"What you are about to see is a matter of human record. Explain it: We cannot. Disprove it: We cannot. We simply invite you to explore with us the amazing world of the Unknown ... to take that One Step ... Beyond."

These opening words from Host John Newland preceded Rod Serling's introduction to THE TWILIGHT ZONE by ten months. One can argue that from 1959-1961 this ABC Network series delivered more chills than virtually any other program in television history. Fully sponsored by Alcoa Aluminum, it certainly can lay claim to being the first of its kind to hit the airwaves, and, perhaps even more importantly, the stories it presented were based on real-life occurrences. As Mr. Newland verified to John Muir in his last public interview, "It had to be real and there had to be proof, either anecdotal or published."

In addition, the eerie theme song by Harry Lubin, appropriately titled "Fear," was even more visceral, more effective than that of its longer-running rival on NBC. Yes, there's much to like about ONE STEP BEYOND and thanks to the original distributor, Worldvision, failing to renew the copyright, most episodes are now available on DVD.

Needtovent's copy, released by Alpha Video, contains what we believe is the best episode from Season One. THE VISION originally aired on March 23, 1959. The cast included Pernell Roberts, H. M. Wynant, Jean Del Val, Bruce Gordon, Peter Miles and Jerry Oddo in a remarkable tale set during World War I.

What exactly happened on November 14, 1915, remains a mystery. What we do know is that four French soldiers saw a bright light in the nighttime sky. For inexplicable reasons they felt but never fully understood, they abandoned their posts, discarded their rifles and simply ceased to fight. The four infantrymen were charged with cowardice and sentenced to be executed until, at the very last moment, a chance encounter by their court-appointed defense attorney with a wandering German soldier verified their experience. He, along with others from his unit, had also seen the light and they, too, were overcome with a feeling of serenity and a sensation of peace. Similar reports later came in from Italy and England. All told, a thousand or more soldiers (French, German, English, Belgian and Italian) simply gave up their will to fight and layed down their arms because of the mysterious nightime vision seen on that historic November night some ninety-three years ago.

What a story. What a TV show.

Take our word for it, THE VISION is beautifully written by screenwriter Larry Marcus and skillfully directed by Newland. It is thought-provoking and inspirational. If you take the time to get a copy, we promise it will not be soon forgotten.

Oh how we long for those thrilling days of yesteryear...

(Alpha Video's ONE STEP BEYOND, Volume One DVD, along with many other classic film and television shows, can be purchased at Remember, we are talking about THE VISION, not THE VIEW...)

Monday, July 07, 2008




John McCain for President? Here's a guy who graduated 790th out of a Naval Academy Class of 795. Why am I thinking Custer?

John McCain for President? A reckless, hot headed, undisciplined plebe who not only crashed several planes while in pilot training, but someone who was often disciplined for misbehavior during his undistinguished stay in Annapolis. Why am I thinking Lt. Commander Philip Francis Queeg?

John McCain for President? Arguably the man most responsible for officially abandoning hundreds of reportedly alive American POWs once held captive by the North Vietnamese. Don't believe me? Just check with Sydney H. Schanberg, awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his 1975 coverage of political and social chaos in Cambodia. His news reports and a best-selling book about his experiences in Southeast Asia became the basis for the Academy Award-winning film THE KILLING FIELDS.

Still don't believe me? Then I invite you to check with the vast majority of our nation's leading POW/MIA activists. Ironic, isn't it?

You see, since his celebrated return from the Hanoi Hilton this double-dealing, two-faced hypocrite has:

~Ignored pleas of POW/MIA Family Members for his political influence in the overall POW/MIA Issue as well as with their individual cases

~Verbally abused POW/MIA Family Members in public and private

~Attempted to negatively influence those who testified before the 1992 Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs

~Diminished legislation that gave oversight and protection to the families

~Dismantled protection to any future servicemen that go missing

Yes, over the years McCain has, at times almost single-handedly, pushed through Pentagon-desired legislation to make it virtually impossible for the public to acquire POW/MIA information and to make it much easier for the defense bureaucracy to keep these vitally important files hidden.

John McCain for President?

As Oliver Hardy would say to the Republican Party, "Well, this is another fine mess you've gotten us into."

It is 10:45 a.m. CDT on July 7, 2008. The up-to-the-minute current estimate is that the population of the United States has now reached 304,537,598.

Over three hundred four million Americans and we have settled on either John Sidney McCain III or Barack Hussein Obama as our next president. (Yes, Barack will be the subject of a future posting.)

How pathetic.

I don't know about you, but I'd rather have the real Bozo as the Republican nominee...

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


Is all human knowledge precious whether or not it serves the slightest human use?

A. E. Houseman, the acclaimed English poet, certainly thought so. The entire staff at Needtovent agrees.

And so with a tip of our Carolina Mudcats baseball cap to Robert LeRoy Ripley and Thomas Rueckle we hereby offer our Question of the Day:

Which war featured the first use of air-to-air combat?

a. The Franco-Prussian War (1870)
b. The Spanish-American War (1898)
c. The Russo-Japanese War (1905)
D. World War I (1914-1918)

And the answer is.....

The Franco-Prussian War.

Yes, fellow pilots (Pontius and otherwise), the always crafty Prussian military used trained falcons to intercept and kill French carrier pigeons being used for communications.

Take that PETA...

(Napoleon III and Otto Von Bismarck after the Battle of Sedan)