DDT's Pop Flies (65)

DDT (AKA Darryl Tahirali) is a freelance writer living in Orange County, California. Originally from Canada, DDT enjoys writing about music, baseball, and other areas of Western pop culture from the tasteful to the trashy. DDT can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

You know how hard it is to get into the Baseball Hall of Fame? In 2013, with a ballot brimming with qualified candidates, not one player received the 75 percent of the votes needed for admission. (I identified 14 likely Hall of Famers on the 2013 ballot.)

Granted, 2013 was the first year of eligibility for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, both poster boys for performance-enhancing drugs (PED), bringing to a head the contentious debate about "cheaters" and their admission into the Hall. But there were certainly several "clean" players on that ballot, and a few of those, such as 3000-hit-club member Craig Biggio, would have been uncontroversial picks in any previous year.

And although 2014 saw the election of three players—Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, and Frank Thomas—it was merely the tip of a talent-heavy iceberg (I identified 18 likely Hall of Famers for that ballot), while providing a burn to Biggio yet again as not only did he miss election by one vote (he garnered 74.8 percent of the vote), but three first-time candidates leapfrogged him into Cooperstown.
F. Scott Fitzgerald may have said that American lives had no second acts, but some former baseball players can get a second chance: Even if a player finds no success for the Baseball Hall of Fame on the ballot voted on by the members of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA), he may get a second look from the Veterans Committee to see if he had been unfairly passed over previously. But do any of the candidates on this year's ballot deserve that second chance?

(And if the reference to novelist Fitzgerald sounds like irrelevant pretense, recall that in The Great Gatsby he alluded to the gambler who put in the fix for the 1919 World Series and thus destroyed "the faith of fifty million people," while that phrase became the title of the third "inning," or episode, of Ken Burns's celebrated documentary series Baseball.)
In the words of Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra, it's déjà vu all over again because it seems as if I was doing this exercise only a year ago. That exercise is evaluating the fifteen nominees for the 2015 class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced on October 9, 2014. (And just to clarify, the inductees will be announced later in 2014 for the induction ceremony in Cleveland, Ohio, on April 18, 2015.)

As I did for the 2013 ballot and again for the 2014 ballot, I profile these fifteen nominees and indicate whether I think the Hall voters will vote for them, and whether I would vote for them were I issued that precious ballot as a voting member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
As Martha and the Vandellas once put it, summer's here and the time is right for dancing in your seat.

All right, so the lyric doesn't go exactly that way, but with concerts so regimented these days, you don't get much opportunity to dance in the aisles, let alone dance in the street. But having recently seen three rock acts in concert, one already a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee while one of the two not in the Hall has a huge groundswell clamoring for its induction, You may be interested in how they perform onstage.

What's funny is that in the last few years I had been attending hardly any rock shows. Rather, my taste for live music had run toward jazz, folk, and international acts in smaller, more intimate settings. And as far as classic-rock acts go, I had been leery of the nostalgia circuit. I used to write for the concert guide of a local venue, and I fluffed up my share of articles touting the likes of Iron Butterfly and Robin Trower, acts trading on their glory days (and in the case of a band like Iron Butterfly, that may have been day, singular) while occasionally promoting their latest album, released on a small, independent label, and noticed by few outside the fanbase.

But as I get older and become nostalgic myself, my curiosity gets the better of me. After all, none of us are getting any younger, and didn't I want to see some of these acts before they head off to the great festival in the sky? Even if, at this stage, they are past their prime?

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame may not be at the level of inducting individual albums yet, but if it did, this list of live albums from the classic rock and soul period, along with a few honorable mentions, would surely be included.

Why a live album? It is true that nothing can replace the experience of actually being at a concert, but a live recording can be the next-best thing to being there. It preserves the memory of what happened when that music had been created. A quality live recording can be close enough—a reminder of the concert you had experienced, or, more likely as you explore the music of artists from decades past, a sample of music that you'd have never been able to hear in person, anyway. With a live album, the show never ends.
Now we get to the really fun part of this, er, appreciation of science-fiction films from the 1950s: the bad ones. Yes, these are the films about which you cannot say that the acting "could have been stronger," or the effects "lacked realism," or the story seemed "weak." These films are so lacking in quality that you can safely say this: These films are sci-fi stinkers.

Or as Frank Zappa put it, these films all exhibit "Cheepnis," the name of his song saluting sci-fi stinkers that first appeared on the Mothers' 1974 live album The Roxy and Elsewhere. As Zappa explained in the introduction to "Cheepnis," "the cheaper they are, the better they are," and while he noted that a film's budget, or lack thereof, is not necessarily a factor in its exhibiting "Cheepnis," it does help.

The ten films in this, our final list of 1950s sci-fi films, not only have "Cheepnis" but also some kind of lasting notoriety. Because—let's face it—there are a lot of bad science-fiction films and not just from the 1950s, and I'll leave it to Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, to memorialize those. For example, The Giant Gila Monster (1959) is certainly bad—the special effects include an obvious model train and an ordinary lizard in a diorama to make it seem "giant"—but no one in the cast had any fame nor went on to any fame, the narrative and dialogue are not memorably atrocious, so it is merely bad but not notably so.
Ten votes for ten candidates. That is the maximum number of votes a member of the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) can cast on the 2014 ballot that contains players eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame, the highest honor a player can receive from the sport. Each vote can be for one candidate only, up to a maximum of ten; a voter is not required to cast all ten votes; in fact, a voter does not have to vote for any candidate.

The problem is that this year's ballot, announced on November 26, 2013, contains 36 candidates—and half of those candidates qualify for the Hall of Fame, at least by my reckoning. The fact is that two issues have plagued Hall of Fame voting in recent years: a logjam of qualified candidates and a backlash concerning players who have used, or have been suspected of using, performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).

This reached a head last year, when on a ballot of 37 candidates, not one player received the minimum 75 percent of votes required for election to the Hall. Not one. This includes a ballot that listed Jeff Bagwell (449 home runs, 1529 runs batted in), Craig Biggio (3060 hits, 668 doubles), Barry Bonds (all-time leader in home runs with 762), and Roger Clemens (354 wins, 4672 strikeouts) among the candidates. In fact, the only player inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013 was Deacon White, the catcher selected by Pre-Integration Era committee who last played a game in 1890, and good luck finding anyone who remembers that event first-hand.
Once again the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has announced its nominations for this year's class of inductees, fueling spirited speculation about which artists should or should not be voted into the Hall. As I did last year, I have profiled the sixteen nominees for the 2014 class and have indicated whether I think Hall voters will vote for the nominee, and whether I would vote for the nominee if I were a voting member of the Hall.

The sixteen nominees are the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Chic, Deep Purple, Peter Gabriel, Hall and Oates, Kiss, L.L. Cool J, the Meters, Nirvana, N.W.A., the Replacements, Linda Ronstadt, Cat Stevens, Link Wray, Yes, and the Zombies. Five of the nominees are returning from last year: the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Chic, Deep Purple, the Meters, and N.W.A..
Although we are not scraping the bottom of the 1950s science-fiction film barrel just yet, you can see patches of wood below as we dig through ten sci-fi flicks that have significant deficiencies from a creative or technical standpoint. In other words, now we are starting to get into what for many viewers epitomizes 1950s sci-fi flicks: cheap and cheesy.

These ten flicks are not quite lame and tawdry, but neither do they exhibit narratives or performances that could redeem a film in the way that they could for the last ten films we explored. However, we are now confronted with the reality of 1950s science-fiction cinema: A lot of films made in the genre were made quickly and cheaply to cash in on the demand, and they lack distinction, dubious or otherwise. As we look at these ten not-so-good films and certainly at the ten bad films in the next installment of the series, we will see that each film must have had some mark of notoriety to differentiate it from the mass of simply unremarkable—did someone say simply terrible?—films.

One film that probably belongs in this group but is not described below is When Worlds Collide, another technically splashy effort from producer George Pal released in 1951: As a star approaches Earth and promises imminent annihilation, efforts begin to construct ships to rescue a lucky few amidst growing panic and chaos. Among the cast are incipient 1960s sitcom mainstays Frank Cady (Sam Drucker from Petticoat Junction and Green Acres), Larry Keating (Roger Addison from Mister Ed), and Hayden Roarke (Doctor Bellows from I Dream of Jeannie). However, I did not include it below because it's been years since I've seen it, and I've been unable to get hold of a copy to view it again, so I don't feel that I can describe it adequately nor justify why it should be included.
My, how time flies! Here it is more than a year since my last "audit" of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, my foolhardy attempt to evaluate the artists the Hall has inducted since its inaugural class of 1986, and I had better post my assessments now so I don't have to add another year's worth of inductees once the honorees for 2014 are announced.
The 2013 baseball season has seen one pitcher, Andy Pettitte, reach 250 wins, and three others—CC Sabathia, Roy Halladay, and Tim Hudson—reach 200 wins. These are impressive milestones that traditionally have prompted discussion of whether that pitcher deserves induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. But are pitching wins a reliable indicator of a pitcher's true worth, particularly when it comes to the Hall of Fame?
Remember how, at the end of the first article in this series, Science Fiction Cinema: The 1950s: Ten Good Ones, I wrote that it would all be downhill from there? Don't worry—we haven't hit bottom yet. In fact, there is a still a ways to go before we get to—well, I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise, now, would I?

But we are talking science-fiction flicks from the 1950s, which from our vantage point of more than a half-century later can be regarded with a fair degree of amusement (and sometimes bemusement). The most obvious differences between sci-fi flicks of the 1950s and those of today are in special effects. We are spoiled by what we see today, certainly compared to what was seen sixty or more years ago.