Cinematic Titanic LIVE!
Minneapolis, MN 10/25/2008
This has been a memorable year for MST3K and its alumni as well as for yours truly. First I saw Kevin Murphy act as master of ceremonies at a screening of MST3K: The Movie in Saginaw, MI in June. Then I flew out to San Diego Comic Con in July for the 20th Anniversary panel and a live RiffTrax. And now I was able to attend a live riffing by the Cinematic Titanic troupe in Minneapolis on October 25th.
I decided to drive from my home in metro Detroit so that I could do a little site seeing along the way. Part of my plan was purely to feed my tourist desires, but some stops would help satisfy my search for more MST3K related knowledge and minutiae. More on that later.
Let me start with the main event. Joel, Trace, Josh, Mary Jo and Frank offered a fun filled evening for a crowd of appreciative MSTies when they presented the world premiere performance of the 1970 Mexican fang fest Blood of the Vampire. The movie was terrible, but the riffing was great.
Before the actual event even began I ran into Trace and Josh at the Rock Bottom Brewery right next to the theater. My dinner party had arrived before me and were there chatting with them. Trace recognized me as I entered and greeted me as I walked to the table. It was also my pleasure to meet his lovely wife. I then took a few minutes to say hello to Josh, who I had not had the opportunity to meet in San Diego. I was surprised to see Dave Allen at the table as well, but I immediately recognized him from The Higgins Boys and Gruber, Freaks & Geeks and other shows. Since they were all having a pre-show snack we only stayed for a few minutes and I didn't take any pictures. 7:00PM CST. Saturday, October 25, 2008. Minneapolis, MN.
The good old State Theatre ablaze and beckoning us to come forth and be filled with merriment and cheer, or something like that.
The show began with a performance by professional opening act Todd Carlin (a stage persona of none other than Dave "Gruber" Allen). Todd was joined on stage by Josh singing about a radio station for people with ADD.
This was followed by apoplectic performance by Frank singing the theme song for his new Saturday morning action hero show Convoluted Man.
The entire Cinematic Titanic cast was introduced and then moved into position to riff on the film.
Blood of the Vampire was terrible. Bad acting, bad dubbing, bad make up and bad morals. Perfect for riffing.
Frank's script was right there within my reach. That would have been a great addition to my collection, but I fought the temptation. After the show the whole crew graciously signed anything that was set down in front of them for everyone that got in line. Writer's cramp aside they remained cordial the entire time.
From all accounts a splendid time was had by all.
The Minneapolis City Pages dated 10/22/08 had a nice article about the Live show so I had the crew sign the page for me.
Below is the front and back of the t-shirt being sold on the Live performance tour.
As I mentioned above I also made a few stops that were in one way or another related to MST3K. Since most of the cast are Midwesterns there were plenty of opportunities to retrace history.
1979 My first stop was the University of Wisconsin in Madison. This is where Jim Mallon had been student council president for two years back in 1979 and 1980. He and his cohorts were known for their hijinks, including covering the hill in front of Bascom Hall with 1000 pink flamingoes to welcome students back to school in September 1979.
The trees have obviously taken over a little, but the hill is still the same.
2008 Another picture from the same date shows Jim unloading flamingoes from a truck. As you can see below this picture was taken next to the North Hall building, which is directly adjacent to Bascom Hall (it would be to the right of the pictures above).
In case anyone is interested, here's a slightly more legible picture of the historical marker on the wall.
It was good to see that the University Book Store still sells postcards showing the pink flamingo prank as well as the Statue of Liberty that Jim promised to bring to Wisconsin if he won the election. Unfortunately, it fell through the ice on Lake Mendota while being delivered.
OK, let me explain these next two. Years ago when I started doing research for the pre-history of MST3K I contacted a bunch of high schools and asked for senior pictures of key member of the cast. Some were very obliging, like Joel's Aschwaubenon High in Wisconsin. Other were kind, but stated they were unable to scan and email images at the time (this was about eight years ago). They all said that yearbooks were available if I ever decided to visit and do my own research. Well, Rochester and Hopkins, MN were both on the way to Minneapolis, so with all due apologies...
Introducing your Mayo High School of Rochester, MN 1974 senior class vice president Jim Mallon. A cheerful Trace Beaulieu graces the pages of the 1977 Eisenhower High yearbook from Hopkins, MN.
I decided to go by and visit two more sites in the Minneapolis area.
Here is the old Best Brains Studio in Eden Prairie. Of course it looks much the same as when I visited nine years ago, but no big brown sign, no picnic table and no mail box.
I briefly chatted with a woman who was heading out for lunch who told me they were all aware that this used to be where MST was made. I didn't think to ask her what they do there now. There really weren't any signs anywhere either.
The KTMA Studio was located at 2505 Kennedy Street NE in Minneapolis. I came here expecting to see some type of studio. When I found this sign for PRISM I knew I was in the right location. However... This is the building at 2505 Kennedy Street NE, but PRISM is now gone. The building now houses offices for Grainger's, a tool and equipment supplier. A gentlemen working inside told me they just haven't gotten around to taking the old signs down.
20 years ago this is where it all started.
I'd also like to mention some of the fine folks I had a chance to spend time with in Minneapolis.
(l to r) Jenna (from New York), Livia (Maryland), Christine (California) and myself had a few opportunities to enjoy each other's company, and by that I mean they put up with me rambling on about MST3K for hours at a time.
(I met Livia and Jenna at Comic Con in San Diego earlier this year. It was nice to be able to finally spend some quality time with them, and by that I mean they put up with me rambling on about MST3K for hours at a time.)
(l to r) My good friend Joe, who I've known since 7th grade, myself, and two of Joe's sons, Joseph and Andrew. Joe was lucky enough to already be living in Minneapolis in the 1980's and was able to watch MST on KTMA. Sadly, no he doesn't have tapes of the first three episodes. As always Mary Jo's husband Ron is a pleasure to talk to. A genuine gentleman who doesn't mind listening to us rave about MST. Finally, Kathy Noll (from Pennsylvania) who I have been exchanging emails with for a long time. Kathy and her comrades from Boston attended the live show back in 1992 and even make a brief appearance in This Is MST3K (see picture below). Kathy is as witty and charming as she is beautiful. It was a pleasure to finally meet her face to face.
Finally, here are a few pictures of some of my tourist stops along the way.
I love the Art Institute of Chicago. Every time you turn a corner you are greeted by another famous masterpiece.
Below is just a sampling of what I saw on this visit. I focused on American Masters and some Impressionists. (Those are my photos by the way. I'm not sure why, but I love that you can take flashless photos of the art.)
Superdawg is a north Chicago landmark. This is the birthplace of the Chicago dog (if you don't know look it up). Maurie and Flaurie are the mascots on the roof. Some of you know I'm a big lighthouse fan. This is one of the few Great Lakes lights that my Dad and I didn't see together. We were near it once before, but the directions we had were wrong and the local people we asked weren't sure where it was. Unfortunately, he passed away before we got a chance to go back and find it. Too bad, because its a beauty. Hey, folks. It turns out they make cheese in Wisconsin. This is one of hundreds of cheese stores you'll see if you drive through the state. This is in the Carr Valley and they make some darn good white cheddar cheese curds.
By the way, this picture was taken on my way home Sunday morning and the store was rocking.