Sunday, May 31, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
I'm Gonna Git You Sucka (1988) This was the first movie from writer/director Keenen Ivory Wayans, a send-up of the blacksploitation films of the 1970's. I've don't think I've ever actually seen an honest to goodness blacksploitation film but I've always enjoyed this movie's Airplane-style humor. I hadn't seen it in a long while and figured I'd give it another look in anticipation of the new Wayans' comedy Dance Flick. I'm afraid I'm gonna have to file this movie under "Movies That Aren't As Good As I Remember Them". It has some good solid laughs along the way but not nearly as many as I thought. The story involves Keenen Ivory Wayans coming home to his old neighborhood to find out that his little brother has O.G.'ed. That's "Over Golded" as in too many gold chains around his neck! Wayans proceeds to gather up a bunch of tough guys from the neighborhood to take on Mr. Big, the crime boss who's running the city. The various fellas enlisted to help are all played by former blacksploitation actors such as Issac Hayes and Jim Brown. It's all in good fun, just a little bit slow by today's standards.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Taste analysis shows that they've knocked down the sugar quotient a bit. This cereal is not as sweet as you'd expect eating a bowl of fake little cinnamon buns and the marshmallow to cereal ratio is not leprechaun approved. But nobody buys this stuff for the taste, you buy it because it has pictures of a new movie on the box - and isn't that the best way to start your day!?
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
When I thought about doing a post on this topic, I figured I would take pictures of some of the glasses in my collection. But I found some great pictures from various sources on the internets to illustrate my article so we'll use those for this discussion...
To me, these are the pinnacle of fast food glass promotions: Smurf glasses from Hardee's circa 1982. There are a few reasons these glasses are so near and dear to my heart. First of all, 1982 was the height of the Smurf craze and I was a huge Smurf fan. I could simply not wait to get my hands on one of these bad boys. But, here's what made the passion for these glasses all the more intense. There was not a single Hardee's anywhere near where we lived. But, there was on right down the street from my grandmother's house. In fact, a trip to Gram and Poppy's house was usually accompanied by a visit to Hardee's. Luckily, my grandparents only lived about 25 minutes away and we visited often. Then, to make the deal sweeter...the collection was made up of 8 glasses! Usually promotions of this kind featured four different designs/characters, but eight just seemed like a ton! We managed to snag most of them at the time. Over the years all eight of the glasses have made appearances in my cupboards. A few years ago when I started going to flea markets and antique malls I discovered that these (and other glasses) are pretty common finds so I've replaced and added some to my collection. I still have the original 27 year old Brainy Smurf glass at work in our kitchen today. We also have Grouchy and Smurfette still serving us drinks. (Sadly, just this past week Papa Smurf was knocked off the table and shattered into a million pieces. So did my heart!) The great Smurf Glasses promotion of 1982 was such a hit for Hardee's...
Monday, May 25, 2009
The stick on Tanner's broke and landed on his chest. Luckily, he didn't mind eating the rest of it out of a bowl.
Messy or not, we need more Ice Cream Men!
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) I loves me some Woody Allen (in fact according to IMDB I've seen 32 of the 40 films he's written and directed) but I had to drag myself to watch this latest film. To me there's three kinds of Woody Allen films: the funny ones he's in, the funny ones he's not in, and the serious ones. Guess what? The serious ones are my least favorite, and I thought this fell into that category but I was pleasantly surprised. I don't know if I'd call this a comedy, but it's a lighthearted romance - not heavy at all. Woody Allen has made some pretty weird films over the years, but when he wants to he can make a really charming little picture. Vicky Christina Barcelona tells the tale of two girls on vacation in Barcelona and their love affair with the same artist. The movie is filled with beautiful photography of Spain, lighthearted music and a really effective narrator who alone makes the film special. This was a really well done film that I think non-Allen fans should find accessible and enjoyable.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
We've also been having more garage issues lately. Our garage door is supposed to have 16 wheels connecting it to the track. Last summer, four of the wheels had come disconnected from the door and the track. As of this weekend, we were rolling on three wheels still connected. We were able to schedule a door to be installed as early as today, so Jennifer and I spent all day yesterday cleaning out four years worth of junk and garbage from our garage.
We were lucky to borrow a truck from Jen's parent's business to fill with unwanted trash to take to the dump...
This is what neighbors saw as they drove by our house yesterday. It looked like we were being evicted...
On top of that, given my history of not attending to yard problems as soon as I should, I'm sure every neighbor on our street came home last night thinking this junk was going to sit in our yard at least through the weekend. But, by 9:00 last night we had it all cleaned up and more important...
...we now have a garage that is clean and we can even park cars in it! Wow-wow-we-wow! The new door is being installed right now. It's pretty exciting around here!
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
The Toy (1982) This is one of those super awesome movies that my friends and I loved when we were younger and would watch it any time we saw it playing on HBO. The other night, I turned on the TV, caught a few seconds of it on HDNet and immediately TiVo'ed the next showing and watched it from start to finish the following night. Although not quite as solid as I remembered it, The Toy is still a great movie. In this delightful film, Jackie Gleason plays the super rich U.S. Bates (or as his wife mispronounces it: U. Ass Bates. Ha Ha Ha Ha!). Through wacky circumstances, Bates hires Richard Pryor to watch after his bratty son for a week. Then Richard Pryor yells, screams and makes funny faces for two hours. Good Stuff! I think the massive appeal of this film when we were younger was two things: the rich kid had arcade games in his bedroom and he had little motorized cars that he drove all over the place. To a kid in the 80's, having an arcade game of your own - in any room of the house yet alone your bedroom - just seemed like the most far-fetched awesome thing you could possibly imagine. And driving a little car around your house IS the most awesome thing you could imagine, so it's really a win/win situation for the film makers and the audience!
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Which is why I thought this decent sized write up in Entertainment Weekly was kind of cool. Often when a celebrity passes away, EW asks another celebrity to write something in their honor. Last week's loss of Dom DeLuise brought Marilu Henner out from the rock she's been living under to pen this memory of her experience with Dom on the 1984 film Cannonball Run II. Joy! You should be able to click the article on the left to enlarge it for easier reading!
Monday, May 11, 2009
1) Sun Wheel - California Adventure; Anaheim, CA My buddy Andy and I rode this and when the ride was over they had to pry our hands off the seats with crowbars, we were holding on to this contraption for dear life. This 150 foot ferris wheel is Disney's replica of the Wonder Wheel in Coney Island, NY. It's a regular ol' ferris wheel with one little addition. Every other gondola on the wheel is attached to a track that zig zags inside this hellish ride. It's sounds simple enough, don't it!? What they don't tell ya is...the gondolas don't just ride on the track, they are designed to swing the cars out beyond the wheel and the gondolas roll down the track with a bit of speed. As you ride starts, you don't expect anything because you're just sitting in a regular ol' ferris wheel car. No seatbelts, no safety bar, none of that sort of thing. As the wheel slowly makes it's first rotation around while it loads the other gondolas you gently glide down one end of the track and then the other as the next few cars load. Somewhere a quarter of the way up, the slightest movement of the wheel sends your car speeding down one end of the track and rocking outside the wheel as much as a 90 degree angle. With two adult males in the car, this thing picked up alot of speed and gave us plenty of straight-down views of the water surrounding the ride. It's a very unsettling feeling, either your rolling backwards and flying off the end of the wheel or your rolling forwards and watching yourself run out of track. All the while, Andy and I were screaming in (manly) terror and preying for the ride to end. It didn't help matters that one of the gondolas above or below us, which was attached to the outer rim of the wheel, was full of 9 year old girls laughing at us. Honest to Mickey, I'm quite sure I'll never get on that ride or any like it again!
2) Popeye & Bluto's Bildge-Rat Barges - Islands of Adventure; Orlando, FL Let me say a couple of things about this ride first. First off, I never got the title of this ride. I know it's some pirate lingo or something like that, but it's never worked for me. Number two, let me say that this is one of the best "white water rapids" rides I've ever been on. It's elaborately and imaginatively themed with some creative ways of getting people wet plus it's cartoony and uses classic cartoon characters - always a plus in my book. This is also the first one of these rides that I had ever been on that employed a lift half way through the ride. I was surprised to find a hill because I couldn't imagine how they could send a raft that size down a drop. Again, my friend Andy was with me on this one (and I think a few other guys) and we approach the lift hill. Our boat, or barge, spins around and makes contact with the conveyor belt lifting the end of the boat with Andy and I in it first. The whole time up the hill I'm thinking, "How are they going to drop this thing?" Then we get to the top of the hill and the belt holds the boat to let other rafts in front make their way down the path. So now were sitting at the top of this hill, water gushing everywhere, my back to the hill and I realize that it's me and Andy hanging out over the edge and the rest of the boat is little kids. At this point, I'm convinced that this boat is going to topple over with me and Andy weighing more that the other passengers in the boat. If that wasn't bad enough, the ride seriously held us up there for over a minute...so for a very long sustained amount of time I'm completely convinced that I'm about to die! Even the best roller coasters only bring you within death's door for a second or two...sitting at the top of the Popeye ride waiting for my death by drowning and then being chomped up by the mechanics of the ride under the water...felt like an eternity. To make matters worse, there's dramatic "distress/peril" music playing and I've got Popeye laughing at me from a distance! Well, I closed my eyes, gritted my teeth and prepared for impact but as you can guess we made it out safe and sound...and wet!
3) Some Portable Walk-Thru Haunted House at a Carnival in Laurel - A Crappy Little Carnival; Laurel, MD I missed out on Haunted Houses for most of my early years because I just wasn't interested in finding out what was inside them. Plus, I had a feeling I'd scream like a little girl once inside. The Haunted Mansion in Walt Disney World was enough for me. Then, somewhere along the line, I got a taste of Fun Houses and dark rides and I couldn't get enough. So, the summer after I graduated high school I went to this carnival with my buddy and his sister. After visiting the World's Largest Rat and other such fun sideshow freaks we decide to take a stroll through the Haunted House. It was one of those portable fun houses on the back of a tractor trailer truck. This was a walk through experience, different from the kind where you ride through in a little car and things pop out at you along the way. So...we enter the Haunted House and it turns out to just be dark corridors that you walk back and forth through. It was hot as hell, it was pitch black inside and the corridors just went on forever. The hallways weren't very wide, so I had to walk sideways through the whole thing. After a few zigs and zags, the gags start to kick in. At one point the floor started to violently vibrate, another had rubber hands grabbing at our legs. A minute or two into this experience we wanted out. As in all these stories, there's a group of little kids behind us. They're screaming their heads off, I'm leading the group cursing, praying and sweating. Then all of a sudden, the floor gives out and we all stumble - in the dark - onto a ratty old mattress. Every step after that was terror filled as the group made it's way through the rest of the never ending labyrinth of dark hallways. It felt like we were in there for 20 minutes! Seriously, one of the most miserable experiences of my life. I still enjoy the ride-thru Haunted Houses, but I'll never step foot into one of those carnival walk-thrus again!
4) Haunted Mansion - Knoebels Amusement Resort; Elysburg, PA This is ranked as one of the best dark rides in the country. It is a fantastic ride! You ride a tiny little car through a giant haunted house. What sets this ride apart from others like it is the closeness of the ride. There isn't much separating you from the spooks and creatures inside. In fact, even though they are all mechanical, some of them will physically touch you. The ride also disorients visitors with a long and twisting track though the house, one minute in and you'll have no idea where you were and where you're going. This Haunted Mansion also uses tons of different tricks to scare the crud out of you. It also has long periods of pitch black darkness, which is never good. I rode this for the first time in 2001 and enjoyed it, didn't have much memory of the ride. I rode it again last year, and was screaming and jumping for most of the ride. A well done Haunted House, worth the trip to this out of the way park.
5) Mad Mouse - Lakemont Park; Altoona, PA This small park boasts the world's oldest roller coaster still in operation and a beautiful new wooden roller coaster which is built along the backwall of a minor league baseball stadium. They have a third roller coaster which isn't much to look at - but it packs one heck of a punch. Many parks have a Wild Mouse style roller coaster, this one looks like it was put together from a kit. It looks like it's snapped together and I'm almost positive it isn't even bolted or cemented into the ground. It's just sitting on a gravel area. The coaster's cars have little in the way of a seat. You're basically sitting on the floor of the car, and there is nothing resembling shocks in the mechanics of the car. By the time your car whips around the third or fourth turn, you're convinced that this roller coaster is giving it's last ride. You feel every dip, turn and jerk of the car deep within every bone of your body. At times the ride is only inches from the ground, which gives you a good view of the cinder blocks holding this contraption down to the ground. I didn't think I was going to die on this ride...but I was quite sure my next ride was going to be in an ambulance.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Saturday, May 09, 2009
Friday, May 08, 2009
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (1978) I hate when people say this movie is "so bad it's funny." It's not bad, it's just funny! It's actually very funny! It's filled with loads of clever dialogue, parody, non-sequitor humor and of course silliness. This is one of my all-time favorite movies which I discovered early on in my video renting career, and I've seen it a million times. Before I knew how to copy a video tape or even had the money to buy my own videos, I taped this movie off of television; off a small UHF channel out of Virginia. We didn't get the channel on our cable system, but I saw the movie listed in the TV guide playing at 1 am on a Saturday night. I unhooked the cable and used the antenna in the VCR to record the movie. I must have watched that snowy, blurry tape 100 times. Nowadays, I can enjoy the film on DVD thanks to a deluxe box set Collector's Edition they put out a few years ago. I hadn't seen the movie in at least five years, but watching it this time around I discovered new levels of humor beyond the sheer absurdity of people running from giant tomatoes. This isn't everyone's cup of tea....or tomato juice, I guess...but this is one of the funniest movies ever made. And not because it's bad!
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Deluise was also often found in Mel Brooks' films. These were some of my earliest exposures to comedy and are also still some of the funniest films ever made. His earlier collaborations with Brooks gave us Blazing Saddles (1974) where he has a bit part all the way at the end of the movie but it's still one of the most memorable scenes in the film; Silent Movie (1976) which is a hilarious and often over looked gem from Brooks' earlier years; and the classic History of the World Part 1 (1981) where Dom plays Emperor Nero. All, good stuff! Dom even turns up in some of Mel Brooks' later works: Spaceballs (1987) which, sorry, I'm not a fan off...and Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993).Dom also had a habit of turning up in cameo roles in lots of movies that I loved. He was the first of a slew of cameos in the brilliant The Muppet Movie (1979). He turns up once....once, in a fantastic Michael Keaton movie called Johnny Dangerously (1984) which I've seen a million times. And he even shows up in the comic biblical epic Wholly Moses! (1980) which I used to watch all the time as a kid, but watching it now is actually kind of painful.
One of Dom Deluise's most famous roles was in Fatso (1980). I've actually never seen that movie but in my opinion, his tour-de-force performance was in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982) where he played Melvin P. Thorpe - he sang, he danced, he turned in one heck of a performance and poured his heart and soul into that role. He steals the show!
Career wise, his star started to dim with the one-two punch of Haunted Honeymoon (1986) a dreadful black-and-white comedy where he played "Aunt Kate" opposite real life couple Gene Wilder and Gilda Radner (a low-point in all their careers) and Going Bananas (1987) where Dom teamed up with Jimmy "J.J." Walker and some dude in a cheap monkey costume. Yes, it's as bad as it sounds!
Deluise also kept busy with voice work in cartoons. He was known for his vocal appearances in almost all of Don Bluth's animated films: The Secret of NIMH (1982), An American Tail (1986), All Dogs Go To Heaven (1989) and all of their various sequels, direct to video movies and Saturday morning cartoons. He even did voice work for Disney in the wonderful Oliver & Company (1988).
Even though he hadn't appeared on screen much in the last decade or so, It was always a treat when I found Dom Deluise on TV for one reason or another. He's always been in my movies and TV shows and it will be sad knowing he won't pop up and surprise me again.
Here's a short film that I've seen many times that kind of showcases Dom Deluise's style and sense of humor....
Sunday, May 03, 2009
Friday, May 01, 2009
A company called Learning Curve, who also makes the Thomas the Tank Engine toys, came out with a line of wooden play figures a few years ago that are similar to Fisher Price's Little People figures. The Play Town collection features sturdy wooden figures of all the different people in your neighborhood like the fire man, and the postman...and there's a grocery store and a fix-it garage - all the standards. They also went ahead and added Marvel comic book characters to the Play Town collection. You can pick up friendly little Wolverine with his good buddy Captain America. There's another set that comes with Spider-Man and the always lovable Incredible Hulk. Now you can have Hulk destroy the Play Town bank while Wolverine does some gardening!?
There's lots of kiddie books featuring Spidey and friends. In these books, the gang hang out at the playground and have fun with other kids. I don't know if I'd want to be pushed on the swings by Wolverine!