And you’ll hear a tale
A tale of a fateful trip,
That started from Hull Ma,
Aboard this tiny ship.
Laneit was a mighty sailin’ man,
Maz brave and sure.
The class of 1997 set sail that day,
For a three hour tour,
A three hour tour…
The word still sends chills down my back. Mr. Zambuto was the name of one of our teachers during our senior year of high school. His class was called Principles of Technology, and if you know what means, then you are much smarter than me.
Actually, if you know what Principles of Technology is, you’d be smarter than Mr. Zambuto too, because he knew less than I did. And did I mention Mr. Zambuto looked just like the late Scottish comic Ronnie Corbett?
Anyways, he wasn’t a very good teacher, at least not for that class. To be fair though, it wasn’t all his fault. Up until the 1996-1997 school year, Zambuto was teaching electronics in our school. Our Principles of Technology teacher the previous year had been Mr. Soule, Now him we all liked.
Not only did Mr. Soule look like Archangel from “Airwolf,” but he taught in a way than even a someone like me could understand what he was talking about. Why they replaced him with Zambuto remains a mystery to this day.
During our senior year, Principles of Technology was the one class I dreaded to attend. But every so often it was worth the misery. Take for instance the day when Mr. Zambuto decided to bring out a Van de Graaff generator for class. You may remember the device as that weird thing you saw in school once that made people’s hair stand up
Mr. Zambuto grabbed the generator from a closet, and put it on a small desk he had near the front of the class. He then proceeded to explain the history of the device which to us meant one of two things:
By the time Laneit and I had started to doze off, Zambuto finally picked up the generator. He brought it to his main desk, and as he put it down, the thing toppled over towards us. I swear to you it happened in slow motion, and as the sphere busted open, all these smaller spheres spilled out all over the room. I don’t know what they were called or even if they were part of the generator.
Mr. Zambuto was in utter shock as the generator tipped over, and when he saw all the spheres rolling around the floor he shouted “My balls!” This was too much for Laneit, me, and everyone else in the class.
All of us burst into laughter, someone even fell off their chair from laughing so hard. And through the entire ordeal all Zambuto could muster was “Find my balls” or “Pick up my balls!”
Sixteen years ago today, James Cameron’s “Titanic” hit theatres. I didn’t see it until the following year because I was on a plane headed to Miami when the movie opened. Even if I had been available, I would have seen “Tomorrow Never Dies” instead, since both movies opened on December 19, 1997.
Anyways, the film grossed over $1 billion in its initial theatrical run, the first film to do so. “Titanic” also turned Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet into superstars. James Cameron’s blockbuster was nominated for fourteen Academy Awards, and it walked away with eleven, including Best Picture.
The drama was the number one movie for a stunning fifteen consecutive weeks, a record that I don’t believe will never be broken. The movie that finally knocked “Titanic” from the top spot? “Lost in Space.” Spooky, huh?
When I told the wifey all these little factoids about one of her favorite movies, all she could say was “I still think Kate and Leo could have taken turns floating on the damn door.”
When Warner confirmed Shaquille O’Neal would star as Steel, I was interested.
When it was announced the film would be based on DC Comics’ Steel, .I was ready to buy my tickets.
When it became clear the Steel movie had absolutely nothing to do with the character in the comics…
Wait, what was that last one?!?
In the summer of 1997, I vowed to have as much fun as I possible could before my freshman year of college started. Unfortunately, summer 1997 included two of the worst superhero flicks ever made: “Batman and Robin” and “Steel.”
Paying for the Batman sequel made sense, I had a history with the series after all. But I have no idea why I paid to see “Steel” in theatres. Before I get to the movie, a little history lesson:
Back in 1992 Superman was killed by Doomsday in the iconic Death Of Superman saga. Everyone knew Supes would return at some point, but first, readers were introduced to four incarnations of Supermen. One of those, was John Henry Irons. In the comics, Irons created and donned a suit of powered armor in Superman’s memory in order to stop a gang war.
The film version of “Steel” was Written and directed by Kenneth Johnson, the man behind the Bionic Woman and Incredible Hulk tv shows of the 1970’s. In “Steel,” NBA superstar Shaquille O’Neal stars as John Henry Irons, a weapons designer and metallurgical genius who is developing a new sonic weapon for the military with the help of computer whiz Sparks (Annabeth Gish).
When an accident caused by unscrupulous superior Nathaniel Burke (Judd Nelson) leaves Sparks paralyzed, Irons quits his job in disgust. It turns out later that Burke has begun mass-producing the weapon and selling it to terrorists and L.A. street gangs, so Irons and Sparks team up with Uncle Joe (Richard Roundtree), a junkyard artist, to create a suit of armor and a gadget-packed sledgehammer. Irons dons the suit and becomes known as the superhero known as Steel.
Feel free to vomit now.
I suppose at the time, Steel was the logical choice for a DC Comics live action film. A Superman reboot had been in development hell for years, and any hopes of tying in Steel to a major Superman movie were dead. I’m sure Warner Bros. thought casting Shaquille O’Neal in the lead role would bring in the crowds, which makes me think none of the Warner executives watched Shaq in “Kazaam.” Come to think of it, I didn’t see “Kazaam” either. Oops.
I think “Steel” failed because it wasn’t true to the comic book hero. So what if Superman couldn’t be involved? You could have set the film during the months Superman was dead. The screenwriters should have followed the comics by Louise Simonson more closely. And they should have cast someone other than Bender from “The Breakfast Club” as the main villain.
“Steel” was released in theatres on August 15, 1997. It’s safe to say, audiences didn’t like this movie, even Shaq’s fans didn’t go see it. The film had a budget of around $17 million, peanuts compared to other comic book films. “Steel” went on to earn a horrendous $1.7 million at the box office, becoming one of the biggest flops of the year. .Yet, I don’t put the blame solely on Shaquille O’Neal. He did the job he was hired to do, it’s not his fault everything about this movie sucked. Although it did feature some great quotes:
Uncle Joe: Well, dip me in shit and roll me in breadcrumbs.
Uncle Joe: I did the ironwork myself, I especially like the shaft.
Nathaniel Burke: Eat the hot dog, don’t be one!
Dear friends, the time has come once again for the TNU Tuesday Two-Play. I’m going to try something different this week. I suppose you could say its something a little more personal, kind of. This week we’re going back in time, back to 1997. This is the TNU Tuesday Two-Play.
Time is a funny thing. It’s funny because time flies, and the more time that passes, the more random stuff you remember. Take for instance December 18, 1997. Fifteen years ago today I finished my first semester in college and as a treat, I went on a comic book shopping spree. All these years later, and I still remember what I bought. That day, my comic stash included:
Avengers #1 by kurt Busiek and George Perez
Iron Man #1 by Kurt Busiek and Sean Chen
Trust me, there were many, many more. But those two books left a mark with me. That issue of Avengers launched what I believe is one of the greatest runs ever in comics. The Avengers comic hasn’t been the same since Busiek and Perez left. The first issue of Iron Man brought me back to the character, thanks in part to the great armor design. However, 15 years later the armor does look old school.
That day, I ended up spending over $200 at New England Comics. I needed the comics because on December 19 I had a long flight home for Christmas. The comic distracted me from the fact I was 40,000 feet in the air. Whatever helps your fear of flying I say.
The following day as I flew south, people everywhere were flocking to the movie theatre. On December 19 two huge movies opened around the country. One went on to gross over well a billion dollars, and the other is one of my favorite movies.
James Cameron’s “Titanic” opened on December 19, 1997. The film would eventually become the highest grossing movie of all time, a record it held for twelve years. Spoiler alert: Titanic sinks. Fifteen years later I still believe Kate Winslet could have moved over a bit and let Leo on the floating debris. She had plenty of room for the big ass diamond, but not for her man. Women.
The other flick that opened on December 19 , was “Tomorrow Never Dies.” I love this movie, not just because it’s a “Bond, but because it’s a pretty good flick. This is easily Pierce Brosnan’s best outing as Bond. It was all down hill after “Tomorrow Never Dies.” Brosnan seems at ease in the role, even with the funnier parts. This was the first 007 movie scored by David Arnold, and its a shame he didn’t quit while he was ahead. TND was Arnold’s only decent work on the Bond films.
The female leads were played by Michelle Yeoh and Teri Hatcher. As you would expect, Yeoh was terrific. Teri Hatcher however, eek. I guess the producers went with her because she as a big tv star at the time. I’ve read over the years that she and Pierce Brosnan did not get along. Could be why she’s barely in the movie. There’s also a rumor that Monica Bellucci auditioned for the role, and when the producers passed on her, Pierce Brosnan was livid. I don’t know if either rumor is true, but I will say Monica Bellucci would have made one heck of a Bond Girl.