Me, on many Valentine’s days
Me, on many Valentine’s days
If I could travel through space and time, the first thing that I’d like to do…
…is go back in time and buy a copy of Action Comics #1. No wait, make that Action Comics #1 and a copy of Detective Comics #27. But on the way back to present day, I might stop and buy some Apple stock, and maybe visit places I haven’t been to, like Las Vegas.
Okay, day-dream over.
Welcome back to Turning 40. The weekly series of Top 10 things important to me as I rapidly approach my 40th birthday in March. This weeks Turning 40 returns to one of my favorite hobbies, the movies! But this time, I take a look at My Top 10 Guilty Pleasure Movies, and here they are:
10. Dunston Checks In
“Dunston Checks In” Robert Grant (Jason Alexander) and his two sons Kyle (Eric Lloyd) and Brian (Graham Sack), who live with him at the Majestic Hotel. But when his boss Mrs. Dubrow (Faye Dunnaway), hears that the hotel is being considered for a six-star rating by the Le Monde Guide, his planned family vacation is put on hold.
Then there is hotel guest Lord Rutledge (Rupert Everett), a skilled jewel thief who has come to the Majestic to take advantage of its wealthy clientele, and he’s arrived with his pet orangutan, Dunston, who has been trained to be Rutledge’s partner in crime. But things go wrong when Dunston gets lost in the hotel’s air duct system, only for Kyle to find him, at which point the chaos begins.
I know the premise for “Dunston Checks In” is ridiculous,” but the orangutan is so damn lovable I can’t help but laugh. The kids are funny too, and some of the running around in the hotel will bring a smile to your face. And for the record, “Dunston Checks In” is the only thing in which Jason Alexander has ever made me laugh.
9. That Old Feeling
I’m as surprised as you to see a Bette Midler movie on this or any favorites list. Not that I have anything against her, she just happens to be in this movie. Still kinds strange to see her on this list though, ain’t it?
For the record: Bette Midler is fine in this movie, she has some very funny moments. But, she is not one of the reasons I like “That Old Feeling.” The best part of this movie for me is the relationship between Paula Marshall and Danny Nucci.
They are my favorite characters because you actually see them go from enemies, to allies, to friends, and eventually fall for each other. The chemistry between the two is undeniable, and it clearly wasn’t acting because they’ve been married since 2003.
Now we come Sylvester Stallone first (on purpose) attempt at comedy. The movie in question is 1991’s “Oscar,” directed by John Landis.
The plot of “Oscar” centers around a mob boss in 1930’s Chicago trying to go straight. The film stars Sylvester Stallone, but the supporting cast is the best part of the film. Let’s see, there’s Marisa Tomei, Ornella Muti, Tim Curry, Chazz Palminteri, Don Ameche, Peter Riegert, and more. It’s their work and comedic timing that always catched my eye. As for Stallone, he has a couple of decent moments, but it’s hard to take him seriously most of the time.
7. Get Over It
“Get Over It” is one of those silly teen movies that nobody noticed when it came out in 2001. Well, I noticed, and I even paid to see this movie in the theatre. Out of all the teen movies that came out around this time, “Get Over It” is one of the few with well-rounded characters with clear motivations. And unlike other flickjs, this movie actually has a few good laughs.
The film is loosely based on William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” an revolves around about a high school senior who desperately tries to win back his ex-girlfriend by joining the school play she and her new boyfriend are performing in.
This is typical stuff for this movie genre, but as far as teen comedies go, “Get Over It” had a pretty decent cast: Ben Foster, Kirsten Dunst, Melissa Sagemiller, Shane West, Colin Hanks, Zoe Saldana, Mila Kunis, Swoosie Kurtz, Ed Begley, Jr., Carmen Electra and Martin Short.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot: the “Thong Song” guy is in the movie too, but I won’t hold that against it.
6. Center Stage
The only reason I saw “Center Stage” on the big screen was because I had a free screening of it. Hey, I’m never going to turn down a free movie. But to my shock, I actually enjoyed the story about the American Ballet Academy in New York City.
Strangely enough, this is another movie starring Zoë Saldana before she was a big name. Just goes to show you how much of a range she has. She’s great here of course, but my favorite character is played by 1998 Olympic figure skating champion, Ilia Kulik.
The scene where he has to tell a woman he’s KGB is hysterical, and one of the more fun moments on the movie. He turned out to be a decent actor, so I’m surprised he didn’t do more stuff after “Center Stage.”
5. The Delta Force
After a helicopter crash, with the U.S. Delta Force evacuating to their C-130 transport, Captain Scott McCoy (Chuck Norris), against orders, rescues his wounded comrade, Peterson (William Wallace), from the burning helicopter before the team finally evacuates. McCoy then expresses his disgust for the politicians and the military hierarchy that ordered the mission, and announces his resignation.
Five years later, Lebanese terrorists hijack American Travelways Airlines Flight 282, flying from Cairo, Egypt to New York City. The hijackers take all 144 passengers and crew hostage, where they make demands to the United States government that, if not met, will result in the death of each of the hostages. Now it’s up to Delta Force to save the passengers, assuming of course they can get McCoy
back into the fold.
“The Delta Force” is the only Chuck Norris movie I like, and the only one I own on dvd. I like the movie, not for Norriss’ performance, but because I like the team work Delta Force uses. These guys use their heads, rather than gadgets, although they do have some cool bikes.
Also of note, Lee Marvin as Col. Nick Alexander, was a badass in this mmovie, and great leader. Not bad for a guy who was over 60 at the time.
4. Bring it On
I’m popular to boot,
I’m bitchen, great hair
The boys all love to stare
I’m wanted, I’m hot
I’m everything you’re not
I dominate the school
Who am I? Just guess!
A movie so ridiculous it has spawned several sequels. But non will ever match the randomness and fun of the original “Bring it On.” And let’s face it: everything is better with a little Dusku
3. Flash Gordon
“Flash Gordon” is the campiest, cheesiest movie you will ever see. The supporting cast is surprisingly strong, but the special effects are bad, and the lead actor can’t act. But none of that matters one bit.
I have loved this movie since I first saw it one Saturday afternoon on WLVI tv in Boston around 1990. I had no idea “Flash Gordon” would become one of my favorite guilty pleasure movies, I was just in awe of the premise, and the potential this thing had. Even today I watch this movie a couple of times a year, much to the dismay of the wifey.
2. Out to Sea
When someone mentions a Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, people automatically think of “Grumpy Old Men” or its sequel. For me however, my mind immediadlty goes to 1997’s “Out to Sea.”
In the film, brother in-laws Charlie (Walter Matthau) and Herb (Jack Lemmon) pose as dance instructors on a cruise ship. Charlie coaxes the widowed Herb to join him on board without disclosing the two will need to dance or they’ll owe over $5,000 for the cruise.
But Charlie promises there will be plenty of available and lonely women at sea. Once on the ship, Charlie starts romancing the wealthy Liz (Dyan Cannon), while Herb falls for Vivian (Gloria DeHaven). But the new romances won’t matter if they can’t survive sadistic cruise director Gil Godwyn (Brent Spiner).
I’ve seen “Out to Sea” at least 20 times over the years, and it always makes me laugh. Some of the stuff Brent Spiner is just unbelievable, and Matthau and Lemmon are comedy gold as usual. This little comedy is much better than people think.
The first time I saw “Mannequin” was in 1987 when I went to the movies with my cousin. She really wanted to see the movie, and since she was the adult, I had little choice in the matter. But to my surprise, I actually like the movie.
It’s not so much the film’s central love story that I like. My favorite parts of the movie are the ones with James Spader and G. W. Bailey. Their characters still make me laugh even after all these years. “Mannequin” has many fun moments, but when Bailey starts shouting “She’s the dummy!” I can’t help but cry from laughing so hard.
Regardless of who you were rooting for, I think it’s safe to say Super Bowl LII will go down as one of the craziest and most entertaining championship games in NFL history.
I don’t think anyone expected the offensive shootout the game turned into. It really was a battle between Tom Brady and Nick Foles all night long, with each guy making some great passes. Ultimately, the Philadelphia Eagles found a way to beat the New England Patriots with a come-from behind victory in the 4th quarter, winning 41-33.
As usual with the Super Bowl, there’s a lot to talk about. Not just about the game mind you, but the entire night. So here are a few thoughts I had while watching Super Bowl LII:
As I inch closer and closer to my 0th birthday this March, I find myself asking all sorts of deep questions that I’ve never though about before. Questions like:
I really haven’t found satisfactory answers to any of these questions. So while I continue to search for them, I will continue with my Top 10 lists of important things in my life. Today I leave you with my Top 10 Favorite Toys:
10. Knight Rider KITT 2000 Talking Car
I had a couple of Knight rider toys, but the KITT 2000 Talking Car was simply the best. The car looked just like it did on the TV show, and even the Michael Knight action figure looked like David Hasselhoff. Though I must admit I lost the Hoff after about a week. But I didn’t care, because I still had KITT!
9. Thundercats Cats Lair
Sigh. To be perfectly honest, at first, I was a little disappointed in the Thundercats Cats Lair play set. It didn’t quite look like it did on the cartoon, especially the cat’s head. But the more that I played with it, the more that I liked it.
However, eventually I used the Thundercats lair for not just my Thundercats figures, but also for other action figures too. Let’s just say my Batman/Thundercats/G.I.Joe toy crossover was rather epic.
8. CHiPs Big Wheel
The CHiPs Big Wheel was the first type of bike that I can remember owning. I was a big fan of the “CHiPs” show at the time, so my family got me most of the toys. I had the action figures and vehicles, but the Big Wheel sticks out in my memory.
The CHiPs big wheel opened a whole new world for me. This big top allowed me to follow my cousin around on his bicycle, making for some fun afternoons and weekends. Even he wasn’t around, I’d be on this thing. Eventually, I rode the CHiPs bike until one of the back wheels came off.
7. Ertl Die-Cast NASA Space Shuttle
Like many kids, I grew up fascinated with space travel and wanting to be an astronaut. Then, around age 7, I realized I was scared of flying. But I still loved learning about NASA and the space program, so this die-cast Space Shuttle saw a ton of flights in and around my house.
For a time it was my most used vehicle toy. Sadly, I lost the shuttle during a summer vacation, never to be seen again. But I definitely got my money’s worth.
6. Captain Power Phantom Striker
If there was a Captain Power cartoon, I don’t remember watching it. But I do recall seeing all his toys at thes stores. And when I got a few bucks for my birthday one year, I decided to pick up the Captain Power Phantom Striker jet.
This was one cool toy, sleek and bigger than you’d expect. Since I didn’t own any other Captain Power toys, the Phantom Striker became a toy at large to be used with all sorts of other toys.
A while later I purchased another Captain Power vehicle, and that was fun too. But the Phantom Striker got played with much more. This was a highly underrated line of toys in my opinion.
5. Cobra Night Raven
Was it me, or did Cobra have the cooler planes?
Anyways, my aunt got me this toy when it came out in I believe 1986. The funny thing about my Night Raven is that I don’t think I ever used with my other G.I.Joe toys. You may be wondering why, and the answer is rather simple: This was the X-Men’s jet.
As soon as I saw this sleek new toy on the shelf, I knew it was an SR-71 because I’d seen it in the pages of Uncanny X-Men. So I used it during my playtime with my Marvel Secret Wars toys instead of the various G.I.Joes I owned.
4. Steve Austin (Bionic Grip)
You’re probably younger than I if you think this toy refers to the wrestler. Well let me tell you, it does not. This Steve Austin figure is based on the “Six Million Dollar Man” tv show of the seventies.
By the 1980’s, the “Six Million Dollar Man” had been off the air for some time. But I became a fan of Steve Austin thanks to repeats on Saturday afternoons. My mother gave me this action figure one birthday, and I was shocked that it was brand new. I still don’t know where she found it. Regardless, I spent a lot of hours in the backyard making the “Six Million Dollar Man” special effect noise.
3. Ghostbusters: Ecto 1
From the animated series “The Real Ghostbusters,” the Ecto 1 by Kenner was modeled after the famous car in the “Ghostbusters” film. And although it wasn’t identical to the car in the movie, it still looked
more like the real thing compared to the animated versions of Venkman, Egon, Ray, Winston, and Slimer.
Anyways, this little toy got beat up over the years. Probably because I used it indoors and outdoors. But like many other toys, I rarely used it for what it was intended. At one point, my Ecto 1 transported Ninja Turtles. But that was more of a necessity, since my family refused to get the Turtle van.
2. Mazinger Z Action Figure
Giant robots have been an obsession of mine since I was like 3 years old. But finding toys based on my favorite cartoon “Mazinger Z” was tough in the early 1980’s. One day however, my world changed forever. Somehow, my mom had found a Mazinger action figure.
This toy wasn’t exactly official if you know what I mean, but at that age I didn’t give a damn. Finally, I had the toy that I had always wanted, and I can’t tell you how many adventures I had with this action figure. Sadly, one day one of the legs came off for good, and I had to find another Mazinger toy. But today I still have the memories of my first Mazinger.
I couldn’t find a picture of the toy I owned. But I did find a picture of this Mazinger from South America which you can see above. The toy is very similar to the one I had, but the cardboard art on mine was of the original Mazinger and not of Great Mazinger. Nevertheless, if I ever see this somewhere, I may have to pick it up.
1. Dukes of Hazzard General Lee Dashboard
Growing up I had plenty of Dukes of Hazzard toys. Everything from vehicles to action figures, and even lunch boxes. But my absolute favorite was the Dukes Of Hazzard General Lee “Fuzz Detector” dashboard.
The dashboard was maybe about a foot or two wide, complete with a steering wheel, a radar detector, two-way radio, horn, and transmission shifter. Seeing this thing on Christmas morning made me squeal with joy. I played with this toy before school, after school, and any other chance I got. I even took it with me on a couple of trips.
I loved the dashboard because when two “D” batteries were inserted, the fuzz detector light would light up, and when the transmission lever was shifted it made a fantastic shifting noise. The only issue I had with the toy was the horn, which squeaked rather than beeped. And it certainly wasn’t close to the horn on the General Lee. Even so, this toy gave me countless days of joy, and that’s why its my all time favorite toy.
As I mentioned in last week’s Turning 40 post, this coming March i will hit a life milestone I’m not too pleased to reach. That’s right boys and girls, this is the year I will turn 40.
This means the end of my youth, and the beginning of the end. Therefore, I am expecting a mid-life crisis to strike before summer. Perhaps I’ll go skydiving or bungee jumping, time will tell.
For now however, I shall continue to write a bunch of Top 10 lists of stuff that’s mattered to me over the course of my life. I’m still trying to come up with different things to write about, but for now I leave you with my Top 10 Guilty Pleasure Songs:
10. Squirrel Nut Zippers – “Hell”
Although I’ve always beef a fan of older music, I can’t say that I was ever a fan of swing music. But that all changed in 1998 when the North Carolina band Squirrel Nut Zippers showed me how good swing music can be with their album “Hot.”
The album taught me how styles of music can be updated for a new generation. But it all began with the song “Hell,” and its music video. The tune was catchy, and the old school video just added to the fun of the song.
9. Jamiroquai – “Virtual Insanity”
One day, towards the end of my senior year of high school, I was driving to Wal-Mart when Jamiroquai’s “Virtual Insanity” came on the radio. For some reason the song immediately caught my attention, this was weeks before I saw the music video.
After I graduated that June, I tried finding the “Virtual Insanity” single, but nobody had it. I ended up buying the CD, but the rest of the songs weren’t as good. However, over two decades later, I have to stop whatever I’m doing when “Virtual Insanity” comes on MTV Classic or on my Satellite radio.
8. White Town – “I Could Never Be Your Woman”
White Town’s “I Could Never Be Your Woman” is another song from my senior year in high school. At first, I gravitated to the song in hopes of figuring out what the heck it was about. The best conclusion I could come up with was that the song was supposed to be sung by a woman. But whether I was right or not, I never found out.
After a while I realized I should stop worrying about such things, and just enjoy “I Could Never Be Your Woman” for what it was: a catchy, quirky song that would always remind me of my senior year in high school.
7. The Box Tops – “The Letter”
“The Letter” is one of my favorite songs from the 1960’s, which is saying something. I first heard the song when my mom would listen to Oldie’s 103 in Boston. And I’m not positive, but I think my mom and I went into the city one summer to see the Box Tops at one of Oldie’s 103 free saturday night concerts.
Anyways, I love this song, and I think its one of the more underrated songs from that era. But If I had one complaint about it, it would be how short the song is. Even by 1960’s standards, “The Letter” is one short song. Oh well, guess I just have to listen to it over and over.
6. Air Supply – “Making love Out of nothing at all”
Don’t judge me.
Unless you were around in the late 70’s or early 80’s, you probably don’t realize how big Air Supply were. Their songs were all over radio, and eventually their videos were too. So maybe they’re not considered one of the decade’s all time bands, so what?
I still like this song, and its cheesy video. And if you don’t think Air Supply had staying power, then why are they still touring?
5. Juanes – “A Dios Le Pido”
“A Dios Le Pido” was my introduction to the music of Juanes, and I’ve been a fan since. This song grabbed from the first time I heard it in the summer of 2002. Again, this song reminds me of the time my aunt who I hadn’t seen for two years came for a visit.
I also liked “A Dios Le Pido” because of Juanes’ clever world play and upbeat message, something that I needed at the time. Today, this song goes with me everywhere as I’ve downloaded it to multiple devices, much to the wifeys chagrin.
4. Rick Astley – “Never Gonna Give You Up”
Funny story: I was grounded for about a month when “Never Gonna Give You Up” was released in 1987. Don’t ask me what I did, it’s not important and for the record, that lady’s hair grew back. The point is that since I wasn’t allowed to watch TV during this time, the radio became my best friend, and of course Rick Astley’s tune was all over the place.
It was weeks before I saw the video for myself, and I couldn’t believe Rick Astley was a nerdy looking white guy. Why? Because if you listen to the song, Astley’s vocals are just plain ridiculous, and I mean that in a good way. It also helped that “Never Gonna Give You Up” was catchy.
3. George Michael – “Freedom ’90”
To say George Michael’s “Freedom ’90” was on heavy rotation when it came out, would be an understatement. I can still remember delivering newspapers after school and listening to this song at least four times every afternoon.
Perhaps that’s why this song has stuck with me for almost three decades. For my money, “Freedom ’90” will always be George Michael’s best solo outing.
2. Hot Chocolate- “You Sexy Thing”
Yeah, “You Sexy Thing” is a disco song, and I do not care.
As I mentioned earlier, my mom liked listening to older music and introduced me to a lot of it. One Christmas, she gave me a 70’s CD, and this song was included. I liked it because it wasn’t your typical disco song, and the band actually played instruments.
But my memory of the song completely changed when “You Sexy Thing” was included in “The Full Monty.” From then on, the song reminds me of the movie, but it’s still a cool song.
1. Eagle-Eye Cherry – “Save Tonight”
“Save Tonight” was released at the same time that I was having relationship problems with my then girlfriend. Things were rocky between us, and this song just called to me. But my girlfriend hated this song with a passion, why I’m not exactly sure. But she couldn’t listen to it whenever we were in the car together.
Anyways, one night a bunch of us went to a local restaurant that had karaoke on Thursday nights. For reasons known only to her, my girlfriend got on stage and performed “Save Tonight.” Strangely enough, that was the last night we spent together, as we broke up two days later. Which makes me wonder if she was trying to send me a signal by singing this song.
There are certain moments in life that people will remember forever. Whether it’s a birthday, a wedding, funerals, or even a sporting event, there are just certain days and events that stick with you always. For me however, those moments are a little different.
Unlike most people who remember important moments in their lives, I tend to remember the most random stuff you can imagine. I’ll remember what the weather was like, who was with, what day of the week it was etc. But ask me something I needed to know for school or work, and I couldn’t tell you a thing. I don’t know why this is, but it has happened as long as I can remember. Take today for instance, December 18, I have some very clear memories of this day.
December 18, 1997, was my last day of exams at Bridgewater State College in Bridgewater Ma. I was really exited to get out of there after my last exam, because the next morning I was flying south to spend Christmas with my family.
On the way home from Bridgwater State, I decided to visit the New England Comics in Brockton for some reading material. This is where the memory thing I was talking about comes in. I can’t remember which test I took this morning, but twenty years later I can still tell you which comics I bought that morning. Here’s the list:
Avengers vol. 3 #1
The Fantastic Four vol. 3 #1-2
Alpha Flight vol. 2 #1-2
Batgirl Adventures #1
Ghost Rider #93
Incredible Hulk #461
Iron Man vol.3 #1
JLA Year One #1
As you can see I went a little nuts at New England Comics. And those are just the comics I bought off the wall, I didn’t even mention the stack of issues I grabbed from the dollar bins. Let’s just say that I was more than ready for any flight or weather delays during my travel day.
But December 18 wasn’t over yet, not by a longshot. My good buddies Laneit and John had kindly agreed to drive me to Logan airport early the next morning, but since it was going to be an early day, I suggested they stay over at my place. Laneit had to work until 9 that night, so I picked up John first. Before he even said hello, John says “Chris Farley died.” I was shocked to hear the news, and asked John what he died from. His answer was: “I dunno.”
Seriously dude? You can’t just drop a bomb like that on me and not have the required answers to the questions you know I’m going to have. This was 1997 for Pete’s sake, it’s not like I could pull out my cell phone or google it.
Anyways, we picked up Laneit and headed back to my place. John had been smart enough to bring along his Nintendo 64, and Laneit was smart enough to bring along a ton of games. I remember we played GoldenEye for a while, but eventually John and I got tired of Laneit winning. The next few hours were spent playing the highly underrated WCW vs. nWo: World Tour game. While none of us were great at the game, the worst one by far was John.
John was playing as Hulk Hogan, but for whatever reason, John couldn’t figure out the controls for the old Hulkster. Instead of landing the famed leg drop, John would instead pose for the crowd and the camera. This led to John constantly getting his ass kicked by either Laneit or I. It was funny to watch, but sucked when John and I were in tag team match.
Our night ended by watching this hardcore wrestling video from Japan that Laneit bought. I was pretty tired by this point, but I will never forget watching Terry Funk riding a horse to the ring. It was just one of those weird things I couldn’t un-see.
The match itself was brutal, but I was interested in something that wasn’t WCW or WWF. I made a comment to the guys about Terry funk, and when I got no response I realized the two of them were sound asleep.
At that point I thought to myself “Why am I still up? I gotta be on a plane in three hours.” Ah well, I was exhausted later that day, but it was worth it. Just don’t ask me what I learned in college that semester.
All right, as you can probably tell, I’ve been absent from this here blog for quite some time now. But, just like Cher, zombies, comic book characters, and Democrats in Alabama, I have returned from the dead just in time for the holidays.