Archive for December, 2010

Holy crap, I just ran a marathon!

Posted in exercise, life, movies, running with tags , , , , on December 22, 2010 by Paxton

So, I ran my first marathon on Sunday. It was the culmination of many, many months of preparation and training. I officially signed up for and started training for this race back in May, so I’m glad that it’s all over now and I can say that I have now run a full marathon (26.2 miles). And I am even happy with my time; 5 hours and 10 minutes.  The marathon was not as soul crushing and hard as I expected, but that’s not to say it was easy.  I think the key for me was running the actual race with a buddy.  My friend Mike and I ran the race together and provided each other with much needed distracting conversations and encouragement especially in the later miles (20+).

The marathon I ran was part of a larger group of races called The Tri-2B Tuff Challenge.

The Tri-2B Tuff Challenge consists of three distance races in three months.  You can either do three half marathons or two half marathons and a full marathon.  I did the latter.

The first race was the Jacksonville Marine Corps Half Marathon on Oct 2. Mike and I mistakenly believed that race started at 8am so we showed up ready to run at 7:30am. However, when we showed up people were dismantling the starting line. After asking around we discovered that the race actually started at 7am. Undaunted, we backed our butts up to the dismantled starting line, started our watches and ran the race anyway. It took a while, but we wound up catching up with some of the stragglers and finishing the race anyway.

The second race was the Outback Steakhouse Distance Classic Half Marathon on Thanksgiving Day. We double checked the starting time for that race and showed up early so we started with the official clock. This race was awesome. I enjoyed the course and it was actually fun to run it.

The last race was the Jacksonville Bank Marathon (or you could run the half marathon) on Dec 19 (this past Sunday).  Finish those three races and you win the Tri-2B Tough Challenge.  I’m glad I did it.  Since I was training for the marathon anyway the two half marathons in Oct and Nov kept me from slacking off too much on training.

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Held Over! A new blog showcasing vintage movie print advertisements

Posted in 80s, advertising, movies, pop culture with tags , , , on December 20, 2010 by Paxton

Held Over

I’ve been planning this for a year or so, and now I can finally get it out there.  I’m starting a new blog called Held Over! As you can see from the banner above, it will showcase old movie advertisements.  Many of the ads will be from newspapers (hence the Held Over! catchphrase), but I’ll also include other print media like magazines and comic books.  I’ve been stockpiling movie adverts since the mid 80s, and I finally am getting my s**t together and starting to share them online.

Don’t worry, I’ll continue posting movie anniversary articles on this blog.  The new blog will mainly showcase the scanned movie ads as well as a little commentary (historical context, relevance, interesting trivia, etc) from me.  I’ll even aggregate some of the scans on the new blog into articles on this blog.  When I do that, you’ll see the above banner and the article will be tagged with Held Over.

So, where did this come from?  Well, when I was growing up I loved going to the movies.  I loved them so much, that I would cut out advertisements for my favorite movies from newspapers and magazines.  I also spent a good amount of my time in college at the Auburn University library combing through old newspapers on micro phish looking at movie advertisement sections.  Well, I was also looking up old 80s NBA box scores featuring Larry Bird and John Stockton, not just movie adverts. Wow, could that confession have sounded any dorkier?  No, probably not.

Anyway, throughout the 80s and early 90s, newspapers contained a wealth of awesome movie ads in their movie sections.  Movie sections could take up two or three full pages advertising what movies are currently playing.

For instance, here’s a movie section from the day I was born, May 9, 1974.  Click it to see it bigger on Flickr.

Toledo Blade 5/9/1974

Nearly two full pages are taken up with movies of the day. And there are some good ones like The Sting, Blazing Saddles and The Exorcist. There are also some stinkers like Zardoz and Great Gatsby. Hmm, actually, I just this moment noticed there are three movies playing starring Robert Redford; The Candidate, The Sting and The Great Gatsby.  You don’t see that too often these days.

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Clue: The Movie was released 25 years ago today

Posted in 80s, movies, pop culture with tags , , , on December 13, 2010 by Paxton

Clue the Movie Starts Today

Clue the movie was released 25 years ago today; December 13th, 1985.

Clue was the first movie directly based on a board game.  It was filmed with three different endings (Ending A, Ending B and Ending C).  However, there was a fourth ending scripted and shot but dropped at the last minute.  You can still read the fourth ending in the movie novelization and the Clue Storybook.  The Clue Storybook even has a few photos of the missing ending.

Clue Novelization Clue storybook

The structure and story of Clue was taken from two different movies; Murder by Death and Ten Little Indians. Murder by Death was a 1976 murder-mystery spoof by playwright Neil Simon starring Peter Falk, Alec Guiness, James Coco, Truman Capote and Eileen Brennan (Mrs Peacock). Five of the world’s greatest detectives are invited up to a mansion and asked to solve a murder that will take place at midnight. Ten Little Indians was a 1974 murder-mystery based on Agatha Christie’s famous novel. Many of the kills in Clue the Movie are homages to Ten Little Indians.

Murder by Death Ten Little Indians

Clue is one of my wife and my favorite movies. We quote it endlessly. As a matter of fact, to celebrate the 25th anniversary, we watched it this weekend. And loved every minute of it.

Somewhat a review of the movie Ninja (2009)

Posted in movies, ninjas, pop culture, reviews with tags , , , , on December 10, 2010 by Paxton

Ninja Day Banner

Well, I was debating about delving into the final Sho Kosugi ninja movie Enter the Ninja today the same way I covered Revenge of the Ninja and Ninja III: The Domination the last few days, but I realized I have not the time nor the energy to do it. At least not today.  So, I’m going to review another ninja movie, this one from 25 years later in 2009.  It was a smaller release and the title was just Ninja.

Ninja

I’m pretty sure this may have been a DVD only release. Especially in the US.  It may have opened in theaters elsewhere.  I got it from Netflix a few weeks after it was released.  One of the reasons I was kind of excited to see this movie was because it was a smaller B-movie release that was supposed to be in the style of the mid-80s ninja movies.  I thought that was a great idea, and settled in to watch some “so bad it’s good” ninja awesomeness.

But I couldn’t get into it.  And this is coming from the guy that just sat through, watched, loved and reviewed, in agonizing detail, the movies Revenge of the Ninja and Ninja III.  So to say my tastes are discerning would be less then accurate.  And I still had trouble enjoying myself.  Granted, there are over 20 years of nostalgia coloring my perceptions of those ninja movies, but still.

Plus, this movie definitely feels like it was written and filmed in 1985, then lost for 25 years and found in some dank, dirty corner of the film vaults.  The suits then decided to put this lost ninja film out to capitalize on the release of Ninja Assassin.  The script and acting are cheesy and awkward.  The film logic is odd.  However the fight scenes are nicely shot and choreographed.  I really need to give it another watch.  I feel like I’m not giving it the latitude I give a Sho Kosugi movie.  And I’m not sure why.  The story is just as flat, the acting just as bad and the ninja scenes are just as good.  I don’t know why my knee jerk reaction is that I don’t like it.

The star, Scott Adkins, is a capable action star.  Before this he had roles in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (as Weapon XI) and The Bourne Ultimatum (as Agent Kiley).  The female lead is a little irritating because she seems helpless.  She’s constantly having to be saved despite the fact that in the beginning of the movie they establish her as the daughter of a ninja teacher and every bit as deadly as the Scott Adkins character.  I don’t know.

Trust me, I’m going to give this movie another shot.  When I do, I’ll let you know if I change my mind.  Until then, this gets a not recommend.

I become a man by watching Ninja III: The Domination (1984)

Posted in 80s, movies, ninjas, pop culture, reviews with tags , , , , on December 8, 2010 by Paxton

Ninja Day Banner

Okay, Sunday was Ninja Day, and I’m extending that into Ninja Week here on the blog. On Monday I discussed in detail the reality rendering awesomeness that is 1983’s Revenge of the Ninja starring Sho Kosugi. Today, I want to discuss that movie’s followup, Ninja III: The Domination.

Ninja III

I want to say I saw this in the theater, but there’s no way my father would have let me see the R rated Ninja III when I was 10 years old. I must have rented it a few years later when I was renting Revenge of the Ninja over and over again from the local video store.  How could I not?  It was a ninja movie with Sho Kosugi and that hot chick from Breakin’ and Breakin’ 2.  Also, this movie’s director, Sam Firstenberg, also directed Revenge of the Ninja.  As a matter of fact, from 1983 to 1985 Firstenberg directed Revenge of the Ninja, Ninja III:  The Domination, Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo and American Ninja.  I don’t know about you but that alone deserves some kind of lifetime achievement award or something.  I have to ask why this guy isn’t a household name.  Well, he followed up his Hall of Fame line up of 80s action movies with American Ninja 2:  The Confrontation and Delta Force 3:  The Killing Game which probably ended his career as quickly as a katana to the neck.  But no one can take way those 4 awesome 80s movies.  No one.

Anyway, this movie is completely fun, weird and absurd.  So let’s take a look.  I’m going to delve into the best aspects of this movie like I did Revenge of the Ninja because this movie deserves it.  There’s a lot of zany 80s awesomeness going on in this movie.  And I’ll be sure to point out all the gratuitous shots of Lucinda Dickey in skimpy clothes while sweatily dancing (happens more often than you think).  So grab a seat and let’s do this.

Ninja 3 titles
And so the awesome begins. The opening sequence is the best. A Japanese dude walks into this hidden cave, dons a ninja suit and heads to a nearby golf course to wreck complete havok. It’s never explained why he attacked the golf course. He just does it. And it’s awesome.

golf cart
Here’s the ninja stopping a golf cart by lifting the back wheels off the ground. He couldn’t let the attractive couple get away because he really needed to kill them.

bodyguard with gun ninja blowgun blowdart into gun gun explodes
A group of bodyguards show up because I guess one of the golfers is famous (no explanation). One of the bodyguards pulls a gun, but before he can fire, the ninja whips out a blowgun and shoots a dart directly into the gun barrel causing the gun to explode awesomely in the bodyguards face.  This movie is so ninja.

Outrun a car
The ninja then outruns a cop car.

ninja trapped ninja smoke ninja disappears ninja underground
The ninja is caught by like 5 cops and they open fire riddling him with bullets. In the midst of the gunfire the ninja ignites a smoke bomb and disappears. The cops have no idea where he went so they all just decide to leave. Then the ninja pops up out of the dirt. He had dug himself under the ground like a mole proving once again that, yes, he is a badass ninja.

Christie Ninja possession
While filled with bullet holes, the ninja crawls away and finds Lucinda Dickey as Christie, the hottest telephone repair person EVER. The ninja grabs her and does some ninja voodoo to put his spirit inside her (he wants to be IN her).

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Ninja Day 2010: Revenge of the Ninja (1983) melts my brain with awesomeness

Posted in 80s, movies, ninjas, pop culture, reviews with tags , , , , on December 6, 2010 by Paxton

Ninja Day Banner

I’m continuing my celebration of Ninja Day all this week with reviews of ninja movies. Today I look at one of the greatest ninja movies of all time, Revenge of the Ninja starring Sho Kosugi.

Revenge of the Ninja poster

Revenge of the Ninja is the second in an unofficial “trilogy” of ninja movies by The Cannon Group in the mid-80s. The first movie in that trilogy was Enter the Ninja (1981) and the third movie was Ninja III: The Domination (1984). All of them starred Sho Kosugi.  However neither of those movies were anywhere near as good as the middle movie, 1983’s Revenge of the Ninja. Let’s take a walk through this movie’s plot and see all the unbelievably awesome and ridiculous moments contained within.

So, the movie starts in Japan. Sho is there with his wife, young son and parents. Sho is off talking to his friend, Braden, an old white dude, when a group of like 6 ninjas show up and slaughter the family. I’m not sure why the family died, some old ninja master must be jealous of Sho’s bad ass awesomeness and sent his army to kill them all. The movie doesn’t really do a good job of explaining it.
ineffective ninjas Sho teeth
So this group of ninjas come in and kill everyone and then lay in wait for Sho to show up. When he does arrive, they pop out of the bushes and try to kill him by shooting arrows at him.  However, these are the worst ninjas ever and they underestimated his grim determination to kick ass and Sho catches two of the arrows in his hand and then catches the third arrow IN HIS MOUTH. Surprisingly, watching Sho catch a ninja arrow in his teeth didn’t cause the ninjas to crap their gi’s and run.  However, they must have been out of arrows after this display because they stop shooting and jump out of the bushes to surround Sho instead of just shooting him with his hands and mouth full (like I said, WORST NINJAS EVER). All the better for him to ninja kick some ass.

And Sho does kick their ass rather handily. Afterwards, Sho decides to follow his friend Braden back to America and start over with his young son (who wasn’t killed) and his mother (also survived).

Braden Evil Ninja 1
By the way, this is Braden. The old white guy who is also, apparently, a ninja. I guess he lived with Sho’s family for 20 years in Japan and learned their ninjitsu. However, Sho doesn’t realize that Braden is evil and is using Sho to smuggle drugs into the country. Notice Braden’s ninja outfit.  It looks like it’s made of silk and he wears a mask underneath his ninja mask.  Awesome.  And evil.

gangsters
Braden is working with these also ridiculous gangsters to smuggle heroin into the country through Sho’s Japanese art museum. Obviously, they try to double cross Braden and steal the heroin themselves.  What kind of gangster doesn’t use a scantily clad or topless woman as a masseuse?  The gay kind.

Kane vs Bullies Kane vs Bullies 2
Anyway, it’s six years after the ninja attack in Japan. Sho’s son, Kane (actual real son Kane Kosugi) is in elementary school. There is a ridiculous but awesome scene in which adorable little Kane in his pink Izod sweater kicks a bunch of older bullies’ asses. I don’t know why it’s in there, but I love that it is.

Sho vs Blondie
This is Kathy. She’s the typical 80s blonde. She works at Sho’s museum. And she’s also working for Braden to smuggle the heroin. In her first scene, she shows up in Sho’s family dojo without pants and tries to seduce him. This is the first of many times we see Kathy in skimpy outfits.  However Sho turns it into a lesson and begins to spar with her and pretty easily kicks her ass. Of course she holds her own for a bit because everyone in this movie knows some form of martial art.

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Ninja Day 2010: Behind the scenes of Cannon’s American Ninja

Posted in 80s, movies, ninjas, pop culture with tags , , , on December 5, 2010 by Paxton

Ninja Day Banner

And so dawns another Ninja Day.  Take this time to reflect on the awesomeness of a bad ass ninja.  Every year this blog celebrates Ninja Day and has done so since 2006.  Click here to see all my Ninja Day articles.

While today is officially Ninja Day, next week will be Ninja Week on the Cavalcade.  I’ll be reviewing ninja movies next week.  All having to do with the ridiculously deadly ninja, and all are vintage, from the 80s and awesome.  As a matter of fact, at least two of them star one Sho Kosugi.  He was THE 80s icon for the ninja who recently (last year) starred as the bad ass villain in Ninja Assassin.  I’ll be reviewing at least two of the movies in the Sho Kosugi 80s ninja “unofficial” trilogy I discussed in my Unofficial Movie Trilogies article a few months ago.  Want to see what they are?  Tune back in next week; same ninja time, same ninja blog.

Today, though, for Ninja Day, I want to discuss the 1985 movie, American Ninja starring Michael Dudikoff.

American Ninja poster

Specifically, I want to talk about the trouble The Cannon Group had getting it to the big screen.  The movie has an interesting history that I think will make a good tale for Ninja Day.

Cannon Films

The production company, The Cannon Group, made many of the ninja movies back in the day during the big 80s ninja boom.  Their main ninja star was Sho Kosugi.  During post production on Ninja III: The Domination Cannon started pre-production on a movie called American Ninja.  Of course, it was going to star their main ninja, Sho Kosugi, as the villain.  At the time, I don’t think they had cast the title character. Here’s some early promotional art for the Sho Kosugi American Ninja.

Sho Kosugi in American Ninja
(Via VintageNinja.net)

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