Archive for June, 2011

Cannonball Run turns 30 years old

Posted in 80s, Cannonball Run, movies, nostalgia, pop culture with tags , , , on June 19, 2011 by Paxton

Cannonball Run ad

The classic road race movie The Cannonball Run was released on Jun 19, 1981, 30 years ago today. It starred Burt Reynolds, Dom Deluise, Roger Moore, Jamie Farr and a host of other celebrities like Jackie Chan, Farrah Fawcett, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr, Terry Bradshaw and Adrienne Barbeau.

Watch the trailer:

Some interesting trivia about the film:

The film was originally going to be a straight up action flick starring Steve McQueen. After McQueen’s death, the lead was given to Burt Reynolds and the script was re-written as a comedy.

The race in the movie is based on an actual, real life race that took place over several years in the 70s. I discuss the origins of the real race; The Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash here.

Many of the vehicles, including the ambulance driven by Reynolds and Deluise, were actually entered and run in the real life Cannonball races in the late 70s.

Roger Moore plays Seymore Goldfarb, Jr, a spoof of James Bond, who he was portraying at the time.  In the race, he drives an Aston Martin which is famously linked to the British secret agent.  However, Moore never drives an Aston Martin in the seven movies he appeared as James Bond.  This movie is the only on-screen pairing of Moore and the famous car.

This movie features one of Jackie Chan’s first US appearances.  His character is Japanese, even though Chan himself is Chinese.  Chan was inspired by director Hal Needham’s use of bloopers during the end credits and from this point on would do the same in all of his own movies.

Burt Reynolds and Dom Deluise appeared together in Smokey and the Bandit Part II the previous year.  This movie makes several references to that earlier movie including Reynolds mentioning the black Trans-Am and Deluise referencing his doctor character.

Watch the end credit outtakes

The Cannonball Run had two sequels. The first was The Cannonball Run II in 1984. Part II reunited the majority of the cast from the first movie. The second sequel was Speed Zone in 1989. The only returning character in the third movie was Jamie Farr’s The Sheik. The two leads were John Candy and Eugene Levy, friends who appeared together on SCTV and in the movie Armed and Dangerous. Their casting was an attempt to recreate the chemistry of original leads, and friends, Burt Reynolds and Dom Deluise.

This movie still holds up today. Reynolds and Deluise are hilarious and it seemed the entire cast had a blast filming the movie. Part II also holds up very well and fans may actually remember more scenes from Part II than the original.

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Solicits for the DC reboot madness

Posted in Batman, comic books, Superman, The Flash with tags , , , , on June 14, 2011 by Paxton

Well, the whole DC relaunch thing has the comic fanboys losing their damn minds.  In case you don’t know, it seems comics fans are up in arms because DC decided to reboot all their titles back to #1.  Comic blogs everywhere are kvetching about it.  CT from Nerd Lunch even deemed it necessary to talk about the relaunch.  CT mentions that he hates some of the costume redesigns, but I like them.  Especially Flash.  They just look more modern.

Now, I’ve read comics since the early 80s.  I started with Flash and then ventured into Superman, Batman, X-Men and The Fantastic Four.   I still read comics, but I tend toward the trade paperback collections and don’t really care about single issues anymore.  I don’t care what number is on the cover, I just want good stories.  But I look forward to this relaunch as a “wipe the slate clean” and start fresh with cool ideas.  Almost buried in the announcement of the reboot is the fact that DC will also start distributing comics digitally the same day they release them in print.  That’s huge.  Reading comics digitally is growing quickly in practice, much to the consternation of comic book fans everywhere.  With the iPad and other tablet computers, we finally have the perfect way to read a digital comic.  I am looking forward to doing just that.  I have been reading digital comics for the last few years now and while I prefer print, digital isn’t bad (especially when I get a tablet computer).

Anyway, I was reading The Source, the DC Universe blog, and they gathered together all the solicitations for the new reboot titles. There are lots of cool and interesting titles that have been announced.  Let’s take a look at them.

Action Comics 1 Superman 1
Here are the Superman reboots.  The two images above are for Action Comics #1 (left) and Superman #1 (right). In the solicit you can also see covers for Superboy #1 and Supergirl #1.  Like I said I don’t care they are rebooting Superman, because, technically, they already did it once back in 1987 with John Byrne.  This Superman #1 is interesting because it’ll be written and drawn by George Perez who took over from John Byrne back in 1989.  I’m actually a bit surprised they are rebooting Action Comics due to it’s history.  I mean, it was about to hit #1000.  But they got Grant Morrison to write it, which is awesome.  He did the spectacular All-Star Superman series with Frank Quitely.  I’ll definitely want to check these out.

Detective Comics 1 Batman 1
Here are the solicits for the Batman reboots. Detective Comics #1 is on the left and Batman #1 is on the right. I like Batman, I’m just not a huge Batman fan. Rebooting Detective Comics back to 1 is interesting to me because of the history (like Action Comics). It also nearly hit 1000. However, also interesting is the fact that this will be the first time that Batman has EVER appeared in a Detective Comics #1 (or #2-26).  I’m surprised they didn’t reboot Detective Comics back to #27.

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Girding my loins for Twilight 4. It’s coming…

Posted in books, movies, pop culture, Twilight with tags , , , , on June 9, 2011 by Paxton

Harlequin Twilight

The Twilight series and I have a…complicated history. I think of us as adversaries, coldly staring at each other over the battlefield of pop culture.  We’ve each taken (and given) our wounds, but we rise up to fight again.  And again.

And again.

I first tried to stop the EMO-ification of badass vampires in the first Twilight movie here.

Not content with completely ruining vampires, Twilight: New Moon set it’s sights on raping awesome werewolves.  See that here.

Twilight: Eclipse at least promised a vampire vs werewolf war, but instead ripped off our sack and stomped it into the pavement.  You can read that loveliness here.

Now, the long road is coming to an end.  There is only one more book left in the saga.  And to make it last as long as f**king possible, Summit Films is splitting the last book into TWO movies (a la Harry Potter).

And we finally have an official trailer for Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part I.

Now, if you’ll pardon me, I have until November 18 to prepare for battle.

My elementary school sticker collection Part II: More Mr T and bumper stickers

Posted in nostalgia, pop culture, stickers with tags , , , , on June 7, 2011 by Paxton

Back in March, I took a look at my elementary school sticker collection. It consisted of some scratch and sniff stickers, puffy Mr T stickers and a crap load of Michael Jackson stickers. It was pretty popular and I got several requests for more awesome 80s sticker goodness. So I’m delivering.

First off, I had a few requests for a better look at the Mr T puffy stickers on the front and back covers of my sticker album. To refresh your memory, here’s the cover to my sticker album.

sticker album cover

So, I scanned the Mr T stickers again and tried to clean them up a bit with Photoshop. Here they are.
Mr T bending a pipe Mr T lifting a semi
On the left we have cartoon, puffy Mr T bending a pipe with his bare, manly hands. The one on the right is probably my favorite, Mr T lifting a f’n semi over his head.  It looks like the two truck tires are reaching down to hug the awesomeness that is cartoon, puffy Mr T.

Mr T Mr T head
Here are two stickers I didn’t actually share in the earlier article. They were on the inside cover of the sticker album. A full body shot of Mr T looking like he’s about to tackle some poor fool (left) and Mr T’s giant head (right).

So, those were the awesome Mr T puffy stickers. They are obviously based on the Mr T cartoon from 1983-1984 that featured Mr T traveling around the country with a group of young gymnasts (!?). Now, let’s take a look at another faction of this sticker collection, bumper stickers. I collected a few bumper stickers around the same time I kept the above sticker album. The majority of the bumper stickers I obtained as prizes/giveaways at my elementary school’s Fall Festival. They were an easy way to promote stuff to us kids.

Here are some of the better ones.

Putt Putt
Here’s a Putt-Putt Golf & Games bumper sticker from the mid-80s. This particular Putt-Putt was located on Hwy 31 in Birmingham right in the middle of Hoover. It was there for me like a good friend all through elementary and high school. It later turned into a Krispy Kreme donuts and then something else which I can’t remember. I’m not sure what is there now.


drunk driving

These bumper stickers are great for the logos alone. This is a MADD sticker (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) that is sponsored by local TV station WBRC6 and Big B Drugs. Big B Drugs was owned by the local Bruno’s Supermarkets and was the precursor to stores like CVS and Walgreens. Big B was bought out by Revco then CVS in the mid-90s. I love that they passed out drunk driving bumper stickers to elementary school kids.

Pepsi Just Say No
What would an 80s bumper sticker collection be without a “Just Say No” sticker? It would be dead inside. So here’s mine, and it has a great 80s Pepsi logo too.

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Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire released 20 years ago

Posted in books, movies, pop culture, Star Wars with tags , , , , , on June 1, 2011 by Paxton

Heir to the Empire

Timothy Zahn’s Heir to the Empire was released at the end of May 1991 which makes it 20 years old. Heir to the Empire was the first “expanded universe” Star Wars novel since the Lando Calrissian solo novels in the 80s. It would become immensely popular and spark an avalanche of Star Wars novels that continues to this day.

The next two books in Zahn’s “Thrawn Trilogy”, Dark Force Rising and The Last Command, were released in 1992 and 1993 respectively.

The Last Command

The characters Zahn created in his trilogy became extremely popular and would be used by other authors for years afterward. Grand Admiral Thrawn, the Empire’s strategic military genius, would be one of the more popular. However Thrawn as a character would not really be written by anyone other than Zahn. Mara Jade would be used by many authors up until the current day. She would go on to marry Luke and have his children. Talon Karrde, smuggler extraordinaire would also prove popular and show up in novels from time to time, as would the New Republic’s military strategist, General Garm Bel Iblis.  Zahn’s three books would also popularize the idea of clones in the Star Wars Universe as well as be the first to use the formal name of the Imperial homeworld (and current Republic homeworld); Coruscant.

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