Archive for January, 2013

Muppet Treasure Island and it’s awesome soundtrack

Posted in movies, music, pop culture with tags , , , , , on January 31, 2013 by Paxton

LEB

So, this week’s topic for the League is “pirates”. Unfortunately, I’ve already extolled the virtues of one of my favorite pirate movies of all time, The Pirate Movie, during it’s 30 year anniversary last year. So, I can’t un-pop that cork. My next best option is to talk about Muppet Treasure Island.  And more specifically, the soundtrack.

Muppet Treasure Island was released in 1996.  It was the second of the Muppet movies, after Muppet Christmas Carol, to be made in partnership with Disney and after Jim Henson’s death.  It starred Tim Curry as Long John Silver and Kevin Bishop as Jim Hawkins.  The movie, financially, was a success earning a higher gross than the last three movies.

The movie itself is funny and clever.  Curry is great as Silver.  Bishop is, well, not awesome.  His voice is really high, like a 6 year old girl.  It’s really sort of annoying.  Other than that I enjoy this movie as much as I enjoy Muppet Christmas Carol.   In general, I see Muppet Christmas Carol as a better movie but Muppet Treasure Island has the better soundtrack.

Now, let’s take a look at that awesome soundtrack with a bunch of very catchy, totally Muppet-style songs that are all pirate themed.

Muppet Treasure Island soundtrack
This exists. And I own it.

Here are some of my favorite songs from the soundtrack.

Shiver My Timbers is the song that plays over the opening credits featuring pirates burying treasure on an island. Treasure Island. It’s very dark and is very chant-like. It’s probably my favorite song, and it’s totally pirate-y.

Cabin Fever is my second favorite song. It features the cast singing about having “cabin fever” while sailing out at sea. It’s absurd and over-the-top and completely bananas. That’s why I love it. It has a distinctly “islands” feel to it with the steel drums. My favorite lyric in the song:

“Cabin fever has grabbed us all aboard,
This once fine vessel has become a floating psycho ward.”

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Nerd Lunch Episode 70: Non-Super Hero Comics

Posted in comic books, podcast, pop culture with tags , , , , , , on January 29, 2013 by Paxton

Nerd Lunch Podcast

Welcome to Episode 70 of the Nerd Lunch podcast. This week we are joined by Michael May of Michael May’s Adventureblog and Robot 6. Michael joins us on this episode to talk about comics. Non super hero comics.

Lady Cop Seeker 3000

You know, the stuff without super heroes. Yes, there are comics without super heroes. We talk about stuff like Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth, Y: The Last Man, Groo, Conan, monster comics and a bunch of other sh*t I never read.

Download this episode from iTunes or listen to it on Feedburner.

Or listen to it online right here.

Bionic Review: Wine, Woman and War (1973)

Posted in Bionic Man, movies, pop culture, Six Million Dollar Man, TV shows with tags , , , , , , on January 28, 2013 by Paxton

Bionic Review
SMDM Movies

After the original Six Million Dollar Man TV movie, there were two more produced and both of them aired in 1973. The first was called Wine, Women and War and aired on Oct 20, 1973.  Here’s an ad from a 1973 newspaper featuring the TV listing for this movie.  Lee Majors’ picture is on the right, the blub about the movie is in bold in the far left column.

SMDM - Wine Women War

Wine, Women and War doesn’t go directly to the action, it actually has an opening title sequence. And it’s an awesomely 70s opening sequence with an awesomely 70s theme song by Dusty Springfield. Check it out.

“Catch him if you can, feed him if you can, love if you CAAAAAAAAAAAN!  He’s the Six Million Dollar MAAAAAAAN!”  Amazing, isn’t it?

So, right off the bat we see a few things that are new.  Richard Anderson debuts as Oscar Goldman and Alan Oppenheimer debuts as Rudy Wells taking the place of Martin Balsam.  You also notice the absence of Darren McGavin as Oliver Spenser.  This movie was sort of an overhaul of the Six Million Dollar Man as far as the cast goes.  Only Lee majors would remain.  The weekly television series would have been in production at this point as its debut was only months away in Jan 1974.  I assume the player pieces were falling into place.  The story concepts were still being worked out, though, as the story for this movie is essentially, “What if James Bond were bionic?”.  This movie is a complete rip-off of the Bond franchise.  Austin is treated as the debonair super-spy.

smdm_www_title2

So the story begins with Austin on assignment in Egypt to steal an arms dealer’s catalog. In classic Bond fashion we see Austin pull off his wet suit to reveal a fully dry tux underneath.  Later, during the action, Austin’s female companion is killed. Afterwards Steve is reluctant to go out on another assignment so Oscar arranges for a vacation. However Oscar doesn’t tell Steve that the vacation is actually his next assignment, just manipulated by OSI agents that are following along to look like a vacation. Oscar can be kind of a dick. Although we do get to see Steve mistake a lady who is flirting with him on his plane for a prostitute. That was pretty funny.  And plenty of other Bond-like double entendres ensue throughout the movie.

So Steve discovers Oscar’s ruse and stumbles upon the trail of the previously mentioned arms dealer and Steve goes after him hoping to get revenge for his companion’s death.  Like I said, all very Bond-like.

Honestly, on one level it totally works.  It’s just so absurd and contrary to the Austin we come to know in the TV series that it’s almost fun to watch.

I can recommend this, but honestly, you can’t really watch it as a Six Million Dollar Man movie/episode. It’s a spy movie that just happens to have Steve Austin, the bionic man.

Review of Oz Book 12: The Tin Woodman of Oz (1918)

Posted in books, Classic literature, pop culture, Wizard of Oz with tags , , , , , on January 21, 2013 by Paxton

Following the Yellow Brick Road

The twelfth book in Baum’s Oz series was The Tin Woodman of Oz and it was published in 1918.

Tin Woodman of Oz

This was a surprisingly good book that actually has a very relevant title as opposed to a few other books in this series (I’m looking at you, Tik-Tok of Oz).  And the book’s plot fills in a lot of back story to the original Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Ol’ Nick Chopper and The Wizard (he actually has no name and is only ever called The Wizard or Little Wizard) are telling tales in Chopper’s palace in the Winkie country.  A wandering Gillikin boy named Woot arrives at the palace and begins asking how Tin Man became tin.  Nick tells his origin in more detail about the witch Mombi cursing his axe and having his limbs cut off one by one.  After each limb is cut off, he goes to a tinsmith friend of his named Ku-Klip to replace the limb until he was entirely made out of tin.  After his accidents, Nick felt it wasn’t fair to marry his sweetheart, Nimmie Amee, since he didn’t truly love her any more due to not having a heart.  So he leaves.  This reminiscing causes Chopper to wonder what Amee is doing and to realize that he really should have married her like he promised.

So Nick Chopper, the Scarecrow, the Wizard and Woot travel to Munchkinland to see if Amee will still marry the tin woodman.  They meet lots of adventures on the way and even come upon another tin man in the munchkin forest.  This new tin man was a soldier named Capt Fyter who also fell in love with Nimmie Amee and had his sword cursed by Mombi in the exact same way as Nick Chopper.  Which of course led him to Ku-Klip.  He was caught in the forest many years ago and rusted in a rain storm.  Obviously shocked by the similar circumstances of their creation this leads the group to seek out Ku-Klip the tinsmith to discover the whereabouts of Nimmie Amee.  They also discover that Ku-Klip used the cut off human body parts of Nick Chopper and the Tin Soldier to create another person, Chopfyt (combination of the two names Chopper and Fyter).

From there they travel across Oz to where Nimmie currently resides to see if she wants to marry one of the tin men.

Aside from the copious amounts of back story we get on Nick Chopper, we also get a lot of back story about the Land of Oz itself.  We learn that Oz wasn’t always a magical fairyland in which no one ages or dies.  We learn that a fairy queen named Lurline bestowed upon Oz the fairy status and left one of her fairies to be its guardian.  That fairy is Ozma.  This sort of flies in the face of the second book, Marvelous Land of Oz, in which it was said that Ozma was just a long lost royal who was rightly returned to her family’s throne.  Regardless,  I really like this new back story.  It was interesting from the beginning and Baum had a few nice surprises in store.  I also really liked meeting Ku-Klip, the tinsmith who created the Tin Woodman.

From what I’ve read, the Oz books had begun to decline in popularity right before this book, but it became a huge hit and started a resurgence in Oz popularity.  It even carried over into some of Baum’s other non-Oz books like John Dough and the Cherub.

Below is my checklist of Oz books.  I’ve crossed off the ones I’ve currently read.  Next up, The Magic of Oz. Oz books checklist

Nerd Lunch Episode 68: Failed movie toy lines

Posted in movies, nostalgia, podcast, pop culture, toys with tags , , , , , on January 16, 2013 by Paxton

Nerd Lunch Podcast

This week we are joined by Kirk Howle from Schlock Treatment who follows his podcast colleague Doug from last week. Unfortunately, Jeeg was not able to join us so we called in 4th chair regular Shawn Robare to fill in. The topic this week is failed movie toy lines.

The Shadow figure

We talk about a few movie toy lines that work and why we think they work.  We then parlay that into some movie toy lines that failed and why we think they failed.  Movie toys we discuss involve Star Wars, The Lone Ranger, The Shadow, Dick Tracy and several more you probably didn’t even realize existed.

Get your fix for both movie and toy nostalgia with this week’s episode and download this episode from iTunes or listen to it on Feedburner.

Or listen to it online here.

The Real West: Kenner’s failed western toy line from 1980

Posted in 80s, Billy the Kid, movies, pop culture with tags , , , , on January 15, 2013 by Paxton

LEB

I’m a big fan of westerns.  Movies, books, comics, toys.  Whatever.  If you listen to episode 68 of the Nerd Lunch podcast, you will hear me lamenting the lack of good western toy lines on shelves today.  The best western toy line is probably the Gabriel Lone Ranger toys from the 70s and 80s.  Most especially the large scale toys and accessories.  Here’s an ad for a western town for the Gabriel 3-3/4″ Lone Ranger toys.

Gabriel Lone Ranger

Gabriel also released a 12″ scale Lone Ranger series of figures.  Both were extremely popular and set the standard for well done western figures.  However, there aren’t many other toy lines that even tried to create western figures, other than generically packed cowboy figures on sale in the discount aisles of Wal-Mart.  See the True Heroes Wild West Action Figure Playset 5-Pack.  To be fair, the True Heroes stuff is actually fairly well made for generic figures.  Check out the True Heroes Wild West Sheriff’s Town Playset.  Like I said, actually not that bad.  But it’s generic.  I want a figure line that’s more specific.

The toys I actually want to talk about today I briefly mentioned in the latest episode of Nerd Lunch.  I consider it to be the closest we’ll get to an actual, well realized “Legends of the Old West” action figure line.  It was first made by Kenner in 1979 as a tie in to the movie Butch and Sundance – The Early Days.  The movie was a prequel to the classic 1969 western Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford, respectively.  The movie had a nice compliment of stars.  Tom Berenger played Butch, William Katt played Sundance, Peter Weller played La Fors, Christopher Lloyd played Carver and Brian Dennehy played Hanks.  The studio had high hopes for the movie and created a toy line featuring figures of the characters.  Here are pics of the carded figures of the title characters.

Butch Sundance
(via Toys You Had)

There were also figures of La Fors, Sheriff Bledsoe and Hanks.  Kenner also produced the hero’s horses, Bluff and Spurs, as well as an awesome armored stagecoach called The Mint Wagon.  Here they are in a Kenner catalog from 1980.

Horses and Mint Wagon
(Via Plaid Stallions)

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My reactions to the 2013 Oscar Nominations

Posted in Academy Awards, movies, Oscars with tags , , , on January 11, 2013 by Paxton

Oscars Wild!

The Academy released the 2013 Oscar nominations for this year.  Being the big movie fan/Oscar dork that I am I usually like to take a look at the most popular categories and give you some of my thoughts on the decisions.  I’ve done this sort of recap since 2007 (for the 2006 movie year).  To see my previous reactions to the Oscar nominations go to the Oscars Wild archive page.

Now, let’s take a look at the “money” categories and judge how the Academy did this year.

Argo
Best Picture
Argo – This movie is excellent. I’m actually somewhat pissed at myself for not including it on my favorite movies of 2012 list, but it completely slipped my mind while I was writing.  Ben Affleck is 3-for-3 when directing movies.  And this one is the best one of the three.
Django Unchained – This, however, did make my favorite movies list.  It’s awesome and fun and 100% Tarantino.
Les Miserables – I like broadway shows.  However I have little to no desire to watch this despite the amazing cast.  The story looks depressing.
Life of Pi – Again, I have no desire to watch this.  The visuals look amazing but from the clips I’ve seen the movie looks too dreamy and weird.
Amour – There’s always one of these.  Literally never heard of this movie until today when they were making the announcements.  It’s about two married retired music teachers, one of which has a stroke and their love is tested……zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Lincoln – This looks amazing.  I need to see it ASAP.
Silver Linings Playbook – This has been on my radar for a while, and the fact that it’s getting all these noms bumps it up higher on my priorities.
Zero Dark Thirty – I’m not a military/war movie guy.  I just don’t like them, but this looks pretty good.
Beasts of the Southern Wild – Now there are two of these.  Never heard of this.  No desire to see it.  Sounds like a documentary on Neo Geo.

<RANT>I’m a little pissed that Marvel’s The Avengers didn’t make it into these Best Picture nominations.  You can’t tell me that Beasts of the Southern Wild and Amour aren’t a giant F**K YOU to Whedon and Marvel.  The Avengers received 1 nomination.  For Visual Effects.  Just THREE YEARS AGO f**king Avatar (special effects heavy, tent pole studio release similar to The Avengers) received NINE Oscar nominations including an appearance in Best Picture.  But the Academy has historically proven that they enjoy licking James Cameron’s hairy bean bag whenever they get a chance.</RANT>

Flight
Actor in a Leading Role
Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook – I am a fan of “The Cooper”. And I mentioned earlier that this movie has crawled itself into my “must see” list.
Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln – Day-Lewis is intense and always great. I don’t always love his movies but I nearly always love watching the man perform his characters.
Hugh Jackman in Les Miserables – Good thing Hugh got this one in because I’m thinking he won’t be here next year for The Wolverine.
Joaquin Phoenix in The Master – Not a fan of Joaquin the man, or the actor. I liked him in Walk the Line as Johnny Cash and as Commodus in Gladiator. Other than that, I pretty much dislike everything he does.
Denzel Washington in Flight – Man, I really wanted to see this movie. I’ve have been digging everything Denzel has been doing for the last 10 years or so. And this movie looks GREAT. Good to see Zemekis may have a hit on his hands.

Zero Dark Thirty
Actress in a Leading Role
Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty – Like I said, I don’t like military/war movies but this looks good and she looks good in it.
Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook – I really like Jennifer Lawrence and pairing her with Bradley Cooper is win-win. For everyone.
Emmanuelle Riva in Amour – Whatever.
Quvenzhané Wallis in Beasts of Southern Wild – It’s impressive that at 9 years old she’s getting nominated.
Naomi Watts in The Impossible – And the “tsunami movie” gets a nom. I’m surprised it didn’t also make it into best picture. The Academy loves nominating these natural disaster movies especially if they portray real events. See United 93.

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