Archive for anniversary

Star Wars Celebration II: The 10 Year Anniversary

Posted in movies, pop culture, Star Wars with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 3, 2012 by Paxton

Star Wars Roadtrip

This weekend marks the 10th anniversary of Star Wars Celebration II.  The event started on May 3, 2002 and went until May 5, 2002.

SWC2 autographed card

I was there with my friend Jason Collier.  Above is a card advertising the event.  It’s autographed by Daniel Logan, the kid who played Boba Fett, and RA Salvatore who wrote the novelization.

Jason and I also attended Star Wars Celebration I in Denver.  I talked about Celebration I on it’s 10th anniversary in 2009.

So Celebration I was held in Denver. The powers-that-be decided to move it to what they thought was a more “central” location. It was announced that Celebration II would be held at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, IN. Honestly, I was a bit excited about the announcement. I’d never been to Indianapolis and I heard it was a really nice city. So with my wife’s blessings Jason and I planned our second trip to a Star Wars Celebration.

Right away, this convention proved that it was going to be a lot more “formal” than the last convention. There was going to be a proper “Autograph Alley” where fans could get autographs of their favorite stars which Celebration I didn’t have. And there were going to be really big stars putting in appearances like Hayden Christensen, the newly minted Anakin Skywalker, Carrie Fisher, Billy Dee Williams and the return of Anthony Daniels as emcee of the festivities. Also, there was going to be a LOT more convention merchandise as well as an exclusive action figure developed to be sold only at Celebration. This Celebration was shaping up to be a “real” convention as opposed to the loose “gathering” of Celebration I.

Jason and I bought three days passes, which had a picture of Hayden as Anakin.

SWC2 3 day passes

Celebration I had Darth Maul on the three day pass.

I took off work on Thursday and Friday and we arrived in Indianapolis on Thursday night and showed up at the convention several hours early on Friday morning.  Here’s the front of the RCA Dome. I was able to catch it when the sign flashed up Star Wars.

SWC2 RCA Dome

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Return of the Jedi: Special Edition was released 15 years ago today

Posted in movies, Star Wars with tags , , , , , on March 14, 2012 by Paxton

This one is really hard to believe for me, but the entire Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition release happened 15 years ago in early 1997. More specifically, Return of the Jedi: Special Edition was released 15 years ago TODAY.

SW: SpEd
ESB: SpEd
ROTJ: SpEd

It was originally planned to be released on March 7, and many posters actually reflect that date, but Lucasfilm delayed the release a week due to the popularity of the first two re-releases.

Here’s the 1997 trailer for the release of the entire trilogy.  I remember seeing it for the first time in front of Jingle All The Way.

For those that ventured out to see Return of the Jedi: Special Edition in theaters, it’s possible you received a free action figure.  Select theaters passed out free “Theater Edition” Jedi Luke action figures.

SE Luke
(Via X-Entertainment)

I however didn’t get one. I was in my last year of college when I saw this in the theater and saw it at a small place in Auburn, AL that didn’t have them. I would have to acquire mine several years later.

I’m not a fan of all the changes Lucas made in this “special edition” of the trilogy, but honestly, I enjoy many of the upgraded effects and new scenes. Especially some of the subtle stuff that was added to Empire Strikes Back.

To date, the changes I hate the most are Greedo shooting first and the new Jabba scene in A New Hope and the new musical number in Return of the Jedi.  And I’m baffled why they changed the Ewok celebration music.  I actually enjoyed that (even though the new one is actually pretty good, too).

“That Vanilla Ice movie” turns 20 years old

Posted in movies, pop culture, reviews, Vanilla Ice with tags , , , , on November 23, 2011 by Paxton

Cool as Ice
(Via sts999999)

Vanilla Ice gifted us his movie, Cool as Ice, 20 years ago. It debuted in October 1991. And the world would never be the same.  I was going to mention this last month but I was kinda busy.

The movie is a rap-oriented remake of Rebel Without a Cause. The female lead was originally going to be Gwyneth Paltrow until her father, Bruce Dern, advised her against it (good call). Other pop culture celebrities in this movie include Bobbie Brown, the mega hottie in Warrant’s Cherry Pie video and Mr Keaton himself, Michael Gross.

If you are super curious and want to watch this awesome 80s train wreck, you can stream it on Netflix. Trust me, watch it. It’s so quotable and it’s amazing to watch Vanilla Ice beat up like 4 bullies in one fight.  You will not be disappointed.  This movie is terrible.  But awesomely so.

Check out the ground breaking trailer.

Two unlikely movies celebrating 25 year anniversaries today

Posted in 80s, movies, pop culture with tags , , on August 1, 2011 by Paxton

Two diametrically opposite movies began playing in theaters on August 1, 1986, 25 years ago today.

The first movie was the infamous Howard the Duck.  Featuring a woman falling in love with a duck and an early appearance of Tim Robbins.  This movie nearly ruined Lucasfilm.

Howard the Duck

The second movie was Friday the 13th VI: Jason Lives.  This installment is arguably one of the best movies in the Jason franchise.  Jason had died in the last movie, so a lightning strike would revive him and begin the reign of “zombie Jason”.  Plus it features the third actor to play the character of Tommy Jarvis.

Jason Lives

Check out the trailer for both of these movies at Held Over.

Billy the Kid Week 2011: Review of Pat Garret’s The Authentic Life of Billy, the Kid

Posted in Billy the Kid, books, pop culture, reviews with tags , , , , , on July 14, 2011 by Paxton

Billy the Kid Week

Billy the Kid, aka William H Bonney, aka Henry McCarty, was killed by sheriff Pat Garrett in Fort Sumner, New Mexico 130 years ago today.  All this week I am celebrating the anniversary of Billy’s death by reading and reviewing books about the enigmatic outlaw.

Today I am reviewing the book about Billy.  The main source of most of our information about him.  The book was released within a year after Billy was killed and written by the main who killed him, Sheriff Pat Garret.  That book is called The Authentic Life of Billy, the Kid.  Before I get started, I want to say I’m sorry if this runs a little long.  It’s just such a seminal work in Old West literature and a very important book for me personally because of my enthusiasm for the subject matter.  I’ll try to keep it short, but I may let my enthusiasm get away with me.

An Authentic Life early printing Authentic Life of Billy the Kid orange cover

The two covers above are for one of the original printings of Garrett’s book around 1882 (left) and the more recent printing of the book in the Oklahoma Library Press Western Frontier series (right).  The latter printing being the one I read.  The official title of the book tends to change a bit with each edition.  The title page of the edition I read has An Authentic Life of Billy, The Kid: The Noted Desperado of the Southwest Whose Deeds of Daring and Blood Made His Name a Terror in New Mexico, Arizona and Northern Mexico.  The cover of the earlier edition just has An Authentic Life of Billy the Kid The Noted Desperado of the Southwest.  It was ghost written by Ashmun Upson, a sheriff buddy of Pat.

Death of Billy the Kid by Poe

This book is considered the authority, but many people don’t realize there was another first hand account of Billy’s death.  John Poe, a deputy who rode with Garrett the night Billy was killed, wrote his version of the events of that night.  It was released in Wild World Magazine in 1919 and then collected into a hardcover titled The Death of Billy the Kid in 1933 (cover above). Poe’s account mostly matches up with Garrett’s but there are a few inconsistencies between the two.

I got Garrett’s book off Paperbackswap.com. You can also buy copies from Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com. Or, if you prefer, you can just read it for free on the internet.  I’ve wanted to read this book for years and I thought the 130th anniversary of Billy’s death is as good a time as any.

This book is an interesting read.  It’s fascinating on many levels.  It’s a first hand account of events in the Old West. That alone is interesting.  Plus, it details the events in Billy’s life by someone who knew him and it supposedly details the events of his death by the man who killed him.  However, it’s obvious that this book was a PR move by Sheriff Garrett.  Billy was very popular with the people of New Mexico and the way Garrett supposedly killed Billy in the dark in what can only be called a surprise ambush was certainly frowned upon.  Garrett needed something to “clear the air” and tell his side of the story…however true that side was.  Immediately several things are called into question.  The first half of the book is obviously written by Ashmun Upson in the style of the old “dime novels”.  The events in Billy’s life are portrayed in fantastic style.  Plus, many of the supposed events are suspiciously similar to tales of outlaw daring-do from other dime novels.  Some of the wording of the stories isn’t even changed from stories printed in the 1840s.  The last half is written in straight forward frontier prose by Sheriff Garrett.  He meticulously tells the tell of his hunting down and killing of The Kid.

However, his events and details don’t really mesh up with each other and he contradicts himself several times.  A few days before he kills Billy, Garrett mentions that his party stumbled upon some voices talking in an orchard.  They could also see a shadowy figure walking around but couldn’t identify him.  Garrett would later find out it was, in fact, Billy.  Then, on the night of the killing, Garrett says he couldn’t see Billy’s face but he immediately recognized his voice.  If he could easily recognize just Billy’s voice, why didn’t he in the orchard?

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25th Anniversary Review of John Byrne’s Man of Steel Part II

Posted in 80s, comic books, pop culture, Superman with tags , , , , on July 7, 2011 by Paxton

Superman Week

John Byrne’s historic six issue mini series, The Man of Steel, just turned 25 years old.  The series would (re)introduce Superman after the Crisis on Infinite Earths mega event which finished up early Summer 1986.  I am reviewing the series for it’s 25th anniversary. On Wednesday, I reviewed issues #1 – 3. Today, I’m going to review issues #4-6.  For more information about Crisis on Infinite Earths, see my article on Strange Kid’s Club here.

MOS 4
Issue 4 gives us a full introduction to the new Lex Luthor. Instead of the bald mad scientist we all know, Lex has been re-imagined into more of a business mogul, a la Donald Trump. And I think it works much better. In the beginning of this issue, Clark and Lois are going to a party thrown by Lex, so Lois shows up at Clark’s apartment to pick him up. We see several awesome panels of Clark shaving with his heat vision and Lois discovering Clark’s barbells which he keeps to explain why he is in such great shape. But Lois comments they are too light for Clark to keep such a great figure and Clark has to mentally remind himself to get heavier weights (he can’t judge very well because he has super strength). Clark and Lois then head to the event on Luthor’s yacht and it is besieged by terrorists during the party. Superman saves the day, takes down the terrorists, and then Luthor tries to hire him into his payroll all while explaining that he knew the terrorists were going to hijack the boat but he did nothing so he could see Superman in action. The mayor was in attendance and justifiably angry that Lex put all of his party goers in danger, so he has Superman arrest Luthor.  Luthor’s lawyers have him out in less than two hours but afterwards he confronts Superman and literally threatens to kill him in front of everyone in the city in the near future.  And boasts that he’ll never be arrested for it.  It’s intense.

MOS 5
In issue 5, Byrne starts things off with a clever inside joke.  There is a great shot of Superman holding up Luthor’s green battle armor from the Kenner Super Powers toy line.  A sly little reference that illustrates why I love Byrne’s writing.  Anyway, this issue introduces Bizarro although he’s never really called that within the story.  In the beginning, we see Superman holding the aforementioned green armor in front of Luthor accusing him of a bunch of things having to do with that armor.  Luthor, of course, feigns ignorance and lists out all the reasons why Superman can’t prove Luthor had anything to with the armor.  Realizing he has no proof, Superman leaves while proclaiming that he will someday make Luthor pay for all of his crimes.  While he was in the office, Luthor scanned Superman’s cellular structure with the intent of creating a super duplicate. The results are immediately fed into a cloning tank (instead of waiting to properly analyze the data) that seemingly successfully creates a duplicate of Superman. However, the duplication process was built on the assumption Superman was a mutated human being and the discrepancy caused the duplicate to fail and collapse (which, as I said, could have been avoided by properly analyzing the data first). Luthor, now armed with the knowledge that Superman is an alien, orders the duplicate destroyed.  Next, we meet Lois’ blind sister Lucy. She is so distraught by her recent loss of sight that she attempts to jump off the balcony of her sister’s apartment. Bizarro saves her (we have to assume he escaped because we aren’t told), but she’s blind so she thinks it’s Superman. Superman runs into Bizarro, who has disguised himself as a Bizarro-Clark, and immediately gets into a fistfight with him (sort of a hallmark of Byrne’s Superman). They battle each other for the rest of the issue throughout downtown Metropolis. Finally, Bizarro and Superman collide in a spectacular mid-air collision that reduces Bizarro to a fine dust that falls over Lucy Lane and cures her blindness.  We are led to believe that the creature somehow knew its sacrifice would cure Lucy’s blindness.

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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.