Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Awesomest movie casting -Jem & the Holograms

Ok, this has been floating around the internet for some time now..the prospect that Hasbro will produce a movie based on it's 1980's line of toys and cartoon, Jem and the Holograms. And it's about time! Jem is so thoroughly 80's, so cloyingly "girly", and so deserving of a re-boot that it's producers only have to "not fail" to make this a huge hit. "Jem", of course, was actually Jerrica Benton, owner of "Starlight Music" and "Starlight House", a foster home for girls who never stopped dressing like it was the 80's. Jerrica transforms herself into the pink-mopped glamour-puss Jem by touching her pointy earrings and saying "showtime, Synergy", which is the cue for a sophisticated computer program (thoughtfully also named Synergy) to encase Jerrica in the hologram image of the titular diva.

Backed by her band The Holograms, Jem & her plucky gal-pals sing, dance and foil the plots of their evil rival Eric Raymond and his band of anti-Holograms called "The Misfits". The Misfits are three rude gals fronted by lead-bully "Pizzazz", who, though accurately boasting in the show's title song that "our songs are better", never seem to defeat Jem despite their outpouring of nasty tricks. Jem is also caught in a weird love triangle with the band's manager/roadie, the pouty, purple-haired "Rio", who breathlessly pursues both Jerrica and Jem...who is Jerrica....but she won't tell Add to this mix music-video performances by both The Holograms and The Misfits (which, for the Holograms included rainbows, unicorns, stars, pegasuses and estrogen, and for the Misfits; footballs, giantism and littering) made Jem & The Holograms easily the most "truly outrageous" plastic fashion doll endorsement ever conceived!!

Now for the movie! I'm not sure when or if this thing will ever get produced, but here's the suggestions by AGF (awesome girl-friend) and myself. See if you agree.

Jem: Taylor Swift. Who could be better? Taylor Swift is already pretty-much a living, singing plastic fashion doll. All she needs are those ninja-star earrings and she's got it made!

Pizzazz: Lady Gaga. Others have suggested this and we agree it's the best casting ever! Pizzazz is angular, talented and totaly lacking in conventional fashion-sense, just like Lady Gaga!! Think of how awesome the soundtrack album would be with her contribution. But that's not about:

Synergy: Katy Perry. Another "truly outrageous" fashionista, Katy Perry would be the perfect model for the near-omnipotent, sentient computer program. She could even sing "pre-teenage Dream" for the soundtrack.

Eric Raymond: Neal Patrick Harris. What can we say? NPH looks great in a three-piece suit, and is able to reek arrogance as evidenced by his role in How I Met Your Mother. Actually, we think NPH should take the lead in developing this project!!

Rio Pacheco: Robert Pattinson. Already used to producing a vacant and breathless character in the Twilight series, Pattinson whuold just have to roll up his sleeves and dye his hair purple, and you have the perfect dazed and longing Rio.

The Holograms/ The Misfits: cast members from Glee/ American Idol. With all the star-power in the casting listed above, we feel the bands should not be populated with too many big names, and since these folks are already used to starring in teen-angst soap-operas, we feel they would easily fit in as band members.

So there you have it! The best cast ever for the Jem & The Holograms movie. Neal Patrick Harris...are you listening to this??? It's up to you now!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

B.I.G. movie lines!!

Who doesn't love classic movie dialogue? Of course, I'm not talking about lines like "You played it for her, you can play it for me", or "The, uh, stuff dreams are made of". I'm thinking of those great, creative and often bewildering lines of dialogue found in those amazing 50's drive-in classics!

If you're looking to mine excellent dialogue, you should start by watching the movies of film-maker extraodonaire, Bert I. Gordon. Dubbed "Mr. B.I.G" by Famous Monsters editor Forry Ackerman, Bert filmed some of the most entertaining low-budget movies of the 50's and 60's. These movies entranced us monster kids growing up and, while some of their technical achievements may seem a bit "low tech" by today's standards (common exclamations include "hey! they're just grashoppers climbing on a post-card!",and "hey! I can see right through that rocket ship!"), their entertainment value is second to none! (Actually, some of the effects still stand up pretty well! It took me three viewings to realize the "puppet people" stored in jars in "Attack of the Puppet People" were just slightly curved photographs)

Due to the fantastical nature of his movies, it was probably inevitable that some lines ended up coming across as a little, oh, let's say weird. Here's a sampling of some of my faves from two of his movies:

King Dinosaur (1955) The crew of a space ship land on the planet "Nova", where they are imperiled by giant dinosaurs. Their only chance of escape is summed up by the ship's doctor when he exclaimed "I brought the atom bomb. I think this is a good time to use it!" Oh, when is it not a good time to break out the old atom bomb? They're as useful as WD-40! (also in this picture, we see the credit "featuring Little Joe-the honey bear". As far as I know, this was "Little Joe's" only movie credit before he changed his name, possibly to "Gentle Ben" or "Yogi Bear")

War of the Colossal Beast (1958) A sequel to "The Amazing Colossal Man" where an unfortunate air force colonel gets irradiated, only to grow into a surley giant wearing an "expandable sarong", for which the giant credits "army ingenuity" (hey, I'm impressed!! How many armies could whip us a giant expandable sarong??). In this sequel, the giant, Col. Glenn Manning, is found to be alive and stomping through Mexico. In tracking him down, a puruer exclaims "Giants can run fast, They have long legs". Perhaps Glenn has a shot at the Rockettes with them amazing gams of his. When the pursuers find giant footprints, they exclaim "What ever made these fotprints must be 60 feet tall.", to which Glenn's sister, Joyce, exclaims, "Glenn is 60 feet tall!". Could the two be related some how??????

Of course, Mr. B.I.G. didn't have a monopoly on great lines. In the excellent movie Kronos (1957) a giant cubist robot from "up there" is sent to Earth to drain all it's power and return it to it's owners, the Ray-O-Vac company. Brave scientists led by Dr. Leslie Gaskell (played by the breathless Jeff Morrow) search for a way to stop the robot at (at one point Gaskell laments that he's possibly "pulled the scientific boner of all time"). Not impressed by this feat, Kronos continues to piston across the countryside, until the good guys hit upon the idea of reversing his electrical change by dropping something like robot itch powder on him from a jet plane. On his approach towards the target, the pilot asks the control tower "Can you pinpoint the target for me?". Oh, I don't know..... could it possibly be that 200' tall alien robot???

As you can see...endless, timeless entertainment from Mr. Gordon and others of his vintage!! Thanks for the great times, Bert!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Archie's Sound Effects

Having researched Archie comics ads, I thought I'd say a few words about their sound effects. Words like "brrrrf". Having mainly read super-hero or horror/fantasy comics as a kid, I was used to seeing sound effects and random vocalizations depicted in the comics. What book wouldn't benefit from the insertion of a "thwack", "skreeee" or "ba-da-bum"? When words failed the hero, victim or outrageous creature, a simple "graaough" "hnuuuh" or the ever-popular "aieeee" sufficed (with 'aieee', the more 'eeeee's' at the end of the word, the more terrifying the situation).

Archie, however, had it's own lexicon of onomatopoeia. When someone laughed, it wasn't "ha" or "har", it was usually "hyuk" or "hyok". Actions like slobbering or smootching were clearly represented with the words "slobber" or "smootch". My personal favorite, however has to be "brrrrf", as it neither copies a sound or utterance one would make in any situation, nor is it an idetifiable verb or adjective. What was it supposed to be showing in this example? Dread? Fear? Flatulance? Grinding teeth? The sound of a chain-saw not shown in the panel? It's still a mystery to me, but the more I look at it, the more I think I'll try to work "brrrf" into my vocabulary. "The car won't start....brrrf". I just won the lottery....brrrf". "Your Uncle is coming to live with us.....brrrrrrrrrrrrf". Yep, this will work out well. Happy "brrrf" everyone.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Comic Ads Part Deux

If you read this blog you've already seen my previous post regarding the wonder and mystery of some of the comic book ads I saw as a kid. In all fairness, these were only the ads I'd see in copies of Spiderman, The Flash, or Magnus, Robot Fighter. There was, however, an alternate world of comic ads, one aimed at the predominantly feminine audience found among the readers of Archie comics!

Archie, of couse, is that perpetually teenage carrot-top with the odd cross-hatching scratched on the side of his head. Abley assisted by his friend with the tape-worm, Jughead, and pursued by the uber-feminine Betty and Veronica, Archie indulged in hilarious "hi-jinx" that ranged from getting his "japoly" working to fighting crime and solving mysteries (though the mystery of Jughead's orientation, a topic of debates for generations, has never been satisfactorally solved). Guys would occasionally read Archie comics; while waiting for a hair-cut (if there were no copies of "Sgt. Rock" or "Kid Colt, Outlaw" available) or to pass the time at the cabin until the rain stopped, but for the most part it was the girls who enjoyed reading about what they could expect when they reached High School (boys just read about what they could expect if they were bombarded with cosmic rays, which seemed infinitely more useful to us at the time).

Consequently, the ads in Archie comics tended to be aimed more towards young girls who were eager to begin lives as happy and popular young women. In order to do this, they apparently needed to be equipped with "sassy sayings" pendants, to let the world know if they were "Hot Stuff", a "Foxy Lady" or a "Super Chick". Some, like "His" and Hers" seemed to be aimed at young Juliets who already had a Romeo in tow. My personal favorite of the group is "Tennis Bum", an endearment that suggests both hair that is tragically too big, and shorts that are tragically too small.

Needing "Longer Nails" seemed to be an urget health issue, so the next ads offered
"Longer Nails in Minutes". For only $1.98, the unfortunate girl could transform her nails that are "cracked", "ugly" and an abomination to all that's decent, into glamorous back-scratchers that would be the envy of the sandbox set. Unlike her class-mates, pets, or clergy, "sta-long" nails would truly be a "girl's best friend".

But one doesn't really want to grow up too fast. To help retain that childhood innocence, the reader also had the option of buying 100 dolls! "Don't shake your head in disbelief, It's True!" the ad promised; each guaranteed to be made of "genuine styrene and synthetic rubber". Everything from baby dolls, dancing dolls, cowboy dolls and "foreign" dolls were promised, the last possibly being espionage dolls sent by a foreign power to steal our styrene secrets.

Like the monsterous ads, I never actually met a kid who ordered any of these, but I knew a lot who wanted to. Oddly enough, few were "tennis bums" or "hot stuff".

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ah Christmas!! Catalogue Time!

Well, Halloween is over and, as every right-thinking monster kid knows, traditionally this was the time we started our serious planning for Christmas. Of course by planning, I mean we poured over Christmas catalogues with the intensity of little Howard Carters uncovering the tomb of King Tut. I know that I, personally, never employed as much scrutiny on any of my homework assignments as I did over the toy section of the old Eaton's, then later Sears catalogues. And Why not? The Christmas catalogues always arrived wrapped in a brown paper sleeve, hinting discreetly that the contents were sure to blow your mind, and were not safe to risk allowing them to casually flip open in front of, say, expectant mothers or people taking nitrates for heart conditions.

Toy sections were usually somewhere in the middle of the catalogue, after ladies undergarments and orthopedic shoes, but before pole lamps and canned fruits and nuts. The toy section was usually arranged by age and gender, with nondescript infant and toddler toys taking up the first few pages. No need to waste time here! The next few pages were often board games. Pause for a bit...there could be something interesting! Games like Battleship and Risk always looked cool, and the old stand-bys like Clue or Trouble would always have been a pleasant surprise. Some games appeared in the catalogue for decades, despite the fact I never knew a kid who ever owned one. A prime example was a game with a little suction-cup dart pistol, where the goal was apparently to shoot a chicken to cause it to lay a plastic egg. I never had the chance to try this one, but I'm sure it caused no end of havoc with boys who were raised on chicken farms who were desperate to re-create the effect in real life.

Moving on, there was usually a large section of girls toys. Very gender-role specific girls toys, which I'm sure would cause upset in some circles today. The Easy-Bake Oven, toy stoves and baby carriages and dolls galore. I have to admit, curiosity caused me to pause here every now and then, usually to try to get some glimpse into the workings of the unfathomable alien mind of the 8 year old girl.

Finally, patience ans sweaty palms pushed to the limit, I reached the boy's section. Glorious! Here, insulated from the true spirit of Christmas, was a treasure trove of action, adventure and mayhem. My personal-favorite pages involved either that 12 inch arsenal of democracy known as G.I. Joe, or his slightly smaller and bendier space explorer counterpart, Major Matt Mason! It would have been, not only inaccurate, but an outrage to refer to these figures as "dolls", especially in front of the young consumer drooling over their potentialites. These, my friend, were action figures, a name denoting thrills, adventure and possible future interactions with fire crackers or family pets.

Almost as good as the action toys were the toy gun pages! Yeah, I've heard the arguements about not wanting to instill violence in young minds, but for most of us, that violence was already there! We've survived endless playground games, schoolyard hazings and sibling abuses to know the world was full of conflict, and if you weren't prepared to deal with it you might as well just turn to the Bridge table section of the catalogue and just stop being a kid altogether! Luckily, toy manufacturers knew that, and were prepared to supply us with the ultimate in clever and devastating weapons of mass mischef!

After thoroughly scoping out the section several times, it came time to put together "the proposal", wherein I priced out assorted permutations and combinations of pricing schemes to present to my parents. These usually were in the vein of "if you plan to spend $20.00 on me you could get me this and this, but if you were going to spend $25.00 on me, you could get me this, this this and this"! World economics wouldn't be in such a poor state if they just let some kids with toy catalogues work it out.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Thoughts from a Halloween Werewolf

If you've read this blog before, it will come as no surprise that I love Halloween. As a kid, being able to spend weeks planning and making your costume, finally leading up to the night when you could go trick-or-treating, was second in delicious joy only to waiting for Christmas morning to come around. This was in the days before "politically correct" Halloweens, where kids are encouraged to dress up as socially positive role models like Montessori teachers or gender-neutral eco-facilitators. No, these were the days when boys wanted to dress in as violent and horrifying ways as they could on a budget of whatever could be begged or borrowed from one's parents. In those times, kids had to learn to balance the costume desires of "Mom" ("...but you'd look so cute dressed as a gingerbread bunny") and "Dad" (" costs what???? Forget it, here's my old hat, go as a hobo").

Now usually, a kid caught between these sorts of extreme views would end up in some sort of embarassing compromise that never really felt that satisfying. Getting sensible, inexpensive shoes instead of the cool black high-top runners with the picture of the jet on the little rubber circle sewn at the ankle, for example. But Halloween was such a magical time, that kids were usually able to buy or put together a costume that they actually thought was cool! Want to be a super-mad-doctor-pirate-vampire-eco-facilitator? At Halloween, it was possible!

Of course, that was then, and, as the proponents of linear time will insist, this is now. AGF (awesome girl-friend) and I love giving our Halloween candy and watching the assortment of costumes come to the door. This year, I decided to put a little more effort into dressing up my house, so in addition to hanging the rubber bat on the front door, I decided to put together a life-sized werewolf for my front yard. This was my first attempt to do something like this, and I have to admit, I kind of like the way it turned out. As you can see from the picture, his face was a pretty cool wolf-man mask I picked up at a yard sale this year, placed over one of those styrofoam wig-heads that I covered with fur. Note the ears, making him look a little like a were-bear...even cooler!

His eyes were little LED lights I snipped off fo two dollar-store book lights, and they were amazing. They were eye-shaped to begin with, and covering the mask's eye-holes with red tissue paper actually made them look like glowing red eyes! His body was an old plaid flannel shirt and jeans stuffed with newspaper. This wasn't as successful, as his contents tended to shift downwards, as is wont to happen to all of us, giving him a rather saggy gut and a flat derriere. Obviously, a Canadian were-wolf! He was kept upright with a broomstick running from his styrofoam neck, down the back of his pants into the ground. Once erect, my werewolf proved himself no match for the rigors of occasional gusts of wind, so his broomstick had to be supported by a metal pry-bar, also down the back of his pants, a towel, two rocks and a small log used by the cats as a scratching post. Once upright, his paws were attached to a pair of store-bought tombstones and viola, one Halloween werewolf was ready to go!

The werewolf proved to be a fun addition to Halloween, especially as the kids and their guardians weren't shy about offering comments. Here's a sample:

Older sister reassuring younger one, who is dressed as the pinkest fairy ever to wave a butterfly wand on our street: "that wolf won't hurt you". Awwwwwwww. Ok, there's a place for super-cute on Halloween!

A Mom: "I hope that doesn't move" Maybe next year, Mom!

Older guardian upon seeing the glowing red eyes: "Holy sh*t!". Gotta love that reaction!

Young boy dressed as a soldier (pointing his "rifle" at wolfie): "Brrr-rrr-rrr-rr-rrr-rrrr-at-att-att--tat" (gun sound)"Grrrrrahahahahahahaaaaaaaaaa!" (victory over werefolf cry) I'm glad that kid is fighting on our side!

And finally, two Boys: Younger one: "what's that what's that what's that?"
Older one: "It's DAD!"

A brave comment, son, considering Dad was standing right there with you! Then again, getting away with mischef has always been one of Halloween's greatest traditions. I'm glad that tradition is still alive.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Comic Ads

For me, as a kid, the enjoyment of reading comics was in perusing the ads at the back of the book. I never sent away for anything, and I certainly never new what "Grit" was or how on Earth anyone could sell it. What they did teach me was a healthy consumer skepticism that still serves me to this day. I should send away for my own submarine that fires a polaris missile! But wait, something in that picture doesn't look right....that's too small to be a real polaris missile!! Buy 500 toy soldiers in their own foot locker? Waitaminit... what would I do with a foot locker??? here's some of my faves (pictured)

Look Fellows!! The clarion call of of the "Grit kid", urging young entrepeneurs to win cool prizes like baseball gloves and polaris missiles if only, oh Lord if only, they could sell something called "Grit". I've never seena a copy of "Grit", though I have to admit I was occasionally tempted by the picture of the obviously prosperous and contemporary-looking chap in the photo. Unfortunately, my appetite to win pocket knives and bicyle lamps that looked like half-asleep eyes wasn't enough for me to send the coupon.

48" Talking Monster from Outer Space. I have to admit, the pricey $1.00 fee was certainly an obsticle to the purchase of this beast, but what really turned me off was the fact he had a prominant navel, which I felt no self-respecting space monster would ever display. That, plus what I later learned were called it's "jazz hands", soured the deal for me big time.

X-Ray Specs. Certainly the greatest invention of all time! I never bought these through the comics, but i did eventualy get a pair in a novelty shop years later. Who cares if their effective range was from your face to your hand (if you held your hand up to a high-intensity lamp), those hypno-spiral paper "lenses" makes wearing these the fashion coup of any social event or church function!

Monster-size monsters. For a buck a piece, another expensive prospect. These didn't talk, but their glow-in-the-dark feature was an almost irresistable hook. The Frankenstein monster looked intriguing, but that skeleton kept on truckin'! I always pictured him, strutting through my room like Mick Jagger, eyes glowing and "altertness lines" radiating from his skull, as if to say "I know what's going on...and I'm a skeleton!" Luckily for me, I never had the dollar to send away for skellie or his friends, or I would have learned he was only a poster, and unable to display the funkiness his ad promised. Sometimes consumer lessons are best learned from a distance.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Halloween Hijinx

Yesterday I was visiting the second-hand shop at the top of my street (the "Helping Hand") when I found this super-fun old Halloween mask/ costume kit. This one's a tiger, but I remember they had a huge variety of monsters, superheroes animals and princesses to choose from. This was before 95% of all Halloween costumes sported images of either liscenced TV characters or Kim Kardashian. You can't see the price tag, but it was originally $ 2.79 at K-mart (or maybe SS Kresge, which was either K-Mart's precursor or the name of the store's amphibious assult vehicle).

I always loved pawing through these costumes as a kid. As you can see, the "costume" was a rather cheaply-produced body suit made primarily of that plasticy tarpaulin material, which the makers reassured us was "fire retardant". I'm guessing this was third place behind "fire proof" (no way this sucka is going to burn) and "fire resistant" (we'll hold out as long as we can...remember the Alamo!). "Fire retardant" probably meant you had just enough time to wave your arms around and set some other kid on fire before disaster struck. Like I said, these costumes were fun!

On the front of ths costume there was a cool image reminding the home-owner what person or creature you were supposed to be, so they could exclaim "how cute!" or "oooh, scary" while you waited paintently for them to get over it and shell out some chocolate, man. I love this image-the tiger, though somewhat malformed, looks suitably ferocious with extra-long fangs, although he also looks like he painted his toe-nails for the occasion, making the costume suitable for either little boys or girls (this was in the time before gender roles were re-evaluated, folks).

The mask is typical of the time; really colorful plastic, with little eye- and mouth-holes to allow just enough air inside to avoid asphixiation, but not enough to avoid the inside of the mask heating up like a personal face-sauna. As a kid, you tried to avoid "de-masking" as long as you could, but inevitably, you needed to either wipe down or risk having sweat running into your shoes. I usually liked wearing my mask around the house for several days before Halloween, just to get into the character properly.

As a kid, it was always a toss-up whether I enjoyed Halloween or Christmas better. I eventually settled for Christmas, but in terms of defining what "dressing up" meant for a kid, Halloween had Christmas beat, hands-down. Then again, Christmas dinner wouldn't fit through that mask very well.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Remembering Scholastic Books

Anyone remember "Scholastic Books?" Once or twice a year, your teacher would take some time during your home room period to hand out one-page catalogue/ order forms from a company called "Scholastic Books". They usually had a pretty long list of inexpensive pocket books for kids, with topics usually in the science/ nature/ adventure story vein. I remember one called "Runner for the King", about some Inca kid sprinting over mountain tops with a knotted rope, which was the kingly message. I don't remember much about the message, or why the king needed his knots shared with such haste, but the cover looked kind of cool to me.

Being a kid whose mind was twisted by horror films, however, I was automatically drawn to either the ghost stories or anything that had a robot on the cover, Often I would buy the book just to look at the cool cover, and not bother with the contents (I would never admit this to my parents, as they thought they had a budding Einstein with a voracious appetite for literature. Actually I just had a voracious appetite for flashy covers. This would serve me well in later years to develop a completely indiscriminate attitude to selecting breakfast cereals and. later on, automobiles.)

I'd order books like the "Arrow Book of Ghost Stories", which promised a "shivery, quivery, just-scary-enough time!". I really should have been tipped off by the "...just-scary-enough" portion of the teaser, as the stories themselves tended to be pretty tame for my tastes (e,g, "Teeny-Tiny" by Joseph Jacobs. "Once upon a time there was a teeny-tiny woman who lived in a teeny-tiny house in a teeny-tiny village" Please, stop the shocks.)

Despite the somwhat vanilla nature of the books, I still enjoyed the process of researching, ordering and receiving the books, and even ended up reading some of them. I still have scholastic books in my house, and hope to finish reading "Teeny-tiny" once I have some time to get around to it. And a large pot of coffee.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Thoughts from the Summer Cabin

Well, AGF and I just came back from a weekend at out friend's cabin on the Bird River, near Lac du Bonnet. Cabin time is always different from "real" time, and usually much better. I have a ritual I like to perform at the start of these weekends. Once I pass the perimeter highway around the city, the watch comes off my wrist, and doesn't return until I am back within the perimeter. The result is a wonderful disorientation where I really have no idea "when" I am, outside of "when, in relation to when I last ate/ had a beer". This freedom of mind (aided, perhaps, by liberal dousings with recreational beverage) seems to lead to some wonderful spontaneous bursts of creativity. Here's what resulted this time:

1-The Best Video Game Ever. My friend's son was at the cabin, playing FIFA soccer on his X-Box for mutch of the weekend. After Canada won the World Cup (only on a video game!!) he switched to one of those first-person shooter games, where you see the barrel of the gun sticking out in the middle of the screen.

A much BETTER idea is to have a first-person doggie game. Instead of the gun, you see the nose of the pooch you are playing. The goal is to tip garbage cans, sniff crotches and vacuum up foodstuffs dropped on the floor. You have to avoid getting your nose scratched by cats, getting your hair clipped or wearing one of those plastic "lamp shade" collars. You ultimately win the game by sniffing the crotch of a member of the Royal family. Patent Pending.

2-An "app" for guys. "Cut the lawn". The goal is to cut your virtual lawn. This could be followed by "apps" like "trim the hedge", "paint the baseboards" and "get another beer from the fridge".

3-Horse-fly/ Black-fly collars. Much the the afore-mentioend plastic "doggie collars", cabineers can wear a repellant-doused plastic collar around their necks as they float in the lake/ river, to deter those annoying pests from buzzing your head. You could also fill the cone with recreational beverage. The added attraction is how appealing this will make thee wearer to the opposite sex. If you have a souse/ significant other, the answer is, of course, absolutely none.

There you have it. take off your watch and give it a try some time. Just remember, I OWN the doggie-game idea.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Eternal Beauty at Monster Bash

Ok, this is a follow-up to my previous blog about Monster Bash 2011. I believe I mentioned the "Hammer Girls", actresses Caroline Munro, Veronica Carlson and Yvonne Monlaur, who were guests at the Bash and who happily participated in the Saturday night "live Theatre" by Zach Zito. After the show, the Hammer Girls were kind enough to pose with a life-sized figure of Christopher Lee as Dracula, giving the fans an opportunity to snap some souvenier photos.

What continues to strike me is the way this scene played out. All these ladies were former actresses and models. When they were asked to pose with ol' Chris Lee, these mature ladies immediately worked the cameras like the pros they are. Really, it was quite amazing to watch. One minute we were watching attractive mature women talking about their past careers, the next minute the years melted away, as three bombshells gave a lesson in real sexuality! I'm not talking about the crude sort of posing that is usually accompanied by brass polls and navel piercings, I'm talking about true inner beauty exploding out from the eyes, lips and hands of these stars.

Each Hammer Girl took a turn posing between the "arms" of Chris, as camera flashes strobed out of the hundred-plus assembled photographers. I can't help thinking this is what these ladies did constantly during the prime of their careers, and by jove, they've still got it!

So let's hear it for the Hammer Girls and all the other ladies out there who know where true beuty comes from, and better for us, how to show it off.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Monster Bash 2011

Well I just returned from the 2011 summer edition of Monster Bash, held in Butler PA. every year at the end of June. Monster Bash has become one of the most important events for me to attend each year for a number of reasons. Let's look at some of them.

1-Feel the love!! First and foremost, Monster Bash is where I belong. I'm a Monster Kid, one of the people who grew up in the time from the late 50's to the early 70's, when classic horror and science fiction films were shown each week on local TV, and Saturday matinees at the local movie house often kept kids entertained for hours with a line-up of cartoons and a features like King Kong Vs Godzilla. Monster kids read Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine and built Aurora plastic monster models. Sure, we dabbled in other forms of popular culture of the time....Batman, Gilligan's Island, the music of the Beatles and the Monkees, but our personal treasure was the monster scene. If we were lucky, we had some friends our own age we could share our love of classic monster with, but for the most part we were the kids who happily sat alone with our magazines, model kits and movies. Now we're "grown up", but like many people. we are spending our adulthood trying to re-claim trasures from our childhood. At Monster Bash, we're finally able to mix with our own kind of folks and share the greatest thing in our lives outside of our personal faith or relationships. In short, we've come "home" for the weekend.

2-Meet the Stars!! Ok, so maybe the guests aren't really considered "top flight" celebrities any more, but in our hearts they're still the people who thrilled and chilled us in the movies and TV shows we loved. This year we met people like Norma Eberhardt, who as a young woman acted in a little-known film called "The Return of Dracula". No, it wasn't the best film ever made, in fact it was so low budget the actors had to provide their own costumes. But Norma was there, she helped to create one of the glorious Black & White films we thrilled to as kids. Moere importantly, we had the chance to say "thank you" face-to-face. I like getting autographed pictures and posing for photographs, but to me, being able to offer that personal "thank you" is the highlight of meeting any celebrity.

3-Your Contribution is Appreciated!! While the Bash is run very professionally and tirelessly by Ron Adams and his crew, I never feel like an "outsider" or a "tourist" at these events. Monster Kids are very good at forgiving "imperfections" in other people, which comes in very handy when an attendee wants to share the products of their own personal creativity. I've seen attendee posters, graphics and even poetry shared at these events, with the best example of "community appreciation" being seen on saturday Nights at the "live Theater" events. These often feature an actor named Zach Zito, who performs scenes from Poe stories or other horror/ macabre writers. Zach is somehow able to memorize multiple pages of dialogue, which he acts out dramaticaly for the audience. This year, Zach was joined on-stage by Hammer horror vets Caroline Munro, Veronica Carlson and Yvonne Monlaur, three beautiful veterans of the horror scene. These ladies seemed to ganuinely enjoy taking small parts in Zach's performance, despite what "outsiders" (non-monster kids) may call a somewhat amateur quality to the presentation. Zach was charged with enthusiasm, the Hammer Girls were happy to be a part of the scene, and the attendees loved every minute of it.

4-Loot, and plenty of it!! OK, I love shopping at the Bash. The dealer room is overflowing with "stuff" I'd love to own. When I talk about "loot", however, I'm also talking abou the bonuses you don't expect. The costumed (!?!) monsters walking the halls; this year the Mummy, Frankie, Mr. Hyde and Nosferatu were happily lurking around. The Bash Boys band!! An hour-long set of the most enthusiastically rocking Top 40 from the 50's and 60's ever heard. Free Givaways! It seems like there's always free stuff to be had at the Bash. This year there werer the glow-in-the-dark frisbees with pictures of the chipmunk-like vamp from the 50's drive-in classic "Blood of Dracula", tossed to the crouwd at the end of the drive-in style showing of that movie.

If you like classic monster movies and you've never bene to Monster Bash, make plas to go there next year. Bring the kids. Wear your cape if you like. It's always a "graveyard smash" at Monster Bash

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Europe on $5 a day ?!?

Back in the 50's, in the years shortly after the end of WW2, North Americans were enticed to travel to Europe on the promise that it could be done as cheaply as $5.00 a day. This is when you had all those movies like Roman Holiday, where it was suggested a romance with Audrey Hepburn was possible as long as you travelled to Europe and looked like Gregory Peck. Now, I'm not sure how many people were able to do that, but a lot of people did have the chance to see a lot of Europe on relatively little money, including my own dear Mom in her pre-married-to-Dad days (a.k.a her "young hottie" days)

The other day we were looking through her album from that 5 month (wow!!) trip from small, provincial Winnipeg to big, bold Europe and had the chance to re-live some of those times. Here's some highlights and observattions!

-It took Mom seven days to cross the Atlantic on the CP ship Empress of France to get to Europe, and eight days to return. On the way, she played "quoits" and deck tennis, wagered on "horse races", read the on-board newspaper, watched first-run movies in the theatre, read, relaxed, and had the chance to eat up to eight times a day. Sigh. Things have certainly "improved" through air travel :(

-Mom actually saw Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh live on-stage in something called "The Sleeping Prince" in London. It was described as "an occasional fairly tale" and starred Olivier as "The Regent" and Leigh as "Mary". It was also directed by Olivier. Too cool!

-Ever have Fettucinne Alfredo? Mom actually met Alfredo! She and her tour group ate at his restaurant, were served personally by Alfredo di Lelio himself, with his set of golden fork and spoon, and still has a recipe signed by Alfredo. Best meal ever!

-Remember those great stickers you always saw stuck on the sides of suitcases on old movies? Mom saved hers, and had a bunch of them in her album! I've included just a few of them here, but they're all gorgeous. Look at the colours on the Hotel Victoria stickers. You just don't see that any more. The Hotel Cavour sticker had advertising on the back of it, which promised the traveller "The almost in comfort and convenience". Priceless!

-A drink menu/ flyer from the "Cortijo EL GUAJIRO" lists entrance to the floor show and first drink at 40 pesetas, second drink at 25 pesetas (unless you at the bar, where the second drink was 20 pesetas). Shows started at 10:45 p.m. and went to 2:45 a.m.(two of them being a "gypsy parties"). The incredible shrinking drink prices must have been a challenge to the hosts, as there was also a note telling the reader to "insist on the bill before leaving".

I hate to think what we've lost from these more elegant days of travel, when you could expect a leisurely ocean cruise, amazing food, drink and entertainment, and wonderful sights and sounds amongst a less-threatening atmosphere than today. I missed it, but I'm glad my Mom was able to be a part of it.

Way to go, young hottie!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Wacky Packages!!

Anyone remember "Wacky Packages?" They were a set of stickers that came with a stick of gum in a collector-card sized package. The hook was the sticker themselves. Each one (and I think there were about 3-4 per package?)was a parody of a current product, like those pictured here (e.g. Chef Girl-ar-dee, the "Feminist" pasta!)

The Wacky Packages had very good art, and were sold by the Topps Chewing Gum company. Along with those pictured here, they had "Lox Scented Soap" (active ingredient seaweed and seawater)"Badzooka Guggle Bum", "Kick-a-man Boy Sauce" (gives kids super power!), "Stove Glop" (15 minutes stuffing mess) and "Land O Quakes" (butter churned by earthquakes), among hundreds of others!

Overall the wacky packages had kind of a Mad Magazine feel to them. The pictures and captions themselves were often extreme and on the edge of bad taste (e.g. "Czechlets-overcoated tiny humans!!"), which made them hugely popular with young boys wanting to decorate their school supplies in their first taste of rebellion! I think they actually got into some legal trouble with a number of the products they were sending up.

Recently my brother and I found a stash of 72 of these stickers, with very few duplicates! Thanks to finding this hoard of trasure, I can again relive those heady days of tasteless stickers on my school binder.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Dollar Store Treasures!!

This afternoon AGF (awesome girlfriend) and I went on an expedition to one of our favorite stores of all time, United Unlimited. If you've never been there, imagine a warehouse snugly ensconced beneath a picturesque railyard overpass, stocked to the rafters with treasures past and present! Need a Roman helmet? Furry handcuffs? Spice World trading cards? United Unlimited has it all!!

Today, as AGF stocked up on stickers, beads and stuff for her crafts, I happily came across the item pictured here...a concept that blew me away with it's brilliance....yes, a handy bag of... 8 SPARE BODY PARTS!

Look at how joyful the little lad on the top of the package looks, wearing his turquoise replacement nose, after probably losing his own in a tragic spirograph accident. And that's not all! My grab-bag came fully equipped with two left ears (for the artist in all of us), the pictured turquoise nose, a turquoise finger (useful for speaking in traffic, I'm sure), and not one or two, but four extra mouths!!

Now I'm not sure if the mouths are supposed to be seperate upper and lower lips or a matched set, in which case they represent merely two complete mouths. In either case, for a dollar plus tax, I have to rate this as one of the wiser purchases I have ever made!

In today's dangerous world, One can never be too careful. Up until today I had to fret over the very real threat of losing one or both lips, or even lose my left ear twice. Not any more...THANK YOU United Unlimited....for being there!!