monkeyFLASHmonkeyBACK… The Toys That Got Away

The year is 2006.  The 20th Anniversary Edition Optimus Prime has just been released.  Upon hearing this, something else might have been released… in my pants…

When I was a child, there was nothing I wanted more than Optimus Prime.  The problem was that he cost $20, and I had a difficult time saving up a score of buckeroos.  There was always something else I wanted that cost exactly what I had, so alas… no Optimus Prime.

UNTIL NOW:

Hellz yes.

My dream has been not only met, but exceeded.  This celebratory edition may not include the weapons base trailer, but he looks just like the cartoon – in robot and vehicle form!  It’s an insane representation!

So what broken dreams are left floating around my adolescent heart, you wonder?

They are, in no particular order:

  • Centurions – Wild Weasel

This went to Sam Rockwell, right? It was Jake Rockwell? Oh well.

You might not remember Centurions for their cartoon or toys (there were 65 episodes produced!), but I will never forget this cool vehicle idea.  In retrospect, the real world application of it wouldn’t fly roll past production, and in further analysis, I probably liked it because it reminded me of TRON (you probably don’t remember that old 1982 movie either).

  • Star Wars – Tatooine Skiff

Everybody wanted this; nobody had it.

This one still didn’t live up to the Desert Skiff we all wanted with every fiber of The Force, but it was better than what was originally offered.  And too bad it came out after I started collecting M.A.S.K.

  • M.A.S.K. – Razorback

This car could arch its back. For some reason.

I still consider M.A.S.K. the best toy collection of my youth (StarCom was a close second), plus I was blessed in prolonging my longing for the vehicles I missed the first time around when they were getting dumped in KayBee Toy Stores years after they were gone from store shelves… on clearance.  I never got a second chance to get Razorback, but I still have dreams about finding them still (this is 100% true).

  • Transformers – Grimlock

Me, Sean, want Grimlock badly.

Perhaps there’s a 20th Anniversary Grimlock on the horizon?  How about 25th30th?

monkeyFLASHmonkeyBACK… First Toy In Each Collection

Omigodomigodomigodomigod!  This post imagines what my blog might have looked like if I had one when certain things happened.  This edition takes us way back to 1995…

Omigodomigodomigodomigod!

I am loath to admit this, but I’ve literally dreamed of this day for years.  Or at least for the years that there were no new Star Wars action figures on the shelves of stores.

THERE ARE NEW STAR WARS ACTION FIGURES ON STORE SHELVES… er, I mean… HOOKS!

This is the first one I’ve purchased:

Imagine James Earl Jones saying: "This... is Chewbacca."

This got me recollecting (ha!) about the first toys in each of my collections.  Join me as I walk down memory lane…

  • 1985 – M.A.S.K.

Secret raiders working overtime fighting crime!

Let’s be honest – it’s not really been ten years since I’ve purchased toys.  Having a little brother to spoil means never having to stop.  But this is definitely the last collection I had that was my own, and it all started with Condor.  I remember asking for this, not even really knowing what it was.

  • 1984 – The Transformers

More than meets the eye!

I was dying to get any Transformer for what seemed like forever.  I really wanted Optimus Prime, but he cost twenty bucks!  Having read the giant-sized coloring book long before these figures were released, I really took a shine to Jazzz (he had three Z‘s in the coloring book).  The trick was this – my mom wasn’t too keen on me starting new collections that were similar to other one’s I started.  I already had Gobots, so Transformers were kind of off the radar… until my aunt took my sisters and I shopping.  I had the eight dollars it cost, and I begged her to let me buy it.  She used the payphone to double-check, and my mom relented.

  • 1983 – Gobots

We came out before Transformers!

Memories are fuzzy, and so it goes with this.  The way I recall it all, there were animated commercials advertising Transformers long before they came out.  AND THOSE COMMERCIALS BLEW MY EIGHT YEAR OLD MIND.  Robots that transformed into cars and planes and guns?  Sign me up!  Well, they were nowhere in sight, so the Gobots had to do.  And they did.  Until I got Jazz.  I still think Leader-1 was one of the best, but Gobots could never overcome their horrible names (Scooter the Scooter, Tank the Tank, Cop-Tur the Helicopter, Loco the Locomotive…)

  • 1980 (?) – LEGO

My first set

I don’t remember exactly when I started getting “big kid” LEGOS, but I know this was my first set.  The reason I say, “big kid,” is because when I first saw the LEGO spacemen at one of my parents’ friend’s houses prior to getting this set, that’s what I was told.

  • 1979 – Star Wars

Obviously, my figure said "Star Wars" - not ROTJ.

I distinctly (and weirdly) recall receiving this from Santa, and I was fascinated by this strange action figure.  Was he a space policeman?  He had a gun and a helmet.  Was he a space fireman?  He was wearing orange.  All I know is that I hadn’t seen the original film yet, and I was hooked.

I CAN’T WAIT FOR THE PREQUELS!

In Defense Of… Michael Bay

This might be the hardest one yet.  (Why do I have a feeling that will always be the feeling?)

I’m about speak In Defense Of

Michael. Fucking. Bay.

"I get bold, italics, underlining, periods, and fucking? Boom goes the dynamite... and everything else!"

I didn’t think I’d get here so soon, but it’s befitting since Transformers: Dark of the Moon is finally here.  I haven’t seen it yet, but moron more on that soon.

Where can I begin my defense?

  • He’s certainly has a knack for creating great visual spectacles. 

But that argument can be countered by pointing out how shaky the fight scenes were in the first two Transformers films, or how explosions stand in for plot progression.  Another issue is his childish – nay – infantile sense of humor that leaks through into his films (peeing robots and robots with balls, for example).

  • People really like his movies.

Do they?  Do they really?  Or is it the spectacle as mentioned above. Let’s run through his catalog real quick, accompanied by Rotten Tomatoes’ aggregated ratings:

  1. Bad Boys (43%)
  2. The Rock (67%)
  3. Armageddon (40%)
  4. Pearl Harbor (25%)
  5. Bad Boys II (23%)
  6. The Island (40%)
  7. Transformers (57%)
  8. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (20%)
  9. Transformers: Dark of the Moon (37%)

How many are technically great movies?  The Rock?  How much of that was due to Nick Cage, Sean Connery, and Ed Harris, though?

And don’t get me started with his production company, Platinum Dunes.  They’re responsible for most of the crappy horror film remakes that have come out in the last eight years.  So no… it’s not that people really like his movies.

  • People really like going to his movies.

He’s the eighth highest domestic grossing director up to 2009 for a reason.   Hell, I have to admit I’ve seen every single one of those movies above at the theater except the latest one, and I can’t wait to see it this weekend!  It looks like the special effects are really cleaned up, and I’ll be able to tell what the Transformers are doing!  I’m probably even going to pay extra to see 3D, and I typically hate 3D!

I know I’ve talked shit about him many times before, and I probably will in the future, but my biggest defense for him is that he gets people to the theaters.  That’s his job and he does it well.  Once we’re there, well, that’s a different story about story and content.  But I’m usually content.  I don’t hate his films with the same ferocity I unleash on Brett Ratner’s greasy prints or  M. Night Shyamalan’s twit-twisters (I avoid their films like the plague).

  • Above all else, Michael Bay is a skilled, technical filmmaker.

Being a flawed storyteller doesn’t make him bad.  If that was the case, I’d bitch about Tim Burton more often.

(SIDENOTE: If I can’t get convince you with any of the above, then you should know this.  When he was a kid, he donated all his Bar Mitzvah money to a local animal shelter.  That’s something.)

Happy Finds… Confusion Abounds

Sometimes I find too many websites that make me happy.  Today, I found four.

1) WTF Comcast – Who writes these summaries?  Who cares?  They’re hilarious and strange, and collected on this website.

Damn interns.

2) Boozecats – Here’s the math behind this website:

party photo – booze + cats = win

"Chug! Chug! Chug!" they all chanted. Because Chug was the cat's name, you see.

3) Sexy People – This picture says it all.  But if you need to hear more (if this portrait didn’t, in fact, “say it all”), check out this website.

I think I used to have the same wallpaper...

4) 100 Things I Learned – Films have a lot to teach us.  For example, here are some things people learned from watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

#1 – Don’t let your mom eat environmentally friendly brownies served by white kids in dreadlocks.

#6 – Michael Bay will always stress that when teleporting from America to Egypt, it will still be the middle of the afternoon.

#13 – If a Transformer saves your life from an incredibly dangerous situation, instead of thanking him, tell him you’re completely safe now and that you don’t need him anymore.

Coinkydink Or Coinkydonk? Cash-Ins, Tie-Ins, Sell Outs, And Bailouts

Let’s examine for one second which car companies sponsored which, um, sponsorees

Frothy the Snow Cowell

Eight years ago, Ford Motor Company decided to back a show that was not much more than a flashier Star Search

  • Was it Coca Cola’s shared involvement? 
  • Was it a long standing crush on Paula Adbul?
  • Or was it amazing foresight from a company that renamed the Taurus the Five Hundred, and then redubbed it the Taurus again?

Turns out it doesn’t matter.  Once Kelly Clarkson happened, American Idol legitimized and therefore blew up.

Speaking of blowing up, let’s remind ourselves which guys GM got behind (or as in the case of this image – between):

"Stuck between two loose screws" - GM's new slogan

  • GM decided to back Tiger Woods through its Cadillac brand, and that was a good investment for a long time. 
  • They also paid a fair amount of cash to have their fleet of cars featured in both horrible Transformers movies, and those flicks made My Little Ponies pretty pennies.

And in the end, which car company required money from the government bailout?

"Um, Toyota?"

Nope.

"Oh hi... I didn't see you back there."

JusWondering… Will These Movies Ever See The Light Of Day?

It was just announced last week the Masters of the Universe movie was cancelled, and although the version in the works sounded craptastic, it pains me a bit to know that a live action version is further away.  But given the track record with cartoons about toys being given their due on the silver screen, I think a lot of those dues haven’t been paid, nor will they.  Sure, in ten years Transformers or G.I. Joe may or may not get rebooted, but will I care?  (Odds are yes.  Because technically, this MOTU a reboot, and I do care.)

I apologize for the fact that I posted this video almost a year ago, but it’s too awesome and helpful in imagining what a He-Man movie could be like:

And how bad ass would this Thundercats movie be:

Plus, with the fate of the third Batman film from director Christopher Nolan up in the air, does this whet your appetite?

Batman 3

I'm not drooling, am I?

Finally, and this is definitely off-topic but in line with the post’s title, has anyone ever seen this movie?

The secret of his suck-cess

The secret of his suck-cess

Drunken Recollection… Sports Cars, Semis, And Use Of The Word “Better”

It was the best of Miller Lites; it was the worst of Miller Lites.  In other words, drinking with friends has its good days; drinking with friends has its bad days.  Here are the examples…

BEST

My good ol’ buddy Jay and I were discussing the state of the world one day, when he begin trying out some new philosophy he was developing.  I don’t quite remember the details as he worked through them, but my translation of what he was trying to say was this:

Women are sports cars and men are semi rigs.  Men prefer their women to be a two-seater, i.e. they’ve only been with one guy – that guy.  Men, as trucks, are also two-seaters, but if they have an extensive history in their trailer, it shouldn’t be a surprise to their lady friend.

There was some part about women being minivans and another deal about a bunch of guys hanging off of a sports car, but that’s the gist of it.  Do I get it?  Do I agree?  Only if I get to be a helicopter.

Men are from Mars, Women are from "Cars"

Men are from Mars, Women are from "Cars"

 WORST

It’s hard to get my goat but Jay got my goat good.  All I know is that the discussion slipped into an argument (a one-sided argument most likely) about there being more than one way to use the word “better.”

My stance:

There’s a “better” that expresses an opinion, and there’s a “better” that expresses fact.

Opinion “better” – G.I. Joe is a better movie than Transformers 2.
Fact “better” – Water is better to drink than oil.

A Freudian Psychologist's Dream Dream a.k.a. The Baroness Can-Can

A Freudian Psychologist's Dream Dream a.k.a. The Baroness Can-Can

 Until the next brewsing…

Drunken Recollection… Shopping At Target As A Morality Play

Seven seasons of septegenerian heaven

Seven seasons of septuagenarian heaven

If there’s anything I’ve learned in this life, it’s two things:

1) Don’t shop while hungry tipsy.

The second one I’ll share at the end.

Basically, I met up with some friends for a couple of drinks after work and opted to stop at Target because I needed a few things.  Those few things needed:

  • Laundry detergent
  • Vitamins and fish oil pills
  • Air conditioner air filters
  • Um… Charmin
  • And some food

On the way into the store, I noticed someone had left their headlights on.  I memorized the license plate and approached the cart guy outside the store.  He told me to head to the customer guest service desk, where this happened:

Me: Excuse me, but someone left their headlights on in the parking lot.
Worker: They’ll probably just turn off themselves.
Me: I don’t think so.  It’s an old green Escort parked in a handicapped spot.
Worker: I’ll get to it when the line is clear.
(I wandered off to look at the sales ad in case the worker wanted more information.)
Random lady (leaving): You were very nice for doing that.
Me: Well thank you.

Me Just Grim...

Me Just Grim...

Feeling victorious and uplifted, I made my way to the toy section first.  No real reason why, other than force of (forcive?) habit… of collecting.  Being in between a series of collectibles to search for, I’ve often eyed the animated Transformers toy line, and upon finally hearing the worker announce the Escort parked in a handicapped spot with its headlights on, I picked up a mini-Grimlock.  No essentials yet.  Just a small child’s toy.

I rounded the corner into the Lego aisle and what did I see?  Brand new Indiana Jones playsets.  Say what you will (and I have) about the last movie, the playsets from Raiders, Temple of Doom, and Last Crusade are pretty sweet, and in my hands in an instant (Ambush in Cairo almost made the cut).

Deflated and defeated, I put back everything but Grimlock and walked over to the electronics section.  Guess what I discovered there?

Every season of Golden Girls for $9 each!

I had a similar impulse a few weeks ago when the first four seasons of Saturday Night Live was on sale for $20 each, but this one I’d follow through.  Several weekends in September are about to be booked up.  Mjusayn.

I eventually gathered up my remaining essentials, plus a ton of food.  (Yay! Hard salami‘s back at Target!  For now…)  I put the bottle of Gain laundry detergent and a bottle of Liquid Plumr (‘cuz you never know) on the bottom of the cart, and a thought crossed my mind:

I wonder if someone will check the bottom of the cart…

At the checkout counter, the clerk brought something to everyone’s attention:

Somebody really must like Golden Girls.

I emptied the basket and pushed it forward to refill it with bagged items.  I noticed I had slipped the Gain and Liquid Plumr past the clerk.  I looked back into the eyes of the people that laughed at my must really liking Golden Girls, and a voice echoed in my head:

You were very nice for doing that.

I removed the two jugs from off the lower tray.  “I almost forgot something.”

After paying, I headed to my vehicle, past where an Escort with a dead battery could have been.  As I filled my trunk with purchases, the cart attendant approached to help.  I said thanks, and he nodded as he took the cart to add it to the returning basket train.

Finis.

Oh yeah, and the other thing I learned:

2) Don’t assume your friends ordered whatever beer was
on special, because it just might be regularly priced.

JusWondering… Are Orci And Kurtzman Running A Pyramid Scheme?

Devastatoring

Great Pyramid? How about Mediocre instead...

There’s been plenty of chatter on the TripleDoubleU regarding the new Travesty Transformers movie.  I’ve not only made a slight mention here on this site, but I’ve voiced my opinion on Topless Robot’s threads as well.  The big debacle over the films many weaknesses boils down to this question:

Who’s fault is it?

As I’ve detailed above, depending upon the director, crap can transform into dysentary (see: pic above) or crap can screen flair (see: Star Trek).  In Hollywood, screenwriters have little to do with the final film, if anything with the process at all.  Haven’t you ever heard the blonde joke about the wannabe starlet sleeping with the writer?  Steve Martin even made light of this fact in his underrated Bowfinger.

Go-to-writers-du-jour Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman are a lot like this candy-dispensing product:

Have a cow... pie, man!
Have a cow… pie, man!

Together, they’ve written the following films:

  • The Island
  • The Legend of Zorro
  • Mission: Impossible III
  • Transformers
  • Star Trek
  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

And like that candy dispenser, each one is a jellybean that in retrospect reminds us of bovine dung.

Here’s the breakdown of each attempt at writing:

The Island was a rip-off of three 70’s sci-fi films (Logan’s Run, Parts: The Clonus Horror, and THX-1138), and it was directed by Michael Bay.  It was partly filmed in Detroit, and you can see a painted portrait of Steve Yzerman in the background at one point (plus Scarlett Johanssonthroughout), so to not be a complete hater – this flick is tolerable.  But only for those reasons.  Seriously, catch the older (schlocky) trio of sci-fi “classics” then watch The IslandBay and the Boys borrowed quickly and liberally.

Does anybody remember the Zorro sequel?  *crickets*crickets*

Mission: Impossible IIIwas competent (I still like the first one best).  Although he was kind of douchey when he directed the episode of Jimmy Kimmel he was on, JJ Abrams handled this film well enough.  I still believe the sequence where Tom Cruise chased the “Rabbit’s Foot” through the streets of Shanghai could have been longer, and Philip Seymour Hoffman could have been given more scenes to chew on (plus more Maggie Q).  Mission: Decently Distracted.

Transformers was the second re-teaming of the screenwriters and Bay.  It’s been said that producer Steven Spielberg placed emphasis on the fact that the film was ultimately about a boy and his alien (car).  And after five hours of CGI robot action, the first hour of the first film is still best.  Although, I do like seeing the Detroit landmarks in the final battle, so this film was also okay in my book, despite the lack of common sense and clearly defined action scenes.  Moral of the story: if Bay films in the Motor City, my criticism dwindles.  Moral of another story: Spielberg’s kind of losing his touch, eh?

Star Trek, also directed by JJ, was solid, but not perfect.  The origin story introduced some neat twists and surprises, but Kirk with puffy hands?!  Scotty going through water pipes?!  A tad amateurish (and the fault of the writers, I’d suspect).

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, the Third Turd of Bay and the Boys, was rushed to production.  They didn’t get anytime for a rewrite, and it sadly shows.  Sure, Bay might have made a lot of poor decisions (robot crying, robot humping, robot minstrels, robot balls), but the script’s plot made little sense.  (Why would the Prime’s have to sacrifice to hide the Matrix of Leadership instead of killing the Fallen?  Why would they hide it on Earth?  See the Topless Robot link above.)

I guess what I’m trying to say is this: if JJ Abrams made Transformers, imagine how “cool” it would be.  Then imagine if Michael Bay made Star Trek…  (It’s like that ending speech in A Time to Kill…)

Perhaps Orci and Kurtzman aren’t the worst screenwriters on the planet, but they need to branch out a bit more to tell for sure. 

(FINAL NOTE: JJ worked on the script for Bay’s Armageddon.  It was a fun ride that went on too long and pulled way too hard at the heart strings.  Srsly, how many things could possibly go wrong in trying to get off a space rock?  Apparently, everything.  More importantly: how was Armageddon a film in the Criterion Collection?!)