16th Jan2014

Track Star: Mr. Mister Vs. Boy Meets Girl

by Will

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Welcome to Track Star! Don’t know the rules? Read this first

Today’s Challengers:

Mr. Mister – Welcome To The Real World vs. Boy Meets Girl – Reel Life

Today, we’re pitting two ’80s acts against each other. Mr. Mister had a hit song to which nobody seemed to know the words, while Boy Meets Girl were a songwriting act who weren’t used to being in the spotlight themselves. This time around, we’ve got a sampling of 6 songs from each group. Who’ll take the crown in this round of Track Star?

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Mr. Mister is a group known for two particular songs and, luckily, they both happen to be on Welcome To The Real World. This was actually the group’s second album, but served as a breakthrough since it included the #1 singles “Kyrie” and “Broken Wings”. This is a VERY ’80s album, as evidenced by the song “Don’t Slow Down”, which seems like it was written for a movie montage. “Run To Her” is a beautiful ballad, reminiscent of “Broken Wings” – known to every child of the ’80s. “Is It Love” is so ’80s that it’s wearing legwarmers and shoulder pads. Everyone knows “Kyrie”, even if they don’t know what’s being said (for the record, it’s “Kyrie eleison, down the road that I must travel.” It’s Latin for “Lord, have mercy.”). The album wraps up with the title track, “Welcome To The Real World”, which sounds like another montage anthem.

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Best known for their song “Waiting For A Star To Fall”, Boy Meets Girl spent most of the ’80s in the shadows of other people. The group was comprised of the songwriting duo of George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam. They wrote Whitney Houston’s hits “How Will I Know” and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)”, while they provided background vocals on Deniece Williams’s “Let’s Hear It For The Boy”. In 1988, they released Reel Life, which included their hit “Waiting…”, along with 9 other songs. I love this album because they sound like the prototype for the California Dreams – strong female vocals, great harmonies, and a sweet, poppy sound. The Dreams comparison begins with the opening track, “Bring Down The Moon”, which, then, leads us right into “Waiting For A Star To Fall”. Next up, “Stormy Love” and “If You Run” just further the comparison between Boy Meets Girl and the Dreams. “Restless Dreamer” is one of the strongest tracks on the album. Because this came later in the decade, I have to say that this feels and sounds more like a ’90s album than an ’80s album. Just listening to this and Mr. Mister back to back, it’s apparent that they weren’t contemporaries. The album closes out with “Someone’s Got To Send Out Love”, which is giving off a California Dreams ballad feel. Considering my love for that show and those songs, I’m really pulling for this album to win this round. Can it do it, though? Let’s find out.

You really could’ve seen where this one was headed, as I simply loved Reel Life. Sure, it suffers from “they all sound the same”-itis, but that’s not a problem if you’re a fan of that sound. At the end of the day, Reel Life just has more repeat “listenability” to me than Welcome To The Real World. Sure, there’s “Kyrie” and “Broken Wings”, but there’s not a whole lot other than those two. There are strong, serviceable tracks on the album, but they just aren’t as consistent as the songs on Reel Life. I feel like Boy Meets Girl have aged better, even though Mr. Mister are included on every 80s collection infomercial. It’s the “hidden gem” nature of Reel Life that really went a long way in this match-up.

The Winner:

Boy Meets Girl – Reel Life

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For those playing along at home, agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments!

20th Sep2013

West Week Ever – 9/20/13

by Will

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So, last Saturday, Lindsay and I did the Color in Motion 5K. It was the first 5K for both of us, and it went pretty well. Like other color runs, there are stations set up along the route where volunteers NAIL you with a corn starch colored powder. For a good chunk of the race, I was blind in my left eye from where the red volunteer just went crazy on the left side of my face. Seeing as how a 5K is roughly 3 miles, I can say that I ran the first mile without stopping. Then, I realized I’d lost Lindsay, so I looked for her and we walked the rest of the way. Once done, I gave myself a baby wipes bath in the parking lot, and then headed up to Retro Con.

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Retro Con, held outside of Philly, is a celebration of all things from the 80s and 90s. The vendors had everything from Transformers to Nintendo games. But I wasn’t there for the vendors. No, I was there for a mega Twitter meetup, as I’d finally get to meet a lot of my online friends for the first time. And it did not disappoint. Over the course of the day, I met @claymationhowl, @JohnDoctorKent, @FakeEyes22, @meistershake, @bmorin54, @doubledumbass, @P0LISHPHEN0M, @howardthedeck, @chapmanrunner, @monsterfink, and I reconnected with @lamarrevenger. Using the UnderScoopFire table as home base, we took turns taking tours of the place to see what we could find. Mostly we just found overpriced collectibles. I’d taken some Will’s World of Wonder stock to sell, but there weren’t many takers. In fact, it seemed like other dealers were doing most of the buying from each other. I had a rather tacky experience where I sold a Batman figure to a guy for $15. Later on, I found out he had a vendor table, and as I walked up, he tapped the figure, saying “Thanks for the hookup, man.” That’s when I noticed he had a $30 price tag on it. Needless to say, he ended up taking it home unsold. There were also retro cars like K.I.T.T., the General Lee, and the Back to the Future Delorean, but I ended up only seeing the DeLorean (I’d forgotten about the others until they had already left). Wanna see some pics?

I think I was this kid's first black experience. Even after I finished taking the pic, he continued to blast me until his mom made him stop.

I think I was this kid’s first black experience. Even after I finished taking the pic, he continued to blast me until his mom made him stop.

 

Flash Gordon and blerds!

Flash Gordon and blerds!

 

"I pity the fool who thinks I'm Chris Kirkpatrick!"

“I pity the fool who thinks I’m Chris Kirkpatrick from *NSYNC!”

Fighting evil by moonlight...

Fighting evil by moonlight…

 

It's my first Joe

It’s my first Joe!

 

Yeah, I collect Toy Fair catalogs, but there was no way I was paying $75 for this.

Yeah, I collect Toy Fair catalogs, but there was no way I was paying $75 for this.

This has become my most popular Instagram pic.

This has become my most popular Instagram pic.

 

In other news…

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Since all the cool kids were talking about it, I decided to go out and seek some of those limited edition monster cereals that are hitting Target. Since Count Chockula and Boo Berry are kinda pedestrian, I went for the deeper cuts of Yummy Mummy and Frute Brute. I’d never had them growing up, as I wasn’t allowed to have much sugary cereal. So, what did I think? As an adult fan of sugary cereals, I was disappointed. Yummy Mummy is described as “orange cream flavored”, but it misses something. You see, I expected it to be infused with a citrusy twang, but it’s really just “orange” in scent and surface. At the end of the day, it’s just another sweetened corn cereal, but it doesn’t really do as much for its fruit side as Froot Loops or Crunchberries do. I killed the box yesterday morning and proceeded to open the Frute Brute – which is the same exact cereal, only orange-cream is traded for cherry. According to my taste buds, Yummy Mummy won the matchup.

arsenio

Arsenio Watch, Week 2: I quit. I’m not the biggest fan of myself, but I love myself enough to not endure that torture anymore.

I tend to wake up late in the mornings, so I watch a lot of daytime TV, like Jerry Springer and Judge Mathis. Since those shows are geared towards the unemployed, all the commercials are either for payday loans or unaccredited for-profit colleges being pimped by Lil Romeo. One, however, caught my eye recently. It’s for Kaplan University’s School of Nursing, and it stars a cute girl who’s updating her social media profile on her first day of nursing. All her friends and family are getting the message and congratulating her as she goes about her day. Then they show one of the “patients”:

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WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?! KILL IT WITH FIRE!!! You probably can’t tell because this picture was taken with a tube TV, but this guy looks like one of those soulless CG characters from The Polar Express. Uncanny Valley!!!! Someone had to have complained because I haven’t seen this commercial in a week. I found it on YouTube, and that scene is mysteriously missing:

Who can help me solve this mystery?!

Links I Loved

Magneto Was Right – The Nerds of Color

Rubber-Suit Monsters Fade. Tiny Tokyos Relax. – The New York Times

The History of the Trapper Keeper – Mental Floss

That ep of the No Topic Required Podcast that I mentioned last week has been posted, and you can listen to it here.

I’m not even gonna play the usual games. Considering all the friends I got to meet, it’s no contest that Retro Con had the West Week Ever. Make sure you follow them all on Twitter!

Me and Howie Decker

Me and Howie

Me and Corey

Me and Corey

Me and Tank

Me and Tank

 

Howie, Tank, Brian, and Dean

Howie, Tank, Brian, and Dean

 

See you guys next year, if not sooner!

03rd Sep2013

Introducing…Track Star!

by Will

I like “bad” music. Of course I don’t consider it bad, but in the court of public opinion, my favorite musical acts would be considered bad. At the very least, it would be considered “guilty pleasure”. We’re talking boybands, pop starlets, 80s synth groups, etc. Still, I LOVE music – of all kinds, actually, but I always come back to the “bad” stuff. Growing up, I had quite the CD addiction which spiraled out of control once I got a burner. At last count, it’s something around 900 CDs that I haven’t even touched in years since all my music is on this very computer. Oh, did I mention that this music is completely different than what’s on those CDs? Yeah, I’ve never ripped a disc in my life. Crazy, right? Even in this age of modern technology, I find myself still buying CDs. See, I find them in thrift stores, and they’re only $2, which is a far cry from the $16-20 that I used to have to pay. Sure, I joined Columbia House and BMG like every other fiscally irresponsible teenager, but I’ve sunk thousands into the purchase of music. That’s not even an exaggeration. Where was I? Oh yeah, CDs cost almost nothing now, so I find myself buying albums for one song that I think I liked back in ’97, only to find the rest of the CD is a trainwreck. As you can imagine, these discs are starting to stack up, and they don’t really deserve a slot in The Collection. That’s when I devised Track Star – a two CDs enter, one CD leaves battle royale.

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Here’s how Track Star will work: I’m pitting two CDs against each other. They won’t necessarily be of the same genre, and may have nothing in common. Most of the time it will just depend on the luck of the draw. Two “vintage” CDs will be played through from beginning to end, as I search for any and every track that might earn the disc a spot in my permanent collection. In order for it to be somewhat of a fair fight, each disc must have AT LEAST 3 strong songs to bit against one another. Some albums have no single-worthy songs (see Justin Guarini’s debut album), and this would stop the competition before it even starts. If there aren’t 3 strong songs on a particular disc, it will be disqualified and donated to the thrift store; the remaining disc may be pitted against another CD in the future. Outside of disqualification situations, a CD will only enter competition once. The winner stays, while the loser goes back to the thrift store. Got it? If not, here it is in bullet-point format:

-Two CDs, of potentially disparate genres, are pitted against each other

-Each disc must have THREE (3) strong tracks in order to do battle, or else there will be a disqualification

-The loser will be donated to the thrift store from whence it came, while the winner will be crowned the Track Star, and it will join The Collection

What’s a “strong” track? Who knows? It could all come down to how I’m feeling that day. ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN!

To make things easier for you to play along at home, each post will be accompanied by a Spotify playlist of the albums in question. After listening along, you can tell me your thoughts in the comments. Got it?

The first challengers are coming up in a few days, so be there or be square!

28th Jun2013

West Week Ever – 6/28/13

by Will
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Who had the West Week Ever? Read on to find out!

Song of the Day: Ke$ha – Grow A Pear

Not only do I like the play on words, but I totally used to be this guy. Hell, I probably still am!

Why isn’t Head of the Class on anywhere these days? Isn’t that what TV Land is for? I was listening to 60s on 6 this morning, and the song from Hair came on. It reminded me of the Head of the Class two-parter where they’re gonna do Hair for their school play, but Dr. Samuels doesn’t want them doing the nude scenes. Looking back, why the Hell did they think that would ever fly in a New York public school? Oh, you don’t even know what I’m talking about? OK, Head of the Class was a late 80s show on ABC that chronicled the exploits of the gifted kids in the Individualized Honors Program class at Fillmore High. They came from all walks of life, but all had secret potential just waiting to burst out (audience goes *awww*). Here are the opening credits:

Now, I gotta ask: Did Mr. Moore go through that shit every day just to get to work? Hitchhiking in 80s New York?! He’s lucky he didn’t get strangled. Just buy a friggin’ subway pass. And I love how the whole class is waiting to applaud him for coming to work – you know, doing his fucking job! Anyway, Howard Hesseman also played Dr. Johnny Fever on WKRP In Cincinnati, and I like to pretend that Mr. Moore is just the same character, only he finally got himself cleaned up and off the drugs. Anyway, the legacy of the show is that the fat kid went on to create every tween show on Nick (All That, The Amanda Show, iCarly, etc), while the greaser went on to produce everything else (Smallville, One Tree Hill, What I Like About You).

Bandai America created something I really want, but have no shot at getting: with a production run of 1000, and being released at San Diego Comic-Con, I give you the Green Ranger/White Ranger Edition Legacy Morpher:

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I know you’re saying, “Will, it’s for kids”, but this most certainly is NOT. How many kids items are 24 karat gold?! Anyway, since I’ll never own it, the consolation prize is watching adults losing their shit on Bandai in the comments over on Facebook. Schadenfreude’s the best!

The_Simpsons_Uncensored,_Unauthorized_History

Have you ever read a book that told you a lot and yet told you nothing all at the same time? That’s how I felt when I read The Simpsons: An Unauthorized, Uncensored History this week. To start, I’m not even the biggest Simpsons fan, but I do happen to be a Simpsons apologist. I don’t watch every episode, but I enjoy every one that I see. I feel like it’s just the “cool kid” thing to say that the show sucks now, but it’s held up amazingly well for its age. Anyway, I bought this book during a buying frenzy when Borders went into clearance mode, and I figured now was as good a time as any to read it. I tend to love a good “oral history” book, but this one was so poorly written. I was amazed by the typos that made it through – sometimes changing the meaning of sentences. It was also crippled by the fact that none of the current staff cooperated with the making of the book, so the anecdotes are taken from old magazine interviews and DVD commentaries. After reading 291 pages, the main point hammered home is that Matt Groening is a lucky dude who has no right to be as rich and famous as he is. The entire Simpsons franchise was a collaborative effort between folks who never got the credit they deserved, while Matt just cashed his merchandising checks. I like books on network television, as well as books on humor. This was both, but it wasn’t really good at being either. I do not recommend this book!

This Week’s Posts

Where’s Mama Cass?

FAIL Call Tuesday – Ironclad Defense

Thrift Justice – The Expendables XI: Never Stop Spending!!!

Ladies & Gentlemen…

One changed his mind, while the other changed her dialect. One returned after many years, while the other may not return at all. Only one, however, could have the West Week Ever.

Happy_Endings_Season_3_Poster

I know what you’re saying: “Why Happy Endings, Will?” Well, this was my favorite show of the past 3 years, and this may be my final chance to salute it. You see, today is the last day for another network to swoop in and save the show. After today, Sony’s contract hold on the actors expires and they’re free to take other roles. If you’ve never seen it, you really missed out. Think of a modern day, single camera Friends that’s actually funny. It was also a really clever show, and I’m sad to know it probably won’t be around any longer. So, for all the laughs, here’s to Happy Endings for having the West Week Ever.

26th Jun2013

Thrift Justice – The Expendables XI: Never Stop Spending!!!

by Will

2013-06-25 21.50.28

 

When I saw all of these guys in one bag at the thrift store yesterday, I HAD to buy them. Then the story hit me – this wasn’t just coincidence. No, these were the makings of the 11th installment of The Expendables, subtitled “Never Stop Spending!!!” Here’s how it goes:

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Main man Barney Ross is back, and he needs a team to help him overthrow a South American dictator. This job requires a special kind of finesse, though, so he can’t depend on the rough and tumble guys from the last 10 gigs. No, he’s got to be more delicate this go ’round.

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First up, Ross knows he’ll need muscle, but cooler heads prevail in the thick of the action. That’s why he calls up Booker from the 2nd job. He’s got brute force, yet he’s deadlier because he knows where, when, and how to use it.

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Next up, Ross needs a pilot. This time he goes with an unknown, who only answers to the name “Baloo”. He supposedly does cargo runs through a little burg called Cape Suzette, but none of that matters to Ross. All he knows is he needs a flyboy – one who’ll keep his mouth shut.

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Ross knows he can’t just take on a sovereign nation without a little international backup. That’s where grizzled, ex-cop “D.T.” comes in. Apparently, he has ties to Interpol, and knows just about everyone you need to know in this kind of business. He’s also got a mean swing with that billy club!

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Every team needs a master thief, and that’s where Hood comes in. He’s also pulling double duty on this one, serving as the marksman.

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What Ross doesn’t realize is that this job actually has TWO master thieves on the team. The mysterious man known only as “LeBeau” is on the team as the demolitions expert. Do I smell third act plot twist?

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Finally, there’s “The Kid”. Don’t let his looks fool you – rumor has it he fucked with some robotic dinosaurs or some shit back in the day. Anyway, The Kid’s parents were missionaries in the South American country when his dad was murdered by the dictator’s forces. His mom’s now a waitress in one of the local titty bars. Ross counts on The Kid for intel, as well as to get the lay of the land.

Here they are: Your new EXPENDABLES!!!!

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It adds to the effect if you make explosion sounds with your mouth while looking at it

19th Jun2013

A Tribute to Mystic Music’s Cool Rock

by Will

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I have a confession to make: I like “crappy” music. You’re not new here, so none of this should come as a surprise. Anyway, growing up, one thing I wanted more than anything was a compilation from Mystic Music called Cool Rock. Now, let’s talk a little about what was on those discs. You see, they never had the rights to HUGE hits or artists, so no Madonna or Michael Jackson or anything like that. No, Cool Rock was mainly the home of One-Hit Wonders from the late 80s/early 90s. I used to stay up late, just hoping to see the commercial for the set. See, this was prior to the days of infomercials, so this was only seen in 30 second doses during episodes of Studs (why hasn’t that show been rebooted? I love shitty dating shows) or M*A*S*H*.

Over the years, I’ve realized my exposure to Cool Rock had an adverse effect on my musical knowledge. You see, while it taught me a lot of songs, I actually only learned the choruses. So, at times I find myself in a shopping mall, and a somewhat familiar song comes on that I can’t place. The chord progression’s familiar to me, as I KNOW I’ve heard this thing before, but I can’t remember what it is. Then, I hear “Don’t forget me when I’m gonnnne!” Hey, I remember that song! But that’s what the verses sound like? What a piece of shit!

Anyway, I used to try to con my mom into ordering the set for me, but she always tried to say something like “Well, that’ll be your Christmas present.” Fuck that noise! I’m not wasting prime gift real estate on a 2-CD set of a bunch of has beens! If that was the cost of owning the compilation, in the immortal words of Meatloaf, “I won’t do that”.

When I got to college, I was introduced to the world of high-speed internet. Now that the statute of limitations has probably passed, I can also admit that I had a lusty affair with a file-sharing wonder known as Napster. One late night, as my roommate tried to conceal that fact that he was masturbating under his desk, a light bulb went off as I pretended to be asleep: I could create my OWN Cool Rock. I now had the technology! So, I set out to find the entire tracklist (which took about 2 hours), and then moved on to Cool Rock‘s shy younger sister, Red Hot. Then, there was no stopping me. I decided to compile the greatest 80s collection EVER MADE! After all, Time Life had a collection that came close, but it was about $120, my mom was using that Christmas stall tactic again. Eventually, my “Absolute Will Ultimate 80s Collection” grew to around 12 discs.

Ive been thinking about my 80s collection lately for one important reason: due to how they’re made, CD-Rs only have a lifespan of about 10 yrs. And it has been about 10 years since I burned the last disc. Am I about to lose my music to the ravages of time? I already transferred as much as I could to iTunes, but some discs can’t be read anymore. I fear my project, much like Cool Rock itself, will soon be forgotten. So, join me one last time, to honor Glass Tiger, Club Nouveau, and all the other featured artists who can’t even get arrested today. We should never forget our past, including the shameful parts. Until next time, take care of yourselves, and each other.

17th Jun2013

Mail Call Monday – Claymation Werewolf Makes My Day

by Will

Ya know, I never knew if this was gonna be a regular feature, but I just keep getting cool stuff in the mail. This time, I got a wonderful surprise from the Claymation Werewolf himself, my Twitter pal “Rhett Kahn”, AKA @ClaymationHowl. I reside at West Base Beta, yet all my mail goes to West Base Alpha – which I visit weekly. So, imagine my surprise last week, when I noticed an envelope had come through the mail from me. Since I’d received a wonderful Christmas card from him, I recognized the address immediately. It wasn’t Christmas, however, so what could it be? I opened it up, and the 80s kicked me in the face:

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I got this care package of stickers and magnets, featuring some of my favorite things: the ’80s, shiny things, and toys! It was a welcome surprise, and I really appreciate it, man!

Last time, I mentioned that I collect Marvel Legends movie figures, and my pal @kngfu71 hooked me up again!

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This round, we’ve got the Kelsey Grammer Beast from X-Men: The Last Stand, and a shirtless Logan that I think is based on Morrison’s New X-Men run, based on the belt/pants. I also collect ML X-Men, so both of these are welcome additions to my various collections. You’ll notice that Logan has a paint rub on his nose, and he has a few others on his body, but I think they actually add to the figure, almost like a representation of his healing factor. There are tons of comics with his skin torn in places, and I think the play wear just makes him more authentic.

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I’ve also moved into the Booster Gold phase of Operation: Trade Up. I LOVED that series, but it’s just not easily re-readable in singles. I figure I’ll cherish it more in trade form, plus it’ll help me get rid of another longbox. The problem is that the entire series was never collected, so there are a few issues I’ll have to hold onto. Still, a handful better than the full 60-whatever issue run.

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It can’t all be good news, however. You see, I’ve recently been selling a lot of stuff on Amazon. I find that Will’s World of Wonder is good for vintage/collectible stuff, but new/unopened items fare better on Amazon. So, I sold Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps War Vol 1, and imagine my surprise when I got a return request for the book. The buyer just said that he didn’t want it anymore, and asked to return it. I didn’t even know I had to accept returns, as I never do on eBay, but I guess this is a different ballgame. I approved the return, but it wasn’t in the same shape in which I sent it.

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There were creases across the cover that weren’t there when I shipped it out. Basically, the buyer didn’t take as much care as I had when repacking it. Now, not only does he want his money back, but I’ve got to resell this thing in this condition. I don’t really think that’s cool, so I’ve got an email out to him, asking him to verify its condition upon arrival to him. I don’t really expect a happy ending, but I don’t feel like I should just drop the ball. Plus, now that I know returns are possible, I need to know what to do in case this happens again.

Anyway, the point of this post wasn’t to brag about all the cool stuff I got. Instead, I’m just trying to show the power of the internet. It just goes to show that you can make real friends online, and I really appreciate the stuff I got from these guys. When it comes to the internet, I’m nothing without the folks who read and recommend me to others. With that, I’d also like to take the time to thank all you folks for constantly mentioning me in Follow Friday posts. Y’all are helping me spread the Gospel of Will!

03rd Jun2013

Monday Musings – The Strange Politics of Hazzard County

by Will

the_dukes_of_hazzard_large

Unless you’re new here, you know that I grew up as a fan of the “Cars Jumping Over Shit” genre of television shows. The 80s were a golden age for that genre, yet one of the most popular shows was a holdover from the 70s: The Dukes of Hazzard. If you’ve never seen it, the show follows cousins Bo and Luke Duke, as they evade crooked Boss Hogg and his henchman Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane, while jumping over shit in their rebel flag-laden ’69 Dodge Charger. The show lasted 7 years (though many fans have disavowed all knowledge of the one-season “Replacement Dukes”, Coy & Vance), built on the sole plot of Hogg hates the Dukes, the Dukes shoot something with a flaming arrow to make it go kablooey, Roscoe chases them, they jump “the crick” in their car, repeat. SEVEN YEARS, folks! Watching the poorly cast 2005 movie yesterday, a few thoughts came to mind, which I though I’d share here.

courtesy of podunkmeetsparadise.wordpress.com

courtesy of podunkmeetsparadise.wordpress.com

The Dukes Are On Probation – I never realized this as a kid, but apparently the Dukes are on probation for moonshining, so they’re not allowed to leave Hazzard County. I just always thought they had no real desire to move to the big city. Still, this seems to be as loose as Michael Westin’s “sequester” on Burn Notice, in that they can get as far out of the county limits as the episode requires. I mean, during the fifth season, the cousins go join the NASCAR circuit (due to the actors’ contract dispute), which surely would’ve been a violation of that probation. So, they’re not supposed to leave Hazzard County, yet do when the need arises, so it seems like they actually enjoy the cat & mouse game with Hogg and Roscoe.

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Boss Hogg Knows Where The Dukes Live – It’s all right there, folks. If he wants ‘em gone, kill them in their sleep. It brings to mind the fact that Hogg isn’t really a bad guy. He’s just a crooked guy. There’s a difference. He’s not a murderer, but he wants the Dukes to stop being a thorn in his side. That said, he doesn’t have to kill them. Every episode, the Dukes do MANY things that would be considered  a violation of their probation. Instead of just trumping up charges, Hogg could take care of them within the confines of the law.

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The People of Hazzard County Only Have Themselves To Blame – Hogg isn’t a typical bully – he’s an elected county commissioner. Sure, as the richest man in the county, he probably bought the election, but he was appointed through the democratic process. Here’s where things don’t line up – Roscoe only becomes Hogg’s corrupt right-hand man after the county gets rid of his pension. Umm…huh? Shouldn’t that have actually entrenched Roscoe on the side of the angels at that point? Why become the henchman of the man who screwed you unless you’ve got a revenge play in mind. I’m sure they probably had some kind of Christmas episode like the Fruity Pebbles commercial, where Roscoe comes off like a good guy to the Dukes, but for the most part he’s simply a “loveable villain”.

Boss Hogg Didn’t Get the Black Vote – this is simply because there are no blacks in Hazzard County. Miraculously, they’re always around as henchmen, but he most likely outsourced them from the next town over. Seriously, go back and watch a random episode. The only black guy will have a revolver, carrying out Boss Hogg’s next nefarious plot. Blacks are so rare within the Hazzard County limits that I couldn’t even find a picture on the internet. Let that sink in. I COULDN’T FIND A PICTURE ON THE INTERNET!!!

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What’s Boss Hogg’s Motivation? – He’s already the richest man in town. He owns every establishment. What else is there? Sure, there’s the maintenance of his empire, but he’s a small town guy. He has effectively taken it over. Now what? It’s like a comic book supervillain who wants to rule the world – what happens once you achieve that goal? Is Hogg’s pursuit of the Dukes simply the small-town version of Rich Man Follies? He simply has nothing better to do?

Anyway, I’m fairly certain I’ve spent more time wondering about this show than its writers ever did. That’s enough for this Monday. What are your memories of the show? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

21st May2013

Best of the West #3: Knight Rider Knight 2000 Voice Car

by Will

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I don’t do these posts much, so you know it’s a special occasion. If you’re new here, then let me explain Best of the West to you: these are pieces of my collection that hold more meaning than the others. These are the “I’d grab if there’s ever a fire” items. This ain’t your average Thrift Justice stuff – these are the top shelf items. OK, now that I’ve got that out of the way, why am I doing this today? Well, it’s really all but the timing of some real life events. Yesterday was the funeral for one of the kids at work. I didn’t know him, but I wanted to feel a part of the community, so I volunteered to sing in the choir for the service. It was really moving, and it was a feeling I hadn’t experienced since glee club days. It got me to thinking how I’d want to be remembered when my time comes. I hope people think I was hilarious. Not just “haha” funny, but “why wasn’t he a comedian?!” funny. I hope they think I was a good person and a good friend. Also, I hope I’m remembered as a caring and magnificent lover, despite my average endowment (at least according to my spam folder…). Anyway, this also got me to thinking about my first funeral experience: my dad’s.

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Courtesy of Orangeslime.com

My father passed away from an aneurysm when I was three. For this reason, I’m always scared of head trauma, and I never make fun of aneurysms. Because I was so young, I wasn’t really privy to the funeral proceedings. In fact, my cousin was tasked with taking me to Toys “R” Us to distract me. While there, I remember getting a radio controlled Knight Rider K.I.T.T. that had a working scanner light. You don’t give an RC car to a three year old! I just kept driving it into walls. It was really cool, but I was always rough with toys, so it didn’t last long. Sure, I kept it, but the electronics surely didn’t work, and the car looked like it did at the end of “Knight of the Juggernaut Part 1″.

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Still, I remember the car always angered me because I couldn’t put a figure inside. I think I eventually even broke the window, like an inner city youth, just so I could stick a G.I. Joe in it. I didn’t realize there was actually a version that did what I needed it to do. No, I had my “distraction” K.I.T.T. so I wouldn’t realize my dad was gone. In fact, it wasn’t until years later that I pieced together what had happened that day. Until then, I always remembered it as “the time all my relatives came to see me”.

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Fast forward to about a year ago. My former employer, Diamond Comic Distributors, was releasing a Previews exclusive Knight Rider K.I.T.T. with lights and sounds, and included a 3.75″ Michael Knight Figure. Of course I was gonna buy it! Even if it was $50, and the Michael Knight looked NOTHING like David Hasselhoff. That reminded me that I already had a nearly 6″ Michael Knight from the 80s, and I never really knew why he was released. Remember that post about my Cousin Oliver and the G.I. Joe mystery? Well, that was also the first and only time I saw Knight Rider toys at retail. With the exception of the Whip Shifter (which I also had), I had completely forgotten there was essentially a full line of toys. So I took to eBay, to learn more about the line, and find out if there were any figures other than Michael. It turns out he’s the only one, and that he came packed in with an electronic K.I.T.T. That had opening doors! What I always wanted had existed all the time! And the vintage K.I.T.T. had dropped in price since the announcement of the newer version, so you could get one for about $100. Why buy a newer copy when I could have the original? So, a few weeks before my wedding, I told Lindsay, “I’m about to drop about $100 on a Knight Rider car, and I just want you to know that.” Thankfully, she knew the importance and was cool with it. It actually arrived just before our honeymoon, but I didn’t really get a chance to look at it until weeks later. At the end of the day, it cost about $80 after shipping, and it had its original box! Oh, and IT WORKS! Let’s take a closer look at it, shall we?

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This thing was $26.96 in 1985! That’s, like, $80 in today’s money. NOTE: I am not an economist, nor an expert on inflation

 

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Nowhere on this box does it say “Child’s hand not included”. I demand my white child’s hand!

 

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I wonder if it even had pack-in directions, as the whole shebang is told on the back of the box.

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I love the detail of the stickers inside, but Michael needs to do some dusting!

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I just like pushing it along my carpet, pretending K.I.T.T.’s driving through the desert. Of course, it’d be more effective if the friggin’ white child hand had been in the box!

As you can see from the box, K.I.T.T. says 6 different phrases. I couldn’t really verify them all, ’cause we’re a household with no C batteries; lots of Ds for some reason, though… Anyway, with the voice of someone who’s just roofied you, the car said “Callll mee K.T.T. for shorrrtt.” Supposedly, he also says:

“Engaging Infrared Tracking Scope”

“Scanner Indicates Danger Ahead”

“I Shall Activate The Turbo Boost”

“Your Reflexes Are Slow”

“What Is Our Next Mission?”

Well, the circle is now complete. Like a phoenix, my fallen K.I.T.T. has arisen, with all the qualities I originally wanted. Screw Diamond and their imposter. I now have the real thing! I hope you’ve enjoyed this “shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist”. Anyway, tomorrow’s promised to no one, so try to enjoy today. Thanks for reading, and let me know some of your “holy grails” in the comments!

07th May2013

Reboot That Bitch: The Fall Guy

by Will

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I’m not sure if this’ll become a regular feature, but I’ve had a few of these rolling around in my head lately, so let’s see what happens. The premise is pretty simple: rebooting an old franchise with newer cast members. The Nerd Lunch guys do it all the time with their Re-Do podcasts, so I’m not reinventing the wheel. I do, however, seem to love the one-hour weekend syndicated drama format more than most, so I’ll probably be focusing on more of those sorts of shows. Anyway, today we’re going to talk about The Fall Guy (yeah, I know it was an ABC show, but I grew up with it in syndication, and that’s exactly where it would land in today’s TV climate).

The Fall Guy Cast

One of my favorite shows of the 80s, The Fall Guy starred Lee Majors as stuntman Colt Seavers, a man who works as a bounty hunter when not taking scrapes for stars like Robert Redford on screen. He’s accompanied by his cousin Howie (Douglas Barr), and stuntwoman Jody (Heather Thomas). First off, let me just take a moment to give Douglas Barr a round of applause. While not a household name, he was THE utility player of 80s television. If not for him and Terry Kiser, we wouldn’t have had anything to watch. Anyway, The Fall Guy was pretty formulaic – Colt gives us a voiceover of what life’s like as a stunt man, then he’d get a job to go after someone who’s jumped bail. His awesome truck usually jumped something cool, and Colt and Howie usually got into a fist fight in a dive bar. Oh, and when people shot at each other, no one got hit – in true Glen A. Larson fashion.

Plot

When thinking about a reboot of this franchise, it’s actually a lot harder than you’d assume. You see, Hollywood hasn’t really cranked out too many prettyboy actors like Robert Redford in recent years. We’ve either got the metrosexual who does his own stunts (Will Smith, Tom Cruise), or CGI taking care of the hard stuff. So, that would be a leading theme in this new incarnation. This Colt Seavers would actually be more successful as a bounty hunter, as the stunt industry is getting smaller. He’s still trying to get jobs here and there, but he’s realizing that Hollywood has changed, and his stuntman days are numbered. Also factor in that he’s not the youngest kid on the block, so even the jobs opening up are going to younger guys, with fewer broken bones.

Setting

Considering all the work is in LA, the show would remain in LA. Not that Colt couldn’t go on location for shoots, but HQ is in LA. I want a particular LA, though. I fell in love with the decadent, otherworldly LA depicted in shows like V.I.P. and Fastlane. That’s the LA where everyone goes to make dreams come true, yet they’re too oblivious to realize very few people’s dreams are coming true. I want the LA where every waiter’s an actor, and the real stars don’t give a shit about them. There’s glitz and glamour everywhere you look, but no one seems to know how to get from where they are to that. Colt hates this world, but he knows where his bread is buttered. He resents the fact that the “stars” get the attention, while he does all the heavy work (what little there is to be done lately). I want the same tongue-in-cheek nature of V.I.P. (which I think owes a lot to the original Fall Guy), and I want D-list guest stars, like David Faustino and Kato Kaelin. It’s a weekend show, with no network backing, so that’s the guest budget we’re working with.

Casting

Colt Seavers – Michael Biehn

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If this show were to start in the fall, Biehn would be 57 – about 10 years older than Majors when he had the role. That said, I couldn’t think of anyone better. He’s still in great shape, and he’s got the bumps to sell the role. They don’t make ‘em like Majors/Biehn anymore, as you need a guy who’s ruggedly handsome, has a shit-eating grin, but also couldn’t care less about the “stars” around him. Again, working with a weekly syndicated budget, this is a major coup. I almost went with Greg Evigan, but Biehn is the right choice. The perfect choice. In the event Biehn turned it down, I’d go with David Chokachi.

Howie Munson – Kyle Bornheimer

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This is a tough role to cast, as Howie isn’t exactly “bumbling”, but he’s not the most coordinated guy. He’s got a good heart, though, and earnestly wants to learn the stuntman trade from Colt. He’s milquetoast with an edge. For this, I’m going with Kyle Bornheimer. You may not know his name, but you’ve seen his face. I first noticed him when he was on NBC’s short-lived Perfect Couples, with Olivia Munn and Waitress from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. Currently, he’s the lead on ABC’s soon to be canceled Family Tools. His career is almost like Douglas Barr’s, but I could see him in the role so perfectly.

Jody Banks – Kaley Cuoco

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Here’s where things get a little tough. Everyone knows that Heather Thomas was on this show to add sex appeal. Well, her and Markie Post. She was a stuntwoman, but she usually just walked around in a bikini. If this were Maury, she’d be the Sexy Decoy. I need someone hot, but also with the physicality to pull this off. I also need someone who works within the budget. I want to keep the Happy Endings cast employed, so I gravitate to Elisha Cuthbert for hot/funny, but Eliza Coupe for hot/athletic. Still, I think both might be out of the price range of this little venture. Nope – got it. Kaley Cuoco. Her star is rising, but I don’t think she’d cost too much. Her recent commercial push shows she’ll take any job, and TBBT only has about 3 more seasons in it. She’s perfect for the humor and the physicality. I’ll say, however, that her addition to the cast bumps this up from syndication to a USA Original Series (yeah, they call ‘em that even when they’re not).

The Truck

fall guy truck

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 Look at it! Look at it JUMP! Yeah, that truck’s a member of the cast just as much as Colt. It ain’t going anywhere.

Theme Song

The original stays. I’m not sure if Michael Biehn can sing, but if he can, he’s doing it. If not, we’ll just use the Lee Majors version. Majors will already have cameos as Colt’s inspiration and mentor. I once toyed with the fact that New Colt was really just the brother of original Colt (which mean New Colt’s name would have to be Something Else Severs), but I never really like that stuff. So, Majors will be around, but we’ll call him something like “Dutch”. Anyway, the song. This is it:

Summary

So, there ya have it. I think it’s got about 3 seasons in it, if scheduled properly. Who knows – might even make it to 5. I say 3 seasons because that’s when renegotiation would occur, and I’m sure this show would require a favored nations clause, like Three’s Company. Basically, when one gets a raise, they all get a raise – even if one makes more, which would be Cuoco. Negotiations tend to fall apart at that point, as Suzanne Somers can attest. Anyway, this isn’t the show that’s gonna win awards or get rave reviews. It’s guilty pleasure television. It’s TV for the tween and teen who’s wrapped up in video games. Even if it can’t ween them off the XBox teat, then it’s guilty pleasure TV for bored husbands and lonely spinsters. The bottom line is that they don’t make TV like this anymore. A lot of folks might say that’s a good thing, but I’m not one of them. So, this is just my attempt at bringing back a little, albeit important, piece of my childhood.