Monday, October 06, 2014

Looking back before going forward in a TV sense

Tomorrow night The CW will start up a new series for "The Flash". Frankly, I'm giddy as hell. Flash is one of my favorites when it comes to the super heroes, and the popularity of comic books heroes giving Flash another shot, not to mention already being a spin off of another comic show, "Arrow". I'm hoping that this trend is here for the long run. But for tonight I'm checking out the 90's series they did for The Flash. Riding the comic book popularity wave after Batman hit the big screen, the Scarlett Speedster got a season on CBS. I wished back in the day that the show had at least another season, but back then a raging geek in his early teens even one season was more than enough to keep me glued to the tube whenever it was on. For the most part it was a good show! Yes a few flaws here and there, sometimes a little corny, but I wasn't going to be like the comic book geek who has to nitpick every little thing when a character comes to the screen. I knew then and still hold to it that when a character comes to TV or film you gotta make certain concessions to make the character appeal to a wider audience. So long as you don't stray too far off course from the actual core of the character I don't really give two shits how tall Wolverine is in the movies. But I digress, back to "The Flash"!! What did I dig about the show??? It didn't take itself too seriously, while there was a sophistication to it, there was still a part of it that made it feel like it had just jumped from the comic book page. The Danny Elfman theme song? Another high point!! The man put his mark on Batman, so why not Flash?? The Flash suit looked pretty sweet, not to god awful bright with the red & yellow, they kept the colors muted. It also had a little bit of the sculpted look like the Keaton Batman costume. Having Mark Hamill guest star as the Trickster from Flash's Rogues Gallery was a brilliant stroke, and even with the minor changes David Cassidy did a decent job as Mirror Master. The standout episodes for me were the ones that featured Nightshade, a masked hero from the 50's (in the vein of Green Hornet), that came out retirement to help the Flash. Last but not least, Alex Desert as Julio, the co-worker of Barry Allen (The Flash) was always a standout. But there were a couple flaws here and there. The biggie that messed with me was when they brought in Capitan Cold. This is where the get too far away from the character that I have to call a foul. They made him an albino hitman in a suit with an ice weapon, not like the comics version that's a decent character, granted a supervillain wearing a parka may come off as a little lame. The comic relief of a couple beat cops with goofy schemes & one liners never really came off as that funny. And every episode there was some scene where Barry/Flash had to use super speed to deal with some little work or domestic issue with disastrous results. I always assumed it was one of those hooks to make the non comic book crowd have a little giggle. Ah well, nothing is ever perfect and you have to take the bad with the good. When all is said and done, Flash my friend, you've been gone from the small screen for far too long, here's hoping that the CW show does you some justice, you had a good jumping off point those years back.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Tales of movie watching...............................

I was 19 years old on a Friday night at Metro North (RIP) in the fall buying a new jacket. By the time the jacket shopping was all said & done it was early & had the rest of the evening to kill. So with that I decided to hit up the movie theater behind the mall and check out a movie that had just opened that night, "Showgirls". Yes, "Showgirls". The infamous NC-17 flick!! You'd think the reason for a young guy to see it would be simple, check out some T & A. Actually it wasn't the case. No the reason I decided to check out "Showgirls" on a whim was seeing as how it was the first NC-17 movie to have a wide distribution made it a moment in pop culture history!! Add to that the fact that the girl who was Jesse Spano on the Saturday morning show "Saved By The Bell" was the lead. It was big news at the time that an actress from a screwy Saturday morning show would make the jump to the big screen in such a dramatic fashion. Those two things, and me being goofy for pop culture moments, why not check this sucker out?? I make my way to the box office and get carded to purchase a ticket. No worries, I'm 19, so I'm in easy. I make my way to the theater where I get carded by an usher. This had actually been the very first time that I had ever been carded to get into a movie, so this was a different experience. Dozens of movies in the theater before I was even 16 with an R rating, no one looks at me twice. The opening night of the NC-17 movie I'm starting to wonder if there's gonna be a customs desk before I get to my seat. I hit the auditorium and the room is PACKED!! People of all ages and an equal ratio to the genders, and me with my jaw dropping a little bit. Given the nature of the movie I almost expected the place to be full of sweating guys with strategically placed rain coats. I look behind me and there's 3 women that could have easily passed for the Golden Girls. Once I saw them for a split second I thought that I had wandered into the wrong movie or that they had. I take my seat, the lights go down and the screen comes alive................... So yeah............... The movie.............Well........If you've never seen the movie lemme give you the briefest of synopsis. Drifter girl comes to Vegas and schemes & manipulates her way to being the biggest showgirl in Vegas. We'll leave it at that. About the halfway point in the movie I had realized something. Seeing as how this was an NC-17 movie that takes place in Vegas strip clubs and topless showgirl reviews there was skin beyond skin being shown, and at the halfway point I had so many topless women that I was getting bored with seeing girls topless!! Being a 19 year old college student this was something unheard of. The movie ended & I left the movie not sure what in the hell I had watched, but I was definite that it was something pretty horrid. When I saw the reviews the next week I wasn't the only one to think that, and the movie wound up being the punch line to many jokes for a couple years. I'm sure the writers for late night talk shows and stand up comedians world wide looked to the stars, tears welling up in their eyes, falling to their knees and crying out in thanks for the amount of material to be mined from this movie. Over the years, the movie has reached a cult status. Hell, a few years back a boxed set edition came out of it with shot glasses and party games! After that I started looking at this turd of a movie through the filter of an exploitation grindhouse film and realized that it wasn't that horrible! Yes, the acting is horrible and over the top, the plot is something from an old school network made for TV movie, the sex scene in the pool had me rolling on the floor laughing at how bizarre and ridiculous it looked. But as soon as I stopped looking at it as a serious film, and started looking at it as the campy over the top ride that it was I managed to develop a minor appreciation for it. Hell, in retrospect the makers of "Showgirls" beat Tarantino and Rodríguez to the punch in trying to bring 70's type grindhouse and sleaze to a modern audience! In the end it was mission accomplished in seeing this bit of pop culture history. True, it's a dubious history, but for a guy like me who's into the bizarre, the oddball, the left of normal, it's been a strange but fun ride watching the evolution from sleaze to cult.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Randomness about angry comic geeks & the dreamland red light flea market

As I write this I have the flick, "Incident At Loch Ness" going in the background. If you've never seen it please take the time to do so. Funny, thrilling, and underrated mockumentary about Werner Herzog trying to shoot a doc about the Loch Ness Monster that goes very wrong. Today I hit up my local comic joint (Vintage Stock) to trade some comics. One other thing I traded was a copy of the Dark Knight Risers soundtrack. He asked me if the soundtrack, "sucked as bad as the movie". I went on to say no and that I enjoyed both the film and the soundtrack. I got in response the reasons that the movie sucked so bad, one thing in particular was how Bruce Wayne's back was fixed after getting "broken" by Bane. For a little background, that part of the movie is based off the Batman storyline "Knightfall", so I didn't want to counter with how ridiculous Bruce getting his backed fixed in the comic was much less the movie. All I could bring myself to say was, "suspension of disbelief". I really didn't feel like arguing the point, which would have just been a giant circle. One thing about the folks who are into the comic book realm you gotta love and hate is that passion. I don't see others with hobbies with as much passion as comic book collectors, for better or worse. When a comic book person enjoys something, they LOVE it, no if's and's or buts. But if a comic person isn't down with something, you will hear about it, at length, carefully chosen words, documentation, Power Point slides, etc etc................ Don't get me wrong, it's good to commune and share in a mutual love & adoration, but when it comes to opposing viewpoints with a person who isn't going to change their mind...... Well........ At this point in life I realize it's better to not keep arguing and poking the bear. Just being like Jeff Lebowski & giving the response, "Well that's just like, your opinion, man." And just leave it at that. Life's too short to deal with having semi regular "less filling, tastes great" arguments. So for the past few months I've had a more or less reoccurring dream. Not really the same scenario, but the same place. Best I can tell geographically is it's somewhere on the south end of St. Joseph, Mo, somewhere between Kovacs's and the Hoof & Horn. The place in question........ Man, it's something else. The best way I can describe it is a "red light flea market". A multi level building, concrete floors on the inside, walls looking very cheap, old wood paneling, what light there is comes from the occasional bulb from the ceiling and random holiday lights strung about. Where there aren't walls there are partitions made from old sheets and drapes. The "flea market" part is just that, booths selling old books, various types of swords and knives (those are the ones that I remember). The "red light" part of it, for lack of a better term, is also just that. Drugs, sex, you name it, you can get it there. Drug wise it's mostly just pot stuff, a lot of pipes & bongs for purchase, a strong smell and haze of pot in the air. Women coming up to you, attractive ones, not some nasty lady with meth mouth and skin like a suitcase. The ladies coming up and propositioning are all beautiful & exotic. Any time that I have the dream where I'm in the flea market full of blades & fornication & drugs I never really do anything. Yes, I interact with the people that talk to me. But taking any drugs or having any kind of kinky contact with the ladies? Nope, never happens. Sure I feel a little titillation being in this place, but I'm more of a watcher in this environment. I don't really do drugs, random sex with a strange lady ain't my thing. I ponder this only cause this is the first time that I've had different dreams but they're all in the same place. Don't think ever in my life I've had the same place pop up in my sleeping brain. It's not a frustration mind you, just surreal that my sleeping brain has concocted some sort of place like a regular watering hole that it goes back to that I just sit on the sidelines of. A modern day. Low rent Sodom and Gomorrah where all I do is witness & never interact, comfortable in my role as a watcher.