The Force Awakens

Last night I went to the opening night of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Props to Terry Gant of Third Coast Comics who puts together a bunch of movie premiere parties as well as monthly meetups & Karaoke events that are awesome. Usually I’m the kind of person who waits a week or two then catches a matinee when a movie I like comes out, but this time I decided to be “among the first” to see this mega blockbuster.

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I had been to one of Terry’s premieres before (Guardians of the Galaxy) and had a good time but I remember having to get up during the flick to use the washroom because I’d had too many cocktails from our private bartender. I still don’t know how they escaped the prison! This time the plan was get there just before the movie starts, have one drink and nurse it through the movie. Turns out that wasn’t such a good idea because every seat was either taken or being “held” for folks who weren’t there. Luckily I was able to squeeze in between two middle aged ladies, one of whom was already half in the bag.

The movie itself was everything I had hoped it would be. I don’t have the same attachment many Star Wars fans have with the franchise since I was 20 when the first movie came out so even though I really liked it, it didn’t influence my childhood the way it does some of the die-hard fans. JJ Abrams is one of those fans and he has made a movie that is a love letter to the other fans who have been sadly and in some cases angrily disappointed by the films made since Return of the Jedi. Even tho this movie introduces the next generation of Star Wars characters, it has the advantage of having the original cast included thus giving their blessing, if you will to the youngbloods. As every beloved original cast member made their first screen appearance they were greeted by thunderous applause, like we were attending a live performance. I’m not going to give any spoilers because I HATE people who do that, but I can say that if the hardcore fans don’t like this one, just hang up your robe and lay down your light sabre.

 

Disco Demolition Remembered

Yesterday July 12th was the 36th anniversary of the infamous Disco Demolition promotion at old Comiskey Park. I have vague memories of my 21 year old self attending that twi-night double header having no idea that I was about to witness an historical event.

Steve Dahl was a DJ on what was then the premiere rock station in town WLUP. Steve had recently been fired from WDAI who used to be top dog until they literally went disco overnight. I was a regular listener to his morning show on WDAI and was shocked when I turned on the radio and heard some announcer welcoming me to the new Disco DAI! I thought it was Dahl pulling a prank.

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Steve Dahl and Loreli the original Loop girl.

There were several reasons I hated disco.

1) I can’t dance. Apparently just being black does not guarantee you will have moves.

2) I couldn’t afford a white 3 piece suit. To be a rocker all you need are jeans & t-shirts.

3) Disco seemed to glorify this shallow superficial lifestyle where you are judged on how well you dance, what you wear and how big a schmuck you are.

So when Dahl organized this demolition thing I was all over it.

So I was able to rustle up 98 cents and a disco record (I think it was “shake your groove thang” by Peaches & Herb) and headed off to the ballpark.

By the time I arrived they were telling people to just keep their records and pay the 98 cents. Sweet! I get in the event and get to return my roommate his disco record. I don’t remember much about the game which I believe the Sox lost, but I do remember records flying through the air like frisbees and an odd mix of people that could give a shit about baseball and were only there to see Steve Dahl and watch some records get blowed up real good.

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It’s like That 70’s Show for real! Where’s Fez?

Fast forward to the ceremony. After Dahl & his crew blew up the records there was a thunderous response and then somebody ran on the field. Then 2 more ran on then 10 then 50. I had seen old footage of fans running on the field to celebrate, like when Bobby Thompson hit his famous home run. So I’m thinking. when am I gonna get a chance to do that? Right now that’s when! As I hit the field I head right for second base because I thought it would be cool to say I slid into second in a MLB ballpark. Second base was gone.

Bedlam I tell ya!
Bedlam I tell ya!
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Well it seemed like a good idea at the time…

All the bases were gone, literally stolen. They would have taken home plate if wasn’t a big slab of rock. Well then. I remember jogging past the dugouts and seeing a look of pure terror on the faces of the players & coaches. This was officially out of hand. I remember standing amid the chaos and looking up to the stands from a view I had never experienced before taking in the surreal moment. Then it dawned on me that now was probably a good time to get my ass off the field. I had been back in my seat for 15-20 minutes when the Chicago riot police arrived on horseback to the cheers of White Sox fans.

7/13/1979 -- The White Sox scoreboard message goes unheeded as thousands of spectators engulf the field during an anti-disco demonstration that caused the second game of a double-header to be called off. Detroit won the opener 4-1. UPI photo by Hank DeGeorge.(demolition,Comiskey park,baseball pro,Chicago)
Damn! That dude looks familiar!

When I got home that night my roommates had seen the whole thing on the news but since there was no social media or even cable news it would be weeks before we knew the significance of that night. Steve Dahl and his partner Garry Meier went on to become two of the most famous and well paid radio personalities in Chicago, disco did indeed die a few years later and the music they called rock is now “classic rock”.

There’s nothing short of an earthquake that could get me to run out on a ball field these days. Disco Demolition falls under the category of dumbshit I did and lived to talk about.

 

55?

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Why does everybody speed to wherever they’re going? I’m sure many of these people are heading to jobs that they hate or family they can’t stand but boy are they in a hurry to get there!

The other day I was driving south on I-57. I’m not a leadfoot anymore so I try to stay in the middle lane and go a few miles over the limit but not so fast that I can’t adjust down if a state trooper is spotted. This particular day was a Saturday afternoon and traffic seemed a bit more aggressive than usual so I moved to the right lane so all the NASCAR wannabees could get past me. This woman got right in my ass. Keep in mind that I’m going 70 mph in a 55 zone in the right lane. It was clear she was giving me the kind of tailgate that’s meant to intimidate me into driving faster. Sorry missy, if 70 in the slow lane ain’t fast enough for ya then take your ass around. Which she did and while doing so shot me the nastiest glare one human being could give another. Like I’m the asshole!

Am I?

Superheroes Exist!

Seattle is cool for a lot of reasons. One of those is that they have real live superheroes patrolling their streets. The most famous of these is Phoenix Jones.

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Phoenix Jones (real name Benjamin Fodor) goes on nightly patrols much like Daredevil does in Hell’s Kitchen in the Marvel comics. Jones originally was a solo crime fighter but over time he’s added several others to his entourage including his wife who adopted the persona Purple Reign.

ESPN just did a piece on him, Phoenix Rising that is definitely worth the watch.

 

Be Happy

I was a little late discovering this song since I listen mostly to music in my collection that I have amassed since the 70’s. I’ve become that old fart that plays his music from back in the day and wonders what kind of crap the kids are listening to (autotune for instance).

Since I stumbled across “Happy” by Pharrell Williams I just can’t get enough of it. Go ahead you cynics roll your eyes and make a snarky comment, I don’t care. There’s something about the song that touches me so deeply that I can hardly explain it. It’s my belief that life at it’s core is inherently simple and we as humans make it more difficult to make ourselves seem smarter. Be nice to others, share, love, be happy. Sounds pretty good. But somehow us humans come along and fuck that up.

When you get right down to it it’s happiness we are all after. It shouldn’t come from money, success or at the expense of others but from within. If you’re a miserable fucker before you get rich when you get rich you’ll just be a miserable fucker with money. The people in the video are a cross section of America, just walking or dancing down the street. They could be on their way to work, at work  or just out kickin’ it. There are celebrity cameos but hey, they’re just people too.

In an interview Pharrell said writing this song was just a “halfcourt shot”. It’ll probably be the biggest swish of his career. The best things start simple.

Repo Man Turns 30

Back in 1984 I was waiting tables at The Medici in Hyde Park. One day Marsha, a fellow member of the waitstaff came to me and said, I saw this movie the other day and there was a line in it that reminded me of you. Working at the Med seems like a lifetime ago for me for many reasons, but I did get to check out that movie and have been in love with Repo Man ever since.

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Made on a small budget Executive produced by Mike Nesmith formerly of the Monkees and directed by Alex Cox, Repo Man is a Quirky indie film about a punker named Otto who falls into a job as a repo man. Along the way we are introduced to Otto’s criminal friends, his mentor Bud, government agents chasing a car with dead ETs in the trunk and lots more craziness. The soundtrack is a who’s who of mid 80’s punk royalty and was a huge hit even before the movie came out. The movie has attained cult status and is filled with lines that I constantly quote to this day.

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The Criterion Collection has issued a blu-ray edition of Repo Man that came out last year.  I just bought a copy off Ebay and for me it brings back  memories from that era that was the best of times & the worst of times. It comes with a booklet filled with lots of little known facts about the film. The disc contains deleted scenes and commentary as well as interviews with actors and Iggy Pop who did the theme song. Thanks Marsha, for turning me on to this satirical masterpiece.

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Chicago Comic Con Recap

Finally, four days after Wizard World Chicago Comic Con came to an end I have the strength and time to blog about it. Been feeling kinda loopy the last few days but I think the bug has passed. I was really surprised at how well we did at this show. I went into it with lowered expectations since I hadn’t done the show since 2006. Back then I only had one book and no do dads to sell for the mainstream fans. This year I come in with five books and a large assortment of magnets, buttons and pocket mirrors featuring my characters as well as those made from my old comics collection.

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Janet did such a great job and it was so great to have her there. Something I miss when I’m on the road.
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This was taken by our friend Victoria on Saturday. We were pretty fried.

This was by far the most expensive con of the year with both the city of Rosemont and Wizard productions trying to squeeze every drop of blood out of everyone from the fans to the exhibitors(they placed these plastic wristbands on everyone instead of badges to make sure no badge would be used by anyone but the purchaser, so all weekend we’re walking around like we escaped from the psych ward) but we managed to make it a success anyway.

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This young lady rockin’ an Yvonne Craig style Batgirl costume stopped by…
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…as well as The Black Widow…
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…and this goon had to be eight feet tall with glowing red eyes. Straight out of a nightmare.
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And you couldn’t throw a rock over your shoulder without hitting somebody in a Deadpool costume.

Janet worked the table with me on Thursday and Saturday so those days were a lot of fun. Saturday was crazy busy and we sold a ton of magnets & buttons as well as a few comics (imagine that!). Saturday was the busiest day I have ever experienced as a seller. We went home had take out and just crashed. Thank god we found a good dog sitter so we could make it happen.

I’m thinking of doing wizard next year but it depends on whether or not c2e2 and or cake see fit to allow me to purchase a table from them. In the meantime, I’m booked for Detroit Fanfare this October, which for sure will close out the convention season for yours truly.

 

 

 

Denzel Gives A Stellar Performance in Flight

I wanted to see Flight when it first came out about a month ago. Denzel Washington braved hurricane Sandy to be on Letterman the week Dave didn’t even have a studio audience just so he could promote the film. It  would have been a lot easier to just take the check and say to hell with it(Tom Hanks, Cloud Atlas). Instead we saw Skyfall which was good but doesn’t  need any help as far as promotion is concerned. A dramatic film with a brother in the lead role needs all the help it can get because most of america won’t go see it.  Even black folks won’t support them, and that puzzles me. Tyler Perry attempted this in his role as Alex Cross and people stayed away in droves. Where were all his fans? I guess if he wasn’t acting a fool, spouting platitudes and setting the race back fifty years they didn’t want to see it.

Anyway, in this movie Washington plays Whip Whitaker, a hard drinking pilot who miraculously crash lands his plane after a mid-air malfunction. The crash landing scene is incredibly real and gut wrenching. Now you would think he’d be a hero like captain Sully but Whip was pretty drunk and had other substances in his system. The movie chronicles the events in the following days when Whip struggles with his addiction and the pressure of the upcoming investigation. In the hospital he meets Nicole a fellow addict who has hit rock bottom and has decided to do something about it. Whip does not see how his drinking is a problem and is stuck in denial even with prison looming over him.

I don’t want to give too much away but there are some suspenseful moments leading up to and including the hearing. I found myself rooting for this guy even though he’s a real asshole because you think maybe he’ll get his shit together this time. This is the movie he should get an Oscar for, not Training Day which was only half believable. Maybe he’ll get one for Flight.

Random Thoughts

This may sound cruel to some, but I believe that in this world of over seven billion people give or take a few, half of them are idiots. Fifty percent. I’m not the only one that feels this way. The corporate news media and most advertisers must agree because they sure talk to us like we’re all idiots. A good chunk of that fifty percent believe Mitt Romney won the first debate with “style points”. WTF? Are we picking America’s Next Top Model or the leader of the free world?

This kind of sign will get you in all kinds of trouble. You know somebody’s gonna come in and ask something like,”should I ask my girlfriend to marry me?”.

At the Xsport where I’m a member there is a regular hot tub and a resistance pool. The resistance pool is basically a treadmill for swimmers. A sign above the pool states: MAXIMUM BATHERS IN RESISTANCE POOL 1. There are often five or more bathers in the pool using it as a not-so-hot tub taking turns with their backs against the only two jets in the tepid 6’x9′ pool. Fifty percent.

I know I posted this a few days ago but it’s worth an encore.

Holler back!

 

 

 

The Campaign is a winner!

With the November presidential election just around the corner, this is a great time for a movie like The Campaign. Will Ferrell & Zach Galifianakis star in this hilarious spoof of american politics.

Two powerful CEOs (very much like the Koch brothers) decide to back a candidate in a congressional election in North Carolina so that he can help them fulfill their diabolical plans for his district. What’s so cool about this movie is that it’s full of laughs without being too silly and if you pay attention you could learn a little about politics without having to listen to the stuffed shirts and talking heads on CNN or MSNBC.

Our movie experience was enhanced by the fact that the theatre we saw it at was pretty cool. The Century 12 in Evanston has become our favorite place to take in a flick. We usually go to matinees which are a few bucks less, and these guys extend their matinee hours to 6pm during the week and 2pm on weekends.

Another cool bonus is the piano bar called The Rhythm Room. Its nice enough to be a destination bar even if you’re not seeing a movie!