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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A meme by Me

     Saw this product in Sprouts and asked what I saw as the inevitable question- the Sprouts staffers(100% of those surveyed) responded "Who's Michael Keaton?"

soooo sad...

Retro Revival Blog Challenge: Forgotten Food and Dining Experiences

     I get nostalgic about food, just like a lot of folks do. My Dad's Saturday morning pancakes, with just a little wet batter in the middle and a big lump of cold butter dabbed on there- with Karo syrup, which I thought was fancy at the time. Toastettes toaster pastries with sugar crystals on the outside and the scalloped crust like a real pie. Tang, which still exists but I never buy anymore.

     I mentioned this first place as part of this post but didn't really do it justice.

     There was once a place on south Havana street in aurora called "The Yum Yum Tree" It was one third Mall food court, one third buffet, one third games arcade and two thirds awesome. You had this indoor plaza/court of individual restaurants of many types, with arcade games scattered about. I recall my first real tastes of barbecue and other things as being there. I guess it faded into obscurity right about as I was entering high school, but I recall quite a few enjoyable times there. Of importance to note is while I recall enjoyable times, it was probably nightmarish for parents at that time and would be more so now- questionable food, and unsupervised kids...

     Far more palatable to my folks was the Organ Grinder Pizza; It wasn't the games on this one, but old movies accompanied by a truly monstrous pipe organ that you could see the workings of through the window- The organ was truly a work of extremity and art

Here is a video of some photos of the place in it's heyday-

     And one more...The 94th Aero Squadron- Built at the Stapleton Airport, with a WW1 french  chateau theme, I remember cool meals there with my parents while we watched the planes take off and land- there was a replica Fokker Dr12(the plane made famous by the Red Baron, who was also famous for his Pizza) The restaurant was a pricey but very cool place to eat- I recall shrimp in some sort of pinkish cream sauce.

     Unlike the other restaurants I mentioned this one actually burned and never re-opened, and even that airport has closed in favor of DIA-

     I wound up making myself wistful for those places- on my way out to make new memories and eat new food

    Here are some other takes

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Toysday: Triple Protection

     We didn't see autobot triple changers until the 1986 movie, with Springer being first- I had him in his G1 toy, and Sandstorm as well. I never had Broadside.

     The Autobot triple-changers didn't get a lot of love over the years, with occasional Springers being re-molded out of whatever Hasbro could turn green, and none of them triple-changers- The last example of this was GDO Springer, Retooled and recolored from HTFD Tomahawk. Don't get me wrong- Tomahawk is a great figure, but Springer he ain't. So when the rumor came out, and spread that there was a real Springer on it's way...

     As part of the "Thrilling 30" line, celebrating the 30 years of the brand(1984-2014) we got:

I love this figure- I bought two, did a little paint on this one, and bought aftermarket weapons to make him look even better. This is what Springer is about. Big, powerful, Bad-assed. His helicopter mode is the weakest of the three, but still passable

     Sandstorm was in the same boat as Springer, getting various sad recolors over various lines until the GDO Sandstorm. Then, as part of the "Thrilling 30" line, they did a fairly extensive retool on Springer to make him. Rather than a helicopter, his flight mode became closer to a VTOL craft, and he kept his Dune Buggy mode. His 'bot mode has poor balance and could have used larger feet in some way, so I have to call the 'bot mode the weakest.

     And then there is Broadside- I had looked at 3rd party versions of him...well, A 3rd party version. Talk about a character not getting any love. He was in G1, and the had a minicon appearance in the Classics line and then...? Finally, they did him up for Titans Return as a headmaster. I bought him aftermarket stuff from Nonnef as detailed here because he should have an axe.

He's a little weird because he is a mass-shifter- he goes from big robot to fighter-plane to full-sized aircraft carrier, of the Essex class, per info found here. Mass-shifters mess with my head-canon a bit, and that may be why I never had his G1 figure, or it may just have been timing. he came out in 1986, and that was the time when my toy-collecting was waning, before it waxed back up again in my adult years.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Monday Media Musings:Pride in Heritage

     So yesterday Sam and I took in "the Hitman's Bodyguard" and without spoiling, a few points:


  • It's a more thoughtful and nuanced take on morality and how decisions of the past cast shadows on the future than most action comedies and more than a lot of dramas as well. 
  • Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson have amazing screen chemistry. Sam with Samuel L. Jackson and Salma Hayek.
  • Considering that Ryan Reynolds is usually the smart-ass, watching him play straight man to Samuel L. Jackson was amazing. 
     Now on to my Main subject. 

     Among the movies in my collection, is the dubiously received "So I Married an Axe Murderer" This movie has it's ups and downs, but two things struck me upon my recent re-watching. 

     First, every person in that film seems like they had a really good time making it. Every character in the movie has some little odd quirk or personal touch from the too-nice police captain of Alan Arkin to the Pilot played by Steven Wright with only a tenuous grasp on reality, to Charles Grodin's Sullen and taciturn owner of the car that Tony the detective tries to commandeer.

     Second, it reminded me of another, far more successful movie based upon one character:

     I would like to see Stuart McKenzie from "So I Married an Axe Murderer" in a conversation with Kostas "Gus" Portokalos from "My Big Fat Greek Wedding". Someone should make that movie. Here you have two men with a fierce and (considering recent events here in the U.S.A.) healthy pride in their heritage to the point where it's become almost the single focusing aspect of their personality. Add to that their love of their families and you have almost the same man from two different cultures. 

     Just a Haggis for thought...

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Toysday: Triple Threat

     Back in the 80's I had all three Decepticon triple changers. As I think I have mentioned before, Blitzwing was in the wrong box at the wrong time and did not make the trip to this part of my life. I still have my G1 Astrotrain and my G1 Octane. But Blitzwing was a special character to me, for this reason- At the end of "Five Faces of Darkness" Blitzwing stepped up, stood up to Galvatron, and stopped the fighting when there was no longer a point to it- He also sided with the autobots to stop a greater foe, and that makes him kind of noble in my eyes.

     Anyway- enough of my reminiscence- thanks to the Titans Return line, I finally got my neo G1 triple-changers


This is Toyworld's Evila Star, which is pronounced 
Plasticmigraine in English- he looks really G1, unlike his 
Titans Return counterpart. I couldn't make myself see that one as Astrotrain. 
This one is just such a mess though. He spends most of his time in robot mode


Octane managed to stay nice and close to his G1 modes 
and I was really happy to see him. As is often the case with a triple changer, 
one mode looks like Ass, and in Octanes case it is the jet that has random truck parts hanging off the sides. I don't care, I am happy for what he is. 


I love this one- Broad shouldered, blocky and looks good in all three modes- 
This mold was initially used to make a voyager Megatron, but I think it works even better here. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Monday Media Musings: The Strange West

     My thoughts are not primarily on a movie today, but on the book signing I went to Friday night, and the book I bought there. It's called "Straight Outta Tombstone", an anthology put together by David Boop. I am ten stories in and it's a hell of a good read. a goodly number of the authors were there and I actually did them a disservice by singlemindedly seeking it for Jim Butcher's part in the proceedings.

     David Boop was there, Sam Knight, Kevin J. Anderson, David Lee Summers, Sarah Hoyt Naomi Brett Rourke, Peter J Wacks, Bryan Thomas Schmidt, and of course, Jim Butcher.

     I got my picture taken with him:

And my copy of the Aeronaut's Windlass signed

     Now when I think of weird western stories and movies, three come to mind from the fairly substantial collection I have. These are (By order of release date) as follows.

     High Plains Drifter: I always took this one as a kind of a western ghost story- The nameless stranger come back as a revenant to avenge his own death and rest easy- and when it comes to vengeance, his kind is not particular...

     I've always held that he vanishes once he rides out of town.

     Pale Rider: For me, this is the other side of High Plains Drifters tale of vengeance and betrayal- if the stranger in HPD came back from hell, the Preacher in pale Rider seems to have come from heaven. he seems almost supernaturally aware of what is happening, and shows evidence of being either incredibly badly wounded, or perhaps murdered in a ring of bullet scars on his back

You can even picture both as the same character, at different times in his unquiet afterlife and with different prerogatives

     But you can't talk weird west without talking about Cowboys and Aliens...or at least I can't. Daniel Craig  as an outlaw with a past and no memory of it, with a mysterious weapon locked onto his arm. A posse hunting monsters who took the townsfolk, and spacefaring prospectors here to rid the earth of it's pesky gold, as well as torture us, kill us and eventually devour us. This one calls up all the tropes for a western, as well as a sci-fi movie.

I watch this one at least once a year.

     Now as I consider it, I want to throw one more in here- the most recent Lone Ranger movie. Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp as a very mismatched Lone Ranger and Tonto, fighting against the earth out of balance and WENDIGO. This is one of those movies in the category of "Mr Smith loved this one but the critics hated it." There are a lot of those...


Tonto is the narrator of this tale, and he may be an unreliable and slightly demented one as he tells the story, from a very aged Tonto to a young boy who shows up in a mask to the carnival where he is.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Toysday: Nonnef Productions

     Nonnef Productions: if you know the name, chances are your transformers already have some neat accessories. If you don't...well, you want to. They seem to be garage kits, limited runs of parts and accessories intended to enhance your collection. They are out of South Carolina and seem to be pretty nice folks.

     I first encountered them while bemoaning the floppy, saggy rubber antennae that my Superion came with. I was looking at 3-d printed parts when a forum post sent me racing to EBay for these:
Perfect fit, good match for color

     Since then I picked up parts for Menasor, others for Superion, a fix for Blitzwing's shoulder issue, and guns and fixes for the Titans Return figures.
This adapts blackjack to point up and down instead of side to side
there is also a piece that lets the axe hang up and down

This simple block pushes the base of the shoulder out a little,
 causing it to make a more solid connection

A replacement Gun for Blurr, more like his G1 rifle

Guns, and brainstorms infamous time case

Replacement guns for Chromedome, closer to his G1 gun

replacement wrists and hands that add a swivel to his wrists

     Yesterday I got a set for Broadside with his Gun, Axe and some gap fillers.
     I appreciate all his work, and I'm sure you would too. Maybe it's time your transformers made Nonnef's acquaintance...

Monday, August 14, 2017

Monday Movie Musings: Fantastic Muggle

     Not every movie that you see will make you feel good, not every movie you see will make you comfortable. Sam and I saw Detroit yesterday. It's a movie based on an event from american history, The Algiers Motel incident during the 1967 Detroit riots. How true the film is is still open to debate, but I will say this...

     You know that feeling you get watching a horror film, when all the normal rules of life are suspended and the most innocuous of actions is enough to get the character killed in the most horrific fashion possible? Watching Detroit felt like that. Like at any moment, the hockey-masked machete wielding killer was going to reveal himself...but there were no hockey masks, no machetes...just fear, and guns, and makeshift weapons, and itchy trigger fingers.

     This seems like a pretty decent starting point as to the truth vs supposition or opinion in the incident- I am speaking of it only from the standpoint of viewing the film, and the film left me disquieted. There is a reason why I value all films but tend to choose lighter fare.

     In cheerier news, I re-viewed Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

     When I first saw this in theater, and on DVD, I knew it meant more to me than any of the eight Harry Potter movies, but I really couldn't put my finger on why. I settled on..."It's it's own work, not based on a book, so this is the complete story. no scenes missing"

     I think that's important, but not the whole of things. In Harry Potter, we are given a character who is somewhat relatable (Harry) but not so much, and not for long. Harry goes from horrific abuse to fame and glory in the space of his eleventh birthday. He is the chosen one, the boy who lived, the child of prophecy. He is given his place in the wizard world and it's wonders quickly become routine.

     Fantastic Beasts gives us a window into a segregated world, wizard folk divided from no-maj. We are given a window in the form of Jacob Kowalski. Jacob is a totally relatable character-exposed by an accident involving a chance encounter and a switched suitcase to a hidden world denied him, full of danger, but full of wonder. He never for a moment loses that wonder. He proves brave, resourceful, and adaptable. His final moment of sacrifice, when he steps into the rain to lose his memory and protect the wizarding world from exposure is heart-breaking, and I weep with the loss each viewing.

     I never really wanted to be Harry Potter, but I'd be Jacob Kowalski, just like that.

Jacob Kowalski: [about to lose his memory] Hey. This is for the best. Yeah. I-I was... I was never even supposed to be here. I was never supposed to know... a-any of this. Everybody knows Newt only kept me around because... Hey, Newt, why did you keep me around?
Newt Scamander: Because I like you. Because you're my friend. And I'll never forget how you helped me, Jacob.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Monday Movie Musings: There and Back Again

     I found myself immersed in the Hobbit this week when other things were not in ascendance. There are a lot of things to appreciate about those three films. There is a lot of humor in the subtle stuff and the overt stuff that the dwarves are involved in. The scene with the trolls, where Bilbo is stalling for time by spinning a yard about the dwarves being full of parasites, while the dwarves, full of pride and stubbornness are yelling back "We don't have parasites! YOU HAVE PARASITES!" ...It's Thorin's sigh and eyeroll that gets me. it's the look of a man who says I love these people, they are my family, but sometimes...

     The appearance in the third fil of Dain Ironfoot, played by Billy Connolly was especially nice- I love Billy Connolly in anything he does- see my post about Fido, here

his initial speech had me rolling:

Dain: Good morning. How are we all? I have a wee proposition, if you don't mind giving me a few moments of your time. Would you consider... JUST SODDING OFF! All ye, right now! 
Bard: Stand fast! 
Gandalf: Come now, Lord Dain. 
Dain: Gandalf the Grey. Tell this rabble to leave or I'll water the ground with their blood. 
Gandalf: There is no need for war between Dwarves, Men, and Elves. A legion of Orcs march on the mountain. Stand your army down. 
Dain: I will not stand down before any elf! Not least this faithless Woodland sprite! He wishes nothing but ill upon my people! If he chooses to stand between me and my kin, I'll split his pretty head open! See if he's still smirking then! 
Thranduil: He's clearly mad like his cousin. 
Dain: Ya hear that, lads? We're on! Let's give these bastards a good hammering! 

     Plus, add to that the varied and innovative elements of the dwarven war machine, and you have what should be a victory for the elves looking suddenly far less certain. The arrow catchers were incredible. And when the orcs arrive and the elves and dwarves join forces against the common foe...if you can ever say battle is beautiful, this battle is just that. 

     I know there are a lot of complaints from Tolkien purists that a lot got added that was not in the book...and they are right. But in my opinion, none of it is too out of place- all of the casting is superb, and not much I would change- Tolkien's books are a bit dry for my taste, and don't lend themselves to my casual reading. The movies are a bit more my speed

     I say this- if you go to watch the three movies that comprise the Hobbit and the three of the Lord of the Rings...invest the time to watch the wealth of cinematic gold that is the extended editions. I think you will be happy you did. Also...I challenge you to watch them in real time. that way once you watch the Hobbit trilogy, you only have to wait 60 years until you can pop in Fellowship...