Friday Fisticuffs: Tango & Cash (1989)

For this New Year’s Eve version of Friday Fisticuffs I went with what I thought was a minor classic of the 80s/90s heyday of action flicks, Tango & Cash. This flick about two cops who get thrown in jail and eventually get their revenge against a corrupt system starring Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell respectively turned out to be pretty good (this was my second viewing, though I don’t remember much from the first), but the rapid fire puns nearly put me out of the game. They come fast and furious from our two leads who have done serious action flicks like Rambo and Escape From New York and apparently felt like having some fun with this one. Well, a few here and there work, but nonstup punage is no fun for anyone. I can’t believe they weren’t cringing througout the movie. The funny thing is that the original director the movie was fired because he wanted to the movie to be more serious and they wanted it to be more “funny.” In the end, it turns out to be a pretty cool, though way WAY over the top action movie (there’s the equivalent of Q’s lab, a tricked out SUV with armor and guns and the whole nine and people not being able to spot Kurt Russell in drag. HE LOOKS THE SAME!) with far too many one-liners for anyone’s good.

In addition to the two leads who ham it up throughout the flick, the rest of the case plays things pretty straight. You’ve got Jack Palance as the bad guy, Brion James and James Hong has his lieutenants and Teri Hatcher as Tango’s sister/Cash’s love interest. They all do a great job, I love seeing Palance as a bad guy and Hatcher is a long-time crush of mine from her Lois Lane days.

The flick is probably more of an action flick than a fighting movie, but I think it still makes sense as an FF entry. 40 minutes in you get the first real brawl with Tango and Cash teaming up against a small legion of inmates trying to kill them. There’s lots of punching, kicking and head crashing. All good stuff. At the end you get another great series of fights after T&C drive the aforementioned beefed up SUV to the bag guy’s HQ and fight their way to the end.

The funny thing about this movie is that my memory tells me it is capital A Awesome, but when I watch it, I find myself groaning more than cheering. Had they gone with a more serious tone or just dubbed out a percentage of those awful puns and one-liners I think the movie would hold up a lot better. Maybe the original director could get a Director’s Cut and we’d have ourselves a better movie.

TJ’s Toy Chest: Star Wars Mini Mugg Bounty Hunters

I have been a huge fan of Hasbro’s Mighty Mugg line of figures since their inception. With their mostly standard issue bodies, they remind me of MiniMates in the width and breadth of what they can do with a basic body shape to create characters from Star Wars, Transformers, G.I. Joe and Marvel. I picked up select favorites like Hoth Han Solo, Mace Windu, Cobra Commander and Mola Ram and others, but noticed that the line seemed to all but dry up this year. Well, I was surprised and excited to see that, instead of completely going away, the Muggs made a return to my local Target in the form of 3-pack Mini Mighty Muggs. I strongly hinted to the missus that these would make great stocking stuffers and she came through with the Bounty Hunter pack featuring IG-88, Boba Fett and Bossk. Like a lot of Star Wars fans, I’m a huge fan of these characters and their brief appearances in the movies. One of the few Star Wars books I ever read was Tales Of The Bounty Hunters which took these characters along with the rest and gave them more depth. The figures are pretty basic and do feel like shrunk-down versions of the larger toys, the only real difference I notice is that the guns are part of the figure and can not be removed, which doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Fewer parts flying around and getting in the hands of our daughter who will be joining us this spring is probably for the best. They might not have a ton of play value, but they look rad on a shelf!

Trade Post: Chew Volume One Taster’s Choice

Written by John Layman, drawn by Rob Guillory
Collects Chew #1-5
If my poor memory serves me correctly, Chew was a pretty big deal for Image when the book launched in 2009. A quick scan of the Wiki page for the book even tells me that it made it’s way onto a bunch of best of lists for that year and even won an Eisner this year. I gotta say, I don’t get it. I was excited to check out this comic about Tony Chu a “cibopath” which is basically an empath, but with food so when he takes a bite of something he gets images in his head about where it came from. The world he lives in is one in which a bird flu ravaged the country killing many people, which lead to the government banning chicken as a food and seemingly granting the Food and Drug Administration with more power to stop black market chicken selling. Chu gets a promotion as a special investigator where he works alongside the huge Mason Savoy, a fellow cibopath. The trade ends with some action and a big reveal, but for me, it didn’t really go anywhere and didn’t hook me enough to make me care about what else might happen in this book.

My biggest problem with Chew is that it’s very hard for me to get a grasp on it. Why should I care about Tony Chu? He’s so vanilla and uninteresting aside from his ability–which is supremely gross and potentially unpalatable for some readers–that he comes off as every “cop thrown into a new job” role I’ve seen a million times. Savoy’s far from flat, but also doesn’t seem to have much real character. Sure he wants to find out what really happened with all this bird flu stuff (there’s conspiracy theorists who say it never happened and that something else caused the epidemic), but he’s all style and no substance. Plus, I feel like we’re just groping blindly in a world that doesn’t really get well-explained in these issues. I pieced together what I mentioned above about the bird flu, but even I had questions. Some writers are able to throw you into the middle of the story and give you a good amount of information as you go along without being too obvious about it, but that’s not one of Layman’s strong suits. He often has characters straight-up explain their relationships so the reader knows what’s going on. I guess one could argue that the entire thing is a big parody or cartoon or exaggeration, but even though Guillory’s art has some of those elements to it, I didn’t get that feel as I read the book.

Speaking Guillory, I freaking love his artwork. He draws exactly how I see some of the stories I’ve written or have had bouncing around my head for years. He’s stylized, yet able to include crazy action at the drop of a hat. His angular, cartoony style takes some of the edge off of the grosser moments in the book, many of which involve Chu and Savoy taking a bite out of dead people and animals in various states of decomposure. His art, rather than the story itself really kept propelling me through the more boring parts of this book.

In the end, I just didn’t care about what was happening in this comic. Were this a 90 minute action movie, I probably would have loved it, but as an ongoing comic book that I’m supposed to be curious about and interested in to the point where I want to come back month in and month out or at the very least for the later trades, it just doesn’t grab me. It was a lot like NBC’s The Event in that there are mysteries, but I don’t care enough to continue on and, at this point, would just assume ask someone, read about it online or just forget about in general. Anyone else read this book and have a different take? I’d love to hear one because I’m really at a loss.

Late To The Xbox Live Party: Bionic Commando

I never owned the original Bionic Commando for Nintendo, but I was a fan of it. I think as a kid, there wasn’t a single property with a grappling hook that I wasn’t a huge fan of. In addition to BC, you’ve also got C.O.P.S. and, well, Batman, I guess? Anyway, even though I hadn’t heard particularly stellar reviews about the 360 version of the game, I still figured I’d give it a shot when I saw it at Game Stop for under ten bucks. Overall? It wasn’t a great game, but there was something about it that kept making me coming back. There are lots and lots of problems with this game. The swinging mechanic is never better than even the worst Spider-Man game you can imagine and doesn’t get anywhere near one of my all time favorite games Spider-Man 2 for the PS2. Also, unlike that game, there aren’t a lot of things you can do with that awesome bionic arm of yours. There’s a couple moves and you acquire a few more as you go, but nothing all too impressive or fun. The fighting mechanic also seems weird. How come some douchebag henchman you’re facing can kill you with two punches? That’s super frustrating. Also frustrating is the way the weapons work in the game. You’re always stuck with this shitty semi-automatic gun even though there are some rad shotguns, rocket launchers and machine guns lying around, but you can only carry one of those at a time. I get that they’re trying to go for realism for some reason (like the physics of swinging which can my amazingly frustrating) but you’re got a giant metal arm, why can’t you carry two good guns?

The complaints do not stop there. The ending is pretty lame. First you’ve got to face off against this asshole who’s also got some cybernetic parts. I had to look up how to beat him on YouTube and instead of straight-up fighting him, you’ve got to grapple him at a ridiculously precise moment. After that, you swing around some more right before a series of QuickTime events which is weird and out of place because you don’t deal with those throughout the rest of the game. I don’t get that weird change.

Like with most games, I skipped as much of the story as possible, but this time I finally verbalized why I do that when it comes to video games. See, the whole point of a video game is to PLAY IT. I don’t care what the set up is, especially the longer it takes for you to explain it to me. It would be like going to play football and having someone explain the history between two random people on your teams. You don’t give a shit, you just want to play the game. That’s me with every video game. I assume the story is going to be stupid or unnecessary so why bother watching these cut scenes when I just want to get to the punching and shooting.

At the end of the day, I’d love to see a sequel to this game that’s done maybe by the Spider-Man 2 people or possibly the original Crackdown dudes. An open-world set up without all that radiation nonsense, better swinging, fighting and weapon mechanisc and this could be a big huge hit, but I doubt anyone cares anymore at this point which is too bad because it’s got potential. I wish beating the regular game opened up the redone version of the NES game they created, but that’s not the case. Bummer. Anyway, BC was a good enough time waster between the last game I finished and the Wolverine game I’ve been waiting to play for like two years at this point and will be next up on the playlist.

Casting Internets

Hey, it’s Stan Lee and Chris Ware’s birthday today, have a happy one!

My boy Kiel Phegley got interviewed by Tom Spurgeon, haven’t had a chance to read the whole thing yet, but I dig what he’s said so far. All the Wizard stuff jives with my experiences, for whatever that’s worth.

Esquire‘s 2010 drinking timeline is pretty interesting.

Huh, Newsarama has an oral history of Captain Marvel? I’ll bite, but how will I remember to check for future columns without having to read the ‘Rama on the regular? (via Tom Spurgeon)

Robot 6 wants to know what you think the weirdest comic news story of the year was. I’d say Nick Simmons being a plagiarist, but that’s less weird than really, really sad and skeezy.

I Heart Chaos brings back Name That Movie and, as of this reading, only one person has gotten one right. Head over and see if you can get the other four.

And finally, the 2011 JoeCon exclusive figures look like something straight out of the 90s with their bright colors and Mainframe’s huge computer. That looks like one of those original portable computers where the keyboard detached from the face. My aunt had one and gave it to me which blew my mind back in the early 90s even if the damn thing didn’t really work. (via Toynewsi)

Favorite New Old Albums Of 2010

After listing my favorite new albums of 2010, I figured I’d also have some fun with a list of records I really dug that I bought this year, but didn’t come out in 2010. I’ve mentioned this before, but I buy a LOT of CDs on the cheap at garage sales, yard sales, flea markets and at stores. I rarely spend more than $7 on something new and get all kinds of deals at those other places, so I’ve been able to acquire lots and lots of music I missed out on in previous years. This list has a whopping 12 records and/or bands on it, but I’ve written about a few of them previously, so I won’t get into too much detail on those. Hit the jump for all the goodness you can handle! Continue reading Favorite New Old Albums Of 2010

Christmas Stories: Listening To The Jack Benny Program

I want to paint you a bit of a picture of my childhood. My room, throughout most of my growing up period, used to be the dormer of our house which means it had these sloping walls. The middle of the room, from door to wall (which also held a window) was regular height, but on both sides from there, the walls angled down to about three feet tall. Being short that aspect of the room rarely gave me trouble. In fact, the sloping walls were perfect for sky lights, which is exactly what my parents installed in the conversion process from dormer to bedroom and my bed was often directly under one of them.

When I was a kid, I had trouble falling asleep and at some point in my youthful days, my dad introduced me to old time radio. He had a set of tapes which I had access to and then, after a while, I wound up having my own tapes. I had classics like Abbott & Costello, Burns & Allen and Amos & Andy, but my favorite became The Jack Benny Program. For those of you who might not know, before TV came around, folks got their entertainment through the radio. Some soap operas that are still on now got their start in radio as did a few news shows, I believe. Like TV now, there were all kinds of shows from comedy and mystery to romance and science fiction. Shows were aimed and kids (like Ralphie listening to Little Orphan Annie in A Christmas Story) and adults and both, but I found myself drawn mostly to the comedies. I would up with a whole brief case-looking case of tapes that were all old time radio. I have very distinct Christmas memories of lying in my bed, with one strand of Christmas lights thrown around the window to my right along with one of those plastic light-up Santas and a ceramic Christmas tree with lights that my grandma made and listening to Jack Benny as I fell asleep. I rarely made my way through an entire half hour episode, so I became kind of an expert in the first 15-20 minutes of those episodes.  In college I found a website that sold DVDs of the old time radio with tons and tons of shows on them. Most of those discs don’t work on my computer now, but I was able to salvage two of the shows that happened to be on those tapes I used to have. Every now and then I’ll put on the story of how Jack Benny dealt with getting a polar bear named Carmichael and even though it might sound ridiculous, I’m transported right back to those days in my old room with the only light coming from Christmas decorations and the stars above me. I can still recite the shows verbatim, but only up to a certain point because, even now, I have a tendency to fall asleep before the show’s end. Listening to those two episodes while driving around in the craziness that is pre-Christmas traffic not only brought a huge smile to my face, but also made some of the awful driving of my fellow New Yorkers not so bad. I had a good time writing about this and think I might dig out some of those tapes when I’m home and write more about old time radio and my interactions with it.

Toy Commercial Tuesday: Nerf Blast-A-Matic

I’m finishing off this month of Nerf TCTs with one that I don’t actually remember, but it’s for a product we did have in my house. I think my dad actually got the Blast-A-Matic which shot the then-familiar soft yellow balls, but I was the one who wound up playing with it. I always loved to set up targets, either hand made ones or other toys to test my accuracy and, before the launch of the dart guns, this was a fun, though far less accurate, way to do so. I wouldn’t be surprised if this toy is actually still in my parents house somewhere. Dig that wild commercial, man, balls all over the place!

Christmas Stories: Drinking Apparatuses

I don’t particularly care that it’s past regular Christmas, I want to bestow the virtues of my family members who both support and seem to encourage my drinking. Last year my mom got the wobbly glasses seen in this pic and this year the missus got me whiskey stones. The glasses are rounded bottom whiskey glasses from a company called Sagaform. They’re pretty rad and wobble around without falling over, kind of like a Weeble filled with sweet, sweet booze. They’re a lot of fun, but can be hard to handle the more you drink. The whiskey stones are a pretty ingenious idea in that they’re chunks of soapstone that you put in the freezer, drop into a glass, pour the whiskey and let sit for five minutes before drinking. That way you don’t water down the hooch! These are from a company called Teroforma and work excellently.

Before anyone starts worrying about my drinking habits, I’m having only one glass tonight and I think it’s well deserved. Not only did we pop a tire while ten minutes away from home after a four and a half hour drive yesterday (which got fixed pretty easily today, thankfully), but we also went through a crappy snow storm, had to dig our cars out and then just finished doing our best to clean up a hot water heater that had been dripping in our utility closet for God knows how long. I figured out how to shut the water off, ripped up the tile and dried everything inside as well as I could while the missus took care of the wet spots under the carpet. Gotta call a plumber tomorrow, but tonight, I’m gonna enjoy some Christmas presents and try not to freak out too much.