Kickin’ It Old School: 1988

kickin it old school logoWhen I first started blogging back in 2008, it was for the now-defunct Wizard website. Up to that point I wasn’t particularly interested in the format, but seeing some of the other staffers get into it made me think about what I could offer (if anything). I remember heading down to New York Comic Con with a bunch of the writers and editors and asked then-web guru Jim Gibbons about starting my own and he stopped me dead in my tracks with a simple question: what would it be about? I told him I’d think about it and before long I had my angle: Kicking It Old School, a series of posts about older comics, movies, TV shows and the like and why they’re still great. It’s a pretty common type of blog on the ol’ Internets, but Wizard wasn’t doing one at the time so I got the thumb’s up and started at it. When I realized the end was coming for me at the company — and wanted to break out and do my own thing blogging-wise — I copied all those old posts and they can now be read under the KIOS category here on UM.

In a lot of ways, I’ve continued that theme over the years with UM, but I figured it would be fun to jump back into those waters for a full week here on the site by focusing every post this week on media that came out in a particular year. This time around it’s 1988 and I’ve got a lot of fun posts planned that fall into the usual headings of Ad It Up, Toy Commercial Tuesday, Trade Post, Halloween Scene, Friday Fisticuffs and maybe a few others.

Here’s a little photo hodge podge of images to give you an idea of what’s to come!

Why go to all this trouble? First off, I love a good theme. Second, I find that something like this helps focus me when it comes to reading and watching. It’s also fun to start with one particular piece (in this case the first volume of Mike Grell’s Green Arrow ongoing) and then figure out what else I can write about from that same year. It’s also interesting seeing different themes that cross over from comics to movies to music in a particular year. I won’t be doing this all the time, but I hope you guys enjoy the week of posts which begins later today with the return of Ad It Up and one of the greatest comics of all time, which just so happens to have been released in ’88.

Advertisements

500th Post


Hey gang, sorry for the lack of posts this week, but the missus and I traveled to New Hampshire for the holidays. Hopefully you all got the perfect amount of pumpkin pie over the holiday, I had to settle for this tiny one I picked up at Building 19, but on the plus side, I did read through a bunch of trades of which I will have reviews up soon and even live blogged a movie called Night of the Demons, which will be going up right after this (I brought my laptop, but her folks don’t have wireless, and their computer chair isn’t the most comfortable, so forget it).

Anyway, to celebrate this 500th post, which I’m sure no one but me really cares about I wanted to share my brief blogging history with you. UnitedMonkee was launched back in March of this year with a post called Why Hello There, but it wasn’t my first foray into the world of blogging. In fact, a good chunk of the posts on this blog were actually copied over from a blog I had while working at Wizard called Kickin’ It Old School (you can read all the KIOS posts under the label of the same name to the left). I was actually walking with former Wizard internet czar Jim Gibbons. We were walking towards the New York Comic Con and I asked if I could do a blog for the Wizard site. He said sure, but asked me what it would be about, so I told him I’d think about it. A little while later I came at him with the idea of a blog that looks at older material as opposed to the up-to-date stuff most of the other blogs zeroed in on. The scope would of course open up, but that was the original idea. That first post went up May 9th, 2008.

For the longest time I was actually very anti-blog. Who cares what I have to say about anything? Well, not too many people at the moment, about 50-100 each day, but that’s a whole hell of a lot more people who would listen to me ranting in my house every day. It really grew on me and I’ve become a huge fan of the medium. As you can maybe see if you go through the older posts (from either KIOS or UM), I’ve gone back and forth trying to figure out the best way to actually write something and present it. I’m basically learning as I go and I hope you guys are enjoying it.

So, what does the future of UnitedMonkee hold? I’ve got a crack design team (Rickey) working a new logo that combines the awesomeness of monkeys, beer and his art. I’m also slowly working on a sight redesign through WordPress, but it’s slow going as my patience is running low. Any designers out there want to give a hand? Drop me a line. Also, like my October-wide Halloween Scene posts, I want to do the same with Christmas this year. I’m sure that won’t bring in as many younger readers, but I’m hoping my reviews of White Christmas and Holiday Inn might bring in that ever-present elderly readership I’m trying to nail down.

Well, that about sums it up, hopefully this was interesting to a few of you. If not, give it a second and the Night of the Demons live blog will be up. Followed soon after by my review of the Justice books. I’m just waiting to see if the Steelers break my heart or not tonight. I’m thinking they might, but hoping the rag tag group of scrubs they’ve got in there can pull it off. Dixon just ran it in for a touchdown!!! They’re up! Okay, gotta finish watching this, have a good one!

Bon Voyage

Hey Gang, I usually don’t post on the weekends because I know everyone’s out enjoying their weekend (or drinking in the dark watching Road House on TV), but I wanted to let you know that I won’t be around next week. Em and I will be on a vacation first with my parents and then with my dad’s whole family on a Disney land and sea package. It should be a ton of fun and hopefully I’ll come back with some cool pictures to show off.

In the meantime feel free to peruse the posts from my old blog Kicking It Old School which I have copied and pasted onto this very site. There’s a lot of fun horror and comic reviews in there.

Have a good week, I know I will!

Mini Monsters: Troll 1 and 2

2009-04-10
3:19:35 am

Okay, I’m in search of a movie from my childhood. I thought either of the Troll flicks might jog my memory. Unfortunately, neither the original nor the non-sequel struck a chord in my memory, but I sure had a good time watching both movies.

Even though the first Troll (1986) flick has a mini monster with a ball on the freakingposter, it’s not the movie I remember. It is however a really strange flick with a father and son duo by the names of Harry Potter. Harry Jr’s sister gets taken over by a Troll (or something) when they move into their new apartment building. Soon enough the troll is causing all kinds of trouble, even converting the other tenants in weird creatures. Luckily there’s a weird old lady with a pet mushroom plant who helps Harry Jr. save the day. I’ll be honest, I watched Troll over a week ago and my already shoddy memory has forgotten a lot of the details. Sonny Bono, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and June Lockhart all have rolls and entertain in their own way. It really is just a great, weird movie.

Okay, so a swing and a miss on the first flick, maybe the second would be a hit. Nope. Whiff. Yeah baseball metaphors! Anyway, I didn’t really know Troll 2’s crazy history or its title as “Best Worst Movie” when I added it to my Netflix but between adding it and getting the movie, it was mentioned on both Horror Movie a Day and in the Totally Rad Show podcast. So, I was kind of excited to finally watch the movie, which apparently started life as a completely different movie about goblins. BC and HMAD did a pretty right on review though I think I liked the movie a lot more.

Yes, it’s completely ridiculous and poorly acted, but it’s definitely not the worst movie I’ve ever seen. Slumber Party Massacre 2 still holds that spot. Anyway, the TRS guys talked about a documentary created by the kid who starred in Troll 2 that I’m interested in checking out.

Instead of doing a straight-up review, I’ll post the notes I made while watching the first three quarters of the movie (I gave up and just watched, probably buzzed, after a while).

Here goes, with commentary when necessary:

-he’s imagining his dead g-pa telling him a story?

-Kid has a Superman poster and fucking Killing Joke Joker HAHAHAHAHAHAHA poster!!!

-“You take them to bed with you and i don’t believe in group sex” (the daughter in the story says this about her boyfriend and his friends)

-acting is BAD

-“Joshua start singing” (I think one of the parents yells this at the kid/hero)

-this kid has crazy dreams – green blood/sweat, tree fingers and sucking chest wound

-holy crap, they’re driving an aerostar (in high school I drove a 1994 Ford Aerostar Mini Van, this one is pretty similar)

-the town is called Nilbog, hahahaha

-who would ever trade houses with strangers? (the whole story revolves around the main family leaving their regular house to live in the house of some strangers in Nilbog who never really leave)

-mom has a menacing/evil quality because she keeps staring RIGHT AT THE CAMERA

-is that a stripe of blue frosting on the corn? (yes, goblins love putting frosting on stuff)

-hahaha he pissed on the food! (to make sure his family wouldn’t eat it)

-dad just challenged Josh to a not eating contest “just remember I’ve got more practice at this than you do.” (which is exactly how your dad handled you when you peed on the food)

-i hear my friend scream in the woods, i’m out the door seeing if he’s okay, not drinking mountain dew (the boyfriend and his friends borrow a mobile home which they park near Nilbog, not a good move in the long run)

-eww, Nilbog “special milk” that’s not refrigerated

-that’s not pudding it’s a cheesecake with green frosting

-nothing like a warm jug of milk on a hot day

The movie goes on from there and never lets up in the weirdness. There’s a scene where the Nilbogians throw a surprise party in the family’s house without them knowing it that is out of control and of course, the end is nuts (you’ll never hear a kid say Grandpa so many times).

Ha, which reminds me. The grandpa’s name is Seth, but the kid seems to have a ridiculously hard time wrapping his mouth around the word and it just comes out garbled every time.

Anyway, you could probably start a whole blog just on this movie. I enjoyed it for the most part and have my eyes peeled for the Troll 1 and 2 DVD at a reasonable price, but, unfortunately, my mini monster quest is not yet over. Somehow I’ll soldier on…

By watching Ghoulies 1 and 2! Coming soon!

Halloween Scene: Graduation Day (1981)

2009-04-04
2:57:52 am

So, last night I was flipping through my Netflix Instant Watch queue and wanted to watch a short horror movie, so I settled on the 90-ish minute Graduation Day (1981). After I was a few minutes in I realized the movie sounded a bit familiar thanks to a post I read over at
Horror Movie A Day (the best horror site around as far as I’m concerned). Now, sometimes, like in the case of Troll 1 and 2, which I’ll get to shortly), I check out a movie because HMAD’s BC watched it and wrote about it. Other times, like this one, it’s just a coincidence, though we both watched it on Netflix.

Anyway, though our opinions of Netflix on Xbox differ (I only have a problem about 10% of the time), our opinion of the movie is pretty similar: it’s not great. Check out his review for a good assessment of things. Okay, done? There’s a few ridiculous things I’d like to add. First off, there is a roughly 7 minute scene which is based around a band playing a song at a roller rink or some such. The scene isn’t all that interesting, but it seemed like this performance garnered more of the budget than the rest of the flick as there’s lights and people moving all around. I wonder if they thought being in Graduation Day would be their big break?

There was one other cool kill in the movie (though completely ridiculous). This dude on the football team (though what he’s doing in pads in June is beyond me) is walking through the same woods that a bunch of kids have already been killed in and after running into Vanna White and some other girl who tosses his ball into the woods, he comes across the killer who puts a sword through the ball and then throws a perfect spiral into his torso. Hey, it’s creative, if not physically impossible.

And speaking of Vanna, her role really sucks in this flick. Like BC says, she’s one of two annoying girls that doesn’t do anything important except facilitating the football guy’s death. The funny thing is that the other girl gets more face time on camera. So, while we can hear Vanna’s distinct voice, you rarely get to see her face, which is the fun part of watching these horror movies with young stars.

Okay, one last ridiculous thing about Graduation Day. The girl who dies in the beginning has an older sister int he military. I’m not sure which branch because I wasn’t really paying attention. We do know she was in Guam though for whatever reason. Anyway, this woman who has been trained by the greatest fighting force on the face of the planet has a hard time not getting killed by some douchey teenager with a knife. She at least uses some hand-to-hand techniques when he tries attacking her under the bleachers (where he’s keeping all his victims in various poses), but both parties move so slow I thought the Netflix was flickering. Nope, just bad choreography. I was really hoping that she would really jack this dork up (who looks a lot like Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers). When will we get a movie where the “victim” really knows how to handle themselves? I want a Leatherface vs. Rambo-type movie.

Oh jeez, I forgot, there’s actually one more ridiculous moment I want to mention. It’s kind of spoilery, but I don’t recommend you actually seeing this movie unless you’re a completist slasher fan. Anyway, there’s a fake scare at the end where the dead girl’s sister is in bed before going back to the military and she imagines the killer has come back and is going to stab her in her bed. But wait, he’s dead right? Right, but instead of this just being a dream sequence, it turns out that it’s her step dad (I think he’s her step dad, again, I wasn’t paying attention. He’s at least the guy nailing her mom) yelling crazy stuff at her and holding an empty bottle. It reminded me of that scene from the Simpsons where they’re in the witness protection program and Homer keeps busting into Bart’s room with a knife and then later a hockey mask and chainsaw. This guy definitely belongs in horror’s crazy old guy hall of fame.

Charles in Charge

2009-04-03
3:02:48 am

So, after getting Xbox Live I went through and added a TON of movies and TV shows to my list, everything from classic movies that I have or haven’t seen to TV shows I fondly remember or have always wanted to check out. One of those shows was Charles in Charge. After doing some digging online and through my memory, I remembered there being two families, the original Pembrokes and the latter day Powells. Apparently, the show didn’t get picked up after the first season, there was a two year gap and then it started up in syndication. I remembered both families from childhood (the first season which had the Pembrokes was from 1984-1985, the Powells from 1987-1990). So I figured what the heck, let’s check it out.

And you know what? I freaking LOVE the first season of Charles in Charge. It’s got boatloads of heart, it’s funny and, though sometimes corny, the performances are great. You really get the feeling that Charles and the Pembrokes really get along. All in all, it feels real. Well, mid-80s sitcom real. And Scott Baio (who plays Charles) is really freaking charming.

The basic idea is that Charles is a freshman in college who takes care of the Pembroke children (Douglas, Lila and Jason) in exchange for room and board in New Jersey. There isn’t really an overarching, season-long storyarc, which is fine, but each episode the basic format of Charles trying to live his life while juggling the Pembroke childrens’ problems, his own problems and his friends Buddy and Gwendolyn.

Now, while the Powells may be the more well-known family (as it includes a pre-Baywatch Nicole Eggert), but, as I sit here watching the first episode of the second season, I can’t help but like the Pembrokes better. Sure, it might just be bias, but I just find the Pembroke children and parents (the dad is played by James Widdoes who was Hoover in Animal House) more convincing.

This is rambling, definitely, and I kind of wish I would have made notes as I went along watching the episodes. A few highlights include a young Meg Ryan showing up a couple of times, Charles helping the teenage Lila deal with growing up (surprisingly honest, though also kind of hokey) and Douglas the nerdy Pembroke boy being a big time nerd in the 80s.

Normally this is where I’d tell you to do yourself a favor and check out Charles in Charge’s first season on Netflix (and I do), but I’ve also got to throw in a few thoughts on the first episode of the second season. Charles comes back from the summer trip he left for at the end of the first season. He comes into the Pembroke house to find different people living there. Mrs. Pembroke (though it’s not the same actress, blarg) informs Charles that Widdoes’ Stan Pembroke got transferred to Seattle and they moved (all of this took place in two weeks in the show’s time, but two years in real time, so everyone who was actually on the first season looks different). Jason, the youngest Pembroke is there as well and definitely looks more grown up. It’s actually a pretty sad moment when they leave and then Charles has to decide if he’s going to stay with this new family that the Pembrokes sublet their house to or move into an apartment with Buddy. We get to know the three Powell kids a little, there’s a boy who doesn’t do much, Nicole Eggert who’s pretty much a vapid, popular jerk and then Sarah who is a sensitive book lover who’s verging on maturity with no real direction. Her and Charles spend some time together and Charles decides to stay. Oh yeah, their mom is married to a guy in the miliitary and her dad lives with them, the grandpa isn’t too fond of Charles right off the bat. We’ll see where it goes from here, but season’s 2-5 (only up to 3 is on DVD so far) have a lot to live up to, as watching the first season has been one of the more enjoyable shows I’ve watched this year.

My Top 5 TV Shows Right Now

2009-03-13
8:35:13 pm

When the new season began I said a few words about the shows I’d been watching. Well, now the season’s been on it’s merry way for a while now and I figured I’d lay out my top five shows right now. They’re in no particular order except #1, but they’re rocking my world right now.

5. How I Met Your Mother

4. Big Bang Theory

3. 30 Rock

2. Real World

1. LOST

Unfortunately, HIMYM and BBT weren’t new for a while, which has been a huge bummer as we don’t really watch anything else on Mondays. I still really enjoy both shows and can’t wait to see where the further new episodes take me. After watching the first season of 30 Rock all the way through I gained an all new appreciation for 30 Rock and they haven’t been disappointing this year (though it is interesting to see how the dynamics have shifted by now). I don’t think I laugh harder at anything more than 30 Rock. The Real World: Brooklyn has been surprising this year. I think the producers thought that, by combining a transgender woman, a gay guy, a Mormon, a girl who used to date girls but now dates guys, an Iraq War veteran, a girl who’s kinda engaged, a body builder and a hip hop dancer they’d have LOADS of conflict. Instead, we’re treated to the most thought provoking, yet still fun season since Las Vegas (SO MANY pranks!). And finally, Lost. I freaking love this show. I’ve actually found that Lost gives me something to really look forward to (my new catchphrase of late has been “Life is better with Lost”). I was close to devastated when I walked into work Wednesday morning and Justin told me it wasn’t new this week. If you’re not watching you should be and if you don’t like it, you’re crazy.