What To Do About My Basketball Fandom

It’s June 29, 2018 and I find myself at a crossroads in my basketball fandom. I fully admit to being a bandwagon fan of the Cleveland Cavaliers. I’ve come to sports in a variety of non-traditional ways over the years, but there has always been some kind of emotional reason for the teams I’ve chose to follow and root for. I get that this isn’t usually the kind of thing you read here, so feel free to move along. If not, though, hit that jump!

Continue reading What To Do About My Basketball Fandom

Revisiting Howard The Duck (1986)

  I have a soft spot in my geek heart for the Howard The Duck flick. I saw it a few times as a kid (not when it came out, but I was young-ish) and really liked the mix of what seemed like a kids movie (alien from another planet palling around and learning about earth, eventually fighting a space monster) with the strangely adult elements (naked lady duck, tiny duck condom and hints at interstellar bestiality). But really, I just thought Howard looked and acted cool. He handled adversity (being stranded on another planet) pretty well and even made the best of it by joining a band. That probably seemed like a pretty good life to me when I was young.

As anyone who follows me on Twitter will know, I’ve been slowly reading through the Howard The Duck Omnibus I got a few years back. I checked out the Essentials version a few years ago, knowing Steve Gerber’s issues are considered some of the best around, but just couldn’t get into that black and white format. I love reading the book in color and am really glad I got the omnibus, I just wish it was easier to read. Damn thing’s heavy! Anyway, I ordered something off of Amazon recently and was a few bucks short of the free shipping threshold, so I looked up the HTD DVD and it was only $5! Welcome first to my shopping cart and soon after my home movie Howard!

I just finished watching the movie again for the first time in probably a decade and I still liked it! Sure, there’s some super corny elements and a few things that don’t fit, but what else would you expect from a movie about a duck getting sucked away from his version of Earth to ours? Notice I said a movie, not a comic. In the issues I’ve read, Gerber tackles everything from Kung Fu flicks and gang violence to artistic integrity in a way that couldn’t really be done in a major motion picture. Maybe a series on Adult Swim, but not something that Hollywood would put money into.

If you’re unfamiliar with the plot, a science experiment drags Howard from his home planet to ours where he lands in Cleveland. He soon befriends Beverly (Lea Thompson), a musician who lets him stay at her place. Bev asks her scientist friend played by Tim Robbins to figure out what his deal is. After some fish-out-of-water (or duck-out-of-pond if you will) scenes, a scientist played by Jeffrey Jones explains that he and his team were trying an experiment that went wrong. They try it again and Jones winds up with a space monster growing inside him. Eventually, Howard has a showdown with Jones and then the monster itself, which looked amazing because George Lucas executive produced this flick.

The movie was and has been panned pretty intensely, but I don’t think it’s really fair. The actors did a killer job, the effects look amazing and overall it’s a solid story that has elements of Short Circuit, ET and Ghostbusters that work pretty well together as far as I’m concerned. Most importantly, no one seemed to think what they were doing was silly, they all played their parts and did what they did seemingly thinking they were making an awesome movie. My one complaint about the movie is that it’s probably 20 minutes too long. I think the filmmakers might have put too much in the movie which wound up extending the period of time audiences had to suspend their disbelief. You might buy the overall premise, but why are you watching such a long scene of Howard and Robbins flying a tiny plane? Aside from that, though, I think it holds up pretty darn well.

At the end of the day, the movie’s absurd and doesn’t really stand up to the comic book, but it’s a fun romp on its own. The DVD itself is pretty rad too because they actually put some effort into it. Robbins is the only person who didn’t come back for interviews as far as I can tell (of course). I’ve watched the first two modern retrospectives and both were pretty interesting. I haven’t gotten to the archival featurettes yet, but I can honestly say that my $5 was very well spent.

Christmas Stories: Best. Gift. Ever.

Yes, it’s January 3rd and I’ve got one more Christmas post in me. The missus and I headed back to Toledo for New Year’s/Second Christmas this year because my mom had to work hospice on actual Christmas. Well, that wasn’t the only reason apparently. It turned out that my parents and the missus had been conspiring for months to get me in town for one very special gift I never expected: tickets to the Steelers/Browns game yesterday in Cleveland. Originally, the folks were planning on just coming out here, but they all worked behind the scenes to get me in Ohio so I’d be much closer to the game. For a little while I was surprised that everyone was so sneaky (especially because the missus apparently told EVERYONE and no one accidentally let it slip), but after that, I was just happy and surprised.

And it all almost didn’t happen. We left for Toledo on Thursday morning, but early that morning I woke up with some pretty intense stomach pains. I didn’t really want to go, but felt obligated and wanted to see my parents. Then, I got sick on the way. Twice. The missus took over the driving duties and got my sick butt to Toledo which was even more impressive because she’s pretty pregnant. Oh, and it’s about a nine hour drive total and took even longer thanks to stops for both of us. She was a real champ and got me to town, offering to turn around, but I said no. Being sick in the car’s almost the same as being sick at home, right? The answer is absolutely not, but that’s what I told myself. As luck would have it, I woke up the next day and felt perfectly fine.

As I opened the ticket on our version of Christmas morning–which was actually New Year’s Eve day–I honestly didn’t get it at first. I saw the big Cleveland Browns logo on the one side, but it didn’t click right away. For some reason, I’ve thought about trying to get tickets to see the Steelers play against the Giants, Jets and even the Bills, but never contemplated going to Cleveland to check them out. Luckily my dad’s smarter than me and got this whole ball rolling. He even got tickets in a section that had access to an inside section where you could get food and beer, warm up and not go to the bathroom without freezing your junk off (much appreciate as it turned out to be pretty freaking cold).

Even though the Steelers are a much better team than the Browns, the Steelers still played hard. See, even though they had a spot in the playoffs clinched, they were still going for a win in order to get home field advantage and a by week (basically a week off for you non football fans) in order to get some of their banged-up players in better shape. As it turned out though, the injured Heath Miller and Troy Polamalu returned to action for that game, which was a lot of fun to watch. Seeing my favorite players in action was so much fun! My dad and I hoped that the Browns would put up a bit of a better fight just to keep things more interesting, but that was not in the cards as the score wound up being 41-9, Steelers.

It was actually hard seeing the Browns get beat that bad. My mom is from Cleveland, her mom (my Grandma) still lives there and my dad’s dad is a big fan, so there’s a connection to the city and the team. I even used to have a Browns poster in my room,remember when they were good and when they got sold and become the Baltimore Ravens, which was outrageous even to a non sports fan like me at the time. In fact, this is the only cover of Sports Illustrated without a beautiful woman in a bathing suit on it that I remember. Anyway, I think it was the badness of the Browns along with the badness of the Detroit Lions (the only other pro football team I’ve seen play live) that lead me to not care too much about football.

Years later I got into the sport after getting a copy of a few-years-old Madden game for PS2 in college and playing as the Steelers because my buddy Chad was a huge fan and was always talking about them. It was a good year for football because the Steelers were just getting good with Roethlisberger’s first year. Plus dudes like Peyton Manning, Brett Favre and Tom Brady all made the game really fun to watch. I was hooked! Even now, I keep an eye on the scores for Browns and Lions games, hoping to see both teams turn things around (things are looking up for the Lions). Because of that nostalgia, I didn’t take it to heart when the amassed Browns fans hurled insults at the Steelers fans (I was wearing a new Steelers hoodie that I also got for Christmas under my heavy jacket, so I was incognito). Plus, I don’t take this stuff as seriously as most.

I’ve got to give it to the Browns fans. They’re dedicated. For a half at least. As you can see in the pictures, the stadium was pretty packed at first, but after halftime, it cleared out pretty quickly. Part of that is because of the intense cold (the sun started hiding behind the clouds which dropped temps by ten or so degrees which made my dad and I pop into that heated section a time or two) and partly because of the losing, plus they can just drive home in a few minutes while most of us Steelers fans had driven a while and wanted to watch the game. Some of the bigger Steelers players also didn’t return at the half for fear of stupid injury before the playoffs (the goal IS to win the Super Bowl afterall, you know?), but it was still fun to sit there with my dad and watch the Steelers do their thing. Our mostly Steelers section even started cheering for the downtrodden Browns a bit, shouting “Let ’em have it!” when a touchdown got overturned.

So, huge thanks to my folks and the missus for setting this whole thing up and my Grandma for giving us a place to sleep Sunday night, which gave us a two hour jump on our drive home today. We had a great time!

Harvey Pekar On No Reservations

The missus staid home from work today because she’s got the cold I had over the weekend. I went out to grab lunch for us and by the time I got back she was telling me that Harvey Pekar was on an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations which was filming in Cleveland. Did people know about this? I didn’t, but it sure is cool and not just because of Pekar’s involvement. Bourdain hangs out with Pekar in various Cleveland landmarks and then they go get some food, but there are animated panels with Pekar doing voiceover presumably to comics he wrote in coordination with the show. Far as I can tell the art is by Gary Dumm, longtime Pekar collaborator. It’s pretty cool. Pekar’s not in the whole episode, but the art is, which is pretty cool. I also liked this episode because my Grandma lives in Cleveland and my Mom lived there before moving to Toledo, so it’s cool to see some stuff I’m sort of familiar with. I’m still embarassed to say I haven’t been to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which Bourdain visits with Marky Ramone of, duh, the Ramones. Here are clips of the episode. The second and third have Pekar, Marky Ramone pops up later in the third video as well.