Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I'm disappointed with (fill in with your favorite actor/athlete/dignitary)

It has been a rough time for us normal folk to get behind any of our heroes or inspirational people lately. Every time we think someone is wholesome, smart, and genuinely a good person, we get swatted down to earth just in time to hear our childhood shatter into a thousand pieces. What I have compiled are four individuals who may have been heroes of children, but it's really hard to say that these days. But for every negative, there is a positive, and so I will suggest a better hero for everyone to look up to. So let's get this started...

Newly appointed villain #1: Tiger Woods

I have never been a fan of him or his game, so the allegations and truths behind the Thanksgiving debacle were not a shock to me. But there a shock to the millions of people who thought that at least one athlete was above it all. Unfortunately, that idea was a slice into the rough (multiple puns intended). Tiger probably thought he could get away with it, especially as it sounds like most of his entourage allowed him to do this. And with a wife and kids, he threw it all away for what? The chance to live his childhood he never had? Maybe he never grew up because he never had the opportunity, but that's no excuse for what he did.

Alternative: Myron Rolle

A sixth-round draft pick for the Tennessee Titans, this doesn't look like much of an alternative. Until you realize this is the man who graduated from college in less than three years, earned the honor of Rhodes Scholar, and still plans to pursue his dream of becoming a neurosurgeon after his NFL days are over. Why would so many teams pass on the opportunity to draft him? Was he too smart? Last I checked, smarts were a good thing. And there have been no reports of late night shenanigans with him, so he's a positive role model for all boys and girls.

Newly appointed villain #2: Lebron James

Man, did he screw that one up. He WAS the face of a franchise, of a league, of a worldwide icon. But he'd rather win by backing up an actual champion, Dwayne Wade. Yeah, yeah, we don't know the whole story. We don't understand because we're simple folk who don't get why a guy who was deemed the best in the league wants to play second fiddle to get a championship. Did Michael Jordan do that? No. Did Larry Bird do that? No. Did Magic Johnson do that? No. I'm pretty sure that's 14 NBA championships without leaving an organization (we won't count Jordan's Wizard years... no else does, anyways).

Alternative: Kevin Durant

While LBJ was trying to get all the attention like a Kentucky basketball recruit, Durant kept a low profile on his extension to stay with his team. Let me emphasize that, he STAYED with his team. Durant may never be LBJ, he may never be Jordan, but he will stay in Oklahoma City to earn an championship with his team. I know it may be hard to understand, but there are some players out there who are willing to do what it takes with the pieces they have. And there are some who have the guts to LEAD their team to a championship. And while he's still young, Durant shows much more promise of being that leader.

Newly appointed villain #3: David Ortiz

What's that, Red Sox Nation? Your boy, Big Papi, won the Home Run Derby last night? Well, let me bring you back down to earth with the news that your boy once tested positive for steroids. Yeah, that's right. For all the talk of Selig cleaning up MLB, he got a 'roids boy winning the very title that he was trying to make 'roids free. And yes, he may not have any pumping through his blood right now, but it still feels kinda dirty to have him win.

Alternative: Hanley Ramirez

The runner-up to Ortiz, Ramirez may be a bright beacon in a sport trying to clean up its image. A. 314 career hitter with 113 home runs, he's one player the "Saux" should have held on to. And most likely with Florida's history, the money put on the table by Boston will probably entice him back north. But with so much talent, does he have it all to clean up the most cherished record of all, career home runs? Time will tell, but last night's showing breathes new life into a sport needing rejuvenation.

Newly appointed villain #4: Mel Gibson

This is a movie blog, so I should write about a villain in Hollywood. And he's not really a newly appointed villain, since he did have an unusual discussion about the Jews with police once. But even after people forgot about that, it might be that junction in Gibson's career where people will forget about him. As much as we loved the firecracker that was Gibson on-screen, he was a firecracker with a short fuse that finally got lit... and exploded in his face. I have no idea how this latest controversy will end, but the things he said to his ex-girlfriend go beyond understanding. It'll be hard watching Lethal Weapon or Mad Max films of yesteryear without wondering how big of an a-hole he was. I think Mel took his own freedom away with his latest, and possibly last, public statements.

Alternative: Ron Howard

Was there any other alternative? Howard has been a class act ever since he donned those overalls in Mayberry. In front of the camera, behind the camera, a cartoonish character on the Simpsons, Howard can roll with the punches. And yet, as much as we make fun of that wholesomeness he has displayed as Opie or Richie or just himself, we sometime forget that that's who he is. A decent guy who was able to make it through Hollywood without compromising who he is and what he wanted to become. We can only dream of having the success Howard has had and still be the same person on the other end. Our hats off to you, Mr. Hum Drum.

Any other villains/alternatives?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Behind the Scenes... with Short Circuit

Finally, part 3 of my little series of movie locations in Astoria, Oregon. And I'm getting to another great movie about a robot who comes alive, Short Circuit. Although I don't have as many locations as the previous ones, there is plenty to tell.

Actually, there is only one location, Stephanie's home, that is highlighted as a location in Astoria. And it is a HIKE to get to the house. You remember how I talked about the hills with The Goonies, how the roads were just that steep as seen in the high speed car chase? Well, the SO and I hiked up one of those roads (on foot, because the rental car was NOT going to make it). Or should I say, we hiked up to the END of the road, where the house is located at the top of this hill, or mountain, or really high topographical point in Astoria.

First, we decided we'd park the car at the bottom of the hill, behind the visitor's center. The map we had showed that this would be the best place to park, because it'd be almost a straight shot up the road. Little did we know this road was an incline, a HUGE incline!

And to top it off, where it looks like the road ends, that's where the road actually continues, as a dirt path!

We had no idea if we were going up a road or a private drive. All we knew is that there were trees on top of us and we had no idea what was at the end of this path.

Luckily, the house was there.

It looks much like it did in the film. Of course there are differences, like no huge back yard for Number 5 to take apart a car. But the view is amazing.

I just have no idea how Stephanie could drive her vehicle down that road. It's deadly on foot, I can't imagine trying to safely get that down and across the Astoria bridge.

So, there you have it. The three films and their locations that the SO and I explored while in Astoria, Oregon. It was a lot of fun, and I hope to do another pilgrimage to other film locations. But it'll be hard to top what we could see in just one town. I think the SO went crazy over the Goonies locations, while I shed a tear every time we went to a location where Ah-nald once breathed. All in all, it was a film lover's dream come true... although it would have been cool to find Number 5 and ask how to program robots to recreate the 3 Stooges...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Behind the Scenes... with Kindergarten Cop

I'm back with another installment of Behind the Scenes, and this time we're looking at Kindergarten Cop. Can you believe the SO has never seen this movie? Her childhood has to be deemed incomplete for missing this Ah-nald gem of a film. Of course there are plenty of locations in the town of Astoria, Oregon which we went to to see if they still looked the same or if they were just a fading memory.

So, where should we begin? I would start with the school, but better yet, let's start with the hotel where Ah-nald would have stayed while in Astoria, the Bay View Inn.

This is the location of his room, number 5. And from the outside, it looks exactly like it does in the film. The interior was recreated in Hollywood, but the exterior is all Astoria. I almost feel "pumped up" just being there.

Now, we can go to the school, as this is where Ah-nald is going to teach little children how to be good little soldiers in his boot camp.

It's a little hard to tell, but the paintings on the outside of the building (as seen in the movie) are still there!

There were created by local Astorian artists, which makes it that much cooler.

Ah-nald gets to know his fellow pedagogue, Rachel Crisp/Joyce Palmieri, at the restaurant located here, at the Red Lion Inn.

A very romantic spot near the water. I can just smell the Ah-nald sweat from that encounter.

The villain in this film, Cullen Crisp, Sr., gets a toy train set from the local drug store.

Now, this location is actually a restaurant. Too bad. I really like toy train sets...

The theater is diagonal from the drug store, which made the pilgrimage nice and short between these two locations.

And this short pilgrimage meant that the next would involve walking up a "hill", with what had to be a 25% incline, to get to Rachel/Joyce's home in Astoria. No wonder everyone in the town is fit. If I had to walk that everyday, I'd be as fit as Ah-nald, too!

So those are the locations I was able to visit from Kindergarten Cop while in Astoria. Of course, it was very awkward taking pictures in front of the elementary school as class was still in session! Very awkward, indeed. The SO didn't want to be in any of the pictures as she hadn't actually seen the movie. That's why she's the party pooper...

Okay, enough with the Ah-nald jokes. But seriously, it was amazing to see how the locations were, compared to what we see in the movie. I can't wait to buy the DVD and watch it all over again!

Because we all need our Ah-nald fix every day...

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Behind the Scenes... with The Goonies

I know I haven't done this whole blogging thing in almost a year, but I do have a special 3-part series of blog posts that I want to do. Mostly because I don't want to forget the experiences I had while traveling the Pacific Northwest. Because we all know what kind of memory I have for... what was it I was writing about?


Oh yeah, so I'm going to do a 3-part series of blog posts on three unique movies that were all filmed in... Astoria, Oregon! It was really cool to see some of the locations for the films I'll be describing. The first film to discuss has to be The Goonies, as it just screams Astoria (on top of sweet memories from childhood). The SO and I were both excited to see where Mikey, Brand, Mouth, Data, and especially Chunk had their misadventures in the Goondocks of Astoria.

I'll try to do this in order, so it goes with the flow of the movie. You can follow along with this clip of the opening sequence:

Of course, the beginning of this tour means we begin at the county jail...

Not a bad action shot, if I do say so myself. (I was actually just holding myself in that position, trying to look like I was running.) And let me tell you, those hills the cops chase the Fratellis across are just as steep as they look.

Here's the football field, where Andy is trying to get the cheerleaders to do a pyramid.

The seating section is very "old school", with sections reserved for ticket holders, students, and the band. Astoria High School has the Fighting Fisherman as their mascot, and his name is Stomper.

This location is where the maid tried going across the street, supposedly because she was walking to the house of Mikey and Brand, I think.

The funny thing about this location: the direction she was walking was actually towards the beach. So if she was trying to get to the house, she actually needed to turn around and go the other way... to the Goonies house!

The bowling alley where Chunk sees the high speed car chase looks the same from the outside, but the window where he's looking out has changed a bit.

The view from where he's looking is pretty dead on, too.

The beach where the Fratellis speed away is Cannon Beach, which is where you can find the famous Haystack Rock.

Of course, we're then transported to... the Goonies house!

I know, it's pretty sweet. And yes, I did the Truffle Shuffle in front of the house, which I have video of on my phone. I know, it's so awesome! No cars are allowed up the drive to the home, but we were both willing to walk up the hill to see not only the house, but the view of Astoria, as well.

The view from the Goonies house is just as beautiful as it appears in the movie.

I can't forget Data's house...

But the bike ride the boys take from the house to the Fratellis' hide-out is not as short and quick as they make it out to be. The bike ride starts at 1:45...

We measured it out, and the Goonies house is approximately 20 to 30 miles from the abandoned restaurant! What kid (especially Chunk, or for that matter, asthmatic Mikey) is going to make it that far?

On that deceiving bike ride, the boys pass Mike and Brand's father as he takes the flag down at his museum, which in real life is the Flavel House.

We traveled to Ecola State Park, which is south of Astoria about 20 miles, to the approximate location where the boys leave their bikes in the road to find the location of the buried treasure.

The final location of the film is again near Haystack Rock (I just wanted to get another picture of it in this post!).

The rest of the locations are either non-existent or were created in a Hollywood studio. No matter what, it was pretty cool to see these locations and how they are a part of the town of Astoria!

Of course, this weekend Astoria is having a Goonies 25th anniversary reunion, which includes cast members and a Truffle Shuffle 5K! The gods really must like to toy with us as we were two weeks early! Oh well, we got a t-shirt, some amazing pictures, and wonderful (and sweaty) memories of the Goonies locations in this tiny town off the coast of Oregon.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Corey Haim

Everyone who's anyone will know that Corey Haim passed away this morning. And in a way, another piece of my childhood from the '80s has disappeared forever. It seems like only when we've lost something do we really take the time to look back and appreciate what we had and what we won't have again. The Haimster was like that.

Although he had the drugs problems and disappeared from the silver screen once the clock turned to 1990, the youth and enthusiasm he displayed in his movies with and without the other Corey (Feldman, for those of you playing the game). It can't be explained, but I was drawn to A&E's "The Two Coreys." For some reason, I had to see what the two guys were up to. Yeah, it was a reality show that was more staged than anything Haim had done in years. But it was the two Coreys on the screen, something new, and yet, something old. The old being the way the two interacted was like the Coreys we had seen in the movies. The new was how different their lives were at that point.

And in some way, it almost feels as if we were waiting for them to get back together, to be friends again. It's as if waiting all summer to watch your favorite show return in the fall, only to be told it was canceled at the last minute. We'll never know if the two Coreys would have gotten back together or not. And now we'll never know. Sure, we'll hear Feldman say the two were in an amicable relationship at the time of Haim's death. And yet, it's hard to believe that.

Ultimately, the time we shared with Haim on the big screen was a good time, and we'll always have those movies... except for License to Drive. For reasons unknown, it's very hard to find a cheap DVD of this film, which I consider the best Haim movie from my childhood. Yeah, I know, Lucas was pretty good, but it's hard to believe he could have really done all that. But in License to Drive, it was almost as if we were watching a documentary of Haim (and Feldman). Sadly, I don't have the DVD and will have to hope that one of the movie channels will have it on in the next few days. If so, it'll be one way to reminisce about the Haimster and all that was important to me while growing up in the '80s.

We'll miss you, Corey Haim. Rest in peace.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Hard Day's Night

This is it. The ultimate Beatles movie. A Hard Day's Night. Probably anything I say here will have already been said. A day in the life of The Beatles, in a very comedic way. Like a mockumentary, almost. Pre-Spinal Tap. Starring John, Paul, George, and Ringo, the movie has us behind-the-scenes with the band before they do a show. Clearly at the height of Beatlemania, the movie helped keep the band in the limelight, in a way for all fans to see them if they never got to be at a concert, just like Help! But it really does have a concert at the end of this film.

What really stands out in this film is how funny the guys are. I realize they were given lines, but it's all about delivery, and John is spot on every time. In the scene where they are meeting with reporters, John is asked how he finds America. "Turn left at Greenland." Brilliant.

One wonders about how Ringo is treated in this movie, almost as if they're recreating how the media almost portrayed Ringo as the guy behind the drums. In this film and in Help! Ringo seems to be the brunt of most jokes. But in a way you can tell that the band is in on the joke.

Not quite sure how they came up with the idea for needing a character to portray Paul's grandfather... no, the other one. And yes, even in black and white he seems clean.

Overall, the film is incredible both cinematically and from the standpoint that it gives us more insight to the Fab Four. Even though it was done in 1964, I still want to follow them into the helicopter and continue on their journey, just to find out a little more about them. And because they seem so fun to be around... John included, although he doesn't look a thing like him...

While the SO has been dying this week from oversaturation of everything The Beatles, I have to commend her for standing tall during this time of me acting like a screaming Beatles fan. But I have to say thank you to my SO for not biting my head off this week, and I promise when I play The Beatles: Rock Band, I'll put headphones on.

Alright, next week, will be something non-Beatles. I know. Hard to believe. But I'll do my best to try something without John, Paul, George, and Ringo. Later!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

I thought it was funny when someone suggested I was going to write this post about Across the Universe. Like I would own that dribble. When I talk about a cheesy movie, I'm talking about something that resembles muenster cheese being shoved up your nose. Yeah, that cheesy. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band "starred" Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees. Now I say starred with quotations because it's hard to star in a movie that just dies from the instant it hits the screen.

Story: There's a real Sgt. Pepper and he has a Lonely Hearts Club Band. He's a WWI hero and their music keeps the town Heartland alive and prospering. Yeah, great start. Well, Sgt. Pepper dies in 1958, but he leaves to Billy Shears (Frampton) his musical legacy. With the help of the Hendersons (the Bee Gees), they become the second incarnation of the band. They get noticed by music execs in the City of Angels, and get lost in the mix of big city life. In Heartland, FVB tells Mean Mr. Mustard to steal Pepper's instruments and Heartland falls apart with crime, prostitution, and gambling.

Strawberry Fields, Shears' girlfriend from Heartland, leaves for the big city to get Shears and the Hendersons to come back home to save the town, but she finds Shears falling for Lucy (the girl with kaleidoscope eyes). Shears falls for Fields again, and the band find Mr. Mustard's van outside the studio, and are able to get back one of the instruments. Using the van, they get back the instruments from Mr. Maxwell and Father Sun. But before they can get the last instrument, the computer in the van breaks down. So the band decides to put on a benefit concert to save Heartland. The only problem is Mr. Mustard kidnaps Fields and steals the instruments again to give to FVB. The band follow Mustard to FVB, which we find out means Future Villain Band. The band gets the instruments back but not without the price of losing Fields. A funeral takes place but Shears feels he can't on and jumps from a tall building when Sgt. Pepper (Billy Preston) saves the day to stop Shears, turn Mustard and the villains of the movie into catholic priests and nuns, and bring back Fields with the energy/lightning from Pepper's fingers. In the end, a huge group of musicians, comedians, etc. sing us out to "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (reprise)".

Yeah, it's that ugly of a story. The things that save it are the songs sung by the Bee Gees. The dated 1970s wardrobes, sets, and futuristic computers are awful and really make no sense. Okay, the whole movie doesn't make sense! Why is this even needed? Even the Bee Gees wanted to step away from this. I think this movie may have single-handedly killed disco. Why? Because disco tried to touch The Beatles' music, and it failed. Miserably.

I haven't seen Across the Universe, but I'm going to guess it's in the same vein as this. For some reason, it's like John Lennon said in "A Day in the Life": I just had to look. I can't turn away from it. Probably because I'm trying to figure out why they did this. So many famous actors, musicians, comedians: what did they have to gain from this?

And Billy Preston, the only "Beatle" in the film: why would you do it? Love your take on "Get Back" but you had to know this was a bomb. Were you desperate for money?

So yes, I own on DVD probably one of the worst movies of all-time, and yet I can't help but love it. It's so bad, it's something to watch. That's all I can say. See it once, and you're hooked.

Alright, next post is about the movie that started it all for The Beatles. Pretty simple clue, pretty cool movie. Later!