Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Summer of Stephen King's IT.

Way way back in the summer of 1987, I was a frustrated, angst-ridden puberty-stricken 14-year-old boy (almost 15). My freshman year at Martins Ferry High School was coming to a close. And, with no driver's license, no cable TV, no girlfriend and no life.

I basically had zero plans for my summer - except, of course, catching up on summer movies and walking the streets of Martins Ferry with my closest buddies looting various homes for liquor and beer.

Well, actually, there was one thing that I was going to do that summer, and that was read Stephen King's IT, which as I recall took the entire summer thanks in part to my virgin novel-reading abilities and it's immense length (1,138 pages, which translates to more than 100,000 words).

I was so mesmerized by the book that I took time out of my busy summer to draw and ink the following picture:

I believe it's the first time the portly Ben meets Pennywise the clown face to face. Note the cold breath air, the 'husky' Buster Brown jeans, the cinema-verite eyeball a' la Salvador Dali's short film Un Chien Andalou (even before I knew what the hell Un Chien Andalou was.)

And, let's not forget, my personal representation of Pennywise, which sort of mimicked the evil clown made famous by Tim Curry in the 1990 craptacular made-for-TV movie.

I would seriously be remiss of me to not point out my awesome use of perspective in relation to the bridge, the little cabin, the road, the creek/river and the clown.

In any event, after finishing this homage, I had high hopes of creating an eventual graphic novel of the book. I remember highlighting pages in my paperback book, which would make great layouts.

Sadly my great vision never came to fruition due to self-diagnosed teenage laziness. More than likely, I decided to focus my energy on the unending search for girls and booze during my summer of love Stephen King's IT.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Eimer’s Most Anticipated Summer Films of 2012

There’s that certain je ne sais quoi when the flowers begin blooming, the sun is warming up the northern hemisphere, the young'uns anxiously awaiting the final school bell, the beer distributor's stocking up the Speedway's with Mickey's Malt Liquor …

….and let’s not forget the annual line-up of summer movies.

Yes, my fair reader, it's that time of the year when everyone from 5- to 500- years old can act like a kid again and be wowed by insane special effects, snarky dialogue and big-ass explosions.

So without further adieu, here are my personal most-anticipated summer films of 2012 (in order of premiere)...

Oh, just a word, although my list has included some of the top special-effects-laden-bubble-gum-popcorn-stuffing-in-your-mouth picks that all of you have been accustomed to for so many summers of yore, I thought I'd also toss in a couple, under-the-radar films that you may want to toss into your Netflix queue.

HULK SMASH!!! I just saw this film last night. If you like summer movies, superheroes or simply film theory in general, just go see this movie. It’s fun, smart, witty and action-packed. It’s, dare I say, the prime prototype of how to create a fun, special-effects-laden summer movie. Joss Whedon has done the film geeks good! This one is worth every penny for a babysitter. Or, hell, if they're over 7-years-old, bring them along. They'll only have nightmares for only a couple weeks.

Bobcat Goldthwhait (yes from Police Academy 2 fame) writes and directs this dysfunctional film about a man who’s pissed off with the world and is not going to take it anymore. And, judging by the trailer, it looks a lot more fun than Kevin Smith’s DOGMA. And, by judging from Bobcat’s previous work (including WORLD'S GREATEST DAD and SHAKES THE CLOWN) this road trip, violent, dark comedy-esque NATURAL BORN KILLERS looks like a helluva ride. Starring Joel Murray, Bill Murray’s brother who made his big screen acting debut in another Goldthwaite vehicle…One Crazy Summer.

After tackling animation two years ago with the superb THE FANTASTIC MR. FOX, Wes Anderson is back with a live-action film (his last was 2009’s THE DARJEELING LIMITED). In my opinion, this film – a Romeo and Juliet love story set amongst summer camps - looks fun, fresh and entertaining. However, one of my buddies sent me a post on Facebook that read: ‘OK, Royal Tannenbaums was a surprise. But then, the Life Aquatic got boring, quickly. Rushmore virtually unwatchable. From the looks of this trailer, it's an uninspired hodgepodge of quirky characters all acting like all the other characters in Anderson's films -- so, so predictable. And not funny. Seriously not funny. Poker faced kid actors repeating droll, witty lines ad finitum? Seen it once, got it. Not again and again.’ Meh. Although it’s a funny manifesto, I’m going against his better judgement and going to see this film. But that's just me. Truth be told, I would like to live in a world created by Anderson.

In a slight twist to the fairy tale (and the Disney animated classic), the Huntsman, who is ordered by the Evil Queen to take Snow White into the woods and kill her, instead becomes her protector. Directed by relatively unknown Rupert Sanders (Just how unknown is he? Check out his IMDB file) the movie looks like a mix between the look and feel of HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON, the action of CLASH/WRATH OF THE TITANS and the fantasy-mystique of the Tony Scott/Tom Cruise fantasy vehicle LEGEND. And the trailer seems to be hiding the dwarves. There are seven dwarves right? The art direction looks fantastic by the way.

An Alien prequel from the guy that directed the original ALIEN (Ridley Scott), written by one of the guys that brought us LOST (Damon Lindelof)? Excuse me, but I’m scheduling a babysitter right now.

After seeing the trailer, I’m thinking a mix of BACK TO THE FUTURE, HAPPY ACCIDENTS and RADIO FLYER – the movie is about a reporter and two interns who head out on an assignment to interview a guy who places a CraigsList Ad seeking a companion for time travel.

You can’t deny Woody Allen is on a roll. Hell, the man has been on a roll for the past 25+ years cranking out one superb movie (well, that’s debatable) after another every single year…and then some. In any event, not only is Woody behind the camera, but he also wrote a little something for himself as well. After the success of last year’s Academy Award-winning MIDNIGHT IN PARIS (Best Original Screenplay), I’m looking forward to this film immensely. And, hey, did I see Academy-Award winning actor Roberto Benigni in the trailer as well?

Okay, this movie could really, really suck. Or really, really be a lot of fun. Directed by Timur Bekmambetov (who directed the NIGHTWATCH/DAYWATCH movies as well as WANTED), I’m putting this on my B-movie selection of possible dark-horse, break-out summer movie candidate. Judge for yourself. Daniel Day Lewis, eat your heart out!

BRAVE (June 22)
After a Cars2 debacle, PIXAR looks to be back to form in what appears to be an interesting film with a female protagonist leading one of their films, which – correct me if I’m wrong - hasn’t happened in a Pixar film to date.

Every year, I take off my birthday and go on a long early-morning run to think about the year that was Then, I get some lunch at a local BW3, get half-in-the-bag drunk and go see a movie in the afternoon. This year, I'll more than likely go see BRAVE. However, Writer/Director Oliver Stone’s newest movie that isn't an biopic will be second on my list during my big 4-0. Hopefully it’s a return to vintage Stone. With a talented cast, it looks fairly interesting. The movie looks like some sort of TRUE ROMANCE redux...not that there's anything wrong with that.

On the opposite end of spectrum in comparison to THE AVENGERS is this little film that could. Directed by first-time feature director Benh Zeitlin, Beasts tells the story of a young girl named Hushpuppy who goes on a fantastical adventure in search of her mother all the while dealing with prehistoric creatures, her ailing father and the end of the world. This movie has been winning every major award on the film festival circuit. And, judging by the trailer, could be really, really great…or a really, really big letdown. I’m foreseeing the former.

Thought I would choose one documentary to highlight. And thisone, sort of, looks like a doozy. It follows the highs and lows of a billionaire couple (Jackie and David Siegel) who live in a 90,000-square-foot mansion, which was built on money funded by the time-share industry.

Christopher Nolan. Christian Bale. Bane. A naked Anne Hathaway (just kidding.). How can you not have this final Batman installment from one of the best directors of our time on your list? Also if you're interested in looking at a nude Hathaway, check out BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, LOVE AND OTHER DRUGS and RACHEL GETTING MARRIED. (I’m sure there are others, right Mr. Skin?).

360 (August 3)
This movie takes a 360-degree look (get it?) at what happens when partners from different social backgrounds engage in sex. Acted by top names including Anthony Hopkins, Rachel Weisz and Jude Law. Directed by the guy who brought us CITY OF GOD, THE CONSTANT GARDENER and BLINDNESS. Written by the guy who brought us FROST/NIXON, THE QUEEN and THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND. Could be a downer of a movie. But a helluva downer of a movie.

THE CAMPAIGN (August 10)
Will Ferrell and Zach Galifinakis come together to make fun of politics. Written by EASTBOUND AND DOWN scribers Chris Henchy and Shawn Harweel and directed by Jay Roach (MEET THE FOCKERS/PARENTS and MYSTERY, ALASKA). Could be funny like STEP BROTHERS. Could not be funny, like SEMI-PRO.

PARANORMAN (August 17)
Another possible stop-motion visually masterpiece, this time directed by Chris Butler (who worked next to master animator Henry Selick in the animated gem CORALINE as well as CORPSE BRIDE) and Sam Fell (who did the underwhelming FLUSHED AWAY and THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX).

I’m a sucker for fish-out-of-water dysfunctional family road trip movies such as ABOUT SCHMIDT, NATIONAL LAMPOON'S VACATION, LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, THE FAMILY STONE and let's not forget PIECES OF APRIL. That’s why this film, about an uptight lawyer (Catherine Keener) who takes her two teenagers to visit her hippie mother's (Jane Fonda) farmhouse in upstate New York, looks so damn fun. I’m thinking ON GOLDEN POND meets WANDERLUST meets FLIRTING WITH DISASTER. The actors look top notch. Plus it’s directed by Bruce Beresford who brought us DRIVING MISS DAISY.

Well, that’s the list. I’m curious of which films you're looking forward to seeing and which films can be thrown into the proverbial dirty diaper bin (aka Your Netflix Queue).

Oh, what's that you way?

How can a superhero-loving movie nerd leave out THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN on his list? Well, truth be told, I'm actually not looking forward to this new Spider entry at all. Matter of fact, when I was viewing the trailer for the new SpiderMan prior to the Avengers, my buddy yelled out 'SPIDER-EMO!' in the theater. Well, not really, he whispered it to me. But he should have yelled it. However, I do agree. This movie is just a mindless rehash to make more money for the Marvel universe and the SpiderMan franchise. Nothing new here. Screw The Lizard, and definitely screw SpiderEmo.

Also, if you liked this post, check a couple somewhat-related blog entries:

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Death of a Beastie Boy

Judging by the many positive Facebook posts concerning the passing of Adam Yauch (MCA), I’ve decided to publish this post sooner than later. So, please excuse the type-os and grammar mistakes.

Back in 1986, my brother, his girlfriend and my good buddy Bill Jarvis were driving over to the Wheeling Park to go ice skating.
“Check this out,” my brother said tossing a cassette tape into the back seat. “This is awesome, you gotta hear it.”

I grabbed the cassette box and stared at the image. A smashed airplane on the cover. Licensed to Ill. The Beastie Boys. WTF?
Sure, I had heard ‘Fight for Your Right to Party’. Who hadn’t. It was a national rock/rap anthem for our generation. A call to arms to stand up and party ‘til you puke. I had even seen the video on NBC’s Friday Night Videos – our only outlet for fresh, new videos waaaaay before our family signed up for cable and Mtv.

My brother tossed in the tape. I was hooked.
“Who the hell were these three white guys,” I thought to myself. “Rapping like black guys and doing a kick-ass job at it, to boot.”

Paul Revere. Slow and Low. Rhymin’ and Stealing. Brass Monkey. The New Style.
This music was new. This music was fresh. This music was different.

I bought the tape myself a couple weeks later. Matter of fact, I had that same cassette tape with me in 1990 when I headed off to Columbus. By the time, I moved to a CD, the cassette tape was completely worn off. I had to take a black Sharpie marker and etch ‘Beasties’ on the side of the tape.
Along with my other two buds - Matt Dieter and Chris Vermillion - we performed ‘No Sleep Til Brooklyn’ during our sophomore year dressed as The Beastie Boys in a lip-sync contest. It was one of the ballsiest things I had done at that point in my life.

Then, in 1989 - 18 days after my 17th birthday - Paul’s Boutique was released. I bought the cassette at a mall in Myrtle Beach with my buddy Brian Zupko. This was an insane album, sampled to the nines with music from Johnny Cash to Bob Dylan. It was another musical masterpiece, which catapulted these guys to another level.

Egg Man. Hey Ladies. Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun. The Sounds of Science. Shadrach.
This music was new. This music was fresh. This music was different.

Three years later, with the Beasties a distant high school memory, during my freshmen year at Ohio State, there were small murmurs and whispers from Rolling Stone and other high-profile entertainment magazines that the crew was releasing a new CD.
To my surprise, during Spring Break of 1992 in Daytona Beach, it was announced that The Beastie Boys would be premiering their new video and single ‘Pass the Mic’ from their upcoming album ‘Check Your Head’.

We bought cases and cases of beer and drank, and waited, and drank, and waited until 5 p.m. (or was it 6 p.m.) constantly checking the clock in anticipation of the video premiere. As the hour turned, the video came on, the jambox volume turned down and the TV volume cranked up.Pass the Micplayed and, three and half minutes later, the Beasties were back on the map.
A couple weeks later, my buddies Benny Dewitt, Jim Nipple and myself hung outside the local CD store during a midnight sale; anxiously awaiting our copy of Check Your Head. The line wrapped around the entire parking lot. After buying a couple 40-ouncers, making a quick stop to White Castle for some burger, we drove to Benny’s apartment and listened to, quite possibly, one of the best rap albums ever produced. We were in awe.

Funky Boss. Something’s Got to Give. Professor Booty. So What’cha Want (prophetically proclaimed by my buddy Tom Hawk as one of the best songs from the Beastie Boys after hearing it only once).
This music was new. This music was fresh. This music was different.

“If these guys tour,” Benny said. “We’ve got to see them no matter where they go.”
I nodded my head in total agreement as I sipped the last drop from my Mickey’s Malt Liqour.

Which, leads me to the first time I saw the Beastie Boys.
It was spring of 1992. Two carloads of guys drove down to Bogarts in Cincinnati. We met up with Matt, who was attending UC at the time. I was pumped. Firehose and Basehead opened up. And then, in all their glory, my three heroes popped up on stage. Ad Rock, MCA and Mike D, in the flesh.

And they played everything.

The played most of their licks from the Licensed to Ill album, choice raps from Paul’s Boutique and virtually all the songs from Check Your Head (or so it seemed).

Not lying. This was one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to in my life, with Faith No More’s Angel Dust performance at Newport Music Hall a distant second.
Another road trip three months later in the dead of winter with two carloads of guys (and girls) to the Agora in Cleveland to see them with opener L7.

Three or four months passed and I got another call from Benny.

“Dude, Beasties are in Dayton,” he said. “We have to go.”
I didn’t have the money. But, utilities be damned, I went anyway. Thus, another road trip to the Hara Arena to see the trio with Rollins Band and Cypress Hill opening.

Three Beastie Boys concerts in under one year’s time. Life was good. Life was grand.
Two years passed and I had the opportunity to see the Beasties during their Ill Communication tour when they co-headlined Lollapallooza – a slot that they were supposed to share with Nirvana.

Once, in Columbus, where the sod flew. Then, again in Indiana, where the acid and mosh pit took control.
I didn’t see them live again. Not that I didn’t try.

I had a chance to see them in Cleveland during their Hello Nasty tour, but couldn’t scrounge up the dough.

I bought tickets to see them again - with about 20 friends – after their announced American tour with Rage Against the Machine. However, Mike D broke his collarbone in a biking accident in New York and all of the shows were cancelled.
And, finally, I had a chance to see them when they released ‘To The Five Boroughs’ and shot ‘Awesome I fucking shot that’ in Madison Square Garden. Alas, the tickets didn’t’ come through.

Fast forward to 2009. I heard Yauch had acquired some sort of cancer. Something with his salivary glands. Something that both he and Ad Rock made light of during a five-minute video on BeastieBoys.com. Doing some research, I also found out that it wasn’t that big of a deal. Almost like getting the ‘Good Type of Hodgkins’. Operation. Chemo. Radiation. New Album. Ready to Tour.

I held out hope that Yauch would get well- that, selfishly, I would get a chance to see these guys one more time. That I would call all my buds and we would rekindle our college years one more day and scout out a concert location like we did when we saw Nine Inch Nails and Jane’s Addiction a couple years back in 2009.
I was hoping for one last weekend with The Beastie Boys and my friends. One more trip down memory lane. Hanging out with my best friends and listening to the music that defined us and created so many memories.

Last year, I took a day off of work to celebrate my birthday (July 6). On that very day, the first thing that I did was travel to Target and purchase the Beastie Boys new album, Hot Sauce Committee Part 2. With my wife in Singapore during my big day, I traveled Northeast Ohio blaring the beats and rhymes of The Beasties, who kept me company throughout that day.
And that’s why I’m writing this.

To me, this group was more than a group. They shaped the very fabric of who I was, who I am, how I think and how I act. They pushed the limits of their music and their capabilities. In turn, they motivated me to take chances with my drawing and my writing career and my life. If three white boys from Brooklyn can climb to the top of the charts as rappers, imagine what I could do?

For the past 25 years, these guys were constantly by my side via my headphones, my VCR, my DVD, my computer, my car stereo, my jambox, my CD player, and my iPod – everywhere and anywhere. The beats, the silly rhymes, the camaraderie, and the fun still seeps through me, motivates me and inspires me through the years.

Hell, this group will be with me until the day that I die.

Now, with Adam Yauch’s passing today, it has all come to an end. Done to soon.

I severely doubt that The Beastie Boys will tour again. There’s no point. The three made up the group. MCA’s raspy voice cannot be duplicated. And, what’s the point in diluting the band that was and always will be three MCs and one DJ?

In a way, the passing of MCA and the ultimate end of The Beastie Boys as we know it is truly sad, truly devastating. But, viewed another way, I’m just happy that I was able to live almost three decades with these rappers, these performers, these rockers, these merry pranksters and musical creators.
Kurt Cobain’s death was a tragedy. An unnecessary death by an unstable man.
However, I must say that Yauch’s loss is different in the sense that he had a lust for life, a zest for creation and innovation. He was a talented entertainer who didn’t necessarily want to leave this Earth at this moment. Or so it seemed.

Rest in Peace MCA.  It’s been a helluva ride, with a helluvalot of memories.
Your music will live on.

However, it was much nicer having you on this planet knowing that you were making music with your other two partners in crime.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Eimer's List of Old School Video Games

So, yet another little treasure from Eimer's boxes of goodies stored in my basement.

I'm not sure on when this was created. It could have been anywhere from 9- to 13-years old.

But, for whatever reason, I made a list of video game titles from Intellivision, ColecoVision, Atari 2600 and Aladdin's Castle (the video-game emporium at the Ohio Valley Mall, which housed all of the big-box games).

In any event, below are 138 video games that I played, in one shape or form, during my early video-game playing tenure (Which, as I understand, are one's most fordible years):

(click image to enlarge)

Couple highlights about this list:
  • The odd thing about this list is that the numbering is all screwed up - beginning with #1 in the right-hand side and ending in the 100's on the left-hand side.
  • What about Space Invaders, Missle Command, Congo Bongo, Double Dragon, Kangaroo, Dragon's Lair, 10-Yard Fight, Marble Madness and a wide array of pinball games such as Pinbot and Cyclone?
  • I remember that Atari came out with Jungle Hunt to battle the success of Activision's Pitfall. Truth be told, it actually wasn't that bad of a game.
  • Remember when you achieved a high score in any Activision game, they asked you to take a picture of your television screen and send it away for an offical Activision patch of that video game?
  • Remember Atari 2600's crappy Pac-Man rip-off? Boy did that suck!
  • Concerning the games on the list, what the hell is Bally-Ho, Barbie, Sub Roc, Temple of Apshai and Lost Luggage?
  • Personally, I recall some of my favorites during this time as Donkey Kong (of course), Frogger, Adventure, Burger Time, Defender, Warlords, Pitfall, Jumpman Jr. 2, and Megamania (remember the commercial?) 
  • I have a story about Satan's Hollow (#127). I was playing this video game at Super X (a local pharmacy in Martins Ferry, which is now a CVS). An old lay approached me and quietly stood over my shoulder as I rocket-launched the shit out of Lucifer. During a brief pause in the game, I glanced over at her and offered up a nervous smiled. She had a very perturbed look on her face. "You're going to hell for playing that game," she told me matter of factly and exited the store. I freaked out, lost my mojo and proceeded to get my ass kicked by the Devil. As a matter of fact, I was so freaked out that I stopped playing Satan's Hollow altogether. However, 20+ years later, I recently revisited the game at Cedar Point's Main Arcade on the midway. Hell be damend, I still rocked that high score.
  • After reviewing this list, I have many, many fond memories of most of these video games. In particular the video game battles that my brother and I would get into...which I may share a little later.
  • Isn't it ironic how this list compares to the length of my list of all-time favorite movies? Also, notice the Raiders of the Lost Ark Atari 2600 video game in the linked movie post. Very odd.