Friday, July 31, 2015

Twice Shy: The Return of Art Bell

We've all heard the saying (or at least the song) "once bitten, twice shy." Well, that's how I feel about the latest return of Art Bell. He keeps going away, and then unexpectedly coming back, only to leave again just as unexpectedly. I'm a fan, but I really have to wonder how many fans he really has left after all these boy-who-cried-wolf returns and retirements. Pretty soon, no one will care, if it hasn't gotten there already.

The double-edged Sword of Damocles is that while Art Bell is perhaps a broadcast legend and one of the best interviewers in the business, he is also just as dependable as groundhogs are at predicting the weather. As in the past, I can't help feeling that Art will eventually let me down.

Rather than talk about what a crappy host George Noory is in comparison, and how he's destroyed Coast to Coast AM, a once reputable program despite its questionable content - I will concentrate on Art's newest incarnation. If you want to read about how much Noory sucks and has ruined the show, you can go here and here.

After Art's abortive attempt at satellite radio, resulting in thirty-odd pretty cool episodes (about which he said this week "satellite doesn't like me"), he has retained that show's name for his online radio network, Dark Matter. It appears to be 24/7 with genre programming, also available on the TuneIn Radio app, on which many of us fans listen to his hundreds of Coast reruns.

Apparently there are a number of radio stations who have agreed to broadcast the new show, called Midnight in the Desert, live from midnight to three in the morning. Art's insistence on only broadcasting live, and at that time has been problematic for this fan who usually is just getting to bed at two or three. At least do a repeat right after, ya know?

The format, topics, and guests are much the same as they were back in the classic Art Bell Coast to Coast AM days. Art has not lost his skills as an interviewer, and the commercials are not just fun and off, they are insane - the show is worth a listen just for that. The 'news' segments however border on the truly insane, more like "Ancient Aliens" meets a fanatical End Times website - my least favorite part of the show.

One of the things I always enjoyed about the old Art C2C was how interactive it was with its fandom. This is something that has been lost with Noory's reign on Coast and their absolute refusal to answer anyone on Facebook or Twitter. Why have them if you won't use them? With Art's new show there is a new excitement in social media. I have been enjoying a few listening parties with new friends on Twitter that have been a lot of fun.

So far so good, but how long before that sword drops? Time will tell, enjoy it while you can. Once bitten, twice shy...

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Vanishing Point

Vanishing Point ~ Now this is a film of legend. The only way it could be seen when I was a kid was on late night Friday nights on local ABC affiliate channel 6. It was notorious to many teenaged boys in the pre-cable 1970s for having ever-so-quick topless scenes the censors forgot to clip.

Later in life when I managed a video store, it was one of those films like Disney's Song of the South and John Wayne's The High and the Mighty - it just wasn't available on video. If I had a dime for how many times I had to tell some disappointed customer one of those titles wasn't available... well, I'd have a whole buncha dimes. Vanishing Point from 1971 eventually came out, as did High and the Mighty (don't hold your breath for Song of the South) but in the meantime the film achieved a sort of cult status.

The premise is simple. Vietnam vet Kowalski has to deliver a car from Denver to San Francisco over the weekend. Already exhausted, he makes a bet he can get the car - a beautiful white 1970 Dodge Challenger - there the next day, in just fifteen hours. The race begins. Pursued by the police, and guided by the words of a blind disc-jockey Super Soul in Las Vegas, Kowalski becomes a folk hero as he makes the impossible run.

Now from the above, this might sound like a precursor to Smokey and the Bandit or any of the sillier car chase movies of the seventies, and they do owe a certain extent to Vanishing Point, but this is a spiritual journey. One could even say the weird almost-psychic connection Kowalski shares with Super Soul is supernatural. This movie is a lot more than it at first appears.

Barry Newman plays the at times inexplicable Kowalski, a man on the hero's journey across a short western expanse of Easy Rider America. His companion on the car radio, with whom he shares an empathic kinship is Super Soul, played with the youthful enthusiasm of a young Stevie Wonder crossed with an evangelist in the spirit is a pre-Blazing Saddles Cleavon Little. How these two escaped Oscar nods for this is a mystery.

Another mystery is the plot of the film itself. Why does Kowalski do the things he does? Why is he driving to what is eventually his death? Does he know? And what is the weird psychic connection between him and Super Soul? Is the entire film an allegory? An after-death flashback, a loop in Hell that Kowalski must somehow keep running? There are so many theories, and will probably continue to be.

No matter what you think happens in Vanishing Point, it has become a cult film, a legend. It has inspired so many, from the kids who drove Dodge Challengers in the 1970s because of it to Quentin Tarantino who honored it in Death Proof. It is probably one of the greatest car movies of all time, and worth seeing for the fortieth time or the first. Great soundtrack, great scenery, highly recommended.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Someone recently recommended Lost Soul to me, the recent documentary about writer/director Richard Stanley and his journey making 1996's The Island of Doctor Moreau. Before I watched it I thought I might revisit Stanley's first mainstream film, Hardware from 1990.

I remember being very into cyberpunk when Hardware came out, seeing it the Friday night it was released, and liking it enough to buy the VHS when it became available - but if I'm being honest, I remember almost nothing else. It was one of those videotapes I owned, put on the shelf, and never watched. Yes, it's time to watch Hardware, but on Netflix, the VHS is long long gone now.

Hardware portrays a post-apocalyptic world some time in the 21st century with nations at war and radiation everywhere. The technology is dated, yet somehow refreshing, even if the fashions are very 1980s MTV doomsday. Written and directed by Stanley, and based on a short story from 2000 A.D., is the story of a sculptor who inadvertently reactivates a killer robot from collected junk, which then rampages.

This is both something we've seen before and yet haven't. Stanley adds a punk attitude and style to old school scifi and horror, then turns the dials up to eleven. Hardware is sexy, dirty, and slick, fastpaced to a eclectic score and soundtrack. I found I still dig this after twenty-five years, and had to scratch my head about why I hadn't seen either of Stanley's other two films, Moreau and Dust Devil.

Stacey Travis, John Lynch, and pre-"Practice" Dylan McDermott are very good and better than the usual for this kind of genre flick, but the movie is quite easily stolen by Motorhead's Lemmy, and Iggy Pop as DJ Angry Bob. Hardware was a pleasant ride through cyberpunk nostalgia, recommended, but not for the squeamish.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The New Electra Woman and Dyna Girl

If you listened to The GAR! Podcast's interview with Bryan J.L. Glass at this year's Camden Comic Con, you know how big a fan of Sid and Marty Krofft's "Electra Woman and Dyna Girl" I am.

The very short-lived series aired Saturday morning in the disco spandex era of the late 1970s. Though it looked kinda cheap because it was shot on videotape, it was a loving send-up of the camp superhero antics of the 1960s "Batman" TV series, and also had something we just don't have today - female lead protagonists, as Kristin Battestella and I discussed recently on Morning Coffee, more on that here.

Imagine my surprise when this rather unorthodox preview dropped…

The new version will be a digital series from Legendary and star YouTube phenomena Grace Helbig and Hannah Hart in the title roles. Hmmm… we'll just have to wait and see. What do you all think?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Marvel Morning Coffee

This past Friday I had the opportunity to speak with friend, fellow writer, and TV host Kristin Battestella at the RadioVision Network on their program "Morning Coffee." The topic was Marvel, in the movies, on television, and other media platforms.

We discussed Ant-Man, Avengers: Age of Ultron, the films that have worked, and those that have not. In the second segment we talked "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." and "Agent Carter," and in the third segment, "Daredevil" and the rest of the Netflix series.

We also go off topic a bit talking about Ben Affleck's viability as Batman or Daredevil, what's good and about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as well as what's coming up in the future. You can see it right here. Good times, it was an awesome chat, with shout outs to Biff Bam Pop! and The GAR! Podcast. Thanks to Kristin, Morning Coffee, and the RadioVision Network.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!

With Sharknado, the third time is the charm, and by now, let's face it, The Asylum is just having fun. After protecting Los Angeles and New York City in Sharknado and Sharknado 2: The Second One, Ian Ziering's Fin Shepherd has to save the entire east coast, from Washington DC (which gets demolished better than it did in either Independence Day or Mars Attacks) to Orlando. Camp silliness rules, and guest stars and product placement are everywhere. Could you expect anything else? Truly, Thunder Levin and The Asylum are laughing all the way to the bank.

The opening destruction of Washington was just as exciting as the James Bond intro it was trying to emulate. It was funny, thrilling, and ridiculous - and it sets the mood for the rest of this flick. Be warned, despite the inherent silliness, Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! is remarkably plot heavy. While Tara Reid, Bo Derek, and the rest of Fin's non-acting family tour and promote Universal Orlando - he's making his way there from DC in an armored Shazambago.

Two of the best things about this flick are the drivers of that Winnebago - Cassie Scerbo as Nova from the first Sharknado and her sidekick Frankie Muniz. I'll take Cassie over Tara any day myself. Also look for cameos by Lou Ferrigno, Ann Coulter, Michael Bolton, Anthony Weiner, Chris Jericho, George R.R. Martin, Penn and Teller, Ne-Yo, and hell yes, even David Hasselhoff.

Like its two predecessors, this flick is a hell of a lot of fun from start to finish, and as it aired last night, plans were finalized for not just Sharknado 4, but this being a regular event. I'm down. And don't forget to vote in the Twitter contest for #AprilLives or #AprilDies... Why does this remind me of Jason Todd? Semper paratus!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Why George Coe Was Cool

Actor and comedian George Coe passed away yesterday. He was an Academy Award nominee, a veteran of stage and screen, the voice of Woodhouse in "Archer," and an original cast member of "Saturday Night Live." He had appeared in numerous movies and TV shows from "The West Wing" to "Max Headroom" to the Transformers films and even Skyrim, but it was SNL that made him cool.

Here's the thing. George Coe was only credited on the first episode as one of the Not Ready for Prime Time Players, even though he made a few appearances throughout that first season. Coe was originally placed in the cast by network executives who thought the show skew 'too young' for viewers. They were quickly proved wrong and George Coe moved on.

The cool part is back in the dark days before the internet, when you couldn't just look something up on your cellphone in a split second, there was a wonderful sport called the bar bet. If you knew, you could say, "I bet you fifty bucks (or a hundred if you're feeling daring) you can't name every member of the original Not Ready for Prime Time Players."

The dumb ones might forget Chevy Chase, or include Bill Murray. The smart ones might, just might, get Michael O'Donoghue (always my favorite), but nobody ever got George Coe. Free beer money.

Good night, Woodhouse, we'll miss you.

Monday, July 20, 2015


Ant-Man ~ I could talk about what Ant-Man is like in the comics, but really I already have elsewhere. I could take on the tact of how the film is different from the comics too, but I think where I'll go is with the burning question I had at the end of the movie, and no, I'm not talking about the mid-credits and end-credits stingers (at least not yet). Why does the Marvel Cinematic Universe treat Hank Pym with more care and respect than the Marvel Comics do? It's a puzzler, and I still don’t know the answer - but it makes me happy.

Ant-Man is a terrific heist film, settled into the wonderful tapestry of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, perhaps one of the best shared universe continuities out there. It is fun and exciting on a level matching Guardians of the Galaxy. At this point however, I'm going to caution you folks, we're entering spoiler territory, so if you haven't yet seen the film or don't want to know what happens - vamoose, or prepared to be spoiled.

I was sold on this film right from the 1989 flashback opening featuring some actors in various stages of youth and age through CGI. Michael Douglas, looking as young and sharp as he did back on "The Streets of San Francisco," is Dr. Hank Pym - the original Ant-Man - and he's quitting S.H.I.E.L.D. Also there are John Slattery of "Mad Men," who has played Howard Stark (Iron Man's dad) in a couple of the Marvel movies, and Hayley Atwill, the amazing Agent Peggy Carter. Enraged by the mention of his late wife, Janet, Hank punches Martin Donovan's Mitchell Carson. Carson, in the comics is a disfigured SHIELD agent who opposed the third Ant-Man - here's he's just a minor bad guy, later revealed to be Hydra, holding with storylines from "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."

Flash forward to the present as burglar Scott Lang, played by slob-com actor Paul Rudd with the same unexpected and cool finesse that Chris Pratt took on Star-Lord. Is released from prison as paying his debt to society. While trying to stay on the straight and narrow, he falls in with his old crowd, buddies on the not-so-straight path - that steal our hearts, and steal the movie. Michael Pena and rapper T.I. are sidekicks that rule and roll, bring the humor and making this flick all the better as the serious comic relief - keeping it real while keeping it fun.

The gist is this. S.H.I.E.L.D. wants the Pym particle formula which allows a man to shrink to ant-size. Pym quits rather than give it to them, and then builds his own company, which while successful, does not take advantage of the Pym particle. New boss, former Pym mentee Corey Stoll as complete villainous a-hole in the comics Darren Cross, is actually trying to duplicate it, and thinks he's finally got it. His masterpiece, a miniaturized battle armor called the Yellowjacket (very little resemblance other than name to one of the Marvel Comics identities of Pym). Pym, and his daughter Hope (who hardcore comics fans might remember as the alternate future daughter of Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne, also known as the Red Queen in A-Next) want to stop this from happening.

Enlisting the help of Scott Lang through trickery and convincing him to become the new Ant-Man, Hank begins to train the new hero. These are entertaining sequences, and make the film. I weary of origin stories told over and over again in the movies (yeah, I'm looking directly at you, Superman and Batman), but this was fun, and fun is what Ant-Man is all about. The comedic bits are great, especially the cameo by Garrett Morris. As someone old enough to remember his appearance on "Saturday Night Live" as Ant-Man nearly four decades ago, that was a treat.

The plan is to break into Pym's own company and destroy the Yellowjacket suit along with all the data on the Pym particle to keep Cross from selling it from Hydra, but first a side trip - one that leads to a very interesting encounter. I have talked about the Justice League Europe theory before, and the idea of posing a superhero to fight another superhero is another way to do this. I suppose that's why this side trip pits Ant-Man against the Falcon.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Anthony Mackie show up as the Falcon when Paul Rudd's Ant-Man has to break in and steal something from the Avengers' new headquarters as seen in the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron. And I guess this kinda makes up for the Falcon's noted absence during the final battle of that last film. What I liked about this clash, different from classic superhero battles from the Silver Age of Marvel Comics where you knew who would win based on the name on the front of the comic, is that neither character was made to really look bad in the fight. Ant-Man is a proven contender to anyone out there who still doubted it, and though defeated, the Falcon isn't humiliated. He comes off looking good, and I was glad.

While the previews give away Evangeline Lilly's scenes, except for the hopes that she'll become the Wasp (or that the original might return), I need to caution folks that the Thomas the Tank Engine scene is the least of the final battle between Ant-Man and Yellowjacket. There is much much more and way cooler aspects to it that cannot be missed. This is sooo not Minions where the entire movie is in the preview. Speaking of the Wasp, there is a wondrous flashback scene, and she's features indirectly in the mid-credits stinger. And stay to the very end for the Captain America: Civil War teaser.

And then we come back to the question I posed at the beginning of this lengthy review. Hank Pym in the comics is really only known well for a few things, and most aren't good. He's had a variety of identities, a history of mental illness and domestic abuse, and of course, building a monstrous AI dead set on exterminating the human race. They could have gone a number of ways here. For the film to portray him as a hero, I can't be happier for my favorite Avenger. I loved this movie, the last and perhaps the best of Phase Two.

If you'd like to hear more of my thoughts on the movie, as well as my lovely wife's, please check out this week's special Ant-Man episode of The Make Mine Magic Podcast.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Favorite Movie Props

When Inaluable: The World's Premier Auctions asked me what my favorite dream movie prop to own would be, I came up with several possibilities. I started at the top however, with my favorite films.

My favorite film of all time is The Great Race, and props from that are it easy to pick from. Perhaps one of the sabers used by the Great Leslie and Baron Von Stuppe in their duel, or half of Professor Fate's frozen mustache, or best of all, perhaps the miniature of the Hannibal Twin-8. Dream props from other fave movies might be Conrad Birdie's guitar from Bye Bye Birdie or the robot Maria from Metropolis, or even the puppet miniatures of the two kaiju combatants in 1964's Mothra Vs. Godzilla.

If we're going genre, I might want Thor's Uru hammer Mjolnir or Captain America's shield from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The comic book shown in the beginning of Superman The Movie would be awesome, as would a can of Shark Repellant Bat-Spray from 1966's Batman. But of I'm going to choose a movie prop from that movie, it would have to be the Batmobile, one of the coolest vehicles on Earth, even if I couldn't drive it in the rain.

Of course, if I did want to drive in the rain, I would pick another movie prop that's a famous convertible - definitely the coolest car on Earth - the Mach Five from Speed Racer. One push of the D button on the steering wheel and the cockpit is sealed to the elements. And that's not even mentioning the auto jacks and cutter blades. The Mach Five rules, and would be my ultimate dream movie prop.

This blog entry was inspired by Invaluable and if you'd like to see more favorite movie props, check out their collectibles section here, including a recent auction of Han Solo's blaster here. Thanks again to Invaluable. Now what are your favorite movie props?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Lost Hits of the New Wave #40

"Pleasure and Pain" by the Divinyls

When most folks think of the Divinyls, they think of two things - the late lead singer Crissy Amphlett and their criminally overplayed 'one-hit wonder,' "I Touch Myself." Well, it's still a shame about Chrissy, however those of us in the know know that the Divinyls were far from one-hit wonders.

This 1985 single was written by pop mainstays of the era Holly Knight and Mike Chapman, and remains my favorite Divinyls tune.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Batman: Assault on Arkham

Batman: Assault on Arkham ~ I had this one tucked away for a while before I actually ever looked at it. The reason being I thought it was connected to those awful Batman Arkham videogames that I can't stand. I knew it was an animated feature, but the idea that it might be based in that weird game universe really put me off. However when I did finally get around to watching it, I was pleasantly surprised. This is nothing like I expected.

Assault on Arkham is not even technically a Batman feature, it's about the Suicide Squad, possibly a preview to hip folks as to what to expect in the upcoming film of the same name. And it's also not strictly a superhero flick either. This has the flavor and style of a heist movie circa the turn of the century, slick, cool, very new age Oceans 11. The villains are gathered, begrudgingly work together, and pull off what they need to despite clashing personalities. Yes, it has standard Suicide Squad procedure, but the way it's pulled off is so well done and heist genre. I loved it.

There were places where I was pulled out of the story, notably some weird anime bits, characters who looked too much alike, the Joker mugging for the camera, and of course the creepy Penguin with a British accent and eating fish whole, bones and all. The characters have chemistry, and the dual stories of them breaking into Arkham while Batman searches for the Joker's dirty bomb and follows them in, are enticing.

This was better than I thought it would be, highlighted by "Batman The Animated Series" voice veteran Kevin Conroy, and Hynden Walch, who does a wonderful approximation of Arleen Sorkin's Harley Quinn. An entertaining 76 minutes with a wild score by Robert J. Kral, and some great lines - worth the time.

I have to say however, if the upcoming Suicide Squad movie, despite how that trailer looks, is anything like this, I can't wait to see it now.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Daredevil S01 E13: Daredevil

We open this final episode of the first season of "Marvel's Daredevil" with the funeral of Ben Urich. His death last episode makes the bloody credits sequence all the more poignant. This was a shocking death as Ben is still alive and well in the comics. And if you don't cry when Karen meets Ben's wife, I just can't help you.

Later in this finale written and directed by Steven S. DeKnight, Fisk confronts Owlsley over recent events. He knows he was behind the poisoning. The Owl thinks he has leverage but Kingpin doesn't care, and throws him down an elevator shaft. I guess I was right about Owlsley's son quite possibly being the real Owl. And Fisk, wow, between Urich, Owlsley, and Vanessa, he's got quite a mommy complex.

On the positive side, it's good to see Charlie Cox and Elden Henson bringing that great chemistry they have back to Nelson and Murdock, and Deborah Ann Woll's Karen just completes that triangle. This works, I wish it didn't have to break before it works again. With most of the cops on the take, the FBI is brought into the equation, and in that way, the good guys win the way Matt wanted it - through the law. Even Senator Cherryh is brought in. Only Fisk remains, and thirty minutes in, they have him too.

It's nice that the good guys win, but where is the superhero action, and especially the kind of action that has highlighted this series from the beginning? DeKnight knows this kind of action even when he doesn't show it. One of the more intense fight scenes is shown only in the subtle reactions on the blood-spattered face of actor Daryl Edwards as crooked cop Hoffman. We see nothing, but we feel everything.

After Wilson Fisk, in custody, on his way to confinement, tells his two guards the story of The Good Samaritan, all hell breaks loose. Vincent D'Onofrio, channeling Samuel L. Jackson from Pulp Fiction, speculates on which character from the tale he is. He used to think he was The Good Samaritan, but now he feels he is the ill intent that befell the man. That's when the NYPD ambushes the FBI... and we find that the Kingpin owns people everywhere.

With a showdown approaching and armed men in the streets, Matt goes to retrieve his body armor finally from Melvin Potter. In payment, he promised to keep Melvin's Betsy safe from Fisk. I've a feeling this might not be a promise Matt can keep and we'll be seeing Gladiator in the future especially after getting a glimpse circular saw blueprints. Either way, finally, it's our hero as he's most recognizable.

I don't like the costume. After seeing the lycra outfit that is so flexible and easily movable in, this plated body armor looks bulky, fake, and distracting. I had trouble believing he could move well in it. I don't believe leather and metal can bend like that. And I would have liked some explanation of the billy club, what it does… and how he got so good with it. I know I'm the guy who always wants the superhero trappings, but here, after a dozen episodes in simpler more believable garb, I just don't buy it. I should like it, but I don't.

Fisk has an escape plan, and a countdown to a meetup with Vanessa where they'll leave the city together. I don't think Daredevil will let him get away that easily. The combat is intense, but I have to say I was distracted by the costume for much of it. Besides Fisk, there are happy endings all around yet no explanations of how the police force was cleaned up, if it was, or any of that mess. I guess we'll have to wait for season two, and perhaps Fisk's trial.

At this point all we really know about season two is that there is one, sometime in 2016, and that Elodie Yung will be playing Elektra, and Jon Bernthal, formerly of "The Walking Dead," will be playing the Punisher. As someone likes the Punisher even less than Daredevil, I don't care much about that last one. There have been rumors of Bullseye too, but I already saw that in the Ben Affleck film. Personally, if I get Gladiator and the Stilt-Man, as teased in this series, I'll be happy.

If the rest of these Netflix series are as good as "Daredevil," I will be very happy. I really really dug this. Highly recommended.

Friday, July 10, 2015

SDCC 2015

Some of us didn't get to go to the San Diego Comic Con, and have to live vicariously through those posting to social media (#SDCC2015 for comics fans on Twitter, and weirdly #ComicCon for those folks who don't know comics are involved, or at least that's how it seems), "Conan," and the reports from EW Radio this weekend.

For those who missed out, here are a few of the previews that dropped, including "Doctor Who," "The Walking Dead" (courtesy of Biff Bam Pop! right here), and its spin-off/origin story/prequel "Fear the Walking Dead."

Also, speaking of Biff Bam Pop!, super-cool Emily McGuiness has some great SDCC 2015 interviews up on the site, with Darin Henry, Jim LuJan, Lonnie Millsap, and Leen Isabel and Nguyen Dong. Check them out!

And if you are lucky enough to be in San Diego, enjoy!

Thursday, July 09, 2015

The Silverball Museum

After seeing this place on the New Jersey episode of "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown" (which we talked about on The GAR Podcast right here), I just knew it would be the perfect place to surprise The Bride with. So the following Sunday, we embarked on a mystery road trip to the Silverball Museum Arcade in Asbury Park NJ.

Set on the Boardwalk, this place is an old-fashioned arcade, just like the kind that used to be around in the 1970s and 80s. Dominated by pinball machines from every era, there were a handful of videogames and even a few skeeball lanes as well, there are well over two hundred amusements there. Each pinball machine had a placard over it detailing its history, completing the museum concept, the perfect please-touch interactive museum. We paid a small flat fee and were able to play any machine we wanted for a couple hours, which was awesome.

The variety of pinball machines was incredible, as I mentioned they spanned several decades. There were licensed properties like "The Sopranos," "The Simpsons," Star Trek, Indiana Jones, Rocky, "Doctor Who" (featuring all the Doctors, including a paper doll of Peter Capaldi some true fan must have added), "Charlie's Angels," Elvira, even Playboy, and my favorite, one based on the 1994 film version of The Shadow.

There were pinball machines featuring made-up superheroes like Capt. Card, Golden Arrow, and Fireball. They had music-based machines like Beat Time with the Beatles, and Capt. Fantastic with Elton John, as well as KISS from 1979 and Ted Nugent from 1978. The actual soundtrack of pinball must be Journey because we heard four of their songs on the overheard speakers in the two hours we were at the Silverball Museum. The Bride was in heaven - pinball and Journey.

Some of the videogame machines were not just one game, but many in one. One could say that even though the machines were few in number, some had entire arcades from the 1980s in them that one could choose from. I was sad to learn that I have completely and embarrassingly unlearned everything I know about playing Mario Bros., Joust, Gyruss, Road Blasters, Elevator Action, and other games I used to be good at and play for hours, but I still have it with Qix, Galaxian, Galaga, and Tempest. Among the pinball games I played were old favorite Flash from 1979 and one I didn't remember, the new wave looking Oxo, which was ironically from 1973.

They also had many of the pinball machines that had gimmicks, like Whirlwind, which had a fan on top of it that blew a pleasant breeze when you hit the right combination. Folks with memories might recall that arcades weren't usually well ventilated or air-conditioned, so this was cool for a couple of reasons. The aforementioned Shadow game had a pistol to shoot the ball, which would have been cool if it had more power behind it. And Demolition Man had guns for flippers, plus regular buttons on the side for folks who think that's dumb, which would be all of us.

All in all, it was a terrific afternoon, we even had fries! We're already planning a return trip.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Lost Hits of the New Wave #39

Substance by New Order

Of the New Wave era, greatest hits collections tended to be rare. Oh sure, afterward, they were plentiful, but very few stand out during the day. Among them were Standing on the Beach by The Cure, Eponymous by REM, and this one - Substance by New Order.

Similar to The Cure's greatest hits package, Substance, or Substance 1987 as it's known in some circles, not only contains the 'greatest hits,' but also their B-sides, and just as with Standing on the Beach, the B-sides are also just as cool. And after all, some of these A-sides and B-sides match up wonderfully, so this is a terrific collection. This is one of those CDs/cassettes (I've worn out both) that I used to listen to over and over again.

The only thing missing is my favorite Joy Division song, "Love Will Tear Me Apart," so I would invariably tape the album and add that one. I love all these songs, but I have to single out favorites "The Perfect Kiss," "Confusion," "Shellshock," "Ceremony," even the overplayed but still much-loved "Bizarre Love Triangle" and "Blue Monday," and the new song, "True Faith."

And if you'd like to hear about how this album changed the life of my friend and fellow Biff Bam Pop! writer JP Fallavollita, check out this excellent article here.