Mega DVD Marathon – Episode 9 – the I’s

iCarly iSpace Out* – I used to love this show when I was younger (yet still older then the primary demographic. The title episode is not one of my favorites, but there are 5 other episodes on the DVD, and a bonus episode of Victorious (the pilot, which I don’t think I’d ever seen before) another good show. There is great chemistry between the four main characters and good dialogue, jokes within jokes, and so on. This is basically a teenage Seinfeld. The episode “iEnrage Gibby” has some great trash talking in it, “iFix a Pop Star” is a clear shot at Britney Spears and the other side of fame in general. The rest of the episodes here are great too. 2$ at a gas station, can’t go wrong.

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad – I’ve recently added this movie to my biannual viewing list as it fits for both a Christmas and Holloween movie (though in reverse order). This is the last movie of the Disney Wartime/Anthology Era, where in order to save money and resources the company packaged together some of their shorts into a feature length film. I own every movie from this era, we already did Fun and Fancy Free, the next one won’t be for a little while yet. The two shorts in this movie are: Mr. Toads Wild Ride (from “The Wind in the Willows”) and the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. This is a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack, and if you saw my review of “Howl’s Moving Castle” (form the previous episode) then you already know how I feel about HD animation, when I watched this movie last year for the first time, it was also the first time I witnessed what exactly HD animation was. 4/5 stars.

Icons of Comedy – this is one of those Mill Creek bargain bin 50 movie boxes. A few of the movies I have in other boxes, and one of which (Africa Screams) was already covered way way back in episode 2. The last time I did one of these types of DVDs (back in episode 4) I only watched the next movie on the list. For this one, since there are a lot of disks (and movies) I’m going to go through a whole disk, five movies. When I get to episode 28, the left overs, I’ll continue onward and watch the next disk (or which ever disk I haven’t yet watched, but that’s a few years away) in this box, and the next movie on the classic mystery box, etc. So onto these 5 movies. To be honest though, I did not give any of these movies my full attention, but enough attention to form an opinion.

Something to Sing About – the title is also the title of a patriotic Canadian song that was at one point slated to be the Canadian national anthem, but was ultimately rejected because it is a difficult song to sing, regardless it’s a great song and you should listen to it. This movie has nothing to do with that song. This is one of the only movies to have James Cagney sing and dance. The plot is about a New York night club owner getting a gig in the movies. It’s okay, 3/5, it wasn’t all that funny.

His Girl Friday – didn’t like this one all that much. I saw the original version “The Front Page” also on this box some two years ago and didn’t like that one very much either, this movie improved on that one, but only slightly. It’s a hard movie to follow, and it’s probably worth taking a second look, there is a lot of fast talking so paying more attention may be beneficial. This leads to one of the problems with these very cheap DVDs, the audio quality. Video is one thing, these movies are old and deteriorated, and they don’t need to be in HD, but if you can’t hear the words because of the noise decay that’s a bigger problem, sometimes you can fix it by putting the subtitles on, but don’t count on subtitles with these kinds of DVDs. I should like this movie more, and I may have to give it another viewing with my full attention. 3/5 stars

Made for Each Other – no this one sucked and sucked hard and hit a little too close to home for me to boot. It’s not a 1 Star movie, but it’s not much better. Worst movie I’ve seen so far this year. 2/5 stars.

Second Chorus – this movie has Fred Astaire, Artie Shaw (playing himself), and a very very young Burgess Meredith. It was enjoyable while it was on, but a week after watching it I barely remember any of it. 3/5 stars.

Pot-o-Gold – of the 5 films on this disk, this one is probably the best, it’s still not all that good. It’s a musical comedy with a loss plot to string together some musical scenes. The story is about a guy (Jimmy Stewart) going to work for his uncle who owns a radio station, and getting mixed up in a feud between his uncle and the neighboring Irish boarding house. 3/5 stars.

Conclusion – This might not say a whole lot about the box, but there are some things on here that I am very interested in checking out, mostly the shorts; with this box you get some Three Stooges, and WC Fields shorts (which I already have) and some Fatty Arbuckle, Charley Chaplin, Buster Keyton; and Little Rascals shorts (which I don’t already have), just one good or great movie that I have not yet seen is all it would take to make this box worth it, and I’m sure I’ll find it soon enough.

Identity – [watched 4/18/20 w/Dave] I don’t know why I didn’t think to do this earlier, but I’m going to put the dates down for when I watch each movie henceforth, this one I happened to watch on April 18th, but I won’t spell it out in the review unless there is an interesting reason for the day. Also this is a movie I watch with my friend Dave over at Oblivion’s Realm. We sink up turning the movie on at the same time and then texting throughout, I did this last week when we watched Who Frammed Rodger Rabbit together, but that will be for another post far in the future. As for Identity, well… a 5 star movie all the way. It’s a very unusual combination of psychological thriller and slasher with a healthy Neo-Noir influence. It’s about a midnight court hearing of a serial killer and several different unrelated people who show up at a motel. There are so many twists and turns in this movie that I don’t want to say too much and reveal anything in the movie that you may not expect to see coming coming, so I’ll leave it at that. Don’t miss the stand out performances of John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Jake Busey, Pruitt Taylor Vince, and John C. McGinley… everyone else in the movie is good too, don’t get the wrong idea. Odd little factoid here, but this is one of very very few modern American movies that does not have a single African American actor/actress in the film, there is a non-racial reason for this, but I will not get into that for spoiler reasons. This DVD has wide screen, full screen, theatrical cut and extended cut all on the same disk, and it comes in a hard non-recycled case. This movie is a really good one, especially the first time you watch it. 5/5 stars.

Immortal Beloved – [4/19/20] I work with a good amount of community service at my job, in 2011 or there abouts, when I was getting really into classical music, one of the community service guys recommended this movie too me. Many years later (last year I believe) I picked up this move at a library sale, and today is the day I watched it. It was okay, sad, good music (but that’s to be expected of any movie about Beethoven). The story is nonlinear, about Beethoven’s friend/secretary Schindler, tracking down a mysterious woman who the maestro left his fortune to. The story weaves in and out of Beethoven’s life. I give the movie 3 stars, Amadeus is the better period biopic of a master composer. This one is still worth seeing, the segment with the ninth is quite spectacular, it’s worth watching just to see that. 3/5 stars.

Inception* [5/31] – it took a while before I got to this one, almost a month and a half. I’ve been very busy with work, I have an essential job and the complications of the unusual circumstances this year have made that job way more busy then usual. The big day is two days from now, so I should be hammering through the rest of the letter, then the J’s and K’s, more quickly. I’ve seen this movie once before, paid close attention to it the first time, but I wanted to pay close attention this time as well, and I have not had an opportunity to do so, hence the long break. I may do a longer review of this movie, because there is just so much content her, so many questions, so many theories. The opening sequence with Cobb on the beach adds an additional layer of possibility to the interpretation, and the ending is left with a subtle yet profound cliffhanger. The story is about a group of people who can control people’s dreams to find information. It is an extremely complex and surreal action movie, definitely my kind of movie, but it’s not going to be for everyone. It has an all-star cast with Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Paige, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Tom Hardy, Pete Posthalwaite, etc. I picked the movie up for 5$ on sale at at a B&N bargain bin, worth every penny and more, the only downside with this movie though, is you have to give it your full attention when you watch it. 5 stars.

Inherent Vice [6/13] – I am impressed. I’m a big fan of the author of this film (I.e. the writer of the novel the film was based on, Thomas Pynchon) and I’ve read this particular novel twice, and I plan on reading it again soon. The movie did a great job interpreting a novel from a notoriously difficult and complex writer. As will happen with any adaptation, several factors were left out, but it’s understandable, including those omitted aspects would make the movie even longer and even more confusing. This is a great Neo-noir with many of the aspects that hallmark the genre: low key, dim lighting, duel meaning dialogue. This movie is also a period piece of the late 60’s (20-30 years after the noir era). This is the second PTA film I’ve seen (I’ve recently discovered that film buffs refer to Paul Thomas Anderson as PTA), the other being “Magnolia” which was fantastic. Both movies are very entertaining and worthy of deep analysis. Inherent Vice is a great film and one I will come back to again and again when I need some Noir environment for writing. 5 stars any day.

Insane Clown Posse: Six Jokerz Unauthorized [6/14] – I got this DVD as a Secret Santa gift… a long time ago. I used to be a fan of the band/group, less so as I’ve gotten older. This is a short(er) documentary about ICP, taking place during their switch from the Disney owner Hollywood Records to Island Records. Love’em or hate’em you can not deny they are an interesting group, and this documentary gives some interesting backstory that you might not know. The one down side is this is an unauthorized documentary, so they do not have any performance footage or music from the band itself used. Also there are no bonus features, and the footage feels cheap, shot on a VHS and it shows, but I’m not complaining, still an interesting documentary for an interesting band. 3/5 stars.

Inspector Gadget Season 1 Vol. 1* [6/14-6/27] – This is a very recent edition to the collection. I ordered this DVD from amazon, in the lockdown, there were few options otherwise. I was looking forward to revisiting Inspector Gadget, but unfortunately the show has not seemed to age well, which is not to say that the humor is in poor taste by today’s standards, it’s more so that the show just seems geared to an even younger audience then I realized. The main character is basically a schlameel idiot, who fumbles his way to success thanks to his vastly more intelligent niece and pet dog (Penny and Brain respectively). Following the episodes has proven to be difficult, so I gave up pretty quick, the plots are basically there only to string various pratfalls together. There are various fan theories that state Dr. Claw (the main antagonist) is actually Inspector Gadget, but there really isn’t enough substance to the show to warrant such theories. The movie isn’t any better I might add, it’s not in my collection and probably won’t be. Unless I happen to come across the other DVDs of the show somewhere at a next to nothing price, I don’t think I’ll be getting anymore, but you never know. I can’t conclude this review without discussing the toys. Burger King released kids club toys in 1991, and I have 3 of the 4 they released, one from my friend’s collection of which he gave to me last year (SCUBA Gadget, 2 of them actually) and I’m still missing the inflatable gadget. Aside from them Tiger released a very good looking line of action figures in 1992. It included several gadget variations, Penny & Brain (on the same card) a MAD Agent, and a very valuable Dr. Claw which revealed his face for the first time (his face is never shown on the show, and there was a sticker over his face on the bubble). Loose Claw figures go for 70+$ (there aren’t many loose action figures of this era that fetch that kind of price), I remember seeing him in the K-Mart when I was a kid… why didn’t I pick him up? I really should have. There was also a gadget mobile that transformed between the van and the sports car. I saw a video of how this works on YouTube but it isn’t a very good video. Definitely toys I want to get for my own collection, maybe the video game for the SNES as well, if I see it, I’ve heard it’s pretty good, more a puzzle solver then a platformer.

Full Letter – following this letter I will be including time spans, but since I only started dating viewings part way through the letter I can’t do that yet. Again not counting TV shows I give this letter a rating of 3.7 stars, not bad.

With a Difference

Intro – this is a very interesting collection of short stories and poetry by Nick Gregorio and Frances Daulerio. The book is published by Trident Press in a “tête-bêche” an unusual publishing style in which half the book is printed upside down so that both ends are the front of the book. Both the stories and the poems are their respective author’s interpretations of the other author’s pieces. The idea for the book was apparently loosely based on the punk album BYO Split Series Vol III by NOFX and Rancid, in which NOFX covered Rancid songs and vice versa. Regardless of the inspiration, the idea for this book is possibly unique and altogether brilliant, and I’ll be the first to admit I’m a little jealous that I didn’t think of it first.

Nick’ side – the stories in here are great, I’m not going to say anything bad about them because there is nothing bad to say. However there are a few stories that require special mention, and they are:

If and When She Wakes – This is an interesting story and probably the longest in the book. Written in mostly short single-sentence paragraphs, all of which start with the word “He,” this story is about a day in the life of a man whose mother is dying. This is a poignant minimalist story in which a whole lot is inferred without a whole lot actually being shown. If you want to learn how to write minimalism or at least understand what it is, this is a great place to start.

Ground Rules – Monday, Only on CBS – this story is about a reality/game show in which a family could win a billion dollars as long as they eat dinner without any transgenerational hostilities with an audience watching and cheering on. It’s an unusual story with an unusual premise, but very interesting, very postmodern and very good.

Wild Henry Sunflower – this is a rather sad story about the nihilistic atmosphere of office life. Instead of a cast of human characters, this story instead has flowers as the characters. It’s the best story in the collection and probably the best story in Gregorio’s oeuvre (of which I am very familiar)

#THEPARTSOFSPACEWEHAVNTSEEN or a Modern Prayer – this is a story told in a series of tweets directed to god, by an author complaining about his life and questioning the decisions that a god that he or she may not truly believe in has made. There is also a subplot of ripping reality open and new beings emerging from it. That might all sound like a lot, but the story is pretty short. And it has a really good punchline ending that is as philosophically profound as it is funny.

Commits… Earthquakes… Famine… Plagues – this is one of two of Gregorio’s Genre-Bent Superhero Fictions (the other being “Hero Complex”). This story is about the people that a particular Philadelphia superhero isn’t able to save, and how the memories of those people impact his life.

The other four stories in this collection are: For My Wife or Cracking Open,

Hunter/Gatherer, The Skate Punk in Your Nursery, Existentially Speaking, and A Reincarnation.

Francis’ Side – I don’t know enough about poetry to make any sort of enlightenment response to Daulerio’s side of the book, so keep that in mind for the rest of the review. The poetry is all free verse, but you probably could have guessed that, and most of the poems are quite short with indention manipulation.

We’ll Definitely Feel Different – of all the poems in this book this is the only one based on a story I do not know, but it does seem like one I would like a lot. There are references to Confirmation (a catholic rite of passage that believe it or not I am personally familiar with), Seinfeld (which I am also very familiar with, but that should come as no surprise), and the 2012 end of the world. This is also the longest poem in the book, going on for several pages (with intentional manual page breaks).

Love and Marriage and Love and Marriage – this poem remainders me a whole lot of “The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams.

The other poems in this collection, based on Gregorio’s stories are: [To Hell With] the Beyond, A Lesson in Theoretical Physics, Stars & Star Maps, Good Grief, Wake Up Dead, Coffee Mug, It’s Always Something It’s Never Nothing, and This Distance.

In review – this is a collection you should really check out. If you’re a fan of either of these writers it is interesting to see what they’ve done here and if you’re not a fan of the authors (which you should be) the concept is just too interesting to pass up.

Half Way Point – 2020

Unless you’re a very strange and sick individual, I don’t think that anyone is going to remember 2020 fondly. This has been a bad year for me, but it’s been a bad year for everybody else, so I ask for and expect to receive no extra sympathy from any one. The good news though is that today, July 1st, the year is half over, and if you’re reading this now, then your year has been better than a lot of other people’s, so keep that all in mind. I would say the rest of the year is all downhill from here, but the way this year has been going… it might be more “downdrain.” Regardless, let me fill you in on some of the details.

Books – at this point I have read 14 books, 7 of them are new (to me), and 3 of them have been read on paper. I have been trying hard to do an hour of reading a night, so that I can sleep better, it doesn’t always work out, there’s a lot of books I want to get through, we will see when I do. I’ve recently started 2 story collections, that I am reading on paper: “The Evil B.B. Chow”  by Steve Almond, and a very unusual (if not unique) collection of stories and poems coauthored by Nick Gregorio and Frances Daulerio called “With a Difference” both of which will be getting their own individual reviews.

Writing – as always I set a stiff goal for myself at the beginning of the year, and half way through the year now, I havn’t even come close to achieving it. The goal for this year was to edit one of my old novels, or write 3 new stories, or assemble/edit a story collection, every month. That hasn’t worked out, I don’t know what my goals will be for next year, but I should dial the goals back a bit. So far this year I have written 7 new stories, I have done work on novels and story collections, but only one has been completed, and that one just a few days ago. There is a possibility that later in the summer, a bunch of them will hit at once, and I will make the goals I had set for myself… but it’s not that high of a possibility. Also I wanted to do a blog post every month, including this one I’ve done 4, so no super behind. It’s not that I havn’t been writing though, so far I’ve done 169 hours.

Movies – this has been a fairly prolific year for watching movies. At this point I’ve watched (including movies already seen) 47 movies, 26 are either new to me, or first were watched so long ago that I’ve completely forgotten them. Part of this high number has to do with taking a more serious approach to my Mega DVD Marathon project. There’s some really good ones that I’ve seen so far this year including: Kiki’s Delivery Service, Jojo Rabbit, Key Largo, Anomalisa, and Inherent Vice, (only the last of which was actually part of the DVD Marathon) and there were a couple of bad ones too.

Video Games – I try to keep the amount of time I spend playing video games lower then the amount of time I spend writing. Last year I was pretty good on that front, in fact very good, I wrote almost twice as much as I gamed. This year, not so much, and a big factor for this is that I got a new video game system, and this video game system (a Nintendo Switch) is a great system and functions as both a handheld and a consul making it utterly (if not aggressively) covenant. So far I’ve gamed for 191 hours, and I’ve written for 162 hours, I’ll be working to balance that out over this summer. I’ve beaten a lot of games this year, 13 so far, I’m not going to give a list here, but some of them old IPs played on new hardware (with the rewind function that the purists would not approve of, but I find perfectly acceptable).

Collecting – for collectors like me who enjoy the hunt more so then the trophy, this has been a terrible hunting season, for months there were no stores open, no conventions, no library sales; buying stuff online is like buying a mounted head off of another hunter, and curbside pickup is as close to the actual hunt as resort hunting (see my story “The Devolution of Birds” for a better description of what I mean). Of course I did do some of this, I had to support my local record store, the owner knows me fairly well, and I asked him to pick out four or five records that he thought I might like. Records are more difficult to listen to these days for complicated reasons, so I haven’t listened to what he picked for me… yet, but that will change soon. I’ve also baught 3 DVDs from Amazon, and another 6 from various other stores. As for video games, I picked up 7 retro games from my prime retro store (Game ‘n DVD Exchange) in February (I havn’t played any of them yet either), 4 games for the Switch (which I’ve played all heavily), and 2 downloaded Switch games (one I beat, and one I haven’t played yet). Finishing out the collections I’ve bought one toy and one pulp so far this year. I’ve already resigned to the idea that this will not be a bang up year for collection, I’m happy with what I have accomplished so far given the conditions, and look to making up for lost time next year, when things hopefully go back to normal.

Wake Up Songs – yes I have been keeping track of my wake up songs this year, the first one came about on January 1st, which was “Glad to Meet You” by the North Korean pop band United Corea, the song sounds very 80’s, but it was actually written in the early 2000’s. The most recent song was on June 26th and was “Run-Around” by Blues Traveler, I like the recent commercial they were featured in a lot. As of writing this we are up to 80 Wake Up Songs.

Mega DVD Marathon – Episode 9 – the H’s

Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle – I am not a fan of stoner movies (or the culture in general), but there is something special about this movie. I watch this movie annually during Easter. The first time I saw it was during Easter, and it also fits in with the theme of spring w/r/t rebirth and stuff like that. It might also make a good thanksgiving movie since it’s largely about food and eating, so maybe I should add it to my biannual list, in fact, I should make a list of the annual movies at some point, that might make an interesting post in itself. Anyway, just great chemistry between the two main actors, there are some very dirty lines in the movie, and had they been delivered by any other pair of actors the movie would have gone right in the trash (for most people) but Harold and Kumar have just so much of this boyish innocence about them that it works. People criticize the Cheetah scene often, but it makes about as much sense as any of the other astronomically unlikely events throughout the film. That’s what I noticed the most on this viewing, but it would take a lengthier analyst to explain it. This is a great comedy whether you like stoner films or not.

Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay* – (remember that the asterisk means I opened the seal on that particular DVD) This is the sequel to the first movie, starting immediately after the events of the first film. It’s still funny, definitely a lot of good lines that made me laugh, and a few that made me laugh so hard I couldn’t breathe, but it’s not as good as the first, not nearly the perfect comedy that H&KG2WC is. There’s a lot more toilet humor here and a little too much story in this movie, compared to the first, which hurts the overall package to some extent. Still 4 out of 5 stars. I probably won’t make this part of the annual viewing. I still want to see “A Very Merry Harold and a Kumar Christmas.”

Harvey Birdman Attorney at Law Vol. 1 – one of the original Adult Swim shows, this reused footage from old Hanna Barbara Cartoons to make a parody Courtroom Drama. It’s very funny but also a very dry and sophisticated (for the most part) sense of humor, and a great cast of a characters: Reducto and Phil Ken Sebben (both voiced by Stephen Colbert), Peanut, Mentok the Mind Taker, Freezoid, Potomuse, Spyro just for the regulars. Each episode features a wealth of different cartoon characters as well. Probably the best episode on the DVD is “Dabba Don” which has Fred Flintstone as a mob boss. Though the rest of the episodes are quite enjoyable as well. Legal Eagle actually did a reaction to the first episode “Bannon Custody Battle”

Harvey Birdman Attorney at Law Vol. 2 – the show got more outrageous as the series continued. Starting with “Back to the Present” where the Jetsons go back in time to sue the past (our present – actually now our past since it was 15 years ago) for the pollution that caused flooding in the future. The DVD ends with “Beyond the Valley of the Dinosaurs” in which Harvey and Potomus go back in time. For some reason, it skips the episode “Turner Classic Birdman” which is introduced by Robert Osborn. the DVD has the infamous episode “Guitar Control” which was played on constant repeat on adult swim on the night of November 2nd 2004 (the second George W. Bush election) and has a great little song by the Funky Phantom. One of my favorites on the DVD is “Droopy’s Botox” in which shows Droopy Dog saying “Boo-Hoo” several times and is as funny as it is sad.

Heathcliff the Complete Series – this is a longer package, 9 DVDs. I had already watched the first one, maybe a year earlier, and the second DVD is the same as the one on my TV Toons to Go DVD which I already watch once a quarter. I will probably be doing the same when I get to the other shows that are from that DVD: the Littles, Postcards from Buster, and Johnny Test. I didn’t give the show the full attention that I usually do for first time viewed DVDs, but it’s a kids cartoon, and a good thing to keep on in the background even if you’re not paying attention. The DVD that I watch all the time gives you enough Heathcliff to comprehend the rest of the series. It’s interesting to see in some of the later episodes when the Cadillac Cats interact with Heathcliff directly, or how the Cadillac Cats go back and forth between running the junkyard to not really supposed to be there. Each episode has 4 parts: the intro song (another one of the great theme songs of the ’80s), a Heathcliff short, a Cadillac Cats short, and a very brief tip about pets. This is one I’ll be coming back to from time to time, not so much because of how much I liked it, but more because it’s good to have on in the background, it portrays a warm innocent ambiance to the room while being on (and I seem to write better while it’s on for some reason).

Heathers – one of my favorite movies, particularly my favorite movie that I watched in 2018, it tells the story of a high school girl who gets involved with a guy who is on a warpath to blow up the school. In 1988 when this movie was made the storyline was a little far fetched, these days… less so. The movie is a standard of the bizarro genre, everything is extreme and grotesque and caricatured to a point of being beyond reality, but which in turn turns a mirror on reality itself. This was a major early film for both Winona Ryder and Christian Slater and a must-watch if you haven’t seen it yet. Both funny and deep. Minty did a good YouTube review of this movie that I would also recommend watching.

Hero – this is one of those highbrow, arty kung-fu/wire-fu movies a la Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Although it’s not as good as CTHD, but it still holds it’s own and it is more or less a true story. Jet Li plays a nameless assassin who is trying to kill Emperor Qin Shi Huang, There is a lot of detail to the visuals and the colors in this movie, so much so that the beauty of the film itself matches the beauty of the fighting. It’s been a while since I watched this one, but I think I need to watch it more often. At some point, I may be doing a Kung-Fu marathon, at which point this movie will be a welcomed inclusion.

The History of Prostitution – this is a documentary from the History Channel, back when the History Channel was colloquially known as the Hitler Channel, and the vast majority of the shows consisted of documentaries made up of monologues by experts, stock footage and reenactments of the discussed topic. This, in my opinion, was the better era. Pawn Stars and its spin-offs are considerably different, and good to don’t get me wrong, but I really like the old 90’s era History Channel format. It’s dryer, less entertaining, but far more interesting. The topic of this episode is of course Prostitution, and they present a Third Wave/Sex Positive feminist view that more prostitution results in less violence against women.

History of the World Pt. 1 – don’t let people tell you that Young Frankenstein is Mel Brooks’ best film, because it isn’t, this movie isn’t his best either, but it’s still much better than Young Frankenstein. This movie is a parody of history itself. The three main segments are: the Dawn of Man, the Roman Empire (where Brooks plays a Stand-up Philosopher performing at Caesar’s Palace) and the French Revolution (where Brooks plays the dual roles of Luis XVI and a “piss boy” who stands in for the king when the revolution breaks out). There are a few other shorter segments as well: the Old Testament, the last supper, the Spanish Inquisition, and previews of History of the World Pt. 2. There is, of course, no History of the World Pt. 2 (unless it was made in secret and will only be released after someone’s death). the Spanish Inquisition is presented as a Vegas-style song and dance, and is very over the top and catchy (I find it getting stuck in my head all the time).

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – easily the funniest science fiction movie that I’ve ever seen, and works both as a sci-fi and a comedy. I love the books and love the movie too. My only problem with it is that they still haven’t made the sequels. Interesting note on how I picked up this DVD: in the last days of Blockbuster Video instead of charging a late fee they would ask right off the bat “do you want to keep it” and it was an extra 10$ or so, I figured what the hell and said yes. I think this is the only DVD in my collection that was acquired this way (as best I remember).

Hitler: the Rise of Evil* – even though I broke the seal on this DVD for this marathon, I’ve seen it before, several times I had tapped it back when it first aired on TV in 2003 and then sat on the tape for another 6 years until I finally watched it in 2009 when I started watching my old tapes more heavily. It’s very well done, it takes an awful lot to make Hitler a sympathetic character, and yet they are able to do this (not that the movie is in any way pro Hitler). It captures a lot of the less discussed aspects of Hitler’s life, including his early life, his family, etc; and the movie ends with the Nuremberg Rally. I wish they’d make a sequel, even though we already know how it will end. Stand out performances by all involved, and if I’m not mistaken this is Peter O’Toole’s final performance. The DVD has 4 additional Hitler documentaries as bonus features, but I didn’t watch them, I probably will at some point.

The Hobbit – this DVD was acquired by borrowing it from a friend and then forgetting to return it… if he asks for it back I’ll give it to him. If your wondering this is the 1977 animated movie, not the more recent live-action one. I had seen it once or twice before but didn’t remember it, every time I have tried to watch it before I would be distracted in some way and miss most of the movie (it’s a short one at only 78 minutes). That being said the songs were familiar, the main ballot I knew because of the Lemmiwinks Song from South Park, the “Funny Little Things” was also familiar, but I’m not entirely sure why, and also part of the score is very similar to “The Ballad of the Wind Fish” from Links Awakening, though maybe that’s just me. It’s a good movie, the animation reminds me a lot of David the Gnome and that’s a good thing indeed. You may notice that the Peter Jackson Hobbit movies are not on here, and that’s because I got very displeased with Jackson after Lord of the Rings because I wanted to see more of middle earth, and he gave us a King Kong remake that nobody was asking for and The Lovely Bones before he buckled down into middle earth again, and by that point, I had lost interest (a story which seems to be repeating itself with George R. R. Martin)

Monty Python’s Holy Grail – I’ve been watching this movie fairly frequently this year, at first to remember the loss of Terry Jones (Sir Bedevere), and then because I tend to watch this movie multiple times in a row. It is by far my favorite Monty Python movie, the first one I ever saw, and the first one to show up on the list (I filed the 3 Python movies under their subtitles), also picked up in the first year of collecting DVDs. I love the story of King Arthur, and this does a great job of telling that story in the funniest possible way. There are no bad or miss sketches in this movie, my favorites are: the Black Knight Battle, the Three-Headed Knight, and the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch. But my favorite scene by far is the Bloody Weather animation sequence, I can’t explain why but I just love the surrealist animation based on enlightenment era artwork.

Home Improvement Season 8* – yes starting all the way at the end of the series, I wouldn’t mind getting the whole series on DVD, it’s a nice package that comes in a toolbox, but it’s pricey, too pricey for me. Starting with this DVD I decided to buy one DVD per (most) letter of this marathon (just before starting the letter) off of Amazon, I’ll point out the others that have or will follow in this vein. I ended up going with season 8 of Home Improvement (known hereafter as HI) because of the entire series this is the season I knew the least, I remember watching the final episode, but not much of what lead to it. That being said, it turned out I did remember most of these episodes, some from when they were on, some from when they started showing HI on Nick at Night, and some from when I was watching clips on YouTube last year. Aside from the final episode, some other important ones from this season are: “Adios” (where Randy leaves the series – I have a lot to say on that but for another time), “Al’s Fair Lady” (where Al’s girlfriend gives him a Ferrari for their one month anniversary), “Bewitched” (the final Halloween episode, where everyone teams up to scare Tim), “Thanks but No Thanks” (where Tim has his schlimazel brother Marty moves into his house), “Home for the Holidays” (where Randy comes back for one episode as a guest and his final appearance on the show), “Love’s Labor Lost” (a two-part episode about Jill getting a hysterectomy, one of the heavier ones), and “Dead Weight” (where Al’s Mom dies, less heavy then the aforementioned episode). and of course, there is “The Long and Winding Road,” the final episode, in 3 parts, with a clip show in the middle, and a better finally then Seinfeld. speaking of… This show was the big competitor of Seinfeld, ABC/Disney’s heaviest Gun, but Seinfeld eventually beat it, it’s also similar in that the main character is an entertainer who gets his material through the situations of his life. Both shows have a show within a show, for Seinfeld (known hereafter as “S”) it is his stand up routines, for HI it’s “Tool Time”. But there are differences too: S is in Manhattan, HI is a suburb of Detroit; S follows a single guy and his friend, HI follows a married man and his family. The more I write this the more I think that I should be doing a longer essay comparing the two shows. This may yet come, but before it does, I’ll have to get the rest of the seasons. Not something I would mind doing very much either, truth be told. It’s not Seinfeld, Time Taylor is significantly less influential on my life, but it’s still a good show.

Howl’s Moving Castle* – I rate movies on a scale of five, 5 stars being the best, this movie is 6 stars. I have seen this one before, yet I paid particularly close attention to it this time because I was watching it on Blu-ray. Cartoons (or anime – if you want to consider that a separate format) usually don’t need to be in HD, and for years I had no idea why they would bother upgrading. Well, it turns out I am not right about everything after all, I don’t know how they do it or even how to describe it, but HD upgraded cartoons are something else entirely, and now, given the choice, I will be getting all my future cartoons on Blu-ray. This is a Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack. But enough about media and formatting. This movie is just simply incredible. It has a cutesy fantastical name, and yes it lives to that standard at times, but at more times it is a complex love story and an anti-war story, with a moral ambiguity as to who the “bad” characters actually are. Christian Bale does the voice of Howl, Billy Crystal as the voice of the Fire Daemon Calcifer, and even more surprisingly Lauren Bacall does the voice of the Witch of the Waste (I thought she had died some 20 years before this movie came out). This is one of the rare examples where the movie is far far better then the book (which yes I have ready, and it’s fine if you don’t compare it to the movie), but this is a Hayao Miyazaki film (the Japanese Walt Disney) and his films tend to be in a category if their very own. The story is set in a Steampunk world about a young girl with a poor self-image who is turned into an old woman by the Witch of the Waste, and then gets involved with a young handsome wizard named Howl, while a massive war caused by the disappearance of a prince is starting to rip two kingdoms apart. It is a complex story, and a beautiful one, try not to cry at the end.

Hugo* – I read the book this movie is based on shortly after it came out, and I can’t recommend it enough, it’s a thick book, but it’s mostly pictures with only about 100 words or so per page, so it’s a quick read. More interestingly it is printed in white ink on black paper. But enough about the book. This movie is a love letter to George Melies, who was one of the great pioneers of film, maybe not the very first filmmaker, but essentially the first man to turn the film from simply a moving picture to a medium of storytelling. His best-known film is called “A Trip to the Moon” the first Science Fiction Movie, though by today’s standards of fiction taxonomy it would fall more into the category of Science Fantasy. Hugo itself is another Steampunk, about a kid who lives in the walls of a train station, setting all the clocks and in his spare time rebuilding an automaton that was the only thing his father left him after he died. This leads to an adventure and mystery that will ultimately pull the depressed and reclusive Melies out of obscurity, and also dares the viewer not to shed a tear at the end. Don’t miss Sasha Baron Cohen in a somewhat non-comedic role, and Christopher Lee as not a bad guy (or a wizard). Great film all the way through. And two great films to end the letter.

I should have started this practice earlier, but the average rating for all the movies in this letter (we will exclude TV shows) is: 4.5, that’s a pretty good rating in my opinion. The best movie was “Howl’s Moving Castle” and the worst movie of the lot was “Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay” and that one is still pretty good.

Mega DVD Marathon – Episode 8 – the G’s

Game of Thrones the complete 6th Season* – Now wait a minute… Zach, you’re starting at season 6? Where are seasons 1-5? Well here’s the deal, I’ve already seen up to halfway through season 4, and I’ve read the books, twice (and I may hit a third time this year, not sure yet). I stopped watching the show because it got too dark, and I don’t mean subject matter, I read the books and already knew what to expect, but the indoor scenes were all lit by candles, and I was watching those episodes on a laptop, and… it just didn’t work. But I picked up this DVD at discount from Acme and I picked up this one specifically because it starts roughly where the books leave off. And since George RR Martin will do everything as long as it’s not finishing the next book, I don’t really have a choice. I should note here that the star supra means that I broke the seal on a DVD for the first time for this project, there will be several broken seals for this Episode. As for the show itself, oh man, this season is really good. Particular standout episodes for me are the Door and Battle of the Bastards (the latter of which is maybe the best battle scene I’ve ever seen). I’m not going to bother saying too much moor about this, because I think most people have already seen it, also I knew most of what happened from YouTube clips and friends who had already told me about it when I stopped watching the show.

Gangs of New York – I picked this movie up at the library sale for a dollar, and this is the first time I’ve seen it. Unless something unexpected happens, this will probably be the best movie that I’ve seen all year (last year, I wrote these reviews right after watching each DVD, as it turned out it was the best movie I saw last year, and you can read my list of movies from best to worst here). This is the first Scorsese film I’ve seen and the first Danial Day-Lewis movie, god damn he’s a good actor, his character in this film if both evil and complex: he hates the Irish, but he’s willing to take a young Irish kid under his wing, he kills an Irishman in a street battle, but he respects the man as the last good man he’s killed. The movie is full of great lines, great costumes, great stages, other great actors and… just everything about it is great, 5 stars all day, and damn near a perfect movie. My one problem with it is the romantic interest, but it’s not too overplayed nor does it feel forced the way other romantic interests in nonromantic movies usually are. This is a historic film, now it’s not 100% accurate, but it’s close enough, and it should be taught in history classes as an alternative angle on the Civil War that is seldom discussed. This is a movie that I will probably watch during every presidential election year henceforth (along with Bullworth), and that will be a bit of a problem considering that it’s nearly 3 hours, and I don’t think it’s a movie I will be leaving on in the background.

Ghostbusters 1&2 – I picked up this DVD in college for around 15$ and it was worth every penny. At that point, I had Ghostbusters 2 on DVD, the first one I had given to a friend, and there’s an important bonus feature that I’ll be going over a little later.

Ghostbusters 1 – also called Ghostbusters, or now the original Ghostbusters thanks to the ham-fisted attempt at a remake. This is one of my favorite movies, maybe not a top 10, but close enough. I try to watch it every year at Halloween. It’s got action, science fiction, horror, a lot of comedy and a smidgen of romance. It’s something that is more than the sum of its parts, and there is really no other movie like it. Bill Murray is basically my favorite living actor, and this is one reason why the rest of the cast is outstanding as well. Like many other folks from my generation, this movie was a major part of my childhood and has stayed with me. I remember when it first aired on TV, my mom was teaching at a daycare center at the time, and here entire class was very sleepy the next day, she asked how many of the kids (about 5 years old) stayed up to watch the movie. Most of them raised their hands, then she asked how many of them stayed up until the end, and only a few out their hands down. It was a different era then, long before streaming and DVD. I often wonder how many young kids watch Game of Thrones the way we watched this movie.

Ghostbusters 2 – I know I’m in the minority with this opinion and I have probably mentioned it on this blog before, but I enjoy Ghostbusters 2 more than the original… shocking I know, I’ve only met 2 people that agree with me on this, and I didn’t think I’d meet even that many. The first Ghostbusters is an outstanding movie, but there is not a thing in Ghostbusters 1 that was not done better by its sequel. Story? Better. Cast? Better – yes it’s the same chase but their chemistry is slightly better in the second (just slightly). Extras? Yes – there were a lot of extras in Ghostbusters 2 that showed up in other places (especially Seinfeld), and even Ron Jeremy is an extra. Music? Hell yes, Bobby Brown “On Our Own” come on, it doesn’t get better O then that…ur O oh but wait it does, how can you forget Howard Huntsberry’s version of “Higher and Higher”? Special effects? Yes – the walking Statue of Liberty is epic, and so is the river of slime within the Guastavino grotto. Jokes? Yes – I could go on and on with this, and one day I’m going to have to do a whole article on it for the blog.

One of the special features is 2 episodes of the Real Ghostbusters, both of which are mildly connected with the movies. I watched the second one “Slime and Punishment” or something like that, and skipper the first because it’s coming up very soon anyway.

The Real Ghostbusters Vol. 1 – back in the early 2000’s time-life put our a very high-quality copy of the Real Ghostbusters. You can buy the whole set which comes in a model of the Ghostbusters’ firehouse, but the price for that 25 DVD set is outrageous. The first volume though is very enjoyable. The first 30 episodes. There are some real gems in this one too. Citizen Ghost (which is included on the Ghostbusters 2 DVD in the previous box set) picks up at the very end of the first movie and tells the tale of what happened to the uniforms covered in marshmallow ectoplasm. At the end of “Troll Bridge,” you find the monsters have a soft spot, and it’s a bit of a tear-jerker. “Play Them Ragtime Boos” has the ghost of a New Orleans jazz musician hypnotizing a town, and the Ghostbusters fight him with Rock and Roll. “Night Game” holds a contest between good and evil via a baseball game. “Ain’t NASA-serily So” has the boys fighting ghosts in space with 3 very familiar (Star Trek) astronauts. “Who Are You Calling Two-Dimensional” has the Ghostbusters trapped in Cartoon world. My favorite episode, on the DVD and of the show, is “X-mass Marks the Spot” which has the Ghostbusters unknowingly trap the ghosts of Christmas Past Present and Future. This was a cartoon I grew up with, and it was very important to me as a kid, a teenager, and even an adult. It does justice to the movies, has good writing, gadgets, jargon, and more. The animation is a little on the minimal side, but it’s still good enough, I promise. The show also had a very very good toy line, of which I still have a few action figures and 2 vehicles, one of which is the Ecto-2, a helicopter/motorcycle, that is destroyed in the first episode “Ghosts Я Us” (yes even with the backward R). I even brought 2 of the toys from my collection out so they could watch the show with me, and I will continue doing that when the opportunity arises (if I remember). I had a chance to pick up some more RGB figures when I was in Cash In-Culture, but they didn’t have any of the figures I was interested in.

Ghosts, Goblins and Goules* – this is a newer one to the collection, I think I picked it up last year (2018), and I am opening the seal for this review… And it sucks, flat out. I’d leave it there, but there are a few other things to add. These bargain-basement DVDs are a gamble, sometimes they are home runs (more often than not) but sometimes they aren’t, and I just have to eat the losses. There are 5 different TV shows on this DVD: Caspar, Felix, Ghostbusters, Groovie Goolies, and Mr. Magoo. A lot of them have laugh tracks, which is just weird for animation in my opinion. I picked it up specifically for the Ghostbusters, and it’s the Filmation Ghostbusters, which I had never seen before, and it’s not anywhere near as good as the Real Ghostbusters, and it’s easy to see why it has been almost completely forgotten. The worst cartoon on the DVD is Groovey Goolies, which features long repetitive songs with long repetitive animation, very flat and stale jokes, and is just hard to watch. Maybe I was in a bad mood when I watched this the first time, and maybe I’ll give it a second chance, but it won’t before a while. Mr. Magoo’s Frankenstein was probably the best thing on the DVD, which receives extra points for starting in the arctic and being told in a captain’s journal the way the actual book is.

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly – I’m changing the rules, just a little bit for this one… if I get a DVD in the same letter that I am currently working my way through, I will watch it. My good friend Dave got me this one for Christmas (and several other DVDs) and I didn’t want to put it at the end. He also got me “Once Upon a Time in the West” and another good friend of mine wants to know which of the two I like more, so I’ll be watching that one soon as well. As far as this movie goes… great, 5 stars all day, maybe not the best movie I’ve seen this year (last year), but up there… number 2 in fact. Clint Eastwood as almost a teen heartthrob, Lee Van Cleef as a true badass, and another interesting take/side on the civil war. It makes a good compendium piece to Gangs of New York (listed above). When talking about the Civil War you think that everyone supported one side or the other at the time, but here are two movies that occur during the war where the players are (somewhat) neutral. Five stars yes, but it isn’t perfect, the movie is close too 3 hours long, and it could have been half as long, telling the same story, if the director didn’t spend so much time working the silent tension angle, it works for the climax (that part is damn near perfect – and not what I was expecting) but spending the first 10 minutes of the movie with two men staring each other down is a risky maneuver. Great score to the film too, quick draw action, atypical plot, it works very well. One of the other downsides (of which the actors and director have no contribution) is that the whole time I was watching this I kept wanting to see the movie of Blood Meridian, not sure if I (or anyone else) ever will. I’ll just have to be content with reading the book… again.

Goof Troop Vol. 1&2* – very new, I picked this DVD up in June or July and started watching it in September. Goof Troop has one of the best theme songs of any cartoon, end of story. I remembered it fondly when watching it as a kid, and more so in the early 2000s s a rememberer when these shows were not available the way things are now. I was thrilled to find this DVD, 54 episodes at a very reasonable price of around 10$ or so. After watching it, however… it was okay, not great, not one of my favorite Disney cartoon TV shows. It’s very ’90s and a lot of the storylines are either repetitive or unmemorable. Though I do see this as something I may occasionally come back and watch, when… I don’t know, it’s not going on my annual or seasonal lists for sure, but at some point, the mood might strike and I may throw it in again. I know a lot of other people think more highly of this show then I do, and that’s fine with me.

Goosebumps* – well the G’s have certainly had their surprises. Gangs of New York is probably going to be the best movie I’ve seen this year, but this one here… probably second/third best… yeah, it’s really good. I was a big fan of the Goosebumps books when they first came out, as they targeted my demographic at that time. I have 26 of them, 14 originals, 6 reprints, 3 Give Yourself Goosebumps (Gamebooks also better known as “Choose Your Own Adventure” but they can’t be called that because that is a brand name) and an omnibus of the first three Tales to Give You Goosebumps (the very under-appreciated short story collections). I loved the original artwork, they were my generation’s pulp magazines. I got this movie for Christmas maybe 2 years ago and broke the seal on it for this viewing, it also fits in well with my October Movie Marathon that I do every year. This movie does a great job combining a lot of the source material into a very funny movie, full of meta-humor, B-Movie tropes, and action. Jack Black plays a great character as an eccentric suffering artist, and the real RL Stine makes a brief cameo as Mr. Black the new Drama teacher in the school (very nice touch). There are several references to the quintessential B-Movie “The Blob” which I watched last October. It may have gotten a full 5 stars except the movie was a little slow in the beginning and the main character’s name is Zach (I have a weird hang-up about the name Zach… but that’s way too complicated to get into now). I loved the movie, but I’m not sure how enjoyable it would be for someone not already a Goosebumps fan, of course, if you were not a Goosebumps fan in the first place, why exactly would you even watch the movie?

The Garbage Pail Kids: The Complete Series* – well this one was a bit of a surprise for me. The garbage pail kids were a little before my time, just slightly, I remember them vaguely but never got into them as a kid, apparently, they were trading cards, and a counterpoint to the femcentric cabbage patch kids. The franchise is largely responsible for ushering in the 90s era gross-out humor. I didn’t think I’d enjoy this show as much as I did. I thought that I’d have to turn it off, but The gross-out level was minimal, and the stories were decent, each episode was basically in 2 parts, the first a short parody of a popular film, and then a second part with the Garbage Pail Kids proper. They each had unique abilities, and the show seemed almost akin to X-Men. Well worth the 5$ price tag on the DVD, and I see myself coming back to this from time to time. Also not a bad DVD to add to my stable of October DVDs (but there are quite a few of them at this point).

Garfield: Nine Lives* – I like Garfield a lot, I like the comics, and I loved the Garfield and Friends TV show, but that is not what these DVDs are. They are Garfield shorts, similar to the peanut shorts that you see occasionally on TV. They are still voiced by the late great Lorenzo Music, who voiced Peter Venkman in the Real Ghostbusters and will be coming up again later in this episode, but the episodes tend to be heavier than the show, and the animation is the cheap 70s era animation that adds a bit of psychedelics. There are two shorts on this DVD, the title, which has Garfield and his incarnations throughout history (the same plotline was used in a Heathcliff episode and done considerably better) ending with a weird and very out of place conversation with god (Family Guy discussed this one a bit). The second episode “Garfield in the Rough” is about a camping trip, which is interrupted by a panther, again the episode would have been better without the panther part. The DVD was 5$, and I picked it up only a few days before watching it. It wasn’t worth the price, but worth the gamble.

Garfield: Travel Adventures – I haven’t watched this DVD since I picked it up in college (didn’t care for it much then, nor do I now) as it turns out the first episode on the DVD is “Garfield in the Rough” which was on the last one, so I skipped it. The other two are: “Garfield in Paradise” and “Garfield Goes to Hollywood” neither of them are particularly good, and I don’t have too much to say on them, so that’s it.

Garfield and Friends Season 1* – I broke a rule picking this one up. I rarely buy anything for myself during the Christmas season. But when I saw this at BJ’s I knew I had to get it (and the next one too), and knew that if I didn’t get it then, it wouldn’t be available the next time I went to the store. I got my friend a copy for Christmas as well, not sure if he’ll like it. Anyway, I had said earlier that the Garfield specials don’t hold up to the Garfield and Friends that was a fairly significant part of my childhood. It’s been at least 25 years since I watched this show last (not including a short and a half on one of my tapes that I watch frequently) a quarter-century later the show has lost some (but not all) its luster. Maybe the seasons get better, we’ll find out soon enough. The episodes have a U.S. Acres short sandwiched between 2 Garfield shorts with a pre-credits short short (less than a minute) and another one or two short shorts scattered throughout. I remembered one of the episodes in the DVD, in which Jon, tired of spending so much money on groceries, tries to grow his own food. This season uses the theme song “Friends Are There” which is neither the best nor the worst from the series. The show is not as good as I remember, but looking at it now, you can see just how much Jon Arbuckle cares about his pets, and I respect that a lot, even if it is just a cartoon. There is something warm about this show and I will go back to it again from time to time.

Garfield and Friends Season 2* – more of the same from the first season, good stuff. I remembered 2 of the episodes in this season and I liked that they worked with a little bit of third wall and postmodernists humor more so than the last season. There was one very good short in this season where someone sends Jon a live lobster, and not having the heart to cook it makes it a pet. He names the lobster “Therm” from Lobster Thermidor. Because of this, I looked up the recipe and actually made it myself for Christmas Dinner this year. It seemed to be the biggest hit of the dinner and there wasn’t any left.

Great Classic Films: Bogart And Bacall Double Feature* – This is a TCM produced gold slipcased box set that features “The Big Sleep” and “Key Largo.” One I’ve seen one I haven’t (respectively), but I am a huge Bogart fan, and when I saw this one for 5$, I had to pick it up. Also a very recent pick-up. I wanted to pick this box set up because I didn’t have any Bogie movies in my collection (as far as I know) and I didn’t have any hardline film noirs in my collection either (there are some Neo-Noirs, and some B&W crime movies that could be considered part of the genre, but by the strictest definitions these are the first in my collection).

The Big Sleep – I watched this movie once before, in college, when I was taking a book to film class (very good class btw), and I’ve read the book twice. It is a quintessential film noir, though not exactly my favorite of the genre, but it’s still up there. I can’t give it 5 stars because that’s reserved for only one movie per genre or actor and those 5 stars go to Sunset Boulevard and Casablanca respectively. Still a great movie, I may watch it a few more times this year. I was trying to write with it on in the background but found that to be inefficient, which is always the sign of s good movie in my opinion.

Key Largo – I never saw this movie before, and loved it. It’s the first movie I watched this year (2020) unseen or otherwise, and I’m not sure if anything is going to top it. It has Bogie of course and Bacall, and it also has Lionel Barrymore (the Great Uncle of Drew Barrymore) who I recognized right away as Mr. Potter from it’s a Wonderful Life. There was great chemistry with all the actors. I had actually seen the climactic scene on the boat, as it was done almost word for word and action for action in the movie Mitchell (the last Joel episode of MST3K, and also not that good, ripping off Key Largo made it even worse in hindsight). This was a great movie, the only downside is that Bogie was almost a minor character throughout most of the movie. But he pulled it together in the end.

Greatest American Sports Films of All Time – if you know me at all you know I am not a fan of sports, with a handful of exceptions. This box set cost around 7$ and had 2 movies that I’ve wanted to see: Raging Bull and Rocky. I do find Boxing an interesting sport (not that I Follow it). I kind of have to see Rocky since I grew up and live outside of Philadelphia, and Raging Bull I want to see because it’s a Scorsese film. Furthermore, boxing seems to work its way into serious and semi-serious literature, so it’s something I should look into more. The other two films in the box are Hoosiers and Bull Durham. We’ll be watching these in the order they were laid out in the box.

Bull Durham – this was a mildly funny and mildly interesting film about a Minor League Baseball team (the Durham Bulls) and a woman who shacks up with one of the players every season. It’s supposed to be a romantic comedy, but I didn’t find it all that romantic or funny… but it wasn’t terrible. Not sure when I would watch it again, or if I would, but I might, you never know.

Hoosiers – I liked this one a little more than Bull Durham, And I think the reason for this is because the movie was more focused as a drama, the plot and side plots better fleshed out. It tells the true story of the 1954 Indiana State High School Basketball Championship, and a hard ass coach who grows on the kids and the community alike.

Raging Bull – now this is a film, worthy of many viewings and deep analysis, just like any other Scorsese movie (or so I’ve heard). This is my second Scorsese movie in this letter and second overall, and it’s not my favorite of the two, but then again Gangs of New York is going to be tough to beat. Boxing to me is almost pure sport, there are few rules, no teams, just two men hitting until one can’t stand anymore. It is also a brutal sport, and this is a brutal movie, and boxing is only part of that. It takes a rare talent and chemistry between the main actor, supporting actor and director to create a character who you simultaneously hate and feel sorry for, and that’s what comes through in this port trail of Jake LaMotta. I give it 4 out of 5 stars, worth seeing, but be prepared, this is not a feel-good flick.

Rocky – now I’ve wanted to see this movie for a few years, partly because I like boxing, partly because it’s an undying franchise, and partly because it is a very Philadelphia movie. I have no great love for the city personally but I do have significant connections to it. The movie is quite good. A love story between two marginalized people with moderate mental problems carried through a pugilism narrative. Rocky has a heart of gold but not a whole lot of brains. Perhaps not a better film then Raging Bull but a more enjoyable experience. Okay now with those four “greatest sports movies” finished I can work on the rest of the G’s.

Gremlins* – nope. I picked this one up maybe 2 years ago and haven’t watched it. After maybe 15 minutes into the movie, I realized that this is, in fact, an animal movie, which I will not watch. The main character has a dog that the villain wants to euthanize. She probably gets what’s coming to her in the end, but I’m not going to find out.

Groundhog Day – Believe it or not I watched this movie on Groundhog Day not only because I always watch it on Groundhog Day but also because it fell in line with my Mega DVD Marathon. This is not a movie that is liked by everyone but it is my favorite, I have 2 different DVDs of it (we’ll be getting to the second copy a little later) and I also have it on laser disk, and it is the only movie that I have on laserdisc, I used to keep it on the wall, displayed as a novelty, but since I moved, it is now kept in my record collection. I think I already reviewed this movie before. So I won’t go into heavy detail here. But I can tell you a little bit about the DVD. I picked it up at a store called “Movies-U-Buy” which unfortunately is not around anymore, the company is, but there isn’t any store around, as far as I know, just small kiosks in grocery stores. I watched this one many times when I picked it up and made an annual tradition of watching it on Groundhog Day every year. It is essentially my favorite movie (there are two other contenders for that title, but over time, this one really is the best of the three) it’s such a good depiction of the 90s which are getting further and further away and becoming more and more nostalgic. The 90s won’t ever trump the 80s, but there is a certain dirty magic to the time.

Gummi Bears Vol. 1 – or formally “Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears.” This is a great but not well remembered Disney cartoon show from the 80s. I picked up this DVD when I was in college, and during a short bout of depression in 2013, sitting at home in a dark room watching this show, I even wrote a novel-length fan fiction about it (one of the few fan fictions I ever wrote). It’s just simply a good warm show. Tummy Gummie is voiced by Lorenzo Music, who also did the voice of Garfield and Peter Venkman In “the Real Ghostbusters.” One of the later characters to be introduced was Gusto Gummi, an artist, who was voiced by Rob Paulsen, who also did the voice of Raphael from the 1987 Teenage a Mutant Ninja Turtles (we’ll be getting to that in a few years hopefully). I don’t understand why this show doesn’t have a larger fandom, and even more so I don’t understand why Disney never released a Vol. 2. I’d be all over it. I even checked Amazon’s just a few days ago to see if there was another volume, I would have picked it up if it was available.

Gundam Wing Operation 3 – Anime is an expensive hobby. These DVDs go for outrageous rates in the stores, and you don’t see them in the Library sales, so I don’t have very many of them in my collection. I never understood this show when I was a kid, maybe now I might be able to, but since this is starting halfway into the series, there wasn’t much of a point to actually paying attention when it was one, but it is nice to have on in the background. It has a great theme song too. I bought this DVD off a very good friend of mine about 20 years ago, one of the DVDs I picked up in the first year of owning a DVD player. More importantly, after 5 months it is the last of the G’s. Now onto the H’s… we’re getting there.

Mega DAD Marathon – Episode 9 – the H’s

Ten Thousand Hours

Today marks an important milestone for me as a writer. Followers of the Blog may remember and may have even read a story I published five years ago called “The Ten Thousand Hour Prison of the Mind” in a place called Revolution Jon. The story describes the ten thousand hour rule. If you don’t remember the story or have time to read it (it is a longer one) or have time to read the Wikipedia article linked supra, I can give you a brief explanation.

You’ve probably heard the expression “Practice Makes Perfect” before. In my opinion “Perfection” is ultimately unattainable, but you can get pretty close. Just how much practice though is a different question, and it surprisingly has an answer. Research has shown that most people achieve mastery of any given art form after having practiced at that art form for Ten Thousand Hours.

If you practice for 1 hour a day, every day, without fail, it will take a little over 27 years. If you work at it, 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year then you can hit the goal in 5 years. Most dedicated people hit the Ten Thousand Hour mark in about 10 years. Personally, it has taken me about 18 years.

I started from a lower point then you might expect, I couldn’t effectively read or write until I was 18 believe it or not. I had (and still have) a very bad learning disability, which I have spent a lot of time working through and past. When I started I was reading and writing at maybe a 12-year-old level. I was creating stories long before then, but those stories went unwritten and largely unremembered.

My writing is still not perfect, in fact, on the first draft of this short blog post (of 700 words) there were 14 spelling errors with their red squiggly lines mocking me (some of those were fat-fingered, other words I still do not legitimately know how to spell – and I’m not going to point out what those words are), after editing twice and running through Grammarly still found 24 alerts. I’ve come a long way, the first couple novels I wrote crashed the spellchecker on the first draft (a warning sign literally came up saying there were too many errors to spellcheck) so I had to copy individual chapters into separate word documents to spellcheck them.

So how do I know this moment is when I hit 10K hours? I don’t. I may be off, I may be a thousand hours away from hitting it yet or I may have surpassed the mark years ago. In 2012, after I first came across the ten thousand hour rule, I started keeping diligent notes on how many hours I’ve spent writing. I estimating about 3 hours of writing per thousand words produced and adding up all my finished stories and whatnot written before that point, and estimating word counts on lost pieces, it came to about 6k hours. When I started keeping track, I was averaging about 500 hours per year, 2013 was my most productive year at 671 hours spent writing.

My files currently have 126 short stories, and 9 novels, there are other stories that I’ve either lost or only have copies of in printed manuscripts. The stories that really matter are the ones I’ve published the ones that people I’ve never met have read and said to themselves “yes I want my vehicle to share this story with the world.” publishing may not ultimately be the most important thing, however, it is validation, which in my opinion is priceless, I have published 54 stories to date.

Hey Zach, so what were you writing when you hit the Ten Thousand Hour Mark? Well, it was this blog post, right when I had 9,999 hours logged, I started this blog post, it took me about an hour and a half to write.

So what is next for me? Well, I’ve got a few things to work on, I’ve been going through all my published stories and editing them again, just so they’re a little cleaner and a little sharper (it’s going to take some time because I’m only up to “The Devolution of Birds”. I also have plans for 4 different story collections, which may sound like a lot, but some of the stories are recycled between collections. I want to be able to pitch these collections to possible publishers at some point soon. Also when I saw that the 10K hour mark was approaching, I decided that after I broke that point, the first thing I would work on was a rather surreal and longer story called “Old Tijko.” I don’t know if that is really going to be the “first” thing that I do, but we’ll see.

Right now I have 3 stories in the refinery actively being edited, and extra spaces for editing old published stories, publishing new stories and writing music, and every night I use a Random Number Generator to pick one of those and work on it for a half-hour. This is kind of a new practice for this year, just because I have so much in the backlog, so many things to do, and not enough time to do them as I used to.

Regardless I’ll keep writing more stories, and keep submitting them, and do more blog posts. Stay tuned, because I’m not going anywhere.

2019 in Review – The Numbers

The Hours 

  • Hours Spent Writing: 455
  • Hours Spent Reading: 302
  • Hours Spent Watching Movies: 117
  • Hours Spent Playing Video Games: 255
  • Hours Spent Video Editing: 49
  • Hours Spent Writing Music: 3

Writing 

  • Pieces Published: 4
  • New Pieces Written: 9
  • Blog Posts Posted: 14

Reading

  • Books Read: 17
  • Books Read (1st time): 12
  • Books Read (on paper): 4
  • Stories Read (total): 154
  • Stories Read (1st time): 98

Other Consumption 

  • Movies Watched: 50
  • Movies Watched (1st time): 27
  • Bottles Killed: 18

Collecting

  • Video Games Collected: 20
  • Vinyl Records Collected: 28
  • DVD’s Collected: 39
  • Toys Collected: ~50
  • Pulps Collected: 7

2019 in Review – Wake-Up Songs

*= Songs I have on Vinyl

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

Numbers

  • Total Wake-Up Songs: 199
  • Total On Vinyl: 26
  • Total 80’s songs: 45 
  • Total Punk/Ska songs: 27
  • Total Synthwave Songs: 18
  • Total Metal songs: 16
  • Total Classical: 3
  • Total Weird Crossovers: 2

2019 in Review – Consumption

Books Read

New Books:

  • This Distance by Nick Gregorio*

  • The Beethoven Piano Sonata Lecture Recitals by Andreus Schiff

  • Men Without Women by Haruki Murikami

  • Eyes Novellas and Stories by William H. Gass*

  • The World of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin

  • Fire and Blood by George R.R. Martin

  • Flight or Fright by Stephen King

  • Holy Water and Other Stories by Josh Mavis*

  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Other Stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • American Housewife by Helen Ellis

  • Tenth of December: Stories by George Sounders

  • Egg Monsters from Mars by R.L. Stine

  • After Dark by Haruki Murakami

All Books:

  • This Land Was Made for You and Me (But Mostly for Me) by Bruce McCall & David Letterman*

  • Secrets of the Gnomes – Wil Huygen*

  • This Distance: Short Stories by Nick Gregorio*

  • The Beethoven Piano Sonata Lecture Recitals by Andreus Schiff

  • Men Without Women by Haruki Murikami

  • Eyes Novellas and Stories by William H. Gass*

  • Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

  • The World of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin

  • Flight or Fright by Stephen King

  • Fire and Blood by George R.R. Martin

  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Other Stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald

  • American Housewife by Helen Ellis

  • Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

  • Tenth of December: Stories by George Sounders

  • Egg Monsters from Mars by R.L. Stine

  • After Dark by Haruki Murakami

Books Unfinished:

  • Wittgenstine’s Mistress by David Markson

  • Best American Short Stories 2017

  • Dinosaurs On Other Planets by Danielle McLaughlin

  • The Tunnel by William H. Gass

  • God’s and Services edited by R.J. Carter

  • Raised in Captivity by Chuck Klostierman

  • The Golden House by Salaman Rushdie

  • Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

  • Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

  • Lawson Vs. LaValley

  • Give Me Back My Legions by Harry Turtledove

New Stories Read (Not from Official Collections)

New Movies Watched

(Best to Worst)

  • Gangs of New York

  • The Good the Bad and the Ugly
  • Cool Hand Luke

  • Some Like it Hot

  • Goosebumps

  • The King’s Speech

  • The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad

  • Annie Hall

  • We Brought Back MST3K

  • Wait Until Dark

  • Auntie Mame

  • Renfrew of the Royal Mounted

  • The Amazing Transparent Man (MST3K)

  • The Time Travlers (MST3K)

  • Avalanche (MST3K)

  • Yongary (MST3K)

  • The Loves of Herculies (MST3K)

  • Wizards of the Lost Kingdom (MST3K)

  • Wizards of the Lost Kingdom II (MST3K)

  • The High and the Mighty

  • Diabolik (MST3K)

  • Starcrash (MST3K)

  • Cry Wilderness (MST3K)

  • Reptilicus (MST3K)

  • The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t (MST3K)

  • At the Earth’s Core (MST3K)

  • Mitchell (MST3K)

  • The Accidental Tourist

All Movies Watched (in order):

  • The Accidental Tourist

  • The End of the Tour

  • Conan the Barbarian

  • W.C. Fields Shorts Vol. 1 & 2

  • Groundhog Day

  • Saint Elmo’s Fire

  • The High and the Mighty

  • The King’s Speach

  • Renfrew of the Royal Mounted

  • Harold and Kumar go to White Chastle

  • Reptilicus (MST3K)

  • The Time Travlers (MST3K)

  • Cry Wilderness (MST3K)

  • Annie Hall

  • Avalanche (MST3K)

  • The Loves of Herculies (MST3K)

  • Yongary (MST3K)

  • Fritz the Cat

  • The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat

  • Wizards of the Lost Kingdom (MST3K)

  • Starcrash (MST3K)

  • Wizards of the Lost Kingdom II (MST3K)

  • Cool Hand Luke

  • The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t (MST3K)

  • At the Earths Core (MST3K)

  • We Brought Back MST3K

  • 1776

  • Futurama: Bender’s Big Score

  • Some Like it Hot

  • Gangs of New York

  • Ghostbusters

  • Ghostbusters II

  • Midnight in Paris

  • Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

  • Ghostbusters II

  • Wait Until Dark

  • Goosebumps

  • The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad

  • Diabolik (MST3K)

  • 1988 Xmas Tape [link]

  • 1988 Xmas Tape

  • The Amazing Transparent Man (MST3K)

  • Mitchell (MST3K)

  • Star Wars Holliday Special (Rifftrax)

  • 1988 Xmas Tape

  • Auntie Mame

  • The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad

  • Star Wars Holliday Special (Rifftrax)

  • 1988 Xmas Tape

  • National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

  • What’s Up Tiger Lilly

  • Star Wars Holliday Special (Rifftrax)

  • 1988 Xmas Tape

  • 1995 Cartoon Box
  • The Good the Bad and the Ugly
  • The Big Sleep

Video Games Beaten:

  • Aladdin (Gen)

  • Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

  • Link’s Crossbow Training

  • A Boy and His Blob (NES)

Video Games Played Heavily (Not Beaten):

  • Paper Mario: Color Splash

  • GTA: Vice City Stories

  • Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker

2019 in Review – Collection

Video Games

  • Kirby and the Rainbow Curse (Wii U)

  • Tetris Attack (SNES)

  • Toejam and Earl Panic on Funkotron (Gen)

  • Knight Rider (NES)

  • Jaws (NES)

  • Paper Mario: Color Splash (Wii U)

  • Bayonetta 2 w/ Bonus Disk (Wii U)

  • Taboo: The Sixth Sence (NES)

  • Casino Kid (NES)

  • The Adventures of Gilligan’s Island (NES)

  • Dr. Jekyle and Mr. Hide (NES)

  • Ghostbusters (NES)

  • Ghostbusters 2 (NES)

  • Zombies U (Wii U)

  • Guitar Hero III: Legands of Rock (Wii)

  • Mortal Kombat 11 (Switch)

  • Tetris 99 (Switch)

  • Sonic Mania (Switch)

  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch)

  • Harvest Moon: Light of Hope (Switch)

DVD’s Collected

  • Garbage Pale Kids*

  • Moulan Rouge/Australia*

  • Snows of Kilimanjaro

  • Old School*

  • 500 Days of Summer

  • Snow Dogs

  • The Best of the Cosby Show

  • The Shining*

  • Game of Thrones Season 6*

  • After Hours

  • Clerks

  • The Terminator

  • Scarface (Two-Disc Anniversary Edition)

  • Rocky & Bullwinkle Season 4*

  • Gooftroop Vol. 1 & 2*

  • What About Bob*

  • Sabata Trillogy*

  • Night Court Season 2

  • Universal 100th Anniversary Spotlight Collection – Directors Showcase (American Graffiti, Do the Right Thing, Born on the 4th of July, the Last Temptation of Christ)*

  • Ducktales – the Complete Series*

  • Futurama Vol. 2

  • The Twilight Zone Vol. 3

  • The Twilight Zone Vol. 4

  • The Net

  • Coriolanious

  • The Usual Suspects

  • Fantasia (VHS)

  • Harold and Kumar: Escape from Guantanimo Bay

  • Garfield: Nine Lives

  • Great Classic Films – The Big Sleep and Key Largo

  • Garfield and Friends Season 1

  • Garfield and Friends Season 2

  • The Crow

  • Once Upon a Time in the West

  • The Good the Bad and the Ugly

  • Boardwalk Empire (Episode 1)

  • Straw Dogs

  • Predator

  • Inherent Vice

  • Anomilisa*

Vinyl Collected

  • Beethoven’s Third Symphony

  • Demons and Wizards by Uriah Heep*

  • Haydn String Quartet’s “Lark” and “Quinten”

  • Don’t You Want Me by Human League

  • Three Sides Live by Genesis

  • Moonglow by Avantasia*

  • Beethovan Piano Concertos No. 2 & 3

  • The Best of the Boomtown Rats

  • Exit… Stage Left by Rush

  • Rio by Duran Duran

  • Material Girl (single) by Madonna

  • Concerto for Two Pianos and Percussion by Bela Bartok

  • Kulkjia by Korpiklaani*

  • Picture This by Heuy Lewis and the News

  • Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorgsky

  • Symphonies #’s 2 and 4 by Beethoven

  • W.C. Fields the Original Voice Tracks from his Greatest Movies

  • Dick Tracy Original Radio Broadcast

  • Piano Concerto No. 2 by Rachmaninoff

  • Discovery by Electric Light Orchestra

  • Images and Words by Dream Theater

  • Ancient Voices of Children by George Crumb

  • Purple Rain by Prince and the Revolution (Picture Disk)

  • Piano Trios (Op. 1 #3 & Op. 70 #1) by Beethoven

  • Stokowski Plays Bach

  • Beethoven Symphony’s No. 9 and 8

  • Happy Holidays by the Belthlehem Ensemble

  • Midnight Madness by Night Ranger

Toys Collected

  • Animal Crossing – Celestie Amiibo*

  • Kirby Planet Robobot – Kirby Amiibo*

  • Toy Story 4 – Slinky Dog*

  • TMNT – The Ratking

  • TMNT – April O’Neal

  • TMNT – Ace Duck

  • Legends of Batman – The Laughing Man Joker New Pirate Special Editons*

  • Disney Toy Box – Aladdin*

  • (~40 more loose figures – to be blogged about)

  • Funko Pop – Alex Trebek*

  • Funko Pop – Pat Sayjak*

  • Funko Pop – Bob Ross (Pez Dispenser)*

  • Savage World – Thundercats – Panthro 
  • Savage World – Thundercats – Slithe
  • Eaglemoss Hero Collector – Wizarding World – Professor Dumbledore
  • Pez Dispenser – Seasonal Flavored Candy – Santa 
  • Pez Dispenser – Seasonal Flavored Candy – Elf
  • Pez Dispenser – Seasonal Flavored Candy – Snowman
  • Pez Dispenser – Seasonal Flavored Candy – Christmas Tree

Pulp Magazines

  • Railroad Stories – April 1936

  • Jungle Stories – Summer 1946

  • North-West Romances – Fall 1944

  • The Pulpster – 2019*

  • Spicy Mystery Stories – August 1935 (Facsimile)*

  • Indian Stories – Fall 1950 (Facsimile)*

  • Magic Carpet Magazine – January 1933 (Facsimile)*

for collecting: * = New Product