Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Stan Lee, 1922-2018

I suspected for a while this was coming, but that doesn't mean it doesn't hurt when it happens.

I loved Stan Lee. Loved the man. I loved his bravado, his charisma, his corny sense of humor--his corny sense of everything--and most of all, I loved his co-creations. He will remain in my heart forever just for co-creating Spider-Man alone. Throw in the Hulk, Thor, X-Men, Black Panther, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man--it's ridiculous the amount of story that came from his pen.

He most certainly didn't do all this alone, as Stan naysayers will be quick to admit. The artists wrote the stories as much as Stan did, but that in no way belittles Stan's creativity and accomplishments. Stan's personality is all over those characters, and that should never be forgotten. And no one--no one--was a bigger cheerleader for the comic book industry than Stan "The Man." No one comes close. He made you feel welcome to this wacky, wonderful world of comics--everyone was invited. Even people who never held a comic knew exactly who Stan Lee was; Stan made sure of that.

On my Mount Rushmore of creative people who have affected my life so strongly, there are Walt Disney, Jim Henson, Charles Schulz--and Stan Lee.

The world is better for his being in it.

Rest in peace, Stan.


Friday, November 9, 2018

"The Voice of the Turkey," Harvey Films (1950)

Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away, so it's not inappropriate for me to present this cartoon. "The Voice of the Turkey," produced by defunct cartoon studio Harvey Films in 1950, features a game of cat and mouse between human and turkey on Thanskgiving. There is running, there is ax grinding, there is cartoon slapstick. Plus, it stars Arnold Stang as voice of the turkey, so you can't go wrong.

I have a surprising wealth of Thanksgiving material at the blog; simply search the term "Thanksgiving" in the search bar at the top of the page or click the tag in the "May I Help You Find Something" section to the right. Some video links are broken, but if you leave a comment requesting me to repost it, I'll be happy to do so.

Enjoy! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

McDonaldland Playground Advertising Film, 1972

Ah, the McDonaldland playground. Many a child of the 70s and early 80s has fond memories of playing in this burger-inspired wonderland. Or perhaps they scraped their knee or broke a bone there. Nevertheless, playing in the McDonaldland playground was a required Generation X childhood activity. Although many locations still have some sort of play area for kids, they're not nearly as elaborate and ornate as the playgrounds of yore.

The following is a promotional film made by a company called SetMakers, the original manufacturer of the playground equipment. This film was sent to McDonald's franchisees to entice them to improve their restaurants' sales via the McDonaldland playground attraction. This was made in 1972, and I have to say, the playground depicted in the film is the most elaborate I've ever seen!

Of course, SetMakers put their best foot forward in trying to sell as much of their equipment as possible, but franchisees were allowed to order as many or as few of the attractions as they wanted, so if you were of age to experience a McDonaldland playground, your experience may not have been as grand as the one demonstrated in this film.

I visit McDonald's all the time, but I really wish they still had these playgrounds. I'd squeeze my old butt on them today!


Sunday, November 4, 2018

Holiday Movie Preview 2018

Even though we haven't completed our first full week of November yet, many eyes and ears are already focused on the holiday season. From Christmas TV commercials already airing to new holiday music hitting stores and streaming services, the holly and the ivy are already hanging everywhere. The local movie multiplex is no exception. Here are some new holiday movies coming to a theater near you!

The first new holiday movie is already playing: The Nutcracker and the Four Realms. This new take on the classic story is a a special effects-laden spectacle, possibly the biggest production of it we've seen so far. Starring Morgan Freeman and Kiera Knightly among others, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is playing in theaters now.

Opening this Friday November 9th, a new animated version of The Grinch debuts. This long-awaited version stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular Mean One.

On Friday November 16th, Harry Potter fans will enjoy the latest installment in the prequel series, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Eddie Redmayne returns to the series and is joined by Jude Law and Johnny Depp.

Another sequel hotly anticipated is Ralph Breaks the Internet, with John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman. Ralph returns to wreck it on Wednesday, November 21st.

Marvel fans awaiting the return of Spider-Man from the grave, or wherever he went to at the end of a certain flick, can take some comfort from the new animated film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, featuring Peter Parker, Miles Morales, Gwen Stacy, and a host of other Spider characters. Spider-Verse swings into theaters Friday, December 14th.

Just a few days later, Mary Poppins Returns. 50 years in the making, this sequel stars Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda, and opens Wednesday, December 19th.

Lastly for theaters, both Aquaman and Bumblebee grace theaters Friday, December 21st. Aquaman stars Jason Mamoa and Amber Heard, while Bumblebee stars Hailee Steinfeld and Justin Thoreox.

Not to be outdone, Netflix has a few holiday films in its queue. One such example is The Holiday Calendar, in which a young woman inherits an Advent calendar from her grandmother, which seems to hold magical power. The Holiday Calendar is now streaming.

On Thanksgiving Day, November 22, Santa comes early in the form of Kurt Russell in The Christmas Chronicles.

Finally, on Friday, November 30th, Netflix debuts a sequel to their surprisingly successful holiday film of last yea,r A Christmas Prince, with A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding. Rose McIver and Ben Lamb return to their previous roles in this Christmas charmer.

Clearly we have a lot of viewing to do this holiday season. Enjoy, and thanks!


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