Blog Archives

Rock Me Like A Hurricane

Crazy weather is heading my way! (Karrock/Pix11)

I am sad to report that Hurricane Joaquin is currently bearing down on the East Coast, so there may be some delay in my next blog posting. Fortunately, Joaquin—which is as unpredictable as the famous actor of the same name—has taken a turn to the east and may miss me completely. Meteorologists obviously have no idea what will happen next, but I fully expect to return next week. Until then, be safe out there and have a great weekend, people!

Can You Dig It?

One of my favorite films and a cult classic: The Warriors (Paramount Pictures)

In 1979, a film based on a 1965 Sol Yurick novel was released that had a huge impact on me and many others: The Warriors. The film starred Michael Beck and followed a Coney Island gang of the same name who were framed for the murder of a gang leader and had to fight their way back to their turf while being pursued by every gang in New York City. It received mostly negative reviews at the time, but has since become a cult classic.

I, for one, have both VHS and DVD copies of the film, which I watch every couple of years mostly for nostalgia, but also for a glimpse of how NYC used to be. And I am never disappointed, despite some of the characters’ expressions being somewhat dated and cheesy.

Can you dig it? I know that I can.

Earlier this month—as I recently learned—a number of the original Warriors from the film reunited 37 years later to recreate their final subway ride from the film. Those in attendance included Michael Beck (Swan), David Harris (Cochise), Terry Michos (Vermin), Dorsey Wright (Cleon) and Thomas G. Waites (Fox).

You can check out clips of their final ride courtesy of Rolling Stone by going HERE.

Joining the actors were attendees dressed as gang members from the film, as well as a new generation of Warriors from the area. “Basically, this is a social club for Coney Island,” one new Warrior said. “We started it for the youth though, because of all the gang violence that was happening in our town and what not. We tried to get all the youth to join us instead of joining real gangs.”

It was an incredible event and one that I regret being unable to attend personally. Sadly, I couldn’t “come out to play” since I just heard about it!

That Smell

The hot air you feel tomorrow night will be coming from this crowd (Associated Press)

In the 1950s, Hans Laube collaborated with producer Mike Todd, Jr. to create Smell-O-Vision, a system that pumped scents into a movie theater to coincide with whatever was on the screen at the time (tobacco smoke, fresh bread and so on). They debuted their system during showings of the 1960 mystery film Scent of Mystery but, alas, the technology never really took off and faded into obscurity a short time later.

I mention this only because Fox News released the roster of Republican presidential candidates set to debate in prime time tomorrow night. They include Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Chris Christie and John Kasich.

If the movie stunk, you would never know from smelling it! (Getty Images)

Everyone else was invited to debate earlier in the day—which basically means they’re sitting at the kids’ table this time around. Sorry, Ricks (Perry and Santorum).

Honestly, it’s too bad Smell-O-Vision never amounted to much because if it had, it would surely be available through television today. And if it was available during tomorrow’s debate, only one smell would likely come through.

The smell of bullshit. And believe me, there should be plenty of it to go around.

Rocky Horrified

Can’t Fox just leave well-enough alone? (20th Century Fox)

Apparently, Fox is planning to make a TV version of the classic musical The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

The original 1975 film—and cult classic—starred Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick, Meat Loaf and a host of others. And it permanently imprinted the dance steps to the Time Warp in the minds of anyone who watched it.

Now Fox thinks we need a new version? Give me a break.

I suppose my worst fear is true: Hollywood is out of original ideas. And I shudder to think what classic film or television show they plan to “relaunch” next.

Gilligan’s Island, anyone?

Loving Anna Kendrick

anna cover

You better be nice to Anna K! (Marie Claire)

In the December issue of Marie Claire magazine, actress Anna Kendrick—who also made the cover—discusses her physical appearance and the criticism she often receives for her looks.

“The most common thing that I get is, ‘Am I the only one who doesn’t think that Anna Kendrick is pretty?’” she said. “And you’re like, ‘No, you’re not the only one. Arguably, all of the boys in my high school agree with you.”

Apparently, this wasn’t the first time Kendrick had to defend her image. Something similar happened last August in an interview with Glamour magazine.

“The thing is, my appearance—that’s never been my moneymaker. I’m fine being small. I’m fine being all the things I am. And I’m happy I’m not supposed to be on the ’50 Most Beautiful’ list all the time, because that would be super fucking stressful,” she said.

What strikes me most about all of this is the fact that Anna Kendrick is absolutely gorgeous, talented and amazing in so many ways. How could anyone not only find her looks unattractive, but also find cause for criticizing her appearance so much she feels obligated to defend her physical form publicly?

Some people truly are dumb as shit. And I tell you what: if no one out there appreciates how beautiful and unique Anna Kendrick is, then she can come straight to me. I’ll make sure she’s treated as well as she deserves. And not a day will go by when she won’t feel like the most beautiful woman in the world. I promise you (and Anna) that.

Dead Poet

Farewell, O Captain, my Captain (Fanpop)

Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,

Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,

Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)

Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,

Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,

Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,

The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?

That you are here—that life exists and identity,

That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

-Walt Whitman

I can’t believe he’s gone.

Around noon yesterday, police found the lifeless body of beloved actor Robin Williams in his Tiburon, California home. According to the most recent reports, he died of asphyxiation, the victim of an apparent suicide.

Like millions of other fans around the world, I am in complete and utter shock.

I mean, I knew Williams struggled with depression after surviving addictions to both cocaine and alcohol. I just didn’t know things had gotten so bad that he would take his own life as a result. And now the world he once filled with joy and laughter seems a little darker and more depressing now that he’s gone.

Williams and Dawber in “Mork & Mindy” (Universal Press)

Robin Williams first endeared himself to me in the television show Mork & Mindy, a spin-off of one of my other favorite shows of the late 1970s and early 1980s, Happy Days. He was quirky, energetic and downright hilarious. And it certainly didn’t hurt to have the sexy, high-waisted Pam Dawber at his side, either. I give her credit for planting the seed that eventually turned me into an ass man, but that’s neither here nor there.

During his career, Williams starred in some of the greatest and most entertaining films ever made, including Good Morning, Vietnam, The Fisher King, Mrs. Doubtfire, Hook and one of my personal favorites, The World According to Garp—an adaptation of my favorite John Irving novel. After being nominated for three Academy Awards, he finally took Oscar home for his performance in 1997’s Good Will Hunting—a film that also won golden statuettes for screenwriters Ben Affleck and Matt Damon.

Of course, it was Williams’ role in 1989’s Dead Poets Society that inspired me the most. As English professor John Keating, Williams encouraged students at an elite all-boys school to “seize the day” and to “suck the marrow” out of life. At the time, I had just graduated from high school and planned to attend college as a criminal justice major. However, thanks to Professor Keating and some other influential instructors, I soon changed my major to English and have never looked back. Thanks for that, Robin.

Oh yeah… it didn’t hurt that Williams and I shared the same home town, either: Chicago, Illinois.

Losing such a great talent is never easy, even though none of us really knew the man behind some of our most beloved characters. Robin Williams brought laughter to everyone he encountered—both on- and off-screen—and for fans who grew up with him—like me—it seems as if a family member has passed. Life just won’t be the same without him—and for now, the joy and laughter he once provided have been replaced by tears and sorrow.

Rest easy, my old friend. I miss you already.

Wonder-ful

Wonder Woman makes me feel like being a very bad boy (Warner Brothers)

At the recent Comic-Con convention in San Diego, California, Warner Brothers debuted footage from the upcoming film Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and, for the most part, its reception was quite good.

Yes, there are still people who doubt whether Ben Affleck can play the Dark Knight effectively, but there will always be naysayers.

Of course, one thing that might shut the naysayers up is Wonder Woman, who will be played by Gal Gadot in the 2016 film. Warner Brothers released an image of the Amazonian princess and one thing is for certain: she can tie me up with her invisible lariat anytime she likes! Hubba hubba…

Batman Ben

When I first heard that Ben Affleck had been cast as Batman in the 2016 sequel to Man of Steel, I was as skeptical as the next guy. Batman has always been one of my favorite comic book characters and honestly, Affleck didn’t seem like the best fit. I’m willing to give him a shot, though, and judging from this photo from the set of Batman vs. Superman, it looks as if he could be a good fit after all.

I admit that Ben looks pretty cool as Batman! (Zack Snyder/Twitter)

I admit that Ben looks pretty cool as Batman! (Zack Snyder/Twitter)

Any thoughts?

Too Good

Is Matt Damon available for Robin? (Total Film/Matt Risley)

When it was announced that actor Ben Affleck would play Batman in the upcoming film Batman vs. Superman, many denounced the casting decision and claimed Affleck wasn’t good enough to assume the coveted role—a role vacated by Christian Bale following The Dark Knight Rises. This film and the Batman franchise of films are two different things, of course.

Personally, I think Affleck is good enough to give Batman a shot. Whether or not I’m right remains to be seen, but I can say this for Ben: when it comes to playing blackjack, he leaves “good enough” in the rear-view mirror!

On Friday, a source close to Affleck said he had been “banned from playing blackjack at the Hard Rock casino in Las Vegas” for arguably the best reason to be banned: he is too good at the game!

Yes, almost those exact words were spoken to Affleck, but he wasn’t banned from Hard Rock altogether. He can play any other games that he likes, just not blackjack.

Normally, things like this happen to players caught “counting cards,” which isn’t illegal but certainly pisses off casino owners. This means Affleck may have been counting cards and, believe me, it isn’t easy. If he was, then he’s clearly more intelligent and crafty than people give him credit for… and correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t intelligence and craftiness Batman’s so-called “bread and butter?”

Maybe Ben will make a great Batman after all!

End of the Hurricane

An imprisoned Carter in the late 1960s (Getty Images)

An imprisoned Carter in the late 1960s (Getty Images)

Here comes the story of the Hurricane,

The man the authorities came to blame

For something that he never done,

Put him in a prison cell but one time he could-a been

The champion of the world.

–  Bob Dylan, “Hurricane”

Farewell to Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, the former boxer declared one of the best middleweight contenders by Ring magazine in 1963 and wrongly convicted three years later for a triple murder in New Jersey.

Carter spent 19 years in prison before his conviction was overturned by a federal judge in 1985 and he was released. And early Sunday morning, the 76-year-old passed away in Toronto of complications related to prostate cancer.

Like many of my American contemporaries, I likely heard of Rubin Carter in the 1975 Bob Dylan song “Hurricane,” but since I was only four years old at the time, it didn’t really register. This changed in 1999 with the release of the Denzel Washington film Hurricane, and from that point on I was a Rubin Carter fan.

Whether or not you believe Carter to be innocent or guilty, the fact is that he and his friend John Artis—who was with Carter on the night of the shootings and during his final moments alive—never got a fair trial. They accepted their sentences, however unjust, and Carter even served as executive director of the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Accused (AIDWYC) after being given his freedom.

Does that sound like something a guilty man would do? I don’t think so.

Carter with actor Denzel Washington and heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield (AP)

Carter with actor Denzel Washington and heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield (AP)

Carter went on to work as a motivational speaker and received two honorary Doctorates of Law—one from Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, and the other from York University in Toronto. Both degrees recognized his work with the Innocence Project—an organization focusing on the exoneration of wrongly convicted people, primarily through DNA testing—as well as the AIDWYC. He even won the Abolition Award from the Death Penalty Focus group in 1996.

In other words, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter took whatever life threw at him—no matter how negative and unfair—and came out the other side to affect positive change and to help others. And for that he deserves our gratitude.

Rest easy, Rubin. And know that I will always replace could-a been with was in Bob Dylan’s song because you were a champion of the world… just not in boxing.

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