Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Direct Current #16/Box Office 1986

ITEM!  Star Trek Fan Companion - Enterprise 2x16 "Future Tense"
One of the more interesting episodes from the Temporal Cold War arc features Tholians, speculations on the fate of Zephram Cochrane, and Archer finally trying to assert himself in a conflict that has nothing to do with him except at least two factions being obsessed with his role in founding the Federation.

Read more here.


What's up, Box Office 1986?  I bet you've got some fun stuff to share with us!

1. Top Gun ($176 mil)
Do you feel a need for speed?  Because that's what this film did for Tom Cruise's career, rocketed him to superstardom.  Critics still insist that the movie itself is pretty silly, but it's undeniably one of the most notable films of the past thirty years, and still as watchable today as it was when it debuted in theaters.

2. Crocodile Dundee ($174 mil)
Still the reason Australians are so popular.  Take that, dozens of Australian stars not named Paul Hogan!

3. Platoon ($138 mil)
Oliver Stone is still pretty miffed that Top Gun stole Platoon's thunder.  But he ought to be pleased that it's still his most successful film.

4. The Karate Kid Part II ($115 mil)
Unless you were Star Wars or Indiana Jones, big success in the sequel was not always guaranteed in the '80s.  Daniel-san is clearly the role Harrison Ford was meant to someday inherit.  Presumably as Grandpa Karate.  (How awesome would that be?)

5. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home ($109 mil)
Save the whales, save the world.  It's sometimes forgotten, but the environmentalism of today was basically hatched by extreme concern for animal extinction of yesterday.  It's not surprising that a Star Trek movie was made out of it.  What's perhaps surprising is that it's still the second most successful Star Trek movie.  Clearly J.J. Abrams needs to talk with Al Gore.  He's practically already Khan.

6. Back to School ($91 mil)
I tell ya, Rodney Dangerfield gets no respect.  This was a much bigger hit than 1980's Caddyshack, but guess which film people actually remember?

7. Aliens ($85 mil)
Anyone who's still trying to figure out Prometheus only needs to understand Aliens.  Yes, it's by James Cameron, jumpstarted a career that wasn't so hot after the lackluster performance of The Terminator.  But it's also the first movie in the franchise that confused it for a horror series.  Prometheus is merely the first since the first one to try and break that cycle.

8. The Golden Child ($79 mil)
Another hit for Eddie Murphy.  But also one of the first you probably won't remember too well.  And hence the fact that his career has needed regular jumpstarts ever since.  He became Rodney Dangerfield!  I tell ya...

9. Ruthless People ($71 mil)
I think this one was a hit because of its connection to the creators of Airplane!, which may also explain why I had never heard of it before, even though it was clearly a hit film.

10. Ferris Bueller's Day Off ($70 mil)
Matthew Broderick in his signature role.  Kind of hard to live down when it's most definitely a youthful role, and you end up growing up to look like a manchild.  Is Broderick the new Mickey Rooney?  If so, why hasn't he exploited that yet?  Inspector Gadget doesn't count.  I think I'm going to solicit myself as Broderick's agent...

Other notable movies: The Color of Money ($52 mil), Stand by Me ($52 mil), An American Tail ($47 mil), Police Academy 3: Back in Training ($43 mil), Pretty in Pink ($40 mil), Three Amigos ($39 mil), Hannah and Her Sisters ($35 mil; still one of Woody Allen's biggest hits), Friday the 13 Part VI ($19 mil), Howard the Duck ($16 mil; here's how you get from George Lucas = can do no wrong to George Lucas = fallible), Labyrinth ($12 mil), Big Trouble in Little China ($11 mil), Manhunter ($8 mil; movie debut of Hannibal Lecter), Blue Velvet ($8 mil), The Name of the Rose ($7 mil), Highlander ($5 mil; just one of the many notable franchises that had a very small beginning), Tranformers: The Movie ($5 mil; apparently Orson Welles is no Michael Bay; *sigh*)

Source: Box Office Mojo

Monday, October 29, 2012

Direct Current #15/Box Office 1985

ITEM!  Star Trek Fan Companion - Enterprise 2x15 "Cease Fire"
The second season of Enterprise is finally graced by an appearance from Shran!  Plus another franchise appearance by Suzie Plakson!  If you like Vulcans and Andorians, and who doesn't? you'll love this episode, which is almost like a prequel to the fourth season!

Read more here.

ITEM!  Comics Reader - Reading Comics #80 "Essential Wolverine Vol. 2 #2"
Larry Hama and Marc Silvestri make their debut in the next batch of issues from the collection, leading me to muse about several things besides the contents of the issues, including Savage Dragon and Image Comics, and also a bit about what's actually in the issues.

Read more here.


The decade was only getting warmed up.  1985 has some magic to work all its own, with some unique offerings demonstrating what filmmakers could accomplish with some fresh blood pumping through Hollywood.

1. Back to the Future ($210 mil)
Michael J. Fox!  That dude became almost a legend overnight, and all he had to do was make out with his mother!  Still one of the most beloved stars of our time, whether in the movies or TV (more TV these days, and another comeback in the offing!).  Spawned two sequel and the obligatory '80s animated spin-off, and an obsession and pop culture references that remain to this day.  Perhaps one of the few movies that could truly not be improved by a remake.

2. Rambo: First Blood Part II ($150 mil)
I don't know if you noticed, but the signature action stars of the '80s did not get that way overnight.  The first Rambo was pretty low-key.  It's the second one that explodes the character and admittedly puts him in a situation where lots of explosions occur.

3. Rocky IV ($127 mil)
Sly Stallone was a huge star, the biggest of the action stars.  It's no wonder that the Expendables movies revolve around him.  Here he succeeds in having two of the top three hit films of 1985, in two very different signature roles.  Though at this point Rocky is probably closer to Rambo than the Rocky seen in his first couple appearances.

4. The Color Purple ($94 mil)
The movie in which Steven Spielberg attempts to enter the world of more conventional material.  Obviously a huge hit, but I think it's been forgotten over time, and I'm not just saying that because I haven't seen it myself.  Features Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, Oprah Winfrey, Laurence Fishburne, and is essentially the first time since the blaxploitation '70s where black actors are allowed to expand their craft and presence in film, pushing them forward to Spike Lee and onward.  Actors like Halle Berry, Denzel Washington, Will Smith, and Samuel L. Jackson owe their careers to this moment.

5. Out of Africa ($87 mil)
Robert Redford and Meryl Streep remain some of Hollywood's most visible icons, and this is probably one of the reasons why.  The movie that beat The Color Purple at the Oscars.

6. Cocoon ($76 mil)
Otherwise known as the movie where old people have all the fun.

7. The Jewel of the Nile ($75 mil)
The sequel to Romancing the Stone.  Perhaps also the point where people realized that Michael Douglas was not after all the new Indiana Jones.  Still, a game try of it!

8. Witness ($68 mil)
The movie that proved Harrison Ford wasn't just Han Solo and Indiana Jones.  Otherwise known as Ford becoming a legitimate box office star.  This is what Orlando Bloom desperately tried to duplicate twenty years later.

9. The Goonies ($61 mil)
I have not actually seen most of the movies in this Top Ten.  The Goonies included.

10. Spies Like Us ($60 mil)
Saturday Night Live was huge.  It made huge stars.  This one stars Dan Ackroyd and Chevy Chase.

Other notable films: Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment ($55 mil), Fletch ($50 mil; Chevy Chase again), A View to a Kill ($50 mil; last Roger Moore as Bond), European Vacation ($49 mil; Chase again!), The Breakfast Club ($45 mil), Pee-Wee's Big Adventure ($40 mil; say hello to Tim Burton), St. Elmo's Fire ($37 mil), Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome ($36 mil; Mad and Mel Gibson's biggest hit so far), Commando ($35 mil), Teen Wolf ($33 mil; Fox again), A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge ($29 mil), Friday the 13th - Part V ($21 mil), Porky's Revenge (Part III) ($20 mil), Death Wish 3 ($16 mil), Return to Oz ($11 mil), After Hours ($10 mil), Once Bitten ($10 mil; Jim Carrey!), Brazil ($9 mil; oh, well, this may be a reason Terry Gilliam lost favor in Hollywood)

Source: Box Office Mojo

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Direct Current #14/Box Office 1984

ITEM!  Star Trek Fan Companion - Enterprise 2x14 "Stigma"
Here's a bona fide Enterprise classic, the AIDS episode in which T'Pol becomes ostracized for having a disease linked to mind melds, which at this point in Vulcan society are a definite no-no.  Plus fun with Denobulans!

Read more here.


Was 1984 a huge year for movies?  You bet your big brother!

1. Beverly Hills Cop ($234 mil)
Eddie Murphy in his biggest hit, and essentially the birth of the modern buddy flick.  Sadly I have never seen it.

2. Ghostbusters ($229 mil)
I grew up knowing Ghostbusters as much for the cartoon series as the two (soon to be three, minus Bill Murray?) movies, so it's always a little odd to remember that most people think of the movies first (and probably the cartoon not at all).  I still think it's awesome that this movie even exists, but it's a little odd that so few movies like it exist.  I'd suggest maybe Beetlejuice and Ivan Reitman's own Evolution and the Men in Black series, but normally Hollywood strips huge hits to the bone.  What's up, Hollywood?

3. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom ($179 mil)
I think as far as most fans are concerned, Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Last Crusade are the highlights in this series, while Temple of Doom competes with Kingdom of the Crystal Skull behind them.

4. Gremlins ($148 mil)
I think I have ably suggested elsewhere that this is what you get when Spielberg had vague ideas of continuing the E.T. story.  I haven't seen this one, either!

5. The Karate Kid ($90 mil)
Literally, 1984 seems to have been the year the decade really got a firm grip of how to define itself.  I mean, can you think of another year where so many cultural touchstones happened?  I guess we'll see...

6. Police Academy ($81 mil)
Spawned a franchise that lasted well into the next decade.  Seriously!!!

7. Footlose ($80 mil)
Otherwise known as One Degree of Kevin Bacon.  Or perhaps one degree away from Flashdance.

8. Romancing the Stone ($76 mil)
Otherwise known as Michael Douglas trying to be Indiana Jones.  But seriously, this movie is awesome.  Great soundtrack.  Not great like John Williams, but still memorable.

9. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock ($76 mil)
Spock died in the last movie.  This whole movie is about bringing him back.

10. Splash ($69 mil)
Brought to you by Ron Howard and Tom Hanks.  Thank you, 1984.

Other notable films: Purple Rain ($68 mil), Amadeus ($51 mil), Revenge of the Nerds ($40 mil), The Terminator ($38 mil), Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter ($32 mil; bogus lie in title), Conan the Destroyer ($31 mil), Dune ($30 mil), Cannonball Run II ($28 mil), The Muppets Take Manhattan ($25 mil), A Nightmare on Elm Street ($25 mil), Sixteen Candles ($23 mil), The Neverending Story ($23 mil), Johnny Dangerously ($17 mil), Supergirl ($14 mil)

Source: Box Office Mojo

Friday, October 26, 2012

Direct Current #13/Box Office 1983

ITEM!  Star Trek Fan Companion - Enterprise 2x13 "Dawn"
The story may be familiar ("The Enemy" and "Darmok" from Next Generation alone), but the real draw in the increasing ability of Trip to stand out from the Enterprise pack, his second appearance in the season to dominate an episode.

Read more here.

ITEM!  Comics Reader - Reading Comics #79 "Essential Wolverine Vol. 2 #1"
Starting a look at one of those giant black-and-white collections, in this instance including classic Wolverine comics from 1990, featuring the unexpected pleasure of writer Jo Duffy.  How do these stories reflect Hollywood storytelling at the time?  Find out...

Read more here.


Dave wrote about a really awesome classic piece of art.

Collected Editions talks about the new Resurrection Man trade.

Mock!  shares the ______ of the creator of MadLibs.

PT Dilloway with another big announcement.

Kate O'Mara wonders what kind of writer you are.


1983 was another banner year at the movies:

1. Return of the Jedi ($252 mil)
The original Star Wars trilogy concludes six years after the release of the first film, in a lot of ways almost a generation later.  Maybe that explains why some fans still gripe about Ewoks the way some fans still gripe about Jar Jar Binks.  Anyway, Luke Skywalker defeats the Dark Side, another Death Star is destroyed, and Lando totally gets a scratch on Han Solo's beloved Millennium Falcon.  And he was told not to!!!

2. Terms of Endearment ($108 mil)
One of the reasons Shirley MacLaine and Larry McMurtry remained big names for years.  Also stars Jack Nicholson!  And perhaps a reason why some people still gripe that the most popular movies these days are all blockbusters...like the above movie.  The Ewoks killed the radio star!

3. Flashdance ($92 mil)
This one's responsible for a lot of stuff.  Making Jennifer Beals a household name.  And in a roundabout way, Channing Tatum.  This is the source of all those dance movies.  Thanks so much!

4. Trading Places ($90 mil)
Eddie Murphy's second hit tends to be forgotten.  I loved it when I saw it.  Also stars Dan Ackroyd and Activia, I mean Jamie Lee Curtis.

5. WarGames ($79 mil)
The movie that gave us the career of Matthew Broderick.  Well, I think most people would argue that the later Ferris Bueller's Day Off did that.  But this movie got here first.  This was technically the bigger hit.  But sometimes a movie makes it into pop culture lore on the strength of smaller initial popularity.

6. Octopussy ($67 mil)
Another Roger Moore installment of the James Bond franchise!  If you keep reading, you'll see the results for an unofficial entry featuring a slightly more distinguished Bond.  Surprisingly it doesn't make much less.  (Just to be clear, I'm talking about Never Say Never Again, and Sean Connery.)

7. Sudden Impact ($67 mil)
The fourth Dirty Harry movie, starring Clint Eastwood.  Go ahead.  Make a reference to that chair.

8. Staying Alive ($64 mil)
The sequel to Saturday Night Fever (which I suppose is a predecessor to Flashdance, but who's going to argue that it's Staying Alive and not Flashdance that inspired Footloose, Dirty Dancing, and Step Up?).  Even thought it was clearly a hit, this John Travolta sequel is considered an embarrassing flop to this day.

9. Mr. Mom ($64 mil)
The career of Michael Keaton kicks off!  The funny thing is that everyone thought Keaton was going to ruin Batman.  I'd say that history proves Batman more or less ruined Keaton.  Even though I haven't seen this or many of his other films, Keaton's career still intrigues me, and I plan to watch through it at some point.

10. Risky Business ($63 mil)
The career of Tom Cruise kicks off!  More enduringly popular than Broderick, and Keaton...Possibly more controversial than Ewoks!  But it's another indication that a hit can help launch a career.  It just depends how many more hits follow.  Cruise keeps them coming, you have to give him that.  Like Flashdance one particular sequence made this one popular (Cruise dancing in his underwear).  Unlike Flashdance, Cruise obviously trumps Beals.  Dancing in your underwear is fine.  Dumping water on yourself is apparently not.

Other notable movies: National Lampoon's Vacation ($61 mil), Superman III ($59 mil), The Big Chill ($56 mil), Never Say Never Again ($55 mil, 12 less for Connery than Moore), Scarface ($44 mil), The Outsiders ($25 mil), The Right Stuff ($21 mil), A Christmas Story ($19 mil), Monty Python's The Meaning of Life ($14 mil), Zelig ($11 mil), Smokey and the Bandit Part III ($5 mil)

Source: Box Office Mojo

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Direct Current #12/Box Office 1982

ITEM!  Comics Reader - Reading Comics #78 "Batman R.I.P."
Grant Morrison has been writing Batman comics since 2006, and this is perhaps the hallmark of those efforts, what may be simplified as his "Knightfall," but may have still more interesting parallels to the Christopher Nolan blockbuster trilogy beyond that.  Do you like the Joker?  Because he's here, too...

Read more here.

ITEM!  Star Trek Fan Companion - Enterprise 2x12 "The Catwalk"
This is the story of an episode that disappointed me when it originally aired, but may still yet have a source of redemption.  I don't explain the redemption, only how it might be found.  What starts as a story that focuses squarely on the crew turns into a pretty episodic problem.

Read more here.


Did PT Dilloway turn his superhero into the T-Mobile Girl?

Did John Seavey just redeem The Blair Witch Project?


Here's the Box Office Top Ten of 1982:

1. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial ($359 mil)
It's hard to imagine a world without Steven Spielberg's friendly little alien, turning thirty this year (along with every other film from this year!), and not just because we might not have Reece's Pieces without him!  One of the few times I cried because of a movie is during E.T.'s apparent death.  I mean, who wants his story to end like that?

2. Tootsie ($177 mil)
Dustin Hoffman was a huge star.  Is he the only guy who could pull of a huge box office success dressed in drag?  Well, no.  Robin Williams did it, too.  But an actor like Hoffman built his reputation on being taken seriously.  Could you imagine Al Pacino in the role?

3. An Officer and a Gentleman ($129 mil)
Here's the reason Richard Gere became a Hollywood staple.  In recent years he's almost become anonymous, but he'll always find work because he was a legit star, and this movie's success proves it.

4. Rocky III ($124 mil)
Sly Stallone is perhaps unique in transforming an art project into a blockbuster franchise.  This is probably the point where he failed to distinguish the difference.  I'd argue the fifth and sixth installments put the series back in the right direction.

5. Porky's ($105 mil)
The American Pie of its day.  I'm proud to admit that I have never seen it.  Though I love American Pie.

6. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan ($78 mil)
Khaaaaan!  Star Trek reentered the popular consciousness with an epic duel between Kirk and one of his most notable foes from the original TV series.  Plus there was that whole death-of-Spock thing.

7. 48 Hours ($78 mil)
Did you know Eddie Murphy was originally supposed to co-star in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home?  Doesn't seem to far-fetched when you see the order of box office results from 1982, now does it?  This was Murphy's first blockbuster.  He was huge at the time.  Like Richard Gere, he can now say he's seen better days.

8. Poltergeist ($76 mil)
A remnant of the '70s horror scene, before the '80s scene became completely dominated by the new movie monsters, many of whom had already debuted by this point.

9. The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas ($69 mil)
Why yes, that gross is appropriate!  Stars Burt Reynolds, Dolly Parton.  Both were pretty much icons at the time.  How many people even know this movie exists today?

10. Annie ($57 mil)
Everyone loves the the little orphan!  And this is one of the reasons why.  Although we may be getting to a point where a new version is necessary to keep her famous.

Other notable releases: Gandhi ($52 mil), First Blood ($47 mil), Conan the Barbarian ($39 mil), Friday the 13th Part III ($34 mil), Tron ($33 mil), The World According to Garp ($29 mil), Victor/Victoria ($28 mil), Blade Runner ($27 mil), Airplane II: The Sequel ($27 mil), Fast Times at Ridgemont High ($27 mil), The Road Warrior ($23 mil)

Source: Box Office Mojo

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Direct Current #11/Box Office 1981

ITEM!  Star Trek Fan Companion - Enterprise 2x11 "Precious Cargo"
There are two reasons to watch this episode: one is Charles "Trip" Tucker, who receives his first spotlight episode of the season.  The other is guest-star Padma Lakshmi.  Hopefully that one explains itself.

Read more here.


Derek Fridolfs writes about writing a comic for Subway.

PT Dilloway shares a pitch for a new story.

Mock! got some awesome birthday gifts.

Read a prologue for a new story from Dan Head.

Wanna go political with Meme Express?


My box office chronicle continues with 1981:

1. Raiders of the Lost Ark ($212 mil)
Still one of the most legendary creations of modern cinema lore, the debut of Indiana Jones via Harrison Ford, Steven Spielberg, and George Lucas.  I had a friend in college who was absolutely obsessed, had a fedora and everything.

2. On Golden Pond ($119 mil)
Golden Age stars Katharine Hepburn and Henry Fonda in the last blockbuster of their careers.

3. Superman II ($108 mil)
Kneel before Zod!  This is how you continue a superhero franchise, by bringing in a villain no one expected to steal the show totally dominate.  It's safe to say that The Dark Knight continued that tradition.

4. Arthur ($95 mil)
Perhaps last year's Russell Brand flopped because people are still beholden to Dudley Moore?  Okay, okay, it could be because of Russell Brand.  It's not because today's audiences are all that familiar with the legacy of Moore.  Or maybe I'm selling him short?

5. Stripes ($85 mil)
Ivan Reitman and Bill Murray in their second collaboration (following Meatballs and preceding Ghostbusters).  Murray has a lot of movies that a lot of people remember, and his popularity from hits like this is a huge reason why.  Dudley Moore he is not.

6. The Cannonball Run ($72 mil)
Burt Reynolds was a huge star.  Today people remember him less for this than Smokey and the Bandit, however.

7. Chariots of Fire ($58 mil)
Won the Best Picture at the Oscars.  Some people still remain polarized about it.  But a lot of Best Picture winners end up with that fate.  Featuring Olympic running, memorable score, Ben Cross.

8. For Your Eyes Only ($54 mil)
Roger Moore's fifth turn as James Bond.

9. The Four Seasons ($50 mil)
The fact that I'd never heard of this movie suggests that it hasn't aged well.  No doubt its success at the time is attributed to starring Alan Alda and Carol Burnett, huge TV stars at the time.

10. Time Bandits ($42 mil)
A Top Ten hit for Terry Gilliam?  Safe to say that this is probably the reason he's gotten regular work in Hollywood, because Hollywood does not seem to widely appreciate him otherwise.

Other notable releases: Clash of the Titans ($41 mil), Reds ($40 mil), Excalibur ($34 mil), History of the World, Part I ($31 mil), The Great Muppet Caper ($31 mil), Halloween II ($25 mil), Escape from New York ($25 mil), Friday the 13th Part 2 ($21 mil)

Source: Box Office Mojo

Monday, October 22, 2012

Direct Current #10/Box Office 1980

ITEM!  Comics Reader - Reading Comics #77 "Dinosaurs vs. Aliens"
The title of this entry might sound like another of those crazy Hollywood mashups.  That's because it is.  But it comes from the minds of Barry Sonnenfeld and Grant Morrison, and hopefully you have some more favorable associations coming to mind now...

Read more here.

ITEM!  Star Trek Fan Companion - Enterprise 2x10 "Vanishing Point"
Two aspects of the first season reappear in the second: fear of transporters and Hoshi Sato's unease.  Is that enough to pique your interest?

Read more here.

ITEM!  Sigild V - "Darkness in the Knight"
This is another of my periodic forays into the creations of others.  As the title may suggest, this time the subject is Batman.  Like a classic Elseworlds tale, however, one crucial aspect of the character has been changed, and it makes a pretty big difference...

Read more here.


Mock! had a busy weekend.

Jarm Del Boccio explores long sentences (which this is not).

Kertrats looks at Janeway's return in The Eternal Tide.

Sylvia Ney with advertising ideas.


Here begins a look at the box office hits of years past and how their reputation has grown or diminished in the meantime...

This is 1980's Top Ten:

1. The Empire Strikes Back ($209 mil)
As the second installment of the original Star Wars trilogy, its legacy is assured.  From the introduction of Yoda to the revelation of Darth Vader being Luke Skywalker's father, a lot of what we know about the franchise comes from this film.

2. 9 to 5 ($103 mil)
Perhaps the original Brides Maids?  Starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Dolly Parton, this one's impact was huge at the time but has slipped in social relevance since, though it still proves that Hollywood is the only one convincing itself that women can't star in blockbusters.

3. Stir Crazy ($101 mil)
Another obvious relic, starring Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor, two huge stars at the time who were already on a downward slope.  Would you believe it was directed by Sidney Poitier?

4. Airplane! ($83 mil)
A movie that continues to entertain, made the spoof genre popular, and launched Leslie Nielsen into the greatest success of his career.  Just don't call him Shirley!

5. Any Which Way You Can ($70 mil)
If you're still wondering how we got Clint Eastwood talking to a chair as one of the biggest talking points of this election year, just remember that he's long been one of Hollywood's biggest stars.  This was an action comedy in one of his many franchises.

6. Private Benjamin ($69 mil)
Before there was Kate Hudson there was her mother, Goldie Hawn, whose box office success is the reason her daughter became an instant star.  This is one of her more notable hits.

7. Cole Miner's Daughter ($67 mil)
One of the most famous Hollywood biopics of the modern era, it concerns country star Loretta Lynn and features Sissy Spacek in one of her signature roles.

8. Smokey and the Bandit II ($66)
Yes, the third sequel in 1980's top grossing films, perhaps proving to skeptics that this was not a fad that just happened over the course of the last decade.  Features Burt Reynolds and Sally Field, who survived the decade in considerably better shape than Wilder and Pryor.

9. The Blue Lagoon ($58)
It helped launch the career of Brooke Shields and made it popular to exploit the sexuality of teenagers.  Think of it as the Twilight Saga of its day.

10. The Blues Brothers ($57)
A lot of great music and a notable film in the careers of Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi, the latter of whom would be dead in two years.  Still one of the best movies to be created from an act that originally appeared on Saturday Night Live.

Some other notable films from the year: The Shining ($44 mil), Friday the 13th ($39 mil), Raging Bull ($23 mil), Mad Max ($8 mil).

Source: Box Office Mojo.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Direct Current #9/CM Punk

ITEM!  Hub City - Thoughts on The Green Lantern
Jerome Charyn writes his version of the Russian epic, fusing Stalin, movies stars, and his usual antics into an enjoyable read that will have you guessing who manages to survive and how, and none of it has anything to do with Hal Jordan or anything else Geoff Johns has written about in the last seven years.  Although give him a moment...

Read more here.

ITEM!  Hub City - Reading List: Our Mutual Friend
Spoiler alert: This Charles Dickens book, famously saved as the last one Desmond Hume would ever read on Lost, is about the corruptibility of man, which is what Lost ended up being about, that whole argument between Jacob and the Man in Black.

Read more here.

ITEM!  Star Trek Fan Companion - Enterprise 2x9 "Singularity"
Sulu fenced.  Sisko built a clock.  Malcolm Reed creates Red Alert.  Sometimes those who get there last have all the fun.  This is an episode in the classic mode of characters going off on obsessive behavioral pursuits.

Read more here.

ITEM!  Tony Laplume - "This Is No Time to Talk About Time!  We Don't Have the Time!"
The line comes from Deanna Troi in Star Trek: First Contact.  She's drunk and trying to explain how she completely failed to talk sense with Zephram Cochrane.  This post is not so dissimilar.  But I instead talk about how I got a short story in a new anthology.

Read more here.


Dan Head talks about Bronx Angel: Politics By Another Method.


The recent release of CM Punk: Best in the World, a career retrospective on one of WWE's top stars, had me viewing Punk in something of a new light.  Much like Chris Jericho in his two autobiographies (but notably in the second, Undisputed), much of Punk's journey seems to take place inside his own head.  Plenty of fans have wanted over the years for his success to develop at a more accelerated rate, but the truth is Punk has seemed to have a blessed career from the start.  His biggest obstacle was overcoming a family he ran away from, but found acceptance and a new home (and family) pretty quickly.  His career as a wrestler began in a promotion he and his friends put together in someone's backyard, and apparently drew huge numbers in a short amount of time.  He was always interested in bigger ponds.  Though his tenure in ROH is covered, it is notably downplayed, and the irony of his becoming the company's top star only in his final months is an irony that is apparently lost on him.  When he reaches WWE, Punk is disappointed to start at OVW, its development league at the time.  Still, he makes the most of it.  The real problem comes when he becomes a world champion for the first time, and feels he doesn't get the push he deserves.  It does in fact take several years to reach the pipe bomb moment two Junes ago, and the going-on-a-year reign as WWE champion he's currently enjoying.  I was as guilty as anyone of expecting more from the company than it was willing to give him at times, but there have been plenty of stars who got a lot less than Punk, even during the time he thought he got no respect at all.

Punk is a fan's wrestler in a new kind of mold, someone who enjoys the game as much as they do (his breakthrough moment in deciding to enter wrestling was when he noticed how similar he was to "Rowdy" Roddy Piper).  Sometimes it seems like he loses himself to the image he's created as a performer.  Maybe there's more Phil Brooks in CM Punk than I previously realized.  That's always bound to be the case to a certain extent.  Bret Hart will always deny it, but the frustrations his character voiced in 1997 well before the "Montreal Screwjob" still resonate a lot more than any reports that Vince McMahon simply acted out of selfish interests.  Punk became popular when he broke the fourth wall and voiced his own frustrations.  He's probably about as popular as Hart ever was.  If you haven't followed wrestling in years, he's a company man who energizes fans who watch on a dedicated basis.  He's not a Hulk Hogan.  He's a Ric Flair.

The matches included in this retrospective cover 2006 to this year, and help demonstrate how his career, at least in WWE, may only be beginning.  If you traced Hart's career to a similar point, you wouldn't have the famous WrestleMania match with Steve Austin, for instance.  Sometimes when a wrestler reaches the top in the company and then drops below it again, their career can suffer.  "Macho Man" Randy Savage, for instance, whom Punk emulates with an elbow splash from the top turnbuckle, had a hard time recovering from his first run as champion.  Time will tell how Punk fares in the next several years.  I hope he's genuinely happier with his success, and appreciates it for what it is.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Direct Current #8

ITEM!  Star Trek Fan Companion - Enterprise 2x8 "The Communicator"
Archer goes to desperate measures to avoid contaminating a pre-warp civilization in this episode that also spotlights Malcolm Reed and helps demonstrate how Enterprise's second season looked at some of the finer details of establishing history with every lightyear.

Read more here.

ITEM!  Comics Reader - Reading Comics #76 "Nightwing and the Color Red"
The Nightwing (1996) collection Big Guns is one of the final contributions from Chuck Dixon on the series, and demonstrates that the writer still had plenty to say about the ever-corrupt city of Bludhaven, and all the red that surrounded Dick Grayson over the years.

Read more here.


Dave provides a recap of the Nineties Blogfest.

Leslie S. Rose announces the release of Journeys of Wonder, Vol. 2.

Martin T. Ingham is doing NaNoWriMo again.

Spacerguy loves him some Paranormal Activity.

Saturday is always Zatannurday for Timothy Brannan.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Direct Current #7

ITEM!  Comics Reader - Reading Comics #75 "BlueSpear"
Sometimes my comics blog can make it seem as if the only comics I care about are published by DC.  Well, that's not true.  This one is from a little-known publisher.  It does feature superheroes.  But it's part of a larger project that gives the genre a fresh dose of perspective.

Read more here.

ITEM!  Star Trek Fan Companion - Enterprise 2x7 "The Seventh"
How does an episode become a classic without anyone noticing?  This may be one of the more interesting ways to do it.  In this recap I explain how an episode from a season and series that few appreciate helps explain both.

Read more here.


A look at Grant Morrison's Superman.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Direct Current #6

ITEM!  Comics Reader - Quarter Bin #45 "Brother's Blitz, Part 3"
In my ongoing back issue column I finally conclude a look at a large amount of comics my brother gave me more than a decade ago but I never really read until now.  I've found a surprising number of gems, and also quite a few stinkers.  Marvel really wins out big this time!

Read more here.

ITEM!  Star Trek Fan Companion - Enterprise 2x6 "Marauders"
If you really liked the Klingons in the original series, this may be your favorite episode of Enterprise, in which much the same story is told, this time without the meddling of all-powerful beings!

Read more here.


Rusty Webb helps promote A Hero's Journey.

Spacerguy promotes Star Trek on Netflix.

Cygnus wonders if he's a Pythagorean.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Direct Current #5

ITEM!  Star Trek Fan Companion - The Nineties Blogfest
The last time I did a blogfest was A-to-Z, which I still thank for the traffic I now receive.  This time it was a much smaller affair, but once again I used it to talk about Star Trek.  Well, some things never change...

Read more here!

ITEM!  Hub City - Thoughts on The Tar Baby
I just finished reading a Jerome Charyn book, but the surprising thing is that I ended up continuing a running theme from my Reading List about authors using multiple perspectives to come up with something really interesting.

Read more here!

ITEM!  Hub City - Reading List: The Green Lantern
Contrary to the title of the next book on my List, this one doesn't star a superhero.  It is, in fact, another novel by Jerome Charyn, and ends a streak of books that has included similar writers and themes.  Hopefully on a high note!

Read more here!

ITEM!  Tony Laplume - Eating Plain Old Arby's Roast Beef
This blog is the one I maintain strictly from the perspective of a writer, which I sometimes use to comment directly on projects I'm working on or trying to pimp, and at others simply on what a writer thinks.  This is one of the latter.

Read more here!

ITEM!...Back to Examiner!
I recently thought about joining a new site to write about movies (which I was doing for a while here at Scouring Monk), but then thought about it again and decided that it was just as well continuing at Examiner.  (This is not the first time I've waffled like this between sites and Monk.  I did it before with comic books.)

Argo review!

Seven Psychopaths review!

Looper review!

End of Watch review!


Dave's Nineties Blogfest.

Michael Abayomi has the first book in his epic series free on Kobo.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Direct Current #4

ITEM!  Sigild V - "Homeland"
The new movie Looper posits a nightmarish aspect of time travel in which one's future self can meet one's present, and one of them is a fatal threat to the other.  "Homeland" is similar, with a few crucial differences...Well, you may have to read it yourself to see how.

Read more here.

ITEM!  Star Trek Fan Companion - Enterprise 2x5 "A Night in Sickbay"
For some, this is an infamous episode.  For others, it's a favorite (that would include Phlox actor John Billingsley and the Hugo Awards).  It's the one where Captain Archer pines over his ailing beagle Porthos and attempts to navigate tricky diplomatic territory.

Read more here.


Keith Giffen is launching a new space-themed DC comic.

Dan Head's history of the Sword of Kings.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Direct Current #3

ITEM!  Star Trek Fan Companion - Enterprise 2x3 "Minefield"
If you like Romulans, you may be interested to catch their first chronological appearance in this sneaky effort from Enterprise, in which Malcolm Reed finds himself literally pinned to the hull of the ship.

Read more here.

ITEM!  Star Trek Fan Companion - Enterprise 2x4 "Dead Stop"
Damage occurred to the ship in the last episode, and this one features the odd circumstances in which it's repaired.  You just may have to see this one to believe it...

Read more here.

ITEM!  Comics Reader - Reading Comics #74 "Making History"
Formalizing my look at new comics and graphic novels into a column with the inverted name of the blog, this time we look at another smattering of mostly new comics, including some things the Avengers have been up to (in two incarnations!), some characters with "Flash" in their name, several Superman and Batman related adventures, and many others!

Read more here.


Mock! relates a humorous Twitter conversation about Neil Gaiman's hat.

Listen to Green Asterisk talk about concluding their look at the original Star Trek cast adventures.

PT Dilloway's Next Big Thing.


Pretty big movie weekend.  Argo, Ben Affleck's new directorical effort, is opening, and so is Seven Psychopaths, starring a whole bunch of interesting folks like Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell.  There's also Here Comes the Boom, the Kevin James MMA flick, which seems to be the comedic version of last year's exceptional Warrior.  I'm planning on the first two and Looper, plus maybe End of Watch, the Michael Pena/Jake Gyllenhaal movie that puts a fresh spin on the found footage genre.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Direct Current #2/Deconstruction of Colin Farrell

ITEM! Star Trek Fan Companion - Enterprise 2x2 "Carbon Creek"
How exactly do I end up comparing "Carbon Creek" to the classic episode "City on the Edge of Forever"?  That's just one of the notable aspects of a bonding moment between T'Pol and her very human colleagues Archer and Trip...

Read more here.


PT Dilloway's A Hero's Journey has finally been released!

New transmission from Althea!


Colin Farrell has been one of my favorite actors since I watched Ballykissangel on PBS in the summer of 2000.  Ballykissangel is an Irish TV series, and Farrell popped up in the fourth and fifth seasons (originally broadcast in 1998 and 1999).  He completely stood out, and yeah, it was those signature soulful eyes of his. Joel Schumacher cast him in the 2000 film Tigerland, a film that gave Farrell one of his defining roles as a rebel who reluctantly plays within the system.  He had a bit part in Ordinary Decent Criminal, a film that starred Kevin Spacey and Linda Fiorentino, and also features a bit part for Christoph Waltz.  Hollywood claimed him with 2001's American Outlaws, in which Farrell plays Jesse James, though it's about as different from The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford as you can get.  It's more like Young Guns, or a Hollywood version of Tigerland.  In Hart's War, Farrell has the lead role in a Bruce Willis movie.  It's a knotty film about WWII, with all sorts of complicated relationships and convictions.  Minority Report, meanwhile, is Tom Cruise and Steve Spielberg subverting pretty much everything Farrell had thus far accomplished.  It wouldn't be surprising if the majority of filmgoers still subconsciously call this one to mind if they think about Colin Farrell at all.

2003 was a huge year for Farrell, however.  Phone Booth, his second collaboration with Schumacher, was finally released.  It's an existential, Twilight Zone kind of experience, and the first true acting showcase for the budding star.  He co-starred opposite Al Pacino in the CIA thriller The Recruit; appeared in another Schumacher film, Veronica Guerin; gave a gonzo performance in Daredevil; and starred in the ensemble update of S.W.A.T., based on an old TV series (not for the last time).  There's also Intermission, another bit part in a gangster flick.

2004-2005 proves to be a defining period, however, in which Farrell transitions out of the Hollywood scene and to the artist's fringe.  A Home at the End of the World is an intimate relationship drama.  Oliver Stone's Alexander is a historic epic that centers on character and completely alienates the audience looking for something flashy like Gladiator (basically dooming the genre from there on).  The New World is very similar, and helps reinvigorate Terrence Malick's career.

In 2006, Farrell appears in Ask the Dust, a combination of his new period and indy leanings.  He also stars in Miami Vice, his second film based on an old TV series.  It's the first film he's been expected to carry to box office success since 2003.  In 2007, he stars in Woody Allen's Cassandra's Dream, thereby marking a deliberate embrace of his Irish roots, something Farrell has been asked to overlook in most of his films.  He continues this with In Bruges in 2008, his first collaboration with Martin McDonagh, for which Farrell won a Golden Globe.  It's the first time in ages that critics have admitted to enjoying his work.  Pride and Glory is released later that year, a sort of collaboration between his earlier Hollywood phase and his later work.

In 2009, Farrell stars in two smaller films, Triage and Ondine, both being clear attempts to reestablish his ability to carry a movie.  He also appears in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and Crazy Heart, which demonstrate for audiences who don't need the Irish accent that Farrell's small parts can still be big.  He has a larger such role in The Way Back the next year, and stars in London Boulevard, a gangster movie in which the the base of the story is a romance.

2011 was Farrell's big Hollywood comeback.  Now that he'd gotten a few people to like him again, he decided to see where that would take him.  Horrible Bosses is a rare outright comedic performance, and also one of Farrell's biggest box office successes, even if he shares a lot of the credit and is dead by the end of the film, and so can't appear in a sequel (which is in the works).  Fright Night is remake, though a thoroughly enjoyable one.  This year's Total Recall is also a remake, which everyone and their mother can't seem to neglect mentioning.  It's also something of a full circle for Farrell, appearing in another movie based on Philip K. Dick, just like Minority Report, released ten years earlier.

His new movie is Seven Psychopaths, which seems to be the first indy-veined movie Farrell will have starred in that might actually be a big-sized hit.  It reteams him with McDonagh, which is no coincidence.  In Bruges was a critical hit for both of them, and building on that kind of buzz is good for everyone.

What common element unites all of Colin Farrell's films?  It's all there in his breakout experience, Tigerland, a character who's difficult to tame much less predict.  He's your best friend one minute, your worst nightmare the next.  His eyes have always been the one element everyone comments on, and it's what they're saying that truly matters.  He's ultimately the next great wild child of the movies, the new Brad Pitt, if Brad Pitt had been born in Ireland.  Hollywood quickly latched onto Farrell, and some of its most notable directors wanted a piece of him, and all that interest did not always translate to audience appeal.  He rarely does a movie that has strictly broad appeal, frequently works on projects that have a strong artistic bent.  It seems he's the go-to guy for trying to translate the appeal of an old concept in a new way, except "remake" tends to be a dirty word.  Farrell doesn't seem to care.  He went a little wild with all the Hollywood attention, but quickly settled down, figured out what was important to him.  It didn't hurt that most of the roles he selects are exactly what he should be doing, and even the ones that are iffy he never sleepwalks through.

There's a reason for every film appearance he's made.  Farrell constantly rewards.  If he has appeared in few pop culture touchstones, the fact that he keeps doing the best work in town means that he'll have plenty of opportunities for that in the future.  Seven Psychopaths is just one indication of where he's headed.  He came into the scene as a young man, not a teen star that audiences watched grow up, but rather one they've seen grow older.  That kind of career for a star is rare, and he already has longevity under his belt, and one of the most challenging catalogs in the business.

That's why I'm still a fan.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Direct Current #1

ITEM!  Hub City - Thoughts on The Preservationist
As part of making my way through Reading List, I like to provide thoughts on the book once I've finished it.  The Preservationist is the fourth David Maine book I've read, and put a cherry on top of my appreciation of the author as one of my favorites.

ITEM!  Hub City - Reading List: The Tar Baby
Speaking of the Reading List, it's a compilation of books I've put in order so I can make my way through a dizzying amount of material that clutters my home.  The Tar Baby is by Jerome Charyn, and this brief entry explains how it got on the List.

ITEM! Star Trek Fan Companion - Enterprise 2x1 "Shockwave, Part 2"
I've finally made the decision to make the Fan Companion's ongoing intentions clear by sticking "Star Trek" in the title.  Continuing my look at each individual episode of the franchise, the second season of Enterprise begins on a curious note.  


Saturday, October 06, 2012

#464. The Continuing Mission Continues

I know I haven't done a lot of this recently, but how about we check in with what I've been doing in some of my other blogs?

The spotlight falls squarely on the Fan Companion, which a few days ago finished its survey of the fourth (and final) season of Star Trek: Enterprise, which brought an end to one particular era of the franchise in 2005.  At that point it seemed that most fans had decided both the series and Star Trek in general were no longer worth following.  Enterprise made a concerted effort to win back interest that season, with a series of arcs that linked the events of this prequel to existing lore from other incarnations, notably the original series.  The season began by wrapping up its Temporal Cold War arc, which had been running since the first episode, somewhat hastily (it's still a matter up for debate), and then soon plunged into new, shorter arcs with the Augments Trilogy, which harked back to the famous Khan as well as Data's creator, who happened to be played by Brent Spiner (you know who else he played, right?).  The Vulcan Trilogy followed, which attempted to reconcile the Vulcans as portrayed in Enterprise to their later brethren.  The Federation Trilogy was the last big Andorian story of the series, but it also involved Tellarites and Romulans, and contains recurring characters Shran and Soval in their best scene of the series as one interrogates the other (I'll let you guess which is which).  The Klingon Duology finally answers how these guys went from smooth-headed to ridged (and it has nothing to do with potato chips).  The two-part "In a Mirror, Darkly" brilliantly revisits the alternate Mirror Universe first seen in "Mirror, Mirror" and half a dozen Deep Space Nine episodes.  The Terra Prime Duology represents what many consider to be the true series finale.  And of course the actual finale episode, "These Are the Voyages," which many still consider to be controversial.

My ongoing efforts to chronicle the franchise from a user-friendly perspective, episode by episode, are collected on this page.  My slightly more ambitious attempt to define the new classics of Star Trek can be found here.

With the conclusion of the Enterprise fourth season survey, I've now concluded episodes recaps for five seasons of Star Trek (also including Voyager and Deep Space Nine).  There are only twenty-four seasons left!  So I will be at this for some time.


You can read about a lot of what I'm trying to accomplish as a writer at my eponymous blog, but there's also my writing blog Sigild V, where I've recently concluded the twelve-part "City of Tomorrow," a Dean Motter-inspired look at some of the social history of Metropolis (as in Superman).  Yes, some people might combine their writer's and writing blogs.  I'm insane.  I'm also thinking of hosting a writing exercise entitled Project Mayhem, in which all you would have to do is write a 250 word story and leave comments on other entries.  If you are interested in this, please leave a comment.  I will probably write about it again, so don't feel bad if you overlook it here (although you can't feel bad because you'll have overlooked it).


I'm still writing about funny books over at Comics Reader, including the "Brother's Blitz" series in the Quarter Bin column where I tax reader interest by droning on about a lot of comics.


I've technically signed on to write about movies for another website, but I haven't gotten around to writing something yet.  My first material will be on Colin Farrell, however.


I'm still reading books.  You can see evidence of that at Hub City.  I'm currently reading author David Maine, who has a penchant of writing literary novels based on biblical tales.  I'm thinking of CreateSpacing my own Adam/Eve/Cain/Abel book, previously known as Ecce Homo, but retitled Minor Contracts.  That's an exclusive Scouring Monk scoop!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

#463. Alarming Sunday TV Developments

I am finding it a little difficult to watch the new fall TV season, thanks for asking.

I'm having to try a combination of live TV and Internet replays, and sometimes it's just not that easy.  For one thing, it takes a different kind of motivation to do the Internet replay.  And sometimes FOX makes it difficult by making me wait nine days (NINE DAYS! still counting!) to catch the season premiere of Fringe.

On Sunday I tried watching the season debut of Once Upon a Time, but I think it's become, alarmingly, a soap opera.  That's not was it was the last time I caught an episode.

So I watched more of The Simpsons, which seemed to have this weird voice-over thing that carried over to part of Bob's Burgers (and ended as inexplicably as it began; I'm not crazy, am I?).  The best part of the Cletus version of Zooey Deschanel was when she sang (but I love She & Him almost as much as I love Zooey Deschanel, so it figures).  It's also nice for The Simpsons to do some music, because that used to be a hallmark (I obsessively have all the CDs; yes, I still have CDs).

Bob's Burgers is an okay show, I guess, or maybe Sunday's was just an easy episode to watch.

Family Guy and American Dad both have creepily violent elements to their stories, but they're as good as they ever were.  But it's weird that they both had creepy violence.

666 Park Avenue is awesome.  Rachael Taylor is awesome.  Terry O'Quinn is awesome.  I'll be watching as much as possible.

On Monday I watched the CBS sitcom lineup.  How I Met Your Mother had a classic episode in which each of the relationships everyone was in at the moment is tested.  Partners followed.  Brandon Routh has become the new Rob Lowe.  2 Broke Girls may actually be watchable.  I know!  Shocking!  Mike & Molly was worth watching, mostly because it allowed Molly to do something Melissa McCarthy fans from Bridesmaids might actually care about.

Then Revolution.  Mark Pellegrino, who was Jacob in Lost, helped make a memorable episode of this freshman series, in which we learn more about the origins of the oppressive Monroe regime, which is run by David Lyons, who starred in The Cape (which I loved, and was another NBC genre failure, along with The Event, which I also loved).  I'm liking Revolution, partly because I think it has the chance to succeed where its predecessors failed, finding a genuine audience.

I finished watching FlashForward (I'll go ahead and capitalize that second "F" this time), it should be noted. I can't help but view it now as something of what Heroes (another NBC genre failure-of-sorts!) would have been like if it had ended after one season.  In the case of Heroes, everyone would be a lot happier.  By the time FlashForward debuted, viewers were even less forgiving of a TV show with an arc that lasted a full network season.  I think part of the reason that something like The Walking Dead has connected so well with viewers is because of its sporadic scheduling, which was originally seen as something of a potential kiss of death, especially after the long wait between the first and second seasons.  But that only seemed to help it.  Maybe network genre shows (as Lost did in later seasons) should also play by different scheduling rules, not so much out of season (part of the reason Defying Gravity failed miserably) but broken up a little from the rest of the pack.  Network genre viewers hate long breaks in a season, though.  So maybe that Lost model is better, the way the final three seasons had unbroken runs in the second half of the season.  Second half, first half, I don't think it matters (though a network could air two in a single season by running them in each half, the way NBC tried with The Event and The Cape, succeeding with neither because they literally bisected each other).

Anyway, just some additional thoughts.


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