Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Coming Soon...

Before my first post ever hit the internet, when this blog was in the very long planning stages, one of the many things that I had originally wanted for it was a weekly feature. Something that would allow me to keep focus on a single topic and that would translate into more frequent updates. Obviously, this has yet to happen. My "contributing" to the League of Extraordinary Bloggers has sorta' served this purpose, but it hasn't helped Trash Culture develop its own identity.

I may have but definitely mentioned my affinity for VHS. There's no need to rehash the reasons for my devotion to a "dead" format, and honestly, these days, I'm far from the only one anyway. Justifications are unnecessary. What this means is that, coupled with my weakness for collecting stuff, I have acquired a lot of tapes in a very short span of time. Too many to keep up with, actually.

Solutions abound for both problems.

I finally settled on the perfect topic for my weekly feature. It's a little something that looks back at the glory days of VHS and also allows me to make my way through an almost overwhelming amount of analog goodness. Allow me, boils and ghouls, to introduce you to Be Kind, Please Rewind.

The first real feature will be appearing very soon. I'm currently waiting on a package to arrive, a box chock fulla' delicious tapes that I can't wait to share. You have been warned.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The League: Feels Like the First Time

It's time again for The Trash Man to dig up old memories and forgotten treasures in the name of The League of Extraordinary Bloggers. I've got a real challenge ahead of me, "hanging ten" on a wave of nostalgia that could threaten the entire Eastern seaboard, because this week's topic is--

Summer is a time of first loves and first-run movies, and sometimes those two things can be one and the same! This week’s assignment for the League of Extraordinary Bloggers

It feels like the first time… Write about your first experience with something. 

Something could mean anything and I've experienced a lot of first times after three decades on this planet. There are favorites holidays and first loves and Sonic Youth concerts and traumatic viewings of Night of the Living Dead at age four that I could share with you, but it seems that I will once again slip into my comfort zone and talk comic books. Or more importantly, my first comic book.

And it just so happens to be the premiere issue of Eclipse Monthly, published August, 1983.

I was only a little less than two years old when this book was originally released and a copy of it wouldn't come into my possession until the summer of '88. Just prior to summer vacation, actually. My first grade teacher decided to treat her students to a parting gift during the last week of school. All the boys in the class received a random comic book [I honestly don't recall what the girls got] and I'm sure Mrs. Monahan didn't know what she was starting when she gave me this gorgeous, small-press anthology book.

Up until this point, I was only familiar with comic book heroes through other mediums, cartoons like Super-Friends, Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends and Defenders of the Earth, or live-action fare like The Incredible Hulk. We were still a year away from absolute "Bat-Mania" thanks to the theatrical release of Tim Burton's Batman and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles still hadn't made their true mark on the pop culture landscape. A six-year old Trash Man needed heroes and this single issue would provide several that he would never, ever forget.

Cap'n Quick and a Foozle was the first feature and naturally it appealed to me because the story's "hero" is a young boy who, while tinkering with electronics in his basement in an attempt to become a costumed adventurer, is transported into another dimension, full of menacing creatures, "Santa Claus" and a Foozle named Klonsbon. The story was written and illustrated by Marshall Rogers, best known for runs on both Detective Comics and Silver Surfer, and was a continuation of the Foozle's misadventures in the pages of the black-and-white Eclipse Magazine two years prior.

It also marked the first time in my young life that I would witness a bizarre, long-legged creature utter the word, damn, while chasing after our heroes. This single event would inspire me to become a foul-mouthed, track-star later on in life.

The second feature to grab my attention was The Masked Man, by B.C. Boyer. This was more a throw-back tale, paying homage to non-powered, masked crime-fighters like Will Eisner's The Spirit and The Green Hornet. Told from the point of views of a reporter, Barney McAllister, and a young boy named Delbert, it's a simple story about a bank robbery turned hostage situation and how The Masked Man appeared to save the day.

Oh, and Delbert's mom.

She's wounded during the ensuing battle and whisked away to safety by the costumed hero. It's actually a pretty wonderful moment in an otherwise serviceable but bland story, and it went right over my head at that age. I guess six-year olds are more interested in colorful costumes and biff-bam-pow hijinks.

Which leads perfectly into the book's final tale, Static, illustrated and written by the legendary Steve Ditko. I have mentioned him here a few times before and this also serves as my first time with his work, despite not knowing who he was at the time or what he was responsible for creating. Since then, I've become a huge fan of his [second only to "The King", Jack Kirby], admiring everything from his Dr. Strange stories in the pages of Strange Tales to Shade, the Changing Man to his run on Rom, Space Knight and the creation of Speedball.

Here, he creates another oddly-detailed and brightly colored superhuman, one who is granted special abilities after an experiment gone wrong. All thanks to a few meddling criminals who look like they stepped out of one of his Amazing Spider-Man panels from the '60s. Ditko's dialogue can be stiff at times and his characters extremely outdated, but it's his unique visions and iconic figures, not his ideologies that will always take center-stage.

Meanwhile, with the rest of the League--

G.I.Jigsaw visits his local comic shop, Friendly Frank's, and picks up far better books than my first.

I always knew The Goodwill Geek was a kindred spirit. I like trash and he digs Garbage [Pail Kids].

Over at Nerd Rage Against the Machine, Big J shares the many mishaps of owning his first car.

And Miss M reveals the mostly true origin of her obsession with a certain Princess of Power.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The "One Man's Trash..." Free Giveaway Results

The polls are closed and the results are in. Your votes have been tallied. Names written on little bits of scrap paper. Those pieces of paper were tossed into a Halloween bucket and one name was drawn because there can be only one. It is a process that is more rigorous and more efficient than any reality TV show's, so you take that Shakira and Simon Cowell and especially you, Howie Mandel. I don't care if you did voice Gizmo and Bobby from Bobby's World and some other things that aren't as great. We are totally professional here at this poorly named blog and we might, but definitely are, better than you.


The winner of the very first "One Man's Trash..." Free Giveaway is-- 

The Goodwill Geek.

So, first things first, congratulations to our winner. I'll be bugging you shortly to work out the details, you lucky devil.

Part B: I really want to thank everyone for participating, whether it was simply leaving a comment or following the blog or seeking out other posts and giving those a try too. It really means a lot to me that people care enough to take the time to share stories or a few kind words here with me. And to really thank each and every one of you that took part in my first contest, I'm offering consolation prizes to all.

All you have to do is shoot me an email at this address-- --sometime within the next 48 hours.

It isn't much, just a little something straight from the Trash Pile, but it's offered with my sincerest thanks. I hope to hear from each of you.

Also, hey, I already sorta' referenced it, but this isn't the only contest I'll be hosting. My long-term plan is to offer up a Prize Pack every month to loyal readers and friends. Feel free to keep an eye out for the next one sometime in the near future and thank you all again for taking part!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Adding to the Trash Pile

So, I believe it was mentioned before that I occasionally struggle with impulse control. This usually means coming home from a store or flea market or yard sale with items that no one, especially myself, has any need for. Sometimes the price is too right and sometimes I just get giddy over the prospect of owning ridiculous things. No matter the reasons behind these purchases, they are completely unnecessary, save for the concept of retail therapy. I work retail and need to buy things to alleviate the negative feelings from such a meaningless and thankless "career" choice.

Let's muster up some faux-enthusiasm and take a look at the many things I bought this past week!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The League: Robots!

Straight from the heart and soul of The League of Extraordinary Bloggers, Cool and Collected, comes this week's assignment--

Danger! Danger! Danger! Pacific Rim has finally hit the theaters, and it seems like everyone is now an expert on giant monster-fighting robots. I thought it would be fun to talk about all the different mechanical wonders that have appeared in our pop culture. This week’s assignment for the League of Extraordinary Bloggers


Yeah, this is quite the topic, rife with possibilities for someone who grew up during the '80s and early '90s. It was a time of Transformers and Robotech, Gobots and Short Circuit, and goddamn Vicki from Small Wonder. Hell, even Screech had a robot hanging out in his bedroom and it is totally surprising that Lisa Turtle never wanted to sleepover because of that. There are enough robotic "friends" from my childhood that I could compile a Top 100 list and still have room left over to rave about the ED-209.

Instead, I'm gonna take a look at one of the more recent additions to the ever-growing list of mechanical wonders who have tugged at my heart-strings.

The Super Robot Red Baron.

I discovered this incredible tokusatsu program while wandering my local Best Buy a few years back. The now defunct BCI Entertainment had just released a six-disc set which featured all 39 episodes from the show's original run (1973 to 1974). I was previously unaware, far from blissful, of Red Baron's existence, but the appearance of a giant robot on the cover caught my eye. Within moments of reading the description on the back of the package, I had purchased the box-set and was on my way home to introduce myself to the colorful world of Red Baron.

The premise is a pretty simple one-- the villainous Dr. Deviler and his "criminal" organization, The Iron Alliance, raid an international exposition, stealing all but one of the giant robots on display and kidnapping several super-scientists. Only one, Kenichero Kurenai, resists the evil empire and manages to entrust his own creation, Red Baron, into the care of his younger brother, Ken. Now, it's up to Ken and his allies in the S.S.I [Secret Science Investigation, 'natch] to stop the mechanical hordes unleashed by Dr. Deviler and save the world.

Having grown up watching tons of Japanese "monster" flicks like Godzilla and Gamera, I immediately fell in love with the low-fi, practical effects that the show uses to stage battles between Red Baron and his monstrous, mechanical opponents. There's painted backdrops and guys in rubber suits that don't look the slightest bit metallic. Miniature cities that exist for the sole purpose of being trampled and torched by gigantic machines. There are so many goofy and endearing things to gush over in the show's single season.

Red Baron really is just a child's favorite toy brought to life. Piloted by a young secret agent and armed with all sorts of powers and ridiculous gadgets. He has missiles that fire from his chest and the "Elec-Trigger", which can shock his opponents into submission or just totally annihilate them with a single blast.

I would definitely recommend seeking out a copy of Super Robot Red Baron on DVD. Amazon has a couple different copies up for sale, and while one, the more recent release by Mill Creek, is certainly very affordable, I'd suggest skipping it. Like their releases for both Ultraman and Iron King, the company reduced the number of discs from six to four, which means the episodes are more compressed and lose quality. I've also read reviews that mention the extremely poor quality where subtitles are concerned, which is not an issue with the earlier BCI releases. In either case, I strongly recommend the series for anyone who loves giant robots, '70s-style action and Bicycle Inspectors.

Meanwhile, with the rest of the League--

Over at AEIOU & Why, they take a look at the "Sandminers" from classic, Dr. Who, which is only one of the incredible picks you'll find there.

Miss M goes from fearing our eventual robot-masters to adoring them. She may even want to become one someday!

Goodwill Hunting 4 Geeks shows off some of his collection and it's okay to be envious, right?

Vikki Verka features some classic kaiju-fightin' mechs and they are beautiful.

And a good place for those who need input, The Nerd Nook, has a Top Ten list that highlights a certain Number Five who is near and dear to my mechanical heart.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The "One Man's Trash..." Free Giveaway

I acquire a lot of stuff. What with the constant trips to thrift shops, flea markets and second-hand stores. With an interest in most things geeky and strange. With my occasional bouts of poor impulse control. I own way more than I need and with a potential move on the horizon, that sorta' needs to change. Naturally, my loss is someone's gain. Pictured above is a mailing box, measuring 14x10x5.5, and it is loaded up with stuff: comic books and DVDs, outdated party supplies and children's books. Oh, and lots of small toys and collectibles.

I want to give it away to someone and that someone could be you.

If you've somehow stumbled upon this blog, then I think the contents of this box are going to appeal to you. It's a nice mix of 80's/90's/00's pop culture, covering a wide variety of brands, and the best part is that it's absolutely free. All you have to do is leave a comment. I'm not asking anyone to follow the blog, but if you really wanted to, well, that would be very appreciated.

Or don't! Leave a comment demanding free stuff! Reminisce about the time you ran into your ex at the supermarket! List your Top Ten favorite episodes of Frasier! Tell me to stop trying to bribe people for attention! It honestly doesn't matter what you say in the comments below; you will be entered into the drawing and you will maybe possibly win a box full of junk.


Plus, think of how few people are actually gonna see this. You will have such great odds. You may already be a winner.

I'll randomly pick that winner next Tuesday at 8PM, so you have a week's time to imagine what other ridiculous, trash-treasures lurk within the box. And thanks for checking out the blog!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The League: Shopping Spree at Hake's Americana and Collectibles

I took a few weeks off from The League of Extraordinary Bloggers to sorta' focus on other posts and projects, but I'm back to partake in one of the group's more popular topics--

Go on a fictional shopping spree at Hake’s current auction #209 to make your collection a little more amazing.

This blog didn't exist the first time the League took a crack at this topic, so I'm glad it's back, allowing me the opportunity to peruse the site's current auction and pick out some favorites. It was a little disheartening at first glance, because while there is an absolutely overwhelming amount of incredible items, there wasn't much that appealed to me as a collector. Most of the items up for bid are from before I was born, and where I'm not against collecting stuff that's older than I am [especially comic books], my main areas of interest didn't seem to be covered.

So, I was originally content to sit out another week with the League, checking out all the other member's blogs and admiring their picks. And then I saw this--

Vincent, over at The Robot's Pajamas, picked out this particular item and I had to do the same. It's original art for the Gobots: War of the Gobots Golden Book done by Steve Ditko. This immediately jumped out at me for a number of reasons.

There's my love and admiration for the works of Ditko, easily one of my favorite talents in the entire history of the comic industry. I've mentioned his character, The Creeper, before, but never fully expressed how important the man's work has been in my life. My very first comic [Eclipse Comics Monthly #1] featured one of his stories, a quick tale starring a bizarre hero by the name of Static. Without even realizing it at a young age, I was constantly finding myself drawn to his numerous contributions to both Marvel and DC, as well as titles and characters from smaller companies.

And this particular Golden Book Super Adventure.

Yeah, that's right, I actually owned a copy of the book this art is featured in when I was a kid. It was lost sometime over the years, its fate unknown, which is unfortunate, because I wasn't aware that Steve Ditko was responsible for the art until seeing this auction. Even to this day, I'm still kinda' partial to all things Gobots, and combining them with a true legend of the comic industry like Ditko is too damn sweet to pass up.

Another piece of my childhood that I would love to own. Here's a framed, original poster for the "classic", 1961-release, Gorgo. This is one of the movies that I used to rent constantly on VHS when I was a kid [along with Godzilla 1985 and Dinosaurus!] from our local, mom 'n pop video store. It's a British made knock-off of Toho's Godzilla and a pretty fucking fun one at that.

Plus, there's an interesting connection to my previous pick. Steve Ditko illustrated 23-issues of a Gorgo comic book for Charlton Comics from 1961 to 1965.

This is another find that I saw on a few other members' posts which I likewise couldn't resist. It really shouldn't be too surprising that it would jump out at so many of us, right? My very first topic with the League briefly touched upon my shaky relationship with all things Star Wars, but nothing has ever diminished the flame within me that burns for Burger King. I am practically charbroiled infatuated with the fast-food franchise.

Oh, and Peter Cushing.

I was first exposed to the man's career thanks to his portrayal of Grand Moff Tarkin, so it would be nice to commemorate that with a poorly rendered image of his face on a Coca-Cola collectible glass. I only want to pay 59-cents for it, though.

Hello there, Funky Phantom watch, you beautiful thing. While the short-lived cartoon featuring a Revolutionary War-era ghost and a gang of teens aired a decade before I was born, I was able to discover it thanks to the early days of Cartoon Network. A time when the station was showing dozens of fantastic Hanna-Barbera programs like this, Jabberjaw, The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan, and Scooby's All-Star Laff-a-Lympics. I was smitten with so many of those cartoons, but finding any sort of related memorabilia was difficult. Sure, I could find Scooby-related merch easily enough, but this is the kind of thing I would have loved owning when I was younger.

Does it also come in Grape Ape?

Speaking of apes.

I have no idea what "Mech-Gorilla" is, except for something that I need to own right now, please. According to the auction, it is a 5.25" tall die-cast gorilla Arkron Space Robot by Ark Co. Ltd. of Tokyo, Japan. It also apparently shoots knives from its chest and is interchangeable to form my own space robots. You might be asking what it is interchangeable with and god, the answer is incredible and such a goddamn tease.

The back of the box shows several other robotic creatures, all with pieces that you can remove and add to any of the others. The limbs and weapons can be intermixed between each of the six monsters shown. And these aren't just any generic, robotic beasts. Even with my limited knowledge of tokusatsu programs, I recognize a few of the featured robots as enemies of the heroic Ultraman.

Which is where the tease comes in. As cool as it would be to own "Mech-Gorilla" and pretend that he's Mechani-Kong from the brilliant, Toho-released King Kong Escapes, nothing is going to top owning a robot-version of Baltan or Red King.

Meanwhile, with the rest of the League--

A big thanks to The Robot's Pajamas for inspiring me to post by featuring so many great finds.

Shezcrafti found a lot of great '80s goodness, from Pee-Wee to Betty White.

AEIOU and Sometimes Why... wants to score with Space Invaders, which sounds a little risque to me.

Over at Branded in the 80s, we discover there's a "chicken-walker"-shaped hole in Shawn's heart.

And welcome to G.I.Jigsaw, who tackles their first League-topic and features some amazing, vintage finds.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Death and Comic Books: What If... #25 (May, 1991)

I've owned this comic longer than most others in my collection and I honestly can't recall how it came into my possession. It's not one that I picked up off the rack, so I can only assume that it was acquired through a trade with one of my childhood friends. And unlike a majority of my comic collection, this particular issue has seen a lot of wear and tear. The spine is noticeably cracked. The pages yellowed and torn from being handled over and over again. I must have read and reread this single issue dozens of times and despite having not looked at it in years, I remember so many moments from it vividly.

Of course, it was probably all the carnage and death and destruction that traumatized me as a kid.

Those unfamiliar with Marvel's What If... series can probably grasp the core concept just by looking at the covers. Each issue took a key moment in the history of the Marvel Universe and re-imagined it occurring with different results. What if the Uncle Ben hadn't been murdered? What if Captain America had never joined the Avengers? These alternate tales featured major characters changed in some way, sometimes drastically and sometimes not, and almost always ended badly. Issue number 25, which rewrites the crossover event, Atlantis Attacks, ends very badly for the entire cast of Marvel characters.

Let's take a look at some of the more gruesome and dramatic demises and please remember that I first read this when I was nine-years old.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Magic Ticket My Ass, McBain: Some Quick Thoughts on Last Action Hero (1993)

I haven't seen Last Action Hero since it was first released on VHS back in the early '90s. I was about 11 or 12 years old at the time and I absolutely loved it. Of course, having just finished watching it for the second time in my life [and again on VHS, thanks to a 99-cent purchase at my local thrift shop], I realize that I loved it for all the wrong reasons.

There is so much insanity on the screen[s] and so many references and obscure links to mention, I'm not entirely sure how to handle the different threads plucking away in my head. I'm just gonna dive in and you're all gonna have to bare with me, because this is gonna get messy.

-- The cast is absolutely overwhelming in how many character actors and genre-favorites make appearances. I'm not talking about the main cast, although there are quite a few odd inclusions there, like Art Carney and Anthony Quinn. I mean the random cameos like Tina Turner as the Mayor in the fictional film, Jack Slater III, or Angie Everhart as the too-attractive video store clerk. An uncredited Al Leong [god, yes, Al Leong] getting killed by a stray ice cream cone. Rick Ducommun, who I love best in The 'Burbs and his brief appearances in both Groundhog Day and Gremlins II, as Tom Noonan's agent.

Tom Noonan!

You have Danny DeVito as the voice of Whiskers the Cartoon Cat, very quick cameos by Chevy Chase and Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Robert Patrick reprising his role as the T-1000 yet again.

There is so much that I missed or just didn't understand when I was a kid; especially Sir Ian McKellan appearing as Death. He didn't just show up as a generic representation of the grim reaper, but specifically as the personification from Ingmar Bergman's classic, The Seventh Seal. Some might mislead you and mention this particular role in passing, but make no mistake, Death plays a pivotal role in the closing scenes of Last Action Hero.

-- I honestly forgot about the entire final act of the film. Yes, it's been nearly twenty years since I saw it last, but I remember the first hour or so vividly, and it's surprising that I had forgotten pretty much everything leading into the end credits. I vaguely recalled a rooftop showdown with Benedict [played so perfectly evil by Charles Dance], the specific mention of both King Kong and Freddy Krueger, but not the entire plot of entering the real world and attempting to kill Arnold Schwarzenegger to prevent any future installments of the Jack Slater series. I definitely don't remember Jack meeting the man who portrayed him and telling him that he doesn't really like him and that he's brought him nothing but pain, which is now one of my favorite small moments in the movie.

-- The scenes when Jack and his nemesis Benedict first enter Danny's world, the "real" world compared to their fictitious existences, are easily my favorites. Jack Slater being forced to realize that he's just a man, not impervious to pain and no longer infallible, hearing classical music for the first time and enjoying it. And his arch-enemy suddenly in a world where "the bad guys can win". They can't, of course, because it's a movie outside of a movie, and while the fictional baddie thinks that he's escaped, well, he really hasn't. It's an absolutely bizarre, sorta' heady concept that I didn't quite pick up on as a pre-teen, but wish I had.

-- Last Action Hero is far from a great film, but it's certainly enjoyable and has a few brilliant moments to its credit. This is hardly surprising considering it was written [sorta'] by Shane Black, who also wrote Lethal Weapon, The Monster Squad [more Tom Noonan!], and most recently, directed Iron Man 3. Plus, director John McTiernan kinda' made a name for himself in the same action genre he was satirizing with this movie, having brought Die Hard and Predator to the silver-screen in the decade prior.