Thursday, January 30, 2014

The "New Year, New Trash" Free Giveaway Results

Yes, I'm late.

I promised to have the results in last night, so a quick apology to any and all of you who were wondering who won the latest giveaway. I'd make some excuses, but they'd be farfetched and ridiculous, and we'd all be better off imagining that I got caught up watching The Golden Girls re-runs, because that's probably closer to the truth. We can handle the truth, because it's just kinda' sad.


Thanks to some random Random Number Generator site, a winner has been determined. Big congrats to Erick from Wonderful Wonderblog, who joins the ranks of the freaks who have taken home their very own Trash Packs. I'll be contacting him soon and sending out his prizes soon after that. Hopefully sooner than it took me to get here and announce him as the winner.

Sorry again for the wait, kids! Make sure you keep an eye out for future Free Giveaways, including next month's Very Special Valentine's Day Hearts and Souls and Trash.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Bogdanovich Challenge: Week Four


To Have and Have Not, released October 11, 1944.

Directed by Howard Hawks.

Starring Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Walter Brennan and Dolores Moran.

"The resultant 1944 movie, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, is probably the best love-story-and-foreign-intrigue picture ever made. In the same genre, I much prefer To Have and Have Not to the more famous Casablanca, and I watch it more often, not least because it has a happy ending."


No kissing, Frenchy.

It took a little while into its run-time, but To Have and Have Not won me over by the film's end. A little too reminiscent of Casablanca to start, a film I attempted to watch back in high school and couldn't quite get through. Bogart always a little too too-cool-for-school, smoking in every scene and only calling Lauren Bacall things like "Slim" and "Junior" to the point where you wonder if she has a real name at all. He's a jack-of-all-trades, equally good at fishing and tending to bullet wounds, and always with something dry and sharp in response to everything said to him.

But then he loses his cool during the third-act and pulls a gun, and I'm completely won over. This is the Bogart I wanna see more of; hand shaking after gunning down a Vichy goon, making angry and violent threats. Gone is the carefree and cool, replaced by a bastard who will do anything to protect the people who matter most to him.

Lauren Bacall, too, is a wonder to watch. She was only nineteen when the film was made, but her character Marie appears years older and more together than others twice her age. It's easy to see how Harry Morgan (Bogart) and the actor himself both fell for her. And the two would appear together in another of director Howard Hawks' films, the noir thriller, The Big Sleep, which was released two-years after this one.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Riding in Cars with Death

I had a great idea for a post a short while back-- let's take a look at the contents of my car's glove compartment!

That sounds terrible, I know, but trust me when I say that there are no gloves inside. There are no travel-packs of Kleenex or half a tube of Lifesavers or anything boring like that. Nope, no sir. You best believe that I only keep the coolest of items on-hand and available when I go out driving. The necessities of life for a self-proclaimed, pop-cultural anthropologist or The Clown Prince of Pop Culture.

Those are both stupid things that I referred to myself as during high school, which is one of the many, many reasons I didn't have any friends in high school. Why I've never had any friends ever.

Another reason is pictured directly below.

Yes, those are the contents of my glove compartment. It probably reminds you of the type of stuff a young kid would be keeping in a shoe-box or maybe tucked away in one of the drawers of their desk. Actually, are desks like a normal thing that kids have in their bedrooms growing up? I had one when I was younger, and I kept all sorts of different things in each drawer; one held trading cards, another was filled with small, plastic mini-figures of all varieties. I even recall sticking some Super Mario and TMNT stickers on yet another and using it to store all my NES games.

Anyway, let's make like Degeneration X and break it down.

It being my glove compartment, because that's what this post is about?

Bob-omb is quite possibly my favorite video game "character" of all-time. That sounds like a bold statement, and it is, but I am an absolute sucker for anything related to Super Mario Bros. 2, and he's one of the few elements from that game that has carried forward into nearly all the subsequent Super Mario titles. Otherwise, I'd go with Mouser as my favorite, because he's a villainous rodent who wears sunglasses. He deserves more respect, mostly because he can hurl bombs at you, but also because he's comfortable enough with his masculinity to wear both pink gloves -and- sneakers.

Mouser is better than you.

Getting back on track, I should mention that this particular representation of Bob-omb once housed a powdery candy not entirely unlike Pixy Stix. I can't swear that the taste is reminiscent of, since I never tried it. Bob-omb only interested me in that he was a toy and not the sweets that hid within his explosive and adorable frame.

You blockhead..!

Yeah, here's Blockhead "G" on the lookout for either his better half, Blockhead "J", or his nemesis, Gumby. This little guy spent years hiding in my friend's basement, causing all sorts of mischief, I'm sure, but found himself an occupant of my infamous glove compartment a few years back. He's been hanging out there ever since, always keeping his eyes peeled for that green clump of clay that he calls "enemy".

There's not much to say here. They're sporks. I keep a couple dozen sporks in my car for reasons I'm not entirely sure of. If I really had to think about it, it probably stems from a dumb inside-joke that I had with a few of those non-existent friends in high school. These particular ones came from a Taco Bell, which means they've been sitting in my car for probably something like eight years, because I don't remember the last time I had Taco Bell.

I have no plans to rectify that. I'd apologize to the "Yo quiero Taco Bell" chihuahua, but I'm sure he's been dead since 2002.

No, sorry, Wikipedia claims that the dog was actually a girl and that she was euthanized in 2009. And she played "Bruiser's mom" in Legally Blonde 2 (2003), which my sister was watching yesterday when I got home from work.

God, I hate my life.

Klatuu barada nikto.

This is one of the few vintage Star Wars action figures that I own. Nikto is his alien-race, not his name, and I picked him up as part of an old Jabba's Dungeon play-set. I honestly don't recall how he ended up in my car, while his two play-set playmates, Klaatu and 8D8, didn't. He's probably the luckiest of the trio, though, because he's the only one still in my possession.

Or does that make him the unluckiest?

I made the joke before that this is the closest I will ever get to looking like Chris Evans, but man, it's just so very true. The Captain America finger puppet came from a vending machine, and probably cost me fifty-cents. The Chris Evans jab was technically free, but sorta' cost me all my dignity and any self-esteem I had left.

Ah, the real reason this post exists staring you right in the face. Death is always staring us right in the face, but this little guy is not meant as a constant reminder to me. I don't need a physical representation to let me know about my own mortality; I spent way too much of my teens thinking about death and other sad stuff. The grim reaper rides with me in my Toyota Corolla as something of a charm.

I am not particularly superstitious. I don't believe in much. Sure, occasionally I'll wonder if there's an afterlife or a ghost hovering behind me in a dark, unfamiliar room. I'll pretend that a penny from 1987 will be luckier for me than one from 1976, because I wasn't alive for the latter and the former was a good year for me as a kid. Really, though, I have a severe lack of faith. Darth Vader would be most disturbed.

This wind-up Death was an impulse buy from a party supply store several Halloweens back. That's all that he was meant to be. When I got home and started to get out of my vehicle, I realized I didn't feel comfortable taking him inside with me. He had to stay in my car. There was absolutely no rational explanation to why I felt this way. It was just this sudden idea that I'd be safer with Death riding with me all the time. Taking him out would be jinxing myself. Without him there, I'd end up getting into an accident, right?

I never intend to find out.

Death will stay in my car until I get the next one and the next one and the next one. He will ride shotgun forever and ever and ever.

A few months back, I even bought him a friend.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The "New Year, New Trash" Free Giveaway

We're three whole weeks into 2014. I'm sure that some resolutions have already been forgotten, tossed aside like so much trash, but there's one thing that we will never forget. Not ever, not in a million years, not even if Will Smith used one of those blink-y, flashy things from Men in Black on us--

Sometimes I give away FREE STUFF.

It's been awhile, I know, but there were holidays and gifts to send out to friends and loved ones. There were priorities and things and stuff happening! Then I sorta' felt bad, because I realized that you, all of you, are my friends, too. My nearest and dearest neglected and ignored. Thank goodness that a New Year brings with it new opportunities to unload my junk on other people, right?

For those fresh-faced fans out there, pure and virgin as newly fallen snow, for those that haven't been here long, I offer some reassurance. If you win. When you win. When you win, I won't be sending you old newspapers or crumpled candy wrappers or half-eaten sandwiches. It is almost a guarantee that, if you've stumbled upon this blog and have decided to stick around, there will be some goodies in the prize-pack that you'll enjoy. We're talking some high-quality trash; old toys and comics books, DVDs and odd, little collectibles. Oh, you'll like it, alright.

And don't just take my word for it...

-- The Derek formerly known as The Goodwill Geek won the blog's inaugural free giveaway, and he highlighted every goddamn thing I sent him, because he's crazy and wonderful and maybe a little OCD? Check out what he won here.

-- John from The Clawful Punch took home the second prize-pack and it couldn't have gone to a nicer guy. He's one of the friendliest bloggers I've met, and I don't think I've ever mentioned that to him before. A total class-act with some of the coolest toys.

-- Speaking of cool toys..! Eric from Toyriffic won September's giveaway and showed off his winnings over yonder. Go see what he won, but be sure to stick around for his fantastic updates, featuring toys old and new. And be sure to wish him a Happy Harley Qwednesday!

-- After waxing nostalgic of Halloweens past, Miss M [of the truly outrageous Diary of a Dorkette] scared herself up some terrifying treats straight from The Trash Pile. I was glad to see them included as part of her spooktacular Halloween countdown.

So, there you have it. Four [hopefully] satisfied participants of The Trash Man's previous Free Giveaways. And here, boils and ghouls, is your chance to win one of your very own. The rules are simple! The rules are that there are no rules, no guidelines, nothing to follow...

Well, actually, if you really felt like following something, there's always this blog here [if you don't already]. Or perhaps one that belongs to some of my previous winners? Maybe all of them! Definitely all of them. I would hope that you're already a loyal reader and a dear friend to each and every one, but if you're not, then you're doing yourself a favor by joining up. Drink the Kool-Aid already and be a geek with us.

Oh, right. The giveaway.

Don't forget that we don't forget about the giveaway. Not ever. Not even if a certain leggy, fishnets-and-top-hat-wearing, mistress of magic told us to tegrof.

Simply leave a comment and you're entered. I told you it would be simple. So long as you don't mind waiting a week for the results. Yeah, you have until next Wednesday, January 29th, to enter. I'll be drawing the winner's name at random by 8pm [eastern time] that night, so make sure you leave a comment by then!

Doog kcul!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Bogdanovich Challenge: Week Three


The Awful Truth, released October 21, 1937. 

Directed by Leo McCarey. 

Starring Irene Dunne, Cary Grant, Ralph Bellamy and Alexander D'Arcy.


"Certainly among the great American comedies, this remains as remarkably fresh and buoyant as ever--more so. It has, too, an adult kind of witty sophistication that is perfectly representative of the best aspects of the glorious Thirties. How did we ever get so dumbed down to the prevalent sophmoric humor of the Nineties?
The Awful Truth is perhaps the supreme example of light comedy that's also real, human, and mature in dealing with man's often frivolous idiosyncrasies and foolishness."


Of the three films that I've watched so far for this year-long challenge, The Awful Truth is the earliest released and easily my favorite.

It's amazing to think that this was Cary Grant's first real leading role, because the man is brilliant as the recently separated Jerry Warriner. He's charming in a way that doesn't quite seem possible; a little weaselly at first, but it's difficult not to let him win you over by the film's end. Even when it's his own dishonesty and distrust that destroyed his marriage in the first place. Even when he's openly sabotaging his soon to be ex-wife's new romance. It's no surprise that Grant and the word great are only a few letters off.

Actually, forget I said that last bit. What a stupid thing to say.

The real surprise is that actress Irene Dunne never received an Academy Award, despite being nominated on five separate occasions for Best Actress. That includes one for this film, where she portrays Grant's wife, Lucy Warriner.  Their chemistry together is fantastic, sure, but Dunne isn't just a pretty face for Cary to play off of. She's perfect in every scene she's in. I was impressed with how well she pulls off the comedic, but doubly so by one well-placed dramatic delivery in the final act. It's a wonderful little moment that reminds the viewer that, despite all the shenanigans and word-play, there's actually something at stake for these two former lovers.

Bogdanovich was spot-on when he referred to The Awful Truth as fresh. Even though the film is over seventy-five years old, it rarely feels dated. Definitely one that I'll be revisiting sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Bogdanovich Challenge: Week Two


The Lady Eve, released February 21, 1941.

Directed by Preston Sturges.

Starring Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda, Charles Coburn, William Demarest and Eugene Pallette.


"Exhilarating fast-paced and surprisingly complicated, The Lady Eve has numerous snake-like twists, and the sophisticated moral view that emerges is also neither predictable nor easy, as it never was in Sturge's best work. The dame may be wrong, but the guy turns out to be more wrong until he learns his lesson: the battle of the sexes is an uneven one in many ways--woman having the advantage over the long haul."


Another solid pick by Bogdanovich.

This movie marks my personal introduction to the work of writer/director Preston Sturges, and if the rest of his filmography holds up as well as this, I'm going to have to seek out more. While hardly breaking new ground with camera-work, it's the whip-smart dialogue that really shines here. Sturges' strength really does lie within his writing, and it's brilliantly delivered by the film's all-star cast.

Henry Fonda's portrayal as Charles Pike, the naive and absent-minded ophiologist, is perfect. Some might mistake his performance as wooden; he's stiff when necessary, sure, but has no problem handling all the slapstick comedy that permeates the film's later scenes. He also has no trouble keeping pace with his leading lady co-star, Barbara Stanwyck.

It would be impossible to discuss The Lady Eve, even on the most basic of levels, without talking about Stanwyck. As the sultry con-artist, Jean Harrington, she almost literally steals every single scene that she's in. There is little doubt that she's always in control; whether it's seducing [and later falling in love with] Charles or out-smarting her conniving father (Coburn), it's obvious who is running the show. And, like Sturges, this was the first time I've watched one of Stanwyck's films.

It will not be the last.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

They Don't Die, They Multiply

It's odd that this blog would be up and running for this long and I've yet to really talk about Gremlins (1984). A film that terrified me when I first saw it as a child, but would eventually become one of my all-time favorites. Well, okay, second to Gremlins II: The New Batch (1990), which is absolutely the only movie I could watch every single day and never-ever-ever grow tired of.

With all that love for everything mogwai and Mrs. Deagle and Dick Miller, imagine my surprise when I noticed there wasn't a single post in my archives that was tagged "gremlins".  That, my dearest friends, is about to change like someone fed me after midnight and I entered a pupal stage.

Shit is about to hatch, son.

Looks like the metamorphosis hit rewind, because that's not a gremlin at all..!

It's Gizmo, adorable mogwai hero and admirer of Rambo and MTV. I loathe throwing around the term "vintage" for toys from my childhood, but most would I guess, like this seller on Etsy who I recently bought Gizzie from. At a measly six bucks, I really couldn't pass up on the deal and was pleasantly surprised to find a lovely hand-written note included. Even if I hadn't seen the two Gremlins films time and time again, this fantastic Mogwai Care guide walked me through the steps of maintaining my mogwai and keeping him in good health.

With only three rules to follow, you'd think I would have an easy time taking care of Gizmo. The same could have been said for William Peltzer, but we all know how that turned out, don't we? Looks like I followed in the footsteps of poor Billy, because I didn't pay well enough attention to Rule Number Two.

Two mogwai..!?

This is better than I could have possibly dreamed. Two for the price of one! Okay, not really. My second mogwai came courtesy of eBay and cost a little bit more than his dirtier duplicate. This is my own personal curse, the rule I shouldn't but always seem to break. My poor impulse control at its best and brightest. Too bright for any gremlin to bare.

So, you think I'd be happy with just one of these fantastic, seven-inch Gizmo toys from the '80s. You think I'd be happy with two.

And you'd be wrong.

I don't care if you do look like you want a hug, Third Gizmo. I really, honestly, think that I'm starting to lose it a little and it's all you fault.

You see, Gizmo Number Three has been hanging out with me for a few years now; picked up for a single five-dollar bill at a small collectors' show from a guy peddling his personal collection for pennies. I grabbed this guy, all yellowed and aged, along with some cheap DVDs and a couple magazines. The seller threw in some Gremlins II "candy heads", which I'll have to be sure to show off sometime in 2014, for free. It was a purchase that led me to later buying two more of these adorable bastards and could lead me to buying more in the near future.

I have three mogwais and zero regrets.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Bogdanovich Challenge: Week One


An American in Paris, released November 11, 1951.

Directed by Vincente Minnelli.

Starring Gene Kelly, Nina Foch, Oscar Levant, Leslie Caron and Georges Gu├ętary.


"See the all-positive America aura that America and the world embraced in 1951, and see from what a high we have fallen. But pictures bring back that spirit, which is a big deal, and should be on a big screen, where its mythic size can properly counteract the pygmy dynamites of today. Failing that, sit close to the largest big-screen TV and enjoy two hours of American happy times, just a breath away from the encroaching darkness of Korea, the sexual revolution, drugs, the victory of TV, at least three earth-shattering assassinations, and Vietnam."


Bogdanovich wrote, "There's nothing like a solid musical to start the year with a smile."

Normally, I'd disagree with him, but mostly because one of the few genres I've failed to embrace over the years is musicals. There's only been a handful I've tolerated, and fewer that I've genuinely enjoyed. I wasn't sure how well his first choice, An American in Paris, was going to go over. There was always the potential that it could poison this little project of mine before it ever had a chance to really take off.

Surprisingly, this was not the case.

There's a lot to enjoy in An American in Paris, from the lavish productions to the energetic performance of leading man, Gene Kelly. Celebration is key to the film, whether celebrating life or love or freedom, but there's an underlying melancholy to the story that appealed to me more. Some may lose themselves to the upbeat; the joy on the faces of the children during Kelly's song and dance number "I Got Rhythm", the moments shared between Jerry Mulligan (Kelly) and Lise Bouvier (portrayed by the lovely Leslie Caron). I found myself gravitating more towards Nina Foch's character, Milo Roberts, a lonely heiress pretending to be more interested in Jerry's artistic abilities rather than the man himself. And poor Adam Cook (Oscar Levant), sulking while two other men sing about love; neither one aware, though Cook is, that they're singing about the same woman.

The film is capped by a nearly twenty minute dance number, featuring numerous sets and costume changes for the main cast members. Kelly and Caron both pour their hearts into these performances, and are able to express love and loss, sorrow and longing and jubilation, through movements alone.

I wasn't expecting much from An American in Paris, but found myself pleasantly surprised and perhaps a little moved by the film. It really was a fantastic way to start this challenge. If each of Bogdanovich's selections are as beautifully executed and enjoyable as this one, I've got a year's worth of wonderful movies ahead of me.