Thursday, May 29, 2014

Book Clubs Are Junk: Golden Daze

I buy way more books than I read. So much literature, in fact, I doubt that I'll ever get around to finishing most of them. It's the same sort of borderline-hoarder behavior that I exhibit when it comes to VHS; stockpiling titles for rainy days that never seem to come. Eventually, though. Someday, I'll continue to tell myself, even though I know the sad truth that those days will never come. Those pages will remain untouched, unread, left to yellow and wither to dust. Everything is dust.

Normally, when it comes to books, I tend to gravitate towards movie novelizations, sci-fi and fantasy, pulp trash and early cyberpunk. The type of stuff I feel I should have been reading when I was a teenager, back when I used to devour title after title, preferring the company of a good read over my high-school peers. It's rare that I break my normal thrift-habits, never venturing into departments or browsing shelves outside my comfort-zones.

But then, sometimes, I see the type of stuff that my blogging peers are scoring out in the wild. My insane jealousy at their discoveries forcing me to seek fantastic nuggets of nostalgia in all the wrong places.

Like the kids' book section.

It's a terrifying proposition; rifling through shelves of children's titles is risky business. The potential danger of discovering a decade-old picture book that's somehow still sticky with bits of food or snot or I don't even wanna contemplate the other options. Or there could be an exciting find ruined by a torn cover or crayon doodles littering every page.

Why even bother..?

Well, I bothered because sometimes there's gold lurking in them thar hills.

More specifically, Golden Look-Look Books.

These, like their Little Golden Book brethren, were an absolute staple of my childhood. Often featuring characters from films and television programs, they were "designed to appeal to the ever-widening interests of children three to eight years old". They also appeal to a thirty-something year old with a penchant for collecting absolute junk.

Let's see what I found.

Hey, it's future stars of the silver-screen, Jem and the Holograms.

I stumbled upon these about midway though my salvage mission and immediately knew there was no way I was leaving them behind. I never had much of a fondness for Jem and her fellow band-mates, but I'm always a sucker for anything '80s "retro". Plus, I know a couple folks who will definitely appreciate these more than I ever could, so this pair of pop-heavy adventures will find themselves on the move sooner rather than later.

I actually owned The Great Mouse Detective years back, despite never actually sitting down and watching the film it's based off of. My inner Vincent Price fan-boy has been berating me over that fact for years now, but I doubt it's an omission that I'll ever rectify. I'll just have to settle for occasionally flipping through this book for the rest of my life. I only hope that Vincent's ghost can forgive me.

Oliver & Company (1988) is another animated flick I somehow avoided during the heydays of VHS. There's snippets of plot that somehow burned into my brain; and I know that Cheech Marin supplied the voice of the chihuahua, but that could just be my affinity for stereotyping. I mean, if the movie had been released two decades later, I'm sure they would have cast George Lopez or something.

Oh, wait.

Sorry, Beverly Hills Chihuahua (2008).

The real star of this show is easily The Penguin's Plot, which is mostly based on the brilliant Bat-sequel from 1992, Batman Returns. Retroactively removing Catwoman and Max Shreck from the story doesn't seem to negatively impact the dramatic elements of this tale, and it's possible Tim Burton could have learned something from that fact.

The lesson is less Christopher Walken and more Vincent Schiavelli, less Pfeiffer and more Ice Princess.

We're actually moving away from the Golden Look-Look titles and into new territory, even though the faces may seem awfully familiar. I can't say I cared much for Heathcliff and his junkyard-dwelling, feline-friends, but his cartoon series definitely had one of my all-time favorite theme-songs. I also appreciate how Marvel Books didn't appear too concerned that they were publishing a knock-off of the Golden titles, since this is billed as being "A Big Looker Storybook". Ballsy move, guys.

I adored anything Muppets back in 1985, and the Fraggles were far from an exception. And even though I probably would have preferred the stories that revolved around Sprocket or The Doozer Who Didn't, I'm very okay with Red Fraggle and her adventures in The Cave of the Lost Fraggle.

Still, it would have been nice to see an appearance from Marjory the Trash Heap.

Last and possibly least is a Disneyland Record and Book of The Grasshopper and the Ants. I am way too familiar with this fable thanks to grade-school and old storybook collections and, naturally, the Disney Silly Symphonies short from the mid-'30s that this is based on. Digging through stacks of other children's titles, this one jumped out at me because it also included the original 33-record with it. I can't find any trademark dates anywhere on the book or the record, but a quick search seems to indicate that this particular release is from sometime in the '70s.

I'm not sure how I find myself feeling nostalgic for items that are older than I am, but here we are.

There we go.

To dust.

Everything is dust.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Farewell and Adieu, Building 19

The post five months in the making.

No, it's actually the post a year in the making.

Yeah, it's officially been one year since I first bored you to tears with my tales of trash. A whole twelve months of poorly constructed sentences, drag anecdotes and awful photographs of junk that only I could care about. We can only hope that the next year [and all the years that follow!] brings more highlights from my personal trash collection and so much more of my trademark self-deprecation.

Speaking of the trash collection, some of you might remember that the blog started with a single post that took a good look at the handful of goodies I was able to pick-up at my beloved Building 19. It would have been nice to celebrate the blog's first full year by returning to the place of its birth and partying down like Adam Scott and Lizzy Caplan.

It would have been nice.

Unfortunately, Building 19 closed its doors for the last time back in December.

I know that for most people, this was not exactly upsetting news. There aren't many who gravitate to businesses like Building 19; liquidation outlets filled to the brim with long-outdated wares. The type of stuff that sat on shelves for months and years for a reason. But it's the bizarre and often surprising treasures that I frequently found lurking within that drew me back time and again during my lifetime.

Plus, it's the place that I, as a budding comic-book collector, was able to dig through dozens of long-boxes of books priced at a mere eight-cents apiece. They'd purchased the entire inventory of a comic shop that had closed due to the market crash during the mid-'90s, and so I was able to go home with a couple stacks of vintage comics for a few measly bucks. I owe my lifelong love of titles like Avengers Spotlight and Infinity Inc. to that one single back-issue buying spree.

Building 19 meant something to me, I guess.

Which is precisely why, only a week before its last day, I made a voyage to mecca. All for a chance to score big one final time. To share with you the type of stuff that will now be just a little more difficult to find out in the wild. It's the exact sort of trash that spawned this blogging monstrosity, and I'm glad to be able to take the time to pay tribute to the place where it all started.

My childhood was planted firmly in the '80s; double-digit ages hit pretty quickly when the next decade rolled around, but that didn't stop me from indulging in kid-oriented franchises even when I was well past the target audience's age-group. It shouldn't be too surprising that I was keen, even well into my teens, on animated programs like Double Dragon and CatDog.

The former should look pretty familiar to long-time readers, 'cause yes, that's another pack of Double Dragon pogs. Not entirely unlike the pack I bought and blogged about last year. And the latter, which is new to me, shouldn't be too surprising a purchase either. My love for decades-old party supplies is well-documented.

These paper plates, featuring the Biker Mice From Mars, certainly fall into the same category. I picked up two packs of them this time around, but it's far from the first time they've found their way into my collection. I probably have close to a dozen of these sitting in a box, waiting for me to throw the absolute greatest party ever. Maybe for next year's celebration.

Here's some random books?

Alien Encounters was published in the early '90s, and reminded me way too much of my brief obsession with Robert Stack and Unsolved Mysteries. The program terrified me whenever it moved into extraterrestrial territory or ghost stories, but that didn't stop me from constantly tuning in or wanting to be a paranormal investigator as a pre-teen.

Disney's Mighty Ducks was a cartoon series that deviated like crazy from the feature-film series that it owes its existence to. Instead of featuring Emilio Estevez and a hockey team consisting of scrappy, under-privileged youths and Pacey from Dawson's Creek, the animated series centered around the exploits of a group of anthropomorphic ducks from outer-space who, uh, also play hockey for some reason. The book also features a dragon!

Watch out, Chris Evans! The identity of the true Winter Soldier has been revealed, and it's Captain Canuck!

This coloring [not colouring, you weird Canadians!] and activity book features the premiere comic-book hero from The Great White North. I vaguely recall seeing random issues of his title as a kid, but I can't say I ever read about his exploits in the far-future of 1993. I imagine he protected the world from evil Americans who prefer their own beer to that of their northern neighbors. Like that cold-hearted bastard John Candy in Canadian Bacon (1995).

Man, I really splurged on terrible books, didn't I?

This is the novelization of The Reunion, a film produced and released by WWE Studios in 2011. Naturally, it stars the biggest name in all of professional wrestling, John Cena, who is joined by Ethan Embry wearing a fedora. I like to imagine the two of them teaming-up to dominate the tag-team division, and then going home and watching all thirteen episodes of Freakylinks while spooning on the couch.

Which is probably-definitely a million times better than the actual plot of the film.

I'm only now kicking myself for waiting so long to write about the wonderful and horrible discoveries made during my last trip to Shangri-La. While I was sitting around watching reruns of Night Court, some guy named Derek decided to rise from the ashes like a phoenix, and start posting again on his old blog, Goodwill Hunting 4 Geeks. And, of course, the jerk decided to buy his own copy of Milk Mustache Mania and feature it in his latest post.


These were the final four copies of the Dick Tracy novelization that they had left on the shelf. It's pretty upsetting, because I had planned to grow old, visiting the store every year for the sole purpose of buying a copy. Now that dream is over and the insect is awake.

The insect's name is Pruneface, I think.

There was no way that I was gonna leave Building 19 this final time without a VHS in my pile of purchases. It was absolute slim pickings, though; a far cry from just a few years back, when I would have had dozens of titles to choose from. Still, I didn't do too bad. Alien Empire was a short-lived BBC documentary series from 1995 that took a look at the world of insects that weren't named after bad-guys from Dick Tracy.

I was huge into Sailor Moon when it first started airing in syndication here in the States. The years prior were spent trying to absorb as much anime as possible, which was a pretty difficult task in the days before streaming media and immediate internet access. So, when DiC Entertainment brought the program to American audiences, I immediately fell for it. Back then, I was known to buy anything related to Sailor Moon that I could find. That's not quite the case these days, but I still like to occasionally show some love to a program that was near and dear to a newly teenaged Trash Man.

The grand total for everything I grabbed that day came to a whopping three-dollars and thirteen cents. It's the exact type of thrifty shopping "adventure" that I'm going to find happening less, now that I've lost one of my favorite destinations.

So, here's to you, Building 19. Thank you for decades of "Good Stuff Cheap".


We're gonna need a bigger box of tissues.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Playing With Pizza, Fighting With Food

If we're breaking radio silence after three-plus weeks, you gotta imagine it's for the most important of reasons. An explanation of where I've been hiding away all this time! The reasons why there hasn't been any of the weekly Bogdanovich Challenge updates in over a month! Something! Anything worth the time it took to finish this paragraph!

Nah, bro.

I'm here to talk toys. The trashiest toys from my youth. The totally bizarre, bottom-of-the-barrel junk that could only appeal to the weirdest kids on the block. In a decade filled with plastic army ants, half-naked barbarian princes and transforming boom-boxes, these were the absolute strangest action figures you'd find hanging on the pegs. Or cluttering up the bargain bins.

That's right, guys and dolls, it's the Food Fighters.

Released by Mattel, this toy-line featured several anthropomorphic food-items with military skills that would send John Rambo running for the hamburger hills. The two warring factions, the heroic Kitchen Commandos and their villainous rivals, The Refrigerator Rejects, battled for dominance in kitchens across the globe during the late '80s. However, without the benefit of an accompanying cartoon or comic book, the line was shelved after only a single wave of figures [and a couple vehicles] were produced.

This is another fine example of brilliantly bizarre toys that I never owned, but so desperately longed for, as a kid. Instead, I was reduced to drooling, green-with-envy, over the handful of Food Fighters that the brothers across the street from me owned. It's a recurring thing from my youth; envious of the silly, stupid stuff that other kids in the neighborhood had.

So, when I noticed that Nerd Rage Toys had listed quite a few of these deadly and delicious soldiers-of-misfortune on the cheap, well, I couldn't resist pulling the trigger.

They weren't alone, however. I also managed to score a nearly-complete Pizza Face from the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series. He's one of the few villains that I never originally owned, so I'm pretty psyched to add him to my budding TMNT-collection.

And, bonus points, he actually fits in quite nicely with the Food Fighters, too.

Watch out, Private Pizza..!!