Martinex1: It's time for another round of Five Guilty Pleasures, where I explore some of my pop culture favorites from decades past that may or may not be mainstream. I suspect that these selections fall somewhere in the shadows...they would probably not be in many Top 10 lists, but I cannot deny enjoying them. Some choices may fit more comfortably in the nostalgic heartland of our beloved site, but I probably wouldn't be sharing these likings at a cocktail party with Senators. As before, we will take a look at the categories of: Comics, Movies or Television, Literature, Music, and Food. So without further ado...
COMICS: This time around I am not choosing a specific issue or title but rather a character... Wonder Man. Simon Williams has been a favorite of mine since he stumbled back to life in the Avengers. And he has been a lovable hot mess ever since. His backstory is a convoluted and meandering web of costumes, characteristics, and motivations. I am not sure any writer really got a handle on who Simon is but somehow along the way I kept rooting for him and looking forward to his appearances (up to a point). He is a failed industrialist, an actor with limited ability, a one-time villain, a zuvembie, a best friend to the Beast, and a resurrected ionic super-hero with panic attacks. The last part is what really intrigued me. He was one of the most powerful Marvel characters in the late 70's (as he himself constantly reminded us), but he was fearful of dying because he died before. That made him interesting; despite his strength he was incredibly vulnerable. Yet he did what he had to do. He repeatedly overcame his fear and fought enemies greater than himself even if it meant getting brutally pummeled. In later years, he was reduced (in my mind) to a totally ionic entity, but along the way he had fun adventures, an unrenowned but enjoyable solo title, and a series of bad outfits.
MOVIE: After Hours is a bit of a cult classic. When Martin Scorsese movies are discussed this one typically does not make it into the rarefied air of Raging Bull, Goodfellas, or Taxi Driver. But for me this 1985 film is not only my favorite Scorsese flick but one of my all-time favorite movies. Griffin Dunne stars as Paul Hackett a mid-level office worker who sets out to meet a girl named Marcy (Rosanna Arquette) for a date in Soho. A simple night out turns into a paranoid comic adventure as Paul does everything he can to just return home while everybody in the city seems to be conspiring against him. A paper mache statue, an ice cream truck, a seedy bar, a set of keys, a beehive hairdo, an angry mob, and the words "Surrender Dorothy," all play a part in this dark and twisted comedy about a night in New York City. The film will make you laugh with its blend of strange wit and suspense.
BOOK: My sons are at an age that I can start sharing some of my favorite childhood reads with them and recently we delved into the Hardy Boys. The first book in the series that I read was The Hardy Boys: The Shattered Helmet which was number 52 in the pseudonymous Franklin W. Dixon series. In this one, Joe and Frank along with Chet and their new friend Evan Pandropolos search for a missing but valuable Greek helmet that was used in a silent film decades ago. The boys travel to Hollywood and the island of Corfu all the while in danger from career criminals and mysterious happenings. The plot is predictable to an aged reader but I couldn't help but enjoy the cliffhanger chapters, the sunny 60's disposition of the characters, the comfortable structure, and the nostalgia of more innocent times.
MUSIC: In 1996, (yeesh... it was 20 years ago), there was a single eponymous album from a band called Mind Science of the Mind. It was a supergroup of sorts with Nathan Larson from Shudder to Think, Mary Timony from Helium, drummer Kevin March from the Dambuilders, along with their violinist Joan Wasser. The first time I heard the music I wasn't sure what to think, but repeated listening opened the door to wonderful spiraling musicianship loaded with weird but memorable lyrics, a haunting voice, and forays into musical bombast tempered with calm reticence. I've said it before that if I imagined the soundtrack to the Dr. Strange movie... this would be it. It is not for everybody I am sure, but I thoroughly enjoy this album and wish that they had produced more.
FOOD: "Honeycomb's big! Yeah, Yeah, Yeah. It's not small! No, No, No. Honeycomb's got a big, big, bite! Big, big taste in a big, big bite! " I don't know about you but I still enjoy a sugary bowl of cereal now and then. And having grown up watching Saturday morning cartoons, I was exposed to a heavy dose of marketing from Post and other cereal companies. It will forever be etched in my mind that the denizens of the Honeycomb Hideout pulled out their ruler to measure the one inch cereal to prove to the giant visitors that Honeycomb is "big." I will probably be humming that jingle or something like it on my deathbed as my life passes before me. But I have to say I love the sweet crunch of honey sweetened corn. So yes - my final guilty pleasure this month is Honeycomb cereal. And let's not forget the cool metal bike license plates they offered as a prize in the box every year. Hey, the Hulk's got my back on this one!
Our collaborators, Martinex1 and Redartz, have opened a new blog called Back in the Bronze Age... If you have liked the sorts of topics seen here on Bronze Age Babies, then you are going to feel right at home at Back in the Bronze Age... Give them a visit!
Karen and Doug
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Karen and Doug met on the Avengers Assemble! message board back in September 2006. On June 16 2009 they went live with the Bronze Age Babies blog, sharing their love for 1970s and '80s pop culture with readers who happen by each day. You'll find conversations on comics, TV, music, movies, toys, food... just about anything that evokes memories of our beloved pasts!
Doug is a high school social science teacher and department chairman living south of Chicago; he also does contract work for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. He is married with two adult sons and a daughter-in-law.
Karen originally hails from California and now works in scientific research/writing in the Phoenix area. She often contributes articles to Back Issue magazine. She is married. She hangs out with Joe Biden occasionally.
Believe it or not, the Bronze Age Babies have never spoken to each other...
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Dig Karen's Work Here? Then You Should Check Her Out in Back Issue!
BI #44 is available for digital download and in print. I've read Karen's article on reader reaction to Gerry Conway's ASM #121-122, and it's excellent. This entire magazine was fun! -- Doug
Back Issue #45
As if Karen's work on Spidey in the Bronze Age wasn't awesome enough, she's at it again with a look at the romance of the Vision and the Scarlet Witch in Back Issue's "Odd Couples" issue -- from TwoMorrows!
Karen's talking the Mighty Thor in the Bronze Age!
Click the cover to order a print or digital copy of Back Issue! #53