Saturday, May 30, 2015

2015 Reading Challenge Book 062 Brody the triumph and tragedy of wrestling's rebel

TITLE-Brody the triumph and tragedy of wrestling's rebel
AUTHOR-Larry Matysik and Barbara Goodish
FORMAT-oversized trade paperback

Grabbed this off the gimmick table at the last Powerslam Productions show I was at. Growing up I heard about Brody for years. Mostly thru all the Apter mags. But I rarely got to see him wrestle. Once I got into tape trading the first things I looked for was comps of Brody.

The book takes an interesting way of telling the story. Every other chapter is written by Brody's wife. And honestly the chapters she writes aren't that good. The first few from her are about her life before meeting Brody,and really I had no interest in this part of her life. The later chapters are a bit better. They focus more on Brody outside wrestling.

The chapters written by Larry are great. And gives lots of insight into Brody.Like why he was the way he was. And why he had developed the rep of being a pain in the ass for promoters.

I would have liked more info on his final run in Puerto Rico. And his death. But what little is in the book is stuff I already knew.

The book has made me want to see more Brody matches. So I guess it has accomplished what it should. But I feel with some changes this could have been a much better book.

Brody the triumph and tragedy of wrestling's rebel gets a 3.37 outta 5.

Friday, May 29, 2015

3 Toys from the Junk Box 05/29/2015

Back with more random toys from the infamous junk box.
I loved the Simpsons. But around 2005 I quit watching.Mostly cause it felt like something was missing from the show. But recently thanks to FXX showing hours of the show each day I have been catching up. And one of my favorite side characters is Comic Book Guy.

I have been going to comic shops since I was fairly young. And sadly Comic Book Guy isn't just an creation of the show. I have met many many Comic Book Guys running various comic shops. With David Sincere of Sincere Comics,two stores one in Mobile AL and one in Florida,being the best example of a real life CBG. Many times I watched him insult the customers to their faces.

Back in 2008 I went to a yard sale that covered a huge rich ass suburb of Jackson. Pretty sure it was in Ridgeland. I wandered into one garage. The owner asked what I was looking for. I told him the various things I collect,IE Pez,toys,comics and DVDS. I had on my very old Krusty the clown shirt. "Oh give me a minute I bet I got a toy you will love." he went into his home and came back out with CBG and the Androids Dungeon Playset. And CBG even still had the half eaten hamburger. Which I have lost.

The figure has articulation at the gut,shoulders and neck. And the paint job while basic does the job. The playset is great. It really looks like a miniature version of many comic shops. And it makes sounds. There are 3 buttons. When pressed and there is no figure on the marked spots each button just makes a cash register sound. But if you have a figure on the special spots you get different phrases based on who is on the spot. Now the only Simpsons figure I have is CBG. But one day I plan on grabbing a few more.

For the 10 people that read it the Android Dungeon playset became Lord Fanboy's Funhouse in my Pezzville web comic. Maybe if people ask nicely I might bring that web comic back :P
As a young kid,like most males in the states,I loved Hot Wheels and Matchbox diecast cars.They were the perfect toy when I was 7 and under.They are cheap. Hard to break. And small enough I could put a few in my pocket,lunchbox or book bag. But once I was about 8 or so I stopped getting them. Action figures and video games took over for Hot Wheels.

Then 3 years ago I had gotten a huge amount of pre-record VHS tapes. A friend that collects VHS was wanting a bunch of them. And told me he had some wrestling themed Hot Wheels. So I got him to take pictures.

What he had was 2 of the Racing Champions line of WCW themed hot rods.Back in the mid to late 90s when WCW was blazing hot they signed a deal with Racing Champions. Which is a group  that was just breaking into the diecast toy car market. With most of their stuff being based on legit race cars.

The WCW cars each came with a base that included a cardboard backing that was a picture of the wrestler. I know quite a few of the readers of my blog are wrestling fans. But I bet lots of them do not remember High Voltage. They were a tag team of two guys that got trained at the infamous WCW Power Plant training facility. They were two big muscled up guys who rarely won a match. For some unknown reason I was a big fan of them. And as far as I know this is the only piece of merchandise they got. And this is one of the 4 diecast toy cars I own now.

This is a Tech Deck Star Wars Darth Vader skateboard along with a Vader themed quarter pipe.These tiny fingerboards have always been interesting to me. Not that I could do any tricks on them. Hell I can barely ride a real skateboard without falling off.

As a kid I was a HUGE Star Wars fan.Owning close to all of the original Kenner released action figures. And lots of other Star Wars themed toys. And as a kid I so wanted to learn how to skate. While most kids in my neighborhood wanted to play football,baseball or basketball. I was wanting to go skating. Which was hard to do when every road was either dirt or so poorly paved it felt like you were riding over a washboard.

Back in the start of the year I was making my monthly visit to Dirt Cheap.I had seen this set there before. But they were only giving 50% off the original price of $20. Way more than I wanted to pay. Now it was 80% off the new sticker price of $15. I grabbed it thinking I would hold onto it and give it to my younger cousin for his birthday in June. Then when  a few weeks ago I made a trip down to go visit him and his family I found  out the only toys he wants to play with now is Legos. So once I got home I opened it up and started playing with it.

Sadly my above pictures aren't the best.  The picture of the ramp doesn't show off how good the graphetti style Vader picture looks. It really looks like some one came by with a stencil and a can of red spray paint and tagged the ramp. The skateboard looks even better. You get the old school Star Wars logo at the top. Then the rest of the board has a great full length portrait of Vader.

Well people I hope you enjoyed this trip into the junk box.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

2015 Reading Challenge Book 061 It's good to be the King.. Sometimes

TITLE-It's good to be the King... Sometimes
AUTHOR-Jerry Lawler with Doug Asheville

Growing up in the Deep South,I have been a fan of Jerry The King Lawler since as far back as I can remember. So when I heard he was writing an biography I knew I had to read it. I can't remember why I didn't grab it the day it came out. But IIRC the paperback came out right around my birthday. And the lady I was seeing at the time got it for me as a birthday gift.

Jerry Lawler grew up for most of his life in Tennessee. And from a young age was a fan of the local Memphis wrestling. He would watch the weekly Saturday morning show. And because he had lots of artistic talent,he would draw pictures of the various wrestlers. His father talked him into sending some of them into the studio where the weekly wrestling show was filmed. The next week his art got shown on the show. And a young Lawler got invited to be on the show the next week.

This helped fuel Lawler's passion. He now knew he wanted to be a wrestler.But back then it was hard to get into the wrestling business. It isn't like it is now. Where there are wrestling schools all over. Back then you either had to be related to a wrestler or get lucky and find one that was willing to train you.

Jerry got a job working for a tiny radio station. And a "outlaw" wrestling group,Outlaw groups were groups that ran in the same area as the bigger better known groups,got Jerry to start talking up their shows on his radio show. This caused some of the Memphis wrestlers to come talk to Jerry. And they offered to train him if he would stop promoting the outlaw group.

And from that one of the best known and most loved wrestlers sprung.Within a few years Jerry was the most popular and best known wrestlers in the Memphis circuit.

I really enjoyed all the info Jerry give on his infamous feud with Andy Kaufmann.Back in the early 80s Kaufmann was going around having matches with women. And this morphed into a long lasting feud between Lawler and Kaufmann. And it was so big it was known all over the USA. Hell they even appeared on the old David Letterman show on NBC. Where Kaufmann attacked Lawler. For years now Lawler has said that this attack was not planned out in advance. But since ,with release of the Kaufmann bio pic Man on the moon,Lawler felt it was time to tell the full story.

While the stories about Jerry's early days are very entertaining. To me the best stuff in the book is all his stories from his teen years. Where he is trying everything he can to impress various women. Lawler doesn't hide the fact that he is as he says "addicted to sex". He doesn't smoke,drink or do drugs. "My only addictions are Coca Cola and Sex." And as the wrestling fans reading this know,drug abuse is rampart in the wrestling industry. So Lawler being able to avoid the traps of hard drug abuse is another reason why I have always loved the King.

The last 5th of the book is all about how he met ,as of this writing,his last wife. Stacy Carter aka The Kat,who Lawler met when she was in her late teens. And at first it looked like they were very happy. Then he finds out she wants to leave him.

Now I have heard that part of the divorce settlement between Lawler and Carter was he wasn't suppose to talk about what caused they to get divorced. And since he goes into details about it in this book he supposedly got sued.If all this is true I must assume that if this book ever gets reprinted lots of the last few chapters will be re-written or just removed from the book.

Now with some wrestling books they will appeal to people who are not into wrestling.This isn't one of those. But if you grew up watching Memphis wrestling or have an interest in 70s and 80s Memphis this book will be an enjoyable read.

It's good to be the King....Sometimes gets a 3.11 outta 5.

2015 Reading Challenge Book 060 YEAH!

AUTHOR-Peter Bagge
FORMAT-Trade paperback

I am sure even amongst the hardcore comic geeks reading my blog this comic is almost unknown. Written by Peter Bagge of HATE fame,and with artwork from Gilbert Hernandez of Love and Rockets fame. Yeah! is the story of an all girl rock band. Yeah is made up of three young adults. Who are trying everything they can to become a famous rock band. But there is a twist,on Earth they are unknown. But all through out the universe they are the biggest band ever. Yeah I know it sounds strange. But it works.

This series only lasted 9 issues. Published under DC comics Homage imprint. It started not long after Bagge's underground comic hit Hate had ended. Hate was Bagge's semi autobiographical story of a young man that in 1990 moves from suburban New Jersey to Seattle. Right before the grunge explosion happens. The series while one of my favorite comics,was not a book you would let anyone under the age of say 15 read. And Gilbert Hernandez was known for his work on another underground comic fave,Love and Rockets. Which like Hate was not an all ages comic. So when word got out that two legends of the 80s/90s underground comic scene were teaming up I was excited. Then when I found out they were doing an all ages comics I was intrigued. But I think cause of the two creators reputations is why this series was a huge bomb. Talking to various comic shop owners,most of them either ordered one copy each month of Yeah if they even  ordered a copy. The shop I went to only ordered 3 of each issue. One for me,one for the owner and one to put on the shelf. He ordered one copy of any all ages comic. Because he wanted to make sure if any kids came into the shop he has comics for them.

It is hard for me to objectively critique this series.It is in my top 5 non-superhero comics.And I am a huge fan of Peter Bagge. So I am going to instead review this trade. I got a few complaints. First off the series was in color. But this trade is b/w. And I know I say all the time that b/w reprints of color comics doesn't bother me. With this series it does. The color really made the artwork stand out. So being in B/w it feels a little flat. My other issue is that starting with the 2 or 3rd issue of the series there was a letters page. Where each letter that got printed was answered by Crusty,who is YEAH! manager. So unlike lots of letters pages the ones in YEAH! were actually part of the story. Yeah I know I am just nitpicking. But my love of this series is huge. And I think that in the future it has a chance of becoming a huge hit.

YEAH! gets a 4.50 outta 5.

Monday, May 25, 2015

2015 Reading Challenge Book 059 Astro City Tarnished Angel

TITLE-Astro City The Tarnished Angel
AUTHOR-Kurt Busiek

I didn't start reading Astro City until around issue 8 of the second volume.And I read it until there was very very long delays between issues. With the Tarnished Angel storyline being the last one I read. Then back in 2008 I had managed to Stump the Rios on the Comic Geek Speak podcast 2 times. So I got an email from Peter Rios asking me what I would like as my 2 prizes. I wanted a CGS shirt and then asked him what trades/hardcovers they had as prizes. Saw they had this one and asked for it. About a month later I got it.

Originally published as issues 14 thru 20 of volume 2 of Astro City. This is the story of Steeljack. A super villain that has skin made of some kind of weird metal. Which means he can not be harmed easily. Plus he has super human strength. At the beginning of the story he is getting out of jail after spending right at 10 years for some crime.

Steeljack wants to got straight. He moved back to the slums of Astro City. But finds out no one wants to hire a super powered ex-con. And his parole officer basically tells him to just leave the country.

Then the families of various super villains he worked with in the past make him  a deal. It seems someone is killing off the low level super villains. And because of who they are the cops aren't really bothering to look into this. So their families hire Steeljack out to find out who is behind these killings.

Over the course of the 7 issues we get to learn so much about the various villains of this comic universe.Steeljack really really wants to put his criminal habits into his past.And the main thing in his past he wants to correct is that his mother never got a tombstone.

Steeljack figures out who is behind the killings. And tries to get some of the various heroes that populate Astro City to help. But because of his past they ignore him. So it is up to him to save the lives of a huge group of low level criminals.

The story is so well written. The mystery of who the big bad villain is can be solved with just the clues the reader is given. But it isn't so easy to figure out that you guess it as soon as you meet the person.

The artwork is amazing. The covers are all done by Alex Ross.With Brent Anderson doing the interior art. I love how Ross and Anderson make Steeljack look like Robert Mitchem. And the image on the cover was created just for this hardcover.

After the issues we get 14 pages of character sketches from Alex Ross. It is always neat to see how the character's look evolve between their creation and when they first appear. Then there is 14 pages devoted to sketches and pictures showing how Ross did the covers.

Plus you got the neat extras for this hardcover. Like the dust jacket. That seems to be made out of heavier paper than most dust jackets are. And I really like the built in ribbon bookmark.

Astro City Tarnished Angel gets a 4.11 outta 5.

2015 Reading Challenge Book 058 Gigantor volume 1

TITLE-Gigantor Volume 1
AUTHOR-Ben Dunn and Fred Ladd
FORMAT-Trade paperback
PRICE-25 cents

I discovered Gigantor when in the early 90s Sci Fi was showing the old b/w cartoon early in the weekday mornings. I would watch it while having breakfast and got into the show.

I had heard there was some manga based on the show. So while at a local junkstore I found this trade. And had to get it. Worked out a bundle deal with the owner.

It wasn't until I started reading it that I found out it is American made manga. With Ninja High School creator Ben Dunn doing the writing,with some assistance from Fred Ladd. Who I think had something to do with the old cartoon when it was brought over to the states.I love all the parodies and inside jokes about American comics Dunn put in this book. Like his parody of DR Doom.

We get Gigantor's origin.Which I do not think was every told on the cartoon. And finally it is explained why such a deadly weapon was put in the hands of a 10 year old boy.

The artwork by Ben Dunn,David Hutchinson and Ted Nomura looks just like the cartoon. The shading,which is super important for a black and white comic,is very well done. And adds so much depth to the art.

Gigantor Volume 1 gets a 3.86 outta 5.

3 toys from the Junk Box 05/25/2015

Sorry it has been a bit since I  have done one of these. I was wanting to wait until I got 3 toys in. But looks like that will be at least a few more weeks. So since I can't sleep I wrote the following.

Got this Oliver Queen Green Arrow in a three pack. Along with Hal Jordan Green Lantern and Black Canary.I have always preferred the Mike Grell Arrow costume. Which is one reason why I wanted this figure. The bow he comes with looks really good. And the paint job is well done. The articulation is pretty good. Plus I couldn't pass up 3 figures for $8 IIRC.Just a few years ago most people that saw this figure had no idea who he was. Hell most of them thought he was Robin Hood. Now thanks to the CW hit Arrow people do seem to know who he is. Even if he looks nothing like the Arrow on the show.
A few years back I went to this great thrift store with my cousin. She was looking for cheap work clothes for her husband. I of course looked thru the books and then toys. Found a bag of random Happy Meal toys. I saw this figure and a stuffed Triple H toy. With the bag priced at 50 cents I grabbed it.I first saw the Disney animated film Robin Hood when I was 4. And it became my favorite Disney movie. Because my father is a bowhunter,I have always liked heroes that use bows.The paint on this is a bit scuffed up.Only articulation is his shoulders and neck. I love how they made his tail out of fur.
I got lucky and found this WWE Super Strikers Slam and Launch ring at Dirt Cheap. Normally this ring is 40 to 50 bucks. But thanks to Dirt Cheap I got it for around $8.The two corners with the silver posts are launch pads. You put your figure in front of the post. Slam your fist down on the silver button and they are launched way up in the air. The shit above the ring has a chair on it. If you hit the WWE symbol the chair is dropped into the ring. I do like how the shit above the ring can be removed easily.Now I just need to get some wrestling figures the right size for this ring.
As always no idea when the next of these will appear. But I hope yall enjoyed another post about toys from the junk box.

2015 Reading Challenge Book 057 The Drawing of Three

TITLE-The Dark Tower II The Drawing of Three
AUTHOR Stephen King
FORMAT-Oversized Trade paperback


With this book in the Dark Tower series we get away from the world building and start expanding the main cast. Roland ends up on a beach. And gets attacked by monster lobsters. He loses a few fingers and his bullets get wet. So now he is handicapped and his one weapon's ammo is unreliable.
He learns that there are 3 doors on this beach. Each one connecting to our world. And he is going to draw three people over to his world.

Behind the first door he finds Eddie. A heroin addict who is in the middle of smuggling some smack back into the states for a big time Mafioso. During this part there is plenty of really good scenes. With the gunfight at the Mafioso's HQ being so well done.

Behind the second door Roland finds Odette. A civil rights activist who thanks to an accident is trapped in a wheelchair. But the gunslinger learns she has a split personality.

And behind the third and last door. Roland finds the man that killed Jake from the first novel.

For the people that read the Dark Tower series this is usually the first novel in the run that they really enjoy. I believe this is because the first novel while shorter was much more dense. And you spend lots of time trying to figure stuff out. With The Drawing of Three you already know a bunch about Roland's world. Plus with a good chunk of the book happening in our world. In NYC in various time periods,you have a connection and understanding that isn't there with Roland's wasteland of a world.

I own 2 versions of this book. I got the hardcover and this oversized trade paperback. Both of which come with great artwork from Phil Hale. This artwork is sadly missing from the mass market paperback. Looks like the oversized trade paperback can still be found for a decent price. I got lucky and found it at a used bookstore. The owner wanted to get rid of it because the odd size of the book made it hard for her to rack it.

The Dark Tower II The Drawing of Three gets a 4.82 outta 5.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

2015 Reading Challenge Book 056 DAMN! Why did I write this book

TITLE-Damn! Why did I write this book

For those that don't know JTG is a wrestler that is best known for being under WWE contract for years and rarely appearing on TV. Just recently he wrote a short,about 60 pages,ebook. Full of stories about his time in the WWE.

It is obvious a few pages into the book that JTG doesn't want to go back to WWE.So unlike lots of wrestling bio books,he doesn't hold his tongue.

There is so many great stories in the book. Most of them about JTG's tag team partner Shad. My favorite is one about how Shad showed up for a show wearing a very nice suit. Shad and JTG run into Triple H,who is the bosses daughter. HHH makes a comment about Shad's nice suit. And Shad replies with "I am just wearing it to impress you!"

JTG also goes into detail about WWE's infamous wrestler's court. Where to settle various disputes,the wrestlers form their own judge and jury. I had already read a bit about wrestler's court in Hardcore Holly's book. But JTG goes into much more detail.

So if you are a fan of modern wrestling and want a cheap,fast and funny read grab a copy of this e-book.

Damn! Why did I write this book gets a 4.68 outta 5.

Friday, May 15, 2015

2015 Reading Challenge Book 055 Pain and Passion the history of Stampede Wrestling

TITLE-Pain and Passion the history of Stampede Wrestling Revised and expanded edition
AUTHOR-Heath McCoy

I had been wanting to read this book for a few years. But the $20 price for a paperback kept me from buying it. Then a few weeks back I was at a outdoor Indy wrestling show,Powerslam Productions Slamfest 4,and on the gimmick table was stacks of wrestling books. Ended up grabbing this one and 2 others.

Before reading the book I knew a bit about Stampede. But not that much. Mostly cause I haven't seen much Stampede footage. Stampede was a Calgary based wrestling territory. Ran by Stu Hart and his family. It lasted for decades and produced some of the most technically sound wrestlers of the modern era.

But with anything that last a long time there will be the good and the bad. And sadly nowadays Stampede is remembered more for the bad than the good.

It seems cause of the long harsh trips the wrestlers loved to play ribs AKA practical jokes on each other. And Stampede developed a rep as having some of the worst ribs of any territory in North America.

The author works for a major Calgary newspaper. And his research into the history of Stampede is amazing. So many stories are told that I had never heard before. And you can tell he spent weeks talking to the various living members of the Hart family.

So if you have any interest in the territory days of wrestling this is a book worth tracking down.

Pain & Passion gets a 4.13 outta 5

Saturday, May 9, 2015

2015 Reading Challenge Book 054 Full Dark,No Stars

TITLE-Full Dark,No Stars
AUTHOR-Stephen King

After watching the film versions of "A Good Marriage" and "Big Driver",I wanted to re-read this collection of 4 novellas.I got this originally as soon as the paperback was out. After the Dark Tower series ended,I have gotten where I wait on the paperbacks of King's books. Plus for the past 20 years I have found his short stories and novellas the best stuff he has done.

In a few interviews King was doing to promote the book he talked about how he had wanted to write some darker stuff.And talked about how much he enjoys reading Jack Ketchum. That desire to write darker stuff comes through in the 4 novellas and one short story in this collection.

1922 is the first novella in the collection. Set in Nebraska in 1922,it is about a man who's wife wants him to sell off their farmland and move to a big city. He doesn't want to do this. And convinces his son to help him kill the wife.

After she is killed the body is dumped in an old abandoned well. Which fills with rats.The husband believes the dead wife is haunting him. And a series of bad things happen to him and his son.

I like that this story is set in the town Mother Abigal in the Stand was from. Plus IIRC one of the kids in IT moved to this town when he grew up. Overall this is a well done story. It feels very Edgar Allen Poe inspired.

Big Driver is the second novella.Tess is an author of mystery novels. And her fanbase is mostly elderly women.She goes to a small town library to give a speech. And one of the ladies gives her directions for a short cut. Of course this being a King story something has to happen.

While using the short cut,Tess's car hits some boards with nails and gets a flat. She has no idea how to change the tire. And there is no cell signal out there,so she has to wait on someone to drive by. Finally a huge man in a truck stops and offers to help. While he is trying to change the tire,Tess notices boards with nails in them in the back of his truck.

He then attacks,rapes and then leaves Tess for dead in a drainage ditch. She escapes and plots her revenge.

This story really has a much darker feel that pretty much anything King has written since the mid 80s.This ended up being my second favorite story in the book.

Fair Extension is next.And it is a twist on the normal sell your soul to the devil. It is a nice dark comedy. And King is decent at writing that kind of stuff.

The final novella is my favorite,A Good Marriage. This is King's fictionalized version of the BTK killer story.

A wife discovers her husband is a fairly infamous serial killer. And then plots out his death.

Last year this was made into a film. And I am not surprised. It has a very cinematic feel. And is my favorite novella King has written.

And only in the paperback we get a short story. Under the weather is the title of it. It is fairly short and has a twist I called 1 page in. But not a bad story.

Full Dark,No Stars gets a 4.87 outta 5