Popular Culture Collectibles Reviews

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The End And The Beginning

Death and dying.  There I said it.

There are two things in this life that everyone experiences and that is birth and death.

Birth is life.  Death is the termination of life-at least on the physical level.

Death is scary.  It is the unknown.  No one (except Christ and a few individuals chosen by Christ) have ever come back from death.

I'm writing this rather morbid commentary because I just found out a dear friend of mind is now in hospice in the last stages of cancer.  It doesn't look good.

As I've grown older and am now in my early 60s, I've come to realize that the majority of my life is over.  I've watched family and friends grow old, and some suffer poor health and become sedentary.

It's an uncomfortable feeling to watch oneself and others you care for succumb to the ravages of time and life.

And yet, it is also fascinating journey as you experience the years taking their toll on both body and mind.

People change, objects rust and decay and places so familiar when you were young have transformed into destinations unfamiliar.

Life is about change.  Death is but another phase of that change.

Death is inevitable.  We have no choice as to when and how we die.  Death is no respecter of age or gender. 

However, we do have a choice in how we spend our lives and where we will spend eternity once our mortal shells cease to function.

As a Christian I have great hope in life after death.  There's nothing mysterious or complicated about it.

We all have a choice.  Accept the free gift of salvation from our Savior Jesus Christ or reject it.

Spend eternity in Heaven with him or in the devil's Hell without him.

Your choice.  Admit that you are a sinner, repent and ask Christ to save you or reject his offer and suffer the consequences.

Heaven or Hell as a destination is not based on good works.  In the Bible it states that salvation is not by works, lest any man should boast.  It's a free gift and who doesn't like a free gift?

It's not about going to church, obeying the ten commandments (although as a Christian I want to please the Lord by my actions and life), how much money you give to the poor or a thousand other good deeds.

It's about faith and trusting God that he will do what he say's he will do.  Trust God, ask him to save you and he will.

Plain, simple and uncomplicated.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Shaun The Sheep: The Farmer's Llamas

Get ready for some serious barnyard shenanigans as Shaun The Sheep returns, along with his sheep buddies, his dog friend Bitzer and the Farmer down on the Mossy Bottom Farm.

In this go-around Shaun decides to liven things up a bit on the farm by bringing in three llamas.
Everything works out for the best, at first.  Then mayhem ensues as Shaun discovers that llamas have a tendency to get 'too' wild!

Llama-mania erupts and things quickie get out of hand.

The new DVD/Digital Combo from Lionsgate also includes several extras: meet the llamas, a perspective of the show from the director, a behind-the-scenes featurette and two bonus Shaun The Sheep episodes.

Shaun The Sheep: The Farmer's Llamas  is 'sheer' fun! 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Mercury, Gemini and Aliens



As a child of the 1950s and 1960s I grew up at the height of The Space Race.

The U.S.A. and The Soviet Union were not only taking part in a Cold War there was also a race to space.

Although The Soviet Union launched the first artificial satellite and the first man in space, the United States was determined to conquer space and become the first on the Moon.

Over the span of about ten years the United States expanded its space program, first selecting a special group of astronauts, testing rockets, formulating tests for the astronauts flights into space, testing equipment and developing new technology .

It was an exiting time to be an American.  It seemed like every day the evening news and newspapers were reporting on new daring space feats, astonishing new break-thrus and spotlighting the astronauts, technicians and even their families.

Author Eugene Reichl and Schiffer Publishing present a duo of books that examine the United States the first single astronaut space series: Project Mercury and its follow-up, the two-man space flight: Project Gemini.

Both books delve deeply into the intensive preparations NASA took to prepare for each program: the testing, rigorous astronaut physical and mental conditioning, mission objectives and so forth.

Thrill to the first United States flight into space, the rockets used, the astronauts, objectives, the first space walk and vehicle rendezvous and preparation for the upcoming Moon shot.

Both books are packed with full-color photos, graphs, illustrations, breakdowns of each mission and plenty of behind-the-scenes information.

Talk about outer space and inevitably the subject of aliens will pop up.  Barry Strohm examines the fascination humans have for aliens over the decades. 

In a clever twist of perspective the author has an imaginary conversation with the alien Mou as he recounts the history of the earth from his perspective. 

Unravel the mysteries of the past, visit as yet unexplainable locations and examine unusual events, objects and sightings.


For a truly unique peek at humanity as seen through the eyes of an alien be sure to read: Aliens Among Us.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Comic Books, Magazines, LP Records and Action Figures


Serious collectors are fanatic about keeping their collectibles clean, undamaged and secure.
Comic book, magazine, LP record and Toy collectors are some of the most fanatic collectors of all.  I know, I am one.

There's nothing worse than storing your collectibles in shabby boxes or containers that either fall apart because they are not sturdy or ill-fit the collectibles within so collectible edges or corners wound up being dog-eared or damaged.

Never fear!  The Collection Drawer Co.'s DrawerBoxes are here!

DrawerBoxes are manufacturered as Long Boxes, Short Boxes and Magazine Boxes,  But here's the kicker.  They not only fit comic books and magazines but action figures and LP Records, depending on the size box you choose.

Each DrawerBox comes with an outer sleeve, reinforced with a fold-in extra slip sleeve and include clever BoxSort Upright Dividers, which keep contents from falling over, being damaged and makes for easy sorting by type or title.

DrawerBoxes can be easily stacked due to their heavy construction and the BoxLox Box Anchoring System securely hold DrawerBoxes together so they don't shift, fall or slip.  Talk about your perfect storing system!

Each DrawerBox is made of sturdy, heavy-gauge cardboard, is pre-cut and scored for easy folding and construction. I had two long boxes, two short boxes and one magazine/LP box assembled and ready to go in less than ten minutes.

I'm anxious to sort and store my Silver Age and Bronze Age and key comic books, pull some select toys and protect some valuable magazines.

I highly recommend you ditch your 'ordinary' storage boxes and switch to DrawerBoxes.  You'll be glad you did and so will your collectibles!  

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Chronicles Of Darkness Revised Storytelling System Rulebook

Have you ever gone into an empty room and thought you saw something or someone out of the corner of your eye?  Have you seen indistinguishable shapes lingering in the shadows?

Have you ever heard unusual sounds that you know emanate from nothing animal or human?  
Are there monsters under your bed or in your closet?  Do witches, warlocks, demons, monsters and other ghoulies exist?

I for one believe they do.  As a Christian I know there are unseen evil forces at work that if witnessed would chill your blood and send your heart racing.

There are evil forces present all around us, manipulating events and seeking out those they can destroy or coerce.

In The Chronicles Of Darkness Revised Storytelling Rulebook gamers are given a tour of worlds very much like our own (or maybe it is our world) that are populated by things that go bump in the night.

The Rulebook explains to gamers how to create such imaginative worlds, game scenarios, characters and the who, what, where and how of each game campaign.

Certain rules must be adhered to such as limits of powers, abilities and the like.  Storytellers are responsible for creating scenarios and drawing other gamers into their dark realms and continuing to keep the games exciting, involving the gamers and responsible for moving the adventures forward.

Examples and tips in the Rulebook aid both game masters and participants as to the possibilities of the game and what to expect from the unexpected.

Experience, accumulated knowledge and teamwork drives each game scenario forward, encourages more complex game mechanics and ultimately draws both novice and veteran gamers into each exciting excursion into the unknown.


The Chronicles Of Darkness Revised Storytelling Rulebook by Onyx Path Publishing makes for the perfect reference for those about to enter the worlds of the macabre, horrific and mystical.  Are you ready to delve into the dark?

Woodstock and I'm Gluten Furious!

It may seem hard to believe but Charles Schulz, the creator of the Peanuts comic strip, passed away 16 years ago and yet Peanuts is as popular as ever even spawning a computer animated movie.

One of the stars of the movie was Woodstock, the little yellow bird friend of Snoopy the beagle.
Introduced not long after the famous rock concert/festival of the same name, Woodstock soon garnered a legion of fans.

Not bad for a little bird that didn't talk and seemed totally clueless-or was he?

Andrews McMeel Publishing, through its amp! kids imprint, presents the adventures of Woodstock, in full color, in its new collection: Woodstock Master Of Disguise which also includes a full-color, pull-out poster.

If you're as big a fan of Woodstock as I am you're sure to love his adventures along with his good buddy Snoopy.  Classic!

For a totally different type of animal shenanigans be sure to check out the latest Get Fuzzy collection: I'm Gluten Furious! by Darby Conley.

This Treasury edition collects both black and white daily comic strips and Sunday color strips in a huge square-bound, soft-back book that is lean, mean and so filled with irreverent, off-the-wall and totally hilarious fun that you'll laugh so hard you'll burn calories.

Pity poor Rob the human owner of Bucky Katt and Satchell Pooch as he tolerates their outrageous and often slapstick shenanigans.

It's classic dog and cat conflicts brought to a whole new level of hilarity!

Moderation is overrated.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Preview, June

COMIC BOOKS & GRAPHIC NOVELS
Rachel Rising Omnibus HC l ABSTRACT STUDIOS
Insexts Volume 1 TP l AFTERSHOCK COMICS
The Backstagers #1 l BOOM! STUDIOS
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers 2016 Annual l BOOM! STUDIOS
Sons of Anarchy: Redwood Original #1 l BOOM! STUDIOS
Jungle Fantasy: Ivory #1 l BOUNDLESS COMICS
Evil Ernie: Godeater #1 l D. E./DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT
Battlestar Galactica #1 l D. E./DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT
Devolution TP l D. E./DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT
Raina Telgemeier: Ghosts GN l GRAPHIX
Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean #1 l JOE BOOKS INC.
Jeff Steinberg: Champion of Earth #1 l ONI PRESS INC.
Space Battle Lunchtime Volume 1: Lights Camera Snacktion! TP l ONI PRESS INC.
Dishonored #1 l TITAN COMICS
Mycroft Holmes #1 l TITAN COMICS
Stitch Volume 1 GN l TOKYOPOP



BOOKS
Marvel: Absolutely Everything You Need To Know HC l COMICS
The DC Super Heroes Big Book of Superpowers HC l COMICS YOUNG READERS
Lucy & Andy Neanderthal Book 1 HC l FICTION - YOUNG READERS
Suicide Squad: Behind the Scenes with the Worst Heroes Ever HC l MOVIE/TV
Darth Vader: Sith Lord SC l STAR WARS YOUNG READERS
Princess Leia: Royal Rebel SC l STAR WARS YOUNG READERS
Ultimate Spider-Man Magazine #11 l COMICS
BOOKS
The Best of Star Trek Magazine Volume 2 SC l STAR TREK

APPAREL
Blue Beetle Red Heather T-Shirt l PREVIEWS EXCLUSIVE WEAR
2000AD: Judge Dredd: “Democracy Isn’t Working” Black T-Shirt l PREVIEWS EXCLUSIVE WEAR
Red Sonja: “Severed Head” Red T-Shirt l PREVIEWS EXCLUSIVE WEAR
Spider-Gwen Womens Hoodie l PREVIEWS EXCLUSIVE WEAR
Jonah Hex Black Heather T-Shirt l PREVIEWS EXCLUSIVE WEAR
Buckaroo Banzai: “Banzai Institute” Sport Gray T-Shirt l PREVIEWS EXCLUSIVE WEAR
The Walking Dead: “Vitruvian Daryl” Gray T-Shirt l PREVIEWS EXCLUSIVE WEAR
Army of Darkness: “8-Bit Ash” Blue Dusk T-Shirt l PREVIEWS EXCLUSIVE WEAR
Red Hood: “Action” Black T-Shirt l PREVIEWS EXCLUSIVE WEAR
Batman: Rebirth Symbol T-Shirt l GRAPHITTI DESIGNS
Harley Quinn: “Hit” by Conner T-Shirt l GRAPHITTI DESIGNS

TOYS & STATUES
Batman 1966: Shakespeare Head Bust Bank l DIAMOND SELECT TOYS & COLLECTIBLES
The Walking Dead Figurine Collection l EAGLEMOSS
Marvel Fact Files Special #20: Black Panther l EAGLEMOSS
Marvel Fact Files Special #21” Luke Cage l EAGLEMOSS
Captain America: Civil War 6-Inch Legends Action Figures l CAPTAIN AMERICA
Frazetta: Conan 8-Inch Labbit l CONAN
One-12 Collective: DC Comics: The Flash Action Figure l DC HEROES
Suicide Squad Finders Keypers l DC SUICIDE SQUAD
XXRAY + DC Comics 4-Inch Vinyl Figures l DESIGNER TOYS
Doctor Who Titans Mini-Figures Series 4 l DOCTOR WHO
POP! DC Heroes: Batman ‘66 Vinyl Figures l FUNKO
Living Dead Dolls: Evil Dead 2: Ash Doll l HORROR
One-12 Collective: Marvel: Commander Rogers Action Figure l MARVEL HEROES
Ultimate Voltron Ex Action Figure Set l VOLTRON

IMPORT TOYS
Sailor Moon Crystal Motif Charms l SAILOR MOON
Marvel Universe: Thanos Fine Art Statue l KOTOBUKIYA
Terraformars: Michelle Davis Nendoroid Super Movable l ANIME
Batman Arkham Knight Play Arts Kai: Nightwing l BATMAN: ARKHAM
Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning Static Arts Bust l FINAL FANTASY
Final Fantasy XV Play Arts Kai: Noctis l FINAL FANTASY
Ghostbusters: Ain’t Afraid of No Ghosts Titans l GHOSTBUSTERS
Daft Punk RAH Figures l MUSIC
The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD: Princess Zelda Nendoroid l NENDOROIDS
Bioshock: Big Daddy & Rosie Statue l VIDEO GAMES
Fallout: Deathclaw 12-Inch Plush l VIDEO GAMES

COLLECTIBLES & NOVELTIES
Arrow: Black Canary Statue Paperweight l ICON HEROES
The Flash: Reverse Flash Statue Paperweight l ICON HEROES
DC Bombshells: Harley Quinn Statue Paperweight l ICON HEROES
Once Upon a Time: Hook Statue l ICON HEROES
Deadpool: Pancakes Spatula l DEADPOOL
Dragonball Z: Super Saiyan Goku Bust Bank l DRAGONBALL Z
Marvel: Spider-Gwen Molded Head Mug l MARVEL HEROES

GAMES
Mangaka Drawing & Card Game l JAPANIME GAMES
Jim Henson’s Labyrinth Board Game l RIVER HORSE
DC Dice Masters: Green Arrow and The Flash l WIZKIDS/NECA

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Clipper and Falcon

Hasegawa Hobby Kits presents two Limited Edition aircraft model kits.  Both kits feature easy-to-follow instructions and precision parts that detach quickly and easily from part trees with little or no flashing.

By following the extremely well-done instructions (that also include historical information about each aircraft) painting, decaling and assembling your models are a snap!

The 1/200 Scale C-40A Clipper US Navy personnel and cargo transport is a modified Boeing 737-700 commercial aircraft.

As with most military transport aircraft the Clipper transforms from a 121 seat passenger aircraft into a cargo or combination passenger/cargo aircraft quickly and efficiently.

With its long tubular body, twin jet turbines and distinctive oversize rear fin the Clipper glides through the art as swiftly and as smoothly as its naval ship namesake.  Two decal options are available.


The 1/48 Scale F-16C Fighting Falcon "CFT" model kit recreates (albeit in miniature form) the lightweight but deadly fighter aircraft Falcon.

Equipped with a gatling cannon and wing-tip missiles when combined with its conformal fuel tanks that reduce drag the Falcon makes for small, almost invisible to radar target that is a quick as it is deadly.


Streamline, compact and beautifully designed the Falcon is small (by most standards) but makes up for its size with its maneuverability, quick-strike capabilities and extended flight capabilities.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Bronze Age Throw Aways

As popular as superhero comic books are today it may surprise you that many of the top characters seen in movies, TV and comics that were created during Marvel Comics' Bronze Age were never considered at the time 'hot' characters.

In fact, many of the characters were considered throw aways-used simply to tell stories without thought of them becoming popular.

Did you know that Wolverine was originally slated to be a teenager and that his claws were in his gloves?  At one point he was envisioned as being a real wolverine transformed into human form.

Wolverine, Thanos, Drax, Moon Knight, The Punisher, Morbius, Iron Fist, Hobgoblin, Sabretooth, Man-Thing, Starlord, Ghost Rider, Howard The Duck, Tigra, Red Wolf and dozens more started out a guest stars or try-outs in many of Marvel's anthology titles.

The Bronze Age was a period of change for Marvel Comics.  Newsstand distribution was down, the Comics Code rules were relaxing and Marvel Comics was looking for new revenue sources to stay in business.

It was a time of experimentation, new media exploration and in some instances-desperation.

Readership was down as were publication numbers and much of the old guard was gone leaving Marvel with a second generation of creators-many of whom were comic book fans.

Time was money and many new creators, instead of creating new characters every issue, began to reuse many of the guest characters used previously as one-shots or try-outs.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Lamborghini, M10, Piranha and Gulf War

Italeri celebrates the 25th Anniversary of the dream car for any auto enthusiast: Lamborghini!
Scaled at 1/35 this Special Edition release features a solid black Lamborghini with all the bells and whistles.

Named the Countach, this glorious and luxurious automobile for the rich and famous features numerous improvements that effectively changed 3,000 of the auto's 8,000 parts.

Made of carbon fiber the Countach was the first to made so.

Air box and air intakes are enlarged and mounted on miniskirts, the suspension modified for greater maneuverability, stability and speed allowing the car to top out at 300 km / h.  Designed in 1986 the Countach ceased production in 1990 having been replaced by the Diablo.

The model captures the aerodynamic look of the car to perfection.  Every component and part (interior and exterior) are perfectly to scale, feature little or no flashing and detach easily from part trees.  Rubber tires, chrome wheels and trim, clear panels for windshield and windows make this a model a perfect miniature match for its namesake.

Follow the comprehensive instructions and in no time at all you'll have your Countach assembled, painted and decaled and ready to display.

The Gulf War 25th Anniversay Battle Set includes M1A1 Abrams and T-62 Tanks and AH-1W SuperCobra and Mi-25 Hind D Helicopters.

At 1/72 Scale all four vehicles recreate the war machines that took part in the Gulf War in 1990. 
Both tanks feature heavy armor, impressive firepower, authentic details and shielded treads that move.  If properly assembled turrets rotate, weapons tilt and shift and hatches open.

Both helicopters carry equally impressive weapons including rocket launchers and machine guns. 

The SuperCobra is more aerodynamic and slightly smaller but more maneuverable while the Hind D is massive with multiple propeller blades, heavier armor, more weapons and lands on tires as opposed to a sled.

Either choice the helicopters are deadly in air-to-air and air-to-ground combat.

All four vehicles are set up to be painted in air and ground camouflage, feature realistic decals and assemble with little muss and fuss if instructions are followed correctly.

Also from the Gulf War comes the LAV-25 Piranha Tank/Armored Vehicle scaled at 1/56.
Featuring eight wheels, a tilted underbelly, heavy suspension and armor, impressive weaponry and equipped for desert maneuvering and sandy terrain the LAV-25 is also amphibious, useful in reconnaissance and close combat and it carries a crew of three and can carry an additional four soldiers.

Once painted a sand tan, decaled and assembled the model looks as threatening as its large counterpart.

Over 50 years earlier a different war was being fought: WWII.

Although not as advanced as Desert Storm tanks the M10 Tank Destroyer lived up to auspicious reputation.

Its small crews were famous for their quick strike and retreat fights that confounded the Nazi war machine.

Small, fast and maneuverable the small tanks had respectable firepower and managed to keep the Axis forces on their toes.

Cramped but lethal the M10 boasted a large turret and cannon, turret mounted machine gun and smaller body as to increase its speed and maneuverability.


Painted a dull green the M-10 Tank Destroyer lived up to its reputation.  Part of Italeri's Warlord Games series it makes for the perfect model for the gamer and collector.

I'm Only In This For Me

To state that this past year's Presidential election race has been slightly unusual is like saying Trump has just a little money.

And who better to demonstrate the insanity behind political elections than everyone's favorite candidate: Rat from Pearls Before Swine?

After all he's untrustworthy, lies, cheats, is corrupt, is egotistical, uses people, does whatever is necessary to forward his own agenda and doesn't care who he insults-in other words, he's the perfect candidate!

Besides politics the new Pearls Before Swine collection: I'm Only In This for Me, from creator Stephen Pastis and publisher Andrews McMeel. takes a stab at other subjects.

Join Rat, Pig, Goat, Zebra, the Ducks, the Crocks and their human companions as they tackle the Cartoon Police, the food chain, midlife crisis, Obamacare and other such lunacy.

Life-it's a zoo!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Bond and Who

Two of my all time favorite TV and movie properties: James Bond and Doctor Who come courtesy of Hachette Book Group in several of its imprints.

Two James Bond books from Race Point Publishing delve deeply into the legend of British super spy: James Bond.

Bond VS. Bond explores the many cinematic faces of 007 starting with Sean Connery up until the current Bond: Daniel Craig.

Each actor's portrayal of the famous spy is examined and analyzed.

Their unique takes show the many sides of James Bond, from gentle to ruthless.

Also included in the book (written by Paul Simpson) are sections about Bond's creator: Ian Fleming, a progression of his books, Bond's translation to film, film scores and songs, various Bond merchandise (such as comic books), Bond's gadgets and transportation, Bond books written by authors other than Fleming, Bond's women and his many rebirths and reboots.

Each and every section goes into extensive detail about every aspect of James Bond and how he has evolved over the decades by adapting to the times.

Bond movies are analyzed and picked apart for their strengths and weaknesses, as are the actors who have portrayed Bonds in TV and in movies.

It's the ultimate insider look at the imaginative realm of the world's most famous spy.

Equally impressive is photographer Terry O'Neill's 'All About Bond' that offers behind-the-scenes photos from the various Bond movies and also includes up close portraits of the women, villains and supporting casts in each movie.

Several of the actresses who portrayed Bond Girls offer their own personal insights about the films they appeared in, there's a section on Bond's cars, production and glamour photos, comments from several past James Bonds and gripping and captivating text about the Bond films.

Especially interesting are the various candid photos normally not seen by the general public.
In them you get to see actresses and actors between takes, goofing off and posing for promotional photographs.

It's a revealing look at the world of James Bond courtesy of Evans Mitchell Books.

Another British import that has been around nearly as long as James Bond is Doctor Who.

Author Cameron K. McEwan and illustrator Andrew Skilleter have created a Whovian guide to the friends, foes, villains, monsters and companions to the good Doctor in The Who's Who Of Doctor Who.

Pages are filled with photos and artwork portraying the various characters seen in the Doctor Who series over the decades. Full descriptions are provided for each as well as their first appearance, their relationships to the Doctor and other characters and how they interact with the Doctor and his companions over time, courtesy of Race Point Publishing.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Memories



I was born at Pontiac General Hospital in January of 1953.
  My Mom and Dad were divorced.  I was the fifth of five boys.  Three were half-brothers (Richard, Dallas and Jim), my full sibling (Elmer) had died at childbirth four years previously.

Mom took me home to Milford, Michigan and a few times a week my Dad would visit.  I only remember his large hands and the coins he liked to jangle and the candy he brought me.

Dad had his demons, one of which was liquor.  Sober he was a saint, drunk he was a devil. He was an alcoholic and at the young age of 44, when drunk, he stumbled against a broken wire fence, pierced his side and died from a gall bladder infection.

By the time I was five all of my brothers had moved out, were married and raising their own families.

Mom had been sick all of her life and couldn't work.  When she was young the doctors told her parents that she wouldn't live to be past three years old.  She fooled them all and lived to 72.  She was 43 when she had me.  She had a huge sense of humor. Something she passed on to my brothers and I.

I loved my Mom but she had emotional and physical problems.  She was never satisfied wherever she lived, which probably explains why we moved at least once a year as I was growing up, until the age of 13.  After that we moved only twice, until I moved away at age 20.

We were poor.  So poor that we lived in old beat-up homes, ate government surplus food and got by with very little.  Although we were poor Mom insisted we be neat and clean and show respect to others.  I guess that advice stuck with me because I still call people Mr. and Mrs., unless they tell me otherwise.

We got by only on my Dad's Social Security check and the small amount we got from Aid To Dependent Children-less than $300 combined.

The funny thing is I never considered myself poor.  We always had a place to stay, cloths on our backs and food to eat.  Mom made sure I got gifts for holidays and birthdays and my brothers helped when they were able.

Mom taught me to love to read and often times I would spend my ten cents lunch money on Scholastic Books at school.

Mom wasn't big on discipline and supervision.  I was pretty much left to my own devices. But because I had so much freedom I never took advantage of it.  I determined at a young age to work for what I wanted and to avoid drugs, alcohol and smoking.  Looking back now I realize God was watching out for me.

I wasn't a perfect child by any means.  Fortunately I had three best friends, Tim Arble, Tim Nicholson and Alden Monroe.  They were like brothers to me and their parents treated me as one of their own-especially Tim Nicholson's parents.  

Mr. Nicholson was a big man commanding a big baritone voice. If I got out of hand he would straighten me out-quick!  I loved him and his wife dearly.

Growing up I had the run of my small town.  I knew every back road and alleyway.  I loved going to the neighborhood movie theater where admission was 25 cents on Saturday, popcorn was a dime, a Coke a nickel and a giant candy bar five cents.

I frequented Pinch-A-Penny, the local quick shop where I worked as a young teenager, loved walking through the toy aisle at the Five &  Dime, checked out the power tools at Gambles', started my first savings account at the corner bank, bought groceries with my Mom at Jerry Breen's IGA, purchased sliced lunch meat at a Mom & Pop grocery, visited Mr. Doliber at the Shutter Shop where we shared our love of comic books and bought my weekly supply of comics at Fosters' Rexall Drugstore.

I loved being treated at the drive-in A&W to fries and a root beer, bought penny candy at Beagle's store on the Southside of town, paid three cents for day-old donuts at the bakery and ate spaghetti at the Italian restaurant.

I recall swimming at the steps on the railroad overpass over the Huron River and swinging from a cable rope or taking the 40 foot plunge from the top of the steps.  

My friends and I would explore Miller's Pond and sneak into the 'haunted' pump house, canoe to Camp Dearborn and Kensington Park, dare each other to run through the Milford Cemetery at night past the Union soldier statue, trudge through the snow at Proud Lake Recreation Center and precariously make our way down the stepped man-made waterfall downtown.

Each summer Milford would have a Sidewalk Sale with both ends of Main Street blocked off.  A Ferris Wheel and other rides were erected for three full days as shop owners sold their merchandise at a discount just before school started.

At ten years of age I got my first paper route and delivered my papers come rain, sun or snow-sometimes at 20 degrees below zero. My brother bought me my first bike for the route: a Stingray with a banana seat and high handle bars.

In the winter we'd go tobogganing, ice-skating and sledding.  I still remember flying down the steep hills at Moore's Lake, flying off the end of the dock and shooting across the frozen lake.
  
Often my oldest brother's kids would spend the night with their 'favorite uncle' and we'd have a blast.

I had a wonderful childhood, full of love, laughter, family and friends.  There were bad times of course, for sometimes weeks at a time Mom would go into the hospital.  I would be left alone to tend to the house, wash my own cloths, by groceries, feed myself, clean the house and go to school.  My brothers would look in on me, but I was mostly on my own.

It taught me to grow up fast.  The experience also taught me to be self-sufficient and flexible.  A lesson I took into adulthood. 

So many memories:  My first car, the first time I kissed a girl, hitch-hiking with my friend Tim Arble to Flint, Lansing or wherever the urge took us.  Staying over nights at my friends and doing the things young boys do-like staying up too late and doing silly things.  Discovering Rock and Roll and a talent for art.  Joining the Drama Club, working at a liquor store when I was 15 because I was big for my age.  Standing up to the town's bully and becoming close friends.  Nearly getting hit by a train, almost drowning, going to the hospital for dehydration and measles and collecting comic books and struggling to find a male role model from TV shows like Star Trek, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Batman and others.

School was a blur and a bore to me.  Today I would be labeled as having A.D.D.  My days consisted of getting up, going to school and working most evenings.  Still I managed to have a lot of fun cruising around with my friends, going to the local mall, sneaking into the drive-in theater and soaping windows on Halloween.

People I remember are Mr. Foster, Mr. and Mrs. Barnett (our pastor and wife), Mr. Doliber,  Mr. Silver and Mr. Schultz from Pinch-A-Penny, Dell from the liquor store, Mrs. Heck, and Mrs. Peck (two for our landlords), several of my teachers: Mrs. Johnson and Ms. Tichner (my art teachers), Mr. Garshaw, Coach and so many others.

There was my cousin Mike, my aunts: Lottie, Ester, Rose, Dorothy, Pauline and Leona and my uncles: George, John and Curly. 

When people ask me what my hometown was like I tell them, "It was like Mayberry."  Everyone knew each other and watched out for one another.  Houses had porches, kids played outside until it was dark, no one worried about crime.  Doors were left unlocked, keys in cars, kids walked to school, to friends and all over town without parents worrying about them and respect was always shown to parents, policemen, servicemen and others.

A simple handshake was a man's bond.  Parents were obeyed and most of all-loved.  Families stuck together through thick and thin. People were proud-in a good way. Neighbors helped neighbors.  People went to church and lived by the Ten Commandments.

Looking back now I realize that God's guiding hand was on me. Even though I was not saved until my mid-twenties God spared me much heartache and pain.

There were sad times, like loosing a friend or life's disappointments.  But through it all God was there.  He was the father I never had, even though I didn't know it at the time.

I moved to California, came back, went to college for two years, moved to Homestead Florida, attended the University of Miami, met my future bride, married in 1979, raised two great kids and have managed to survive it all.

Times certainly have changed.  I feel sorry for many of the young people growing up today. Everything is so busy and complicated.  There are so many temptations present now that I never had to face.  May God have mercy on our nation.  

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Avengers The Complete Emma Peel Megaset

Imagine my complete surprise and delight when I came across The Avengers The Complete Emma Peel Megaset  DVD collection at my favorite used bookstore: Chamblin Bookmine.

For the past several years I've searched for the collection at bookstores, DVD stores and the like with no result.  Even though I knew I could buy it through the internet I still had this urge to see it 'in the flesh' before I purchased it.

To my good fortune I had credit at Chamblin Bookmine and coupled with just a few dollars I purchased the set.

For those of you unfamiliar with The Avengers (no, I'm not speaking of the Marvel Comics super hero team) The Avengers was a TV series that premiered on British TV back in the early 1960s.

Originally the series starred two men who 'avenged' crimes, for the lack of a better explanation.
The series floundered and the lead actor left to pursue a movie career.  That left the supporting actor: Patrick MacNee, to headline the show.  Something he wasn't entirely sure he could do.

The producers decided to bring in another male lead and at the last moment cast a woman: Honor Blackman, in the role.

Suddenly they had a hit on their hands.  Quirky, unpredictable and tongue-in-cheek, the series combined hard-edge detective drama with super spy antics brought on by the popularity of the new James Bond film series.

After a few years Honor left the show (coincidentally to star as Pussy Galore in the James Bond film Goldfinger) and the producers suddenly found themselves scampering about for a new female lead.

The found her in Diana Rigg, a Shakespearean stage actress whom they convinced to take on the role of super spy: Emma Peel. The rest they say is history.

The DVD set: The Avengers The Complete Emma Peel Megaset, is comprised of 16-discs that include Ms. Rigg's run from 1965-1967-three seasons.

The Avengers became such a huge hit that it migrated to the United States, transitioned to color and become an even greater sensation.

Together Patrick MacNee as debonair, bowler hat-wearing and umbrella-carrying John Steed and Diana Rigg as fashion goddess and martial arts master Emma Peel, turned the world of spydom on its collective ear.

Innovative, inventive and trend-setting the series presented a fantastic world of super-geniuses, world-threatening madmen and woman, incredible futuristic devices and some of the most outrageous and clever story plots ever devised for TV.

Couple all that with Steed's wit, Emma's sexiness and you have a surefire hit.

Sadly after three brief years Ms. Rigg left the series. A new female lead was introduced, but she failed to catch on and the series only lasted one more year. 

A reboot was attempted in the 1970s that lasted a few scant years and a miserable and dreadful movie was made some years later with a brand new cast.

The magic was gone, much like the decade the series was placed in.  Still, The Avengers The Complete Emma Peel Megaset, is great classic TV series compilation from Lionsgate and Studiocanal.