Tag Archives: Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday: Kevin Smith – Tough Sh*t

Director Kevin Smith was not born into money, in fact he is far from the “American Dream” prototype. However; he is the loveable mind behind such cult classics as “Clerks,” “Mallrats” and “Dogma” as well as other awesome films. Smith’s book “Tough Sh*t” is not just a biography, but an average Joe’s guide to grabbing the brass ring.

Smith describes growing up in the suburbs of New Jersey, his film career and its launch to meteoric heights with a little indie film called “Clerks.” The film not only exhausted Smith’s resources but everyone that he knew as well. Fortunately, it all paid off because the feature that was shot at its director’s actual place of work was picked up by the Weinstein’s Miramax and won awards at various film festivals including Cannes and Sundance.  This set Smith up for the creation of what is new the “View Askiewniverse” which ties in most of his work.

Other highlights include the trials and tribulations of “Zack and Miri Make a Porno,” directing “Cop Out,” and the infamous plane ride from hell Smith met at the hands of Southwest Airlines.  It’s not all bad, as Smith recants how he found a way to hit them where it hurts – Twitter.

Smith also devotes a lot of time thanking people – especially his wife, who he consistently harasses with hilarious terms of endearment and praise for her being who she is and looking as good as she does.

“Tough Sh*t” is one of the most straightforward self-help books you can find that just so happens to double as an autobiography. Throughout the book we learn about one man’s struggle from (as he puts it) just wanting some chocolate milk to owning an entire factory in the gut-wrenchingly funny way that only he can tell it. A great side note worth mentioning is that every chapter’s sub-title contains the word “shit” (“Chapter Three: The Shit I Made”) because every aspect of the book is life, success and the “Tough Sh*t” that comes with it.

Throwback Thursday: Superman – Red Son

In 2004, Mark Millar took Superman and asked the unthinkable: what if our hero landed in Soviet Russia instead of the United States of America?

Red Son is that terrifying three part re-imagining.

While Superman is still saving people and attempting to be the most noble creature he can be; he takes orders from Joseph Stalin and mostly protects only Russian citizens.

The few times he does set foot on American soil (while saving American citizens) he is still not greeted kindly and is feared thanks to propaganda and Lex Luthor – who is in fact the smartest man in the world, married to Lois Lane and eventually becomes President of the United States.

Once Stalin dies Superman takes control of Mother Russia to create a Utopian society with the aid of Wonder Woman. This creates a dilemma with an anarchist Batman (complete with Soviet origin). Over time Superman becomes obsessed with creating a perfect world, further separating himself from the human race.

On top of that, Luthor constantly devises plans to destroy Superman solely because he challenges Luthor’s God complex by simply existing. Luthor creates Braniac, Bizarro and even the entire Green Lantern Corps attempting kill Superman in this unbelievable take on the D.C. Universe.

Red Son reads like a film, with each page representing a scene. The illustrations by Kilian Plunkett and Dave Johnson create the noir based shots and camera angles while Paul Mounts, Andrew Robinson and Walden Wong’s vibrant, yet gritty colors bring the story to life. Red Son will glue you to its pages and suck you in with its social commentary. Every page has you wondering what will happen next with equally shocking results each time.

Red Son will make you gasp, shiver and wonder why an animated feature hasn’t been made. If there’s anything to be said, the realism of the world Millar has created in this book is shocking, controversial and a highly enjoyable masterpiece.

Throwback Thursday: The Iron Sheik

The Iron Sheik was (and arguably still is) the greatest heel in professional wrestling.

Born Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri, in Tehran, Iran; the man’s early years consisted of amateur wrestling before he had served in the Iranian Army and would then become bodyguard to the Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi for several years. After this he would move to America and become assistant coach of two Olympic wrestling squads and the assistant coach for team USA in the 1972 Olympic Games.

Vaziri would then become introduced to the business that became his legacy in 1972 by invitation from Verne Gagne, wrestling for his American Wrestling Association. His initial ring name was “The Great Hossein Arab,” but that would change in 1979 when he became “The Iron Sheik;” playing off of real-life politics (the Iranian Hostage Crisis and the portrayal/views of Arabs in America) to become the greatest villain who ever lived.

In 1983, The Shiek achieved greatness, defeating Bob Backlund for the (then) WWF Championship in Madison Square Garden. This of course was the set-up for Hulk Hogan to go on the roll that he did, putting professional wrestling on the map and beginning the “Hulkamania” era that defined 1980’s wrestling.

The Sheik would team with the Russian Nikolai Volkoff (with whom he  would hold the Tag Team Championship Titles) and eventually a freshly turned heel in Sargent Slaughter, feuding with every and any baby-faced (good guy) wrestler in the locker room until his retirement in the 2000’s. His weapon of choice: the dreaded Camel Clutch. In a time where professional wrestling storyline was thought to be reality, The Sheik was the most hated man in the world – and he loved every minute of it. In 2005, WWE would fully recognize his achievements when they inducted The Iron Sheik into their Hall of Fame.

As immortal as The Sheik was, Vaziri would suffer the actions of his character, enduring a long battle with drugs and alcohol that only got worse after the murder of one of his three daughters . Eventually he would clean up his act and is now living a healthy, sober life with his wife, two surviving daughters and grandchildren.

In recent years,  The Iron Sheik has taken to social media, where he rants and raves about anything and everything. No one is safe from the wrathful Tweets of The Sheik.

This newfound popularity has gotten The Sheik appearances on various television shows (Comedy Central’s “Kenny vs. Spenny”) and acting roles independent films such as “The Tale of the 3 Mohammadsand “Operation Belvis Bash.”

In August 2013, The Sheik’s managers crowd funded over $40,000 to produce a documentary and provide double knee surgery for the legend. “The Sheik” was released in 2014 and is available for streaming on Netflix.

Throwback Thursday: Digitech’s Death Metal Distortion Pedal

Death metal front medium

If you ever needed to sound like Slayer on a budget, then DigiTech had exactly what you need with their Death Metal Distortion pedal.

Designed to boost your mids and cut the bass, this stomp box had some nice features as it had two inputs for going directly into a mixer or your amp to give you more control over your recording and live sound. Turn the level knob all the way up, and you not only got the full power of the Death Metal Distortion, you also challenged the windows of the building you were in. This thing was loud. However; the lows were too low at times even with the setting all the way up, making this not ideal for Stoner/Doom metal.

If you were into playing aggressive music like Thrash, Black or Death Metal, you were in luck as an extreme tone was waiting for you. Several settings that came with the manual were designed to help you get the most out of the angry box, but as always, they weren’t necessary for the player to use. The Death Metal Distortion ran on a 9-volt battery or a PS200R power supply.

As great as the smooth bite and overall sound of the pedal were, there were a few issues with the Death Metal Distortion. For one, while DigiTech claimed the battery would last up to 18 hours of continuous use, one would often lose power at around 8-12. A power supply was almost necessary out of fear of your sound going out in the middle of a gig or rehearsal. Also the pedal did not last very long. A little after a year or so, it would eventually not sound as beefy as it used to and if you didn’t have a soldering iron, it was time to take it down to your local music store to sell it for whatever you can get.

While it had its flaws, the Death Metal Distortion was the most extreme effect pedal you could get on a budget. The pedal would sell new (and still does) for around $50. A used one will go for about $20. While the pedal is no longer as popular as it once was, you can download the module on your Istomp if you have one, which may be the best way to go as the physical pedal is pretty hard to come by.

Throwback Thursday: The Pet Rock

The Pet Rock was a fad in 1975 that was so ridiculous it worked.

These smooth stones imported from Mexico’s Rosario Beach came with not only their own hay “bed,” but they were also presented in a cardboard “pet carrier” box that included a 32-page booklet on how to take care of your “new” pet.

Gary Dahl, the Pet Rock’s “inventor” got this idea (not surprisingly) from a night at a bar with his friends where the conversational topic was complaining about their actual living pets.

Dahl made millions in the short lived success of his “creation.” He ironically purchased the bar that sparked the idea, although several months later that ship too had sailed.

In 2013 the Pet Rock would become available again at small toy stores and the occasional 7-11 when Rosebud Entertainment would buy the rights of the bizarre novelty.

Throwback Thursday: The Legend of Zelda – Majora’s Mask 3D Review

In 1998, Nintendo redefined the action/adventure genre when they released the first 3D installment of the long running Legend of Zelda series, Ocarina of Time. The game was nearly flawless when it came out, although it hasn’t aged as gracefully as others, it remains one of the greatest – if not the greatest game of all time.

Two years later, Nintendo blew the competition away again when they released Majora’s Mask, one of the only direct sequels in the Zelda series. While retaining the awesome feel of Ocarina, Nintendo added a whole new dimension to the gameplay with the introduction of masks – each with its own specific attribute. This, coupled with the ability to transform into a Deku, Zora, or Goron, turned a game that used the same assets and engine as Ocarina into a completely new and exciting experience that would be loved by fans for years to come.

After the success of Ocarina of Time 3D, Nintendo began hinting at a Majora’s Mask HD remake, using some not-so-subtle clues in both Zelda: A Link Between Worlds and the newest installment of Super Smash Bros. Nintendo eventually came out and stated the obvious, that they were indeed making Majora’s Mask 3D for the 3DS. After months of anticipation, the game has finally arrived; and it is everything Zelda fans have hoped for.

While it is simply a remake of the original, Majora’s Mask 3D is not a “port” per say. The most obvious improvement is the graphics, which have undergone a major overhaul. Textures and models look gorgeous, and animations have been greatly smoothed over and improved. The moon has gone from silly-looking to terrifying, which really adds to the dread of impending doom that is the main theme. All of the characters look great, and are not nearly as “polygonal” as they were in the original N64 title.

Some of the cutscenes have also been improved. For example, the “business scrub” cutscene that would occur every time the player walked by his deku flower in Clocktown has been shortened, which is a welcome relief to all those who would accidentally walk to close while strolling through South Clocktown.

Aside from the graphics, certain gameplay tweaks have made Majora’s Mask so much more streamlined. There are now four item slots as well as a separate slot for the ocarina. Anyone who has played the original will remember the monotony of constantly switching items out of the three allotted slots in that. The addition of motion-controlled aiming is another great improvement over the original, where it could be almost impossible sometimes to line up that perfect shot. The Bomber’s Notebook  has also been greatly improved. The player can now set alarms for when certain events are to occur. The Song of Double Time has also been improved, allowing the player to select the exact hour they want to warp to, unlike in Majora’s Mask 64, where it went in 12-hour increments.

There are a few things that some veteran players, however, may not like. One is the difficulty, which has been lowered a little bit from the original. Majora’s Mask 64 was notorious for its difficulty. Nintendo have altered that slightly, making the boss fights easier and adding some extra in-game hints. Several side quests have also been moved around, which may throw off veterans of the N64 version.

One of the biggest pet peeves is Zora Link’s swimming, which has been nerfed. In Majora’s Mask 64, you were able to swim fast kind of like a dolphin, and if you hit the “shield” button, a blue aura would appear around you that allowed you to damage enemies in the water. Now however, you can only “dolphin swim” when doing the blue aura attack. The basic swim action is now not nearly as fast as it used to be. Zora Link simply meanders through the water a bit faster than he would as regular Link.

This is a disappointment, as one of our favorite things to do in Majora’s Mask 64 was swim around the ocean at high speeds and see how high we could jump out. Now you can only do this as long as your magic meter lasts – which isn’t very long as the shield ability takes a lot to use.

Aside from these minor setbacks, Majora’s Mask 3D is still a great title. Nintendo have really gone above and beyond to improve what they could. It seems that they have listened to a lot of the player’s complaints over the years, and have tried their best to fix those issues. With all of these HD Zelda games coming out, we are excited to see what Nintendo has cooked up for the next new installment in the series, as well any more remakes they have planned. As for Majora’s Mask 3D, it is a definite buy for both veteran players and new fans of the series alike.

Throwback Thursday: Yu-Gi-Oh! Forbidden Memories

Yu-Gi-Oh! Forbidden Memories Cover.png

Released on the original Playstation during its final days, Yu-Gi-Oh! Forbidden Memories capitalized on the latest card game craze during its peak in video game form.

While the quest was monotonous, it was at least straightforward: defeat everyone in your path as Yugi traverses from his past and current lives in order to save the world.

The real fun was the game itself. For its time the graphics were quite good and simple, bringing the beloved card game to life albeit with alternative rules. Players could fuse monsters with not only magic and trap cards, but without the use of Polymerization. It is unknown why this was inserted into the gameplay, but it makes the game much easier at times, especially since the player does not have very good cards for a long time. An additional rule that was put into play was the use of “guardian stars.” When a player sent out a monster they would have to choose one of two guardian stars that would either put them at an advantage, disadvantage, or stay the same depending on the guardian star their opponents monsters have.

Even the animated series didn’t have rules that bizarre.

Most of the game is done in “Free Play” mode, as the player only receives new cards once they have beaten an opponent. If they should lose during the campaign, it’s game over. The free play mode is where they’ll want to go sharpen their skills and get better cards to upgrade their deck for the campaign. Since the cards you are rewarded seemingly come at random based on your speed and performance, the player will spend most of their time in free play, which is not necessarily a bad thing as the story is actually very short.

At the end of the day, Yu-Gi-Oh! Forbidden Memories came down to the heart of the cards as it opened a new way to experience the game, turning out to be one of the best time killers one could ask for. If you weren’t a fan of the card game, you could still enjoy this game for hours on end.

Throwback Thursday: Legends of the Hidden Temple

In the 90’s Nickelodeon had an awesome game show where kids would run through an Aztec themed obstacle course for prizes that ranged from awesome (Nintendo 64) to not worth the trials (a cheap bike).

That show was “Legends of the Hidden Temple.”

Hosted by Kirk Frogg and the show’s Easter Island inspired mascot “Olmec” (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker), teams of kids would partake in various rounds of challenges, before running the gauntlet in the final round, usually getting caught by the “temple guards” before completing the challenge. By winning the earlier contests. the children would be given “Pendants of Life” to give to the guards in order to progress through the stage; should they run into them.

Although most participants did not win, the show was a blast to watch and proved as a great alternative to “American Gladiators,” albeit in a bizarre way that only Nickelodeon could bring us.

Throwback Thursday: Vince McMahon’s “Life Isn’t Fair” Promo

On the May 11, 2000 episode of WWE Smackdown!, WWE Chairman Vince McMahon delivered one of the greatest promos in the history of professional wrestling.

Relating to an angle involving Chris Jericho on the May 8 edition of Raw, McMahon berated the WWE Universe; calling them overweight losers in the most scathing way possible.

“You scrimp and you save and you work yourselves half to death and still, you can’t afford what you really want,”  McMahon  said. “You look into the mirror and you look at yourselves and you say “look at the cellulite hanging from my hips and my buttocks. That’s not fair.” And the men won’t even come close (to looking in the mirror).”

Commentator Jerry “The King” Lawler provided excellent comic relief for the segment, chiming in with McMahon’s every insult with brilliant timing.

McMahon perfected his promo with other scenarios people experience daily, such as being cut in line and losing a parking space to aggressive people, reiterating that “life isn’t fair” after every scalding statement.

McMahon would then go on to tell the audience that they have “inferior DNA” before delivering one of his most famous lines to end the segment.

“Life sucks, and then you die.”

McMahon’s promo is one of the best because it hits everyone in the chest like a shotgun blast. There isn’t a single human being on earth that hasn’t had a moment where they haven’t said “It’s not fair.” People experience “life isn’t fair” moments on a daily basis whether it involves being cut in line, losing a parking space, or just plain having a bad day. McMahon’s brilliant combination of psychology, mic skills, and charisma are what make the “Mr. McMahon” character one of the greatest villains in history.

Throwback Thursday: Mega Man X

In a nutshell, Mega Man X was one of the most enjoyable games of all time.

Released in Japan in 1993 and 1994 in North America, Mega Man X was Nintendo’s introduction to everybody’s favorite little blue robot on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

In addition to the unique level design, graphics and features only 32 bits could offer (at the time), Mega Man X added new levels of depth to the character and a slew of new weapons as he defeats eight robot masters and their leader in the distant future.

For one, all of your weapons were given bigger, badder upgrades when you either collected them from the capsules Dr. Light would hide, or you would gain a supercharged shot several moments into the final stage after fighting the Boba Fett inspired Vile for the second time (with a little help from X’s partner Zero).

In a post-apocalyptic world (a much grittier story than usual), X would fight Mavericks – more advanced robot masters than he was used to, as well as their leader Sigma (and his equally annoying cat). Some of the more memorable bosses and levels were Army Armadillo, Launch Octopus, and Storm Eagle; whose level soundtrack video game shredders Powerglove would cover on their “Total Pwnage” EP.

Speaking of music, Mega Man X continued the blue bomber’s tradition with one of the best soundtracks the franchise has to offer. The epic midi made you feel like the righteous man you are, embarking on an all or nothing quest for the good of mankind.

Mega Man X is a treasure for everyone, taking the platforming/beat-em-up elements that Mega Man is famous for but turning it up a notch. It’s a game that will never stop being fun no matter what new console is available or what they can do. At the end of the day, sometimes people want something simple and that’s what makes this game immortal.