Monday, July 4, 2016
July is always a solid month for me. Independence Day gives a three day weekend, Anime Expo takes place downtown, it's my birthday and then San Diego Comic-Con, so always something to do. Anime Expo aka AX, has signed to stay in Los Angeles for five years and this is was our third year attending. Lines and crowds were crazy on Friday and Saturday so I'm glad we opted to check out the show on Sunday. A quick Uber to the Los Angeles Convention Center and fast badge pick up line later, we were walking the lobby. Oh but first, an aside. My con backpack is lined with various buttons with Captain America, Arnold as Sgt. Rock, Pacific Rim, Predator and one with Kurt Russell from Used Cars that a guy offered to buy off me at SDCC a few years ago. Anyways, after putting our programs in my bag and slinging it over my shoulder, I notice something is missing, my Used Cars button was gone! This was from a one of a kind event years ago at The Arclight so I was super bummed as we retraced our steps to no avail. It's just a trinket but it was not a great start to the day. Once inside the packed exhibit floor I looked down and wondered what was on my leg, lo and behold, my button had fallen off my bag but somehow ended up catching on the magnet of my money clip inside my shorts pocket, pin point facing out and all! The lady and I high fived as my Kurt Russell, Tango & Cash style charm continued!
The exhibition floor was full of vendors offering all the anime inspired toys, models, prints and more. A local seller had shirts about Ship where you'd flip up the bottom to see your favorite characters in near kiss. Lots of stuffed animals around, especially sloths. Funko, Lootcrate, Crunchy Roll, Bandai, Capcom and more had large sections of the floor as did Toei animation with cool Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z history exhibits. Zootopia cosplay was the latest craze while I've never seen so much cross play or people walking with their heads down looking at their phone. Of all the shows I've been to, I can't think of another where I politely shoved or moved so many people out of my way who were just randomly standing in an aisle or not watching where they were going. Artist alley had been moved downstairs to Kentia hall and it was as huge as it was packed. I had to yell for people to keep walking because again, goers were literally stopping in the middle of the aisle. If you want to stop and look at something, walk over to the table, don't stand in the middle of the walkway, ya dig? Table top and card gaming was downstairs as well but the AC was not pumping so we did a round and headed back upstairs.
Concon, a new app for all your convention needs, check it out! After several hours of walking around, it was time for lunch as we headed to the dependable Yard House at L.A. Live where we found a seat at the bar immediately. We headed back to the show, checking out cosplay gatherings out front where hundreds descended for group shots. After that it was over to the randomly crowded for a Sunday but it was a holiday so, EightyTwo for dranks and catching up with friends. I've never been a huge fan of Street Fighter: Championship Edition and it really wasn't my day as I was defeated the two times I stepped up. Final Fight was a little more forgiving as I jabbed, crossed and spun kick as Guy through several levels of Metro City.
Body Count complete with a video featuring Van Damme and Dolph, The Return sees Van Damme hanging out with Megadeth for their track Crush'Em.
Next up, the most recent chapter in the series, 2012's Day of Reckoning. I wonder if the Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren-less Showtime TV films are on YouTube...
For the weekend it's been a mix of weights and cardio to keep the muscles pumped as well as burn some extra calories. On Saturday it was Shoulders and Arms at the complex gym:
1) Dumbbell Press/Cheat Curls/Pullover & Press
2) Rear DB Raise/Reverse Incline DB Curl/Cable Kickback
3) DB Upright Row/Concentration Curl/DB Side Extension
4) Lying Side Raise/Reverse Curl/Cable Pushdown
Each Tri-Set repeated for three sets between 8-12 reps, non-stop. Followed by intervals on the Elliptical machine interspersed with Frog Crunches. On Sunday it was off to the gym for Legs:
1) Parallel Grip Deadlift/Leg Press
2) Leg Extensions/Leg Curls
3) Seated Calf Raise
Today I felt like getting in a little more cardio so I popped on Bas Rutten's shadow boxing CD, shadow striking for 2 minutes followed by 100 jump rope skips. After 2 rounds of moving around the room, it was 5 rounds with the 16 oz gloves on the bag. Dripping a sweat, I wrapped up with a few more minutes of jump roping and called it a day.
Saturday, July 2, 2016
The Good, the Tough & the Deadly was already #1 on Amazon's New Releases and this past Sunday, Dark Delicacies in Burbank hosted a star and guest packed signing. First off, DD is an awesome store, it specializes in horror and genre books with DVD's, action figures, posters and the like for sale. Del and company have had the shop for 21 years in the picturesque strip of Magnolia where many a store are surprisingly closed on Sundays.
Walking past a booth set up for an Instagram cat, I asked my lady if the animal was famous. One of the workers overheard me and replied, "real famous". Well ok, then. On the second floor, there were more vendors but with items like food and litter of the high end variety. Rachel Ray even has a brand of cat food. There were organizations set up for adoptions and was the only area where you saw a live cat, through a window, no less. Guess nobody wants to risk an allergic reaction, eh? Walking around I couldn't help but think why there wasn't any Thundercats tie in, the opportunity was right there. But the 80's were represented as I was wearing a Jean-Claude Van Damme emblazoned Bloodsport shirt since we were headed to an action movie event after and received several compliments. But that's the next post...
Friday, July 1, 2016
After the film, director Kotcheff took to the stage to a standing ovation. He was intelligent, passionate and a very interesting guy:
- Warner Brothers hired him to work on the project, went off and rewrote in 3 months then WB said there was no audience for Vietnam movies.
- Kotcheff was very vocal about how poorly Vietnam vets were treated. They didn't ask to go, they were drafted. Whereas World War II and Korean War veterans were hailed as conquering heroes, Vietnam vets were protested, spit on and called baby killers upon return.
- Into the 1980's, 300 Vietnam Veterans committed suicide a month.
- One story of a young man who did his two years and on his penultimate day of duty, base attacked, he was only survivor and then sent home next day. No time to readjust or deal with emotional trauma.
- Knew producers Andrew Vajna and Mario Kassar causally and when pair kick started Carolco, asked Kotcheff what he wanted to direct, who said First Blood. Producers spent a year getting the rights from Warner Brothers.
- Stallone was always first choice even though the Rocky star had suffered failure after failure outside of the boxing franchise. But Kotcheff liked his inner and outer strength and knew he'd do a good job.
- Went to see Kirk Douglas in San Francisco where the acting legend was doing a play with Burt Lancaster. Douglas loved the script and reported to set. But once there, wanted multiple script changes that Kotcheff and crew tried to appease but ultimately gave him a final script. Douglas soon took a flight back to Los Angeles and Richard Crenna was brought in over a weekend.
- Enormous respect for Sylvester, who impacted two major parts of the story and character. One was having Rambo not kill any of the lesser trained weekend warriors and second, not dying at the end after having character go through so much and show death being only way out.
- Dubbed the film a "suicide mission", as when Rambo is on the bridge, he turns back as he has nothing to lose, no friends left and going head on with the Sheriff.
- No reservations on doing Uncommon Valor as next film and revisiting Vietnam War. Says veterans groups have thanked him profusely for making the films.
- Considered having Rambo be silent through film but realized he needed to speak at key moments.
- Loved composer Jerry Goldsmith and did several films together.
- Stallone was being paid millions and Kotcheff made him earn it by dumping live rats on him.
It was a great night and gave me a deeper appreciation of the film, Stallone, Kotcheff, the Vietnam War and it's veterans who went through so much for so little acknowledgement.