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Mar 252014

Normally I don’t blog about reality shows, but one that really stands out to me is Comic Book Men (2012-present). It’s about what goes on at Kevin Smith’s comic book shop in Red Bank, New Jersey, which is called Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash. (The Stash for short.) That is truly a work of art. I mean, what better icons to represent The Stash than the lead characters of Kevin Smith’s first big hit film, Clerks.

Running The Stash is Walt Flanagan the manager, Mike Zapcic a comic book expert, and Ming Chen the technical expert. Then there’s Bryan Johnson, who doesn’t officially work at The Stash, but he helps out often.

I met Mike, Ming, and Bryan at MegaCon 2014.

Each episode is accompanied by a podcast with the five of them. The commentary is hilarious, especially when they discuss pop culture.

This autograph photo is from the episode when Ming had the idea for a zombie promotion at the Stash, which didn’t work out. Personally, I thought it was a creative idea.

My most favorite parts are when customers try to sell their old valuable memorabilia to The Stash. Whether it’s comic books, toys, animation cels, etc., The Stash is open to buy them. However, the negotiations of how much to sell the stuff for can be intense at times. Sometimes there’s a sale and sometimes there isn’t, but it’s real interesting when the pop up facts describe each item. It can feel nostalgic, especially if it’s about something I once had as a kid.

There are times when it’s difficult to identify the value of a piece of memorabilia. That’s when the guys call in expert popculturist Rob Bruce. It just blows me away about how much he knows about difficult types of pop culture.

This is an awesome series that makes you feel good about being a comic book fan, whether you’re hard core or not.

Jul 282010

I admit that it has been awhile since I posted anything on the Hercules: the Legendary Journeys franchise. Young Hercules (Keep) was based on Hercules’ early years. It’s interesting to see how Hercules (Ian Bohen) grew up to become the hero we all know so well. He went to an academy, where he met Iolaus (Dean O’Gorman) and Jason (Chris Conrad) of the Argonauts. They all trained in combat together by Cheiron (Nathaniel Lees), a wise centaur instructor.

Soon Jason finds out that his father is dying. In order to save him, Jason, Hercules, and Iolaus gather a team together and head off on a quest to find the Golden Fleece.

There were a few different cartoon shows that had an episode with the Golden Fleece as part of the story line. It wasn’t until I saw this movie when I finally understood the actual story behind it. The Golden Fleece is a magic ram skin that can heal anyone by being wrapped in it. Now that’s amazing.

On their way over, the wicked goddess Discord (Meighan Desmond), as a siren, lures Hercules and his friends onto an island, which by the way is a terrific idea as part of a story about sea travel as well as the cliché of struggling through a bad storm.

It becomes more exciting later on when Hercules and Ares (Kevin Smith) battle it out in a stick fight over fire, much like what Hercules was trained to do, only with fancier moves. It was incredible.

This movie was only the beginning. Shortly afterward, Young Hercules was a TV series, which starred Ryan Gosling instead of Ian Bohen as the lead. Unfortunately, it only lasted from 1998-1999.

I think this version was just as well made as Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. After seeing this film, I have a different outlook on that series. I’ll tell ya, it’s definitely been a long road Hercules has been on as a hero.

Sep 212009

Like Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (1995-1999), Xena: Warrior Princess (1995-2001) was also well-made with battle scenes, special effects, story lines based on Greek Mythology, and lots of fighting without buckets of blood. Of course Xena (Lucy Lawless) is a fictional character but she still stood out as her own. Xena is a highly skilled sexy kickbutt warrior woman with many of the same qualities as Hercules has the same kinds of adventures in Ancient Greece.

Some of Xena’s most memorable skills are the highly exaggerated ones like; pressure points that cuts off blood flows within the human body, rapid kicks while jumping in midair, and of course her chakram that works like a boomerang with an attitude. It makes ya wonder. How does she do that?

 Xena was a heartless violent warlord until she met Hercules and got her own series. She spends the rest of her life making amends for her past deeds. Her sidekick Gabrielle (Renee O’Connor) was very likable. She not only fights by Xena’s side with a bo staff, but also keeps Xena from reverting back to her violent ways. There were some points where the two of them appeared to be lesbian lovers, but I don’t think that was the case at all. As far as I can tell, it was just a close friendship, very close.

Of all the different villains Xena has fought, Callisto (Hudson Leick) is the perfect arch nemesis, and I’m not just saying that because she’s pretty. The two of them are evenly matched rivals and Callisto has personal issues with Xena. The trauma Callisto received during her childhood also caused her to become totally insane. Callisto cheats death and becomes immortal later on. I’m sure it was merely a way for her to appear in more episodes, considering that she was killed after only her second appearance.

A reoccurring character in the last season was Eve, Xena’s daughter all grown up, played by the beautiful Adrienne Wilkinson. I met her at Mega-Con Orlando in 2008. She was very sweet and as you can see really gorgeous too!

 Adrienne Wilkinson and me

Some of the memorable characters from Hercules: The Legendary Journeys make appearances on this show also.  They include Autolycus (Bruce Campbell), Salmoneus (Robert Trebor), Ares (Kevin Smith), Aphrodite (Alexandra Tydings), and let’s not forget Joxer (Ted Raimi). He may be a clutzy warrior wannabe, but his heart was always in the right place. You gotta admire him for that.

This series was just as much of a favorite as Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. Like I said before, whoever thought that Greek Mythology would be so fun to learn?

Sep 142009

Hercules The Legendary Journeys – Seasons 1-6 Bundle (1995-1999) was a well-made series about his adventures in Ancient Greece.  Hercules (Kevin Sorbo) shows amazing strength, especially during the battle scenes when one single hand swipe sends an enemy flying. It was even more incredible when he fought that group of enemies while juggling a woman. But what really works is that there’s a lot of action, but not a lot of gore.

Although Iolaus (Michael Hurst) was never mentioned in the actual Greek Myths like Hercules and Jason of the Argonauts, I thought it was a great idea for Hercules to have a sidekick. Iolaus isn’t with Hercules on every adventure, like Gabrielle is with Xena. Yet he made a big difference fighting by Hercules’ side. That would explain why Iolaus was brought back from the dead… several times.

Bruce Campbell was one of my favorites after seeing him in Army of Darkness. On this show, he played Autolycus the king of thieves.  This role was just as memorable to me.  I wonder if he did any of his own stunts. Other classic characters include Salmoneus (Robert Trebor) the fast-talking salesman and Falafel (Paul Norell) the chef, who makes food that’s highly popular in the modern age like hotdogs, tacos, and of course, falafel.

Some of the characters based on the Gods of Olympus, like Ares (Kevin Smith) and Aphrodite (Alexandra Tydings) , were cleverly portrayed as humans who are immortal and powerful. Others, like Poseidon and Hera, are merely computer animated, but just as good.

I’m glad that I go to meet Hercules star, Kevin Sorbo at Dragon-Con in 2008. It was amazing to find that he was close to the same height as me. Most actors I meet are much shorter.

This is a great series overall. Whoever thought that Greek Mythology would be so fun to learn.