Thursday, March 01, 2012

Mr. Jones and me

Scanned from my copy of "The Monkees Go Mod.
Barring plague, pestilence, or a trip to a toy store, you could always find me in the same place every weekday at noon when I was almost 5 years old: watching "The Monkees" on Channel 44 (KBHK, represent). Sometimes I'd be eating lunch, sometimes not, but by God, I was not missing my favorite show.

I had a brief panic when I started kindergarten; after all, what if I was in the late class? I'd miss my chance to catch my favorite song. Fortunately, I was among the "early-birds" and was done with my crushing courseload by 11:30. Even walking home with my mom, that still gave us enough time.

Not long after the school year started, my mad reading skillz caught my teacher's attention. So did my penchant for following instructions too literally and pointing out errors, but the reading thing was at least good. As a result, a girl in my class and I got to spend time in Ms. Wilson's first-grade class for some advanced reading. First-graders, of course, put in a solid school day of work, and they didn't get to reading time until later in the morning, so while we didn't have to stay all day, we'd be there for an extra hour, getting out the same time as the late-birds.

Actual photo from the moment I realized it.

Just barely 5 years old--and if this happened before November, not even 5--and I'd already learned something about school that would come back to haunt me: being "smart" meant extra crap to do. Instead of being excited about the extra attention, all I could think about was missing "The Monkees." After that, I only was able to catch the show on holidays and sick days; it ran in that noon slot until October 1981 (I just looked in my TV Guide collection in the Siftin' Archives). After that, I don't remember catching it at all until the big revival in the mid-80s on MTV.

As a little kid, my favorite Monkee was Davy Jones, and for two reasons: he was short and the girls didn't mind. I was already on the losing side of elementary school height wars, and though I ended up a gargantuan 5'7 ("Hey, I can can see my house from up here!"), I was often among the shortest kids in my class and almost always shortest among the boys. But Davy was short, and it didn't seem to bother him.

Hell, he even called it out at the beginning of "Daydream Believer":
Know what I mean, like don’t get excited, man. It’s ’cause I’m short, I know.
A third semi-reason was that, being a huge Beatles fan, I was fascinated with British accents. I thought one of my classmates had a British accent; when I asked him if he was from England "like Davy Jones," he looked at me with that "WTF are you talking about" look I'd already grown accustomed to from people. He didn't clip his R's because he was British. He had a speech impediment.

By early 1986 when MTV brought back the show, I was briefly ecstatic. Ecstatic when I was at my cousin's place watching it on MTV, but bitter because our town had yet to get MTV. We got 2-13 (fortunately Channel 44 was cable channel 12) and Showtime or some nonsense. But I still got the compilation album that summer, "Then & Now... The Best of The Monkees," and I listened to it constantly. Davy had "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" and "Valleri," the latter of which was among my favorites. "What Am I Doing Hangin' Round" probably got the most repeat play on my little stereo, primarily because the title was pretty much how I felt about junior high school at the time, but "Valleri" would often cheer me up.

So if he was okay with it, I'd deal with it, too.

I got really big into The Monkees' music (since no one played the show anymore) near the end of high school when I inexplicably found a presumably 80s-reissued "More of the Monkees" album at my local Payless Drug for a few bucks. As a result, my very first CD box set was Rhino's "Listen to the Band," which was not just four CDs of songs, many of which I hadn't heard since I was a kid (it seemed like a long time then) or stuff I'd never heard at all, but a book filled with liner notes. Shortly after that, Rhino reissued the individual albums with even more extra tracks and info, and I've worn most of those out, too. Now I'm on the latest re-releases.

Andrew Sandoval's awesome book, "The Monkees: The Day-By-Day Story of the 60s TV Pop Sensation" is everything I wanted back when I was getting obsessed after high school, and even now, I've read it more than twice. And now recently I've been watching it on Antenna TV with my kids.

I guess this is all just a long way of saying that when I found out yesterday that Davy Jones died, it saddened me more than I expected. Probably since he, Micky, Peter, and Mike have been such a large part of my pop-culture-drenched life, I suppose. Or that it reaches my narcissistic Tootsie Roll center and reminds me that I'm getting older.

Or maybe it's because he was short, you know?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The ideal 80s movie sequel

This week's assignment for The League of Extraordinary Bloggers:
The '80s and '90s were filled with kids and teens in the movies. Which movie would you like to see a sequel made in 2012 with the original cast members, who have aged the same as you and me.
You're probably thinking I'm going to say "The Goonies."

I don't want a Goonies sequel because, well, I'm a pessimist. There's no way it could please everyone, and the big problem is that the movie would have to try anyway. Had this question been asked before the Super Bowl ad in which Matthew Broderick riffed on "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," my answer might have been different. But between that and this year being my 20-year high school reunion, I just think of how I was in 1985 and how puffy and old I am now. Do I really want to be reminded of how old I'm getting?

And aside from the idea that Andy would be married to Mikey rather than Brand (it would make sense and provide some conflict), I don't know what else I would want. Because for something like this, it's almost like it's not enough to do a straight sequel. You'd need to add something unexpected, or at the very least, try something that is just completely out of left field. That way, even if it fails, it would be a semi-interesting failure. And once I wrote that sentence, I had my idea for an 80s movie sequel.

"Shermer, Illinois."

It's a documentary about a small Chicago suburb during the celebration of the 200th anniversary of its incorporation. The documentary crew interviews the town's inhabitants, past and present, about what living in Shermer means to them. This way, you get to see what happened to your favorite characters from most of the John Hughes movies without having to frame a whole new story you end up not caring about to frame around it. Because isn't that the part most people are interested in anyway? Whatever happened to that guy? Here are a few ideas.

Samantha Baker: I know I'm a cynic, but did anyone really think Jake Ryan and Sam were going to stay together? I'd like to think that she got married to someone else. How about...

Phil "Duckie" Dale: Sure, he was initially attracted to Sam when they met because she reminded him so much of his friend Andie Walsh (not to be confused with the possible Andy Walsh of the aforementioned Goonies sequel), but they found they had a lot in common once they really got to know each other.

Clark W. Griswold: He canceled plans for a vacation with his family so they'd be in town for the celebration.

Andrew Clark: He's the high school football coach, and his wife, Allison, is the art teacher there.

Ferris Bueller: Recently moved back after serving time in prison for insider trading. Lives with his sister, Jean, and her husband, Jake.

Kevin McCallister: Marketed a safety product that uses a GPS signal to keep tabs on children. He lives by himself.

Gary Wallace, Wyatt Donnelly: Rich off their asses with a Siri competitor that can actually manifest in holographic form.

Feel free to add your own. I could do this all day, but it's almost bedtime, so I have to stop.

Update, Monday morning. Here's what my fellow leaguers came up with, as listed on Cool and Collected.. There's some awesome stuff in there!

  • Reis O’Brien at the Lair of the Dork Horde wants to see an intergalactic rematch in The Last Starfighter.
  • Shawn Robare, of Branded in the 80′s would love to see more hairy situations with a sequel to The Peanut Butter Solution.
  • Christopher Tupa thinks David Bowie still has what it takes and wants to revisit Labyrinth.
  • Dex at AEIOU and Sometimes Why also wondered whatever happened with the Labyrinth.
  • Michael May’s Adventureblog thinks Tom Cruise should make a followup to Legend (maybe they could call it “Legend-wait for it-ary”).
  • TL at Flashlights are Something to Eat wonders whatever happened to the kids from Shermer High’s Breakfast Club.
  • Brian at Cool & Collected (that’s me!) was also curious about how the Breakfast Club spent the last 30 years.
  • Iok from That Figures chooses to forget the Crystal Skull even happened, and wants to see another Indiana Jones movie.
  • Paxton Holley at the Cavalcade of Awesome imagines Matthew Broderick as a top NSA cryptographer in the sequel to War Games.
  • The Claymation Werewolf was surprisingly the first to chime in on The Monster Squad (but not the last!).
  • Soon after, Double Dumbass on You quickly turned in his report on The Monster Squad.
  • And Kevin over at Team Hellions also imagined a sequel to The Monster Squad. (Hollywood, make this happen!)
  • Fiji Mermaid at Sideshow Cinema wants to revisit those nice young boys from Kids.
  • Tom at Freak Studios was the only one brave enough to tackle a Goonies reunion.
  • I haven’t seen Olivia Newton John in a while, but John at Revenge from the Cosmic Ark would love to see a modern sequel to Xanadu (he also had a couple of honorable mentions:Message from Space and Star Crash).
  • The Sexy Geeks House of Swag wants to go Back to the Future a fourth time…
  • While Colin at Fairplaythings looks into the future 30 years, in anticipation of a Kick Ass sequel with a 75 year old Nic Cage.
  • BubbaShelby at Toyriffic also cheated a little and wondered what Scott Pilgrim would be up to in 30 years. (That’s okay guys. The League encourages cheating. We call it “being creative!”)
  • Harley at the Eidetic Memory tackled the only animated entry this week in choosing Hey Arnold!
  • And finally, Jeff at Siftin’ came up with a documentary idea that absolutely NEEDS to be made: Shermer, Illinois.