All posts by Clintron Rivas

Dream A Little Dream

In the late 80′s and early 90′s I was addicted to NBA basketball. The teams, the players, and even the coaches. I couldn’t get enough. I would watch any team, didn’t matter if it wasn’t my favorite team (The Phoenix Suns), I just wanted to see tall dudes in cool uniforms shooting hoops, make amazing passes, and doing incredible dunks.

I had to enjoy it in secret though. I was into skateboarding, and had mostly skateboarding friends. Most skateboarders, especially during that time, hated jocks and sports. Which was understandable as most jocks hated skateboarders in the same way. It was like the Sharks and the Jets from West Side Story. Each having very shallow reasons for the hate towards the other.

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So I would make up excuses to get out of skateboarding or hanging out with my friends just so I could watch an NBA game. I didn’t feel bad about it either, because some of the friends I had were pretty lousy and I was better off avoiding them.

The NBA during this time was, I feel, at it’s prime. The Internet was not really a common thing, and only Zack Morris goons had cell phones. So there wasn’t 24 hour access to see pro basketball except on TV.  So I would relish the time watching the pre-games, the games, and the post games. I would even try and watch highlights on national TV to see what non-home team analysts had to say.

The top players were all future Hall of Famers like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, John Stockton, and David Robinson. They all went on to play together on the Olympic team, named the Dream Team, for good reason.

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They were all recognizable and it was amazing to see them playing together, more than any all-star game would provide. It created an iconic team of which all teams, Olympic or not, would be compared to. It was epic!

The games were so entertaining because all the teams seem to have one or two superstars, so it felt more competitive then games today. The games were less flashy, and there were no fireworks during the introduction of the lineups, and not all the teams had cheerleaders. It was about the game itself, not the sideshow antics like today.
It also felt like the rivalries were more intense also. The Knicks vs the Pistons, Pistons vs Bulls, Bulls vs 76ers, Knicks vs Celtics, Lakers vs Celtics, Lakers vs Suns, Suns vs Trailblazers, Lakers vs Trailblazers, etc. Every game had potential to be a classic.

The NBA also used to make video tapes to rent or buy. Further expanding their brand and the personalities of the NBA. It was impossible to not catch the commercials for some of these tapes, like NBA Bloopers, NBA High Flying Dunks, Hardwood Champions, etc.

These videos would usually show highlights from all NBA history. You’d would get to see iconic players like Julius Erving, Wilt Chamberlain, Bob Cousy, and Bill Russell. These were made even more amusing when hosted by Marv Albert, the most recognizable NBA announcer of the time. Even better is when he was paired up with the coach of the Utah Jazz, Frank Layden, who played the bumbling sidekick.

Recently, a ton of these videos can be seen on Hulu. Its a blast! Re-watching highlights from classic games, seeing players in their prime, and seeing them in their old uniforms and arenas! I only wish I had the old SEGA Genesis and Super Nintendo games to play afterwards.

And if that wasn’t enough, Netflix has a few of the ESPN “30 for 30″ videos to watch. These are made recently, but reflect back on some of the classic players or teams, such as Reggie Miller, and the Detroit Pistons “Bad Boys” era. Back when the NBA has so much character and personality.

It’s kind of a shame that this era went away. There are too many expansion teams, and there are too many young, inexperienced players now. Drafting kids straight from high school, or with only one year of college basketball experience has flooded the NBA with mediocre players.

It’s not rocket science that so many of the superstars of the late 80′s and early 90′s were all players that completed college.  Look at Tim Duncan, one of the last players I can recall that played four years of college basketball. Numerous championships and awards, and he is still playing. He is a throwback to the glory years and will definitely end up in the hall of fame.

 

It’s pretty tough to watch the current era of players where they have mediocre skills, and you have to invest into them for years before they achieve the skill level they would have in college. It’s a waste.

I will never be super into the NBA again, unless they start making blooper tapes again…

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PART II COMING SOON

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Tales from the Drive-In

Who Framed Roger Rabbit was released in 1988. A combination of live footage film and animation. Starring the talented Bob Hoskins, and directed byRobert Zemeckis, the end results were mixed. The lasting impression for me was not the movie itself, but the experience of seeing it at the drive-in.

My parents loaded up the family for a drive-in double feature of Who Framed Roger Rabbit and the movie Vibes, starring Cyndi Lauper and Jeff Goldblum.

It began to rain as we drove, but my parents thought it would be fine to continue onward. We lived in Phoenix, and the drive-in was in south Scottsdale, so it wasn’t exactly nearby.

The rain kept up throughout Roger Rabbit, so the window wipers were left on, which lent itself to the pseudo noir setting of the movie.

The movie ended and it was still raining, so my parents decided not to stay for the second feature film. As we left the maze-like parking lot, my father got turned around, and ended up going the wrong direction through an exit, running over the ground spikes that avert traffic from going the opposite direction.

So the family was stuck at the drive-in exit, with blown tires, in the rain. My father walked in the rain to the nearest payphone and called my aunt Mary for a lift, and then called a tow truck.

Aunt Mary arrived to the scene, and we all packed into her VW bug, as father stayed behind waiting for the tow truck. We fell asleep on the ride back, only waling up as we arrived home. I haven’t a clue how late it was by the time father was dropped off home, but he was certainly there when I woke up the next day.

For a movie that was only mediocre, I never forget the rainy circumstances of which we saw it. The mishaps and shenanigans of trying to leave, and the eventual divorce it lead to.

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School of Hard Rocks

When I was in 5th grade, I was attending school in Chandler, Arizona. The school was called Kyrene de la Paloma, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. My teacher was super nice and funny, and he even had the same birthday as me!

I was even head over heels for this dame named Renee, who lived down the block from me, and was nice enough to give me the time of day outside of class. I also had a good little group of friends that I palled around with a bunch. My best friend of the group was Sean. His mother was British, but he didn’t have any accent. She would always let us rent rated R movies from the store. Its how I first saw Evil Dead and The Road Warrior.

During that year, my family moved from Chandler to Tempe, and I hated it. I remember crying when they first told me, because I knew I wouldn’t see Renee again.

Tempe itself, and the new house, weren’t bad at all, it was the school though, that was the pits. The kids were different, the teachers were different, the school lunch smelled funny, it was dreadful to me. It was also an older school, made in the 50s or 60s, and to me, that was bad. I was just coming from a school that was only built a year ago, and all my friends and teachers I liked. Most of the hallways were indoors, so you didn’t have to go outside for classes, except PE.

This new school also had a lot more black kids, which I wasn’t used to. I remember trying to buddy up a couple of them by talking about TV shows like Good Times or That’s My Momma. They seemed to dig that about me I think.

The final straw though, was when I was in class, doing an assignment about pronouns. I had turned in my paper, feeling good about myself because we had already learned pronouns at my last school.

I got my paper back, with an F. I was shocked, to the point where I asked the teacher, in front of the whole class, why did I get an F?

The teacher gave me an F for using the context of “her” and “she” with the name Sam. I had just came from a school where the only classmate I knew named Sam was a girl. How dare this teacher not give me the benefit of the doubt, or at least acknowledge that Sam can be a girl or boys name?!?!

I plead my case, and I think any good teacher would recognize that I was using the proper pronouns, despite the sex of the person in question. But she was a hard ass, and refused to change my grade.

I came home that night, explaining this to my parents. I don’t recall what transpired after this incident, but not long after, the family was moving again, this time to Phoenix. I know I often complained and whined about the school, the teachers, and not making friends. So I must have forced their hand.

It was a big mistake really though, because ever since then, I have always felt most comfortable while in Tempe, and I always wanna live there.

I still pass by the house often, off of Hardy and University, wondering who lives there now, and how I wish I still did.

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You got your movie in my video game! You got your video game in my movie! Part 2

Double Dragon (1994)

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Double Dragon was a very popular video game from 1987 and is considered to be one of the first successful examples of the “beat ‘em up” genre.  The characters had to beat up and destroy every enemy onscreen before you could progress further.

Basically, you were forced to fight and/or kill everything to get anywhere in the game. No puzzles to solve or anything. It was pretty much tailored made for people like Mike Tyson.

The film is loosely based off the game. It takes place in a then-futuristic Los Angeles of 2007, now referred to as “New Angeles” as it has been crippled by a large earthquake. The city is styled as a mix between a post-apocalyptic and 80′s/90′s punk environment. Billy Lee and Jimmy Lee are two brothers who poses half of a powerful ancient Chinese talisman. An evil gang leader has the other half, and is determined to get the brothers’ half to have the complete medallion and gain absolute power.

The movie stars Scott Wolf as Billy Lee and Mark Dacascos as twin brother Jimmy Lee. Also starring Alyssa Milano as Marian Delario and Robert Patrick as antagonist Koga Shuko.

I am positive the thinking behind casting Scott Wolf as the lead star was based on his role in PARTY OF FIVE, the baby faced, teen heart throb. Neither of the main stars seem to know any martial arts or fighting training whatsoever.

Like the movie version of SUPER MARIO BROTHERS, the producers didn’t seem to be going for authenticity, as more a movie aimed at teens only, but by the time the movie came out, most of their demographic had never played the game.

Its very PG style action, bordering on G, if it weren’t for the raw sexual chemsitry of Alyssa Milano (LOL). It is a pretty horrendous movie, but I know that I like watching it before bed because it wont give me nightmares. Totally safe to show any kids.

Fun Trivia (for Brandon): In one scene, Kogo Shuko asks his henchmen (Huey and Lewis), “Huey, Lewis. Any news?” a reference to the band Huey Lewis and the News.

Time for pictures!

Billy Lee from the video game and in the movie:

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Jimmy Lee from the game and Jimmy Lee from the movie:

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Marian from the game, and the movie

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and Robert Patrick as the villain…. sort of…..

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You got your movie in my video game! You got your video game in my movie! Part 1

This is part 1 in a series of movies released in America that are based off popular video games.  I saw these mostly as video rentals from when I was growing up and some in theatres when I was an adult. The results weren’t always as bad as their reputation suggests.  Here we go!

Mario Brothers (1993)

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It’s logical that the biggest video game would be turned into a theatrically released movie. By 1993 anyone that played home video games knew who Mario was. He became the mascot for Nintendo.

I will totally acknowledge that this movie is a mess. It feels like a movie where the script went through several different writers and revisions. The story tries to stick too closely to the video game,  which is pretty insane considering the game was about plumber saving a princess from a demon turtle.

The great UK actor Bob Hoskins is cast as Italian plumber Mario.

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Colombian born actor/comedian John Leguizamo is Luigi (sans mustache).

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and legendary Dennis Hopper starred as the monster turtle villain named King Koopa.

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Obviously the reason people went to see SUPER MARIO BROTHERS was because of the video game. So to that target audience, it didnt matter who was cast, who was writing the movie, who was producing, and who was directing. They just wanted to be entertained. Entertain us! that’s what they must have shouted in their minds.  It makes sense as the movie is based off a pure form of entertainment, video games.

I started this article with the intent to defend the movie in a way, to explain why I enjoy watching it from time to time. As a reminder of an era where studios began making movies strictly for the under 21 crowd.  But then I was reminded of the passing of Bob Hoskins, and a majority of the idiots on the internet show their sorrow using pics from WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT and this movie. That was a reminder that his amazing acting career had been reduced to kids movies. That made me furious.

So super fuck you to anyone who used SUPER MARIO BROTHERS or WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT as reference points when Bob Hoskins passed away. That is such ignorant bullshit. He was so much more than this kid movie garbage! Fuck WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT and fuck SUPER MARIO BROTHERS!!!!

Go fucking see THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY!!

or MONA LISA!!

 

obligatory SUPER MARIO BROTHERS trailer… bur really, see the other movies first…..

 

 

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SEGA CD: Wirehead

Do you prefer to watch video games instead of actually playing them?!?

Then check out this game!!

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Wirehead was released for the SEGA CD in 1995. It was the first “movie” style game I had ever played. The graphics were full motion video, where you controlled Ned, a poor schmuck, who has a brain implant that allows him to be remotely controlled. It’s for this implant that evil agents are after him to steal his implant. Ironically, or not, it’s via his implant that you control Ned’s decisions to guide him through the game.

 

Wirehead plays like Dragon’s Lair, only with full motion video instead of animation. When Ned comes to certain “crossroads” you are prompted to make his decision on where to go. Usually you are given three choices which appear as directions, left, up, and right. Making the correct choice is trial-and-error for the most part. Each choice provided seems logical or completely ambiguous, such as going left down a hall, going up to exit the house, or going right into the kitchen. There is only one correct choice. Sometimes you have to go into battle mode, which you control whether to make Ned punch or kick. Again, they both would seem like good options, neither more appropriate than the other, but only one option is correct. Better remember to write it down.

 

The fun is that it feels like you’re controlling a movie, which was the developers intention. It was full motion video in a 16 bit gaming system era. Only achieved via the CD format. The gameplay might have been too repetitive for some people in that era of RPGs and fighting games.

The other reason the game is so good is that it feels like a 90s era sitcom. The style of clothes, the family safe humor and jokes, and the music. It could have been used as a pilot for a real sitcom on disney channel.

 

The SEGA CD was never a success in the US, but it had its share of solid games, and Wirehead was one of the last games released unfortunately. A forgotten console that needs to be checked out. If you’re not willing to play the game yourself, you can always watch the play-through of the game on YouTube, but you won’t see any of the funny cut-scenes of when you make an incorrect choice, which were the best parts.

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Watching Ned get mauled by a bear is always entertaining!!

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She won’t do windows….

I wish they would re-release the game for DVD players, using the uncompressed footage originally shot for the game. It would be a fun show!

 

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Transylvania 6-5000

WANTED: Two thrill-seeking reporters, brains optional, looking to dig up the story of the century

In 1985 the movie Transylvania 6-5000 came out. I’m not even sure it came out in theatres in Phoenix, but I do remember it coming out on VHS. My dad was a big fan of Michael Richards because of the weekly live skit show FRIDAYS that he starred on. I’m pretty sure that’s why my parents rented the movie and also rented the VCR, either from Circle K or Basha’s. The rental VCRs were encased in black plastic, and look more like rugged luggage. They were the best!

It’s about the head of a sleazy newspaper named Mac (Norman Fell) whose just watched a videotape that maybe shows the existence of Frankenstein’s monster (referred to as Frankenstein in the movie). Mac sends Jack (Jeff Goldblum) and Gil (Ed Begley, Jr), who is Mac’s son, to Transylvania to get the story behind the Frankenstein sighting. The movie plays like a modern day Abbott & Costello movie, or a Bing Crosby and Bob Hope “road” movie. Goldblum and Begley have great chemistry, and it’s a real shame that they didn’t star in another movie together.

This movie is jam packed with stars like Jeffrey Jones as the mayor, Michael Richards as the butler, Joseph Bologna as the mad scientist (also star of the Big Bus), and unforgettably, Geena Davis as a nymphomaniac vampire. She is one of the sexiest vampires ever in an American movie. This movie puts her in the Movie Cutie Hall of Fame. She has crazy sex appeal as the shy nympho vampire.

Michael Richards is also really good in this movie, showcasing the physical humor that made him a star later on. Some of his scenes are still super funny to me. Check out the scene with the puppet!

This movie also had an awesome box for it, it really made it seem like a scary movie, which there are no scary moments. I bet this movie was placed in the horror section and a few mom and pop video stores based on the box alone.  It would look totally perfect sitting next to Evil Dead and Visiting Hours.

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I also had no idea that the movie title was a pun on the Glenn Miller song Pennsylvania 6-5000 until I heard it in in a thrift store. I was in my twenties and had a crazy flashback to this movie.

If you are trying to build up a collection of VHS movies, this movie is worth it!

It might be rated PG, but I doubt anyone under 21 would really enjoy the movie. Its not slapstick enough for the younger kids, there are not real scary moments, and the humor is not vulgar ever. It’s the opposite of typical comedies these days.

It not great, but it really has some funny moments, a lot of charm with its great cast, and it’s good to watch when your’e feeling down.

See it!
Geena Davis is so hot and adorable in this movie!!
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Blue Chips

Blue_Chips_Movie_Poster

Pete Bell: You took the purest thing in your life and corrupted it, for what? For what?

The movie BLUE CHIPS came out in 1994, during the height of basketball popularity. It came out the year after Michael Jordan abruptly retired from the NBA, just after winning his third straight championship. Mens college basketball was also huge, especially the rivalry between Duke and North Carolina. The coaches themselves were some of the most iconic and recognizable faces in basketball during this time. Several of these real life coaches and players appear in this film.

BLUE CHIPS is about Pete Bell (NICK NOLTE), coach of the Western University mens basketball team, nicknamed the Dolphins. The Dolphins were once a winning, successful team, but have fallen on hard times. A losing streak and inability to bring in top recruits has made the Dolphins mediocre. The pressure is on for coach Bell to bring in talented players and get the basketball program back on track. The problem is that the other colleges are illegally luring in recruits with gifts and money.

Happy (JT WALSH) is a booster that already has a shady past, and offers to help illegally bring in recruits to make his old school a winner again. Ed (ED ONEIL) is the sports writer who thinks something funny is going on with coach Bell and his recent recruits. Jenny Bell (MARY MCDONNELL) is Pete’s ex-wife, who is still close to Pete, and they probably still love each other. She helps him by tutoring one new recruit, Butch McRae (AFERNEE “PENNY” HARDAWAY), who is academically ineligible to play, and has only agrees to play if his mother is found a job and bought a house.

Neon (SHAQUILLE ONEAL) is the other high profile character we meet. He has raw talent, but doesn’t want to put in the hard work. This is seems to echo his real life NBA career, as he never really achieves the level of greatness that he seemed capable of.

In the movie, you can’t help but feel sorry for the position that coach Bell is in, and although you don’t want him to choose the dark path of bribery, it does seem like the only way to keep up with the other crooked colleges. NOLTE is great as coach Bell. His stern, gruff demeanor are in line of what a basketball coaches seems like. The fact that NOLTE shadowed Indiana Hoosiers coach BOBBY KNIGHT, makes sense, as they both seem to be a bit aggressive and hot-headed. NOLTE even kicks a basketball into the crowd when arguing with a referee.

The reason this film works is in great cast, and great directing by legendary WILLIAM FRIEDKIN (The Exorcist, The French Connection, Cruising). He wouldn’t seem to come to mind to direct a sports film, but consider that the movie is not really a sports movie, but a movie about conscious and consequences, which path to choose. There is no “big game” scene, such as in Teen Wolf, but the outcome is about all about the cost of winning.

Ironic that this movie is about corruption and gambling when it speculated that Michael “Air” Jordan’s retirement was partially due to his gambling addiction, and the murder of his father. These themes of gambling and fathers play into Blue Chips. The movie would be a great double feature with the 1974 movie THE GAMBLER, starring JAMES CAAN. If you’ve seen the movie, you will understand why.

Sports corruption has always been around, from boxing to golf. This movie works because corruption of college players, basketball and football especially, has always been alleged. News will occasionally tell us about a former college player who was connected to bribes and such corruption as this movie portrays.

The movie’s only failing is in casting real NBA players as the college recruits. They are completely flat, and are not convincing at all. They are on the same level as when Joe Montana hosted Saturday Night Live. I can’t help but think it was the movie studio that pushed for the use of real players. They almost make the movie unbearable when they are on screen. This does cannot be said of ex-Celtic star, BOB COUSY who is really good as the school’s athletic director.

Obviously SHAQUILLE ONEAL starred in a few other films after this, with the same level of acting. Something that will haunt him, and seems to overshadow his basketball accomplishments. Anyone still have a copy of SHAQ FU for the Super Nintendo?

See BLUE CHIPS, and enjoy the real drama of the characters as wonderfully portrayed (not the modern day NBA players though). It’s a excellent depiction of the real corruption that is still prevalent in todays modern sports. It’s a shame that NOLTE’s performance seems to have been completely forgotten as this movie was marketed as a sports movie “starring” SHAQ and PENNY HARDAWAY, real life teammates on the Orlando Magic. Revisit this movie, now that the horrible NBA hype doesn’t overshadow the real stars, NICK NOLTE and WILLIAM FRIEDKIN.

Blue Chips
1994
108 minutes
Director: William Friedkin
Writer: Ron Shelton

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