Cosgrove's Retro Days : Day 1
Starz, 7-11, Comics, and Slurpees. What a day.
Recollecting on some of my earlier years I find myself wishing to go back to those days. Of course, hopping into a time machine is too far into the future and hopping into a DeLorean is too far into the past, but I can still formulate my own Flux Capacitor in my mind.
Putting down my thoughts of my wonder years seems like the only plausible way to fall through the sands of time. Not only that, but you get to come along with me. I plan on doing this in some other articles about my favorite days of my past. Many retro aspects will be apparent in my time travels to these memories. Some very general, others very personal. I wish to have fun with these and I hope you do, as well.
The Retro Day In Question:
Well, it started like any other Saturday morning in 1997. I woke up early and found myself watching some good ole American Gladiators program.
It was around 6 am, so I was eagerly waiting for my favorite Saturday morning cartoons to come on. Snuggling on the couch with my Toy Story blanket, I felt very happy as all kids feel waiting for our cartoons. Sure, it was the summer and every day was school-less, but Saturday had these shows to enjoy. X-Men, Spider-Man, Animaniacs, Life with Louie, and others were always there to make me laugh on a midsummer's morn.
I'd sit attentively and absorb all that there was to be absorbed. Cartoons were my life and Saturday was my time. There might as well have been a "Do Not Cross" police line around the living room.
No one was allowed in, and I wasn't allowed out. Well, except for the occasional bathroom break and my mom bringing me some chocolate milk. Sadly, the morning couldn't last forever.
Daytime TV came on of old 70's and 80's sitcoms, and infomercials conquered the screen.
I hated this time of the day. There was nothing left for me to do. I would usually just run outside and play, or I had a Little League baseball game. On this particular day I chose to stay in and continue watching TV. I was busy flipping the channels until I found myself on the Starz network.
This is a channel that plays movies 24/7, like HBO (or what HBO used to do). I'm not exactly sure this was the channel I was on, but it seems right to me in this present time. I don't know what was wrong with me but I was in love with the 1930's-40's era when I was little. Anytime I saw a movie about this time period I would have to watch it. I would watch A League of Their Own starring Tom Hanks a lot.
Not only was this movie set in the 1940's, but it had baseball in it! Swing music was captivating my little musical ear with the sounds of The Brian Setzer Orchestra.
I would dance around the house saying "Go, Daddy, Go" and "Jump and Jive". I was a strange little tike, but to this day I still love that era.
Anyways, what intrigued me so much on the Starz channel was George Lucas' classic (and yes, to me this movie is a classic) Radioland Murders.
Despite the harsh reviews of this movie at the time, I was not phased by them. I was captivated by the very first thing I saw, Joey Lawrence singing a Bing Crosby type song swooning the ladies.
Making the ladies say, "WHOAH!"
I had seen this guy on Brotherly Love that came on everyday in the afternoon on The Disney Channel. I grew quite fond of this show that showcased the three Lawrence brothers (Andy, Matt, and Joey). I soon found myself finding more and more actors that I already knew about. Doc from Back to the Future (Christopher Lloyd), Cadet Zed from Police Academy (Bobcat Goldthwait), one of the bad guys from Blank Check (Michael Lerner), the dad from Rudy (Ned Beatty), the annoying guy from Groundhog Day (Stephen Tobolowsky), the radio station owner from Airheads (Michael McKean), Roger Dorn from Major League (Corbin Bernsen), the dad from Heavyweights (Jeffery Tambor), the dean from the Nutty Professor (Larry Miller), Dr. Janosz Poha in Ghostbusters II (Peter MacNicol), the cameraman with dwarfism in UHF (Billy Barty), and many others.
I was floored to see a movie set in the '30s with people I knew. Not only that, the movie was very funny. I won't dull you with the story, but I will put my summary at the bottom of the article for those of you who want to know what it's about.
I sat on the living room floor soaking in the goodness that this gem spat at me. I was totally enthralled into the story. I laughed my ass off while eating some Dunkaroos, the usual Saturday treat.
One of the things I used to do was swing my red Champion Sports Soft Bat while watching TV. On most occassions I'd work on my swing for baseball with this bat. Standing in front of the mirror that we had in my living room I'd imitate all the great swings from the day. Ken Griffey Jr., Mark McGuire, and Frank Thomas all had swings I tried out for my own.
None of them helped me at the plate, but it's recommended for kids to find the most comfortable swing. Why not try a Major Leaguer's? It works for them. On other occasions I'd use this bat to ward off my imaginary enemies. Dressed as a ninja, superhero, or knight with my blanket for a cape, I'd simulate many fight scenes while slashing this red "sabre" around and protecting myself with a pillow shield. On this particular day I was doing both while watching Radioland Murders. I don't know why I wanted to put down this memory for y'all to read, but I think it sums up a good capsule of my childhood.
The Rest of the Day:
When the movie was over my mom asked me if I wanted to go to 7-11 with her to pick up some cigarettes. I really didn't want to, but she promised me a present when we got there. Excited to get something in return, I agreed to her terms. We jumped into her mini van and headed for the convenient store. She pulled into a parking spot and told me that I could get a comic book and a Slurpee while we were there.
I jetted to the store's doors and swung them open. I wanted to save getting a comic book last because that's what you have to do. Save the best for last.
At the Slurpee machine I grabbed the biggest cup they had, or at least the biggest I knew I could muster to drink. I put the bubbled lid on top of the colorful cup and commenced to get all the flavors I wanted.
I used to not only mix my Slurpee combinations, but also my sodas at the soda fountain. I remember the first time I did this. I was at a CiCi's Pizza restaurant and deciding on what drink I wanted.
This older man comes up and says, "Why don't you get all of them. Make it a SUICIDE."
"A suicide," I asked.
"Yeah! It's when you put all the Cokes you want into your cup." We call soda Coke down in Texas, regardless of brand.
He continued, "It's mighty good!"
I said, "Okay," and cautiously started to add my choices in my cup. When I tasted this sweet nectar I concocted, it became the normal thing to do. I'd typically do the usual stuff: Coke, Dr. Pepper, Sprite/7-Up, and root beer. It was always a different drink depending on what I put in it and the amount of each soda. I wouldn't skimp on any of them, even the fruit sodas (orange and strawberry), but I did have my mishaps.
I regrettably put tea, lemonade, Hawaiian Punch, and diet sodas in my drinks at some point or another. I recommend not doing such things. I would even say stay away from water. Keep it simple.
I know mixing Slurpee flavors is nothing new, but I was doing what I always did with soft drinks. I guess the fact that this treat was more solid and separated the flavors better made it more mainstream than mixing Cokes. I found the Coke, cherry, and blue raspberry flavors in my Slurpee that day.
I filled the cup until there was a mound of frosty delight spewing from the lid. It was that little extra that made me feel like I was getting more than my moneys worth. I pulled the classic red straw from the container. You know, the ones with the little spoon thing on the bottom. From there I headed to the rack.
Countless choices! We all know that overwhelming feeling (Hoju Koolander's written about it. Go check out his comic book article.). Sure, it pales in comparison to the racks at our favorite comic book store, but 7-11's selection still got my heart pumping. That day was an easy choice, though. Snuggled within the bland wood rack was a lonely annual. Daredevil-Deadpool Annual '97.
As some of you know, Daredevil was my guy. I had, and still have, a nice little collection of DD comics. I knew of Deadpool because of the comic cards I owned of his like the one below, but I had no idea how humorous he was.
He instantly became one of my favorite heroes. Plus he looked like a cross between Daredevil and Spider-Man. I had my comic and Slurpee in hand and walked up to the counter with my mom. She paid and we left for home.
Slurping on my Slurpee and reading this comic, which was longer than a normal comic because it was an annual, was my priority when I got home. I was drawn into the story. In a Cliff's Notes version, the Daredevil and Deadpool team up to get a hold of Typhoid Mary, a sexy psionic powered villain.
I loved the action that unfolded and the things Deadpool would say, but the thing that grabbed a hold of me was the artwork. Bernard Chang was the penciler and Jon Holdredge the inker. The combination is breathtaking, but that's not what I fondly remember the most. The comic company Liquid! did the coloring of the annual. I absolutely love this partnership's artstyle to render depth. It looks real, but almost cartoony. When I think about comics of the '90s I think of the color work done by Liquid!.
Some covers done by the Liquid! coloring company.
When I sadly finished the comic I retreated to the TV again. I turned it on the ole stand-by, Cartoon Network. I remember Pirates of Dark Water was on and I was finishing up my Slurpee.
I hate the end of these drinks. You find that all that's left is ice that has been sucked of all its juices. It's a real bummer, but I was happy to finish it off while watching the pirating adventures of Ren, Niddler, Ioz, and Tula.
I don't remember anything after that. I probably just watched TV the rest of the night, played some Sega Genesis, or played with some of my toys. I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane. I got some other fun days to recall in later parts. Please comment. It's fun to hear from y'all. Until next time...
Oh Yeah! The Summary:
The opening title.
Much like one of my favorite '80s comedies, Clue, Radioland Murders revolves around the plot of figuring out who is killing the select members of the radio station's staff. Plus, it's one of the few PG movies to have full frontal nudity.
I thought you'd get a kick outta that! The story's protagonist is radio-show writer Roger Henderson, played by Brian Benben, who is trying to solve the murder mysteries and win back his disgruntled wife Penny, played by Mary Stuart Masterson, seeking divorce.
Penny's mad at Roger for sleeping with the station hussy.
Crazy antics come about throughout the entire film, enough to keep my 10-year-old interest. The night starts at WBN radio station in Chicago as its inaugural broadcasting night.
The crowd coming in.
The big wig sponsors are in attendance to check out their investments and to catch a live broadcast of the station's entertainment. The main sponsor, Bernie King (played by Brion James), demands the upcoming shows to be rewritten.
Bernie King (James) on the left, and The General/station manager (Beatty) on the right.
The writers get perturbed by this, including our hero and Bobcat's character, because they have not been paid just yet for their work. So they frantically write up some new material.
"I hate rewrites!!!!"
Things get fishy when the house band's trumpet player dies unexpectedly from rat poisoning in his whiskey flask.
Then the station owner's son (Tambor's character) is found dead hanging from a rope.
This sort of made me sad when I was little. Heavyweights was one of my favorite movies back then and to this day I love Tambor's character Pop-Pop in Arrested Development. The Chicago police department is immediately called in when considerations of foul play arise.
The Lieutenant (Lerner) in the center.
Miller's character, the stage manager, is found dead in the machinery that rotates the main stage completely under the nose of the police and their stubborn Lieutenant (played by Lerner).
Penny is donned the stage manager role to keep the entertainment rolling and the sponsors' attention away from the killings. Much like your typical Scooby Doo episode, clues appear for Roger to try and figure out the case. It's much harder than it seems with him being the police's prime suspect on account that he's always near the scene of each murder. The rest of the movie has Roger escaping the clutches of the police, rewriting radio broadcasts, impressing Penny, and solving the case. It's a hectic ordeal, but the Clue-like comedy is what makes it worth watching.
Bernsen's character's death comes in the form of electrocution despite the warnings from Roger and the station's page boy Billy.
The mystery becomes clearer when Roger discovers that the victims used to work at a small radio station in Peoria, Illinois together. He then goes to try and warn the station owner (Beatty's character) after realizing he worked there too, but the sponsor Bernie King gets a whiff of the laughing gas meant for Beatty's character and dies from a hysterical laugh session.
"Is he laughing? He never laughs!"
Unfortunately, the station owner eventually falls down an empty elevator shaft.
The General's fall from grace.
On top of that, Roger is found at the scene of both crimes by the police. He is taken into custody and eventually escapes to warn everyone who the killer is.
Back then, people didn't have television shows to watch, they had radio episodes that they would tune into every week that gave an audio perspective of the action. Such shows included the Lone Ranger, Green Hornet, and The Shadow.
To add to the voice actors reading off a script, sound effects were used. Christopher Lloyd's character was to provide these noises to the show using thunder sheets, horns, shoes on wooden boards, and other percussive instruments. He was my favorite character.
Sound FX Tech
Anyways, Roger's plan is to write a script for one of the upcoming shows detailing what he has discovered and the name of the killer. It is none other than the sound engineer, Max Applewhite (Tobolowsky). When the actor reads Max's name, he bolts for the roof with Penny as a hostage and Roger following not far behind.
While in a hideout on the radio tower, Applewhite lets the viewers know why he murdered his coworkers. It's a complicated tale over his invention called television that he says will revolutionize the way people will be entertained.
The hypnotizing effect of TV.
I liked how Roger and Penny took this news. They shrugged this off as if radio will always be the preferred choice to spend your free time and enjoy a good story. Apparently many inventors were stealing Max's ideas, so he had to retaliate for losing investors and patents. Max is gunned down by a machine gun from a biplane King Kong style and everything is righted back to normal (minus the dead bodies).
Max's final seconds.
The case is solved, Roger's name is cleared, the sponsors agree to invest in the new station, and Roger wins Penny back.
Get it, Roger!
Oh happy day!
For real, now...