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Earlier this month, I had a semi-planned “staycation” with the kids before they went back to school. Their babysitter was spending the last week of her summer break at camp which meant I needed to stay home with the girls for a week and a half. I was looking for things we could do when I noticed that the Lego Dimensions Starter Pack was on sale for roughly half price. Who could pass that up? Certainly not me. It was a life saver during some of those rainy days at the tail end of summer vacation.
Those of you without little ones may be wondering what the heck a Lego Dimension is. If you’re familiar with the product, maybe you’re wondering about the specifics. Either way, I’ve got you covered.
Richard Gere celebrates his 67th birthday today. Gere began acting in the 1970s, initially in small roles or in minor films. He emerged as a leading man when he starred in Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven and Paul Schrader’s American Gigolo, but real stardom came when he portrayed a Naval Officer Candidate in a romantic drama with a final scene that a lot of women I knew when I was in college and grad school in the 1980s used to swoon over:
Welcome to the next matchup in our continuing search for the most satisfyingly cheesy pop songs of all time! A LeBlog Cheestastic Classic should be both undeniably corny or over-the-top while also possessing some quality that makes some of us grin and pump our fists in gleeful irony. Some people might also use the term “guilty pleasure.” But I’m not going to. For our purposes here, these are “LeBlog’s Cheesetastic Classics.” The skill and talent involved in producing some of these songs may, in fact, be quite impressive and at their core these songs might actually be rather superior to some which are considered cool. But somewhere along the way the songwriter or performer took that wrong turn at Albuquerque and landed themselves in the land of cheese.
This is a touchy one, isn’t it? I’ve paired these two songs quite purposefully because I want to throw myself down this particular chasm and try to walk away without having to face one of them another week. Yes, both songs have thematics based on female sensuality, but I’ll argue that while that does have a hand in making them both cheesy, it’s not judgmental to label them so. After all, it’s the execution here that helps to lay on the gouda heavy and well, if you’re talking judgmental…just get a load of one of our nominees.
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As promised, this is the Special Collectors Section on Star Trek from the first-ever issue of Starlog back forty years ago.
Cameron Diaz celebrates her 44th birthday today. Diaz began modeling at the age of 16, and in 1993, someone at her agency recommended that she audition for a movie to be titled The Mask. Following that debut, she made a few indie films, then returned to mainstream movies in a 1997 romance that featured her character attempting to sing karaoke:
It’s easy to forget that at one time, Drew Barrymore was viewed as a cautionary tale. Following E.T., Barrymore was a sought-after child star. But at a young age, she was partying harder than a lot of grown-ups. Eventually, she cleaned up her act and became a successful movie star and producer. But for a while, that seemed unlikely. In the August 1990 issue of Movieline, the magazine played 20 questions with the actress who had recently sobered up and lost some baby weight.
When asked about her next movie, Barrymore says it’s a movie called Tipperary. As it turns out, this movie didn’t do much to reestablish Barrymore’s career. It sat on a shelf for several years before being released under the name No Place To Hide. This article also include a couple of blind gossip items. I can guess who the second one is, but I’m stumped on the first. Guesses in the comments section.
Last week, I gave “Grotesque” a rare passing grade. I thought the simplicity of the Nick-centric mid-season premiere played to the writing staff’s strengths while avoiding their weaknesses (specifically dialogue). By focusing on the immediate challenges of crossing the desert, “Grotesque” was able to avoid the logical pitfalls that the show tends to fall into as well as sparing us a bunch of pointless speechifying. The second episode of the second half of the second season returns to the show’s regular format. As such, it brings back all of the show’s usual failures.
Rebecca De Mornay celebrates her 57th birthday today. Her father was an eccentric, reactionary TV host named Wally George who used to be well-known in the Los Angeles area. She trained at the Lee Strasberg Institute and began her acting career in Coppola’s One from the Heart. Major roles followed in films such as Risky Business (opposite Tom Cruise) and the intense thriller Runaway Train:
Today is going to be unofficial “Country-Pop Day” here, as our two headliners are both country singers who have made successful crossovers to the pop audience.
Five-time Grammy winner Shania Twain turns 51 today. She began performing at a young age while growing up in northern Ontario, Canada, and started doing so full time after she got out of high school. Her career progressed slowly—her first album didn’t come out until she was 28—but with her second album, The Woman in Me, Twain’s career took off. It was a huge seller, won the Grammy for Best Country Album, and wound up including eight charted singles, four of which reached #1 on the US country charts, including this one:
Starlog Magazine devoted a surprising amount of page space to the kid-friendly robot comedy, Short Circuit. After having given the movie the cover story in that anniversary issue the month before, the August 1986 issue included an interview with star Ally Sheedy as she was trying to escape the career vortex of the Brat Pack.
In late June I took advantage of some free days to visit my Mother in Virginia for her birthday. It was a fun long weekend that included meals out, a screening of Finding Dory, and an unexpected shared activity when I ran across a puzzle in the book store that was just too good to pass up. It consists of thirty-nine posters from a wide variety of classic films stretching from the silent era of the 1920s into the 1970s. It was an engrossing project to undertake alongside my Mother and we naturally discussed several of the featured movies as we built it. What stunned me a little was that I had actually only seen twenty-six of the thirty-nine films honored. I have vowed to fill these gaps in my knowledge of film and take you along for the ride as I reconstruct the puzzle in question. I’ll re-watch the movies I’ve already seen along with experiencing the ones that are new to me and share my thoughts on each one.
Just two moves to the right of The Graduate (1967) on my movie posters puzzle is another well-known movie from the same iconic year in American history. This one stars three Academy Award winners and is also set in the San Francisco area. It’s also a reminder that the sexual revolution of the era which is so often associated with the peace and love hippie movement going on just a few neighborhoods over from where the action of this film takes place was a much wider phenomenon than that. The expanding presence of young women in the professional world combined with the advent and wide availability of effective birth control had an effect across a large range of populations. The script for Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner touches this in only the gentlest of ways, but its social concerns are much more focused on another issue of the time which has, unfortunately, not shown anywhere close to the progress its characters appear to think it will.
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Aaron Paul, who celebrates his 37th birthday today, moved to Los Angeles after graduating from high school to pursue an acting career. He spent nearly a decade “paying his dues,” as the saying goes, appearing in guest roles on over twenty TV series and playing mostly small parts in feature films. His break came when he was cast as Jesse Pinkman, who teams with his former high school chemistry teacher to go into the meth business, in the AMC series Breaking Bad: