Monday, August 26, 2019

O-tay!

Just dropping a quick reaction note... I just read the news that Eddie Murphy is going to host Saturday Night Live on December 21st.

That made me smile.

After watching Eddie recently on Jerry Seinfeld's COMEDIANS IN CARS GETTING COFFEE on Netflix and seeing the trailer for Netflix's upcoming movie DOLEMITE IS MY NAME, I am truly looking forward to what is in store for him this year and hope to see him on top again. I am sure he'll make us all laugh.

Yesterday I just so happened to have watched a young Eddie Murphy from 1983 in his stand-up act and film DELIRIOUS. I don't consider myself "politically correct", but I don't know if some of those things could be said today without social criticism... especially from the left.

Still, I laughed my ass off.

Goonie Goo Goo!


Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Movie Review: On Her Majesty's Secret Service

POTENTIAL SPOILERS.

The James Bond movie ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE starring Australian actor George Lazenby is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year. Originally released in 1969 by United Artists,  OHMSS scrambled to find a new actor to play British Agent 007 after fan-favorite actor Sean Connery departed the series and decided not to renew his contract and come back to the role. 

From some reports, Connery got fed up during production of YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE and reportedly quit following a feud with the producer, thinking 007 had got boring and the actor was also dissatisfied with his salary. During the making of the film, Connery experienced his own form of agitating fan frenzy when Japanese fans would even follow him into the bathroom with cameras and wanting his autograph. He had had enough.

An international search for a new actor to replace Connery for the coveted role was launched. Actors Michael Caine, Dick van Dyke, and Terence Stamp (amongst others) were considered for the role. But the new 007 ended up going to 29-year old Australia model George Lazenby. To prepare for his audition, the story famously goes that Lazenby dressed for the part by wearing a Rolex watch like Bond and went to the same Savile Row suit shop to collect a suit ordered, but not picked up by Sean Connery. During his audition, the non-actor accidentally punched a professional wrestler acting as a stunt man in the face which impressed producer Albert Broccoli.  He got the part and would even do most of his stunts other than some of the skiing parts because of the insurance company.

A great documentary came out in 2017 called BECOMING BOND which tells the story of George Lazenby getting the part, and ultimately walking away after doing only one Bond film. A trailer for the film is below.




I've watched this film about a dozen times in my lifetime. Many fans seem to think that this would have been the perfect Bond film had Sean Connery starred in it. I beg to differ after all these years, as I think about where Sean Connery was in his life during that time period making SHALAKO and THE MOLLY MAGUIRES. I just couldn't see him bringing the emotional intensity and edge to the film that Lazenby excellently did.





From the opening scenes of the film, Lazenby claims the role all his own with his opening fight scene against some thugs as he meets Bond girl Teresa Draco played beautifully by AVENGERS actress Diana Rigg after saving her from an attempted suicide. We would learn that she prefers to go by the name Tracy when she famously states later after meeting him under less stressful situations, "Teresa is a saint... I'm known as Tracy."

One of the greatest strengths of OHMSS is that it closely, probably more than any other Bond film, follows author Ian Fleming's novel very, very closely. The film is a culmination of Bond going after SPECTRE organization leader Ernst Stavro Blofeld, in this film, brilliantly played by actor Telly Savales. 

For help in tracking down Blofeld, Bond makes a deal with  Tracy's father, Marc Ange Draco. The mission takes Bond to Switzerland to an architectural extravagant lair on top of a mountain called Piz Gloria, where he must pose as genealogist Sir Hilary Bray to find out the secret plan of Blofeld. The facility is filled with many many beautiful women undergoing "spectial treatment, while also being guarded by several henchmen as well as lead henchwoman, Irma Bunt.




ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE also includes some of the greatest chase scenes, whether it be cars or Bond escaping down a mountain slope on skis. Backed with perhaps my favorite instrumental film score to any Bond film conducted by John Barry, the music accentuates the action.





The film has one of the most climatic endings to any Bond film as Agent 007 with some help of his allied commandos storming Piz Gloria via helicopter insertion in an action-filled battle. Even Tracy isn't helpless, as she fights off a henchman. Unfortunately, Blofeld ultimately escapes.





While the films follows many of the Bond film tropes, this film had some heavy lifting to do with Bond going through a range of emotions. Before Daniel Craig showed us a sensitive Bond in the modern day, we see a James Bond fall in love with Tracy, and at the end of the film, he asks her to be his wife. Shocking Bond fans everywhere who didn't read the novel beforehand, our bachelor womanizing James Bond is finally settling down, even Miss Moneypenny shedding a tear towards the end. What happens next as the couple speeds off to their honeymoon is the most tragic moment in Bond's life as an escaped Blofeld and Irma Bunt drive by their car, firing bullets at the automobile as Bond is pulled over on the side of the road -- shockingly and ultimately killing Bond's new bride.

Lazenby's delivery is heartbreaking and perfect in his reaction that continues to haunt Bond fans as he quietly whispers, "It's quite all right. We have all the time in the world."





Lazenby rejected the chance to appear in six more Bond movies as part of a contract woth around $1 million, before essentially being blacklisted by the industry after earning a reputation for being difficult.

“I had advice that James Bond was over anyway. It was Sean Connery’s gig and, being in the 60s, it was love, not war. You know, hippy time. And I bought into that,” Lazenby explained in an interview around the time of the documentary. 


What Bond fans got was a one-hit wonder. Lazenby only played Bond the one time. And he did one hell of a job. We could only wonder "what if?" he had stuck around to play Bond. In 1971, Connery returned to the role, overweight, graying, and not fully vested in the lackluster DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER. Afterwards, we would get Roger Moore in the 70s and part of the 80s when he took the role in 1973 with LIVE AND LET DIE. 

As for me and my reaction to this film, I used to say that THUNDERBALL was my favorite Bond film all my life. Perhaps that is the 12-year old in me who loved the underwater scuba diver battle scenes. Of course DR. NO, FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, and GOLDFINGER are top notch Bond classics... but the Bond fan in me... the guy that read all the Ian Fleming novels, watched each and every Bond film a gazillion times, the old guy that I am now about to turn 50 in two years himself.... well, after all this time, I've changed my mind and I do think that ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE is my favorite Bond film with favorite Bond soundtrack of all-time. 


I don't know if I even want to answer "Who is your favorite James Bond actor?" any longer. Each and everyone of them did a hell of a job. Including Lazenby, who I think is closer to the James Bond that I imagine in my head now when I read Bond novels, whether the original Ian Fleming books or some of the newer books written by the likes of Anthony Horowitz in FOREVER AND A DAY or even Sebastian Faulks in DEVIL MAYCARE.


George Lazenby is James Bond. I loved Lazenby in the role and appreciate his portrayal and this film more as I have aged and remained a Bond fan. The only post script I have is that I still wished he would have starred in more Bond films, but I will appreciate the heck out of this film for what it was and remains to be as it is one of the best -- now my personal favorite -- Bond film of all time.



ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE
Rating: 4.8 out of 5.





Monday, August 19, 2019

Record Review: Junior Wells - Cut That Out: 1953-1963 Sides


This will be a first in a series of record reviews that I'll offer here on my blog site that I'll do from time-to-time. As many of my family and friends know, I have a deep love for music -- especially classic rock and blues. 

I also have had a long appreciation and love for collecting my music on vinyl going back to my teenage years and when I used to work in a record store back in high school. I collected both vinyl and CDs. Many times, I'd buy certain albums on both formats. I tend to enjoy listening to vinyl at home on my turntable and listening to CDs in the car. With that said, in recent years with the resurgence of vinyl, I tend to just buy vinyl LP records now only. The exception might be buying both formats for certain artists like The Beatles and their solo work, David Bowie, and Sting.

There is something very spiritual feeling for me to listen to music on vinyl. Perhaps the warmth of the needle falling in that groove. The zen-like way I remove carefully an album from the cover and place it on the turntable, listen to the whole album, and then turn it over to the second side. All the while, reading the liner notes and admiring the art and photography of an album cover. Appreciating the packaging, admiring the record label, etc.

Over the past few years, I've picked up quite a bit of reissues from the Spanish record label called WaxTime. I've mainly picked up about B.B. King reissue albums from WaxTime and this is my first Junior Wells album. These are pressed on 180 gram vinyl and have excellent covers in English. I've read some reviews of some albums reissued on the WaxTime Record Label and some reviewers hate the sound quality, believing the albums were cut from audio CDs and not the master tapes or whatever. Well after the whole Universal Music Group fire fiasco where they admitted this past year that hundreds of thousands of songs were destroyed in blaze in 2004, I think we'll be fortunate to get any reissues and they will probably come from alternative means. What I ultimately want to say, is that I love the reissues on WaxTime Record Label and think they're doing an excellent job at reissuing hard-to-find blues albums.

I first heard of Junior Wells back in the late 1970's when I was a little kid listening over and over to my father's Blues Brothers album entitled A Briefcase Full of Blues when John Belushi, a.k.a. Joliet Jake Blues on stage, introduced the song "Messin' With the Kid" as a Junior Wells blues tune. Years later in college in 1991 when I went through my own personal blues music discovery phase, I first heard Junior Wells in his collaborations with Buddy Guy on the album Alone and Acoustic. I was blown away by that album and dug further to discover an earlier 1972 album Buddy Guy & Junior Wells Play the Blues that had they aforementioned "Messin' With the Kid" and the song "Man of Many Words" which was what the Black Crowes at the time took their hit song "Hard to Handle" from. Then there were a few other live albums the two did together until I discovered that Buddy Guy was a session man with Chess Records in the Sixties and was a sideman in Junior Wells Chicago Blues Band.

This album, Junior Wells - Cut That Out: 1953-1963 Sides, I picked up last week off an eBay "Buy it Now" purchase that cost around $13 sealed. Many of the WaxTime records can also be found for sale on eBay as a tip -- especially with these being imports. This album includes his first hit with "Messin' With the Kid" and other singles that Junior Wells recorded between the years 1953 - 1963. In one of the bold hype pieces on the back of the album, it has a quote from Rolling Stone lead singer Mick Jagger that exclaims, "Junior Wells was a great harp player. He was one of my influences."

This album collects singles from some of the independent labels that include Chief and Profile and the albums states these tracks are remastered. Junior Wells did indeed have a laid back approach to playing his harmonica and singing. While listening, what struck me was the youth-like sound of his voice with these recording compared to some later recordings he did with Buddy Guy in their collaborative albums that sounded much richer and deeper. I truly enjoyed this album, especially with tracks like "Cut That Out" and a song that I have heard Eric Clapton cover called "It Hurts Me Too".

On the same day that I acquired this Junior Wells album, I also picked up a Little Walter album also. I'll see about perhaps reviewing that album also in the future. Little Walter was another Bluesman harp player that Junior Wells was inspired by, and like Little Walter, Junior Wells adapted the style of playing a modern amplified harmonica like him. Junior Wells even replaced Little Walter in Muddy Waters's band and played on one of Muddy's sessions for Chess Records in 1952.

So, for me, I did listen to the two albums back-to-back, and it made an interesting listen.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5. Easy listening to put on in the background and chill to. Very nice blues album



Sunday, August 18, 2019

My Home Remodel Pre-Visualization


We're not ready this year, but we hope to begin phase one of remodeling our home that was originally built in 1948 and based on prairie-style architecture. The home that we've named Lyndonhouse was built by a World War II veteran named Lyndon Long who passed away several years ago. I believe he was influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright to some degree and this is what attracted me to the home when I bought it in 2016 after my divorce when I finally wanted a place of my own. My wife Jennifer and I hope to add a bit of Japanese architectural influence to the home and also intend to introduce some Niwaki style Japanese garden landscaping.

This is a first draft pre-visualization done up in Adobe Photoshop of my home. We hope to add a bit of Japanese architectural influence and Niwaki influenced landscaping. The mailman walks through our yard each and every day to deliver the mail and then proceed over to the nextdoor neighbor's home. We're figuring to actually add a true pathway in the yard and maybe some stones. Still not sure about that. I do want to remove several bushes and replace one area with a giant church pew. And the other with a Japanese Red Maple. I also want to add a gingko tree... which is my favorite tree. The outside of the home is going to be reworked and painted differently to appear more Japanese home style rather than the dull battleship gray the home is currently pained.

That front fenced in area is actually a fenced in porch we already have that we've turned into a beer garden.

Anyway, this is a pre-visualization of the remodeling that we want to do to the exterior of the front of the house down the road.


Just Married

This blog post shares personal information about my life, marriage, and relationships. Be forewarned in case you want to skip over it. ;)


Most of my close friends and family are well aware of the topic that I write about next, but perhaps some of those who only marginally know me may not be aware of major life changes that have transpired over this past year.

On July 6th of this year, yours truly got married at the Chapel in the Woods at Elvis Presley's Graceland in my birthplace of Memphis, Tennessee where my parents and many family members still live. It was a very beautiful wedding, and despite rumors, we were not married by an Elvis impersonator.

My beautiful bride's name is Jennifer.

Just over a year ago, I unexpectedly met this wonderful woman who I married last month. We discovered immediately within our first few conversations with one another that we "had the spark". We get along great in our companionship, never run out of conversation, and enjoy being with each other. We're greatly in love with one another and it has been as if we were two lost souls who have been searching for one another our entire lives.

Jennifer is originally from Mansfield, Texas. My wife is vibrant, funny, loving, fun and brings such joy and laughter into to my life. She makes me very happy and has taught me the true meaning of unconditional love. I recognize now that I never truly ever experienced this before with anyone else. I never experienced what it was like to be in a happy and healthy relationship that wasn't all dysfunctional, struggling, sad, chaotic, drama-filled, or wrong in some way. Jennifer loves me for who I am. Love is reciprocated between us. I finally feel it in my heart that all is right and there is this great sense of appreciation of being in a stable relationship for the first time in my life.

Just a few weeks before meeting Jennifer, I confess that I had given up on any hope that I would ever meet "the one" after so many previous relationship failures that I had undergone. I figured I would die a divorced old man living his life like a tired and rejected hermit.

I had previously been divorced after a difficult 20+ year marriage that struggled and was often unhappy throughout our time together behind the scenes and ultimately failed. I finally accepted it was time to leave when I realized it couldn't be "fixed", we were disconnected, both unhappy, and not living an authentic life. Still, I sincerely appreciate the two wonderful children we brought into this world together. I do hope my ex-wife has found or will find the happiness she desires.

After the divorce, I met other women as I tried to pick up the pieces and matters only got worse for me. I had my heart broken a few more times -- especially over two other women that I was dating. Both weren't right for me. One, who I was in a long-term relationship with, used me, viciously deceived me, took thousands of dollars from me, and then cheated on me with another man that I discovered when I walked in on them. The other person I only briefly dated, as we were friends for several years beforehand and we agreed to gently part ways after giving dating a try. We both recognized that we weren't meant for one another as a couple and decided it best if we would just remain friends.

And I'm not proud of this next part of my life after those two relationships and before meeting Jennifer, but then there were the many other women through online dating that I dated briefly over an 18 month span that I just never felt any sort of connection, spark, or real love for any of them. I felt numb and going through the motions of online dating. I don't think they felt it either and there is no love lost there. I felt horrible and very alone during that period. I'm not proud or happy with that experience and this time of my life, but it was something that I went through that ultimately led me to loving and especially appreciating Jennifer even more.

For me, I just didn't think I'd ever find true love. I never thought I'd ever re-marry again after all that I went through. I just didn't think I could ever "get it right."

Life is funny. I admit here to my reader that in one of my private prayers to God just a summer a year ago, I told Him after all the relationship problems that I went through, that I surrendered when it came to the matter of finding that special someone to love who I desired to love me authentically in return. Like I said, getting remarried just a year ago seemed like the farthest thing from what would happen. I asked God to place in front of me what He intended for me... and a few weeks later I met Jennifer. (Thank you, again, God.)

And yes, Jennifer and I clicked immediately.

Just over a year later, yes, I am very happy and in love. I'm a newlywed. Jennifer has helped me in my healing process and has helped love all of my pain away from my past. I can now move forward and enjoy life. For the first time since my teenage years, I truly feel happy and content with life. I feel at home. All feels right now. I have finally found the person that "gets me" and fully understands me, loves me unconditionally, isn't trying to use me in someway, doesn't treat me as second best, and who I truly enjoy spending my time together with. There is no walking on eggshells around her or worrying about some sort of Jerry Springer-like bullshit drama to happen at anytime like I did with some previous women that I dated these last few years.

I share this personal information to let all those know I finally feel at ease. This is cathartic for me to share. We are enjoying life together and we look forwards all of our days ahead. After the difficult previous years of my life, I thank both God and thank Jennifer that she is now at my side as my wife.

I think we have what it takes "to get through this thing called life."



Friday, August 16, 2019

The Beatles - Abbey Road 50th Anniversary Set

I have to admit, I'm pretty excited that Beatles fans are about to get a 50th Anniversary Edition box set of Abbey Road in September. Released in September 1969, Abbey Road was the final album that John, Paul, George, and Ringo recorded together as a band, though Let It Be was later released.

For years and years, I've had my "favorite" Beatles album. I'd go through a Sgt. Pepper phase, or a Rubber Soul/Revolver phase... but I tend to listen to Abbey Road more than any other of their releases.

The new boxset is available for preorder on www.thebeatles.com and www.amazon.com amongst other sites. The album’s 17 tracks are newly mixed by producer Giles Martin (son of original producer George Martin) and mix engineer Sam Okell in stereo, high res stereo, 5.1 surround, and Dolby Atmos, accompanied by 23 session recordings and demos, most of which are previously unreleased.

Giles did an excellent job remastering The Beatles catalog in 2009 and over the past two years, has given us 50th Anniversary boxsets of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and The White Album -- both are FAB and also include bonus unreleased tracks, studio outtakes and demos.

I'm sure the Abbey Road 50th Anniversary Edition with guarantee a splendid time for all.







Thursday, August 15, 2019

New Addition to the Family


My studio partner and co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon apparently...

Meet C.C. (...stands for 'Cookies and Cream' like the colors of her fur coat).

She is a Labradoodle.-- 3/4 Poodle and 1/4 Labrador Retriever. She weighs 5 pounds and is 9 weeks old. She gets me up really really early in the mornings.

I already love her.

Revamping the Website -- The Soft Relaunch is Now

So, over the past few days, I've been restructuring and retooling my websites and online presence. It is nice returning and updating things.

For the past four years, I really haven't blogged at all here on Blogger. The last blog post was from 2015 that pointed to a link with an interview with yours truly that I conducted with my pal, Sean Taylor.  You can still read it.

As for my various websites (i.e., Thrill Seeker Comics, Bandito Entertainment, Scott McCullar, etc.), they sat dormant over the past 18 months or so.  I've been absent from updating my websites since releasing the THRILL SEEKER COMICS ARCHIVE VOLUME ONE that I was promoting on Kickstarter with a crowdfunding project that was successful. Life took some unexpected turns for me and I had my long lost weekend over the last few years, to borrow a coined term from Beatle John Lennon. I've been dealing with some personal matters in my life and keeping busy with other projects.

More on that later perhaps in another post about my personal goings on.

Things are groovy now in my life and I'm finding myself returning to some more of my creative passions and hobbies. I'll be sharing more in the future...

As for my website, I'm now moving scottmccullar.com and my other domain names to point here at Blogger where this blog is being retooled to be my singular website. For me, it makes sense economically as well as timewise and the ease at updating. I hope to update on various things, including THRILL SEEKER COMICS related pieces as I return to publishing just a bit. I will also post on my blog about other matters and interests. I will label updates for easy access -- especially if you just want to view certain topics and wade through the other pieces.

Consider this week a test run as I move domains over, etc., and get this spot ready to relaunch.

Thanks,
Scott

Thrill Seeker Comics Dossier - The Golden Age Emerald Mantis


Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Available Now at Amazon.com

https://smile.amazon.com/dp/0692970487/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_U_x_4O3uDbZJ9YJA2

The Independent Pulp Action and Adventure Anthology series by Scott McCullar returns with a 128-page graphic novel re-mastered collection of the original short stories and webstrips originally published by Shooting Star Comics. The graphic novel collection published by Bandito Entertainment is available now to order online through Amazon.com.

THRILL SEEKER COMICS™ is also returning with all-new tales in new online comics strips and print comics published by Bandito Entertainment.

Restarting the blog and website

Hi, this is Scott. It has been over four years since I've updated my blog and two years since updating my personal website. I'm just going into the cyber-garage here to remove the cover off of this old vehicle in storage, turn the key to the engine, and try seeing if this still starts up and works. I'm looking to perhaps do something with this again and perhaps consolidate my domains to point over to here. Let me try this out...