Book Review: ‘Memphis Wrestling History Presents: 1957-1989 Clippings’ by Mark James

This is another historical wrestling reference book by Mark James.

By it’s title you can probably gather that it focuses on the Memphis territory. While it has an introduction written by James, the rest of the book is just pages of newspaper clippings about each Monday night wrestling show held in Memphis from 1957 through 1989.

While it is fantastic that it gives the entire history of Memphis’ Monday night cards, I kind of wish that there was more information given throughout the book.

This is definitely something worth looking at, though, if you’re a fan of wrestling history, especially Memphis.

This lets you see, from week-to-week, which wrestlers were featured, who came into the territory and where they fit on the card.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other books on Memphis wrestling, as well as books by Mark James.

Documentary Review: Life After Flash (2017)

Release Date: October 2nd, 2017 (London premiere)
Directed by: Lisa Downs
Written by: Lisa Downs
Music by: Toby Dunham
Cast: Sam J. Jones, Melody Anderson, Brian Blessed, Topol, Peter Wyngarde, Richard O’Brien, Deep Roy, Brian May, Peter Duncan, Howard Blake, Barry Bostwick, Martha De Laurentiis, Richard Donner, Lou Ferrigno, Rich Fulcher, Sean Gunn, Jon Heder, Stan Lee, Ross Marquand, Josh McDermitt, Jason Mewes, Mark Millar, Robert Rodriguez, Michael Rooker, Alex Ross, Patrick Warburton, various

Strict Machine, Spare Change Films, 94 Minutes

Review:

This documentary has been in my queue for a bit but I wanted to revisit Flash Gordon first before checking this out. Luckily, I recently found my DVD of the original film and was able to watch it and review it a week or so ago.

Now that the 1980 film was fresh in my mind again, as I hadn’t seen it in years, I felt like I could go into this with more familiarity, context and creative reference.

Overall, this was pretty good and it was intriguing listening to Sam J. Jones’ story about how his career sort of fizzled out and the reasons behind that. Luckily, this is a Hollywood story with a positive outcome, as the guy is now doing well and on the right track, personally and career-wise.

This spends a lot of time talking about Jones but it also delves into the film’s production, history and features interviews with many of the people who were involved in it. I especially liked seeing Brian Blessed in this, as I’ve always loved that guy.

Life After Flash also explores the fandom a bit, as it interviews super fans and collectors but also allows them to show off their cool shit and talk about their love for the film.

I dug this documentary quite a bit, as I feel like the 1980 Flash Gordon doesn’t get enough love and has sort of been forgotten by modern audiences. 

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: other recent documentaries about filmmaking and specific fandoms.

Retro Relapse: The Death of Chinese Food

RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.

*Written in 2015.

Chinese food is dying a slow and horrible death.

While it is probably still okay in bigger cities, real Chinese restaurants have been run out of most towns by massive buffets and the overabundance of Chinese take-out cubbyholes.

Sure, the Chinese cuisine in China still exists and always will but I am specifically talking about American Chinese food or New York style or whatever you want to officially label it.

If you don’t know, we don’t make the same stuff as China. America’s Chinese food is a Western bastardization of real Chinese cuisine but it fits our sweet-obsessed palates better and we probably wouldn’t be super keen on the authentic food. Besides, from what I hear from Westerners that have gone over there, it really isn’t something to write home about.

This shit is pretty tragic though.

When I was a kid, I had a few different Chinese restaurants near my home to choose from. They were nice sit-down establishments that served high quality cuisine. You got hot tea, those little fried strips of wonton, that spicy as hell hot mustard, some nice egg rolls, fried rice that was actually fried rice and a nice big meal of some crispy fried chicken bits covered in a stellar sauce – usually sweet with a touch of spice. Yes, there are several types of entrees but they are all just slight variations of a handful of dishes.

Somewhere along the line, corners started to be cut, ingredient quality went down the shitter and we were bombarded with Chinese buffets almost everywhere. Many were good in the beginning. Who could resist the allure of all-you-can-eat Chinese food? Plus you just walk up and make your own plate. No looking over menus, no ordering, no special requests, no waiting! Just straight up instantaneous Chinese food orgy for a few bucks! It was like getting a hand job while smoking a joint under the bleachers before fourth period algebra. To a Chinese cuisine connoisseur, such as my thirteen year-old self, we were able to try a little bit of everything, not break the bank and leave in an MSG-laced coma only to be hungry for more in two hours.

As time continued to pass, the quality kept dropping. In a few short years, we were all eating shit but we kept doing it. Truth is, many people still fall victim to the phantom pull of the Chinese buffet. Hell, it still grabs me sometimes when I’m hungry, lazy and just need a spontaneous romp through crappy food, overeating and hours worth of dehydration and self-hatred.

I convince myself it is good because I am nostalgic for what Chinese food used to be. It isn’t good and I’m an asshole lying to myself. The problem is, I have a need and that need can’t be fulfilled. So a craving that should be squashed in one meal becomes a craving that hasn’t been quenched in years. I really love Chinese food. Damn it, writing this fucking article is making me hungry.

Anyway, as these Chinese buffets took over American culture like some sort of edible Beanie Babies, they still felt the need to produce food cheaper and faster. As some Americans grew exhausted of the buffet experience, these Chinese take-out hole-in-the-wall joints started popping up in every suburban and rural strip mall. Now you could walk in and walk out in less than five minutes with a $6 dinner combo or a $4 lunch combo. And now, these places are everywhere.

The Chinese cubbyhole take-out takeover compounded with the buffets has pretty much changed the American Chinese food industry’s business model so much that the really good quality mom and pop restaurants got ran out of town. Where I live, the best of these restaurants shutdown a few years ago and my relationship with Chinese food has never been the same. It has dissolved into a horrible marriage full of drinking, heavy drugs, spousal abuse and absolutely no sex – the kids moved in with grandma.

Recently a restaurant that appeared to be a legit high quality Chinese joint opened near my house. I went in, I was disappointed. While it was better than a buffet or a cubbyhole, it was still pretty shitty and just a small step above its cheaper counterparts. I pretty much paid double the price for still crappy Chinese cuisine.

There is still one place that is okay in my town but it only exists because it is a “fusion” of all Asian styles and American as well. And that’s the thing, there is still a big market for Asian food but people now want sushi, hibachi, Thai and Vietnamese. The average American probably thinks all this shit is under the same umbrella but it isn’t. Traditional American Chinese food has become the bastard child of these multi-Asian eateries.

Then there is PF Chang’s but they mix up their cultural selections too and although I really like their Mongolian beef, Mongolia isn’t China and they are essentially the Asian Olive Garden. I hate Olive Garden, minus the bread sticks and high caloric salad – high caloric because I eat a shit ton.

I guess I’m going to just have to book a flight to New York or San Francisco. I’m certainly not going to stop this hunger outside of a major city with a large Chinese population.

Well, off to Panda Express at the mall, because it is now the best Chinese food in town.

Vids I Dig 450: Filmento: ‘The Lone Ranger’: How to Build the Biggest Flop of All-Time

From Filmento’s YouTube description: 2013 Disney summer blockbuster The Lone Ranger was directed by Gore Verbinski and starred Jack Sparrow himself Johnny Depp, and they clearly tried to recapture the success they found with Pirates of the Caribbean. Unfortunately, for some reason this time it didn’t work and The Lone Ranger ended up becoming the biggest box office bomb of all time, costing Mickey Mouse over 200 million dollars of lost cash. One of the biggest reasons for this is that they seemed to have forgotten the core qualities you need to keep in mind when making a massive blockbuster meant for all general audiences. In today’s Anatomy of a Failure, let’s see what those qualities are in order to see where The Lone Ranger went wrong. Here’s how to build a box office flop.

Book Review: ‘Tiki Pop: America Imagines Its Own Polynesian Paradise’ by Sven A. Kirsten

There are books on Tiki culture and then there’s Tiki Pop: America Imagines Its Own Polynesian Paradise by Sven A. Kirsten and publisher TASCHEN.

What I mean by that is that this book is the bible on Tiki history in the United States, as it covers its genesis, all of its key elements, how it expanded into everything in pop culture and ultimately, how it faded away and then saw a bit of a revival.

Like all books I own by TASCHEN, this is image heavy and presented on premium paper stock. It’s a legitimate art book that truly delves into Tiki history and displays everything that one could imagine from that pocket of Americana.

This book is a very thick hardcover that covers so much territory, even for being chock full of hundreds of images and also being translated into three languages.

I found every single chapter intriguing and well researched. My only real gripe about the book is that the written part of each chapter is kind of short and I felt like it all could’ve been greatly expanded on. Maybe the author can do that in the future, as this has so many great entry points to different parts of Tiki pop that can be expanded upon in many books.

Regardless of that, this is still the greatest book I have ever come across on the subject. Plus, it’s beautifully and immaculately presented. For lovers of Tiki culture, this is absolutely a must own and it’s also really inexpensive for its size and quality.

Rating: 10/10
Pairs well with: other books on Tiki culture and pop culture from bygone eras.