star wars

Youtubin’: Jang’s Lego Reviews – Star Wars TIE Bomber

If you caught this week’s episode of Grab A Stack of Rock, then you know that California Girl showed off a brand new (January 1) Lego Star Wars TIE Bomber.  This baby first appeared in The Empire Strikes Back in 1980.  I had the original blue & black Lego version, but this is the first update since that edition.

If you’d like a closer look at this beast, check out Jang’s Lego review below.  Jang is one of the most thorough and intelligent Lego reviewers on YouTube and I always check out his content when I’m curious about a set.  Here he breaks down the build, the parts, the features, the value, and the problems.  Check it out.

Grab A Stack of Lego and Heels with Mike & Married And Heels!

GRAB A STACK OF ROCK…with Mike and the Mad Metal Man
Episode 10:  MarriedAndHeels AKA California Girl!

A very special episode today for you Lego lovers, music fans, and connoisseurs of high fashion!  I was planning on taking this Friday off, but then suddenly had the opportunity to tape an episode of Grab A Stack of Rock with good friend MarriedAndHeels on the west coast — also known as California Girl and Edie Van Heelin.  I’ve been working on getting her on the show, and this week everything fell into place.  Unfortunately, Harrison could not make it but he was certainly with us in spirit.  CG rolled out some hot new Lego sets, just released January 1!  Star Wars and Marvel fans, pay attention!

Meanwhile the Australian Mad Metal Man flipped it around, and submitted questions for us!  One for me, one for her, and I hope you like our answers.

Of course music was a topic that we continually circled around, and this is where we may earn some hate.  Hendrix fans, skip past this part.  But one thing we share in common is that we love what we love, and we have our reasons.  What it turns out to be, is that we both tend to love the older tunes the most.  Have I officially become an old fart?  Possibly.  Watch and let me know.  It’s an interesting discussion that we could easily have expanded on.

A big thanks to California Girl for joining me this week.  We’ll have to have her back with Harrison.

Enjoy the episode!  Next week:  Star Trek with Mike, Rob, Tim, Harrison and Kevin “Buried On Mars” Simister!

Impromptu Friday Night Stream with Harrison and Mike – Oct 28 2022

As I was leaving for work on Friday morning, I thought to myself, “You know, I wonder if Harrison or anybody would feel like going live tonight.  Just shoot the shit for an hour.  It might be a fun way to be social on a Friday night and it only has to be an hour.”

I messaged Harrison in Australia just as he was tucking in for the night, and he graciously agreed to get up early and join me for an impromptu live stream.  Setting his alarm clock, Harrison prepared for our first live show since July!

In this hour we discussed the following subjects:

  1. Lego Optimus Prime
  2. Transformers/Back to the Future Gigawatt
  3. Star Wars Black Series Dark Trooper, Marvel Wakanda Forever Ironheart
  4. Recent Japanese import CD arrivals
  5. New acquisitions by Harrison
  6. Black Sabbath/Ray Gillen – Dio/Craig Goldie
  7. Surprise guest appearance by the Meat Man discussing the Dio movie Dreamers Never Die, and Death Angel/Exodus/Testament live in concert
  8. Meat’s next concert, The Musical Box

This was great fun and I hope to catch up to the guys again in the near future.  Thanks for watching everyone!

#989: Moving In Stereo

RECORD STORE TALES #989: Moving In Stereo

It was May 2002 and I was a first-time homeowner.  My dad taught me, “Never rent!  Only buy.  Put your money towards something.”  So I trusted his advice and lived at home as long as could I possibly milk it!

Moving in to my new place took a day.  I had a lot of help from family and friends.  We probably had 10 or 12 people total.  I packed up all my CDs and insisted that only I handle them.  It caused me more than a little anxiety.  I figured a few jewel cases would crack, but there were some special ones I took extra precautions with.  Coloured jewel cases are hard to replace.  The most precious CD case to me is the 1996 Deep Purple In Rock anniversary edition.  The case comes etched with signatures and other text.  Breaking one of those means either living with it, or trying to find another copy with case intact.  I desired to do neither.  In Rock survived the move intact.  I would not be lying to you if I told you that this one little item was of more concern to me than anything else I moved that day.  My stereo equipment came in second.

Some people say they have a hard time sleeping, their first night in a new home.  I did not have that problem.  After a full day of moving, I was wiped.  But also eager to get going the next day and set up my new place.  Against the better judgement of everyone who helped me move, the very first thing I did was set up my CD towers.  Having those discs sitting in boxes really bothered me.  I wanted them out, so I could inspect them and ensure they all survived intact, and I wanted them accessible.  A long day of painting was ahead!

I cannot remember the first album I played in my new home.  Strange, because normally I’d commit that sort of thing to memory.  It was probably Kiss.  I like to use Kiss for firsts.  I do remember the first movie I watched.  It was The Phantom Menace.  I wanted my first movie to be a DVD, and I wanted it to be a Star Wars.  The older Star Wars films would not exist on that format until 2004.

I set up the CD towers, put the discs back in their alphabetical homes, and was relieved that only a couple cases broke.  I then painted around them.  Priorities.

The funny thing about these memories is how much space I thought I had back then.  I had so many empty closets.  I didn’t have enough stuff to put on my shelves.  To say things have changed would be an understatement.  Due to lack of storage, there are CDs everywhere in random order.  We need to hire a carpenter and get some proper CD shelving made for this place!

After a solid weekend of working, painting and assembling, I was settled into my new place.  I had my first guests over that Monday.  I loved my new place, but I did not have long to enjoy it.  The following week, I was on my way to Prince Edward Island, determined to find the home of Stompin’ Tom Connors, and eat lobster at least once a day.  Success on both counts.  But I couldn’t wait to get home again.  I had a new Deep Purple box set of official bootlegs waiting for me to finish listening.  12 CDs.  I only had time to hear the first three discs before departure.  And you can bet your last dollar that I picked up where I left off, with disc four.

Jen moved here in 2008.  It’s cramped but we make due.  Her illness set us back in the sense that we haven’t been able to move somewhere bigger.  But it’s home.  It’s our home.  It has 20 years of memories.  I’m proud to say that many of them are musical in nature.

Revenge of the Lists: All 11 Star Wars films discussed in detail!

Did Harrison really cause Erik and Rob to walk off the show?  Did Rob drop two “F-bombs”?  Did Harrison actually smile in the featured image?  Was this one of our best shows ever?

“It’s true.  All of it.”

Our esteemed panel of Jedi masters tonight were:

  • Erik Woods – movie and soundtrack expert
  • Robert Daniels – movie and soundtrack expert
  • Harrison Kopp – young fella who grew up on prequels and Clone Wars
  • LeBrain – old fart

Opinions veered wildly on the 11 Star Wars films we examined in great detail tonight.  While you may never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy, I also will contend you will not find a more passionate Star Wars discussion than the one we had this week.

Truly one of our best shows, and we barely scratched the surface of these films.  Perhaps a deeper dive is in order for the future.

 

Tonight! May the Rankings Be With Us: All 11 Star Wars films rated by our panel of experts!

The LeBrain Train: 2000 Words or More with Mike Ladano and Friends

Episode 108 – All the Star Wars films, ranked!

 

This is a show that has been in the works a long time.  A long time.  I understand you’re Star Wars fans yourselves!  Then you will love this show we have lined up for you tonight.

The Nigel Tugnel Top Ten list format — a top 11 — is perfect for cases like this.  Tonight our panel of experts (top men!) will rank all 11 films (9 Saga movies plus 2 spinoffs).  This is sure to get hairy (Wookiee style) due to the diversity of the panel:

  • Erik Woods – movie and soundtrack expert
  • Robert Daniels – movie and soundtrack expert
  • Harrison Kopp – young fella who grew up on prequels and Clone Wars
  • LeBrain – old fart

Note:  We are only counting the 11 live action theatrical films, not any made-for-video films, or the animated Clone Wars (which did have a brief theatrical run).  Oh sure, Harrison might try to throw a curve ball but the rules are clear.

At the end of the night, will we have consensus?  I sure hope not!  What I do expect is plenty of lively conversation with maybe a little trash-talk.

Friday May 13, 7:00 PM E.S.T.  on YouTubeFacebook and also Facebook!

#965: The Collector’s Disease

RECORD STORE TALES #965: The Collector’s Disease

There’s no question I have the disease of a collector.  It’s undisputed and quite obvious.  I like to have not just one of a thing, but many.  I couldn’t just start with one Kiss album, I had to get more.  The goal was to get them all.  Having one GI Joe figure wasn’t enough.  You had to have as many as you could afford.  It’s marketing genius that this common psychological flaw was exploited guilt-free for so long.  Where did it start with me?

Perhaps my collector’s nerve was first tickled by Lego.  The more you get, the better stuff you can make.  Every year, new pieces were introduced.  In 1978 they launched the “Space” theme of Lego.  Prior to that came the new “Technic” pieces.  Right as I was hitting the perfect age for creating things made of Lego, they upped their game in a way that completely meshed.  I remember getting quite a few Space sets and several Technic too, including one where you build an 8-cylinder engine.  All you needed were more pieces to fully realize your creative visions.

At the same time, Star Wars had hit theatres and we were starting to collect the action figures.  This planted a seed.  Cleverly, Kenner included pictures on the back of every figure package:  Each Star Wars figure, numbered in a checklist style.  This was cribbed from trading cards, like Topps — another Star Wars merchandising brand we tried to collect.  Something about a checklist is an itch that begs to be scratched by certain personality types.  Hasbro recycled the checklist gimmick with their in-pack Transformers catalogues in 1984.

As I’m happy to recount the tale, I discovered Kiss in 1985.  Their new album Asylum was out.  The next door neighbour George had a bunch of rock magazines, and one of them (perhaps Faces) had a big full page Kiss ad.  The famed “Accept No Imitations” Asylum ad.  Simple branding, like Coke or Pepsi.  The “real thing”.  They were really promoting the new Kiss in North America as the 20th in a series of records, including the four solo albums, two live albums, and Double Platinum.  Laid out in two rows at the bottom, checklist style, were all 19 of the previous album covers, including their release dates.

Like bells going off in my head, the collector’s itch needed to be scratched.

Gene Simmons is a lifelong comics reader, and he knew as well as anyone that Marvel had a monthly checklist near the back of each book.  He would have had many trading cards in his youth and was surely familiar with the concept of a checklist.  Whether that’s a connection or not, that Kiss ad really set off the fireworks in my brain.  I stared at it, studying each individual album cover, and the frequency of release.

I’ve detailed, many times, my process in first recording all the Kiss records from George or Bob.  The desire to have a complete set, buying as many as I could find while recording the rest.  The need to include the “forgotten” Kiss Killers album in the count.  I displayed all my tapes, either recorded or originals, in order by release date, just like the ad I had seen, except my taped collection numbered 22, including Killers and Animalize Live Uncensored.  Eventually in highschool (1987 precisely) I discarded the recorded copies and acquired a complete set on tape.  In the Record Store years, the process would repeat on remastered CD.

But wait….

While all of the above is the truth, and nothing but the truth, it is not the whole truth.  Kiss were not the first rock band I sought to “collect”.

Before I had that Kiss epiphany with the checklist, I can remember having a specific earlier conversation.  It would have been Easter of ’85, several months before the September release of Kiss Asylum.  My mom asked me what I wanted for Easter, and I told her “the new Quiet Riot” because “I want to have all their albums.”  I thought they only had two, and it would be an easy collection to complete.  But there it was:  the desire to have “all” of something.

Strange how the concept of collecting only latched onto me in some ways.  Atari games looked pretty on display in their coloured boxes, but we had no desire to get all the games.  Just the “good” ones.  Even with comic books.  I would buy issues of current books off the newstands, but did not go back to buy older issues, because they could get insanely expensive, and numbered in the hundreds.  Since comics always referred back to previous and concurrent issues, they really made you want to buy them all to get all the backstory.  But I didn’t — couldn’t.  This is exactly why Bob preferred only to buy limited series, like movie adaptations.  I guess my collector’s desires only extended as far as I could reach, in a monetary sense.

Today, musical artists exploit this common need to collect at lengths never before seen.  We’re still out there, trying to make it through an adult world, but now we have disposable income.  It used to be you’d want all the albums, and if you discovered single B-sides, you wanted those too.  Then it became the bonus tracks, the deluxe editions, the super deluxe editions, and all the different colours of vinyl you get for just about every release these days!  That’s how they get us.  Next thing you know, you just dropped a grand or two on a Gene Simmons Vault, or $800 on a Judas Priest box set.

And we go along with it, time and time again.  Once the itch has been scratched, and the soothing radiation of a complete collection rolls over you like waves…the itch inevitably returns.

And so it ends?  It never ends.

 

#960: Spoilers? [Spoiler-free]

RECORD STORE TALES #960:  Spoilers?

How do you like to enjoy a movie?  Do you prefer to go in stone cold with no spoilers?  Or do you like to be hot with anticipation, awaiting every mega-moment that you have seen leaked on Reddit?

Spoiler alert:  I like spoilers.

Gimme them spoilers!  Movies today are so predictable anyway.  But I have zero tolerance for jagoffs who post this stuff in public.  It’s inconsiderate.  Therefore, this will be a spoiler-free chapter about spoilers.

We’ve all seen the classic Simpsons episode, am I right?  Homer walks out of The Empire Strikes Back, saying aloud, “Who’d have thought Darth Vader was Luke Skywalker’s father!”  Everyone in line was furious at him for revealing the big one.  More recently came a douchebag who spoiled a Harry Potter book for all the faithful waiting in line to buy it.  “Snape kills Dumbledore!” he yelled from the safety of his car as he drove by like a true coward.

I think it’s safe to say that whether you are pro or anti spoiler in your personal lives, nobody likes an asshole like that who goes out of their way to ruin an experience for everybody.  Go back home to mommy’s basement, spoiler-troll.

When we were kids, we never went to see movies in their first weeks.  Our family waited until things had died down a bit.  By then we’d already bought the Marvel Comics adaptations.  The Empire Strikes Back was the last Star Wars movie I saw that wasn’t spoiled.  My dad bought the Marvel comic adaptation while we waited in the lobby.  It was just the two of us.  The big reveal had less an affect on me — I simply assumed Vader was lying, as did most of us kids.  We’d already seen him lie to Lando.   Then, starting with Return of the Jedi, pretty much every Star Wars movie I saw was spoiled in some way.  I discovered this didn’t hamper my enjoyment of the films at all.  In fact it made me want to see them even more, and savour the moments when they came.

Phantom MenaceSpoiled by Lucasfilm themselves, on the soundtrack CD to the movie.  Attack of the Clones?  By this time, Ain’t It Cool News was getting regular clicks.  I just can’t resist the allure of spoilers!  The internet has made it hard to keep a movie secret in any way.

Look at Spiderman: No Way Home.  The film’s not even out yet.  Pretty much everything has already been up on YouTube before Sony could take them down.  (And taking them down, they are!)  So I’ve seen everything.  I’ve seen all the villains.  I’ve seen the end credit scenes (both).  The heroes, the cameos, the big moments.  All filmed on some shitty, shaking cell phone where you can barely hear the dialogue.

My sister has rules about spoilers.  She doesn’t want to know anything that isn’t in the official trailers.  I think that’s a sensible policy.  For her.

These glimpses don’t spoil movies for me.  I still got the shakes, watching the terrible YouTube videos.  My tear ducts got a little wet when I saw…nevermind.  And based on past experience, it’ll happen again when I finally see No Way Home in theaters.  Whenever that will be.

See, that’s currently the problem.  With the latest Covid variants, who knows when I’ll be back in the theaters.  Originally I planned to see Spiderman during Christmas holidays.  Now I’m not so sure.  I have to play it by ear.  My grandmother (age 97) is in the hospital right now, and seeing her is more important than seeing Tom Holland and his new friends on the big screen.

So, yeah, spoil me!  Spoil me rotten — but ask me first.

#957: Star Wars at the Mall 1981

RECORD STORE TALES #957: Star Wars at the Mall 1981

Cast your minds back to a time before the internet.  Before DVD players.  Before we all had VCRs.  Prior to the advent of on-demand TV.  If you wanted to watch Star Wars…you couldn’t!

There isn’t much more to be said than that.  We had our records, to listen to the soundtracks, and “The Story Of…” discs.  We had novels and comic books.  We had our action figures.  If we wanted to watch Star Wars, we had to use the ol’ imagination and memories.

Given that lots of kids would love to watch Star Wars at any given moment, there was a demand.  And nature decrees that a vacuum must be filled.  I remember that there was a Star Wars play at the mall.  A few actors, maybe six or seven total, wearing budget costumes, and doing the best job they could.  I remember it being really bad, but I found a photograph that indicates it might not have been as terrible as I thought.

We can only guess who the actors were.  Students?  A travelling troupe, adventuring from mall to mall?  All to sell toys!  Kenner was king!  Kids flocked to the toy sections, begging mom for a Bossk figure.  Why not have a Star Wars play to promote it?  Perhaps kids can be the harshest critics and this play wasn’t as terrible as I recall….

We only snapped the one picture; film was expensive.  But the costumes don’t appear all that bad.  Sure, it looks like Chewbacca is wearing a sweater.  I don’t remember Princess Leia having gold trim on her gown.  Is that Old Ben Kenobi on the far left?  It’s a shame we didn’t get a picture of Luke or Han, but Vader’s helmet does not look bad, nor Chewie’s head.  At least not from this angle.  Could we have taken a worse picture?  You have to give Leia some credit for the nailing the hairstyle, and a killer pair of boots!

The wall behind looks like the barriers that go up when a store is being renovated.  You can also see some litter on the ground.  Consensus seems to be that this was Stanley Park Mall, due to the familiar flooring.  

VIDEO: Star Wars – Escape From Death Star reissue board game / Tarkin figure unboxing

For the first Star Wars video game unboxing video, click here.