Growing Up Geek, Music

It’s always been ‘Cruel Summer’


“Hot summer streets, and the pavements are burning. I sit around, trying to smile, but the air is so heavy and dry.”

The hot summer breeze drifts into the Valley, carrying along with it the promise of recreation and a respite from the daily grind. My own adventures begin when I lace up a fresh pair of black Converse sneakers and hear my favorite summer jam on the radio. Sometime near late May, radio stations mercilessly shuffle and repeat playlists until a single track – through sheer tyranny of will – conquers the national zeitgeist, becoming the unofficial ‘song of summer.’ For me, it happens to be Bananarama’s Cruel Summer.

It’s always been Cruel Summer.

The song always crashes into awareness, releasing a flood of nostalgia flavored endorphins swimming throughout my mind. Just as that kooky xylophone melody kicks in, I’m sent back to warm summer nights. Mini golf and water slides. Stolen glances and awkward hand holding. Excitement, mixed with regret. While these memories are mostly unorganized and complex, they’re not all awash with the abstract.

“It’s a cruel, cruel summer. Leaving me here on my own.”

For each generation, there’s various culture defining moments that weave together a shared experience of their childhoods. Today’s youth have the advent of social media and the rise of the mobile internet. For those of us that were rad enough to grow up in the eighties, we cut our teeth on the early days of music videos, blockbuster movies, and video gaming.

I have an insanely vidid memory of the song from the summer of 1986. While on vacation, I wandered into a strange Michigan video arcade. Down to my last quarter, I was absolutely crushing the high score on a particular game. Blaring at a murderous volume from the crackling speaker above me was Cruel Summer, which in that moment might as well have been divine mana beaming down from Asgard. For those few, seemingly endless minutes I was the Last Starfighter, moving to my favorite jam while vaporizing wave after wave of alien ass. Those fleeting three minutes were as pure in splendor as anything could ever hope to be. It’s funny because I can remember nearly everything from that night, but can’t say for certain exactly what game I was playing – that’s how much of a strange power this song has over me.



Much of the melancholy I experience stems from the growing pains of early youth, but I also recognize that part of it is deeply rooted in nearly 30 year obsession with The Karate Kid. In a strange way, Daniel Larusso’s troubles have either mirrored, or in some way become my own. I’m not a troubled person – at all. In fact, I lead a rather charmed life. But that song, and several other from that decade, will always sway me back to those strange days.

And the song isn’t what it seems either. While it speaks from a place of loneliness and boredom, the song, Cruel Summer isn’t completely tragic. Left alone to your own devices, the song’s story is only takes place at the beginning of summer. Anything is still possible. You just need lace up your sneakers, and get out there before another next summer fades away into memory.

Growing Up Geek, Movies, Music

The Pool Scene from “Let The Right One In”


Everything is calm just above the surface. I squirm nervously in my seat, helplessly watching as young Oskar is led into a watery trap.

While I found the whole film to be brilliant, it’s the final moments of Let The Right One In that forever sealed it in my subconscious. Apart from all the bloody dismemberment, there’s something quite haunting about the pool scene. It’s a flawlessly executed sequence, with slow-burning tension. The part that left a lasting impression for me was the synth-pop tune “Flash in the Night” playing on the radio. It’s this one small added detail that lent a haunting realism to the moment. The song immediately triggers for me a flood of nostalgia and emotional triggers.
Continue Reading…

Collectibles, Unboxing

Unboxing the June Lootcrate


Before FedEX even had time to update the shipping information the Lootcrates arrived with the morning mail. This time around, the receptionist at work insisted on watching as we ripped open our boxes at the front desk. She laughed and kept saying “You guys are too funny!” as we enthusiastically unpacked each item. All the while, the new security guard glared at both of us, silently passing judgment on how much we were grown ass men acting like middle-school nerds. None of that mattered, as this month’s them was TRANSFORM, which we hoped contained some robots in disguise.

Here’s the breakdown of this month’s epic items:

There’s an exclusive t-shirt designed by Nathan Davis & The Hundreds entitled “Marty McPrime”, sporting a Transformers/Back to the Future mashup. Love the design, but red’s certainly not my color.

I just knew there would be a Loyal Subjects Transformers blind box figure in this crate. I was thrilled to get Megatron while my co-worker Ryan got Starscream. Each of received an opposing Autobots or Decepticons vinyl sticker – which we quickly used to customized our 8TB external hard drives.


Also in the box were Transformers Hexbugs, various MLG items (including a sweatband), and some super-sour Warheads candies. There was also this month’s collectible Lootcrate button and the mini-magazine, that was cusiously absent in last month’s package.

Verdict: 9/10


Comic Book Wednesday – June 11


Even though I haven’t posted my weekly comics round-ups lately, rest assured, I’m still buying them – and, in most cases, reading them. This week I snagged a bunch of cool titles. Here’s a few of the more noteworthy:

Bee & Puppycat #2 – My daughter wanted her own monthly titles, so we’re reading Bee & Puppycat together. It’s funny, because the animated series isn’t even out yet and I can already tell she’s going to be on of those “I read the books first” gripesters. [Bee & Puppycat #2 comixology link]

Manifest Destiny #7 – The historical horror fiction rolls into its next story arc, and I’m loving every moment of Lewis & Clarke’s classified adventures in the new frontier. [Manifest Destiny #7 comixology link]

Shutter #3 – One of my favorite, new Image titles. It has a strong, female lead with an interesting backstory, and moves at a brisk place through a fantastically surreal world. [Shutter #3 comixology link]

Collectibles, Unboxing

Unboxing Adventure Time Mystery Minis


I had known that there were soon-to-be released Adventure Time Funko Mystery Minis about to hit the shelves, yet I was completely unprepared when I stumbled across them at the comic shop. Gathered around a display box were a small group of collectors, speculating on figure assortment and trying to graph how the individual figures were packaged. I think that’s when someone said, “Hey, JL! Why don’t you buy a full case so we know how the figures are packaged?” It was in that moment that I had to make a hefty decision. I was most certainly going to buy some of the figures, and I wasn’t really in the mood for a lot of blind box hunting . And since I was guaranteed one of each figure, I went for it (my subscriber discount helped soften the blow to my wallet).

Honestly, the figures are just okay. I like the stylized, blocky style, but would have preferred something more cartoonish. I also feel like there’s less build quality than most Funko figures. They seem like cheap 3D printer knock-offs. However the tin containers they are packaged in are ridiculously awesome and make the whole purchase worthwhile.

Here’s the blind box layout! Every display box has one of each figure, spread out across the eight different tins. The tin boxes are randomly placed, but the figures fall into the same place on the grid.


How do I know this? Both my display case, and the one at the comic shop matched up perfectly for character placement. You can get every figure you want by either buying a full box, or grabbing the tin from the right spot in the box – provided someone didn’t shuffle them all up.

Happy hunting!

Comic Book Wednesday, Comics

Comic Book Wednesday – May 7


This week was a pretty rad selection of comics. Not much could keep me away from the local comic shop today, not even the rude douchebag working the counter.

Rat Queens #6
Are there still people that haven’t heard of Rat Queens? It seems weird to me. Maybe it’s not for everyone, but that certainly hasn’t stopped me telling everyone how they should be reading it. I’m thrilled to see the new story arc kicking off this week, and hanging out, once again, with most ass-kicking gals in comics.
Continue Reading…