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"Stretching From Here To Pletcher"...a tribute to Steve Latham

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Today is a dark day.
If you’ve ever read any of my blog posts before then you’ve heard me tell the stories of my experiences in high school. I was bullied. I was bullied a lot. It’s something that has affected me my entire life. It has caused social anxiety issues that I deal with to this day. It’s not something that I like to remember, but it’s my history and it’s a part of who I am.
Granted, I was an awkward teenager. I didn’t play any sports. I wasn’t on the little league team. I didn’t even like watching sports...I still don’t. I don’t know enough about football to have an extended conversation about it. The stuff that I was into was a lot nerdier than that. I liked Star Trek. I liked reading science fiction and fantasy novels. I liked writing stories. I liked watching old black and white monster movies. I liked British sitcoms. Like I said…weird kid.
When I was a junior in high school I signed up to be a library aid for one class period a day. I figured I liked to be around book…

40 Movies For 40 Years: 1989

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1989 was the year that I turned 12 years old. I was getting to be the age where I was all in on films. I drove my mom crazy when I begged her to buy me some magazine at the grocery store that cost $4 just because the cover briefly mentioned a movie that I was excited about. We didn’t have 50 websites giving us up-to-the-minute details behind the scenes like we do now. We got our news in spurts. So, if there was a tiny mention of something we were into, we had to be on it.
It wasn’t plausible to get my mom to buy every magazine on the rack at Food World. So, many Saturday afternoons saw me at the local convenience store, sitting in the floor next to the magazines and comics, reading what I could until old Mr. Smith told me to go home.
This is probably the hardest installment that I’ve had to write since I started this project. There are so many movies from 1989 that I love. And unlike a lot of the ones that I’ve written so far where my favorite movie from a given year wasn’t discovere…

40 Movies For 40 Years: 1988

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So I fell a little behind.
I promised two installments a week until my birthday and now I’m way behind the 8-ball. What can I say? Life happened. It’s been a busy and stressful year for yours truly and those around me. I moved out of that old trailer that was too small for us 15 years ago and now we’re living in a house in Leeds. I even have my own space in the house. A game room/family movie room/office that I like to call the Geek Cave.
I finally finished up all the work that I needed to do for last semester and I’m getting ready to start taking another class over the summer.
Wasn’t there something I was supposed to be doing?
Holy crap! I’ve still got 30 years worth of films to get through in my blog project before July 4! Well, two installments a week isn’t going to cut it now. This blog is going to just about have to be daily for the next few weeks in order to catch up. Oh well…I think I’m up for a challenge.
The summer of 1988 was a milestone of a year for me. I finished element…

13 Reasons Why: A Parental Review

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As I walked by my daughter’s bedroom a couple of weeks ago I saw her staring intently at her phone. I could tell that she was enthralled in something and I figured she was catching up on some of her favorite shows.
“What are you watching?” I said, trying to be the dad that knows what his daughter is doing.
“It’s a new show on Netflix,” she replied. “It’s called 13 Reasons Why. Everybody at school is watching it.”
I thought nothing else about it. I very rarely condemn anything that my kids are watching unless I know that it is something extremely violent or raunchy. The title actually registered in my mind because I had seen the book on the shelf at the bookstore and online a few times. I knew it was a young adult title so I figured a Netflix show based on that should be alright. I mean, she’s seen The Hunger Games, right?
A couple of days later my wife tells me that she saw a few stories online about some kids that have committed suicide after watching the show. That sounds a little f…

40 Movies For 40 Years: 1987

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I have fallen a bit behind in posting to this project. So there may be a few articles posted this week in order to get caught up to schedule.
In 1987 I had been alive for a solid 10 years. I distinctly remember going to a barbecue on my birthday, as we usually did since it was also the 4th of July. I walked to the sitting area on my uncle’s deck overlooking the lake and announced to my grandparents that I was a decade old. It didn’t impress them that much, especially since by that point they had over 50 years on me.
The year that I turned 10 was a pretty big year at the movies. Leonard Nimoy was working his directing chops with Three Men And A Baby, Michael Douglas had a Fatal Attraction, and Mel Gibson and Danny Glover started a franchise that spanned four films with the original Lethal Weapon.
The movie that came out that year that had the biggest impact on me is kind of embarrassing to admit. I may have to turn in my cinephile card once I admit how big of a fan that I am of Ernest…

40 Movies For 40 Years: 1986

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1986 is a year that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. Not because of any one particular movie that came out, but because of something that happened in the news.
When I was a kid I wanted to be an astronaut. I read every book that my library had about the space program, the planets in our solar system, the moon, NASA…you name it. So, when I was I the third grade and we got the news that a teacher was going to go into space and conduct classes for us on television I was thrilled.
That was the year that the Challenger exploded a few second after blast off. The entire crew died. The fact that we all saw it happen made it so much harder to deal with. It was an absolute defining moment in my life. It was the moment that I realized that not all the stories had a happy ending. I just wanted to take a moment and acknowledge that at the top of this entry. But this blog is about movies, and there were a few of them in 1986.
Sigourney Weaver was fighting Aliens, Ralph Macchio was back in The Karat…

40 Movies For 40 Years: 1985

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1985. There were a lot of good movies that came out that year. Stallone was back in two of them, Rambo: First Blood Part II and Rocky IV. Oprah had her acting debut in The Color Purple. And the world was learning that Goonies never say “die”.
It was the year that I turned 8 years old. I was in the third grade and I had developed a fascination with reading. I read every book that I could get my hands on. My town’s public library had become one of my favorite places, followed closely by my school library. And not only had I discovered a love of reading, I had discovered a love of science fiction.
One of my favorite books of that time was a “choose your own adventure” story. You would read the first couple of pages of the book and then it would give you a choice to make. The page that you read next would depend on what your choice was. It was great because you could go back over and over and make different decisions and have a whole new story. This particular story had to do with time t…

40 Movies For 40 Years: 1984

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By 1984 I was old enough to start noticing that there might be some good TV shows and movies out there that didn’t involve cartoon animals and Muppets of various sizes. A lot of the hours that I spent in front of the television were in the company of Sesame Street and Captain Kangaroo. But I started to pay attention a little more often when my parents were watching their shows. I started noticing things like The Incredible Hulk and The Dukes Of Hazzard. Live action entertainment was just starting to peak my interest.
And it was a pretty good year for live action movies. Indiana Jones was exploring the Temple Of Doom, theaters were full of Gremlins, and the crew of the Enterprise was back in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock.
A lot of the movies that came out in 1984 are on my list of some of the best of all time. One of these days I’ll make my top 100 list and all of the ones that I just mentioned will probably be on there. 1984 also had Beverly Hills Cop, The Karate Kid, Police Ac…

40 Movies For 40 Years: 1983

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I turned 6 years old in 1983. That was the year that I started the first grade. That’s pretty much the only thing that I remember about being 6. I went to school and I watched a lot of Sesame Street. I wasn’t watching a lot of movies at the time but there were a lot of them coming out that year. John Travolta was Staying Alive, Matthew Broderick was playing War Games, and 007 was back in Octopussy.
I looked at the movies that were released in 1983 and I tried to really ask myself the tough questions. Is this really your favorite movie of the year or are you just saying that because of the others. Well, as I looked through the list once…twice…three times…there is no doubt that my favorite film of 1983 is Return Of The Jedi.
Jedi, as it’s called by fans, is the final installment of the original trilogy of Star Wars films. And, other than a couple of terrible Ewoks TV movies and a short lived cartoon called Droids, it was the last we would see of the Star Wars universe for over 15 years.

40 Movies For 40 Years: 1982

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The school that I was enrolled in when I was very young was run by a church. They had classes for children as young as 3 which was when I was enrolled. They had three kindergarten classes but two of them were really just day care or preschool. When I turned 5 in 1982 I went to 5 year old kindergarten which is the real deal. So, by this point I thought I was a “big kid”.
The year that I became a “big kid” there were a lot of movies that came out. People believed in aliens again with ET: The Extra-Terrestrial, teenagers were learning some very bad things while watching Porky’s, and Stallone was taking on Mr. T in Rocky III.
If you’ve been reading this then you’ll know that in 1979 the Italian Stallion was in the ring with the USS Enterprise to earn the top spot on my list for that year. Rocky II won that battle. In the rematch the decision goes the other way.
My favorite movie of 1982 is, hands down, Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan.
I have loved all things Star Trek since I was ten yea…

40 Movies For 40 Years: 1981

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I started kindergarten in 1981. That’s about the biggest accomplishment that I can think of. I started going to a place where I had a regular diet of cookies, Kool-Aid, and crayons.
Yes, I ate crayons.
Chariots Of Firegot the Academy Award for best picture.Mommie Dearestgot the Razzie for worst picture. Christopher Reeve was back in the tights inSuperman II, 007 was drinking another shaken martini inFor Your Eyes Only, and Terry Gilliam directed the cult classicTime Bandits.
I am, as I’ve said before, a huge Superman film. I have the tattoo to prove it. And I absolutely loveSuperman II. I think that in a lot of ways it is superior to the first film. But this list is about more than just nostalgia. I have to determine what my favorites more. And if I’m being honest there is one movie that came out in 1981 that would definitely get more rewatchability. I’m, of course, talking aboutRaiders Of The Lost Ark.
AfterThe Empire Strikes Backcame out Harrison Ford was officially a big star. The endi…

40 Movies For 40 Years: 1980

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The year that I turned 3 years old because I have a picture of myself with tears in my eyes sitting next to a birthday cake that said “Happy Birthday You Big Dummy”.
That might seem like a very cruel thing to say to a small child, but there actually was a little context to it. One of my favorite things to do when I was little was to sit in my grandfather’s lap and watch television. “Paw-Paw” would watch all kinds of things, and I’d watch with him no matter what it was. Sometimes it would be Sesame Street just to please me. At other times it would be The Andy Griffith Show or All In The Family. His favorite was Sanford And Son. The slogan on the cake was from that show, but my three year old mind didn’t get the joke so my feelings got hurt.
1980 was a good year for film releases. Dolly Parton was working 9 to 5, Clint Eastwood was back in Any Which Way You Can, and Dan Akroyd and John Belushi were on a mission from God in The Blues Brothers.
I didn’t have to think about this one very …

40 Movies For 40 Years: 1979

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1979 was the year that I turned 2 years old. My dad was transferred from Ft. Walton Beach, Florida to Columbus, Mississippi. And less than a week before Christmas my little brother was born.
The box office was pretty active as well. 007 was back again with Moonraker, Francis Ford Coppola had another hit on his hands with Apocalypse Now, and Sigorney Weaver was running from Xenomorphs in Alien.
I’ve had to do a lot of thinking over this year. I had to really dig down deep and be honest with myself over a couple of films in order to find what takes this spot on my list. This is the year that Star Trek: The Motion Picture was released. If you know anything about me then you know that I am a Star Trek fan. I don’t mean that I kind of like the show a little bit. I mean that I had a couple of years in high school where I didn’t read a bit of literature that wasn’t a Star Trek novel. I watched The Next Generation every evening at 9:00pm even if I had seen the episode 12 times.
So, I sat do…

40 Movies For 40 Years: 1978

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I had my first birthday in 1978. It was a big day for my family because it meant that my mom and dad had gotten through their first year of parenthood without killing me. I have no idea what my cartoon character my cake was made to look like. I don’t know what decorations that my mom put up for my party. I’m not even entirely sure that I had a birthday party. My dad was in the Air Force when I was a baby and at the time that I turned one I believe he was still stationed in Ft. Walton Beach, FL, which is the same place where I was born. This was a good four hour drive from most of my extended family so I doubt that they all made the trip just for some cake and ice cream.
1978 was also a big year for movies. John Travolta had another hit in theaters when he donned his leather jacket in Grease. Clint Eastwood was taking care of business in Every Which Way But Loose. And Michael Myers was chasing down Jamie Lee Curtis for the very first time in Halloween.
It wasn’t until December that on…