Top Five Things I Discovered and/or Rediscovered | Jim Ousley

llcoolj 75I’m not sure if it was our burgeoning adolescence coupled with our YMCA karate classes, or just our rapidly developing bad taste in film, but we could not stop talking about this flick.

 

 

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2014 is destined to be remembered as the year we came head-to-head with confronting our socioeconomic and racial differences, how we responded to tragedy, and how we ever allowed ourselves to break the internet because of Kim Kardashian’s oily caboose. But I’m not here to talk about any of that mess. Here is my Top Five list of things I discovered and/or rediscovered in 2014.

1. Force: Five on DVD | In the summer of 1981, me and my two fellow idiot moron friends Richie and Shaun became completely obsessed over a low-budget martial arts thriller called Force: Five. Keep in mind, this is the same year that saw the release of legendary films like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Time Bandits, and Escape from New York. So just by the fact we singled out this particular film to lose our minds over, you can understand why I refer to the three of us as idiot morons…but I digress. We would journey, Tolkien-style, two or three miles to Jamestown Mall, and watch the trailer on a big-screen TV that was set up outside of the movie theatre until our eyeballs dried out and mall cops asking us to stop loitering. I even tried to negotiate the purchase of the movie poster, but talks broke down when I had to come up with actual money. 

I’m not sure if it was our burgeoning adolescence coupled with our YMCA karate classes, or just our rapidly developing bad taste in film, but we could not stop talking about this flick. Joe Lewis plays a martial arts master with immaculate hair who leads a team of other martial arts masters, each with a specific skill, to rescue a senator’s daughter from a religious cult. The film was directed by Robert Clouse (Enter the Dragon, Black Belt Jones) and also stars Amanda Wyss, who would go on to dream of Freddy Krueger in Nightmare on Elm Street and taunt Lane Myer in Better Off Dead

Besides the great fighting and admirable camaraderie amongst the Force: Five team, my main memory from my dad taking us to see this was Shawn, who was four years younger than us, giggling incessantly during a brief and clearly gratuitous topless scene of two female cult members brushing their hair. Needless to say, when I heard the film was released on DVD a few months ago, I snapped it up faster than you can say the movie’s tagline: “Five against a thousand…the odds are even!” 

The poster now hangs in my basement, by the way. All emails to Ross Perot to bankroll a sequel have gone unanswered.

2. iTunes Classic U.K. Metal Station | Say what you like about Apple almost single-handedly transforming us from a nation staring at TVs to a nation staring at their phones, but one fact cannot be disputed: They have put together an awesome station of U.K. metal classics. I was never that into the hair metal stuff, but I loved classic metal from the U.K., particularly stalwarts such as Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Saxon, and Judas Priest. Imagine my surprise to stumble upon this station and to find a veritable treasure trove of bands like Witchfinder General, Tysondog, Satan, and Pagan Altar; a band whose singer sounds like the most metal-thrashing-mad mashup of Buddy Hackett and Lemmy Kilmister you will ever hear. I’m not being ironic, by the way. I love this stuff, and the more they sing about evil and dragons, and whatever fits under those two categories, I am all in. 

3. Video Games | Sure, I am my son’s whipping boy for a lot of video games already and, yeah, I’ve enjoyed the last two or three Resident Evil games, but none of these have been the unnervingly visceral experience that is Alien: Isolation for Xbox. At the “risk” of sounding unmanly, when I play this game at home with the lights out, I kind of almost want to cry, and may very well need my wife to come downstairs and say kind and nurturing things to me. And while most Alien fans offer up James Cameron’s Aliens as their favorite film, my personal favorite is Ridley Scott’s original, and this game is set squarely in that world. The game even has an add-on where you can play as Ripley, Parker, or Dallas, with voice work from the original cast. Recommended if you enjoy having the bejesus scared out of your brain.

4. “Jack the Ripper” by LL Cool J | This track was the B-side to the popular “Going Back to Cali,” but to me, “Jack the Ripper” is the superior song. Written during his infamous feud with Kool Moe Dee (and look, haven’t we all been in a feud with Mr. Moe Dee at one time or another?), this track has a crushing rhythm and finds Ladies Love spitting lyrics like “I’ma slow it up and speed it up and now you’re gonna eat it up/ Listen to the funky beat, my tongue is gonna beat it up.” And let me tell you, his tongue beats the hell out of it. Though that last comment may not sound quite the way I wanted it to, do yourself a solid and download this track and crank it like you’re King Hercules.

5. Campbell’s Slow Kettle Style Soups | You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Jim, you obviously ran out of ideas for your list and are now just padding it for length,” but let me tell you, discovering these soups has indeed been one of my favorite discoveries of the year. They may cost a little more than the other soups on the grocery shelves, but these tasty treats are like a garden-grown party in your taste-deprived mouth. My go-to’s are the “Kickin’ Crab & Sweet Corn Chowder” and “Tomato & Sweet Basil Bisque.” The only one I haven’t tried is the one that has broccoli in it, which I have spent all of my life referring to as “The Devil’s Weed.” If you end up trying these soups and genuinely enjoy them, please do not thank me. Thank the fine folks at Campbell’s. I’m just a conduit for soup love. | Jim Ousley

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