Writing a tribute to Stan Lee was something I’d been thinking I should do for quite some time. After all, (Stan) the man was 95 years old and there were various reports about his deteriorating health. Just as a newspaper would get an obituary ready, I thought I should get something ready — whether the piece was written for another site or my own.
Sure, laziness and procrastination were probably the primary reasons for not getting that done. But the idea of writing something in anticipation of Stan Lee’s death was also very upsetting. He still appeared to be lively and vibrant in his many Marvel movie and TV cameos. It seemed as if Smilin’ Stan might just live forever.
Thanks to those movie cameos, even my sister knew who Stan Lee was. She grew up with me endlessly reading and collecting comic books, of course. But when I pointed out the guy who co-created Spider-Man on the screen, she recognized him every time he popped up in the handful of Marvel movies we saw together. She’ll never be able to escape superheroes entirely.
(By the way, will Lee’s last live-action cameo have been in Venom?) Unless he’s in Avengers 4, his final on-screen appearance may well be in the animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which hits theaters in mid-December.)
There will and have already been so many tributes, eulogies and obituaries dedicated to Stan Lee that I’m not sure I could possibly add anything. All I can contribute is what Lee and his many iconic creations mean to me to this day. So often when people write a tribute to someone, the piece ends up being about the writer more than the subject. As much as I’d like to avoid that, I don’t think it’s possible here.
“Overzealous recycling” could be a good name for a newsletter if we ever take thing that way. That could pop in people’s inboxes, yes? Still aiming to get this out on Thursdays, or at least early Sunday mornings.
Since seeing Bohemian Rhapsody last week (my review here), I’ve been obsessively consuming all things Queen. I listen to their songs while working or driving. I’ve spent hours on YouTube, watching almost all of their music videos — some of which are legitimately terrible (surely a product of the time) — and lots of documentary footage.
One of their good videos was for “Radio Ga Ga,” made when Queen apparently steered into their sci-fi fandom after doing the Flash Gordon soundtrack. Finding some behind-the-scenes footage from the video’s production was a happy discovery.
To feed that hunger, I put together a list of my favorite Queen songs. It was supposed to be a top 10 list, and I thought I’d have trouble getting to 10. But my nostalgia trip reminded me of how big a Queen fan I’ve been since childhood and the list boiled over to 16. It probably could’ve been 20.
Reading For You
** Bohemian Rhapsody was released in theaters last weekend, but it took eight years for the Queen biopic to be made. That includes, as many likely know, Sacha Baron Cohen wanting to play Freddie Mercury but clashing with Brian May and Roger Taylor over the story. [Vulture]
** In my review of Bohemian Rhapsody, I said the mouthpiece Rami Malek had to wear for playing Freddie Mercury was distracting, especially early in the film. But maybe that was an accurate portrayal of Mercury trying to hide his teeth when younger. Here’s a fun interview with the man who made those teeth, Chris Lyons. [New York Times]
Unlucky number 13! The latest episode of the Amusement Park Podcast looked dead, but we brought it back to life! This week, we discuss the Breaking Bad movie (and Ian still not watching the series — c’mon!), a potential three-hour Avengers 4, plummeting numbers for Marvel’s Netflix shows, and Chris’s dedication to Hallmark Christmas movies.
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How much Queen have you been listening to since seeing Bohemian Rhapsody? (If you haven’t read my review, compare your thoughts and let me know what you think.) I’ve been listening virtually non-stop while watching plenty of concert and documentary footage, and reading dozens of articles on the band.
That got me to thinking about what my favorite Queen songs actually are. Unless I’ve missed them, I haven’t seen many of the top 10-type lists that normally populate the pop culture internet since Bohemian Rhapsody was released. And many of my favorites are not what other fans might pick for theirs.
So as a way to distract myself from the 2018 midterm elections (which are now thankfully over, although nothing has been settled), note my preferences for posterity, and create some content for this blog, we have a list!
If you’re a fan of Queen and Freddie Mercury, you will very likely enjoy Bohemian Rhapsody. The movie is a celebration of the band and its music. You’ll be reminded of just how much you loved songs like “Fat-Bottomed Girls,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “We Will Rock You,” “Another One Bites the Dust,” and “Radio Ga Ga,” along with deeper cuts such as “Love of My Life.”
Whether or not the film is a fitting tribute to Mercury will depend on your view. Director Bryan Singer (who was fired from the production yet is still credited) and writer Anthony McCarten take a safe approach to the singer’s personal life, largely settling for allusions to Mercury’s homosexuality, drug use and partying. Much like Mercury did publicly, the movie keeps that away from the audience.
However, Bohemian Rhapsody does a fine job of portraying Freddie Mercury, the rock star. Rami Malek (Mr. Robot) has all of the legendary frontman’s stage moves and swagger down. Mercury commanded the stage, punching, gyrating, and thrusting with the beats from bassist John Deacon and drummer Roger Taylor. The rest of Queen effectively faded into the background because the eye was always drawn to Mercury’s energy and charisma.
— Read the full review at Amusement Park Podcast —
Here we go again with a “I haven’t written anything for a while” post. But with the calendar turning to November, it seems like a good time to turn up the output here and provide some proof of (writing) life.
(I said the same thing to myself going into October, of course. Probably at the beginning of September too.)
I don’t get to write as much as I used to (though I almost took care of that with a job I was offered — but had to turn down — this past week), so I’d really like to take care of that with the blog and website that I put the effort in to set up. That includes the Amusement Park Podcast, where I intend to put most stuff on genre and geek subjects. I feel like writing holds me accountable somehow.
(Recently, I’ve written movie reviews for A Star is Born, Halloween and The Old Man and the Gun. Bohemian Rhapsody is soon to follow. I want to do a lot more of them now that we’re in movie awards season.)
And I want to do these Not a Newsletter posts regularly. Newsletters are kind of the new blogs these days (actually, podcasts probably are) and if I thought I could assemble a decent subscriber base, I might do one. (Did I sound really old right there?)
Not even tornadoes and power outages can keep the Amusement Park Podcast down! This week, Chris is watching Hallmark Christmas movies, Detective Joe West is sitting down a lot, Ian reviews Bohemian Rhapsody and pause buttons influence young minds.
You can subscribe to the Amusement Park Podcast all over the place:
If you’re enjoying our podcast, please leave a review on iTunes for some positive digital word-of-mouth. You can also give us feedback at email@example.com and tweet us @amuseparkpod. We’d love to hear from you. Thank you for listening!