THE AUTHOR

Ian Casselberry is a freelance writer, currently based in Asheville, NC. He is an editor at The Comeback and Awful Announcing

Previously, he has been a contributing writer for Yahoo! Sports' Big League Stew, MLive.com and SB Nation. In addition, he was a lead baseball writer for Bleacher Report. 

You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook, where he craves your attention.

He still plans to write that novel someday. 

("Pearls Before Swine" © 2005 Stephan Pastis)
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Entries in Young Ian (6)

Monday
Apr132015

My first Daredevil comic book 

With #Daredevil debuting on Netflix over the weekend, I’ve been on a nostalgia trip reading the Frank Miller DD comics I grew up with. (The digital comic book app, ComiXology, has been dangerous to my account and my iPad storage capability. It's just too easy to buy those old comics with just a click!) 

I’m not absolutely certain, but pretty positive that this is the first Daredevil comic book I ever read, issue No. 167 — published in 1980. Daredevil fighting The Mauler, a guy in a battle suit of armor, isn’t really the type of story the character is most known for, but it certainly pulled me in. 

Miller’s art, depicting Daredevil’s acrobatic style of martial arts and ability to get some slick ricochets by throwing his billy club, was apparently all I needed. I think I was also intrigued by the idea of an old man stealing a Iron Man-type suit to get revenge on his employer. Even as a kid, I was anti-management! 

If I recall correctly, this issue also had a bonus feature which showed how Matt Murdock's brownstone apartment was converted for his superhero identity, with hidden training rooms, storage for his gear and secret exits to get out and fight crime. In addition, there was a diagram showing how Daredevil's billy club (with grappling hook!) worked, going from a blind man's cane to hoodlum-beating weapon. 

I’m also pretty sure my mother bought this for me, as she would often buy comic books from the drugstore for me on the way home from work. Maybe we should look into the fact she bought one with the hero being choked on its cover. Did she realize she was beginning a near-lifelong interest in Daredevil and Frank Miller with an impulse purchase? 

(I remember buying the next issue, No. 168, which turned out to be extremely valuable, since it was the debut of Elektra, one of the most important characters in Daredevil mythology. But even if I'd kept that comic book and not lost it or traded it away, it wouldn't have been in any sort of shape to be worth something. I beat the hell out of my old comic books.)

Tuesday
May072013

What would movie special effects be without Ray Harryhausen?

I don't know if I could go so far as to call myself a Ray Harryhausen fan. I didn't deliberately seek out the films he worked on, study his career or anything like that.

However, he was responsible for the stop-motion monster effects on one of my favorite childhood movies, the original Clash of the Titans

I don't think I'll ever forget Perseus' fight with Medusa. The creature creeping in the dark — with the tentacles on her head writhing as she shot that lethal bow and arrow — had Young Ian shaking in his seat. 

Here's a YouTube clip with the scenes edited together. 

I'll also never forget Medusa's blood pouring out, which seemed like so much tomato sauce. 

Another scene I remember involved the giant scorpions. Between those monsters, Bubo the mechanical owl and the demonic Calibos, there was a lot for Harryhausen and his team to put on screen. It was pulled off masterfully, though.

Seriously — does anyone prefer the Louis Leterrier remake with its CGI effects to Harryhausen's stop-motion wizardry? Of course, the new one has Liam Neeson...

Actually, I can call myself a Ray Harryhausen fan if I got excited when I noticed that a restaurant in Monsters Inc. was called Harryhausen's, right? 

Ray Harryhausen passed away today at the age of 92. Rest in peace, sir. 

Monday
Jan162012

The Electric Company: Morgan Freeman's springboard to stardom

While watching the Golden Globes with my dear friend A. Sunday night and enjoying the tribute to Morgan Freeman, we joked that it would be hilarious if during the montage of highlights from his film career, a clip from his days on The Electric Company was also included. 

There's Freeman in Glory! He's Drivin' Miss Daisy! He's educating Brad Pitt on the seven deadly sins in Seven! Suiting up Bruce Wayne with new bat-gear in The Dark Knight! Look how he became Nelson Mandela in Invictus! Shawshank!

What if Freeman as Count Dracula from a PBS show many of us enjoyed when we were kids was included? And then, there it was...

That "Electric Company" clip caused quite the surge on Twitter. (Okay, maybe a few too many people mentioned it.)

It was an awesome moment (probably the best of the night), puncturing the pomposity of the moment and reminding us all that these award shows often take themselves just a bit too seriously. And if that joke couldn't be made on the Golden Globes, where else could it be done?

However, it was also a reminder of the climb that most actors have to make toward success. Freeman obviously established himself long ago. But even he had to start somewhere. (And for many people, that early role is affectionately remembered from childhood.)

Like I'm sure Freeman wouldn't have gotten a role in Christopher Nolan's Batman movies if he didn't already have the experience of working with Spider-Man on his resume.

Wednesday
Oct262011

When adolescent power fantasies become sobering nightmares

With Tuesday's off-day in the World Series, I had a chance to catch up on a few things that I hadn't watched. (All caught up on 'Community' and 'Hawaii Five-O.' Not sure why I'm sticking with 'Five-O;' it's been pretty inconsistent this season.)

Although I still sat in front of the computer longer than I planned. Just can't get away.

That gave me the opportunity to watch this 'E:60' report on former pro wrestler Scott Hall, however. It's  'The Wrestler' come to life, though I think Hall has taken a much deeper fall than Mickey Rourke's Randy "The Ram" Robinson. Just watch 1:45 into this clip, and you see something truly sad — a man whose past glories and excesses have burned him out.

It's a sad story from virtually every angle. And I know we've seen plenty of examples of elite athletes who deteriorated once the competition, camaraderie and big paydays was no longer part of their lives.

But this one struck me a bit harder, probably because I was such a big pro wrestling fan when I was a kid. It was probably a natural extension of loving comic books as a kid. These were adolescent power fantasies — with battles between good guys and bad guys — come to life.

I remember Scott Hall wrestling in the smaller American Wrestling Association, back when it was shown on ESPN in the late '80s. But by the time Hall embraced the campy soap opera/show business elements of the industry, becoming the bad guy "Razor Ramon," I had stopped watching. As I had with comic books (though to a lesser extent), I'd outgrown pro wrestling.

Watching Hall adopt a greasy, swarthy Latin look and accent becoming a racist caricature — was just what was done to become exceedingly popular, the villain everyone loved to hate. Just being a big, strong dude who could lift guys over his head and slam them to the mat wasn't enough. Even as a kid, I think I realized that, as several of my favorite wrestlers became outlandish characters.

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Obviously, that lifestyle caught up with Hall — and I'm sure with dozens of his peers — reducing him to a dried-out husk of his former self. People weren't meant to be superheroically big and pound on each other in cities throughout the country night after night. But when fame and adulation keep coming your way, you want to keep it going.

Why else would you try to wrestle at the age of 52, when your body can barely move and you're so hopped up on medications that you're barely aware what's going on around you? That footage of Hall trying to stage a wrestling match while experiencing what turned out to be a drug overdose was an embarrassment for everyone involved. (And I hope the promoter who insisted on carrying out the charade is no longer in business.) It's hard to watch.

And for a guy who used to love this stuff when he was a kid, it's pretty sobering.

What might be saddest of all in Hall's story is that it looks like his son might be doomed to repeat the mistakes his father made. He wants to become a pro wrestler too. And ol' Dad seems more interested in rekindling past glories than steering his son away from the things that caused his downfall.

I think I was better off sticking with the comic books.

(via SB Nation)

Monday
Nov022009

Can the New 'V' Be as Cool as the Old 'V'?

If you've been watching anything on ABC over the past few weeks (and here, I think that means college football and Modern Family), you've almost surely seen commercials for the remake of V, which premieres tomorrow night.

I don't know if this new version is going to be any good, judging from the ads and "first look" that's been posted online.  But seeing that red, spray-painted "V" is sure bringing back a lot of memories

Anything sci-fi on TV appealed to me as a kid.  And "V" had everything on the checklist: laser guns, spaceships, and aliens.  Between this and The Beastmaster (hilariously brought back to life last week by Chevy Chase on Community), Marc Singer seemed like one of the coolest guys alive.  Jane Badler, hot villainess (though I wonder if more people thought Faye Grant was hotter since she was a "good guy").

I always loved the scenes in which when one of the Visitors got their human face peeled off and you could see the lizard underneath.  In art class, my friend Chris put some Elmer's Glue on his cheek, let it dry, and peeled it off like it was his skin.  Ah... elementary school.  Those were the days.

So this remake has plenty to live up to.  For instance, will they have any scene (or special effect) as awesome (in a bad way) as this?

I swear, that seemed much more real when I was 10 years old. 

Oh, and how about this for a memorably creepy scene?  I remember my dad being kind of skeeved out by the very last part.  (Again, this probably seemed much scarier or icky 25 years ago.)

Casting Morena Baccarin from Firefly in this new series helps with the geek cred.  (Is Nathan Fillion kind of the 2009 version of Marc Singer?)  But will the show be as memorable?  (Probably not.  There's just too much else on TV and in pop culture nowadays.) 

Sometimes, remakes like this make the mistake of sticking too close to the original.  Other times, they veer too far from the source material.  And once in a while, they get it just right - nodding to the past, while creating something new - like J.J. Abrams did with Star Trek this summer.  Just give us some lizards and lasers, man!

Tuesday
Oct272009

Musical Regression or Getting Back in Touch with My Youth

I don't know if this speaks to some psychological need to get back to a time when life seemed simpler and more care-free, or I just got bored listening to the same music while working out or doing yard work, but the music on my "workout" iPod (I have two: a "Nano" - 1st generation - and a "Classic") has somehow morphed into the Walkman I used to lug around while delivering newspapers as a kid.

There was already some bad hair metal on that Nano, most of which is just too embarrassing to mention here.  (Hey, it gets me going.)  But over the past few weeks, bands like Van Halen, AC/DC, Aerosmith, Bob Seger, and Journey - all the stuff that I listened to before experiencing musical enlightenment in the early 90's - have taken up more of the roughly 225 songs on the playlist (sharing flash drive space with podcasts).  I don't know what the hell happened.

I joked on Twitter that I figured out the meaning of Van Halen's "Poundcake" during this weekend's massive leaf-raking project.  (I think it's about sex.)  But "Finish What You Started" is the song I can't get out of my head.  Maybe my subconscious is trying to tell me something.  Or I just can't shake Eddie Van Halen's guitar. 

Here's the video.  (From 1988?)  The women are... unfortunate.  But they disappear about a third of the way through, as if the band realized they were stupid, too.  Or maybe Alex Van Halen scared them off with his predatory look.  (I wanted to be Alex Van Halen until approximately the age of 13.  The drums aren't particularly notable in this song, though.)