Tag: The Last Starfighter

Sunday Cats: An Incredible Cat Condo That Looks Like Ghostbusters HQ

When I was a kid, the list of VHS tapes I’d worn out included Joe Dante’s Explorers, The Last Starfighter, The Last Dragon (the deliciously cheesy 80s kung fu classic set in Harlem, not the Bruce Lee film), Ridley Scott’s Legend, The Neverending Story, and maybe the first truly great comic book movie, 1989’s Tim Burton-directed Batman starring Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson and Kim Basinger.

And, of course, there was Ghostbusters.

As a kid it was adventurous, fun and even a bit spooky. As an adult it evokes a rush of warm nostalgia and joyful recognition that the actors – Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Bill Murray and Signourney Weaver — had a hell of a lot of fun making the film.

To this day when I see a stack of books I have to restrain myself from exclaiming “Symmetrical book stacking! Just like the Philadelphia Mass Turbulence of 1947!” like Aykroyd hot on the trail of a haunting at the New York Public Library. When someone tries to convey an object of massive scale, I find myself echoing Hudson’s Winston: “That’s a big Twinkie.” When someone questions my expertise in an area, especially one I know nothing about, I slip into Murray’s New Yorkese: “Back off, man, I’m a scientist.”

That’s why Buddy I was so excited to see this cat condo build that’s designed to look like Ghostbusters HQ from the 1984 classic. Buddy I would love to have one of these things. Instagrammer Shawn Waite explained in a post that he was just kidding around when he proposed the idea, and his family pushed him to go for it:

“We got a new kitten (her name is Stria) a couple of months prior, and we were adding some cat furniture to our home for her. We thought that she may enjoy having something in our home office, which is where I have my vintage toy collection, so I joked that we should build a cat condo that looks like the Ghostbusters Firehouse play set so that it would fit with the theme of the office. My wife loved the idea, and our twin daughters (age 9) were excited for Stria to have a condo.”

Waite not only managed to retain the three-story interior layout with a scratching post cleverly taking the place of the fire pole, he tweaked the logo so there’s a dog in place of a ghost, just in case any jealous pooches get ideas about lounging in Stria’s sweet condo.

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I’ve always wanted to learn to build stuff, especially after seeing examples like Waite’s build or the amazing Hobbit house litter box one cat servant made for his feline, Frodo.

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Frodo the Cat and his hobbit house.

But hey, if I’m gonna go all out and build a spectacular lounging spot or bathroom for the Budster and mine 80s/90s childhood obsessions for ideas, wouldn’t the Thundercats HQ — known simply as the Cat’s Lair — be more appropriate?

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“Let’s say this Twinkie represents the normal amount of psychokinetic energy in the New York area. According to this morning’s sample, it would be a Twinkie 35 feet long, weighing approximately 600 pounds.” “That’s a big Twinkie.”

Cats In Movies: 1985’s ‘Explorers’

When I was a kid, my best friend’s dad had a trove of science fiction on VHS tapes, running the gamut from 1950s flying saucer classics to 80s fare like The Last Starfighter, Flight of the Navigator and Explorers, a little-known Disney film that quietly came and went from theaters in 1985.

The Joe Dante-directed movie attained cult status in subsequent years via home video, and it’s easy to see why: Explorers is the stuff kids’ dreams are made of.

The movie follows three boys who dream of a bizarre symbol — a symbol that, when entered into a computer, spawns self-writing code that generates a floating sphere.

The sphere is an an airtight, transparent, inertia-less magnetic bubble. The boys soon realize they can make the sphere move and manipulate its size. More importantly, they can ride in it.

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Wulfgang (River Phoenix) and Ben (Ethan Hawke) activate the sphere for the first time, before Wulfgang’s cat shows them how to make a space ship out of it.
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The dream symbols from Explorers: Not bad for 1985 computer-generated graphics.

Naturally, they build their own space ship out of junk parts — an old Tilt-A-Whirl ride, a garbage can, a TV screen and washing machine doors for windows — and use the magnetic bubble as its invisible shell.

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The boys build a space ship, which they dub Thunder Road, out of parts found in a junkyard.

After their first flight — in which they lose control of their new ship, crash through the snack bar at a drive-in theater and draw the attention of police — the kids refine their invention, discovering a way to reach outer space.

Explorers is Ethan Hawke’s first movie. He plays Ben, the dreamer of the trio, the kid who lays on his roof at night and gazes at the stars, wondering what’s out there.

The late River Phoenix also made his film debut with Explorers and plays Wulfgang, the proud nerd and young scientist who uses his computer to control the ship-in-a-bubble.

And former child actor Jason Presson plays Darren, the kid who comes from a rough existence with an alcoholic dad, and befriends Ben and Wulfgang when he defends them from bullies at school. (This being the 80s, the bullies are very blond, very stupid and very cruel.)

So where does the cat come in? By showing the three kids the potential of their invention, of course.

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Wulfgang’s cat jumps on the keyboard, sending the sphere zig-zagging through his basement.

Wulfgang and the boys first conjure their magnetic sphere into existence in using a computer in Wulfgang’s basement lab, and marvel at it as it hangs in the air, impenetrable and seemingly immobile.

That’s when Wulfgang’s orange tabby does what cats do and flops down on the keyboard, sending random spatial coordinates to the sphere which then zig-zags throughout the basement. As the sphere tears holes in old junk, punctures a window and comes to rest a few feet away, the boys realize it can not only move, it can be guided.

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Takeoff!

Every boy dreams of exploring space at some point, and Explorers is that dream realized through a child’s eyes. Three kids from the suburbs build a ship that can reach outer space, offering answers to the tantalizing questions about what’s out there.

We’re not the only ones with fond memories of the movie. A Hollywood script-writing duo which includes the director of True Detective has been working on an updated version that would play out as a live-action TV series. Here’s to hoping if their project gets the greenlight, the cat stays in.

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