Saturday, March 28, 2015

Zombie Pinups and Boneless Chicken Wings

MonsterMania3-2015

Monster Mania Con
Crowne Plaza: Cherry Hill, NJ
3/13/15

Still in awe of The House of Fun, we arrived at our destination.

MonsterMania05

As soon as we we entered the lobby, we ran into Chad from Horror Movie BBQ. If you don't know Chad, he's a towering, jovial dude, who, if I remember correctly, took a small private plane and landed in Lumberton airfield and backpacked about 13 miles to get to Monster Mania. Ok that may be a slight embellishment, but the story of how he traveled there was quite intricate, and seemed a lot more complicated than my mind was able to process at the moment he was explaining it to me. We'd run into Chad again later in the evening, but by that point, my brain was like oatmeal, and my stomach was full of mediocre fries and moderately enjoyable boneless chicken wings.

MonsterMania04
When I was a kid I would go to every surrounding video store searching for certain elusive WWF Supertapes. Now they are all on bootleg DVDs. Isn't life grand?

We also met The Trash Man from Pop, Pop! It's Trash Culture who told me about his MM scores in the dealer room. Speaking of dealer rooms, it was time to blow through them. As a collector of useless crap, I am driven by the ongoing search for that one golden item. I never know specifically what I'm looking for, but I'll know when it calls out to me like how Beastmaster hears his ferrets bitch about being hungry.

MonsterMania02

Before heading into the depths of the con, we stopped outside for some fresh air. With my t-shirt radar always ON, I noticed a guy behind me with an awesome Patrick Bateman American Psycho tee. I asked him if it was ok if I snapped a pic. He was cool with it. Thanks Dale!

MonsterMania03

As suspected, nothing was jumping out at me. Then, toward the end of my tour around the con, I ran into the Gorgeous and Gory table. Jess Rajs and our friends at G&G have always been a staple at MM and Chiller as well as all the various horror and zombie events throughout the state. It's always great to see them. Aside from their renowned zombie pinup calendar, this time around they had copies of their compilation book Gorgeous and Gory: The Zombie Pinup Collection. This book is now on my coffee table and it is every bit as incredibly beautiful as the cover dictates. To think of all the blood, sweat, and tears that went into this book is mind boggling. From the location scouting and makeup to the graphic design and actual printing of the book, this is truly the most Gorgeous, undead art you will ever see.

Impress your house guests with this swank coffee table book that'll have them asking about your zombie fetish, and then your other fetishes while they're on the subject. With this book they'll loosen up right away once they realize that the hot models they're drooling over within the pages are actually brain eating zombies from beyond the grave. Pick it up at their website or at Wizard World Philly in May!

The next day, we woke up shockingly not feeling like total ass. I didn't have that nagging guilt that I spent too much money either. We were refreshed and ready to head to the next point of interest on my list. It was surprisingly warm, gray, and pouring rain outside, just the way I like it. This moody weather set the perfect stage. Come back soon to read about our next Monster Mania detour!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Call Me The Clark Griswold of New Jersey Geekery

MonsterMania3-2015

Sometimes the appetizers and the dessert are more enticing than the main course. The main course being the Monster Mania Con in Cherry Hill, NJ. In the same vein, sometimes the photos that appear in a blog post are actually way better than the post itself. Enjoy!

After being to so many Monster Mania cons, my agenda diminishes with each installment. I remember MMs when I would leave abruptly and head directly home because I ran out of money from buying so much cool stuff. It was like I lost a ton of money in Atlantic City and I was ruined, but I relished in every nostalgic second of it.

The other saving grace, the chance to meet horror actors at Monster Mania, has largely lost its luster after noticing that some of the prices they charge at conventions like this have gone completely off the charts. Makes me wonder how some fans take photos seemingly with every guest. Ironically, the focal point of MM for many of us has really become a way for online horror fanatics to meet up with each other in person. Yes, the non-famous people get the chance to interact, not behind figurative vibranium shields, computer screens, and giant smart phones, but actually face to face.

*SPOILER: NONE OF THE PHOTOS IN THIS POST ARE FROM MONSTER MANIA*

HouseofFun02

In hopes of compensating for my lack of interest in the actual con, I usually try to engineer some elaborate schemes for the rest of the weekend. I didn't have to twist Matt's arm into coming with me to these top secret spots either. By now, he knows I'm not going to drop him off at the Wicker Emporium and leave him for dead. Maybe the Wicket Emporium though. Isn't it amazing how changing one little letter makes the store into a glorious wonderland of furry little creatures from Endor?

While my mind lingers on the possibilities of a full-on Ewok department store, let's get you back to the action.

Sure, Monster Mania was the catalyst for our trip, but I figured, why not do what I do best and make this excursion way more elaborate? These little offshoot adventures have quickly become the highlight of our Monster Mania trips. This time around, in addition to MM, I picked out 4 points of interest that I had mapped out in my head and in my phone ahead of time, and if the timing was right, we'd be making several detours throughout the weekend. Clark Griswold, eat your heart out!

HouseofFun06

As we rapidly approached the Cherry Hill exit on the Turnpike, I alluded to my need to make a pitstop before we hit the hotel. The last thing we all wanted to do was make an unnecessary stop that would prolong us from eating since we were all starving at that point. One of the necessary evils was picking up some liquor for the room, because it seems like the ghost of Crowne Plaza always LOVES to drink all of our Tequila.

HouseofFun05

We stopped at Froggie's liquor store. Can someone explain to me why it seemed like everything is named Froggie's in Cherry Hill? It may have only been a deli and a cafe, but it seemed like we passed so many different Froggie's establishments in the matter of a mile that it made it seem like every damn business down there was named Froggie's. Excluding the defunct Crystal Lake Diner of course, which was completely gutted, making it appropriately more scary. It would make total sense to show you an eerie photo of this place, but instead, here's Koo Koo from Cops 'N Crooks.

HouseofFun03

I didn't let any details of this place out of the bag, so it was a total mystery as to where we were headed. Erroneously turning off onto the wrong side road only added to the suspense.

HouseofFun04

Ahh there it was, The House of Fun! With a name like that, this shop had a lot to live up to. This place is incredible. I can easily say that no toy/collectible shop near me is anywhere near this caliber of cool. What's most impressive is the mint in box vintage stuff that stocked the shelves, which evokes the feeling that you're at a downtown toy shop anywhere from 20 or 30 years ago. Another aspect of the store that I appreciated was the mix of old and new. This is particularly apparent in the side room, which is pretty wild. We entered into that sanctum and were greeted by a life size Han in Carbonite, a slew of Godzillas, old plush toys, Star Wars stuff hanging from the ceiling, vintage video games, board games, and a host of other crap you might only find on eBay.

HouseofFun01
https://thehouseoffun.com - 517 White Horse Pike, Oaklyn, NJ 08107

Next time you're in the area, definitely check this store out. We want to get back there real soon! Thanks for reading and come back tomorrow for the next installment of our Monster Mania trip to see the other detours I had up my sleeve. Now I leave you with the Crystal Lake Diner from back when it was in all of it's operational glory! I say open it back up and give it the old Jason Voorhees treatment. It would be a boon to the business.

CrystalLakeDinerNJ

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

12 Fictional Bands That I Didn't Mention on Nerd Lunch Episode 170



The Nerd Lunch Podcast Episode 170 is now available for download! It's all about fictional/fake bands from various forms of entertainment. Tim Lybarger, CT, Pax, and myself offer some of our favorites and then later in the show we try to guess some really obscure selections! After you listen, check out my list of fictional bands below that I didn't get a chance to mention on the podcast.


12. Danger Kitty, Discover Card Commercial, 2001
They've been enjoying the biggest success of their career as Steel Panther, and to think they started as a cover band playing '80s hair band songs in Los Angeles! Originally they were known as Metal Shop, and then Metal Skool and they gained quite a following, now, as Steel Panther they're touring the world, literally. Everyone loves a some good, tight zebra skin spandex and vagina jokes. Early on, the band appeared as Danger Kitty in a Discover Card commercial where they played a kids Bar Mitzvah. In 2001, at their website, you could get a CD single of the track they played in the commercial called "Love Rocket," and you can imagine that I requested mine in about .02 milliseconds. Of course, I still have it and have been obsessed with the band ever since.

11. Arsenal, Rock of Ages Musical, 2005-present
Rock of Ages has been a staple musical since 2005 in various parts of the country and touring all over the world. The show spawned a 2012 film adaptation which I still haven't watched in fear that it's nowhere near as good as the stage show. The main band in the show is Arsenal and they play actual '80s arena rock tunes, but what makes them so special to me is that all of the stops on their fictional first tour were to random New Jersey towns! If you want to see proof, I have their original promotional t-shirt and there are photos in my review of the off Broadway production from 2008. This early incarnation of ROA reviewed here was the best before they started tweaking the story, characters, and actors.

10. The Barbusters, Light of Day, 1987
The band in this rock drama is comprised of Michael J. Fox and Joan Jett in one hell of an oddball mash up. The title track was written by Bruce Springsteen. Bon Jovi also appears on the soundtrack.

9. The Lost Soulz, The Perfect Age of Rock n Roll
This rock and roll road movie was filmed partly in New Jersey and my friend Jasin Cadic from the band Starkiller co-wrote it! Check out my review from when it was released.

8. Black Roses, 1988
A monstrous metal band turns everyone into monsters - quite a masterpiece. I recommend adding it to your Halloween time viewing if you haven't done so in the past. Tracks like "Dance on Fire" and "Soldiers of the Night," are staples of my Fall playlists. Bands that appear on this rare soundtrack include Lizzy Borden and King Kobra.


7. Vesuvius, The Rocker, 2008
For a while I was watching The Rocker at least 3 times a week. That's what happens when HBO gets a hold of a new movie. Rainn Wilson and Christina Applegate star in the comedy, but it's a who's who of comedic actors such as Fred Armisen, Will Arnett, and Jeff Garlin. It's well worth your time if you are into silly comedies about rock bands like Spinal Tap. The direct result of watching this movie constantly: I was obsessed with "Promised Land" and listened to it on loop on the way to work for several months. The tunes by Vesuvius are attributed to singer Keith England and his band Lazlo Bane.

6. Stillwater, Almost Famous, 2000
A young music journalist embarks on tour with his favorite band Stillwater to document their exploits for a possible published spot in a rock magazine. Said to be based off of the early years of director Cameron Crowe's life. I've had a couple of Stillwater songs on my iPod ever since I owned an iPod. The authentic track, "Fever Dog," it sounds like it was a lost track made recorded in the mid '70s, and it's not surprising because the Stillwater songs were written by Crowe, his ex-wife Nancy Wilson of Heart, and Peter Frampton which helped give it that special vintage sound. Although the film did not knock 'em dead at the box office, the soundtrack won a Grammy for best soundtrack/compilation.


5. Dyver Down from Holliston, 2013
Used mostly for comic relief, the Van Halen tribute band Dyver Down, lead by Lance Rocket (Dee Snider) actually has a track available on iTunes called "Love It Down Your Throat" and a schlocky, badass music video to go along with it. This was my favorite aspect of the show, well, this and Laura Ortiz of course.


4. Mouthfeel and Juggernaut, Gettin' The Band Back Together
You're almost guaranteed not to be familiar with these next bands, (it's a twofer, I cheated) but you will be soon if all goes well. I was lucky enough to see the play getting the band back together with Miss Sexy Armpit at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick in its early phase. It's been rumored for a while now that it's on making it's way to Broadway. If this happens, you may be seeing Rock of Ages take a back seat because that is how funny and entertaining this play is. The comedy/rock musical hybrid is about, you guessed it, a guy who gets his band back together to save his home and neighborhood. They get into a battle of the bands which pits the evil Mouthfeel against the rock heroes in Juggernaut. The original songs are '80s arena rock style and a select few are available on iTunes. Unfortunately the self titled track "Mouthfeel" isn't available. I hope Mouthfeel's tracks make it to the Broadway show otherwise I'm protesting in '80s hair band attire.

3. Eddie and the Cruisers, 1983
This Jersey classic is possibly one of the most successful fictitious band songs ever. "On The Dark Side," by John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band, scored a number one hit on the Mainstream Rock singles and reached number 7 on the Billboard Hot 100. The sequel, Eddie and the Cruisers II: Eddie Lives, arrived in 1989.


2. Tears of Blood, Disney's Wizards of Waverly Place
If you follow me on Twitter, you may have read about how my life has spun out of control ever since Netflix removed Wizards of Waverly Place from their streaming service. I was completely devastated. It was like a punch in the gut! It's one of my favorite shows of all time and it never fails to make me happy. One minor aspect of the show references a rock band called Tears of Blood. They get mentioned in a bunch of episodes and there's even a poster that shows up on the wall in one scene. TOB is crazy popular with the teenage crowd within the universe of the show. They even get mentioned in other Disney shows which was always surprising considering the very un-Disney-like name of one of their tracks, "Crying Blood for You." I can't be certain anyone has actually heard their music though. If anyone has Tears of Blood music, send it my way!


1. The Hex Girls, Scooby Doo
Scooby Doo fans are ultra familiar with this "eco-goth rock band." You can see and hear them perform in several Scooby outings, but I suggest you check out the Mystery Inc. episode "In Fear of the Phantom" while it's still streaming on Netflix. In it, Daphne joins the band as a temporary new member, Crush, voiced by the lovely Grey DeLisle-Griffin. Look out for the influences of Phantom of the Opera, Phantom of the Paradise, and an awesome little surprise cameo from Vincent Van Ghoul from the 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo!

Who are some of your favorite fictional bands? Leave 'em in the comments! Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

ExtraComicular Activities #3: The Clifton Comic Book Expo!


Comic purists usually shoot a cross with their fingers at me when I admit that I stopped buying actual comic books years ago. As soon as it was available, I switched abruptly to digital through Comixology. While I absolutely hate the fact that I can't purchase the comics directly though their app anymore, I still love the immersive, guided reading experience that they offer because it's the closest I can get to replicating the similar feeling I got when I was a kid reading the old See, Hear, and Read book and record sets, only sans audio.

Regardless of not collecting hard copies anymore, that doesn't mean I don't love a good comic expo. I've been to shows that had 5 tables of comics and to the ones where you can barely navigate through the sea of cosplayers. Fortunately, in the middle, are Pug's Comic Expos of North Jersey. Pug Productions has faithfully put on comic book shows around North Jersey ever since I can remember. My Dad took me to these in the early '90s when they were basically the premiere comic convention in Jersey without having to cross the river over to New York. Mind you, these shows are far from being on the level of a New York Comic Con, but they make up for their scale by laser focusing on comic books. Sure, there's always a few tables with some action figures, trading cards and random plush toys, but for the most part, the Pug comic shows are meant for serious comic collectors without all the B.S and veiled advertising of the big shows.

Sunday welcomed the early signs of Spring and I happily absorbed every bit of it. The insane sub zero conditions and constant snowstorms made this winter excessively depressing in New Jersey this year, so this was a perfect chance to get out of the house and look through a hundred long boxes of dusty old comics with Matt from Dinosaur Dracula, who actually came up with the great idea to go. With the sun shining and temperatures warm enough to start melting mountains of snow that piled up throughout this abysmal winter, a quick drive up the Garden State Parkway was just what the doctor ordered.


Arrived: Community Recreation Center - Clifton, NJ

I noticed the old school NJ Devils mural above me as I walked into a big bright room that was starting to fill up with a bunch of mellow comic lovers. It was as if it was in some kind of artists loft.

Since I wasn't looking for anything specific, I really left fate in the hands of the cover art. If it grabbed me then I grabbed it. With comic books, the covers are deceiving and are rarely a good indication of whether it's going to be a worthwhile read or not. Chances are slim that I actually wind up reading any of these though. They'll probably get more of a thumb-through job at most. Sounds pretty dirty, but accurate. The two limited collectors' editions may get full-on reads, but I'll get to them last.

It's been unpopular to be a DC guy for most of my existence on Earth (Earth-One that is!), but I've been one for better or worse since 1982. Hence, as expected, my haul was DC heavy with a GI Joe and Vampirella thrown in for good measure. Most of the comics I bought ranged from 50¢ cents to $10 dollars. Let's see what I came home with:

JLA #121, December 2005 
DC Comics


Arrow and Black Canary on the cover was the driving force of this pickup. Actually, who am I kidding? There was no way in hell I would pass up Black Canary's lady parts all up in my face! C'mon, we know Canary is agile and even acrobatic, but in this issue, every chance she gets she's putting her vajayjay on displayay. There's no way the artist didn't realize this. Before even opening the book, there was a possible 69 situation with one of my favorite female characters in all of the DCU, but after skipping through merely 3 pages...BANG there's another one! As Black Canary narrowly escapes the path of Green Arrow's exploding arrow, she's spread eagle again, er, spread Canary more appropriately. For the record, here's a "Hey now!" Worth the price of 50¢ cents, I'd say.

Canary Crotch Count: 3


GI JOE ACTION FORCE #13, May 1987 
Marvel Comics


I was pretty pumped to come across some back issues of Action Force for $2 bucks. Quickly, I remembered their larger format didn't necessarily equal quality due to their super-thin paper that gives them a cheaper, newspaper supplement feel. It's unimportant though when you check out the diabolically evil face on Destro playing Cobra like a marionette puppet. I love the concept and the colors really pop here too.

Inside, there's a cool little scene where Scarlett takes the ferry to Manhattan from Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island, our neighbors. You can see the Twin Towers in the background as they sail back from Manhattan. Later in the issue Destro stars in a Casablanca parody, you know, cause he loves his Bogey films.


VENGEANCE OF VAMPIRELLA #18, September 1995
Harris Comics


Although I've owned some Vampirella comics for many years, I've never actually read any of them. I've always meant to though. Although I adore it's cover, this issue is not going to be my first foray into the exploits of the half naked seductive vampire. Not too much of interest inside this one, although the back cover is a completely different story. Hello nurse! I was greeted with a full page of Vampirella cosplay advertising Vampirelly strikes #1. And this stupid autocorrect keeps changing Vampirella to Vampirelly. VampiREALLY? Get off my back.


THE NEW TITANS #71, November 1990
DC Comics

This double sized issue is the first in a nine part storyline and it's probably the most intriguing and well written of the stash I brought home. Why do you seem so stressed out, Nightwing? What I gather from the cover is that The New Titans 10th anniversary party didn't go well so now Dick has to seek counseling. Starfire wasn't happy with the puff pastry hors d'oeuvres and the Crab Rangoon was cold, WTF? The balloons were overinflated and they started to pop midway through the party (f*cking seriously?) which caused a ruckus in Cyborg's earpiece. Shucks, this party was a bust guys.

Seriously though, Nightwing reminiscences about his team on their anniversary and we get a tour through his mind and get a front row seat of his thoughts and memories of each member. We see a retelling of some origins and his perspective of what qualities each member brings to the team.

There was also an interesting piece about how the Titans now have to keep track of all their cases, likely because it was becoming the technology age. As he sat near a computer, Dick described how different the team operates now, in some ways it's easier but more challenging in others. Unlike the old days, they now worry about their finances! Can you imagine an entire one-shot comic detailing the bumpy road that Cyborg had to navigate to successfully file his income tax return? See, things were even meta back then since Dick was talking about licensing each team member for their own action figures.


A bizarre coincidence happened when I read through a panel that took place at the opera. A quick cameo by one of my favorites, Jillian Jackson, a.k.a Beast Boy's girlfriend, made a comment to him about how she had tickets to see New Kids. What are the chances there would be an NKOTB reference in this comic? This proved to be even more weird since I bought Miss Sexy Armpit a couple of packs of unopened New Kids on the Block trading cards at the comic expo as well.





Possibly my favorite part was this whacked out convo about why Starfire needs to wear a bathing suit at the beach and how bathing suits make her feel inhibited. Meanwhile Dick is disguised as a '70s porn star. This was the best thing in the whole comic haul. As an added bonus, there's a cliffhanger with Deathstroke getting enlisted to help the Titans against that bastard Wildebeest to continue the story into the next several issues.





SUPERBOY AND THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES, LIMITED COLLECTOR'S EDITION, 1976
DC Comics

This book was a dollar originally, and if it came out today, given it's size and the overinflated prices we see nowadays, it would probably be $12 at least. The first thing that hit me when I opened it up is that it totally stinks inside. The inside smells so foul it's like a castle dungeon from the dark ages filled with decomposing corpses. That may have been too graphic, but I know actual people who were born the same year this came out and they don't smell half as bad.


The book is in excellent condition otherwise and it was well worth the price of $10 bucks, in fact I might actually read this one eventually if I can survive the paper of eternal stench. The two page spreads of the diagram of Legion Headquarters and the wedding photo pinup of Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel are awesome and frame worthy.

The other grabber for me here was Saturn Girl. I may cut her out and hang her on the wall of my prison cell if I ever wind up in jail.


SHAZAM: THE ORIGINAL CAPTAIN MARVEL, LIMITED COLLECTOR'S EDITION, 1974
DC Comics


My motivation for getting this one, in addition to mildly enjoying the character, was actually assembling the diorama that's touted on the cover, but that would mean ruining the comic. I decided to look through all the pages to see what I'd be massacring. Turns out that it was filled with some pretty goofy, comic-strip type adventures. There's no doubt that I enjoy these types of stories, but not enough to make me say say that I won't cut the shit out of the back cover. Sorry Shazam. All things considered, I think having the diorama is going to be more fun in the long run than stashing away the comic in a pile of comics. Of course, when the Shazam movie comes out and this book's price skyrockets to $150 on eBay, I will be kicking myself in the nuts with the strength of Hercules.

--
When buying stuff from discount long boxes under the tables, it's easy to feel like you spent too much money since you're probably going home with a bunch of books, but then you remember they were the least desirable books in the rec center that day, so you feel justified. You too can give books like these a new home for merely a stack of coins. Next show is March 29th! http://www.njcomicbookshows.com

Monday, March 02, 2015

Jon Stewart to Appear on WWE Raw Live from Newark, NJ Tonight



WWE Superstar Seth Rollins recently called out the soon to be former host of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart. The Money in the Bank winner declared that he could be Stewart's replacement and actually make the show watchable.

After Stewart cut his own rebuttal, Rollins ambushed him on one of his recent shows by making it seem like he was beamed in via satellite when he was actually right there in the studio. WWE has now confirmed that Stewart will appear on Raw tonight, live from The Prudential Center in Newark to possibly confront Rollins. Will they settle their gripe at WrestleMania? Doubtful that Stewart would actually take a bump, so it's likely he will be in the corner of Rollins' opponent at WrestleMania. Right now, it looks like Rollins will be facing "The Viper" Randy Orton.

Although he was born in New York, Jon Stewart's family moved to Lawrenceville, NJ, where he lived for many years. When thinking of the path to becoming a household name in stand-up comedy and Television, it's easy to forget the odd jobs one takes on the way to the top. Before satirizing the news on The Daily Show, appearing in movies, and a possible appearance at this year's WrestleMania, Stewart held various jobs in Jersey, including working as a contingency planner for the NJ Department of Human Services and a bartender at the famous City Gardens night club in Trenton. Stewart is also a big Bruce Springsteen fan, naturally.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...