New Jersey’s Great Pop Culture Moments Vol.64: Captain America

“Oh, you’re from Paramus now? You know it’s illegal to lie on your enlistment form. And seriously, Jersey?” – Sgt. James “Bucky” Barnes 
Prior to becoming The First Avenger, the meek Steve Rogers lied on his enlistment forms in his many attempts to get into the army. His various physical issues disqualified him from serving military duty in World War II. I love that Captain America himself lied and said he was from New Jersey to get into the army. Captain Paramus just doesn’t have the same ring.

Prior to its release, the concept art and trailers for Captain America were enough to sell me on the Marvel Studios film. Still, that didn’t mean I would be motivated enough to actually venture out to the movie theater to see it! Unless it’s a huge event for me, I wait for Redbox or Netflix. Sure, Captain America looked awesome, but it didn’t get me as psyched as you would’ve thought. Last Friday I finally sat down to view the film on bluray, better late than never, right? It turns out that I didn’t fully agree with the majority considering it has a fresh rating of 79% on Rotten Tomatoes.

In my world, one of the cards stacked against Marvel is that I’ve always been a DC guy. That doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy Marvel characters, comics, or movies, but I’m just more into DC comics. Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk were both brought to the screen in a very cool way. Shit, I even liked Fantastic Four! Although, during the time Thor was in theaters, all I kept hearing was how bad it was from friends of mine. After I finally saw it, I thought it kicked ass! It was so much better than I had heard. It wasn’t the greatest super hero film ever, but it was definitely a fun movie. After seeing Thor, I got pumped for the upcoming Avengers film and wanted to make sure I saw Captain America next.

As exciting as it originally seemed, Captain America fell a bit short of my expectations. I was convinced that this would be Marvel’s best superhero film thus far, but Iron Man still holds that title. That’s not to say Captain America was bad at all, in fact, the more I think about it, the more it seems that it was everything it could have been. The fact that it’s an origin story held back the action. Just the thought of a sequel sounds more exciting than the first. The casting of the film was fairly dead-on. Chris Evans played Cap perfectly, Hugo Weaving was killer as Red Skull, and Stanley Tucci was awesome as Dr. Erskine. The only exception for me was Hayley Atwell who was pretty bland as leading lady Peggy Carter. All the elements were there, but it still wasn’t a complete home run for me.

Overall, the film lacked the high level of adventure that Iron Man and Thor had. Again, that was most likely due to the hindrance of having to tell Cap’s origin story. If you are comic geek like me then you can do without origins because we’ve heard them all before. Reintroduction of these iconic characters is a necessary evil though. Many folks in the country don’t even remember TV’s Captain America from the late ’70s and Albert Pyun’s take on the character from 1990. Finally, we have a definitive Captain America film that looks superb on bluray, so, mission accomplished Cap! Now onto The Avengers!

Batman Pez Dispensers

Everyone I know seems to be candy crazy. I was never obsessed with sweets and I rarely go on sugar frenzies. Although I must say I do enjoy Reese’s cups, Snickers, 3 Musketeers, and peppermint patties every now and then. I definitely opt for a chocolate bar over a sugary candy like sweet tarts or airheads. I also have a disdain for anything too chewy or with a “gummy” prefix although the gummy raspberries and blackberries with the crunchies on the outside are highly enjoyable.

Throughout my life, Pez weren’t the most accessible candy out there. I couldn’t go to the nearest convenience store and pick up Pez. In my area of N.J they were readily available at toy stores and rarely anywhere else unless it was a holiday. Christmas and Valentine’s day brings Pez out to many stores in full force.

Pez were always a candy that I discovered every few months as a kid. I remember that I would keep my pez dispensers in a mini drawer in my closet. Whenever I broke out all my toys I’d open up my mini drawer and get my Pez paraphenalia ready to rock. In there I had stockpiled unwrapped pez candy that were waiting to be loaded into one of my many dispensers.

You can imagine how odd Pez tasted after a year or two even if they were still wrapped in their original package. I don’t think I realized that they probably went bad after a while. Regardless, I’d load the Pez candy into the Hulk head or the Snoopy head and then start popping them into my mouth like mad. I then realized how stale they were. They were fairly hard, I’m lying…they were break your teeth hard. They were also a bit hollow for some reason. But they still tasted like classic Pez pellets and aside from their stale state, they still had their unmistakable classic Pez flavor. It’s been a long time since I’ve had the actual candy but I still have many of my original dispensers.

Here are the Batman dispensers I’ve gathered throughout the years. They go in order of when I got them. The oldest on the left I got when I was about 8 years old! You can see the changes to the mold and the color modifications. The blue color changes slightly from the 1st dispenser to the 2nd and it’s not just old age, they actually have slightly different blue tones. The first one is probably my favorite because it’s classic but if the last two were combined! Holy Nightmare! The last one’s head sculpt is reminiscent of the comic book Batman. Switching the last dispenser’s navy blue for black would make one heck of a perfect Bat-Pez dispenser!

**After scanning Bat-Blog, I noticed there’s a new set of Batman Pez dispensers that have been released that include Joker, Riddler, Two-Face, and a Batman with a gray body and the same head as the last dispenser pictured here. These are such nice sculpts and are a Bat-fans wet dream!

Review: The Incredible Hulk

While many folks schedule their vacations to the Bahamas or Mexico this summer, I base my vacation time off release dates of super hero movies. It’s something I’ve always done, even as a kid. Well, let me correct myself, we weren’t lucky enough to be able to schedule our own vacation time when we were in school but I did it anyway. “Mom, Batman Returns comes out on Friday and I want to take off of school so can you take me?” Surprisingly, my mom was always supportive of that kind of thing. Even as I went through High School I never ditched class, I just had my mom call me in sick. Then my friends (who all pulled similar strings with their moms) and I went to the theater whenever a MUST SEE movie came out. Most of the time it was a Batman movie. You can just imagine how pumped I am for THE DARK KNIGHT! I’ve already scheduled my day off and booked a room in Atlantic City so I can see it in an IMAX theater. To a lot of you those plans might seem a little excessive just to see a movie. The sun, palm trees, a frozen cocktail…a Jedi crave not these things. Today my vacation day entailed a trip to the theater to see The Incredible Hulk. Here’s the recap:

Like so many other people, I was not impressed with Hulk’s last movie treatment in 2003. I was never an obsessive fan of the Hulk like I am with Batman, but I was a loyal fan of the TV show as a kid. That was the type of film I was hoping for when I saw Ang Lee’s version. The latest incarnation starring Ed Norton as David Banner reached such a level of satisfaction for me that I was entirely impressed. Ed Norton and the rest of the cast (Liv Tyler, William Hurt, and Tim Roth) seemed like they rocketed straight out of the comic books and onto the screen.

A couple of my favorite scenes featured the interaction between Norton and Tyler who had such a natural chemistry. One scene involves Betty Ross (Liv Tyler), attempting to nurture the Hulk with her soothing voice while Hulk is going balls out throwing boulders because he just saw some lightning and heard thunder. “It’s OK, it’s only the rain…” she says. In that scene, the relationship between Kong and Ann Darrow come to mind. In comparison, Ang Lee’s version seemed tragic while this rejuvenated Hulk evokes vitality. A Hulk film should not be dull and dreary and this film was the opposite and triumphed because of it. Thankfully, The Incredible Hulk maintainted the drama and action with occasional poignant moments.
Another scene that I adored, and actually laughed out loud, is a scene where David Banner and Betty Ross are taking a cab ride in New York City. The driver is completely reckless and driving like a maniac. Because they’re getting dangerously bounced around, Banner is about to go ape shit. They get out and the ever protective Ross gets irate on the taxi driver kicking his car and calling him an “Asshole.” I couldn’t tell if her character was just trying to protect Banner from hulking up or if the filmmakers were attempting a social commentary on the uptight aggressive nature of New York City? If any place in the world makes you turn into a super pissed off 9 foot tall green monster it will probably be the New York/New Jersey area. Represent.

Fans of the TV series and comic book will not be disappointed because it seemed very much an accurate mixture of the two. You’ll notice many references to the TV series such as Ferrigno as a pizza accepting security guard, Bill Bixby’s on the TV in The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, hints of the old theme song, and of course the Marvel staple Stan Lee is sipping a gaurana soda. Norton even begins to utter “You wouldn’t like me if I’m…” I’ll leave the rest to your imagination if you haven’t seen it yet. You may even hear a “HULK SMASH!!!” thrown in for good measure and a hint at Leader as the next villian.

The film had an excellent pace and didn’t drag, and the action scenes were skillfully created. And like the filmmakers promised, this Hulk film wasn’t bogged down with CGI. Even though Hulk and Abomination were CGI, they looked totally realistic and not like a video game. Hulk especially looked awesome.
If you’ve read articles on the Internet about the film or watched any TV spots, they couldn’t wait to spoil the Tony Stark cameo. I really wish it was a secret because seeing him at the end would’ve been more more of a surprise. But honestly, I was so wrapped up in the film that I totally slipped my mind that Robert Downey Jr. was about to drop in. How exciting will THE AVENGERS be? That one might necessitate a week long celebration, not just a day off!

So far this has been one helluva summer for movies. I’m traditionally let down by “summer blockbusters” but many such as Indy, and Hulk have blown me away. I can’t imagine what THE DARK KNIGHT is going to do to me. It might make me Hulk up and SMASH stuff! Have you seen The Incredible Hulk yet? Did you enjoy it? I’d like to hear YOUR thoughts!

Transformation Fascination

The other day I had a revelation. I realized that since I was a kid I always enjoyed watching the transformation of a character in TV or movies. I can’t say for sure which transformation I witnessed the earliest but I know that it’s all derived from the Jekyll & Hyde theme. There’s always been cartoons like Looney Tunes, O.G Readmore, and others that have featured characters transforming into and evil one. In other instances a hero would transform from a normal everyday person into a Superhero like Clark Kent running into a phone booth to come out as Superman. Those montages always had great appeal to me so I searched You Tube to feature some of the best transformations right here. There’s many more so feel free to leave a comment with some of your favorites!

Probably one of the most memorable transformations belongs to the Incredible Hulk:

Here’s what happens when Barbara Gordon opens her secret revolving wall…

I can’t leave out Michael J. Fox’s “changes” in Teen Wolf. Also, Michael Jackson’s transformation into the werewolf in Thriller is classic.

The forming of Voltron!

Prince Adam becomes He-Man:


Halloween 1981

Last weekend I was looking through a box of old photos from Halloween’s past. These pictures become time machines for me. I came across quite a few that were taken at school during Halloween parades or just in the classroom. The one I’m posting today actually has nothing to do with me at all. This is Halloween 1981 and my sister dressed up as one of her favorite characters Holly Hobbie. The Wikipedia entry mentions that Hobbie was popular throughout the ‘70s, although I know for a fact she still held her own through the early ‘80s as well. Even though I was a little kid during that time I remember my sis loving Holly Hobbie.

In this photo my sister was one of the Holly Hobbies way in the back row. The Holly Hobbie closer to the front was actually “Evil Holly Hobby.” You can tell because she’s the one looking pissed off with her arms folded grumbling some crap about another girl dressing up as the same character. With more scrutiny we can see a lot of superhero representation here. There’s a possible Wonder Woman to the right of my sister in the back whose head is behind the kid with the red cloak. There’s a roaring Incredible Hulk in the front and then another poor Hulk stuck in the back biting his nails. He seems worried that he’s not as good as the proud ferocious Hulk who demands the spotlight. We can also pick out a few Spider Man costumes, a Superman, a kickass vintage Yoda costume, and finally an awesome Darth Vader with his mask up…dammit!
Leaving out the kids that make me giggle would be a crime. How about the little Asian boy with a cowboy hat on? (WWE fans: Is that Jimmy Wang Yang? was he foreseeing the future?) Is it even a cowboy hat? I totally don’t want to sound wrong but who are the kids in the front with the sheet over their head with their hats on supposed to be? The one in the front row’s face is being obstructed by the Incredible Ham Hulk who is raping the camera. You also can’t miss the innocent, friendly looking Snoopy. He doesn’t seem like that sarcastic, mischievous Snoopy we know from the cartoon. The ever-living Strawberry Shortcake makes an appearance as well as a nurse (yay).

Perhaps the winner for most enigmatic costume is the young New York Giant on the bottom left who is donning a #33. I have no idea who #33 was on the Giants back in the late ‘70s or early ‘80s. I’m going to assume that it was a generic N.Y Giants children’s costume with a random number on it unless one of the awesome Sexy Armpit readers can provide me with some answers! Lol. Oh, I saved the very best for last. On the right side, attached to the railing… is that a clown with an enormous fro, or is this supposed to be a character of some type?
I hope you enjoyed looking at some of these old-school costumes. Do you have any memories of these? If so, drop a comment! Especially if you know who the blonde guy is with the stars on his shirt. Evil Knievel? One of the Duke boys? I have a lot more Halloween related material coming your way here at so stay tuned and as always, I appreciate you stopping by!