I can hardly call this an actual review, but in this video I do share some of my thoughts on the new Sweet Tarts Tropical Punch Rope candy with Wonder Woman on the package!
I can hardly call this an actual review, but in this video I do share some of my thoughts on the new Sweet Tarts Tropical Punch Rope candy with Wonder Woman on the package!
People pursue different things. Off the top of my head, I can think of the pursuit of happiness, the American dream, a higher salary, you know all those things. I pursue promotional tie-ins. Yesterday on a drive down the Garden State Parkway, I was reflecting on this and thinking how basically my entire existence has been defined by this chase. It’s something that’s always been in me. Baseball ignites passion in a lot of guys, while others love hunting and fishing, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s just not in me. Driving to Manhattan like a maniac at 10:00pm on a weeknight in a torrential rainstorm merely to nab a couple of cardboard Birds of Prey crowns at a select Burger King location that’s jazzed up to promote the film – now THAT is my shit. The level of motivation you have to have for that kind of thing is pretty intense. That fire lead me to do something I wouldn’t ordinarily do: BAKE! And that baking lead me to document it on my website, something that I rarely get motivated to do. So here it is, please marvel at my madness for minutia.
Looking back, Birds of Prey had a proper theatrical run before this current quarantine climate. While it wasn’t as lucrative as it should have been, it received a ton of positivity from fans and critics. I saw it twice in theaters and it was easily in my top 3 DC movies thus far. I’ve obviously got a huge soft spot for Harley Quinn, so there’s that, but it’s still a bombastic, colorful, and frenetically fun film and that can’t be denied. No complaints from me in that area, especially since it was released early to digital an VOD. I was ecstatic to be watching it at home way sooner that I thought I’d be. Although, there was one missing piece for me in the promotional machine for the movie.
A quite legendary bakery in New York City, Magnolia, renowned for their cupcakes, was quietly offering an officially endorsed Harley Quinn themed dessert. I found out about this news late as I watched Margot Robbie get presented with it on a late night talk show that I DVR’d and watched a few days too late. SON OF A B! By the time I called Magnolia to see if any of their locations were still offering this delight, I was outright denied. The promotion seemed to have lasted maybe 2 weeks or possibly even less than that.
Their specialty banana pudding recipe was altered ever so slightly and branded with the Birds of Prey logo. In honor of Joker’s ex-squeeze, they even renamed it PINK PUDDIN’! Once I heard the lady on the phone from Magnolia tell me “NO, we stopped serving that,” it was naturally my mission in life to right the wrong that has clearly occurred. How could I have missed out on this? ME…the guy with Harley Quinn on his website header! My mission in life since early February became even clearer and not even the world shutting down could stop me from accomplishing it.
To qualify me as a “baker” would be an absolute farce. Truthfully, I do know my way around a kitchen, although I rarely put those skills into practice. In this case, I called myself on the Batphone and I sprang into action. If you saw me during this blitz of baking, the control and chutzpah on display was pretty remarkable considering I used my stove maybe 5 times in 15 years. My plan was to recreate Magnolia’s specialty banana “Pink Pudding’.” Banana pudding + pink cake crumbles + other nonsense = heaven? I didn’t even bother researching a copycat recipe which is what I’ve done for certain meals in the past. I felt compelled to just guess and wing it and whip this up myself using only THE FORCE a.k.a my intuition. How hard could it be to make banana pudding?
WARNING: I try my best to eat as healthy as I can in any situation, but in this case I went with all the standard ingredients. Ordinarily, I would opt for the healthier options. It’s probably super easy to make a vegan version or just a version that health conscious people don’t mind eating. This right here is a sugar coma waiting to happen, so be warned!
WHAT YOU NEED: Milk, Eggs, Butter (or oil), bananas, cake mix, sprinkles, a couple of colors of icing, instant pudding, measuring cup, large mixing bowls, electric mixer, cake pan, paper dessert cups with lid.
I picked up banana cream instant pudding. It’s absurdly easy to make. To be honest, I haven’t made pudding since I was a kid with my mom in the kitchen. You throw the mix into a bowl with milk and whisk it for a few minutes and your pudding magically appears in the bowl. If all things in life were as easy as making pudding, we’d live in constant euphoria.
I’m 99% sure there’s actual bananas in this dessert and it was important to me that I had at least some semblance of fruit in this otherwise it would be literally 100% garbage for you. I bought some of those monster bananas you see in the produce section that were clearly injected with BANE venom. I sliced these babies up real nice and threw them directly into the pudding. Mixed it up, covered the bowl in plastic wrap and threw it in the fridge while I worked on the other stuff.
Bake a cake! First, pre-heat your oven to the temp. that the box tells you to and then move onto the cake mix. I bought the pink cake because PINK is in the title and the colors are important. The Harley “caution tape” costume in Birds of Prey is the inspiration here in my view, so the more vibrant the better. In this case, I started to add my own spin. If the cake mix you buy calls for oil, that’s fine, but if it calls for butter, make sure the butter is softened and not hard as a rock. That is a key so your cake isn’t lumpy. Nobody wants lumpy cake. In a mixing bowl, throw in some water, your cake mix, eggs, and butter (or oil). This is where you blend it all together until it’s smooth with an electric mixer. Some of you have fancy Kitchen-Aid contraptions, but an electric hand mixer is all you need.
Once your cake mix is all nice and blended, ensure your pan is greased and floured and then pour the pink goo evenly into the pan (I used a 13×9 pan.) I tried to make sure that the pink sludge (SLIME – it’s a river of slime!) covered all the real estate on the bottom of the pan. Get this baby into the oven. Follow the suggested time range on the back of the box. My cake cooked a little over 30 minutes which was slightly longer than directed. When you remove the cake, stick a knife or toothpick into the cake and when you take it out, if there’s batter lingering on it, it needs more time. If it comes out clean, remove the cake and place it somewhere to completely cool off (away from the hot oven.)
When the cake is fully cooled off (I left it overnight) you can begin the icing process. To replicate the vibrant, multicolored Harley costume with pinks and blues and yellows etc, I suggest picking up at least 3 colors of icing and fun sprinkles. Pink and yellow were my main colors, but I also used cream cheese icing since I read somewhere that Magnolia uses that in their banana pudding. Next, I separated the cake into 3 sections and iced them accordingly. If the cake crumbles at any point, it’s fine, you’re going to need it to do that anyway. When you are all good and iced, pretend you’re Tinkerbell and sprinkle the Pixie Dust all over the cake.
Take one of your paper dessert cups and begin to form your PINK PUDDIN’. This is not a science by any means, especially since I have absolutely no clue how this is actually made. To me, that’s what makes this great, each dessert cup is a work of art, it’s like Joker fixing the paintings in the Flugelheim Art Museum. Throw a little puddin’ in to start at the bottom, and then throw in a small piece of cake over in this corner, and on that corner make sure there’s some more pudding but ensure there’s an actual banana included, then take a small chunk from another section of the cake to get that multicolored appearance. While you are forming this, use a spoon to mash it together a little bit, all while attempting to keep the colors separated. Once you are reaching the top of the cup, use a spatula or any similar utensil to flatten off the excess and then close it up with the lid and into the fridge it goes until you are ready to enjoy it.
I went to the next level to try to make this as accurate as possible, even going to the extent of printing out the actual labels Magnolia used. I used a graphics program to isolate the sticker from a picture I found on Instagram. Then I had to order printer ink because I never use my printer. It was covered in dust! Printed those babies out and taped them right onto the top of the container. I have to say, this dessert was ridiculously delicious. I know a lot of people hate bananas and anything remotely banana-flavored, but this is a must try. The standout for me was the cake, once the cake sits in the container in the fridge it starts to absorb the flavors of the icing and the pudding and it’s just all so wonderful. It’s a very sweet and rich dessert and I have a feeling it was a pretty close stand-in for the real thing, even though I have no backing to say that. Even if it wasn’t close, getting shut out of a Birds of Prey promotional food tie-in motivated me enough to “do a thing.” I will always have this experience to carry with me now and I was able to share it with you. It’s amazing how getting told NO can make you do some absolutely WILD shit…like turning on your oven!
Matt and I are getting into the Christmas spirit on a new episode of The Purple Stuff Podcast with our look at some of our favorite Christmas Commercials of all time! Check it out wherever you prefer to listen to podcasts! Also, we are on Patreon where we bring you a monthly bonus exclusively for our Patronies!
Every so often a movie tie-in pulls me in as if I was an 8 year old kid. I’m the type of guy who is already enamored with any kind of promotion via junk food. If you’re reading this, there’s like a 90% chance you’re the same way. It doesn’t take much more than a big, epic tentpole movie and a themed bag of chips, a limited flavor neon colored soda, or an ill-conceived snack cake filled with non-standard icing to suck me right in. This leads me to introduce to you, the movie tie-in that I just cannonballed right into.
AQUAMAN ICE CREAM DELICACIES AT COLD STONE M’FN CREAMERY!
Thrust upon us like a tidal wave thanks to the impending release of Aquaman in theaters, I’m convinced that Poseidon has bestowed this upon us as an early Christmas gift. It’s exciting enough to be getting the first ever live action Aquaman movie directed by James Wan, but to get a brilliant tie in like this? I cannot gush enough about how perfect and creative this promotion is. The deliciousness comes in two forms:
AQUAMAN’S BLUE VELVET BROWNIE SUNDAE
(Blue Velvet Cake Ice Cream with Brownie, Chocolate Chips, and Metallic Glitter!)
BLUE ice cream. Yes, I’ve had blue ice cream before. But this is BLUE VELVET CAKE ICE CREAM. Imagine an expansive ocean or body of water being turned into a thick, rich, luscious blue frozen treat. After my first couple of spoonfuls it was obvious this thing was 40 billion calories and a million grams of sugar so I just said F it. The sweetness was strong, but mellowed out a bit once I caught a few giant hunks of chewy chocolate brownie. The metallic glitter added a cool accent of color although it didn’t taste like much. It was as if you were wrapping Christmas gifts and starting cutting the gold ribbon into little microscopic shards and peppering it over your dessert. Or if you were to do the same thing but with the plastic grassy stuff that you fill an easter basket with. I think you catch my drift. Not your traditional garnish, but that’s what elevates it to the next level. Regardless, this one is more for the chocolate lovers out there.
AQUAMAN’S BLUE VELVET SHAKE
(Blue Velvet Cake Ice Cream with Yellow Cake, garnished with Whipped Topping and Metallic Glitter!)
Once the straws were dunked into this divine delicacy, I envisioned myself being shrunk down like The Atom and taking a Goonies-esque slide down through the straw into the gorgeous, sweet creamy sea. Naturally, it wouldn’t be easy to hold my breath under the ice cream, but it was fun to fantasize about it. The shake was delicious and I was definitely digging this one more than the brownie sundae. It gave me a chance to concentrate on how smooth and tasty the ice cream was. I picked up tastes of the yellow cake as well, which I enjoyed. Keep in mind though, I’m not a big chocolate person, so if you are, go for the sundae! Again the metallic glitter is sprinkled on top to add some glitz to the affair. And even though the sprinkles don’t add much in terms of taste, its just fun to imagine that you’re eating bits of rare sunken 14k gold treasure.
There was no way I wasn’t going to be front and center for this promotion like it was my job. As you can see, the fact that I felt so compelled to write an actual blog post about this whole thing should be enough of an indication of how tremendous it is. Would I have enjoyed an Aquaman cereal? I sure as hell would, but maybe when the sequel gets released. The Cold Stone/Aquaman pairing came as a bit of surprise to me since I only realized it existed yesterday and it totally exceeded my expectations. This is the kind of movie tie-in that I adore. It’s all a pleasant surprise and actually tastes awesome and LOOKS cool as hell.
To sum up my little review of this Aquaman Ice Cream tie-in, let me take you back real quick. Growing up a DC kid, it wasn’t like there was a drought of DC food promotions. Some of the memorable ones off the top of my head include Superman and Batman Peanut Butter, Batman Taco Bell cups, McDonalds Batman Forever glasses, and if I wanted to look around my condo, I could list all the rest. Think about it, these are promotions that you literally will never forget. Most of my friends have them eternally etched into their brains. Now we can add Blue Aquaman Ice Cream Sundaes and Shakes to that list. It’s now in the history books for us pop culture nerds!
Good things come to those who wait, right? Obviously, that’s not guaranteed, but judging from what I’ve witnessed, it’s often proven true. Things I’ve only dreamed of as a kid have materialized. I’ve flexed with Hulk Hogan and I live in a world where there’s a Wonder Woman feature film. Life is good. In many respects, it keeps getting better. How’s that, you ask? Read on! Continue reading Battling For Metropolis…In My Backyard!
Remember that scene in Batman Returns when Batman and The Penguin both tell each other that “Things change?” It’s simple dialogue, but I always loved it because it applies to so many aspects of life. Yes, I quote Batman movies like they’re Shakespeare. To Bat or not to Bat, that’s never a question because he’s universally appropriate.
Recently I went to a comic show at Great Adventure. I had heard that the crew who produces the Garden State Comic Fest touted comics, artists, toys, cosplayers and more at their first ever theme park comic-fest. They already had me at roller coasters, but had me speeding down the Turnpike with “oh, and by the way, did we mention that we’ve got a comic show?” That’s quite enough deal sweetening, you don’t even have to twist my arm.
As I’ve mentioned here pretty often, Great Adventure is one of my most favorite and nostalgic places to be in the entire state. I’ve been a season pass holder since as long as I can remember and I simply enjoy the hell out of being there. Going for a mini comic con was a double-whammy.
After waiting on the long security line, I headed straight for the comic show. I didn’t want to sell it short, but hell, I wanted to get on some rides! The comic show took up only a few small tents near the Joker ride. I noticed John Wesley Shipp, TV’s Flash from the ‘90s, was signing autographs and taking pics with fans. Good for him enjoying his CW resurgence. That’s bucket list shit right there: Personal appearance at one of the world’s largest theme parks (conveniently located in Jackson Township next to Dracula’s Domain!)
Considering the comic cons I’ve been to, this was low-key in comparison. Although the Flash was there to amp it up, to casual theme park goers this was probably a really cool event to unexpectedly happen upon. I didn’t spend any money at the comic show although literally seconds after I left the tent, something caught my eye.
I made a purchase at the concession stand and shockingly, it wasn’t a Churro. There was a sign advertising this awesome Batman figural popcorn bucket. Yes folks, I bought a Batman popcorn bucket that I will most likely never put popcorn in, let alone anything else for that matter, but this is the kind of junk that I live for. It came with a separate bag of popcorn which I gave to my friend Bob to snack on as he was running his Glowmania table at the comic show. This is the kind of thing that’s exclusive to Six Flags so I plunked down my money.
Although the comic fest didn’t blow me away, this GA trip came at a good time. When real life stuff happens, it’s a perfect place to escape to. Most people wouldn’t consider this paradise. There’s no beach, but they do have Hurricane Harbor. There’s often long lines and massive amounts of people aimlessly wandering with no f’n clue where they’re going. But the coasters on the other hand, the roller coasters are therapy for me. I really mean that. Some people like to talk to a therapist, I prefer to work out any stress or worries by riding thrilling high speed loops and corkscrews. I don’t surf, but I do from a certain point of view, I sit in a coaster car and surf through the air. There’s something special about slicing through the air with your arms up and floating in your seat, not expending any energy whatsoever. Maybe it’s the lazy man’s surfing, I don’t know. One thing is for sure, it puts things in perspective.
All of life’s speed bumps and road blocks seem minuscule when you willfully strap yourself into the craziest rides in the entire state. You’re volunteering to be whipped around and thrown upside down in furious fashion. When the ride is over, the brakes are abruptly applied just as if you’re driving fast and you halt for a red light that seemingly appeared out of nowhere. In most cases, this is a cue to vomit your brains out, and some people do. In fact, as an example, just as I was about to hop into my seat on Nitro, the ride had to stop and be hosed down because someone lost their lunch. Talk about clearing their mind, they could start with a clean slate for the rest of the day. Personally, these rides don’t effect me like that, they actually bring me calmness. After putting my body and brain through over a minute of complete and utter chaos, the momentary serenity restores my balance.
Aside from the therapeutic power of thrill rides, I was also unwittingly jettisoned back in time. I wish I could say I hitched a ride on a DeLorean, but this was more of a memory trigger.
One of the grabbers for me at Great Adventure was always their licensing of DC Comics characters. For me, The Justice League/Super Friends were never a passing fancy. As a baby, I had DC characters in my crib. There were times throughout the years that I feared Six Flags would distance themselves from DC altogether. Thankfully, with the superhero craze, it’s quite the opposite nowadays. The Justice League characters and their respective rogues gallery appear all over the park. For instance, Batman, The Joker, Harley Quinn, Green Lantern, Bizarro, and Superman, all have their own rides. Some of the characters even show up in costume to take photos with park goers. Shit, even the Six Flags fast pass is referred to as The Flash Pass, yet another reason why this is one of my happy places.
Six Flags’ affiliation with Warner Brothers also boasts the liberal use of the Looney Tunes characters as well. This isn’t marketing 101, but stick with me, I’m actually leading up to something here.
I’ve long felt that the shops at Great Adventure are the closest thing we’ll ever get to a modern day Warner Brothers Store. The WB Store in the mall was always on my short list of places to stop at when I was a mallrat. And yes, well before it was a movie, I was an actual mallrat. My friend E and I used to basically live at the mall every weekend for a few years in high school before I started working at the local movie theater.
I don’t regret any of those wasted days at the mall. We’d get there at noon on Saturday and leave at 5. We’d sit on the benches by the fountains and trade Marvel cards that we bought. Afterward, we’d set up shop in the back of Burger King and inevitably always ran into a handful of people we knew. E would get free food because the girl that worked there had a thing for him, even though he was hung up on someone else. After Whoppers and Dr. Pepper mixed with 7 other sodas, we would literally sit there and bullshit for an hour. Miraculously, we didn’t have cell phones to pick up and look at every 2 seconds either.
After leaving Suncoast or The Game Room, we’d simultaneously launch into the geekiest disagreements and the deepest conversations about Star Wars at a time when it was super uncool. It was the dark times – way before the prequels. We were completely focused on debating details of Yoda’s origins and what brand of salsa pairs most perfectly with A New Hope for our Intergalactic Nacho extravaganza later.
I could literally write 6 pages solely about all the nothing that we did during those days. My Dad and Uncle used to tell me the craziest stories about the over the top hijinks they would get themselves into as teenagers. In comparison, me buying the ultra cool, brand new Wizard magazine and a cherry ICEE was about as extreme as things got during that period of time. We once spent 2 hours in the aisles of B. Dalton while E read Jack Kerouac and I read an Elvira young adult novel. Calling back to Batman Returns, do things really change all that much? Maybe just the backdrop. For a fleeting moment, I was in a store that reminded me of those times in the mall, and the memories rushed back into my mind.
We’d stay up late in the summer, walk around the neighborhood with our friends, make multiple stops at 7-11 for snacks, play SNES, Nightmare or HeroQuest, watch horror movies and then fall asleep at whosever house we were at. It was unbeatable. As an adult, I can live pretty much that exact same life, but it winds up paling in comparison because it’s missing some key elements. Sorta like when Gary and Wyatt forgot to hook up the doll in Weird Science.
In this scenario, one of the key elements missing is the actual mall. The mall I described earlier that was basically our headquarters for a long time has changed, and not for the better. Amongst stores like Heroes World, Suncoast Motion Picture Company, The Game Room, Sam Goody, and B. Dalton, was the Warner Brothers Store. The WB Store was a mainstay for us. There was NEVER a time we didn’t stop in to lust after their DC Comics knick-knacks on display. I still own a large cross-section of inventory from that store and I’m happy I do. So much of the merch they sold was exclusive to WB Stores. Thinking back, I always bought their large sized action figures that you couldn’t find anywhere else. Cut to present day, I still buy giant sized action figures of Batman called Big-Figs. Things do not change.
E and I would hover around in awe of their commemorative animation cels that we couldn’t afford, but pretended we could anyway. One time the older, professionally dressed salesperson got into a conversation with us about which pieces we were interested in and what our price range was. We had to slink away after swearing that we were just browsing before they roped us into a $350 dollar Road Runner animation cel.
The WB Store was also good for some exclusive t-shirts, plush toys, books, mugs, and statues…yeah statues! I type this sitting a foot away from a 24″ silver age Batman statue that I only dreamed of owning back when we thought it must have merely been a larger than life store decoration. It never seemed like it was actually for sale, and even if it was, it never sold because it was probably way too expensive. Years later, thanks to the wonders of the Internet, I own it, an actual piece of the Warner Brothers store. Oh, and an enormous Gossamer statue too!
As I eased back into the present day, I was standing in a shop in Great Adventure. It wasn’t a shocking revelation to call it virtually the modern day version of the old WB Store. I’ve mentioned this here on the site before, but my last few visits here have been so nostalgic that I almost felt like they should just call it what it is: The WB Store at Six Flags Great Adventure.
When you first walk into the park, two or three stores are connected and basically make one huge mega store. This is very similar to how shops are linked together in Disney World. In this case, you walk through the Looney Tunes section and then the DC Comics section. I stop into these stores every time I go to the park, but this time I literally spent 45 minutes because there was so much new crap to look at. As I browsed around, much like the WB Store before it, it’s safe to say more than half of all the merch was exclusive to Six Flags and Great Adventure specifically.
In previous posts, I’ve mentioned that the Hall of Justice shop was the pinnacle of stores in the entire park, and for DC Comics fans, it truly IS. Unfortunately, there’s been a bit of a misstep. Things are changing. The shop has lost so much of it’s personality since they decided to change its name to the…Gotham City Gift Shop? Are you f*cking serious bro? WTF! The name change obviously capitalizes on its proximity in the park to Batman: the Ride and The Dark Knight Coaster, but with the build up to the Justice League movie looming, the Hall of Justice is the most appropriate name for the shop, no question. On top of that, the OG storefront was faintly designed in the spirit of the actual Hall of Justice in the comics. Six Flags can try to justify the change in various ways, but there’s no better time in the history of Great Adventure to have a shop inspired by the headquarters of DC’s iconic Superhero Team. Now dropping a Roman Reigns quote on you: “Believe that!”
Just as a brief downpour began, I hopped in my car and headed for the Turnpike. On the way home I stopped in at Wawa. I rarely get their fancy pre-made iced drinks, but not because they aren’t delicious, more because they are filled with so much sugar. I felt pretty good about things at that moment. As I flipped through the touch screen options, I came across an iced mint creme drink. I know mint isn’t a flavor that everyone digs, but it’s probably my favorite flavor of ice cream or iced beverages. I was pleased with my decision and I loved it. I inhaled it about 2 minutes after buying it. It was refreshing and a cool way to cap off the trip. Treat Yo’ self!
On a trip to Great Adventure I would’ve never expected to get a rush of fond memories about the Warner Brothers store and summer days in the mall. Did I use this post to reminisce? Sure I did, but it was all legit. The ironic part is that I don’t even want to step foot into a mall nowadays, so in that respect, things have absolutely changed.
Since so many malls have lost their luster over the years, If you’re even remotely in the vicinity of Great Adventure this summer, I recommend escaping there for some thrills. It’s a blast, a diversion, and a therapy session all in one. Plus, they have the closest thing we may ever get to another Warner Brothers Store, and that’s one hell of an endorsement if you ask me.
For a guy who rarely likes to leave his condo I’ve sure been getting out a lot lately. I had a cool weekend and I’m here to tell you about it. Now’s a good time for a bathroom break because there won’t be another one until the end of the post!
JC Oddities Market, Cathedral Hall, Jersey City
Saturday marked the return of the JC Oddities Market at Cathedral Hall in Jersey City. I missed the last Oddities Market, so I made it a point to get there for this one. Plus, I needed to to fill my lifetime quota of attending an oddity flea market in an old church. Not only did I need to fill that very specific void, but with a long family history in Jersey City, I always look for any reason to venture there. Adding to that, my friend Bob Burke (the Glow Art champion of the world!) mentioned to me that he’d have a table there again. And to further reinforce my trip, the church is getting demolished at some point in the near future, so I’m glad I decided to go.
This macabre market was unlike anything I’d ever been to before. The old church (Saint Bridget’s) was adorned with string lights and a random, oversized Delia Deetz-style snake sculpture in the middle of the floor up near the altar. I felt like I was on the set of a late ‘90s low budget horror sequel. (Definitely a part 4 or later.) The middle of the church floor was lined with vendor tables and artists selling everything from records and artwork to taxidermy and homemade jewelry. If only OMC sang a song called “How Bazaar,” now would be the most appropriate time to have that pop in your head. Even after being to so many cons and flea markets, most of these vendors were brand new to me. The basement featured even more tables, so I surpassed my usual 15 minute zip-through for one of these things.
I also ran into my friend Nicole and her girlfriend. You may recall Nicole, fellow Jerseyan and horror fanatic, who way back in 2014, let me post a piece of her writing here at The Sexy Armpit. It was so great to meet her after being friends with her online for so long. Nicole has since changed her social media handles so you can now follow her at @allthedamnvamps on Twitter and @allthedamnvampires on IG.
As for pickups, going into this thing I’d say that tea wouldn’t be a thing that I would come home with…AT ALL. Oddly enough, Brutaliteas was on site and proved me completely wrong. They were giving out samples and making tea cooler than it ever was, one tiny ass sample cup at a time. The creative offerings from Brutalitieas are truly game changing. This Jersey couple crafts their own homemade teas and infuses them with a horror or hard rock twist i.e Back in Blackberry, Apricot for Destruction? C’MON! Those are a must buy merely on the wordplay alone. I tried a sample at their table and it was delicious and the aromas are amazing. I was sold. I bought 3 packs. It was so hard to decide from a slew of amazing themes. I narrowed it down to Screamsicle, The Detoxic Avenger (obviously had to get that one), and A Nightpear on Elm Street. I haven’t brewed them yet, but I will very soon. I’ll likely throw in some ice cubes because I’m an iced tea freak.
The benevolent Brutaliteas donates part of the proceeds from sales of the Detoxic Avenger (Lloyd Kaufman approved) to canine cancer. Courtney and Adam are a seriously wonderful couple and it was great to meet them. You can tell that they love what they’re doing because it shines through in their teas. And those PUNS! You can read about their story at their website.
Barcade is for getting buzzed and playing old video games. That was what I did the previous times I’ve been there. Although, I never thought I’d intentionally waltz into a Barcade for a late lunch without taking in an arcade game, but that’s exactly what happened. This time, I plopped myself down on a stool at the bar and ordered my usual drink and a…wait for it…veggie burger?!?! What?
Possibly a little known secret, Barcade’s veggie burger is badass! Equally as shocking, I’m a bit of a connoisseur of veggie burgers. I order veggie burgers almost anytime I can’t get eggplant parm. Spots like Barcade that make their own patties from original recipes in-house are the best. To order a veggie burger from a place that uses frozen patties is crazy because those could be made at home. If you’re into Veggie Burgers, get one next time you’re at Barcade. YUM! Tell me you don’t start getting hungry after reading the menu entry directly from their website:
Veggie Burger Deluxe
6 oz. fresh patty of beets, brown rice, and black beans topped with cheddar, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, mayo & spicy ketchup on a bun.
In between all this I literally just wandered around Jersey City basically all day. I kept running into the best eye candy for my Jersey obsession. I snapped some photos for posterity.
8-Bit Mystery Pin, The Monkey’s Paw Store
Saturday was a good mail day thanks to the arrival of the pin pictured above. Scooby Doo meets Jason Voorhees has always been a mash up I’ve desperately wanted to see come to fruition. We’ve come very close a few times going back to an episode of Robot Chicken, and then some artwork from artist Travis Falligant, then there was also the Mystery of Crystal Lake enamel pin by The Monkey’s Paw where Shag and Scoob had a run-in with Jason. I snatched that one up as soon as it was released, but not too long after, they started teasing this 8-bit styled sequel to their original pin. What makes these pins so incredible is that they both had a run of only 50 worldwide. It’s a total collector’s item for a guy like me who loves both Scooby-Doo and Friday the 13th.
On Sunday, we went to iPlay for an event that wound up getting cancelled. We had a couple of consolation drinks then walked through the arcade area where I found this beautiful DC Comics game. All the major characters were featured on the game. I was stoked to see their Bronze age versions represented so I had to share it here. I didn’t actually play the game, just stood there drooling over it and took a thousand photos of every panel as blatantly illustrated in the collage above. Now that I got that out of my system, maybe I’ll actually play it next time.
With 2 WWE events this weekend, (NXT Takeover and Backlash) I spent a lot of time on the WWE Network. I wound up unexpectedly re-binging CAMP WWE. To call it a binge is a bit of a stretch since the season only lasted 5 episodes. I’m sure watching them all again sounds pretty wild to even the most die-hard WWE fans, since almost everyone I’ve talked to about the show haven’t seemed too excited about it. The first time I watched it was about a day or so after the WWE premiered it on the network and I found it amusing, but wasn’t crazy for it. After a second helping, I’m finding myself loving it.
When you think about it, there hasn’t been a WWE animated show since Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling, which I loved as a kid (around 75 years ago.) Merely for that reason alone, it automatically gains major cool points in my book. Think about it for a second, a modern day WWE animated series is pretty monumental. Wrestling AND cartoons combined? Drink it in maaaan! Let’s not take it for granted.
There’s also the fact that it’s funny thanks to a ton of in-jokes for wrestling fans. It’s written and produced by lifelong wrestling fans and that translates to a show that doesn’t dumb anything down. I found myself having a blast with it way more this time. The summer camp backdrop is like built-in nostalgia and Mr. McMahon hamming it up is incredible. Some of the other highlights of the show feature The Undertaker becoming one with nature, A 7-year old Stone Cold Steve Austin getting tanked on beers at a bar, an amusing appearance by Goldust as Mr. McMahon’s personal assistant, the actual Lex Express bus blowing up, and a truly hysterical take on Bray Wyatt. Check it out if you haven’t yet!
Ice Cream at Jersey Freeze
Before we headed home to catch WWE Backlash, I abruptly screeched the car off Route 33 and into the Jersey Freeze parking lot for some ice cream. The last time I was here was at least 15 years ago, so it was about time to rectify that. I got a cone with peanut butter pie ice cream. It was so delicious. I’ve never had this flavor before so I asked the girl behind the counter what was in it. She had no idea so she asked one of her coworkers. Once she mentioned peanut butter ice cream, bits of pie crust, and peanut butter cups I was putty in her hands. If you’re in the area this summer, make a pit stop there! (or an ARMPIT STOP! <rimshot>)
Thanks for reading about my latest excursion! Hope to see you back here soon!
2016 is history and I haven’t posted a damn thing in 2017 yet, but history is gonna change…
Recently, Matt from Dinosaur Dracula expressed to me that he was really charged up to dig through some long boxes. Coincidentally, there was a comic show coming up by me and I’m always up for comics. There’s nothing better than an old school comic book show. Picture a big room filled with geeks awkwardly attempting to navigate around other people trying to scan through thousands of old comics crammed too damn tight into long cardboard boxes. I’m talking about a true comic show run by local dealers where you can actually get some steals. This is the type of show that isn’t bogged down in ridiculous hidden advertisements from media conglomerates and not speckled with tables hawking products or podcasts that have nothing even remotely to do with comics.
Since NJ is my thing, let me clue you in on the city where this comic show went down. It’s the city where Rupert Pupkin hails from, the birthplace of Vera Farmiga and Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, it served as the backdrop for a ton of scenes in The Sopranos, and it’s also home to a legendary place called The Gates of Hell. If you’re from the area, you know exactly what I’m talking about, but maybe you didn’t realize that they also have a pure, longstanding comic show that has been unfazed by trends. This is the Clifton, NJ comic show, the same show that I wrote about a couple of years back. Matt was super excited for that one as well. He’s onto something because stocking up on reading material during a cold ass winter ain’t a bad idea at all! He’s also detailing his windfall of comics over at Dino Drac so check that shit out when you’re done here! I can easily say that the plastic grocery bag I hauled home this time is 1000% better than that last time. Wanna take a look at some? Here’s 10, solely based off how eye catching their covers are.
1. Dracula Versus Zorro #2 (of 2)
Topps Comics, November 1993
During the comic book boom of the early ’90s, every company wanted IN on the comic book game. Though they were almost never in the same conversation as DC and Marvel, Topps had some decent comic book offerings. Starting in 1992, their lineup of well known licenses can only be described as wildly eclectic. During their 6-year stint, Topps ran comics from mega movie hits like Jurassic Park, TV shows like The X-Files and Xena: Warrior Princess, horror icons like Dracula, Frankentstein, Jason Voorhees, and Leatherface, and even the indescribably bizarre Barbi Twins Adventures. Shuffled in between was a classic hero who’s said to have inspired Batman. Zorro was created in 1919 and he’s still popping up in the comic pages, most recently with Dynamite Comics. Much like the Lone Ranger, I was introduced to Zorro as a young kid by my Dad (of course!) Reinforcing my interest in these characters were toy lines and cartoons for both LR and Zorro in the early ’80s.
I had forgotten that Zorro once faced Drac, but I’ll be damned if this cover doesn’t have me totally intrigued right now. The backdrop of a stained glass window bathes this cover in gorgeous hues of pink and purple. In the corner to my right, wearing all black, the man who leaves his mark in the form of a slashed Z, ZORRO, meets his match against the blood sucking DRACULA himself…and the Z-man even takes second billing! Since this is the second issue of a two-parter, we pick up the adventure right when the getting’s GOOD! It’s like an old fashioned swashbuckling movie serial where everyone’s fate (including the readers) is in Zorro hands! Giant rats are about to eat Zorro alive, but he’s fighting ’til the death. All veiny and gnashing his fangs, the ghoulish Drac is about to pounce as the enraptured Carmelita looks on in wicked delight. This is an old fashioned heroic horror adventure and now I have to hunt down the first issue.
Marvel Comics, January 1986
This issue was another one I picked out solely based off its badass cover. The grim reaper blasting a machine gun?!! Of course, auto-included. Wish there was a G.I. Joe figure of that guy. The story is thin and there’s nothing worth noting about this issue except for a two page ad where Spider Man plays detective and goes on a search to find Cap’n Crunch.
Archie Comics, October 1996
With the upcoming premiere of Riverdale, everyone’s going to try to claim their lifelong alliegience to Archie Comics, but let’s be honest, before they revamped the characters with a horror/supernatural twist, the Archie gang wasn’t necessarily in the spotlight. I actually read the books quite often many years before the revamp because I always found them to be stupid fun, but mostly due to my affinity for the art by Dan DeCarlo and Dan Parent. Through the years, I’ve posted a few cool Archie items I picked up here and there, and I’m genuinely excited for the new era of these characters. Ironically, when I was a kid I thought the Archie comics were pretty dopey, so I think I’m aging backwards. Regardless, Betty and Veronica have consistently been one of the more entertaining aspects of Archie Comics, and the shenanigans depicted on this cover are a prime example. Betty faking the need for CPR so Archie comes and makes out with her, aw man, that’s the sales pitch right there. This book is filled with cheesy jokes and a few ridiculous storylines, but what do you expect? What will happen when Betty trips over Veronica’s in-line skates? Will Betty sue Veronica for real or is this just a ludicrous misunderstanding? You must read it to find out!
Marvel Comics, April 1993
I’ve got to be completely honest here, I’ve never heard of or read this comic series before, but look into those mesmerizing eyes! What the hell could she be so freaked out about? Oh, right, the SLIME! Coincidentally, DEATH BY SLIME is how I want to go out. Frankly, I don’t even care what’s inside this book because this cover needs to be framed. From what I gather, and I’m probably only a quarter accurate, is that the Darkhold book is sort of like the Necronomicon of the Marvel Universe. And go easy on me if that’s way off base. This comic features Scarlet Witch, Dr. Strange, a giant monster, demonic war planes, and…Ectoplasm Raining From The Freaking Sky. Ectoplasm Raining From The Freaking Sky. Sold. I’ll take it!
Marvel Comics, December 1989
Alf’s girlfriend Rhonda always amused me with her ginormous super wacky pink hair. Naturally, this one was a must buy. The cover to this issue features wordplay involving the fact that Rhonda’s Back with an obnoxious arrow pointing to Rhonda’s “back,” but we really know what they were going for. Marvel worshipped that Melmacian ass. How can you go wrong with a comic that proudly offers Alf making uncomfortably perverse jokes on the cover of a comic geared toward 7 year olds? In the oh so slight chance that none of that appeals to you, this issue includes a random Rocky reference. Alf’s working out with a boom box blasting “Gonna Fly Now” while rocking a Philadelphia shirt and doing Sly Stallone impressions. A++.
NOW Comics, January 1992
Out of all the comics I used to collect when I was a kid, NOW Comics were in a class by themselves. At the time, even mentioning NOW made my friends confused because it wasn’t Marvel or DC. In retrospect, NOW didn’t get enough credit. Unlike other independent comic companies, the majority of their books were printed in full color on high quality paper while even the big companies were still using cheap news type paper. I was hooked on all their big titles including Fright Night, Terminator, Married with Children, Twilight Zone and all of the Green Hornet iterations. What was cool about their Real Ghostbusters series was that it was perfectly in line with the cartoon and enriched the RGB lore with further adventures. You’d even see some ghosts that you didn’t see in the show. Many of the issues offered some outstanding art (especially some of the later run) and this line is worth a day of nostalgic marathon reading.
This cover is worth it just for Egon and Ray’s getup. If you dig the cover, you get a free pinup poster of it inside! As a kid, the idea of that was better than the actual poster itself. It would cause me so much heartache to know that I had to try to dismantle the staples from the comic in such a delicate way as not to ruin the comic while trying to remove the poster. Didn’t they ever hear of perforation? Currently, I have a class action suit against all comic companies in the ’80s for taking years off my life.
Also within these pages, you’ll see the winners of the draw Slimer contest, you’ll witness Ray vs. the Loch Ness Monster, and to sweeten the deal even more, you get to see what the actual Tobin looks like, yes, that guy of Tobin’s Spirit Guide fame! Oh, and there’s one more bizarre feature that I have been holding out on. In the ’80s, when adults needed tips on parenting, they usually picked up the latest issue of The Real Ghostbusters comic where Egon had his own section, “Egon Spengler’s Parent’s Guide For Health and Safety.” No, I’m not lying, and he even signed it at the end! Step off Dr. Phil.
Marvel Comics, August 1987
Picking up these magazine sized Joe issues at the US-1 Flea Market back when I was a kid was one of my favorite things. I was hesitant to include Action Force because I know it’s considered more of a magazine rather than an actual comic book, and I already brought up a Joe comic in this post, but whatever – this cover is too incredible not to show off! Simple, yet effective. This Cobra soldier really has a chip on his shoulder. It’s either that, or he’s been inhaling whatever’s in that toxic canister. If it’s none of the above, the sweats and bloodshot eyes could mean he’s coming down from some crazy drugs, or maybe he’s just MAD! Ultimately, it all ties back to my fixation for toxic stuff since I’m from New Jersey and live with a talking pile of sludge.
Marvel Comics, May 1992
Thumbing through thousands of comics you’re bound find some treasures. For me, that means finding some classic issues that I forgot had and buying them again. In this case, I probably have at least 2 or 3 copies of Toxic Crusaders #1, but it’s so good that it’s worth owning more copies just so I can make one into a Japanese war fan. The premiere issue spins the classic tale of how Toxie became New Jersey’s favorite superhero and met such cohorts as Headbanger and Major Disaster and foes like Dr. Killemoff. For a New Jersey freak like me, it’s a historical document as far as I’m concerned, and all for 50¢!
Warren Magazine, July 1982
You know that old saying, “I’ve never seen a Vampirella cover that I didn’t like?” Well, I resemble that remark. If I had the resources I’d buy every damn Vampirella comic that I came in contact with just so I can frame all the covers. That was the main thing that hooked me as a kid. I’d drool over the gorgeous art on the covers, then I’d thumb through the pages and notice they were black and white. FYI, my turn offs include: Black and White comic pages. See, I was able to watch black and white movies as a kid, especially horror and comedies, but when it came to reading a black and white comic book, I was flabbergasted. In my young mind, I thought “how could a B&W comic book have the audacity to sit on a shelf amongst fellow comic books that were overflowing with vivid, colorful artwork?” No matter how exciting and vibrant the covers are, the inside totally lets me down. It was false advertising if you ask me. Take this cover as evidence. It’s so unbelievably awesome that it sends your mind into a spiral of thoughts. It makes me think if the cover is this cool looking, I can’t even fathom what’s inside, but not so much. Vampirella’s dead husband is in it trying to seduce her, that’s for sure, in all his black and white glory. (womp womp)
DC Comics, November 1986
With the hundreds of comics that I have from when I was a kid, I don’t think I have more than one or two issues of DC Who’s Who. As a kid in the comic shop, you had to weigh your options. As it was, I used to be lucky enough to get a stack of comics on a weekly basis, but even my parents knew which ones were worth the purchase. To keep up on the main ongoing storylines, you need the base titles, not the comics that were character encyclopedias masquerading as an actual comic.
In the back of my mind I always wanted to have every single issue of Who’s Who and keep them in that badass binder. That’s right, at one point, Who’s Who came with three hole punches on the left side of the book so you can put them in a DC Who’s Who binder. It was a masterfully concocted gimmick, but still a stretch for me to justify. Doing a Google image search for DC Who’s Who will convince almost any DC fan in about 0.1 seconds that they need every single issue of Who’s Who that ever existed. That’s what made me pick up issue XXI. I’m a DC guy and reading obscure character bios makes everything right in this crazy world.
Now onto why I was hooked by that cover! Judging by this illustration of Solomon Grundy, I started thinking about how he could’ve had a career in the WWE back in 1993 against Yokozuna. Holy shit, I’ve never seen Grundy drawn to the point where he’s busting out of his shirt from eating over 4,000 White Castles. In addition to the character bios, there’s a map of Skartaris which details the Warlord’s stomping grounds. It was known to be a land where Dinosaurs somehow found their way to even though they were extinct on Earth.
Talk about stocking up on good reading material for the cold winter season! Trust me, there’s no better way to spend a snowy Saturday than to study the personal data and histories of Space Cabbie, Spawn of Frankenstein, Spellbinder, and The Spook, than in the yellowed pages of a limp, 50¢ comic.
Get yourself out to a local comic show and seek out the cheap bins! You never know what you will find. Until next time friends – thanks for reading!
The DC heroes are about to blow up the big screen. Fans of the DCU are in their glory right now. Even though there’s been so many movies based on DC properties, the DC film universe will be ushered in with the premiere of Batman v. Superman. I was out on the black carpet event with Miss Sexy Armpit for the premiere of the film at Radio City Music Hall, and it’s making me count the minutes until I’m in the theater for this. Growing up, World’s Finest comics were always at the top of my list, so I’m extremely excited to see my two favorite heroes on the big screen, and even more pumped to finally see Wonder Woman joining the fray. In light of this major DC Comics event, let’s recall one of the biggest DC Comics movie events of all time, Batman ’89!
Can you imagine living in a world where there wasn’t super hero movies in theaters every 2 months? That’s how things were back in the day. If you were around then, you know what I mean. Super heroes wound up becoming almost taboo to be a fan of. For me, things were doubly worse since I was both a fan of comics AND wrestling…and KISS for that matter. All the cards were stacked against me, but I wore my obsessions proudly, and I’m glad I did, because there was a payoff – a major one. In June of 1989, one of the biggest pop culture phenomenons was released to theaters: Batman.
In modern times, we’ve been spoiled by 8 Batman movies (9 if we count BvS!). The first Batman film in 1966 was an answer to that era’s Batmania hysteria caused by the TV show. In 1989, comic fans and moviegoers came out in full force to show that they were ready to get caught up in their generations Batmania. I was so lucky to be deeply entrenched in Batman my entire childhood, so to experience this kind of fervor for my favorite hero was astounding.
If there was a popularity contest between Bats and Supes, let’s just say, Supermania wasn’t really bandied around too often. That’s not a knock on Superman, but there was something mysterious about the 1989 Batman that made it so easy to fall in love with the film. One of the reasons for this is likely the fact that it was such a dark departure from the over the top, campy colorful fun of the ’60s TV series. If you weren’t reading Batman comics at the time, this was a brand new Batman that brought viewers into new territory. If you watch the film now, it seems pretty light, but in ’89 this was a dark, Noir inspired adventure which was unforgettable to so many who saw it in it’s theatrical run.
If you are a fan of this film, I recommend that you document your love for it. As it is with other forms of entertainment like music and books, the impact that the ’89 Batman movie had on the public may be documented for future generations in news articles, but it’s difficult to capture what kind of a massive Bat-frenzy it actually was. If you walked into a mall in 1989, to say that would’ve noticed over a hundred Bat symbols EVERYWHERE is not an exaggeration. Whether you went into a toy store, music store, or grocery store, Batman was literally everywhere. Two opposing boxes of cereal promoting Batman v. Superman cannot compare to how we were all lovingly swaddled in Batman’s cape with all kinds of goodies. You didn’t even have to be a hardcore Bat-fan to own a t-shirt or magazine that promoted the film.
What amuses me about all these superhero movies that come out, Marvel’s included, is that even though they make bank, we get flooded with them. All they have to be is “good.” Consider this: Will Batman vs. Superman make the same kind of impact that Batman ’89 did? Most likely no. It could wind up becoming the most well-reviewed DC inspired film ever, but I will wager that most Batman films since then did not have the potential to romance fans the way the ’89 film did. This is because on-screen Batman was in a unique spot to reinvent himself and turn the genre into serious business. Looking at this trajectory, you would not have any of the Nolanverse films without Batman 1989. Credit also has to go to Superman ’78 for being the genesis of the modern superhero film, but Batman ’89 had Kim Basinger!
I can write volumes about this movie because of how much I love it, but why not listen to our latest Purple Stuff Podcast where Matt and I talk all about it? In Episode 23, we detail many of our ’89 Batman memories. Matt and I share stories of seeing the film in the theater, the toy line, dressing up, reciting lines, the Prince soundtrack, theme parks and much more. This is our testimonial to what an indelible mark Batman 1989 left on us. If the Joker wrote this post, he may have ended it something like this: “…If you gotta go…go with a Smile!”