Nov 26, 2014

Funko SciFi Mystery Minis

Funko's SciFi Mystery Minis have finally started hitting stores in my area. The thrill of finding them was almost short lived as it was in Toys R Us that I found them. They're pricing for the Guardians of the Galaxy Minis is around $10 and the Nightmare Before Christmas ones are $8. Which I don't get how they can have different prices, but moving on...

I was super psyched to find they were only $7, so I grabbed two.

Mini Robocop looks great and has a nice metallic paint job. Even though the mouth is just an itty bitty crescent, they managed to nail it. If I could pick any one I wanted, he wouldn't be at the top of the list but I'm glad I got him.

This guy! Rocketeer is definitely at the top of my list if I had a choice in which one I would get in my blind boxes! Yes, even ahead of Tron, if for no other reason than Rocketeer is the rarest figure in the wave. He's only found in 1 out of every 72 boxes! I didn't get a shot of his back side but his rocket pack even has the wad of gum on it! Now that is attention to detail.

Kudos to Funko for knocking it out of the park, yet again!

The blog will (most likely) be taking some time off so be sure to come back on December 1st as we start the 13 Days of Creepmas!

Nov 24, 2014

November 2014 Loot Crate - Battle

Loot Crate supplies AEIOU and Sometimes Why with a Crate every month in exchange for sharing it with you fine people.

Wow, it feels like forever since October's Loot Crate review! The month of November brings to mind falling leaves and family gatherings...unless you're Loot Crate, then it means BATTLE!

Before even opening the box, it seems something different is afoot...

November 2014 Loot Crate

But I'll get to what that message means later, for now we're going to crack this puppy open and see what's inside.

November 2014 Loot Crate Mag & Button

The cover of the monthly mag (and button) definitely make it seem like we're in for a battle of the video game variety. Probably my favorite kind! This month's mag features an interview with Ubisoft on Assassin's Creed, an article on Halo, and an unusual last page with punch-outs. Again, we'll circle back to those when I get to the inside of the box.

November 2014 Loot Crate Inserts

Next are a few slightly larger than postcard cards: one for 50% off the purchase of Lichdom: Battlemage (which if I had the time, I would totally take advantage of, the game looks awesome), a free download of Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition with a free MegaMan comic download on the flip side, and a Pirates vs Ninja card encouraging you to include either #TeamNinja or #TeamPirate with your Loot Crate photos to give voice to your allegiance of choice. I'm Team Ninja, all the way!

November 2014 Loot Crate Ninjas vs Pirates

Did someone say Pirates vs Ninja? This shirt about sums it up! I really like this style of art where they use descriptive words to make the characters.

And now to the video gaming goodies!

November 2014 Loot Crate HALO figure

Mega Bloks deployed a HALO Drop Ship Mini Figure in the Crate. Geek confession: I tried playing the original Halo shortly after it was released, didn't like it, and have not touched the franchise since. This little Covenant dude is pretty neat but my LEGO minifigs have all but ostracized him so he went back to hanging out in his dropship/grenade thing.

November 2014 Loot Crate Megaman Helmet

Hey, it's that blue guy! Yes, dear reader, my video gamer cred is going out the window today. I have never played a Megaman game! When the gaming consoles came out, I was very focused on the games I would buy, which were mostly licensed properties so I never branched out to original stuff. The only reason I played Legend of Zelda is because it came with the console. Anyway, I can still appreciate how nifty this mini helmet is. They're blind boxed and come in four different colors (also red, blue, and green). Even as a general sci-fi helmet, it looks nice on the shelf.

November 2014 Loot Crate Bandana & coin

If you want to do your best Ryu impression, Loot Crate has you covered with this Street Fighter bandana! I played SF in the arcades back in the day, since the not-so-great first one, even! Chun Li is my fighter of choice, I always take speed over power.

Probably the thing with the most "wow" to it this month is the Assassin's Creed IV Unity coin. It's about half dollar sized (kids ask your parents) and has got some heft to it. The lower right inset shows the other side of the coin where they left a nice blank spot for you to get your name engraved on it. And in case you were wondering, no, I've never played Assassin's Creed either, but it sounds like something up my alley. I loved Thief.

So, back to the box itself! If you've been following my Loot Crate reviews, you know they've taken things to a new level the past few months when they started putting designs on the interior. This month's Crate has a mini playset for you to battle it out on.

November 2014 Loot Crate Battle box

There's actually more to it than this. The opening flap has a billboard you can cut out to put on the top, but the collector geek in me couldn't bring myself to cut up the box. Each side of the this alley has a pull out platform for your fighters to pose on. They included some punch-out figures on the last page of the monthly mag for an in-house Capcom throwdown.

November 2014 Loot Crate Battle figures

If you want to get a box of geeky swag delivered to your door every month, head over to Loot Crate and sign up today! Enter code AEIOU for 10% off your order.

Nov 21, 2014

Book of the Moment - Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory
by Caitlin Doughty

Summary from
"Most people want to avoid thinking about death, but Caitlin Doughty—a twenty-something with a degree in medieval history and a flair for the macabre—took a job at a crematory, turning morbid curiosity into her life’s work. Thrown into a profession of gallows humor and vivid characters (both living and very dead), Caitlin learned to navigate the secretive culture of those who care for the deceased.
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes tells an unusual coming-of-age story full of bizarre encounters and unforgettable scenes. Caring for dead bodies of every color, shape, and affliction, Caitlin soon becomes an intrepid explorer in the world of the dead. She describes how she swept ashes from the machines (and sometimes onto her clothes) and reveals the strange history of cremation and undertaking, marveling at bizarre and wonderful funeral practices from different cultures."

 I don't read a lot of non-fiction but this one happened to catch my eye while I was in line to check out. In particular, it was the subtitle "& Other Lessons from the Crematory" that got me to pick it up and read the summary. And that was pretty much all it took to convince me I had to read it.

I'll start my review by telling you this book won't be for everyone. As you might imagine, there's a lot of discussion about death and the handling of the dead. While I didn't find anything to be too gruesome in nature, more often it's the "mundane" day to day tasks that working in a crematory requires that may be off putting to some. Of course, being a fan of horror movies, my definition of gruesome may differ greatly from yours.

Having said that, this isn't a clinical discussion by any means. Doughty relates her experiences with equal amounts humor, honesty, and historical context. I really enjoyed her style of writing, it felt like we were having a casual chat. If you can imagine having a friendly chat about prepping people for their funeral, embalming, or cremation.

Throughout the book, she weaves in her own philosophies on death and opinions on the current state of how we, as a culture, deal with the business side of death. And I have to say, I found myself agreeing with a lot of her thoughts. Most of people don't really think twice about the way things are done because that's just how we've always seen it. But when you stop to think about it, isn't it a little odd to pay hundreds, if not thousands, for a fancy box that is only going to be placed underground inside a concrete box?

The only way these time honored traditions might change is if we start questioning just why we do the things we do. In 2011, Doughty founded the Order of Good Death in an attempt to bring the discussion of death back into pop culture. This is a great idea, check out her site and her "Ask a Mortician" YouTube videos.

At various points she also talks about how death is dealt with in other cultures. I found the differences, especially their openness in facing it, fascinating. Some return their dead to nature, giving food to the flora and fauna, and others consume parts of the dead!

When I first started the book, I was excited to take a peek behind the black curtain where most people wouldn't even want to acknowledge Things were being done, much less talk about them. After about the first third I started wondering if I should continue on because as interesting as it was I was starting to think a lot about mortality (not only my own but family and friends), funerals, and the like. As I kept on with it, those thoughts moved to the background as I began to see where Doughty's ideas were going.

As I started out by saying, this book will not be for everyone. However, I think everyone should at least try to read it. In addition to giving insight into things we prefer not to talk about, it will also make you think not just about death, but also about living your life.

Rating: 5/5 Flame Jets

Nov 17, 2014

Making Creepmas 2014

Are you missing Halloween already?
Tired of seeing Christmas decorations on the shelves in October?

Then join us for the Creepmas blog-a-thon!
It's similar to the Countdown to Halloween, but we're stealing the first 13 days of December to strike back against that jolly elf for starting to creep into October.

You can sign up and grab your official Creepmas 2014 badge at

Click the image below to get the skinny on the #MakingCreepmas image challenge. 
It's like Drawlloween and Inktober with a spooky festive twist!

Nov 3, 2014

Salem Halloween 2014

Just wanted to pop in for a quick post-Halloween wrap-up.

First, thanks to everyone that participated in the Halloween Web interview series. I know a lot of you had fun recounting Halloween memories and it was fun for me (and the readers) to see so many great takes on the questions. There was such an unexpected (by me) turnout that I didn't get to post on some of the Halloween goodies I picked up in October! Those will either trickle out over November or I may hold on to them for Creepmas, which is only a month away.

Second, thanks to the readers! Whether you just found the blog from the Countdown to Halloween or you're a long time reader, thanks for stopping by!

On to Halloween!

I didn't really mention it in my self interview but part of my ritual is putting on some Halloween music (usually our cable's "Sounds of the Season" station) and making up the treat bags to be given out. I found a new friend to help me this year. He wanted to make sure someone checked the candy.

Salem Halloween 2014 Sam Trick R Treat

Around 4:30pm a woman I didn't know showed up knocking on our door. She said she and her young sons were getting ready to go out soon and wanted to know if Freddy would be around! You may recall from me interviewing myself, that my stepdad inherited my Freddy costume when I took up the mantle of the Creep. Every year he becomes Freddy and wanders the neighborhood while we tend the trick or treaters before going into Salem. He's usually not out and about until it gets a little darker, but he's not one to turn away fans!

Salem Halloween 2014 Freddy & Kids

 It was definitely an odd night for trick or treaters. We've been getting more every year but it was very slow to start this year. I don't know if people were waiting until it got darker/later because it was a Friday night but they did start coming eventually. One of the best costumes was the Headless Horseman, the version from TV's Sleepy Hollow. I wish I'd taken a pic, it was pretty cool!

Halloween 2014 House
Trick or Treater ready!
 As it got close to the time we were leaving, of course more and more kids started coming! I almost wish our town would do trick or treating on a scheduled day and time that wasn't Halloween night so I could see all the kids and still get to haunt Salem.

Salem also seemed a bit under populated this Halloween. You'd think on a Friday night it would be really packed! If you're a Salem Halloween vet like me, you could tell there was noticeably more room to move around than previous years. Here's a few of the shots my wife was nice enough to take. In my costume, not only can I not see clearly more than 20' in front of me, I can't operate the camera!

Salem Halloween 2014 Pumpkinhead

I have to give this guy some major points for putting an actual pumpkin on his head all night!

Salem Halloween 2014 Preachers

One thing Salem is never short on Halloween night are religious people that want to tell you that you're going to Hell for celebrating Halloween. Because if it's one thing a city famous for persecution needs, it's more close-minded people. At least one of their signs is correct...

Salem Halloween 2014 Dr Syn

I wish I'd seen this costume in person! I was shocked looking at the photos to see someone did Dr Syn, the Scarecrow of Romney Marsh.

Salem Halloween 2014 Jack Skellington

It wouldn't be Halloween without the Pumpkin King!

Salem Halloween 2014 Tied Up Freak

Love that this thing was tied to a parking meter.

Salem Halloween 2014 Band

There are a few live bands that play at various locations around the city.
This Beatles tribute band performed on the Salem Common.

Salem Halloween 2014 Creep

Mrs & Mr Creep!

There's quite a few more pics on my Flickr page to check out.

And I also found this 15 minute YouTube video someone made walking down the pedestrian mall. It's not the best, but it will give you a little idea what it's like in Salem on Halloween.


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