May 30, 2012

Pop Art

Here's a little something you don't know about me: I like checking out new beverages. I'm not a drinker so I'm strictly talking about sodas and juices. Any time I'm going to be in the car for more than a short trip, I'll swing into a convenience store to pick up a drink. It usually takes me a couple minutes to check out the selection and settle on something. I'm always looking for the new thing.

This may stem from my childhood. My grandparents had a small bar in their basement, behind which was a spare refrigerator stocked with a variety of store brand sodas. My cousin and I, who are close in age, would be there a lot in the summer either visiting or being watched. We often "played bar" and mixed up sodas to make new tastes. I still do this today, especially if there is a self-serve soda fountain. (I highly recommend 75% Mountain Dew + 25% Fruit Punch)

Anyway, I happened into the local Cumberland Farms (they've gotten fewer and farther between lately) and found a new line of 88 cent flavored sodas. Of course I'd have to try them but what really sold me on them are the characters on each flavor. There's also a little blurb on the back of the bottle which I'll put below each photo.

Sucka Punch
Talk about a slobberknocker, Sucka Punch knocks out thirst and then some. 
Pineapple, orange, lemon, strawberry. It'll hit ya with everything it's got.

Anytime you have pineapple flavor without coconut, I'm there!
Verdict: Horrible! It starts out ok but the after taste reminds me of too many failed soda mixtures back in the day. I guess that's the Sucka Punch?

Razza Lemon
"Ooh a raspberry! Ooh another!" 
Razza is the loopy Lemon that skips around and seriously sweetens up your day. 
So take a sip, and smile like silly.

I especially enjoy lemonade on hot days.

I'm stockpiling Blue Raspberry Lemonade Kool-Aid.
Verdict: Good mix of Raspberry and Lemon. Win!

Lotta Melon
There's a whole Lotta Melon going on.
This mean green gives your taste buds a-shaking with a serious wallop.
It's like a watermelon to your face.
Whap! Mmmmm.

Probably the only flavor I like more than pineapple is watermelon!
Verdict: Not as liquid-candy sweet as the Jolly Rancher Watermelon soda, and that's a good thing!

I haven't tasted any of them yet but that will change! And then I'll be heading back to the store to pick up the other flavors. I didn't count but I know there's at least five more.

May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

To celebrate Memorial Day, I thought I'd share a little piece of family history. My grandfather served in the US Army Engineer Corps in World War II. He took some photos while they were moving through Germany. There are a few below and you can find the rest on Flickr. There's nothing disturbing in these photos and, in fact, aside from them being in uniform you can almost imagine they were having a vacation.

Grandpa in his dress uniform
My grandfather earned the nickname Brute from the other guys in his unit. Now, my grandfather was not a very large man, maybe 5'6" at his tallest. Whether it was one of those ironic nicknames (like calling a big guy Tiny) or if he earned it by his actions, I'll never know. He rarely talked about his time in the War (understandably) and we never asked.

That's my grandfather on the left. 
Not sure who the second guy in was but he looks like a tough customer.

Gramp is on the right in the shades.

This one is from one of their many reunions. My grandfather is on the left, holding a beer. I'm not sure when it was exactly but fashion (and my grandfather's mutton chops) would suggest late 70s' or early 80s'.

May 25, 2012

Geek Pride Day & Turning 35

Whether you're chillin in the Shire, knockin a few back in an intergalactic cantina, gaming with your buds on the Grid or exploring the wibbly-wobbly-ness of Time and Space, I hope you're letting your geek flag fly extra high today!

In case you weren't aware (?!) today also marks the 35th anniversary of Star Wars opening in the US. Nothing like your favorite movie turning 35 to make you feel a little older. I don't have many specific memories of seeing it back then, just some vague recollections. Sometimes when I watch the movies, I try to get back to that mindset of seeing them for the first time and really pay attention to things on the screen you come to ignore after 100+ viewings. Everyone knows about the Stormtrooper that hits his head. Some people know about the metallic dice hanging in the Falcon's cockpit and some know about the other landspeeder and Luke's T-16 Skyhopper that are in the garage where he cleans up the droids. Keep an eye out in the background next time you watch them and see what you notice!

I can honestly, and proudly, say Star Wars has changed my life. I know people say it all the time and it does sound a little cheesy. If nothing else, sharing an interest in the movies has allowed me to connect with some truly awesome people throughout my life. There's nothing like going to a Star Wars Celebration and being with thousands of strangers that all love the same thing. It makes waiting in long lines so much less painful.

The most important person it's allowed me to connect with is my wife of almost 10 years. She'll joke that the only reason I contacted her was because her online dating profile* said she liked Star Wars. It wasn't the only reason...but it was up there! I truly could never imagine being married to someone who doesn't like Star Wars, I don't think they would ever have put up with me long enough to get married.

Don't get jealous, but here's a pic of me after meeting Darth Vader.

* - Yes kids, people do find love on the internet through dating sites.

May 23, 2012

LEGO Monster Fighters - The Swamp Creature

If you follow me on Twitter you no doubt saw my excited live tweets from Toys R Us last Friday when I discovered the long awaited Monster Fighter sets on shelves. I held off on getting any that day because I knew I'd be able to find them somewhere else cheaper. I found all of them cheaper, plus one they didn't have, in one of our local LEGO stores today so I picked up the one I've been itching to get. Coincidentally, it happens to be the least expensive of all the sets: The Swamp Creature!

I haven't delved to deeply into the LEGO website to get the story behind these sets but it appears that each monster has a power crystal and Mr. Head Vampire wants them all for himself, probably to attain Ultimate know how that goes. But there is an intrepid band of Monster Hunters that are trying to collect these crystal because...well, they were too busy studying monsters in school and never got invited to the cool parties so now they take out their social frustrations on the poor monsters.

This 70 piece set comes with Monster Fighter Douchey McBaggins (ok I don't know what his name is, but he has a wallet chain, a sleeveless leather vest, a pompadour and a smarmy grin), his swamp skimmer, a tiny section of swamp (complete with frog, seaweed and fish) to hold the crystal, and of course, The Swamp Creature.

I rarely, if ever, say a LEGO set isn't worth what you pay and I'm going to keep saying that! For $7, I think you get a nice little set with plenty of play value. There are missiles on the side of the skimmer that you can flick to "shoot." I'm no GI Joe expert, but this guy and his skimmer are probably a good start to a custom LEGO Dreadnok.

We may never get officially licensed Universal Monsters LEGO sets, but at this point, I don't think we need them. They've done a great job covering the iconic monsters in this line even if they're not exactly the same ones we all love.

Head on over to Flickr to see the rest of the photos in this set. In closing, I'm totally stealing an idea from Shawn at Branded in the 80s' and putting together a lil LEGO Monster Sqaud action...

May 21, 2012

Mail Order Monday - Space Squadron (1953)

Track down Martian spies and rescue Astra Space Beauties?!? 
Where do I sign up?

Today's post is semi-brought to you by Reis at Lair of the Dork Horde who has a great review of  vintage reissued Galaxy Laser Team space figures. If you think this ad looks cool, you have to check out the above post for some really fantastic figures!

I remembered having this ad tucked away after reading his post.

May 18, 2012

Friday Funnies - Dexverse Issue #5

...and now back to our regularly scheduled Friday Funnies.

A quick return to the Dexverse today before I head out the door. Today's hero is Chillowatt!

Chillowatt was put together by some brainy kids. They wanted to help the heroes but being young and not having any super powers of their own they had to rely on their collective genius. They raided a local junkyard for material, including parts from destroyed evil Clockwork robots and refrigerators.

And thus was created: Chillowatt! They used the scavenged parts to give him electrical and ice powers. His powers aren't meant for direct combat but for containing and immobilizing enemies. And thanks to overclocking, he can run at super speeds.

Doin the robot!
Although he's sentient, the geeky kids were somewhat lacking in social skills and this results in some odd conversations with Chillowatt. He tends to take things literally. After a particularly successful challenging mission, his group was celebrating and one of the other heroes started chanting. "The roof is on fire!" Chillowatt sped up to the rooftop and yelled down, "I do not see any combustion occurring up here! All is well!"

May 16, 2012

A Post That's Not a Post

This is a post to let you know there won't be a regularly scheduled Wednesday post today! However I wanted to let you know that I updated my former LEGO Trading page to a more general toy trading page. You can see the link right up there under the banner.

I updated it because I also have Playmobil and SLUG Zombie figures to trade if anyone's interested.

Also in about 7 hours I will no longer be the last geek on Earth that hasn't see The Avengers.
Yay me!

Just checking to make sure you're awake...

May 14, 2012

Salem Willows - The Sword in the Sea

After doing last Friday's photo-tastic post about the Salem Willows Park, I thought of something else I should have included there. But it was such an unusual event that I wanted to give it its own post.

Back in 2001 I visited the Willows (that's what we locals call it round here) on another photo excursion. That day I was more focused on the water-side aspect of taking photos including the beach creatures and colorful stones and shells.

While I was down where the tide was receding, something caught my eye...

As I found it
It was a sword! I don't know much about swords but I know there's not a Ren Faire in the immediate area and that it looked like it had been in the water for some time. Naturally, I did what most people reading this blog would do and took it home. I cleaned it up as best I could but it must have seen better days in the past.

Here is a photo I took of it today.

Like I said, I'm not up on my sword studies so I'm not sure what type of blade this is but it's obvious that it's more of a fencing sword from way it's constructed to protect the wielder's hand. Here's a closeup of the blade's base.

Toledo Made in Spain
One thing I do know is that Toledo Spain was considered to produce the best swords in Europe between the 15th and 17th centuries. It seems to be well made and very solid, not something I would expect from a replica weapon. I'd also think something a little more modern was probably be more rust resistant? But I don't exactly know any sword experts that could verify when it might have been made. And until I do find one, I'm just going to keep thinking it's a relic from a time when there were pirates and privateers on the seas.

May 11, 2012

Salem Willows

Skipping out on the standard Friday post to bring you some photos from a favorite spot of mine in Salem: the Salem Willows "amusement park." That's what they call it on the signs leading you there, but once you get there it's just Salem Willows Park. I think if this was my first time (far from it!) going here I would be seriously disappointed at the use of the phrase "amusement park" to describe this small area. It's bigger than it looks below though. Off to the right is a large grassy area right on the water perfect for picnics and other outdoorsy family activity, there are even a few tables.

I didn't grab individual photos of the food stands because they're not visually noteworthy. However, there is a decent variety of junk food: burgers, a pizza place, ice cream, a Chinese place that's popular with the locals for its chop suey sandwiches and a stand that sells popcorn and a multitude of flavored taffy. I think it's required if you have any kind of park near the water on the East Coast, you must sell taffy somewhere.

Aside from needing to get out of the house, the inspiration for this photo shoot was a recent post over at Lair of the Dork Horde about finding a retro game haven. The arcade here isn't bad considering how hard it is to find 80s' video games around here. They have more games that I didn't take pictures of including a few more recent shooting and racing games and about 8 pinball machines. There was one that I forget the name of but it had a ton of classics built into it and you can select which game you want to play. In addition to the "big kids" arcade, there is a place next to it with ticket redemption games.

There is also a run down, "blink and you'll walk right by it" mini-golf course and the "kiddie" area with rides and a very cool carousel which was built in 1866. I don't know what it is about these car carousels but I can't get enough photos of it!
Watch out for that shifty mouse in the back corner
You can check out the entire gallery of Salem Willows photos on Flickr.
and here's a couple of bonus photos from my Twitter feed in case you missed them
Galaga high score!
Down by the water

May 9, 2012

League Post - Fandom Assemble!

With the release of The Avengers, Disney/Marvel has pulled off something near impossible by combining popular characters into one movie and presumably giving them their moments to shine. I say presumably because I am not one of the people that contributed to The Avengers $200 million opening weekend, but I'll get there...

With that in mind, The League poses this conundrum:
What pop culture heroes or stories would make for the ultimate crossover–think along the lines of Han Solo meeting up with Firefly’s Mal on a smuggling run.
This is another one of those "hard to pick just one" answers because it's a topic that kids have been talking about on the playground probably since the invention of movies.

I'd like to see a well done Indiana Jones and Doctor Who crossover! I imagine Indy and a guide hacking a trail through the darkest part of Africa when *clunk* a machete hits something solid. Clearing away the vines, they find a familiar blue police box. Indy is obviously perplexed at how this ended up here and is studying it when the door swings open.

I tried to write the rest out as fiction but it came out really cheesy...Anyway, Indy meets the 10th Doctor and Martha Jones. In my story, it has to be Martha so when the Doctor introduces her to Indy (of course he knows who Indy is!) there is an obligatory "Doctor Jones, meet..uh...Doctor Jones." line. Martha has a few moments trying to come to grips with the fact that Indy is a real person and they get on with saving the world.

Why is the Doctor there? A small group of Cyberman crashed landed there and are trying to find a crystal skull which will somehow power their ship. But of course, the Nazis are also looking for the skull. What's worse than Cybermen or Nazis? Cyber-Nazis! Forget the skull, what better way for the Nazis to win the war than to steal the TARDIS? Hijinks ensue...

I think this would be an interesting pairing as the Doctor isn't usually paired with someone as smart as Indy and they'd be able to compliment each others knowledge. Then of course Indy can get physical with the baddies while the Doctor sonics something to save the day.

It was a lot harder than I thought finding an appropriate mashup image
Check out some of these other bloggers
Fiji Mermaid at Sideshow Cinema wants to see the ultimate hunt
An incredible gang of computer geeks hack into Branded in the 80s
Memories of Toymorrow orders up some roses for Ultimate Bachelor

For the full rundown of bloggers this week, hit Cool and Collected

May 7, 2012

The First Halloween Nativity Set

Hey folks! Usually for Mail Order Monday, I spotlight an ad from decades past but today I'm bringing you something you can actually plunk down your cash to own!

I know some of us are tied of being constantly bombarded by people asking for money for their Kickstarter projects. I wouldn't normally post about them but this is something I really believe in and would love to have finished.

It's The First Halloween Nativity set!
You can get more info by watching the video below and visiting The First Halloween Website
You can also connect with the project through Facebook and Pinterest 

It will retail for $29.99 when it goes into production but for a pledge of at least $25 you can your very own set!

May 4, 2012

League Post - Sweet Ride!

Friday Funnies is taking a break this week to bring you the League of Extraordinary Bloggers... 

This week, the League of Extraordinary bloggers tackle the question:
Besides the Batmobile, what is the sweetest ride cruising the streets of pop culture?
Like most assignments, this one is hard to pin down because there are so many cool answers. And really, if you asked me this in a month or a week my answer would probably be different.

In honor of May the 4th Be With You day, I'm going to come at it from a Star Wars perspective. That, and I think if I didn't blog about Star Wars today my geek cred would take a hit.

Sure the obvious choice is the Millennium Falcon, the pimpmobile of the Star Wars galaxy. I even like Luke's landspeeder and almost went with speederbikes because let's face it, they rock.

"I used to bullseye womprats in my T-16 back home, they're not much bigger than two meters." - Luke Skywalker, A New Hope (or as I call it, Star Wars)

Here's a shot of the T-16 Skyhopper from the movie. Luke is holding a model of it and you can see the full sized one parked in the garage behind R2.
While Luke's landspeeder is more like a station wagon, the Skyhopper is the hot rod you work on in the garage and go racing in with your buddies. It was featured in the Marvel comics series and it also "appears" in the radio drama where Luke is racing it through Beggar's Canyon. It just seems like it would be a fun vehicle to mess around in, especially if you're stuck on a desert planet!

To come back to more Earthly rides, there's a plethora of TV/movie vehicles. Heck, just the 80s' has enough to dedicate an entire blog to. I'm going to go with something a little more recent because I hardly ever use the words "damn sexy" to describe an automobile...

The 1967 Chevrolet Impala from Supernatural, aka the Metallicar

Runner up from cartoon land is the Chan Clan van. You can see it in action here

Check out other League member's postings
Branded in the 80s says "Get to the choppa!" in more ways than one
Working in a memorabilia auction house has benefits as Fong Sam will tell you
Memories of Toymorrow tells the hosers to take off, eh?

You can find links to all the replied over at Cool and Collected

May 1, 2012

Monthly Movie Recap - April 2012

At the start of April I decided to check out (ie: torture myself with) remakes of Vincent Price movies. Why? Who knows...

House of Wax (2005)
Technically even the original Vincent Price movie is a remake of Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933) so this is a remake of a remake! I'd never seen it before but it sure felt like I did. It's pretty standard of the "WB/CW horror" era. Aside from watching young Jared Padelicki and Elisha Cuthbert there wasn't much keeping my interest.

Cool: Paris Hilton gets killed; titular house is actually a house made of wax
Lame: Predictable at almost every turn
Rating: 4.5/10, see either of the originals instead