From Oddities to Ice Cream – My Weekend Recap

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.

Bob “Glowmania” Burke had a special surprise gift for me, and I’ll be unveiling that very soon in an upcoming video!

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.

I bought a few non-tea gifts and a few things for myself. There’s the Jersey City Batman style t-shirt along with these amazing Jersey City coasters by “Chic Chalet.” Recently, I had The Bangles “Hazy Shade of Winter” single in my hands at a recent record show, but I ran out of cash, so I’m happy I found it here.

Brutaliteas

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.

Spotted Toxie graffiti on the wall in the bathroom of Barcade

Barcade

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.

iPlay America

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.

Camp WWE

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!

ExtraComicular Activities #2: Mars Attacks the REAL Ghostbusters!

From the Comixology description:
Something even stranger is in the neighborhood when the restless spirits of some merciless martians are stirred from their slumber to attack again! It’s up to the REAL Ghostbusters to save New Jersey from this angry red threat. Well…if they must. Written by: Erik Burnham with Art by: Jose Holder and Ray Dillon

In 1996, Tim Burton revived Mars Attacks! and brought it to a worldwide audience. I was working at the local movie theater when it was released and it was one of a string of films during that time that I remember loving, but it didn’t seem to catch on. Although it broke even at the box office, it’s largely seen as a disappointment, except to many of us geeks and Tim Burton fans. But, it turns out these aliens have got a lot more to say than just Ack, Ack, Ack!

The inspiration for the movie was a series of controversial trading cards that debuted in 1962. Apparently, alien invaders wreaking havoc was very controversial in the ’60s, OK? Other than merely knowing that the series existed, I never became acquainted with the Mars Attacks! on again off again comic book series that spawned from the trading cards. But, one thing I am vastly familiar with is Ghostbusters! Whether it’s live action, Filmation, or the REAL guys, I’ve been crazy about them since I was a little kid. To have the chance to read a comic book that combines these two entities sounded immediately appealing to me.

Presently, the comic company IDW prints an all new Mars Attacks! series, but back in 2013, they pulled off a pretty epic mini-series consisting of one-shots that pitted Mars Attacks! aliens invading five other IDW comic book properties such as Transformers, Judge Dredd, Popeye, and even my favorite rock band of all time, KISS. The issue I wanted to read even more than the KISS issue though, was Mars Attacks the REAL Ghostbusters.

Released January 1st 2013, Mars Attacks The Real Ghostbusters actually ties in four concepts, not only two as the title suggests. The third aspect of this book includes a recurring War of the Worlds theme. You know what that means: it takes place in New Jersey! Of course, it’s not much of a stretch to have the Ghostbusters drive over the bridge to bust some ghosts in Jersey, but weaving in the Mars Attacks! aliens with War of the Worlds was pretty f’n cool. And last but not least, the nod to War of the Worlds also alludes to my favorite holiday because the historic radio broadcast that they parody here was a Halloween special that aired on mischief night in 1938.

A showdown where our cartoon heroes The REAL Ghostbusters attempt to take down some alien scum instead of a class 5 full roaming vapor might sound weird to you at first, but check it out for yourself because there’s a couple of cool twists along the way. As whacked out as some of the ghosts and villains on the REAL Ghostbusters cartoon were – angry, big-headed aliens in space suits fit right in.

This comic one-shot isn’t too highly rated, and it won’t blow your mind or prompt you to write a thesis on it, but this was a quick, amusing read and I recommend it if you are looking for light comic fare that depicts the REAL Ghostbusters with alien opponents that will only happen in this book and probably never again.

Things to look out for:

– The Mars Attacks! aliens crash land in Elmo’s Hill, NJ. This is a play on Grover’s Mill, NJ the site where aliens crash landed in the War of the Worlds radio broadcast. One part Sesame Street Muppet + rhyming word = parody alien crash site.

– I always loved the REAL Ghostbusters TV bumper where the ghost in the No Ghost sign welcomes us back to the REAL Ghostbusters. He does just that in this comic, a nice little touch to make it feel like an episode of the animated series.

Nerd Lunch Podcast 164: The 4th Chair Army of DOOM!

Some of our Internet cohorts and I banded together for a hostile takeover of the Nerd Lunch Podcast. Villainous guest host Shawn Robare from Branded in the ’80s, Jaime from ShezCrafti, Rondal Scott from Strange Kids Club and myself infiltrated the Nerd Lunch HQ and started recording our own show in place of CT, Pax, and Jeeg. Just like the super-villains we are, we pondered some of our most favorite cartoon villains, those villains who influenced our career as evildoers. I had fun doing this one, mostly because I had a chance to talk about two of my favorite topics: villains and cartoons. Just a note about my monologue in the beginning of the show: that was a joint effort between Shawn and I. Shawn wrote the thing and then I added a few things, changed some wording, and made it my own, but credit should be given to Shawn for that as well! Do you think the real Nerd Lunch crew will be able to get their show back? Take a listen to find out and let us know your favorite cartoon villains!

Ninja Turtles New Jersey Art and Thoughts On The New TMNT Movie

Artist and New Jersey lover Scott Modrzynski of Mojo’s Work, has quite and interesting life story. You can check it out for yourself, but he’s got a ton of love and respect for New Jersey AND The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, two forces combined and strikingly illustrated in his TMNT/New Jersey art featured here. What a killer combo from Scott! He’s got so much more at his site with his NJ Badass series which are mash-ups of our state AND characters like Deadpool, Scooby Doo, Mario & Luigi, Superman, and Spiderman just to name a few! Now, onto my thoughts on the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, in theaters now.

Don’t call this a comeback. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been here for years and haven’t really ever gone away. Nickelodeon grabbing full rights to the property a few years ago has been a dream for fans. Since the latest cartoon series premiered, and now the new feature film is hitting theaters, we’re in the midst of Turtle fever all over again with new toys, special edition sodas and perhaps the most logical, pizza tie-ins.

Michael Bay has modified a few details of the Turtles here and there, most notably, the look of our beloved pizza devourin’, Foot Clan fightin’ Turtles. What scares me is that regardless of what true die-hard Turtles fans feel about this film, if it does big business at the box office, which, from a curiosity standpoint it’s basically guaranteed to, Bay’s alterations will probably stick around for the long run.

Very early on, well before critics actually saw this film, I was put off by promotional photos and rumors. Now that people are finally seeing it and tweeting such flat, lackluster feedback about the movie, I’m even less compelled to go to the theater to see it. I can wait for this one to hit Redbox. Meanwhile, I’ll watch my DVDs of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film from 1990 which remains one of the best movies of the superhero genre as well as The Secret of the Ooze which is still badass too!

I remember seeing the 1990 original in the theater as well as the sequel, and I enjoyed both films immensely. The only minor issue I had with the original was the casting of April O’Neil. From a performance standpoint I had no complaints about Judith Hoag, but I couldn’t help feeling that there was a more appropriate actress for the role.

At the time, the ’80s were still lingering around and a logical choice for April would’ve been an actress who starred in one of the quintessential kids movies from the ’80s. I always felt that Jersey’s own, Kerri Green, who played Andi in The Goonies, would’ve been an awesome April O’Neil. If anything, she would’ve embodied the cartoon April perfectly. Think about it. This leads me to the hotly debated issue of Megan Fox. Stunt casting at its best.

Having Angelina Jolie shoved down our throats for so many years was always a similar topic of discussion for me. I was never so crazy-obsessed with Jolie from a physical standpoint nor was I ever seduced by any of her films. Conversely, Megan Fox is super hot and it’s a near fact that her acting ability is not on par with other actresses of her age range, but admiring her (not her wacky thumbs) might be the lone reason for me eventually giving Ninja Turtles a watch.  

Admittedly, I was even a fan of TVs The Next Mutation when it first aired, mainly because it was cool to see a live action offshoot of the TMNT movies, no matter how Power Rangers-esque it was. Judging by what I’ve seen and heard about the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film, I might just be better off watching my bootlegs of The Next Mutation this weekend!

Head over to our friend The Sewer Den to read his expert opinion on the 2014 Ninja Turtles film:
http://www.thesewerden.com/2014/08/tmnt-2014-movie-review.html

NJ T-Shirt Tuesday 111: Shirt Tales and Six Flags

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Pammy, Rick, and Tyg from The Shirt Tales riding the Log Flume on this Six Flags t-shirt
Remember The Shirt Tales? A lot of the ’70s and ’80s kids and nostalgia freaks out there definitely do. If you don’t remember them, they were a group of animals who were cute to an absurd degree and their thoughts would materialize in illuminated words right on their t-shirts. Although the Shirt Tales were only around for a couple of TV seasons (1982-1984), they had a slightly longer life on the front of Hallmark greeting cards and various other tie-ins, one of which we’ll look at in this post.

In their own Hanna-Barbera cartoon show, the gang fought crime and they even had their own little Batcave-type headquarters. I tried to jog my own memory by watching an episode on YouTube called The Big Foot Incident. Memories started rushing back, but I didn’t remember much about the cool set of villains who resembled bumbling versions of the Universal Monsters. The ring leader (Mesmo? Not very original) could’ve been a horror host and his lair was basically a haunted mansion that was constantly being showered with frequent lighting bolts (awesome). This all seemed very uncharacteristic for a bunch of furry and lovable little creatures who were created to sell Hallmark cards.

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If you were to associate cartoon characters with Six Flags Great Adventure here in New Jersey, Looney Tunes would immediately come to mind, but there’s proof right here that there was a brief time when The Shirt Tales reigned at Six Flags! According to the Great Adventure History site, in 1984, the kiddie kingdom area was renamed Shirt Tales Land and the characters would come out and greet kids. This only last for one season until getting taken over by the Looney Tunes.

The above photo is from the exact period of time when the Shirt Tales were popular in the early ’80s. Back then, they incorporated all their locations onto one t-shirt so they didn’t have to print up separate shirts for each location, so that explains why Great Adventure is listed at the bottom. Fortunately though, it stands out the most since it’s highlighted in yellow.

This is ’80s nostalgia at its best. Why do I say that? Well, I actually scanned this photo in myself and it’s of my best friend who I’ve known since I was in pre-school. I had the photo because not too long ago, I made a slideshow for his birthday of old photos that his mom was nice enough to gather up for me. These included some real classics and I scanned them all in. I kept this one on the hard drive because I knew that somewhere down the line I would want to bring it up here at The Sexy Armpit. It was a double whammy!

In the past several years I felt that the characters that get licensed out for use in marketing and merch for Six Flags G.A should be capitalized on more. I hate seeing the DC Universe and the Looney Tunes not being exploited to their fullest, but it probably has a lot to do with the fact that the park is no longer owned and operated by Warner Brothers, which it was at one time.

I obviously have a huge affinity for Six Flags nostalgia, but it’s merely a coincidence that the last installment of T-Shirt Tuesday featured a Six Flags tee as well. Hell, I’m not opposed to doing more either, so if you know of any vintage Six Flags tees/or you have old photos of you wearing one, let me know about them!

HALLOWEEN 2013: Prime Evil and Jem!

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After a couple of Halloweens in Jersey full of shitty weather, including a hurricane, I set out to make this year’s Halloween more of a success. It doesn’t even matter what Miss Sexy Armpit and I wind up doing for Halloween, it’s more about the costumes for us. This year Halloween falls on a Thursday so most Halloween themed parties and masquerades happened last weekend. Adult Halloween activities usually involve alcohol in large quantities rather than tons of candy, but I kept my consumption to a minimum this time around, mainly because I was wearing a mask.

Whether you know me personally or you just enjoy reading the site, you know that I’m pretty serious about Halloween. Even before October arrives, I start looking at all the events and masqerades in our area and the costume making commences! Not since I was a kid have I actually purchased a costume at a store. I prefer to put together my costumes using my creativity. Miss Sexy Armpit and I tend to put a lot of time and effort into making our Halloween costumes. How do I decide on what I am going to be? Well, it’s 90% inspiration and 10% feasibility. If I’m overcome by a feeling about a character a couple of months prior to Halloween and pulling it off is within the realm of possibility, that’s how I arrive at my choice.

As a kid growing up in the ’80s, I loved villains. I still do. The 80’s had some of the best villains especially from cartoons. I was a fan of Real Ghostbusters, but I was also a huge fan of Filmation’s Ghostbusters. It confused a lot of my friends back then when we discussed Ghostbusters because you’d have to specify which one you were referring to. The thing with Filmation Ghostbusters is that it didn’t seem to have the same widespread appeal that Real Ghostbusters did, probably because it wasn’t connected to a blockbuster summer movie. It was popular for a short time, but I remember having the hardest time finding a Prime Evil figure (I still can’t find one unless I pay a fortune on eBay!).

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Prime Evil, the main villain, was so cool looking and he was my favorite part of the show. The fact that I have such great memories of the show and the character reminded me of something out of horror movie, Prime Evil was my choice for Halloween this year. He’s been on my mind for the past few years, but I didn’t think I could pull it off without looking too cheap. Intensifying my inspiration was the fact that Prime Evil was the most elusive figure to me as a kid. I rarely went crazy looking for a specific figure unless it was from LJN’s WWF line or later in the Kenner Batman Dark Knight Collection line. He’s the one that got away! My goal this year was to base the costume off of the action figure that I never owned.

Usually, Miss Sexy Armpit and I begin working on our costumes in early September, sometimes even late August. This gives us ample time in case we run into any unforeseen difficulties while creating the costumes. This year was no different.

One of the biggest challenges I faced was finding the right mask to use. Creating one myself wouldn’t have been the best idea because it would’ve looked like shit. Early in the summer I started scouring the Internet for online stores that had a proper mask that could work as Prime Evil mask. I finally found a couple on Amazon and ordered both.

Neither mask instilled me with any confidence that I’d be able to pull this off. One was latex that flapped around and got all bent up in transit and the other felt like it weighed about 40 lbs and hurt like hell when I put it on my face. The heavy one, which was basically a Terminator Series 800 mask, didn’t cover my entire head, but it did have a cool feature: red LED eyes! Actually the eye lights were pretty lame because they blinked incessantly which isn’t an attribute of Prime Evil’s. There was no mouth or nose holes either, so I was able to eliminate that one rather easily.

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Now, with the decision made on the mask, I began working on other aspects of the costume. At that point I didn’t worry about how I would doctor up the mask, I had a feeling I’d be able to bring it up to Prime Evil standards without too much difficulty and if I couldn’t it would just have to suffice.

In between working on her own JEM! costume, Miss Sexy Armpit lent her ingenuity to the creation of my costume. We picked up some red and orange material and cut it in a similar pattern as Prime Evil’s flowing red cape and gown. We used a picture of him I had on my iPad as a guide while cutting.

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Miss Sexy Armpit did such an awesome job with her JEM! costume. It was mostly homemade except for a few parts that were purchased. I picked up the wig for her and she worked her hair styling magic on it. With her dead-on balls accurate makeup job she looked truly outrageous!

One of the most important aspects of the Prime Evil costume is his pale yellow and sometimes neon skin. Fortunately, Green Man from Always Sunny made those second skin costumes super popular and it was easy to find a similar color to the one I needed. The only issue with that costume is that there’s obviously no eye, nose, or mouth holes, so I had Miss Sexy Armpit cut the face open. The “skin” is a main component to the costume because it pulls it all together. It really did give the impression that I had neon yellow skin.

As for the other details of the costume, I improvised. I found a reasonable long red cape with a big collar on a costume website. I don’t think it cost more than $20 bucks, which was great. As for the gloves, I found silver stretchy gloves that were probably meant for a woman to wear to some ritzy gala in the ’20s, but I got them because they were super cheap. When they arrived, I immediately cut the fingers off. I said “f*ck those fingers,” and bam, I had Prime Evil gloves. The mask took a few coats of acrylic paint. The yellow parts glowed in the dark too! Next I needed to create a fake oscilloscope for his mouth. I found a picture of Prime Evil online and opened it in Photoshop. I cropped and enlarged the sound wave in his mouth and printed it. I cut out a piece of cardboard that I bent on both sides. Then I taped the sound wave picture to the cardboard with black electrical tape. I finished it off by covering all the exposed cardboard with the black tape and pinning it to the mask. The red boots were actually repurposed yellow boots from my Kick Buttowski costume in 2011 that I spray painted red. Last but not least, a little black makeup around my eyes and my costume was complete!

Ultimately, our costumes were hits. Wearing the mask throughout the night proved to be quite a challenge, but provided much comic relief. I had to drink from a straw the whole night. This year’s outing was medicore at best and it definitely wasn’t the fault of our company though. We might as well throw a party at our place because we usually wind up having a better time just taking pictures, having a few drinks, and bullshitting before going out. I wasn’t able to eat with the mask on so I was starving by the end of the night. The best part of the outing was heading over to Hooters for a late night snack. By that time I had to take all my Prime Evil gear off because I wanted to eat without sucking my buffalo chicken sandwich through a straw. How the hell did Prime Evil eat? I wondered that while wolfing down my food. I didn’t really think that part through!

Real Ghostbusters Ride Into A Ghost Town…in NEW JERSEY!

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New York and Chicago are home to many of history’s “mainstream” mobsters. The fact is though, the mafia has always been heavily attached to New Jersey culture as well. Even if you weren’t aware of that, The Sopranos helped further cement it (cement shoes style) into public consciousness. More recently, HBO was yet again responsible for directing everyone’s attention to Jersey’s criminal affiliations. This time it was Nucky Thompson, a politician and organized crime boss in Boardwalk Empire which is set in Atlantic City during the prohibition era. Sure, you’ve become familiar with Tony and Nucky, but there was also an animated TV crime lord that you may not remember. His name was Boss Poso. Chances are, if you never crossed the streams and drank your Ecto Cooler every morning like a good little kid, you probably remember this big fat tub of purple ectoplasm.

Growing up in Jersey, I knew of so many people who were said to be “connected.” I can’t imagine that there’s heavy mob activity in North Dakota or Mississippi, so, living here in the Tri-State Area comes with the added bonus of real life exposure to organized crime. It was even in the shows I watched as a kid.

Like a lot of you I was religious about watching The Real Ghostbusters. It was one of my favorite cartoons growing up. Seeing that my state was mentioned frequently throughout the series always amused me. I saw both Ghostbusters films in the theater when they were originally released and I obviously realized that they were filmed and set in New York City, but as a kid, New York City seemed like a totally different world. As I got a little older, I realized that New York City was right through the tunnel, or what we used to call “the straw.”

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My queen Janine Melnitz in Poso’s Clutches – very similar to Leia and Jabba in ROTJ

With our close proximity to Manhattan, it was almost a given for New Jersey to get some air time once in a while. Even with all five boroughs for writers to play around with, they still found reasons to send the Ghostbusters over to Jersey. Not much has changed because the Garden State was still the brunt of jokes back in October of 1989 when the episode of Slimer and The Real Ghostbusters “Partners in Slime” first aired.

In the episode, Poso, a Jabba the Hutt inspired ghost, involved in organized crime, wants to become the godfather of all the ghosts and maintain control over them. He figures that the easiest way to go about this is to take over the Ghostbusters operation. To accomplish this, his minions (who resemble 1930s gangsters) pluck Janine and Louis Tully out of a mall (enjoying our minimally lower sales tax while shopping on Janine’s birthday) by trapping them Tower of Terror style in an elevator. Poso then takes them for ransom and won’t let them go until the Ghostbusters fork over their headquarters and their ‘busting equipment to him.

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Shifter points out Ghost Town, NJ but his finger is NOWHERE NEAR NEW JERSEY!

Slimer apprises the guys of the situation. The rest of the episode involves the Ghostbusters orchestrating a pretty elaborate plan to rescue Janine and Louis. The guys release a ghost, Shifter, who used to be Poso’s sidekick. He’s instrumental in their *SPOILER* eventual nabbing of Boss Poso, whose lair is located in Ghost Town, NJ. When hearing the term “Ghost Town,” it might bring to mind a desolate town out west or down south with tumbleweeds rolling across the dirt. Nah, it’s in Jersey and on the Ghostbusters Wiki it’s described as “a run down town in New Jersey.” Gee thanks, not another one! These episodes were only 22 minutes long, so for the sake of time, the Ghostbusters only had to make the trek over the Hudson river to Jersey in a spooky little “ferry” similar to the one Charon paddles around in the original Clash of the Titans.

Four other great things about this episode:

  • An Undead Hooker
  • Mood Slime returns!
  • Cameos by the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man and Samhain
  • A Vigo The Carpathian Shout-Out
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The fact that The Real Ghostbusters wasn’t just a knockoff of the feature film was an element that didn’t bother me. I remember some friends in school not liking the show just because it “wasn’t like the movie.” I doubt the people responsible for the show back then expected 6 year old kids to have such discerning taste. After a really good run of several seasons, the show morphed into Slimer and The Real Ghostbusters. The plots began to feature more of the exploits of Slimer and Janine Melnitz. Each episode became a slightly more goofy and child friendly in nature. Not necessarily worse than previous seasons, just infusing more Slimer. The ghosts weren’t as nightmare inducing, and the major villains weren’t as formidable. But you already know that. Maybe Boss Poso shouldn’t have been lumped in with the likes of Tony Soprano and Nucky Thompson after all!

*Read about The Real Ghostbusters and The New Jersey Parallelogram  and be sure to Take a look at some animation cels from this episode with Shawn from Branded in the ’80s 

New Jersey’s Great Pop Culture Moments 75: The Super Friends!

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After popping in the Super Friends DVD “A Dangerous Fate,” I was surprised at how ridiculous some of the episodes were. When I was a kid, this show was my ultimate weekly cartoon viewing. It was certainly a different time for superheroes, but ever since extreme realism and darker themes took over the DC Universe, it’s hard to look at these old cartoons the same way. It sucks to say “old cartoons,” but it’s true, the Super Friends comprised my earliest Saturday mornings, and I have no regrets. I have most of the Super Friends official DVD releases, and once in a while I throw one in and watch a few episodes. It turns out that the episode I watched over the weekend had a little surprise for me.

“Elevator to Nowhere” from season 6 aired on September 27, 1980 and featured a team-up of Wonder Woman and The Atom. The events of this episode make it very clear that the Super Friends were easy marks and they allowed themselves to get scammed by villains all the time. If you’re a diabolical villain, luring any combination of Super Friends members into your lair or demonic device was not particularly difficult by any means and by that I mean it was like convincing a young child to calm down by giving them candy or balloons.

After hearing a message left on their emergency scanner, Wonder Woman and The Atom are “streaking” across the city in her invisible jet. They arrive at the lab of a scientist named Dr. Wells. (I wonder if that was Pamela Wells father?) The Atom was noticeably perturbed that he had to wake up in the middle of the night for this and he let Wells know about it. Why though? Isn’t he used to getting woken up in the middle of the night to save citizens from near disasters and fight off super-villains with his buddies?

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Washington Crossing the Delaware and finds those foreign spies 
Wonder Woman and The Atom in Trenton, NJ

Within about 30 seconds things get very TOP SECRET. And no, I’m not referring to the Val Kilmer movie. While in Dr. Well’s TOP SECRET underground lair, our heroes inadvertently waltz into a TOP SECRET time machine in the form of an elevator, which is still top secret thus far. Very coincidental that both happen to be top secret. This was nearly 20 years prior to Dr. Evil from Austin Powers mind you.

This is the moment where I was thinking “Wouldn’t it really be something if they end up in New Jersey somehow? Nah, that would never happen.” I just started getting a feeling. And sure enough, moments later, Wonder Woman pressed a button in the time elevator and accidentally activated it and sent them to Trenton, New Jersey in December of 1776 – the middle of the Revolutionary War. As you probably know, New Jersey was a major hub of activity during the war and General Washington spent much time in various places around the state.

Wonder Woman and her tiny pal are mistaken for foreign spies and arrested by the Continental Army – a fact that must’ve been conveniently overlooked in our history books. They are brought to General Washington so he could decide their fate and it’s here that The Atom gives him the idea that he’s going to be President. Just like the scene where Marty tells Goldie Wilson that he’s going to be Mayor of Hill Valley! At this point things get a little half assed. They get back to the elevator which sends them onto a Spanish galleon in the late 1600s where they meet a pirate, and then they encounter some dinosaurs as they head even further back to 70 million years BC to nab Wells.

Overall, this short episode is a pretty lame representation of the series. Perhaps it’s length limited it’s ability to be a really great parody of The Time Machine. All this talk of getting trapped in an elevator makes me think. I wish someone would make a Super Friends style parody of the 2010 film, Devil, using the DC heroes, now that would be pretty damn awesome.

Screw Jaegers, We’ve Got MEGAS XLR!

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What do you do when your country is being attacked by giant Kaiju monsters? Call the Transformers? I think not, they already have enough on their plates! In the sci-fi movie Pacific Rim, released today, Jaegers are the giant robots that have been created to combat the Kaiju monsters in the film which are similar to Godzilla. The “mechas,” or robots, require two pilots on the same wavelength to control each massive machine. Since I haven’t seen Pacific Rim yet, I can’t say if the Jaegers are successful in their defense of the country, but if they wind up having some trouble, I can recommend some help.

One of my favorite, albeit short lived, Cartoon Network shows was Megas XLR. Pre-dating Pacific Rim by 9 years, Megas XLR, a show about a giant robot resurrected in a Jersey City junkyard, premiered in 2004 on the Toonami block. It’s also important to mention that the Transformers live-action film didn’t hit theaters until 3 years later! Enough bragging though, Megas XLR wasn’t just a show about an eXtra Large Robot, it also featured a couple of standard issue Jersey slacker dudes. They snack, sip Slurpees, and listen to loud rock music. Extremely common behavior for indigenous slackers.

Coop (Picture Reaper’s Tyler Labine) and Jamie, our “heroes,” purchase the robot for a dollar since it was laying amongst the debris in the local junkyard. Coop, the mechanic, fixes up the severely damaged robot, gives the towering machine a slick flaming paint job, attaches it’s new head – a ’70s muscle car similar to a Plymouth Barracuda, and uses a video game controller to drive it around.

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To promote the show at the San Diego Comic Con previous to it’s premiere, Cartoon Network gave out a very limited amount of small statues of Megas XLR. For the Jersey pop culture obsessed, this is one of the coolest pieces to have in your collection. Knowing something this badass came out of one of our filthy, fictional junkyards and was fixed up and controlled by 2 Jersey slackers makes it that much more special to me.

Megas XLR did not garner a huge fan base at the time but, it certainly has gained a cult following. As for the latest status on the show, last year, the show’s creators tweeted about the possibility of bringing Megas XLR back. Presently, all the episodes are available on iTunes, but, there’s never been an official DVD release. Here’s to hoping Pacific Rim packs a wallop at the box office this weekend. Success like that could create a big demand for robot related programming, and there’s no better animated sci-fi action comedy than MEGAS XLR!

The Muppet Babies: Bunsen in Menlo Park

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Muppet Baby Dr. Bunsen Honeydew in Thomas Edison’s Menlo Park laboratory (scan courtesy of Muppet Wiki) as seen in the 1993 coloring book: The Muppet Babies Visit The 50 States. Thomas Edison is credited with creating the first industrial research lab in Menlo Park, NJ as well as gaining the patent for his advanced version of the light bulb in the U.S.

An animated TV show based on The Muppets sort of defeated the purpose. The magic of the Henson brand of puppetry was what made his characters come alive and leave such an impression on the world. Although they are pieces of felt and feathers, The Muppet characters always seemed to be more charismatic than other random puppets controlled by human hands. Each Muppet’s personality was defined by their voices, their little specific gestures, and subtle nuances. Did the Muppet Babies take that all away?

Sure there’s been famous ventriloquists and comedians, but The Muppets are in class of their own. Animating them into a 2-D children’s cartoon may not have seemed like the most grand idea for a bunch of puppets who previously had their own real-life variety show. Deciding to make them regress to Muppet Babies was an idea that was conceived in one of their live action films and remains way cooler looking ’til this day.

The comparison can be seen in the short sequence of The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984) when we first see the Muppets when they were babies. Using actual puppetry and effects, I always find this part of the film the most fascinating, and much more vivd and surreal than the animated show turned out. I’m sure it was cheaper to make an animated show rather than having to use actual puppeteers. The live action Muppet Babies can also be seen in the holiday special, The Muppet Family Christmas.

Aside from their regression to toddler age and their transformation to 2-D animation, Muppet Babies was a huge success. It’s 8 season TV run is highlighted by winning four consecutive Daytime Emmy’s.

As a kid, I loved watching The Muppet Show and Muppet Babies when it hit the airwaves. But, by 1993, Muppet Babies wasn’t even a blip on my radar, but many kids around the world were discovering it for the first time. Although the show ended in 1991, two years later, merch featuring the characters was still being sold, which indicated that the property was still viable with children. During the ’90s the show enjoyed long syndication runs on channels like Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., and Toon Disney among others. Throughout the mega crazes of Batman and Ninja Turtles, Muppet Babies stuck around for a while. The Muppets Babies had McDonald’s tie-ins and comic books as well as a slew of other collectibles.

In 1993, a coloring book called The Muppet Babies Visit The 50 States was released. It depicted all the Muppet Babies – each in different states across America. You can read more about this coloring book via this link at the Muppet Wiki. By far the most awesome entry is Animal at the top top top top… of the Empire State Building in New York City. Which one was your favorite?