BIZARRE AC Expo 2013 Recap Part 2

Where were we? Snowstorm is looming. I’m just pulling into the Trop. 

If you’re the geek/fanboy type like me and you’ve never been to the Tropicana in Atlantic City, there’s one thing that will strike you about it. Their parking garage is almost a replica of the one you see in The Dark Knight where Batman utters the greatest line in movie history “I’M NOT WEARING HOCKEY PADS.”

There’s never a time when I’m entering the Trop that I don’t pretend that I’m Batman in the Batmobile Tumbler navigating the wild mouse roller coaster-like turns and insanely steep inclines of that parking garage. It’s like a ride in itself. It’s also one of the more inviting garages in all of Atlantic City, because each and every one of them is abysmal. Bringing yourself to a near heart attack, getting rear ended, and not understanding the signage are constant possibilities in A.C’s parking garages. At least at the Trop you can pretend to have a run-in with Scarecrow and his goons.

bizarreACxmasAside from the nasty accident I passed earlier, things were going strangely smooth. I even found a parking spot about 20 feet from the elevator to the casino. This translates to “I was meant to go to this thing.”

Once inside the casino, it did seem a bit light on people. Is online gambling in NJ taking away from attendance? It’s possible, or it was just the shitty winter weather putting a damper on people’s weekends.

The setting of the Bizarre Expo provided a refreshing change compared to the other conventions that we’re accustomed to. Holding the event at a casino adds a bit of glitz to what’s usually just a bunch of people standing around a hotel lobby or convention room when you really think about it. Chiller and Monster Mania, I love you guys, but the hotel setting is limited and does grow a bit stale. There comes a time after 20 years of a convention that it needs to graduate to the next level of facilities. Bizarre skipped a grade. If only it went to school in the Spring time.

What’s cool about having the expo at the Trop, is that you’re right on the boardwalk looking out at the freezing Atlantic Ocean. Since it was bitter cold, walking on the boardwalk is an activity reserved for those of us on shrooms, people who like running, and those who don’t mind a little hypothermia now and again. Here you have the option to gamble, or you can get really drunk and then walk through two big horror convention rooms as well as a movie screening room. I always choose the horror option.

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After I got situated and registered, I made my way into the first large convention room. This room housed the aptly named Bizarre Bazaar. As soon as I walked in I noticed the “look” of the event. Something about the whole space just looked cool. It’s hard to describe, but it’s possible that it was the lighting. It definitely gave the impression that it was a step above other conventions as far as presentation goes. There weren’t as many merchant/vendor tables crammed into a tiny space in the way we are all too familiar with. This gave them a nice boost since it focused your attention to the tables and the people running them rather than missing stuff in order to navigate through a mob of people.

The Saturday installment of Bizarre had just begun. As the day went on more and more people started filing in. Luckily for me, it wasn’t crowded to the point where you couldn’t walk around comfortably. This is important because I get claustrophobic in crowds. Of course, the promoters of the event probably preferred the floor to be packed with people, but it’s way more frustrating for attendees when it’s like that. I always prefer a larger space that’s less crowded to a smaller space with the same amount of people.

Shannon from Mallrats wouldn’t be too pleased with me since I didn’t have much of an agenda. This was a brand new event and I really wanted to enjoy it and take in the scene. As I strolled around, it was cool to run into a few friends at some of the merchant tables.

Maria from the 2014 Gorgeous and Gory Zombie Pinup Calendar

My buddy Jess Rajs from Gorgeous and Gory was promoting the new 2014 Zombie Pinup Calendar. It’s filled with hot undead women and it’s a perfect gift for the person with a zombie fetish in your life. She firmly believes this one is their best work yet, and coming from a dude who has all of them, I have to agree with her! Check out some of these incredible photos and head over to http://www.gorgeousandgory.com to get your own!

One of the best shops in the whole state is True Jersey. They are proud to be from NJ and all the stuff they sell reflects that. Naturally, I couldn’t walk away without picking up a shirt that I’ve wanted for a long time! Another t-shirt? Really? But, I’ve had this one on my mental wish list for quite a while now. It’s Jersey done in the style of the SEGA logo. Since I was a Master System kid this t-shirt was made for me. Aside from tees and other clothes, True Jersey also offers collectibles, accessories, and housewares.

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I am a sucker for haunted attractions so I stopped by the Fear Factory Haunted House table. This is a newer haunt that I was meaning to get to this Halloween season, but, prior to its opening, it ran into all kinds of roadblocks from the town and it hindered them from having a proper opening season. Then, after talking to the girls from the haunt, I found out that there’s only TWO MORE NIGHTS of their Christmas haunt, Tinsel Town Terror. Not happy about the idea of missing this. Well, I made it to Bizarre A.C, so perhaps there’s a trip to Mays Landing in my near future for some yuletide terror?

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Freaky Deekys horror and geek pillows

Just so you know, skipping the merch tables and going straight for autographs is never a good idea. You’ll definitely miss out on cool stuff. I did manage to buy ONE Christmas gift. I was hoping to get a few more, but funds were diminishing. But, I will say that the $5 dollar margaritas were pretty cost effective.

The horror personalities were out in full force and Bizarre offered the opportunity to hobnob with them without getting shooed away due to crowds. Just a few of the actors I saw signing and chatting with fans included Heather Lagenkamp, Doug Bradley, Kane Hodder, John Kassir, Bill Mosely, Tom Savini, Alex Vincent, Micheal Berryman, former WWE Superstar Gene Snitsky, and Clerks’ Brian O’Halloran.

One of the Q&A sessions was going on as I was walking around the merch tables. This one was called “Being Jason,” and it featured Kane Hodder and Steve Dash answering questions from the audience about their experiences playing Jason in the Friday the 13th films. This was enlightening to several members of the audience who apparently have never seen or read Crystal Lake Memories.

Just before I made my way down the escalator to the 2nd convention room, I ran into our NJ friend Ryan Scott Weber, writer and director of Mary Horror and Sheriff Tom vs. The Zombies. At the moment, Ryan was screening Sheriff Tom and we were shooting the shit about the upcoming third part of the trilogy called Witches Blood. It’s coming out soon so look out for it! I also talked with the Jersey King of No Budget Horror, my pal Armageddon Ed.

After a while, weather apps and text messages kept alerting me to how bad the snow was getting up north. This meant that I had to miss out on the costume contest and some of the other truly Bizarre aspects of the expo and hightail it out of Atlantic City. In various parts of the state there was already 3 or 4 inches of snow. Oddly enough, the South Jersey area and Atlantic City was spared and only got rained on. As I made my way back up the Garden State Parkway, I was baffled because all I hit was rain. Then, sure enough, around exit 100, I abruptly entered Hoth. The rest of the trip home turned into my very own Twilight Zone episode called Nightmare at 15 Miles Per Hour.

Hosting a convention in December runs the risk of inclement weather. The snow definitely had an impact on attendance, but the expo kicked ass. If you didn’t make it, you missed out because the organizers improved upon horror fans gripes of other local conventions and it showed. Hopefully if this becomes and annual thing, the Bizarre Expo will only get bigger and more enticing next year. You’re going to look back and wish you were at the first one because you know how many jackasses (myself included) will be bragging about how “I was at the FIRST Bizarre Expo man!” 

BIZARRE A.C EXPO 2013 Recap Part 1

There’s an awesome vibe during Christmas time, there’s no question about that. The only thing that could make it better is if Halloween was also in December. Obviously that’s never going to happen (unless someone makes a Facebook page), but the kickoff of a brand new horror convention in Atlantic City is a damn good alternative in the mean time. For those of you who were unable to make it to the BIZARRE A.C EXPO, let me tell you all about it. You want the long winded version or the unfulfilling, super quick version? Just like you might feel like you’ve been swindled after you lose a ton of money in A.C, I could never screw you out of an elaborate, overly detailed account of my trip to the first ever Bizarre Expo.

Just a little point of reference. It will take you 3 1/2 hours to get from the highest point in New Jersey (aptly named High Point) to the lowest (Cape May.) To me, that’s not really that long considering it could take you about 5 1/2 hours to drive across the entire state of Pennsylvania. In sum, I consider myself lucky because even though Atlantic City isn’t in my backyard, it’s still close enough that Miss Sexy Armpit and I sometimes head there a few times per month. Ironically, if there was a Sexy Armpit trading card, gambling would not be an ability listed in my character description on the back. Fortunately, there’s a lot of cool stuff to do down in A.C beyond making deposits.

First, I consider the drive an integral part of my trips there. Often, the ride down the Garden State Parkway is a highlight of the excursion for me. I enjoy driving, especially when the destination isn’t work. I also love playing my music, bullshitting about nonsense, and guzzling a Monster or something caffeinated that will send me soaring way too early and crash before midnight. I need to stop doing that.

This time I rolled out early to make sure I was there roughly on time. We had an impending snowstorm on the way and I didn’t want to get stuck in it. Was it stupid of me to even attempt the drive to A.C with the threat of anywhere from 2 – 6 inches of snow? Probably, but to those who know me, I’m pretty much known for doing ridiculous things.

It was smooth sailing for the first 20 minutes. Some people enjoy actually sailing, like on water. Me, I prefer roads. Where we’re going there always has to be roads. I prefer driving over every other form of transportation.

I had my Christmas tunes on and I got into my zone. It’s possible I was in the actual danger zone, but I’m not 100% sure. Moments later, I confirmed that it was indeed the danger zone when I began to see all the cars ahead of me come to a complete stop. I knew there must’ve been an accident. As I passed the scene, there was literally 3 fire trucks, multiple other safety vehicles, and at least 4 police cars. What I saw wasn’t pretty.

There was a fancy black BMW with black rims crunched up into oblivion upside down and facing the opposite way of traffic. I immediately knew that whoever was in the car has to be dead or very seriously injured. This seemed so eerie considering the nature of the recent auto related death of actor Paul Walker. There’s been many times that I’ve driven passed an accident and never thought a thing of it afterward. This time, I took to Google to check it out, and an article on NJ.com proved to be surreal. It confirmed that the driver was killed. I reassured myself that it was Saturday the 14th, not the day prior.

I bet you you’re saying “Wow, I wasn’t expecting this post to become such a downer.” But, you like reality TV, no? It will get better, trust me. Just take this moment to remember how good you have it. You always hear that life is short, and for this unfortunate person, he won’t be seeing his family or loved ones for the holidays. So make the rest of this month count and spend as much time with your family as you can.

After exiting the danger zone I veered into the introspection zone as I quite often do while driving. Next thing I knew, I was on the Atlantic City Expressway and headed to the Tropicana. To summarize, I didn’t see a lot of people on the Parkway nor on the A.C Expressway. For a Saturday this was strange, but it was still before noon. And the snow was apparently still a thing.

WILL I MAKE IT TO THE TROPICANA FOR THE BIZARRE A.C EXPO? COME BACK TOMORROW TO FIND OUT! SAME SEXY ARMPIT BLOG SAME SEXYARMPIT DOT COM!!!

New Jersey’s Great Pop Culture Moments Vol.65: Family Ties – The Keatons DO A.C!

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“Look at this Dad, fortunes won and lost, hearts broken, lives ruined, 
free drinks…this is what America is all about!” – Alex P. Keaton

The Keaton’s trip to Atlantic City didn’t quite reach the levels of hilarity that The Griswald’s Vegas Vacation did, but this trip took place 13 years before that and still it was still a lot of fun.

I watched Family Ties religiously as a kid and now I’m getting a chance to view some of my favorites all over again thanks to Netflix who offers every season streaming. Let’s look back at Family Ties Season 3 opener “The Gambler” that originally aired on September 20th, 1984. The episode saw The Keaton family make their way from Ohio to Atlantic City in order for Elyse to give a speech at an architect’s convention. Elyse’s speech gets tossed aside when a new she gets caught up in a new past time.

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Alex has developed a new gambling system called “The Alex Keaton Blackjack System” and he claims it’s “the work of a genius.” He’s pushing his parents to use the system (which he printed out in little booklets for them) at the tables once they get to the casino. Stuffy Elyse has no interest in gambling and she even tells her husband Steven that gambling is like throwing money away.

Elyse was more interested in the tourist aspect of Atlantic City rather than the abundant gambling opportunities. She explained to Alex that A.C is “the most exciting place on the east coast. It’s so rich in history, the old hotels, the beaches, the boardwalk.” “Gambling, mom don’t forget gambling!” Alex replied.

They get down to the hotel and Alex finally convinces his mom to go down to the casino and take a shot at some blackjack. Before they head down, Jennifer asks if they can order some room service. What was odd about the writing in this part of the episode is that although Elyse tells Mallory that maybe they will all get tickets to go see Tom Jones, right afterward she tells Jennifer that she can’t order room service because it’s too expensive. Was Elyse already beginning her descent into the dark underbelly of America’s Playground? The blonde bleeding heart mom was refusing her youngest (at that point) and hungriest child a meal, but she was all geared up to shell out wads of cash for Tom Jones? Where were her priorities? “What’s New Pussycast” or “What’s Wrong With My Malnourished Child?” It didn’t take long until the flashy and vibrant allure of Atlantic City broke Elyse’s will. Once she started winning she grew mystified. She was overcome by temptation and she kept winning. How could she quit now?

One of the reasons that I appreciated Family Ties was because its humor was smarter than many other shows of its time. It was amusing to see Elyse develop into a degenerate gambler because she is the last character you’d expect that to happen to. The fact that her son egged her on with a full methodized gambling plan laid out for her was quintessential Alex Keaton. At one point during Elyse’s blackjack binge, she tells Steven that she wants to move down to A.C and the kids can go to school “right here in the casino.” “They can learn the 3 R’s reading, writing and roulette!” Steven added sarcastically. Ah that’s good shit. They don’t make shows like this anymore. As much as I loved the humor in the show, naturally, the resolution was cheesy, as most sitcoms were back then. Ultimately, Elyse wins back all the money she wound up losing (and then some) and decides to give it to a midnight Church mission.

“OK, OK, let’s not panic here. I don’t think any pledge made at 3:30 in the morning 
is legally binding in the state of New Jersey…” – Alex P. Keaton

While the episode focused on what became a serious gambling addiction, Atlantic City has risen from some dark times and emerged as a much more family friendly trip than Las Vegas. If your young kids really want to complete their collection of cards advertising strip clubs or coupons for escort services, just bring ’em to Vegas! The streets aren’t littered with them! Of course I’m being facetious, but you won’t see any of that stuff on the A.C boardwalk or outside of its casinos. There may be a lot of weirdos on the A.C boardwalk, but that’s typical of most boardwalks worth walking.

Jersey girls should heed this episode as a warning. I know so many of you have this overwhelming desire to go to AC and gamble. Take it from Elyse Keaton and cash out while you are ahead so you can feed your starving children.

*Trivia Alert – In this episode, Elyse sticks Mallory with the task of presenting her speech. Later, Mallory comes back with a woman from the convention who has a question for Elyse about the relative advantages of wind power over solar power. That line hit me because it sounded like some kind of weird premonition on the part of the writers. Atlantic City opened the first coastal wind farm in the U.S about 20 years later in 2005 consisting of five huge wind turbines. WEIRD RIGHT?

NJ T-Shirt Tuesday 11: Atlantic City

Let’s take a look at 3 different Atlantic City shirts for this weeks installment of NJ T-Shirt Tuesday. It’s being said that Atlantic City is hurting and people aren’t gambling as much due to the economy, but every time I’m down there it doesn’t look that way to me! The casino’s are typically jam packed, especially on the weekend or when there’s a great concert going on at The Borgata. If you don’t believe me, jump on the parkway and head down there yourself!

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The first shirt I found is a vintage ’70s black T-shirt that says “Atlantic City Board Walk Where the Stars Come Out.” It looks as if it was sold in one of those cheesy stores on the boardwalk that sells a bunch of crap and uses a hermit crab display as it’s way to sucker you into the store. Ahh, the Jersey Shore…classy. This one is available at Bonanzle. Oh, and don’t bother looking for the stars that supposedly come out to the A.C Boardwalk because no celebrity in their right mind would be roaming around the boardwalk, they’d be playing craps or in the lush suites at Harrah’s and The Borgata.

The next 2 offerings come from Retro Duck. I was pleased to see the unique designs on these old school decals as well as the various styles of shirts you can choose from.

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The orange long sleeve tee matched with this sunny A.C decal. Available here.

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The A.C Monkey is smokin’, drinkin’ and chillin’ and is available here.
RetroDuck has some cool designs for sure, but the unfortunate part about their site is that most of their shirt are created with custom ironed on decals. If you’re a t-shirt connoisseur like me, I’m sure you know all about the inevitable fate of these decals after several washings. Even with proper care and air drying, these babies are bound to deteriorate, but the decal is part of the appeal. I give credit to Retro Duck for selling these obscure vintage looking A.C shirts!

The Sopranos Slot Machines!

One would think that The Sopranos slot machines would be a mandatory fixture at ALL of the Atlantic City casinos, right? Actually we’ve got everything from Star Wars and Elvis to Deal or No Deal and Playboy in A.C, but finding a Sopranos slot machine is about as likely as finding Paulie and Christopher when they were lost in the Pine Barrens. It was exciting to finally see these elusive slot machines over 2,000 miles away from Atlantic City…in Las Vegas! Doesn’t make much sense does it? I thought The Sopranos had a fierce sense of loyalty? I hope the Sopranos slots become more prevalent in Jersey. But if the cliche is true, then they’ll probably “stay in Vegas.” Check out some footage I shot of The Sopranos Slot Machines:

A Sexy Armpit Excursion to Las Vegas

The Sexy Armpit is heading to Las Vegas! I can’t say I’ll be rolling up in sweet rides like Nick Papagiorgio did, but don’t worry…I’ll be swingin’ with some of that Sexy Armpit style. You’ll have a full report when I get back. If I can get resonable or FREE wi-fi somehwere then you’ll hear from me sooner than later! Remind me to double down on 11…lol.

Star Wars Slot Machines!

not too long ago…in a Borgata not far away….
STAR WARS SLOT MACHINES!!!! Yes, they are here and they are freakin’ awesome. They play clips from the film and there is a BONUS round where the death star spins around and you get extra credits. Neat-O. You should all go down to A.C just to play. You get to shoot some stormtroopers also…who can pass that up? Those shmucks are always getting gunned down. You gotta feel bad for ’em.