PURPLE STUFF PODCAST EPISODE 41: SHARKSTRAVAGANZA!

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It’s officially summertime, so let’s make the best of it. For those of us yearning for those gloomy Autumn days spent watching horror movies and crisp moonlit nights waiting on line for a really bad haunted hayride, we do have minimal opportunities to capitalize on certain scares that summer actually provides. One of the most terrifying aspects of the summer is the possibility of a shark attack if you happen to go in the ocean. I easily dodge that risk by skipping the middleman and just watch JAWS and call it a day.

Aside from the most famous onscreen appearance of a shark in history, there’s so many more instances of Sharks in pop culture. On the latest episode of The Purple Stuff Podcast, Matt and I bring up all of that whacked out shark stuff! Our mutual fondness for sharks lead us to talk about their pop culture counterparts for a whole hour. As always, we’ve got some outstanding nostalgic choices as well as a few modern ones! It will fill the void as we approach the best time of the year.

We’ve been away for a bit, but we’re excited to be back! If you haven’t subscribed yet, you can do so through iTunes, Stitcher, and Podbean. Please leave us some stars and tell your like-minded friends that you listen to a podcast that they will dig! We can’t thank you enough for all the amazing feedback you’ve given us…it’s truly appreciated.

*You’ll definitely be familiar with the majority of our selections , but feel free to leave us some of your shark picks in the comments that didn’t get mentioned on the show! I’m sure I’ll get threats for not mentioning King Shark, but there’s always a sequel.

Finding My Center in Mall Meanderings and Air Surfing

Remember that scene in Batman Returns when Batman and The Penguin both tell each other that “Things change?” It’s simple dialogue, but I always loved it because it applies to so many aspects of life. Yes, I quote Batman movies like they’re Shakespeare. To Bat or not to Bat, that’s never a question because he’s universally appropriate.

Recently I went to a comic show at Great Adventure. I had heard that the crew who produces the Garden State Comic Fest touted comics, artists, toys, cosplayers and more at their first ever theme park comic-fest. They already had me at roller coasters, but had me speeding down the Turnpike with “oh, and by the way, did we mention that we’ve got a comic show?” That’s quite enough deal sweetening, you don’t even have to twist my arm.

As I’ve mentioned here pretty often, Great Adventure is one of my most favorite and nostalgic places to be in the entire state. I’ve been a season pass holder since as long as I can remember and I simply enjoy the hell out of being there. Going for a mini comic con was a double-whammy.

After waiting on the long security line, I headed straight for the comic show. I didn’t want to sell it short, but hell, I wanted to get on some rides! The comic show took up only a few small tents near the Joker ride. I noticed John Wesley Shipp, TV’s Flash from the ‘90s, was signing autographs and taking pics with fans. Good for him enjoying his CW resurgence. That’s bucket list shit right there: Personal appearance at one of the world’s largest theme parks (conveniently located in Jackson Township next to Dracula’s Domain!)

Considering the comic cons I’ve been to, this was low-key in comparison. Although the Flash was there to amp it up, to casual theme park goers this was probably a really cool event to unexpectedly happen upon. I didn’t spend any money at the comic show although literally seconds after I left the tent, something caught my eye.

I made a purchase at the concession stand and shockingly, it wasn’t a Churro. There was a sign advertising this awesome Batman figural popcorn bucket. Yes folks, I bought a Batman popcorn bucket that I will most likely never put popcorn in, let alone anything else for that matter, but this is the kind of junk that I live for. It came with a separate bag of popcorn which I gave to my friend Bob to snack on as he was running his Glowmania table at the comic show. This is the kind of thing that’s exclusive to Six Flags so I plunked down my money.

Although the comic fest didn’t blow me away, this GA trip came at a good time. When real life stuff happens, it’s a perfect place to escape to. Most people wouldn’t consider this paradise. There’s no beach, but they do have Hurricane Harbor. There’s often long lines and massive amounts of people aimlessly wandering with no f’n clue where they’re going. But the coasters on the other hand, the roller coasters are therapy for me. I really mean that. Some people like to talk to a therapist, I prefer to work out any stress or worries by riding thrilling high speed loops and corkscrews. I don’t surf, but I do from a certain point of view, I sit in a coaster car and surf through the air. There’s something special about slicing through the air with your arms up and floating in your seat, not expending any energy whatsoever. Maybe it’s the lazy man’s surfing, I don’t know. One thing is for sure, it puts things in perspective.

All of life’s speed bumps and road blocks seem minuscule when you willfully strap yourself into the craziest rides in the entire state. You’re volunteering to be whipped around and thrown upside down in furious fashion. When the ride is over, the brakes are abruptly applied just as if you’re driving fast and you halt for a red light that seemingly appeared out of nowhere. In most cases, this is a cue to vomit your brains out, and some people do. In fact, as an example, just as I was about to hop into my seat on Nitro, the ride had to stop and be hosed down because someone lost their lunch. Talk about clearing their mind, they could start with a clean slate for the rest of the day. Personally, these rides don’t effect me like that, they actually bring me calmness. After putting my body and brain through over a minute of complete and utter chaos, the momentary serenity restores my balance.

Aside from the therapeutic power of thrill rides, I was also unwittingly jettisoned back in time. I wish I could say I hitched a ride on a DeLorean, but this was more of a memory trigger.

One of the grabbers for me at Great Adventure was always their licensing of DC Comics characters. For me, The Justice League/Super Friends were never a passing fancy. As a baby, I had DC characters in my crib. There were times throughout the years that I feared Six Flags would distance themselves from DC altogether. Thankfully, with the superhero craze, it’s quite the opposite nowadays. The Justice League characters and their respective rogues gallery appear all over the park. For instance, Batman, The Joker, Harley Quinn, Green Lantern, Bizarro, and Superman, all have their own rides. Some of the characters even show up in costume to take photos with park goers. Shit, even the Six Flags fast pass is referred to as The Flash Pass, yet another reason why this is one of my happy places.

Six Flags’ affiliation with Warner Brothers also boasts the liberal use of the Looney Tunes characters as well. This isn’t marketing 101, but stick with me, I’m actually leading up to something here.

I’ve long felt that the shops at Great Adventure are the closest thing we’ll ever get to a modern day Warner Brothers Store. The WB Store in the mall was always on my short list of places to stop at when I was a mallrat. And yes, well before it was a movie, I was an actual mallrat. My friend E and I used to basically live at the mall every weekend for a few years in high school before I started working at the local movie theater.

I don’t regret any of those wasted days at the mall. We’d get there at noon on Saturday and leave at 5. We’d sit on the benches by the fountains and trade Marvel cards that we bought. Afterward, we’d set up shop in the back of Burger King and inevitably always ran into a handful of people we knew. E would get free food because the girl that worked there had a thing for him, even though he was hung up on someone else. After Whoppers and Dr. Pepper mixed with 7 other sodas, we would literally sit there and bullshit for an hour. Miraculously, we didn’t have cell phones to pick up and look at every 2 seconds either.

After leaving Suncoast or The Game Room, we’d simultaneously launch into the geekiest disagreements and the deepest conversations about Star Wars at a time when it was super uncool. It was the dark times – way before the prequels. We were completely focused on debating details of Yoda’s origins and what brand of salsa pairs most perfectly with A New Hope for our Intergalactic Nacho extravaganza later.

I could literally write 6 pages solely about all the nothing that we did during those days. My Dad and Uncle used to tell me the craziest stories about the over the top hijinks they would get themselves into as teenagers. In comparison, me buying the ultra cool, brand new Wizard magazine and a cherry ICEE was about as extreme as things got during that period of time. We once spent 2 hours in the aisles of B. Dalton while E read Jack Kerouac and I read an Elvira young adult novel. Calling back to Batman Returns, do things really change all that much? Maybe just the backdrop. For a fleeting moment, I was in a store that reminded me of those times in the mall, and the memories rushed back into my mind.

We’d stay up late in the summer, walk around the neighborhood with our friends, make multiple stops at 7-11 for snacks, play SNES, Nightmare or HeroQuest, watch horror movies and then fall asleep at whosever house we were at. It was unbeatable. As an adult, I can live pretty much that exact same life, but it winds up paling in comparison because it’s missing some key elements. Sorta like when Gary and Wyatt forgot to hook up the doll in Weird Science.

In this scenario, one of the key elements missing is the actual mall. The mall I described earlier that was basically our headquarters for a long time has changed, and not for the better. Amongst stores like Heroes World, Suncoast Motion Picture Company, The Game Room, Sam Goody, and B. Dalton, was the Warner Brothers Store. The WB Store was a mainstay for us. There was NEVER a time we didn’t stop in to lust after their DC Comics knick-knacks on display. I still own a large cross-section of inventory from that store and I’m happy I do. So much of the merch they sold was exclusive to WB Stores. Thinking back, I always bought their large sized action figures that you couldn’t find anywhere else. Cut to present day, I still buy giant sized action figures of Batman called Big-Figs. Things do not change.

E and I would hover around in awe of their commemorative animation cels that we couldn’t afford, but pretended we could anyway. One time the older, professionally dressed salesperson got into a conversation with us about which pieces we were interested in and what our price range was. We had to slink away after swearing that we were just browsing before they roped us into a $350 dollar Road Runner animation cel.

The WB Store was also good for some exclusive t-shirts, plush toys, books, mugs, and statues…yeah statues! I type this sitting a foot away from a 24″ silver age Batman statue that I only dreamed of owning back when we thought it must have merely been a larger than life store decoration. It never seemed like it was actually for sale, and even if it was, it never sold because it was probably way too expensive. Years later, thanks to the wonders of the Internet, I own it, an actual piece of the Warner Brothers store. Oh, and an enormous Gossamer statue too!

As I eased back into the present day, I was standing in a shop in Great Adventure. It wasn’t a shocking revelation to call it virtually the modern day version of the old WB Store. I’ve mentioned this here on the site before, but my last few visits here have been so nostalgic that I almost felt like they should just call it what it is: The WB Store at Six Flags Great Adventure.

When you first walk into the park, two or three stores are connected and basically make one huge mega store. This is very similar to how shops are linked together in Disney World. In this case, you walk through the Looney Tunes section and then the DC Comics section. I stop into these stores every time I go to the park, but this time I literally spent 45 minutes because there was so much new crap to look at. As I browsed around, much like the WB Store before it, it’s safe to say more than half of all the merch was exclusive to Six Flags and Great Adventure specifically.

In previous posts, I’ve mentioned that the Hall of Justice shop was the pinnacle of stores in the entire park, and for DC Comics fans, it truly IS. Unfortunately, there’s been a bit of a misstep. Things are changing. The shop has lost so much of it’s personality since they decided to change its name to the…Gotham City Gift Shop? Are you f*cking serious bro? WTF! The name change obviously capitalizes on its proximity in the park to Batman: the Ride and The Dark Knight Coaster, but with the build up to the Justice League movie looming, the Hall of Justice is the most appropriate name for the shop, no question. On top of that, the OG storefront was faintly designed in the spirit of the actual Hall of Justice in the comics. Six Flags can try to justify the change in various ways, but there’s no better time in the history of Great Adventure to have a shop inspired by the headquarters of DC’s iconic Superhero Team. Now dropping a Roman Reigns quote on you: “Believe that!”

I picked up a Green Lantern hat on sale for 9 bucks. Sexy Armpit color scheme. Also added to the cart, the exclusive Batmobile print.

Just as a brief downpour began, I hopped in my car and headed for the Turnpike. On the way home I stopped in at Wawa. I rarely get their fancy pre-made iced drinks, but not because they aren’t delicious, more because they are filled with so much sugar. I felt pretty good about things at that moment. As I flipped through the touch screen options, I came across an iced mint creme drink. I know mint isn’t a flavor that everyone digs, but it’s probably my favorite flavor of ice cream or iced beverages. I was pleased with my decision and I loved it. I inhaled it about 2 minutes after buying it. It was refreshing and a cool way to cap off the trip. Treat Yo’ self!

On a trip to Great Adventure I would’ve never expected to get a rush of fond memories about the Warner Brothers store and summer days in the mall. Did I use this post to reminisce? Sure I did, but it was all legit. The ironic part is that I don’t even want to step foot into a mall nowadays, so in that respect, things have absolutely changed.

Since so many malls have lost their luster over the years, If you’re even remotely in the vicinity of Great Adventure this summer, I recommend escaping there for some thrills. It’s a blast, a diversion, and a therapy session all in one. Plus, they have the closest thing we may ever get to another Warner Brothers Store, and that’s one hell of an endorsement if you ask me.

PURPLE STUFF PODCAST EP.37: SNOW DAYS!

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Let us help you banish the winter blues away with a NEW episode of The Purple Stuff Podcast!

In the latest installment, Matt and I get a snow day. As kids, snow days would entail getting bundled up, playing in the snow, throwing snowballs, making snow angels, building forts and coming in freezing with wet socks. Then after all that nonsense, it was time for hot chocolate and movies or cartoons. Those were the best kinds of days. Then you’d spend the rest of the night with your fingers crossed that a call would come in that you didn’t have school the next day. Hearing that news was the ultimate victory because that meant you could stay up late and plan an unexpectedly awesome evening for yourself. The world was your oyster.

Adult snow days aren’t as fun. Shoveling, risking car accidents, and having to work from home are just some of the pitfalls of an adult snow day. But it doesn’t have to go down like that!

Join us for the Purple Stuff Episode 37 where we recall our snowy memories. It’s a wintry mix incorporating anecdotes, songs, and toys. Hope you enjoy it and if you feel like leaving some comments about your own snowy memories or favorite wintry things that would be awesome.

Thanks for reading and listening!

 

Purple Stuff Podcast Episode 26: Not Your Average Scares!

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We’ve turned the corner folks. Now that we’re halfway to HALLOWEEN, it’s time to start teasing ourselves with little tastes of that sweet, sweet candy corn. On the new episode of The Purple Stuff Podcast, we do something that’s, well…halfway Halloweeny! Let me tell you more.

An outright Imperial March toward Halloween ain’t gonna happen for a few more months, but there’s no reason we can’t temporarily bask in the spooks and chills of Halloween in the off season. You know you want it.

With all the incredible stuff that is getting released, this episode pairs so well with this moment in time. Think about it. Ghostbusters is back in a big way, on toy shelves, in liquid Ecto Cooler form, marshmallow form, and in the theaters soon. And I can’t forget Mountain Dew Pitch Black which made its way back into our mouths, in not only cans and bottles, but Slurpees again! We’re in a bona fide nostalgic renaissance, and Matt and I are going to talk through it the entire time on The Purple Stuff like annoying jerks in the back of a movie theater.

The premise of this show is to spotlight things that are unexpectedly nightmarish. We’ve dubbed this episode, “Not Your Average Scares,” and it’s a full tank of nightmare fuel. Not to spoil it too much, but you’ll hear about pulse pounded phone calls, eerily loud tones, puppets, dummies, and blue people. Is that not the best sales pitch ever? Shit, I recorded this show with Matt and I want to to listen to it now!

If you’re a Halloween freak like we are, this show will give you that extra jolt that you’ll need to survive until we find ourselves on the true trail to Halloween. We hope you enjoy this one. Only 174 days to go!

*An ENORMOUS thank you to everyone who has made doing The Purple Stuff Podcast worthwhile. Many of you have been respective readers and viewers of both Matt and my exploits through the years and we really appreciate you listening and subscribing.

Purple Stuff Podcast Episode 18: Pop Culture Mascots!

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LISTEN TO EPISODE 18 HERE!

For some people, pop culture mascots are as close to us as family members. Think about it. You may have sat at your kitchen table next to a cardboard box with that Cheerios honeybee on it half the mornings of your life. You sure as hell remember watching about a thousand commercials where the Kool-Aid Man crashed through some wall and made you want to submerge yourself in that delicious beverage. Maybe you had a special place in your heart for the Hamburgular? No matter what product or food item it was, you likely have memories and attachments for some of their brand mascots.

Some of those mascot memories that you have might be buried. Matt from Dinosaur Dracula and I are here this week on the Purple Stuff Podcast to bring those memories to the surface as we discuss a select group of mascots that we fondly remember. These choices are all ones that we feel positive about, but you may recall when Matt shared his irrational fear of the Scrubbing Bubbles characters. That is a perfect example of how these brands plant little seeds in our heads. From my perspective, it’s fairly easy to get me to buy your product. As long as the mascot is female with neon colored hair or on the other end of the spectrum, something that is haunting or creepy looking, I’m way more apt to buy in to the product. Either way, they all conjure up varying opinions and anecdotes, which is definitely the case in Episode 18 of the PSP.

The mascots we bring to the table on tonight’s Purple Stuff may not be your favorites, but they are just as notable for various reasons. For instance, why bring up the Trix Rabbit when we could discuss a friendly Dinosaur made of artificial cheese? Or a cute, pink-haired spy who was “fired” for appearing in too many sexual situations in Google Image Searches? These are the ones that needed to be discussed, and we did just that! In the comments, let us know some of your favorite mascots of pop culture.

If you haven’t checked out the Purple Stuff yet, what are you waiting for? The episodes are all available via iTunes, Podbean, and Stitcher!

Purple Stuff Podcast Episode 15: Board Game Memories

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Growing up in the ’80s, board games were in a huge boom period. A game like Life or Pictionary was required to be available in your home in case any guests wanted to take part in some wacky, competitive diversions. Although Travel Boggle and Tiddly Winks are NOT mentioned in the latest episode of The Purple Stuff Podcast, Matt and I do go back in time digging into our memory banks to discuss some of our own board game memories!

While I love Monopoly and Scrabble as much as the next person, I was more into games like Candy Land and Memory. I was a simple kid and anything to intricate or in-depth was an immediate turn off for me. I liked not being too committed to games that made you read intense directions comprised of IKEA-like diagrams with fonts the size of The Atom. Some games took forever to complete, while others were nonchalantly breezed through, providing just the right amount of mild, temporary entertainment. I prefer the latter.

In the episode, Matt brings up some of his favorite games, including the cult-favorite, Fireball Island. You’ll notice a pattern in Matt’s picks since most of them can double as action figure playsets! My choices weren’t nearly as cohesive with each other, aside from the fact that they all helped to uncover some deep seeded revelations for me, as suppressed animosity from a couple of games rose to the surface. It sounds way more serious than it really is, because I actually just wound up ragging on a few games that used to annoy me. Listen to the show to hear all of our selections!

Thanks for stopping by! I know you have some favorite board games from when you were a kid, so tell us some of them in the comments!

Purple Stuff Podcast Episode 14: Snacks We Want Back!

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Now that the Halloween Season is over for most, (I refuse to accept that) we are back to bring you another nostalgic podcast this week! Unfortunately, there are no ghosts and goblins to be discussed this week, but to ease the pain, we have some old chips, soda, and ice cream for you as we talk about Snacks That We Want Back!
Yes, Matt from Dinosaur Dracula and I have switched gears into a territory that we both know a lot about: OLD SNACKS. I can’t describe to you how much time I’ve spent in my life pining over discontinued junk food, so this show allows us to discuss some of those that have had me desperately dreaming their comeback for many years. And you sure as hell already know that Matt has spent the majority of his life curating old junk food so this is quite a discussion as you can imagine. We talk about the how the country fell in completely in love with Potato Skins which lead to them being turned into their own chips, Ghostbusters getting it’s own ice cream tie-in, and a certain beloved clear soda that might actually be making a comeback. It’s a kick-ass show that will jog your memory into looking back on some of the crap that you ingested while fermenting on your couch watching TV as a kid.

What are some of your favorite snacks from when you were a kid that aren’t around anymore? Let us know in the comments!

If you haven’t subscribed to the podcast, you can do so at iTunes, Podbean, and Stitcher! If you dig what you hear, please leave some positive feedback for us on iTunes! Thanks for listening and supporting the show! Stay tuned for more here at the Sexy Armpit very soon as I slowly get my ass back into gear!

The Columbus Chronicle: Part Two

Where were we? Oh yes, we were driving up the New Jersey Turnpike after the Monster Mania convention and decided to make a little detour…

With the record breaking cold temperatures here in New Jersey, reminiscing on one of our warm weather adventures is comforting. We saved the best for last and did our exterior inspection first. The outdoor portion of the Columbus Flea Market is an endless sea of vendor tables. I may be off by one or two, but there must have been 75,000 vendor tables selling everything from knockoff colognes featuring scents like Sweaty Taint and Phys-ed Funk to multicolored belts, statues, and cheap sunglasses. Naturally, we made it our f’n mission to literally walk through every single aisle as if the tables were the hedge maze and we were The Torrances.

Let’s see how much more I can elaborate on the junk at the outdoor tables. We’re talking cheap motorized toys, belts, gaudy sweaters, faux jewelry, generic brands of laundry detergent, and lots of other weird, totally random shit. And then the handbags. Jeezus, ladies and their handbags. If guys were girls they would have one handbag, but girls are girls and they have like 12 and they’re always looking for two more, one for that wedding they have to go to and the other because the ones they have just can’t fit everything. I think I just had a heat stroke. Man it was hot out there.

My body does not handle the sun and heat very well, so we made our way inside to see what treasures awaited us. As we passed through the entrance, Tears for Fears “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” lightly trickled out of the ancient P.A system like a refreshing mist of cool rain.

“…Nothing ever lasts forever…”

The white tile floors, no longer shiny, coated with a decade of dust, forced my eyes to the storefronts that housed all kinds of bizarre bullshit. To the left, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the neglected vending machines, red, encasing charms that now easily exceed their quarter price due to their age. A dollar at least, by today’s eBay standards. Soda machines had the cooler, early ’90s logos. We were in a blissful wonderland, one of the biggest and oldest flea markets in the state and we were having a blast.

You always know the types of stuff that will set off your nerd alerts, but there are also things there that you’d never expect would excite you. For example, I never thought I’d pop so big for Rebecca’s Soft Pretzels, mostly because I barely ever eat pretzels, unless they’re from WaWa and filled with sweet cream, but their menu signage was so damn gigantic, hanging from the drop ceiling like a cumulonimbus cloud made of toasted almond sprinkles, it was hard not to be enticed. I didn’t wind up getting a pretzel, but for some reason Rebecca’s Pretzel’s stuck out in my head. Probably because it was nestled in an offshoot wing of the flea that might have been some sort of Amish haven, if I recall correctly. But, I might be pulling a Brian Williams here, so don’t hold me to that. #WhoopiePies

The reason I go anywhere is if there’s a possibility of seeing or buying old toys, records, or collectibles, because what else is there in life? We immediately zeroed in on one store in particular. I’m sorry Wicker emporium, tablecloth store, Bologna Kitchen, and bedazzled ladies leisure wear shop, you can all go screw.

That Dracula blow mold!! I vant it.

As we continued exploring the shops, there was one store window that had plush toys and giant stuffed animals that looked as if they were manufactured sometime in 1993. If you’ve seen one knock off Lots-a-Lots-a-Leggggggs you’ve seen them all, but, coincidentally, it was another storefront where Jason Voorhees himself brought our Nikes to a screeching halt. “15% off marked toys,” read a homemade cardboard sign laying underneath Grover and Scooby. Yuuup! It was a collectible shop and we were heading inside in full force.

What did we do next? Dove right into this ginormous mess of CRAP, some call it treasure. In this case, it was like a collector’s neglected musty basement where stuff was thrown in every corner. There was absolutely zero organization and no logic to where items were tossed. Put it this way, if you were a contestant on Finders Keepers and had to find a baseball buried in this store, you’d be completely fucked.

It was impossible to process the magnitude of stuff that was stacked, scattered, hanging, and buried around this shop. Paint the picture in your mind of the following items in complete disarray: old magazines, records, statues, loose toys, playsets, sports memorabilia, autographs, mint in box and carded Star Wars and Wrestling toys, masks, ride-on toys, Cabbage Patch Kids, the list goes on and on. Really, none of it was in the best condition, but if there was one specific item that you were looking for, and they happened to have it, you’d be one happy camper.

This lack of organization was like anarchy. It can cause an unfathomable amount of anxiety to a collector. Seeing so many collectibles in such shambles agitated me a bit, but I also found some charm in all of it at the same time, since it created a stark contrast to one of those cold, museum-like stores with no personality. Here, it seemed more likely that there was something really amazing buried beneath the debris. Would we find it?

I kept gravitating toward a full wall-sized shelf that was packed with tons of random retro relics (how ya like me now?). The shelves were like the walls of the 53rd precinct and were literally bleeding junk out of each compartment. I needed a closer look.

OWNER: “You can’t go back there”

ME: “I’d like to look at something I want to buy.”

OWNER: “Nobody goes back there, you’ll knock everything over.”

This was a 12-15 foot span of wall shelving set behind another span of lower shelving chock full of stuff that the owner would not allow anyone to inspect. After his warning, a middle aged woman complained to me that she had the same issue with him and she didn’t understand why. Things couldn’t really get more messed up in there anyway. My eyes kept locking in on old Munsters and Gremlins stuff. Much of the stuff was still in its original, worn boxes.

Eventually, I pitched gaining access to the store owner again because there was one thing I wanted to look at further, I can’t remember what it was, but at the time it was screaming for my attention.

ME: “Can I please just go back there for a minute? I promise I won’t touch anything or knock anything over.”

Somehow, I must’ve assured him enough that I wouldn’t mess anything up and persuaded him to let me get in there. It was during all this that Matt was having a moment not too dissimilar to the time when Janosz locked eyes with Vigo, except picture Dino Drac and a 1979 12″ Kenner Alien figure. It was broken, of course. Even though the figure was loose, far from mint, and its leg was removed, the owner explained how Matt could fix it. The ludicrous price tag for such a fixer upper was so not worth it. It was so expensive that Matt wasn’t heartbroken when he had to part with it when we left. Now, if the Alien figure came with a homemade crutch and the broken leg had a cast on it with a fake Sigourney Weaver signature on it, I think Matt may have paid the guy double for it. Further down to the rear of the store you can see the $4,000 dollar Watto, he was out of both of our price ranges too.

Being in this store was both amazing and completely underwhelming at the same time. Then the mood became borderline sad. “The whole store is on sale for $50,000,” the store owner told me.

Smirking, I looked at Matt and we tried desperately to decipher if we both really just heard that. The price was a bit preposterous. He didn’t mean 50k for the actual deed to his space in the flea market, nope, just the garbage inside of it.

I decided to ask him the prices on a few things just to see if he was trying to scam customers. A vintage Cher doll was a “Hundred bucks.” She was loose, had messy hair, and didn’t have the original clothes. The high prices seemed to be a recurring theme in there. We didn’t buy anything.

I’m sorry to do this to you. Talk about an Empire Strikes Back ending.

A few months later, the poor old guy who ran the store died of a sudden heart attack at the flea market one day. I couldn’t help but think the guy may have been trying to raise money for his own medical bills, or pay some kind of debt, but who knows? Either way, without knowing the specifics and personal situation of the owner, the message I glean from this whole story is that you can literally become buried in your own stuff, and it can weigh you down and cause anxiety. So, why not open a shop and sell all your shit immediately for 50 grand?

Fast forward to November 2014. News broke that a large portion of the indoor part of the Columbus flea market burned to the ground, well at least the majority of the building did. I was shocked. What’s crazier is that I hadn’t heard about any of this until last week when a friend at work mentioned it. Most people I talk to knew about the fire, but not the owner of the store.

It’s been a few months since the fire, and we’re mere weeks away from the next Monster Mania, so there doesn’t seem to be a more appropriate time to reminisce. Looking back, not jumping right away to post a blog and pictures from this trip was probably for the best. It’s given me the chance now to look back on this place and the quirky memories of the day we spent there.

If you’re a collector or just like to go to weird junk places, they sort of all bleed together in your mind after being to so many of them, but this one definitely stands out, not for the bizarre toy den, but more for the PIZZA. Ahh, see, for a second you thought this post was booked to be the most grim in Sexy Armpit history, but, nope, I have other plans.

You’ve heard the old quote about how all pizza is good pizza, and even bad pizza is good because it’s still pizza, right? Unless we’re talking certain kinds of frozen pizza, that statement always rings true.

Inside the Columbus flea market we sat ourselves down at the stools of a large rectangular bar that served pizza. We were lured into Pete’s Pizza because it smelled amazing and the sign was glorious. Their mascot was like a cross between Little Caesar and Frenchy Martin. It was one of the best pizza places ever. Why? Well, a lot of it had to do with the lady behind the counter being so attentive to us, and of course, the pizza was delicious, but what cemented this honor was their choice of dinnerware. Our pizza was served on Happy 5th Birthday paper plates! This is the only thing that can help you forget about the death, disorder, and fiery madness that you’ve had to endure in this post. Happy 5th Birthday!

The Columbus Chronicle: Part One

I fear that if I described a place as “a time warp,” it wouldn’t be as impactful as it once was. I find myself using the comparison fairly often due to various trips to old dingy antique stores or crappy flea markets that all look like they stopped operating legally in the mid ’80s. These are usually my favorite spots. To me and friends like Dinosaur Dracula it’s become commonplace to find ourselves at a hotel, store, carnival, or Christmas display that has been preserved somewhere in time. Same as it ever was…

There’s opposing ideas at work here. It’s quite astonishing that there’s such a newness to old places we’ve never set foot in that simultaneously feel so familiar, as if we have been there a hundred times.

For us, the thrill has not disappeared.

Often though, the thrill in question doesn’t inject my spirit with enough juice to immediately compel me to memorialize it on my blog, at least until the right time.

Whenever I feel like I’m building up some really decent motivation with a steady pace of blog updates, I get knocked off the ladder. Whether it’s a job situation, an issue with my condo, or just plain physical fatigue, publishing a blog post that summarizes in detail how there’s one line of dialogue in an obscure movie where they mentioned a random town in New Jersey is not even in the top 10 on my to-do list. I certainly wish it could be, but you know how it is sometimes. These occasions seem to pop up more and more as time goes on. In fact, one of them happened last summer.

We visited a really cool place and here I am writing about it 6 months later.

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The aftermath of one of our Monster Mania con trips is the stuff of shame. You may have thought I was gonna go with “the stuff of legend,” but, embarrassment, blurry memories, foul language, obnoxious behavior, late night wandering, later night second wind drinking, surreal elevator rides, absurd verbal exchanges with complete strangers, are much more accurate. All of it builds to an extra long car ride home that seriously makes me contemplate what I’m doing with my life. But, fortunately, we had Tequila.

After a night of nostalgia, chaos, and noise, we (Freddy in Space, Dinosaur Dracula, the ladies, and myself) got very little sleep. At some point in the night, at least a couple of us were involuntarily cemented into the same position we’d been in moments before falling into our little mini comas, some of us with our faces set in that weird about to say something look. It was a sight to behold. It’s like that scene when all the citizens of Oz turned to stone in Return to Oz. It was bleak and somewhat horrifying.

The next morning, we were dragging ass. For some reason, the TV is ALWAYS on and blasting when we wake up, tuned to some poorly produced infomercial for a local car dealership. Once the self loathing surges to record levels, we realized that the sun was out, it was actually a nice day, albeit a few degrees too warm, and blindingly sunny, and that we had to get the fuck out of there as soon as possible.

For the ride home, it was all about the energy drinks and the most random mix of music on my iPod to power us through the drive up the New Jersey Turnpike. “If you wanna go and take a ride wit’ me we three wheelin’ in the fo’ with the green and Dino Drac and Ms. X in the back.”

With the surge of motivation derived from the Red Bulls and 5 Hours that were miraculously keeping our hearts pumping after our Monster con bender, we couldn’t just head home because that would be us tapping out, and defeat was not an option.

It would be an automatic fail if we arrived at home without taking some kind of detour on the way back first. If anything, it breaks up the monotonous drive. And I’m not talking about just rolling into Cracker Barrel with fanny packs engaged, wearing our Zubaz pants either, I said, “Let’s go to one of the most famous flea markets in the entire tri-state area.” I said it exactly like that too, as if I was in a local TV commercial for the place with the owners niece holding a balloon as his Guido cousin touted the 3000+ vendors and the 56 dining options including pretzels and meat sandwiches. “So come down to the Columbus Flea Market, Route 206 in Columbus New Jersey!” That ad probably ran right just before the car dealership infomercial on TV that prompted me to rise like The Undertaker from my temporary departure from consciousness earlier that morning.

In hopes of finding some dumb old toys, we all unanimously opted in for the flea market. After all, nothing cures a hangover quite like dusty old records, military supplies, and crates full of paint-chipped action figures.

Known as one of the oldest and biggest flea markets in the area, The Columbus Flea Market made us feel like we literally entered a time warp. Interest gauge: Piqued. Mood meter: pinned in the red. Who needs to be whisked away to beautiful Waikiki when you can can be abruptly hauled back to a flea market circa 1990? That rhyme scheme was completely unintentional, but pretty slick.

Unfortunately, it’s right at this point where you’re realizing that all this fluff was just a lead-in to Part Two where we’ll delve into one of the “special” shops we stumbled upon during our exploration of the Columbus Flea Market! Come back to read about it tomorrow!

10 Treasures Found at Dollar Store on Atlantic City Boardwalk

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Mysterious isn’t the most appropriate word to describe dollar stores on the Atlantic City boardwalk. Nope. I think the word that best sums them up is “obnoxious.” But, let me take that back, we found one of them on New Years Day and it was sort of magical.

While walking the A.C boardwalk on the brisk, but sunny first day of the year with Dinosaur Dracula, we came across a 99 cent store that Matt said he’d like to stop at. I’m so jaded by these stores that my expectations of its contents were at the aboslute rock bottom. Through my black sunglasses I took one last look around the boardwalk. The sun blasted my face with fire as the blue sky soothed it. I admit, I was dazed for a second, but give me a break, there was some New Years debauchery that I needed to shake off. After a giant seagull stared down at me ominously from atop the adjacent boardwalk Psychic building, I heard him say “What are you looking at, go the frig inside already you weird bastard!”

We ventured in. We made like Miracles and shopped around.

After about 40 minutes of being in the 99 cent zone, I could hear Rod Serling in my mind introduce our own Twilight Zone episode “…To many, what they held in their hands was merely junk, but to these two young Frog Brothers wannabes, it might as well be heaven.” Maybe it was too much Twilight Zone Marathon.

After another good half hour at least, we still had yet to do a complete revolution around the store. We soldiered on and continued for another half hour at least. During a few long stops at some end caps to smell outdated WWE air fresheners, and test out gadgets that would give Randy Peltzer an uncomfortably lengthy Viagra boner, we walked further back into the seemingly never-ending abyss of aisles. At that moment, we thought, “how could there possibly be more?” Then we wound up in the housewares sections, and I use that term loosely. Then into the children’s wear section, and finally ending up in a section dedicated to mid ’80s telephone number organizers. F*ck this was such a great place.

The best way to describe it to you is this: It’s the Vendredi’s Antiques from Friday the 13th The Series, of the Atlantic City Boardwalk dollar store scene. It’s maybe too specific to have its own scene, but I don’t want to limit it to the label of “a good store,” because that would in no way be accurate.

By the way, you can never go there. Not only do I forbid you, but I warn you that it’s not your store to shop in. A mystical energy force field will repel you from it if you ever try to take one step inside of it. It’s mine, all mine dammit! It’s my treasure store, MWAHAHAHA! Well, it’s not all mine really. Dinosaur Dracula discovered it, and yes, I reaped half of the schlockiest, um…most glorious benefits.

It was as if Matt discovered gold and realized he had to split it. Because he’s such a good guy, he didn’t kill me over it in a fittingly Boardwalk Empire-like fashion, but he actually let me get a piece of some of it. Kindness must be a characteristic of the hybrid Reptile-Nosferatu, scientific name, Dinosaurus Draculus. Motherf*ckerus this is fun. I guess just add “us” at the end of the word.

I prefer to believe 99 cent EVERYTHING 99 cent has 100 million items, not 10,000 and it’s possibly the real mecca of the Atlantic City Boardwalk. Don’t get me wrong, Boardwalk Hall is an institution, and the Beatles played there, but can you buy a Skeleton Clicker Licker there? Most certainly not.

Yes, it’s full of outdated, unloved bric-a-brac, chachkies, and doohickies, and all the other more elaborate words my mom used to use when she couldn’t think of the word “junk,” but shopping here will actually save you from losing all your money in A.C. Here’s how: if you gamble the entire time you are “Doing A.C,” then you will surely lose your money, maybe even your home. But, if you opt to shop in 99 Cent Everything 99 Cent, you may only spend a measly $8.74 cents like I did, AND wind up going home with all the luxury items below.

As George Carlin once so eloquently stated, “A house is just a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff.” Stuff is certainly what I don’t need more of. Unless it’s 1985’s “The Stuff,” that I’ll watch all the time. So, I made it a point to be more organized in 2014. I really shit the bed. Here it goes…

10. MY MR. MIDDLE FINGER

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If you know me, you know that it was only a matter of time before I actually owned this beautifully sculpted statue. It’s been a fascination of mine ever since the first time I stepped foot on the boardwalk with Miss Sexy Armpit. For only a dollar, the value was tremendous considering it’s made of pure ivory. In comparison to the classics, I put “My Mr. Middle Finger” (I just named him that) on par with The Thinker or Venus DeMilo. It’s hard to put into words, but this piece of fine art perfectly epitomizes what Jersey is all about.

Next time you have your boss and his wife over for drinks, make sure you keep this displayed as prominent in your home as Darrin McGavin did with his leg lamp. Mark my words, no item you find in Homegoods will ever evoke more style, class, and refined beauty as “My Mr. Middle Finger.” TM yo.

I can’t speak for other boardwalks or shore communities, but if you visit the Atlantic City boardwalk and you feel like buying someone an authentic souvenir and you feel a little bit more generous then picking them up some salt water taffy, this might be THE perfect thing. It’s been a staple of these dollar stores for probably 15 years or more. That makes it not quite as old as the Renaissance period, but it does trace back way longer than the dumb t-shirts you see in those stores that spell out Jersey Shore like this:

JER
SEY
SHO
RE

If there’s a true generation gap, please submit that as prime anecdotal evidence.

9. DENNIS THE MENACE PINBALL GAME

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Dennis the Menace. Damn him and his posssibly mid to late ’80s pinball…and his A.D.D. Fitting that he’s the spokesperson for a pinball machine that makes your head spin cause that little bastard used to make Mr. Wilson’s head spin for sure. You may have never heard about it, but the poor old man died of a massive heart attack. Autopsy report confirmed that his arteries weren’t clogged and he seemed to be in perfect health. You know what that means, right? Dennis killed Mr. Wilson. He literally annoyed the living shit out of him. I suppose that if it keeps him occupied for more than a few minutes, this cheap ass pinball game is worth it. More of a selling point for me is the packaging. If this mint-on-card pinball game ever manned up and f*cked a mid-20s Hot Topic employee, their spawn would be this exquisitely trashy and gorgeous packaging. I think Brutus Beefcake wore the same spandex pant print before he became “The Barber.”

8. BON JOVI CASSETTE SINGLE

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I couldn’t walk the boardwalk and not pick up something for Miss Sexy Armpit. In fact, you get an exclusive, she doesn’t even know about this yet. Since she loves Bon Jovi, I picked her up a cassette single from Bon Jovi. “This Ain’t a Love Song” is a song about his love affair with himself from the discarded album titled “Portrait of a Megalomaniac.” I know, real scathing. Do you really care though? Didn’t think so. I know you want to hear about the Blood Ball key chain. Patience young Padawan!

This cassette single was originally on the shelves of The Wiz – an electronic store which was big in the NJ/NY area. Word at the time was that Nobody could actually beat The Wiz, but they eventually gave up and filed for bankruptcy in 1998. *PC Richards runs a sub-site using The Wiz’ name and logo.

7. TOTALLY ADORABLE DINOSAUR TATTOOS

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MORE TATTOOS! Possibly the most adorable dinos I’ve ever seen. It includes the cutest, most ass backwards Stegosaurus ever and the little scamp at the bottom right. Matt tells me his name might be the good old galactic squidhead “Tailosaurus,” but that really hasn’t been scientifically proven. Either way, I’m through gushing.

6. WOW, ATLANTIC CITY POSTCARD

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This poor guy. 

Who really needs the whole “DO AC” campaign when there’s an entire branding bonanza on the front of this WOW! ATLANTIC CITY postcard? In all the years I spent roaming around the boardwalk in A.C, this is one that passed me right by. I guess I was never an avid “rotating postcard display rotater.” When I saw this one, confusion hit me instantly. Was this a modern post card meant to be ironic? Or was this just a really weird and f*cked up serious post card from an era when every damn thing in the world had its own postcard? When the process of buying and sending a postcard was still an activity people actually involved themselves in. More importantly WHO IS THIS GUY? AND WHY WOW? Even though I missed out on this joke when it first started popping up in stores along the boardwalk, I can still appreciate it. Wow.

5. CLICKER STICKER HALLOWEEN CANDY AND WHISTLE

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Super awesome looking skeleton bashing himself in his skull incessantly AND it’s joyously annoying as hell! At one time in the distant past, this was a blue raspberry candy, now it is completely green and really disgusting looking. How the hell do they actually get away with selling this stuff? The whistle doesn’t work. Oh no, wait, that’s not it. I don’t want to put my mouth on this thing that’s been sitting in a dollar store for 12 years.

4. SHITTY ASS DVDS

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Moon Stalker and Time Chasers DVDs. Low budget late 90s horror and sci-fi. Avid dollar store goers might already know these films, but they are completely new to me. I am familiar with the sub-par DVDs sold cheaply without a plastic snap case, but I’m not familiar with these two who were so sub par that they were produced somewhere deep within the mantle of the earth and outfitted with fancy cardboard sleeves. I can foresee this getting a special enhanced Blu-Ray edition within the next 6-8 months. Who’s bringing the multi-colored popcorn? Even though both of these are most likely to blow chunks, Moon Stalker looks more appealing to me, mainly because of the subtle power of the movie’s log line, “Campfire Stories can be Deadly.” F*CK YEAH THEY CAN!

As I’ve made clear in this post, I often like to come home with, fine, museum quality pieces at bargain basement prices…

3. NUDE FEMALE TORSO SHAKER 

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The beauty of this nude female porcelain torso isn’t the virtuoso sculptor behind this piece, it’s the versatility. You can shake salt OR pepper out of it, or why not combine both into one to save time and cop a feel AT THE SAME TIME! I’m thinking about buying some Red Robin seasoning to fill it up with, then I can instruct house guests to shake my boobs onto their burger if they want. Ah hell, who am I kidding? It would only be a bun.

What’s not really sinking into my mind is the fact that I actually bought this. When I first saw it out of the corner of my eye, I literally thought to myself “WHO THE F*CK WOULD BUY THIS?” Then, of course, I buy the damn thing. But, that’s not even the worst part. People MUST buy this. A lot of people MUST buy this fairly frequently. You can’t buy a nude female torso salt and pepper shaker made of high quality porcelain WITH a bonus stamp indicating that this is authentic from ATLANTIC CITY at just any local store.

Do YOU own one of these? I can’t wrap my head around it. If you are one of “these” people, I need to know who you are. I need to talk to you. Seriously. We need to converse, possibly discussing what size baseball bat you were hit in the head with when you were a kid and you need to give me a very detailed verbal tour of your home.

2. McDONALD’S ERASABLE WHITE BOARD (for the anal retentive Happy Meal kid)

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Getting organized is high on my list of new years resolutions. In fact, it’s on there every year and I never seem to fully succeed at it. I really need to stop buying more stuff, but there is hope. Without a doubt, this McDonald’s dry-erase To-Do list is my only hope. I’m looking for it to be the spiritual shove in the right direction, that performance enhancing drug, that surge of adrenaline that’s gonna catapult my organizational dreams. It even has a spot for a check mark for each day of the week. I don’t really understand how to use this, but I feel it’s an efficiency booster nonetheless.

The fact that the week starts on Sunday makes me want to tear my eyelids off and stomp them. I know technically Sunday is the first day of the week, but Monday is the start of the work week, and this calendar is made to look like the weekend is only one day. Screw that. And screw McDonalds.

1. BLOOD BALL KEYCHAIN

Ohh yes. I say that in the closest I can sound like Paul Bearer as possible. The blood ball is a severed fingertip inside a ball of goo. On a key chain. That is all.

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Now be sure to read about the amazing crap that Dinosaur Dracula put in his treasure basket! From Garfield to Ghostbusters 2, he ran into some serious finds!

Thank you for reading, the soundtrack to this post has been:
“Ooh Heaven is a Place on Earth” by Belinda Carlisle