The Neighbors Nerdfest Number 2: Merry Crap-Mas

 

An instant holiday classic, The Neighbors episode “Merry Crap-Mas,” originally aired on December 5th, 2012. Let’s take a look at some of the best stuff from this yuletide episode.

Contained in this episode is the best Christmas morning scene in television history. You may not believe me right now, but by the end of the post I’ll make a believer out of you.

The story begins at the end of the episode and then we rewind to see how Merry Crap-Mas came to be. The Weavers roll a wheel barrow full of gifts over to their alien neighbors, The Bird-Kersees, because they need to hide the kids gifts in their house in order to for them not to snoop and find them. Remember, the Neighbors are aliens and they are completely unaware of the Christmas traditions. What Larry Bird does know about Christmas is that he feels it’s an “…orgy of commercialism.”

DEBBIE WEAVER:
“Christmas is about family and smiles and the joy of being together, the gifts are just one tiny part of it.”
LARRY BIRD:
“Oh yes, and there’s that fat slovenly burglar you call Santa Claus. Honestly, put on an apron for God’s sake fatso!”

Abby, instructing her parents on her letter to Santa:
“You should probably fax it, it’s getting pretty late.”

“I hated all three of them just now Marty, in that moment I hated all three of our children.” – Debbie Weaver, in reference to her “greedy little monsters”

“Can you remind me again why we want to be alone on an island with these children?” – Marty Weaver

“God what the hell? Is this the constitution? Who makes amendments to a Christmas list?” – Debbie Weaver

After being frustrated by their selfish kids who are all about the presents, The Weavers decide that they want to return all the gifts that they purchased and use the money to take the family on a tropical vacation. They decide on a time share in Hawaii. Marty is excited because this specific time share has that “tushy squirting thing.” Tushy squirting thing FTW.

 

Throwing a wrench into their new plan are The Bird-Kersees. At first, they just gazed at the tower of Christmas presents that were “hidden” in the middle of their house. It was mere moments before they tried to guess what was in all the wrapped boxes. Curiosity got the best of Larry and he started poking and ripping at one of the presents. Larry was overcome with the exhilaration of unwrapping a gift since he’s never done it before. Once he started ripping one open, the whole family joined in and triumphantly started tearing open ALL the gifts without realizing the consequences.

Larry’s sentiments of Christmas went into full reversal. Suddenly his feelings were incredibly positive as if he was Scrooge after encountering all the Christmas Ghosts.

LARRY BIRD:
(about little Abby) “…her teeth keep falling out of her face. What’s gonna fall off next? Her nose?”
DICK BUTKUS:
“Oh Father, I love when you make fun of children!”

The Weaver’s dilemma now is that they can’t return the gifts because the neighbors and all the other aliens in their community are playing with the gifts that the Bird-Kersees tore open with glee. They are inadvertently destroying them, doing insane things like tossing a brand new iPad around like its a Frisbee!

JACKIE JOYNER-KERSEE:
“So, we really screwed your pooch on this one.”
DEBBIE WEAVER:
“Oh Jackie, not only did you screw my pooch but you didn’t call her the next day either.”
LARRY BIRD:
“I admit it, I was wrong about Christmas. It’s a lovely holiday. The things, the trees, the snow…the things.”
DICK BUTKUS:
“Christmas is magical father, magical!”

Larry reveals his adoration for The Muppets:
“Tell you what, let’s watch The Muppets a Christmas Carol again – The Muppets, I like. I can really get down with The Muppets…” followed by his Kermit impression.

*Heard in the episode is Kermit the Frog singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

“I have never been so wrong about anything in my life, I love Christmas.” – Larry Bird

“I’m totally joyous, I have sugar plums in my head…” – Larry Bird

Larry has a change of heart and realizes that The Weavers have been good to him and his family so he sets out to right his wrong and save their Christmas.

 

Larry enlists his son Dick and their mission to rectify the situation is engaged. This entire sequence is so completely haywire and I’m in love with every second of it. Larry and son slow-mo walk to the tune of “Christmas in Hollis.” With this kind of build-up you know shit is about to get real. First stop, Larry takes his son Dick to the strip club…to get some girls to play a role in his master plan. Then they buy some pigs and ride home on their golf cart adorned with a Christmas tree and strippers.

Dumbfounded, the Weavers woke up to see this on Christmas morning:

What a scene it was! Larry Bird went all out to make this day special as indicated by the giant Christmas tree he stole from a car dealership, a Tiki statue, Hula dancers, a Polynesian fire dancer and bongo players, some farm animals, Christmas carolers, and Dick Butkus (remember, the whole family is named after famous American sports icons) as Tiny Tim who even delivers the classic line “God Bless Us Everyone.”

 

After the initial shock of the visual that the Weavers woke up to, Larry Bird waltzes in dressed as the jolly old elf who he was wise cracking about earlier. I think they had all bases covered here. Larry recreated his neighbors would-be Hawaiian vacation and then some. I’d say he more than made up for what he and his family did.

In one of the funniest scenes, Larry opens a yet unopened package to find an Etch-a-Sketch which he mistakes for “the new iPad.” He asks the famous drawing toy, “Siri, did I really ruin their Christmas?” Siri does not respond. Later, after trying to speak to Siri again and growing frustrated, Larry claims that he’s “gonna go Kindle.”

New Jersey’s Great Pop Culture Moments Vol.83: The Ghosts of Christmas Eve

The holiday rock extravaganza that is the world renowned Trans-Siberian Orchestra left their mark here in New Jersey – Jersey City to be exact. The Ghosts of Christmas Eve, their made for TV concert special that originally aired on the Fox Family Channel on December 14, 1999, was filmed here in Jersey’s most famous movie house that opened 70 years prior in 1929.

As we’ve mentioned many times before here at The Sexy Armpit, the classic Loews Jersey theater, located in Journal Square, is one of our state treasures and it’s actually a star of this production in its own right. The beautifully shot special highlights glimpses of the theater’s cavernous ceilings, and the rich, finely detailed interior. It’s fitting that the concert is titled The Ghosts of Christmas Eve, because I wouldn’t be surprised if the Loews Jersey theater has some ghosts of its own.

It’s not just you average concert. What makes this stand out is the combination of the thunderous music with striking holiday visuals that help weave in the plot of a runaway girl who wishes she’ll be welcomed back into her home by her family. The story begins on Christmas Eve where we join the girl as she hides in an abandoned theater – the legendary Loews Theatre in Jersey City.

The TSO are incredible musicians and it translates into their concerts which often evoke a haunting quality, ultimately they’re very uplifting, but there are elements that conjure up memories and emotions, especially during the holidays. This spectacle may give you feelings of inspiration, forgiveness, and in this case, you may recall a lost loved one, like the runaway daughter whose story unfolds during the concert.

Ten songs are blasted through in just under 45 minutes, so there’s no time to be bored. Some of the highlights include “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24,” “Joy to the World,” as well as several guest performances, two of which were Jewel and Michael Crawford. I’d forgotten how lovely Jewel is and her version of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” was equally as enchanting. Later on, perhaps the key moment in the special is a resounding performance of “O Holy Night,” from the former Phantom of the Opera, Michael Crawford. If that didn’t awaken the ghosts in the theater nothing else could.

The Ghosts of Christmas Eve is subtle yet bombastic, well crafted, and breathtaking. It will enhance your Christmas Spirit and it will also provide fare different than the typical stuff airing constantly on TV throughout December. It’s also perfect to play in the background while you’re putting decorations up or you have company over. Bonus if you have surround sound! You don’t have to be a huge TSO fan to fully enjoy this, but fans of rock music in general would get the most appreciation out of it, especially those from New Jersey. This special is still available on DVD.

A Very Jason Xmas

Christmas gifts don’t only arrive on December 25th, they can appear all month long. I’m alluding to the bevy of Friday the 13th related stuff that’s coming down the pike. It’s an exciting time for us Friday the 13th Fans! Let’s take a look at what’s popping up from the depths of Crystal Lake…

First, the 9-part fan film series, Jason Xmas, has  been released in installments on YouTube for the past several months over at Scared Stiff TV. As we rapidly approach Christmas, the final parts will start to appear. Although many fans won’t be able to stomach Jason as a pseudo-Santa, it’s still a lot of fun to watch, and it gives those of us in the Christmas spirit more material to enjoy during the holiday season. Parts of the series were actually filmed in Blairstown, NJ the town where much of the original film was shot.

Also over on Scared Stiff TV you can check out Jason Voorhees vs Santa Claus in a ridiculously awesome “wrestling” attraction match from the HWF (The Horror Wrestling Federation). I would have never expected to see Jason face off against that jolly old elf! I have to hand it to the people over at Scared Stiff for putting out some creative stuff. This video mixes Jason Voorhees, Christmas, and Pro-Wrestling all into one spectacle. Jason’s miraculously knows his way around the ring and Santa seems to have slimmed down quite a bit to get into shape for this big match.


NECA’s 8-bit style Glowing Jason mask has been released! This baby is actually wearable and I bet it will get snatched up quickly by collectors. You can read more about it at NECAs site.

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2015 has three Friday the 13ths and one of them is in March which also means MONSTER MANIA TIME! The gang from the original F13 will be there to celebrate the 35th birthday of the beloved film. It happens the weekend of March 13th – 15th at the Crowne Plaza in Cherry Hill, NJ.

Ultimately, we F13 fans await the brand new Friday the 13th film in 2016 which is insanely exciting for me as it’s my favorite horror franchise of all time. Many fans weren’t overly fond of the 2009 version, but I thought it was serviceable. Hopefully the rumor is true that the new one takes place in the ’80s!

Sludgey’s Christmas Wish: The Sexy Armpit Christmas Special 2014!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PxHkb6jJMp4?rel=0]
I’m happy to present to you our very first Christmas Special. In it, Sludgey wants nothing more than for me to mail his letter to Santa Claus, but I wouldn’t (I had my reasons). Then I made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. I hope you enjoy it. Happy Holidays from The Sexy Armpit!

The Sexy Armpit’s Christmas Excursion Into The Ice Caverns

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It seems like the post Halloween blues affect me longer with each passing year. I get into a weird lackadaisical funk where I have no energy or motivation for anything. Who knows, it could be seasonal affective disorder or it’s just the fact that my favorite time of the year has come to an end only to make way for frigid temperatures and darkness before 5pm. Winter sucks…except for Christmas, of course. Yet, as deeply immersed as I always get into the holidays, sometimes my Christmas spirit needs a little kick in the ass. I’m sure you can relate. Around here, there’s so many opportunities to send a surge of cheer into my veins, and after some minimal research online, I found a place that I knew would make me feel like I just visited Kris Kringle’s condo in the North Pole.

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“Home of the Christmas Ice Caverns”
It’s clearly their bread and butter because I don’t know how many people 
are clamoring for King Neptune statues nowadays.

I couldn’t go this one alone because I had a feeling it would be too good not to share with friends. Dinosaur Dracula happened to be in the mood for a cup of cheer (a.k.a Tequila), so we brought the ladies and I drove up to Fairfield, NJ. We were all going into this blind. None of us had been to The Ice Caverns before, nor did we even know much about it. I had read stuff about it online for the past couple of years, but considering it was inside of a place called Jody’s Silk Florist and Patio Center, I had my doubts and never made it out for it. To my surprise, this has been a well known Christmas tradition around the state since 1967, but by the time I muster up the motivation for excursions like this, Christmas is usually over.

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After having to pull a couple of u-turns on Route 46, we parked and took in the surroundings. The exterior was interesting to say the least and we knew we were in for a real treat. The building looked like it was from the ’70s. Between the Christmas tree and shrub emporium next door, and the crazy statues all around, it all looked like a giant mish-mosh of retro insanity adorned in Christmas lights. Man, I already want to go back.

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We didn’t even enter the building yet and Matt and I were already calling dibs on what quarter ride-on machines we were each going to spotlight. My intensity and the guttural noises emanating from my body regarding the Flintmobile seen here were not only obnoxious and loud, but made everyone shy away from me like I was a crazy person.

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Maximum mark-out for the Flintmobile. After spending $250 dollars on what I thought was a simple trip for an oil change earlier that day, I had a bunch of other stuff I needed done and situations like that make me fantasize about riding to work in a car that absolutely cannot break down unless stepped on by a dinosaur and that vehicle is definitely The Flintmobile. Plus, if I had one I could quit my gym because I’d be getting a badass workout at the same time, but I’d show up at work like a sweaty disgusting mess. Scratch that idea, I’ll just snap the picture.

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Making our way inside, our brains were bombarded with a bevy of Christmas decorations, trees, ornaments, dolls, and knick-knacks of all kinds spread over 10,000 square feet. That was all good, but just like in The Goonies, I felt like yelling “Where’s the gold Mikey!” I wasted no time asking the cashier impatiently “Which way to the Ice Caverns?” I was getting such a good feeling about what we were in for. It almost felt like the moments before going on an old rickety dark ride that is so classic it can’t be beat, even by todays standards.

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Admission was reasonable, only about $3 bucks per person, a bargain in New Jersey. Even with that kind of pricing I still found their giant reprinted old school style Christmas coloring books to be way overpriced at nearly $20 bucks!

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Originally, upon reading about a store that featured an intricate Christmas display, what I pictured in my mind was puny in comparison to the enchanting, vintage scenes they conjured up here at the Ice Caverns. Think old school department store windows, but made into a Christmas walk through attraction that will infuse you with more Christmas vibes than you can ever ask for. It’s basically an orgy of vintage Christmas ambiance, animatronics, lights, and Santa isn’t even the kicker! There’s one ultra-amazing window in particular that nunchucked its way into our hearts.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjVO85jK4jU?list=UUumnVDwF5g2FwPBXlebEUIg]

There’s a group of pizza loving amphibious creatures that live down in the sewer and know some fancy ninja moves, you know who I’m talkin’ about, right? That’s right, our friends the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had their very own custom made Christmas themed window scene, and folks, it was incredible. They called it a “Cowabunga Christmas.” In the scene, The Turtles all had Santa hats on and were set up in a sewer lair scene and were decorating for Christmas. Raph is dressed as Santa while Michelangelo balanced a pizza on top of his head. This was truly a Christmas miracle.

On the way to get some food afterwards, I commented on how the Turtles looked homemade and Matt made the good point that they had to have been leftovers from back in the early ’90s because they definitely looked like they were based off the movie Turtles. Either way they looked fantastic.

There were other awesome things about the Ice Caverns and our other exploits that night and I’m fairly certain you’ll be hearing about a few of the key ones over at Dinosaur Dracula very soon!

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This is one of those quirky places that New Jersey is known for. We have so many of them that it’s easy to let them slip through your fingers. Hell, I didn’t even know about this place until recently and I’ve lived here my whole life. There are about 100 other obscure places like this around our state and thanks to blogs and podcasts they are getting a lot more buzz than ever. People like us, the nostalgia buffs and the pop culture freaks, we feed on places like this. This is the perfect day trip for kids as well as adult kids like me. The Ice Caverns will surely make you drool, but your drool will taste like peppermint of course and you’ll go home with your Christmas spirit jacked up to the highest degree.

The Ice Caverns are located inside of:
Jody’s Silk Florist and Patio Center in Fairfield, NJ
http://www.jodyssilkflorist.com/thechristmasstore.html

Santa Is Coming To New Jersey by Steve Smallman – Review

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Jolly old Saint Nick delivers presents all around the world. You already know about that though. And you’re aware that he’s so fast, that if you blink, you’ll miss him. Since you were a kid you knew that if you’ve been good all year, you’ll be left with a plate of half eaten cookies and a slew of presents under the tree on Christmas morning. But no one actually sees any of this happen. One way you can experience Santa’s trek, not fully around the world, but around the country, is to take a look at the children’s book series “Santa Is Coming To…” by Steve Smallman. In my case, he came to New Jersey, duh! The question is, was it worth the trip?

This book series is basically Christmas fluff. It’s perfect to read to your young children during Christmas time. It’s not bogged down in detail, but that’s where it fails. The book series squirts some local flavor into each installment, some of which are inspired by states, others by cities around the country.

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In the book, *SPOILERS, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer has aged quite a bit. There’s a new, young reindeer, who saves the night for Santa after a blizzard throws the sleigh off course around High Point, NJ. Sprinkled throughout are modern enhancements that the Santa I grew up with didn’t have, such as an On-Star type of talking navigation system.

Critiquing a children’s book feels pretty damn wrong, although, as with most things, I do have one little gripe with it.

My main criticism of the story is that the hero of the book never gets bestowed a name or much of a personality either. The poor little guy didn’t get any credit. He was simply referred to as “the youngest reindeer.” Was the author too nervous to rock the boat that floats around in the lake of Christmas lore? Smallman should’ve been bolder and created his own new reindeer name. We find out numerous times that this new reindeer is young, but we don’t find out much else. He really needed a gimmick. After Rudolph became the most “Hollywood” reindeer, it’s imperative that any subsequent reindeer ups their game. I can’t really figure out if the book was about Christmas in general or this new spry reindeer. There. BAM! I just named him. Spry. If that’s taken by a trademark, why not just call him Vigor or something along those lines? See, I’m an idea man. They should’ve consulted with me first.

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Rudolph was so memorable that Santa’s other reindeer now seem so dull. Each one now needs to have a special characteristic to keep them from boring children. Maybe one of them is able to twirl a basketball on his hoof like a North Pole Globetrotter, another one might be a halfway decent break dancer who’s practicing his ass off to go to the neighborhood break dance tournament, then there could always be that one really smart reindeer who has a genius brain, but feels like he’s stagnating in a nine to five finance position, but his superior mind becomes a great advantage to Santa when he’s called up by the big man in red to help the rest of the reindeer on Christmas Eve. These are all valid suggestions.

Come to think of it, the need to keep this book series generic is where it fails. To plug in all the various locales that the series offers into the same story requires the plot to be very broad, but it’s the lack of details and character development that will hinder it from sitting on your shelf with the other yearly Christmas reads.

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The New Jersey aspect of the book was adequate. It’s hard to expect it to be a “tour guide” of the state by any means, but it was certainly pretty cool for what it is. We get to see a couple of nicely done art splashes of recognizable buildings and points of interest in Newark and Atlantic City. The cover of the book is really the best part since it brings it all together, plus it includes Lucy the Elephant and what looks to me like the Loews Jersey City Theatre. Robert Dunn’s illustrations have a vintage quality that remind me of the ones I remember seeing in story books in the library when I was young.

Should you go out of your way to get this book? The story itself is light reading, and since it’s a kids book, you can read it to them in no time. Considering a hardcover copy is $4.99 on Amazon at this very second, I’d say it’s worth it if you are into Christmas and New Jersey or you think your kids will enjoy it. Otherwise, you’ve seen all you need to see in this post. Santa is Coming to New Jersey will entertain the kid with a low attention span in your life during Christmas time, but it will never take the place of children’s classics like The Polar Express and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

“Santa Gria” Sangria Recipe from NJ’s Valenzano Winery

Making Christmas a success for the kids can get pretty stressful. Trying to buy gifts for every kid in the immediate and extended family and verifying that everyone was treated fairly is a huge pain in the ass and a lot of work. There’s traffic getting to the mall and Target, there’s crowds everywhere, there’s annoying people at your family gatherings, and sometimes, it’s just a lot to deal with. For this reason I’m doing a public service and posting this recipe for “Santa Gria” Sangria that I found on a bottle of Santa’s Little Helper Wine from the Valenzano Winery in Shamong, New Jersey.

The Valenzano Winery always puts out cool special edition wines, and to see one this Christmasy is tremendous. Santa’s Little Helper wine wears its holiday cheer smack dab on the front of the label which includes holly, a silver backdrop of snowflakes, and Santa kicking back with a Christmas cookie and his favorite drank. Yes drank. It was my choice and I’m owning it. I established that the label is holiday themed, but the contents are to an extent as well. It’s made with both cranberries and white cranberries, as well as blueberries and grapes. It’s probably really sweet and perfect as a base for Sangria or Santa Gria as shown in the recipe below from the back of the bottle.

Usually, a lot of imbibing goes on during the holidays. If you’re like me and you don’t have kids, having some cocktails is less about “needing one” and more for sheer amusement. Let’s be honest, Aunt Rhoda’s intense perfume is a lot easier to handle when you’re buzzed and Uncle Todd’s lame jokes become somewhat to even mildly funnier. Don’t want to give that rat bastard too much credit.

Parents have a huge responsibility on their shoulders to make Christmas special for their kids. Christmas can be amazing at any age, but this is a holiday engineered for the children. As much as we think it’s still ours because the naughty Mrs.Claus costumes come out of the closet and we drink spiked egg nog, it’s not for us. But it’s important to not get stressed out and enjoy the festivities, so mix yourself up a drink!

We raise our tipsy hands, which are presently holding moose mugs, to you, the hard working parents who bust their asses to give their kids the best Christmas possible. I know my parents did it each and every year and I am so very thankful for that. Ahhh! Let’s go find your sister!

The Dirty Pearls Cover Springsteen’s “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” at Holiday Show

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Last night The Dirty Pearls began their holiday celebration early. And they didn’t do it alone. As they headlined Irving Plaza in New York City for the first time, they were joined by a packed house of their loyal fans. They threw in a few new songs, many of which they’ve played in concerts previously, but what’s a holiday concert without a Christmas song?

The ‘Pearls pounded their hits out to the audience as if it was a good ol’ fashioned Scut Farcus beat down session. They didn’t chintz out one bit as they included all the tracks they’re known for including “Who’s Coming Back To Who,” “Static,” and their big one “New York City Is a Drug.” Toward the middle of “Sucker for a Sequel,” they tore into an awesome break down which featured Tommy Mokas literally shredding his guitar while going back and forth with Tommy London and special guest Brian Newman on trumpet.

After blasting through a speeding bullet of a set, the gang, also known as The Rivington Rebels, departed the stage. Nobody in the audience moved a muscle because they knew there was a gift in store. Personally, I was positive the band would perform a Christmas tune, but which one? Would it be the rocking “Run, Run, Rudolph,” or the often covered by rock bands “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)?” Ultimately, their selection was a true gift, especially for me!

Personality plus drummer Mr. Marty E. asked the crowd if they wanted to hear more. Judging by the shrieks and applause, obviously they did! The band returned to the stage. When amped up front man Tommy London began hinting at a Christmas song, my mind started running through all the possibilities. I hoped it wasn’t just a quick bar of “Frosty the Snowman,” as a joke.

I was enthralled when guitarist Sunny Climbs started into the opening notes of Springsteen’s CLASSIC version of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.” The Dirty Pearls made this song their own by adding their own rock edge while still remaining true to The Boss’ version. With little nods to the original, this was truly a phenomenal surprise gift for their fans! Of course, I loved it even more since Springsteen’s Christmas songs are legendary around these parts.

New Jersey’s Great Pop Culture Moments Vol.78: SCROOGED

1988’s Scrooged is a brilliantly executed Christmas comedy.

Many of you reading this can quote all the lines from this film, but the rest of you? Why you haven’t seen this film is beyond me.

The man responsible for a handful of my favorite films such as Superman, Superman II, The Goonies, The Omen, etc, Richard Donner, directed this modernization of Dicken’s classic A Christmas Carol, and it deserves a rightful spot in your holiday celebrations. At first, its dark humor might surprise you, but if you are familiar with the tone of A Christmas Carol, it’s a borderline horror story. There’s ghosts and unsettling tension. Scrooged does you one better and also makes you want to do what the youngsters call “rotfl.”

According to Wikipedia, reviews on the film were mixed. Who cares? Don’t let that hinder you from this superb holiday enjoyment. It’s just soooo good. 4 o’s for effect. I mean FOUR EFFECT. And I meant it like OHHH, not simply just “O.” It is SOOOO GOOD.

Yes, it’s the same Scrooge story you’ve read and watched a million times, but it’s updated for a late ’80s audience. As TV Exec Frank Cross, Bill Murray will crack you up as he descends into eccentric paranoia. What makes this film even more special is that Murray’s superlative performance comes to life during Christmas time in New York City. With SNL and Ghostbusters, Murray is no stranger to NYC. And you know what place isn’t too far away, right? You got it! New Jersaaay!

Casting of the 3 ghosts in Scrooged was right on the money. Specifically, the Ghost of Christmas Past who was embodied by David Johansen. The N.Y Dolls rocker materialized in the form of a loud mouthed taxi driver. It doesn’t get more New York than that! Looking dirty and sleazy, he drives Cross right back to 1955 to take a look at past moments from his life.

As he drives right through a truck, the Ghost of Christmas Past yells out a line that my friends and I consider most classic:

“GO BACK TO JERSEY, YA MORON!” 

What’s bothersome about that line is that we have drivers in this state from all over the country. I can be on a highway with New Yorkers, Floridians, Pennsylvanians, and folks from Connecticut amongst so many others. Regardless, I do enjoy the NJ reference and get a kick out of the stereotype.

The plot focuses on Cross’ mission to produce the schlockiest of Christmas Carol broadcasts to air on Christmas Eve – because it’s all about the RATINGS. Ratings are still important today, but who really cares about TV anymore? In the late ’70s and ’80s, TV networks and media groups were run like the world depended on them, and the world did. Even though we’ve mostly transitioned to the Internet for nearly everything, Scrooged retains a pertinent message.

Once Cross is reformed toward the end of the film, he completely shoots himself and his station in the foot by encouraging people to spend time with their families during Christmas rather than sit and watch TV.

I’m living proof of this. About a month ago I lost my remote control and I’ve watched exactly ONE show since then and I feel like I haven’t missed out on anything. It’s given me more time to be with friends and family. I don’t feel tied to cable. Screw you Comcast!

Just like Frank Cross, it’s a contradiction for me to say “Turn off the TV and go spend time with the family,” when I’m recommending a movie for you to watch. Somehow, I feel like watching a film on DVD is more worthwhile than flicking through 1200 channels that ultimately leads to NOTHING rewarding. Unless you land on a great classic movie like Scrooged, what’s the point of wasting your time?

A Christmas Story will be on 24 hours in a few days, PLUS you own the DVD so, at the very least, you can do something different and make Scrooged a family event. Don’t blame me if you get a little misty-eyed toward the end! It’s all good. F*ck cable. F*ck satellite. Go play a game with your kids and give your Mrs. Claus a kiss. Merry Christmas!

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!”