Ready or not, the holidays are here. To say that I am ill-prepared is an understatement. In the plus column though, a new episode of The Purple Stuff Podcast is on deck and all set to be fired up. Whether you are baking cookies, cleaning the house, or getting some last minute shopping done, whatever you find yourself doing you can make this episode your accompaniment since it’s Christmas cheer for your ears.
In this episode, me and Matt explore various Christmas customs that we’ve taken part in through the years. We talk about foods we look forward to each year, stuff we watch, and in my case, a special recurring piece of clothing. Nothing beats reminiscing during the holidays over a cup of egg nog (It’s good, it’s good.) At first, I didn’t realize that I had so many little traditions until I really sat and thought about it. It turns out that I have quite a few and at least 3 or 4 didn’t even make the cut! Do you have any Christmas traditions that you find yourself doing every Christmas season?
If you are here reading this, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for reading, listening, and watching my various endeavors. It means a lot to me that you take the time and show your interest here. My blog began to become a ghost town the past couple of years but as indicated in the pretty recent past, I am easing back into things. Who knows what 2019 will bring in terms of unexpected events, but either way I am still keeping this trash heap alive mark my words!
Chances are this may be the last post of the year (If I have time, I might post something quick) so I hope you enjoy the holidays and get to spend them with your loved ones. As much as I prefer my solo solitude, being with my friends and family during Christmas time is what it’s all about. There’s literally no other thing I’d rather do during this season than just hang out with the important VIP people in my life. I’m very grateful and appreciative of all of you! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Now go listen to that new episode ya’ filthy animals!
Christmas Wonderland at Maple Leaf Farms, Route 9 South, Manalapan, NJ
Finding quirky and offbeat stuff to do for Halloween seems to be super easy for me. Christmas on the other hand, there doesn’t seem to be nearly as much going on. It’s ironic to think about because Christmas is such a mega holiday in terms of spending and venturing out to holiday themed events with the fam. As you may have guessed, I’m not really one for the typical nonsense. For example, I ice skated once in my life and although I didn’t bust my ass, I felt like any second I could plummet into the darkest regions of hell. It was not fun. Sliding around in circles on ice, while balancing on a thin, sharp blade is not my idea of fun, especially in the cold. Going to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree is always an annual “must” for locals, but I’ve been there, done that a million times. Nowadays it’s even more of a hassle because the vicinity around the tree is so crowded with tourists, and as crotchety as that makes me sound, it’s even worse than you could imagine. I get claustrophobic in crowds and it isn’t just there, Manhattan in general during the holidays that gets overwhelmingly packed with people. So not my jam.
I had way more fun lounging on the couch sipping Diet Cranberry Ginger Ale and watching The Christmas Chronicles on Netflix than I could ever have battling holiday traffic and crowds. Ugh, such nonsense! If I sound like Scrooge, then I can’t argue. Recently, an esteemed colleague at work affirmed this very sentiment for me. She told me that during the holidays she goes away to Florida to her summer home (must be nice!) and for the entire stretch of the season she relaxes with her husband and they literally don’t do a damn thing except snack and watch movies on the couch. She went even deeper to declare that is what the holidays are all about for her. Not to beat a dead horse, but I recently learned that my co-host on The Purple Stuff Podcast, Matt from Dino Drac, feels the exact same way.
While I always consider myself a champion of vegetating on the couch whenever possible, conversely I may be a bigger proponent of devising elaborately stacked plans of themed things to do. What can I say? Points of interest pique my interest and Clark Griswold has always been one of my idols. Maximizing the fun is one of my main objectives in life.
I didn’t want to piss this holiday season away without some actual merry making. After a lot of useless Googling, it felt like finding a unique, Christmassy thing to do in Jersey was becoming hopeless. But, right around the moment when I was about to give up, we drove passed Maple Leaf Farms on the way home one night. I noticed a sign that said “Christmas Wonderland,” as I swung an abrupt General Lee style turn into the parking lot. The building’s exterior is similar to any other run of the mill country store, except for being adorned with an over-sized, inflatable Santa Claus. The best part about this is that I had no idea what to expect inside. Would it be a bunch of crafts, wooden soldier centerpieces, and cinnamon sticks OR would we be delighted by a decked out display of endearing decor? That sentence was Heavy on the D.
Watch the video to see what I discovered inside the Christmas Wonderland. If you don’t have 5 minutes to spare, it was a sight to behold and totally lived up to its namesake! This traditional walk through, accompanied by a laid back Christmas playlist running throughout the space, is comprised of animatronics that the proprietor has rescued from old store window displays, malls, and various other means. He restored them superficially as well as their electronic components inside that made them seem magically alive in their heyday. It’s like he is a human droid factory. After speaking with him about his undying attention to detail and his commitment to the Christmas spirit, his goal was creating a vintage Christmas vibe and he succeeded, and then some.
My nostalgia needle was off the charts in this place. In a world of Nintendo Switch and Occulus Rift, these old school animatronic characters may not bowl a lot of you over since our technology expectations are so far beyond them, but these are the kind of novelties that I absolutely love to gaze at. My affection for them can be likened to why I love the old Telco Motionettes. Those were like the home versions of these little dudes! Inside the Wonderland, the snowmen move in slow motion, Goofy’s arm goes up and down, and there’s even a little tribute to the time Santa conquered those Martians! Snow covered Christmas trees are set up in every corner and adorning the pipe and draped halls leading to each next display were actual Christmas themed product ad posters from the old days bestowing that extra spoonful of authenticity. Just when you think it’s over, the finale leads you to a BIG room with the BIG jolly man himself. That’s right, pictures with Santa are included with your minimal entrance fee.
Experiencing this throwback to simpler times was a much needed little break from the world. Take the family on a little drive to Manalapan, NJ down route 9 for a dose of Christmas cheer before the season is out and see for yourself. There’s a TON of heart and LOADS of Christmas spirit poured into this and making it a success will ensure that it continues every year!
In an effort to make your spirits bright, here’s a new episode of The Purple Stuff Podcast! The Christmas season is in full swing and that means me and Dino Drac are bringing you our 4th set of holiday song choices! We spent countless hours forming this merry mix of tunes and we hope you enjoy it. In this episode we’ve got some classics and some newer favorites, but all are quite “interesting” in their own ways. Twisted Sister, Britney Spears, and The Chipmunks are just a few of the artists featured in this episode. Refill your eggnog and enjoy! If you haven’t done so yet, please subscribe, or leave a rating if you can! Also, we are now on Patreon so if you would like to subscribe you can gain access to our exclusive monthly show that goes directly to our supporters! Thank you for reading and listening!
On the NEW episode of the Purple Stuff Podcast, Matt and I talk about HOME ALONE! It’s one of our favorite holiday movies from our youth and we each bring a mixed bag of stuff to pore over. It’s a celebration of the film so if you love it as much as we do, this is for you!
Does it get any geekier than parodying an early ’70s soft rock hit from the band Chicago to use as a title for a blog post? I think not. The 4th may not have been the specific date we visited Six Flags Great Adventure for their Holiday in the Park extravaganza, but I kept singing “Holiday in the Park” as if it were a real Chicago song that night. At first, the thought of going to an amusement park in December sounds preposterous, falling short of maybe only the Polar Bear Plunge, where clearly crazy people VOLUNTARILY choose to dive into the ocean, which happens to be filled with ridiculously freezing cold water. Fortunately, on the night that we headed to Jackson, NJ, it was unseasonably mild…but raining. On our drive down, the weather was indeed “frightful,” and I told Miss Sexy Armpit that we were nuts for even thinking of riding roller coasters in the rain. Wait, hold up, note to self, remember to write a mid-80s style, smooth R&B song called “Riding Roller Coasters in the Rain” because that title f*cking rocks. Anyway, we justified it as such: “But they have Christmas lights!!” so we wooden-soldiered on.
To my knowledge, Great Adventure has never done a Holiday celebration, and if they did, it was never anywhere close to this extreme scale. It all felt like Six Flags on Candy Cane flavored Crack. It was like Great Adventure submitted themselves to compete in The Great Christmas Light Flight. Once we arrived and heard the Christmas tunes echoing into the parking lot and saw the soft glow of the festive lights pouring into the misty night sky, it was obvious this was the Christmas version of Fright Fest and we were in for a real treat.
Upon entering the park we were immediately transported into the North Pole with snow machines blowing snow everywhere! Talk about eye candy, every inch of the entire park was decked out in Christmas decor. The attention to detail was incredible, it felt like every tree had lights and every window had animatronic elves preparing gifts. It was a sight to behold. Miss Sexy Armpit even said she liked it better than Fright Fest. For me, as a G.A regular since 1985, it felt much different than anything they’ve done before. The park transformed into its own little Christmas island.
As we made our way through the park, I kept thinking how my Christmas spirit this year wasn’t anywhere near the levels it had been in the past. I couldn’t pinpoint why that’s been the case, but experiencing Holiday in the Park was like a shot of Christmas spirit right in the heart. With the Christmas tunes playing and visitor’s of the park in a more laid back, jolly mood, it was just what I needed. It actually felt like more of an escape from reality than any other time I’ve been to Great Adventure.
The rain and drizzle was intermittent, but it was actually exactly what we needed to be able to hop on all the rides with almost no lines. Turns out that most people don’t like to go on rides in the rain. What a shocker. The longest we waited to get on a ride was about 10 or 15 minutes, which was great. Miss Sexy Armpit and I hit a couple of our favorites including, Nitro and Superman. We even took a ride on the indoor Skull Mountain, which is tame compared to the other insane thrill rides they have there, but it’s still old school, simple fun. The closest comparison to it would be Space Mountain in Disney, although it’s always been a few steps behind. Looking back since it opened, the ride had the potential to be amazing. Consider this: it could’ve been a Goonies ride! Even if they couldn’t secure rights to the Goonies, they could’ve easily picked a licensed property that would’ve worked, or even created their own original generic pirate or ghost theme. The story and the characters associated with the rides always enhance the ride experience for me. They should’ve also incorporated spooky music into the ride as well. But, here’s why I won’t complain this time around: For Holiday in the Park, Skull Mountain transformed into Poinsettia Peak and it was completely draped in red Christmas lights. The whole rocky facade of the ride was bathed in red, like Tootsie’s dress, so all was forgiven. Good old Skull Mountain has never looked this glamorous….or RED!
After the rides I had my imperative browsing session in the Justice League store. This place is a MUST every time I go to Great Adventure. With wall to wall DC Super Hero stuff, it’s the closest thing I’ll get to the old WB store in the mall. I want to buy everything. Hint: check out the video above to see the cool, customized white Christmas tree adorned with all kinds of DC characters! I didn’t buy anything this time around, but I was sure tempted. I’m just glad this store is still open and as awesome as it ever was.
Aside from the obvious Christmas theme, there was an element to the whole experience that made it stand out. The fact that we were riding coasters in December, the temp was in the mid ’50s, and the foggy night sky had an ominous, purple hue, made those high points on the coasters feel fifty times more awesome than usual. In addition to the coasters which are predominantly a warm weather pastime, we also partook in G.A’s Boardwalk games to briefly recapture that summer magic. For a minute I’d thought I hit the jackpot since that tricky milk can toss game with the softballs was chock full of Star Wars: Force Awakens stuff. Kylo Ren plush toys gave Miss Sexy Armpit a reason to blow copious amounts of money to try to win one for me. What a girl! She bought us both chances and we both failed miserably, but we had fun so that’s what matters, right? Come to think of it, maybe we would’ve nabbed Kylo Ren if we actually completed our Jedi training on Dagobah.
To ease the pain of our simultaneous double loss, there were holiday themed treats for sale everywhere. For example, Hot Chocolate with Snowman Peeps was served and sipped at several of the fire pit stations. Yes, you read that correctly, they had fire pits set up strategically by the food and snack kiosks which was a hit. People with mittens holding hot drinks were hanging out by fires as if they were at some super expensive ski lodge. Carollers sang holiday songs while flashy Christmas tree light shows burned green cones into my retinas. That was all good, but what’s a holiday celebration without the big man himself? That’s right, Santa Claus appears to hear all the kiddies tell him they want hover-boards, and so does Mrs. Claus with her special story time show. They covered all bases except Mrs. Claus’ late night lingerie striptease – that, for some reason, was not on the docket.
With trees wearing Candy Cane disguises, holiday photo-op stations erected (they affectionately nicknamed them Mistletoe Moments for all you lovers out there), and reindeer crooning Christmas songs, Six Flags did a bang up job creating a Winter Wonderland at Great Adventure. Trust me, experience Holiday in the Park if you can, but do it before it comes to an end on January 3rd! The key is to go at night once it gets dark to soak in the optimum amount of Christmas cheer. That, and the fact that “kids are scared of the dark” according to Marv from Home Alone.
For several years during my childhood, my mom would keep a medium sized artificial Christmas tree up year round. No, she didn’t leave the Christmas decorations on it the whole time, she would decorate it with whatever coincided with the season. Summertime usually had things like American flags and beach décor, and Halloween, of course, had pumpkins, ghosts, and witches, etc. As offbeat as this seemed to people who came over at the time, it was truly a conversation piece. Personally, I thought it was a lot of work because I would help her put the ornaments up. Although it didn’t last more than a few years, it was certainly a memorable way to celebrate holidays and the changing of seasons. Since we’re deep into the Halloween season, if you don’t really want an artificial Christmas tree taking up space in your living room just yet, you can create a Halloween Mood Table.
The pioneer of the Halloween Mood Table, Matt from Dinosaur Dracula, has been doing these for eons and so many of his readers follow suit each year to usher in their own personal Halloween celebrations (this year even Jorge Garcia, star of LOST, got in on the fun!) Surprisingly, up until now I only admired Matt’s Mood Table as well as photos of the tables that were sent in to him. I finally decided to get into the game with my own assemblage of spooky crap to create my own Halloween Mood Table!
There’s a few reasons why I never took part in the festivities.
Perhaps the most prominent reason why I never created a Halloween Mood table of my own was because I’ve always kept so much of my Halloween and Horror stuff displayed all year that I never had the motivation to dust it all off and relocate it to another spot. If you are drowning in knick-knacks like I am, you know what a pain this is! This year, it dawned on me that if all this stuff sits in the same spot all the time and collects dust, it’s making things stagnant! I figured, why not take a stab at finally making a Mood Table to infuse my surroundings with a shot of Halloween spirit?
First, my September and October months have always been packed with events and trips well before I ever had my first website, so this left little time and motivation to work on the mood table. Then when I started doing the Halloween Specials, that ate up much of my time in September and October as well. It dawned on me recently that if I have time to put up a Christmas tree, then why the hell can’t I make some time for a mood table? Since this year’s Halloween Special is now available for all to see, I finally had time to dedicate to making this monstrosity!
The minute I started conjuring up this mood table, I was immediately overcome by the exact feeling that Matt described that one should get after admiring what they designed. It’s true too, because the table wasn’t even complete and I felt a surge of Halloween spirit, instead of butterflies in my stomach, I’m pretty sure they were cheap rubber bats. The fact that I haven’t done this in the past is ludicrous.
Let’s take a closer look at what I slapped together fairly haphazardly.
The table itself is a black wrought iron accent table that has to date back to the late ’60s. It was a gift to my parents after they got married and it had plant on it. It’s simple, and I’ve always loved it. It was probably because it was always there in my house, whether it had a spider plant sitting on it or a few coffee mugs, an ash tray, and some random uncles bifocals. It’s heavy, black table and it’s pretty timeless. When we moved into a smaller place, I lobbied hard to keep the table, I even said I’d keep it in my small bedroom. So, with us it came. Then when I moved out into my own place, I brought it with me. There was no doubt that it was screaming to be the official Mood Table from now on. It was fate. It travelled all these years and through all the different homes and has finally found it’s place in this world holding random Halloween related junk. I hired a table whisperer and he said the table is so happy now, it may want to keep that crap on it all year long, but mostly because it knows I probably won’t move it off until late November.
I threw together a lot of stuff that I’ve procured recently myself or as gifts and have mentioned here on the blog along with some other items that I’ve had for a long time.
Wrapped up sloppily and helping to create the ambience underneath the table are orange and purple rope lights that I was about to take back because I didn’t think I needed them this season, but it dawned on me that this is the perfect way to put them to good use. After nearly impaling myself on their sharp plastic packaging, I wrapped them around the legs of the table and plugged them into a step-on light switch for easy access. Not sure if that’s the technical UL certified name for it, but step-on light switch works just fine for me.
To take this a step further, I wanted to connect my iPod speaker dock underneath the table as well, but there were no more outlets. It was best to avoid a Darren McGavin fuse moment in A Christmas Story. I’ll save that project for the weekend!
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!
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.
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!
I’m excited to announce my participation in SHIT MOVIE FEST’S 25 Days of SHITMAS 2013! Tom over at Shit Movie Fest asked if I’d like to be a part of the festivities this year and I was honored! Naturally, I couldn’t throw myself into the mix without discussing a film that screamed JERSEY. After seeing some of the DVD’s that Tom picked up to review himself, I noticed one that I’ve been meaning to write about literally for years here at The Sexy Armpit and that is 2005’s JUST FRIENDS. I coerced Tom into letting me take on Just Friends and he was happy to oblige! Thanks Tom! Click the link above to head over to Shit Movie Fest!