Chao Down With Me at The Menlo Park Mall Food Court

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The other day as I was taking my car out for a spin (if you must know, I drive a semi-rusted neon green Chevy Corsica that has 469,000 miles on it), when my special Sexy Armpit communicator a.k.a my iPhone, began blinking bright green and making gross squishing noises. It was Sludgey Facetiming me. He said a bunch of my blogging cohorts sent me a message via our super secret pneumatic tube network (not so secret anymore, oops!). I hoped it wasn’t anything serious. “I’ll be right there Sludgey,” I said in my best Bale Batman voice.

Once home, I rushed into the apartment and grabbed the message from Sludgey’s barrel. “You are selected to win a million dollars a year, FOREVER, sincerely, Publisher’s Clearing House” clearly it was the wrong piece of paper. I shuffled through the other messages and finally found the correct one.

TO: Sexy Armpit

We are enlisting you for a mission. Review Chinese food restaurant at your local Mall food court. Go. Now.

And that was all it said. In the case that you ever receive a cryptic message like this, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. I hopped right back into the Corsica and sped off to the world renowned Menlo Park Mall. If you never get the chance to visit Epcot Center, you could do some mind altering drugs and just head to the food court at Menlo. There’s always something for everyone. All types of cuisine are offered, and most notably, Chick-Fil-A. But I couldn’t get distracted by spicy chicken sandwiches and sweet tea right now, I needed to stay focused.

The beauty part about Menlo Park being “My mall” is that I can often use one of my favorite lines from Mallrats, alter it a bit and sub out the Easter Bunny part, like so: “All I said was the Chinese food at the Menlo Park Mall was not appealing and she just threw her tray of chicken and toothpicks up in the air and knocked me down.”

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Of course, I’m referring to the sample girl, standing in front of ASIAN CHAO. She was offering everyone meat, but she wasn’t at all enthusiastic about it. In fact, I don’t think this girl could’ve been angrier about the thought of brightening the day of passerby with free food samples. She reminded me of Nicole Bass. She was brutish and imposing. Her fiery visage seemed to harness the flames from that Bourbon Chicken sign behind her directly toward me. I wasn’t sure what I was in for by declining her free sample, but walking up to the counter probably gave me immunity from whatever sort of weirdly uncomfortable beat down that I would’ve received from Nicole.

At first I thought Asian Chao was a really bad ethnic sounding stereotypical name, but after some investigative bloggerism I discovered that the term Chao does indeed refer to a Chinese stir-frying technique.

As I leaned up against a pillar waiting on line to order, I momentarily zoned out. My mind took a trip back in time. Ever since Henry P. Mall (I’m sure that’s his name) came up with the idea to put a roof on the good old outdoor strip mall, malls have been these magnificent structures with endless opportunities to buy all kinds of crap, provide a place for teenagers to get each others phone numbers, or in my case lend its catacombs as a setting for a couple of films I made. I even worked at the movie theater at Menlo for about 6 years of my life. I have some great memories there, a place that feels like my backyard.

I remembered how years ago, on any given weekend, the mall food court was absolutely theeee place to be. It was usually mobbed with people. Although I’ve lived mere seconds from two of the most popular malls in New Jersey for my entire life, a mall outing used to be a pretty big deal. When I wasn’t working at the theater adjacent to the food court, I used to spend all day there sometimes with my friend Sgt. E. We’d get lunch at the food court and then some Icees. We’d pick up some comics and stop in the arcade to play a few games.

My local malls are in a sad state of affairs now. What once existed as the only logical solution to everyone’s shopping dilemma, is now more of a place people go to do something when it’s shitty weather. If you needed to buy 27 gifts during the holidays, without hesitation you’d go to the mall, whereas now you can go to Target or WalMart. The financial crunch is sucking the life out of these malls. For instance, all the fountains have been removed from Woodbridge Center, fountains that I tossed thousands of pennies and nickels into during the course of my entire life, and all the trees have been removed from the food court in Menlo Park Mall. Those damn trees provided such ambiance. Now the food court has been castrated. Maybe too many birds were making homes in them? Maybe they were real trees and their roots were about to crack the floor open and suck everyone into the abyss? It’s sad, both my malls are decomposing.

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More on the “Crab Rangoon” later…and yes, I used air quotes

Oh shit. I forgot that I needed to decide what I wanted to order. Now the pressure was on. I had the ultimate booking power for this plate and if I didn’t get my shit together it seemed like the aggravated woman was just going to start tossing random food onto it for me. I wasted all that time reminiscing about mall memories and now I was being harassed by the server behind the counter about what I wanted. I was on a Chipotle-like assembly line and I needed to be part of the flow or get kicked off the line.

There’s a specific part of your id that compels you to get Chinese food. You know how it is. Sometimes you just get that craving. When it happens to me, I go to Ling’s Kitchen in Fords. It’s a legend around these parts. I’m a bit spoiled in that respect, so I have a hard time settling for any Chinese food that’s too much of a departure from how Ling’s prepares their food. When it comes to Chinese cuisine, I’m a total creature of habit. I order the same thing every time: General Tso’s Chicken with brown rice and broccoli. Sometimes places are stingy with the broccoli though.

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This photo I took could be the front cover of their menu, that’s how appealing this food looks, 
but looks are deceiving as we will find out…

At Asian Chao I had the option for rice and two of the main items. I went with Sesame Chicken because I felt that was a safe bet. Then I added in Chicken and Broccoli. Some of the usual offerings weren’t available, or should I say they weren’t even cooked and/or put out in the serving trays. I’m not a fan of orange chicken or sweet and sour chicken, so those were off the table. I also never order beef or pork if I’m doing Chinese, so my choices were as limited as sample girls angry facial expressions.

First, the Sesame Chicken. The sauce was pretty weak, and to me, that’s a vital component. Aside from a spicy kick, there wasn’t much flavor otherwise. Completely absent was the bold flavor that its rich appearance conned me into believing it had. The chicken itself tasted like the turkey in Christmas Vacation, overcooked, dry, and tough to chew.

Next on the plate was many peoples old standby, Chicken and Broccoli. To best describe this one, imagine a beige rubber car mat from the floor of a 1986 Buick, cut up, soaked in soy sauce, and cooked with broccoli that had been steamed in elementary school water fountain water. Not so good.

I took the liberty of adding a side dish. I’m not a big fan of egg rolls and they’re so common, so I opted for something I never ordered from a Chinese food place before: Crab Rangoon. No idea why I bothered, but I wanted to sample something sort of offbeat and I remembered that I tried this once 10 years ago with Miss Sexy Armpit, which was the first time in my life I had ever actually heard of it. Even when she mentioned it, I thought she was referring to a prequel to 1995’s Beyond Rangoon. I don’t usually eat crab either, but I figured what the hell, I was on a special mission.

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If you notice the pattern here, you’ll have an idea of just how underwhelming the Crab Rangoon was. I didn’t think it was possible for this to suck so bad, but the outer shell tasted like two damp, dustless Doritos fused together and stuffed with a tiny ball of cream cheese and crab meat. For some reason, I think the two specific rangoons they served me were the same ones that the manager laid out on the ledge of an open window in his apartment when it was drizzling. Then he realized he was late for his shift and he shoved them in his pocket and brought them to the serving area once he arrived at work.

Even the rice was average at best. How do you screw up RICE?

It probably seems like I’m exaggerating for effect, or being too picky, but it was all so laughably sub-par. Actually, maybe it is on par with what mall food court Chinese food is supposed to be like? Either way, Asian Chao isn’t doing the food court in Menlo any favors. If malls want to come back in a big way, they need a damn good Chinese place that makes mouths water. Everyone has their own concept of what their Chinese food needs taste like, and mine is definitely not at Asian Chao.

I didn’t even eat the majority of the meal and wound up going home unfulfilled. All wasn’t lost though, because this experience caused my mind to replay a line from one of my major all-time crushes, Marisa Tomei.

“I bet the Chinese food here is terrible” – Mona Lisa Vito, My Cousin Vinny (1992)

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Make sure you stop by all my friends sites to read their reviews of Chinese food places at their local mall food courts:

Matt at Dinosaur Dracula
Brian at Review The World
Will at Veggie Macabre
Molly at Swaggermom Tales

Dawn of the Mallrats and Zombie Clerks

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“Dawn of the Mallrats” by Chris Ott
“You’re dead Mallrat” isn’t just a line in the movie anymore.
Nowadays it seems like everybody wants to be a zombie, walk like a zombie in a parade, or make zombie parody art, which leads us to today’s entry.
When checking out the London 1888 online store after picking up one of their shirts over the weekend at Monster Mania, I also noticed artist Chris Ott’s love for Kevin Smith.
“Dawn of the Mallrats” is a faithful mash-up print of Dawn of the Dead and Mallrats. The connection here, of course, is that monument of consumerism, a mall, actually, let me rephrase that – THEE MALL.
When it was released in theaters in ’95, Mallrats was my ultimate movie. You could imagine how a Jersey teenager who spent a lot of time at the mall, loved Clerks, and wanted to be a filmmaker like Kevin Smith, would latch on to a film like Mallrats so hard, especially considering that I lived about a thousand feet from two of the most popular malls in the state. One of which just happens to be the mall that has a truly convincing Easter Bunny.
In the artwork Brody and TS haven’t been inflicted yet, but we see that Jay and Silent Bob, Shannon, Gwen, William, that d-bag Mr. Svenning, and even Stan Lee are all full fledged undead. Even with just a quick glance you can see that Ott really paid attention to details. Clearly, William’s eye bugged out, quite possibly from staring at the magic eye picture of that sailboat too long…or was it a schooner?
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Christ Ott’s Zombie Clerks print: http://london1888.bigcartel.com/product/clerks
 
Also check out Chris Ott’s zombified Clerks print. The gang is all here out in front of the Quick Stop in Leonardo, NJ! Awesome stuff Chris!

GREAT GEEK GORGE #8: Eating Katy Perry, Chiller Theatre, and 12″ Action Dolls!

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Welcome to the long winded 8th edition of Great Geek Gorge. This where I spew about some of the crap I bought or consumed recently and throw it all into one very random post. Today we’ll look at a new snack, some giant action figures, and some hot zombie mermaids.
 
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Katy Perry’s Kettle Corn Pop Chips
The thought of eating Katy Perry’s…chips…appeals to me. Like many of you, I also easily fall prey to product tie-ins. If Katy Perry was on the carton of Eggland’s Best, or growing her own line of organic watermelons (Katy’s watermelon’s…), or even a Campbell’s soup tie-in (Katy’s Clam Chowder), I’d be on line at the store as soon as they are released. You can see how it makes food more appealing. When I was a kid and went grocery shopping with my mom, anytime I saw Batman or Superman on the label of a peanut butter container, I nearly went into convulsions. Had to have it. Not much has changed.
Normally, I enjoy Pop Chips. They are a lighter alternative to other types of chips, but I can’t say I buy them often though because they seem pricey for a bag filled with air and just a few chips at the bottom. Hands down my favorite flavor is Barbecue – I could polish off a regular sized bag in no time. So when I saw a display of Katy Perry in Quick Check advertising her new Pop Chips flavor, it was obvious I went into my usual “buy two” mode. After tasting them I was disappointed that the Kettle Corn flavor wasn’t prominent enough. I don’t know if that means they weren’t sweet enough or what, but I will tell you that I don’t think it was necessary to make chips in the flavor of kettle corn when you can just buy a bag of actual kettle corn and bypass any possible disappointment. It’s like ordering steak-flavored chicken at a steakhouse. Katy should’ve just created her own candy line instead.
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Chiller Theater Expo – April 26th, 2013
 
Usually I find a few cool things at the Chiller Theater Expo here in N.J to share with you and the Spring 2013 installment yielded a couple of worthy items. A few weeks back, the pop culture and toy convention took over the castle themed Sheraton in Parsippany, NJ. Sure, the guest signings are great, but my favorite part is always the dealer rooms. Even though the rooms get a bit cramped, they are chock full of stuff that you can’t find anywhere else.

First I ran into my buddy Jessica Rajs from Gorgeous and Gory. Each year, Jess and her crew create a fantastic calendar featuring zombified pinup models. This year’s theme is mermaids. The photography and effects are incredible and the makeup is superb, so head over to Gorgeous and Gory to get one for yourself!

Cookie’s art. kicks. ass. Cookie’s own brand of art is inspired by punk rock and horror and is aptly named Rock and Roll Art School. I wasn’t familiar with Cookie before the last Chiller, but that’s the beauty of the event. I was walking around the dealer room and anytime I see neon colors or Lily Munster I stop right in my tracks. I’m easily distracted so this brightly colored painting of Lily was screaming for me to buy it, and I replied out loud immediately, “You don’t have to scream at me neaon Lily, you had me at “Ohhh Herman.” Check out Cookie’s collection of vibrant monster and tattoo art for sale at his Etsy shop! http://www.etsy.com/shop/RockNRollArtSchool
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WB Store 12″ DC Super Heroes Batman Figure – now with BONUS extraneous backstory!

Lately I’ve been on a kick of larger sized action figures – which are actually more like dolls. Obviously many male collectors don’t want to admit that they own dolls, and I will only admit it if it seriously reminds me of a freaking doll. If it’s 6″ inches tall or smaller and is made of plastic, it’s an action figure. Any bigger than that then the figure/doll war rages on.
Growing up, I had no use for any figure larger than my Kenner Super Powers or Star Wars figures. They were perfectly sized and very easy to collect. I came to the party a little late for the ’70s Mego phase, so the larger sized action-doll type figures (satisfying everyone, see?) with changeable clothes never appealed to me, and they really still don’t. I’m talking about these 12″-14″ monstrous sized plastic and vinyl figures. I always used to wonder why these giant collectibles were even getting made and I also wondered who was actually buying them since they seemed to sit on the shelves forever when I was a kid. For some reason though, within the past year or so, I’ve been having these urges to own several key figures of this size. If you ask me what my inspiration is, I can’t even tell you because I have absolutely no clue what brought this on. I only recently found out about the re-release of the 12″ Star Wars figures, but I am not going to let myself fall into that Sarlaac Pit of collecting. Maybe the culprit was when I picked up those 10″ Dark Knight Rises Batman and Bane figures? Now just stop it Jay. We can’t keep this going or I’m going to have to buy another place just for my toys.
Let me take you back to when I could care less about figures of this size. When the mall was the place to be, before eBay and Amazon became one of my favorite past times, I actually used to go to the mall with my friends. Yes, we physically ventured out of the house and into a place where you could put one foot in front of the other and transport yourself from store to store. Novel idea right? Many times we walked to the two nearby malls, (ahh we used to have so much ambition, right?) other times we got dropped off by our parents. Much like Shannon in Mallrats, I too used to have a shopping agenda, and much like Brody in Mallrats, I was there for comics.

The two malls in my vicinity no longer even have comic book shops, but back in the day there were a couple that I frequented like Heroes World and Comic Attitudes, among others. In addition to the comic shops, I always had to stop at music stores like Record Town and Sam Goody, and eventually I’d start browsing videos at Suncoast Motion Picture Company. There was also the Warner Brothers Studio Store which usually came through with some cool DC Super Hero swag that you couldn’t find anywhere else.

That was a long journey just to tell you that I found a badass black 12″ Batman figure at Chiller. This particular figure/doll is one I hadn’t seen since my days of actually walking around the mall. I was able to knock the price down enough and brought it home. I felt like this was a good score since this specific line is pretty scarce, even on eBay. And now I find myself on a quest for a few of his peeps so he has someone to hang out with. The funny part about this line of DC Superheroes is that when they were on the shelves it was like they didn’t exist to me. I hated every aspect of oversized figures. Now, I’m obsessed with the idea. Funny how things change in some respects, but I’m still such an easy target for slapping Katy Perry on a bag of chips as if I was a 7 year old girl.

The Muppet Babies: Bunsen in Menlo Park

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GREAT GEEK GORGE #4

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The Dark Knight Rises Tickets

Dark Knight Rises Tickets
These have been burning a hole in my pocket since June 11th. I’m almost in disbelief that it’s a little over a WEEK away! The wait is finally over!

Wawa 

Wawa
If you’re from Pennsylvania or New Jersey then you are most likely familiar with the greatness of Wawa. During our recent trip to Wildwood, Miss Sexy Armpit and I stopped at the Doo-Wop styled Wawa to get our favorite sweet cream cheese stuffed pretzels that they make. I’m not a big preztel guy, but this thing is so delicious. I also ordered a banana smoothie which was very simple: it’s basically made of ice, a dairy blend, and 2 bananas. It’s the best banana smoothie ever. If you are lucky enough to have a Wawa by you they also sell all kinds of coffee, subs, breakfast sandwiches, and some of the best iced tea around.

Changes to Supergirl Costume
I’m usually the guy who opposes the unnecessary modifications and modernizations of superhero costumes. In 1989 when the first photos of Michael Keaton’s Batman costume were released I wasn’t even phased because it looked so friggin’ cool. It was a major change color-wise, but it was still extremely faithful to the traditional bat-costumes through the years. One costume I never ever thought should be changed was Superman’s. In the upcoming Man of Steel movie his costume has been tweaked to make it seem more realistic and modern like they did in Batman Begins. I still can’t get used to such drastic changes. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for the characters evolving with the times, but sometimes I feel like changes are made just for the hell of it. In the newest Supergirl comic book line from DC Comics, she has a more modern look as well and surprisingly I’m not against it. The deeper I got into the series the more I thought the costume was cool. What do you think? Yay or Nay?
House of Blues Bathroom 

Men’s Room – House of Blues, Atlantic City
Usually going to a public bathroom isn’t too exciting unless you’re going in there for purposes other than actually using the facilities. While it’s not anything as upscale as the Borgata or Water Club, the

men’s room in the House of Blues in Atlantic City kept me distracted for several minutes as I stared at all the pinup and retro tattoo style art on the walls. Pictured above is a glimpse of a cute sailor girl on the wall near the entrance.

Squinkies at 80s Burger King
Zack Ryder, Yoshi Tatsu, Goldust, and Hornswaggle go for lunch at an ’80s BK

Fixation with 1980s Burger King
Unlike most of my friends when I was growing up I always preferred Burger King over McDonalds. My Dad used to take me to the BK at the old pre-90s Menlo Park Mall and I absolutely loved every second of it. To say I miss the old look of the exterior of BK is an understatement. I wish they’d bring back their old logo and the uncreepy version of the Burger King who did magic tricks. I still have my BK doll with the “incredible” disappearing hamburger trick.

Squinkies
I did the best I could. Actually I’m lying. I didn’t. I gave a feeble attempt at resisting Squinkies but I just couldn’t do it. It’s not an all out obsession either. I’m not even interested in the G.I Joe or Star Wars Squinkies – only the WWE series. A couple of my favorites are pictured above, heading in to get some Whoppers at my ’80s BK model. For being such minute bits of rubber they are highly detailed with comical and often flat out absurd facial expressions and likenesses of the real wrestlers. They remind me of the simple and stupid crap toys from the red nickel machines (or are they quarter machines now?) you see when exiting Toys R Us.

The Sexy Armpit Quoted In Film Journal International!

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The Sexy Armpit quoted in the 3/23/2011 post at Film Journal International

OK, so, I admit that I Googled “The Sexy Armpit.” This fun little activity actually yielded a result worth blogging about. I discovered that Film Journal International quoted some of my thoughts on the new AMC Dine-In Theater that opened in Menlo Park Mall in Edison NJ. Thanks to FJI, because this was pretty damn cool. I give credit to writer Andreas Fuchs for having the bravery to cite The Sexy Armpit in a professional film journal! You can read the whole article HERE.

Here’s the background: Last December I was invited to a preview of the new AMC Dine In Theater that was about to open a few days later. Considering that I worked at this theater for several years I thought it would be interesting to see how it evolved. My post “Dine-In Theaters? AMC Newest Movie Theater Concept” received a ton of hits and people I know actually began to ask me questions about the theater as if I was the authority on it! The funny part was, I only stayed to check the place out. I had no interest in actually eating in the movie theater or experiencing it the way they wanted me to in order to review it.

I maintain that it’s split 50/50 between people who love the idea and those who have no interest. I have no problem commeding AMC for trying something new, even though it’s an idea that has been around for decades, but I’d prefer to chow down and watch movies in the comfort of my own home.

Easter Bunny Blasphemy!

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JAY: “You’re f*cking kidding me, the Easter Bunny did this?
BRODIE: “All I said was the Easter Bunny at the Menlo Park Mall was more 
convincing and he just jumped the railing and knocked me down”
JAY: “He’s f*ckin’ dead…”
BRODIE: “Oh, let it go he’s under a lot of pressure.”
T.S: “What the hell happened to him?”
JAY: “The guy in the Easter Bunny suit kicked his ass!”

The territorial aspect of Kevin Smith’s films can’t be fully appreciated unless you are from New Jersey. If you’re from Pittsburgh, PA or Peoria, IL, the effect is not exactly the same. It’s like the way that people from Dallas felt a part of the long running prime time soap based on the Texas city, and it’s also no different than the way people in Philly connect with It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. If you’re an outsider you probably didn’t know that the people who suit up as Easter Bunnies at malls in Central New Jersey have a bad chip on their shoulder, so don’t f*ck with them!

This doesn’t mean that if you are a non-Jerseyan you like Mallrats less than us, it’s just in a different way. Much like Clerks, it was a thrill when I first saw Mallrats in the theater since there were so many references to the local area. The mall scenes in Mallrats were not filmed in Jersey, but Brodie mentions Menlo Park Mall in Edison, New Jersey. Menlo Park Mall was quite an institution. It was one of those places where my family and everyone we knew would be at constantly. I have fond memories of it, especially before it’s revamp in the early ’90s.

Along with the above Easter Bunny scene, Mallrats also has an exterior shot of the old U.S #1 Flea Market. It was a legendary emporium that I also used to frequent a lot as a kid with my family. The flea market closed years ago to make way for a Loews Cineplex, which has since been taken over by AMC Theaters.

Back in 1995, even though it was merely through a couple of quick references, Smith provided a completely fresh take on Jersey in Mallrats.  He put Jersey on a pedestal, years before it was considered trendy. When Kevin Smith was originally embracing his home state there were no reality shows, and especially none that took place in Jersey. At that time Jersey wasn’t getting a lot of play in movies either, and when it did, it was usually the butt of a joke.

Smith also pioneered the fact that it was cool to be a geek. I can’t claim that trend to have originated in New Jersey but I can tell you that since then Seth Cohen from the O.C and the guys on Big Bang Theory as well as many others have been proud of their geeky lifestyle. They can thank Kevin Smith for making Brodie one of the coolest S.O.B’s in the history of movies. He’s literally a fanboy icon. I used to think that if a guy who liked comic books and video games as much as Brodie did could be that cool, it just reassured me that there were others like me out there. Although I doubt I’d ever choose a game of NHL Hockey on Genesis over a roll in the hay with a bitter, post 90210 Shannen Doherty, but that’s another story.

Smith’s films have helped geeks become proud of their fixations and he’s created films that have upped New Jersey’s coolness factor. For example, after Mallrats came out, people in Tonganoxie, Kansas thought we slackers in Jersey were pretty f’n rad, and meticulous with our comic book collections. I have news for you, we still are.

Preparing to SCREAM Some More…

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After reading a post by Johnny over at one of my favorite horror blogs, Freddy in Space, I thought I should get a SCREAM-themed post together as well. My tickets for Scream 4 have been purchased and I don’t think I’ve been this excited for a theatrical horror release since Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows came out. That one let most of you down, but not me, I loved it. BW2 aside, now it’s Scream time!

Two things about Scream 4 are gripping my attention. Foremost, I’m looking forward to seeing the new cast members as well as some familiar faces. Some of my favorites have been cast in the film including Kristen Bell, Marley Shelton, Aimee Teegarden, Adam Brody, and Heather Graham.

It will also be interesting to see if Wes Craven can rebound from My Soul To Take. I realize a lot of horror fans out there enjoyed it, but I wound up bored out of my skull. I never thought I’d be scanning through a Wes Craven horror film. Shit, I’ve sat through all of Wes Craven’s movies, even the ones he merely “presented.” Wes deserves to have another true classic for the new generation of horror, so please let it be Scream 4!

Although I’m hoping Scream 4 will be a triumphant culmination of the series, even if it tanks at the box office it’s sure to yield more installments in the future. And why shouldn’t the Scream franchise continue on? All the great horror franchises keep evolving. They’ll probably go on forever, long after The Sexy Armpit has disappeared from the net, only to be found via a wayback machine. The original Scream was released in 1996, so the Scream Team has had a hell of enough time to perfect its formula. Who knows, maybe Scream 4 could even surpass the original?

Are you going to see Scream 4? If so, let us get you geared up for the film, with two classic Scream posts:

All about the night of Scream 2’s premiere. I dressed up as Ghostface when 
I worked at Loew’s Menlo Park Cinemas.
One of the best cameos in the Scream series!

Dine-In Theaters? AMC’s Newest Movie Theater Concept

AMC Dine-In

Last week I was asked to attend a special blogger preview night at the newest AMC Dine-In Theater at Menlo Park Mall in Edison, NJ. It sounded like a request for free advertising, but I had my reasoning for showing up there. It was a total trip for me to see this theater after it’s makeover since I actually worked there for nearly 5 years. I had some of the best times of my life there believe it or not, and I met a bunch of people that have become life long friends. What seemed like an easy part time job throughout high school and some of college was truly an awesome experience, so I felt like I needed to check out what they’ve done to my old digs. It was great to see that the structure and layout has stayed primarily the same, but what has changed is the fact that the traditional movie theater will soon be extinct.

AMC DIne-In

Specially selected AMC Theaters are transforming into a place where you can watch a film, get tanked, and eat dinner all while chilling on a cozy leather recliner. At first I really wasn’t interested since what once was my favorite hobby, going to the local theater to watch a movie, has become an annoyance. Nowadays I’d rather watch movies at home, either selected from my obscene amount of DVD’s and Blu-rays or from Netflix and the nearby Redbox. My worn-in couch and all the little minor luxuries of home make going to the movies a big chore, so this concept is a tough sell for me and I’ll explain why.

AMC Dine-In

Dinner and a movie used to be one of the simplest dates you could go on. Now, even if you want to take your lady out for dinner and a romcom you wind up waiting 30 minutes at the restaurant for a seat, and then once you get to the movies and sit in the theater some a-hole is talking nonstop behind you and kicking the back of your chair. Combining the experience streamlines the process in terms of time and money. Obviously, no theater gimmick will get rid of the talking a-holes with the leg spasm, they will always be there; but this new Dine-In concept may improve theater going in some respects while making it worse in others.

If I’m going to get really comfy, I don’t want to do it at Menlo Park Mall. Once I get comfortable, I fall asleep. So, inviting me to come into your theater to kick back in an easy chair and conk the f*ck out is not the best plan, especially if you want my tab to get paid by close of business! Terrible idea people! Are they supplying woobies too?

AMC Dine-In
The old box office and business office is now a lounge area with LCD screens

First off, I hate hearing people eat when I’m trying to pay attention to a movie, unless of course, I’m also eating at the same time, then I’m not paying attention to them at all. If the theater is mostly quiet and some couple are chowing down on crunchy nachos beside me, I would want to scratch my eyeballs out. If I was trying to watch a movie and get distracted because someone in front of me is ordering their fifth Mojito and a giant sized portion of lobster ravioli and the server is in my view of the screen I would really freak out in my mind.

I am very particular when I watch things. It’s not so much that I am missing something it’s that old general principle of being quiet in a library. You can wolf down food and domestic beers with your friends at a bar, you can bullshit with your yenta sister in law at your house during the holidays, but I believe in a calm and cool attitude in a theater. It’s a time to relax.

I already mentioned the leather recliners, but there’s also airline style “seat side service buttons” that alert a waiter or waitress that you want to order some grub. That’s a red light for me. Imagine how many people are going to abuse that one. Do they provide puke buckets too? Because when those cougars start getting all up on those raspberry martinis and horning it up over Mark Wahlberg, those poor ushers are going to have some cleaning up to do.

AMC Dine-In
A full wet bar and cocktail lounge has taken the place of the old rarely used front concession stand

How do you feel about Dine-In Movie Theaters? Can’t wait to go or your ass will be staying on the couch? Let us know in the comments!

The AMC Dine-In Theater at Menlo Park Mall in Edison, NJ officially opens to the public this Friday and also feature upscale Cinema Suites.


AMC Menlo Park 12 Dine-In Theater
390 Menlo Park Mall
Edison, New Jersey

Mallrats Wedding Proposal

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Mallrats (1995)

It’s not blasphemous that I like Mallrats more than Clerks. I draw a lot of heat for that amongst friends and Kevin Smith fans. Ever since I first saw Mallrats at the local theater I connected with it more than Clerks. Possibly because it’s a bigger, more comical film and it featured many elements that had already become Smith’s calling card. Most of all, it hits home because we have so many malls in New Jersey and when you’re young and a comic book reading movie geek who’s done reading that week’s comics and brought all his videos back, there’s not much to do besides go and walk around the mall. Personally, I grew up sandwiched in between 2 of the most notorious “monuments to consumerism” as Brodie (Jason Lee) refers to them.

In the scene pictured above, TS relays to his comic hoarding friend Brodie that if his trip to Florida with his girlfriend Brandi didn’t get squashed, he was planning on proposing to her.

TS: “I was gonna propose to her.”
BRODIE: “Where?”
TS: “On the Universal tour.”
BRODIE: “You’re kidding, what part?”
TS: “When Jaws pops out of the water”
BRODIE: “That’s the most romantic thing I’ve ever heard”
TS: “Yeah, well too bad I’m not trying to marry you.”

I wonder how many people actually proposed on the Jaws ride in honor of that quote? I wouldn’t be surprised if tons of lightbulbs simultaneously went off in many hardcore Kevin Smith fans’ heads when they heard that one, as they turned and gazed diabolically at their significant others. To take it to the next level, I bet there are even fans out there who got engaged as they visited the Easter Bunny at the Menlo Park Mall, ya know, cause the US1 Flea Market closed ages ago.

Anyone have a good proposal story inspired by a Kevin Smith film? Ha! Hey, it doesn’t hurt to ask!