Thursday, December 9, 2010

The 1994 Holiday Gift Guide!


There are times when I both envy and feel sorry for this current generation of kids. Its only natural for everyone to feel at least a little nostalgic when looking back at there childhood, all the while thinking that there generation was the best. So maybe I'm a little once sided here but I really do believe that growing up in the 1990s was simply hands down the best time to be a kid.

In the 90s we got to experience the very beginning of the “technology age” without being completely ran over by it. Some of the best video game systems of all time where released in the 1990s, I'm talking about heavy hitters like the Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, Sony Playstation, and technically the Sega Dreamcast belongs to us as well. But unlike the following generations of kids, nobody used words like “obese” to describe us. 

 Like our 80s counterparts we were just as inclined to go outside and scrape our knees, jump on trampolines, and run around the block like idiots until our parents called us inside. We had more motivation from shows like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers to generally want to go outside and kick the shit out of one another. Not to mention that we did it all without safety gear.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Halloween Depression and Call of Duty

It should be obvious to anyone who reads the stuff that I write that I enjoy the Holiday seasons. I love Halloween and while I enjoy Christmas I don't quite have the same level of enthusiasm for Santa Clause that I have for The Great Pumpkin. On this November 16th of 2010 I made a trip to the store and finally realized that every square inch of Halloween has been removed and Christmas is in full swing. The first time this happens is always really sort of depressing. I mean not real depression or anything... but its totally enough to make you feel sad.

Its an odd feeling. Spending so much time and effort all year long on making Halloween the absolute best it can be that when its over with you sort of have to sit back and ask yourself "alright now what did I do before all this mayhem?"

Thankfully, though, there are certain cures for this post Halloween depression. Namely "Costume Quest" for the PSN/XBL. This game is fantastic and a great way to really feel the season and spirit of Halloween. Even though I just recently hit 100% in this game, meaning that I've finished literally everything the game has to offer. I'll probably hit it up for a second play through here in a couple of weeks.

Another great quick fix, and one of my favorite Halloween related stores, Fright Catalog is a great year round Halloween resource. It sort of sucks immediately after the Holiday they're pretty much sold out of everything. Ironically enough, come Christmas time they'll start to re-stock everything and close to New Years you'll slowly start to see the "New For 2011" products.

I also wanted to really quickly mention that I picked up the latest Call of Duty for the Playstation 3. Wow. I've been missing out. In my stubbornness to accept its success (because anything that popular must suck, right?) ... hell I was wrong. Its awesome. Haven't tried the multiplayer yet but the single player is good fun. Early on there was a scene that had you on a motorcycle shooting a shotgun. Doesn't get much better then that!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Tis The Season (For Christmas Tree Cakes)

 I was at the grocery store the other day wandering through the isles, mostly looking for some kind of interesting Halloween themed product that I might have missed in October. When out of the corner of my eye I spotted something oh so much more pleasant... Christmas Tree Cakes!


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Christmas Tree Cakes and Halloween Milk?

Deep down we all know that out of the "Big Three" Holidays... Halloween is sort of the bastard child of the bunch. Sure, most companies are maybe willing to put a couple of black bats and a pumpkin or two on the packaging (and with the exception of Halloween Oreo's) most really don't have that many Halloween themed products. Christmas, on the other hand, gets all kinds of exclusive products. I wrote about Cranberry Splash a couple of days ago but that is just the tip of the iceberg. The really cool stuff is just now starting to hit the store shelves.

Christmas Tree Cakes. Christmas Tree Cakes. Words cannot describe my love for Christmas Tree Cakes. You know that war in the middle east? It's because these things are only sold for a couple of months at the end of the year. Seriously! It's part of the charm of the season, knowing that you had better buy the fuck out of them right now because come February you'll be shit out of luck if you want to eat a pint sized piece of cake shaped like a tree. I've never really payed close enough attention  to know if Little Debbie sells similar products year round. But honestly... fuck that I'm not here to write about  March's generic non-tree shaped cake equivalent. I want the Christmas kind. With Santa's Jolly Red Ass on the front the free Holiday tags on the back. I also found Halloween themed chocolate milk.

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Yes. That is in fact a pumpkin drinking milk through a straw.

Yes. You read that right. Halloween. Themed. Milk. Who knew that such a product even existed? I find it hard to believe that I went the entire month of October and failed to find it earlier. Never has so much awesome come together on one single package. We have cats. We have bats. We have a pumpkin. We have the word "Boolicious".  We have Halloween flavored Chocolate Milk! For those of you wondering what exactly Halloween Flavored Chocolate Milk tastes like... no it doesn't taste like candy corn, it's just a regular half gallon of chocolate milk. Milk is milk... but ones with pumpkins on the front are heaven.

I'm tempted to keep the jug of milk. Not full... mind you. Not even I could justify keeping a half gallon of chocolate milk past the expiration date simply because of its sticker... but keeping an empty half gallon of Halloween themed Chocolate Milk. Maybe. Time will tell. Usually things that end in the "I can't possibly throw this away" pile are reserved for limited edition packages with Spider-Man on the front cover or hear today gone tomorrow flavors of soda. That pile is starting to get awfully large. Some day I'll write about said pile.

In the mean time, while I figure out of this jug of milk is really worth saving... I suggest you guys head out to the store and pick up some Christmas Tree Cakes. I promise I'll stop writing about food here shortly too. 8-)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Happy (late!) Halloween!

I just wanted to take this time to wish everyone a late Happy Halloween! I realize that its November 3rd and that almost every store has gotten rid of there Halloween merchandise but that doesn't mean that the rest of us have to give the season up! As a matter of fact... I still have some very October-ish related stuff that I'm gonna be posting.



This is my 2010 Yard Haunt photos (and video) set to some White Zombie music! It's a whole bunch of work for only a couple hours of kids coming through... but its a lot of fun and I know that its something they'll enjoy for years to come. Plus how many other houses can say that at one point they actually had a line of kids going down the sidewalk to come to there house? Not many!

So let's enjoy this first week or so here in November and celebrate whats left of the Halloween season. Because sooner (that you'd think) we're gonna be in full on Christmas mode!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Great Pumpkin! .... and The Christmas Pumpkin!

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Quick update! This is my pumpkin that I carved for this year. Before you ask... I have no idea how the background of that photo turned out blue like that. Trust me, I couldn't do that again if I tried. I'm sort of "meh" on this years Halloween Pumpkin. While I enjoy the nose, I think the eyes could have been done a little bit better and that nose needed to be smaller. I drew it smaller but when I cut it out it ended up larger than what I wanted. I have another pumpkin but I'm saving  that one for Christmas. It's a tradition. Here take a look at a couple of my years past designs!

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This was the first year of The Christmas Pumpkin! It's a funny sort of thing. I didn't set out to make a tradition out of this. As a matter of fact this pumpkin wasn't even one of mine. I found it in the front lawn about a week into November. I'm assuming some kids stole and tried to smash it but for some reason it didn't break and ended up in my lawn. Sort of as a joke, I picked it up and put it on the front deck half expecting it to rot out. Only pretty soon it was Thanksgiving and the pumpkin still lived. As a matter of fact, it was fine. It was at this point that I realized if it hadn't started to decay by now... it would probably make it into the month of December. So I kept it outside on the front deck and pretty soon.... it was December 20th and that damn pumpkin was still alive. Not only that but I was the only house in town who still had a fresh Halloween Pumpkin. Since it was a small one, I decided not to carve it but instead write "Merry Christmas" across its front and it set under that tree until New Year when it finally developed a soft spot and started to leak stuff out on the floor. So I put it out on the back deck, in the cold and snow and the damn thing slowly started to rot and ended up lasting like midway through January!

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The following year a full on tradition was born and I decided to save one of my own pumpkins. A large one that could be carved into a full on Jack O'Lantern on Christmas Eve! I quickly discovered a valuable lesson this year. If you plan on keeping a larger pumpkin you must keep it someplace cool. I simply put mine in the basement on the floor but if you happened to have space in an old deep freezer that would work even better.

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As you can (sort of) see there is no point in having a Christmas Pumpkin if you're not going to share it with the world! After all you are the ONLY house in town with a freshly carved Halloween Pumpkin ... on Christmas Eve! So I always fix a green light and Santa Hat and put mine right outside front and center with the rest of the Christmas Lights. I get a lot of comments on it every year that I do it. I sort of wondered if people would think I was crazy but I do put on such a huge Halloween display every year I think people sort of expect to see a mix of both kinds of decorations at my house.

So make sure you guys save at least one pumpkin. Keep it someplace cool. And let's all carve one together on Christmas Eve. Especially if you have kids. It'll be something they'll talk about for years!

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Return of Cranberry Splash and Halloween Oreos

 Its funny how these things work out... just a couple of days after I make a post about how the end of October always feels like an odd blend of the Halloween and Christmas seasons... we get the return of Cranberry Splash! The holiday flavor of Siera Mist that typically goes on sale at the beginning of November through the New Years.

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The package has gone through a bit of an overhaul. Embracing the Christmas Spirit through and through they have forgone the "classic" green package and went for an all white attire. The berries have been arranged in a way that they resemble bulbs hanging from a tree. These are all welcome changes and they really do help to push Cranberry Splash from simply being a drink sold around Christmas time to a Christmas Flavored Drink. Its all about the little details. Packaging aside, the taste of Cranberry Splash remains completely unaltered. If you've never given this version of Siera Mist a shot you definitely owe it to yourself to go to the store and pick some up. Remember you've only got a couple of months to enjoy Cranberry Splash before its gone until next year!

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Changing gears from Christmas flavored soda we have Halloween Themed Oreo Cookies! Now I don't know about you guys but I look forward to these babies each and every year. While the flavor doesn't actually change (but really... who would want an altered flavored Oreo???) the packaging gets a complete overhaul as well as the cookies themselves. The normally white filling gets converted to orange and the cookie tops now sport up to five different ghostly images! You guys know the routine, these cookies aren't really anything new but that still doesn't stop them from being flat out awesome! Who can really resist a package with a gigantic pumpkin and that awesome Haunted House in the top right corner? Not me!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Nightmare Before Christmas Figures

If there is one store who always brings it during Halloween that store would have to be Target! These guys are clearly down with the devil and for that I would like to thank them. Every year it seems that places like Wal-Mart care less and less about Halloween, to the point that I hardly even looking through there sections anymore. I don't know why bit it seems that as the years go by Halloween is becoming less and less of its own Holiday and more and more of an introduction to Christmas. As we reach the tail end of the month, its no surprise to see most stores trading out there vampire bats and severed heads for reindeer and abominable snow men ... not that I have any sort of prejudice towards snow men and as much as I love the Christmas season, what can I say I'm old fashion! I like my October to be Halloween and my December to be about Christmas. There is too much of this miss-mash of Mid October turning into half one Holiday and half another and I don't know if I should be putting up gravestones or gravestones with flashing red and green lights on them anymore!

However there are times when Halloween and Christmas can come together with splendid results. My annual Christmas Pumpkin comes to mind (more on that guy later!) But probably the most prolific example of this is obviously The Nightmare Before Christmas! This cult classic is just as much a Halloween Tradition as it is a Christmas Tradition. And not a season goes by that I don't watch the Halloween, Christmas, and Thanksgiving Charlie Brown specials and The Nightmare Before Christmas.

This has all been a long winded introduction for a set of six "Trading Figures" that I picked up at Target for $3.99. Series one includes Jack, Sally, Lock, Shock, Barrel, Zero, Dr. Finklestein, and Oogie Boogie. See what I've done here 8-)

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Packages! Boxes! Bags! ... well, no bags but you get the idea.
Sorry for the crappy photo but sadly this was the best I could accomplish with my crappy digital camera. Other than the hellish reflective cardboard the boxes themselves are really pretty cool. If your into that sort of thing. Which I am. Every box is identical but thankfully the each tell you which figure you're going to be purchasing. Plus one point for not making me buy four hundred different toys and ending up with three hundred and ninety nine "Sock and Zero" sets and one Jack Skellington. The folks at JUN Planning (the guys who make these toys) know that nobody really sets out to purchase a set of six pint sized Nightmare Before Christmas figures and thus nobody is definitely making return trips to complete the set. When your selling impulse figures for $3.99 its the little details like these that matter most. So I bought the whole set!

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This is how action figures are born!
This is what Jack looks like out of the box. Fuck. You have to assemble the figures by yourself. I have an entire line of Marvel figures of the exact same concept and I remember how well those went together. After about three hours, a hot glue gun, and a small extracto knife ... I finally had Dr. Octopus's bottom right tentacle attached to his body and still had roughly six trillion tiny plastic pieces left to assemble. Fortunately for me, though, this Nightmare line doesn't quite put you through that much stress. As a matter of fact a couple of the figures hardly have anything to snap together at all! Score one for us lazy folk.

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Jack! The Pumpkin King!
As you can see there are directions included but if you can't figure out the difference between Jack's left arm and right leg this probably isn't the type of thing you should be purchasing in the first place. I was actually quite surprised as to how detailed these figures really are. Take a look at Jack here, for a figure your spending four bucks on he looks really good. They even managed to put the stripes in his tux without completely mucking everything up! He's also really solid, which is much more than I can say for other figures of the "put together" variety. He doesn't have much play value... but he'll certainly set on your desk and won't fall apart if you accidentally sneeze the wrong direction.

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Look at all this work in front of me. I'll never get them put together!
The rest of the figures all come in varying degrees of difficulty in terms of what it takes to assemble them. Honestly, it was a wise decision by the JUN Planning people. I mean really we're talking about cheap impulse figures... I'm willing to spend maybe three minutes putting together Jack Skellington or Oogie Boogie. But Dr. Finklestein? Zero? These characters, while important to have in the collection, do not warrant any more than thirty seconds worth of effort. Which is fine by me because honestly... its not about putting these things together its about the final product. So the lesser the characters the more put together they are. Finklestein only actually had one part that you snapped onto him (the top of his head) and Zero came completely put together. Zero also very interestingly came packaged with Shock. Which seems odd at first until you realize what they've actually created... a very nice marketing trick. Lock and Barrel are sold together BUT they have this giant cut out that Shock sits into. Then when you purchase Shock, she comes with Zero who fits on the side of the Jack Skellington figure and you can't really do anything with Zero without having the Jack figure. Do you see where this is going? By the time its all said and done you end up with the entire set of figures. Clever clever marketing!

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One big happy family... sitting in front of my DVD collection.

This is the entire set of "Series 1" Nightmare Before Christmas figures. No, I didn't use the directions but I think I properly assembled them all! Its a really good first entry into the series. You got pretty much every main character covered. I'm honestly kinda surprised that they didn't split them all up and have Jack be the "highlight" of Series 1 and throw in five other filler characters. So major points for giving us everyone you could pretty much want in one shot. Though, I do wonder who'll be in Series 2? If there even IS a Series 2.

Oogie Boogie is the clear cut victor of the bunch. He has the most "heft" to him thus giving him the most "playability" of the bunch. The rest, while durable, would easily loose limbs if used for anything more than decoration. I also would like to mention that Oogie also the most interesting to put together. His head is split into two pieces and upper and lower half. The lower jaw was attached to to the rest of the body and you had to snap the upper half in place. Only thing is it defied pretty much every law of physics known to man as the "snaps" where inset down so far that it was impossible to make the connection without the usage of a screwdriver. But they for only four bucks you can't expect them to obey every physical law now can you?

If you'd like a set of these for yourself go check out your local Target and I'd suggest doing so quickly. Any day now there entire Halloween section will be converted red and green. Who knows maybe Series 2 will come out with Santa Jack and Sandy Claws? I should also mention that there are not one but two websites listed on the back of the box and neither of them do anything. Though honestly does this surprise anyone from a company whose name sort of sounds like a Wedding Planning Agency? HOWEVER if you would really, really like to own yourself some and have a vendetta against Target you can purchase the exact same figures on Amazon for dirt cheap. So now there is no reason not to own yourself some!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Two Awesome Movies I've Seen

Hey guys, long time no chat. Sorry for the lack of updates. I have some really cool things in store for everyone. First and foremost I'm slowly but surely getting all my accounts linked together. For those of you interested in such things, I've got my Twitter account all up and running. You can follow me at GrindhouseCinem I usually only send out a couple a day, so you don't have to worry about me spamming your Twitter app. I've also got my Twitter linked directly to my blog, so if you don't want to set up an account you can still read what I've been posting.

I will also be doing a "How to keep in contact" YouTube video... with links to this blog and my Twitter account. Hopefully that will get traffic driven in the right direction. I also wanted to let you guys know that I'm going to be doing a video game Podcast here in the very near future 8) I'll tell you guys more in the coming weeks. Until then I wanted to share a couple excellent films that I recently picked up.

The first movie is an amazing film called Pi. From 1997, Pi was written (in part) and directed by Darren Aronofsky. "A brilliant mathematician teeters on the brink of insanity as he searches for an elusive numerical code in this critically acclaimed, sci-fi thriller!"

Pi is, for lack of a better term, like watching someone else go insane. There is a number of times that your quite frankly not sure what in the holy hell is going on. The main character, Max, is portrayed as an absolute genius with numbers, but also deals with a number of social disorders. Basically the general idea behind the film is that Max believes that everything in the known universe works in numerical patterns. Including the US Stock Market. Upon accident he discovers a 200+ digit code that was able to accurately predict a market fall. The film then takes a turn were he ends up meeting a group of religious Jewish fanatics who happen to be looking for the same 200+ digit code in the Jewish Bible.

It is a really hard movie to try to explain and I've done a really piss poor job at summarizing it. You're best bet is to go onto YouTube and track down the trailer. All that I have to say is that I highly recommend Pi to anybody whose looking for a smart, provocative film. This is not your average summer blockbuster. This is a mind-twisted psychological flick. Oh and there is a scene were I think Max takes a power drill to his head.

The Ugly differs greatly from the film I mentioned above. It is a far more conventional suspense driven psychological thriller. This one deals with a convicted serial killer, Simon Cartwright, whose been stuck in an institution. He meets up with a psychiatrist, Dr. Karen Schumaker, who wants to give a second opinion on Simon.

Yea, yea, yea... let's talk about what makes this film fucking awesome. Simon is a deeply disturbed individual, there is no doubt in that. But this is not Hanable Lector, he isn't eating people or cutting someones face off. You live Simon's life through a very cool series of flashbacks and see how he was picked on and abused not only by his peers, but by his own mother. When it finally gets to the point were he's had enough and he picks up the knife... the scariest part of the film happens. You actually understand and feel for Simon. It's a powerful experience to say the least. Really makes you question what you would do if you were put in his shoes.

There is also this awesome sub-plot of demons that haunt Simon (he calls them The Ugly). He claims that they provoke him to do the killings. In my favorite scene he breaks down saying how The Ugly pester him and force him to kill "each time making it harder and harder not to". We're never quite sure if The Ugly actually exist of it they are just a creation of Simon's own demented mind. I have my own opinion but I don't want to share it with you. Watch the movie and let me know what you think!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Playstation D-Day

Y2K has officially struck, ten years too late and exclusively to owners of the old fat Playstation 3 systems. Due to an internal clock malfunction, the systems OS tried to reset the date to a non-existent February 29th, causing the system to go haywire and stop functioning properly. The Playstation 3 has eight 128-bit vector based SPE processors, each with 256KB static RAM, and a 3.2-GHz PowerPC core microprocessor.... and it got confused because of the date! How awesome is that!

The error code 8001050F ... which is being referenced as everything from APPOCOLYPS3 to "Doc Brown'ed" resets the systems internal date to 1999 and brings about a tirade of problems here is the official list according to Sony:

Errors include:
* The date of the PS3 system may be re-set to Jan 1, 2000.
* When the user tries to sign-in to the PlayStation Network, the following message appears on the screen; "An error has occurred. You have been signed out of PlayStation Network (8001050F)".
* When the user tries to launch a game, the following error message appears on the screen and the trophy data may disappear; "Failed to install trophies. Please exit your game."
* When the user tries to set the time and date of the system via the Internet, the following message appears on the screen; "The current date and time could not be obtained. (8001050F)"
* Users are not able to playback certain rental video downloaded from the PlayStation Store before the expiration date

Simply resetting the systems date will not solve the problem, neither will disconnecting it from the internet. Even though the error appears to deal with the PSN and Trophy Support, it is in-fact an internal hardware issue. Which means everyone is effected by this one. Including that guy in Portugal with his PS3 hooked up via RF switch to a 13" Sylvania TV set.

My PS3 has been Doc Brown'ed and I'm currently unable to access my PSX downloads, my copy of Marvel vs. Capcom 2... though strangely the Heavy Rain Demo still functions. I tried to boot a copy of Resident Evil 5 and was promptly kicked out of the game. Uncharted 2, however booted up just fine.

This brings up an interesting question, Error 8001050F fundamentally deals with the system being unable to preform a Trophy Sync / System Check upon insertion of a disc, so it kicks you back out to the main screen. What I don't understand is why the system simply doesn't by-pass the Sync and boot the game. I wonder if it's some sort of copy protection on the part of Sony?

Anyhow... quite frankly I think the whole ordeal is interesting and honestly kind of fun. Reading everyones reactions is fucking phenomenal ... it's like the world has came to an end because the PS3 won't boot various games for a day or so. Who cares guys. I've got like seventeen other systems to play games on. I'll just boot up my Dreamcast or play some GEX over on the 3DO to pass the time until I can get back to fragging people via MAG.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Big Foot Suspect in Gas Station Robbery


Local convenient store Big Al's Gas and Food is currently under investigation of reports of an armed robbery at approximately 11:40pm on Sunday, October 17th. Police and eye witness reports describe the suspect as being near eight feet tall, covered in hair, and having abnormally large feet.

When asked to describe the events, shop owner Big Al responded with the following statement."I was tending to some of the broken shelves in the back of the store when out of the blue this extremely large, apelike man burst through the front door. At first I thought maybe it was some sort of prank, but I quickly realized he meant business. He was waving a vary large stick, growling and spitting all over the counters. I just washed those counters."

The suspect made off with the contents of the cash drawer, a couple pounds of toffee, and an astonishingly large amount of cat food. Estimated damages near the three thousand dollar mark.

According to eyewitness Greg Maddox the suspect fled the scene on foot, leaving oddly shaped indents in the dirt and none discrete clumps of fur in the trees. "There is no doubt in my mind that what I saw was Big Foot robbing a Gas Station. None whatsoever. says Greg. Police are offering a reward for any and all information that leads to the capture of this wanted criminal and zoological mystery.