Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Peach Mango Kool-Aid + Bonus Bendy Staws!

Click for Larger Image!
Want to know how I know its almost officially Summer Time outside again? Because there are new flavors of Kool-Aid out on store shelves! I've long since said that Kool-Aid is a drink that is best enjoyed during the Summer months and its hard to dispute that fact. Nobody drinks hot chocolate in July just the same as nobody drinks Kool-Aid in December. Its some sort of mystical law of the seasons that everyone adheres to without really realizing it.

Click for Larger Image!
The newest edition to the Kool-Aid family is a flavor for 2012 called Peach Mango. A combination of well... peaches and mangos. This is not as earth shattering as last Halloween's surprise appearance of Scary Blackberry Ghoul-Aid but its not meant to be. This is Summer Time.... the season for relaxing and... peach flavored drinks. I bet this would be great with Vodka.

Peach Mango is sold in your standard, run of the mill Kool-Aid package. This sort of bums me out. I miss the old days when each package was like a little mini piece of artwork. They all looked different and felt different. Kool-Aid was something to collect just as much as it was something to drink. 

These days every package tends to look pretty much the same, save for the obvious color differences. I really wish they would return to the days when Kool-Aid Man would ride pink sharks (Sharkleberry Fin) or party with a purple brontosaurus (Purplesaurus Rex). Peach Mango has the misfortune of coming in the same lame package that every other flavor of Kool-Aid is sold in these days. Does it end up hurting the appeal of Peach Mango? A little. If this flavor only sticks around for a couple months it is going to be tough to remember it because there is almost nothing remarkable about how it looks or how it was sold.

Click for Larger Image!
I will always bee a Kool-Aid traditionalist. Cherry is my number one pick above anything else but I enjoy the other flavors from time to time too. Peach Mango is a good 'alternative' flavor. I do not think it will be something that will work its way into a regular rotation but I can make due with the five or six packages that I have laying around.

The first thing you'll notice about Peach Mango is the smell. As soon as you open the bag you are hit with the strong smell of peaches. Its almost like opening a Glade Air Freshener for the first time and being hit with that overwhelming sent that has been kept inside. I am pretty sure this is the strongest smelling flavor of Kool-Aid I have ever encountered.

Once added to water, it ends up forming a really dark yellow color. Its nice. It reminds me of Halloween. A pitcher of Scary Blackberry sitting next to a pitcher of Peach Mango would totally look like your about to preform some sort of voodoo ritual that results in Pinhead and the rest of the Cenobites coming out of your closet. Only instead of cutting off your flesh, you'll be sitting around drinking Kool-Aid. Because not even Cenobites can resist the temptation of a freshly made pitcher of Kool-Aid.

As for the taste? Yea its alright. It is nothing to really write home about, which consequently makes it a little more difficult to write about. It mostly tastes like peaches. As a matter of fact I almost entirely sure that that is the only thing it tastes like. I hate to call the inclusion of "mango" in the title as a simple ruse in order to make the name sound more exciting... but I am pretty sure the word "mango" is only in the title to make the name sound more exciting. Besides does anyone even know what a mango tastes like all by itself? Probably not. This paragraph is horribly constructed, hopefully the Cenobites do not notice.

Click for Larger Image!
Because I did not think that Peach Mango Kool-Aid was enough for a single blog post, we are going to talk about these colored bendy straws. They are one of the many seasonal summer items that you do not really think of until you see them sitting on the shelf at the store. That tends to be the case with most summer items, they lack the one-two punch that is typically associated with Christmas or Halloween items.

But these straws really are an important part of summer lore. They are one of those summer items that we have all used many times before but never really realize it... unless you actually stop and think about it. But chances are if you and your friends ever had a lemonade (or Kool-Aid) stand, you used colored bendy straws identical to the ones seen here.

I always seem to associate these straws with the 4th of July and family grill outs or long afternoons in the park. They are one of my favorite throw away summer items. Plus any leftover straws can easily be used in a number of different arts and crafts projects. Like creating your own multicolored Hellraiser costume to wear to school when vacation is over. Trust me your parents will love it.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Summer Toys -- Wrist Copter!

Click for Larger Image!
I've always kind of enjoyed toys that have packages that seem to blatantly lie about the abilities of whatever is inside its box. Wrist Copters for example, make claim to fly up to thirty feet into the air. Thirty! By random comparison your average Tyrannosaurus Rex stood about 15-20 feet tall (and about 40 feet long). When I was looking at Wrist Copters in the store, I had some pretty severe doubts that these cheap plastic helicopters would be able to launch themselves higher than your average T-Rex.

As it turns out I may have slightly underestimated what these things can do. Thirty feet seems to be a best case scenario... but if the wind hits just right and you get enough pull on the draw string you can get pretty close to that number. As a matter of fact I was able to launch one clean over the top of my house. For a six dollar throw away toy that is a pretty impressive accomplishment! One that is well worth taking a closer look into...

Monday, April 16, 2012

Summer Toys -- Creepeez!

Click for Larger Image!
For about as long as I can remember I have been fascinated with the bizarre dance that happens at every retail store across America. As a kid I found it interesting the way certain sections of the store seemed to constantly shift from one thing to another, and I am not just talking about the obvious Christmas or Halloween holiday sections. But those other here-today-gone-tomorrow sections that spring up throughout the course of a year.

Chief among them was the Summer Toy section, an entirely new toy isle that sprung up outside the confines of the normal toy section. Often times in the exact same spot that, a couple months prior, housed hundreds of red and green holiday items. Only now it has been replaced with loads upon loads of generic looking toys with strange names like "Force Squad" (which would be your run of the mill G.I. Joe knockoff line) or "52 Piece Dino Playset" (which typically would include about 5 actual dinos and 46 different types of rocks, trees, and at least one random volcano). And of course lots of different squirt guns and other accessories that either shot or exploded into water.

Despite the fact that the Summer Toy section very rarely had anything name-brand, I was always loved it and chances are you did too. So throughout the next couple of months I will be taking a look at some of the best toys that I have pulled from that specific section of the store and show everyone that just because a toy is considered kind of cheap and has a slightly generic sounding name attached to it, that it can be every bit of fun as its more expensive counterparts. Each toy will be ranked on a scale of 1-5, taking into account price, quality, and re-playability. The very first in an interesting set of sticky wall toys known as Creepeez! Lets take a closer look at the series...

Friday, April 13, 2012

Spring Cleaning!

Quick update time. I have done a bit of 'spring cleaning' around here. A lot of the changes I am sure you'll not notice... except for the fact that the blog generally looks much smoother and should load faster. For those interested here is the full list of what I have been working on / where things have been moved:

Layout Changes:
-- Body Layout now has a column on the right and left side of the page
-- Footer Layout has been changed to now support three side by side columns
-- Max Width of blog changed to a smaller size (1210px)
-- Right Side Bar and Left Side Bar size now smaller (230px)
-- Page Text bumped up to 16px
-- Page Text font changed to "Georgia"
-- Page Text now ends with "!"
-- Tabs Text font bumped up to 15x
-- Tabs Text font changed to "Coming Soon"
-- Post Title bumped to 20px
-- Post Title font changed to "Paytone One"

Design Changes:
-- "About Me" moved to left hand column
-- "Countdown Halloween" badge moved to right hand column
--  "Blog Archive" moved to to left hand column
-- "Recommend this on Google" link added to right hand column
-- Removed "Leave Comments" text box from right hand column
-- The number of articles that show up on the main page has been decreased from 7 to 5
-- "Search this Blog" moved to the top of the Footer Layout
-- Removed "Facebook Badge" from Footer
-- Removed "Christmas Jukebox" from Footer
-- Removed "Halloween Jukebox" from Footer
-- Removed "Summer Jukebox" from Footer
-- Removed "Christmas Countdown" from right hand column
-- Removed "Halloween Countdown" from right hand column

New Editions:
-- New Page Tab "Jukeboxes!" active
-- Christmas Jukebox added to "Jukeboxes" Page Tab
-- Halloween Jukebox added to "Jukeboxes" Page Tab
-- Summer Jukebox added to "Jukeboxes" Page Tab
-- "Halloween Town" Page altered, new header image & revised page formatting
-- "Christmas Town" Page altered, new header image & revised page formatting
-- "Christmas Countdown" moved to Christmas Town Page
-- "Halloween Countdown" moved to Halloween Town Page

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Butterfly Cakes Sort of Seem Like Easter!

Click for Larger Image!
Easter is officially over. I know because Target has already discounted its once proud section and shoved the remaining bits into the largest 50% off dump bin they could find. I made one last glancing look and seen a few things that I could have wrote about... but figured I would save any of those ideas for next year. Instead I left with Butterfly Cakes.

Here is the kicker, they were not even apart of the 50% off madness. Nope, this is just your normal every day garden variety "new" item. I use that word loosely because in all reality there is not much new about them. They are the same Little Debbie cakes we have all eaten countless times in the past. The only thing that ever really changes is the design. Sometimes they look like butterflies, sometimes they look like flowers, on really good days they are shaped like Christmas Trees and I go bat shit crazy over them.

Click for Larger Image!
Butterflies are not going to send anybody into a frenzy like what Christmas Tree Cakes will. Instead they end up being one of the many spring or summer items that just sort of falls short in capturing the same enjoyment that I get out of the real seasonal items associated with the end of the year holidays.With that said, if you squint hard enough and sort of tilt your head to the side... Butterfly Cakes look a hell of a lot like the symbol that the Ultimate Warrior paints on his face. That is both strange and epic at the same time.

In an attempt to reach the 'two paragraph minimum' that I like to stick to underneath ever photo that I post, I figure I will let you guys know what is coming up next here at The Astro Lounge, because quite frankly I have ran out of things to say about Butterfly Cakes. Within the immediate future I have three articles that relate to the Summer Season. I do not want to give away exactly what they are but I will say that two of them are some pretty cool toys, and the third is a new kind of beverage that is out on the market. One that can only truly be enjoyed during the summer months.

Beyond that I have a whole white board full of summer articles that will be spread out from now until September, in which time the 2012 Halloween Countdown will start. But I do not want to even begin to start letting those ideas out yet. What I can talk about is a new themed month that will be taking place, staring on July 1st and running throughout the month. It is a bit different than anything I have done in the past and will not interfere with the Summer Season articles the way that Fangoria February accidentally did. I will be posting more details about this new themed month when the time is right, but until then look forward to something fun that's coming in July!

Friday, April 6, 2012

2012 Easter Candy Roundup

Click for Larger Image!
When I look back at what I remember most about celebrating Easter growing up there are really only two things that spring to mind. Coloring eggs and all the different types of candy that enter your possession come Easter Sunday. Here candy is an entirely different experience than Christmas or Halloween. During Christmastime, candy is a mere supplement to the gifts you'll receive and Halloween forces you to work for your loot. Easter is the only time in which an overflowing basket of the stuff suddenly appears one morning. Standing as a shiny chocolate beacon of joy, one that is best to experience while you can. Eater is one of those holidays that you quickly grow out of. Religious aspects aside, the rest of the stuff typically associated with the holiday pretty much come plastered with a gigantic "for ages 7 and under" label on one side.

That does not have to mean that you cannot still get enjoyment out of the seasonal candy released around this time of year. There are no age limits on Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and other things of that nature. You are free to pick up most of the same things you enjoyed as a kid, its just not quite as cool to outright celebrate the season like some of the more popular holidays.

I happen to have extra motives this season. Having not really "done" Easter in a long time. I have started to wonder how much of the candy I remember as a kid is still sold in stores and what new kinds of things have stepped up to the plate and are now making memories for an entirely new generation of children.

So I made a quick trip to a could different stores and rummaged around the candy isles. I probably waited a little to late in the game for this, turns out most of the sections have been completely picked over by now. Turns out people with kids think of these things faster than people with internet blogs. The bastards. Anyhow not all of the good stuff was gone. I left with a small cross-section of all the things that I found the most interesting. The 2012 Easter Candy Roundup has some old favorites mixed in with some new ideas and at least one chicken that shits gumballs...