Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving McRibb!

By the time most of you read this Thanksgiving will have come and gone. Parades are through, football is over, and leftover bits of this and that decorate the innards your refrigerator.

As I write this, however, it is still technically turkey day. At least it will be for another couple hours. Hopefully each of you had a blessed Thursday. I know for me it was fairly uneventful. Caught the last thirty minutes or so of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade... which is one of those things that I feel like nobody ever really sets out to watch but sort of ends up off in the background anyway.

After a bit of football and a quick bite of some turkey it was off to work (at my real job!) for a few hours... in which I basically accomplished nothing and got payed time and a half for it. Truly living the American Dream, folks.

I decided to avoid any of the big "Pre-Black Friday" sales currently going on... for the most part. On my way home a quick detour past the local K-Mart peaked my interested just enough to stop in.

Ended up leaving with both Pacific Rim and Wold War Z on Blu-Ray for $10 a piece and Tim Burton's Dark Shadows on DVD for $5. Not a bad little haul if I do say so myself. The remainder of my night was spent watching said Dark Shadows movie... and despite the mostly negative reviews it received, I ended up enjoying most of the movie.

But we are not here to talk about Dark Shadows. Not tonight anyhow. What I really set out to accomplish this evening was to gush about the return of the McRibb sandwich for the thousands time. What's old is new and new is old... or something.

2013 McRibb!
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I know this isn't exactly breaking new ground and writing about a sandwich that somehow has Ammonium Sulfate as one of its ingredients is not exactly the key to internet stardom... but damn it some things I must simply do! And loving the McRibb is one of them.

In the same way that Cranberry Splash is like the unofficial soft drink of the Holiday Season, I view the stupidly bad for you McRibb in the exact same light. It's just not Christmastime until I've had one. Or two. Or seventeen.

You know sometimes Charlie Brown is correct, Christmas should not be defined by the material items around us but instead be about family and faith. Other times... he's flat out full o'fucking shit. Christmas is totally defined by stupid bullshit like imitation pork sandwiches.... I feel like if Mr. Brown had access to the McRibb he would be on my side with this one.

In conclusion while you are out punching strangers in the face Black Friday shopping... you really 'aught to pause for a brief couple of minutes and enjoy a good old fashion holiday McRibb sandwich. It's not really the holiday season until you do so!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Nightmare Before Christmas Jelly Belly Coffin!

Nightmare Before Christmas!
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If there is any time of the year to really appreciate Tim Burton's animated classic "The Nightmare Before Christmas" it would have to be right now, during the first few weeks of November.

The rotting corpse of the Halloween Season is still fresh in everyone's mind and if you dig hard enough, remnants of its ghostly shell can still be found in the far corners of most major retail stores.

And yet Christmastime has all but arrived. Everyplace you look is covered in red and green holiday cheer. It makes for a wonderfully strange mix of both seasons at the exact same time. Especially in the days immediately following Halloween when it literally becomes possible to celebrate both seasons together at once.

It creates the perfect atmosphere to talk about "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and thankfully almost every year something new springs up that sports the films iconic brand.

And as luck would have it, apparently 2013 marks the films 20th Anniversary which among other things means holy shit I'm getting old... as well as creating the perfect opportunity to stick TNBC branding on anything and everything possible. Which explains why we seen a slightly larger presence for the film this Halloween Season.

Enter the Jelly Belly Coffin! My current new favorite thing ever. I've had this little purple tin in my possession since roughly September, making it one of the first purchases I made of the 2013 Halloween Season... but I've held off writing about it until now for all the reasons that I stated at the beginning of this article.

I totally get why we see more "Nightmare Before Christmas" items released during the Halloween Season as opposed to its Christmas counterpart, but I've always believed that the spirit of the picture truly makes it a holiday film.

As a piece of Halloween Candy, the Jelly Belly Coffin ran the risk of being completely overshadowed by all the larger releases of the season. It's hard to dedicate a couple thousand words to jelly beans when you've got friggin' 40 year old brands of Monster Cereal being resurrected at the exact same time.

Nightmare Before Christmas!
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As a piece of Christmas Candy, however... the Nightmare Before Christmas Jelly Belly Coffin becomes something extra special. There is literally nothing else like this currently for sale on the market. It stands out as something unique and different in a sea of proverbial reds and greens.

I don't remember exactly what I spent on the Jelly Belly Coffin but I'm positive it couldn't have been more than a couple bucks. For what its worth you get a fairly sturdy little tin that would have made a great place for the little nuances... bits and pieces you collect as a child.

Extra Lego parts. Donatello's staff. The head of some rogue GI Joe. Loose junk change. It would all easily fit inside and create a perfect "hiding space" for those childhood valuables.

Which is a definite plus because in terms of actual jelly beans, you're going to get the shaft. I had a grand total of 40 pieces lurking inside mine. Not even enough to fill the casket up half way. Needless to say if you are buying this one for the candy, you'll end up a bit disappointed by the time it is all said and done.

As for me... I could not be happier to own the Nightmare Before Christmas Jelly Belly Coffin. Now hopefully we'll see some more TNBC branded stuff before the 2013 Holiday Season is finished!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

2013 Christmas Activity List!

I was at the shopping mall yesterday afternoon and found that the place had literally been converted into Christmas HQ. Every store was filled with holiday shopping sales, Christmas trees, and appropriately festive music playing in the background.

I couldn't be happier! It always takes me a few extra days to shift from Halloween mode into Christmastime but once I get here, there is basically no place I would rather be.

Unfortunately like anyone else I get busy and tend to put off celebrating the holiday season until "it gets closer to the holidays". Before long its five days until Christmas and I'm trying to cram two months worth of festivities into a few short evenings.

This is not the correct way to enjoy the holiday season. Its best to spread your activities out over the course of the next couple months and by the time its all said and done you'll feel like you've actually accomplished something fun instead of simply being along for the ride.

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Enter the Christmas Activity List! An idea I started last season which quickly became one of my new favorite holiday traditions. The just of the idea is this: create some type of list... I prefer to use colored construction paper but you are limited only by your imagination for this one. Display it in a spot that you'll look at every single day, and fill it with as many different holiday activities as you possibly can.

The beauty of the list is that "activity" can be as loosely defined as you'd like it to be. Whatever makes for a fun Christmas season to you personally... stick it on there. And don't be afraid to put in a bunch of "gimme spaces" between actual stuff you plan on doing.

First Snowfall. Thanksgiving Day. Christmas Eve. I think its just as important to add in things that are bound to happen anyway mixed in with whatever else you want to do to celebrate the season.

My list includes everything from wrapping presents, setting up the tree, baking cookies, watching holiday films. And a few strange things that I'll challenge myself to find the time to do. Such as taking a photo with my Jason Voorhees prop dressed up in Santa Claus gear.

Each time I accomplish an "event" I place a Christmas themed sticker over top of the square. It doesn't seem like much... but it totally works! I love watching my Activity List slowly get filled up with different holiday stickers as the days slowly tick down to Christmas Eve.

I encourage everyone to take a little bit of time and create your own personal Activity List. Stick as much or as little onto it as you'd like. It may sound like a silly idea... but if you really want to enjoy the season its the best way I've found to do so!

Friday, November 8, 2013

2013 Coca Cola Christmas Cans!

The holidays are no longer coming... they have arrived! Despite the fact that Halloween was just a few short days ago, almost everyplace you look is now 100% covered in glowing red and green lights. Complete with Bing Crosby playing quietly off in the background.

I'm totally alright with this. I live for Halloween but by the time the 31st is finished I really am ready to pack away the Halloween decorations and take a break from all things creepy and spooky... for at least a few months.

In the mean time... welcome to the 2013 Christmas Countdown! For this years theme I decided to pick one of my favorite holiday cartoons, The Year Without A Santa Claus! Featuring everyone's favorite sibling rivals the Heat Miser and Snow Miser!

2013 Coke Christmas!
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Now the real star of the show. 2013 Coca Cola Christmas Cans have arrived! ... and they feature polar bears again. At least this design does. You see Coke has something extra special planned for 2013, they are giving us three different designs this holiday season.

The first in the trio is the newly designed polar bear can featured above. For those not familiar with such events, allow me to act as your resident historian. In recent years Coke has turned the whole "polar bear" thing into a bit of an overblown fiasco.

It started innocently enough in 2011 with a partnership between Coke and the WWF (that would be the World Wildlife Fund and not Randy Savage). The idea was noble. Start a "Save the Polar Bears" campaign for that holiday season. Coke is famous for using them during its holiday commercials, and generally speaking tends to rotate its seasonal can designs between the bears and Santa Claus.

Clearly everyone's heart was in the right spot, unfortunately they made the mistake of releasing traditional Coca-Cola in an all white can that year. Which confused costumers into thinking it was actually Diet Coke instead of regular Coke. A statement I could not make up if I tried.

Coke very quickly tried to make amends by flipping the cans color scheme and releasing a second version with a red background and white bears. It was a serviceable fix to what shouldn't have really been an issue in the first place.

For the following year, 2012... everyone (myself included) expected Coke to distance itself as far as possible from the previous years slight mishap and release a joyfully new design with the return of Santa Claus.

Nope. Instead they stuck with the alternative red can from 2011. At this point it was safe to say that the Coke/WWF partnership was a disaster. Soda collectors like myself felt extremely let down that 2012 was a rehash of a failed design from the previous year.

Part of the joy in collecting these cans is getting something new and unique each and every season. Even if the white/red designs from 2011 wasn't exactly the best thing ever... it created enough of a controversy to become an interesting footnote in Cokes history. 2012 on the other hand was just flat out forgettable.

.... with the exception of the strange 7.5 oz cans that popped up roughly a week before Christmas that featured none other than Mr. Claus himself. But that can was a bit of an enigma in and upon itself. Why it was only ever released in a 7.5 oz can instead of the full sized variety I will never know. Yet another strange facet to the every growing complex narrative that has become these holiday cans.

2013 Coke Christmas
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 Somehow all of this leads us to 2013... and the first of three new designs coming from the fine folks at the Coca Cola corporation. Up first we have a new polar bear can. Given Cokes recent track record with these bears, I was initially quite bummed out to see them once again.

But I feel like once you really stop and take a look at this first design, one can grow to appreciate what we have sitting in front of us. This isn't some generic polar bear like the last two seasons... this is a return to the actual Coke bear mascot that everyone has grown accustomed to seeing.

This I am totally cool with! Clearly, Coca Cola is still rocking the WWF partnership but its been moved more into the background... instead of being the only thing featured on the artwork. Honestly, this is the way it should have always been.

That fact alone makes this first outing a massive improvement over the prior years efforts. You'll really only find the "please donate" stuff on one flap of the cardboard container. The can itself is free from any such slogans.

About the only thing missing is the yellow "Holiday 2013" text that used to be found on every seasonal can. Like I've stated previously, that might not be a big deal to the average consumer but to someone who collects these designs each and every year... the lack of such text is a pretty big bummer.

Overall though, I'd say we are off to a solid start. I've no idea what the other two designs are going to look like. Perhaps they are simply these same two bears, only in different poses. Maybe one of the cans will feature Santa Claus. Maybe it won't... at this point it is hard telling what exactly Coke has in store.

Either way I am looking forward to hunting down the next two designs! And am equally as excited to see what else the 2013 Christmas Season has in store!