Six Scores From The Flea Market!

I believe it was an ancient Chinese Proverb that stated, “The early bird catches the worm, well, usually, but only if he can wake his ass up in time.”

Since I’m on a schedule where I wake up ungodly early for work each day, my body’s own alarm clock buzzed me out of a dead sleep around 7am on Saturday. The incessant chirping of birds near my window didn’t help either. The flea market trip wasn’t for a few hours, so I did my best to waste time. Ate some cereal, watched Big Hero 6 for the 11th time, inventoried my entire Monster High collection…HA! Just kidding, that would take me 3 1/2 weeks. Then, before I knew it, it was time to embark on another journey to the Englishtown Auction with Matt from Dinosaur Dracula.

To say that I was soured on my experiences is an understatement. Do you remember when Luke’s X-Wing fighter sunk into the murky swamp on Dagobah? Well, that’s basically what happened to my car, just at a Flea Market in New Jersey. If you missed that little debacle, you can read about it here!

Matt reported that his last trip to Englishtown was a major success, and I chalked that propaganda up to the natural high of finding the absolute most beautiful ceramic E.T bank that was actually manufactured in 1982 by a Hallmark-like stationary store on Brodo Asogi. Come to think of it, maybe getting my ass back there was an intergalactic imperative.

It seriously couldn’t have been a more perfect day for 3-hour walk around an outdoor flea market. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the temperature was in the low ’70s. Even the insane traffic couldn’t agitate me, well, that’s a baldfaced lie. Traffic always agitates me, but when I’m with friends, it agitates me considerably less. Maybe it’s because I can’t let them see my usual stuck in a car with no air conditioning type meltdowns.

Frequently, every weekend even, you tend to see people posting their big finds from the various yard sales (I always called them Garage Sales) and Flea Markets on Instagram and Twitter. What’s irksome to me is that everyone elsewhere across the country seems to find some utterly amazing shit, while often, all I come home with is a Taylor Dane LP not realizing that I already owned 2 copies. I can never get enough of “Tell it To My Heart,” so all is well. Though, records weren’t the only crap I came home with from the Flea Market this weekend.

Their trash is my treasure as they say, and this trip defined that old saying in spades. The dirty bags of junk I hauled into my apartment last night were filled with things that seriously almost no one would’ve purchased. Except maybe our friend, Trash Culture.

Literally, the first table I stopped at gave me an early indication that we’d have a wondrous experience on this day. This guy’s table was filled with the most random junk EVER. The friendly vendor was willing to work with me on prices too.

genesimmonsplaque

1. GENE SIMMONS PLAQUE

Out of all the amazing stuff at the table, my eyes zeroed in on an old Gene Simmons plaque that looked like it was hanging in a den covered in wood paneling in 1978. What that translates to is me having to own this without question. FIVE BUCKS. Boom. Take my money.

flabberdoll


2. FLABBER DOLL – BIG BAD BEETLEBORGS

Oh wait up vendor man, you have a Flabber doll from the Big Bad Beetleborgs? WTF, are you seriously kidding me right now? I will give you $160 dollars for it. 2 days prior, I just got done telling Matt how creepy I thought that dude Flabber was. I think the spirit animal thing has been done to death by this point, but whatever the modern equivalent is, good ol’ Flabs is mine. He was Jay Leno mixed with the ghost of Liberace. NEED.

sopranospromoTV

3. PROMOTIONAL SOPRANOS WATER SNOW GLOBE TV THINGY

Oh no, wait, don’t ring me up yet, you also have this promotional Sopranos TV that doubles as a snow globe, but instead of snow it’s dollar signs? How much for f*cking Flabber AND the Sopranos promotional TV water globe thing? 4 bucks! How could I go wrong? I could’ve stopped right there and went home with the same level of happiness of a little kid in 1986 leaving TRU with an action figure. Just realizing now that this thing goes for some decent cash on eBay. Some Buy It Now listings for it range from $24 to $66 dollars!

As if these finds weren’t preposterous enough, this was all from the freaking same table! If I hadn’t already overused caps in this post I would’ve typed that entire previous sentence in caps and maybe even bold. A big thanks to that vendor too, because after I was done looting his table, Matt noticed his insane collection of old fridge magnets and he cut him a great deal for the entire collection.

recordsfleamarket


4. RECORDS! MORE RECORDS!

Leaving a flea market without a vinyl LP is a virtual impossibility for me. This time, I actually had one in mind that I’m trying to track down, but couldn’t find it. Looking at my haul, there was about 10 records, most were a buck, 2 were free, and then with a couple of Tiffany 45s thrown in the mix (Matt found them! One of these I already had, but whatevs, that’s a bad habit of mine.) I won’t detail all of the records I picked up, but I’ll show you some of the best ones.

tiffanyrecords

First, the most random “get” was My Stepmother is an Alien Soundtrack. The fact that this even exists in 2015 is a miracle. The inspiration for owning this soundtrack was clearly not the music etched into the vinyl. Look at that cover! Was that photo one of the rejects from an ad for the Playboy Channel in the late ’80s? So awesome. From there, a Hall and Oates single, one of my favorite tunes by them: “Adult Education,” with the lyrics on the back cover! Also, Wendy and Lisa’s Fruit at the Bottom, former tag-team backup for Prince. And of course, those Tiffany 45s. The design of these covers were so simple, yet so effective. They didn’t overthink it at all. Slap a glamour shot on the cover, a typical font of the era, and some minimal effect, and nowadays you have artists trying with all of their ingenuity to recreate this style on their own releases.

herculesxenaIIfigure


5. HERCULES THE LEGENDARY JOURNEYS FIGURES, 1996

My condo is packed with about 685 million action figures, so clearly I needed more. I don’t even know a damn thing about the Hercules TV show or Xena for that matter, but one thing I will say in my defense is that I won’t needlessly buy figures unless I’m drawn to them in a specific way. Now, when reading the name of this next figure, how could I not be drawn to her?

SHE-DEMON.

shedemonfigure

I’m attracted to She-Demons, what can I say?

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys from Toy Biz figures were 2 for $5 bucks. I wasn’t an avid viewer of the show, but I’ve definitely seen it on TV, I believe it aired on our local WWOR-9 at the time. It was that shlocky Saturday mid-day programming that always came through for me when I was eating lunch in the kitchen and needed a temporary diversion. I don’t know too much about the show, but I can now tell you that the figure line was amazing. There are monsters, there are heroes, there are Mesomorphs. I went with that stone cold fox She-Demon and Xena II with her red warrior disguise.

wondergirl711cup

6. WONDER GIRL CUP 7-11, 1973

Something tells me that a roving therapist or psychiatrist would benefit some of the people at the Englishtown Auction. Whether people want to admit it or not, there are some nutsos running a few of the tables. Some of them are just wacky, while others are seriously delusional.

This one lady had about 5 or 6 of these vintage 7-11 cups on her garbage filled table. Keep in mind, people go to these flea markets to get good deals, not to overpay with eBay pricing. I asked “How much are these cups?” as if I didn’t know anything about them. With that, this woman starts asking me all kinds of questions like “Which one are you interested in, I can sell you all five for $100 dollars, you know they are all so expensive.”

I explained that I didn’t want all of them. She then offered me the price of $15 each and reminded me again how expensive they were, which technically, by eBay standards was actually pretty fair, but we were standing on a pile of dirt that was clouding up every time people walked by, we were in the middle of a big open space with picnic tables that have been there since the ’60s, and there was no freaking way I was prepared to shell out $15 bucks for this damn cup, no matter how bad I wanted it. She asked me how I felt about that price and stone faced I said, “That is too steep for me,” and began to walk away. “3 DOLLARS!” she yelled to me.

SOLD.

And there you have it folks, one of the most successful and entertaining flea market trips I’ve ever taken part in. There were a few other items too, so I’m sure they’ll surface here in the near future. Thanks for reading!

Advertisements

The Columbus Chronicle: Part Two

Where were we? Oh yes, we were driving up the New Jersey Turnpike after the Monster Mania convention and decided to make a little detour…

With the record breaking cold temperatures here in New Jersey, reminiscing on one of our warm weather adventures is comforting. We saved the best for last and did our exterior inspection first. The outdoor portion of the Columbus Flea Market is an endless sea of vendor tables. I may be off by one or two, but there must have been 75,000 vendor tables selling everything from knockoff colognes featuring scents like Sweaty Taint and Phys-ed Funk to multicolored belts, statues, and cheap sunglasses. Naturally, we made it our f’n mission to literally walk through every single aisle as if the tables were the hedge maze and we were The Torrances.

Let’s see how much more I can elaborate on the junk at the outdoor tables. We’re talking cheap motorized toys, belts, gaudy sweaters, faux jewelry, generic brands of laundry detergent, and lots of other weird, totally random shit. And then the handbags. Jeezus, ladies and their handbags. If guys were girls they would have one handbag, but girls are girls and they have like 12 and they’re always looking for two more, one for that wedding they have to go to and the other because the ones they have just can’t fit everything. I think I just had a heat stroke. Man it was hot out there.

My body does not handle the sun and heat very well, so we made our way inside to see what treasures awaited us. As we passed through the entrance, Tears for Fears “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” lightly trickled out of the ancient P.A system like a refreshing mist of cool rain.

“…Nothing ever lasts forever…”

The white tile floors, no longer shiny, coated with a decade of dust, forced my eyes to the storefronts that housed all kinds of bizarre bullshit. To the left, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the neglected vending machines, red, encasing charms that now easily exceed their quarter price due to their age. A dollar at least, by today’s eBay standards. Soda machines had the cooler, early ’90s logos. We were in a blissful wonderland, one of the biggest and oldest flea markets in the state and we were having a blast.

You always know the types of stuff that will set off your nerd alerts, but there are also things there that you’d never expect would excite you. For example, I never thought I’d pop so big for Rebecca’s Soft Pretzels, mostly because I barely ever eat pretzels, unless they’re from WaWa and filled with sweet cream, but their menu signage was so damn gigantic, hanging from the drop ceiling like a cumulonimbus cloud made of toasted almond sprinkles, it was hard not to be enticed. I didn’t wind up getting a pretzel, but for some reason Rebecca’s Pretzel’s stuck out in my head. Probably because it was nestled in an offshoot wing of the flea that might have been some sort of Amish haven, if I recall correctly. But, I might be pulling a Brian Williams here, so don’t hold me to that. #WhoopiePies

The reason I go anywhere is if there’s a possibility of seeing or buying old toys, records, or collectibles, because what else is there in life? We immediately zeroed in on one store in particular. I’m sorry Wicker emporium, tablecloth store, Bologna Kitchen, and bedazzled ladies leisure wear shop, you can all go screw.

That Dracula blow mold!! I vant it.

As we continued exploring the shops, there was one store window that had plush toys and giant stuffed animals that looked as if they were manufactured sometime in 1993. If you’ve seen one knock off Lots-a-Lots-a-Leggggggs you’ve seen them all, but, coincidentally, it was another storefront where Jason Voorhees himself brought our Nikes to a screeching halt. “15% off marked toys,” read a homemade cardboard sign laying underneath Grover and Scooby. Yuuup! It was a collectible shop and we were heading inside in full force.

What did we do next? Dove right into this ginormous mess of CRAP, some call it treasure. In this case, it was like a collector’s neglected musty basement where stuff was thrown in every corner. There was absolutely zero organization and no logic to where items were tossed. Put it this way, if you were a contestant on Finders Keepers and had to find a baseball buried in this store, you’d be completely fucked.

It was impossible to process the magnitude of stuff that was stacked, scattered, hanging, and buried around this shop. Paint the picture in your mind of the following items in complete disarray: old magazines, records, statues, loose toys, playsets, sports memorabilia, autographs, mint in box and carded Star Wars and Wrestling toys, masks, ride-on toys, Cabbage Patch Kids, the list goes on and on. Really, none of it was in the best condition, but if there was one specific item that you were looking for, and they happened to have it, you’d be one happy camper.

This lack of organization was like anarchy. It can cause an unfathomable amount of anxiety to a collector. Seeing so many collectibles in such shambles agitated me a bit, but I also found some charm in all of it at the same time, since it created a stark contrast to one of those cold, museum-like stores with no personality. Here, it seemed more likely that there was something really amazing buried beneath the debris. Would we find it?

I kept gravitating toward a full wall-sized shelf that was packed with tons of random retro relics (how ya like me now?). The shelves were like the walls of the 53rd precinct and were literally bleeding junk out of each compartment. I needed a closer look.

OWNER: “You can’t go back there”

ME: “I’d like to look at something I want to buy.”

OWNER: “Nobody goes back there, you’ll knock everything over.”

This was a 12-15 foot span of wall shelving set behind another span of lower shelving chock full of stuff that the owner would not allow anyone to inspect. After his warning, a middle aged woman complained to me that she had the same issue with him and she didn’t understand why. Things couldn’t really get more messed up in there anyway. My eyes kept locking in on old Munsters and Gremlins stuff. Much of the stuff was still in its original, worn boxes.

Eventually, I pitched gaining access to the store owner again because there was one thing I wanted to look at further, I can’t remember what it was, but at the time it was screaming for my attention.

ME: “Can I please just go back there for a minute? I promise I won’t touch anything or knock anything over.”

Somehow, I must’ve assured him enough that I wouldn’t mess anything up and persuaded him to let me get in there. It was during all this that Matt was having a moment not too dissimilar to the time when Janosz locked eyes with Vigo, except picture Dino Drac and a 1979 12″ Kenner Alien figure. It was broken, of course. Even though the figure was loose, far from mint, and its leg was removed, the owner explained how Matt could fix it. The ludicrous price tag for such a fixer upper was so not worth it. It was so expensive that Matt wasn’t heartbroken when he had to part with it when we left. Now, if the Alien figure came with a homemade crutch and the broken leg had a cast on it with a fake Sigourney Weaver signature on it, I think Matt may have paid the guy double for it. Further down to the rear of the store you can see the $4,000 dollar Watto, he was out of both of our price ranges too.

Being in this store was both amazing and completely underwhelming at the same time. Then the mood became borderline sad. “The whole store is on sale for $50,000,” the store owner told me.

Smirking, I looked at Matt and we tried desperately to decipher if we both really just heard that. The price was a bit preposterous. He didn’t mean 50k for the actual deed to his space in the flea market, nope, just the garbage inside of it.

I decided to ask him the prices on a few things just to see if he was trying to scam customers. A vintage Cher doll was a “Hundred bucks.” She was loose, had messy hair, and didn’t have the original clothes. The high prices seemed to be a recurring theme in there. We didn’t buy anything.

I’m sorry to do this to you. Talk about an Empire Strikes Back ending.

A few months later, the poor old guy who ran the store died of a sudden heart attack at the flea market one day. I couldn’t help but think the guy may have been trying to raise money for his own medical bills, or pay some kind of debt, but who knows? Either way, without knowing the specifics and personal situation of the owner, the message I glean from this whole story is that you can literally become buried in your own stuff, and it can weigh you down and cause anxiety. So, why not open a shop and sell all your shit immediately for 50 grand?

Fast forward to November 2014. News broke that a large portion of the indoor part of the Columbus flea market burned to the ground, well at least the majority of the building did. I was shocked. What’s crazier is that I hadn’t heard about any of this until last week when a friend at work mentioned it. Most people I talk to knew about the fire, but not the owner of the store.

It’s been a few months since the fire, and we’re mere weeks away from the next Monster Mania, so there doesn’t seem to be a more appropriate time to reminisce. Looking back, not jumping right away to post a blog and pictures from this trip was probably for the best. It’s given me the chance now to look back on this place and the quirky memories of the day we spent there.

If you’re a collector or just like to go to weird junk places, they sort of all bleed together in your mind after being to so many of them, but this one definitely stands out, not for the bizarre toy den, but more for the PIZZA. Ahh, see, for a second you thought this post was booked to be the most grim in Sexy Armpit history, but, nope, I have other plans.

You’ve heard the old quote about how all pizza is good pizza, and even bad pizza is good because it’s still pizza, right? Unless we’re talking certain kinds of frozen pizza, that statement always rings true.

Inside the Columbus flea market we sat ourselves down at the stools of a large rectangular bar that served pizza. We were lured into Pete’s Pizza because it smelled amazing and the sign was glorious. Their mascot was like a cross between Little Caesar and Frenchy Martin. It was one of the best pizza places ever. Why? Well, a lot of it had to do with the lady behind the counter being so attentive to us, and of course, the pizza was delicious, but what cemented this honor was their choice of dinnerware. Our pizza was served on Happy 5th Birthday paper plates! This is the only thing that can help you forget about the death, disorder, and fiery madness that you’ve had to endure in this post. Happy 5th Birthday!

Flea Market Fiasco!

englishtown01

Recently I mentioned to Dinosaur Dracula that I had never been to the Englishtown Flea Market. For some reason, I’ve been to every other damn flea market in existence, but not Englishtown. Lived in Jersey my entire life, never been. To others from around here, that’s not an outrage or an insult or anything, but it’s more like “you’ve breathed in air before, right?” I felt that 2014 was the time to finally make this trip happen.

The flea market is not far away and I always heard friends mention that they tend to find cool stuff there, so I really had no justification for never going there. Who better to join me on my first visit to this place than Dino Drac? Partners in crime is really an appropriate moniker for all the calamity and misadventures we’ve inadvertently entangled ourselves in. Matt’s been there several times and he kept mentioning a pretty awesome vintage toy shop that he found in one of the buildings. That was literally all I needed to hear to get me to want to go.

Also encouraging me was the forecast, Saturday was going to be partly sunny and reach the low 50s. Since most of us in the Tri-State area have been cooped up at home for the last month or so battling all these ridiculous snow storms, it was about time that we had a nice sunny day that we could go outside and enjoy rather than breaking our backs shoveling snow and freezing our asses off. Parts of this flea market are indoors while many of the vendors are outdoors, so either way it was a win.

englishtown03 
Loose TMNT figures on a peg board at the Flea Market

Matt, Ms.X, and myself took a laid back drive down Route 9 as I sipped a Monster and we bullshitted. None of us knew what we could encounter on this day. The possibilities were endless. How many useless things would I come home with? I was feeling really confident that going to Englishtown was the right decision. It was the perfect thing to do on the first sunny and mild Saturday we had in forever. Spending it with good friends and having a few laughs was the right move. It’s almost like therapy after the mind numbing grind of a long work week. It all made sense…for a little while.

Finding parking is one aspect of my life that I don’t like to spend too much time on. I’m not sure it’s an actual pet peeve, but for instance, I have absolutely no time in my life to waste on searching for the perfect parking spot at a mall during the holidays. I’d just as soon park 2 miles away and walk. I was pleased to find that the parking scene at the Englishtown Flea Market wasn’t even bad at all. Considering there were two huge lots to park in, I didn’t have to stress about it.

The first lot was literally made of mud. The entire ground was all mud. I started into some My Cousin Vinny lines while we all made the conscious decision NOT to park in the lot that was all mud because my car might sink into the mud and we’d be stranded there. I pulled right out of there and drove into the adjacent lot which, oddly enough, only had about 7 cars in it. Fortunately, this lot wasn’t all mud, it was ALL ice and slush. Much of the ice and snow started melting in the past few days but we figured it would be wiser to park on ice and melted snow than…mud. I walked away with the positivity that we made a very clear headed decision that would benefit us in the long run.

Hopping over puddles and snow, into the flea market we went. At first, it reminded me of any other outdoor flea market. Lots of vendors, lots of similar crap. Discounted drinks in bulk. Women’s bags. Cheap fragrances. Insanely huge Rey Mysterio blankets. You know, all that kind of stuff. Flea Market stuff.

englishtown02 
Airbrushed Terminator T-Shirt and my personal fav: DOUG.
What’s a New Jersey Flea Market without an airbrush shop?

I knew not to really expect much from a flea market because they’re usually inundated with aisle after aisle of the same crap. As you walk through the rows of vendors you’ll notice every 3 of them offer bootleg action figures. You know them – the multi-pack where Batman looks like he’s a repainted Frankenstein and Superman has blue hair and a very scared look on his face. Then always right beside those are bootleg Marvel and Power Rangers figures.

Down each aisle we ventured to see the real garage sale type fare. These people offered the kind of items you might see at a local yard sale or out on the curb in your neighborhood. Piles of used clothes, old cassette tapes, old stereo equipment, random packs of gum, and that was all the high end shit. Down one of these aisles of doom is where I made my first of two purchases of the day.

englishtown05 
If you’ve had no luck trying to track down a high quality King Tut sweatshirt, 
Englishtown Auction is YOUR one stop shop! *Thank you to Sam for correcting me in the comments- I mistakenly referred to this as the Sphinx.

A couple of sellers had random piles of old records. If you know me, I need more records like I need a hole in my head, but for those who aren’t aware, I don’t need more music options at home. I’m inundated as it is. But to me, when it comes to vinyl, I completely grasp the sound differences, but it’s more about discovering a record I would enjoy in a big pile of them and then appreciating the front and back cover art, that’s what really grabs me. Out of piles from two different sellers, I found Blondie’s Parallel Lines and the Flashdance Soundtrack. Although I’ve never even seen Flashdance, it’s got a pretty legendary soundtrack and a great cover, so I went with it. A buck each!

The sun was beaming down and we were enjoying the day as we continued scanning each table. “Let’s check in one of these buildings to see if we can find that toy shop,” Matt said in a very Jay is probably going to write about this so I will make this sentence sound very generic sort of way. The interior definitely reminded me of the types of flea markets that I’ve been to in the past, so I was in familiar territory now. The giant drums of pickles, airbrushed t-shirts, the faint scent of leather, it was all present.

We couldn’t find the toy shop in the first building we went into, but the day was young. Matt and Mrs.X bought some fresh spicy nuts imported from TOMS RIVER, NJ, which I guess is the spicy nut capital of New Jersey. You’d think I would’ve known this tidbit, but I had no clue!

We stopped into a few decent shops, but couldn’t find the one Matt was describing to me.

englishtown07 

There was an action figure shop that had tons of wrestling figures, G.I Joe’s, and TMNT figures, so we were guided by the scent of old plastic and dust. This is where my second purchase comes in. Total impulse buy. At one time I owned every WWF Hasbro figure ever and eventually I sold them on eBay like a chump for no good reason. For a while now I had the original Macho Man Randy Savage back on my radar. This was not the Macho King or the later Macho Man release with the white jacket and hat – this was the original with the star trunks. $10. So worth it, wouldn’t you agree?

We did manage to find one shop that housed everything for your army/navy surplus needs all the way to a Ben Cooper style Jake Lloyd costume from Phantom Menace. There’s four dealers in the world who specialize in young Anakin collectibles and this guy must be one of them. This store looked like someone’s basement. 50 years worth of dusty junk packed into this tiny little store. Hanging from the ceiling and stuffed into shelves were a couple of TV trays that caught my eye. One was Batman Returns and the other was E.T. I can’t remember the exact price the guy quoted me for the used Batman Returns tray, but I believe he said he couldn’t accept less than $20 – $30 dollars because “these TV trays are really hot right now.”

At this point, I was almost happy that we didn’t find the toy shop yet because knowing me I would’ve found something that I desperately wanted for some exorbitant amount of money. The same moment that thought crossed my mind is the exact same moment Matt found the toy shop. He wasn’t joking, this place is the crown jewel of the Englishtown Auction. Matt and Ms.X had me close my eyes as I walked in. Opened them up and was immediately in awe.

englishtown04 
I spy a Jack Napier WANTED Poster hanging on the wall!

From a vintage Strawberry Shortcake bake shop to about 200 original Kenner Star Wars figures in varying degrees of condition, this place was definitely worth the trip. You’re not going to get yard sale prices here though, prices here basically mirror what’s on eBay. Nothing stood out for me specifically, but I think this is where Matt came into contact with his latest toy “adoptions” as it were. More on that in a bit.

Next, I needed to find a bathroom to pee out all the energy drink from earlier. We found one and I cautiously entered. I saw a bathroom greeter, the type of greeter you might see at a swank restaurant. Sometimes they hold the towel for you as you wash your hands. Well, this guy was the absolute greatest men’s room greeter OF ALL TIME. This was his schpeel word for word or as accurate as I can remember it: “WELCOME TO THE BATHROOM MY GOOD MAN, I HOPE YOU ENJOY YOUR STAY, THIS BATHROOM IS VERY CLEAN AND SMELLS OF FINE, FRESH CITRUS FRUITS, IF YOU SO CHOOSE PLEASE LEAVE A SMALL TOKEN OF YOUR APPRECIATION AND YOU WILL BE GRANTED ONE WISH – THE CHOICE OF ANY CANDY OUT OF THE 8 RANDOM PIECES ON THIS MAGICAL PLATE THAT I FOUND OUTSIDE. PLEASE COME BACK AGAIN VERY SOON.”

On that note, we ended our stay at the Englishtown Flea Market. 
We headed back to the car. Happy with all our purchases we hopped in and I started up the car and the music. Only problem was, the wheels were spinning, but we weren’t moving. We were kicking up lots of mud and eventually it sunk into our heads that WE were also sunk…IN THE MUD. Underneath all the snow and slush was mud, just like that other lot. Who knew that we probably would’ve been better off parking in that other lot after all? 
Matt suggested that we use our records to wedge under the wheels to give the car some traction. It was a valiant effort. Him and I then used our incredible super powers to try to push the car out, but that didn’t work either. Ms.X wasn’t afraid to get down and dirty and she hacked away at large pieces of ice near the wheels. Luckily I had a shovel in the back of my car and I was trying to shovel us out, to no avail. There was no winning this battle. The wheels were sunken into the mud about halfway! Making matters worse, the front bumper of the car was hanging over one of those concrete stoppers that kept you from driving out onto the road. This cause the front of the car to basically snap off.
My only defense was calling road service. As I did that, a nice guy with a giant 4-wheel drive ORV with bullet holes the size of matzoh balls who looked like Lebron James offered to tie a rope to the back of my car and attempt to pull me out. This guy also helped several other cars that got stuck in the mud and slush as well. Thank you to that guy. I would say “if he’s reading this,” but there’s less than zero chance that he read The Sexy Armpit. This guy saved us from sacrificing those records!

englishtown06 

We needed to get on the road so this day didn’t start to deteriorate even more rapidly. With some parts of the undercarriage dangling onto the road we hightailed it out of there. After a few miles, Ms.X and I saw a Mexican place on route 9 that reminded us of Jose Tejas. Formerly Damon’s Grill, this place took on a Mexican gimmick back in October. I’d been interested in going there, but haven’t had the chance. As we came upon it, I abruptly made an executive decision and turned into the parking lot. We needed some Mexican beer, Patron, Mexican food, and of course, guacamole power – in that order. It saved the day…for a little while. Name of the place is Rosalita’s Roadside Cantina in Manalapan, NJ if you’re ever in the area or want to replicate this debacle of a trip.

Thanks to Matt and Ms.X for all their help and their patience. We were all soaked and full of mud, but they persevered! Once we got home, I brought down the mood once again by losing an eBay auction on an item that I wanted more than you can imagine for the better part of my life. What a day! Thank God Miss Sexy Armpit brought snacks.

*I urge you to read about Matt’s finds from this experience. Being the benevolent guy he is, he found “5 Misfit Toys” that needed a home, and he paid the adoption fees and signed all the paper work so he could give them a good home. READ ALL ABOUT IT AT THIS LINK OVER AT DINOSAUR DRACULA!!

BILL AND TED’S WEIRD NJ ADVENTURE!

Last week it was reported that Universal Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure, a live show that’s been part of Halloween Horror Nights for many years, has been cancelled. The show came under fire for its apparent homophobic and possibly racial remarks. I haven’t seen the show myself, but from what it seems like after reading reports on various news outlets including this one from the Huffington Post, is that it’s nothing we haven’t seen getting joked about on TV. The show is supposedly geared toward an adult audience and features double-entendres.

To fill your Bill and Ted void this Halloween, please enjoy a comic I created using my action figures and a lot of gas to take me around the entire state of New Jersey. With advice from Mark and Mark over at Weird NJ, Rufus takes Bill and Ted on a WEIRD NJ Adventure for Halloween!

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

Photobucket
 
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.
 
 photo katyperrypopchips_zpsed522727.jpg
 
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.
 photo lilyandjess_zpsd6a0c3e8.jpg
 
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
batman photo batmanwb12inchfigure_zpse21e74f1.jpg
 

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.

GREAT GEEK GORGE #7

Photobucket

 photo ozbanner_zpsc5b7057e.jpg
OZ The Great and Powerful

I can’t claim that I’ve read every single OZ book like our friend Pax at Cavalcade of Awesome, but I’ve been a huge fan of the OZ films since I was a little kid. The Wizard of OZ and Return to OZ have always been a couple of my favorite films of all time. I was also fortunate enough to see Return to OZ at Radio City Music Hall when it first came out for a Disney Summer Magic Spectacular which was an incredible day at Radio City in New York. So, I was pumped when I heard a prequel was coming out. I fought the wintry weather in Jersey and headed to theater with great anticipation.

I was looking forward to seeing if this talented cast could pull of some magic of their own. They did indeed. With the directorial efforts of Sam Raimi, they did what I never thought was possible by bringing an awesome OZ film to the big screen.The key aspect that was a major element for me is if they could make me feel like I was watching a movie that was presented on a grand scale. During the film I was truly sucked into the world of OZ, albeit one that was fully fleshed out with CGI and not made up of painted backdrops. The effects were fantastic and they weren’t overdone to the point where everything looked fake. There was fantasy, scares, and a lot of jokes. There was also many nods to the original film, most importantly for me was to see how the movie would transition from B&W to color. They didn’t go for the sepia tone that is used early on in The Wizard of Oz, but the B&W contrasted even better with the vibrant world of OZ.

The cast was strong and each actor brought an authentic performance. *Spoiler* I wanted to love Mila Kunis in the role of the Wicked Witch, but I had a hard time buying her as a demonic looking evil witch since we are used to seeing her as a sweetheart as in movies like Forgetting Sarah Marshall and even when she’s a materialistic airhead like Jackie in That ’70s Show. I felt like her role would’ve had more impact if she didn’t look like a demon. Apparently, from what I’ve read, they weren’t allowed to use the specific green color makeup used on Margaret Hamilton, but if Kunis’ makeup was a little more natural looking, it may have worked better, but I’m still satisfied with the result. Also, I’m not sure if Kunis recorded the Witch’s cackle or not, but it was pretty dead on.

Aside from the standout performances by James Franco as Oz himself and Michelle Williams as Glinda, the highlights of the film is the Garden Stater Zach Braff as Frank and OZ’s sidekick Finley the flying monkey and Joey King as China Girl. Also mentioned prominently is that OTHER Wizard who Oz admired…”The Wizard of Menlo Park, NJ,” Thomas Edison! New Jersey was represented well in this film and that was genuinely cool since I didn’t expect there to be any NJ love coming from the magical land of OZ. Even better news is that thanks to a strong opening weekend, supposedly a sequel is already being formulated at Disney.

 photo marvelalliancefigs01_zpse927e3b0.jpg


Marvel Alliance Action Figures

In past installments of this sporadic column, I’ve warned myself not to get into collecting another series of collectibles, but in this case I was powerless. Many of you know me as a DC guy, but I’m not against Marvel in any way. As a kid I was a huge fan of the Secret Wars figure line. Come to think of it, I always use Secret Wars, Star Wars, and Super Powers as the measuring stick for all other action figures.

I haven’t been collecting toys and figures as much as I used to since it’s all getting too expensive. But on a recent trip to Target for my niece’s birthday I ran into a sweet Punisher figure from the Marvel Alliance series. Also, for my birthday Miss Sexy Armpit got me Black Widow and Ghost Rider from this line.

These 3.75 inch figures are way overpriced at around $9.99, but the whole series is sculpted with much detail and they are meticulously painted, so they didn’t give me much of choice. We’ve come a long way from the Secret Wars line in terms of detail, but there was a sleekness and simplicity in those Mattel figures. Considering the size of these it feels like they were reaching out to me telepathically claiming “We’re the modern day equivalent to Secret Wars…COME PLAY WITH US!”

 photo crackerjackd_zps5770a5c5.jpg

Cracker Jack’d “Snacks With Impact”

Has anyone ever told you that you have a serious impulse control problem? Why yes Riddler, I’ve been told that many times. In fact, I told myself that at Hess Express on Saturday when I bought two bags of new Cracker Jack’d snacks. I must say, the branding is what made me curious enough to take the shot at buying them. If I didn’t have fond memories as a kid of eating Cracker Jacks that my Dad bought me I don’t think I would’ve give these new Jacks a second thought.

After tearing into the Chocolate Mocha bites first, I really enjoyed the flavor. These are little chocolate covered nuggets of what almost has the interior texture of chocolate crunchies from an ice cream cake or some wafer-like cookie, but with a flavor of strong coffee, like an espresso. These little bites also contain real coffee beans and are caffeinated. The problem with them is that due to the chocolate they are pretty high in fat. If you don’t care about that then I recommend these because they are tasty. I actually did feel the effects from the caffeine whereas a few other reviewers around the Internet claimed they didn’t get even a minor caffeine buzz. There’s also a vanilla mocha flavor which I didn’t see at the store or else I would’ve picked it up.

As for the other bag, the Spicy Pizzeria flavor (Intense Mix) were pretty mundane. There’s a bunch of pretzel type bits in the bag along with a bunch of other random and nondescript pieces of other snacks or nuts dusted with Pizza flavoring. The flavoring is questionable. It’s definitely not reminiscent of pizza flavoring from Combos or Keebler Pizzarias unfortunately. Pass on this one.

 photo doritosjackedwings_zpsfaedc3a3.jpg


Doritos Jacked Ranch Dipped Hot Wings

Skip these. Just skip them as furiously as possible. If I had the time traveling means of Bill & Ted I would’ve had my past self to visit me in the present day at the local Target to warn me NOT to buy these silly things. They “Jacked” Doritos are masquerading as real Doritos when in fact they are a completely different and extremely less enjoyable tortilla chip. The flavor varieties are great, but they don’t pull them off well. I didn’t find the ranch dipped hot wings to taste authentic at all. The hot wings OR ranch flavor didn’t really hit me. As I stated in my last post about these, they are too large. I always find myself having to break them into pieces to actually eat them. In addition, they are too hard and too crunchy. If you’re the type of person who loves snacks that have the potential to break your teeth, then get these, but they should not exist as Doritos. You can never go wrong with the regular line of Doritos. The Jacked should cease to exist.

GREAT GEEK GORGE #2

Photobucket
Welcome to the 2nd installment of the Great Geek Gorge. My latest rundown includes cool stuff I’ve procured, movies I’ve seen, and food I’ve devoured. I’m getting to a point where I have so much media to take in I don’t know where to start. Between DVD’s to watch and books to read there’s not enough time in a weekend to enjoy it all. The real question is, where do I begin?

Photobucket 


Thunder Punch He-Man and WWE Rumblers – For several years I had my toy habit in check. I was in total control. The downward spiral began when I became the owner of one of Miss Sexy Armpit’s best friend’s old curio cabinet. The illuminated cabinet had shelves with glass doors and it gave me the perfect excuse to run rampant down virtual toy aisles and ebay to fill up any open space on the shelves. Folks, trust me, this is not a good idea and I don’t recommend it unless you just won the Mega Millions. If you were the winner, you go to sleep with a smile on your face, while I go to sleep knowing that I have the brand spanking new Thunder Punch Punch He-Man. We both win in extremely different ways.

One of the things that soured me on collecting figures and toys was because the items you really want are always impossible to find in stores and then it’s off to ebay or an online toy shop where it’s going for triple the price of what you could’ve bought it for at Target or Wal-Mart. The sick part is, it’s always dudes like me in their 30s looking for this crap. I never see little kids searching through any of the pegs in the toy aisles. That’s precisely why in the extremely rare instances, when I actually do find a certain figure I’ve been searching for, then it’s reason for mini-celebration. I did indeed hold an small inner celebration when I found Cody Rhodes’ WWE Rumbler figure. He was advertised on the card backs of Rumblers that have been out for a long time, but the face masked Rhodes figure was nowhere to be found, not even online. For a second I thought it was only smoke and mirrors, but finally, hanging on a peg all the way in the back at Wal-Mart was none other than the present WWE Intercontinental Champion Cody Rhodes/Rey Mysterio 2-pack.

Photobucket 


Naughty and Nice: The Good Girl Art of Bruce Timm – If you were a geek before it was cool to be one then you probably adore the art of Bruce Timm. If you aren’t familiar with his sublime art you are definitely missing out. Timm is responsible for various DC Universe animation including perhaps the most pure incarnation of Batman ever, Batman: The Animated Series. Timm’s accomplishments don’t end there, but you can be delighted by all his further artwork via a Google image search. Recently, a dream came true for Timm fans in the form of Naughty and Nice: The Good Girl Art of Bruce Timm. It’s quite a hefty tome, but one you can go back and gaze at all the time.

Archie Meets KISS Collector’s Edition – I don’t care if it’s KISS Meets Scooby Doo or The Phantom of the Park, KISS meets anyone is good by me. It could be KISS meets Balki Bartokomous or your Aunt Laura and Uncle Arthur, it won’t matter to me. KISS appearing in Archie comics is pretty damn cool and this hardcover collector’s edition includes the whole comic series with art by the awesome Dan Parent and story by Alex Segura as well as a ton of exclusive content. Oh and did I mention there’s ZOMBIES???

Photobucket 


Fanta Kolita – I’m usually not one to go into detail about the lengths I go to in order to get my hands on stuff I want, ahh who am I kidding? Yes I am! A friend of The Sexy Armpit described my recent acquisition as such: “You have your soda flown in?” HAHA! I guess I’m now in that pretentious category. I try to buy American as much as possible, but when the most ultimate tasting soda is only available in Costa Rica, well, sometimes there’s no choice, you just have to import that shit. It all began like this: A long time ago in Club Cool at Epcot Center, (you know the place where everyone samples various sodas from around the world?) I was whisked away to Costa Rica when the fruity bubble gum flavoring of Fanta Kolita first hit my mouth. Every time I go to Disney I can’t wait to get my brief taste of Fanta Kolita, it’s so good. I figured you only live once, so I bucked up the money for shipping and ordered it from Costa Rica. Some people dream of exotic vacations and living in mansions, while I occasionally like to have myself a tasty beverage.

The Avengers – Possibly the best superhero movie ever and definitely the best superhero team-up movie ever, especially since there isn’t much competition in that department. Unfortunately, for us DC’ers the only live action Justice League movie you can watch is the 1997 piece of crap made for TV pilot that’s buried somewhere in the depths of YouTube. As a DC fan it’s embarrassing. I’m more proud of the cheesy live action 1979 Legends of the Superheroes and The Superhero Roast. One of these days DC will capitalize on The Justice League. Until that time, The Avengers sure did kick some serious ass.

Kettle Corn – When watching movies you can’t forget the popcorn. For my Wrestlemania gathering this year, Marcelo, a good friend of The Armpit, brought over a bag of kettle corn. I’ve had kettle corn before and thought it was pretty good, but when I ripped into this bag of Popcorn, Indiana Kettle Corn I was completely blown away. This is kettle corn at it’s best. What made such an impact on me was the fact that I was just expecting plain old popcorn with a bit of sweetness, but this just has that special something. Now I’m on a mission to check out some locally made kettle corn such as Kemp’s Kettle Corn of New Jersey. If I get my hands on it I’m sure you’ll read about it.

Don’t go thinking that I’m at all proud of myself after drinking sugary soda and inhaling full bags of popcorn. I cry myself to sleep at night because I’m contributing to America’s terrible eating habits. It just means that I’ll have to do more Sweatin’ To The Oldies.