Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

As I sit and wait for the two or three Trick or Treaters that come by our house every year, I can't help but think of Halloweens past. Unfortunately, my memory only allows me to remember a couple of years, and I went as Superman for both of those. I think it was a rather ingenious costume; it was a set of Superman pajamas, but I wore a pair of red underwear over the pants, and pulled some red socks over my shoes. I couldn't have been more than 6 or 7 at the time, so it was perfectly acceptable to run around like that. I would be a little hesitant to try it now, and believe me, I thought about it.

Now this kid has some style. (Not me, but not far off either)
My cousin Richie was my usual partner in crime, and I remember him being along on at least one of these excursions. Unfortunately, the area I live in is rather sparsely populated, with the towns tending to be spread pretty far apart. We'd hit up the couple of neighbors near my old house, then our moms would have to drive us to the nearest town, which was a place called Nassawadox. Now, Nassawadox isn't a big town at all, and even though there couldn't have been more than 15 or 16 homes on the main street, it still felt like it took an eternity to reach the end. It usually didn't take long for us to have a sizeable amount of candy, since most of the folks that lived there were pretty generous. Of course there were a couple houses that always stiffed us out of our candy. One family that lived there had a son with Down's Syndrome. I promise you I'm not being a jackass, he literally had Down's. I'm assuming they must have been Jehovah's Witnesses, because the only things they handed out were religious pamphlets. We were polite kids though, so we said "Thank you", and kept on going. I have to admit, I'm amazed their house was never egged or TP-ed. I'm not sure why they didn't just turn off the lights, since that was always the universal symbol for "Out of Candy". The other house that stiffed us always handed out change instead of candy. I'm not sure what the idea was behind that, because handing out quarters and dimes to a couple hundred kids had to be more expensive than just buying a few bags of candy.  

Once we finished visiting all the houses on the street, we would head back home and check out our haul. Our parents had to go through every piece, because you know that one kid in that one town bit down into a Milky Way bar and found needles hidden within. Also, you never wanted apples, since they were almost always full of razor blades. I guess I don't need to tell you, I was too terrified to eat popcorn balls, because who knows what the hell was hiding in those things. You think I'm joking, but I didn't eat a popcorn ball until just a few years ago. Thankfully, there were no needles, cyanide or broken glass hidden within. Pretty much the only dangerous thing that ended up in our bags were Bit O' Honey candies. That's the only candy I know of that could chip your tooth then pull it out in the same motion. Those things were deadly, and I never had one that didn't taste like it had been in storage for 150 years.

Get a good look, that's the enemy.
Times have surely changed, and it feels like Halloween has become a shadow of its former self. For the past few years, Trick or Treaters have had curfews, and have to be finished by 8. Or they can take part in the travesty that is "Trunk or Treat", where a bunch of parents park their cars in a parking lot, and hand out candy from their trunks. It's certainly safer, I'll give them that. There's just no adventure in it though. That was part of the fun of Halloween, the fear that something was waiting in the trees between houses, ready to try and snatch you off and feed you to its young. The fear that you might get lost in the dark, and never find your way back to your mother's car. Hell, being afraid the whole time is what made Halloween so fun. Then you get that feeling of relief when you jump back in the car and shut the door, safely watching for monsters behind a barrier of glass and steel. Or watching your friend trying to open the door after you slammed it shut and locked it.

Maybe I was a bit of a jackass.

Happy Halloween everyone.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Happy Birthday....TO ME! Random stuff time

I'll make this one quick and dirty, since the lights keep flickering on me. 31 years ago today, I was birthed unto this world. There have been good times and bad, but mostly, it's been interesting. I can't wait to see how the other 100 years turn out.


Actually, while I'm here, I might as well bang out another post before the Halloween season is finished. Due to the inclement weather conditions, there's no guarantee I'll have the power to post after today.

That is a giant bag of Milky Way Caramel Apple Minis. I came across these in the Candy Corn M&M's search. According to the package, this is a limited time "Harvest Flavor". I guess that means once the Milky Way folks run out of apples, that's it for these candies.

They look pretty much the same as regular Milky Way's, though it seems there is more nougat than usual. It may be because I rarely eat Milky Ways, or it could be that I don't usually cut my candies in half and examine them. Probably all of the above. As for the taste, it's...intriguing. It reminds me of the caramel goo that comes in plastic packs that's usually kept next to the apples in the supermarket. It's definitely not a fresh apple flavor, more of a Bed, Bath, and Beyond scented candle flavor. That's not to say it's bad, but it's not something I would eat more than one or two of.

Regarding the Candy Corn M&M's, the only real difference from the regular M&M's is the former being made of white chocolate. I've read many reviews from folks complaining about the awful flavor of these things, but I have to say, I rather like them. They will be missed when they're gone.

This next thing isn't really related to Halloween, but it's still cool nonetheless. On one of my trips to Dollar Tree, I discovered they were selling comic book two packs that came with a trading card. As you're about to see, some of the cards are actually pretty old:

Goonies trading cards! Goonies actually remains one of my favorite movies, and I like to give it credit for shaping me into the person I am today. For several years, I was obsessed with finding buried treasure, and I used to pore over maps of the Eastern Shore, trying to find some hidden clues that would lead me to untold riches. Since I'm sitting here typing this for you, it's safe to assume that I have not found any treasure. Yet. I'm still puzzled by the fact that movie trading cards exist. I can understand comic cards, and sports cards, but I never got sucked into the movie card craze. Goonies doesn't really seem like a property that would lend itself to a lot of merchandise, though I have to admit, a line of Goonies action figures would have kicked ass.

This is one line I was familiar with, though I don't think I ever actually owned any when they were new. They're obviously based on the TMNT cartoon, and there appear to be 99 of them in a set. Going by the back of the card, Shredder's Foot Soldiers were using some serious hi-tech weaponry. Throwing stars that are computerized smart bombs, heat-ray shooting swords, and manriki-gusari that use magnetic tractor beams, yet they still couldn't take out four teenage turtles using weapons made of wood and steel. By the way, what the hell is a manriki-gusari? Is it that fan looking weapon the Foot Soldier's using in that picture?

I don't think I posted this one yet, since I just found it a few days ago..Here's a pic of Chelsea and I from the Halloween of 2009(?). We went as Clark Kent and Lois Lane. I actually wore a shirt that was a bit too small, so I looked a bit beefier. The see through shirt was actually a commentary on the transparency of the Clark Kent disguise, and showed how there could be a Superman in all of us. True story, wasn't accidental at all.

Today will be the last measurement of the Monster Eyeball. He grew quite a bit from the last time, topping out at 5.7 oz, and 8 1/2" in circumference. Not as big as I would have hoped, but still impressive.

I'm actually going to keep it around for a while, I'm curious to see how well it will hold up over time. Sadly, I think this post will mark the end of October for me. The electricity situation isn't looking very promising right now, and I expect to live like it's 1805 at any moment now. I hope everyone's enjoyed this Halloween season, and for those of you in the path of Hurricane Sandy, keep low and stay safe. I look forward to having more good times next month.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Book Club Halloween Party

Last night, my girlfriend Chelsea had her first annual Book Club Halloween party. The club itself, (Books, Booze, and Bitches), was started several months ago, and allowed all the ladies to get together and drink wine and discuss that month's book. I'm suspicious that there may have been more enjoying of wine than book discussion though. Anyhow, she loves to entertain, so this month's meeting turned into a Halloween get together.
The hostess with the mostest
As usual, there was a variety of snack foods, all too rich and delicious.

Black cat brownies. Those are York peppermint patties on top and inside the brownies. One of those, and my sweet tooth is gone for the rest of the month. Seriously, they have a richness that borders on ridiculous.

Here we have cupcakes with sprinkles, and minature brownie cupcakes dressed up like pumpkins. Ain't she crafty?

I apologize for the blurry photo, but I think I can blame it on the evil brew that lurks within the large glass container. By this time, I had tried a couple cups of the stuff, and was falling under it's awful spell. I think making a good punch is actually an art form. You want something delicious and easy to drink, but it also needs to have an air of danger as well. It shouldn't have so much alcohol in it to burn your throat with every glass, but there should be enough to let people know, "Hey, take it easy or you'll wake up with regrets in the morning". Also, it never hurts to have a large frozen brain floating in the middle of it.

Pizza snakes! If I had my way, this would be the only form of pizza I would eat. The one on top was an italian sausage snake, while the one on the bottom was regular cheese, and they were both delicious. The only problem is that they usually go way too fast, so you have to be quick to grab a piece or two before it disappears.

Mixed candy bowl! Okay, so Chelsea didn't actually make the candy, but damn that is a cauldron full of sweet death.  We have Candy Corn M&M's, Mellowcreme Pumpkins, and Brach's Candy Corn and Caramel Apple Candy Corn. There was still a lot of this left, so I guess that mean's I'll have to man up and start scarfing it down.

Of course there were decorations, though I only took pictures of what I considered the best.

I love these scary portraits, because nothing looks off about them unless you get up real close. They just look like some old timey family photos, then you walk to the left to grab some chips and, BAM! You're staring at the decaying corpse of creepy Uncle Albert.

Nothing like a cobweb and skull centerpiece to really bring a table together.

You can't really see much in the way of decorations in these two photos, but I think the lighting made our den look extra creepy.

Unfortunately for some, this was an invitation only event. We don't let just any ghouls in here. Go find your own party fellas.

This mummy has been hung up here for the past few Halloweens, and I still can't figure out if he's supposed to be scary, or scared. I'm shooting for the latter, personally.

Here's a group shot of some of the book club members. From left to right, there's Hunter Kari and Hunting "Accident" Kara, Witchy Chelsea, and Zombie Shannon.  Don't they look like a fun group?

It was a fun night, even if it is signalling the end of the Halloween season. Four more days and we'll be looking forward to turkeys and stuffing, Christmas trees, and even more turkey. Until next time, Trick or Treat!

NOOO! All the food is gone!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pumpkin decorating for dummies

On my last Dollar Tree trip, I came across a couple of pumpkin decorating kits. I'm rather awful when it comes to carving a pumpkin, so I didn't hesitate to purchase two of them. I see all these amazing jack-o-lanterns online, and I think, "Hey, I can do that!",  only to realize I have no real artistic talent. Then I turn the pumpkin around, cut out the standard mouth and eyes, then spend the next few hours cleaning up the mess. These kits though, would allow me to customize my pumpkin in a matter of minutes, without making the kitchen look like the scene of the Halloween Pumpkin Massacre.

Unfortunately, I didn't get a shot of the kits in the bag, or the customizing process. When I came home from work, the kits had already been put into service on our pumpkin victims. There's not much to them really. Each kit turns your pumpkin into a Mr. Pumpkin Head. Just shove the pegs into the side, and you're done. Here are the results:

I think I would have put the scar lower down on the face, but otherwise not bad. I'm assuming this is supposed to be a take on Frankenstein's Monster, though I certainly don't remember him having large buck teeth. He looks so bored, I can almost hear him sighing. There's a sense of disappointment about this face, like he was expecting so much more than being stuck on our front stoop.

Now this guy, he's a monster and damn glad to be one. When I was checking out the pieces in the bag, I thought this was a werewolf. Now I'm not sure what to make of him. He has what looks to be a bat nose, and bat wing ears (?), but there's also a set of horns up there too. Maybe it's some sort of bat demon. That would explain the mouth full of sharp pointy teeth, and the unibrow. Real vampires keep that shit trimmed up. How else are they supposed to seduce their victims?

Of course, these guys are only temporary, and they will fall to the carving knife in a couple nights. The results probably won't compare to their current faces, but as long as I try, right?

I'm thinking I might leave the faces on, just to add to the horror of the whole process.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Crazy Cats Halloween house, and Monster Eyeball update #2

My apologies for not making any posts over the past few days, but the girlfriend and I had to make the long ass drive to Buffalo, NY for her cousin's wedding. It was actually a rather nice drive, with lots of beautiful scenery, and very little traffic. The wedding went well, though I think I could definitely go for a non denominational ceremony. The reception was held at a place called Salvatore's. It was a beautiful restaurant, though I must admit, some areas looked like they had been decorated by my mother. All in all, it was a good time had by all, and I wish the lovely couple all the best.

I can almost see myself living in Buffalo, except for the ridiculous cold and snow they have to deal with most winters. I'm usually starting to feel cold when the temperature dips below the sixties, and I hate snow, something that is rather plentiful in Buffalo. Still, it's hard to deny just how gorgeous the area is, especially this time of the year.

As we were making our way north, we drove through a town called Mt. Morris, where we passed by this house:

I apologize for the bad reflection, but it was chilly, and we didn't have time to park and walk about. As you can see, the homeowner is definitely a fan of Halloween, and they have a love for huge inflatable cats. In this picture, you can see the large cat head and claws poking their way through the house. Over to the right, the cat's tail sticks out the side, wagging as if it's about to pounce on the oncoming cars. There's a bit more to the left of the house as well;

Like I said, definitely a cat fancier. The one to the left almost looks like it is trying to hide behind the tree, while the cat to the right almost resembles some sort of spider-feline hybrid. Under those, you have a couple monster cats that look like they're ready to attack the next pedestrian that walks by, while a witch stirs her brew in the middle of everything. Behind all of those, there appears to be an inflatable hearse or carriage, it's hard to tell without zooming in. Tombstones, skulls, and pumpkins are interspersed through the scene, and really give the whole thing a spooky atmosphere. I wish we had the chance to stop by there when it was dark, though I spook easy, so maybe it's for the best that I didn't.

I almost forgot, it's time for an update on my Monster Eyeball's growth. It's been a full 5 days since I last checked it out, and it was noticeably larger when I removed it from the water.

It has reached a circumference of 7 inches, and now weighs 3.6oz. It still hasn't hit Godzilla sized proportions, but it's certainly man-eating goat size. I'm not sure how much larger it's going to get, but I think it could hit 10 inches around by Halloween. As always, we shall wait and see..

My girlfriend was able to get another shot of the spidercat, so I'm stealing it and posting it for all to see.

Hmm..that almost looks naughty.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Plush candy corn and Monster Eyeball update

On a recent adventure to the nearby thrift store, I happened to come across this happy little fellow right here:

My girlfriend loves candy corn, and this thing just looked too cute to let some dirty toddler get their hands on him. I just know some parent would buy this for their three year old, who would promptly begin sucking on his arms and legs. Disgusting..The woman actually forgot to ring him up when I was checking out, so she said "Eh, don't worry about it. It's yours. Happy Halloween!". It caught me off guard actually. I never really considered Halloween to be a time of giving, that's always been Christmas' thing.

I kind of consider him to the be the king of candy corn. He pretty much wins that by default, since he's big enough to eat all the other candy corn pieces. I'm not sure what kinds of duties he would performs, since it seems his race's primary reason for existing is to be eaten by us. Maybe he gets to dictate which candy corn flavors get made each Halloween. Does that mean he's also ruler of the Mellowcreme Pumpkins too, since they're often mixed up with candy corn? Also, if he's king of the candy corn people, shouldn't he be edible too? Or is the fact he's not edible the reason he's their ruler? So many questions, and I doubt we'll ever find out the answers to them..

It's been another 48 hours, so that means it's time to check in on our Monster Eyeball.

It's up to 6" inches of circumference now, and weighs a massive 2 oz. Its growth is a bit disappointing. I was hoping to have a giant squid sized eyeball by now, but it looks like it's still around...cow size. Surprisingly, it's not squishy at all, and is still rather firm. It also bounces rather well, judging by how high it went after it attacked my foot and tried to escape.

 It also attacked my girlfriend at one point, though it underestimated just how big her mouth could get. The joke's on you Monster Eyeball..We were able to wrangle it back into its holding tank, though I know it's just waiting for the next time I have to take its measurements. Just sitting there...watching and waiting..

Something I just realized..after looking over Plush Candy Corn Man, I think he's just a baby. The evidence is all there; that cute and innocent smile, the oddly proportioned body and limbs, the inability to walk and talk..This thing is just an infant.Then that must mean...there are adult Candy Corn People out there somewhere, and two of them are missing a child. Oh, crap..

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

TMNT Series 1 Shredder

If there were a Hall-Of-Fame for 80's cartoon villians, it would be a crime to leave out Shredder. In every incarnation of the TMNT, there has been a Shredder, trying to turn the heroes into turtle soup. He was initially portrayed as a bit of a fool in the original cartoon, but he has become more and more menacing with each new incarnation. Like all of the other characters in the TMNT universe, Shredder was released in action figure form, more than once actually. This one is from the first wave of TMNT action figures, and I actually found him at a yard sale for $.50 a few weeks ago.

Unfortunately, this is probably the worst figure from the first series. He looked nothing like his cartoon counterpart, and was rather poorly sculpted as well. In the show, Shredder was a tall and imposing character  and he looked like he would be a physical match for the Turtles. This guy though, looks like Shredder has hit hard times and had to sell the Technodrome to fund a drug habit. Look at those huge bags under his eyes. This is a man that spends his nights thinking of ways to defeat four teenage mutants with an addiction to pizza while he's curled up in a cardboard box in the alley.  Going by his visible ribs and overall skinny appearance, it looks like Shredder gave up his quest for turtle soup, and is on a daily quest for crack.

Shredder's odd pose doesn't help either. The one hand that can hold a weapon is too close to his body to be useful, and the one outstretched arm has an open hand that makes it look like Shredder is trying to keep warm next to a fire barrel.

Of course, Shredder does have a couple of other poses:

The "I have no idea what that smell is" pose , and...

"Raise your hand if you're the lackey of a giant brain shaped alien with unlimited technology and resources that can't even defeat four teenagers led by a giant rat that all live in the sewers" pose.

Strange as the figure may be, he still got a lot of play when I originally owned him. Of course, once Super Shredder came on the scene, this one spent the rest of his time in the toybox, holding his one hand over the fire barrel, telling stories about how he almost beat those turtles..

Monday, October 15, 2012

Monster Science Monster Eyeball

This one was another impulse buy from my Target excursion. I was always a sucker for those growing toys when I was younger. At one point, I sent away for a set of growing dinosaurs that were part of a cereal box promotion. I can't remember if it came from Trix or Cocoa Puffs, but I do know that was the longest two months ever. At some point I completely forgot about them, so when a small padded envelope with my name on it finally arrived, I was ecstatic. Of course, I just loved getting things in the mail anyway, but that's a story for another time. On to the monstrous eyeball!

I love that the scientist on the front looks so surprised at the large green cloud that's suddenly expanded over him. Or he's shocked at the fact his skin is now green, and his hair suddenly turned purple. Both good reasons for the stunned look on his face. Also, check out this kid at the bottom corner:

Better yet, don't look at that kid, he's just too damn frightening. Do check out the size of the eyeball on the right though. If mine doesn't end up that big, I'm writing an angry letter.

The back gives you a list of tools you'll need, though it pretty much just amounts to a dish of water, something to write with, something to write on, a scale, and a measuring tape. It also warns you to use warm water, not hot. Otherwise, the eye will just melt into a puddle of goo.

Once you have all your tools gathered up, you're supposed to guess the circumference and the weight, then take the actual measurements to see just how far off you were.

Yeah, that was originally 29 cm under my initial guess. Then I looked at a ruler and realized I was thinking of millimeters. My guess in inches was actually rather close, as well as my guess in ounces. I'm just not built for the metric system..After all the paperwork, you fill your container with water, and drop the eyeball in;

It actually looks a bit freaky sitting there, staring out at me..The directions call for you to remove it from the water and take a measurement every 24 hours. I said "screw that" and decided to go for 48 hours before I checked on it again. Actually, I was too busy and too inebriated to remember it yesterday, so here's the eye after two days:

It's gained an inch and a half in circumference and has tripled its weight. At this rate, it should gain sentience before Halloween gets here, and my plans for world domination can finally begin. Stay tuned until Wednesday, when we shall see how much more my new pet has grown..
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