Tuesday, June 25, 2013

League Assignment- Summer Vacation!

summer vacation

This week's topic from the League of Extraordinary Bloggers is,

Summer Vacation

When I think about summer vacation, the first thing that pops into my head is fishing. I used to spend an obscene amount of time out on the Chesapeake Bay. I first started fishing with a small Snoopy rod and reel when I was four years old. As the years went on, my love for fishing continued to grow. If it was the weekend, and my parents didn't have anything going on, we were going fishing. The downside to that was having to rely on them to be able to go out on the water. My folks were pretty hard workers, so any chance to earn some extra money sometimes trumped the desire to go boating. That all changed when I was 14, and my dad bought a boat for me off one of our neighbors. It wasn't much, just a 16 foot wooden scow. I used an old 4hp engine which pushed it at a blistering 5 knots. I'm sure that made my parents happy, since it was too slow for me to actually do anything stupid. But, it was a boat, and it allowed me to go fishing when I wanted to go fishing. That was the great thing about living on the water. I could just keep my boat tied up on the beach, rather than having to trailer it to a ramp. I could wake up, grab a cooler and my gear, and head out for the day. Most of the time I could catch enough to fill my cooler, but I usually ended up tossing the majority of them back. I might have loved to fish, but I sure didn't like cleaning them. As I got older, summer was less about the vacation, and more about making as much money as I could in those 3 short months. Thankfully, I managed to find a job on a charter boat that allowed me to combine my love for my hobby with the ability to earn money while doing it. It was grueling work, but I met a lot of people working on there, and had tons of fun while I was at it.

I actually managed to find a few pictures from some of my fishing excursions, and I figured I would share them on here.

This one was taken by the pond near my mom's house. It was stocked with largemouth bass, bluegills, and catfish, so there was always something biting. My friends and I would spend most of the day out there on the dock, just casting away. The bass in this picture is actually one of the biggers ones I remember catching out of there. I just noticed I was wearing my "No Fear" hat. Geez, remember when that was a thing?

"Me holding up a shark. About 2.5-3' June '99" That's what is written on the back of the photo at least. I may have been a bit generous in my estimation of the shark's length, but I do remember my arm was starting to get tired from holding him up while my friend tried to work the camera. It looks a bit bloody because I had started to clean it when someone said I should get a picture of it. I actually remember catching this little guy rather well. We had been fishing for a while, and got tired of catching the small stuff. We decided to cut up a couple of fish, hooked them on our lines, then tossed them over. Then we decided to go for a swim while we waited for a bite. My friends and I were swimming around the boat when we heard the drag on one of the reels start screaming. We clambored back into the boat, and I ended up wrestling that shark on board. About that time, we figured it was probably best not to go swimming while we had our bait in the water. It looks like I was wearing that same "No Fear" hat here too. I must have loved that thing.

This is a shot of me while I was working on a charter boat, the Miss Jennifer. This shot was taken in the summer of '03, and was during one of our all day charters. These charters were always my least favorite trips. It was a busload of 30-40 people, and every single one of them brought a cooler. It's hard enough to get around on a boat with that many people, let alone when the deck is covered in Igloos. Something else that I could never wrap my head around was their sheer ineptitude when it came to fishing. These were folks that had been fishing longer than I'd been alive, and they couldn't figure out how to hold their own fishing poles. There's nothing sadder than watching a man use a spinning reel upside down. They also loved to use bloodworms. There are few things in life I hate more than bloodworms. For one, they were messy as hell. Bloodworms were full of, you guessed it, blood. So, cut one open, and it has a tendency to leak blood everywhere. They also came in small plastic containers filled with dirt balls. By the end of the day, the boat's deck look like a muddy slaughterhouse. The other great thing about bloodworms, is that they bite. Think of the creature from Alien, and you would be pretty close. I had a few latch on to me over the years, and most of the times they had to be pulled off rather forcefully, because they weren't going to let go on their own. The worst thing about these charters were the lousy tips. Like the servers in a restaurant, the mates made most of their money through tips. Our normal days consisted of two 4 hour trips, with up to 40 people per trip. Most days, the other mate and I were easily able to clear a hundred dollars each. There were even a few days that I made quite a bit over two hundred. These all day charters though, we were lucky to make thirty or forty dollars each. Thankfully, our boss would pay us pretty well for these days, since he knew we worked our asses off the entire time.

That's a picture of my boss holding a black drum. That one probably weighed fifty pounds or more. Drum fishing was one of my favorite times to work on the boat. We only took 6 people, and they actually had to be competent fishermen. Drum are actually pretty tough to catch, so if you're not paying attention, you're likely to end up with an empty hook.

This last photo is what the drum look like after I've finished filetting them. Most people used a garden hoe to scale the fish, then they cut out the meat. I just bypassed all of that by skinning the fish then cutting the filets out.

So there you have it. When I think of summer, I think of salt water, fishing poles,and enjoying a relaxing day on the water.

What are my fellow bloggers thinking about?

Lee wants to visit the land of Godzilla, anime, and a Universal Studios trapped in time, while Linz wants to visit Alabama for a private Showbizz.

Miss M only enjoys summer vacations on her terms.

Yellina wishes it was summer where she lives.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

GIJoe and the Menace in the Wilderness!

First things first. After staring at the cover for at least 23 minutes, I decree, that now and forever, I will write G.I. Joe as GIJoe. I'm tired of all those periods and spaces and kids with their loud music..Sorry, got off track there. I loved GIJoe figures and vehicles. They were my favorite toys as a kid, and they remain one of my favorites today. Still, one of my favorite things about GIJoe were the mail order flyers (fliers?) they included in some of their figures and vehicles. I've talked about how I only ever ordered from one of the inserts, but that didn't stop me from looking at these things over and over, until they literally fell apart. This insert, along with Terrifying Lasers of Destruction,were the last two released for the original line. I have to admit, Terrifying Lasers definitely has the cooler items for sale (Serpentor's Chariot!), but that's not to say Menace in the Wilderness didn't contain anything interesting. Let's have a peek inside:

Right away, we have the GIJoe international team. Counter-clockwise from the upper right we have Big Bear representing Russia, Budo repping Japan, and Big Ben for Great Britain. I'm assuming Spirit is supposed to be representing the good ol' USA, since he's Native American. I think. These guys are all repaints of figures that appeared earlier in the line. I actually owned the original Big Ben and Big Bear, and preferred them to the versions offered here. These guys don't look terrible though. Compared to some of the other figures Hasbro was selling in 1993, the figures here are pretty subdued.

Now we're talking, vehicles! One thing that always bothered me about the WOLF was that gun above the canopy. It's like Cobra was 99% done with the design, when they realized it didn't have any guns. "Just put one on top, it's worked before!" yells Cobra Commander. The Techno Vipers don't care, they never actually have to drive this stuff. They figure, "What the hell..let's add some skipedoes too". Oh, you didn't notice those sitting above the missiles, looking all innocent? Yeah, they're torpedoes..for the snow. I tell ya, those Cobra Engineers were geniuses.

Standing next to the WOLF, is the Cobra Ninja Viper. Or is it "a Ninja Viper". I never figured out if Cobra only had one, or if there were legions of Ninja Vipers creeping through the halls of the Terror-Drome. He was just a repaint of the original Storm Shadow, and I have to admit the color works. It always seemed ridiculous to have a ninja running around in a bright white uniform, especially since the good guy ninja wore black.

I actually preferred the original General Hawk to the one offered here. Sure, this one had a backpack that made noise, but the original had a kick-ass jetpack. With missiles! Also, this Hawk suffers from the 90's neon paint scheme that I love to hate. On the other hand, the Deep Six offered here is one of the best versions of that figure. He looks like he's ready to go exploring on the bottom of the ocean, or into outer space if you're willing to stretch your imagination a bit. That gun he's holding originally came with Toxo-Viper, though I have no clue what kind of weapon it's supposed to be.

The Hovercraft is one vehicle I always wanted, but could never manage to find. If I had been smart, I would have ordered it from here. I liked most of the GIJoe vehicles, but I always preferred the ones that were based on real things, or at least looked more realistic. None looked more real than the Hovercraft. Oddly enough, the insert doesn't refer to it by it's real name, Killer W.H.A.L.E. (Warrior: Hovering Assault Launching Envoy). This thing was loaded to the gills with weapons, from the machine guns on the sides, to the missile launchers in the back. It also had room for close to a dozen figures, as well as a one-man sled that could be launched from the front for those quick escapes.

I never really cared about having a set of personalized dog tags, but damn I wanted that collector's kit. Part of it was wanting an actual case for my figures, and part of it was wanting to know who the mystery figure was. Thanks to the power of the interwebs, I found out it was the hooded version of Cobra Commander. Man, I really should have ordered that kit. That version of Cobra Commander was always my favorite.

Lastly, we have the order form. Originally, you were required to use Flag Points if you wanted to order from one of the inserts. Toward the end of the line though, I noticed that using Flag Points was now an option, one that would save you a few bucks on a couple of the items. I'm guessing Hasbro realized kids probably weren't saving the flag points anymore, but they still had all this unsold stock to sell. Even without the Flag Points, there are some good deals to be had. Unfortunately, this offer expired nearly 20 years ago. Oh god, now I'm definitely feeling old.

I have to admit, I'm very tempted to fill this thing out and send it in. Anybody else curious to see what happens?

Friday, June 14, 2013

I met a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle

Ah, the summer of '91. I wasn't quite 10 years old, and I was still very much into the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I'm not sure how I found out there were going to be TMNT's at the carnival, but I remember being anxious while I waited for the big night to hurry up and get here. I think my mom must have heard about it and told me, or I heard about the appearance on the radio. Regardless of how I found out, I couldn't wait to actually meet the Turtles. In my head, I pictured them looking just like they did in the movies. I knew they were just guys in a costume, but I still hoped that they would look like they just stepped off the big screen. I imagined that the carnival was going to put on this big show, maybe having the Turtles get up on stage to rally the crowd, then having to go take care of some Foot Clan members when they infiltrated the carnival. It was going to be epic, if things went how I imagined. When the night finally came, I almost chickened out.

It's not like I didn't want to go to the carnival. I always loved playing the games, eating the food, and riding the rides. Actually, that's a lie, there were some rides I absolutely refused to ride. Make that most of them. I understand that space was limited, so it's not like they could have a roller coaster set up out there. Instead, pretty much every ride spun around, really, really fast. One time I actually got up the nerve to try the Airplanes ride. You got in this thin sheet metal compartment shaped like a plane. The attendant would slam the door and lock it shut with a bungee cord. Then, the ride would start up. It was almost pleasant at first. It was going just fast enough to create a nice cooling breeze on your face, which was a relief on those hot and humid summer nights. As the ride spun around, it would tilt, causing all the planes to "fly" up and down. Then it would start to pick up speed, until everything outside your window was flying by in a blur. I also forgot to mention that the cart was attached by the nose, so each individual plane could flip spin as well. Unless you knew the secret to stopping it, you could spend most of your ride spiraling out of control. That's what happened the one time I tried it, and I steadfastly refused to ever ride it again. It was the same with the Tilt-A-Whirl, the Spider, and even those damn swings that spun in a circle. The slowest ride there, and it was the only one to make me throw up. Go figure. That's why I kept my ass planted in the ferris wheel. Besides, that one always provided the best view.

So the night of July 3rd finally got there, and my mom took my cousin Richie and I up to Onancock. We did our usual thing, wasting allowance money on games we'd never win, eating a lot of bad food, and checking out girls from the ferris wheel. It was on one of those trips around the ferris wheel that I spotted Donatello. There were a few kids crowded around him, but he certainly wasn't being mobbed. When Richie and I finally got off of the ride, we ran over to where my mom was standing and told her we spotted the Turtles. We all started walking over there, and it was then I realized something: I was very, very, shy. I was fine around children and adults I knew, but I clammed up around strangers. Strangers dressed in costumes, like the one I was about to see, absolutely terrified me. In my head I was starting to panic. By the time we made our way over to where Donatello was standing, I had completely shut down and was ready to run back to the car. The costume the guy was wearing was nowhere near as cool as the ones they used in the movies. Hell, he barely looked like the cartoon version. Just one lone Turtle in a cheap costume, and I was too scared to speak. My mom urged me to go over and talk to him, but I refused. What was I going to say to a giant, furry Turtle? I don't think he was allowed to speak anyway. I had seen other kids talking to him, and his only response was the nodding of his head. Finally, my mom took me by the hand and led me over to Donatello, she asked if she get a photo of the two of us. He nodded enthusiastically, and wrapped his arm around me. My mom told me to smile, and I was blinded by the light of the flash. I thanked Donatello, and ran back to my mom and my cousin, hoping that she was able to get the picture on the first shot. She did, and we continued to walk around until it was time to go home. Right before we left,  I heard a shrill scream from Donatello's direction, and I saw two parents ushering off their crying child. Seeing that made me feel a little better. Sure I was a few years older than that kid, but at least I held it together.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

League Assignment - Bring it back!


This week's assignment from the League of Extraordinary Bloggers:

"Bring it back! What product or media property would you like to see revived, and how would you imagine it being different today."

There are so many things I'd love to see brought back, but I worry that the modern world wouldn't be able to handle the awesomeness of some of them. Actually, I know exactly what I'd like to see revived;

Big Trouble in Little China!

I'm not going into the plot of the movie, because frankly, it's too damn weird for me to explain. It has kung-fu, magic, machine guns, demons, and most importantly, Kurt Russell as Jack Burton. 

So I have a bit of a man crush. Maybe you're weird because you don't!

Just a warning, there are spoilers below, so proceed at your own risk. 

So, at the end of BTILC, Jack kills Lo Pan, gets his truck back, and rescues Gracie Law, the cute reporter that has the hots for him. Then he goes against all action movie relationship rules and drives his truck off into the night, leaving the girl behind. He's not completely alone though, as it turns out he's picked up a demonic hitchhiker.

The last thing we see is that demon clawing it's way from under the truck, and laughing maniacally as Jack drives down the highway. Roll credits. 

It's been 26 years, and we still don't know Jack's fate. From what I understand, there were no plans made for a sequel, and I haven't been able to find evidence of even a rough script. With the success of movies like the Expendables though, I think there's still a market for the fun and light action movie. Besides, the ending has always bothered me, and I think there would be plenty of material for the sequel to cover. For example, how exactly does Jack survive the demon hitching a ride on his truck? Is Lo Pan really gone for good? He doesn't seem like the type of character to stay dead for long. He's kinda like a Chinese Freddy Krueger. I'd want to see more of Lo Pan's lair too. It seems like we only got a small glimpse of what he was hiding in his offices. Wang Chi mentions that the Chinese have thousands of Hells, and we only got to see a couple of them in the original movie. Bring me more Hells!  Also, show us more monsters. We had that shaggy creature and the floating eyeball guy, but we didn't get to see much else. There have to be more monsters prowling around Lo Pan's hallways.

Since most of the characters are getting up there in years, maybe we could have their children help Jack out on his adventure. It wouldn't end up like Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull though, that was just awful. These kids would actually be bad ass magicians and kung fu masters, not some greaser that swings around with the monkeys. If we bring back Lo Pan, we'd have to bring back the Three Storms, Rain, Thunder, and Lightning, as well. Maybe we could add one more in there, and call him Wind. Of course, that would set up a running joke where Jack brags about being the one that "broke Wind". In the end, good will triumph again, and they'll put Lo Pan down so they can enjoy a few more years of peace. Oh, and we'll have Jack and Gracie Law finally get together, and drive Jack's truck off into the sunset. Then the camera will pan down where we'll see a large hairy arm shoot up from under the truck, and we'll hear that same maniacal laughter from the end of the first movie. This movie would make a ton at the box office, so we'd have to leave it open for another sequel, right?

I almost forgot the title, though I'm sure it's pretty obvious. 

Bigger Trouble in Little China

What do the other League members want to revive?

Cal wants to see Star Trek: The College Years come back.

Lee and Linz want more Zombies Ate My Neighbors and Jem.

3B wants to bring back a sweet treat.

Infinite Hollywood wants to see more mech on mech action.

The Goodwill Geek wants to see more of the wrinkly, singing fruits.

The Trash Man says bring back the Tall Man!

Random Nerdness sees potential in some comic revivals.

VikkiErka thinks Cartoon Network made a Sym-Bionic Titanic mistake.

Brian is ready for more 25th adventures with Buck Rogers

Fortune and Glory (Days) thinks Men of a Certain Age weren't just some Deadwood.

Calvalcade of Awesome thinks we can rebuild him. 

Geek Life Balance thinks cereal boxes should be more constructive.

Miss M misses the bad ass women.

Nerd Rage thinks Dynaman is dynamite!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Hasbro, you're pretty cool.

Many, many years ago, in the year 1994, I came across this insert in one of my G.I. Joe figures:

Photo from YOJOE.COM

An offer to buy the first guy to be known as G.I. Joe? Sure, I'll go for it. Something I find odd, the flier said to send in UPC's and money for shipping, rather than the usual flag points. I could have sworn I used flag points for this offer, but no matter. I quickly decided I wanted to get both figures. I already had a couple of the 12" Hall of Fame figures, and thought a 12" Joe Colton would look nice on the shelf next to them. He also came with that nice looking stand that had the plaque on the front. Just look at how dignified he looks in that picture. I could almost picture a 5 star general sitting in his office, looking at that figure and wondering, "What would Joe Colton do?". That's the kind of figure that an adult would proudly display in his study, next to the books on military theory and the model bi-plane. As for the 3 3/4" figure, I just needed someone that could boss around the little guys.

So I gathered up my UPC's (or Flag Points), wrote out a money order, and sent the whole thing off to Hasbro headquarters. The usual waiting period for these offers was 6-8 weeks,which in kid time is 10 minutes short of forever. I feel pretty certain that I pretty much forgot about the whole thing a few days after sending off the order. You would think I'd stake out the mailbox, waiting for any suspicious packages, but nope. Looking back, I find it hard to believe that I didn't feel some excitement over the prospect of getting G.I. Joe figures in the mail. I was turning 13 that year, but it's not like I had a lot going on in my life. I was getting to the point where I was starting to feel too old to want to play with toys, so maybe that's the reason for the lack of anticipation.

6-8 weeks later, I received two envelopes in the mail, both of them from Hasbro. The first one contained the 3 3/4" G.I. Joe, while the second contained this letter:

Photo from YOJOE.
I wasn't quite upset, but I was a little disappointed. Demand was too great, and rather than make more figures to fill all the excess orders, Hasbro decided to give the folks that missed out a refund. I always thought it was rather honorable of them to issue refunds, when they could have just kept all those checks and money orders. I'm sure they figured most people wouldn't have complained, since they were only out a dollar and a few pieces of cardboard. Hasbro did the right thing, but they weren't finished yet.

Not long after I got the letter from Hasbro, my parents bought a new house, and we moved. I had given away or destroyed most of my toys, and my mind was occupied with thoughts of girls, cars, and video games. The last thing I was thinking about were action figures. Then one day, I got a random phone call from one of my cousins. She had started renting our old house after we moved out, and she was calling to tell me I had a package waiting there. Since I didn't remember ordering anything, I was curious as to what could be waiting for me. My parents drove me to my cousin's house, and she handed me a rectangular cardboard box. Still puzzled, I opened it up to find this guy waiting for me:

Hasbro had sent a different version of Joe Colton to all of the folks that missed out on the original G.I. Joe offer. It still amazes me that they did something like this. Granted, this version used a standard body, and the arctic gear was already something they made, but I have to imagine this still cost them a bit of money. There really wasn't any reason for them to send these figures out, since they had already mailed people a refund for the other figure. Admittedly, it's not quite as cool as the version I ordered, but it's hard to beat a free action figure, especially one this size. It was a gesture that meant a lot to me, especially since I was entering those jaded teenage years. Arctic G.I. Joe Colton occupied a place of honor on my shelves for several years, until he went M.I.A.

So, if the person responsible for making the decision to send me a free figure is out there, all I can say is thank you. You're a pretty cool guy, or gal.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Worlds collide!

He-Man: Whoa! Just who are you supposed to be?

I am Mumm-Ra, the most evil being on all of Third Earth. I reside in my Black Pyramid, plotting and scheming against my mortal enemies, the Thundercats.

I am a master of magic, and I am virtually invincible. I become even more powerful when I recite the phrase "Ancient Spirits of Evil, transform this decayed form to Mumm-Ra, the Ever Living!" There is no matching my physical or magical might. I will become the ruler of this world. I will become the ruler of the entire univer---ERP!

He-Man: For the love of Eternia, shut up! We should change your name to Mumm-Ra, the Ever Talking!

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