Monday, October 27, 2014

Stunt Zombie's seasonal beer review



Okay, so let me say that I will no longer accept any alcoholic beverage challenges. Last night taught me that beer and technology do not mix, especially on an empty stomach. In case you don't watch the video, and I don't blame you if you don't, Eric at Toyriffic challenged me on Facebook to do a seasonal beer review. My task, if I chose to accept it, was to drink a six pack of seasonal beer, then immediately blog about it. Being the trooper that I am, I gladly accepted the challenge. Sadly, things didn't go as planned, and my ability to use the camera disappeared by beer six. I didn't realize that I had only been taking photos until early this morning, when I tried to upload the video from my phone. So, this is an attempt to appease the blogging gods, and at least partially fulfill my obligation to a fellow blogger.





Terrible, right? Well, stick around while I take a quick look at each individual label.




Magic Hat Seance

This was my least favorite of the bunch. I'm not really surprised, since I have yet to like any beers from Magic Hat. This is the one beer of the bunch that didn't claim to be flavored with pumpkin or spices, but don't think for a second I'll give it any leniency for that. The label is what I like to cal "Fall Psychedelic", It's awash in oranges and yellows and browns, and it includes a few seasonal items, such as the leaves and the owl. Beyond that, it's just a hodge podge of random scribbles. It was my least favorite beer, but surprisingly not my least favorite label.


The St. George Brewing Company Pumpkinfest

They say wine is supposed to improve with age, well apparently this beer is better when it's stale. I actually remember popping the top on this one, and watching it immediately start to overflow. It just had way too much carbonation, and I think that's what affected the smell and the flavor. I'm actually liking the label, even if it is one of the plainer ones. The Jack O'Lantern morningstar looks particularly vicious, and I can only imagine it's 47 times more frightening than a normal morningstar. Most weapons don't grin at you as they're about to smash you in the face.


Starr Hill Boxcarr Pumpkin Porter
One of my favorite beers out of the bunch, but my least favorite label. Sure, they're playing on the box car theme, but this is a seasonal beer man! Put a scary moon in the background, with a wolf riding on top of the train cars. It's hard to tell because of the perspective, but that looks like it might be one big ass pumpkin next to the railroad tracks. Still, it's not enough to make me like this label.


Saranac Pumpkin Ale

This beer claimed to have so many spices, yet I couldn't taste any of them. This one was middle of the pack as far as flavor goes, but it still beat out the Boxcarr because of its label. Sure, it looks like a normal everyday Jack O'Lantern, but add those trees in the background, and it definitely feels like a Halloween appropriate beer. The carved pumpkin alone was enough to make me like this particular design. It manages to look happy, yet sinister at the same time. I only wish they had let the trees take up a bit more of the label. I want to be able to get a better view of what's going on in that scary forest.


Terrapin Pumpkinfest

This is my second favorite out of the bunch. Not only do we get Farmer Turtle harvesting a bumper pumpkin crop, but he's managed to turn one into a keg and tap it for a cool evening brew. He looks completely at peace, with that wan smile of his, as a turtle with a pumpkin full of beer should. All he has to do is sit back and relax, while he waits for his next customer. He enjoys watching folks dig through his wagon, looking for the perfect pumpkin for their house, all while he savors a nice frothy pumpkin malt beverage.


Devil's Backbone Pumpkin Hunter

This label is easily my favorite. There's so much going on, I wasn't able to get it all in one shot. Unfortunately, I didn't get it all period. Let me lay it out for you: There's a headless redneck archer riding on the back of a crazed grizzly bear, going around killing all the rogue Jack O'Lanterns. You can see one pumpkin is ready to attack, while the bear has swiped the face off the one in the foreground. These don't look like your normal everyday pumpkins either, with random thorns jutting off here and there. The rider's clothes are somewhat tattered, leading me to believe he's had one hell of a battle in this pumpkin patch. Now I'm kind of worried about Farmer Turtle's crop. Hopefully he's not selling a bunch of possessed gourds.

So, that was fun. I'll have to remember to never do it again. Happy week before Halloween to you all.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The time I found a dead body (kinda)

When you enter Middle of Nowhere, Va, the first thing you notice is, it's really dark. We're talking darker than dark. So dark you turn your headlights off and on just to make sure they were on in the first place. It's one of the consequences of living in a mostly rural area. There aren't many street lamps along the highway, and there are even fewer on  the back roads. I mention the darkness, because it makes more sense if you know the conditions of the night in question.

On the night "it" happened, my friend Scott and I were already a little freaked out. It was either a Friday or a Saturday night, because it was way late, and we were all up and hanging out. At some point, Scott and I left in his truck to either go to the store, or Scott's house so he could grab some games. We were driving out of my development when I saw a rabbit sitting under the street lamp near the end of my road. I didn't think much of it until a few seconds later, when I caught a flurry of movement out of the corner of my eye. I looked over, and I saw that the rabbit had apparently sprouted wings and was flying off into the night. I'm sure I exclaimed something along the lines of, "That fucking rabbit just flew off!". Scott understandably looked at me like I was crazy, while I stammered on about a rabbit suddenly turning into a winged demon of some sort and taking off into the night. After a few minutes I calmed down, and just laughed it off as having imagined the whole thing. Thankfully, we made it to our destination and back without any other four-legged animals taking to the sky.



A little later that night, I'd say it was between 12 or 1 am, my mom asked us if we could take out the garbage. We were still wide awake and didn't have much else to do, so of course we said we would. Scott and I loaded up the bags, and made our way to the dumps just a couple miles from my house. Scott made sure to keep an eye out for any flying rabbits, and I'm happy to say that all ground animals stayed grounded this time. Just a few minutes later, we were pulling up to the dumpsters when I saw the most horrific thing I'd ever seen in my entire life. And that's when the screaming started.

The human brain is an amazing organ. Sometimes you'll see something, and your brain has already processed the information and is formulating a plan before you can perform a conscious action. That's exactly what happened to me that night. As I pulled up to the dumpsters, my headlights shone on something so horrible, that I instantly started yelling. Before I could form a thought, my brain had already told my mouth that we were seeing some heinous shit, and that we should be scared.  Scott, who had just been talking to me a second earlier, started screaming because I scared the hell out of him. Then he saw what caught my eye and he started yelling even louder. Who wouldn't freak out at the sight of half of a woman's body?

After what felt like hours of yelling at the top of our lungs, we both calmed  down and processed what we had seen. It took us a few seconds to realize just what it was that had frightened us to near pants peeing levels.






















Half a freakin' mannequin. Sitting next to a dumpster in a near pitch black parking lot with arms askew, this thing looked like the latest victim of the Eastern Shore Strangler. It took us a few minutes to get over the horror of the moment, but once we did, I can't remember many occasions where we've laughed harder. I'm talking can't breathe, eyes watering laughter. I'd like to think it was the counterweight to all the fear we had just experienced. As I was driving home, I remember thinking out loud, "A g-ddamned mannequin", which only caused us to break out into another fit of laughter.

Even now, the memory of that night makes me chuckle. Here we were; two big, strong guys, and all of our bravery and bravado disappeared the moment my headlights shone on a plastic woman laying on the ground.

I think it goes without saying, we kept our asses home the rest of that night.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Zombiezz Series One: Captain Maggot

There really aren't enough zombie themed action figures out there. Sure, there are the Walking Dead zombie figures, but there's not much else out there in regular production. That's why I snatched up one of these Zombiezz figures when I discovered them in the toy aisle at Wal-Mart.


Zombiezz are a series of collectible figures produced by Entertoyment. There's 20 different Zombiezz in the first, and as far as I can tell, only series released so far. They range from the salty sea captain we have here, to superheros, ninjas, and clowns. Each figure has its own hidden feature, which, if I go by the packaging, can range from an eraser or stamp hidden under their scalp, to a pen hiding under the Zombiezz head. I can hardly wait to see what sort of surprise Captain Maggot has in store for us.


Here's the rottenest scourge of the seven seas, Captain Maggot. At some point in his career he lost a hand, as well as an eye. That's fine though, because he saw fit to replace the hand with a gaff hook, and some maggots took up residence in the empty eye socket. Otherwise, he doesn't look too bad for a waterlogged member of the undead. Ol' Captain Maggot looks like he's still ready to kick ass and rumble with the best of them.


Oops..I take that back. The good Captain Maggot seems to have lost a sizable chunk of his skull, along with most of the top of his hat. I'm betting it was probably the same musket shot that took out his eye. It looks like the maggots have made themselves at home up there too. It has to be mighty inconvenient having an exposed brain and all. I imagine it gets especially uncomfortable during a thunderstorm. There's nothing more annoying than big fat raindrops hitting you directly in the motor center of your cerebral cortex. I imagine that's why Captain Maggot prefers to pillage from the land. His head kept filling with salt water on the rough days.


That brain also happens to be Maggot's hidden special feature. Pop off his hat, and the brain shaped power ball falls out. Yeah, it's not much, but I count myself lucky that I didn't get a zombie with a stamp under its head. Stamps are lame.





Imagine my surprise when I discovered there's actually a commercial for these guys on their website It has some decent production value, and it reminds of the sort of ad I would see during afternoon blocks of cartoons in the 90's. Between the kids showing off the action features and the custom built set, I'm reminded of the days when I would plop down and enjoy some animated goodness with a snack in hand. I always wanted to be one of those kids that played with toys in commercials. In my head, you got to take them home when you were done filming. I would just tell everyone it was for research.

Speaking of done, after that little tangent, I think this post is finished. I'll just be over here, bouncing Captain Maggot's brain until I lose it down a vent, or one of the dogs eats it.

Then I'll just use his head as the world's smallest salsa bowl.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Hood's Pumpkin Spice Eggnog and JJ's Pumpkin Pie


Tonight, I'm taking a quick look at a couple of impulse buys from my last shopping trip.


First we have JJ's Pumpkin Pie. I'm thinking they should have added an asterisk after "Real Fruit Filling!", because the ingredients state that there is less than 2% of pumpkin puree actually present. In other words, if you were able to break down this pie into 100 equally sized pieces, less than two of them would contain any pumpkin at all. I guess I should have known that would be the case, what with all the random pumpkins laying around on the box. Lesson number one in fruit pie anatomy is, "The more fruit that's on the box, the less there is in the pie." Lesson number two should be to never buy a fruit pie that costs less than a dollar. These only cost $.79. So goes the lesson..


The box states that the pie is microwaveable, and it was at this point that I realized I had never microwaved one of these things before, not even the Hostess versions. Since I don't see myself eating many more fruit pies over the years, I gave it a quick nuke. 17 seconds later, and I had a plate full of steaming fruit* pie.


JJ's pies look oddly similar to Hostess' offerings, but I guess you can only have so many different shapes for pie crusts. I'm thankful the filling isn't the same shade of brownish orange that I've only ever seen in Playdoh. It makes it all the more easier to stomach. Speaking of the filling, there really isn't much in the way of pumpkin flavor at all. It was more like caramel, or butterscotch. It was actually a little hard to figure out just what the hell it tasted like. It wasn't bad, just odd. JJ certainly could have tossed some nutmeg to spice things up a bit. Ultimately, I didn't finish this one. Not because it was bad, but because it had about three days worth of fat content, and I don't feel like getting into a fistfight with heart disease quite yet.


Next up is Hood's Pumpkin Spice Eggnog. Now here we have an item that is on the other end of the flavor spectrum. While JJ's Pumpkin Pies had very little in the way of pie flavoring, Hood's eggnog was uncanny in its flavoring. By that I mean, it was like drinking a glass of pumpkin pie. My first sip actually caught me off guard. I've had flavored eggnogs before, and they're usually close enough for me to agree with the label on the box. This stuff actually had me sitting down and pondering the deeper meanings of life and the universe. It's a flavor and consistency that normally don't happen together, and it confused my mind a little bit. It has a slightly orangeish hue, but it's not as garish as the orange milk you see around this time of the year. It's just subtle enough to let you know that this isn't just any ordinary eggnog you're about to drink. As good as the eggnog is, I think its flavor works against it. I can't help but feel like I need to toss some chunks of crust in the glass so I'll have something to chew.

 So there you have it. Hood's Pumpkin Spice eggnog tastes like a carton of pie, and you should only ever buy expensive fruit pies.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

It's Halloween decoration time!

Chelsea and I started getting the house ready for Halloween last weekend. Well, mostly Chelsea, though I helped set up a few things. I enjoy decorations, but I hate decorating. Weird, right? It's the same for Christmas. I enjoy getting the tree and setting it up, but I couldn't care less about decorating the rest of the house. I just want to sit there and sip my hot chocolate and watch the lights twinkle. Same with Halloween. I just want to sit there, staring at a zombie stuck to my wall, while I sip blood from a skull chalice.


I was a little premature taking this picture, since Chelsea wasn't quite done setting stuff out. The pumpkins still need to be carved, but we prefer to wait until the week of Halloween. We don't want the little children stomping through rotten pumpkins, do we? You can see Grey, one of our cats, trying to figure out why there is a tombstone on the porch with her name on it. I find one more hairball Grey, and you'll find out.


This is a bad time of the year for tree ghouls around here. If you think fruit flies are bad, just imagine how annoying it is to have one of these guys floating around going "Woooooh!" and "Ahhhhhhh!" in your ears while you're trying to watch a movie. They don't have any sense of personal space and they leave slime stains everywhere. The smell of old ectoplasm has almost become unbearable. At least, I hope that's just ectoplasm..


The spiders get more ridiculous the closer we get to Halloween. Gone are the usual wolf spiders and orb weavers. In their place we have the Tufted Bush Spider. It sounds cute, but it's a nasty little critter. As you can see, they prefer to make their homes in your home's surrounding greenery, waiting for any inattentive children or bats to come by. This one told me he's particularly fond of bats. They're crunchy and can't get away as easily as the children. Oh, I forgot to mention they talk too? Well they do. They're rather chatty for arachnids.


Ugh, this guy again. You know how it goes. You have to bury somebody, but you're got someplace to be, so you only dig down a couple feet and toss the body in. This is a lesson in not taking the easy way out. Dig deep, and use a sturdy box, otherwise your past transgressions will keep coming back to haunt you. This guy doesn't seem smart enough or strong enough to finish clawing his way out, so I decided to leave him as is. Besides, his muffled screams only add to the ambiance.


Even Dug got in on the decorating. He hates it when people don't pay attention to him, so he reasoned people would notice him if he lit up at night. I can't really disagree; folks would certainly notice a bright orange colored dog. I do have to wonder if he's willing to spend all night next to an electrical outlet, though I highly doubt he thought that far ahead. Maybe I can rig up a battery on a cart that he can tow around.

Those are the highlights so far. There are still 3 or 4 totes full of decorations that will go up the week of Halloween, right before our somewhat annual party. Then everything will come down the next day to make way for Thanksgiving decorations. That's right, Chelsea decorates for Thanksgiving.

So, if any of you folks are going to be in Virginia Halloween weekend, you're more than welcome to come attend our little soiree. If you do stop by, please make sure you use the front door...


It's not a trap. I promise.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Batman Returns Bruce Wayne is ready for Halloween!

Today's post is about a billionaire playboy orphan egomaniac with an awesome car.



Released in 1992, Bruce Wayne was released in the Batman Returns line by Kenner. This is actually the second time this figure was produced, with the first being from the pre-sequel Dark Knight Collection. I know it may seem a bit farfetched, writing about Bruce Wayne during the Halloween Countdown, but stick around for a bit. I'll get you there.



I love the illustration of Bruce on the card. They managed to actually get a decent likeness of Michael Keaton, with a little of the comic Bruce Wayne mixed in. My favorite part is that smug look Bruce has. That's the look of a man that's a bit annoyed about seeing the Bat signal in the sky once again. He was probably kicked back with a good book and a bottle of wine, or maybe he was entertaining one of his many lady friends. He didn't even bother with going down to the Batcave. He just walked over to the closet, and pulled on his quick change armor. That's the kind of look that says, "Stay right there, this will just take a second, baby."


Most of the other Batman figures from this line were all repaints of the Super Powers version. Bruce here is one of the few that has his own unique sculpt. He's also one of the most stylish, next to the Joker, of course. Actually, the more I look at it, the more it looks like Bruce is decked out in a turtleneck and a pair of black sweatpants. Huh. I love how there's a stylized version of the Batman symbol on his sweatshirt. I didn't pick it up at first, but after staring at it for a few hours, I'm positive that's what it is. I have no idea why he would have an abstract Bat-symbol on his shirt; did Batman somehow negotiate a clothing deal? The Keaton likeness isn't too bad actually, and it looks quite a bit like him if you turn your head to the side and look at him from the corner of your eye.


Bruce Wayne also comes with what has to be the largest cell phone ever made. Forget a brick, that thing is a cinder block. With a phone that size, I have to imagine that it runs on a car battery. No wonder Bruce is so buff, if he has to carry that thing around all day. It also has a small click wheel on the side. I'm not sure what else to say about that. Maybe it's so you can pretend Batman is talking to the dolphins?


Uh-oh, it seems Batman is needed to save the day once again. Well, it's a good thing Bruce has his quick change armor close by. All he has to do is don his mask, cape, chest piece, gauntlets and boots, and he's ready to go!


And here's Batman, all suited up and ready to thwart the next criminal plot. Sure, he looks like he's wearing Hulk hands, and one gauntlet is forever clutching a Batarang, but evil doesn't care how ridiculous you look. Also, his head doubles in size when you put the cowl on. Maybe there's a bike helmet hidden in that thing. As silly as the figure looks with the armor on, I have to admit that it feels pretty solid. The gloves in particular are actually pretty hard to put on, so they're not coming off on their own. The cape is permanently attached to the cowl, so you don't have to worry about it coming off and getting lost. It's comforting to know that I could hold him out the window on my way to work, and watch his cape flutter without having to worry that it will come off mid flight.



Like a lot of Kenner's other figures, the Batman cardbacks always showed you the other toys available within that line. This one gives you an idea of just how ridiculous some of these suits were. I always thought that Arctic Batman would have been better suited for fighting Mr. Freeze, rather than the Penguin. He even has a dome over his head, just like the icy villain. I actually had a couple of these other figures, Air Attack Batman and Deep Dive Batman. AA Bats was pretty cool with his heavily armed jet suit and cool camouflage costume, but Deep Dive Batman always irked me with his bright color scheme. Wouldn't it be better to blend in with the water, rather than stand out like a beacon? I also had the Robin figure, which was probably one of my favorites. I think it was the two-toned cape. I'm always a sucker for a figure with a cool cape. I was always puzzled by his inclusion since he wasn't actually in the movie. Then I find out he was going to be played by a Wayans brother and I realized it was probably for the best the character was cut from an already crowded flick.


When I saw the Batman Armor set on the back of the card, I had an epiphany. This isn't Bruce Wayne as a crime fighter. This is a Bruce Wayne in an alternate reality, where he's just a regular billionaire egomaniac looking to win the costume contest and score with the ladies. That explains why it looks so shoddy. Bruce might be one of the richest men in the world, but he's an awful seamstress. Now that smug look of his makes perfect sense.


"Which one of you lovely ladies wants to slide down the Bat-pole?"

Thursday, October 2, 2014

October is here! Let's eat some Planters Pumpkin Spice Almonds!

Holy crap! It's October 2nd! You know what that means, right? It means that I've been lazy the past few weeks, and this post is late. Well, there's no need for any pomp and circumstance, you all know what this month means: A plethora of junk food, scary movies, and whatever random items I can vaguely connect to the Halloween season. Having said that, let's get this month started with one of my new favorite snacks:


I don't think Planters Pumpkin Spice Almonds are new to everyone else, but they're certainly new to me. I didn't start liking almonds until later in life, which was right about the same time they started coming out in crazy flavors. I daresay that I only noticed almonds in the snack aisle because I caught a glimpse of the word "wasabi" on the can as I passed them by. Though most of the flavors are delicious, eating one when you're expecting plain old "Almond" flavor is enough to cause anyone to fall over from shock. Think of the feeling you get when you get a big sip of Pepsi when you're expecting sweet tea.


Opening the can for the first time, you're hit by an aroma reminiscent of a Fall scented candle. I'm talking one the expensive ones, too. Like, Yankee Candle expensive. The almonds are coated in a variety of spices like cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and pumpkin powder. I've never heard of or seen pumpkin powder before, but I can only assume that it is made up of tiny, dust particle sized pumpkins. There's all kinds of gene splicing going on in food these days, I don't see why they couldn't create microscopic pumpkins. Any attempts to explain what it actually is, will be met with me violently ignoring you.

The taste is bit more subdued than some of the other flavors I've tried, and this is one variety that benefits from being savored more than immediately chewing them up. There's an initial hit of cinnamon and sugar, followed by a slight saltiness that fades into a cinnamon-y pumpkin spiciness. It's pretty complex for a snack food, and is best enjoyed small portions. Otherwise you experience some taste fatigue. Yesterday, after I ate a few handfuls, one of my co-workers commented that I smelled "spicy". I don't know if that's good or bad, but there it is.



I'm not going to say Planters went all out when they decorated the Pumpkin Spice Almond tins, but it's still a respectable effort. Pumpkins and falling leaves are about as "Fall" as you can get. It's not like you're going to expect to see this on the aisles in the middle of the spring. Once all the leaves have fallen, and the pumpkins have long since rotted away, you can bet you won't be able to find these hanging around store shelves. The tree is almost spooky enough to make this a Halloween limited edition, but there's just enough lighting to keep this from being a totally creepy scene.

Whether you love or hate the new Mr. Peanut, you have to admit he's a rather dapper fellow. I've never had much of an attachment for the character, but then again, he's never been on a cereal box, so that might be why. Maybe if Planters had included toys in their jars of nuts, I would have begged my mom to buy more of them. I kinda hoped they would have dressed him up in a costume, as a sort of nod to Halloween, but then it's hard to top being an anthropomorphic peanut in a suit coat. Here, he's just carting off a large pumpkin under his arm, and wearing a smile that either says, "I got a hell of a deal on this wonderful gourd", or "I better get out of here before the cart's proprietor returns". If he's trying to be inconspicuous though, he might want to take off the monocle and the top hat. Nobody wears those these days.

In the end, Planters Pumpkin Spice Almonds are a win for me. They're pretty expensive ($6.99 a can!), but if you're like me, you'll eat half and forget about them for a few months. In that case, one can will probably last you until December.




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