Showing posts with label Halloween Countdown. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Halloween Countdown. Show all posts

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. 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. It's a good mix of comic and movie Bruce Waynes. My favorite part of the face 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, "This will only take a second baby, stay right there. Why don't you get another glass of the 1943 Chateau du Toilette?"

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. Bruce is decked out in a turtleneck and a what appear to be a pair of black spandex pants. Bruce was obviously a fashion icon in the late 1980's. 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 really have no idea why he would have an abstract Bat-symbol on his shirt. Did Batman somehow negotiate some sort of clothing deal?

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?

So Bruce looks up in the sky and sees the Bat-signal on a passing cloud. 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.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Halloween Countdown: Stunt Zombie Takeover!!!!!

Dear faithful Stunt Zombie Readers: 
        This blog is being taken over.  That's right, you heard me.  I'm taking control of the blog (the 'I' being Chelsea of the awesome blog "Books, Booze and Bitchin" at wordpress).  Don't worry though, this is not a hostile takeover.  Nor is it a cheesy ploy to draw readers to my page.  Stunt Zombie was called away on family business (yes, just like the mafia) and has graciously obliged to let me continue his 31 days to Halloween Countdown.  We're amending the "31 days of posts" to "31 posts in 31 days"!  A subtle change but one that will allow us to catch up without readers crying foul.  
       I'd like to apologize in advance to Chris' readers, as I am not a seasoned blogger.  I shall do my best so please go easy on me with the comments!  With no further delay, let's get on with it already!

      My "first" post is going to be on 'Brain Dead Zombies'.  You may remember that Chris made a post about this neat little guy about a week ago.  Back then he was just a wee little zombie, always teased by the bigger and more decomposed zombies on the playground.  Well sir, you better just watch out because he has indeed grown in his watery grave (see what I did there?!) and is now a man!  Mazel tov!  
I'd like to point out that the artwork on the cover of "The Monster Book of Zombies" has the exact stance as the Brain Dead Zombie.  Ya know, Chris has such an affinity for naming his toys I'm gonna go ahead and name our zombie.  He kind of looks like a Fred to me.  Plus I don't know anyone named Fred so I can't personally offend anyone who has my phone number or direct contact with me!  Oh, I'd like to take this opportunity to let everyone know that I'm really bad at taking pictures.  Like, really super bad!  This has been pointed out to me on numerous occasions so I'll just throw that apology out there again in the hopes that you won't hold these posts against Chris!  
So, as you can see, Fred has indeed grown quite a bit in a week.  I really wish that he could stand on his own but if you look closely at the photo you can see he's being propped up by the camera's tripod.  While the dye on his clothing has stayed in tact there has been some loss in overall appearance.  I suppose growing to 600% of your original size will do that to you.
As we can see from this photo (besides the blatantly obvious fact that I need photography classes) is that Fred got beat up on the playground prior to his sudden growth spurt and now has a black eye and some missing teeth.  Tsk tsk Fred, what would your mother say...if you hadn't already eaten her brains.
Now Fred, just because Dr. Rodney Rathbone, Vampyre, Zombie Evil Kenevil and random chauffeur picked on you when you were small, that doesn't give you the right to beat up on them. There was a claim in the original post that went something like "Charge him up after he finishes growing, and you can probably use him to read."  Well folks, I don't think you could read by the light of Fred but he does put off enough radiance to potentially keep you from stubbing your toe in a blackout.
That's all the time we have tonight readers.  I hope you enjoyed my first guest blog and have not deleted your link to Stunt Zombie whilest putting a block on further attempts to read future posts!  If all goes as planned I'll be back tomorrow with another in the continuing saga of "31 posts in 31 days, Countdown to Halloween 2013!"

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Halloween Countdown: Cape Charles Fall Festival

Thanks to the weather, our original plans didn't work out today. Thankfully, Chelsea discovered that the town of Cape Charles was having a  fall festival today. We packed up the dog, made a little offering to the rain gods, and got on our way. It wasn't such a big festival, and was mainly situated in one building and a parking lot. All the businesses were open though, so we had plenty of places to stop in and look around. I was mainly looking for seasonal stuff, and I'm sad to report there really wasn't much in the way of fall or Halloween themed products or displays. The couple of things I did find though, more than made up for it.

This house was just down the street from the fall festival, and it's the only one I saw decorated for Halloween. And decorated it was. I hate to be a jerk, but I think the condition of the house only adds to the effect of the decorations. I don't know who lives there, but it looks like the kind of place my parents would drive by when they took me Trick or Treating. I like how they've draped the cobwebs over the bushes. I could almost believe they were made by real spiders. For all I know, they really were made by real spiders. That one spider to the right looks almost as big as some real ones I've seen around here.

Right out front we are told to "Keep Out!", and "Beware!". That all seems to contradict that happy skeleton next to the chair though. He looks like he's more than happy to entertain us, so why shouldn't we go in? I wish I could tell you what that thing is leaning against the chair, but I seriously have no idea. It's a Beaches sign, wearing part of a stocking, with a card that says "Kill" slid in there. As far as what's on the end of it, your guess is as good as mine. I got close enough to touch it, and I still couldn't guess what it was supposed to be. A murder weapon from a pumpkin massacre perhaps?

Over here we have more warning signs, as well as what appears to be a skull garden. Some folks have rock gardens, so why not? The tree is possessed by at least half a dozen spirits flying around here. I'm pretty sure the one in the back is a dog toy though. I wish I had inspected it a bit closer.

Further down the street, this old, abandoned storefront caught my eye. It looks like they're not quite finished yet, but I still think it looks great. I'll have to make the trip down here in a couple of weeks to see if they add more to it.

This is part of the display at the Cape Charles Coffee House. It actually caught me off guard, because a witch hanging out with her large pet crow was the last thing I expected to be starting out at me. I started looking around, and I realized they did both sides of the entrance.

This is the setup behind the witch, though I think they missed out by not making a fake fireplace with a monster coming out of it. Ooh..every year Sam Haim comes down your chimney to bring treats to the good kids, and tricks to the bad ones. I need to write that down somewhere. I'm still trying to figure out who the green head is from. It looks like it could be anything from a dead Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster, or a zombie.

Speaking of Sam Haim, here he is in all his glory. He was hanging next to what appears to be a jack o' lantern wreath.

Here's the rest of the display from the other side of the entrance. It's interesting how they've decorated using fall and Halloween decorations. I guess that could be an evil scarecrow, but I doubt it. Of course, I might be wrong in assuming those are evil spirits back there. One thing I am sure about, that is one evil owl sitting in the front of that wagon. When have you ever seen an owl that black not be evil?

Make that a pitch black owl with red eyes. Yep, definitely evil. I'm also leaning more toward evil for the scarecrow as well. When in doubt, assume they're bad.

That's about it for this trip. I was a little disappointed there weren't more seasonal decorations to be seen, but then I don't think that was the point of the festival. At least it got us out of the house for a bit. I have another field trip in mind, but that isn't going to happen until next week at the earliest. Stay tuned..

Friday, October 11, 2013

Halloween Countdown: Lego Vampyre Hearse

Let me just get this out of the way; it really bugs me that Lego decided to spell it "Vampyre", rather than the way everyone has spelled it ever, "vampire".

That's the only nitpick I can really come up with on this thing. Otherwise, I'd would be willing to call this the perfect themed set. I'm particularly fond of the drapes on the back windows, as well as the oil lamps on either side of the cabin. I love the exaggerated proportions on this thing. They really give it a hot rod look. I wish I had captured it in a photo, but the car is set up to be able to pop a wheelie. The Vampyre needs to be able to move quickly in his search for the moonstone. Speaking of moonstone..

That's no hood ornament, that's the red moonstone! I really have no idea what that is, but apparently the monsters are trying to get their hands on all of them. I guess Vampyre isn't too concerned with losing his, because he's fastened the moonstone prominently on the front of his car. While we're at the front, would you look at the size of that engine! This hearse is definitely meant to move. It looks like a six femur engine. I'm not sure how that compares to a regular engine, but it has to be better. I can only assume that it runs on blood. That might explain why it has fangs on the front at least. Drive over one cow, and the tank's full.

The Vampyre hearse has a neat little action feature. Twist one of the blades on the side, and Vampyre's casket will raise up, lifting the roof.

Inside the casket is the man himself, the Vampyre. He has the classic Dracula look; nice suit, ruffled shirt, and slicked back hair. He also comes with a big ass sword. If you take the top off his casket and twist the blades on the side with enough vigor, he will fly across the room. It's a neat feature, but one that's hard to capture with the camera. Plus, the hearse tends to want to start to fall apart if you do it too many times in a row. The Vampyre has another neat little feature, that I almost forgot about...

His head glows in the dark. I didn't realize it until just a little while ago, when I noticed he had a bit of a green tint to him. He actually glows rather brightly, though he's a little small to light up a room.

Geez, I almost forgot about this too. The decal on the roof of the car glows in the dark as well. I like the looks of this one, but that line above its fangs makes it look like it has a goatee.

Who's that driving the hearse? Well, it was a zombie when I first put the set together, but I switched his and the daredevil's heads to make the Stunt Zombie. I think this guy just works better with the frightened look on his face. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't be too enthusiastic about working for a guy that could decide to treat me like a cup of coffee at a moment's notice.

And who is this dapper gentleman with the bionic leg? Why, it's none other than Dr. Rodney Rathbone, and he's trying to get the moonstone back from Vampyre. He looks like he's ready for battle, with his jet powered motorcycle, sword, and dynamite. He's also wearing a stylish bowler hat, and has a smirk on his face that just dares anyone, living or undead, to try their luck. Dr. Rathbone may be a mere mortal, but I think Vampyre has met his match.

See what I mean? Vampyre is looking pretty stressed right now, as he should be. He's going up against a man that saw losing a leg as a chance to upgrade his body.
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