Archive for September, 2013

AWESOME-tober-fest 2013 starts tomorrow!

Posted in Halloween, holiday, Jones Soda, soda with tags , , , , , , , on September 30, 2013 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest banner

Well, AWESOME-tober-fest 2013: ZOMBIES!! officially begins tomorrow. You can expect an article every weekday throughout the month of October.  I’m excited for Halloween this year, I think I have a lot of good, fun articles for you so I hope you enjoy it.  As you can see, I’ve already decorated for the season!

Today, as sort of a pre-game show, I thought I’d look at a few of the Halloween retail items I’ve found lurking in the local store. Some interesting stuff.

Jones Halloween Soda 2013
First and foremost, Jones has returned this year after an absence with more Halloween sodas.  The flavors this year are Blood Orange, Red Licorice, Caramel Apple and Candy Corn.  Two of these flavors I’ve already had in the past.  If we look back at AWESOME-tober-fest 2008 I reviewed the Candy Corn flavor.  I don’t think I liked it.  I believe I said it tasted like “…spoiled maple syrup poured through a dirty sweat sock…”  I tasted the Caramel Apple the year before in an article about oddly flavored sodas like Dr Brown’s Cel-Ray and Canfield’s Diet Chocolate Fudge.  I believe I said that flavor tasted like “…sun tan lotion mixed with burnt maple syrup…”  So, Jones isn’t necessarily hitting it out of the park with these so far.  Blood Orange is a tangier orange flavored soda and red licorice is way too sweet and thick to be described as anything but “sugar coma inducing”.  So while I love the effort and the packaging, Jones, I’m not loving the execution.

Halloween Big League Chew
Big League Chew is one of my childhood favorites. And I love this Halloween themed packaging.  Howlin’ Original and Gruesome Grape flavors aren’t new or formulated for the holiday, but I like the Halloweeny makeover.  I believe there’s another one with a vampire/Dracula character, but I couldn’t find it.

Kool-Aid Ghoul Aid Jammers
Ghoul-Aid has been around since the 80s. Usually only offered in certain markets and usually only around Halloween. I have some of the original mixes but it seems the flavor is making a resurgence. You can find single packets on shelves again and now Kool-Aid Jammers have their own Scary Blackberry flavor.  I was so excited to finally find this.  I’ll be sucking these things down all month.

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Some of my biggest Pet Peeves

Posted in personal, pet peeves, soda with tags , on September 24, 2013 by Paxton

LEB

It’s League time. This week, we are asked to talk about some of our “pet peeves”. I have them, so I thought I’d talk about them. If you do any of these, I’m sorry in advance…but I hate you.

Shopping Cart
People not returning their carts to the cart corral. OMFG this absolutely drives me up the wall. Supermarkets, Wal-Mart, Target, you name it, and people will leave their carts in the middle of the parking spot. Or with the front wheels lodged over the curb.  WTF?!  I’ve actually returned 5 or 6 abandoned carts to the corral before even walking into the store. I’ve seen abandoned carts in parking spots that actually sit RIGHT NEXT to the cart corral. That’s just lazy, people. God forbid you walk your cart 10-15 ft to the nearest cart corral. Yes, I have been in the situation where the nearest cart return is on another aisle (usually when you park close to the front of the store). In that case, I take the cart back to the store.  It’s polite, plus, it keeps from making the parking lot an obstacle course when you are trying to park with all of these abandoned shopping carts littering the landscape like dead bodies.  PUT YOUR GODDAM CART AWAY.

movie_concessions
Leaving your movie seat looking like a popcorn/soda bomb exploded.  I think it’s a cop-out to say “they have people to clean that up”. How hard is it to take your leftover bag and cup and drop it in the trashcan on the way out of the movie? I’m not saying you have to grab a broom and sweep up, just walk your trash over to the goddam cans you lazy SOB.

coming_attractions
Movie trailers. I love them, but lately they show too much of the f**king movie. And why do studios now release all these clips of the big tent pole movies? Before Avengers was released to theaters you could probably have pieced together 90% of the movie with all the trailers, international trailers and TV spots that were released to the Internet. I hate that. STOP IT.

The above can also apply to TV viewing.  Many shows have begun showing “coming up after the break” previews before commercials.  It’s irritating.  I have to mute or fast forward before seeing something early which ruins it if it’s supposed to be funny or particularly shocking.  I’m already watching the show, so essentially those “teasers” are preaching to the choir.  Stop that sh*t.

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Nerd Lunch Extra Helping – Run-DMC

Posted in movies, music, rap, Run-DMC with tags , , , , , , on September 18, 2013 by Paxton

Nerd Lunch Podcast

While Nerd Lunch is on hiatus, I got together with Matt Ringler from Schlock Treatment and Tim Lybarger from The Neighborhood Archive to discuss Run-DMC and their entire musical catalog. But since this week is the 25th anniversary of their fourth album, Tougher Than Leather, we try to focus on that.

tougher_than_leather

We begin by talking about our first experiences with rap music.  We talk about how we discovered Run-DMC, our favorite Run-DMC albums and songs and we even touch on the long forgotten Tougher than Leather movie that was released the same year as the album.

Lots to talk about and discuss in this episode.  So don’t be a sucker MC.  Download this episode today and relive the glory days of one of raps greatest musical groups.

Download this episode from iTunes or listen to it on Feedburner.

Or listen to this awesomeness online right here.

Nerd To Dos:

We didn’t do them this episode, but Matt and Tim do have some related recommended reading for you to check out.


Matt says for a good history on rap as a genre, check out Dan Charnas’ The Big Payback.


Tim recommends Adam Bradley’s Book of Rhymes.

Suprisingly, I’ve not read any books on the subject of hip hop. That kind of surprises me that I haven’t yet. But, a book I’ve had my eye on for a few years now is:


Raising Hell: The Reign, Ruin, and Redemption of Run-D.M.C. and Jam Master Jay

I go ahead and rank Run-DMC’s albums in order from best to worst

Posted in music, nostalgia, pop culture with tags , , on September 16, 2013 by Paxton

rundmc_2

Today marks the 25th Anniversary of the release of Run-DMC’s fourth studio album, Tougher than Leather.  I was introduced to rap music in the early 80s by two groups. The Fat Boys and Run-DMC.  I continued listening to both groups throughout my youth in the 80s and 90s.  As a matter of fact, I still listen to them.  For me both, but especially Run-DMC, ARE rap music.  The prototypical rap group.  Copied hundreds of times over.

So, on this anniversary, I’ve decided to make a very personal list of ranking Run-DMC’s studio albums in order of my personal preference.  This was a really hard list to make because the first 3 albums are so historically important that I hate to put anything above them.  But I have to forget the overall value to pop culture and just talk about the albums I listen to the most.

Here we go.

Tougher than Leather Tougher than Leather (1988) – Like I said, it’s really hard to rank these first three spots.  Run-DMC’s first three albums are so important in the history of rap and hip hop that I struggle to not automatically put them first.  As a matter of fact, these three spots have changed at least three times since I wrote this article a few months ago.  And they may change again tomorrow.  *shrugs* Anyway, for me, beginning to end, Tougher than Leather is my favorite.  And not just because its birthday is today. Back in ’88 when this dropped, I LIVED the album.  I wore out my copy.  Pound for pound this has more good songs on it than any other album.  BUT, it’s really close.  The title track is similar to King of Rock but with a much harder rock backing track.  I LOVE THAT SONG.  My second favorite song on the album is Run’s House.  It begins with Run’s famous monologue in which he opens many of their live shows, “We’ve had, a whole lot of super stars on this stage here tonight.  But I want y’all to know one thing, this is…MY HOUSE!”  And how awesome is Mary, Mary?  They actually sample The Monkees and make a great song.  Other kick ass songs include They Call Us Run-DMC, Beats to the Rhyme, How’d You Do It, Dee?, Papa Crazy, Miss Elaine and Ragtime, which is a fun derivation of the regular Run-DMC track.  Reggae-influenced.  It’s very reminiscent of a rapper called Slick Rick as, and it sounds weird on paper, the guys use very a very proper, clipped, but subtle, accent throughout the rhyme.  It works because the song is sort of weird, too.  Plus, you get to hear Jam Master Jay actually rap on the track.

Raising Hell Raising Hell (1986) – Commercially, this was Run-DMC’s most successful album.  Part of that came from their cover of Walk this Way with a special appearance by Aerosmith.  That cover is considered by many to be the first commercially successful fusions of rock and rap.  Depends on how you look at it.  Run-DMC’s earlier tracks Rock Box and King of Rock both successfully fused rock and rap before this.  King of Rock being a fairly big commercial success.  But nothing like Walk this Way.  This IS a fantastic album, though.  The title track on this album is pretty awesome and follows in King of Rock‘s footsteps.  It’s Tricky is probably their second most popular song and is a sort-of sequel to Can You Rock It Like This? from King of Rock.  Other great songs include My Adidas, Peter Piper, Hit It Run, Dumb Girl and You Be Illin’.  Dumb Girl is one of their “conscientious” rap tracks similar to Hard Times or It’s Like That from their first album.  You Be Illin’ is a fun track similar to You Talk to Much from King of Rock.  And let’s not forget…”Son of Byford, brother of Al…..”  Lots to really like on this album and it’s easy to see why it’s so important and popular.

King of Rock King of Rock (1985) – It’s deceptive that this album is THIRD on my list.  This is the album I discovered first probably in late ’85 or ’86.  And it was INCREDIBLY hard not to rank it first.  Incredibly hard.  Any other day I MAY rank it first.  Mostly because King of Rock is probably my favorite Run-DMC track of all time.  King of Rock is awesome and showcases the group’s great, high energy backing tracks and awesome lyrical assault.  Second best song on the album is probably Can You Rock it Like This? which, like I mentioned above, is a prototype in style and lyrical content to It’s Tricky.  You Talk Too Much is a fun, goofy track that I mentioned above is a precursor to You Be Illin’.  You can’t go wrong with this album.  Other good songs are You’re Blind and It’s Not Funny which is similar in style and structure to Hard Times from the previous album.  And Darryl & Joe (Krush Groove 3) is a great old-school rap track.  As you can see, Run-DMC’s song stylings will have elements present throughout all of their albums.  They are remarkably consistent while also always trying something new on each album.

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2013 is coming.

Posted in Halloween, holiday with tags , , , on September 11, 2013 by Paxton

WTF, guys?! We are already almost half way through September. How did that happen? I welcomed my daughter into this world back in December and next thing I know I’m prepping for my son’s third birthday with my daughter’s FIRST birthday coming up fast. The hell?!

So, my annual Halloween celebration is creeping up on me like an undead ghoul looking to take a tasty chomp out of my backside. Behind the scenes I’m trying to get everything written. I have over half of next month’s articles written, at the very least in first draft form. I think I only need to do the last week and a half of articles. But I’ve sort of taken longer than I should have doing those.

Anyway, I don’t know if I’ve announced it here, but the topic for AWESOME-toberfest 2013 is ZOMBIES. Here’s the banner.

Awesometoberfest 2013 banner

I’ve already done vampires, werewoves and the Frankenstein monster, so zombies seemed the next logical step.

And here’s a sneak peak at the creepy header I’ll use starting October 1st.

zombies_header

I had previously posted an image of my notes for this year which should have given you guys an idea of the types of zombie media I’ll be covering. Books, movies, TV shows and comics featuring such genre luminaries as HP Lovecraft, George Romero, John Russo, Robert Kirkman, the Smurfs…..wait, wha-?! Yep, the Smurfs. I can’t wait to show you guys that one.

So stay tuned, starting October 1st, I’ll begin daily updates for my AWESOME-tober-fest 2013 celebration.

Review of Oz Book 15: The Royal Book of Oz (1921)

Posted in books, Classic literature, movies, Wizard of Oz with tags , , , , , , , on September 5, 2013 by Paxton

Following the Yellow Brick Road

L Frank Baum died in May 1919. Baum’s final Oz book, Glinda of Oz, wouldn’t be published until 1 year later in 1920. With Baum now gone, Reilly & Lee, decided to continue the Oz series with a new author. They selected Ruth Plumly Thompson to write the fifteenth book in the series. John Neill would return to illustrate the book as he had the previous thirteen books. However, Baum would get author credit on the cover and not Thompson.

Royal Book of Oz

It has been said that this book was written off the final Oz notes Baum left in his typewriter after he died.  It has never been proven without a doubt that Baum even left final Oz notes.  Regardless, it is pretty much a given that this book is all Thompson.  Thompson trying a bit to write in the style of Baum, but still 100% Ruth Plumly Thompson.  I really love Neill’s cover for this book.

The story itself is interesting.  HM Wogglebug, TE gets the idea that he is going to chronicle the royal lines of Oz in a book called, of course, The Royal Book of Oz.  While pitching the idea to Ozma, Wogglebug insults Scarecrow (former ruler of Oz and current Emperor of the Winkies)  by saying he wasn’t born from a royal family and, in fact, has no ancestry.  It is interesting to note that this is the first time that we see outright annoyance and dislike towards HM Wogglebug.  In earlier books, characters would imply that he’s tiring to listen to, but nothing outright.  In this book, the characters effectively come right out and say, “We don’t f**king like you.  Go away.”  Especially after he insults the Scarecrow.

So the Scarecrow runs away from the Emerald City back to the pole on the farm Dorothy found him.  He slips down the pole to the Silver Islands that exist way below Oz (and far enough down to not be considered a part of Oz).

scarecrow1
Scarecrow tumbles down the bean pole to the Silver Islands

We learn the background of the Scarecrow and how he is the vessel for the spirit of the leader of the Silver Islanders.  We meet his family and learn how he came to be on the pole when Dorothy found him.  However, as these things tend to do, events turn sour and Scarecrow is trapped in Silver Islands and Dorothy and company must set out to find him.  And we learn other cool things like Oz characters CAN die if they are taken out of Oz.  It’s Oz’s magical fairyland properties that are keeping its citizens effectively immortal.  And we get to meet Sir Hokus of Pokes, an elderly, valiant, well-meaning knight who would show up in three more Thompson Oz books (one with the character center stage) and one of John Neill’s books.

Like I said, on the surface, I like this plot.  I like learning back story to a main character.  We see a similar back story for the Tin Man in The Tin Woodman of Oz.  However, and I hate to say this, but the entire endeavor feels hollow.  It feels like Thompson is mimicing Baum’s style but can’t replicate his heart.  There is so much sincere, heartfelt innocence and imagination in Baum’s books, you can’t help but love them.  This book felt like a shallow copy.  Thompson used less of the puns and clever dialogue Baum was known for while simultaneously using multiple plot threads that Baum rarely used.  So I guess, in a way, she didn’t really follow Baum’s style at all.

Overall, I was just bored with this book.  I wasn’t engaged in the story and for the last half just wished it was over.  This is the first time that has happened in my reading of the Oz books.  There were one or two Baum books I didn’t fully enjoy, but I was never bored or wished it to end.  So, no, I can’t really recommend this.  However, John Neill’s artwork is again the centerpiece.  Truly great illustrations.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t envy anyone following in Baum’s footsteps.  And this was Thompson’s first effort.  Thompson eventually wrote 18 more books after this so I assume she gets better the further she moves out of Baum’s shadow.  Looking at the list of her books, a few of them do look interesting; The Cowardly Lion of Oz, The Yellow Knight of Oz and maybe Pirates in Oz,  We’ll see how many I actually get to.

Cult Film Club Episode 10: Miami Connection (1987)

Posted in 80s, movies, nostalgia, podcast, pop culture with tags , , , , , on September 4, 2013 by Paxton

Cult Film Club

So not only did Nerd Lunch hit triple digits last week, now Cult Film Club is hitting double digits.  Welcome to Episode 10 in which we discuss the independent movie sensation of the year, Miami Connection.

Miami Connection

Released to very little fanfare in Orlando (and Germany?!) back in 1987, the film was found on eBay last year and bought by Drafthouse Films for $50.  Now it’s getting worldwide theater and home video releases with the actors reunited for special fan events like every damn week.  It’s nuts how popular this movie has become.  So, being that we are Cult Film Club, we felt it was our duty to forgo our original movie pick for this month and check out this masterpiece of dramatic biker ninja action.  Do you like feathered hair, white ninjas, aligator earrings and orphans reuniting with their dads?  Then you’ve come to the right place.

Download this episode from iTunes or listen to it online right here.