Thursday, June 30, 2016

Some Stuff I Saw

Hey folks, I saw a big duck the other day.


Yes, I'm probably the only person on the internet right now that typed in "big duck" on purpose. What is this, you might ask? Why, it's Long Island's famous Big Duck! I'll admit that I have a fondness for weird tourist traps, and I've been reading about this place my whole life and last Saturday I finally took a trip out to see it in person.

Its history is pretty much as follows: Duck farming used to be a big industry on Long Island and back in the thirties a local farmer wanted his farm stand to stand out from the others. A trip to California led the guy to see those awesome buildings that were shaped like things, like this one:


And he realized that maybe building a giant duck was the way to attract people to his duck farm. Well, it worked and it eventually became one of Long Island's local weird landmarks. The building's changed hands several times and moved around the island since it was originally built, but it currently resides back in its hometown, the small hamlet of Flanders, NY. Stupid Flanders.

Like most quirky roadside attractions, it's found an hour's drive from your home, sitting in a giant field in the middle of nowhere.


Impressive, right? You can't see it in the picture, but there's a giant field of nothing behind it. I'm assuming that's where an ancient duck farm used to be. It's no Wall Drug, but that doesn't make it any less special and weird. But what's inside of it these days? Why, a gift shop that doubles as a tiny museum.



There's not much wiggle room in there, but I found the place pretty interesting. The guy sitting down in there was pretty knowledgeable about all things duck, and history about the big duck. If something could have a duck on it, it was there. There were pictures of the duck throughout the years, especially how it's decorated for the holidays. There's a big witch hat on it during Halloween, and they have a lighting ceremony when it's Christmas time.

I even saw what was up the duck's head: Nothing, closed off by glass. It was neat, but it wouldn't have been an interesting picture.

It was a quirky way to spend a few hours, most of that time was spend traveling there and back. Like I said, a tiny room inside a giant duck isn't something you buy a season pass for, but I'm glad it's there and that I finally got to see some local history up close. It's free to go in, but I dare you to leave without a little something with a duck on it. You can even become a Friend of the Big Duck, so people in the future can appreciate this grand sybol of man's power over duck.

Maybe this will inspire you to find the weird landmarks where you live? That would be cool. I'd recommend browing the Weird U.S. site to find one near you!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Flea Market Finds - May 2016 Edition!

Flea Market season is upon us once again, so last week I went down to the Bellmore Train Station once again for their weekly flea market. This time, however, I ended up arriving around 12:30, a bit late in the day. It didn't help that it started to drizzle, which was a fine prompt for vendors starting to quickly pack up as soon as I got there. I thought all the good stuff would be gone, but I was wrong. I was so happy to be wrong.


I might be burying the lede here and I might be using hyperbole but this was by far one of the best things I have ever found at this flea market. The famous Rappin' Rodney album! Back in the day, rap was the new music thing, and old fogies that tried desperately to be hip to the kids attempted to insert raps whenever and wherever they could. The most well known of these fogies to dip their toes into this craze was Rodney Dangerfield.


Even in the rap game he gets no respect. If you've been following this blog, you'll know my weakness for silly novelty albums, and this is as novelty as they come. Here's the back.



As much as I'd like to find out what "Rodney Continues Rappin'" sounds like, I had to leave the album there. I don't collect vinyl and even if I did I don't have anything to play it on. You have my permission to act disappointed in me.



Oh crap, vintage cereal boxes! Just the boxes. If I were to pay the 35 bucks for the C-3PO's, I wanted to make sure the hideously stale cereal came with it.



Same goes for this fifty year old box of Variety cereal. I'm actually amazed that the little boy on the box was letting his sister play with that model racer. Seemed pretty progressive for its time.



Everyone was into the POG scene back in the day, and it seems that Michael Jordan was no exception. I was never a fan of officially licensed pogs, I was always more partial to random nameless ones like these: 



Like these. Sadly, this is not my personal collection. Hell, I don't even know what happened to all of mine. For all I know they're all in some storage bin in one of my closets. 

It's even lamer for some officially company (in this case Topps) to try their best to create their own rules out of the classic "stack them all up, then slam them with a slammer and you keep whichever ones land face up" game that nobody really played to begin with.



This was a cool looking wastebasket. If I didn't already own a wastebasket...



Own a set of old, plastic Mounties! Yeah, I don't know why I took a picture of these. Maybe because finding anything to related to Mounties in the states is enough to stick out?


A kid bed that doubles as a tiger cage! At least I think it's for kids. No matter who sleeps in that, I guarantee that they'll be uncomfortable in it.


This booth was full of cool, vintage Batman stuff. Unfortunately it all looks like it's seen better days. Such is the gamble of the flea market.


See, here are those political campaign buttons I keep telling you guys about! Losers and everything! I'm actually sad that I'm just now paying close attention to this set, because there's some pretty old ones here, like ones for Taft and Coolidge and Woodrow Wilson. And you can't forget famous losers like Goldwater, Dewey, but no Ben Carson just yet. Stay tuned.


Above those buttons were some pretty rare vintage buttons for old comic strip characters that no one remembers! Maybe Gasoline Alley? Dick Tracy? Thimble Theater? I know that I see Little Orphan Annie's style in a bunch of them. I'll admit I was drawn to that rebellious "Dracula Sucks" button.


That sane booth had loads of old vintage stuff that once again I'll admit to paying attention to the wrong items. I'm sure I was drawn to the awesome vintage Batman cards, but look at those funky rings! You gotta zoom in, but there's something for everyone: Three Stooges! Howdy Doody! Mickey Mouse Club! JFK! Elvis! I even spy ones for Soupy Sales (kids show host from back in the day), McDonalds, even something for the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon.


Something that really caught my eye was in this picture. No, not the $30 Schmoo on the right. If you're wondering what that is, Schmoos are characters from an old comic strip called Lil Abner. They were white blobs that were meant to be "all purpose animals." They were docile so they could be kept as pets, but every part of their body was useful. They dropped dead when you looked at them with hunger (yeah), and being boneless you could cook it for a hearty meal. Or you could cut the skin to use for shoe leather, or use their eyes for buttons. And for some reason they were cute enough to become cultural sensations, essentially on the same level of fame as Snoopy or Garfield. This is all real folks. All from a comic strip about a simple hillbilly town.

What I was interested in was that set of little Marx figures of various Disney characters from what I'm assuming was the fifties (note the Sleeping Beauty castle in the corner). Not only are the character choices odd (The Master? From Dumbo? Seriously?), the colors are all off. Back then nobody really cared about screen accuracy, and you weren't gonna complain about having the only physical figure of Panchito from Three Caballeros (I know I would've). But at $125? I'm gonna say no to that.


Mr. Peanut stuff! All stuffed into a box for easy pickings! As far as food mascots go, Mr. Peanut is pretty far down my most wanted list, but all that merch in one place is interesting enough.


When your establishment had to get red of cigarette ads, I guess this Mr. Peanut light was a sufficient replacement.


If this wasn't already dead, I'd swear that it's giving me the kind if look that'd be begging me to put it out of its misery.


Propaganda from when Hitler was just the crazy German guy with the silly mustache and before we found out about all the atrocities was just plain silly. I honestly would've gotten it but it was too rusty. Yeah, that and I really don't want to explain owning that. This is coming from someone that has a signed print of Discord from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic framed and hanging on their bedroom wall for all to see.


Let's move on.



Never even knew they made Heroclix of various SNL characters. Couldn't have been from no later than 1999, they have the Ladies Man and Mango there among the Coneheads and Land Shark.



Now here's one of the most unusual things I found that day. A windup sightseeing cart from the Wildwood Boardwalk. How a little thing from Wildwood New Jersey ended up in a box of old Hot Wheels at a flea market in New York is a mystery that I'm not gonna solve, all I do know is that it came home with me.



And here's the other things I bought. You folks are probably aware of my other weakness for weird Hot Wheels cars, and I couldn't turn down a toilet car. Every time I think I find the weirdest car Hot Wheels ever made, I come upon Hot Seat. It's from a few years ago, so the blister pack isn't in perfect condition but frankly I didn't care.

I also found a tiny bendable figure of one of my favorite advertising mascots ever: the 7Up Cool Spot! Yes, I hold this guy higher on my most wanted list higher than Mr. Peanut. Much higher. For one, I never thought I'd find a little figure of this guy. Now I imagine it coming to life Toy Story style to mess with my non-7UP sodas when I'm not around.


I love these guys. All in all this entire trip cost $3.50. Not too bad if I may say so.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

It's Gonna Be May.



I hate making that joke, but it's true. It's the end of the month already, and what do I want to talk about?

Not much this time. I don't NEED to post once a month, but I want to keep this blog somewhat alive, and my OCD really wants to see an entry on every month.

But lately, I've been watching a new game show channel called Buzzr. It's fairly new and you might not have it, but if you do I highly recommend changing your tv to it right now. Like the Game Show Network of old, it shows nothing but old game shows. And while you have staples like Match Game and Card Sharks, there's OLD ones here, too. Like What's My Line and To Tell The Truth in all their black and white glory. Hell, all the shows from the 50s have all their in-studio commercials intact! Remember when Suave shampoo was in glass bottles and advertised to people that looked like Marilyn Monroe? Well, all the people that did are dead by now, so it's all fascinating to watch.

But the shown that's been sucking me in lately is Let's Make A Deal. For those not in the know, Monty Hall goes through the audience playing games with people. You could win a box full of money, or you could trade it for whatever was behind the curtain. And behind the curtain could be ANYTHING. Expensive appliances, a trip to some exotic country, color televisions, or even new cars. But nine times out of ten, the curtain would have a "zonk," some real dumb prize like a sled pulled by a donkey and you'd be stuck with that. Or if you were smart enough to stick with the box full of money, that box could have anything from a thousand dollars to ten cents. That was the fun of it, and screaming "KEEP THE GODDAMN MONEY" at a forty year old tv show was the more reasonable choice to make most of the time. Monty Hall was the perfect host for this sort of thing, he was a master troll that could charm you into going for the curtain, then make you regret it hard for falling for his tricks.

And the best part of all of this are the people in the audience. In the early days of the show people just dressed in their fancy suits, like you would back then. But then one day someone decided to dress up in a ridiculous costume to get Monty's attention so EVERYONE started doing that and the rest is history. And people got really creative with it. People held up signs, gave Monty gifts, dressed up like carrots, farmers, giant flowers, someone on fire, a slot machine, or my personal favorite, Creepy Mickey Mouse.


Turning down a wall full of appliances "for the woman of the house" was the smartest decision she made that day. Also, what the hell Seventies, what are you making Monty Hall wear?! That was a decade where style truly stopped giving a shit and I absolutely love that aesthetic in a cheesy sort of way. Take Gene Rayburn, the host of Match Game.


Lot of yellow, beige and brown in that decade, and from the look of things Let's Make A Deal was the exception and not the norm when it came to game shows. And people say the style of this decade is full of piss and shit, they smeared it right on the walls, on their cars, and even their clothes. Seriously, I saw a Firebird on Let's Make A Deal last night whose color I can only describe as the color of a cup of water after a middle school art class was done with their painting lesson.

And thanks to the magic of high definition, those awful color schemes pop better than ever these days. If you have Buzzr or a channel like it on your tv I highly recommend watching it right this second.


Thursday, March 31, 2016

So I'm 29

Last week was my 29th birthday. It's not an important birthday, but it still feels weird that I've been on this Earth for 29 years. The fact that next year I'll be thirty kind of terrifies me, since it means that I'll no longer officially be young. Well, I knew for a while that I was no longer young, most recently last week when some punk kid at a gas station called me "sir," with no sarcasm implied with that. On one hand, hey, respect. On the other, I came off to a kid as someone he shouldn't be bothering. I had a full-on beard at the time, so that may have factored into it, but I'm not so sure.

I've realized that I'm at an old enough age where I've met people in college right now who were born after Ren & Stimpy went off the air. The Simpsons started going downhill when they were in diapers. They weren't around when Beanie Babies, Furbies and the Backstreet Boys waged their war over their stranglehold of the country. These were kids that never knew a world with only 150 Pokemon. The internet, cordless phones and a unified Germany had always existed.  Where "Cory in The House" is spoken with the same wistfulness that I have with the original cast of All That.

If you don't understand a word of that last paragraph, you're either right in that age group...or you're most likely older than I am and want me to stop acting 12. Okay, so I never knew a world with only three tv channels, Masters of The Universe being as popular as Pokemon was back in the day and George Bush was just this old guy on TV.

I'm getting off track here. To make you all feel old, yesterday was the fifteenth anniversary of the first airing of not only Invader Zim, but also Fairly Oddparents, two beloved Nickelodeon that took separate paths through history. As of today, Fairly Oddparents is STILL on the air. It's a show that wants to die, but it won't It aired finale movies, live action movies, added a baby, a talking magic dog, an evil twin for both of those characters, and now a new neighbor girl named Chloe.



Yeah, fuck Chloe. This show FINALLY went the Poochie route and added a character that was meant to lure in new viewers, but it feels like she's only there to take over the show with herself as the star. She's only around to be another kid with fairies, which is a good idea on paper, but the execution is a bit lacking. Timmy has to share his fairies with her. Again, it makes sense on paper. Apparently, there's a fairy shortage for kids, and Timmy, a kid who has three of them, must share them with someone else.

But the show has bent itself to her whims. Those characters I mentioned earlier? They stopped showing up. Timmy's other, real friends? They haven't been seen either. The show started as a kid who coped with having the most vicious babysitter in the world with magical fairies that could grant every wish he wanted...and now Timmy has to deal with an annoying girl that makes the same mistakes he did 15 years ago. Hell, the theme song changes for her! They didn't change a word for the baby or the dog, but Chloe is different. It's only been a few episodes, but she's definitely a character that would make everyone ask "Where's Chloe?" when she's not onscreen.

This show could, and really should, end after this season, but I don't see it happening anytime soon. Regardless of quality these days, it still gets pretty high, consistent ratings among the kids. But that's what happens when it's on a channel that airs nothing but it, Spongebob, and Dan Schneider's latest yelling garbage pile. This used to be a really great show, but it lost its luster several years back, let alone now.

Invader Zim, on the other hand, suffered from the other problem. You see, Nickelodeon gave it the axe while the first season aired, not caring how it would affect production. Half of the second season exist only as audio, while the other half that was completed didn't see an airdate on American TV for years afterward. they showed up in a complete series DVD first, then airing on the Nicktoons channel during the last decade.

One episode that DID make it to air during the original run was "The Most Horrible Xmas Ever," which featured a character named Minimoose.


He is a little Moose whose only function is to float around like a dummy. Also, he has deadly rockets for fingers. This was all laid out in his introduction episode "Nubs of Doom," but that was one of those episodes that never got completed, so he was in that episode with barely any explanation. It's also the ONLY Minimoose episode that was completed to boot (he was to become a second sidekick), so now he's this strange one-shot character that barely contributed anything.

There's a few theories I have to why the show was cancelled: Too dark, bad taste (the episode "Door To Door" featured a post-apocalyptic New York City, which was produced around the same time as the 9/11 attacks and was shelved for weeks), who knows. Granted, Nickelodeon probably shouldn't have given the reigns to a kid's show to a guy responsible for a comic called "Johnny The Homocidal Maniac," but Nick was cool to experiment like that. They've always looked for outside, indie creators to make their shows. Ren & Stimpy, Doug, Rugrats, Rocko's Modern Life, Hey Arnold, CatDog, and even Pig Goat Banana Cricket were among those born from Nickelodeon willing to give their creators a chance.

This was a show that really spoke to me. Maybe it was the tone of the show, a tiny violence-loving alien bent on world domination has to learn how to navigate the crap-saddled world that is Earth and failing at it every week made for great television. I was hooked from Day 1 and it's responsible for me finding my first internet community. I found like-minded people that liked most of the same things I did. It was my first taste with an obsessive fanbase that only grew more rabid when Nickelodeon gave it the shaft.

When the show was pulled, do you wanna know what Nick aired in its place? Baxter & Bananas.



This was just one cartoon. One lame, weird cartoon that the channel aired in Invader Zim's slot for WEEKS. It only made things worse when we found out that there were a lot of episodes that were scrapped, and the ones that ended up never airing. But we all came together for this one show. We gave each other a sense of belonging, a sense of community. We even wrote and shared terrible Zim fanfiction; thankfully for you folks, you'll never see mine. We were ready to boycott, send letters, even kidnap Jhonen Vasquez himself if the show didn't come back, but none of that ever came to pass.

While my rabid fandom of this show waned in the years that passed, I still consider myself a fan. If it weren't for this show and Nightmare Before Christmas, I don't think Hot Topic would've stayed in business. There's LOTS of people I see with Zim merchandise now, which only made me wonder where they were 15 years ago (hint: probably too young or not even born yet).

One day I do plan to go to a convention that Jhonen was at just thank him for creating something I loved. Something that I was able to share. Something that didn't struck a chord to young me since the Simpsons. I'd just go up and thank him for creating this wonderful show. That's all.

Even if this never gets to him, I'll say it now: Thank you, Jhonen, for creating Invader Zim. Happy 15 years.




Monday, February 29, 2016

We Are Eight

Hard to believe that this blog is now eight years old.


Look at him, he's grown so much. So what have I been up to since my last entry? 

Well for one thing, I finally got some of my pesky wisdom teeth taken out last week.


I'll spare you from what the actual teeth looked like, but they weren't pretty. I only got the two teeth in the right side of my mouth taken out but I have to say I feel much better now they're out. This was something vibe been putting off for years, Lower Righty's been giving me pain for ages ever since it fractured some time ago. Yeah, it's been hurting so bad there were times where I was planning on taking it out a la Tom Hanks in Cast Away. You know, that bit with the ice skate? That was me for a while. But anyway it's gone now and the spot where the tooth was is only slightly sore. That's a win, I guess.


I also visited the "new" Nintendo NY store in Manhattan. Well, it's pretty much the same Nintendo World store that's been there, but with a better layout. They've added big tvs to demo the WiiUs, so people can watch you suck at Mario Kart 8 on a screen that can be seen from the Today Show studio. It's a big change since this store opened up when Gamecubes were the console they were showing off, so this was quite an upgrade.


This was cool / I want it. I've seen Master Swords before, but that's a Master Swird you can actually cut someone with and sadly I have to add it to my "crazy crap I'd buy if I won the lottery" list.


The Nintendo Museum they have on the top floor got some new display cases, this one themed around Super Mario Maker. These are the actual layouts from the original Super Mario Bros. From all my time playing Mario Maker, making these simple, yet iconic level designs is a lot harder than it looks.


A better look at a few levels designs, these are from Super Mario 3. Slopes are tough to implement, I guess.


I want to steal this and hang it on my wall, and I know damn well I wasn't the only one there that was contemplating sneaking back in after hours.


And of course Pokemon has its own corner of the store, this being one of their many plush displays. All of the Pokemon you see here were modeled after Beanie Babies, with normal and sleeping variants. What excites me was that almost all the Eeveelutions had representations here, save for Umbreon and Eevee itself. Vaporeon is my favorite, so of course I was excited to see that they were the most popular. Yeah, the Slowpokes and Charmanders were almost gone but screw it, Vaporeon's getting love and of course I picked up both versions.



I don't know how much this giant Substitute cost, but I wasn't willing to lug it around the city for a few hours, plus the train ride home. I know I've seen weirder things around the city, but I didn't feel like carrying anything that day.



And of all things, Kirby had a pretty impressive display, getting the same amount of floor space reserved for the likes of popular, yet nerdy games like Splatoon and Animal Crossing. Kirby, being a round pink ball, lends himself quite well to plush dolls, so seeing plush of ANY character aside from him and popular characters like King Dedede and Meta Knight is a rare sight. Sure there was a Waddle Dee but Chef Kawasaki here is just so esoteric of a character (appeared as a miniboss in ONE game and its remake, in addition to a minor role in the Kirby anime) that I decided to buy it on the spot, even before I got to the Vaporeons.


Here's some old Game & Watches. They're a mainstay at the displays in this store, but I've never seen a few of these before. They look like weird, mutant calculators but they play simple monochrome games. But apparently these two are Super Game & Watches and they play their games in color. Since these are from the early 80s, I'm gonna guess that color was green.



Back during Valentine's Day, I spent the day as I always spend that day: feeling bad about myself. But even that gets old after a few hours so I went down to the local Dairy Queen and got their Singles Blizzard. If I remember right, it was peanut butter ice cream that had caramel and fudge and loneliness. It turned out to taste much better than I hoped, and since it was Valentine's Day, getting my hopes up by ice cream would definitely be the highlight of not only that day, but the entire month. 



And speaking of food being a highlight of the day, I managed to snag the lone strawberry glazed doughnut at a work meeting. There's always one in every assortment and it's usually snatched up before I ever get to the box. Since I've got a good 15 years on most of the other people I work with, I was the only one who cared about it. Either way, it made that meeting glide by, nevermind that the sugar from the doughnuts I ate exceeded the amount of doughnuts I usually eat, which is zero, was probably what caused it.


And now I'm going to counter the good food with...this. This is Burger King's Buttery XL Cheeseburger. Remember the Good Morning Burger from the Simpsons?


Well, even though they promised rich, creamery butter, the reality was that it was just a weird, wide burger BK made to fit on a chicken sandwich bun. It says it was buttery, but it was more like it was coated with globs of what I hoped was mayo, so I can't really say that there was any false advertising going on here. All in all, it was pretty good, butter or not.



I know that I said that I reached Peak Stuff and that still reigns true, but I couldn't resist getting John Oliver's Funko Pop. If you haven't seen Last Week Tonight, I strongly urge you to do so. With all the shows the Daily Show  has been responsible for siring the past few years, this is the one I feel is the closest to recapturing the Jon Stewart-era greatness. Samantha Bee's Full Frontal and Colbert's Late Show are steadily getting better, too, but Last Week Tonight has been firing from all cylinders from Day 1, the latest Best Thing is their coverage on Donald Drumpf.
.

Oh yeah, I ended up buying about four more over the past month, most of them variants of BMO from Adventure Time. There's like 7 versions of him and the only one I'm missing is the Glow In The Dark one from a few Comic Cons ago.  It's the only one that's worth over $100 and I'm hesitant to pull the trigger on it right now. I'm hoping for some eBay miracle or something.

Until then, I'm done with these Pop things for now. Until I browse eBay at 2am again so...expect to see me update on another new pile of stuff next month.

Sunday, January 31, 2016