Monday, October 26, 2009

Halloween Memories Part 4: Since When Is Sugar A Vitamin?

I remember when you could buy General Mills' "Monster Cereals" year-'round. I love these guys! They are among my favorite advertising mascots of all time., am I the only one with "favorite advertising mascots?" Just wondering. They're the best! What I love about old advertising mascots is how un-kid friendly a lot of them were. Like Charlie Tuna from Starkist, who comes across like an animated reporter from 60 Minutes! I like The Monsters' droopy eyelids. It was the late 60s-early 70s, so everyone was stoned all the time. I'm sure the designers of these delightful characters just thought everyone in the world had droopy eyelids all the time. I have droopy eyelids and I am never stoned, although looking at every photograph of me my entire life seems to tell a completely different story.

Apparently, you can still buy the Monster Cereals year-'round at Super Walmarts and a few other retailers, as well as on Who would even think to buy groceries from Amazon? (Maybe someone stoned.) Also, did you know you could by cereal marshmallows without the cereal?! (Once again, targeting that free-spending stoner market.)

But around these parts, I only ever see them at Target around Halloween. And even then, I think there were several years where I never saw them at all, so I went nutso when I saw them and bought a box of Franken Berry and Boo Berry. (Terrible discovery, they turn your poop pink or blue... I didn't combine them, but possibly purple if you eat them both.)

I don't so much care for Count Chocula, simply because there are a million chocolate cereals, so his really isn't all that special.

I remember when I was little, they offered a cut-out mask on the back of the Monster boxes. I had Franken Berry and I was captivated by those... THINGS on his head. Like there's a little train whistle and a clock/pressure gage. I was also enamored of his strawberry fingernails. I truly wonder if old-timey designers intentionally made gay cartoon characters. I mean, Franken Berry, Snaggle Puss (Heavens to Mergatroid!), The Pink Panther, Peppermint Patty and Marcie, maybe Velma... I mean, they had to have been doing it on purpose. And all parents could do was grit their teeth and shake their heads.
I have all the Monster Wacky Wobblers. (All the McDonald Land characters, too.) We had a yardsale in Cathy's neighborhood recently and I was pulling out a lot of my collectibles that I kinda realized were never going to get displayed. I sold my bobble heads of Captain America, Thor and The Vision. For like two seconds, I considered selling my advertising mascots... then thought better of the idea and put them back under the unfinished basement stairs. Hey, they may not be displayed but their presence gives me a sense of happiness. (I'll never understand people that don't own "stuff." Like when people ask, "Say your house was on fire, what would you grab?" To which I have to reply, "Um, how many trips do a get and can I have a shopping cart?" I mean how do you choose? It's like choosing a favorite child. Do I save my Franken Berry bobble head or my Daily Planet tin toy? My set of vintage Rock Flowers or my 194os style Lois Lane maquet?)
Franken Berry and Count Chocula always got the lion's share of promotion. Poor third wheel Boo Berry, usually got ignored. They always showed his cereal box in the commercials, but he rarely ever appeared. He was like the Jan Brady of the bunch. Or the Aquaman.

Although, I can kinda see why. Look how cool Franken Berry looks, with his weird head attachments and strawberry fingernails. Even Count Chocula was snappily dressed, plus had that whole "vampires are cool" thing going for him. Poor Boo Berry just looked like a shapeless sad sack with a dopey hat and a bow tie.
Not that any of the monsters are exactly terrifying, but look at this poor slob? "Boo. Or, not. Whatever you wanna do is fine. No scream? Oh, okay. I'll just be over here in the corner." LEAST scary thing I've ever seen.

I don't know about you, but which cereal I ate as a kid was STRICTLY based on which cereal came with the best prize. And cereals used to come with AWESOME prizes, like iron on transfers, records... but I think the awesomest prize was stickers. It was the 70s and 80s and stickers were HUGE. I so wish I could buy this box of Boo Berry for the Marvel Super Heroes stickers... featuring Spider-Woman!

Stickers are the strangest collectible though. Unlike a toy, once you use a sticker, you're screwed because then it's gone forever. So even though I've purchased some stickers as collectibles, they stay in the package. That kinda ticked David off at one point. He was like, "Well, you got that package and it's just sitting there." And I'm like "Um, YEAH!" That's kinda how it works. Duh.

For many a year, I swore I once hallucinated a fourth Monster mascot... a werewolf.
I KNOW I saw it once at the same store where my grandmother bought me a McDonald Land Grimace doll. (Freakin' free Monster Playmates?! I want those!)
It was NOT this doll, as mine had its facial features stuck on like stickers. I know this, because Grimace is dark purple and our carpet when I was a kid was dark brown (yay '70s!), and my mom, when vacuuming did not see Grimace lying on the carpet and ran him over and sucked his facial features off.

Anyway, so at the same time I got Grimace, I remember seeing a fourth Monster cereal. My I also point out that I was about 3 years old at this point, so how odd is it that I recall all this in such detail when I can't remember the names of people I worked with like five years ago? Guess they aren't as important.

What was I saying before about being not scary? And also gayness? I didn't remember this werewolf's name, but turns out it was Fruit Brute. No, really. WHAT is up with those ugly ass striped overalls?! I mean, that's tacky even by Lawrence Welk standards! Apparently, Fruit Brute was fruit flavored cereal with LIME flavor marshmallows, which completely explains why it no longer exists in any form. Oddly, it lasted until 1983, but was apparently not well-distributed, which accounts for it's rareness today and the fact that very few even remember its existence.
My rediscovery of Fruit Brute was quite exciting, but when I mentioned it to other people, their response was "I remember a fruit mummy, but not a werewolf." A fruit... MUMMY? WHAT?! My b.s. detector went off... I mean, how could there have been yet a fifth Monster cereal that I, of all people, didn't know about?! Inconceivable! Yet, it was a story that was corroborated over and over. Turns out, from 1987-93, there was, in fact, another cereal, Fruity Yummy Mummy. This time, rather than lime, the marshmallows were vanilla flavored. That sounds better, but I'm not sure how I was completely unaware of it's existence. There were even commercials for it, and I certainly was still watching cartoons at this point. So I'm not sure how this one eluded me. (I may not have gotten it anyway, though, seeing as how it doesn't appear that it included a free prize.)

Got the Wacky Wobbler, though. Fruity cereal with vanilla marshmallows actually sounds pretty good. Also... blue (Boo) berries and straw (Franken) berries are fruits too, right? So what else were the Brute and Mummy bringing to the table? Apples? Cherries? Grape? Just curious.

Now, I want cereal.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Halloween Memories Part 3: Zombiepocalypse!

So, confession. I don't like "Thriller." Not even the video. It's not especially scary... except for the lead lady's leggings and jheri curl. But upon it's debut, it became the unofficial "Halloween Carol" and I, in general, have a great distaste for "Carols" of any holiday variety. First of all, in terms of simple song quality, "Thriller" is no "Billie Jean." In fact, "Thriller" is no "Somebody's Watching Me" and MJ only sang the hook to that song. I was delighted last year, when Rihanna put out the vastly superior "Disturbia" which I'd hoped would bump "Thriller" and become the next great Halloween Carol but then... well, we all know what happened.

Somehow, I can't help but wonder if MJ did it on purpose, just to prevent "Disturbia" from overtaking "Thriller." He would, that asshole. So definitely looks like I won't be NOT hearing "Thriller" this Halloween.
So the real reason I called you here today, zombies. I just woke up from a night's sleep filled with nothing but dreams about zombies. Seriously! That's all I dreampt of last night! I'm not even sure why. I haven't seen Zombieland yet. I haven't been watching or reading anything pertaining to zombies. And yet, EVERY. SINGLE. DREAM. Cathy had the same experience the other night but she has an excuse. She has both seen Zombieland and was in the process of devouring volumes one thru nine of The Walking Dead. (More on that in a bit.) I suppose, I have been discussing The Walking Dead with her, but that's about it. Also, a bit frightening, and feel free to consider me full of shit, but when I was younger I used to have those weird precognitive dreams that would actually come true. Like I said, I was a lot younger (like 12) but it really happened.

I probably have spent in inordinant amount of time musing about the possibility of a zombie infestation and the proper course of action to be taken in such a case. In fact, I am fairly certain that I am most prepared for a zombie infestation out of all the monster-invasion scenarios. I certainly wouldn't be prepared for Frankenstein's Monster, seeing as how I own, neither a torch nor a pitchfork. Nor know enough people to form an angry mob. Back to zombies, however, unfortunately, in my secret identity, I am a pacifist and do not own nor know how to operate firearms, nor do I believe that private individuals should own or know how to operate firearms. Take that, right-wing, militia, gun-nuts! However, should a zombie infestation occur, cruel irony will once again grace my life, as the closest approximation to a firearm I will be able to locate nearby will be an aluminum baseball bat and, once again, ironically, I could probably adapt to a gun quicker than I could to a piece of sporting equipment.

I'm not even of that calibre of dork that I own movie replica weapons. I don't even have a samurai sword or pair of nunchuks lying around! Not even a lightsabre! And somehow I doubt cutting that tube of cardboard in the center of a toilet paper roll lengthwise so that I fits around my wrists, a la Wonder Woman's deflective bracelets (speaking from experience), will help much. (Then again, it certainly couldn't hurt.)

I don't normally like "scary" movies. And I ABSOLUTELY don't like the Scary Movies. Somebody put In Living Color back on TV so the Wayans brothers will stop cranking out these terrible "parodies." Anyway, though I may not be lining up for Saw 9: The Sawiest!, I will go see a zombie movie with the minimalest of coaxing. I don't know why that is, but I love zombie movies and the thought of "what would I do if this really happened?" I think it might be the notion that in this apocalyptic scenario, I could actually survive due to my wits. I mean, I can't outsmart a bomb, earthquake or deranged chainsaw killer. But zombies? They're really dumb! Like people that enjoy the Transformers movies! (Or the Scary Movies!) I relish the thought of taking one of their heads off and delivering my quippy one-liner "Check your brain at the door!" ZING!!! BURN!!!

While I used to buy into that whole Day of the Dead scenario of setting up shop in the local mall... I mean, refuge from the undead AND Orange Julius?! DONE! However, from reading The Walking Dead, I think it makes more sense to vacate highly populated metropolitan areas (now populated by the brain-jonesing undead), for the idylic country life. That would, of course, be the ONLY reason I'd ever want to vacate the city for the country. (Where the hell is the nearest Target?!) But... it's one helluva reason.

I love The Walking Dead. I had heard it was good, so I picked up the first two volumes at Borders one day. I read them straight through and drove back to Borders to get the rest, but they had every volume EXCEPT three! So I drove all the way to Barnes & Nobel in Kenwood to get that. It's a definite page-turner. Reading the first two, I was getting annoyed because there were like 20-something characters! Plus, it's in black & white, so there isn't even the luxery of using color to differentiate them all. I thought, "Why are there so many freakin' characters?" and then realized, "Oh, right... zombies." When I gave them to Cathy to read, I made sure to offer the caveat, "Don't get attached to ANY of the characters." (Spoiler: They pretty much all die!) It isn't the best-written graphic novel, but sometimes things don't have to be great to be addicting.

One recurring theme is the cast settling into a particular home base and someone saying "Why can't we just stay here? We could have a normal life here!" and then something happening to screw that all to hell. But the idea of finding like a farm and fencing it off and growing produce and delicious un-zombiefied animals to eat... that would totally work! And here's another tip... do NOT offer up your base of refuge to other humans. Humans SUCK! They will just come in, eat your un-zombiefied food, rape your women and children and somehow your once-safe haven will be overrun with zombies. Never fails.

So speaking of things not having to be great to be entertaining (and sucking, for that matter), how about that new fall TV season?
I am totally hooked on Stefan's Creek... I mean The Vampire Diaries. I haven't read the books. I didn't even know there were books. But I know a lot of people are turned off because Twilight so desperately sucks and everyone thinks this is the TV version of that, but it's not. It's just what I called it, Stefan's Creek. Straight up, CW teen soap opera... with some blood sucking thrown in. I mean, if you like ANY teen soap operas, you'll like this one. And unlike Twilight, the underlying theme isn't "Girls, it doesn't matter if he bruises the shit out of you! He's totally dreamy! That's worth the pain, right?"
And another show that has me hooked, Eastwick. So cheesy, but still addictive! It's one part Charmed, one part Desperate Housewives (season one only)... all cheesy, prime time soap opera goodness. Plus, Matt Dallas is in it and is shirtless like 90% of the time.
Gah! I hate Rebecca Romijn! Not only does she get to be married to Jerry O'Connel in real life, but she gets to go to work and make out with sexy, shirtless Matt Dallas and get paid for it?! My career counseller and I need to have words. I very clearly put down on my career aptitude test that I would be more than willing to make out with Matt Dallas as frequently and for as long as necessary! For FREE! Consider it an internship!
(Gratuitous second pic... just cuz!)

My favorite character though is the mousey reporter. My least favorite is the abused wife, just because I'm kinda sick of abused wives on TV shows. (Dexter.) Just kill off the abusive husband, already! We already know it's coming!

Last note for this blog... as Mean Girls pointed out, Halloween is just an excuse for girls to dress like total sluts and get away with it. The idea of "sexy" versions of things that aren't normally sexy has gotten way out of hand, as evidenced by...
Sexy Freddie Krueger. That makes complete and total sense. Wait, WHAT?!?! That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard! Why not a sexy John Wayne Gacey clown costume? SO stupid!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Halloween Memories Adendum

This isn't really a full new blog, so I'm not going to label it Part 3, but it does tie into my previous posts. I found a web site/blog dedicated to Dr. Strange. No really. Dr. Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum. Some neat stuff there. Including some better pics of the Dr. Strange costume. Voila!
Apparently, when it originally came out, it was in the generic TV Comic box show in my first Halloween post:
It was switched the Marvel style box, which you can see here, ironically housing the DC Super Hero Aquaman costume:
This box depicts Spider-Man, The Hulk and Thor, plus like the corresponding DC box, one non-related character (in DC's case Mary Poppins), in this case Dracula. (Or some vampire, anyway.)

These earlier Dr. Strange masks featured a weird green "eye shadow" over his eyes. Mine definitely didn't have that, and was a reissue from 1980, which came in this box:
Very odd to find a piece of Marvel merchandise that DOESN'T feature Spider-Man anywhere on it! This Dr. Strange had some dark shading around the eyes, but not the green "eye shadow" effect.
Dr. Strange was part of a series with Captain America, Red Skull and The Thing. I've never seen the real Red Skull or Thing masks, but GEEZ I hope they look better than they do in this catalog ad:
The Thing looks more like the Toxic Avenger! And while I see that the Red Skull is a visually interesting character... psst, he's a Nazi! Well, I mean, I suppose Nazis are scary. Maybe Nazis are the new Zombies. Uh, no. No, they're not.

Not really related, but back in the early '80s, I was huge fan of the cartoon Spider-Man & His Amazing Friends. (Iceman and Firestar were the Friends.) In the very first episode, the gang goes to a Halloween costume party, where EVERYONE there is dressed like a Marvel Super Hero, so you had all these crazy "cameos" by... pretty much anyone that had ever appeared in a Marvel Comic. Firestar went as Spider-Woman, Iceman went as Captain America (his idol-worship of Cap was addressed in a later episode) and ironically, Peter Parker went as... Spider-Man, wearing a cheap store-bought version of his costume, complete with rubber band mask! (Made by Ben Cooper no doubt!) Here's a clip. The costumes appear about 5 minutes in.:

Hell-Cat, Thor, Storm, Phoenix, Hulk, Vision and Scarlet Witch, The Wasp... It was just cool to see all those crazy characters in animation form, even if they weren't really the actual super heroes.

I found these pics from a different episode. I'm not sure which one, although I do remember this scene, of the heroes at Stan's Costume Shop (named after creator Stan Lee).
Now look at THAT Thing costume! Pretty impressive. It's like a mascot costume! Also in the window, Captain America and the Black Panther.
Inside, Iceman (I think) and Firestar check out the extensive selection... Elektra, Dr. Doom (once again, pretty freakin' impressive!), Firebird (whom, I am positive no one ever rented), a slightly miscolored Daredevil, DAZZLER and Dr. Strange. Sigh! Even though they aren't "real" it's still neat to see them on an animated series.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Halloween Memories Part 2

This special Halloween-themed blog is dedicated to the one thing besides dressing up in costume that is synonymous with Halloween… CANDY!

Everyone loves a good Fun Sized Snickers or Smarties (a candy that I don’t think anyone eats except at Halloween). A Hershey’s Kiss might seem a tad pedestrian, but it’s certainly not like you’re NOT going to eat it. So that’s all well and good, but I’d rather discuss HORRBLE candy that we all got and always hated! Most horrible candy originates with those rotten bastards at the Brach’s Candy Company, the Lex Luthors behind that godawful bulk bin in every damn grocery store in the world, a.k.a. the Dump Bin of Wretch! I swear, there’s some tie between Brach’s and the Religious Right, some secret pact to destroy “The Devil’s Holiday.” Sounds like a Clive Owen-worthy suspense thriller.
First offense, the Tootsie Roll. I don’t hate the Tootsie Roll. I mean, it’s kiiiinda like chocolate… except chewy. The Tootsie Roll is like that kid in school who never did anything to anybody to make them dislike him, but… you still didn’t want to get paired with him on a project. (Oh crap, I think I’m talking about myself!)

And what's the deal with Fruit Chews? They're like Toostie Rolls, except gay. And disgusting.
Next, Butterscotch. Once again, not bad-tasting per se, but… insanely boring. And you’re officially a crazy old cat lady if you decide that’s what you’re giving to Trick-Or-Treaters. And Werther's Originals are barely a step up.

But Starlight Mints and Ice Blue Mints?! THAT’S NOT CANDY! Just give out Ricola Cough Drops if you’re gonna go that route! Absolutely unacceptable! The only thing less acceptable would be (and yes, I’ve seen this) old-ass ribbon candy from the previous Christmas! UNWRAPPED!!! NO THANKS, Nasty Train!!!

Let’s not forget these “treasures.” Neopolitan Coconut “Sundaes.” Sundae my ass. Last I checked you needed a little something called ice cream to make a sundae!
Milk Maid. I’m glad someone finally figured out how to RUIN CARAMEL!!!

And of course, Saltwater Taffy, otherwise known as what people bring you back from vacation when they HATE you.

Other than the atrocities perpetuated by those Brach’s sadists, the two biggest thrower-outers of H’ween candy are of course Peanut Butter Chews and Candy Corns and their mutant cousins the Candy Corn Pumpkins. I’m noticing a trend here. Basically, if it’s chewy and isn’t gum, it BLOWS. Write that down and remember it. This obviously doesn’t apply to anything in the Gummi category, such as delicious Gummi Life Savers.

Speaking of Life Savers, here’s a little surprise entry in this shame list. Life Savers Mini Rolls. They get a mention for two reasons, they were a bitch to open (seriously, foil AND wax paper?!) and they were ALWAYS stuck together. I have never, ever, EVER unwrapped a roll of these and had delicious Cherry pop out free and clear. Nope, you always had to take the whole roll and bite them off one by one. (And am I alone in Pineapple being my fave?)
Mary Janes, the hillbilly cousin of Peanut Butter Chews. Cute wrapper, though.

Necco Wafers, yum CHALK! And what about their bastard cousins, the Chocolate Necco Wafer. Blech!

This isn’t even candy, but how about Apples? No thanks, Snow White's Stepmom! Also, Cathy and I were discussing the Razor Blade Scare of the 80s. Remember that? Some psychos were hiding razors in candy (or at least there was a fear that they were… it may have been an urban legend) and we used to take our candy to have it X-Rayed! Remember that? Apparently, some are too young, but it was true! But yeah, keep your sorry apples to yourself.

But believe it or not, that’s not even the worst of the H’ween hand-outs. Oh no, that honor goes to delightful inedible garbage that condescending adults feel the need to hand out.

Toothbrushes, from that dentist in the neighborhood who got them all for free to begin with. “Because you’ll need to brush your teeth often after all that sugary candy.” Condescending and cheap!Pennies. My mom was guilty of this once, because she ran out of candy. I was mortified. Um, how about just turn off the porch light and shut the door? If I got this from someone, I’d secretly wish I were atop a skyscraper, so I could drop it on them and crush their skull. Not really. Maybe NOW I’d think that, but at that age, I’d probably just think, “Great. Glad I went through the effort to WALK up to this door, RING the doorbell, YELL Trick-Or-Treat… all for a penny! My time is more valuable than that, chump!”

Pencils… look, if you’re so against happiness and childhood, DON’T GIVE OUT ANYTHING!!! People that give out pencils are the same people that don’t own TVs and spend all their time “reading” (i.e. getting high) with the sole purpose of saying at a gathering “Oh, I don’t own a TV,” so they can sound superior. Guess what, hippie, you reek of patchouli and you’re wearing used SHOES. You’re not superior to this lanky stick o’ fabulous! Snap!

And, drumroll… I now present you with THE! WORST!! THING!!! TO GET ON HALLOWEEN EV-ER!!!!!
A Religious Tract! Because Jesus Freaks need to ruin EVERYTHING FUN IN THE WORLD!!! I might burn in hell, but poop's gonna be burning on your front porch in fifteen minutes, so I'd say we were even.