Thursday, April 26, 2018

Painted Memories: Finish Him!

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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

The Answer To The Question Nobody Asked: Cracker Jack Vs. Crunch 'N Munch

As a self proclaimed consumer of popcorn I pride myself on eating delicious popcorns of all flavors. Okay, not really pride, but I eat the stuff at any given opportunity. Butter, Moose Tracks, Caramel, Cheddar, Plain, it's all good.

In a recent visit to Walmart, my girlfriend brought home a box of Crunch 'n Munch as well as a bag of Cracker Jack (there is no "S" on the end of that despite popular pluralizing of the word). So I did the only thing I knew I could do efficiently - Eat them both.

However, before I dug in, I wanted to see what exactly the difference could possibly be between both brands. I mean, caramel popcorn with peanuts is caramel popcorn with peanuts no matter how you slice it, right?

So much to learn you have.

In a side by side comparison there are very noticeable differences. Crack Jack popcorn is considerably darker showing a color I would identify with in terms of caramel. Meanwhile, Crunch 'n Munch has a much lighter color which I would say more so distinguishes itself as butter.

Let's go in for a closer look.

For a snack that boasts it's caramel popcorn and peanuts, there's definitely something missing here from my handful. Where are the peanuts? Answer: At the bottom of the bag. If you want a combination of both flavors you're definitely going to have to dig deep - Or you're already at the bottom of the bag, which just makes me sad.

Taste wise, Cracker Jack popcorn is crunchy with a delicious candy coating. It has a nice caramel flavor and the husks get stuck in your teeth quite nicely. Okay, maybe that's not a perk, but it is common with popcorn.

Overall, it's really tasty.

Crunch 'n Munch gets points for having the peanuts incorporated into the popcorn. Unlike Cracker Jack which simply tosses the peanuts in the bag as an afterthought, Crunch 'n Munch is mixed together adhering the two into one.

Also unlike Cracker Jack popcorn, Crunch 'n Munch is stuck together in clusters. Whereas with Cracker Jack you get each individual piece of popcorn.A perk if you don't intend on shoveling the snack into your mouth, but rather enjoying each piece.

It turns out that buttery color isn't deceiving as that's honestly what it tastes like - Buttered popcorn. I don't get a sense of caramel flavor out of it - At all. I even tried sucking on a piece to experience the flavor more and it still more so represented a butter flavor more than anything. Admittedly the popcorn is slightly softer giving it an almost fresher taste. That's appealing.

Overall, if I'm in the mood for a caramel popcorn snack I'm going to have to go with Cracker Jack. I don't hate the fact it's crunchier than Crunch 'n Munch, though I will admit I'd love to see and taste a softer / fresher version of the brand. In the end though, it wins out on the caramel flavor and honestly that's what I'm after when eating caramel popcorn. It's also healthier for you in terms of calories, sodium and fat - You know, if you're into that sort of thing.

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Retro Spins: Aretha Franklin - Who's Zoomin' Who?

Aretha Franklin
Who's Zoomin' Who?

Freddie Mercury swore the best singing voice he ever heard was that of Aretha Franklin. He all but idolized her.

Meh...She's okay. Ms. Franklin does get a very well earned nod of respect for having released albums over the course of fifty-eight years - Her first being 1956's Songs of Faith and her latest being 2014's Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics. Forty-One albums in all - And mind you, that's just the studio ones. It doesn't include her handful of live contributions or the massive amount of compilations.

As for me, I only know the Aretha Franklin from the mid 1980's era - Freeway of Love, Who's Zoomin' Who, Pink Cadillac and so forth. Which brings us to her July 1985 entry, Who's Zoomin' Who.

The album is peppy and upbeat for the most part with tracks that make you feel good and want to shake your money maker or tap your foot. Then there is the other side of the coin which features sultry blues like ballads sung with belting emotion. Its a fantastic mixture of hot and cold - If you take my meaning for it.

Overall it works well, but I have to admit the slower stuff is kinda of boring to me. I'm not big on ballads to begin with, so it really has to be a good one for me to take notice. For me, I'll stick to the peppy side of things on Who's Zoomin' Who.

I do have to call out that album cover though. Wow is that 80's. Bright color clothing, jump ropes, boomboxes on shoulders. Says it all, doesn't it?

Thanks to the wonderful world of singles, Aretha Franklin jumped onto the charts with Freeway of Love in June of 1985 - A month before the album officially hit vinyl racks. In October, Who's Zoomin' Who joined it on the charts followed by Sisters Are Doing it For Themselves.

Though Freeway of Love would drop off the charts shortly after, the latter two tracks stuck it out on the charts for the remainder of the year and through February of 1986 when they would drop off, but Another Night, the second track on the album would peak on the charts. Another Night would remain on the charts until April. From there, songs from Aretha's 1986 album would begin charting.

Not bad for an artist who was forty-three years old in 1986, huh? Maybe Freddie Mercury was right.

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Monday, April 23, 2018

Monster Force (Playmates Toys)

Monster Force
Playmates Toys

Monster Force is a very short lived animated series by Universal Cartoon Studios in 1994. The series ran in syndication, and was typically aired side by side with another Universal property, Exosquad.

The main focal point of the show was centered around a group of teenagers who with the help of high tech weaponry fight against classic Universal monsters. Some of the team members are driven by personal vendettas, while others are in it for the sake of saving humanity.

The show featured eleven recurring characters, and out of them seven were produced in action figure form by Playmates Toys in 1994. The figures featured impeccable quality as expected from the company behind Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Each figure was unique in both sculpt and paint, and featured a slew of accessories. This wasn't a bad line at all - It was just unfortunately based on a cartoon that failed to reach a mass audience.

 Creature From the Black Lagoon*Doc Reed Crawley*Dracula

 Frankenstein*Lance McGruder

Luke Talbot - The Wolfman*Tripp Hansen

When the animated series was cancelled after just thirteen episodes so to was the action figure line. Since then, both seem to have fallen into obscurity.

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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Muckman: A Lesson In Proper Toy Buying Etiquette

As many of you may recall, I mentioned in a prior post how Muckman from the Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line had been cropping up at locations such as Ollies and Ross. I personally found this out when my girlfriend surprised me with a mint on card one from Ollies.

Because I am a collector, I decided I would not only keep the one I already had (which was opened), but that I would also buy a Zoloworld case to store this very pristine condition one for display purposes. I was happy with this decision and thought nothing more of it.

While out in the wild on a separate excursion, we happened across a Ross. Being a fan of the junk, er....merchandise the store sells, my girlfriend wanted to take a lap. Of course if I'm going into any store I'm stopping at the toy section. As we rummaged through the very unorganized cluster of items I said to myself, "There's no Turtle figures here." Right as the words were forming on my lips, POOF, my girl pulled a lone Muckman out from behind a massive box.

We made the decision to go ahead and buy it.

However, once I got home I really started to feel bad about my purchase decision. I already had one Muckman loose. I already had one Muckman mint on a pristine condition card in carbonite (aka a Zoloworld protector case). Now I had a third? Why?

Why did we buy this figure?

Was it driven by the pure rarity of the figure? Was it a thought of potential financial gain? Was it because I like many people before me took the greed before need path? Or did I really need a third Muckman figure in my life to make me complete?

The sad truth is the answer is yes to the majority of the questions.

We bought this rare figure for the sole purpose of the potential financial gain because we got greedy. We were officially pandering to the biggest thing I despise the most about collecting - Scalpers! Fortunately I came to my senses just as I walked through the gates of Greedy Land and did a 180 back out the door.

I have now made it a point to find a good home for this third figure by way of putting it in the collection of someone else. And no, I won't charge that person the ridiculous $100.00 price tag these things can go for. You out there who want a Muckman send me a message via the comment section with your e-mail address and I'll work out the details of getting it to you at cost. You know, retail price + shipping. First come, first serve...Unless you're a scalper. Scalpers need not apply.

Your e-mail address will not be published.


Figure was claimed by Brother Midnight! Check him out in all his open glory! Always a great feeling to help out a fellow collector and put toys in the hands of people who will appreciate them for what they are and not the potential for profit.

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Friday, April 20, 2018

8 Bit Junction: Looping

One of my earliest memories of video games is the Magnavox Odyssey. My parents had one in pristine condition in the original box with all the packed in facets...and I took the liberty of giving it away in the lat '90's. Oops.

Anyway, the point I'm making here isn't that we had an Odyssey, but rather I'm painting the picture that video games were a big part of our household since pretty much the dawn of home video game consoles. As such, we were fortunate to have a ColecoVision when they were released back in August of 1982.

Even though I wasn't as good at it as my brother was, one of my all time favorite games to play on the console was Looping. Like most of the games, it was a third person view side scroller. In the game, you would start from a runway and take off with your plane. From there your goal was to fly across the city either dodging or shooting hot air balloons which got in your way. With a 360 degree control option, you could fly all over the place unhindered.

However, this was just the first part of the level. The second part got much trickier. Once you blasted open the "gate", you were set to the task of navigating through a series of pipes in order to work your way to the end. And, let me tell you about that end. It was box in the middle of the middle of the air which had giant bouncy balls bouncing in your path. You had to make it through this very short section and touch the "end wall" docking station with the tip of your plane.

I was by no means a master of the game. In fact, there were times I would go through all of my lives before reaching the docking station once. Still, it was a blast to play. A classic game from an era of gaming where it was all about skill, hand / eye coordination and timing.

Once completed, it started all over again, ramping up the difficulty with each successful level completion. I was lucky if I got to the second level and can't honestly say I ever made it to the third or beyond.

I'd love to see an updated retro Coleco console much like we've gotten with Atari. I know they released one a few years ago, but it wasn't justifiable to pay $70.00 for sixty Coleco games. They're fun...But they're not THAT fun. The "console" would have to have 200 games to justify that price tag for me.

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Painted Memories: You Will Believe A Man Can Fly!

Please share your own thoughts, memories and stories in the comment section.

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