Dinosaur Dracula!

Trading Card Madness.

Since shipping those Cruel Summer Funpacks involved digging deep into my immense collection of trading cards, I’ve spent the past week drowning in paperboard nostalgia. With even the really old sets still being easy to find, I guess I’d overlooked just how much they used to mean to me.

I needed to maintain a good supply for the orders, but I eventually broke down and opened a few packs. Really, there’s only so many times you can handle sealed packs of Gremlins 2 cards and not open them. Unfortunately, “a few” became “many,” and soon enough, my stock was effectively halved.

Well, here’s my chance to justify those impulses: A look back at twelve ancient trading card sets, as told by the best cards from various packs! Read More…

My Pet Monster.

It all started at a random junk store. Somewhere between the electric flyswatters, the bootleg Snuggies, and the breakfast cereals based on movies that haven’t been in theaters since 2010, I found this:

An adorable tank, complete with a plastic palm tree. I’ve probably mentioned this before, but plastic palm trees of the pet shop variety are my ultimate weakness. Remembering my many long dead pets, I’m pretty certain that at least half of them were purchased merely for the excuse to get another plastic palm tree.

Combine that with the tank’s utterly fascinating price, and how could I leave that mildew market without it?

Problem was, I couldn’t use the tank for its intended purpose. I don’t know if it’s meant for hermit crabs, lizards or what, but I’ve become sensitive to the plight of “pet shop animals,” and that tank is way too small for… anything, really.

Eventually, I found a solution. And since I assume that a great many of you own small plastic tanks with built-in palm trees, I want you to pay close attention.

You can make your own animal to put in there. It won’t be alive, of course, but that’s sort of the point.

You can also make your animal more of a monster, which increases the allure of this activity by, oh, 40000%. Read More…

The Last Video Store in the World.

Every now and again, I scour local business directories for any last remaining video stores. (And please, let’s not get into any semantics battles: Even when they’re renting DVDs, I still call them “video stores.”)

As you know, they’re a dying breed. I used to only complain when larger chains were killing off the gloriously unique “mom & pop” stores, but now, even the giants have fallen – or are falling quickly. (We don’t even have a single Blockbuster left in my city.)

It’s not like I don’t understand why they’re going away. Between my computer and cable box, the only movies I couldn’t easily find are old and obscure things that only a handful of people would ever seek out anyway. Renting a movie need not involve travel, and even if it did, there’s a Redbox machine everywhere you look.

Still, and with full admission that nostalgia plays a huge part in me saying so, those conveniences will never compare to walking up and down video store aisles, basing your night’s entertainment not on previews or star ratings, but on VHS/DVD box art.

No matter who you were, what you were into or where you were from, there were few places as simply “comfortable” as a video store. Even if money was involved, it had the charm of a library, and the process of going there and being there was often more fun than watching the movies!

For the past year, my searches for such stores have been unsuccessful. Yeah, I could’ve driven to one of those last remaining Blockbusters, but that wasn’t quite what I was looking for. I wanted the GRITTY kind. The aforementioned “mom & pop” kind. The ones that weren’t a part of any major chain. The ones with lots of hand-drawn signs, and the slight stink of stale cardboard mixed with old electronics. That’s where the real magic is, and until yesterday, I thought those relic stores were too far from my neck of the woods to consider.


Majors Records. Holy shit.

The most incredible thing about Majors was that it was actually IN my city. Apparently, there’s a series of shopping plazas tucked on a part of Staten Island that I almost never venture to. With the hope that the few online mentions of this store weren’t outdated, we drove out there last evening. Even before I found Majors, the experience was already magic. Throughout the course of X-E and Dino Drac, I thought I’d seen every last inch of my city, searching for “reviewable” locations. Discovering a bunch of “new” shopping plazas made me feel like I’d driven through a supernatural portal and ended up in some other place and time.

The store was everything I wanted it to be, but before we go inside, I need to set things up properly… Read More…

1980s Candy Heads!

If you’re unfamiliar with “candy heads,” they were candy-filled containers shaped like the heads of our most beloved TV and movie characters. But you could probably tell that from the photo.

They still exist in many forms, but it isn’t like it used to be. There was a time when virtually every “kiddy character” had a candy head, and though few could’ve loved the cheap treats inside, something about pouring them from disembodied heads always made those experiences feel special.

The samples below barely hint at their collective volume, but it’s a start! Read More…