Dinosaur Dracula!

The Restaurants of Roseanne!

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Roseanne is a strong contender for my favorite sitcom, and I still watch it religiously. Only with hindsight do I see how good the show was at capturing its time, not just through its characters and situations, but through its settings. Didn’t we all grow up in houses that looked at least a little bit like the Conners’?

This extended to other locations on the show, whether they appeared regularly or only once. I’m especially fond of the slew of restaurants, not only for their visual charms, but because I can remember eating at so many places that were just like them.

Hell, even today, “it’ll remind you of Roseanne” is a surefire way to get me to try a new restaurant. Here are my five favorite eateries from the whole nine seasons, in no particular order! Read More…

$10 at a dollar store can change everything.

Let’s say you’re bored. Let’s say it’s the weekend. Let’s say there’s no one around and nothing to do.

I’m here to help! My suggestion may sound a little flat at first, but it’s something I believe in, and something I’ve done myself. All you’ll need is $10 and access to a dollar store.

(Or $5, if you’re bored and broke.)

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Your goal? A dollar store shopping spree, limited to $10. (Okay, $10 plus tax.)

Now, I don’t mean a random dollar store shopping spree. We’ve all done that, and while it’s fun to pluck out the stupidest novelties for a quick Instagram session, that’s not going to go very far in salvaging your horrible night.

No, on this shopping spree, you’re to specifically hunt things that will keep you entertained for one whole evening. You want a mix of snacks and “stuff” that — with their powers combined — won’t just satisfy your cravings for five minutes, but for a full five hours. Read More…

Ranking the Elm Street VHS Box Art!

A long while back, I ranked all of the Friday the 13th films based strictly on the merits of their VHS boxes. It was only natural that I’d do the same for Freddy Krueger!

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That’s my weird goal for today, and it isn’t as pointless as it seems! As I’ve mentioned before, videocassette boxes used to be of utmost importance. When we were cluelessly wandering video stores looking for anything that looked interesting, “great box art” often trumped movie reviews, word-of-mouth advertising and even TV commercials. This was especially true in the horror genre, where we weren’t even aware of many movies’ existences until we saw them sitting on the shelves of Ma and Pa’s Viddy Yo Emporium.

Before I start, some ground rules:

1. I’m not including Freddy vs. Jason or the remake. (Freddy vs. Jason is too much a “shared entity” to fit in, and I don’t think the remake even had a VHS release.)

2. Remember, these rankings are based on box art alone. I’m trying to toss aside everything I know about the movies to do this. If NOES was new territory, which boxes would grab me most?

3. With the Friday the 13th series, the quality ranged from “blah” to “awesome.” By contrast, even the “worst” NOES box is still pretty good. A low-ranked box definitely doesn’t indicate suckage.

Off we go! Read More…

Fast Food Kiddie Bags from the ’90s.

Tonight’s article is about fast food kiddie bags from the 1990s, which is as close as I may ever come to literally writing about garbage.

Really, focusing on the bags is just my way to highlight five memorable fast food promotions, starring everyone from Spider-Man to Amy Monkey.

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Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie!
McDonald’s Happy Meal, 1995

I’ve come to dig the first Power Rangers movie. Guess I needed a full twenty years to truly appreciate Ivan Ooze, a sort of otherworldly midpoint between Brother Justin and Ursula. When one could accurately summarize a film with “villain mass produces toy slime that turns people in drooling slaves,” I feel an almost religious need to champion said film.

It isn’t surprising that the movie scored a Happy Meal, but I’m shocked at how good the toys were. I mean, this was Power Rangers in 1995. They could’ve tossed anything in there, and kids still would’ve lost it. Instead we got a set of six legit action figures in accompanying Zords. The figures were on the small side, but they still way overachieved for McDonald’s toys.

UPDATE: I’ve since been told that these figures were actually sold apart from the Happy Meals — which included smaller MMPR doodads — and thus weren’t exactly “free.” Oh well. They did seem a little too good to be true.

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Cereal shopping in 1986’s Manhunter.

My friend Lauren told me to check out Manhunter, the 1986 thriller and first-ever film to feature the Hannibal Lecter character. (Okay, Lecktor, but it was the same guy.)

Many critics didn’t go gaga over Manhunter back then, but I loved it for exactly the same reasons that they hated it. Mixing Harris’s universe with Miami Vice theatrics just worked for me. Plus, I’m not sure I can dislike anything that stars both Tom Noonan and Dennis Farina. The whole movie is full of people I would love to sit next to on a transatlantic flight.

Of course, Lauren’s suggestion had nothing to do with the quality of the film…

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See, late in Manhunter, there’s a scene where Will Graham (William Petersen, who rocked IMO) comes clean with his son while they’re out grocery shopping. It’s the traditional father/son chat about losing your mind over horrible murderers, but while Will’s talking about serial killers, the only thing I’m processing is plain old cereal.

This was shot in a legit supermarket — one that hadn’t been redressed to avoid any inadvertent product placement. Thank God! If you pause at just the right moments, you’ll see dozens of old school cereal and snack brands. I shouldn’t need to tell you that I live for this shit.

Below are the frame-by-frame highlights. I believe this scene was filmed in 1985. Click any product title to see its original TV commercial! Read More…

Five Random Action Figures, Part 14!

I’ve been salivating over the many reveals from this year’s Toy Fair, which collectively guarantee that I’ll have five cents to my name by the end of 2015.

To cool down, I thought I’d take a minute to appreciate what I already have… and stop worrying about how I’m going to afford seventy thousand new Decepticons. Curse my toxic plasma.

Here’s the fourteenth edition of Five Random Action Figures!

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png-scorpRobeast Scorpious
Voltron, 1984

Through the years, I’ve been pretty quiet on the Voltron front. I had the big lion set and watched the show often enough, but my ability to retain Voltron knowledge is weirdly horrible. I’ll never understand it.

My silence has been a disservice, because aside from the giant robot toys that everyone thinks of when they hear “Voltron,” Panosh’s accompanying series of standard-sized action figures absolutely RULED.

Here we have Robeast Scorpious, a gorgeous blue demon that was equal parts Darth Vader and Ganon. If you didn’t know that he was from Voltron, you might imagine him to be from some knockoff line sold at 1980s supermarkets. Or possibly the fruit of a six-year-old’s Play-Doh project. I just love him. Read More…