Tag Archives: jaime hood

Geeky Valentines weekend shenanigans

This past weekend my girlfriend Jaime and I took the opportunity of some downtime to check out a couple of cool sites in and around Baltimore.  I’m still seeing a lot of the city for the first time and we lucked into a pair of free tickets to Geppi’s Entertainment Museum right across the street from the Orioles Stadium, so we thought it would be fun to head downtown and check it out.  I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect.  I only heard the words comic museum and toys, but I was intrigued.  When we pulled up to the building on Saturday morning it was a little unassuming, but as soon as you walk inside you’re bombarded by large-scale banners of all sorts of pop culture fun from 50s era tin toys to recreations of famous comic covers done in a more modern style.  Once you get past the front desk you’re greeted by an amazing hallway covered from floor to ceiling with rare film one-sheets, product merchandising ephemera, and some pretty inspiring artwork (including a couple breathtaking conceptual pieces from the ’66 era Batman TV series!

museum

The museum is broken up into a series of seven or eight individual exhibits including a comic book retrospective, a turn of the century comic strip showcase, a local Baltimore pop culture collection, a collectible and art show centered on African American works, and a number of rooms full to the brim of collectibles and antiques divided by decade.  There’s so much amazing stuff on display that you could probably spend an hour in each of the rooms and not see everything in one visit.  The comic retrospective alone is worth the price of admission as there are some truly “amazing” pieces in the collection including copies of Amazing Fantasy #15 and Action Comics #1!

comics

shawn Jaime

In addition to some of the heavy hitter powerhouse comics above, there was a really nice collection of 50s & 60s era EC, Atlas, and Dell comics, as well as a bunch of those really cool mini hardcover digests from the 30s and 40s featuring The Shadow, Buck Rogers, and Tarzan.  There were some nice Esiner Spirit inserts which I’ve also never seen in person before.  I loved getting a chance to see some of the rarer formative books in person for the first time, but it was also rad to see copies of more modern books like issue one of Eastman & Laird’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or the wall of 90s era books featuring all sorts of gimmicks and cover enhancements (that I bought into back in the day hook, line, and sinker!)

In the comic strip exhibit I was a little bummed that there were no copies of Little Nemo in Slumberland, but there was a surprise that totally made up for it.  I was really excited to see a couple of Winsor McCay Gertie the Dinosaur drawings.  I mean talk about animation history!

gertie

All of the comic book stuff was really neat, but the rooms where my eyes really lit up were the rooms dedicated to pop culture collectibles and toys.  From Disney, Popeye, and Little Orphan Annie all the way to the Transformers, Masters of the Universe and (gasp!) Vanilla Ice, there was something for everyone on display.  

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Some of my favorite older pieces included a LOA decoder pin (which of course elicited a series of A Christmas Story quotes from both Jaime and I) and a really nice collection of vintage PEZ dispensers (featuring three of my favorite Universal Monsters)…

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There was also a display of Monkees memorabilia, teen magazines and and a sweet insulated lunchbox that I would have killed for as a kid.  I grew up watching the series on Nickelodeon and for all intents and purposes they were my first favorite band (with a little competition form the Beach Boys and Weird Al.)

monkees

As far as the more recent stuff, the toys and collectibles that I have some true nostalgia for, Geppi’s did not disappoint.  Though I wouldn’t call the collection exhaustive, it was diverse enough to be really fun and it featured items that don’t tend to get the same spotlight shown on them.  So whereas they had a very nice mint in package Transformers Jetfire, as well as an Optimus Prime and Grimlock, I was honestly more excited to see their collection of Super Friends (Nabisco) and Star Wars cookie and cereal boxes!  I remember collecting the Super Friends boxes for awhile around the time that the first Burton Batman film hit theaters…

cookies

There was also a nice collection of vintage MOC Dukes of Hazzard toys.  Not quite as obscure, but still not as popular as the Transformers.

dukes

I loved seeing these because of it just drives home how cool the impending Funko/Super7 ReAction figures are that are about to start hitting the pegs.   In addition to all this there were also some weirder pieces and arrangements in the collection that showcased the sense of humor of the curators.  Whether it was the BFF placement of the Buger King and Ronald McDonald or the oddly suggestive C3P0 tape dispenser, Geppi’s surely has a lighter side to their exhibits…

best buds

C3P-Wow

If you’re in the Baltimore area and you want a fun place to spend and afternoon I’d highly suggest stopping into Geppi’s Entertainment museum.  There’s a to to see and they also have a pretty decent pop culture gift shop.  I could leave with out a swell ThunderCats Mumm-ra vinyl Funko Pop figure!

On Sunday we braved the icy streets and made our way further south into Washington, DC, specifically the Georgetown area so that we could visit a cinematic landmark I’ve wanted to see for a long time.  For those of you that are horror fans, you’ve probably already figured out what I’m talking about by the mere suggestion of film and georgetown, but for those who might not know, The Exorcist was filmed in and around this area back in 1972.  I’ve wanted to visit this town and walk the staircase where Father Karras took his fatal plunge in the film…

excorcist 2

Let me just say that picking the dead of winter to visit this site was a precarious decision indeed.  The streets leading to the steps were on steep hills and coated in inches of thick slippery ice.  Luckily the steps themselves were pretty much ice-free, so we could still traverse them.  Also, in an odd turn of events, Jaime had secretly cued up the Exorcist theme so she could be set to play it as we walked the staircase, and before she could actually play it it automatically started playing as we approached it!  Maybe there’s a weird hidden glitch where based on your GPS Spotify will surprise you with rad music cues.  Or maybe Pazuzu possessed her phone :p

excorsist 1

All in all is was an amazing Valentines day weekend…

With a handle like Smurfwreck you’d think blue would be my favorite color…

…but it’s not, it’s hot pink.  Now that, that random bit of trivia is out of the way, I wanted to take a second and tackle this week’s League assignment where we’re charged with taking photos highlighting the color blue.  Last time we had an assignment like this (with Red), I totally didn’t notice the photo assignment and wrote and essay about blood and how it worked into my first and only fight as a kid.  This time I paid better attention and collected some of my favorite blue stuff from around Branded HQ.

First up, one of my two favorite blue t-shirts, and the classiest one I own for sure…

Top Hat Sas

Next up, some chilly and wet stickers from my favorite vintage collection, Garbage Pail Kids…

GPK Blue

I was surprised at how many blue robots I had within reaching distance…

blue robots

Posing my Soundwave statue it occurred to me that there were a hell of a lot of blue villains in the 80s cartoons and toy lines I loved.  Like Fakor, Skeletor and Trap Jaw!

blue fakor

Not to mention the supreme blue badass that is Mumm-Ra!

blue mummy

And who can forget the rad blue fashion sense of Cobra!

blue terrorist fashion

But by far, my favorite blue thing is the totally amazing birthday gift I received this year, my very own furry blue My Pet Monster!

mpm 1 mpm2

Oh, and there’s my other favorite blue t-shirt, DeLorean represent.

If you like all the blue-i-ness you see here, why not check out some of the other League members to see what blue caught their camera eye…

Jaime, Shezcrafti, shares 21 (not) boring blue things about her

Dex, AEIOU and Sometimes Why, opens a vintage pack of Blue Star Wars Topps trading cards

Miss M, Diary of a Dorkette, gets blue with her Dorky Snaps

Derek, Goodwill Hunting 4 Geeks, shows off his very impressive blue toy collection

Laura, Boo Bobby, shows off her Boglins, Gonzos, Rad T-shirts, and Turtles, oh my

Todd, Neato Coolvile, has quite an impressive collection of vintage blue wonderful

Tommy, Top Hat Sasquatch, is feeling blue, so Batman made cookies!

Chris, Garage Sale of Awesome, shares their super rad blue M.A.S.K. bedsheets!

Checking out Funko’s Batman Vs. Joker Throwdown, or Smurfwreck Vs. Shezcrafti…

So, being that the site is called BRANDED in the 80s, it should be pretty evident that branding and package design is something that’s pretty close to my heart. I mean, easily, 50% of the nostalgia I have for 80s is (if you’ll pardon the pun) literally wrapped up in the food packaging, toy card/box art and VHS cover art. So I try and stay pretty hyper aware of what’s on store shelves these days to see if I can spot the stuff that I know I’ll have wistful feelings for down the road. Sometimes I’ll pick stuff up based purely on the design aesthetic alone, especially if I think the company really did something interesting or novel. So I was pretty excited when I saw the reveal of Funko’s new Batman Vs. Joker Throwdown board game during SDCC this year. I’ve been picking up a number of the company’s nostalgic vinyl Pop figures over the past couple years, so they’ve already won me over with their arty interpretation of pop culture characters. Add to this the idea of mashing up a board game with collectable figures and some really awesome packaging and I was hooked.

Batman

So when I had the opportunity to check out Funko’s new game I jumped at the chance. This first game/set centers on DC Comic’s Dark Knight, and is packaged in a giant foot tall hollow Batman. I’m really intrigued by the idea of making the game packaging into a display piece. Not only does it look rad on the shelf, but it ensures that it’ll be sitting out in view instead of ending up being stacked in a dusty closet, sandwiched between old hand-me-down copies of Monopoly and Clue. It’s sort of like bringing the idea of those old Darth Vader action figure carrying cases to the world of board games.

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So what about the game itself? Well, I got the chance to sit down and do some play testing with my BFF Jaime Hood during a trip to the beach this past Labor day. We cracked open the packaging (i.e. ripped off Batman’s head) to get at the game pieces inside. The set up is pretty simple and consists of a game board, two vinyl character figures (Batman and the Joker, but I noticed that expansion packs are planned for a later release), 4 battle dice, some combat cards (including 4 character specific cards for both Batman and the Joker and 8 community mystery cards), and a handful of power-up coins. The general idea is taking turns attacking and defending. Each player starts with 10 life, and whoever can dish out 10 points of damage the quickest wins.

Batman 2

Though each character has their own specific hand of cards (that they can play after they’ve collected 3 power up coins), the function of the cards is identical for each player consisting of two attack and two defense cards. The only difference is in the theming. The game is designed to be quick and relatively balanced, so it’s more akin to tic tac toe than chess, but there is an element of strategy in when to utilize the limited character attack and defense cards. The wording of some of the cards and rules could be a little more clear, as there where points concerning when one could and couldn’t defend against damage that were a bit murky, but overall it’s pretty easy to pick up and play.

bj

With all of the pop culture properties that Funko is currently licensing I’m really curious to see if there are more editions of the board game on the horizon. I’d love to see a General Mills Monster Cereal edition packaged in a giant Franken Berry or better yet, a Gremlins edition complete with a little Gizmo and Stripe packaged in a giant Mogwai.

Also, as far as the play-testing went, and for the record, Jaime slaughtered me both times we threw down.

Shaking the Pillars of Heaven…

So, the start of a new week, and it’s already been a rather crazy roller coaster of ups and downs here at Branded HQ.  Live in or around Jacksonville, FL area?  Did you feel the ground quake around noon on Saturday?  Did it rain frogs for a bit and mess up your outdoor lunch festivities?  Did your rose bushes suddenly burst into very fragrant flames?  Well that was probably partly my fault as I made a day trip down to the area to meet some folks in person that I’ve been talking with online for years.  That’s right, I finally got a chance to meet Paxton Holley of the amazing Cavalcade of Awesome, and in the process uniting 2/3rds of the Cult Film Club in person for the first time (no worries, I brought Jaime along in spirit, or rather with a bit of her soul that was captured on film and then printed out at Kinko’s.)  I’m pretty sure there’s some old testament prophecy about some pretty crazy stuff happening if all three of us were to gather in person in the same location at the same time…

Cult Film Club Polaroid small

So what was I doing in that neck of the woods?  Well, when not talking about rad cult films, Pax’s main podcasting gig is as a co-host of the Nerd Lunch show (which I’ve been on a time or two, or ten actually), and they’ve been planning an IRL meet-up for awhile.  Carlin, Paxton, Robert (from the cool To the Escape Hatch site) and myself all converged on Jacksonville for some great food (at 4 Rivers Smokehouse), some great conversation (there should be a podcast released soon), and just some good times in general.

Nerd Lunch Live small

In addition to the above conversation and merriment I was also introduced to the concept of a Doritos encrusted Mountain Dew flavored cupcake.  Yeah, read that last bit slowly and mull on that idea as you take a look at this monstrosity…

Mtn Dew Cupcake

It was pretty insane.  Not as Dew-y as I’d hoped, but still pretty darn tasty and crazy.

In other news, my beloved DVD player of the last 10 years has passed on to that electronic junk pile in the sky (which I imagine is actually the planet Junkion from Transformers the Movie.)  I’ve watched a metric ton of films and TV on that player and was pretty sad to see it go.  I mean, I wore thumb and finger grooves in the remote.  Sigh.  Well, the last movie to play on it was an 80s flick I’d neglected to watch until last night, the John Hughes written/produced romantic comedy Some Kind of Wonderful.  So if it was going to die, at least it, A, let me watch this flick, and B, picked a pretty rad movie to spin as it’s last screening. I’m glad it didn’t sputter out any sooner as I was able to see a very young and super precocious Candace Cameron playing with her collection of Garbage Pail Kids!  Harkening back to The Monster Squad post, it looks like Eugene wasn’t the only collector on the silver screen…

SKoW 2 small

SKoW 4 small

SKoW 1 small

In a move that was almost too cute to bear, Hughes, director Howard Deutch, or maybe even Cameron herself decided to have the GPKs fighting against each other.  My head almost exploded by the sheer amount of adorable nostalgia on the screen.

SKoW 3 small

I also love that she had both a collection on the backing in a cigar box as well as a bunch of stickers that were applied in a photo album.  Too cool.  I don’t remember ever seeing sticker collection in a flick like this before (though I’m sure I’m forgetting a movie or two…)

So, now I have to decide.  Do I finally get a Blu-Ray player and an HD TV?

 

Saving Branded…

I wanted to take a second and let everyone know that I’m not like dead or anything. There’s just a lot of life junk going on in the background that’s kept me from Branded lately. That being said, and you may or may not have already noticed, but Branded recently had a sort of makeover. Actually, to be honest, the site was sort of on life support with the host I was using for the past seven years. When I first started this project it was as a podcast and thus I did my homework and found the best podcasting/website hosting option available for my needs and at the time Libsyn was the answer. But slowly the urge to solo-podcast diminished and the need to write increased. So I did my best with my limited html skills to almost literally take a hammer to the code and I banged the site into a shape that I was happy with. But if there is one thing that Libsyn is not known for, it’s their blogging platform. Pretty much, well, it sucked. The comment system sucked, the archive platform blew chunks, and it was seriously buggy as all hell. But I kept dealing with it year after year because as the site grew it became increasingly harder and harder to think about moving it. Besides, I did enjoy the freedom of having unlimited bandwidth for my audio files.

Recently though I sort of came to an impasse with the shittyness of the platform, the comments were almost totally broken, and honestly I wasn’t sure what I was going to do to save the site. Enter two supremely awesome folks, Ben Rollier and Jaime Hood. Having a twitter conversation with them one day about my lame comments section issues Ben suggested a way that I could port all of my posts pretty easily into a WordPress environment. Playing off of that Jaime took it upon herself to basically save Branded in the 80s from the trash bin. Over the last couple of months she’s been working tirelessly in her free time to rebuild my site from the ground up and has made it a fully functional big boy’s website where I can, like, work with a platform that makes sense and a comment system that’s actually geared towards conversations. Pretty much everything I always wanted out of the site. The site might look largely the same (by design), but it’s way cooler in the functionality department, and to be honest it sort of has me pretty darn stoked to be writing again. If only I can get past this speed bump in the real world.

Anyway, huge shout out to Ben, and especially Jaime who channeled all of her Ninja Turtle inspired craftiness to save my damn website. Seriously, if you haven’t checked out her site, do it. It’s one of my favorite places on the internet to hang out and learn about pretty damn awesome movies, music, and all the other stuff that runs through her mind.

This Chick Saved My Site

Talking about some stuff I LOVE TO DEATH!

Holy crap!  It’s freaking Podcast-a-polooza here at Branded today.  I have not one, but two new shows that went live this morning.  First up is episode 4 of the Cult Film Club, the show I co-host with Paxton Holley and Jaime Hood.  This is our Valentine’s Day episode, and for us that meant sitting down to watch the mostly naked Marc Singer, the topless Tanya Roberts, and John Amos’ butt cheeks in the amazing 1982 flick The Beastmaster!

For those uninitiated with the flick, it follows Dar, a warrior with the power to communicate with the animal kingdom, on his quest to avenge the destruction and mass murder of his village by the tyrannical wizard Maax.  Along the way there are plenty of painted tigers, hot-bodied Stygian witches, and freaky bird people that make this film a true fantasy cult classic!  In the episode we discuss the fantasy/barbarian genre, the violence and adult content in the film, cinematographer John Alcott and his amazing use of lighting, the special effects, and the wonderful score by Lee Holdridge.  We take a closer look at some of the actors in our regular segment, Hey Do I Know That Guy, as well as playing Hollywood moguls in a segment we like to call It’s Time For a Recast!

You can head on over to the Cult Film Club, or you can download it directed by right-clicking and saving here!

On the other end of the Valentine’s day spectrum I joined back up with the Saturday Supercast, this time talking with Jerzy Drozd and Dave Roman all about what it was like being a boy growing up in the 80s who watched girl’s cartoons…

We kick off with talk about the surprisingly intense My Little Pony: Rescue at Midnight Castle, then move on to The World of Strawberry Shortcake, and close with a chat about outrageous rocker gals on guitar-shaped motorcycles, Jem!  You can find the episode at Sugary Serials.com, or you can right click and download it here!

If these shows don’t say “I love you”, then I don’t know what does…

Cult Film Club Episode 3 and Chasing Marin Kanter…

Hey folks, just wanted to take a second an point to the release of the 3rd episode of the Cult Film Club podcast, my new project with Paxton Holley and Jaime Hood.  We’re having a ton of fun producing this show and if you’re a movie buff like me there’s sure to be something fun in the episodes for you.  This time we chose to discuss the 1966 Sergio Corbucci spaghetti western Django starring Franco Nero as the mysterious coffin-dragging gunfighter out for bloody revenge!

To listen to the show you can either visit the Cult Film Club, find and subscribe to the show in iTunes, or download it directly here (right click and save!)

I’ve also been writing some articles for the club including my recent experience watching the 1978 Walter Hill flick The Driver and the 1982 punk rock classic Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains.  I totally have a crush on Marin Kanter from that flick by the by…

Also, if you want to know what films we’ll be covering next, you can join our totally rad club and get the inside scoop on our plans and access to contests and stuff (like this one where you can win a free shirt from Ript courtesy of the Cult Film Club!)

Hear me talking about cult films over at the Cult Film Club…

Paxton, Jaime and I are back with the second meet-up of the Cult Film Club.  For this episode we decided to side-step a discussion of a particular film in lieu of talking about cult movies as a genre.  We attempt to break down what makes a film “cult” (is it the content, the audience, or other criteria), while also tackling some questions about what it takes for a film to maintain that elusive status.  Can a movie lose its cult?  Can a box office blockbuster be forgotten and become cult over time?  We also spend some time looking back at (ranting about) our shared experiences with Kevin Smith’s Viewaskewiverse, and we try to figure out what went wrong.  We ended up recording a much longer conversation than anticipated, so we broke this one down into two parts.  You can expect part 2 in the coming weeks.

Head on over to the Cult Film Club and give the episode a listen, or you can right-click and save this file to download -> Cult Film Club, Episode #2: General Cult Talk, Part 1.

If you like what you hear you can subscribe to the Cult Film Club on iTunes.

You can also join our not-so-exclusive but totally rad club so you can know which movie(s) we’ll be discussing next and watch along with us!

We do our best to scratch the surface of the general discussion of cult, but it’s impossible to cover it from every angle so we welcome your thoughts, comments and questions on the topic.

Cult Film Club: Episode 1, The Wraith

For the inaugural meeting of the Cult Film Club, Paxton, Jaime, and myself convene to watch and discuss the 1986 sci-fi, western, carsploitation flick, The Wraith.

Directed by Mike Marvin, The Wraith stars Charlie Sheen, Randy Quaid, Clint Howard, Sherilyn Fenn, Nick Cassevetes, Matthew Barry, and more importantly, the $1.5m Dodge M4S Turbo Interceptor.

Plot in 60 Seconds: A young gang of road pirates are on a rampage terrorizing a desolate south western town until a lone hero mystically emerges from the netherworld.  Equipped with a sleek futuristic car, this techno-wraith begins stalking the gang, seeking vengeance with automotive carnage at every precarious turn.

In this episode, we discuss all aspects of the film including our favorite scenes, the Hollywood legacies associated with the actors, the various film influences and homages, the pitch-perfect hair metal soundtrack, as well as the director’s outline for the sequel that never materialized.  Listen to find out how Johnny Depp is tied to the film, how we almost got a scene with a desert witch, and whether or not Charlie Sheen had a terrible case of turtledick during filming!

(Or right-click and save this file to download -> Cult Film Club, Episode #1: The Wraith)

If you like what you hear you can subscribe to the Cult Film Club on iTunes.

You can also join our not-so-exclusive but totally rad club so you can know which movie(s) we’ll be discussing next and watch along with us.

Films aside from the Wraith mentioned in this episode include: High Plains Drifter, Pale Rider, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Exorcist, American Graffiti, Tron, Tron: Legacy, and The Crow.

Introducing the Cult Film Club!

So I know it’s been pretty quiet around here, but that’s not all that strange as longtime readers will know that this is sort of my unofficial yearly hiatus time.  But, this year there’s a better reason for the sparse posting as I’ve been working on a super secret project that I can now start talking about!

Announcing the Cult Film Club, a monthly podcast and blog about MOVIES WE LOVE TO DEATH (despite how bad, weird or obscure they are.)  In fact, we love them because they’re bad, weird or obscure!  Collectively our hosts Paxton Holley (Cavalcade of Awesome.net & the Nerd Lunch Podcast), Jaime Hood (Shezcrafti.com), and well, me, will be discussing and analyzing cult films from the 60s and beyond.  We possess an impressive amount of useless pop culture knowledge, but we’re no cinema snobs–just a couple of guys (and a girl) who really like movies.  Jaime did an outstanding job on the website, too by the by.

So grab a Big Kahuna burger and a tasty beverage–our Feature Presentation is about to begin!

The inaugural episode of the Cult Film Club Podcast is scheduled to debut on December 5th, but in the interim we invite you to check out our new website where you can listen to a show promo and consider joining the club.

You can also find the promo and subscribe to the show on iTunes.

To go along with everything else we have a brand new Facebook page, and we’re on the Twitters too.

You can also sign up for the Official Cult Film Club Bulletin to get access to these cool benefits:

-Our Official Member Bulletin email
-An early heads-up about which movie(s) we’ll be covering next so you can watch along with us and be ready to hear the discussion
-A social media shout-out and a link back to your site or blog on our Members page*
-A stylish badge for your site
-Chances to participate in our contests and giveaways
-Securing +100 to your cult film cred and our humble gratitude!

*Cult Film Club reserves the right to deny membership and/or linking privileges to any person or website we deem unworthy due to suspicions of spamming, inappropriate content, or for any other reason based solely on our discretion.  We may love terrible movies but we do have some standards…