Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Neighbors Nerdfest Number 1: Thanksgiving is for The Bird-Kersees

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One of the themes of Thanksgiving is sharing your leafed-out dining room table full of intricately prepared foods and adorned with crafty centerpieces the kids made at school with all of your family and friends, and the occasional drunk uncle or nomadic cousin who tends to show up randomly, but only if it's a leap year. I'm not much of a cook, so this year I'm serving up some nerdery as a gesture of thanks to a show that's been cancelled by ABC, The Neighbors. Unfortunately, if that nomadic cousin does stop by, the chair you usually leave open for him will be occupied this year, so he's S.O.L.

It's only been a few months since it's cancellation was announced, but The Neighbors deserves much more reverence than it received initially. I've been meaning to come up with a way to properly memorialize this wonderful show, one of my favorites of the past few years, and I've finally figured it out.

This post marks the first installment of a recurring column dedicated to random episodes where I'll point out some of my favorite stuff from each episode. This could include favorite quotes, gags, jokes, scenes, and basically anything I found amusing.

And now a very brief explanation on why I was inspired to start this column. The sharp writing and likable cast on The Neighbors had a lot to do with how I got so wrapped up in it. After the first couple of episodes aired, I wasn't hooked, but that's so typical of me. It wasn't until I continued watching my buildup of DVR'd episodes that I really got where they were going with it. The creator and writer, Dan Fogelman, is a Jersey guy and he's damn proud of it, hence the alien neighbors in New Jersey plotline. What's not to like? Originally I thought that this theme had been done before, but this show is influenced by tropes from all kinds of classic shows with a nice hefty dose of sarcasm and relevant pop culture references that impressed the hell out of me.

Would I have been as in love with this show if it weren't for the New Jersey setting? I can't say the Jersey aspect makes a huge impact on the show, save for a few license plates and mall mentions, and it's not like the kids from Jersey Shore live next door, they're actual aliens. What really makes a huge impression is the cast whose chemistry is a dream come true for the production. The casting director has to be commended. It sounds preposterous, but all the main cast members make me laugh. No exaggeration, Jami Gertz is brilliant in this role and she's never been properly complimented for her versatility. Plus, she's still a hottie. I had such a crush on her when I was a kid. F*ckin' STAR!

There's a lot more I could say about the show, but this is supposed to be a recurring column, so I won't blow my load of commentary prematurely.

The Weavers upgrade from an apartment in Bayonne, NJ to a town house elsewhere in New Jersey. They come to find out their neighbors are aliens who have inhabited their gated community and taken on human bodies until they can get back to their planet. The alien family, The Bird-Kersees, are all named after famous American sports figures. With that out of the way, HERE WE GO!

Here's my favorite stuff from EPISODE 8 
"THANKSGIVING IS FOR THE BIRD-KERSEES"
Originally aired: November 14th 2012

The Weavers are trying to weasel their way out of having Marty's parents over for Thanksgiving because they always ridicule him and disparage his wife Debbie for making shitty Turkey. Marty tells his parents that "The oven is broken" and they want to cancel.

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After Marty gets offended that his dad is insulting him and calling his new place a "condo," he feels the need to prove to his parents that he has a nice new town home. Ultimately, he reneges and re-invites them only to find out that Debbie has invited their neighbors, the Bird-Kersees, over as well so they can experience their first Thanksgiving.

This episode solves mystery of the crop circles:

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"We live in New Jersey I drive a mini van, I'm built for fine." - Debbie Weaver (Jami Gertz)

Marty asks his Dad if he'd like to have a tour of the town house and his father looks around and replies, "I just took it, maybe a nice cold beer can take a tour of my mouth" - Marty's Dad, Dominick is played superbly bitter by Stacy Keach.

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"AWESOME, I always wanted to wear genocide!" - Amber Weaver in reply to receiving the nifty homemade Thanksgiving sweater that her grandmother knitted for her

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Abby, The Weavers poor daughter astonished and disgusted expression upon seeing the turkey sweater her grandma gave her:

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The kids then take kitchen utensils and beat the hell out of the evil sweater: "We have to kill the sweater!"

"She's in the car pouting and you're eating Meersh-mal-ow out of a bag." - Reggie Jackson's pronouncing Marshmallows in the most awesomely wrong way possible.

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"Thanksgiving is HELL. The only good parts are the day before when everything is possible and the day after when everyone goes home. In between it's just a feast of self loathing and gluttony with a side of shame and all you can do is just hunker down and accept it." - Debbie Weaver

"Better crack a window Theresa it's a long way home and that turkey's going right through me" - Marty's Dad as he and his wife depart another disastrous Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Nerd Lunch EXTRA Helping: KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park!


In case you missed this news, hot off the heels of a fun Nerd Lunch Halloween special with guest Dinosaur Dracula, I'm back again with Jeeg and Pax for an EXTRA HELPING of the podcast where we discuss all the intricacies of the legendary film KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park! We had a great time with this one so definitely check it out right here, or on iTunes!

Interview with Framing Dakota: The Psychedelic Love Pop Band by Nick NJ

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An interview with Framing Dakota conducted by our guest writer, Nick NJ 

Yes, the above is true. Psychedelic Love Pop, and that’s the best description of the amalgamation that is Framing Dakota. Taking it’s influence from a myriad of musical influences, from 60’s icons such as The Byrds and The Doors to crooner Tony Bennett, the current lineup consists of Glen Vistica (vocals), Stephen McManus (12 string guitar), Patrick Carbone (6 string guitar), Walter Ullrich (bass), and Scott Wilson (drums).  

Formed in the early 1990’s, the group has withered a near record deal, the changing tide of musical trends, and a breakup. However, after reconciling a few years ago after a ten year hiatus, the New Jersey based band reunited and discovered their passion for music, touring, and each other. With an EP available as a digital download thought their website and club dates on the horizon, I recently caught up with them at a band rehearsal to explore the origins of this (nearly) lost eclectic band. 

NJ: Where did the name come from? 

GV: I wanted to name it Dakota. But it didn’t sound hard enough. 

SM: We arrived at Here’s the Bullet, but what happened was in the mid 90’s, this guy on the Empire State Building shot these people. And the press was all with this guns and bad stuff, and we were called Here’s the Bullet. And we thought, “This is bad. This is just bad.” True story. We decided, at that point, to get rid of the bullet name. We were changing sounds.

SW: We used to sound more heavier, really heavy.

GV: Well, that was a different band.

SM: We were getting more with the twelve string, the lighter stuff, more melodic. And that’s what really drove us into morphing into Framing Dakota.

GV: I found the name in a book (based on Native Americans). I wanted to play off that, that Indian spirit. We got back together, everyone agreed, and it felt great, it felt fantastic. We all discovered how much we missed the music, and the love we have for each other. So that was four years ago, and then we started to write again.

NJ: How does the writing process work? 

GV: Usually, one of these two guys (Stephen and Pat) has a lick, we go off of it with a verse and a chorus and I rearrange it.

SW: Our songs change a lot. 

GV: I usually end up writing the lyrics, but everyone contributes to the music. Some of the songs were written fifteen years ago, and they sound better because we sound better.  
SW: There’s a lot of creative freedom.

NJ: What would you call your sound?

PC: Psychedelic love pop. 

GV: We can’t really describe ourselves, what we sound like. I usually say 60’s meets 80’s and 90’s. It’s tough, it’s really tough to categorize what we sound like. 

SW: Reviewers have said that, that (our sound) is tough to categorize. 

NJ: What are your musical influences? If you had to pick one that influenced your sound, who would you pick?

SM: The Byrds.

PC: Neil Young, Steven Stills, The Church.

SW: There’s so many great jazz drummers, but musically, a lot of 70’s bands.

SM: Y’know, if there was one decade that fired all of us up, it was the punk stuff, the energy of that. That’s the fuel.

PC: It’s almost like Method acting when we play, and that’s why I like it (the band), you get a wide range. Sometimes we can play soft, and then other times we can really kick it. 

GV: Tony Bennett, Chris Isaak, Bryan Ferry, Raul Malo of The Mavericks, Jim Morrison, Ian McCulloch, y’know, people we grew up with. Morrison was a big influence on me.

PC: We all have influences, and some of them are similar, some of them are different, but really it meshes together and it’s its own animal, and that’s Framing Dakota, it’s own thing. 

NJ: You guys have played a variety of venues: The Saint in Asbury Park, Northern Soul in Hoboken, and even Macy’s. 

SM: And hospitals. 

GV: Yes, we dig playing benefits. As long as we like the cause, we’re all for it. But yeah, we’ll play almost anywhere that has the cred.

NJ: You play mostly in Jersey?

SM: We’re definitely Jersey based, but we’re looking into expanding into the neighboring states.

NJ: So you have an EP that was released last month?

GV: Yes, last month, digitally. And the physical copies soon.

PC: That’s framingdakota.bandcamp.com for the download or our regular website, which is framingdakota.com 

NJ: How do you feel about the years you’ve all been together, then the layoff, and the reunion? Do you feel that layoff helped you musically?

GV: Yes, we sound a lot better and we’re a lot better with our craft. We loved playing back then, but we had someone representing us to get a record deal, so it got cloudy at times. Now, if something happens, great, but we keep playing. We love to play. I think that’s what makes us, the emotion, the charge, the energy.

PC: I loved playing bass back in the day with the band, but I really love playing guitar with this guy over here (SM). I think me and him got something special going on together, the way we kinda weave the guitar lines around each other. We’re both doing a lot of cool stuff, but we’re not stepping on each other’s toes. We keep it interesting while we’re playing. I dig what we’re doing.

SM: Yeah, and create songs, new tones and compositions. 

NJ: I notice when you guys play, you play with the same level of energy all the time.

GV: I don’t think we know any other way to play. Some nights, someone might be tired and it changes things a little bit.

SW: From my experience too, being with a lot of bands, including this one back when we were first together, I pulled back depending on the venue if it called for it. Never worked. It came across better and plays better when you put more emotion into it, even if it’s a little on the loud side or something. You let go of that and just play, you get better results. 

GV: I think it’s natural to feed off the energy. If people are digging the set, like at our last show, then we connect with the people. That’s what’s really special. 

WU: I’ve known Pat for 39 years, and these guys are great. I enjoy the music. I liked it before I played it, and I’m having fun. 

Framing Dakota is a step outside of the box, yet is firmly rooted in the familiar world of rock n roll, just with their own aura. It’s not just about the music; it is also about the fans, the emotions, and the love. 

Next up, they’ll be playing Rock to Stop Diabetes, a concert to benefit the American Diabetes Association on November 15th. For more dates and other news, visit their website at framingdakota.com.


by Nick NJ

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Sexy Armpit Goes to HAUNTED GOLF in Ocean City, NJ!


Happy Halloween! It's been a fun season and I'm anxious to do a look back on all the best moments, but first, here's a video that I've been waiting to present to you. It's our trip to the boardwalk in Ocean City, NJ for HAUNTED GOLF. Along the way we enjoyed the various activities on the boardwalk. Check it out! Please give it a thumbs up if you enjoy it and thank you for watching!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Our Monster's Ball Halloween Costumes 2014

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View our Flickr Album from this event for larger photos here:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/sexyarmpit/sets/72157648613469690/

Last Saturday I worked on my costume right up until the moment I walked out the door. Where was I off to? The Trenton Artworks Monster's Ball which was a masquerade-art show-concert-party. Have you ever been to one of them? Well, neither have I, until now! We had a blast and it wouldn't be a Halloween celebration here at the blog unless I documented the festivities for you, so here we go!

As I mention here every year, choosing who I want to dress up as for Halloween is never easy. I need some sort of divine inspiration, which sometimes doesn't come until the very last minute. This year, I went with a character that I wanted to tackle for about 6 or 7 years now, but didn't think I'd be able to pull it off properly.

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The Diabolical Disc Demon a.k.a The Phantom was a Scooby Doo Villain in ONE EPISODE, but that was all it took to leave a lifelong impression on me. I've wanted to be him for Halloween for so long and I've had his mask at the top of my closet for 4 years now. He scared me the same way as Gene Simmons did when I was a kid, but as I grew up I realized he was just a knockoff of Gene, or more accurately a mixture of Gene's makeup style and hints of Ace Frehley's costume (hell, they even lifted his nickname ACE Decade.) I made up my mind and I knew it was high time that I finally embodied the Disc Demon for a night.

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Miss Sexy Armpit decided she wanted to be Frankie Stein, my favorite Monster High doll this year. A couple of years back she was Draculaura which came out awesome, but I'm biased toward Frankie though. She did a great job with her costume and makeup as always. So, we were locked in with our costume decisions. It was just a matter of completing our costumes and then figuring out where we would actually go. It's one thing to have kickass costumes, but if no plans are made, then we'd just be taking selfies in the bathroom at home all night and eating guacamole and passing out on the couch.

I made the executive decision to head off to Trenton, NJ for the Monster's Ball.

The early evening on Saturday began pretty typically for me. And by that, I mean disastrous. With me, you know nothing's ever easy, so realizing that I bought the "standard size" blue spandex suit was quite a debacle. Seemed like the right choice, but NOPE. What a dumbass! This thing couldn't have been more constricting if I had Damien the snake wrapped around my entire body. It's only for guys from 5'4" - 5'10" and 120-165 lbs. I'm 6 ft and about 190 some odd lbs. I was a bit uncomfortable, but I toughed it out in the name of Halloween.

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Once I got myself situated, we took some pictures. After all, the photos are the only way to commemorate these occasions. Apologies to Mike and Lauren who were waiting for us outside for like half an hour unbeknownst to me as I took creepy bathroom selfies at my friends house. Mike was the Red Hood and his wife Lauren was Jean Grey/Phoenix. Finally, we piled into Mike's (@IdiotatPlay) car and headed to Trenton. Lots of cars whizzed by and stared at me as if I looked out of the ordinary or something.

Literally as soon as I walked in the door to check in, one guy was like "Whoa the Disc Demon, right?!! So cool man!" I couldn't believe I was recognized so quickly as such an obscure character, but it started the party with a positive vibe.

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Once inside, Miss Sexy Armpit immediately grabbed me to point out the costumes of a couple in front of us. Our first choice this year was going to be Dick Tracy and Breathless Mahoney, and boy am I glad we opted against it because this couple looked fantastic as them. They knocked it out of the park.

The entire Artworks building was decked out for Halloween with all kinds of homemade creepy decorations enhancing the atmosphere as well as pieces of art based off horror movies and Halloween. We met up with our good friend Bob Burke who created that kickass glowing Halloween 3 print I got at the Punk Rock Flea market not too long ago. One of his pieces of art was on display here as well and it's one of my favorites of his, here I am in the pic below posing with it.

Take a look at some of the other cool art on display at this party:


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Not to sound purposely vague, but there were several rooms with different things going on. One room had activities like a photo booth and some kind of other situation that I have absolutely no recollection of. I'm hoping to continue being less descriptive about the random activities going on. All I remember is Bob and I bringing up Step Brothers and how much space there was for activities. Always. Any time someone merely says the word activities that's what comes up, it's a prerequisite. Another activity was EATING. Here's the room with the hors d'oe uvres, NOTE the cheese balls! My kind of f'n party!

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One thing I remember for sure was the room with all the drinks had horror films and spooky animated shorts showing being projected on a screen. There were also some cool blacklit glowing trees. I tried putting one in Mike's trunk but it was way too big. I tried to avoid the blatant sexual innuendo in that sentence, but there was just no other way to describe that. Ultimately I wanted to tie it to the top of his car like Aunt Edna, but they all talked me out of it considering how I was dressed. The cops would've loved that. "License and registration sir, wait, is that a glowing tree tied to your roof? And a Disc Demon in the back seat? I'm calling in some backup..." In New Jersey that's ground for incarceration. Ok, so I didn't try stealing the glow tree, but I did have to drink my beer through a straw. I stuck it in the mouth hole. Boom, there's another one for ya.

Once the party was in full swing, I got that feeling. That type of feeling that I used to get at the high school Halloween masquerade party. Those were the best. I looked forward to them each year. Sophomore year I won runner up, while junior and senior year I won scariest costume. All 3 years I dressed up as Gene Simmmons from KISS. What really put it over though was that I was completely in character. I'd go up to a circle of people whether I was friends with them or not and I'd stare at them and very slowly and subtly started drooling blood out of my mouth. I would go to these parties with literally 200 blood capsules. The best part was that even though everyone knew I was the resident KISS fan, one of the only ones in the school mind you, people were scared and they weren't sure if it was me or someone that was planted at the party as some sort of creepy entertainment.

Back to the Artworks party. The DJ was pumping Halloween tunes like "Nightmare on My Street," and it was my kind of crowd and vibe. Everyone was having a good time and they weren't getting out of hand, which was good because I didn't feel like kicking some ass in a spandex body suit and 35 lbs of felt. Then, without any warning, a troupe of belly dancers joined together in the middle of the dance floor and began their exotic gyrations. That's when everyone knew the shit was on. It was like a mango sorbet aged about 60 years to cleanse the palate of all those cheese balls.

MALEficent
It was about 10:30 which signalled the costume contest. There were some cool costumes I scoped out throughout the night including a dude Maleficent who I referred to as MALEficent. Each entrant to the contest went up on a little stage and showed off for the judges. For some reason I was at the front of the line with Miss Sexy Armpit, but I was asked to go to the back of the line for some reason. I thought I was in trouble, or I was just too damn tall in these 6 inch boots.

When they were ready to announce the winners I had absolutely no clue who would win, but my theory was that it would be the girl who dressed as the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland. She seemed like a safe bet. They gave out prizes to one or two runners up, and I wasn't even paying attention then I heard the woman announcer yell "there's only ONE Diabolical Disc Demon..." I couldn't believe it. I never go with what will be popular in terms of costume choice, I go with what inspires me, and this time it really impressed the judges! The last time I'd won a costume contest was when we got 3rd runner up for our Macho Man and Elizabeth costumes at a masquerade about 5 years ago. This time I won First place and took home $100 bucks. Not too shabby. I probably spent nearly double that on putting together te costume though, but I'm not complaining!

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After the contest was over, the energetic band with the tiny frontwoman wearing the aerobics costume, Molly Rhythm, started their set. After checking them out for a bit, we capped things off appropriately, the way most late nights in New Jersey end...at the diner.

Now...to do it all again on Halloween!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Nerd Lunch Episode 152: Halloween Show 2014!



Somehow, my crazy long intros and ridiculously intricate carry over questions haven't gotten me banned from The Nerd Lunch Podcast just yet! I'm back on for the Halloween show where we discuss our Halloween memories and our favorite edible Halloween related products as well as design our own! (You can check mine out below) That's not even the best part...guess who the very special guest is? Making his first ever podcast appearance: The one and only Dinosaur Dracula! It's a MUST-LISTEN!



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