Monday, June 27, 2011

Transformers Vault

Title: Transformers Vault: The Complete Transformers Universe - Showcasing Rare Collectibles and Memorabilia
Author: Pablo Hidalgo
Publisher: Abrams
I’ve said it numerous times on this blog, that I am a newbie when it comes to Transformers.  Although I did watch them as a child, only until recently have I become interested in them again.  I started off watching a few episodes on DVD a few years ago and those brought back a lot of memories.  I also started buying the toys, though I prefer displaying them in auto mode.  However I was still confused about the whole story behind the franchise, so I decided one day to go online and read up on them.  This didn’t go very well because there were pages and pages of stuff to read that was all confusing.  As a result I gave up, and just stuck to watching a few TV episodes at a time and buying a toy once in a while as well.
Then one day I went online and discovered that someone had written a book about the entire franchise that contained many cool features and that was an easy read.  The book is called ‘Transformers Vault’ and is written by Pablo Hidalgo.  The book comes in a protective hard cover, features great art work, the writing is informative (gets to the point) and brief, and best of all it covers the entire franchise from where the Transformers started to the animated TV series, comics, toys, and even movies.  I bought my copy on sale, and with all the goodies it comes with I would definitely recommend it to anyone that loves the Transformers.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ralph Wiggum

The expression ‘an elephant in the room’ has been used several times by people to describe a reality that people hate acknowledging.  When it comes to The Simpsons that elephant took over the room more than 10 years ago, then became a woolly mammoth that took over the village, than a brontosaurus that destroyed the city, and is now Godzilla.  Of course the elephant or the reality I am referring to is the lack of originality and humour that has surrounded The Simpsons for more than a decade.  The show simply sucks now.  The jokes are dry, storylines are written by lazy writers that look to gossip shows for inspiration, characters aren’t faithful to their original idiosyncrasies, and too many episodes are dedicated to boring Lisa or Marg.  Case in point: whenever Homer breaks their heart and has to spend an entire episode trying to make it up to them by showing them how much he loves them.
Fortunately re-runs and DVD’s take me back to the good old days when the show was brilliant.  I call this ‘the Phil Hartman slash Conan O'Brien slash traditional cell animation slash still has some balls’ days.  I figure as long as I stick to watching these classic episodes from season1-10 (and some exceptions from later seasons) this show will always be gold.  Besides Homer my favourite character from the show is Ralph Wiggum.  (Though I can’t forget Lionel Hutz, Comic Book Guy, Jimbo Jones, Bart Simpson, Homer’s monkey, etc...)  For some reason I have always liked the dumb slow characters on shows; such as Butters on South Park and Bobby from King of the Hill.
When the Simpsons first appeared in the late 80’s early 90’s merchandise from the show was everywhere.  From t-shirts, coffee mugs, stickers, underwear, video games, pyjamas, and music CD’s just to name a few.  Though toys were also made it wasn’t until the year 2000 when Playmates came out with a line that became popular and continued for numerous series.  This line gained momentum when it became collectable because people started buying them in multiples and collecting every character.  I remember the one character I wanted to buy was impossible to get, Ralph Wiggum.
Yet this collectable period was short lived because as the show declined in quality so did it start to lose numerous fans, and as such resulted in a wave of discount sell-off of figures on eBay.  I took advantage of this wave last year by finally being able to purchase a Ralph Wiggum toy for real cheap.  Ralph’s accessories include a bottle rocket, keys, school books and a Radioactive Man comic book.  The toy itself is well done with the paint job not having any mistakes, and the sculpture being true to what Ralph looks like.  I’m really glad I was finally able to add him to my collection, and hope to add more World of Springfield characters later on.
World of Springfield toys:

Friday, June 17, 2011

Garrett Popcorn Shops

When you ask people what city they like to visit the most, they would probably say New York City, Paris, or Los Angeles.  I on the other hand have always loved Chicago.  Let me list the reasons why; the Chicago Bulls, the Bears, the Cubs (not the White Soxs), John Hughes films, the house from Home Alone, police car chases, O'Hare Airport and I especially love the food (deep dish pizza).  Another big attraction about Chicago has been Oprah.  While I haven’t been an avid fan or viewer, I have always loved to watch Oprah’s Favourite Things Christmas special.  One favourite thing that made me want to buy it immediately when she showed it was Garrett’s Popcorn.  I thought to myself if Oprah (a super rich billionaire) could get excited about eating that popcorn, I had to try it out.
So when I finally had a chance to visit the Windy City, buying this popcorn was on the top of my list of things to do.  Let me start off by saying this popcorn is very expensive but totally worth it.  The tin can I buy for friends and family is around $62, while the Jumbo Mix (wax paper bag) I buy for myself is around $13.75.  Garrett offers few favours in popcorn, however they don’t need to offer many because the one’s they have already taste amazing.  The flavour I buy is the Chicago Mix, which is Caramel Crisp & Cheese Corn mixed together.  I know that combination may seem strange but once you have a chance to try it, you won’t be able to stop eating.  So if you’re ever in Chicago make sure to stop by a Garrett’s location and try some popcorn.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Medieval Times Toronto

I’ve always wanted to go to Medieval Times.  The first time I learned about it was when I saw the movie The Cable Guy.  In it there is a scene where Jim Carrey does battle with (that guy that used to be cool but is now a nerd) Matthew Broderick.  My first reaction to that scene was, ‘hey I want to do that!’  Unfortunately just like my dream to fight a monkey with a pocket knife, Medieval Times won’t allow me to battle a friend in knight armour.  While not a total disappointment, Medieval Times still gets a thumbs up from me because they still showcase other people fighting with swords.
I took advantage of a recent half price deal and went to a show with a couple of friends.  The show itself is very entertaining and educational.  I got to see horses (which didn’t smell from where I was sitting), a hawk that flew around, some kind of medieval sports tournament, and some awesome sword fights.  My favourite part from Medieval Times was that I got to see the entire show while eating chicken with my fingers.  The food isn’t anything special, but being able to watch a live show and be served by a friendly wait staff really made the trip enjoyable.  The show is very educational, exciting, and both adults and children will have fun.
Medieval Times: