Friday, December 19, 2014

Sludgey's Christmas Wish: The Sexy Armpit Christmas Special 2014!



I'm happy to present to you our very first Christmas Special. In it, Sludgey wants nothing more than for me to mail his letter to Santa Claus, but I wouldn't (I had my reasons). Then I made him an offer he couldn't refuse. I hope you enjoy it. Happy Holidays from The Sexy Armpit!

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Sexy Armpit's Christmas Excursion Into The Ice Caverns

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It seems like the post Halloween blues affect me longer with each passing year. I get into a weird lackadaisical funk where I have no energy or motivation for anything. Who knows, it could be seasonal affective disorder or it's just the fact that my favorite time of the year has come to an end only to make way for frigid temperatures and darkness before 5pm. Winter sucks...except for Christmas, of course. Yet, as deeply immersed as I always get into the holidays, sometimes my Christmas spirit needs a little kick in the ass. I'm sure you can relate. Around here, there's so many opportunities to send a surge of cheer into my veins, and after some minimal research online, I found a place that I knew would make me feel like I just visited Kris Kringle's condo in the North Pole.

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"Home of the Christmas Ice Caverns"
It's clearly their bread and butter because I don't know how many people 
are clamoring for King Neptune statues nowadays.

I couldn't go this one alone because I had a feeling it would be too good not to share with friends. Dinosaur Dracula happened to be in the mood for a cup of cheer (a.k.a Tequila), so we brought the ladies and I drove up to Fairfield, NJ. We were all going into this blind. None of us had been to The Ice Caverns before, nor did we even know much about it. I had read stuff about it online for the past couple of years, but considering it was inside of a place called Jody's Silk Florist and Patio Center, I had my doubts and never made it out for it. To my surprise, this has been a well known Christmas tradition around the state since 1967, but by the time I muster up the motivation for excursions like this, Christmas is usually over.

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After having to pull a couple of u-turns on Route 46, we parked and took in the surroundings. The exterior was interesting to say the least and we knew we were in for a real treat. The building looked like it was from the '70s. Between the Christmas tree and shrub emporium next door, and the crazy statues all around, it all looked like a giant mish-mosh of retro insanity adorned in Christmas lights. Man, I already want to go back.

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We didn't even enter the building yet and Matt and I were already calling dibs on what quarter ride-on machines we were each going to spotlight. My intensity and the guttural noises emanating from my body regarding the Flintmobile seen here were not only obnoxious and loud, but made everyone shy away from me like I was a crazy person.

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Maximum mark-out for the Flintmobile. After spending $250 dollars on what I thought was a simple trip for an oil change earlier that day, I had a bunch of other stuff I needed done and situations like that make me fantasize about riding to work in a car that absolutely cannot break down unless stepped on by a dinosaur and that vehicle is definitely The Flintmobile. Plus, if I had one I could quit my gym because I'd be getting a badass workout at the same time, but I'd show up at work like a sweaty disgusting mess. Scratch that idea, I'll just snap the picture.

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Making our way inside, our brains were bombarded with a bevy of Christmas decorations, trees, ornaments, dolls, and knick-knacks of all kinds spread over 10,000 square feet. That was all good, but just like in The Goonies, I felt like yelling "Where's the gold Mikey!" I wasted no time asking the cashier impatiently "Which way to the Ice Caverns?" I was getting such a good feeling about what we were in for. It almost felt like the moments before going on an old rickety dark ride that is so classic it can't be beat, even by todays standards.

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Admission was reasonable, only about $3 bucks per person, a bargain in New Jersey. Even with that kind of pricing I still found their giant reprinted old school style Christmas coloring books to be way overpriced at nearly $20 bucks!

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Originally, upon reading about a store that featured an intricate Christmas display, what I pictured in my mind was puny in comparison to the enchanting, vintage scenes they conjured up here at the Ice Caverns. Think old school department store windows, but made into a Christmas walk through attraction that will infuse you with more Christmas vibes than you can ever ask for. It's basically an orgy of vintage Christmas ambiance, animatronics, lights, and Santa isn't even the kicker! There's one ultra-amazing window in particular that nunchucked its way into our hearts.



There's a group of pizza loving amphibious creatures that live down in the sewer and know some fancy ninja moves, you know who I'm talkin' about, right? That's right, our friends the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had their very own custom made Christmas themed window scene, and folks, it was incredible. They called it a "Cowabunga Christmas." In the scene, The Turtles all had Santa hats on and were set up in a sewer lair scene and were decorating for Christmas. Raph is dressed as Santa while Michelangelo balanced a pizza on top of his head. This was truly a Christmas miracle.

On the way to get some food afterwards, I commented on how the Turtles looked homemade and Matt made the good point that they had to have been leftovers from back in the early '90s because they definitely looked like they were based off the movie Turtles. Either way they looked fantastic.

There were other awesome things about the Ice Caverns and our other exploits that night and I'm fairly certain you'll be hearing about a few of the key ones over at Dinosaur Dracula very soon!

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This is one of those quirky places that New Jersey is known for. We have so many of them that it's easy to let them slip through your fingers. Hell, I didn't even know about this place until recently and I've lived here my whole life. There are about 100 other obscure places like this around our state and thanks to blogs and podcasts they are getting a lot more buzz than ever. People like us, the nostalgia buffs and the pop culture freaks, we feed on places like this. This is the perfect day trip for kids as well as adult kids like me. The Ice Caverns will surely make you drool, but your drool will taste like peppermint of course and you'll go home with your Christmas spirit jacked up to the highest degree.

The Ice Caverns are located inside of:
Jody's Silk Florist and Patio Center in Fairfield, NJ
http://www.jodyssilkflorist.com/thechristmasstore.html

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!
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