Monday, February 26, 2018

Oh Sweet Szechuan Sauce!

Have you been to McDonalds lately? No? Well, you may want to change. Then again, you may be making the best decision after all. One way or the other, I'm sure your stomach thanks you. Me, I never eat at McDonalds anymore, unless it's a chance to get a Halloween Charlie Brown pail or a Shamrock Shake. But today, I broke my own rule and decided to head to the Golden Arches for a highly anticipated item. What made me risk a night on the toilet and perhaps even clogged arteries? The infamous Szechuan Sauce!

The sauce, first introduced in 1998 in conjunction with Disney's promotion of Mulan, caused an uproar and instant demand from the rabid Rick And Morty fanbase after a random reference on an episode that aired last year. Fans took to social media immediately and started demanding that McDonalds bring back the sauce and as expected, the outcry was too much to ignore and McDonalds brought back the sauce in a very limited run in October. Of course, when I mean limited, I mean that only a certain number of stores received maybe 50 packets at most. Well....that didn't exactly sit well with fans. Some devoted fans even drove hours to claim their prize to no avail. After the response, McDonalds announced they'd make it right and bring the sauce back sooner than later.

And sooner came. Fans rejoiced to own their dipping sauce and the day was saved.

Was it though? I say that with a little trepidation. I had tried the sauce back while on vacation in 1998 during it's release and I just wasn't impressed then. In fact I was downright repulsed by it and put it out of my mind for the longest time. Why would I dip my nuggets in such nonsense? I really tried but just wasn't happy with it.

Naturally, I became curious as I saw hints surfacing online between April and October. I got the sense that after the demand it would be back but I didn't think it would be so quick. After all, we waited for almost 20 years for Ecto Cooler. But it is what it is. It's here and I decided to go grab some to see if it still refused to get along with my stomach or if my taste had changed and matured. If it was good enough for an evil genius on a cartoon, it has to be good enough for me.

There's the goods. The server got a little generous and gave me 4 packets instead of the normal two most have been getting. I'm digging the design, it's pretty likable. It kinda looks like the font New Line  would use for an early 90s action movie poster. I approve. But now it's time to dig in...'s pretty smelly. Like rotten Slim Jims dunked in stale hot wing sauce. I for one can guarantee Randy Savage wouldn't snap into this idea. I'm one of those people who are so repulsed by bad smells that  I either laugh hysterically or throw the food out entirely. But, I'm in this for the long haul and I'm willing to risk my dining room smelling like old meat for the sake of art. So I pinched my nose, and dunked my Chicken McNugget and...

...actually the odor aside, it's not as bad as I remember it to be. In fact, I kinda like it better more now than I did in 1998, but then again I didn't have great taste back then. At age 15, I considered TGI Fridays to be the finest cuisine I had ever tasted. That and I thought Barenaked Ladies and Fastball would've toured forever. Anyway. The sauce.

It's got the same sweet and sour plus orange sauce taste that I remember to have, but it also tastes like spices were added as well. Now saying it's "not as bad as I remember" isn't high praise but it's also not harsh criticism either. It's just kind of "meh". I'm kind of indifferent about it. I get the sense if this wasn't a huge deal to the fans of the cartoon, it wouldn't be considered to be brought back. But, Rick and Morty fanatics can't be underestimated.They made magic happen. Thankfully, I still had about 5 other nuggets to go and I had some ketchup to dunk them in for a more familiar and comforting taste. To me at least. I know some people who balk at the idea of putting ketchup on nuggets but I'd also guess the same people would shun the thought of this Szechuan sauce. Is it something you should try at least once so you don't feel regret over missing it like I did for missing Pepsi Holiday Spice? Yeah, absolutely. It'll be a topic that could come up in ten years when you and your friends are discussing limited food promotions. And while I'm still not amazed, I get the sense this won't be around forever and it's definitely gonna be remembered as something the fans helped bring back. Which is pretty spectacular if you sit and think about it.

There you have it. The sauce is back and here to stay (perhaps?). No one said the sauce would be pretty or even good but they promised you a special sauce and that's what they delivered. So head out, grab some sauce, and give it a shot!

Oh and of course I got my Shamrock Shake.



Monday, February 12, 2018

Visiting The Zubaz Store!

A Sunday in Buffalo during the winter isn't exactly the number 1 spot for a celebration. It's just cold, snowy, rainy, and very ugly and can make you kinda cranky and tired and just put you in a bad mood. Or maybe that's just me. I genuinely like Buffalo but the snow don't help. Especially for a Maryland-boy at heart who prefers to stay in and under about 47 blankets when it snows. But, sometimes there's something or somewhere so radical I have to suck it up, pack up the car with water and snacks and make the drive for. And yesterday was one of those amazing occasions. I brought two of my friends and decided to hit up...THE ZUBAZ STORE!

What? You didn't know about The Zubaz Store? The store that contains so many amazing zebra striped products that you'll think you're in Brian Bosworth's mind.

For those who don't know what Zubaz are, they are the most comfortable pants in the world. Usually popularized by pro wrestlers(ESPECIALLY The Road Warriors, who invested a lot in the company), football players and weightlifters, the pants were designed with the intent of stretching and constant movement with as much comfort as possible without tearing or ripping. They usually make the perfect lounge/sleeping pants and can lead to an excellent lazy day uniform. These amazing pants were in all sorts of colors and designs, but if you're a member of the Zubaz Nation, you know that Zebra stripe is the way to go, bro.

I didn't know what to expect with this store. I figured I'd see some crazy zebra stuff, maybe something resembling a Zubaz-Pee Wee's Playhouse mashup. A lot of lights, perhaps? Loud 80s music? Maybe even AC Slater hanging out while showing off his sweet break dancing moves? Well, whatever expectations I may have had were thrown out the window with one sign.

Look right? Well ok, but I don't know what to gosh...


Ok, ok...breathe in...good gosh is that wall of nothing but Zubaz pants?

Well, it wasn't Zubaz Playhouse, but it's still pretty overwhelming once you walk in. More colors in here than in the rainbow itself and in all different sizes and items! And if the offerings weren't awesome enough, they were all on extreme clearance. Some pants were only 7 bucks and even overalls were only 7 bucks!

Don't be fooled. This store isn't completely pants and overalls. They even have accessories that make your otherwise humdrum day a little bit more spectacular and flashy! Remember when I mentioned the Road Warriors?

ROAD WARRIOR MASKS! In tribute to their biggest celebrity supporters, these delightful lucha masks are perfect for playing sports, heading to the bar for Wrestlemania or just some fun photos with your friends. And no your eyes don't deceive you. Buy 1 get 2 free. That's actually not a bad deal!

Looking to support your favorite company but can't wear those pants at work? Try these sweet sunglasses on! Featuring that sweet Zubaz logo, you'll be the coolest guy in the office in no time!

Now the other items I kinda expected because they're listed on the website, but a skateboard? Did NOT see that coming! I could've been fooled that this was an actual skateboard from the late 80s. It's a nice, smooth looking skateboard. In fact, I'm pretty sure I should've picked one up, sticker it up and try to skateboard again.

Ehhh...Probably not the best idea, but it certainly was the VIP pick of this store.

A lot of love for the locals in this store. Labatt Blue, a Canadian beer company that is also the official beer partner of The Bills and Sabres. So up in B-lo, if you ain't drinking Labatt, you're not doing it right. I think...I only drink Pepsi so i'm just guessing here. Zubaz actually has it's own beer can in partnership with Bills and Labatt so why wouldn't they blow it up and make a poster that would drive the most honest man into envy?

You guys have no clue how bad I wanted that banner. The manager wouldn't sell it. I understand, but I'll still be dreaming about it later.

 Fun Christmas shirts are still on clearance. Cool shirt for the holidays, but for people who celebrate the Christmas all year round, it's just another Monday afternoon shirt. Pretty cool shirts, at that though. Not a bad idea to stock up on these now and start planning your family Christmas card. Don't forget to put me on that receiving list!

Preparing for a St. Patty's Day party? Good! Zubaz has your back with some tasteful shirts, ties and hats! Makes sense to me! If I'm gonna be getting drunk and roving around in front of bars, I'd prefer my shirts to be the choice of pro wrestlers who dress like Marvel supervillians of the 1970s.

To be honest, at this point, the store wanted my friends and I out of the store in a major way. I could see the workers get exhausted with us, trying on everything, taking photos and laughing like idiots. We had good reason though. We were having a lot of fun and to be in a store that carries these items and not have fun would be absolutely illogical. Zubaz brings the fun and we had a ball while at this store. But what did I pick up?

Well, I had to get a pair of pants, and if I was getting a pair of pants, it was gonna be ones that resemble Fruity Pebbles/Fruit Stripe Gum. You really thought I'd go subtle and pick out a solid color? Come on, you know me by now! These pants are literally the most comfortable pants ever and are giving my Count Chocula pajama pants a run for their money. I gotta figure out how I can wear these at work and not get written up.

The Road Warrior masks you saw previously were great but I didn't have 20 bucks. However this mask was only 2 bucks and still maintained that Legion of Doom/Zubaz feel. Sure it's got a sports team logo but those black, red and white stripes were drawing me in. I couldn't pass this up for two dollars! I'd be foolish to leave without it!

Oh but the fun doesn't stop there. With every purchase comes...FREEBIES!I couldn't get a photo of the drawer itself, but imagine a drawer of Zubaz throwback greatness!

 Arm sleeves! Well, it's getting awfully cold here, so why not keep my arms warm with what appears to be Jake Robert's tights?

Headbands! I'm sorry but I can't look at these and not think of Marty Jannetty and Shawn Michaels as the Rockers. A perfect choice in my opinion. I'll be rocking these all year round!

Clear stickers! Those will end up on literally everything I own!

With a visit to their freebie drawer and a quick purchase, it was time to say goodbye. And it was a very hard goodbye to say. But to know that this store is right around the corner, makes me smile all over again and gets my hopes up with thoughts of savings, zebra stripes and (hopefully) more freebies!

On a side note, why would I drag my friends to a Zubaz store? It's simple. We were heading up to Niagara Falls, it was on the way and it meant something to a weird degree. My friend Andrew and I used to call ourselves "The Zubaz Squad" in middle and high school, a name we chose after he jokingly teased about wearing Zubaz in 1998. So we embraced it and always picked up Zubaz whenever we saw it in a thrift store. But to visit the store? Oh yeah! Now we're talking. We always have fun no matter what we do, and we certainly had fun today.

Oh right...those masks...they may have made it over the border too...


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Review: Batman: Gotham By Gaslight

Official Synopsis: " It's Batman vs. Jack the Ripper in an Elseworld's adventure that imagines the Dark Knight over a hundred years ago in a turn-of-the-century Gotham.
Gotham City, at the turn of the century, is experiencing a golden era of discovery and industry as showcased by affluent businessman Bruce Wayne's World Fair. Down in the darkest alleys, there is a killer on the loose. Preying on the city's women, this killer is as precise as he is cruel. As Police Commissioner James Gordon tries to calm the fears of Gotham's citizens over the butcher named Jack the Ripper, the masked vigilante Batman does some detective work of his own, with the help of the sultry and surefooted Selina Kyle. Witness a world in flames as the killer's controlled savagery meets the calculated stealth of the Dark Knight! "

I've long said that DC's Elseworld's tales were made for animated series and this release proves it. Gotham By Gaslight was an Elseworld's story from 1989 by Mike Mignola (of Hellboy fame) and Bryan Augustyn immediately became a cult favorite due to it's unique look at the character of Batman and injecting him into a real life situation that he hadn't quite been in before. Jack The Ripper? Against Batman? Oh, now you've got my attention. The cat and mouse game between Batman and discovering the mysterious identity of the famous serial killer is the real draw of this movie. While you think you know everything about the myth of Jack The Ripper, the twist in this movie will leave you shocked.

The animation in this movie is once again, superb and exceeds even WB's standards. It seems the anime-inspired style that the company is going in, really works well for all of the DC universe, not just Teen Titans. I'm super happy with what I see in this movie, from a technical POV as well as a fans view.The animation really adds a more fluid yet dark and gritty feel at the same time. The voices of Bruce Greenwood as Batman, Jennifer Carpenter as Catwoman and Scott Patterson as Gordon really help make this feature a faithful adaption. A side note, I was shocked to hear Greenwood's voice, as at first I thought it was legendary Batman voice Kevin Conroy. Yes, the voice sounds that close.

Sometimes Batman's most unusual and unexpected adventures and stories are the most memorable. Long Halloween, Year On, Hush, Red Hood, Death in the Family, Killing Joke are just some of the top favorites and with good reason. The unusual nature of each story and adding a new facet of Batman's characteristics are what makes his legend grow bigger and better.This is certainly one of them. To say Gotham By Gaslight is a must own is an understatement. This is one of the best Batman solo animated films in some time and in fact the best way to start 2018 off!

Oh...right...don't forget what's coming next...

Your ears don't deceive you...CHRISTIAN SLATER IS IN A DC ANIMATED FILM!