22nd Jan2016

West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 1/22/16

by Will

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Happy Friday! Everybody around West Week Ever HQ is hunkering down for snow. We’re expected to get up to 24 inches, so this may be my final transmission.

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In the movie department, the first thing I watched this week was Gone Girl. HOLY SHIT! Starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike as a perfect yuppie couple that relocates to the Midwest after they both lose their jobs, Affleck becomes the prime suspect when Pike just mysteriously disappears. That’s when we find out their lives weren’t as perfect as they had seemed. And then there’s a TWIST (and I’m not talking about the fact that Tyler Perry actually does a good job in this film)! I’m not going into details because I don’t want to spoil anything, but this movie is worth watching. It’ll make you question everything about your life. Please watch this film ’cause I really wanna talk about it.

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At the complete other end of the spectrum, I watched Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2. I really liked the first one, but God this thing was boring. I can’t imagine fidgety kids were able to sit still in theaters during this thing. In the first movie, amateur scientist Flint Lockwood created a machine that turned water into food. And then, of course, the machine went crazy and had to be destroyed. Well, in this sequel, a famous scientist wants to find Flint’s original machine so that he can use it for his own plans. Meanwhile, the machine is now creating sentient food creatures instead of just turning water into food. So, when Flint and his friends return to Swallow Falls, they find it’s been colonized by these fruit beasts. I only half paid attention to it because I was coloring at the time (yes, I’m a 5 year old in my spare time), but it really didn’t hold my focus. The things that made the first one special were gone this time. For example, in the first movie, Flint’s father, voiced by James Caan, was a man of few words who didn’t know how to express his emotions. This time around, he talked TOO much. Now, there’s an argument to be made that maybe this is an example of character growth, but I didn’t like it. I also didn’t like that Terry Crews replaced Mr. T as Officer Earl. Anyway, the film did pretty well, so there’ll probably be a 3rd one. And if it ends up on TV, I’ll probably watch it. Because I never learn from my mistakes.

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After promoting it for months, TBS finally debuted the Steve and Nancy Carell-produced comedy Angie Tribeca via a 25-hour marathon. Starring Rashida Jones, the show is a parody of police procedural dramas. I had a few problems with this show. First of all, the marathon approach. Some shows are built for bingeing, but Angie Tribeca is not one of those shows, as the pacing didn’t really work. Not only was TBS running the entire 10-episode season every 5 hrs, but they also did it without commercial interruption. Luckily, the episodes were also On Demand so I watched them that way, so that I could pace them out on my terms. The other problem I had was the style of humor. If you loved Police Squad!/Naked Gun/Airplane!, you’ll LOVE the first 4 episodes of this show. It’s that quip a minute, farcical humor that, to me, wears thin quickly. I felt that the show really hit its stride by episode 5 (which is quite a long time to stick with a show that’s not really doing it for you initially), as the humor style is toned down a bit. Think of 30 Rock at its most absurd, and then crank it up about two notches. That’s what the show becomes and I enjoyed it so much more at that point. While the marathon seemed like a really crazy gimmick, it probably played to the show’s strengths (or lack thereof). As I said, I didn’t enjoy it until around the 5th episode. If this had been rolled out as a weekly show, I’d have probably bailed by then. At least now I’m willing to give the second season a chance.

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Speaking of Angie Tribeca‘s quality 5th episode, it features a guest appearance by Champ Kind himself, David Koechner. I tweeted about it and he favorited it. WHAMMY!

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Over on TV, Marvel and DC had a dick measuring contest Tuesday night as they scheduled specials opposite the other’s premiere. While The CW premiered The Flash returning from its Winter hiatus, ABC ran Marvel’s Captain America: 75 Heroic Years. If you have read/watched anything about the formation of Timely/Marvel Comics, then you’re familiar with most of what was presented in the special. They did, however, slide in the news that Steve Rogers would be returning to the role of Captain America this Spring – which isn’t a surprise to anyone who realized there was a movie coming out. If you’re not a comic fan, for over the past year, Steve Rogers’s former sidekick, Sam Wilson/The Falcon, took over the Cap role when Steve was drained of the Super Soldier Serum that gave him his powers and kept him young. It was clear, though, that there was little chance Wilson would remain Cap once the Captain America: Civil War film rolled around. Well, Marvel plans to have their cake and eat it, too, as it appears Wilson will remain as Captain America even while Rogers returns. There will be TWO Captain Americas, which I feel is one Cap too many. While I’ve enjoyed the Wilson adventures, I don’t know if the comic audience is still going to want to support “Not the REAL Cap” once Rogers returns. Anyway, this is comics, where there’s no real change – only the illusion of change – so nobody should be surprised by any of this.

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Once 9 PM rolled around, ABC premiered the second season of Agent Carter, while The CW debuted specials about DC’s Legends of Tomorrow and their upcoming movies. I didn’t watch the Legends of Tomorrow one, as I thought it was kinda stupid to watch a 30 minute special about a 60 minute show that was premiering in 48 hours. If this special had come out earlier, I’d have given it a shot. At this point however, I was already as excited for the show as I was going to get. I did watch the one about the movies, DC Films Presents: Dawn of the Justice League. Hosted by Kevin Smith (who was acting like a drugged up Billy Mays) and Geoff Johns, they rushed through a bunch of Dawn of Justice footage, and then gave us about a minute of a Wonder Woman footage (this was also the day they debuted the logo and Twitter account for the Wonder Woman film). Then, we got snippets of interviews with the rest of the Justice League actors, like Jason Momoa (Aquaman), Ezra Miller (Flash), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher). It all seems interesting, but it also seems so far away to me. I mean, the Cyborg movie isn’t out until 2020! I get that it’s 2016, but do you know how many movies will come out between now and then? Hell, I could be dead by then!

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I came to the realization this week that I’m not sure I can be objective about DC’s movies. I always considered myself a DC kid, but upon closer inspection, I’m much more of a Marvel Zombie these days. I love the Marvel movies. They have their flaws, but I enjoy them. I don’t like the DC stuff I’ve seen in recent years (The Dark Knight Rises and Man of Steel). If these are more of the same (which, dark in tone, they seem to be), I’m just not interested. So, for the folks excited about these movies, more power to you. I envy you. But I just don’t feel anything when DC’s films are brought up. That includes the Suicide Squad trailer that was released this week. I’ll probably Redbox it, but it doesn’t strike me as something I need to see in the theater.

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Meanwhile, Agent Carter premiered and it was as great as you’d expect it to be. I’m constantly amazed that I like this show considering I didn’t think she was “worthy” of a series when it was first announced. I especially like this season, as its subtitle could be “Peggy Gets Jungle Fever”. There’s a Black scientist who’s introduced as a love interest…kinda. I liked that the show finally tackled the race issue that was absent in the first season, as it wasn’t all sunshine and roses for everyone in the 40s in the Marvel Universe. Anyway, I won’t spoil what happens to him in case you haven’t gotten around to watching the episode yet. The interesting thing is that there seem to be all of these ties to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. yet the showrunners are saying that they aren’t. For example, the lapel pins worn by The Council look like the original HYDRA symbol we saw on AoS, but a recent interview with them said that it’s not the same symbol. Also, this Darkforce matter is a tie-in to the Doctor Strange movie, and not the same material that leads to Maveth. It’ll be interesting to see if they were just trying to mislead us. Anyway, the 2-hour premiere was the lowest rated presentation of the series, so unless things improve, there won’t be a season 3. Now’s the time to start watching!

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So, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. Where to begin? I liked this show. I liked it a lot. I will say, however, that I’m unfamiliar with half the characters since I’ve only seen a handful of episodes from season 1 of The Flash (and only 1 from season 2). So, I’ve got a lot of questions. Like, who is this Jefferson Jackson character? I mean, I Googled him and the character existed in comics, but only as a friend of original Firestorm, Ronnie Raymond. If they wanted a Black Firestorm, the character already exists, and he’s Jason Rusch. Did they not want to pay royalties to creator Dan Jolley, like when they created Black Vulcan so they wouldn’t have to pay Black Lightning’s creator Tony Isabella? Anyway, since Professor Stein isn’t linked to Robbie anymore, I take it something happened to him in one of those Flash episodes I haven’t seen yet. Is Wentworth Miller’s Captain Cold always so…theatrical? If anything, it showed me that I need to catch up on The Flash, as that’s where the more fantastical DC stuff seems to be happening.  Sure, Oliver Queen went up against Ra’s Al Ghul, but he’s still pretty much dealing with street crime, while Barry Allen’s dealing with time travel and the Multiverse. That mindset is needed to fully get into Legends. Anyway, this show could really beat Marvel at its own game, as it’s giving us a superhero team, on a weekly TV budget, that’s actually making moves, and doesn’t have to adhere to movie tie-ins and studio plans. It might end up being a better Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. than Marvel’s show. Also, the fact that it’s potentially a One and Done series (it’s an expensive show, and another season would probably be comprised of a different team, according to reports), they can make some pretty bold decisions if necessary. Let’s just say that I’m really excited to see where this show is going.

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Has anyone been watching Shades of Blue? It’s surprisingly good, and you’ve only missed 3 episodes, so there’s time to catch up. Jennifer Lopez plays a pseudo-dirty cop who’s forced to work with the feds to take down the rest of her unit. Ray Liotta is her commanding officer who knows there’s a mole in the unit, but doesn’t know it’s JLo. Or does he? It’s a tense hour of television and, based on the nature of the plot, it’s probably just going to be a One and Done series. Along with Undateable Live and Superstore, it’s one of the few bright spots on NBC’s schedule these days (Thursdays at 10 ET).

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I can’t wait to see Disney’s damage control on this one, but Girl Meets World star Rowan Blanchard announced on Twitter that she identifies as queer. She tweeted:

“In my life – only ever liked boys however i personally don’t wanna label myself as straight gay or whateva so i am not gonna give myself labels to stick with – just existing :)”

Rowan Tweet

Considering she’s 14, I’m not sure what to think of all this. I mean, it’s brave of her to come out in such a forum, but at the same time, I don’t even remember being sure of anything at 14. Maybe girls are just more mature than boys. I dunno…

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • News sites were reporting that Darkwing Duck was being revived by DisneyXD in 2018. This was a lie. A cruel lie.
  • Due to the tepid release of Terminator: Genisys, the planned sequel has been removed from Paramount’s schedule. The May 19, 2017 release date will now go to The Rock’s Baywatch movie.
  • Vin Diesel tweeted out a pic, revealing that Fast 8 will take place in NYC
  • The red band trailer was released for Key & Peele’s Keanu, and it looks hilarious! I can’t wait to Redbox this thing!

eclectic mayhem

A few weeks back, I had the pleasure of joining the folks over at the Eclectic Mayhem Podcast to talk about thrifting. I’ve been friends with these guys online for a long time, but it was great to finally get to speak with them. You should already be following @TheGoodwillGeek, @iRoberts3, @DorketteTweets, and @ItsTrashCulture, but if you’re not, then get to it! Anyway, be sure to check out the episode here.

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I don’t think they’ve ever had the honor of a West Week Ever, but I like to give credit where it’s due. Sure, I may consider myself more in the Marvel camp these days, but you can’t deny that DC Entertainment was on everyone’s lips this week. Whether it was folks talking about how much they loved the Suicide Squad trailer, to speculation about the Justice League movie, to simply eagerly awaiting the premiere of Legends of Tomorrow, DC Entertainment was the cock of the walk this week. There are reports that the comics aren’t doing so well, sales-wise, for both Marvel and DC, but DC seems to finally be making a name for itself in the world of live action entertainment. This is something that fanboys have been waiting for ever since Marvel revealed their plan for a cinematic universe. Immediately, everyone wondered “What’s DC gonna do?” Well, not only has DC conquered the live action TV game, with Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Gotham, and Legends of Tomorrow (not to mention the shows based on DC’s Vertigo imprint, including iZombie, Lucifer, and the upcoming Preacher), but they’re finally about to make their move in the movie realm. With all the previews and premieres, this was a great week to be a DC fan, so that’s why DC Entertainment had the West Week Ever.

06th Jan2016

West YEAR Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 2015

by Will

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2015 was quite the year in pop culture. Adele broke all the records, Charlie Sheen got the HIV, Steve Harvey pissed off Colombia, and Star Wars came along and broke all the records that Adele didn’t touch. And some stuff happened in between all that, too. The Netflix series Daredevil, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Master of None wowed audiences,  Saturday Night Live celebrated its 40th anniversary, and Marvel released a bunch of movies. Things were also pretty exciting here on the blog, too. power-rangers-legendary-battle-e1421106185742

I guest-posted over at The Robot’s Pajamas ranking the current star power of several Power Rangers alums

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I wrote about the best, and most underrated, pop album of 2014

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And because I can’t get enough Power Rangers, I wrote about Red Ranger turned Murderer, Ricardo Medina Jr

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To celebrate the release of their documentary, Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of, I made a list of the best Backstreet Boys songs that you’ve never heard

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I got in a Twitter fight with American Idol season 1 alum, Justin Guarini

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In one of my most popular posts of the year, I had some controversial thoughts about Batgirl

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Thrift Justice: Yard Sale Edition made a lone appearance this year

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I got on the radar of Andre, The Black Nerd

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Bob Ross and his happy little trees

I attended DC’s Awesome Con for the first time, and got some cool cosplay pictures

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I had some random thoughts about some random comics

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I got my first Cease & Desist order AND I got killed in a comic book!

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My biggest post of the year explored the racial implications of Jurassic World

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I recorded a “backdoor pilot” for a podcast that’ll probably never get off the ground

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I got retweeted by adult film star Ryan Driller

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I defended Fant4stic Four

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I got my first verified celebrity follower on Twitter

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I applied to be on a game show

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I made my 3rd trip to Retro Con and took lots of cool toy pics

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I participated in a summer swap of nerd swag

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I went to New York Comic Con on a quest to see how much free swag I could get

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I got caught talking about a Jeopardy contestants boob’s on Twitter, and then we became besties

I’ve never considered myself a “movie guy”, but this year saw me watching 78 films. That’s GOT to be some kind of record for me. No, I’m not going to rank them, because I’m not enough of a cinephile, but I will list them so that you can see that I was all over the place when it came to what I watched:

  1. Obvious Child
  2. Live. Die. Repeat
  3. Wish I Was Here
  4. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
  5. Non-Stop
  6. The Skeleton Twins
  7. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)
  8. Man of Steel
  9. A Million Ways To Die In The West
  10. The Chernobyl Diaries
  11. Backstreet Boys: Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of
  12. The Purge
  13. Bad Words
  14. Dredd
  15. Gravity
  16. A.C.O.D. (Adult Children of Divorce)
  17. Wet Hot American Summer
  18. After Earth
  19. Cloverfield
  20. The Marine
  21. Tammy
  22. Behind The Candelabra
  23. Choke
  24. St. Elmo’s Fire
  25. The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
  26. Tron
  27. The Purge: Anarchy
  28. The Babadook
  29. The Signal
  30. Avengers: Age of Ultron
  31. St. Vincent
  32. Top Five
  33. Birdman Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
  34. The Wedding Ringer
  35. Seeking Asian Female
  36. Southern Rites
  37. Two Night Stand
  38. The Great Bikini Bowling Bash
  39. Kung Fury
  40. This Is Where I Leave You
  41. The Watch
  42. Hot Girls Wanted
  43. Jersey Boys
  44. John Wick
  45. Whiplash
  46. Hot Tub Time Machine 2
  47. The Duff
  48. Shopgirl
  49. Horrible Bosses 2
  50. Inside Llewyn Davis
  51. 2 Guns
  52. Toy Story 3
  53. Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!
  54. Ant-Man
  55. Lavalantula
  56. Fant4stic Four
  57. Snowpiercer
  58. Spice World
  59. Fury
  60. Frozen (2010)
  61. The Inbetweeners 2
  62. Pitch Perfect 2
  63. Mad Max: Fury Road
  64. Dreamgirls
  65. Spy
  66. Vacation
  67. Get Hard
  68. Miss Congeniality
  69. Bernie
  70. The Lion Guard: Return of the Roar
  71. Chaos on the Bridge
  72. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2
  73. Here Comes the Boom
  74. Unfinished Business
  75. Dope
  76. Attack the Block
  77. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  78. I Smile Back

All of these were reviewed on the site, so just plug them into the search field up on the right to see what I thought about any particular one of them.

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West Week Ever Recipients of 2015 (with commentary)

1/9/15 – Agent Carter

In hindsight, this deserved to have the WWE even more by the end of its run than it did this week. It was a strong premiere, but I was still at a place where I didn’t feel the character could carry her own show. By the end of the 8-week run, I was a True Believer. I guess I just saw a lot of potential in that pilot.

1/16/15 – Empire

This show brought back the sudsy primetime soap, and was SO good for that first season. I definitely feel like it deserved the WWE at the time, but I don’t know if it’ll ever return to the dramatic highs of that first season.

1/23/15 – Marvel Comics’ Secret Wars

This was based purely on speculation, as the West Week Ever was essentially given to an *announcement*. The miniseries hadn’t even begun, and this was based on what was promised in the aftermath: A new Marvel Universe, the destruction of the Ultimate Universe, and the Miles Morales Spider-Man making the move to the mainstream “616” universe. All of this had the makings of something huge. As of this writing, the much-delayed miniseries STILL hasn’t finished, even though the regular Marvel books have relaunched and carried on with their business. From what we can tell, not much has changed in the regular universe, while Secret Wars as a miniseries has been something of a disappointment (with several tie-in miniseries that showed a lot of promise). The surest shot Secret Wars ever had of having the West Week Ever was by receiving it before the first issue even launched. Nothing about the actual mini has been worthy of the WWE.

1/30/15 – Fant4stic Four trailer

The trailer had me interested in the film – something that a lot of people couldn’t say because they were already pissed about reports of “Hacker DOOM” and other stuff. It was clearly a slow week for entertainment, but I really did like what I saw. More about Fant4stic Four later…

2/6/15 – Jimmy Fallon’s Saved By The Bell reunion

This is the kind of thing that West Week Ever is all about: those potential “flash in the pan” moments that embody a particular moment in time. Looking back, I’d like to think I chose things that made some sort of cultural impact, but at times it’s the small moments that also matter. Jimmy Fallon had been trying to do a Saved By The Bell reunion since his days hosting Late Night. He didn’t pull it off, but managed to do it for the cast of California Dreams instead. I loved that reunion and I loved this one, too. Fallon’s at just the right age where his nostalgia is my nostalgia, and as an unabashed fan of all things TNBC, this was certainly my favorite moment of that week.

2/13/15 – N/A

Sometimes nothing has the West Week Ever. This was one of those weeks.

2/20/15 – Saturday Night Live

This was the week after the 40th anniversary aired, and I definitely feel like it was deserving of the WWE. It was a great special, in a vain that you rarely see anymore. It was great to see all of those old faces return to the studio, including Eddie Murphy who hadn’t returned to SNL since his days as a cast member.

2/27/15 – Parks & Recreation

I didn’t love Parks & Rec in the beginning. I’ve often said that it was the show least deserving of a second season that I’d ever seen. That first season is HORRIBLE. After some cast shakeups and some creative tinkering, the show finally found its footing. While it never really hit the acclaim of its “brother” The Office, it certainly ended a lot stronger than that show did. I didn’t appreciate how NBC burned the show off during its final season, and I feel like that broadcasting decision caused a lot of folks to miss out on those episodes. Luckily, the season is coming to Netflix later this month, so hopefully they’ll get to see what I saw in the show. Those final eps had a lot of heart, and the characters all end up in a great place. This one totally deserved the WWE.

3/13/15 – Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

This one was tricky due to the “Here’s everything at once” nature of Netflix. Timing was on its side, though, as this was the best thing that happened that week I finally consumed the series. This was not only one of the bright spots of 2015 television, but as a Tina Fey project, it’s cemented its influence on popular culture. I’ll bet NBC is still kicking themselves for cancelling this thing before it even went to air, but more folks saw it online than would’ve seen it on NBC in the midst of its death throes.

3/20/15 – Community

Did it deserve the WWE at this time? I’m not sure. It was more a testament to its triumphant return from cancellation, as well as it was helping to launch the Yahoo Screen platform (which has just been shut down, as of this past Monday). We didn’t know much about what the season would bring as, unlike Netflix’s full-season dump, Yahoo Screen debuted new episodes every Tuesday.

3/27/15 – Evelyn West

I had a daughter that week. It was pretty cool.

4/3/15 – Going Clear

I love anything about Scientology, so this was right up my alley. The documentary premiered that week, so it was definitely the standout of what was essentially a slow week for news.

4/10/15 – Daredevil

The Netflix series got the WWE based on my watching the pilot alone. Sure, it was a great pilot to a great series, but here’s something to consider: that thing came out 3 AM EST Friday morning. This means that, had I not watched the episode, nothing would’ve gotten the WWE that week. Sometimes, it really is about being in the right place at the right time.

4/17/10 – Daredevil

I had finally finished the series, and was truly impressed by everything I’d seen. To me, this is the WWE that the series definitely *deserved*, while the previous week’s honor was really just me trying to make sure that something had the West Week Ever. That’s not to say that it was a bad pilot, but I feel a lot better about this week because the whole thing was a quality series, and it just means more to me that it maintained its quality across all 13 episodes. So, last week’s WWE for Daredevil was a bit of a fluke, while this is the one that “matters”.

4/24/15 – Iceman

This one is tricky. When it happened, it was definitely a hot topic that week. To me, however, it was a cop-out. Instead of them revealing that the “regular” Iceman was gay, Marvel instead said that it was teenaged, time-displaced, possibly from an alternate timeline Iceman. It was too much of Marvel trying to have its cake and eat it, too. So, imagine my surprise when Uncanny X-Men #600 came out months later, revealing that regular 616 Iceman is also gay, and that he hadn’t acknowledged it because he had enough of his plate, being persecuted for being a mutant and all. To me, that would’ve been a MUCH more important story to tell, but it got lost in the Secret Wars delay shuffle.

5/1/15 – Avengers: Age of Ultron

It was a big movie. In hindsight, was it a good movie? People seem to have differing opinions. At that point in time, though, it had a big opening and a lot of eyes on it, so I think it totally deserved the WWE.

5/8/15 – The New Hamburglar

This was quite the failed marketing push. It seemed like McDonalds was on to something, but this thing disappeared quicker than the Halloween Whopper that was turning everyone’s shit green. This hasn’t been a strong year for McDonalds, as they’re just throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks. This year saw the return of The Hamburglar, mozzarella sticks added to the menu, and even mac & cheese added in the Ohio test market. I think this was the victim of public backlash, as folks joked that the new Hamburglar looked kinda like a pedophile. Seems like McDonalds got antsy and canned the whole campaign. Out of everything on 2015’s WWE list, this was probably the biggest fail.

5/15/15 – Major Broadcast Networks

This one may feel like a cop-out, but it was warranted. This was the week of the Spring network upfronts, where we learned what was cancelled, what was renewed, and what new shows were coming in the Fall. This is always an exciting time for television, and I lost a few “friends” that week (ABC’s Forever, for instance).

5/22/15 – David Letterman

Never really been a Letterman fan, but the man was an institution. This was all about giving credit where it was due, and he deserved that WWE honor.

5/29/15 – Kung Fury

This was another example of a slow news week. If you read my thoughts on Kung Fury, I wasn’t actually a fan. I mean, I enjoyed it, but 90% of the “movie” (the thing is THIRTY minutes long!) was given away in the trailer. Seriously, the only thing in the movie that wasn’t in the trailer was the sentient arcade machine. I really expected more. I think I gave the WWE to the *idea* of the project rather than the actual finished product.

6/5/15 – Community

This was the WWE that Community truly earned. The season had concluded, and it was pretty obvious that the show wasn’t coming back. Sort of like Two and a Half Men, Community persevered whenever something happened that shouldn’t ended it.  It lost Chevy Chase, Yvette Nicole Brown and Donald Glover, got cancelled by NBC, and got picked up by Yahoo for an untested platform. All of these should’ve spelled the end. To me, however, the Yahoo episodes turned out to be some of my favorites of the entire series.

6/12/15 – N/A

Not even a cop-out choice could save this week.

6/19/15 – Jurassic World

Universal had a great year, and Jurassic World was its crowning achievement. I also gave it the WWE because of what JW had done for me. After all, my post, The Price of Admission: The Socioeconomic and Racial Implications of Jurassic World, was my most popular post in years.

6/26/15 – N/A

I swear, I TRY to give something the WWE every week, but sometimes the world just doesn’t cooperate.

7/17/15 – Go Set A Watchman

This choice was kind of a betrayal of what I stand for. Typically, the WWE had to have had some sort of impact on me. I haven’t read this book, nor am I even that big of a fan of To Kill A Mockingbird. I mean, I understand its place in popular culture, and another book in the franchise seemed like a “sure thing”, right? Well, I’ve heard nothing but negative stuff about this book, and it has had the cultural impact of Joey.

7/24/15 – Ant-Man

Loved it, and it was probably a stronger movie than Age of Ultron. I’m a Marvel fanboy, though, so this shouldn’t come as a shock. For that point in time, it totally deserved the WWE.

7/31/15 – Rick and Morty

As much as I enjoy the show, this originally got the WWE because it was a slow week, and the second season premiere had aired that week. In hindsight, though, this was the beginning of what would turn out to be an incredible season. To cap it off, when I went to New York Comic Con later in the year, Rick and Morty cosplay was EVERYWHERE, proving to me that the show had made a bigger cultural impact that I had realized. Totally deserving of the WWE – I just didn’t know it yet.

8/7/15 – Deadpool trailer

The little superhero movie that could. This movie, by all accounts, shouldn’t exist. It’s based on a one-note appearance from the universally panned X-Men Origins: Wolverine, so it’s amazing it got made. Sure, Ryan Reynolds is the perfect choice for the role, but he’s also been box office poison for the past few years. This trailer, however, captured everything a Deadpool movie should be. I still don’t know if it needs to be rated R, as they’re cutting out a portion of potential audience members, but it seems to be everything Deadpool fans would want. The movie’s not out yet, and I still have my doubts, but I think they crafted a good trailer.

8/14/15 – Fant4stic Four

This movie isn’t as bad as your neckbeard friend keeps telling you it is. Most of the people running their mouths about it didn’t even see it. They checked out after the reveal of Black Johnny Storm and the rumor that Doom was just a message board troll instead of a sorcerer. I defended this movie because I think it’s worth checking out, if only to make up your own mind about it. I maintain that it’s 2/3rds a strong movie, while the final 1/3 is clearly a movie “made by committee”. It wasn’t even necessarily a slow news week. I just really thought that Fant4stic Four was deserving of more positive attention.

8/21/15 – Rte 29 Batman, Leonard B. Robinson

This one was a big departure. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but I’ve got a “No Death” policy for WWE. I don’t talk about deaths because if you talk about one, you’ve gotta talk about them ALL. And a ton of them just don’t mean that much to me. So, it’s easier to just keep things a death-free zone. That said, Rte 29 Batman was something of a local hero, who donated his time and money to visiting sick kids in the hospital dressed as Batman. He was killed returning from one of these trips, when he was hit by a car on the side of the road. I’ve often wondered why some rich guy hasn’t tried to be Batman, and here was one who had. Sure, he didn’t fight crime, but he wanted to make things better for kids. That’s the kind of thing that’s worth talking about.

8/28/15 – Aqua Teen Hunger Force

I loved Aqua Teen, and it was something of an Adult Swim institution. It was on for 15 years, so I don’t see it leaving the air anytime soon, but its ending was definitely something worth noting. Nobody ever seems to talk about it, so I wonder if it’s a show that wore out its welcome, or if it’s just not the kind of thing folks discuss at the watercooler. After all, most Adult Swim shows seem like stoner fare, so maybe there’s some 420 subreddit out there mourning its cancellation.

9/4/15 – Force Friday

Now that the movie’s out, it’s hard to remember that this was A BIG DEAL! The Star Wars: The Force Awakens toys were being released, giving us the first glimpse of the characters from the hotly anticipated film. I know I was at a midnight Toys “R” Us opening just to get the figures. So many questions: Who was the Black kid? Why did Kylo Ren’s lightsaber have a laser hilt? And who was this badass known as “Captain Phasma”? Sure, all of these questions have now been answered, but this was the beginning of the merchandising onslaught brought on by The Force Awakens. Totally deserving of the WWE.

9/18/15 – Ahmed Mohamed, the Clock Boy

Muslim kid made a clock, but folks thought it was a bomb. Big news story. I actually tend not to get “real world” topical, but it was just one of those weeks. In hindsight, this wasn’t “pop culture” enough for the WWE. Sure, he got a lot of notoriety and offers, but where’s he now? He’s seeking $15 million in damages. That’s not a happy ending. Nah, I wanted him to get a show on Nickelodeon or some shit. THAT’s what gets ya the WWE. I flew a little too close to the CNN sun on this one.

9/25/15 – Pope Francis

The Pope came to the US, and it was Beatlemania all over again. It probably would’ve helped if he had done the talk show circuit or something, but everyone had Pope on the brain. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s skilled at saying exactly what you want to hear. You want to know if the dinosaurs went to Heaven? Pope Francis will not only tell you they did, but he’ll also name some dinosaur species you’ve never even heard of. ‘Cause he’s got connections like that. So yeah, I think he deserved the WWE.

10/2/15 – Power Rangers

If this site had a subtitle, it’d probably be “Amateur Power Rangers fansite”. I maintain just enough of a connection to the franchise to know what’s going on, but I’m not so engrossed that I haven’t experienced the touch of a woman. Was that mean? Check out Rangerboard sometime, and then get back to me. Anyway, the franchise was celebrating its 800th episode, so it sure as Hell deserved the WWE. How many shows reach that kind of episode count? And it’s a 22 year old franchise that’s still going strong.

10/9/15 – New York Comic Con

It was convention weekend. The show hadn’t really gotten started yet, but I had high hopes. In fact, it’s pretty funny that NYCC got the WWE when SDCC did not. I think I gave it to NYCC because I was actually going to that show, and I had hoped to meet up with a bunch of Twitter friends that weekend. That, sadly, did not happen. So, this WWE was given out in the hopes of “what might’ve been, but was not to be”.

10/16/15 – The Nerd Lunch Podcast

As a five-time guest, and member of the Nerd Lunch Army, this totally deserved the WWE. So many podcasts come and go, but they don’t all have staying power. 200 episodes is nothing to sneeze at, and I always have a great time on that show.

10/23/15 – Back to the Future Day

This is one of those picks “for the fans”. I don’t really have a special place in my heart for Back to the Future. I haven’t seen the movies in a long time, so that could have something to do with it. Everyone and their bookie was losing their mind over Back to the Future Day, however, so I couldn’t let the week go by without acknowledging it. The wrong date had been faked on memes for years, so it was a pretty important event that the real day was finally upon us. As something that could only really happen once, and the fact that it resulted in mostly positive things, I think BTTF Day deserved the WWE.

10/30/15 – Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

This was based on a particular episode that aired that week, which I found to be incredible television. It’s amazing how far the show has come from that terrible first season, and I wanted to find some sort of way to give it its due. There was no better time than this week, which finally revealed what happened to Simmons on the alien world Maveth. Watch the episode and you’ll agree with me.

11/6/15 – Star Trek

This choice was due to the announcement that there would be a new Trek television series in 2017. That’s the end of the good news. There are too many caveats. It’s only going to air on CBS All Access, which is the CBS subscription service. Plus, the folks behind it are the same folks behind the NuTrek movies. After seeing the trailer for Star Trek Beyond a few weeks later, my enthusiasm for this project waned. Still, it was big news in the geek world, though the jury is still out on its execution.

11/13/15 – Master of None

The Aziz Ansari Netflix show kinda became a critical darling, and I was just bandwagoning. I enjoyed it immensely, but I don’t think I really changed the world here. If you were gonna watch it, you were going to before I chimed in. If you were not gonna watch it, I sure as Hell didn’t convince you to do so. Since the dust has settled, there’s been some controversy surrounding some of the race stuff in the show, but I still think it was a great season. This was truly the best thing in pop culture that week.

11/20/15 – Adele

She broke every sales record out there, and she delivered the kind of stuff you expect from her. This was a bit of a reach, as I don’t think my readership shares my musical taste. I like pop. I make no bones about that. Still, whenever I do music posts, they tend to fall on deaf ears, as I don’t have a high 14 year old readership. So, this is one of those WWEs where most of my readers couldn’t give a shit, but I definitely think she earned it.

11/27/15 – Captain America: Civil War trailer

Just when we were catching our breath from Ultron and Ant-Man, the Marvel hype machine cranked back up with this one. It was like a poorly kept secret show or something. Everyone knew Evans and Downey were going to be on Kimmel, and everyone knew why, yet everyone pretended to play dumb. And when it went live, it did what Marvel trailers do: it got you excited for the next chapter in their grand plan.

12/4/15 – The Flash/Arrow “Heroes Join Forces” crossover

Last year’s Flash/Arrow crossover also got the WWE, so I guess it’s a tradition now. The Flash was stronger than Arrow, but it was still entertaining television. DC should just hand their movies over to Greg Berlanti, but that’s another discussion for another time.

12/11/15 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows trailer

They finally seem to be making a movie based on that 30 year old cartoon that grown men love! I don’t know why grownups can’t just let go of stuff so that a new generation can enjoy it. I didn’t hate the last TMNT movie, and I know kids seemed to like it. Still, this sequel seems to be incorporating a lot of things that adult fans will love, especially Shredder’s goons Rocksteady and Bebop. It made me giddy to see them, but it really got me thinking about the legacy of franchises. Maybe there’s a post in there somewhere.

12/17/15 – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Um, the premiere of the next installment of a franchise that some fans have been waiting 30 years to see (if they ignore the prequels)? Yeah, this was a no-brainer.

12/23/15 – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

See above, and then add in the fact that it made a shit ton of money in a week’s time.

12/31/15 – Hoverboards

While these things popped up on Vines and YouTube back in the summer, they were atop the want lists of all the “normal” folks come Christmas time. And they became infamous. Charging them caused fires to break out, they were banned from most public places, and most retailers refused to sell them. Which only made people want them MORE. It’s somewhat unorthodox to give the WWE to a *thing* rather than a franchise or person, but this seemed fitting.

So, here we are. The moment you’ve all been waiting for: what had the West YEAR Ever? Well, looking back over the nominees, it’s looking like our finalists are the multiple WWE recipients Daredevil, Community, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The interesting thing here is how their “reign” kinda divided up the calendar year. Daredevil was great, but folks were basically done talking about it by Summer. Sure, some sites foolishly tried to do weekly recaps of the episodes, but seeing as how everyone binged that thing, nobody gave a shit about those. Community was around from Spring to Summer, but the season kinda flew under the radar for anyone but the most die hard fans. And once Summer ended, the ramp up to The Force Awakens began. So, what I’m saying is that nobody really carried the year on their shoulders – not like Taylor Swift did last year, or Breaking Bad the year before that. So, this is where I get to use my veto power (’cause it’s my site and all) and award a winner.

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To me, Evelyn West had the West Year Ever. Let me explain. I know some of y’all are “child free” and/or don’t give a shit about my kid, but she really changed my life. It’s not every day that you have your first kid, and stuff really does change. No, I’m not going to get into the mushy stuff. I’m talking practical stuff, like all your stuff goes off to a storage unit, and you’re on bottle-making duty every night. But oddly, you don’t really care. This is probably the worst way to describe a human being, but I sometimes refer to her as “my favorite toy”. She’s just so fascinating, and sometimes I have trouble fathoming that she’s a living, breathing thing. I just like to watch her crawl around and get into stuff she shouldn’t be touching. Plus, we’ve already instilled in her a love of superheroes, so she’s already on the right pop culture track. The clincher, though, is that she was born at the end of March, and has been here ever since. So, that’s more dominance of the calendar year than any of the other options I listed. Sure, you may have been looking forward to The Force Awakens, but I was looking forward to things like her crawling or learning to blow raspberries (which she does with precision). So, in a few days, West Week Ever will be back to normal, and something in the mainstream pop culture world will get the honor. And I don’t plan to have any kids this year, so I can pretty much guarantee that something in the mainstream pop culture world will get the 2016 West Year Ever honor, too. But for now, you’re just gonna have to bear with me, as my daughter pretty much had the West Year Ever in 2015. But if that’s not good enough for you, then you can tell your friends that it was Star Wars. It’s not like they won’t believe you.

18th May2015

Thrift Justice: YSE – Holy Deal, Batman!

by Will

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Well, welcome back to Thrift Justice: Yard Sale Edition. If it’s your first time here, this is where I share my hauls from yard sales, as opposed to the regular Thrift Justice, which is where I showcase my thrift store hauls. Anyway, I had a pretty nice weekend, so I thought it was time to dust off this column and get down to business. There are tons of yard sale haul posts out there, but there’s only one Thrift Justice. Well, two Thrift Justices. You know what I mean.

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The day started out slowly enough, as I found myself at a sale that looked promising on Cragislist. In the pics, I had seen a LEGO storage head and something that I was pretty sure was a Kenner The Real Ghostbusters Ghostzapper. I got there just in time to see a guy walk off with a Star Trek: The Next Generation Enterprise-D in the box. Curses! After looking around a bit, I realized that they weren’t exactly charging “yard sale prices”. I should’ve known when I saw a guy with a trailer set up in the driveway, selling antique dolls. Those never go cheap! The LEGO storage head was empty, and not much cheaper than retail. Oh, and the Ghostzapper was actually the Ghostpopper, but they wanted $8 for it without any of its foam ammo (which can’t really be replaced in 2015). They also had a bunch of Thermoses, but nothing too exciting. I didn’t want to leave emptyhanded, though, so I took a look at the books. That’s when I found this Marvel 75th Anniversary magazine. Apparently, it was free when it was originally released, but I’d never seen it before. I hate paying for things that were meant to be free. Still, I like a good anniversary book, so I forked over the dollar. Trust me, the day gets better after this.

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Next, I found myself at a church sale, which can really go either way. I find that church sales really depend on the denomination. Baptist sales won’t sell anything that goes against their beliefs. I once went to one that had taken some dinosaurs off the sales table because, well, dinosaurs. Luckily, this was not a Baptist church. I found these G1 Transformers in a quarter box near the door. What we have here are Insecticons Shrapnel and Bombshell. I wonder if I could’ve found Kickback if I had gotten to the sale earlier. Anyway, this was a good sign that I had stumbled upon something special.

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My latest thing is collecting really old games, especially board games. Even if the pieces aren’t all there, I’m fascinated by the box art. If you get them cheap enough, you can get a good pic of them and then donate them or something. This is Don’t Break The Ice, which was released by Schaper Manufacturing in 1970. The game is still being made, as part of Milton Bradley’s Cootie Games brand, but the box art isn’t nearly as groovy. I got it for a dollar, so it seemed worth it. Here’s something I find interesting: 45 years ago, this game was suggested for kids ages 5-10. Now, however, it’s recommended for kids ages 3-6. We’ve gotten smarter, America!

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The church had quite the vintage game selection, so next I picked up Tip-iT. This is the 1965 edition from the Ideal Toy Company. This game is still being made by Mattel, but it doesn’t look anywhere near this cool. That little girl is enthralled by what she sees happening, while the little boy is tackling the game with the precision of a bomb squad member. There’s another boy who apparently never learned that you never turn your back to the audience.  Meanwhile, Dad is just glad that Mom’s in the kitchen making his dinner. Hey, it was a different time!

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I love games like this because I’m a glutton for punishment. This Manhunt game is described as “The Electric Computer Detective Game”, but that probably means that the batteries have corroded in the “computer”, or it’s missing a battery cover or something. I have no faith that this thing works, but it’s like the lottery: you’ve gotta be in it to win it. Plus, look at the lapels on the kid on the box! I like how the box art is split between actual gameplay and the fantasy of gameplay. The left side looks nowhere near as exciting as the right, but they’re hoping you won’t figure that out. Anyway, it, too, was a dollar.

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This really isn’t all that special. I just kinda liked the 1970s idea of “wealth”. I mean, look at those skyscrapers! They were so state-of-the-art at the time, but so dated now. Again, I grabbed it because it was a dollar. I was making it RAIN up in that church!

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This I had to have because the box was huge by board game standards. It’s basically Battleship, but with a 3D board. Again, I have no idea if it’s complete, but it was so 70s that I just had to have it. Again, like the Manhunt game, I like the splitscreen showing fantasy versus reality. As big as the set up game looks, however, it actually seems to be more interesting than the fantasy of the gameplay. This was three dollars, but so worth it. At least, that’s how I feel without having taken inventory of all the parts. Out of all the games I bought, it has the most value on the secondary market, so I’ll flip it if it’s complete enough.

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I went hardcore on Saturday, going to nearly 20 yard sales once everything was said and done. As these things are wont to happen, my greatest item came near the end of the day. I found myself at a Knight of Columbus sale, where everything was being sold under tents. There was a little house on the property, which served as the “boutique”. Everything under the tents was some garbage, so I didn’t expect to find anything great inside. Looking around the little house, I was right. The most promising thing I found was the Double Dare home game, but the box was kinda busted up. So, I decided to take one last look around, and that’s when I found this high up on a shelf.

Yes, it’s the recently released complete DVD collection of the 1966 Batman television series. And it was still sealed. Of course, it had a $100 price tag on it, so they were going for close to retail. That just didn’t seem to fit with the general ambiance of the sale, so I grabbed it and held it tight as I contemplated my next move. The devil on my shoulder told me to just peel the tag off so they’d have to figure out a price on the fly. They had tons of stuff there, so surely they wouldn’t remember what they had on there, right? No, that wouldn’t have been right (and no, I’ve never done that before!). So, I decided to just check and see if it was their final offer.

I went up to the guy manning the cash register, and asked, “Is this really $100?” He said, “Well, that’s what they sell it for online. In fact, they ask $200 for it.” I pretended to be surprised. I’ve had my eye on the set for a few months, so I knew what it went for. As I was putting it back on the shelf, as he said, “You could make me an offer.” I said, “Nah, I trust ya.” That’s when he surprised me. He said, “I’ll tell ya what – I’ll sell it to ya for $20.” Yes, the bill that everyone wants to put Harriet Tubman on. TWENTY DOLLARS. Instead of ONE HUNDRED. That’s cheaper than one season of the series on DVD, and here he was offering me the whole series for $20! “SOLD,” I told him! I quickly fished a twenty out of my pocket, gave it to him, and shuffled to my car before he realized he’d made a mistake. My eyes darted both ways, as if I’d stolen something. I couldn’t believe it. I love me some Batman, and I’d pretty much resigned myself to never getting this set, since it was so expensive and I had a convention bootleg set I’d never finished watching. I drove off and met my wife and kid for some well-deserved Chipotle. I did the right thing, and I was rewarded for it. Or I kinda robbed that guy. I don’t know. I guess it depends on where you stand.

07th Jan2015

West YEAR Ever – 2014

by Will

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The time has come to say goodbye to another year, and boy was 2014 a doozy! They say that every day is a blessing, but that was hard to agree with some days last year. It seems like it was rough for a lot of people, and it didn’t help that we had to deal with things like hacks and the word “bae”. In any case, this is where we take a look back and see what kind of year I had as I was bringing you the best in pop culture entertainment. Well, that was the goal, at least. Anyway, let’s get started, shall we?

Milestones of 2014

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I finally gave in to Brian K. Vaughan’s Saga

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Mister Mister squared off against Boy Meets Girl in audio combat

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I was linked by NPR’s Code Switch blog

I met @smurfwreck & @shezcrafti at a toy show

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I discovered that the Quokka exists

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I reviewed Superman: Earth One Volume 2

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I had some thoughts on some comics

I had a Twitter dialogue with the Toy Hunter

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I went to Toy Fair and finally met @MattGuzy, @T16skyhopp, @Preternia_, and @Tekcorps in the flesh!

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I went to Walt Disney World for the first time!

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I dissected the problems with the How I Met Your Mother series finale

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I reviewed the classic Nick Fury Vs. S.H.I.E.L.D.

There was a Free Comic Book Edition of Thrift Justice

I previewed the upcoming fall shows from Fox, ABC, NBC, and CBS

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I examined what made The Cleveland Show special

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I discussed FX’s new comedies Married and You’re The Worst, and got a tweet favorited by co-star Aya Cash.

The cast of Power Rangers Super Megaforce said my name! It’s recorded!

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Special Forces got his own spinoff installment of Thrift Justice!

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I rebooted Three’s Company!


We said goodbye to Jimi Jamison, former lead singer of Survivor

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I made my annual trip to the Baltimore Comic-Con

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I discovered Nymphomaniac and Bojack Horseman

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Special Forces and I made the trip to Wizard World Richmond and I met Tommy, The Green Ranger!

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I did the Warrior Dash in Connecticut

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I finally met @Classickmateria and we (including Special Forces) met up with @LamarRevenger at Retrocon

Lindsay and I celebrated our second anniversary!

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I found out I’m gonna be a daddy!

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I made my return to the New York Comic-Con, where I met up with @Tekcorps and finally met @BionicBigfoot

I was invited to participate in my pal Dex’s Halloween Countdown, over at AEIOU…And Sometimes Why.

I hit post #900 on version 2.0 of the site!

2014 Hidden Tracks

While I tend to talk about everything on the site, there are a few things that happened during 2014 that I never got around to blogging about. First of all, I had my first paid writing gig, which was printed in Bleeding Cool Magazine. I interviewed the creative team behind Boom! Studios’ Hexed ongoing series. Seeing as how almost no comic shops carry Bleeding Cool (and the interview wasn’t published on the website), I have yet to actually see it, but I still got paid, so there’s that.

Near the end of the year, I found myself on TMZ Live, talking about Nicki Minaj’s ass. It all started when I replied to one of TMZ host Harvey Levin’s tweets. The next thing I knew, the TMZ account was asking me if I wanted to be a part of that day’s TMZ Live broadcast. I was getting off work early, so I figured “Why not?” They called me up, and had me talk about Nicki’s ex-boyfriend. Apparently, he’s been having suicidal thoughts since she broke up with him. My response basically boiled down to “Can you blame him? Have you seen dat ass?” I made Harvey laugh. And then they didn’t use the recording. Womp womp.

West Week Ever Recipients of 2014

1/10/14 – Sasheer Zamata

1/17/14 – Michael Douglas

1/24/14 – Richard Sherman

1/31/14 – Ryan Lewis

2/7/14 – Facebook

2/14/14 – Michael Sam

2/21/14 – Chris Pratt

2/28/14 – Jimmy Fallon

3/7/14 – Lupita Nyong’o

3/14/14 – Walt Disney World

3/21/14 – N/A

3/28/14 – Psych

4/4/14 – How I Met Your Mother

4/11/14 – Stephen Colbert

4/25/14 – Lupita Nyong’o

5/2/14 – John Boyega

5/9/14 – Now That’s What I Call Music

5/16/14 – Superman vs. Batman Batsuit

5/23/14 – Michael Jackson

5/30/14 – Charlie Cox

6/6/14 – Ghostbusters

6/20/14 – The Cold Slither Podcast

6/27/14 – Batman (1989)

7/3/14 – Community

7/11/14 – Garth Brooks

7/18/14 – Marvel

7/25/14 – SDCC 2014

8/1/14 – @MattGuzy

8/8/14 – Guardians of the Galaxy

8/22/14 – Taylor Swift

8/29/14 – Full House

9/5/14 – 14 Year Old Boys

9/12/14 – TMZ

9/19/14 – Alex Trebek’s mustache

9/26/14 – Forever

10/3/14 – “The Simpsons Guy”

10/10/14 – The Flash

10/17/14 – Arrow

10/24/14 – Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer

10/31/14 – Marvel Studios

11/7/14 – Taylor Swift

11/21/14 – Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B

12/5/14 – The Flash/Arrow Teamup

12/12/14 – Girl Meets World

12/19/14 – Ascension

12/29/14 – James Lamb and Jenn Fang

Totaling things up, we have a five-way tie, as Lupita Nyong’o, Taylor Swift, Marvel, Flash, and Arrow each won 2 weeks out of the year. Lupita doesn’t clench West Year Ever, as most of her impact came in the beginning of the year. The Flash doesn’t get it because, while it’s a great series, its second West Week Ever win was the result of a teamup between it and Arrow. The same goes for Arrow itself. So, that brings us to Taylor Swift vs. Marvel. Technically, Marvel Comics won one week, while Marvel Studios won another, and they’re not really the same thing. So, that leaves us with Taylor Swift.

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Taylor Swift’s 1989 was arguably the best pop album of 2014. Really a Robyn album in disguise, the synth-heavy 80s-inspired offering picked up the ball from Miley’s 2013 Bangerz and ran with it. It was a milestone for Taylor, as it officially marked her transition from country to the mainstream. She also rocked the industry model, when she took all of her albums off of Spotify. Everyone thinks that streaming is the future, but Taylor is one of the biggest artists to simply state that the model didn’t work for her. In October, she became New York City’s newest ambassador – due in part to her track “Welcome to New York” from the album. 2014 was the year that the ladies took back pop music from the guys, and Taylor led the charge. When everything’s said and done, nobody had a 2014 quite like Taylor Swift, and that’s why she had the West Year Ever.

2014 was also the second full year of West Week Ever, and I couldn’t do it without you, the readers. Thanks for all your support and I hope you’ll stay with me into 2015!

06th Aug2014

Thrift Justice: YSE – Special Forces

by Will

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Man, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these posts, so let’s hope I still remember how it goes. If you’re new to this site, Thrift Justice is where I showcase all the crazy stuff I’ve bought at thrift stores. Meanwhile, Thrift Justice: Yard Sale Edition focuses on the crazy stuff I get at yard sales. Got it? Good. This yard sale season hasn’t been very action packed, much to my dismay which means that I haven’t had the chance to write many of these posts. This season, I’ve turned my focus more on bulk LEGO, as I can flip those and make a nice little profit. I figured you wouldn’t want weekly pics of bricks, so I’ve just kinda done that in secret. I, however, am not the only member of the Thrift Justice: YSE team, as my trusty partner Mike, AKA “Special Forces”, is always along with me for the adventures. Mike’s a good friend of mine from my Toys “R” Us days, and he’s the video game guy in our operation. Oh, why do I call him “Special Forces”? That’s a long story for another time. Anyway, Mike’s had a great season so far, grabbing some stuff that has made me jealous. So, this time, I thought we’d look at some of the cool stuff he’s picked up over the past few months.

Artist's rendering of Special Forces

Artist’s rendering of Special Forces

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First up, we’ve got this Nintendo game cabinet. As I’m usually driving, I didn’t even notice this thing on the side of the road. We were driving around a pretty lackluster neighborhood sale when Mike noticed this in some woman’s driveway. It seemed to be kind of an anomaly, as the rest of her items were old Ronald McDonald toys. I didn’t even think the cabinet was official, as Mario looked kinda janky on it, but Mike knows his video game stuff, and quickly looked it up online to verify what he was looking at. He ended up walking away with it for a cool $10, which isn’t bad for a vintage Nintendo piece.

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I’m still kinda mad about this one. Ya see, since I’m driving, I don’t get to see some items as quickly as Mike, as I’m trying not to hit people and other cars. We pulled into a neighborhood sale, and some kids were running a sale in their driveway. Mike saw this Bose Acoustic Wave system and was hopping out of the car before I’d even stopped. Bose is pretty damn nice for your home audio system, and it’s especially hard to find cheap. The kids clearly didn’t know what this was, and totally needed adult supervision to make this sale. They said they wanted $40 for it (which is about 10% of its original retail value), and Mike had the balls to haggle with the kids. He walked away with it for $30. I was mad when I thought that he was gonna resell it, as I knew what he could get for it. Since he decided to keep it for himself, I’ve found it in my heart to be happy for him.

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This Electronic Dream Phone game was an interesting pick, as it was more in my wheelhouse than Mike’s. After all, he’s the video game guy, while I try to make money off obscure board games. We found ourselves at this OVERWHELMING church sale. I mean, this place had multiple buildings, tents, the works. Mike found this, and thought I’d be interested. Looking at it, I didn’t think it was complete, because the box was kinda smashed in and it just felt too light. So I passed on it. Still, it was only $1, so he decided to take a chance on it. Not only did it turn out to be complete, but I think he played it a few times before he sold it. I heard Tyler thinks he’s dreamy!

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The top three games still kinda piss Mike off. Ya see, we went to this sale where a guy was selling all of his GameCube games. The problem, however, was that he had no prices set. Instead of trying to figure out something on the spot, he asked Mike what he was willing to pay for him. Negotiation 101: Don’t throw out the first number. So, already, Mike was at a disadvantage. On the spot, and not taking the time to go off and research on his phone, he gave the guy $20 for the three games you see up top. Once he got home and finally did the research, he realized that they were basically worthless. Like I said before, he usually knows his video game stuff, but this was one of those times when his powers failed him. He still thinks back on this sale and gets mad when he thinks about how he should’ve negotiated a better deal. The bottom game isn’t too clear because of glare, but it’s Videocart-9 for the Fairchild Channel F Video Entertainment System. I’m not a huge video game guy, so I’d never heard of the Fairchild system before we found this game. Apparently, it’s from the late 70s, and would cost around $700 adjusted for 2014 dollars (Thanks, Wikipedia!). I know Mike doesn’t have a Channel F, so I don’t even know what he plans to do with this. Maybe he just wanted a video game relic of the past. Maybe he’ll chime in in the comments.

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This was a product of my benevolence. Ya see, we went to a sale where a guy was selling off his childhood DIRT CHEAP. How cheap? I got an original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Sewer Lair Playset for $1. He also had a ton of vintage Power Rangers zords and role play toys, with their original boxes. I ended up getting the original Megazord, Dragonzord, Thunder Megazord, Tor: The Shuttlezord, White Tigerzord, and the Power Dome for about $40 total. He also had this set here. About 2 years ago, this was a $150 set on the secondary market, but then Bandai released the Legacy Morpher, which sent prices for this down the crapper. Still, it was a pretty cool set, and Mike was clearly interested in it. I figured I’d had enough of a field day with my other finds, and I wanted to make sure Mike walked away with something cool that day (even though this was our first sale of the day), so I let him take it. I thought he wanted it for his personal collection, but it turns out he was gonna sell it. Well, that’s when he discovered what I also discovered when I got home: the guy had left the batteries in all of these toys. These 20 year old toys. Yeah, you can see where this is going. In the morpher, Mike found that the battery acid had corroded the poles, so he tried to solder the contact points, which resulted in him melting a piece of the backing plastic. Yeah, that story didn’t have the happiest ending. But I still look like a prince ’cause I shared my spoils with my friend. Which he proceeded to melt. Anyway, he’d already listed it on eBay, so he was forced to swap it out for his own childhood morpher to complete the sale.

Well, that brings us to the end of this installment, but it’s certainly not the last you’ll hear from Special Forces. If you want to follow his exploits on Twitter, he’s @trooperlite. Meanwhile, be sure to tune in next time, when we look at the crazy board games I’ve been finding lately.

07th May2014

Thrift Justice: YSE – FCBD Edition

by Will

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We’re back! It’s been such a long time, but the yard sale season is finale upon us. While I was gone, the thrift stores dried up on me. I think there are several reasons for this, but the bottom line is that the gettin’ wasn’t good anymore. So, I had to wait around for the weather to get nicer, and for the garage doors to open on an early Saturday morning. I’ve actually been going to yard sales for the past three weeks or so, but it wasn’t until the other day that I finally hit pay dirt. My trusty partner, Special Forces, couldn’t make the journey, so I ended up charting an ambitious route down to Centreville, Virginia all the way to Olney, Maryland. There seemed to be community sales everywhere, and those are awesome, as you can just hop from house to house in the same neighborhood. There were so many sales, in fact, that I blew off the monthly Civitan Flea Market that I’ve written about in the past.

So, why Centreville, Virginia? Well, I was looking for local sales on Craigslist Friday night, and I was getting overwhelmed by all of the possibilities. Just as I was about to close the browser, I saw an for someone saying they were selling superhero toys and graphic novels. DING DING DING DING DING! That’s exactly the kind of stuff I’m looking for when I’m out on the hunt, and even though this sale was almost an hour away, I HAD to see what he had to offer. So, I woke up at 6:30, got some gas, and sped down the Beltway to Centreville. When I got there, I wasn’t disappointed. He had quite a few graphic novels, but I had most of them. He also had TONS of DC Direct and Hellboy figures. They were actually reasonably priced at around $5 per figure, but I steer clear of DC Direct, as those things are just too fragile. Here’s what I did get:

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I actually have most of the stories in the collection, but it was such a beautiful leather-bound hardcover, and I got it for $5. Since this is an older book, it’s no longer the *complete* Frank Miller Batman, as it’s missing The Dark Knight Strikes Back, as well as All-Star Batman & Robin, The Boy Wonder, but I don’t really mind.

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I grabbed this guy when I was pretty sure that I already had him. I hadn’t bought DC Universe Classics/DC Superheroes in so long that I really do have trouble remembering which ones I’ve already bought. I knew I had a Steel figure, but I couldn’t remember if it had the metallic “S” that this figure had. So, for $5, I took the chance. When I got home, it turned out I did NOT have this version of the figure, so I’m very happy, as this variant wasn’t easy to find when it first came out.

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I was really happy to pick up for this figure, as these things originally retailed for $60-80. I always admired them in comic shops, but this wasn’t a scale I was interested in getting hooked on. Still, the guy was selling it for $20 and it was new, so I had to jump on it. I wasn’t sure if I was gonna keep it or flip it until I saw the prices it was commanding on Amazon. So, I went with “flip it”.

I paid a little more than typical “yard sale prices” at the Centreville sale, but I didn’t mind, as it was for a good cause: the guy was raising money for his upcoming wedding. If you’ve been following this site long enough, you’ll remember that’s why I started Will’s World of Wonder, so I was more than happy to help him reach his goal (for an update, I still have about $600 to go before that whole wedding’s paid off. Buy some stuff from me!).

2014-05-03 15_opt(3)Once I was done in VA, I traveled back to Maryland, and stumbled upon a school having a small sale. There were only about 6 tables, and I was about to leave when I saw this guy: The Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue Deluxe SuperTrain Megazord. The guy manning the table was like, “Oh, everybody needs a Transformer!” I didn’t feel like correcting him, and simply asked how much it cost. “$4.00” I couldn’t believe my ears! This is a big honking robot, and it was COMPLETE. I couldn’t get four dollars out of my pocket quickly enough!

2014-05-03 15_opt(4)I made my way to another neighborhood sale, and found these guys: Movie Masters figures from The Dark Knight, and a Speed Racer Mach 6 Hot Wheels car. I already have the Movie Masters, but I figure I can flip them. After all, that Joker was only available as part of a 2-pack, and I’ve had success selling him in the past. The Mach 6 is for me, as I collect basic pop culture-related Hot Wheels cars. The kid selling the figures wanted a little more than I wanted to pay, but I wasn’t about to haggle with a kid. Luckily, the mom got involved and gave me a good deal. I got the Mach 6 for free. My sweetest haul, however, was yet to come.

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On the way to another sale, I stumbled upon a church sale on a corner. I don’t always have luck at church sales, as you never quite know if the denomination of the church will have issues with certain items being sold. That didn’t seem to be the case here, as I found this NERF arsenal under a table in a LEGO Store bag. The best part: it was ALL $10. I didn’t even stand there to investigate it. I grabbed the bag and headed for the cashier. When I got home, I discovered that it had everything you see in the pic. Needless to say, the lot’s already on Craigslist.

If you looked at the title, you’ll notice that I called this the “FCBD Edition”, as this adventure took place on Free Comic Book Day. In the past, I used to pay a visit to every comic shop within driving distance, as different shops have different books. In recent years, I’ve kind played it cool on FCBD, as it’s not really for me. I’m already a comic fan, so I don’t need to be converted. Back when I worked at Diamond, I helped organize FCBD for a couple of years, and the original intent was for it to bring in new comic audiences. Fortuitously, it tends to fall the day after a big comic book movie release, so the hope is that the movie crowd will want to check out the source material and seek out a comic shop. I can run all over creation trying to collect all of the different books, but I rarely ever read them, and I’d be taking them away from someone who might actually appreciate them. So, my current FCBD consists of stopping at one local shop that also holds a trivia contest. I enter the contest every year, and I’m always either a finalist or the winner (I’m not that good, but the questions aren’t that hard). Well, this year, I WON!!! And here’s my prize:

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The X-Men: Fall of the Mutants Omnibus. Interesting story about this book. When I got to the shop, I really wasn’t feeling trivia. I was happy enough with the spoils from my yard sale hunts, and I just wasn’t feeling very “comicy”. In fact, I was just about to walk out of trivia just as it started. I figured, “Well, I’m already here, so why not?” Now, the funny thing is that once the game started, I KNEW I was gonna win that book. I’m not sure why, but I could just feel it. It was almost like it was destiny. You see, when I first started actually collecting comics, my very first back issue was Uncanny X-Men #227 – the final issue of the “Fall of the Mutants” crossover. I remember I liked the cover and it seemed like a decent jumping on point (a rare occurrence when dealing with X-Men), so I took a chance. 20 years later, and I still haven’t gotten around to reading that storyline to put that issue into context. Now I finally have the chance to read the whole thing, and it’s all because I knew the name of Reed and Sue Richards’ daughter. See, I told you the questions weren’t that hard.

So, what have you all found in the wild lately?

13th Nov2013

Thrift Justice – Fleas and Thank You, Xuxa

by Will

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Man, it’s been awhile, hasn’t it? Basically, there just hasn’t been a lot of awesome stuff out in these streets. The thrift stores have dried up, while the yard sales have yielded little. So, I’ve been forced to resort to the final frontier of thrifting: the flea market. It’s not my first choice, but it sometimes gets the job done. Here’s some stuff that I’ve found on recent visits.

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I’ve written about the Civitan Flea Market in the past, and while it hasn’t been as packed with goodies as it used to be, it still has a few conversation pieces. One of my current goals is to become the go-to American site for all Xuxa Google searches. This just helps me get one step closer to that goal. I got this baby for $1, but not without some resistance from the seller. He felt the need to tell me that it was odd seeing a man “buy a Barbie doll” and he wanted to know if it was for me. I corrected him that it was a Xuxa doll, but I told him it wasn’t for me. So I lied. I wasn’t getting shanked by some flea market bigot. Best to let him think it’s for my biracial daughter or some shit.

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On another trip, I managed to get this LEGO Hawkeye for $5. That might seem a bit steep, but it’s a lot better than having to buy the entire building set for him. Now, my LEGO Avengers consist of him, Cap, Iron Man, and Thor – all without having to buy some huge $60+ building set.

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The same vendor with Hawkeye also had these Marvel Universe Series III holograms. I don’t go into it much on the blog, mainly because they’re not as prevalent anymore, but I’m a sucker for some holograms. So, I had to have these.

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I actually already own this, but it was only a couple of bucks and I figure I can flip it on Amazon or something.

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Even though their rubsigns aren’t present, these Battle Beasts were a good acquisition for a couple of bucks. They probably would’ve cost more had the dealer known what they were. He waited until after I paid, and then asked, “What are those things called anyway?”

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When it came to DC Universe Classics, I’d made a conscious effort to avoid the “Lantern Corps” figures. I thought it was a dumb idea, and I didn’t feel like paying retail for a bunch of repaints. That said, he was only $3 and he’s so BLUE. I HAD to have him!

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I got these Joes at a booth where a woman was charging $0.50 each for them. This was a no-brainer, as that 25th anniversary Chuckles figure was only available in what has become a VERY expensive figure pack.

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After Civitan dried up, Special Forces told me about a flea market in nearby West Virginia. So, one Saturday morning, we made the trek to Harpers Ferry to see what we could find. This wasn’t really a “collectibles” environment, unless you’re into NASCAR and Hot Wheels. I did, however, find this guy:

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This Robin figure is from the Mego Corp, and he is PERFECT. And since his head is starting to turn blue, he even came with a better replacement head. I tried haggling with the dealer, but he wasn’t having it. Still, this was a pretty nice buy for $25. I found it odd that he wouldn’t give me the mailer box because it had his home address on it. Why didn’t he plan for that by scratching it off? Did he think I was gonna come rob him? Anyway, I ended up walking around, holding him for the rest of the morning, looking like a goober.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to. What have you guys found lately?

11th Jun2013

Thrift Justice – Rocky and the Riders

by Will

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It hasn’t been all bad on the thrifting scene. Yesterday, I showed a bunch of stuff that I left behind, but I have been able to find a few gems lately. So, without further ado…

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I’m gonna lose the respect of a lot of y’all, but I’ve never seen this movie before. I’ve said before that I’m not a Movie Guy, and that’s the truth. Usually, however, I end up making up for it by watching them when they come on TV. Still, when does this come on? Is it a Halloween movie? A Christmas movie? Is this grounds for debate like whether or not Die Hard is a Christmas movie? Anyway, I couldn’t pass it up for under $2. I’ll just add it to the shelf of DVDs I Hope To Watch Before I Die.

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When this first came out, I thought it was pretty stupid. All these years later, I’m still not sure if my opinion has changed. What has changed, however, is the dawn of the Articulated Comic Book Art (#acba) genre. If you’re not big into Instagram, these are guys who pride themselves on taking really cool pictures of action figures, using unique lighting, dioramas, etc. While this is a bit of a lackluster playset, it would make a great ACBA backdrop. The only thing that sucks about it is the “Statue of Liberty” sign, as if no one knew without that.

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As you can see, it’s missing one of the head spires, but I’m not sure that’s really a big deal. That can be hidden well enough from the right angle. Still, I haven’t decided if I’m gonna keep it or sell it. Considering how much space it would take up in a Detolf, I’m leaning towards selling.

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This bad boy is complete., as I learned after 2 hours of parts inspection. Can you say “Cha-ching”?

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I own Arkham Asylum. Got it Black Friday. Haven’t even opened it. My 360 makes me feel guilty, as I have all these games to play, but spend all my time in thrift stores and working on these various sites. I mean, I haven’t even opened Injustice yet! Anyway, this came with the collector’s edition of Arkham Asylum, and you can see there’s a nice life-sized Batarang inside the case. I couldn’t pass this up for $4, so this is definitely in the Keep pile.

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I tried reading this 20 yrs ago when I was first getting into comics, and it bored the shit out of me. Over the years, however, all the industry muckety-mucks couldn’t stop praising it, so I didn’t hesitate to snatch it up when I saw it on the “Humor” shelf. Silly thrift store!

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Before we smelled what he was cooking, “Rocky Maivia” was more of a jester pinata. For those not in the know when it comes to the WWE, this is how The Rock looked when he debuted. This figure is from the pre-Mattel Jakks era, but I don’t care. My Undertaker collection has been discussed, but I also collect figures of other wrestlers I love, like The Rock, Brodus Clay, and AJ Lee. This guy’s going right up there on the shelf with them.

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This is a Kivat Belt from Kamen Rider Kiva – not that I knew that when I snatched it up. I happened to see it on the thrift store shelf, and I know Bandai products when I see them. So, immediately I knew it came from the sentai family, even if I didn’t know from where. Once I saw the Japanese on the battery compartment, I knew I’d hit paydirt (especially for $1.91!). It turns out these things have gone for around $60 online recently.

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Anyway, the Kivat is the transformation device in Kamen Rider Kiva. Since I’d never seen the show before, I decided  to watch the pilot on YouTube, and it made no sense whatsoever. We’re not here for a recap, but here’s what you need to know. The little bat guy is sentient and flies around. When it’s time for transformation, it bites the human on the finger, turning him into a Kamen Rider.

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The belt also included these power cell things. I’m sure some sentai fan will correct me in the comments as to their actual name. Originally, there were 6, but this one only had 2. When they’re placed in the Kivat’s mouth, he speaks Japanese and his eyes turn the corresponding color.

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The belt’s worn upside down, and when transformed, Kamen Rider Kiva looks something like this:

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Well, that’s it for this edition. Thanks for playing along, and we have a lovely parting gift in the form of the home edition of our game. Until next time!

05th Jun2013

Thrift Justice – One For Me, And One For You

by Will

thriftj

Welcome back to another installment of everyone’s favorite feature, Thrift Justice! As most of you know, I run Will’s World of Wonder, where I happen to resell a lot of the stuff that I find. Today, I’m gonna show you some stuff that I got for myself, but also some stuff that I particularly plan to resell.

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I collect deluxe Power Rangers Megazords, and I’ve been looking for the yellow Turbo Rescue Zord for quite some time. Luckily, I finally tracked it down, and I was able to complete my Turbo Rescue Megazord:

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For some reason, yellow Zords tend to be the hardest for me to find when I’m trying to assemble Megazords in piecemeal fashion. I also needed the yellow Lightspeed Rescue Zord, which I happened to get through a Craigslist deal.

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As life likes to play cruel jokes, it turns out Special Forces had one that he was planning to give me later that day. Anyway, I now have a complete Lightspeed Megazord:

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To wrap up the Power Rangers trifecta, I tracked down the yellow Jungle Fury zord from another Craigslist lot. If you recall, I’d had some issues with this zord in the past. Anyway, I finally have the correct one, and I now have a complete Jungle Pride Megazord:

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I haven’t talked about it in a bit, but I was quite the Stargate fan. From SG-1 to Universe (never really cared for Atlantis), I loved the Hell out of that franchise. That’s why I was pleased to find this talking Hallmark ornament for $0.99.

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The likenesses may not be spot on, but it plays actual dialogue from the show. This is the kind of ornament that won’t be restricted to just Christmas. This is a year-round ornament!

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This will come off as sacrilege to some, but I’ve never been a Monty Python fan. Don’t find it funny. Only bit that ever remotely made me laugh was the whole “It’s merely a flesh wound” thing. Anyway, I’m no fool when it comes to collectibles, so I snatched up this 14-disc complete series set for $15. I’ve currently got it on Amazon, as I’m not sure it’s the kind of thing that appeals to my typical WWoW clientele.

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If you’re familiar with the comic industry, then you probably know about the Kubert School, which specializes in cartooning and graphic design. Started by the late, great artist, Joe Kubert, many of the industry’s hottest artists are alumni of the institution. The Kubert School also runs a sort of correspondence course, with lessons focusing on different topics. This oversized book is the course textbook for the Horror course. These typically come in a kit sold for $250, but I picked this up for $3.63. It’s never been used, so I shouldn’t have a problem finding an artistic buyer for it.

Anyway, I’ve got to cut this short, as I’m on my way to Ithaca, but thanks for reading. Be sure to come back Friday for West Week Ever!

23rd May2013

Thrift Justice – Hell Naw! Are You For Real?

by Will

thriftj

Do we really need an intro. Y’all know what this is all about. These are things I find in thrift stores. Usually, I write about the things that I buy. Every now and then, however, I focus on things that I simply HAD to leave behind. This is one of those posts. These are recent items that I just couldn’t believe I found, but felt would make great conversation pieces. So, away we go!

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Sure, Jakks eventually figured out how to make a decent wrestling figure, but those earliest offerings were hideous. This hails from the “Attitude Era” that I missed in its entirety, so I know next to nothing about Sable OR Shotgun Saturday Night. From what I can tell from this figure, Sable was just a wrestling groupie, right? She wasn’t a “Diva”, was she? Please tell me she wasn’t a Diva. She looks like someone’s slutty mom. She needs to take that chair packaged with her, and go sit down somewhere.

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Hehe. And notice that the seal is unbroken on this CD…

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I’m sorry, but no one has ever said “Man, I could really watch 26 hours of The Price Is Right today!” If they did, they’re probably a stoner, and can’t remember where they left this box set. I mean, really? I would watch a compilation of every episode where Barker did something sleazy to spokesmodels and women contestants, but just random-ass episodes? No, thank you!

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I’m amazed this thing actually exists. For those not in the know, this is Harry from Harry and the Hendersons. I’ve never seen the movie in its entirety,  but I was really into the Saturday afternoon syndicated show. The dad was the evil senator from the X-Men movies. That’s all I really remember about it. Well, that and that it aired along with What A Dummy! and Tiny Toon Adventures (before it was repurposed as a kids show).

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This saddens me, as I wonder how it ended up being donated. It’s such a personal thing, and not something that would really sell to anyone other than its original recipient. As you can see, it’s some sort of CD to commemorate Mothers Day 9 years ago. Did Mom die? Did the family get a divorce? Did she finally get to the age where she started throwing away all the homemade gifts the kids made her over the years? I’m always curious when I see such personalized items being resold.

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California Dreidels?! Can’t black people have anything to themselves?! First Elvis came along, then Eminem, and now this?!!

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OK, read this slowly, as it gets kinda good. When you get cards from a questionable source, always inspect ya deck! I saw this in a batch of Yu-Gi-Oh! cards I got, and noticed that it looked…janky. Look at the edges and borders. I don’t think this card is real. So, I grab a corner and start peeling…

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WTF?! It’s like finding Narnia! What’s under this nefarious cover?

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An entirely different card! There’s some kinda card shark on the Yu-Gi-Oh! scene! How does a tween turn to such a life of crime? Who taught him to do this? Has he already been shot in the face following a Chinatown game gone wrong? Why?! WHY?!!!

Welp, that wraps it up for this installment. I gotta Google “Chinatown Yu-Gi-Oh! shootout”. Come back tomorrow, ’cause it’s Friday, and you know what happens around here on Fridays…

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