300?!

•April 20, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I barely noticed, but with the new arrival of Indiana, we now have more than three hundred albums (303, to be exact) in the Galleries. That’s a lot of friggin’ pictures.

We hope you’ve been enjoying our misadventures and events, both monumental and insignificant. I’ve enjoyed being a part of them.

Henry Jones, Jr.

•April 18, 2009 • 1 Comment

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Meet Indiana (“Indy”), the newest addition to the gang. We brought him home yesterday and he was really tired. This morning, however, he is entirely full of energy. So it’s off to go out and get smoothies with Indy. Enjoy his first night home!

Retro album feature (April): “Fun Day 2”

•April 13, 2009 • Leave a Comment

I would like to try to make these albums make sense. Therefore, each month we’ll feature a retro album that took place in the past of that month. This way, it won’t be too random and I won’t run the risk of repeating myself or hitting to close to present day. The point is to share old stuff you might not have seen or would seek out yourself. Enjoy!

fd2It was senior year of high school.

Eight. Years. Ago.

Jesus.

Following the unexpected success of Fun Day, we decided to host another impromptu bash at the school. I think during the original Fun Day, Keenan and I decided to do this again in the Spring. Well, Spring came and the weather was expected to be really nice, and we once again felt that pang of high school angst which begged for an in-school cleansing. We had big ambitions, and a bit of hilarious high school drama with this event.

Shortly before we planned to do this, the principal of the school called me out of class over the loudspeaker. I met him in his office, and discovered shortly that he wanted to talk about “Fun Day.” He asked its origins and why it was so successful, while school-sponsored days like “Field Day,” and “Spirit Week” were largely unsuccessful. The conversation went to a proposal for a school-sponsored “Fun Day,” which would have regimented activities and events for kids to unwind. I explained that part of the allure of Fun Day was its unscheduled nature, and its inherent freedom for participants to come and go, and do what they please. He wasn’t amused, but I did promise to tell him when Fun Day 2 would take place, in exchange for permission to use a grill during this event. He agreed, provided I get a faculty member to supervise the proceedings. I asked then-Vice Principal Joe Moran to perform the honors, to which he dutifully agreed. He was a class-act, and understood how harmless our actions and intentions were. Cool guy, and probably in a much better place right now.

The planning of this event felt much more stressful than the last one. Keenan and I went to Costco and grabbed supplies. We spent more that day than the previous event, and I think we both thought a donation box would be a good idea. With hindsight, I think that was kind of tacky.

I remember Keenan was really interested/concerned with the grill, and he wanted us to get our own. He grabbed one for something like $12 at the Drug Fair in Boonton, an item I thought was way too small and way too lame to cook on. It was the kind of grill you bring to a crappy tailgate party. Keenan insisted that the administration would never allow a real grill (which was, as it turned out, not the case, unfortunately). I didn’t care too much, intent on making the day fun, and not work.

This time around, we grabbed lawn chairs, a boom box, and the grill. I brought a few videos along in the event anyone wanted to watch something, and of course the standard cooler full of Simply Soda came along.

We set up shop exclusively in the courtyard outside the cafeteria. After very little time, we requested Mr. Moran come and supervise the hot dog cooking on the live, firey grill.

I recall there being many more girls around this time, which was always welcome when you’re having a BBQ.

The younger grades, consisting of folk like Joe and Pete and Chris and many more, were really excited about this. On one hand, I’m sure they hadn’t seen anything like this before. On another, I think they were really excited about the prospect of one day hosting their very own Fun Day.

The assistance/participation of the VP pretty much cemented the fact that, while we did this in direct reaction to the regimented bullshit of high school, on one hand the school endorsed our behavior. It was nice to be validated while at the same time carefully rebelling within the rules.

Additionally, I recall Keenan was the official fire-starter. He controlled the cooking and hot dog maintenance. Mr. Moran’s face during that process was hilarious.

Chris opted to try the first hot dog. In spite of them being undercooked, he soldiered on and ate the whole damn thing anyway (and another, I think).

Ben pointed out an intriguing cloud formation, which looked suspiciously like an eye. We took it as a sign that even God Himself took notice at the awesome stuff we were doing. While that’s incredibly arrogant and teenager-y, it was still a great shot.

When the fact became apparent that Keenan’s hot dogs weren’t working out so well, I think someone went out and picked up a pizza. This pizza stayed in the shade, next to a TV which I think was showing Predator or Ghostbusters. Either way, this was where “the cool people” sat. Of course, the sun glare made watching almost impossible.

Back then, Ska music was retardedly popular among those of the “alternate cigarette” smoking variety. Since there was a fair amount of kids in younger grades who embodied that demographic, they insisted on playing demo tapes, personal recording sessions, and other musical favorites while they jammed out. For about half an hour or so, Fun Day 2 kind of became a Ska concert, which I remember at the time annoyed the hell out of me.

In retrospect, I feel like if we had included live cooking and sharing of food in the first Fun Day, we may not have needed another one. On another, it was kind of cool to be endorsed by the admins we were ducking to sneak out and get McDonald’s. Also, I think it inspired hope and ideas to the younger grades to follow along with this tradition. As I understand it, it was even followed by another event after we graduated. Sadly, the tradition died, murdered in the dark by a band of traveling ninjas. Don’t ask.

The events that took place herein transpired sometime in April of 2001.

NY Anime Con 2009: Maybe next time

•April 13, 2009 • Leave a Comment

As some of you may have noticed, we did “coverage” of the NY Anime Festival last year. I’m sorry to note that we will not be returning to 2009’s event, which should be taking place within the next week or so.

I’m not exactly the best person to cover Anime Conventions, and I think we pretty much beat my one Anime joke to death with the last one. This year’s event will no doubt be chock full of cool stuff that really appeals to its demographic. I happen to know some folk who frequent SMBFC love Anime in much of its forms, and might take offense to some of our more rigid or ignorant perspectives on the subject.

I just wanted to state for the record that quite a few movers and shakers on SMBFC have an affinity for shows like Ghost in the Shell, Ranma 1/2, Full Metal Alchemist, Evangeleon, Trigun, Astro Boy, and many others. I just know it would probably be just me going to the event, and I don’t know enough to appropriately cover it for the site.

However, since we’ve been established as a pop-site that does such things, we will be covering more general (or personally-resonating) cons, shows, and individuals. It’s just going to take a little time. Although the NY Anime Festival is a hospitable, friendly environment, I’m sorry to say you’ll have to get your coverage by either going, or checking out any other reputable sites whose purpose is to bring you such reports. Just thought I should clear that up.

Boring

•April 13, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Not much new to report, sadly. I’m working on a pancake recipe, but it’s not going as well as I’d like. I won’t subject you to it till it’s perfect.

No new Gallery pictures. I’m thinking about changing the randomness of the past album features we’ve been doing. I’ll probably whip up one today at some point and explain what I mean a little better.

Got a new podcast in the bank. Almost done cutting it down to a tolerable length. I’m hoping we’ll have more coming in the near future. Looks that way, anyway. I’m hoping to get Mechanic Jay on one sometime soon (hear that, Jason?).

Things have been a little crazy lately. I had a good chunk of downtime this week, which I wound up using much faster than I planned. I’m hoping now that work has decided to chill the hell out, I’ll have a little bit more time to devote to personal endeavors (such as this).

SMBFG – A Halloween party

•April 6, 2009 • Leave a Comment

halloweenThis was one of our times we decided to flat-out “have a party.” I remember this was during this nebulous period where Erin and Peter’s condo had just been painted, and we were all just figuring things out. For me, at least, this was an especially interesting point in my life because this was the Halloween right after graduation. I was home a little over five months by this point, permanently. Anyway, onto hilarious costumes.

I remember being completely strapped for an idea for a costume weeks before this party. One day, I think Keenan and I were just discussing the possibility of being my own characters. When we heard Ben was going to be there, we were definitely all in. Tim had just visited a few days prior, so we were pretty hopeful we could convince him to stick around for the party.

That didn’t happen, but we had already picked up ear extensions, and Keenan got a pole for his staff. Ben was especially excited about the prospect of making the Cynicism shirt. This was, of course, before we changed Ben to Lechery (appropriately). I recall my tail being really hard to make, but working out kind of well.

Chris wanted to be a pirate, and I gave him an inexpensive idea. I think it worked out. Peter and Erin were Wendy and Peter, which I thought was a great idea. Peter went all-out for that. I don’t remember if it was a custom costume or not. Either way, good show. Their kitten Mickey was getting bigger, but was definitely still a kitten by this point. I can imagine the big hairless apes he saw on a regular basis dressed, now, like monsters probably blew his little kitten mind.

We had music, food, and horrible “horror” movies to watch. One such film was an abomination called “Backwoods,” which was practically one or two steps away from a snuff film. It was home-made, and involved a male playing a female giving birth in the woods. It was… well, it delivered on its premise. It was horrific.

Jason and Lisa arrived shortly before Backwoods began. Jason’s lumberjack costume (complete with real axe) was confused for the Brawny paper towel guy more than a few times. The prospect of being called Brawny appealed to Jason, who I think embraced his new identity.

Erin was excited to take our picture as three out of the Four Jackasses of the Apocalypse, and just around the time of the picture, Keenan sneezed on me. You can watch the progression here. Damn.

Right after the party, Chris headed off to another Halloween party he promised someone he’d go to. Ben and Keenan and I headed back to my house to play Catan, which was more or less a staple of any gathering. Chris joined us really shortly thereafter, and we took full advantage of my N64 system with my still-coveted Goldeneye game. God, I love License to Kill mode.

The events herein transpired on October 29th, 2005.

SMBFC visits the NY Anime Festival

•April 3, 2009 • 1 Comment

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Way back in September, 2008, Crivelliman packed up his girlfriend and went on up to New York City to take part (however brief) in the NY Anime Festival.

Having absolutely zero background in the field of Anime, Manga, Japanimation, Ani-Mondays, or whatever superviolent, big-eyed porn cartoons happen to spring out of pop culture, I’m not one to let a little thing like ignorance stand in the way of completely tearing down entire franchises. As far as this whole experience is concerned, I was just like any other pop-culture reporter, looking to scoop a big handful of truth out of this gig. I asked my buddy Tim about the genre, and he told me, “If you know ‘Yaoi’ [pronounced “Yow-ie!”], you know Anime.” With this as my only background information, I grabbed my press pass and soldiered down to the floor of the Javits Center. Share in the adventure here.

Comic rant: New Avengers #51 (this one’s a doozy)

•March 30, 2009 • 1 Comment

I broke my own rule and went ahead and read New Avengers #51. Boy, did I regret that one.

The story is centered around the search for the new Sorcerer Supreme, since apparently the Magics of Marvel revoked Dr. Strange’s license after he finally decided to try to be a super hero for once. After questionable actions in the Illuminati, World War Hulk, the straw that broke the camel’s back was in one of the first pointless battles with The Hood and his Super Gang.

First digression: What the hell is wrong with these declarative titles characters have in New Avengers? Everyone’s calling The Hood and his Super Gang “the new Kingpin.” All right, first off: the Kingpin of Crime (aka Wilson Fisk) had connections, a front-job, money, influence, and political power. The Hood (aka Parker Robbins) has a hood that makes him invisible (and possesses the spirit of Dormamu, a pumpkin-headed Dr. Strange bad guy), two John Woo pistols, and an army of supervillains who suck royally. As far as I know, his main base of operations tends to be abandoned warehouses. Hardly a “new Kingpin,” if you ask me (and of course, no one did).

Dr. Strange hangs out in our own Dover, NJ, observing one of about a zillion magic-related characters, and wonders whether he could be “the one.” After this, he is attacked by The Hood.

Meanwhile, the Conversationists enjoy a big day of New Avenger-ing by eating Chinese and picking Team Leader. Because there’s nothing more super-heroic as this. Well, maybe standing around talking at the television in your skimpy costumes, but this has to be a close second.

It is at this point where we finally address the fact that Luke Cage was Team Leader during Secret Invasion. This was my second major declarative statement. Throughout the entire goddamn New Avengers series from Civil War until present, Luke Cage has been considered Team Leader of the New Avengers in all the write-ups, press releases, and banter between random characters. We finally talk about declaring one, and Luke Cage has no idea he was the leader for this time. Apparently if you don’t have a silly, pointless meeting to decide these things, it’s not official. This is cemented when they flat-out ask Luke if he wants to be Team Leader, to which he flatly replies, “Nope.”

After picking a person who can shoot arrows really well (but seems to only wear a ninja costume and fight with nun-chucks all the time), he asks Spider-Man to take off his mask.

Here is where the book completely blows my fucking mind.

If you know me, you know I had a serious problem with the decision a year or so back to make Mephisto un-marry Spider-Man and his wife Mary Jane. In the process, they brought Harry Osborn back to life, made his public identity secret from everyone in the entire Marvel Universe, cured his Aunt May of insta-death, re-built their house, removed Parker from his teaching job, and gave J. Jonah Jameson a heart condition. It wasn’t the fact that they flat-out did this, as much as it was impossible to rationalize editorially mandated influence over a continuing storyline. Once the curtain was pulled back, I realized my favorite character would never be allowed to grow and change (and also suggested the same for all mainstream characters, for that matter).

Every other opportunity in his entire continuity, when faced with the option of public unmasking, he refuses, citing his family’s safety as the primary concern. This logic was thrown away when they wanted more cash from the Civil War, and then was immediately returned once he did. Immediately after unmasking, his Aunt was shot, which spiraled into the story that shook my entire faith in mainstream comic books. However, in recent years he usually didn’t have a problem unmasking in front of “peers,” because for the most part they all pretty much knew, anyway. At any rate, it was about a year or so that they put the cat back in the bag, as it were, and here we are with another long laundry list of characters who know his secret identity.

Fine, I thought. Makes sense, in some ways. Maybe this is an indicator that they’re moving away from the bullshit that made me drop three Spider-Man comics a month.

Then the gang hears a crash outside their new swanky digs in Brooklyn, and the New Avengers SPRING INTO ACTION! There was only one more page left after his panel, so anyone reading knew it wasn’t going to be epic, but one panel did reveal something stunningly retarded: Spider-Man, maskless, bounds out the door and into plain view of the public to see what’s happening! As it turned out, only one person was outside (which is dubious, even in Brooklyn), but seriously! The dude’s whole world was destroyed by people knowing his identity, he just finishes telling a room full of people who he is, and then he leaps outside, mask-less? It just further advances my theory that the powers at Marvel will not rest until Peter Parker is reduced to a selfish, immature simpleton.

Also in this issue, we’re finally catered to Bendis’ character Jessica Jones (who is now Mrs. Luke Cage) revealing she used to go to high school with Peter Parker, and had a mega huge OMG crush on the guy.

It is this circumstance that reduces New Avengers from just being lame superheroes, to being lame on a Brand New Day Spider-Man-in-his-thiries-who’s-also-a-swingin’-bachelor type scale. Here we have characters who are in their early thirties, at least one of whom is married, and she reduces herself to a Facebook-fiendish teenie bopper, starting up about how she had “the biggest crush ever” on the former nerd. Keep in mind, at one point in her own series this woman quit her job and left the father of her child, and said to her yet-to-be-born baby, “Fuck the rest. All I care about is you.” This independent, oddly mature, mother, wife and female character in Marvel, gives two shits about what nickname some nerd had for her when they went to high school together their sophomore year.

In response to this, Spidey (like the rest of us) doesn’t remember her. Her retcon said she was in a coma or something, and she had to drop out. It is at this point that Peter Parker reveals that he finally had something in common with everyone else at his high school (who, bear in mind, bullied, ridiculed, and ostracized him from the beginning til the end of their four years together): the nickname “Coma Girl.” That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. Spider-Man isn’t just a pathetic loser who would rather watch his geriatric aunt die naturally than be married to his hot redhead wife. He was also apparently a douchebag in high school, who makes fun of coma victims.

One further digression: earlier in the issue, we find Dr. Strange is not using his magic powers so he isn’t saught by evil magic demons like Dormamu. He’s in Dover, which admittedly is a fun Easter-egg for us, but he’s still a good forty-five minutes outside of New York City, much less Brooklyn.

He has a fight we never see (in favor of Chinese food kickball team-picking dialog), and then the result is found on their doorstep in the form of a beaten-to-shit Dr. Strange. I hope they say he used his magics to teleport him there, because there is no way the chat they had took more than ten minutes, total. And if he did use magic, he led Dormamu to the New Avengers’ secret hideout. Either Dr. Strange is a jerk, or these folk assume Dover is essentially Jersey City.

This book is a trainwreck. I just had to see what was going on with Dr. Strange, and got much, much less.

One flag. One flag, because the art depicting the demon-possessed Hood panel was simply incredible.

SMBFC: The video game?

•March 25, 2009 • Leave a Comment

SMBFC has gotten into the video game industry.

OK, not really.

But if it did, I believe it would be a series of different games across all the major platforms, crossing over characters, dipping into all different genres.

The first game is an urban, Age of Empires kind of thing:

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SMBFD – Vermont Pancake House & New England Grille

•March 24, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Tucked away in a small shopping complex off Route 10, the Vermont Pancake House is like a New England oasis within our humble Mid-Atlantic region.

As the name suggests, the standard food is New England in nature, including sandwiches, dinner dishes, lunch items, and amazing NE breakfast choices. The pancakes are quite excellent, though the French Toast could use a new bread option. Homefries are awesome, and the meat selection always includes crispy bacon and plump sausage. Breakfast is pretty much the main event at VPH, though their wraps, sandwiches and dinner selections are of top quality.

The inside and decor are hospitable and refreshing. There is always ample room (perhaps a disappointingly large amount of room, most days), mostly made up of booths. Pictures depicting the serene view of Vermont, along with the occasional moose-head, serve as a much less in-your-face dining establishment. The deep green color motif also contributes to its tranquility.

The bar area is isolated from the main dining area, separated by a small wall and window. Within it, there exists plenty of seating and television. If you’re into that sort of thing, it’s not an unwelcoming spot to sit and enjoy a drink. The main area, however, is entirely divorced from its noise and environment. The light-FM music does grate occasionally, but it does fill in the uncomfortable silence that occasionally invades a meal.

The Vermont Pancake House also offers a big souvenir section at the register, full of stuffed animals, calendars, and other tourist-y junk. The restaurant gives off the distinct impression you’re at a Vermont roadside eatery, complete with kid-friendly crap to buy. On a personal note, the dolls actually seem to be pretty decent quality, so it’s not necessarily a bad option if you’re stuck for a gift on the go.

Though I’ve never experienced it, VPH also boasts Balloon Art on Thursdays during a two hour window of 5:30-7:30 by a clown named “Tweedles.” If you’re afraid of clowns, I’d recommend lunch on Thursday. If you think your kids might enjoy the experience, by all means swing by. (This is a feature I was unfamiliar with until I visited their web site, to be honest.)

In all, the Vermont Pancake House is a fantastic breakfast spot, whether it’s morning, afternoon, or evening. Their lunch and dinner menus are also equally pleasant, including a fantastic crock of French Onion Soup, Chili, burgers, chicken sandwiches, New England BBQ, pot roast, etc. Stick to the regional menu items. It’s called Vermont Pancake House for a reason. While they do offer Penne Ala Vodka, go to an Italian place for pasta.

Four and a half flags. The place delivers pretty much exactly what it advertises, which is pretty rare in most places around here.

Vermont Pancake House
275-20 Route 10 East
Succasunna, NJ 07876
(973) 584-2929