Monday, February 28, 2011

Death of Beard Gives Birth to Handlebar Mustache

For those of you who seriously dug the 1800s muttonchops, I'm afraid that they had to go as the first day of March is tomorrow and Bearduary has come to a close.

But that doesn't mean that I have to give up being a manly man just yet. Just because the weather is getting nicer doesn't mean that ALL of the hair has to go. So for the next few days, expect to see the black Hulk Hogan walking around your neighborhood, doing good deeds and what not, because Rich Knight is sportin' handlebars. Ooooooooh yeeeeeeeah. It doesn't get much more manly than that.

Next year, I'm going for a Fu manchu!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

I Hate Mechanics

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Mechanics are the scum of the Earth. I'll take a lawyer or a cop over them any day. And you know why? Because I'm MET good cops before. I've met good lawyers. But I've NEVER met a mechanic who wasn't crooked. Never.

This rant is coming after I got my catalytic converter changed at Precision Automotive in Clifton, NJ (Oh, and don't go there, by the way). Now, I expected it to be expensive, but not $865 (!) expensive. Here's how it all went down.

So, I bought a new catalytic converter for about $500 somethin' dollars because I was told that it would be a really great model for my car (It's a 2003 Hyundai Elantra). This is in lieu of buying a cheaper model where more parts would have to be bought down the line. Fine and good, $500 is a lot of money, but I was willing to eat the cost as long as I wouldn't have to bother with more parts down the line. Besides, the woman there who I ordered it with, said that the labor to put it in my car should only come to $100, bringing my total cost up to $600 somethin'.

Yes, that's very expensive, but it's doable. Especially compared to her original figure of $870 just for the part alone.

So, doo, da doo, da doo, we order the part together and she says that they'll call me when the part comes in. But you know what? They don't call me. Ever. For an entire week, I wonder if the part came in or not, and it wasn't until I actually drove down there at the end of the week myself that they told me that, yeah, it had come in, and that they could put it on whenever I wanted. I mean, What. The. Hell? If it came in, then why didn't you call me, ya grease apes? Be considerate!

Anyway, so, I'm the first one there the next day, and the guy tells me that he'll put in the converter and that he'll call me when it's finished. Now, I wasn't born yesterday, even though I may look as handsome as the day that I came out of my mother, so I said that I would stay there so he could put it in right then and there, and he said fine. He disappears behind the glass door to the shop, and I wait.

And wait.

And wait! For about two a half hours before he comes out with not a splotch of oil on him. He tells me that the converter that was ordered for my car won't fit, even though the website that it was ordered from clearly said that it would fit my 2003 Elantra.

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Now, this is after the fact that the woman who runs the shop said that it would fit on just fine, too, and that no parts would have to be added on. Well, the guy working on my car said that that's not true at all and that they'll have to put on another piece that would cost about $300 extra dollars for it to work, which would drag my cost back up in the $800 range. I was livid.

I was all like, You guys messed up. I'm not paying that much. This is your fault. Yada, yada, yada. You know, angry guy shit.

So the guy tells me that he can do something else with the car, and MAKE it fit. And it would only cost me about $135. Of course I said, well, why didn't you just tell me that before? And he said that it was a matter of time and if I wanted to wait that long, he could fix it. I asked him, well, how long are we talking about, and he said about two or three hours.

Of course I didn't want to wait there two or three hours, so I said that I would come back and told the guy to call me when it was all ready (Big mistake, given their track record).

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So anyway, I go home and waited some more, getting some writing done in the process. I was supposed to go see my family this weekend, but told my dad that I couldn't because I didn't have a car. I called the shop by the two hour mark and the mechanic said that they had started on my car but it would take another hour or so to get it done.

So I waited some more.

After awhile, it was getting kind of late--around the four hour mark when I left my car--and my dad said, "You better call them back, or they're going to pull some crap and be closed tomorrow and you won't be able to drive to work on Monday." And he was right. I called them up and asked if it was ready, and he said yeah, to which I thought again, you piece of shit grease monkey. be considerate and call!

He told me that I had to rush to the shop(Let me repeat that: that I had to rush to the shop, even though he didn't call me back) because he wanted to leave early and I did rush. I rushed my ass off.

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When I got there, the guy came out, finally covered in oil, and told me that putting in the part was a success and that he worked on it for four hours. Four-hours! In the end, changing the part and labor STILL cost me over $800, even though I'm sure that he probably just put the part on when I called, because there's no way that it took him four hours to add the part. No way. I've seen mechanics (friends of mine) put in really difficult parts in other people's cars in under an hour. So there's no way that it took FOUR hours to do what he had to do to my car. Just because the car is in your shop doesn't mean that you're working on it.


So anyway, mechanics are slime and I hate every single one of them. If you can learn one thing in this world to better yourself, it's how to fix your own car. You'll save hundreds. Possibly (Probably?) thousands.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Eating Out in Chester: Benito's Trattoria

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If you’re an American, then you’ve eaten Italian food before. There are no if’s, and’s, or but’s about it. Italian food is probably one of the most popular varieties of food in this country, but did you know that there’s a difference between food from Northern Italy and Southern Italy?
“North Italian cuisine is a little lighter,” says Benito’s Trattoria owner, John Vucetaj, who runs the popular restaurant in Chester, “In south Italy, they have heavier sauces.”

“North Italian cuisine is more modern,” Vucetaj continues, “Italy still has that old time fashion to it. [It can be] very heavy stuff.”

But even if you like the thick and heavier sauces of the old world, you should still definitely come and check out what Benito’s has to offer, as this place has been Zagat rated for over a decade now for a reason.

“We do have a very good reputation,” Vucetaj says, “we’ve been Zagat rated for the past 14 years.”

It might be because of their stellar lunch and dinner menus. Come in for lunch, and you can get anything from linguine with proscuitto, onions, and tomato sauce, to veal scallopini with shitaki mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, shrimp, garlic, basil, and white wine.

Stop in for dinner, and you can have items like veal scallopini topped with sliced tomatoes, salami, artichoke hearts and mozzarella cheese in a white wine and garlic sauce. Every item on the menu is sure to get vivid images in your head of a delectable meal, and they have other courses that are not on their menu, too.

“We have about 6 or 7 different specials every night,” Vucetaj says, “Like chicken, pasta, fish, steak, appetizers, different kinds. It is a different special every day.”

They also do catering for special occasions, so you don’t just have to come into the restaurant to have their excellent food.

“We do cater for special occasions,” Vucetaj says, “starting in April, May, June, and July, we have [catering for] special events like Holy Communion, birthdays, and graduations.”
And if you’re on a diet and are shying away from the excessive carbs, they still have you covered.

“We’ll have like a whole wheat pasta, and a little more healthy food,” Vucetaj says, “We’re trying to get something different for people who are health conscious.”
Whatever kind of food they serve, it’s sure to be incredible here. The restaurant hasn’t lasted so long for nothing.

“We’ve been here for a very long time, and I think we have very good food, good staff, and nice service,” Vucetaj says.
WHERE: 44 Main Street, Chester
TELEPHONE NUMBER: 908-879-1887
HOURS: Closed Monday, Tues-Friday: 11:30AM-10:00PM, Sat: 5:00PM-10:00PM, Sun: 1:00PM-9:00PM
CUISINE: Italian
PAYMENT: Cash, checks, and all major credit cards
PRICE RANGE: Appetizers, $5.95-$10.95, pasta, $9.95-$18.95, meats, $9.95-$19.95, Fish, $13.95-$22.95
DRESS: Business Casual
RESERVATIONS: Yes, for Fridays and Saturdays
THE SCENE: This quaint place has enough room to enjoy your meal with a loved one or alone.
ATMOSPHERE: This comely spot is going to be getting new wallpaper in the next few weeks, so look for that
PARKING: In the lot
OWNERS: John Vucetaj

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Top Ten TV Intros That I've Ever Seen

Intros to TV shows are supposed to pump you up. They're supposed to put a smile on your face and make you tilt your head to the side like you're a school girl taking a picture with a giant lolly. To sum it up, TV intros are supposed to be awesome. The thing is, not many of them are. I can count like, 20, in the history of the idiot box. That said, I don't have the energy to write a top 20, so here are my top 10. If you disagree, note that you probably checked your soul at the gun store and don't have one any more.

10. New York Undercover

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Okay, so you've never even heard of this show before. That doesn't mean that it still doesn't have one of the best intros ever. The sax is soothing, the images are vivid, and it doesn't look all that 90s, even though it was TOTALLY a 90s show. In short, it's superb. Check it out.

9. Duck Tales

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Was Duck Tales a great show? Eh, not really. I mean, it was watchable, as most cartoons were when we were younger, but was it actually good? Nope. It was really just subpar. But you know what WASN'T subpar? That theme song. Duck Tales, whoo hoo! It doesn't get much better than that.

And look, it's even great in Hindi! That's proof of a great song!

8. Taxi

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Taxi is such a chill show with laughs in all the right places, and this intro is equally chill, with a swell keyboard melody that just makes you smile and go, "Oh, man, I LOVE this show!" If this were a longer list, I'd put Cheers on here, too, but it's not. So Taxi gets the spot.

7. The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers

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I'm going to be honest with you. When I was younger, I didn't really like the Power Rangers. It wasn't until I got older that I actually dug their cheesiness and outlandish explosions. But something I've ALWAYS loved is the intro, as its searing guitars and "Go, Go, Power Rangers!" chant really made me want to go out and kill some Puddy Patrol. And also be the black ranger.

6. The Cosby Show

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The Cosby Show had a lot of intros, but none were as funny as season 3's, where Cosby is basically making the funniest faces in the world. I wish I could show it to you here on this blog, but its embedding abilities have been disabled by request. Stupid brilliant Cosby Show. You can find the intro here:

5. X:Men-The Animated Series

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I talked about this intro in my discussion on the best cartoons of the 90s, because seriously, it doesn't get much more intense than this. The thumping beginning, the awesome shots of all of the main mutants, and that last scene of all of the good guys colliding with the bad guys is just so killer. I mean, man, this is what I call a jump off your couch intro. It's just so badass.

4. Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks is weird, and it should be. It's partly the brainchild of David Lynch, the king of weird. But the intro is surprisingly...relaxing. It's just the kind of intro that gets you into the atmospheric mood of the show. It's as close to perfect as I can think of.

3. The Wayans Bros.

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Okay, this intro is just ridiculous. I remember the first time I watched it, I seriously couldn't even follow the show because I was laughing so hard from the intro when the old woman gets hit by a bus...and then wipes herself off. This is definitely the funniest intro I've ever seen. And the show wasn't that bad, either.

2. The Twilight Zone

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The Twilight Zone is definitely up there with The Simpsons as one of my favorite TV shows of all time. But unlike The Simpsons, The Twilight Zone has a phenomenal intro (Yeah, I said it) that really grabs you from the very beginning. It's going to be hard to top THIS intro. But one actually does.

1. Thundercats

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Ask me a single thing about the show, and I couldn't tell you what it was about. But ask me about the intro, and I could tell you every single detail. Thundercats is the quintessential example of an intro that's even better than the show, and you know I'm right. Also, if you just heard the theme song from the other room, you might not be all that impressed. But when you combine the music WITH the images, oh, boy. You had yourself some fist pumping, foot stomping, head banging going on. Seriously, I'm pretty sure the birth of Hyphy began from this intro.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It Has Begun! Operation Beard Growth Coming to a Close

If you look at the picture above, I'm sporting muttonchops, the manliest chops of them all. Well, this is my new annual tradition, as after Bearduary ends, I sheer myself section by section. Next week, I'll have handlebars and look even MORE like a scumbag. Stay tuned.

How the Hell was Twin Peaks So Popular Back In the Day?

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Now, don't get me wrong. I love, love, LOVE David Lynch. Love him. I consider all of his films classics (Except for Dune, which blows, and Inland Empire, which is unwatchable). But Twin Peaks, which ran for two seasons back in 1990 and 1991 is, well, weird. Not only weird, but David Lynch weird, and I'm surprised that anybody really liked it back when it was on.

Now, I'm not saying that I'm surprised that David Lynch has his fans, because as much as I would like not to believe it, there are actually people out there who are just as weird as I am. But how did this show become SO popular back then? I watched the pilot last night, and man, it's as strange as it gets. The characters act all goofy, which is typical of Lynch, the plot is reeeeeally slow, and the atmosphere is more important than the story (At least, this early on, it is), so I'm really wondering how people would have enjoyed such a show like this. I mean, it's not like any of Lynch's movies are blockbusters or anything like that, so how did so many people cling onto THIS show like they did?

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I hear a lot of people compare it to Lost these days, but no, so far, from what I've already seen, Twin Peaks is NOTHING like Lost. I mean, just watch this:

What the hell was THAT? For Lynch fans, that's normal, but for everyday America? How could they have accepted that? I guess people were just more accepting of the abstract in the early 1990s.

Here's the excellent intro to the show. It's so serene, but haunting, which again, is typical of Lynch.

And for those who don't even know what the term "Lynchian," means, I try to display it here in this video. I'm not sure if I really do it any justice though.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Video Games That I'm Ashamed to Have Owned At One Point in My Life, Entry Three: The Little Mermaid

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Okay, don't get me wrong. I still look back fondly on playing The Little Mermaid for the NES, but that's just the point of why I'm ashamed to have owned it. The Little Mermaid was for girls. And not just girls, but girly girls. The kind who wanted to grow up and be a princess.

I mean, just watch this.

Now, here's what I have going for me. The game was made by Capcom, which made some of my favorite games of all time--Street Fighter, Mega Man, Bionic Commando--the list goes on and on. They also made a string of awesome Disney related games, too, such as The Lion King, Aladdin, and of course, Duck Tales. But yes, I know, I'm just making excuses for myself now. There's one thing in picking up a neutral game like Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers and another in pleading for my mom to buy me The Little Mermaid, which I remember sitting snuggly between my copies of Ninja Gaiden and Bad Dudes when I was younger. Oh, well. At least it wasn't as bad as when I bought Animal Crossing and stressed over what would be the perfect couch for my room in the game. But that's a story for another entry.

Here's footage of The Little Mermaid for the NES. Tell me that it doesn't look at least a LITTLE fun. Go on, tell me.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Review: For Colored Girls

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Tyler Perry’s best moments are when he’s dressed up as a woman and mispronouncing words like “Hellejujer.” The problem is, he’s not content on making movies that are just about Madea. He always has to throw a message somewhere in there, and the melodrama is usually laid on thick toward the end of his films. So, what happens when you give Tyler Perry the right to make a film adaptation of the stage play, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf? You get a movie that, if handled by a better director, might have been a pretty spectacular drama. But instead, we get a serious Tyler Perry film that falls just short of greatness. Even so, this is definitely the best movie of his career. No question about it.

The Movie: Three and a half stars out of five

Give For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf to a more drama adept director, and you have a possible Oscar contender on your hands, as all of the poems that make up the play could have been really beautiful on screen. But give it to Tyler Perry, and you have a movie that has, “It could have been better” written all over it. Unfortunately, I can’t think of any other director who would have even pursued this project. Especially since the play itself doesn’t have any consistent narrative to it besides the poems. In that way, I guess you have a paradox (Or is it a Catch-22? I’m never quite sure which one I mean). You have a movie that would have been great if it had been handled by a better director, but nobody else would have taken it, and thus, it never would have been made in the first place, causing it to not exist.

Whew. Try wrapping your head around that one. Anyway, For Colored Girls is not a bad film, it’s just one of those pictures that you wish could have been handled by somebody better. At least Tyler Perry gave it his all this time. You can definitely tell. He tries to keep all of the preachy overtones from his other films to the wayside and just focuses on the story, and I applaud him for that. It shows growth.

The story consists of multiple African-American women who, while very few are directly related, all somehow fit into the same story. You really have an all-star cast here, as Loretta Devine, Janet Jackson, Thandie Newton, and even Whoopi Goldberg fit into the orbit of this story. It’s like a dream team of black actresses -- the female Harlem Globetrotters of film. I don’t know how else to put it. These women really steal the show. The movie, like the play, is told through poems, but Perry has somehow constructed a narrative around it that isn’t completely ridiculous. To try to sum up the story in one sentence, it’s basically black women having problems, which is pretty good material to work with. Black women very rarely have their voice heard in film, and definitely not on a grand scale like this. If only Perry didn’t fudge it all up in the third act we’d have a masterpiece on our hands here.

Remember when I mentioned up top that Mr. Perry likes to heavy-handedly throw melodrama at the end of his films? Well, his cry-me-an-ocean approach is all over this baby, as the melodrama is so thick toward the end that it’s almost unbearable. In one moment, Janet Jackson finds out a secret about her husband at an opera and a single teardrop rolls down her face as some large woman belts out her aria. It might not sound that bad, but just watch it for yourself, and you’re going to find it hard to see the screen from rolling your eyes so much.

Even so, For Colored Girls has a certain depth to it, and even gravitas at times. If you love Tyler Perry films for their silliness and harmless violence where guns go off but nobody gets hurt, then this isn’t the movie for you. But if you’re interested in the play even a little and want to give Mr. Perry a chance as a true artist, you may be pleasantly surprised. Unfortunately, you won’t be that surprised, as some of his old habits really die hard.

The Disc: Four stars out of five

This disc contains a number of special features that really add to the quality of the film. You have “Span of the Rainbow,” which shows the history of the play, from Ntozake Shange’s poems, to its off-Broadway run, to Broadway, to it being a book, to it being a television film, until finally, we get to Tyler Perry’s movie. If you’re a fan of the play, this documentary is reason enough to pick up this DVD. But wait, there’s more! “Prism of Poems” actually lets you hear some of the poems from the movie and the play, which are definitely worth listening to a second time. They really make up the film.

“Transformation: Movie Magic,” reveals some interesting little tidbits from the movie that you never would have known if you didn’t watch it -- such as the opera scene in the film containing one of the poems from the play through the aria that’s being sung. “Living Portraits” is actually kind of creepy, as it has pictures of the stars of the film in still frames, but they’re still moving and talking. It gave me the chills. Music from the film wraps up the rest of the package. Overall, if you like the movie and you love the play, then this will be a nice companion piece. Pick it up.

For Colored Girls Details
Length: 134 min
Rated: R
Distributor: Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Release Date: 2069-12-31
Starring: Thandie Newton, Whoopi Goldberg
Directed by: Tyler Perry
Produced by: Nzingha Stewart
Written by: Tyler Perry

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Detroit Will Be Building a Statue of Robocop. What Statue Should New Jersey Build?

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Okay, if you didn't already know, Detroit is now the coolest city in the country. And that's because they're building a statue of Robocop. You can find an article about it here:

Now, statues of movie characters aren't exactly a new thing. In fact, Philadelphia jumped the gun a long time ago in Rocky III when they unveiled the Rocky statue, which still stands in Philly to this day.

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But I don't live in Philly, dammit, and I don't live in Detroit. I live in New Jersey, the Garden State, and I think we deserve a statue of somebody awesome, too.

Now, at first, I thought, well, how about Hellboy? He resides in Newark, right?

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But then, my friend, Vince, suggested somebody even better, and now I can't think of anybody else more perfect to be immortalized forever as a statue rife with bird shit.

The Toxic Avenger!

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Seriously, who would be better? He IS the first superhero from New Jersey. The only problem is is that I can't find Tromaville, New Jersey anywhere on the map. Can you?

Oh, and as for Robocop, I can't mention the man of metal without showing this clip. Honestly, as good as the original movie is, this is seriously my favorite part of the entire film, and it's only seven seconds long.

Review: Marvel vs. Capcom 3

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Awhile ago, I wrote an editorial on how I thought, just from seeing the videos alone, that Marvel vs. Capcom 3 might suck. My biggest complaints were the characters, the three button attack scheme, and the graphics. Well, after some extensive playtime with the game, I can honestly say that all of my worries were unfounded and absolutely wrong. So, you were right, fanboys, you were right. I’ll eat my own words, I was wrong. The only argument from that article that I do still stand behind though is that it’s not as good as MvC2. But could it have ever have been? Probably not.

Let’s get to the characters first, as that was one of the major problems that I foresaw back then. The characters in this game are just fine and are so different that it’s like learning to play MvC all over again. Arthur is very different from Trish, who’s very different from Deadpool, who ‘s very different from Wesker, so you’ll spend hours upon hours just finding your perfect team (mine’s X-23, Hsien-Ko, and Akuma. Who knew?). One thing I don’t like about some of the characters though is that some of them are absolutely worthless in my hands. That doesn’t mean that they’ll be worthless in other people’s hands, and I can definitely see more balance with this roster than in the last game. But I can’t use Haggar or Thor to save my life, even though those were two of the characters that I wanted to play as the most when I initially heard that they were in the game. In this way, it kind of saps a bit of the fun for me, knowing that even with practice I won’t be able to use them since I’ve developed my own sort of rhythm with the game.

And that’s something that’s pretty new for me in the series—the rhythm. I don’t know how other people feel about this, but this game just seems to move differently than the previous two installments. I’ve always been one for air combos; it was never an integral part of my play style in the past two games. But with the new special attack button that launches characters into the air much easier than before, I find that half of my battles now take place in the sky. In this way, lumbering characters like Sentinel or Thor just don’t do it for me. I pretty much can’t even use them. My rhythm is too fast for characters such as those.

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But again, I think this all comes down to the rhythm of how you play MvC3. Some might prefer that slow paced style of attack. I just don’t. In that way, MvC3 is a very unique fighter in that it actually develops around you rather than you developing around it, which is fascinating. I never thought that that would happen with the new control scheme.

And about that new control scheme. I was initially worried that this game was going to play too much like Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, which I wasn’t too fond of. But this is MvC through and through, and the unlimited playability of the franchise returns with this game. As I mentioned before, there’s a new special attack button that can be used to either strike or knock enemies into the air. In that way, the game still actually retains the four button format but alters it slightly, making it much easier to cobble together combos, but still satisfying because of the aforementioned air game, which can lead to ridiculous combos once you ease into it. The only problem that I have with the controls is that for some reason, they seem to fail me whenever I’m getting my ass handed to me. It’s like, unless I’m dominating a match, I’m getting demolished, so there’s no balance in-between for me. I’m screwed.

The new X-Factor tries to rectify that though by giving you a fighting chance. When you hit all of the face buttons at the same time, you can get a limited amount of time to make a comeback with much stronger attacks and mobility. Still, I don’t feel as confident in this game as I did in the previous MvC's. In those games, I felt that no matter how low my health got, I always had a fighting chance of winning. But with this game, I just feel like my controller is working against me sometimes. I wonder how it would play out in the arcade. It might be better. Or maybe even worse.

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But it’s hard to stay mad at a game this pretty. If you remember from my previous article, I complained that I didn’t like the new visuals. And while I still prefer the hand-drawn look, I have to say that these visuals have finally grown on me. The specials look pretty spectacular, and all of the old moves from the last game, like Iron Man’s “Repulsor Blast” look really spiffy now with the new colors. The backgrounds are also pretty nifty and add a nice touch, especially the Ghost and Goblins stage. That said, all the things going on on-screen can get a bit too chaotic at times. So much so that you sometimes don’t know what’s even going on during the game. But I think that has always been a part of the fun with the MvC series—the visual overload.

In closing, MvC3 is another classic from Capcom, with only a few nagging issues that may just be my own problem. I definitely say pick it up though if you’re any sort of self-respecting fighting fan. The fate of two worlds hangs in the balance!

Players: 1-2
Platform(s): Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3
Developer: Capcom
Publisher: Capcom
ESRB: Teen
Rating: Four stars out of five

Friday, February 18, 2011

Review: Faster

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What happened to you, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson? You were supposed to be the next big action star, man. You were supposed to be the next Ah-nold. But instead, you made vapid, uninspired movies like Race to Witch Mountain, The Tooth Fairy, and *shudder* The Scorpion King. How could you let your fans down like that? But hey, what’s this? You have a new, action-packed thrill ride of a movie with you holding a gun and looking all menacing on the cover called Faster? Really? No way, man! Is it any good? Hey, why are you making that face all of a sudden? Well, is it? Oh…I understand. It’s not, is it? Oh, man, Rock! Why’d you have to go and do this to your fans again? Huh, man? Why? Whyyyyyy!

The Movie: One Star

For a movie called Faster, this piece of garbage starring the Rock sure does move pretty damn slow. When I originally saw the trailer for this in the theater, I actually, no lie, edged up in my seat and got really excited. As a WWF (oh, I’m sorry, WWE) nerd who thinks wrestling reached its peak in the Stone Cold/The Rock era, I really had high hopes for the man who would later drop “The Rock” in his name and just go by the title of Dwayne Johnson. But, man oh man, has that legend, who could at one point in his career raise a single eyebrow and make the whole world swoon, let us all down. Faster, I’m afraid to say, is no better than The Scorpion King. And while I know that that last line must have gotten you saying, “Come on, man. It can’t be THAT bad,” it actually is. Faster is really and truly awful. I’d even say that it’s WORSE than The Scorpion King. Okay, I take that back. Nothing could be that horrendous.

But seriously, Faster is pretty bad. And why is it so bad? Well, because it’s just so damn forgettable. The key reason for this is because nobody in this film even needs to be in it. The Rock plays a character named Driver -- just Driver. He’s released from prison and immediately goes on a killing spree for the people who killed his brother. But you know what? If you put in, say, Skeet Ulrich, or Wesley Snipes, or, hey, I don’t know, Steven Seagal, you would have pretty much the same exact movie. At least with this script, you would. The Rock probably has less than a 100 words to say in the film, and none of it is interesting. Silent waters run deep, I know, but why put a charismatic man like The Rock in a movie where he pretty much just shoots things and walks away? That’s like putting Johnny Knoxville in a movie about taking safety precautions and not having a single wink at how ironic that would be. It’s like that, but worse. At least that might be kind of interesting.

This movie is beyond boring. There’s a lot of gunplay going on here, especially when a man who only goes by the title of “Killer” comes into the fray, but the bullets being fired aren’t exciting in the slightest. And that’s because I don’t care who lives and who dies in this film. I don’t care if The Rock finds comfort or if he’s dead inside after killing his foes. I don’t care if Billy Bob Thorton, who just goes by the title of “Cop” (man, they really stuck to that "nobody has a name" concept), tracks down The Rock and stops him. I don’t care about any of it. All I care about is the fact that The Rock, a man who actually showed some promise after The Rundown, has made another boring film. Is it any wonder why he’s supposedly going back into wrestling? It’s because he realizes that movies are just not for him. Whoever his agent is, he should have been fired a long time ago. The Rock should not be making movies like Faster after this many years in the business. Down the line, we’ll all secretly still hope that The Rock finally does an action movie where he kills somebody and then utters some really corny one-liners, but it looks like that day may never come. Faster puts the nail in the coffin.

The Disc: Two Stars

The special features on this disc may be brief, but they actually add a little something to this abysmal package. Well, at least one of them does. On the whole disc, there are only two special features, and calling them two is being generous. One of them is an alternate ending, and the other is deleted scenes. Both of them give you the ability to hear the director talk about the scenes before you watch them, but his words aren’t necessary. All he had to say was, “We cut this for space and time,” and that’s it. Everything else he says, like the deleted scenes themselves, is superfluous.

The “Alternate Ending,” as I mentioned earlier, adds a little something to the film. I think they actually should have kept it in. The director says that test audiences weren’t pleased with it, but I don’t believe that for a second. Any test audience that actually stayed awake long enough to see the end, had to have liked it better than the theatrical ending. The theatrical ending sucks. Without spoiling it for you, the “Alternate Ending” has a great deal more action in it, and is truly, truly ridiculous, which is what The Rock should have been doing all along. I’m tired of The Rock shying away from outrageous action in his films. It’s why The Rundown was pretty awesome. It was the kind of crazy that works.

As for the “Deleted Scenes,” they were deleted for a reason. None of them are necessary, and they definitely deserved to be cut. I wouldn’t recommend this movie to anyone, not even for a rental, but if you liked it (seriously?), then I think you should see the alternate ending. It definitely adds something to the film.

Faster Details
Length: 98 min
Rated: R
Distributor: CBS Films
Release Date: 2011-03-01
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Billy Bob Thornton
Directed by: George Tillman Jr.
Produced by: Joe Gayton, Dara Weintraub
Written by: Tony Gayton & Joe Gayton
Visit the Faster Official Website

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Eating Out in Chester: Maria's Artisan Bread, Pastries, and Imported Specialties

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Anyone will tell you that food tastes differently outside of America. It’s one of the things that makes traveling outside of the country so interesting . Italian food, especially, has a certain flair and flavor of its own, and many people will go to Italy just for that. But if you’re pining for their bread or their pastries, or their olive oil, you can save the money on the plane ticket and drive over to Chester, where Maria’s Artisan Bread, Pastries, and Imported Specialties has you covered.

“A lot of stuff, like the extra Virgin olive oil, gets shipped to Sicily, and goes to the importer,” says shop owner, Maria Solano, “and then, I pick it up.”

It’s a process of delivery that provides a unique flavor to the community, one that many Chester residents are saying you can only find in New York.

We’ve heard from a number of customers that you can only find [the things we’re selling] on Arthur Avenue,” says Solano.

Along with the olive oil, Solano also prides herself on having a shop that has jams, cookies, and even bread that is so back to the basics and absent of preservatives that you might not even know what you’re biting into when you taste it.

“Salt, water, yeast, and flour,” Solano says of the ingredients in most of the bread that she sells in her shop, “That’s it.”

Along with the bread and olive oil, they also have ├ęclairs, homemade pasta, cream puffs, and other great items, as well as more on the way.

“We’re going to try to introduce some different cheeses,” Solano says, “We’re having like, dipping oils coming in on a weekly base. I introduce a new item every week.”

But the food is not all this small shop has to offer. Solano, born and raised in Rome, wants to provide her customers with an experience when they come into her shop, even if they’re just picking up a loaf of bread.

“We have Italian music playing in the store,” Solano says, “and it brings you back to the old world.”

“People are literally dancing into the store,” Solano continues, “It’s nice when you put a smile on a person’s face just to get a loaf of bread.”

One group in particular that she’s been putting a smile on their faces is the people who don’t have much, as Solano believes in giving to the needy anything that she doesn’t sell. The Market Street Mission in Morristown, a senior center, and The Hermits of Bethlehem, all get items from her store if they haven’t sold.

“We donate a lot of stuff,” Solano says, “At the end of the day, giving it away puts a smile on my face.”

But Solano won’t just give away anything. She’s always making certain that anything that leaves her shelves is of the highest quality.
“I wouldn’t sell it if I wouldn’t eat it,” Solano says, “I’m very picky about the way the bread looks, the way the cookies look.”


WHERE: 56 Main Street, Chester
TELEPHONE NUMBER: 908-879-1123
HOURS: Closed Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday-Friday: 10AM-5:00PM, Saturday and Sunday: 8:00AM-3:00PM
CUISINE: Breads, pastries
PAYMENT: Cash, all major credit cards
DRESS: Casual
THE SCENE: A small shop that’s reminiscent of the small shops in Rome
ATMOSPHERE: Maria and her daughters who might be seen on weekends, are a friendly group happy to chit-chat and say hello to you, even if you’re just picking up a loaf of bread. The customer is highly regarded here.
OWNER: Maria Solano

Review: Hatchet II

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Original article can be found here:

The original Hatchet was fun. Was it the worthy successor to Halloween and Friday the 13th like it was being presented? No. Not even close. There’s just something about Victor Crowley that’s not as iconic as Michael Meyers or Jason Voorhees to me. But still, it was fun, and Hatchet II is a worthy sequel that’s even more gruesome than the original. That said, is it so violent that it deserves to be unrated? Not hardly, but all that and more is talked about on the extensive commentaries, which make this one DVD worth picking up if you’re a fan.

The Movie: Three Stars

Didn’t see the original Hatchet? Well, that sucks for you, since this one takes place immediately following the original. We’re once again with Marybeth (this time, played by Halloween-famed Danielle Harris rather than Tamara Feldman), battling Victor Crowley on a boat. The confrontation ends and we’re once again in New Orleans, literally only a day apart from events that happened like four years ago in our own time. Surprisingly, slasher-film wise, not much has really happened in our time, and it makes Victor Crowley’s return a welcome one for the slasher fans who really missed him. Personally, I’ve never been a huge fan of Crowley. He always looked like a demented version of Sloth from The Goonies to me. Anyway, Victor Crowley’s still alive, so that means that you can expect more blood and creative ways for people to meet their maker, just much more of it this time.

A complaint that a lot of people had with the original was that there weren’t enough kills in it. And while that might have been true, that didn’t really bother me. What bothered me was the character himself. Victor Crowley, with his deformed face and goofy overalls, isn’t very scary. A stalker is much more horrifying when you don’t know what they look like. And unless that stalker has a horrific backstory like Freddy Krueger, than a mask is always preferred. But Victor Crowley doesn’t wear a mask. He stalks around the woods and kills people in sadistic ways. The fans will of course eat this up, but those who didn’t like the original won’t be won over by this one, and that’s just fine. Because Hatchet II isn’t meant for newcomers. It’s purely meant for the fans. Why else would fan-favorite Tony Todd (the one and only Candyman) return, but this time with a much meatier role? I’m sure the fans requested it, and director Adam Green happily obliged.

In many ways, this is one of the most fan-serviced movies I can think of. Instead of explaining things for those who never saw the original, the mythology is built on even more, which I’m sure will leave newcomers out in the cold. This is both one of the greatest strengths and weaknesses of the film -- it can’t stand on its own. The various murders (from a massive chainsaw to the privates of two unlucky characters to a guy getting buzzed in the brains by a motorized sander) are only impressive when you take into account how few deaths you had in the original. I could imagine that it would make for a rather underwhelming experience for anybody who has never seen the first one. Even so, this movie is not for those people, and if you were a huge fan of the first, then you’ll love this one just as much. It’s a good sequel, and fans will definitely approve.

The Disc: Four Stars

The special features are what make this disc worth owning. “Hatchet II: Behind the Screams” is a half-hour documentary on the making of the movie. If you have any interest in learning how Hatchet II was made, you can’t go wrong with this one. It’s all fairly detailed, from the sets to the characters that interacted within them.

There are also some trailers for the movie, but that’s not what you’re interested in. What you’re interested in are the two commentaries, and they definitely deliver, both in their own separate ways.

Usually, with commentaries recorded by multiple parties, I’ll tell you to listen to one over the other. But on this disc, they’re both pretty interesting. On the “Production Audio Commentary" track, we learn about duck-poop-infested waters and about all the major horror icons (Lloyd Kaufman!) who make appearances in the film. In the “Cast Audio Commentary" track, we get to hear stories about what it was like working on the set and also, toward the end, a lengthy discussion about how the film became unrated in the theaters and the fight that went on because of it. It’s all really fascinating stuff and definitely worth a listen. Pick it up.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Conspiracy Alert! Did Watson the Computer Hustle Ken Jennings?

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While watching Jeopardy tonight for the third night of Watson the computer's dominance over mankind, I noticed something strange tonight. Something...unsettling.

It happened in the first round, where Ken Jennings started getting more questions right than Watson. Now, if you watched Jeopardy Monday and Tuesday, you'll remember that Watson didn't let either Jennings or the other weird guy with the facial hair get anywhere near its score. It was like it was hooked up to the questions and was being fed the answers hours before Jennings or the weird facial hair guy had even woken up that morning. Had even been born, even. It was eerie.

But today, it was like it didn't even want to answer questions. It was almost like it was LETTING Ken Jennings get some if the answers today. Like it was the 1996 Chicago Bulls allowing the Seattle Supersonics to win in Seattle for the few games just so they could win it all back in Chicago. It was almost like it was...HUSTLING him. Like it was making him LOOK like he could win only to sweep the carpet right from under him.

Oh, man.

The birth of Skynet can't be far behind. First comes pity for the human race, and then comes contempt for being so much more superior than it. I am NOT looking forward to our new IBM overlords making us eat out of a trough. In the game of life, for the time being, at least, we're Wesley Snipes, and Watson is Woody Harrelson, hustling us right out of our futures. Here's a clip to understand it better.

Well, it was nice knowing you, I suppose...

Wrestlers in Film

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So, I just watched Faster with "Dwayne" The Rock "Johnson" (Note that I put "Dwayne" and "Johnson" in quotes--mainly because he'll always be The Rock in my eyes, forget about this Dwayne Johnson nonsense), and, well, it sucked. Now, if this had been his very first film, then its suckiness may have been excusable. But the man has been making films for years now and he still hasn't made anything better than The Rundown, which was just subpar, if even that.

Wha' happan'?

This guy was supposed to be the next big action star. He was supposed to be the next Ahnold. But instead, we got the next Vin Diesel--a piece of shit who started off all tough but petered out to be a joke. In fact, the Rock is worse than Vin Diesel, as at least Mr. Diesel (Heh, Mr. Diesel) only made ONE horrific kiddie film in The Pacifier. The Rock's resume is almost filled with them. Watch.


But you know what? Thinking of how much The Rock sucks as an actor got me into thinking about other wrestlers who got into film, and how awesome they turned out to be. So below are wrestlers who actually were awesome in movies. If you can think of any more, please leave them in the comments below.

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Captain Lou Albano

Captain Lou Albano was awesome for two reasons. One, he was Cindy Lauper's dad in "Girl's Just want to have Fun," and two, well, he's Mario. Forget Bob Hoskins, Captain Lou will always be the live action version of the plumber from Brooklyn in my eyes. Just look at him. This man was born to eat pasta and save princesses. It's in his eyes.

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Rowdy Roddy Piper

Rowdy Roddy Piper is the one who gets to wear the sunglasses. And if you don't know what that's from, then I already hate you. Besides being in a John Carpenter classic though, he's also been in a movie called "Immortal" Combat. How sick (and stupid?) is that? Too sick, and too stupid is the answer.

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The Hulkster

I don't have to tell you about Hulk Hogan, brother. You already know that he's the shit. Even when he's Mr. Nanny, he's still the manliest man who ever did man.

That said, his best role was as a, what else, a wrestler in Rocky III, which was his very first film ever. Thunderlips (Just the name alone) will always live in our hearts and minds, forever, forever, forever, for...

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Jesse "The Body" Ventura

We really didn't need Predator to tell us that Jesse "The Body" Ventura was a sexual tyrannosaurus, but it always helps to be reminded. Also, the man was a governor. I don't know how many times that needs to be brought up, but I'll bring it up a second time, the man was a governor. And he's a conspiracies maven. What's not to love?

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John Cena

And last but not least (And I'm not including Stone Cold on this list because his career has sucked just as much as The Rock's) is John Cena. How pathetic is it that I even consider John Cena's piss poor career better than The Rock's? Pretty pathetic, indeed. One thing I can say in favor of Cena's career is at LEAST he mostly sticks to action movies. The man knows he can't act, so why stray outside of beating people up and looking good doing it? Here's a clip of him doing just that. Tell me, wouldn't you have liked to see The Rock have gone down this path? It's a damn shame...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Eating Out in Mendham: Dante's Italian Ristorante-Pizza

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Many times, if you want pizza or you want more upper-scale Italian dishes, you have to make two separate trips. Not so with Dante’s Italian Ristorante, where both are under one roof. Not only that, but both are also available for picking up or sit down meals, so you get the best of both worlds when you come here.

“[When] we [originally] opened up as a restaurant, we had these little pizzas and everybody started asking for these pizzas to go,” owner Lisa Durso says, speaking of the inception of the restaurant, which is celebrating their 20th year anniversary this year, “That’s how the pizza and the Italian take-out started.”

“People still wanted to come in and have major meals,” Durso continues, “But they also still wanted to carry out pizza. And spaghetti, they wanted that, too. So that’s how it evolved.”

And Dante’s has evolved quite well. What was once, and still is for the most part, an Italian restaurant has transformed into a place where you can have any meal you want as long as you can supply the ingredients and the recipe.

“One thing that always stands true is that we’ll make anything that anybody wants,” Durso says,

“If they know the ingredients and know what they want then we’ll make it. Nothing is too crazy.”

This communication with the customer is an important part of Durso’s game plan. She wants to stay focused on giving back to the people who have supported her business for all these years.
We deliver pizzas to Mendham high school, West Morris Central, Mendham Township Elementary,” Durso says, “They have their pizza days.”

“It’s really nice to give back to the community, to the schools,” Durso continues, “I just do it for the kids.”

Amidst everything Dante’s does for the kids or for the customers, though, their primary focus has always been to serve some of the best Italian food in the area, and they’ve committed themselves to that promise, day in and day out.

“Some of our popular dishes are our stuffed veal chops,” Durso says, “I’d say our fried calamari is always really good, too.”

“And we have really great fresh salads,” Durso continues, “Our pasta guy is really good. We have whole wheat fettuccini with scallops and spinach and sun dried tomatoes that’s really good.”
They also have something that many other Italian places don’t have in the area, which is the ability to both bring your own wine and also, drink the wine served on the premises.

“We don’t have a liquor license, but we’re allowed to service New Jersey wines [but not any other outside wines],” Durso says, “So we hooked up with a vineyard in New Jersey, and now we have wine to offer that’s really great.”

Great wine, great Italian dishes, and great pizza, what else could you possibly ask for? There’s a lot to be thankful for at Dante’s, but Durso might be the most thankful of all.

“It’s been a wonderful experience being in the Mendham community for the last 20 years,” Durso says, “I’ve met some great people, and it’s those people who are part of my success and I just wanted to thank everybody.”

WHERE: 100 East Main Street, Mendham
TELEPHONE NUMBER: 973-543-5401
HOURS: Mon-Thurs, 11AM-9:00PM, Saturday, 11:00AM-10:00PM, Sunday, 1:00PM-9:00PM
CUISINE: Italian
PAYMENT: Cash, checks, and all major credit cards
DRESS: Casual
THE SCENE: A pleasant place with an area to both pick up meals and sit down for the meal, so you’re getting the best of both worlds
ATMOSPHERE: The cozy inside presents a nice balance for family or taking out a date
PARKING: In the nearby lot
MANAGER: John Triana
OWNER: Lisa Durso

Monday, February 14, 2011

Video Games That I'm Ashamed to Have Owned At One Point in My Life, Entry Two: Dead or Alive

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Okay, now Dead or Alive for the PS1 is a perfectly competent fighter, if not exactly a great one, so that's not the reason that I'm ashamed that I owned it at one point in my life. In fact, I'd even go the length to say that Temco really got it right with DoA3, as I'd put that up there as one of my favorite fighters of all time.

So, no, it's not that the game sucked. That's not why I'm ashamed that I bought it. I'm ashamed I bought it for another reason, and if you know the franchise, then I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this.

If you don't already know, DoA, while known for its fighting engine, is known for something even more titillating (Ah her her her)--its ladies.

Kasumi, Tina, Ayane, it doesn't matter who you pick, you're a perv no matter what.

Now, when I saw the still photos of the girls in my Gameplayers magazine, I thought, well, that doesn't look very appealing. But when I read that there was actually an option to make their breasts bounce, well...just watch the video below.

I mean, seriously, can you really blame me for shelling out $50 big ones back then for a game where you can make a girl's breasts bounce? I was like, 13 back then, and what 13 year old WOULDN'T have bought a game like this? Still, in hindsight, it was a pretty pervy thing to do--to buy a video game just to see polygon breasts (They weren't even real!) bounce. Oh, well. At least I didn't buy it because the Wu-tang Clan were in it this time.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Top Ten Cartoons of the 90s

I was born in 1983, so that makes me a child of the 90s. Sure, I remember seeing Thundercats on TV. I remember seeing G.I. Joe, Transformers, and Voltron, but those weren't my cartoons. Those were for people born in the 1970s.

MY cartoons officially started around 1989. So that means, the only Transformers that I was really into was these:

Sure, kids of today would scoff at how awful the computer models look, but that's where I'm coming from when I'm talking about the Transformers that I truly know. Optimus Prime is a monkey.

Even so, I wouldn't dare put that in my top ten favorite cartoons of the 90s. No, that list has a very specific batch. Now, I asked around and a lot of people agreed with my picks, so this list won't be as polarizing as some of my others. Without further Apu (Simpsons fans know where I'm coming from with that one) the top ten best cartoons of the 90s...

10. Doug

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If you asked me to tell you the plot of a single episode, I probably couldn't. But if you asked me about the characters, I'd say, oh, you got Skeeter ("Honk honk!"), Roger Klotz, his older sister, Judy, his dog, Porkchop, and of course, the love of his life, Patti Mayonnaise.

And that's because Doug was a show about characters. So much so, that when Nickelodeon's Doug became Disney's Doug, we all got really upset when they cut Patti Mayonnaise's hair. Let me just repeat that last sentence: We all got really upset when they cut Patti Mayonnaise's hair.

Are you serious? That really bothered us back then? Well, yeah, it did, and that says a lot when people get bothered (Or actually, approve of, for a select minority) when a character on a cartoon show gets a haircut that's too short.

Oh, and by the way, who needs the Beatles when you've got the Beets?

9. Animaniacs

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Admit it, you didn't get every joke on Animaniacs when you watched it as a kid. You didn't really know half the movies that they were referencing, and you had a hard time wrapping your head around why they kept calling their psychiatrist, Dr. Scratchansniff, a "P" sychiatrist. It all went over your head. It doesn't matter. Animaniacs did back then what a lot of cartoons are doing today--Not dumbing it down just because it's a cartoon. I'd venture to say that it wasn't even a kids' cartoon. Would a kids' cartoon really have an episode parodying Apocalypse Now? The fact of the matter is, it was a great show that appealed to both kids, because it was wacky, and to adults, because it was smart, and everybody benefited from it. And that Wheel of Morality sure does give great tips!

Here's one of my favorite scenes from the show:

And who could forget Chicken Boo?

8. X-Men: The Animated Series

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As a comic book nerd growing up, I already knew about the X-Men. But the uncanny mutants were around long before I was born, so it was nice to see some of their older stories get played out on TV. The Phoenix Saga, for one, was a thing of legend, and it was awesome to see the epicness of it all without having to backtrack through the older comics to learn about it. Sure, some details were changed, but overall, it took phenomenal stories and introduced them to a new audience. Plus, you gotta love that intro.

7. Ren and Stimpy

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Unlike Animaniacs, Ren and Stimpy was definitly not for kids. Sure, it was shown TO kids, but that doesn't mean that it was shown FOR kids. Unlike the innocence of Spongebob today, which I'd say is the show's nearest successor, Ren and Stimpy just went way, way, way beyond any standard of decency that kid's should have been allowed to see. Take in note the board game, Don't Whiz on the Electric Fence, or that Powdered Toast Man flies backwards and sticks his head in the toaster to transform. I mean, what IS this? That's all I could ask myself when I was younger. What-the hell-am I watching? And that's why it was so good. Any show that can make you question if you're still living in reality has to go on this list.

6. Gargoyles

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When picking a favorite show from the two hour Disney block we all used to watch after school, most people would pick something like Duck Tales or Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers or Darkwing Duck, and I'm not saying that you're wrong by picking those shows. I'm just saying that you're less right than I am.

The other aforementioned shows, while great in their own right, weren't as deep or as rich as Gargoyles, which just came out of nowhere. The concept alone was genuine and awesome. Gargoyles, those things that you see on the top of city buildings, actually come to life at night and have adventures? No wai! Also, add to the fact that it had a deep mythology and went back several generations, and you had a show that actually made Disney cool. That, and the fact that badass Goliath was voiced by similar badass, Keith David. Ohhhh, yeeeeeah.

5. Beavis and Butt-head

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Today, I can watch an episode of Beavis and Butt-head and not laugh once, but very few cartoon characters of the 90s were as beloved as the heroes of the "heh heh's" and "huh huh's" as B&B were. What I loved most about the show is when they would just sit on the couch and watch crummy music videos and make fun of them. Interestingly enough, I actually discovered one of my favorite bands during one of these segments, which I guess just furthers the notion that I really DO like shitty music.

4. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

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If you were alive in the 60s, then you had the Beatles. If you were alive in the 90s, then you had the Turtles. TMNT was not just a cartoon, it was a phenomenon, and EVERYBODY was into them. EV-RY-BODY. When I was a kid, race, religion or creed didn't matter to me. It was, "Who's your favorite Ninja Turtle?" which would determine our friendship. If you said, Donatello, then you had to stay the hell away from me. Most of my friends were Michelangelo fans, but I was always more of a Raphael kind of guy. He was cool, but rude (Give me a break!) you know.

I STILL get fond memories for the turtles. Still.

3. The Maxx

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Now here's the only cartoon on my list that may not be on your own. For anybody who knows me, they know that The Maxx is my favorite comic book character of all time. And yes, even more than Moon Knight. The Maxx used to be shown on MTV on a series called MTV Oddities, which featured another excellent show called The Head. The Maxx is deep. Very deep. Jungian deep. It was an excellent comic book and the show was basically just the comic book, panel for panel, on the screen. You can't get any better than that. If you find it, pick it up. It's definitely worth the watch.

You can actually watch full episodes here:

2. Batman: The Animated Series

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Batman: The Animated Series won Emmys. It is, in my opinion, not only one of the greatest cartoons of the 90s, but also, the greatest animated, televised drama ever. Nothing even compares to it. Batman has been shown and repackaged since the 60s in many different variations, but none as darkly engaging as when he had this animated gem. All the familiar villains were there--The Joker, The Penguin, Two Face--but then, there were other's that weren't so known, like The Mad Hatter, Killer Croc, and my personal favorite, Clayface. And the best thing was, none of them were mistreated. All of them were given phenomenal episodes, and some of them, I'm not even ashamed to say, made me cry. Will there ever be another show like this one, I don't know, but for any of us who were alive at the time to appreciate it, we were lucky.

1. The Simpsons

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Okay, let's please just try to forget The Simpsons of the 2000s and try to focus on The Simpsons that America really and truly loved. Once you do that, I don't think there's even a question about what the best cartoon of the 90s was. Hell, I'd say, The Simpsons was the best television show of the 90s, period. Sure, you can whine, "But what about Seinfeld?" in Jerry's annoying voice, and yeah, Seinfeld is definitely in the top two. But the only reason that you'd put Seinfeld over The Simpsons is because Seinfeld knew when it was time to bow out gracefully, and The Simpsons doesn't have a clue.

If The Simpsons had ended in what many, if not all, fans would call the golden years of the show, then I'm pretty sure more people would be calling it the greatest show of all time, cartoon notwithstanding.

Nothing was funnier than The Simpsons at its prime. Nothing was as engaging, and nothing was as marketable. The 90s, for me anyway, was the 16-bit war, Bill Clinton, and The Simpsons, and when I look back and tell my grandkids about it before I tell them that I didn't put any of them in my will, I'll say the same thing--The 90s consisted of three major events, the 16-bit war, Bill Clinton, and The Simpsons. Those are the things that were good in my life when I was a child, and I'll never forget them. I just hope that future generations can look back at the show when (if) it finally goes off the air and notice that the show at one point DID achieve nirvana. It was just buried by a lot of crap that really should never have been released.

Possibly my favorite moment from the show ever.