Sometimes going to an amusement park is about more than just coasters.
Last weekend I went to the Kings Island Haunt weekend with four friends. In short, we had a blast.
We were given some tickets because of the Tuesdays with Mobot blog.
I am not a horror fan but had a lot of fun in the haunts. One in particular had us all in stitches, not creepy slasher stitches but laughter stitches.
It was completely in the dark and listening to a friend in a squid hat scream every time a light flashed was pretty hilarious.
But what my friends probably didn’t know is that on that day, it was five years since my father’s funeral. I needed a fun weekend out.
The first thing I did when I got to the park was all for my dad. He loved roller coasters and one of his favorites, The Beast. I can still see him laughing in pure joy while riding.
It’s one of those things you always remember. Seeing the joy in a loved one’s eyes when they enjoy themselves.
So, I road The Beast for my daddy.
Fun with friends, that was for me.
After The Beast, we hit up all the haunts and ate a little blue ice cream somewhere in between.
Kings Island did a great job of setting the ambience for their haunt weekends. Fog machines were everywhere with colored lights creating a fun look. The Eiffel Tower, with lights for the season, was exceptionally impressive, including characters in French revolution looking period clothing and chandeliers hanging from the bottom of the tower.
We all had a moment when someone jumped out at us during one of the 10 haunts, causing a scream. The haunts weren’t exceptionally scary, just fun.
The weekend was the fun little escape I needed with good friends and good times and a little blue ice cream.
Disclaimer: Tickets to the King’s Island Halloween Haunt were provided by King’s Island.
I have a confession to make: I’ve never been to a haunted house. It’s a strange thing to say, considering how much I love horror movies and Halloween, and I do like both quite a lot. I haven’t been intentionally avoiding them, I just have never actually made time to go to any, just because they seemed too expensive, or were too far away, or because I tend to be busy in October with the theater, or other Halloween stuff.
The closest I’ve come was going to Fright Nights Campout with a fellow Tuesdays with Mobot member, Jessica, a couple years ago. That was a blast, but obviously not indicative of a typical haunted house experience. For one thing, it lasted all night, rather than just however long it takes to walk through the attraction, with…
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This past Saturday, I along with 4 other members of Tuesdays with Mobot traveled to Mason, Ohio to check out HAUNT at Kings Island. We were invited to come check it out and received free admission tickets, but let me tell you, this event is WELL worth the price of admission.
HAUNT runs Friday and Saturdays in October, and is when at 6 PM, the entire park is transformed into one giant haunted Halloween affair. The whole thing runs until 1 AM, so
you’re doing yourself a solid by getting a hotel room, or camping out on a friend’s couch. There’s fog machines everywhere, lights projecting spooky patterns on the ground, and creepy costumed characters wandering the park, ready to scare you. That’s not all though, the park also hosts ten, that’s right, TEN, haunted houses for you to walk through. Each one has a different theme, and is a ton of scary fun. One of my personal favorites was Carn-Evil, full of scary clowns and trippy illusions.
I saw plenty of families. I thought it would be more of a grown-ups only affair, but there were lots of kids walking the park with parents. And they seemed to be really enjoying it. I didn’t see one kid crying or cringing away from anything. If you’re worried about your little ones, they do offer “No-Scare” necklaces. For a price, your kid can wear this and it guarantees no ghouls will come up to them. For an extra cost, you can also get a Fright Lane pass, allowing you to skip the majority of the line and get to the front. I gotta tell you though, even though I feel like the park was sufficiently crowded, we never waited more than 20 minutes to get into any of the haunts. I’d say save your money there.
I only got a glimpse of them, but there are also live shows that pepper the night and give you some live entertainment. The one I saw a little of was a rock and roll show. Good times.
Of course the coasters are running, so if you’re not into the haunts, you can always hop onto The Beast for a thrill.
If you enjoy haunted houses and the Halloween spirit, a trip to Kings Island is definitely worth it. You just become steeped in the season, and get swept away in the fun. I can honestly say my group laughed harder and had more fun that we have in a long time. Halloween is always better with friends. If I could, I’d be heading up there every weekend. The drive there is worth it. Hands down.
Do yourself a favor, get a group of friends together, and head on over to visitkingsisland.com and grab yourself some tickets.
This past Saturday, I attended the second Days of the Dead Convention in Louisville with my fellow horror movie loving members of Tuesdays with Mobot, the Monster Squad. Well…the Monster Squad and Becca. One of our regular members was unable to attend, so the horror novice Becca stepped up and went with us to “document” the event. I gotta say, Days of the Dead is becoming one of my favorite cons to go to.
Like last year, the driving force for me at the convention was the incredible sense of nostalgia that it brought me. When I was young, every Friday night, my older brother and I would drive to Henrville, get a Tim’s pizza, and hit Henryville Video, in front of the car wash. We’d peruse the new release horror movies first, before making our way into the back room where there was an entire wall and a half of horror movies. Good ones, bad ones, it didn’t matter, we watched them all. ALL.
Going to Days of the Dead is that for me as an adult. It totally captures all the love I had for those Friday nights, bonding with my brother, Buddha. Getting to hang with my fellow Monster Squadders and seeing these actors in person, and walking the aisles of merch…indescribable fun. The stars who are there are placed high on pedestals in my book. Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, PJ Soles, Linda Blair, Kane Hodder are all names that might mean nothing to non-horror fans, but to those of us who know, they are LEGEND.
I was very excited this year to meet Kane Hodder, who played Jason in several Friday the 13th movies. He’s one of my favorites. I remember he was the first person I learned played Jason and always associated him with the role, even though several came before him…and a few after. But Kane was always MY Jason. I had him sign my vintage poster advertising Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan. It’s a poster that I’ve had in my collection since 1990. It came straight from the wall of Henryville Video onto the wall of my bedroom.
Similar to how people have their favorite Doctor, horror fans have their favorite Jason. We actually sat in on a panel of 4 different Jasons, and it’s so awesome to hear how each understands that even though they say nothing, their body language in the role is everything. They give each performance as much thought and work as any trained Shakespearean actor. They have a reverence for the role. They include little nods to other Jason actors in their mannerisms and performances. They are in a club we can only experience from the outside.
I also got to meet and speak with David Naughton, most famously known for his role in An American Werewolf in London. That movie is so high on my list of favorites. It’s blend of scares, straight-up gore and some really funny comedy completely sucked me in. It was also the first werewolf movie I saw where the monster looked more wolf-like and walked on 4 legs, and not like a hairy guy on 2 legs. It’s just a great movie. Having a poster signed by him that he wrote, “Beware the moon” on…truly an honor.
Days of the Dead with the Monster Squad is the modern-day equivalent of a wall and a half of horror VHS movies and a Tim’s pizza waiting in the back of my brother’s car. And I love it.
Where to even start with Days of the Dead? I suppose the best place is the beginning, which I covered briefly when talking about this year’s Lexington Toy and Comic Con. Last year’s Days of the Dead was great, even with Tom Savini cancelling his appearance last minute; getting to meet Heather Langenkamp was incredible, and still one of my favorite experiences meeting a celebrity, just because of how much Nightmare on Elm Street means to me. She can’t quite compare with Bruce Campbell, but who can?
This year’s Days of the Dead? Even better. For me, personally, there was no individual person there with the same draw as Tom Savini or Heather Langenkamp, but the guest list was still insane for anybody who loves horror – four of the actors who have played Jason, Tony Todd from the Candyman movies, Linda Blair from The Exorcist, David Naughton from…
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It should come as no surprise to anyone that I love the horror genre. Freddy. Jason. Michael. Chucky. Campy. I love it all! My favorites are low budget B movies from the ’80s. For a horror lover this time of the year can’t arrive soon enough. It’s almost fall. Soon there will be crisp air, crunchy leaves, and horror movie marathons.
September also means it’s time for Days of the Dead. For the second year in a row Tuesday’s with Mobot’s “Monster Squad” traveled to Louisville for the Days of the Dead horror convention. There are so many things to love about DOTD. To start, the venue is small enough to make the rounds without feeling rushed or crowded, but big enough to offer plenty of big name celebrities and merchandise galore. It is also very well organized from the use of space down to the speedy photo ops. Finally, this is the place to be if you are looking for some of horror’s biggest icons like Kane Hodder, Sid Haig, Tony Todd, Felissa Rose, and Heather Langenkamp.
Friday the 13th has always been a favorite for me. I love the day, I love the number, and I love the villain. This year I got some pretty sweet photos with my favorite Jasons, Kane Hodder and CJ Graham. It was also a treat to see a panel with four different Jasons, including the first (Warrington Gillette), and the last (Derek Mears).
I walked through aisle upon aisle of unique, custom made horror memorabilia. It reminded me of a Friday night video store run. Add to that intricate costumes and a bonafide sideshow and you have a carnival of horror that will please any true lover of the genre.
To top it all off I got a free weekend pass to any future DOTD! I can’t wait to see the lineup DOTD has in store next year! I know we will mark our calendars, cause hey, we’re the Monster Squad!
I’ll admit it. I’m not a fan of horror films. They don’t scare me, because they’re not that scary anymore. They seem to be more about gore then scare. It’s the gore I don’t like.
I’ve seen a lot of older ones (and by that I mean really older ones) but it’s been years since I’ve sat down to watch one on purpose.
But I have some friends, they call themselves the Monster Squad, who love the genre. Because we are a blog that talks about this sort of thing, we were granted passes to the Days of the Dead this weekend in Louisville. One of the Monster Squad members who went last year couldn’t go so I went just to see my friends have fun.
And they did have fun.
They got to see some of the people who were in some of their favorite flicks and got autographs and photos with some.
Me, I observed.
I saw a lot of art, creepy art but still art. I also got to see the guy who voiced Skeletor and some other things. That was pretty good because my brother liked the He-Man cartoons and we watched a lot of those when we were kids. By the power of Greyskull and all that jazz.
I also got to see a guy swallow swords…which is not something I think anyone should really do.
But even though I wasn’t as interested in the things there as I have been in other cons I’ve gone to one thing remained — fun with my geeky peeps. These guys could make watching paint dry fun.
So while I may not have known many of the celebrities that were there and saved a lot of money because I wasn’t as interested in the stuff for sale like I am at the sci-fi and pop culture cons, I still had fun.
It’s not about where you are but who you are with. When you’re hanging with Tuesdays with Mobot, you know you are with great friends and in for a fun time.
When using social networks, it’s best to think things through before you type.
I found this especially true the week leading up to Fandom Fest in Louisville. Fandom Fest is a small market comic con where festival-goers can dress up in costume, meet celebrities, see work from talented artists and buy geeky memorabilia.
Usually the geek community is kind, accepting and considerate to others. That weekend, another side of geekdom reared it’s ugly head.
Fandom Fest had a few issues going into the weekend. First, their venue fell through and they had to move from the convention center in Louisville to the vacant Macy’s store in Jefferson Mall, limiting the amount of people who could be in the space at one time.
When it was announced, interested parties started throwing a slight fit, to put it mildly.
Then, celebrities started canceling their appearances. Eventually, more than 20 dropped. Most said it was because they had conflicts or personal reasons, but those posting on social media cried foul and immediately started blaming the organizers calling the event Scam Fest. If someone pre-ordered a ticket for a photo op or autograph with a celebrity that canceled, they did not get a refund, but the ticket website warned them there were no refunds for cancellations. So it’s not like they didn’t have prior knowledge it could happen. Maybe it was the number of cancellations that got everyone upset.
A few of my geeky friends were going to the event. After reading all the bad comments about it, we had second thoughts, but went anyway. In the end, we had a great time.
In the midst of all the fast fingers frantically voicing their complaints about the event, they forgot something. These comic con type conventions aren’t about who you get to see or where it’s held. Sometimes, those are a bonus to the day, but never should be the main attraction.
These events are a place for geeks to gather, have a good time, dress up and buy geeky items.
Some of the art there was amazing and others were very creative. And, I know we bought more chocolate than we should from a candy maker that had candy in geeky themes.
If no one had gone to the event, as some had suggested, these artists and vendors would have lost money, and some might have.
One vendor I spoke to had etched glass mugs for sale. He came all the way from Canada only to be met with the bad press and a fear he wouldn’t make enough money to make the trip worthwhile.
In fact, the entire experience has made me rethink the way I complain about things on social networking sites, keeping in mind those who had no part in the problem, but might face the repercussions of negative comments.
The set up in the mall actually was perfect for this type of event. The merchandise wound around in an organized fashion and there was plenty of room to walk, unlike the cons with aisles and aisles of tables with little room to maneuver.
As far as only letting enough in to fill the space at a time, we were pretty grateful for that. Some cons are way too crowded and in this one we felt like we had space and elbow room.
No, the events leading up to this event were not ideal and could have been handled better by organizers but it didn’t warrant a complete negative outcry from the internet world. Some of the social media users commenting were not even from the area and had no intention of going in the first place.
But we went and shopped at some vendor and artist booths.
For my group of geeky friends, conventions are not about who is there, it’s about who we are with that counts.
Originally published in The News-Enterprise, August 9, 2017
FandomFest 2017 was a total failure. It was crowded because they switched venues to a store in the mall at the last minute, it was disorganized, none of the celebrities showed up, the ghost of a dead raccoon robbed me when I tried to leave…
That was the post I was halfway expecting to write a couple days ago, judging by the reactions of people online to what was happening with the convention… And don’t get me wrong, as far as I know, it is possible that the organizers of the con were up to some shady stuff, or that they could have at least handled things a little better. But…
Let me start by saying that I know people have had issues with them in the past, and I don’t know the full story of everything that they’ve done, but I totally get that those who have been burned…
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Lexington Comic & Toy Convention was my first NERD Convention I have gone to, and boy oh boy was it a blast. There were vendors of all sorts selling anything a Nerd would want, Cosplayers dressed up to the T of some of my favorite characters and then you had the celebrities or the people behind the stuff we all enjoy. Let’s all take a journey through what I experienced for that day.
It all started at 8:30 a.m. which was the time we were supposed to leave from the Mobot household. Had a late start due to someone showing up a little late (I’m not going to say any names……Becca). Once that unknown named person showed up we headed out in two vehicles. One was Claire’s SUV, and the other was the Mobot Swagger Wagon (Honda Van). The trip there is another story. Now I’m a bigger guy and they told me I would have to sit in the back of the van. Needless to say after what I think was the longest minute of my life I managed to squeeze myself into it. Once in it wasn’t so bad. Now to let everyone know the last time I rode in the back of a Minivan was early 2000’s, so roughly 15 years ago. We didn’t have DVD players or iPods. We just had our thoughts and the window we looked out of. Nowadays with technology and Aaron’s three little girls I got to enjoy what I never had growing up. I don’t remember much about the trip there till we reached Versailles, but the in ride movie choice was fitting (“Annie”). When we arrived at the Convention Center parking wasn’t that bad due to the fact we went on the Sunday instead of Saturday, but who can’t beat FREE parking.
Once we parked we started our trek inside. Where the convention is held is a place with so much history. Not because it has anything to do with Comic Cons or Nerd Fandom but sports history. The place I’m talking about is RUPP ARENA. With most of our crew being Kentucky Wildcats fans we all appreciated being so close to the home of the men’s basketball team, except for one of us who is a die hard Indiana Hoosier fan. He let us know every time we spoke of Rupp Arena that his ears would burn from us saying it so much, so we made fun of him pretty much the whole day.
As soon as we walked in what was there to greet us but a 30 ft tall Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. At that point I knew we had made it, and I was about to have the time of my life. We proceed to get out passes and walked through what I could only imagine was the pearly white gates, but it was just a basic glass door but above it read Lexington Comic & Toy Convention START HERE.
The first room we walked into was nothing but vendors. It was on the top floor away from the main convention floor, but it was still a wow to see. I never knew of all the things I have been missing. There was POP vinyl figures, characters, all sorts of glasses from shot to big beer mugs with all kinds of different etchings on them and drawings from local artists. Aaron gave me some advice, first look at everything and remember prices. There were a lot of people selling the same stuff so he said keep a mental note where they were and what price so you can get the most bang for your buck.
After looking through there we ran into what was Toothless the dragon. Now me and that dragon have a history together. I first met him in Elizabethtown at the Via Colori festival. Towards the end of the festival a big rain storm came in. Knowing that this dragon does not like the rain the Tuesdays with Mobot crew jumped into action to help him into an old bread truck. As the storm got closer it was starting to look like we was not going to be able to get Toothless all the way into the truck. I sprang into action and grabbed a tarp that was sitting on the ground and helped cover Toothless and the people getting him into the van. After that point I was forever known as Tarp Man. Now that you know a little backstory let me get us back on track to the Comic Convention.
After we finished exploring through the top floor we made our way down to the main floor of the convention center. Let me ask you a question? Do you know that feeling you have on Christmas morning as a child of excitement to see what Santa left for you? That’s how I felt when we stepped through that door. First thing I see standing right in front of me were Ghostbusters, and to my right was like a scene out of star wars with storm troopers, speed bikes and a life size AT-Scout Walker.
I wanted so badly to have my picture taken on one of the speed bikes, but I held my cool and just took some photos on my phone. Next week walked down a little bit to see this group of people with different costumes on from Star Wars taking pictures. We stopped there to get a group photo. After the photo we trekked our way to the main floor.
I’m a huge Supernatural fan and Power Rangers fan. When looking on the website before we came, they had said they would have the Winchester car and some of the actual power rangers from the series there. Once we stepped into the main building what do I see but not twenty feet away from me? The Winchester Car. Now if you don’t know anything about this car it’s a staple part of the show. It’s a 1967 Chevrolet Impala and my what a beautiful car it was. Just so everyone knows the car at the comic convention was just built by someone who was a fan of the show who built one to look just like the vehicle in the show. Still amazing though and I kinda kicked myself for not getting a picture of me inside of it. Next we walked down the side of the building right along where some of the celebrities were. I saw Theo Rossi (“Luke Cage”, “Sons of Anarchy”), Ric Flair (Nature Boy WWE), Sean Gunn (“Guardians of the Galaxy”) and the original black Power Ranger just to name a few of the over 5o celebrities there. There were two celebrities that just made my day.
The first one I met was John Wesley Shipp. If you’re scratching your head about who he is so was I. He played Flash for one season on TV in the early 90’s. He was also on “Dawson’s Creek.” If you’re still shaking your head he plays Barry Allen’s father on CW’s “The Flash.” Now that I have caught your attention, our entire group got to go talk to him. Aaron had a his season of “The Flash” from the 90’s for him to sign and got a photo with him. Next thing I knew John had stepped around his table and shook all of our hands. Let me tell you one thing, you always hear of celebrities that don’t care about their fans but John Wesley Shipp seemed genuinely interested in what we were talking about. Next thing I know he is personally asking us to come to his panel. So what did we do? We went to his panel. It’s always so interesting to hear the stories of people who have done so much. He also let us in on a little something in an upcoming episode of “The Flash.” Over all, if I see John again I will get a picture with him.
After the panel I decided to take a walk around the vendors one more time to do some buying of items I wanted. While walking around I walked by a booth that had a cool hat in it. I love hats and this one was kinda special because it said Blue Crew on it for the Power Rangers.
The blue power ranger will always be my favorite and the Blue Power Ranger from Power Rangers Turbo was my favorite when I was a kid. So..now back to the hat. I walked up to the booth and asked the lady behind it for the price of the hat. She proceeded to tell me when I heard someone from the side of me say, “Hi, I’m Blake Foster.” Now I knew that name from somewhere, I just couldn’t remember who it was. As I looked up, behind me was a man holding the Blue Turbo Power Rangers helmet with his hand out wanting to shake. This is when I realized why that name sounded familiar. He was the actual Power Ranger from the Turbo series. I talked with him a little bit about how I was such a huge fan and watch the movie and series he did. Which, if you don’t know, he was just a kid when he did the Power Rangers.
Eventually, we did end up back on the topic of the hat. He said, “Here take the hat but do me one favor. Take a photo of you in the hat and post it on Instagram and tag me in the photo and you can have the hat.” I was befuddled with happiness and agreed to those terms . He handed me the hat. I was so overwhelmed I forgot to ask for a picture or autograph, but I took that hat and wore it with pride out of the convention.
Well, that was my day and I would highly recommend if you have or have not gone to a comic convention to check out the Lexington Comic & Toy Convention. This has been your friendly neighborhood Tarp Man signing off till next time…..