Happy 4th of July, 2013

Dear Flakes,

Here we are again at the 4th of July. I’d just like to take a moment to thank you all for coming to the table, reading, commenting, and discussing our ideas with us at Eat Your Serial. The idea of discourse, discussion, and expression are at the heart of American liberties and to be able to do so freely, and to have robust conversations is our ultimate goal in sharing our ideas with you. Thank you for your part in our experiment of First Amendment execution, but beware…you’ve only emboldened us to go bigger, and “go west” (at least as far west as one can go on the internet. Expect fireworks from us in the near future to rival the Macy’s show that some of you will certainly be witnessing tonight through various means. The execution of our rights is our honor and duty, and any open discourse we can have in large groups helps us all to grown and understand the multifaceted prism of ourselves. Our growth as a company, as well as your support is invaluable whether you agree with our writers or disagree–the more you come and read, and comment, and share the better off we all are. In this age of deep political divides, hard party lines, and victory-without-compromise mindsets in our American government and in national conversations it is important that we remember that only through interaction, and only with open minds can we truly learn from each other and move forward in a mutually beneficially and decidedly positive direction. At Eat Your Serial, whether we disagree about Man of Steel or Affirmative Action, we’re glad to openly share our perspectives and offer them to you. It is a particular point of pride and accomplishment whenever we get a comment, like, follow, or share in social media or on our posts because we know that you are interacting with our thoughts and either endorsing, challenging, or engaging their content. But beware, Dearest Flakes, as your interaction with us only emboldens us to think bigger, go harder, and share more–and have no fear that is exactly what we intend to do. As we continue to build our American Dream at Eat Your Serial, have no fear, we intend to explode with new ideas, thoughts, projects, and initiatives. Big things are on the horizon and we hope that you will forge our new frontiers with us.

While you are gathering with your friends and loved ones on this day, please know that our thoughts are with you and we are wishing you a happy and safe celebration. For our part, we will be reflecting on everything we have and how much more we have to give to all the important and not so important conversations in the world.

We’d also like to take a moment to remember those who gave their all so that we can execute our important freedoms–your sacrifice has added to your immortality, as you are inextricably linked to the execution of our most basic and fundamentally important rights.

Happy 4th of July, and God Bless America

Brandon Melendez


Eat Your Serial, Inc.


Is Young Adult Really Young Adult? and the Emergence of New Adult

When it comes to writing, I feel I’m able to switch between certain genres pretty easily. I’ve written YA (Young Adult), Science-fiction & fantasy, steampunk, and most recently, flintlock fantasy. Granted, many of these are somewhat interchangeable, but they all have distinguishable elements that make them what they are. For example, YA is supposed to be intended for a young adult audience, generally ages 13 to 19. Teenagers. However, I know many readers (myself included) who are over the “intended age” of the YA genre, some of whom are in their 30s and 40s, who really enjoy YA books. This leaves me with the question: Is YA really YA?

My understanding of the YA genre is that the main character must be in the YA age range, and be faced, more or less, with the emotional and societal challenges that someone his or her age may face. Granted, the character may have to go out and kill, something most (but, unfortunately, not all) don’t know about, aside from what they’ve seen or read. But these characters are usually forced to deal with extreme emotional issues. Teen romances, peer pressure, substance abuse, and the like. However, does that mean that only readers in that age range can relate to and enjoy these books? Do people in their 30s and 4os not know what it’s like to deal with romances and peer pressure and substance abuse?

Although, I will say that content is one of the factors that defines the YA genre. Because this genre is supposed to be intended for a young adult audience, the way it’s written and the degree of violence and language is generally all the same. These books tend to have a lesser amount of graphic violence and sex than in standard adult books. It’s still there, but only to a degree that it wouldn’t necessarily scar a teenager. Seeing someone shot certainly would screw you up less than seeing someone get raped and ripped apart (in most cases, anyway. Certainly there are circumstances where death in any form will cause severe emotional trauma), and the vulgarities are generally kept do “damn,” “hell,” and “bastard.”

Now this is where the NA (New Adult) genre comes in. NA is intended for and usually has characters in the age range of 20 – 29. Quite literally a new adult. These books generally deal with a little more extreme issues than YA. They may involve financial  or marital issues, and the content is somewhat more graphic. These books tend to have more graphic violence and sexual scenes, but perhaps not to the degree of a standard adult book, and the vulgarities now span from “damn” and “hell” up to “shit” and the occasional “fuck.” But the books are intended to be read by an audience that is exposed to that more.

But, despite the degree of violence and sex in these books, does that mean that readers of any age can’t still enjoy them? Just because the main character in a YA book in only 16 years old, does that mean that someone who is 45 can’t relate to what they’re going through and still root for them?

Old Fairy Tale…Not for Newborns (Quick Review)

Timing is everything in life. Period. So when I heard about another Fairy Tale
movie coming to the big screen I thought…”OK, I know how this is gonna go, Ive
heard it a million and one times”. NOTHING could be further from the truth. While
Jack and the Giant Slayer is yet another fairy tale movie on the big screen, it’s a
COMPLETELY new take on a familiar formula. You may know the order in which
things happen but let me tell you…it all makes sense now! It’s more like a story for
adults instead of children.


Everything makes pure sense, no filler, mature subject matter. Everything a
grown adult would want in a movie. It has much more content that adults would
want but I will not spoil it. Let’s just say “Survival of the Fittest” is key. When you
start cringing don’t say I didn’t warn ya! The movie feels like it’s made for a the
masses, it has a lot of elements from movies people have loved through the past
decade. I highly recommend this movie to people that just want to have a good time
and see something they didn’t expect.


Just when you thought it was safe to eat your salad again, the killer tomatoes return… again. But this time, their creator Dr. Putrid T. Gangreen and these vicious veggies are even more hell bent on revenge and world domination.. and they’re animated for a Saturday morning cartoon.

 If you expected the ‘90s cartoon to pick up where Return of the Killer Tomatoes left off, then you’d be wrong. Much like the sequel, the series (which only lasted 2 seasons) picks up after The Great Tomato War of the first movie (much like the sequel). The characters are all pretty much the same as Return of the Killer Tomatoes also.  A few things occurred to me while watching this; 1. Why would they make a cartoon series out of this? and 2. Why did I not find out about this sooner?

Though the plot may be quite similar there are some subtle differences between the movie sequel and the daytime cartoon. In the ‘80s movie, the characters are old enough to be out on their own (the main character of both, Chad Finletter, even has his own apartment) but in the series, the characters are school age (10 years old, I believe). Since they’re too young to really have a relationship, Tara is not Chad’s girlfriend but his best friend in the cartoon. Like, the movie, she flees Dr. Gangreen’s lab after being considered a “failure” and refusal to get on board with his evil plan.

If you were worried that they left out the best character, have no fear! F.T. (a.k.a Fuzzy Tomato) is also in the show! He was also a failed experiment of the Doctor after he ended up cuddly, fuzzy and incapable of causing any harm to anyone. He’s my favorite character of the show because of his cover. Because society has a very anti-tomato stance, F.T. goes by “the world’s ugliest dog” in order to live among the general population.

Another difference between the show and the movie(s) are the tomatoes themselves. In the original, the tomatoes can’t talk but make some weird noises that is probably a language of their own (but not understandable) and in the sequel, Dr. Gangreen turns tomatoes into humans so they are able to speak, but only when they’re in the human form. In the cartoons, the tomatoes speak english and actually have leadership roles. For example, Tomacho (they got super creative with the names) has control over South America and Ketchuck rules over Asia. But all the tomatoes weren’t bad, for example, there’s a rogue tomato named Phantomato (a clever nod to Phantom of the Opera) who hides in the sewer due to his deformity (again, Phantom of the Opera) who repeatedly saved Tara’s life (way to be the weakest link, lady).

Much like many other horror series, this show was short lived. I feel like people were not fully ready to see a horror show (especially in Saturday morning programming). With the success and acceptance of the horror genre on television nowadays, I think the show could be successful now. Maybe it’s time for a revamp…any takers?

Anime Review: Fatal Fury – The Motion Picture


With my love for SFII: The Animated Movie pronounced greatly as per my earlier bullpen bulletin, I bet you were wondering where I went from there.  As I was riding high after watching SFII and preserving it for posterity at the time, I came across a commercial about anime movies, made for TV, being shown on the Sci-Fi channel (years before it became SyFy).  As I watched the clips, I came across a certain figure.  I saw a red cap-wearing blonde in a sleeveless t-shirt, torn blue jeans, a red jacket, and red Converse sneakers.  He raised his fist up, drove it into the ground and yelled out a phrase almost as iconic as, “Hadoken!”  The phrase was “Power Wave!”  The intention of this commercial was clear.  If you liked SFII, look what else was on the horizon: another fighting game translated to anime on cable television.  The name of the game series: Fatal Fury.  The movie on deck: Fatal Fury – the motion picture.  The review: right here and right now.


Fatal Fury is a fighting game series that was created by Takashi Nishiyama and Hiroshi Matsumoto, the original planners of Street Fighter before departing for SNK.  Fatal Fury was to be a more technically sound fighting game focusing on counters and precision strikes, not so much on combos.  This was in stark contrast to what Street Fighter became, and of course, comparisons were drawn.  Fatal Fury maintained more than a handful of sequels in the series that, unfortunately, started to wane very early on.  The series would receive resurgence with its final game: Fatal Fury – Mark of the Wolves, which stands as arguably the best title in the series.  The game was more of SNK’s way of attempting a new gameplay system reminiscent to Street Fighter Alpha and Street Fighter 3, using more in-depth animated sprites and a newer generation of fighters.  And, that’s a brief synopsis of the series.  So, how and where does the anime fit in?


Fatal Fury had three animated movies adapted from the series itself.  The first movie was based on the first game and the second was based on the sequel.  The movie I saw was actually the third movie which came out before the King of Fighters game and even the third Fatal Fury game.  So, it’s a completely different story with no connection to the games, save for cameos and such.  The first two movies were animated specials as opposed to this, which was an actual feature film.  The story covers the legendary artifact known as “The Armor of Mars”.  The armor was imbued with the power of Mars, the god of war.  It was initially utilized by Gaudemus, a tyrannical despot who used this power to take over various parts of the Middle East, like Alexander the Great.  This armor makes for a great archeological find as Cheng Sinzan had come across one piece.  The only problem was others were looking for it, too.  These other people are the antagonists of the film, with powers connected to the elements of earth.  Their leader, Laocorn had come across the first two pieces of the armor and wastes no time taking the third from Cheng.  As his search continues, the only chance to stop him lies with his twin sister, Sulia.  Sulia finds Terry Bogard in Japan who initially was in town to see Joe Higashi’s kickboxing fight along with his brother Andy, and Andy’s girlfriend, Mai Shiranui.  Once they all meet, we get a cross-country race to obtain all the pieces before the unthinkable occurs: the potential return of Mars and the world’s destruction.


While the movie makes a concentrated effort to tell a solid stand-alone story involving those in the Fatal Fury universe, I found this movie in comparison to Street Fighter to be, well, not as solid.  The big selling point of the film is Terry’s falling for Sulia in hopes to protect her from death, as he failed to do with his first love interest.  This never happened in the game, sure, but it really takes away from Terry’s bravado, making him seem wimpier in some cases.  There’s also a lot of humor to a very raunchy degree.  In fact, this movie is best seen on DVD or VHS, as it was heavily censored on Sci-Fi when I saw it.  That could be the fault of Sci-Fi trying its best to keep it clean or the fault of the director who makes it a point to allow for more raunchy material in his work.  If you want a full analysis on the director, watch the review of this movie done by Bennett the Sage on Anime Abandon.  My biggest problem with the film was the pacing in a sense.  There was a lot of time between battles to exposit story.  It can wear on you if you’re looking for some battles.  In fact, compared to the first two features, this probably has the least amount of fighting in it.  This makes sense as it is more of an adventure and not a tournament.  However, if this is your first film of the three to watch, you may be disappointed seeing your favorite characters look pale in comparison to the villains in the film, knowing that your favorites are much stronger than that.  I also wasn’t high on how the characters were drawn as they all looked very lean and not too muscular.  Other than that, it was an interesting approach to the story of Fatal Fury.  Just don’t expect it to be as dynamic as that of Street Fighter.


It seems that Fatal Fury and Street Fighter not only differ in game mechanics.  They also differ in motion picture motifs.  While Street Fighter II based itself on the actual tournament, giving more depth and story to the characters themselves, Fatal Fury took a different turn by telling a new story unrelated to the series itself.  The action seems a bit lop-sided, coercing you to watch the initial two films if you want to see how the protagonists handle themselves in battle.  The drama does leave a bit to be desired, as the mood shifts around a bit and the pacing may seem a bit off.  Still, it makes for a different approach to a movie about a fighting game as it has a whole new story.  So where does this lie?  Just like Terry Bogard’s catchphrase, it’s “OK!”


There’s been a slight change in programming tonight. Instead of the scheduled review of Return of the Killer Tomatoes, we now present to you…

Just kidding, but who doesn’t like a gratuitous dose of girls from the 80s in their high waisted bikinis!?

 In what has to be one of George Clooney’s best performances, the campy franchise returns for a second round. Don’t be fooled by the title though because even though  it may say that the killer tomatoes have returned but it wasn’t much of a comeback for the vegetables… or was it?

After a glorious victory against the blood hungry vegetable during The Great Tomato War, the human race tries to resume their normal lives but there’s one difference; tomatoes are outlawed.

Our hero from the last movie has also tried to regain some normalcy by opening up a pizza shop (that have the most disgusting looking pizzas ever. ) and hired his nephew Chad(Anthony Starke), to work there along with his buddy Matt (Clooney).

On a delivery to the mysterious Professor Gangreen’s house, his crush Tara(Karen Waldron) answers the door. After trying to make small talk with the gorgeous blonde (who is not much of a talker), he discovers that she is the lover of the Professor (she also cooks and cleans). Crushed, Chad heads back to the pizza shop but what he doesn’t know yet is that he’s about to get a second chance.

There’s something odd about Tara. Besides the fact that the wide-eyed bombshell isn’t much for conversation (and when she does, it’s pretty awkward), she’s also not human.


Tara is actually a tomato and one of the Professors experiments. His big plan? Instead of actual tomatoes infiltrating the human race, why not be a little more inconspicuous? He will convert tomatoes into humans and no one would think twice.

Even though Tara knows about the evil plans of the Professor, she doesn’t seem bothered by him or his wicked plot until she sees his abusive side to a failed experiment; a fuzzy tomato that she dubs “FT” (or fuzzy tomato).

Because she has been locked up in that house with the Professor for so long, she doesn’t know anyone and has nowhere to go when she decides to take FT and run. The only person she even knows a little bit is Chad the pizza boy, so she shows up to the pizza shop on a dark rainy night.

 This is pure luck for the shy pizza boy who, unlike his roommate, never seems to get the girl. So when his crush shows up out of nowhere, there could be nothing sketchy about this, right? What Chad doesn’t know is that he’s about to get himself into a situation that he is in no way prepared for.  Will it ever be safe to eat veggies again?

In a movie that makes a complete mockery of itself from the start, it’s hard to not love it. One could say that maybe it tried too hard to be ridiculous and campy(it had a huge bit about being so bad and expensive that they had to use endorsements to fund the film), but seriously, it’s a movie about killer tomatoes, what’s not ridiculous about that from the start? It’s streaming on Netflix now.


My Live WWE SmackDown Experience



Wrestling fans have a lot of things they enjoy.   You’ve got matches, match types, merchandise, PPV, television shows, feuds, stables, characters, so on and so forth.  But, if there’s one thing that encompasses all of this in one glorious way, it’s experiencing it live and in-person.  My first live wrestling experience came in 2004 when I attended WrestleMania XX.  I was in the upper section with my two best friends, Dion and Jon.  The experience was phenomenal.  No matter if the event was good or bad after the fact; the experience was worth every penny.  I didn’t get into attending wrestling events live until 2008 with my first ROH show.  Since then, I had to attend live wrestling shows if it was in my area and if it was affordable.  Now, for as many live events I’ve been to, I have rarely gone to that of the WWE variety.  I have been to a live PPV, and even some regular live events, but I’ve never been to a television taping, until now.  As the title states, here’s my experience at a SmackDown television taping.


To start, I had a chance to get the tickets in advance, thanks to a co-worker that sent me an email about it.  She happily took me to a SmackDown show on a Friday a few years ago.  We had great seats and great food.  The event itself was decent; after all, it was a house show.  Since then, I had gone to about one more house show on the Saturday in MSG before the Fatal 4-Way PPV in 2010.  The seats were a bit further back, and the show was practically identical to the PPV.  What would make this show different?  It was a taping of an episode of Friday Night Smackdown.  I got to be part of television history.  What was it like?  I’m glad you asked….or noticed…or something.


I went to Euclid Avenue in Brooklyn to wait for my fiancé and my best man to travel there together.  See, Smackdown was in what is  known as the “Tri-State Trio” of arenas.  Every live event report for the affiliated area had their standard places.  For me, it was the Meadowlands Arena (now known as the Continental Airlines Arena), the Nassau Coliseum, and the big one, Madison Square Garden.  I’ve been to MSG for the RAW show and for WrestleMania.  I’ve been at the Nassau Coliseum for the Smackdown house show.  For this occasion, I would be returning to Long Island and the Nassau Coliseum for the taping.  We met up around 5:30 and went on our way to the event.  The show started at 7pm, even though the taping doesn’t start until 8.  We would be treated to one hour of tapings for other shows like WWE Superstars and WWE Main Event.  When we got there, we had to make the choice between cheap or expensive parking.  The difference: about a 10 minute walk to the arena.  As we got to the arena, we showed our tickets to the usher and we were on our way in.  And that’s when the madness began.


We were greeted to two throngs of people going in two directions, as long as we kept to the right of each other.  That didn’t stop the endless hustle and bustle.  There was a cavalcade of fans here, with all types of shirts and such.  We saw older fans with much older t-shirts, younger fans with newer shirts, and all types of groups in between.  There was no shortage of fans with championship belts, as well.  Sorry, but if I have to spend that much on a replica instead of the actual thing, I’ll pass.  But, they did look nice.  Vendors were selling all types of food and merchandise, all ranging from standard arena fare to just a bit too expensive.  That didn’t stop us from buying chicken fingers, nachos with cheese, and the complimentary WWE cup with various WWE stars on it.  My best man went to his seat early so we could track him down later after getting concessions.  Much to our chagrin, the seats were very far up, about 4 rows from the back.  Thankfully, our noses didn’t bleed.


When it was time to get settled, we saw the ring clear as day.  Sadly, pictures were not going to happen because of our distance.  That, and Kodak doesn’t make the best digital cameras.  The fans were very vocal and very loud.  They definitely were having a great time.  The loudest pops of the night went to the likes of Sheamus, Zack Ryder, Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan, and even the Shield, as well as Fandango.  If there’s one thing New Yorkers have in common, it’s that we know who we like and we aren’t ashamed to say it.  We also aren’t ashamed to be a bit obnoxious.  But, I digress.   The action for the night was very solid from top to bottom.  Some of the segments dragged on, but as expected, it was standard WWE fare.  Overall, the show was pretty good.  As for the pyrotechnics, cover your ears when possible.  Also, it will get hot when Kane sets off his fire.


Afterward, we slowly made our way out, although many left way before us to beat the traffic.  Various people were waiting on line for tickets to the next time the WWE returned to the arena.  That date would be late November for a live taping of Monday Night RAW.  How awesome is that?  It would be just as awesome if I could manage to go.  I couldn’t.  Regardless, my experience was a great one.  I suggest that you do it sometime if you haven’t already.