Party Like…It’s Cinco De Mayo

  • May 03, 2016
  • Jenna Maxwell

What do you think of when you hear the words Cinco de Mayo?  Some of you may think oh, Cinco de Mayo is the Spanish term for guacamole and margaritas!  Well, not exactly.  For those of you who may have forgotten all that high school Spanish, in English, Cinco de Mayo translates to mean the Fifth of May. So, what’s the deal with the Fifth of May?  What’s the significance of a holiday named after a date? It must be a pretty important date, right?   To get you ready for the ultimate day to celebrate and party, fiesta-style, here are all the quick facts you need to know about Cinco de Mayo!

Let’s start with the obvious--and then the not so obvious.  Cinco de Mayo is celebrated (obviously) on the Fifth of May.  What may not be so apparent to the masses is WHY Cinco de Mayo exists.  Many folks are under the impression that Cinco de Mayo is Mexican Independence Day.  (If you thought that, too--you are not alone!)  Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day; in fact, Mexican Independence Day is celebrated on September the 16th.  Cinco de Mayo marks the date of a significant battle victory that happened many years ago in Mexican history.  Let’s take a look-back.

The short version of Cinco de Mayo history goes something like this.  Back in 1862, Mexico was deeply in debt.  The Mexican president at that time made it known that the country’s debtors were not getting paid--at least not anytime soon.  France, feeling very opportunistic, decided that since Mexico was a vulnerable target, they would send their elite and grand army to invade and take them over. The Mexican troops at that time were small and honestly, they were pretty ill equipped.  The one thing that the French army didn’t count on, however, was the heart and will of these resilient Mexican people.

On the 5th day of May 1862, the illustrious French army invaded the Mexican state of Puebla.  In spite of the fact that the Mexican army was a bit scrappy, had fewer members (not to mention weapons), and were considered the underdogs, somehow, miraculously, this strong group of Mexican fighters defeated the French army in Puebla that day.  You can certainly see why people wanted to celebrate.

Interesting enough--Cinco de Mayo evolved into a holiday that is far more of an event in the United States than it is outside of Puebla, Mexico.  Most popular amongst Mexican American populations, Cinco de Mayo is now a fabulous day to celebrate Mexican heritage and culture with parades, fiestas, Mariachi music, dancing, Chihuahua races and of course lots and lots of Mexican food and beverages. 

So what are you waiting for?  Cinco de Mayo is just around the corner…so gather your amigos and prepare to have a grand ol’ fiesta, south of the border style. Ole!


Why This May Be THE Year For Captain America

  • April 26, 2016
  • Jenna Maxwell

Captain America has always been one of America’s forefront and favorite superheroes.  With so many exemplary human characteristics as well as superhuman powers, the heroic persona that the Cap presents is pretty easy to love.  In his latest feature film, “Captain America: Civil War,” his noble characteristics will once again be showcased.  It’s pretty easy to see why he is one of the most beloved American superheroes of all time.  With all that is going on out there in the crazy “real” world, having a true hero to embrace that embodies the ideology upon which our country was founded is inspiring.  Captain America may be a fictional character, but he exemplifies some of the patriotism that many of us still appreciate.  Here are some of the reasons why we think that this year may be the Captain’s best year ever! 

He’s Humble.  Even the Captain will tell you that inside he’s just a kid from Brooklyn.  Still deeply in touch with his roots, and in spite of his new heroic persona, Steve Rogers (aka Captain America) has not lost touch with his simple beginnings.  Captain America was once a weak and sickly young man.  In spite of his human frailties, Steve Rogers wanted nothing more than to serve his country in WWII and fight against the Nazi’s.  Unfortunately, his physical body was never going to allow him to be a proper soldier.  His unflappable spirit did not go unnoticed, however, and his can-do attitude was likely one of the main reasons why he was selected to receive the Super Soldier Serum that would eventually change Steve Roger’s life forever.

He’s Patriotic.  Captain America’s suit is created using stars and stripes and the colors of the American Flag and this is by design.  His getup, however, is not what makes Captain America a patriot.  Captain America’s inception began in WWII, him being a part of what has been called “the greatest generation.”  Because the Captain was part of some of the biggest historical events in history, his love for his country runs deep.  Even before he became Captain America, when he was still Steve Rogers, he wanted nothing more than to join the army and be a part of serving his country.  Preserving liberty, justice, and freedom is the obvious unspoken mantra of Captain America. And of course his awesome Captain America costume is RED, WHITE and BLUE! 

He’s Imperfect.  Let’s face it.  Captain America has turbo speed, superhuman strength and is very easy on the eyes.  In spite of all these amazing qualities, however, the guy retains an air of utter humility.  The Captain's humble behavior likely stems from a hyper-awareness of his many flaws and imperfections.  Inside his heart, Captain America still feels as if somehow he is not quite measuring up to what people expect of him and sometimes he feels like he doesn’t belong.  His humility at times borders on insecurity and at times, he seems a bit unsure of his role.

He’s Admirable.  When it comes to having a tight moral compass, no one is going to stay on the straight and narrow better than Captain America.  Although perhaps a little naïve and overly trusting, Captain America has an unnerving ability to stay focused and always attempt to do the right thing.  There is no ego involved in his agenda, either--he just chooses to do what’s right if for no other reason except that it needs doing.

He’s…(um)…Hot!  Ok, let’s get real.  That Super Soldier Serum made Steve Rogers into a hubba-hubba hunk of heroic manliness.  He’s tall.  He’s handsome.  He’s strong, agile, fast, hardworking and never going to stop fighting for those things in which he believes.  No wonder girls (and maybe even a few guys) are crushing on him…what’s not to love?

He’s Noble. Captain America does not compromise.  When it comes to how he sees things and making correct choices, Captain America has his vision of how things need to go and in this, he is unfailing.  Captain America is altruistic, honorable and duty-bound. 

He’s Courageous.   Captain America is not afraid to do what is needed.  He will look evil straight in the eye and face it down.  In “Captain America: Civil War” Captain America has to face a huge challenge when he finds himself in conflict with some of the other Avengers about how much the government should be allowed to be involved with how superheroes ultimately do their job.

He’s Resilient.  Captain America simply cannot ignore his calling to do the right thing, even when at times he probably wishes he could.  Captain America can be relied on to defend his country from all forms of tyranny and oppression and will never compromise his morals in his endeavor to perpetuate what’s genuine and right. 

There is much about Captain America that every man or woman can relate to.  He’s come a long way from being that gangly kid in Brooklyn.  In many ways now Captain America is the personification of everything that America stands for and represents the best that America has to offer.

Captain America: Civil War.  In theaters May 6, 2016.

Why This May Be THE Year For Captain America

The Bare Necessities: Fun Facts About The Jungle Book

  • April 21, 2016
  • Jenna Maxwell

The Jungle Book, one of Disney’s most beloved classic animated feature films, has been re-imagined for a modern generation by the creative minds of Disney. The newly created reboot of the fantasy adventure, The Jungle Book, premiered in theatres last Friday, April 15, 2016.  It’s been forty-nine years since the 1967 version thrilled a record-setting number of audience members back in 1967.  Mowgli, Bagheera, Shere Khan, Baloo, Kaa and the entire Jungle Book gang will soon be back on the big screen to help retell the classic Rudyard Kipling tale cherished by generations.  Here are some fun facts to get you ready as you head out to see Disney’s lively new jungle adventure!  Let the Jungle Book begin! 

  • The story of The Jungle Book is adapted from Rudyard Kipling’s collection of short stories by the same name.  These timeless classic children’s stories were first published during the years 1893 and 1894. 
  • When Disney Pictures first hired writers to adapt Rudyard Kipling’s jungle adventure into a script, they felt that the first version of the script came out far too dark and scary for their target audience.  The original scriptwriter (Bill Peet) was upset by this critique, and subsequently left Disney. New writers were told to lighten up the content of the script substantially, and in classic Disney style, they made the story much more fun. 
  • In the original 1967 Jungle Book, The Beatles were originally slated to perform the song,“That’s What Friends Are For” or “The Vulture Song.” Due to scheduling conflicts and because the arrangements could never be finalized, this did not happen. 
  • The song,“The Bare Necessities” was eventually nominated that year for an Academy Award for Best Original Song. 
  • Richard Sherman and his late brother Robert wrote most of the songs for the original Jungle Book.  Richard Sherman also came back to write many of the songs for this latest incarnation of The Jungle Book.
  • Neel Sethi, who plays Mowgli, is the only actor in The Jungle Book who will appear as himself.  The rest of the characters are all created by CGI animation. 
  • In the newest version of The Jungle Book, the character of King Louie has been changed from being an Orangutan to a rather humongous Giantopitheous.  A relative of the Orangutan, the Giantopitheous is a native primate found in India; the Orangutan is not.  The vocal talents of Christopher Walken are perfect for King Louie's larger than life character. 
  • The Jungle Book was the last film that Walt Disney worked on himself as a producer.  He passed away from lung cancer on December 15, 1966, while the movie was still in production and the movie was released ten months after his death. 
  • The animation of the talking animals in The Jungle Book was crafted first by studying the actual movements and behaviors of similar sorts of real animals and trying to replicate these actions
  • Because there were so few female characters in the original Jungle Book, in the new version, the role of Kaa the snake was switched from being a male character to a female.  Scarlett Johansson gives vocal life to the character of Kaa.
  • Bill Murray plays the voice of Baloo, the Bear.  The Jungle Book is Bill's first movie with Disney.
  • This latest re-imagination of The Jungle Book was created purposefully to be more adventurous and dangerous than the original animated version.  It should come as no surprise that this newer version received an MPAA rating of PG, where the other version had a solid G rating.
  • Pictures were taken in actual remote jungles of India to use when designing the base environment and location of The Jungle Book.
  • If you listen carefully to some of the dialogue that occurs in the new Jungle Book, you will hear some of the actual lyrics from “Trust in Me” and “The Bare Necessities.”

The Jungle Book, showing at a theatre near you!

The Bare Necessities:  Fun Facts About The Jungle Book

Taxes: Fascinating--Yet Taxing--Facts

  • April 14, 2016
  • Jenna Maxwell

April 15th.  Just utter those words and immediately you can feel the anxiety begin to flow through your veins.  Let’s face it, no one enjoys paying taxes, but for most of us, siphoning off those funds to the IRS is just a simple fact of life.  Speaking of exciting tax facts, here are some interesting tax tidbits that are sure to brighten your day. (Not!)

  • Although thought to be a war about the issue of slavery, Abraham Lincoln declared more than once that the Civil War was actually about collecting taxes and not about slavery at all.  “My policy sought only to collect the Revenue (a 40 percent federal sales tax on imports to Southern States under the Morrill Tariff Act of 1861).”  The very first income tax was imposed in 1861, to help pay for the tremendous costs of the Civil War.  Although this law ended in 1862, it was immediately replaced with a tiered income tax system.
  • WWII can likely take some of the blame for the creation of the Internal Revenue Service.  The IRS is now the largest tax-collecting agency in the world.
  • The Federal Tax Code in 1913 had 400 pages.  Contrast that with the 2015 Tax Code, which is comprised of nearly 75,000 pages of code, for a whopping total of well over 3,700,000 words! 
  • 47% of Americans pay no income tax.
  • The wealthiest Americans pay higher taxes than low or middle-class wage earners.  The top 1% of workers earn about 19% of the income earned in the United States, but these same people pay 37% of all the taxes collected. 
  • The top 10% of wage earners pay 68% of all taxes collected.  The bottom 50% of all employees earn about 13% of all income in the United States but pay only 3% of all the taxes.
  • Every person who earns a paycheck in the United States is subject to paying Federal Income Tax.
  • Seven States in the US do not have State Income Tax.  These are Alaska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Washington, Texas, Nevada and Florida.
  • The United States has what is known as a progressive tax system, meaning that the more money you earn, the more taxes you will pay.
  • Excise or “sin” taxes sometimes are added to the purchase of alcohol, cigarettes, and gambling.  New York City adds a $1.50 tax to a pack of cigarettes, while New York State adds a $4.35 tax to each pack, for a total cigarette tax of $5.85 in New York City.  This cigarette tax is currently the highest in the nation. 
  • 90% of people who employ babysitters or housekeepers fudge this fact on their taxes.
  • If a person reports a company or business for tax evasion, as a reward they will receive 30% of the amount of back taxes collected.
  • The IRS is part of the US Treasury.  They are responsible for collecting taxes and enforcing the tax laws.
  • Over one million accountants will be hired each year to help people file their tax returns.
  • Americans spend nearly 28 billion dollars to do their taxes.

  • In the US, the problem of tax evasion cost the country over 3 billion dollars during the last ten years.
  • Since Jimmy Carter was the US president, every US President has released their tax return.
  • The current income tax system was put into place in 1913, just before the beginning of WWI.
  • Currently, there are nearly 500 different tax forms available on the IRS website. 
  • The deadline for 2016 taxes was moved from April 15 to April 18 deadline because the IRS is observing a holiday that is usually only observed in Washington, DC. Emancipation Day marks the day that the Compensated Emancipation Act was signed by President Abraham Lincoln and is observed on April 16. Emancipation Day is a legal holiday in DC, and public employees are given the day off work. However, because April 16, 2016, falls on a Saturday, it is celebrated on the closest weekday, which is Friday April 15. So the 2016 tax deadline was moved to Monday April 18.

“We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.”
 ~Winston Churchill

The tax deadline day is almost here. Try to stay calm. 

From your friends at Halloween Express! (yeah, we don't like it anymore than you do!)

Taxes: Fascinating--Yet Taxing--Facts

Lassoing the Truth: The Legit Scoop on Wonder Woman

  • April 07, 2016
  • Jenna Maxwell

Wonder Woman has been living in the shadows for far too long.  Her brazen male counterparts so often steal all the thunder.  The truth is, when it comes to really amazing superheroes with all sorts of incredible abilities, Wonder Woman brings a heckuva lot to the table.  Recently, Wonder Woman made a long overdue appearance to the silver screen when she popped up in Batman V. Superman: The Dawn of Justice.  Rumor also has it that Wonder Woman will have her very own feature film; set to come out during the summer of 2017.   We think it’s high time that you got to know her a little bit and hear some of her back-story.  Here’s the real scoop on Wonder Woman!

Seriously Epic Family Tree:  Unlike many of the most popular male superheroes, Wonder Woman doesn’t hail from an ordinary human lineage.  According to DC Comics, Wonder Woman is the daughter of Zeus, the King of the Olympian gods, no less. Wonder Woman is also a princess of Paradise Island of the Amazon’s.  The Amazon’s are a legendary race of strong female warriors who live independently from men and began learning combat skills at a very young age.  These Amazonian women are truly a force to be reckoned with, and even Batman has admitted that Wonder Woman may be one of the best fighters in the world.

Girl Power:  Wonder Woman was created specifically as a persona that would encourage female empowerment. William Moulton Marston invented the character of Wonder Woman when he was inspired by the spirited personality of his wife, Elizabeth.  Marston felt that characteristics often attributed to women (fairness, peace-lovingness, etc.) would not only be perfect for an influential comic book character but would create a mighty female superhero that would appeal to female audiences.

A Woman’s Touch:  Let’s face it.  Sometimes it takes a woman to get things done properly--and there is no doubt that a woman offers a unique perspective to most any scenario.  Wonder Woman offers her unique set of talents and abilities to many tough situations by being the only female member of the Justice League.  Other members of the Justice League include Superman, Batman, The Green Lantern, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter and the Flash. 

Her Own Brand of Truth Serum: Wonder Woman is famous for her Lasso of Truth. This powerful lasso is her weapon of choice because when ensnared in the clutches of this virtually indestructible lasso, it is impossible for any captive to lie.  This truth-extracting feature of Wonder Woman’s lasso comes in handy, especially when she is trying to get a bad guy to confess! 

Combat Boss:  Wonder Woman trained for a time under Ares, the God of War and during that time period she learned many of her fierce combat skills.  Wonder Woman is not only extremely powerful, owning vast superhuman strength, but she’s intensely agile as well as fast.  In addition to her legendary lasso, Wonder Woman also utilizes her fabled indestructible cuffs (said to be made from parts of Zeus’s shield) to aid her in her while in combat.  Her cuffs are extremely handy during fighting --the cuffs can block or deflect most anything, including speeding bullets.

Always a Woman:  At the end of the day, Wonder Woman returns to being her alter ego and otherwise ordinary citizen, Diana Prince.  Diana works for the army as a lieutenant in the Intelligence Department.  It hasn’t always gone entirely unnoticed that Diana Prince looks an awfully lot like a certain very powerful superhero. 

Check out our massive selection of Wonder Woman costumes and accessories and get started creating an incredible and heroic look of your very own. At that point, of all people, you know who you are…who the world needs you to be. “Beautiful as Aphrodite, wise as Athena, swifter than Hermes and stronger than Hercules...” You are Wonder Woman!

Lassoing the Truth:  The Legit Scoop on Wonder Woman