Sunday, June 14, 2015

Chalk It Up!

Our town hosts an event every year called Chalk It Up where everybody is invited to the downtown area and given a square of sidewalk and some sidewalk chalk and create a temporary work of art. Everybody from little kids to professional artists come out and make all kinds of cool creations on the walkways in front of the downtown businesses. We've been wanting to take part in it for years, this year we finally made it down. The kids had a blast. Here's a look at our process and our finished product (which we were all pretty proud of!)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

New Amusements For You in 2015

Spring is in the air and all the theme parks and amusement parks are rolling out new attractions for the upcoming Summer season. Here's a rundown of what's new behind the admission gates of some of the parks in the region...

Kings Dominion updates it's water park and gives it the new name Soak City. Besides the name change and facility upgrades the new park will feature several new attractions. "Hurricane Heights, the 65-foot tall slide complex features three thrilling new attractions. On Paradise Plunge, thrill-seekers will step into one of three chambers and wait anxiously for the floor to drop out from underneath their feet, sending them in a high-speed, almost vertical free fall through a series of loops and s-curves in a translucent flume. Aqua Blast will send riders twisting and spiraling through an enclosed chute featuring four intense 360-degree loops across 449 feet of slide before they’re dropped out into a pool of water. A wet and wild adventure will await guests on Thunder Falls as they climb into a single or double raft before being launched down a series of intense drops and turns." There will also be a new kids area.

Busch Gardens Williamsburg debuts a new roller coaster: "In the rich tradition of the classic Italian daredevils, no single man wowed the crowds like Tempesto. Busch Gardens’ daring new roller coaster, Tempesto, lets riders take center stage and recreate his signature stunt. Guests daring enough to take on Tempesto will race into unbelievably tight turns at 63 miles per hour and defy gravity as they roll through a complete inversion 154 feet in the air. Busch Gardens® newest thrill coaster features three launch experiences and Tempesto’s signature loop-the-loop."

Hersheypark in Pennsylvania also has a unique new roller coaster. "Laff Trakk is the first indoor, spinning, glow-coaster in the United States. This family friendly house of laughs spins riders through an exciting adventure of sights and sounds complete with glimpses of colorful characters, a dizzying hall of mirrors, and more!"

 Impulse is the largest construction project in Knoebel's history. The traditional amusement park in Elysburg, PA has added a major new coaster to their lineup. "This steel tower coaster will consist of over 2,000 feet of track throughout which the ride will reach speeds of over 55 miles per hour. To begin the ride, the cars will be pulled via a chain lift up a 98-foot vertical hill, creating anticipation for what’s to come. Following the ascent to the peak of what is called a top hat hill, is a 90-degree free fall drop."

Dorney Park in Allentown, PA offers a new swing ride, Cedar Creek Flyers, to it's guests in 2015.  Riders will sit in one of eight “eagles” suspended from arms 28 feet in the air. As the ride spins, the eagles will swing outward – and riders have the unique opportunity to control their flight experience from mild to wild!"

Another variation on the swing ride with debut at Dutch Wonderland. “Bon Voyage Balloon Chase will take guests on a magical ride in one of eight flying hot air balloons where every seat has a view. The ride soars to lofty heights of 20 feet while rotating clockwise. Your balloon will ascend and descend as it spins; while the wheel at the center of your gondola basket lets you control the direction and speed of your spin."

For Six Flags fans, Six Flags America presents a shiny new version of a carnival classic, "Bourbon Street Fireball, a wild looping coaster. Our new coaster will seat riders in a forward and backward, face-to-face position for a pendulum style take off with multiple 360° revolutions. Just when you think you can’t take any more, the train will suspend upside down and reverse course for additional loops!" A similar ride will also debut at sister park Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey, with the name El Diablo.

Quoted information from park's press releases.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Treasures From The Bottom of the Dresser

I've had this button since before I can remember...
I'm pretty sure my parents bought this on a very early visit to the park when I was maybe just an infant. I can remember this hanging on a cork board outside our basement playroom when I was very little. I haven't seen the pin in years and then just this week it turned up in an envelope of stuff from my childhood home. Pretty cool button, no doubt, but the back of the button gives us s little piece of Amusement Park Obscura that I love...
Check out the original price tag sticker from a very early 70's Kings Dominion gift shop. Super cool! 

I also unearthed this sweet pressed penny...
In case you're not a connoisseur of fine tourist attraction souvenirs such as myself, a pressed penny 
Is created by dropping two quarters and a penny into a machine, turning a crank and smashing and imprinting a picture onto your authentic U.S. one cent piece.

  Now, the mystery here is figuring out which park this came from. The design of Fred is from a mid-90's make over of Fred, with the bigger nose and playful pose. Most of the Hanna-Barbera elements were removed from Kings Dominion during the 90's which leaves that the coin could also be from Universal Studios Florida. Universal hosted their own Hanna-Barbera attraction in the 90's, so it's possible it could be from there. I don't remember getting it who knows where it came from. It's cool and looks great buried under my socks in my dresser. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Frozen Breakfast - A Cereal Review

I'm a firm believer that every G and PG rated movie should have their own breakfast cereal. I'd go so far as to say we've even been robbed of Hunger Games Flakes and Guardians of the Galaxy O's too but there certainly is no good reason why it's taken the fine folks at Kellogg's over a year to come out with a breakfast cereal based on the mega hit movie Frozen. But in this day and age of minimal grocery store tie-in's, I shouldn't complain when they finally get some good old fashioned Disney cereal on my breakfast table!
The cereal is simply described on the box as "Sweetened Cereal with Marshmallows." Back in the day, you'd have to come up with how the shape of the cereal related to the franchise it was based on. Ninja nets or Donkey Kong barrels were some good eatin' back then. Now, they don't find the need to come up with anything as long as the colors of the marshmallows follow the scheme of all the other merchandising. The marshmallows however, have been identified as Snow and Ice Crystal Marshmallows. So we got that going for us. The shape of the cereal pieces is a generic square, the exact same mold used for Kellogg's new Jif Peanut Butter cereal. They must really be getting their money out of the new Kellogg's Square Cereal Machine!

Frozen cereal tastes about as average as any other quick cash grab cereal would. Not quite as tasty as Lucky Charms, but pretty similar. The squares have a little bit of a sweetened varnish that keeps them from getting soggy and gives the little squares a nice flavor. The mini marshmallows are standard fare and will remind you of all the mashmallow based cereals you had as a kid.

Of course there is no prize inside the box, but what is really a let down is that the box has a cover image on both sides. There are no Frozen Fun Facts or a maze or nothing on the back of the box, and having something to read at breakfast time is a must! The box is a self-proclaimed Collector's Edition, it is shinny which is kind of cool...but at least a maze helping Olaf find his carrot nose or something would have liven up the clip art filled box.

Bottom line: My two year old daughter was beyond overjoyed when I took the box out of the grocery bag and she danced around the kitchen hugging it and singing "Let It Go" for 20 minutes - and I suppose that's what it really is all about...and not something to please a 41 year old guy obsessed with cereal based on movies.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Another Pointless List of Every Movie I Watched Last Year - 2014 Edition

Man, I watched a lot of Super Hero movies this year!
Edited 2/5/2015: Per request by a reader, I have added the date of each screening and took it one step further and also added the venue or source for each film. DVDs from Netflix are labeled Netflix DVD, while Netflix is used for films streamed through their service. Simply DVD is used for films from my own personal library.

So here we go with the complete list of every movie I watched in 2014:

  1.  Saving Mr. Banks (2013) 1/2 Frank Gettysburg 10
  2. High Noon (1952) 1/6 Netflix
  3. We're The Millers (2013) 1/9 Netflix DVD
  4. Fantastic Four (2005) 1/10 DVD
  5. The Way Way Back (2013) 1/12 Netflix DVD
  6. Lovelace (2013) 1/13 Netflix
  7. Mel (1998) 1/14 DVD
  8. Critters 2 (1988) 1/16 DVD
  9. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) 1/16 DVD
  10. The Lone Ranger (2013) 1/18 Netflix DVD
  11. Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007) 1/19 DVD
  12. Turbo (2013) 1/19 Netflix DVD
  13. The Great Muppet Caper (1981) 1/21 DVD
  14. Loving Annabelle (2006) 1/21 Netflix
  15. Meet The Spartans (2008) 1/22 DVD
  16. Blue Jasmine (2013) 1/23 Netflix DVD
  17. Daredevil (2003) 1/24 DVD
  18. The Starving Games (2013) 1/26 Redbox DVD
  19. Secretary (2002) 1/27 Netflix DVD
  20. Don Jon (2013) 1/30 Netflix DVD
  21. Doctor Strange (2007) 1/31 Netflix
  22. In A World... (2013) 2/3 Netflix DVD
  23. A.C.O.D. (2013) 2/3 Netflix DVD
  24. Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (2013) 2/6 Netflix DVD
  25. The Lego Movie (2014) 2/11 R/C Hanover Movies
  26. Flowers in the Attic (2014) 2/11 Lifetime
  27. The Rescuers (1977) 2/13 DVD
  28. The Rescuers Down Under (1990) 2/14 DVD
  29. Enough Said (2013) 2/18 Netflix DVD
  30. The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2014: Animation (2014) 1/20 The Majestic Theater, Gettysburg
  31. Iron Man &  Hulk: Heroes United (2013) 2/21 Netflix
  32. Austenland (2013) 2/23 Netflix DVD
  33. Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (2013) 2/24 Netflix DVD
  34. Caddyshack (1980) 2/27 DVD
  35. Ass Backwards (2013) 3/3 Netflix DVD
  36. Dallas Buyers Club (2013) 3/4 Netflix DVD
  37. Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope (2011) 3/6 M-Go
  38. Mr. Peabody & Sherman (2014) 3/10 R/C Hanover Movies
  39. Sleeping Beauty (1959) 3/14 DVD
  40. Frozen (2013) 3/18 DVD
  41. Muppets Most Wanted (2014) 3/26 R/C Hanover Movies
  42. Escapade in Florence (1962) 4/10 DVD
  43. Condorman (1981) 4/11 DVD
  44. The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again (1979) 4/15 DVD
  45. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) 4/17 R/C Hanover Movies
  46. A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969) 4/18 DVD
  47. Rob Roy: The Highland Rogue (1953) 4/21 VHS
  48. Scooby-Doo! WrestleMania Mystery (2014) 4/25 Netflix DVD
  49. Honey, I Blew Up The Kid (1992) 5/3 DVD
  50. Rescue From Gilliagan's Island (1978) 5/5 Netflix DVD
  51. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) 5/7 R/C Hanover Movies
  52. Josie and the Pussycats (2001) 5/9 DVD
  53. Iron Man 2 (2010) 5/10 DVD
  54. She's All That (1999) 5/12 Netflix
  55. Godzilla (2014) 5/15 R/C Hanover Movies
  56. Captain America (1979) 5/20 DVD
  57. Iron Man 3 (2013) 5/30 DVD
  58. C.H.O.M.P.S. (1979) 5/31 DVD
  59. The Flintstones (1994) 5/31 DVD
  60. Bananas (1971) 6/2 DVD
  61. Escape From Tomorrow (2013) 6/5 Netflix
  62. X-Men (2000) 6/12 DVD
  63. Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher (2014) 6/12 Netflix DVD
  64. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013) 6/20 Netflix DVD
  65. Dear Mr. Watterson (2013) 6/21 Netflix
  66. Ernest Goes To Camp (1987) 6/26 DVD
  67. All's Faire in Love (2009) 6/27 Netflix
  68. Planes (2013) 6/30 DVD
  69. Good Burger (1997) 7/3 Netflix
  70. I Know That Voice (2013) 7/3 Amazon Prime
  71. The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle (2000) 7/5 DVD
  72. RoboCop (2014) 7/9 Netflix DVD
  73. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) 7/14 DVD
  74. Ernest & Celestine (2012) 7/17 Netflix DVD
  75. Smokey and the Bandit (1977) 7/19 DVD
  76. Summer Rental (1985) 7/26 DVD
  77. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2007) 7/30 DVD
  78. Yogi Bear (2010) 7/31 DVD
  79. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) 7/31 R/C Hanover Movies
  80. Captain Ron (1992) 8/1 DVD
  81. Pack Up Your Troubles (1932) 8/10 YouTube
  82. It Felt Like Love (2013) 8/11 Netflix
  83. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) 8/13 R/C Hanover Movies
  84. Planes: Fire & Rescue (2014) 8/14 Frank Gettysburg 10
  85. Fierce Creatures (1997) 8/15 DVD
  86. Cross My Heart (1987) 8/18 DVD
  87. Heaven Is For Real (2014) 8/24 Netflix DVD
  88. Angel (1984) 8/25 DVD
  89. Ping Pong Summer (2014) 8/27 Netflix DVD
  90. Back to School (1986) 8/29 DVD
  91. Every Other Day Is Halloween (2009) 8/30 Amazon Prime
  92. They Came Together (2014) 9/1 Netflix DVD
  93. The Unauthorized Saved By The Bell Story (2014) 9/3 Lifetime
  94. Trust Me (2013) 9/4 Netflix DVD
  95. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) 9/5 DVD
  96. UHF (1989) 9/6 DVD
  97. Up The Creek (1984) 9/7 MGM HD
  98. Divergent (2014) 9/10 Netflix DVD
  99. Waiting For Guffman (1996) 9/11 HD Net Movies
  100. Bears (2014) 9/12 Netflix DVD
  101. The Other Woman (2014) 9/17 Netflix DVD
  102. Dumbo (1941) 9/21 DVD (outdoor screening)
  103. Non-Stop (2014) 9/25 Netflix DVD
  104. Stay Tuned (1992) 9/28 Netflix DVD
  105. Quick Change (1990) 9/29 HBO
  106. Fed Up (2014) 10/1 Netflix DVD
  107. Space Station 76 (2014) 10/5 Redbox
  108. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (2014) 10/26 R/C Hanover Movies
  109. Hocus Pocus (1993) 10/27 Lifetime
  110. Ernest Scared Stupid (1991) 10/29 DVD
  111. Sex Tape (2014) 11/5 Netflix DVD
  112. Her (2013) 11/6 Netflix DVD
  113. Jitterbugs (1943) 11/8 Netflix DVD
  114. A Cookie Cutter Christmas (2014) 11/10 Hallmark Channel
  115. Big Hero 6 (2014) 11/14 R/C Hanover Movies
  116. Snow Bride (2013) 11/24 Hallmark Channel
  117. Video Games: The Movie (2014) 11/25 Netflix
  118. Ducktales The Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp (1990) 11/28 DVD
  119. Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever (2014) 11/30 Lifetime
  120. Farewell Mr. Kringle (2010) 12/2 Hallmark Channel
  121. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (2014) 12/3 R/C Hanover Movies
  122. Miracle on 34th Street (1947) 12/4 DVD
  123. Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas (2013) 12/7 Netflix DVD
  124. Jingle Bell Rocks! (2013) 12/16 Amazon Instant
  125. A Very Brady Christmas (1988) 12/18 ABC Family On Demand
  126. Jingle All The Way 2 (2014) 12/21 USA
  127. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989) 12/23 DVD
  128. Good Luck Charlie, It's Christmas (2011) 12/24 DVD
  129. Mickey's Twice Upon A Christmas (2004) 12/28 DVD
  130. Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas (1997) 12/28 DVD
  131. It's A Wonderful Life (1946) 12/28 DVD
  132. The Road to Christmas (2006) 12/31 Lifetime

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

10 Favorite Films From 2014

It just wouldn't be a blog without some sort of year-end review of the best movies in 2014. Since I don't see anywhere near a sampling of all the movies to come out in a year, I always do a list of the 10 best movies that I saw for the first time in the past year. This year's list is exclusively made up of titles released in the last year or so. I only saw 132 movies this past year, in contrast to the previous years 200+ counts, and I relied on alot of old favorites throughout the year. Plus, as I've mentioned last year - having a baby in the house cuts down significantly on movie watching time!

Saving Mr.Banks (2013; dir. John Lee Hancock)
Of course a movie featuring Walt Disney as a character is going to make this list of best films of the year. Tom Hanks brings my idol to life opposite Emma Thompson as PL Travers, the author of Mary Poppins. It was neat to see a number of people who I've spent my life reading about portrayed in dramatic fashion by an all-star cast. The film is actually more about PL Travers than Walt Disney, but it's still a charming tear-jerker of film.

Non-Stop (2014; dir. Jaume Collet-Serra)
A super tight thriller with Liam Neeson as an air marshal being framed for a terrorist attack that is about to happen on the plane he is on. There's so many quick little shots in this superb movie that throw you off the trail of who's behind the crime that it becomes an exhilarating ride from most of the film's run time. They also employ quite a few neat techniques to make texting an interesting thing to watch in a movie. This is Liam Neeson's best action film since the fantastic first Taken picture.

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014; dir. James Gunn)
This is a popcorn blockbuster done to absolute perfection. Everyone in the cast is fantastic, the action is top-notch, the story easy to follow, and even the somewhat familiar space opera settings seem fresh this time around. What stood out the most for me with this movie, was the relentless sense of humor running throughout the entire flick. Even straight-up comedies have trouble keeping the entire movie funny, and this Marvel blockbuster was just painfully funny all the way through. I loved it! Easily the funniest of the Marvel films, and also the most accessible to those who haven't followed the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014; dirs. Anthony & Joe Russo)
One of the coolest events of the past movie year was how much this Captain America sequel tied in with Marvel's Agents of SHIELD TV show. Although I would have liked to have seen more characters from the small screen crossover to the big screen, it was still a hoot to have this big budget action/thriller wrapped up with one of my favorite television shows. The action sequences here are top notch and the storyline relevant to today's headlines. This was a real tense, action-packed film that also had a great sense of humor throughout.

Don Jon (2013; dir. Joseph Gordon-Levitt)
A funny and delightfully vulgar romantic comedy with a great cast: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, Tony Danza, Glenne Headly and Brie Larson.

The Lego Movie (2014; dirs. Phil Lord & Christopher Miller)
As you've probably heard by now, there is no reason a movie based on building block toys should be so darn good. Yet, pretty much everyone agrees that The Lego Movie was one of the most fantastic movies of the past year. The movies manages to take us to a place we've never been, and give us a really good story mixed with hilarious humor from beginning to end. Unlike other toy based movies, it's only later when you are walking through the isles of Wal-Mart do you realize how much product they were selling us.

 Dallas Buyers Club (2013; dir. Jean-Marc Vallee)
Simply put, this is one of the only Oscar-contender kind of flicks I watched this past year and it was really good. Matthew McConaughey is fantastic as real life Ron Woodroof, a guy who contracts AIDS and helps other AIDS patients get the medicine they need. Jennifer Garner is also in this, she's always very good and Jared Leto is superb in this as well. I had no idea who Leto was before watching this, but he won the Oscar for best supporting actor - so you know he's good. McConaughey was also awarded an Oscar for her performance here.

Muppets Most Wanted (2014; dir. James Bobin)
The Muppet's 8th big screen outing was my favorite movie of the past year! It's not at the top of my list just because it's a Muppets movie, it's because 24 years after the death of Jim Henson - they finally nailed a Muppets production in the exact style of the old Muppet movies and shows. Gone are the literary adaptions or reunion attempts of the past four movies and instead is a zany, music filled crime caper that's big on laughs and little on plot development. There's at least a dozen superstar cameos, a soundtrack filled with goofy toe-tapping tunes, and the zany and irreverent sense of humor that made the Muppets a household name back in the 70's. Muppets Most Wanted is easily the best Muppets production since the passing of Jim Henson in 1990, and even though their last film, The Muppets (2011),  has it's loyal a life long Muppets aficionado I declare this film ten times better!

They Came Together (2014; dir David Wain)
True parody is dead. Over the last 10 years of so, parody has been watered down to just pointing something out or making a pop culture reference and leaving it at that. Then along comes They Came Together, which not only pokes fun of every contrivance of the modern romantic comedy, it also offers up zany puns, visual gags and hilarious set pieces to boot. Hands down the funniest movie of the year, this under-the-radar comedy is destined to find it's fans one day.

Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever (2014; dir. Tim Hill)
I saved this one for last because I know it's inclusion pretty much negates my entire list but hear me out...This was a funny movie! Now, honestly the 10th spot on my list should have gone to We're The Millers or Enough Said or even High Noon but I wanted to include Grumpy Cat because when was the last time a TV movie (on Lifetime no less) tried to be silly and zany AND actually pull it off?! The Christmas TV movie has become a genre which is here to stay. There are literally dozens of new Xmas made for TV movies each year now. Grumpy Cat's Worst Christmas Ever attempts to skewer those flicks with this silly caper about a mall robbery and a young girl who befriends Grumpy Cat and tries to save the day. I had zero interest in Grumpy Cat before this movie, but my kids and I laughed out loud several times at the feline festivities. (Also, it was directed by the same guy who did Muppets From Space!) This will definitely be required holiday viewing next Christmas time in our household!

What were some of your favorite film discoveries of 2014?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Two Awesome New Holiday DVDs

I love holiday episodes of TV series which makes me particularly excited for two upcoming DVD releases from the fine folks at Mill Creek Entertainment. First off, let me say how much I adore Mill Creek Entertainment. Besides Disney, they have got to be my favorite company putting out home video material today. They constantly have imaginative and unique titles on their slate, always at a very low beyond-reasonable price.

Holiday episode collections have become quite popular in the last couple of years, mostly with Christmas episodes but Mill Creek is getting ahead of the game with a fantastic looking collection of Halloween themed episodes of 13 different sit-coms. TV's Spookiest Halloween Episodes collects trick-or-treat fun filled episodes of a wide variety of sit-coms and offers them up in one neat package. What I'm really digging about this collection is the wide range of years this collection represents from early 60's (Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie) to late 90's (Mad About You, NewsRadio.) What's also impressive is the range of popularity of the series represented. Some obscure goodies like Square Pegs and Ned and Stacey are tucked in there along with The Cosby Show and Roseanne. To me, this collection is just about perfect. I'm not sure I ever need to watch an episode of That 70's Show, but all the others I can't wait to dig into, especially The Jeffersons, Square Pegs and The Facts of Life. This is just a solid collection I can't wait to add to my library.

Then we've got Mill Creek's Christmas edition of Holiday themed episodes with TV's Merriest Episodes. I already have an enormous collection of Christmas TV episodes on tape and DVD and I'm really looking forward to making this disc part of the yearly viewing traditions.  Again, there is a great variety as far as ages of the shows although this one is a little more heavy on the mid 80's to mid 90's. The collections two vintage episodes: Bewitched and The Flying Nun are the same episodes that appeared in Shout Factory's (also excellent) 1989 collection Merry Sitcom! But it does feature The Ellen Show, which was a great one season CBS sitcom that aired between Ellen's popular ABC sitcom and her huge hit talk show.

TV's Spookiest Halloween Episodes is released Sept. 16, 2014 and TV's Merriest Episodes is available October 14, 2004. Both have an MSRP of $9.98.

If Holiday episodes are you thing, there are also two new collections of The Dick Van Dyke Show out from Image Entertainment. Halloween Episodes Collection is available now and contains 4 episodes while Classic Christmas comes out October 7 with two episodes.
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