Thursday, December 28, 2006

Year End Clearance

From time to time I'll be surfing the internet looking for pictures to post alongside some of my articles here on the blog. Sometimes a search for one picture can lead me to discover a whole bunch of other pictures that I'll save in the hopes of using in the future. Before I clean out my "Internet Captures" folder for the new year, here are pictures that I've held on to but never followed up with a full blog post. Most of these pictures are unused because I thought they'd make a great article and then when I started to write it I discovered I didn't have all that much funny or interesting to say. Anywho...enjoy!

Dune Buggys were awesome! What ever happened to them!? They were all the rage in the 70's but sadly they've gone the way of the CB radio, the pet rock and other great 70's inventions.

Remember the old Family Channel logo? I liked them better when they used to show reruns of THE PATTY DUKE SHOW, now they show too much WB leftovers.

Does this look good to you? It does to me, and that might be part of the problem! There is an awesome restaurant in Gettysburg, PA called The Dogg House that serves up about 35 different kinds of hot dogs! Good Eats! My favorite is the Hawaiian with ham, mozzarella, pineapple and sweet mustard!

JAWS 3 is one of my all-time favorite movies. I've never seen it in 3-D as it was intended to be seen, but I've still seen it on TV about 300 times!

What ever happened to all the McDonaldland Characters? They were fun! Only Grimace and the Hamburglar have seemed to survive along with Ronald. A Big Mac just ain't a Big Mac without some McDonaldland cookies!

Why does everyone pick on Paris Hilton so much? She's nice, she's pretty...her show THE SIMPLE LIFE used to be pretty funny. Even her single this summer was pretty good? I don't get everyone's hatred toward her!? I like her!

Play-Doh perfume - How cool is that! I wish I had someone to give a bottle to! I'm sure if my wife had found this in her stocking on Christmas day she would have pelted the glass bottle upside my head!

I'm a loyal customer to UTZ potato chips, but I gotta say these Rt. 11 brand Crab Chips are fantastic! I discovered them in a little gas station in Hagerstown. Track `em down and try them! Yummy! (They've got a website!)

This is another one of my bizarre cherished memories of Kings Dominion. This was a little audio-animatronic show of a frog playing piano and some mushrooms singing along with him. I used to love that thing! It was right infront of the Sky Ride station in Hanna-Barbera Land. Sadly, the frog and the Sky Ride are both gone now!

"Weird Al's" new album is fantastic!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas 2006: The Scoop & The Haul

Once again, Christmas has come and gone and left behind in it's tracks millions of messy living rooms! Ours was no exception! With three kids in the house ages 1, 3, and 14, there was plenty of excitement over the course of many hours.

The festivities kicked off on Christmas Eve. Usually we go to Jen's dad's house on the 24th, but this year we decided to host the affair at our pad. So we had Jen's dad and his wife Marie, plus Jen's brother Mike and his girlfriend, Jen's sister Karen and her husband and three kids, plus Marie's daughter and her husband and two kids. That's 18 people in our house along with enough food for 37 people!

Now all season long, Elias has been talking about Doggie Doctor. All he wanted from Santa was Doggie Doctor. It's a Play-Doh set with a plastic dog and you can make band-aids for him, or make fleas and like a half-dozen other stuff. He started talking about it in September and we told him that it would be a good thing to ask Santa for...figuring he would forget about it by Christmas and we wouldn't have to have the messy Play-Doh in our house. Well, he didn't forget and he didn't let Santa forget in his numerous visits to St. Nick between mid-November and Christmas Eve.

So, we cut to Christmas Eve night and the first round of gift giving. Pop Pop and Marie hand Elias a gift. Apparently in Elias' head he thought this was it...this was the moment of truth...this was the ONE Christmas gift he was getting. He starts to unwrap the present. Suddenly he stops. "No, No, No," he shouts. "This is not my Christmas present! I asked for Doggie Doctor! Not a Cars toy! This is not right at all! This is not the present I wanted." Now I guess this sounds a bit rude, but he wasn't rude/upset as much as he was sad...and he's only three years old - He just didn't understand! So we explained to him that this was the first in a long string of gifts he would be getting and that Santa hadn't come yet and that's who he asked to bring him Doggie Doctor. Elias tried to fight back the tears but after a couple of go-arounds explaining the process to him, he finally understood. He apologized to Pop Pop and Marie and then went about happily playing with his Lighting Strike McQueen toy! The whole senerio was very cute!

When your a little kid, you come down the stairs Christmas morning and all the presents are under the tree and it's all just picture perfect. What kids (and adults without kids) don't realize is that Santa just drops the stuff off at the house. It's up to mom and dad to put it all together and set it all up nice. (And when I say "mom and dad" I mean "DAD!") After our guests left on Christmas eve, and I got Elias to bed (Tanner was already out for the evening) I got started on the "living room transformation" at around 11:00pm.

How long to you think it takes to put together a Little Tykes Work Bench for a one year old? The answer: the better part of an hour! Not only did I have to dig out my tool box, I ended up having to take the whole project down to the basement so I could hammer the pieces together and not wake up the kids! Elias got a work bench too! His is a My First Craftsman comprised of 66 parts...there was another hour! Remember all those Sit n' Spins everyone had when we were kids? Apparently someone had to put all those together! Another 20 minutes down the tube.

The Fisher Price Little People Castle: removing it from the box and the 900 wires holding it to the box and then putting it together - half hour! T. J. Bearytales box and 500 wires removal plus dead battery/malfunction scare - 45 minutes. After all was said and done, I hit the sack at 3:30am! (I let Jen off the hook around 2:30)

Of course it was all worth it Christmas morning! Elias was delighted that Santa ate his cookies and Rudolph enjoyed the carrots we left out for him! Elias and Tanner both made a b-line for some of the toys that were unwrapped and set up while Joey eyed up his pile and did some last minute praying for his Nintendo Wii.

Elias, of course, got his Doggie Doctor! He rejoiced when he opened it and wanted to play with it immediately. However it was easy to sidetrack him with all the presents under the tree. Elias was also most pleased when he opened a box that was full of Cars (from the Disney movie CARS). We finally completed the set! We had been picking up a car here and there as we saw them while shopping, but we still didn't have Lizzie. We finally found a Lizzie the Friday before Christmas at an Antique Mall. We also got Elias the Fisher Price FP3 player, which is a kiddie version of an iPod. It's pretty cool. I loaded up with songs from his CD's plus some Disney music from my CD's. He can listen to it with headphones or a little set of speakers. He's spent the last two days listening to Beethoven's 5th (from FANTASIA 2000) over and over again! Oh, and the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Playset that I bought back in September (and was really excited about) is perhaps the biggest piece of crap I've ever encountered bearing the likeness of the good mouse!

Joey unwrapped his usual collection of CD's and DVD's along with a couple of other items. He was most excited about getting a digital camera and a Nintnedo Wii. Jennifer and I were excited about getting the Wii as well. We had checked many stores many times over the holiday season and to no luck. Last Wednesday, Jen's stepdad (who owns a computer shop) came through for us by snatching one of two up from his distributor! And by the way...that thing is cool too! The controller that you just point at the TV and move around is super cool. And you can get online with it...and you can watch You Tube...on your TV, laying on your sofa. That's the greatest...I gotta get one!

Tanner didn't really know what the heck was going on all day! He liked opening presents but he seemed to be more interested in what everybody else had got. His favorite present turned out to be a set of board books featuring the characters from the CARS movie. His two favorite words to say are "car" and "book" so I guess that was the prefect marriage of the two for him. Tanner also got a T. J. Bearytales, which is an audio-animatronic teddy bear that tells stories and sings songs. A Mickey Mouse toy cell phone and some Little People were also among the presents Tanner had waiting for him from Santa.

My wife got her favorite thing - diamonds, in the form of some ear rings that supposedly match a bracelet I gave her at some point. (I should pay better attention to all that stuff.) I think Jen also really like her Dance Dance Revolution Disney Mix Plug n Play that I got her! Oh, and don't forget the Can Opener!

Myself, I'm currently listening to my 6 CD set "A Musical History of Disneyland" which as you can imagine is sweet! I also got some DVD's like ALF Season Four, and SOAP Season Two. And I got a life size replica of Kermit the Frog! It's freakin' huge. I have no idea where I'm going to put it!

Christmas night we went over to Jen's mom's house for diner and more gifts! You can't go wrong with too many gifts!?

Well...that's enough of this! You can check out the pictures at our new picture site on Flickr. Hope you had a Merry Christmas and all that good stuff too!

New Photo Site!

Another year, another photo album! The folks at, where I house all the family photos, have decided to start charging $100 bucks for the privilege of using their site. So I hit the information super highway looking for a new my photos can call home. The winner of this illusive contract is I haven't poked around the site too much yet, but it seems to be the choice of many a blogger so we'll give it a try. Most importantly, it's free!

So please change your bookmarks, favorites, whatever it is you have too.... and join us over there for all the photographic fun!

There's pictures of our Christmas holiday there now. They are a little out of order since I was just experimenting with the site, but I'll get the hang of it soon! I hope to have a full write-up on all of our family holiday happenings later this evening or as soon as I get another break from putting toys together!

Happy Holidays and Thanks for Reading!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Greatest Christmas Movie EVER!

I didn't grow up watching IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE or MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET. They are both fine films but when I was 15 years old, I saw a movie that changed Christmas forever and ERNEST SAVES CHRISTMAS was that film! If you've never seen ERNEST SAVES CHRISTMAS, it's like looking God in the eyes and having him say "You are my most wondrous creation!" I've said it before and I 'LOL say it again, when you mix Ernest P. Worrell and any major holiday only goodness can result.

ERNEST SAVES CHRISTMAS is the 2nd of the nine Ernest films, released to theatres November 11, 1988. This time around Ernest is a taxi driver in Orlando, Florida. As it turns out Santa Claus has traveled to Orlando to recruit his replacement and he ends up in the back of Ernest's cab. Of course Santa-to-be, Joe Curruthers, needs some convincing that he should be the next Santa Claus, and that's where Ernest comes to the rescue!

Along with the help of a homeless girl (?) named Harmony, Ernest dons many costumes and disguises in order to help Mr. Claus in his mission. Here we see Ernest and Harmony pulling one over on the police by posing as the govenor's daughter and assistant. Later in the film, Ernest pretends to be a snake wrangler in order to get into a movie studio where Joe Curruthers is about to film the movie "Christmas Slay". Doesn't it all sound great!?

Ernest does indeed save Christmas, by personally delivering Santa's sleigh to him. Silliness aside, there really is a sweet story at the heart of this fantastic movie. I must have seen it at least 20 times. It's definitely my favorite Ernest film and easily one of my favorite Christmas movies (along with THE MUPPETS CHRISTMAS CAROL). I meant to post this article earlier so you had time to catch it before the holiday, but you've still got time to go to a place where video cassettes and DVD's are sold and rented and buy it...or rent it!

And now for the film buffs and nerds... ERNEST SAVES CHRISTMAS was partially filmed in Walt Disney World. This scene here, (Blogger lost the picture!) where Ernest and Harmony pull up to Vern's house, was shot at the Disney/MGM Studios Residential Street...Part of the Backlot Tour Ride. Vern's house is in the foreground with the colored Christmas lights. Across the street, the house with the white lights on it, is the house that was used for the exterior shots on the TV show EMPTY NEST. Both houses were visible on the Backlot Tour ride at the park up until two years ago when they tore Residential Street down to build a new attraction.

Early in the film, Ernest picks up Santa in his cab and is taking him to downtown Orlando. These highway scenes were actually filmed on the road system inside Walt Disney World. In this shot, even though you can't read the road signs you can see the signs painted brown, a color usually reserved for indicating attractions.

In this shot you could obviously read what it said on the sign so the filmmakers blacked out the sign. Most viewers probably don't realize it while all the action is taking place.

And here you can see the back of the sign, which reveals that the road signs were covered up with tarps.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Santa's Giveaways

Santa Claus used to hand out these little Mickey Mouse books when you visited him at Macy's. This was back in the 1930's. Little did any of those kids know that Santa was handing them something that would be worth hundreds of dollars when they grew up. Nowadays Santa hands out crappy little coloring books that aren't worth the recycled newspaper they are printed on.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

How E.T. Ruined Christmas

The only thing more disappointing that not finding E.T. for the Atari 2600 under your Christmas tree was FINDING it and playing it!

Viewer Mail: Sewell's Orchard

Back in September, I posted a story about Sewell's Orchard, a large fruit orchard that was sold and tunred into a housing development. I got a wonderful comment on the article today for someone who used to work there. Since I'm sure no one checks back to read comments, I thought I'd post this one as it is well-written. Enjoy!

I was one of the boys who worked at Sewell's Orchards. The quantity of us putting time in there probably amounted to a few hundred, as each spring brought a fresh batch of sixteen to seventeen year olds (farm labor was allotted an exemption to the minimum age and wage law) to work at Sewell's Orchard. The labor intensive period started the late spring, peaked in the summer, and (for the survivors considered really dedicated) into early fall.

The passing of time has cast a filter over memories of those times, casting them in a golden glow. However, I do vaguely recall ten-hour days (with paid lunch!) in sweltering weather under sunny blue skies with peach fuzz grinding into the skin like asbestos. So I returned several years ago, after the landscape was covered with houses to see the changes.

It was sort of a surrealistic experience. I recognized where the irrigation ponds had been, the names of the streets roughly approximated where the different varieties of fruit trees had stood, and the hills and the dales remained in place. I even found Donald Sewell's and Ronald Sewell's houses were still present.
I knocked on what used to be the home of Donold Sewell. I expected a tall, strongly built man with dark sunglasses to open the door and tell me that the hired labor couldn't come up to the house. Instead, a teenager opened the door and patiently listened to me tell of my days on the Orchard. He gave me a tour of the house and I gave him an address and phone to contact (his mother was intending to write a book about the Orchard, I never received a letter or phone call, so I guess it didn't happen.)

I took a final look around the development with a bit of sadness (but to be honest, I didn't miss that peach fuzz) and went on to visit family who continued to live in the region. -David Arnett

Thanks David! We're sending you a Wonderful World of Blog T-shirt! (offer void in all 50 states)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Grown Up Christmas List

Here's the number one item on my Christmas Wish List this year...

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Joe Barbera Was Awesome

This is the first video tape that I ever plunked down my semi-earned money to buy. It was about twenty years ago that I bought HOW THE FLINTSTONES SAVED CHRISTMAS at Errol's video for ten bucks. That's alot of money when you're a kid, but I knew this would be something I would revisit and rewatch year after year after year. And I was right! Just this past weekend I shared the holiday favorite with my three year old son and he enjoyed it just as much as I have over the years. It's not really a Christmas special, it's just an episode of THE FLINTSTONES but it captures all the warmth and spirit of the Christmas season. In the episode, Fred gets a part time job playing Santa at Macyrock's Department store. He does such a good job that the real Santa recruits Fred to deliver all the toys on Christmas Eve while Santa is sick in bed. (Barney and Dino don't actually get in on the "saving Christmas action" like depicted on the video box. That's also not the same cover as my video, it's pretty close - but not the same!)

THE FLINTSTONES along with so many other cartoons that I hold near and dear to my heart were the product of the great Hanna-Barbera animation studio. The Barbera half of the team, Joe Barbera, passed away yesterday at the age of 95. He died from natural causes in his California home with his wife by his side. Along side his partner William Hanna (who passed on several years ago) Hanna-Barbera redefined animation by creating limited animation, a cost effective way to produced animation and bring original productions to television. Hanna and Barbera started at the MGM studios in the 1930's, directing tons of TOM & JERRY theatrical shorts. When MGM shut down their studio, H-B went into production for themselves creating RUFF & READY, the first animated series on television. Things really started to take off when HUCKLEBERRY HOUND hit the scene in 1959. From there, H-B introduced the world to YOGI BEAR, QUICK DRAW McGRAW, SNAGGLEPUSS, PIXIE & DIXIE, WALLY GATOR and the list literally goes on and on...! They created THE FLINTSTONES, the first ever prime-time animated series. They also made Scooby-Doo, which went on to be one of the most popular cartoon characters in animation history.

Joe Barbera is probably responsible for half of the nonsense in my head! Thanks Joe!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Buone Feste, Topolino!

Last Christmas my brother went to Christmas Eve mass at the Vatican, so of course I asked him to pick me up a copy of Topolino magazine while he was there! Topolino is the Italian name given to Mickey Mouse, it means "small mouse". I had read somewhere that Topolino was the oldest continuously published children's magazine in the world. I can't find anything on the internet to back that up, but let's just go with it as a fact...who else could be in the running, Highlights? But anyhow, my brother came through for me and I'm now the proud owner of a 190 page magazine full of Christmas comics that I can't read! Italian is not like Spanish or French where you can kind of make out the language here-and-there...It's almost like those Italians have a different word for everything!

They kind of draw the characters a little differently in Italy, and they even have a few of their own characters that we don't see in the U.S. This issue of Topolino starts with a comic about a kid version of Donald Duck. There's also another character popular over there called P.K. who is actually a Super-Hero who's secret identity is Donald Duck. As you can see from the table of contents here, tucked in among the comics is a nice little article on everyone's favorite ex-Spice Girl Geri Hallwell. It was probably big news for Geri the day the Topolino offices called her and asked for an interview.

For bonus fun today, here's a scan for a cell phone wallpaper service off the back cover of the Topolino magazine. It's nice that all the wallpapers are Mickey and Pooh. If this ad were to run in a U.S. magazine, there would be one Mickey Mouse wallpaper and the rest would be High School Musical and Power Rangers!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Look Who Made The Front Cover

I would have posted this earlier if I had realized that Woman's World was a weekly publication but since I've never bought Woman's World before I assumed this issue would be on newsstands all month. Anyway, look who they put on the cover the other week instead of a soap opera star or country music's our ol' pal Mickey. I couldn't pass up buying it for only $1.49! Inbetween the articles on smart ways to use spray bottles and finding a natural cure for menopause Mickey serves up some recipes for some treats from Walt Disney World. Next to rides and cartoon characters, my favorite thing at Disney World is the eats. And If I can't eat any of the stuff right now, I don't mind looking at some pictures of it all!

I've never had these Chocolate-Coconut Confection Bars from the Yacht & Beach Club resort but if Woman's World says they are worth seeking out then who am I to not take their advise. Woman's World also says a French-rolled ponytail will make my hair look romantic and flirty but I'll take their word on that one!

Disney's Pop Century Resort is where we have called home the last few times we've been to WDW. Their awesome food court is one of the reasons we love this resort so much. There are alot of great menu items and everyone in my family has at least two or three favorites. This Tie-Dyed Cheesecake is a popular hit with many visitors and I've heard more than one person swear by the Twinkie Tiramisu. I haven't had the Tiramisu, the cheesecake was a little too much in the cheese department for my liking, but I'm sure you could adapt the recipe to fit your own cheesecake recipe. The recipe for these three goodies were printed in the magazine along with a Chocolate-Crusted Key Lime Tart from the Grand Floridian and a Apple-Cranberry Pie from Epcot. If you'd like the recipes, zap me an e-mail and I'll send you a scan of the entire page!

Christmas Magic: A Festival of Lights

Cool Light Display in York County, PA

For those of you in the Northern most part of our audience may I recommend you visit Christmas Magic at Rocky Ridge County Park. (It's near the York Galleria Mall) It's a big Christmas light display, similar to the big ones that you drive through, except you walk through it. It really puts you in the middle of everything as you walk through the woods surrounded by 300,000 lights. It's really cool. And it has a much more homemade touch to it than the big drive through displays. It's not all big light sculptures, there's decorated trees and special effects and all a wide variety of uses of Christmas lights.

The half-mile walking trail takes you not only through the woods but also into little buildings with winter displays, refreshments and even entertainment. There was a model train display and also an audio-animatronic polar bear singing Christmas tunes with penguin backup singers. And yes, we even saw the big guy himself - Santa. (Who apparently has nothing better to do 11 days before Christmas than sit in an empty shack in the middle of nowhere!) It was very cool!

Here's all the information you'll need to check it out!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Have A Smurfy Christmas

Let's journey back to a time when Smurfs ruled the world and it was too difficult to buy record albums in stores. People in the 70's and 80's certainly enjoyed buying their record albums from commercials on TV. Disney made a boatload of cash selling DISCO MICKEY MOUSE on TV at the close of the 70's, so soon every children's record was being hawked on TV between the cartoons. The Smurfs recorded a handful of albums starting with THE SMURFS ALL STAR SHOW in 1981. It was a popular title and sold well. By the time the Smurfs got around to doing a Christmas album, most people bailed. The thing with the Smurf albums is that they weren't produced by the same people that made the American TV version of the Smurfs. The shows seen in America were made by Hanna-Barbera, but the record albums (and the 1982 film THE SMURFS AND THE MAGIC FLUTE) came from overseas. The voices didn't sound anything like the Smurfs on TV, instead they sounded like British Chipmunks!? (In the movie they sound like Gay British Chipmunks!) But nobody really cared, it was the 80's...we were too busy playing the Smurfs Ahoy boardgame or trading Smurf Puffy Stickers.

Anysmurf...take a look at the commercial for MERRY CHRISTMAS WITH THE SMURFS from 1983. Check out the awesome production values when a Smurf rides by in his open sleigh! It's breathtaking...or should I say Smurftaking...or Breathsmurfing....!?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I'm Still Here!

Sorry the posts have been few and far between. Two weeks ago I spent most of my time helping my wife clean the house for a party she was having. Then the day after the party, I got a huge assignment from Ultimate which has been keeping me busy ever since. Well, I finished my DVD review last night and I hope to have something fun for ya a little later today! Thanks for sticking around! Check back later!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Where Do You Bank?

Today I was changing Elias and he happened to notice a quarter sitting in the wipey box. "Hey! I see a money in the wipey box! That doesn't belong there," he says. "You're right," I replied, "Where should we put money?" I was expecting him to answer "the bank" because earlier when we were out he correctly identified a building as a bank, even though we'd never been to that bank!

So, Elias thought about it for a moment and said, "We should put the money in a....," he paused. A light bulb went off inside his head, "We should put the money in a Candy Machine at the mall!"

Monday, December 04, 2006

Old & New Disney Animation News

A couple of newsbits from the world of Disney Animation regarding the newest of the new and the oldest of the old. First up, we have some preproduction artwork from a brand new animated short being produced by the feature animation department at Disney. The new short is called "How to Install Your Home Theatre" and picks up where the great Goofy instructional cartoons of the 40's and 50's left off. Short cartoon subjects are going to start appearing with Walt Disney Pictures feature films again, just as they did from the last 1920's to the mid 60's. And, just like those classic shorts, the new films will be used as a training ground for new and upcoming talents in the animation world. "Home Theatre" will be produced in glorious old fashioned hand-drawn 2D animation and is scheduled to hit theatres sometime next year.

From brand new projects to one of Walt Disney's first projects, Oswald The Lucky Rabbit makes his home video debut early next year. Walt Disney first worked on the Oswald cartoons when he arrived in Hollywood in the mid 1920's. Through some underhanded business dealings, Walt lost the rights to his creation and Oswald has been the property of Universal Pictures for the last 75 (or so) years. Recently, Oswald returned home to the Disney studios when he was traded for Al Michaels from ABC's Monday Night Football. (Disney owns ABC, Universal owns NBC) The Oswald cartoons have not been seen by the public at large for decades! Disney plans to change that by releasing a double disc DVD housing Walt Disney's original Oswald cartoons beautifully remastered. I've seen the restoration work and they look gorgeous! Can't wait to finally see these cartoons I've read so much about over the years!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Movie Tie-In Novels

You don't see movie novelizations at the book store too much anymore. When I was little, if I knew I wasn't going to get to see a movie in the theatre I'd try and get my hands on the movie tie-in novel, as it took most movies over a year to reach HBO. Yes, I spent my youthful hours reading ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING, SPACECAMP, and HOWARD THE DUCK instead of ever picking up a copy of HUCKLEBERRY FINN or THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE. Here's a couple of great titles off my shelf that I actually picked up in my later years. One of my all time favorite movies, GOIN' COCONUTS is the story of Donny and Marie Osmond's trip to Hawaii and all the wackiness that ensues. Look at all those crazy characters on that little island with Donny, Marie, and one great big smiling coconut! The cover promises "3600 smiles an hour" while the back cover insures "readers will be left helpless with laughter". That doesn't sound too pleasant, does it!? I snatched this baby up when I came across it at a used book store about 7-8 years ago. Only set me back fifty cents! I still have every intention of sitting down and reading it one day!

SNOWBALL EXPRESS is another one of my all time favorite films. The movie is 90 minutes of Dean Jones accidentally skiing down hills backwards. Sounds like a hard concept to translate onto paper, but not when you've got author Joe Claro at the helm. He also had the task of bringing MEATBALLS to paperback form, so you know he's good! The funny thing is, the movie SNOWBALL EXPRESS was already based on a book called CHATEAU BON VIVANT, so this is really a book based on a movie based on a book. Kind of makes your head hurt, don't it!? Only in the 70's would you find this tag line on the back of a book: "A fast, funny slalom through Laughland, based on the zany movie from Walt Disney Productions..." That's gold, right there!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

South of the Border Billboards

If you've ever traveled to Disney World (or just Florida...I guess) by car then you are probably at least a little familiar with South of the Border, the Mecca of all that is tacky! SOB is located just a hair south of the North and South Carolina border on Interstate 95 and features gas stations, restaurants, gift shops, a small amusement park, and plenty of places to buy large quantities of fireworks. It's all very, very wild and wacky and oh so tacky kind of place. When I was younger I was completely captivated by the whole idea! I had South of the Border souvenirs and memorabilia all over my bedroom. It was during that time period that I picked up this rare book: "Pedro Presents South of the Border Award Weening Billboards." Pedro is the ultra-stereotypical Mexican amigo who serves as SOB's mascot. Back in the day, Pedro was featured on hundreds of billboards that lined I-95 all up and down the east coast. It used to be so much fun reading all the different billboards for the many hours before arriving at SOB. Now, there are probably about only 100 billboards that plug the spot in 180 miles in each direction. They are still fun, but not quite as fun as when there was a billboard every mile for hours on end. In the 90's the billboards were all changed to bring them to the correct level of political correctness, taking away another level of fun. Thanks to this book that I've managed to hang onto all these years, we can relive a little bit of the fun! (Actually, I'm pretty sure all four of these examples are still standing!)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Opening Day at The Power Plant

A few weeks ago, we brought you the news (from 1982) on the ground breaking of Baltimore's new theme park, Six Flag's Power Plant. Well here we are three years later at the Grand Opening of the new indoor theme park at the Inner Harbor. Six Flag's Power Plant was built without any rides at all. Instead the focus was on hands-on-activities like the laboratory of the late Dr. Phinneas T. Flagg, who by the way was attempting to create a power supply large enough for the whole planet!

Here's one of Dr. Flagg's inventions...a gigantic larger than life music box. This mechanical wonder played tunes to entertain people until the people stopped coming to the park in 1989. That's when the Power Plant closed it's doors to the public.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Winter Wonderland Ride @ Fantasyland

One of my lesser known internal obsessions is a little defunct amusement park called Fantasyland. I apparently went there when I was about three years old, but I have no memories of the place what-so-ever. Fantasyland doesn't appear to be a fondly remembered and cherished family memory like Maryland's Enchanted Forest as I've been able to dig up very little about the park over the last few years. People that live near historic battlefields do not like things built anywhere near those battlefields! Fantasyland was built smack-dab in the middle of the Gettysburg battlefields, sitting only footsteps away from the National Park Service Gettysburg Visitor Center. It was a kiddie storybook land with displays of nursery rhyme characters and figures from children's literature. There were small rides for families to enjoy together, and the whole park appeared to have a homespun, low-tech appeal to it. The park closed in the early 80's, the land was purchased by the park service and all visible signs of the park were demolished.

A few years ago when I became interested in the park, I started snooping around the Gettysburg area and asking folks what they knew of the park. I never uncovered much but eventually uncovered where the park sat. Fantasyland's parking lot is now overflow parking for the Gettysburg Visitor Center. Making my way past "No Tresspassing" signs, I ventured into the woods beyond the parking lot. There are a few buildings still standing and a few walkways can still be made out. It's not creepy like an old abandon amusement park, it's just strange to be in thick woods and see a snack bar sitting in the middle of nowhere. (I did take some pictures which I'll have to find and share with you in a later post.)

Anywho, I love Dark Rides...Especially non-scary ones. And I'm sure this Winter Wonderland ride would have been a personal favorite of mine. I don't know anything about this ride except that I'd pay my weight in candy canes to take a ride on it. Just looking at this picture of the ride (from a brochure I have) I can only guess what kind of warped Christmas music echoed throughout the ride. Probably the kind of "It's a Small World" kind of song that gets stuck in your head for the rest of the day. Just like everytime I rode "Smurf Mountain" I'd end up spending the rest of the day humming that "la-la-la-la-la-la" smurf song and saying "I just love ice skating, It's so Smurfy!" Ahhh...memories!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Get Your Shop On Black Friday Style!

Let's just start off by saying that Black Friday is awesome! It's just a crazy, madhouse, nutty kind of a day where you can spend $600.00 before the sun comes up! Our alarm clock went off at 3:30am Friday morning. My wife and I were on the road by 4:40am and we were at Toys R Us by 5:15am. The parking lot was full and it took several trips around the lot before I could find a parking space. There were no shopping carts to be found so I had to resort to standing by the exit and following someone to their car to get their cart. Once inside it was the usual insane free-for-all that we've come to expect as Black Friday veterans. I've got to hand it to Toys R Us - they've got all of their big sale items right in the front of the store in huge quantities, clearly marked and ready to go! We picked up a Sit `n' Spin for ten bucks, a Little Tykes tool bench for Tanner (also for $10.00) and a Deal or No Deal game for Elias. We grabbed a place in one of the looooooooooong lines and then took turns holding our place in line and looking through the store for other goodies. We ended up waiting in line for 55 minutes...all this at 6am in the morning!

From there we headed to Sears to nab a great price on the My First Craftsman Action and Sound Workbench, which we got the last one of! The Sears was connected to a mall so we hit up a few stores in the mall, knocking a major gift for Joey off the list. One of the cool things about Black Friday is being a crowded mall like a Saturday night but it's actually very early Friday morning. I snapped this picture of the mobbed food court at 8:20am! It is there that we took part of our new Black Friday tradition, Cheesesteaks at 8:30 in the morning. We paused for the same "breakfast" at the same time last year so I've now dubbed it a tradition.

From the mall we hit up Circuit City which was mad crazy! They had cops out front directing traffic. Inside, the store is shoulder to shoulder people. We pushed our way through and picked up several gifts at great prices. After Circuit City, we drove a little out of the way to go to a K-Mart in the middle of nowhere because they had advertised Herbie: Fully Loaded on Game Boy Advance for $7.00! That was going to be a little gift to myself, but they were all out. So it was on to Linens n' Things were Jen wanted to grab a few items including a Chocolate Fondue set ($15) for ourselves. Jen ran in and did the shopping while I grabbed a power nab in the car...and yes I did the thing where I wake up behind the wheel and think I'm driving and totally freak out!

After a pit stop for gas and Diet Pepsi, Target was next on the list. Target didn't really have anything great as part of their Black Friday sale but that didn't stop us from spending over $100.00 there! Target led to Macy's, which was also part of a mall so we had to hop into the mall for a bit. Leaving that mall, we drove a half hour back toward home and paid a visit to our local mall. KB Toys was all out of what we were looking for there, and that's understandable since it was going on 3:00pm at this point in the day! We were also out of luck at the Hallmark store looking for a couple of particular ornaments.

Our last stop was Kohl's...Man, I hate Kohl's! There is nothing for guys to look at in that store and there is no place to sit! But at Christmas time, they have all kinds of stuff in there so it wasn't too bad. They had Fisher Price toys 40% off, so we stocked up on some stuff for Tanner and Little People stuff for both the boys. They love those little guys!

We got home shortly before 5:00pm. A brisk 12 hours of shopping on one of the busiest shopping days of the year! Needless to say, we were pooped!

A New Era in Black Friday Shopping

You may have heard that some outlet malls opened at midnight Thanksgiving Night/Friday morning. Crazy? We thought it sounded like fun but decided to pass and just do the 5am thing. Well, it turned out to be a big success all over the country. Stores are reporting that between 12:00am and 5:00am they made as much money as they usually do ALL of Black Friday. I heard it referred to on CNN as "a whole new discovered day of holiday shopping!" Next year I bet you'll find everyone opens at midnight! It's going to be the new start of Black Friday!

For more, check out this article from the Boston Herald.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Wild World 1984

How excited was little eight year old me when I discovered that Maryland was finally going to have a major amusement park to call it's own!? The answer is: very excited! Like so many other Marylanders, Wild World was a part of growing up mostly because it was just nearby. It was never a great park, it didn't have the impact of Kings Dominion or Hersheypark but it was ours and we all went there every year. Wild World stated off in 1981, mostly as a waterpark but slowly added dry rides. In 1994, the park was renamed the equally generic Adventure World. Adventure World held on for five years before the park received an even more bland name, Six Flags America. I've haven't been to the park since it became a Six Flags. During the 1993 season my college radio station did a promotion with Wild World and I went something like 4 or 5 times in one summer and that pretty much filled me up on the place!

Today on display at WWoB we have a brochure for Wild World circa 1984. This was a few years before they had any roller coasters so the brochure offers pictures of exciting attractions like the Wild Wave wave pool, a kids ball bath, and walking in front of a fence! The brochure also says, "Test your game playing skills in our challenging VIDEO ARCADE; or browse the afternoon away in one of our fine GIFT SHOPS." Sounds like their advertising the 1920 World's Fair. Also on hand in 1984 was the GREAT AMERICAN HIGH DIVE SHOW. I'm pretty sure it was a law that ever amusement park in the 80's had to have a high dive show and it had to be called "The Great American High Dive Show/Team." I would also like to mention an attraction not seen in this scan, "The Pants Corral Video Theatre." I can't imagine what that was! In 1984 a single day adult admission to Wild World was $8.50, this past season that same ticket would have set you back $49.99! Now that's Wild!
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