Friday, June 29, 2007

It's a Spiceworld After All

As you've probably heard by now, pop group The Spice Girls made international happy news yesterday by announcing that they were getting back together and going on tour! One word for ya: SWEET. Let me tell ya why I love The Spice Girls. First, they are silly and goofy and they know it and they are just out to have fun with their music. Second, they put out two CD's of pure upbeat happy pop music at a time when the whole record industry was putting out dark, depressing grunge music. They brought fun back to music! Third, they made one of the greatest films of all time SPICEWORLD. Number four, there was a ton of silly merchandising out featuring the girls including dolls, action figures, stickers, name it and there was a Spice Girls version of it.

The Spice Girls 11-city tour brings them to the U.S. for three shows. They will be in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York in early December 2007. I'm already working on getting tickets to one of the cities shows. (If your interested in the journey, let me know!)

I saw The Spice Girls live in the summer of 1998. If you want, you can read all about it on a web page I made nine years ago for no particular reason.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Trimper's Rides in Ocean City

The Trimper family has owned the rides and other amusements at the beginning of Ocean City's boardwalk for 117 years. Their property now includes shops, an amusement park, an arcade, a Haunted House and several midway games. This year could mark the end of Trimper's Rides in Ocean City. Due to rising property taxes and the value of their land, Trimper's is having a hard time making ends meet and might have to close it's doors after this season. This would be a real loss not only to Ocean City and the state of Maryland but to amusement park lovers everywhere. Trimper's in the oldest continuously operating amusement park in the county as well as home to the oldest continuously operating carousel. They also have tons of antique kids rides and some unique walk through attractions as well. On my recent trip to OC I snapped a few random pictures of the place, I've got some more that I'll share later and I hope to return later this summer for the sole purpose of taking pictures.
This is a warning sing that appears outside a fun house.

This terrifying genie sits atop of a fun house with an Arabian Nights theme.

I like the very 70's look of this sign above the loading platform for a kiddie roller coaster.

There are many unauthorized paintings of cartoon characters along the wall above the kiddie bumper cars. For some reason, they've got Mickey wearing goggles that look more like two blowholes in his head.

They did a little better of a job ripping off Donald Duck.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Good Eats - O.C. Edition

So, we just spent the better part of the last two weeks in beautiful Ocean City, MD where, besides that sand and ocean thing that everyone loves, there are plenty of great things to eat! Here's some thoughts and reviews on some of the places you might (or might not) want to visit on your next trip down the ocean!

We had some friends that were also down there the same time we were. About a year ago they had mentioned this place they always go to for breakfast called General's Kitchen (74th St. & Coastal Hwy.) I was informed that the General served up a Creamed Chip Beef Omelet that was out of this world. I couldn't wait to try it out. The place seats about 70 people and the line to get in can get kind of long. We had a fairly short wait considering there were 9 people in our party. Since the Kitchen was known for their cream chip beef, I decided to order the classic way...over toast! It was fantastic, and easily the best cream chipped beef I've ever had. Really, really good! They've got all kinds of other breakfast goodies on the menu. Someone got a Spanish omelet that looked really good, and Elias gobbled up two helpings of Silver Dollar Pancakes (with ketchup!) I'm looking forward to another visit to try the cream chip beef omelet.

Castaway's (64th St.) is a new place down there that caught our eye. The promise of a Caribbean inspired menu is what drew me to the place. The restaurant is very large, with plenty of seating indoors and out and should cut down on wait times in the heart of the season. The whole place has a tropical/Jimmy Buffett kind-of-thing going on. There was even live steel drum music playing when we got there. Most of the people at our table seemed happy with their selections except Joey and I. Our waiter went on and on about how amazing their Caribbean Crab Cakes were. They were unlike any other crab cake we'd ever had, he swore! And that they were all meat, no filler...he added. Well, they were just about the worst crab cakes I've ever had. They tasted frozen, there was plenty of filler, and they were generally disappointing. A side dish of lumpy, redskin mashed potatoes didn't help matters either. Regardless of the waiter's recommendation, at the prices they were charging I should have had better crab cakes. I doubt we'll be returning to Castaway's in future vacations.

Right here your looking at a delicious plate of Crab Nachos from Crabcake Factory U.S.A. (120th St.) We probably would never have discovered this place if we hadn't stayed so close to it. Crabcake Factory isn't a fancy place, it's kind of a hole in the wall...but what they lack in appearance they make up for with a fantastic menu filled with all sorts of tasty fresh seafood. These Nachos were yumm-o on their own, but they were also covered with mounds of crab meat. There must have been at least three crabcakes worth of meat piled onto those bad boys. I'd say one of the best things we ate while we were down there! We also had REAL Crab Rangoons. Usually you find Crab Rangoons or Crab Wontons at Chinese restaurants where they are just filled with vegetable cream cheese. These rangoons were filled with real honest to goodness crab meat. Quite a treat after enjoying the cream cheese versions for so long. Crabcake Factory U.S.A. is a nice quiet place that never seems to have a line and always serves up yummy seafood dishes. It's home to the Ocean City chapter of the Ravens Roost Fan Club, so if there's a Ravens game when you're in town, you might want to find somewhere else to go.
I'll try and hit you up with some more Good Eats: Ocean City Style later this week!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Back From the Beach

We just back from seven fun filled days and nights at Ocean City, MD. The weather was beautiful but not beach friendly. It was in the 70's and low 80's most of the time we were there. The pool was cold and the ocean even colder. We did have fun hitting up a couple of local attractions, eating lots of great food, and getting our shop on! I've got a couple of pages worth of photos from our trip up over at my Flickr page, plus I'll have some restaurant/food reviews in the next couple of days! Hope your summer is going well!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

We'll be Right Back...

Don't worry! We'll be back next weekend! June 16, 2007

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Pay It Forward

For those of you who don't have kids, you're missing out on a great opportunity to take all the things you love in life and force them onto someone else. My kids love "Weird Al" Yankovic; know who Droopy, The Pink Panther, and Yogi Bear are; and Elias can even point out the location of any ride in Disney World on a map.

My good friend Brian is starting to get a taste of what I'm talking about. Here's his 7-month old daughter, Autumn, playing with her first Transformers toy. A girl never forgets her first Transformer!

Paris in Jail

Musical pardoy is really an understated artform...

Monday, June 11, 2007

Mickey Mouse Wacky Water 4-Square Mat

Yesterday I was looking in Target for a sprinkler for the kids to play in when I came across yet another Mickey Mouse branded item that I just had to have! The Mickey Mouse and Friends Wacky Water 4-Square Mat by Big Time Toys is a large mat you connect to a garden hose featuring bright colorful graphics of Mickey, Pluto, Donald Duck and Goofy. I bought it not for the 4-Square aspect but for the sprinkler/Wacky Water effect which is good because I don't really see how anyone could play 4-Square on this mat. The mat is too small to play a game of 4-square, you can see that from the illustration on the box. Even very small children would have trouble standing in their square and bouncing a ball. Also, balls don't bounce on water! It is recommended that the mat be set up on grass and since this thing can get kind of slippery, that's a good idea. However, little pools of water build up in the different squares making it impossible to bounce a little beach ball and play a real game of 4-Square.

HOWEVER, the mat does work as a fun sprinkler fountain for little kids. Water shoots up and out from several spots in the yellow area between the characters. My kids had a great time splashing in the puddles, jumping through the gentle jets of water and getting soaked all over this thing. One of the neat things is when you step on the space between the squares the water pressure in the jets completely changes and the water shoots even higher or lower. It caught the kids off guard everytime and was great fun. It actually reminded us of larger fountains that kids can play in at Walt Disney World.

All in all, a fun product! It's not the game that it claims to be, but it's a unique alternative to a kiddie pool or a regular sprinkler.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Mr. Potato Head is a Transformer

I'm not expecting much from the upcoming big screen version of The Transformers, but the closer we get to the release date (7/4) the better it's starting to look. Of course the merchandising plays a big part in getting me excited for a movie and the toy isle shelves are once again filled with Transformer toys as if it were 1983 all over again! The coolest of the new toys is this hilarious new tater named Optimash Prime. Ol' Mr. Potato is trying to stay relevant by disguising himself as one of the Transformers. He's also been recently seen dressed as Spider-Spud and Darth Tater. I guess Optimash is not going to be in the new movie...but he should be!

By the way, the yet-t0-be-released Transformers movie won the MTV Movie Award for Best Movie You Haven't Seen Yet. What?!?

Charming Local Sight of the Week: Trailer Park neighbors having a Tupperware Party in their front yard.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Inside Smurf Mountain...sort of

As I've stated here many times before, my favorite amusement park attraction growing up was Smurf Mountain at Kings Dominion in Virginia. I liked roller coasters and water rides and all those spinney rides, but a trip to KD wasn't complete without a train ride through Smurf Mountain. I've searched time and time again for information on the ride (which no longer exists.) There's been a few mentions of the ride on various message forums and it's often cited as being one of the rides replaced by the park's mega-coaster Volcano. But it wasn't until a search about a week ago, that I finally uncovered some pictures that were taken inside the ride. Now, Smurf Mountain had two sister attractions: The Smurf's Enchanted Voyage at Kings Island in Ohio and Smurf Village at Canada's Wonderland. They were all similar experiences except on Voyage you traveled in a boat and in the Village you walked through. The person who posted these pictures says that are from both Kings Dominion's Mountain and Kings Island's Voyage, but either way it's still a look at how the ride existed!

The shot of the track in the lower right of this picture suggests that it's from Smurf Mountain. The Christmas/Winter scene was near the end of the ride when you slowly came down a small incline. There were plenty of Smurf houses all decked out in Christmas lights and there was Smurfy Christmas music playing throughout!

This scene was closer to the beginning of the ride in the spring/summer scenes. There were many Smurfs playing all sorts of summery games and relaxing in the sun. Here's Lazy Smurf doing what he does best.

This shot kind of gives you a feel for how three dimensional the sets looked and how it all kind of immersed you into the world of the Smurfs.

Here's another Winter scene. Here you can tell the picture was taken in Kings Island as the boat canal is lower than the set pieces. Throughout the ride some of the Smurf figures were animated but only by simple articulation in their waist, arms, or head. They were similar to the simple animations you see in a mall's Santa Claus display. They were not sophisticated audio-animatronics like you'd find at a Disney park.

The Smurf's mountain still stands today but is not inhabited by the Volcano Blast Coaster. Legend has it that a couple of Smurfs still live in the mountain, and that if you look up in the right spot on the Volcano ride you can catch a glimpse of them while smurfing by at 70 M.P.H.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Yogi Bear's Honey Fried Chicken

Among my many lame/bizarre interests is my fascination with obscure and forgotten restaurant chains. And of course, as we all know, I love all things Hanna-Barbera. So imagine my simultaneous joy and shame when I recently discovered that there was a chain of Yogi Bear Fried Chicken restaurants. The chain has been out-of-business for decades and I'm only now discovering that it even existed! I can go on and on about Yogi Bear attractions at theme parks, and I've stayed at at-least a dozen of Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park Campgrounds across the country, but a fast food restaurant chain I knew nothing about. Now when it comes to fried chicken: I loves me some Bojangles and Church's but I gotta be honest with ya I'm craving some Yogi Bear's Honey Fried Chicken right now...and I've never even had any! Ya gotta admit...the concept of Honey Fried Chicken sounds pretty tasty! Well...all hope is not lost!

Yes friends, this is a photograph of the one remaining, operating Yogi Bear's HFC. In the little town of Hartsville, South Carolina they are still serving up honey fried chicken inside little cardboard Picnic Baskets. Nice touch, eh? According to what I've read on the internets, there isn't much Yogi Bear themeing inside the joint besides a few posters, but still...just the thought of a Yogi Bear restaurant that I haven't been to has got me thinking about a little road trip. If I had discovered this place before I was a family man, I would have been in the car days ago. However, Mapquest says it only a 7 1/2 hour drive so all hope is not lost!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Meet the Newest Members of Our Family

Elias and Tanner are proud to announce the arrival of the newest members of our household. Last night we welcomed four fresh water tropical fish into our home as the starting members of our new aquarium. Both the boys are very excited and very proud of their new fish are will be eager to show them off to you on your next visit to our home. "Can we go down and wake up the fish?" was the first thing out of Elias' mouth this morning. When Tanner woke up he pointed to the stairs and began chanting "Fisheys! Fisheys!" The large blue fish at the top is named Robin Hood, there's actually only three other fish but the reflection of the tank walls make it look like there is more. The other smaller fishes' names are Splash, Thunder, and Space. (5 points if you get that reference.)

Flea Market Finds: Little Disney Treasures

Sometimes finding the silliest little thing at a yard sale can bring you a great deal of satisfaction. When I go to Flea Markets and Yard Sales I'm basically looking for two kinds of things: stuff for the kids (books & toys) and Disney stuff...more specifically memorabilia from Walt Disney World and Disneyland. This morning I came upon some little treasures that I was happy with. First I found a Mickey Mouse Yahtzee game which I had been looking for in stores and all I could find was either Spider-Man or Disney Princess Yahtzee. Elias played Pokemon Yahtzee at school and loved it, but I'm happy we got some classic characters instead of Pokemon or Spider-Man! Then I was digging through a box of Happy Meal toys looking for my long lost Chip n' Dale to complete my set of last year's Disneyland 50th Anniversary Happy Meal and instead I found this Chip n' Dale on the ToonTown Jolly Trolley ride from Disneyland. This toy is from a Burger King Kids Meal that I'm not really familiar with. So, for a dime, I was excited to add that to my collection of Disney Parks junk that I have hanging on the wall at home.

I also took the time to sift through a box of buttons and magnets that someone had. Buttons are cool collectibles, when it comes to Disney World, because they put them out for every little thing that goes on at the resort. So, my Disney sensors went off when I uncovered this old Minnie Mouse button from Walt Disney World's Showcase of Dolls event. The button has the old WDW resort logo which I love and love finding things with the logo on it. Not quite as exciting but still a cool find was the larger Teddy Bear Classic button from 1992 featuring Teddi Barra from the Country Bear Jamboree. Total cost for the two buttons: 20 cents! Good Times!
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