Thursday, October 30, 2008

Charlie Brown Beyond the Holidays

When you think of Charlie Brown and the Peanuts you probably don't think of "stories". In fact, the problem is most people associate Charlie Brown and Snoopy with Halloween and Christmas and that's about it. When I was younger, I read lots and lots of Peanuts books. I pretty much read anything I could get my hands on. I read compilations of the daily comic strip and I read book versions of the numerous television specials. While the daily strip provided a laugh every day, if you read everyday or read them collected in book you'd find great stories being told like the time Lucy buried Linus' blanket in the backyard and Linus dug up the whole neighborhood looking for it. The animated Peanuts television specials offered a more narrative venue for Snoopy and the gang. While I love the holiday specials, I'm equally as fond of a number of the animated half-hours that didn't have anything to do with a holiday. Sadly, most of these specials have fallen through the cracks and haven't been seen on television in decades, yet alone a DVD release.

So I couldn't be more excited for January 29, 2009 when You're A Good Sport, Charlie Brown breaks the mold and becomes one of the first non-holiday releases from the Peanuts Vault (which is located in Snoopy's dog house, of course). This awesome 1975 tale tells the story of when Charlie Brown and Peppermint Patty enter a motocross race against a mysterious challenger known only as The Masked Marvel. If you don't all ready know, look at the DVD cover art pictured here and you can probably guess who the Masked Marvel is! (I love this show so much is was even mentioned in a 1998 episode of The Ed South Show.) And if adding this great show wasn't cool enough for my DVD library, the disc also sports You're The Greatest, Charlie Brown. This is an equally awesome Peanuts outing which debuted in 1979 and has Charlie Brown entering a Decathlon in the Junior Olympics. Can-Not-Wait-my friends! Don't be a lame grown-up...this is an hour of solid television entertainment you should reconnect with!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

First Homework Assignment

This one is a little late...but a couple of weeks ago Elias had his first homework assignment from Kindergarten. He was to make a book about leaves changing colors. He took it very serious and did a really good job with it. I know this might not mean anything to most of you out there, but to me it was a special moment - the first time my son and I worked on school work together.

Here's his masterpiece, soon to be on the New York Times Bestersellers list:

I helped a little...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Still The Greatest Ride Ever

If you want to hear me drone on for endless hours about something then just bring up the old Hanna-Barbera ride at Universal Studios in Orlando. In fact, I went into great detail about the ride a couple of years ago in a rather lenghty post here on WWoB. For those of you not in the know, the Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera ride was a motion-simulator style ride where guests boarded little spaceships to help Yogi Bear and Boo-Boo find Elroy Jetson while traveling through the worlds of The Flintsones, Scooby-Doo, and The Jetsons. I swear, I've never smiled harder than when I was on that ride.

Universal Studios decided to replace this awesome ride with some lame attraction staring Jimmy Neutron. (Let me just point out that Jimmy Neutron is already done and over with while the Hanna-Barbera characters remain treasured icons of American pop culture). However, now thanks to the wonders of YouTube we can all experience the complete awesomeness of this ride. I found this video of the film used in the attraction. This isn't someone's home video recording, this is a copy of the actual film. Enjoy and feel free to move your chair around while watching this film...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Three Screen Memories

I have alot of great memories of a variety of different movie theatres that I frequented in my younger years. We were never ones to just go to the same theatre everytime we went to the movies but there are three theatres that stick out in my mind as the most memorable.

First was the awesome Westview Cinemas on Rt. 40 in Catonsville, Maryland. This was a giant theatre with a beautiful lobby and a very dated look inside. It had a low-tech snackbar that offered all the movie theatre staples at somewhat reasonable prices. Their theatre #5 was just about the most awesome place to see a movie. It was a huge auditorium with a giant curved widescreen that sat behind a curtain. The sound system was fantastic, and I would often go see whatever movie was playing in #5 just because the presentation was so good. The theatre went out of business in 1997. The last film I saw there was the first Austin Powers movie.

Second, was the Lowes Columbia Palace 9. This theatre opened when I was in the 8th grade, and I can remember going there for the first time - my mom took my brother and I and my friend Roy to see The Three Amigos. Good Stuff. It's probably the theatre I've been to the most. When I was in high school my friend Jason and I would end up at Palace 9 at least once a week. Sometimes, on a weekend, we would easily catch 2 to 3 shows for the price of one. They ended up tearing down this piece of my childhood to make way for a Giant Food in 2001. Last movie I saw there was Remember the Titans.

And last we had the General Cinema Columbia City III which sat in downtown Columbia since 1972 across the street from the mall. My earliest movie going memories are from this theatre including my first movie ever: Once Upon a Time (a 1976 German animated film that we must have seen in a re-release or kiddie matinee) And I can totally remember back to 1981 and me standing in the theatre all by myself watching the final credits of The Great Muppet Caper and getting the bonus joke all the way at the end of the movie. I also saw my first Police Academy in the theatre was #5: Assignment Miami Beach and in high school I cut summer school to ride my bike to the theatre to see Jetsons The Movie on opening day. Alot of great memories at this theatre which was apparently torn down in 2000. I'm not sure what the last movie I saw there was, but I'm guessing it was Jane Austin's Mafia!

Anywho...the point of all this is...for anyone who frequented the Columbia City III back in the day, or if you had a General Cinema in your hometown: here's a great little video I found on
YouTube the other night. It's an 8-minute package of all the old film elements used before the movies at General Cinemas. The goes from the 60's to the 90's. It's awesome! Enjoy....

Sunday, October 12, 2008

He Sure Plays A Mean Pinball

I've always wanted to go to a Coin-op Show, where people buy and sell coin-operated amusement machines. I would love to own a coin-op kiddie ride and I think it would be cool to get one while I've got little kids who could enjoy riding on it. Well, today I made it to The White Rose Game Room Show which was kind of what I was looking for but it was mostly pinball machines. It was still cool, because I've always enjoyed pinball not only as a game but some of the machines are real works of pop art. The main attraction at this show was the main room which was made up of hundreds of pinball machines that you could play without quarters. Your admission to the show included unlimited play on tons of pinballs, a few video games, and other electronic wonders. It was a real blast playing some of the older machines from the 60's and 70's with their mechanical sounds and bells and low-tech game play. Of course, I brought alone the ol' WWOB camera and took a few photos for ya'll...

Great machine from the 60's with some nice bikini girl artwork.

This Power Play machine has a great red, white and blue color scheme that screams mid-70's!

I started to play this machine but then the game went on for too long and it didn't make any sense and...oh yeah, the movie Waterworld sucked!

Sadly, the machine did not feature the voice of Mr. Bill Shatner

Before she owned an amusement park, Dolly Parton was a pinball table.

Take a look at some more of my pictures at the WWoB Photo Album.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Top 10 Dog Movies

I gotta say that I was rather disappointed with Beverly Hills Chihuahua. When the first trailer popped up online a few months ago I was instantly sold. It was a minute and a half clip of thousands of CG-chihuahuas dancing and singing an ode to themselves amidst ancient ruins. I had no idea what this movie could possibly be and why it was called Beverly Hill Chihuahua but I was ready to clear some room in my all time Top 10 Favorite Movies and make way for this musical canine escapade.

It was about an hour into BHC that I realized: not only have we not seen the musical number from the trailer but this movie has NOTHING to do with what was in the trailer! The movie is a pretty standard dog gets lost story. People try to find the dog, there's some other dogs that get involved, they all have adventures, they are all reunited at the end. It's not bad and it had some funny moments...the kids sure loved it. But...where was my big Mayan Pyramid musical number? Near the end of the film, the Beverly Hills Chihuahua and her associates do meet up with the dogs that were singing and dancing in the trailer. The scene builds and builds, and I was on the edge of my seat ready for the payoff of that big musical number...but alas, it never comes!

Beverly Hills Chihuahua isn't a bad movie, but like so many other movies today it just isn't that spectacular either. However...if you're in the mood for a good dog flick - Here's my Top Ten List of Favorite Dog Films:

#10 - Rover Dangerfield (1991) Offbeat animated tale of Rodney Dangerfield in dog form! He still gets no respect as a dog either. This cartoon movie, which went direct to video, is appropriate for the kids but has plenty of trademark Dangerfield comedy to keep anyone entertained.

#9 - Oh! Heavenly Dog (1980) Get this, for what is possibly one of the greatest ideas in movie history: Chevy Chase is a detective who gets murdered, he goes to Heaven and is given a chance to solve his own murder and is sent back to Earth as a dog - played by Benji. It's brilliant, I tell you!

#8 - Turner & Hooch (1989) This is one of the old Tom Hanks' last roles before he became Mr. Hollywood "I Only Do Mega-Blockbusters" Hanks. Here, pre-AIDS and Gump Hanks is a cop who gets charged with protecting a big mean bull dog who is a witness to a murder. Comedy gold, my friends. Not to mention a great supporting performance by a one Mr. Craig T. Nelson.

#7 - Snoopy Come Home (1972) Most of the time Snoopy is just like one of the kids, but other times his role is that of a traditional dog. In this second Peanuts big screen outing, Snoopy leaves Charlie Brown in search of his original owner who is now sick in a hospital. It features music from Disney's legendary Sherman Brothers including the catchy number "No Dogs Allowed".

#6 - Look Who's Talking Now (1993) So they made two of these movies with the babies talking and then they go for the third and have the dogs talking. They uninspiredly cast the dogs voices as Danny DeVito and Diane Keaton...really...that's the best you could do? You know works. I don't know why I like this movie but it works for me. Just like Tom Hanks from earlier in my list, John Travolta wouldn't be caught dead doing this kind of movie now.

#5 - Beethoven (1992) I remember when the trailer for this movie first came out and I was like "WHAT!? Are you serious!? A dog that's really big is the basis of a movie!?" I stayed away from this one for a while and then I popped it one day when working at a video store and laughed my butt off. There's some good stuff in this picture. Big dogs are funny!

#4 - Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993) This is from the "animals don't need to move their mouths to speak to one another" school of dog films. Here, two dogs and a cat get lost in the wilderness and have to find their way home. You might as well stab me in the heart with a rusty trident, the end of this flick gets me in the soft spot every time. I cry like a three year old girl who's just lost her dolly.

#3 - The Shaggy D.A. (1976) Bob Howdy, I love this movie. This is a sequel to the Disney classic The Shaggy Dog, but here we've got Dean Jones running for district attorney and wouldn't ya know it - he keeps turning into a dog at all the wrong times. Throw in Tim Conway as the neighborhood ice cream man and you've got solid comedy!

#2 - Lady and the Tramp (1955) Pure Disney classic animation. If you don't like this movie there's no hope for you!

#1 - C.H.O.M.P.S (1979) Robot dogs! Seriously, need I say more!? This inventor guy creates the ultimate home security system in the form of a robotic dog. So many great people are in this movie like Red Buttons and Mr. Drummond from Different Strokes. This was also the only live-action theatrical film produced by Hanna-Barbera. So you know it's gotta be special. When I was younger I easily watched this movie over 100 times!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

What's For Lunch? 10/08

Here's our monthly list of items from the local school district's cafeteria menu that one might consider odd, weird or just plain ...what?

  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Pizza Wedge
  • Egg Sandwich
  • Egg Item Biscuit - yum!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Somebody Stole My Destiny

As silly as it sounds, I've always imagined that I'd someday, somehow end up in Hollywood making movies and television and my one greatest contribution to the world of classic...the film I would be best remembered for is my live-action Yogi Bear movie. My Yogi Bear epic would be filmed entirely indoors with a giant two dimensional forest being constructed on one of Hollywood's mid-sized sound stages. My cast would include none other than my favorite actor, Stuart Pankin, in the role of Ranger Smith along with several big name stars in supporting roles. What would make my Yogi Bear vision a true masterpiece would be that Yogi Bear (and the other talking animal characters) would be portrayed by actors in costumes. And not some state-of-the-art realistic looking costume with a mechanical head that is capable of making 47 different facial expressions, my Yogi Bear movie would employ the same kind of costumes that you'd find at an amusement park or better yet, on any 1970's live-action kids show. Needless to say, this film would be a masterpiece and a huge hit.

And now, my dreams are shattered as Warner Bros. announced today that they are moving forward with a Yogi Bear feature film. Here's the newswire report:

Yogi, Boo-Boo ready for their close-ups By Steven Zeitchik
Thu Oct 2, 8:46 AM ET

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - Warner Bros. is taking a trip to Jellystone Park.

The studio is developing a feature version of "Yogi Bear," the classic Hanna-Barbera cartoon. "Surf's Up" co-helmer/co-writer Ash Brannon will direct the film.

Joshua Sternin and Jeffrey Ventimilia, who executive produced "That '70s Show" and are writing the feature "Tooth Fairy" for Fox, are penning the screenplay.

The project, culled from Warners' vast library, is planned as a live-action/animated hybrid along the lines of Fox's 2007 hit "Alvin & the Chipmunks." Much of the movie will be live action, but Yogi Bear and sidekick Boo Boo will be done in CG animation.

Yogi Bear first appeared as a supporting character in 1958 in another classic cartoon, "The Huckleberry Hound Show." In 1961, he got his own show, which has aired in reruns frequently over the past half-century.

Yogi's exploits take place in Jellystone Park, where he and Boo Boo get into good-natured mischief and must elude their nemesis, Ranger Smith.

Brannon has worked on such Pixar hits as "Toy Story 2" and "A Bug's Life."

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

I haven't had any phone calls yet asking me to participate in the film...but I guess it's early still!
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