Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Glass Toonagerie

I'm not in the market for any new glasses right now...but wait a few weeks and our son Joey will break a couple and we'll have room in the cupboard for a few more. Either way, I'm always taking a look at the cartoon themed drinking glasses that can be found at yard sales and flea markets. This past weekend I found not one...but two rare glasses that I haven't seen in my travels before. First, we have our good buddies the Shirt Tales. All five of the friends that appeared in the TV show are featured on this glass. They're all sitting around the big tree that, as you may recall, housed all their gadgets and computers to help the police commissioner solve crimes. Ah...the 80's! I'm not even sure where this glass came from, if it was from a fast food joint or somewhere online it was suggested that these glasses were a promotion with Hallmark Stores. Could be!?

The other glass has got on it a forgotten, but dearly loved 80's toon - Party Popple of The Popples! The Popples was one of the rare cartoon series that didn't have any bad was just a bunch of these little fur balls running around having fun. Yes, it was a great show. You don't see much of The Popples these days, but at one time they were popular enough to warrant their own Pizza Hut promotion - which is where this glass if from. I can honestly remember only going to Pizza Hut ONCE as a child, so I'm not surprised that I'd never seen this glass before.

I passed on buying either of this gems, but the guy who owned the stand at the flea market was kind enough to allow me to snap a pic for all my blog buddies!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Golden Girls on the Silver Screen

First off, we neglected to mention the passing of Rue McClanahan a few weeks ago. The loss of a Golden Girl deserves recognition, and WWoB certainly dropped the ball on that one. And for that, we say "Sorry!" But we did have this post in the works for a while now so we shall salute Rue and all the Golden Girls with a brief look at their careers on the silver screen.

The Golden Girls debuted on NBC way back in 1985 and ran for seven seasons, almost always finishing in the top 20 shows of the year. Even though I was all of 12 years old when the show debuted I have always been a huge fan of the program. Even though it certainly wasn't aimed at my demographic, I always found the show to be hysterical and it's always made me laugh out loud. I had already been a fan of Betty White and Rue McClanahan from their work on Mama's Family (the original short lived NBC version, not the syndicated run that played on TBS for far too long) and I quickly became a fan of Estelle Getty and Bea Arthur for their perfect comic timing.

All four actresses mostly concentrated their careers on either television or the stage, but they have all made film appearances that I thought would be a unique subject to cover.

The only one of the four girls that tried to turn the success of The Golden Girls into a movie career was Estelle Getty, who in reality was not the eldest of the four on the show...but she played the oldest - Dorthy's mother Sophia Petrillo. During the run of The Golden Girls Getty had two high profile film roles. She played Andrew McCarthy's boss in Mannequin (1987) which also started future sitcom players Meshach Taylor and Kim Cattrall. Estelle Getty received second billing after Sylvester Stallone in the 1992 flop Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Most people couldn't get over the title of the film, but I found it to be a pretty funny movie with Getty playing Stallone's mom who just wants to fight the bad guys along side her son. After The Golden Girls ended, Estelle Getty made an appearance in the talking mouse epic Stuart Little (1999) while taking bit parts on TV here and there. You can also see some pre-Sophia roles in the films: Tootsie (1982), Deadly Force (1983) and Mask (1985). It was her work in the Tony winning broadway play "Torch Song Trilogy" that first brought Getty fame and recognition, but when it came time to cast the film version she was passed over and her role was given to Anne Bancroft. Estelle Getty passed away at age 85 in July 2008.

Bea Arthur played Dorthy Zbornak, she was apparently the most familiar face of the cast to 1985 audiences. She has appeared in a very popular 70's sitcom called Maude. I had never heard of the show for years, and therefor I had no idea who Bea Arthur was when The Golden Girls came on - but I knew she was darn funny!
Bea Arthur's big break came with a role in the Broadway production "Mame" which stared Angela Lansbury as the title character and Arthur as her sidekick. When Mame got the big screen Hollywood treatment in 1974 it was Arthur who kept her role in the movie version and Lansbury was replaced with Lucille Ball. Bea Arthur was always more interested in theatre and television than film. Her only other big screen credit of note is a hilarious cameo in Mel Brooks' History of the World Part I (1981). One of her few post-Golden credits is in a 1995 film called For Better of For Worse, which ran in this country on TNT and it was pretty enjoyable from what I saw. Her very last role was of Larry David's mother on Curb Your Enthusiasm. Bea Arthur died from lung cancer in April of last year.

Man-hungry Blanche Devereaux was played to perfection by Rue McClanahan. Long before this TV gig, Rue started making appearances in forgotten small films starting in the early 60's. She co-stared with Bea Arthur in her series Maude, which brought McClanahan more into the public eye. One of her earliest post-Maude roles is in a film mentioned at WWoB before; a 1980 TV-movie called The Great American Traffic Jam. In the telefilm, Rue sits in a car for two hours with her husband, played by Ed McMahon. (Fun film, I wish it were out on DVD!) During the Golden Girls years, Rue McClanahan was a popular fixture in made-for-TV movies, including a popular trilogy Children of the Bride (1990), Baby of the Bride (1991) and Mother of the Bride (1993). You can turn in Lifetime, Hallmark, Oxygen or any of those other woman channels just about any day and find one of those movies on. Big Screen roles started coming Rue's way in 1995 in the very funny Dear God, which was the first staring role for Greg Kinnear but also featured a great appearance from Tim Conway! Another great movie featuring Blanche is Out To Sea (1997), this is a sit-com of a movie staring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, good stuff! She also shows up in the 1997 big budget epic Starship Troopers. Rue McClanahan was still working up until her death just a few weeks ago. The last chapter of her career was filled with roles in many different TV shows as well as a number of made-for-TV movies. She was 76 when she passed away.

And then we come to Betty White! Dear sweet Betty White, who has literally been working in television since before there was Network television and is currently one of the hottest properties in all of Hollywood. Betty White has always considered herself a television personality and has only been making appearances on the silver screen in the last 15 years. I was excited years ago when she popped up in the Morgan Freeman/Christian Slater action flick Hard Rain (1998). She also did the horror movie Lake Placid in 1999. Betty turns up in a funny scene in the Bruce Willis/Michelle Pfeiffer comedy The Story of Us (1999). In the 2003 Steve Martin comedy Bringing Down the House, White played against her Golden Girls persona of ditzy Rose Nylund, and played Martin's obnoxious, rude and slightly racist neighbor across the street. Every scene Betty's in is hilarious! Her role in last year's The Proposal is getting alot of attention now that Betty White is a huge star, and they'll also be banking on her superfame to anchor the new chick flick You Again, slated for release later this year! Currently, Betty White is 88 years old and working as a series regular on the hit TV Land sit-com Hot In Cleavland.

Thank you for reading...and Thank you for being a friend.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

This Used To Be My Playground

One day a few years ago, while wasting huge amounts of time on the internet, I stumbled across someone's blog entry about old playground equipment and how it was all disappearing and being replaced with new equipment. Something to do with lead paint and safety issues...blah, blah, blah. So, it got me to thinking about how cool some old playground equipment was and it propelled me to load up my kids in the car and go to a nearby playground that had a few neat old pieces. My feeling is kids don't get enough lead paint nowadays. So, I let my kids play on the old equipment and I snapped a few pics for the blog here. That was 2007 and I never used those pictures. Yesterday, we stopped by the same playground and just as the internets had predicted: all the old equipment was gone and replaced with shinny new stuff. So, I figured it would be a good time to dig up those old pics and post 'em today!

For more playground fun, check out Sit On Some Fries from July 27, 2007 featuring another cool playground that I grabbed pictures of before they tore it down.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Kingdom For Everyone

The other day I ran a search on this blog for local amusement park Dutch Wonderland and was surprised to find only a brief mention of a 2006 visit. That's hard to imagine because the little park really is one of my favorites. So today, Dutch Wonderland gets it's very own post! Opened in 1963, the park is one of the crown jewels in Lancaster County, PA's tourism industry. Situated among the beautiful Amish farms and outlet malls of Lancaster, Dutch Wonderland has grown into a full service amusement park which caters to families and little children. The park does have it's share of simple carnival kiddie rides that go around and around in a circle, but they also have a nice assortment of family rides that everyone can enjoy together. A good number of the rides are unique to Dutch Wonderland, either homemade experiences or old fashioned amusement park fare that has managed to withstand the test of time protected behind DW's castle walls.

In the earlier part of the last decade, Dutch Wonderland was purchased from it's original owners by Hershey Entertainment and Resorts Company, the same fine folks who run Hersheypark as well as most of the town of Hershey, PA. (They are actually not the same company that makes all the candy.) When Hershey took over Dutch Wonderland they did a marvelous thing. Instead of jacking the place up to a totally modern theme park, they invested alot of time and money to bring the park into the 21st century without deleting the park's history and charm. (A fate Kings Dominion was not allowed!) The result is a park full of attractions high tech and low tech.

Some of the park's attractions date back to the first few years of the park, like the log boat ride in the front of the park - visible from the highway. The ride is now called Dragon's Lair and features a huge audio animatronic of the park's mascot Duke the Dragon, but the lagoon and the track the boats travel on were there when the park opened almost 50 years ago. Another nifty old attraction is called the Wonder House. In the house, guests sit on a bench in the middle of a little house that spins completely upside down again and again. Tables and chairs glide above your head and yet...riders remain perfectly still. It's a big thrill for kids who are brave enough to enter the spinning house.

For my money, you ain't got an amusement park if you don't have a train, and Dutch Wonderland has one of the neatest little train rides around. The Wonderland Special takes guest on a winding tour around the park. The train travels right through the Turnpike ride which is one of the nicest antique car rides you'll find at an amusement park.

DW is also home to two roller coasters, both small but both fun! Joust is the smaller of the two coasters, with a top height of only 16 feet. It's a steel coaster with a small drop and a few bumps and twists. It doesn't seem to intimidate to many kids. The park's other coaster is Kingdom Coaster and although there are no big drops on the other side of the 55 foot chain lift, this classic style wooden roller coaster does reach speeds of up to 40 MPH and does have some serious curves, jolts and even a decent amount of air-time. It was the first project for Custom Coasters back in 1992 and they are now the world's largest builder of wooden roller coasters. Our trip last week marked my son Elias' first ride on a real, honest to goodness roller coaster. He loved it so much we ended up riding 5 times throughout the day. Younger brother Tanner wasn't quite ready for Kingdom Coaster, but he did enjoy multiple rides on Joust including a trip in the very front car!

Now, everything worth seeing and doing at Dutch Wonderland doesn't have to move. There are some really neat old fashioned attractions here as well. One of the most popular is Bessie the Cow, who is available for milking all day long. It's not a real cow, and it's not real's water. But it's exciting for kids anywho to get a chance to almost milk a real cow. Kids also love buttons and there's plenty of chances throughout the park for kids to activate animated puppet scenes at the push of a button. Some of the scenes depict Amish life and others show elves making toys and candy. Dutch Wonderland's got it all!

Did I mention Thomas the Tank Engine is there too? Oh, and they have a kid sized water park...and a high diving show. And they have pin trading...and a really great gift shop. I'm telling ya...DW is where it's at! Here's Elias and Mommy with the Princess of Dutch Wonderland. How exciting is that!?

Dutch Wonderland is located on Rt. 30 East in Lancaster, PA. They are open daily through Labor Day.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Smurf Movie

I've been really excited about the new Smurfs movie coming out next summer. From what I've been reading, the movie was supposed to take the Smurfs and give them a big budget, Lord of the Rings style trilogy. From the looks of this first trailer for the film, which comes out next summer, it looks more like we'll be getting another movie in the Garfield/Alivn & The Chipmunks/Marmaduke category instead. Bummer!

I've still got my hopes up for Yogi Bear!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Burrito Joe

If you are a friend of mine on Facebook, I apologize and you can skip this entry because I know I've been going on about it all weekend over on the ol' FB. But...for the rest of you:

Friday night Joey closed the door on his public school education. His high school graduation was upon us. Instead of having the class valedictorian speak at the ceremony, the school held auditions for two random students to present a speech to their class. We were proud of Joey for just trying out for the gig...we were even more proud when he snagged a spot...and his mother and I both were beaming with pride the night of the graduation and we heard the speech. Joey delivered a humorous, motivational, and totally engaging address to an audience of not only his peers but at least 1,000 other audience members crammed into every corner of the school's football stadium. There was a thunderous applause when Joey was done entertaining and inspiring the crowd.

After the proceedings, Joey and his mother and I were stopped by tons of people telling us how good Joey was and how impressed or moved they were with his speech. For the evening Joey was a rock star and we were his entourage.

The excitement carried over the next day when a quote from Joey's speech was the headline of the town's newspaper. "The World is Your Burrito" the headline read...a passage from Joey's speech which was actually a quote from a "Weird Al" song. (I have to take a little credit for introducing Joey to the world of "Weird Al" Yankovic.)

Here's a clip from the article:

It was likely the most important speech of Joseph [last name]'s life so far.

And, the [name of school] High School graduate said, while grinning in his cap and gown, he was wearing what can only be described as "a silky dress."

Luckily, 299 other graduates were right there with him at Friday's graduation.

"The world is your burrito," he said, drawing laughs from his classmates. "Think of your future not as a task, but an endless hallway with every door open."

After graduation, about 78 percent of the graduates are going on to higher education, 13 percent are going into the workforce, 4 percent are joining the military and 5 percent are undecided.

No matter what their next step will be, [Last name] encouraged all of the graduates not to waste their potential, but to never forget where they came from. "The past is something that should be cherished," he said.

That past has held many memories for the Class of 2010, from elementary school trips to the zoo and birthday parties, to sports games at the [team stadium], to first loves and first breakups, [last name] said.

Before heading off to Senior Week at the beach...for a full seven days of mini-golf, sandcastles and ice cream sodas - No doubt...Joey had time to upload my home video of his speech onto YouTube. For some reason, the site isn't giving me the code to paste the video on this site, so click through the link below to watch the video of Joey's phenomenal graduation speech.

Click on this link, not the picture, for the YouTube Video of Joey's Graduation Speech

Friday, June 11, 2010

Fred Vs. Hulk

It seems wrestling superstar Terry "The Hulk/Mr. Nanny" Hogan is dragging our good friend Fred Flintstone into the ring. Not the wrestling ring, however. Hulk is suing the makers of delicious Cocoa Pebbles cereal over a commercial that features a Flinstones style parody of Hulk Hogan getting his butt whooped by Bamm-Bamm Rubble. Let's go to the tape...

From an article in The Tampa Tribune:
"Hulk, the federal lawsuit states, "is shown humiliated and cracked into pieces with broken teeth, with the closing banner, 'Little Pieces…BIG TASTE!'"

The commercial character goes by the name "Hulk Boulder," which Hogan's lawsuit says is a name he used early in his career until wrestling promoter Vince McMahon decided he should have an Irish name.

The lawsuit says Post Foods never sought or received Hogan's permission to use his likeness to promote the cereal. Hogan says he raised his objections with Post in August, but the ads continued.

Hogan says he is marketing his own products, including the Hogan Energy drink and Hulkster Burgers, a line of microwaveable hamburgers and chicken sandwiches sold at Walmart.

The wrestler contends he has been harmed by, among other things, "the unauthorized and degrading depictions in the Cocoa Smashdown advertisements."

Shame on you Hulk Hogan! You do not rock...get it? Rock!?!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Operation: Sandbox

Five years ago, when we first moved into our house, we bought Elias a sandbox and set it up in a remote corner of our backyard. After a couple of messy afternoons in the sandbox, the new backyard attraction was avoided by Mommy and Daddy and so the investment just sat there...neglected...with the area around it slowly turning into a weed infested swamp. Now with two kids, both much older, I have been meaning to clean up the sandbox and return it to it's former glory. But ya know, with all The Golden Girls marathons that are always on, it's just hard to find the time to get things done.

A few weeks ago while I was cutting the grass, I drove by the sandbox and noticed the amount of murky water and plant life that had been collected on the box's concave lid. I thought to myself, "Gee, I hope nothing is living in that mini-ecosystem I created." Before I could even finish my thought, a huge snake - the length of a small school bus, quickly slithered out of the water and around the box. It was a sign that now was the time to implement Operation: Sandbox.

I borrowed a neighbor's wheel barrow and the kids and I shoved out the five to six hundred pounds of sand in the box. We then cleaned the inside and out of the box and lid very thoroughly and let it dry. It only took less than an hour before the sandbox was ready to be placed in it's new home and ready again for business. I relocated our Little Tykes Endless Adventures Hidden Treasure sandbox to a position closer to the house and our swing set.

Later on, we bought an addition 100 lbs. of sand to give the sandbox that fresh "new sand" look. Elias tried to help carry one of the 50 lbs. bags of sand from the car to the box...

I love when the kids can forget about video games and movies and just have a good old fashioned kid-time playing outside with something simple like a box full of sand:

Oh...and the snake has not been seen since.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Adventure Park USA

This summer I'd like to point you in the direction of a few neat destinations for a day trip or perhaps an afternoon of fun...this is assuming you live somewhere near the Wonderful World of Blog World Headquarters. First up:Adventure Park USA in New Market, Maryland.

I have been craving some amusement park action for a long time and we're still probably a month away from hitting up a full-fledged theme park, but this nifty little family entertainment center (which was about an hour and ten minute drive for us) really hit the spot. Now, every town has a place or two that offers miniature golf and perhaps a few other recreational activities. Adventure Park USA takes the concept of family amusement center and kicks it up a notch or two. They do offer some of the standards: two 18 hole mini-golf courses, go-carts, a big ol' climbing structure for the little guys and laser tag. They also have a rock climbing wall, an arcade and even bumper boats...which you usually only find at the beach. But this little park has a few more things going for it that separate it from the Putt-Putt down the street.

Adventure Park USA has rides! They have real rides too, not just coin operated kiddie rides and motion simulators. The park offers three kiddie rides: teacups and helicopters. There is also a nice little merry-go-round that the whole family can enjoy together. These three rides are all situated together giving Adventure Park USA the beginnings of a kiddie land section, or as they call it Funtier Land. (Cute, eh!?) Tickets for the small rides can be purchased for two dollars a ride or there are several combo deals available that can get your kids unlimited rides on all the attractions.

Perhaps most appealing in Adventure Park's line-up of rides is the Wildcat Roller Coaster. The roller coaster is the only thing visible from the highway and the clickity-clack of the chain lift and the screams of riders are the most dominate sound in the park. This particular roller coaster was originally built in 1976 and opened at Busch Gardens Willamsburg. When Busch removed the ride to make way for a larger attraction, the coaster ended up at Playland in Rye, New York. It operated there from 1984 until 1991. From 1994 to 1998 it ran at Steel Pier in New Jersey's Atlantic City. It then briefly appeared at Williams Grove Amusement Park outside of Harrisburg, PA before opening at Adventure Park USA in early 2007. It's not as big and fancy as any of today's roller coasters...but it's still alot of fun.

In addition to the rides, Adventure Park also stands out from other similar ventures with it's theme. Adventure Park takes it's Wild West theme seriously. The main building of the park resembles an old Wild West Main Street on the outside. On the inside, the theme continues with a rustic feel and enough old West memorabilia to fill Roy Rogers' ranch! Inside the park there are nice little touches like faux rock work and old mining equipment that continue the park's cowboy theme.

The grounds are also impressively kept. We're not talking award winning flower beds and breath-taking scenery, but the walkways are paved, the rides are permanently installed and there is nice landscaping everywhere you look. Alot of small amusement centers like this tend to just throw stuff where ever they can and don't take too much pride in showmanship or attention to detail but I was really impressed with Adventure Park's efforts to present itself like a theme park and not just a mini-golf course with some carnival rides.

A day at Adventure Park could get expensive, but I found their pricing to be very reasonable. If you plan on going, hop on their website and plan ahead what you and the kids would like to do. You can buy enough credits to do just what you want to do or they offer some combo deals if you really want to tear it all up. We had a blast, spent the whole afternoon there and spent less than $40.00!

Oh, and here's me on the Wildcat:

Side story: In 2000, I went to Williams Grove Amsuement Park and was eager to ride their collection of old rides, including this roller coaster which I remember enjoying similar versions when I was younger. The steel coaster was featured on Williams Grove's website. When we got to the very small park we couldn't find the coaster so we asked several park employees where the coaster was. Not a single one of them had any idea what we were talking about. They only knew of the one wooden roller coaster in the park and had never heard of this other coaster. Obviously, we found it odd that employees of a park had never heard of a roller coaster that they supposedly had. Needless to say, I never did ride that coaster that day, but 10 years later I ended up tracking it down and taking it for a ride! Good times!
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