Thursday, December 30, 2010

C is for Cookies (and Christmas)

We're not big bakers or chefs here at the WWoB offices, but every Christmas I like to do a little baking. This year we got a little ambitious and made cookies from scratch, something I've never done before. Tanner and I started early in the day (this was December 23) while Elias was still at school and got some of the baking underway. Both the kids really enjoy helping out in the kitchen, Elias is especially fond of cracking eggs and Tanner will do any job you ask him. I have yet to establish any sort of product that has become tradition for me to make for the holidays so most of what we made was all new to us.

Do you have any idea how far back in the cupboard this rolling pin was!? Tanner is rolling out the dough to make Gingerbread Mickeys and Donalds.

We've made these before, with antique cookie cutters I got for a gift one year. They look really neat, but I should try and find a good gingerbread recipe because the dough from the store bought package is kind of tasteless. But they sure look swell, don't they!? Tanner had a blast pressing out all the cookies.

We made these Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies from scratch with a recipe from an (unopened) cookbook I gave my wife for Christmas last year. The recipe mislead me in forming the candy cane shapes so the first batch came out shaped like boomerangs (or something more foul if you wanna go there). The cookies have white chocolate and crushed up candy canes on top. Tanner was in charge of unwrapping the candy and smashing it up with a crab mallet.

These Stop n' Go Cookie Pops turned out really cute and were a big hit with the kids over the holiday. Elias and Tanner both took their job very seriously of sorting out a huge bag of M&M's into the different colors we needed. They also took great care in placing all the candies on the cookies when they came out of the oven. I got this recipe from a Betty Crocker Cookie Cookbook that was sent to the WWoB offices as a promo. Well played, Betty!

Finally, we took some of the packaged sugar cookie dough and made cut-outs with a bag of cartoon cookie cutters that I didn't know we had. There were a lot of treasures buried in the cupboard back with the rolling pin. We also made some of our own shapes like letters, Pac-Man and the Pigeon. They turned out really cool but didn't last long enough to get a picture.

The cooking supplies are all put away now and we'll dig them out again a couple days before Christmas 2011.

Happy New Year, ya'll!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Better Than The Average Review

As you know (or probably could have guessed) I really enjoyed the new Yogi Bear movie in theatres now. The film has been getting alot of bashing from various internet sites, but it was nice to see Entertainment Weekly give the film a favorable and completely honest review of the movie. I liked the review so much I had to run it here for more to see...

"Those of us who grew up on Yogi Bear cartoons can breathe easy: In his new movie — featuring a 3-D computer-animated Yogi (voiced by Dan Aykroyd) and Boo Boo (voiced by Justin Timberlake) alongside live action actors — our beloved pic-a-nic thief isn't asked to whore himself by rapping, farting, or dropping pop culture references the way some of his animated brethren have in recent years. (Our condolences, Chipmunks.) Instead he's plopped unharmed into a sweetly frivolous storyline about a park ranger (Tom Cavanagh) trying to save Jellystone Park from the grips of an oily politician. There's nothing particularly inventive in the plot or grade-school humor, but the movie skates by on the timeless, undemanding charm of watching a tie-wearing bear try to steal people's lunches. B-" -Adam Markovitz

Well put and well said!

My 2010 At The Movies

Here's my yearly (too-short) list of movies that I made it out to the theatre to see this past year. This year I'm including a one word review with each title.

1) Alice in Wonderland 3D boring

2) How To Train Your Dragon rehash

3) Toy Story 3 masterpiece

4) Despicable Me unique

5) Vampires Suck unfunny

6) Jackass 3D nauseating

7) Megamind inventive

8) Tangled wonderful

9) Yogi Bear glorious

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

We Didn't See Michael Scott

The week before Christmas we found ourselves about 30 minutes outside of Scranton, PA and decided to make the trek into town to visit the home of the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company as seen on the hit NBC show The Office. Now, I wouldn't consider myself a huge Office fan, but I do watch the show every week and I had heard that even though the show is filmed in LA, the real town of Scranton has sort of embraced their celebrity status and a had a few sites for Office fans to check out. Since none of the shows I'm ever really into reach that sort of status, I though it would be cool to check out the sights of Scranton. (Until they build an Alf Amusement Park or a Family Ties Museum in Columbus, I'll take Scranton.)

The Scranton Welcomes You sign (pictured above) is the actual prop used in the opening of the show.

We actually didn't tour much of the city of Scranton, but instead made out way to The Mall at Steamtown, which is a pretty average mall on the inside but it's inside what appears to be an old train station. The mall also has a pretty interesting parking garage where you can enter the department stores underground. In the food court (which features not only a Nathan's but also an Arthur Treacher's) there are advertisements for various local businesses including Dunder Mifflin, Inc.

The mall's center court was hosting Santa Claus. Around the giant Christmas tree were cutouts of two characters from the show, Kevin...

...and Angela.
Here we are outside the mall...

Here's the advertised Dunder Mifflin Store, which was actually only a cart...

Well played, Scranton Mall! Ok, so there is a Flintstone's Bedrock City Theme Park that I may have been to before in South Dakota, and I may have also considered taking a trip to Vermont to stay at the Inn used in the exterior shots of Newhart. But, this Office stuff was all pretty cool too!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Ho Ho Ho, It's Christmas

Well, this Christmas was a little tough without having my mother around and the spirit and joy that she has always brought to my holiday season. But luckily, when you have little kids - they aren't going to let you mope around and be sad because "IT'S CHRISTMAS!!!!" Our morning unofficially started at 6:30 am. This year Santa started the tradition of leaving a gift wrapped book at the end of the kids beds which bought us an additional half hour of sleep. We made it downstairs around 7:15 to find milk and cookies gone and lots of presents left behind.

The kids had a good time opening up all their loot, although to be honest with ya there could have been one present under the tree - Kirby's Super Star Ultra for DS - and they would have been just as happy. But Elias was also thrilled to get some Godzilla stuff and they were both ecstatic over plush characters from the Angry Birds game.

Myself, I scored a few DVD's including Disneynature's Oceans. In the CD department I got the multi-CD set Walt Disney and the 1964 World's Fair, which features tons of audio from the four attractions that Disney designed for the New York World's Fair. I was also happy that my wife gave me the Tangled soundtrack, as last year she assigned giving duties of the Princess and the Frog soundtrack to another family member and it was a little embarrassing opening that up sitting next to my 6 year old niece who had just got some other Disney Princess stuff.

I really had a fun time shopping for my wife this year. She was elated to receive a bracelet from the fine folks at Tiffany & Co. As a big jewelry fan, she's always dreamed of a piece from Tiffany's. She also loved her Zumba scarf which I ordered from the Zumba website, and then realized that Zumba and scarfs have nothing to do with each other.

Joey snagged a bunch of stuff for her upcoming college days. In case you haven't heard, he's heading to a branch of University of Pittsburgh next week to begin his college career. He'll be about 3 hours away, which will be hard for his mom - and she'll in turn make it hard for me.

I think I learned a valuable lesson about Christmas this year. It's more than gifts, it's more than Christmas movies and TV's about friends and family and giving and I think I'm going to paint myself a merrier Christmas next year by giving more to those around me who are so important.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

As always, Thank You for making this blog one of your stops on the information superhighway! Hope you have a very merry and joyful Christmas holiday season! A full report on our Noel will soon follow...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Mouse Around the House - Holiday Edition

Any time of the year you would be hard pressed to look in any direction in our house and NOT see Mickey Mouse looking back at ya. During the holiday season, there are even more Mickeys around our home...

This is a giant animated Mickey plane that rocks back and forth, lights up and has a spinning propeller. It's huge! My wife gave it to me the first year we were dating and apologized to my mother for bringing it into her house. Now, it sits in my wife's living room. It actually hasn't been out for a while, so it was nice to see Mickey fly again this holiday season!

This is our tree topper. I was blown away years ago when my folks ok'ed this replacing the traditional angel on top of our family tree.

This is a cool stocking hanger. The scene is a 3D replica of a picture that was on the front of the Disney studio Christmas card in the early 30's.

This is nothing more than a piece of cardboard that I picked up at a dollar store 15 years ago, but it's one of my favorite decorations. I'm a big fan of the simple schoolroom style decorations. I some how got the green light this year to graduate it from the playroom to the living room!

Our front door. Happy Holidays!

Mouse Around the House 5/6/06
Mouse Around the House 7/13/06

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Wendy's Pic-a-Nic

Well, my life is now complete thanks to the release of Yogi Bear this past weekend. It was actually kind of sad how excited I was to see the movie. I'm happy to report that Yogi Bear did not disappoint. They made a nice family movie that really stuck to the spirit of the old cartoons. The new movie is funny, sweet and wholesome for the whole family. I even sprung for a 3D screening and the effects were really cool. Do yourself a favor and go out and catch a screening of the movie critics are calling "the crowning achievement since the advent of photography!" I should mention that said achievement grossed $16.7 million this past weekend and that said critic's quote was made up by me.

I should have gotten to this earlier, but we've been meaning to get around to Wendy's Yogi Bear Kids Meal. If you ask me, Yogi (and the public) really got ripped off when it comes to the Happy Meal department. I would have liked to seen McDonald's do a whole holiday promotion tied into the movie. The Happy Meal boxes could have looked like picnic baskets, they could have introduced some new Jellystone burger, and the whole restaurant could have been decked out in a red and white checker picnic theme. Oh well, what do I know. At least somebody had a Yogi kids meal, even if it was Wendy's - who never really seems to get the top notch properties for their kids prizes.

Wendy's is offering five different Yogi Bear movie prizes with their kids meals right now. The idea of the prizes is that they are supposed to be games and activities that kids and parents can do together. I would have preferred little toy figures, but good ol' Wendy gave it a nice try.

I stopped by my local Wendy's the other night and the kid behind the counter was nice enough to go back into the storeroom and crack open each of the cases and prizes and snag me one of each...well, he could only find 4 - but that was still awesome of him!

Here's what we got...

This first one ties into the movie nicely, even if it's execution is a little off. The Waterski Spin Top Maze tries to recreate a pivotal scene from the movie where Yogi tries to show off his waterskiing talents. In the movie, his efforts don't pay off and neither will yours trying to spin the tiny little top on this cardboard lake. The idea of the game is to maneuver the top around the various cut-out obstacles in the lake. It's a nice little memento from the movie, the top has a picture from the film on it - but as a toy/prize it falls a little short.

The Basket Fishing Game is pretty cool. It comes with a neat fishing pole with Yogi's picture on it and several little pic-a-nic baskets that you punch out of cardboard. Each basket has a different food item and points under it, so the idea is to take turns and see who can fish up the most points. Some of the food items are different Wendy's items, which I thought was a nice touch. Who doesn't want to use a fishing pole to snag themselves a delicious creamy Frosty!?

In the Feed Yogi game, you try to shoot different food discs into Yogi's mouth. You may have seen this disc launcher before, either as a prize in cereal of a birthday party goodie bag. I can tell you that this Wendy's version is somehow supersonic and we ended up shooting a Frosty into parts unknown on the very first try. We've still got the corn and the Jr. Hamburger though. Thank goodness!

The climax of the film involves the Baskit Nabber 2000, and this "3D Puzzle" is a pretty cool replica of the contraption Yogi builds. However, I have a feeling Yogi had an easier time building the real one that you...or any kid would have putting this puzzle together. It's basically a card stock paper model with one zillion steps to assemble. It literally took me an hour to put it together, but I gotta say it was fun and it now looks pretty cool sitting on my desk at the WWoB offices!

The last toy in the collection, that I haven't snagged yet, is the Yogi Basket Stack Game. It comes with a little Yogi figure with his arms spread out and you try and stack little blocks with food on it and hope not to topple Yogi over. This one looked the neatest and hopefully a return visit to the prize gods at Wendy's will secure me a Yogi Basket Stack game for my collection.
If you are interested, Wendy's will have the toys for a few more weeks before their Smart Links promo starts. You heard me, Smart Links???

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Wonderful World of Spice Girls Holiday `10

Every holiday season I search the depths of YouTube to find some new Spice Girls Christmas goodness to share with you. Here's this years offering...

Friday, December 17, 2010

Blake Edwards Trailers

Director Blake Edwards passed away earlier this week. He'd been making movies for a long time. He directed one of my all-time favorite films:

This was the first movie that I saw at the theatre with a friend and no adults when I was in the 8th grade. Blake Edwards also directed all the (non-Steve Martin) Pink Panther films. I'm a big fan of that series as well, including my favorite which is the only one to not mention The Pink Panther in the title, A Shot in the Dark:

That's Mel Blanc as the voice of the bullet.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Old School Frosty

Here's a nifty little video featuring a 1953 animated short of Frosty The Snowman. This was made 12 years before the popular TV special that we all enjoy today. The cartoon was produced by the UPA studios. After the short, this video has some retro images of Frosty from books and merchandise from the early days up through his appearance on television.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Classic Commercial Sunday - #45

I still have this song in my head some 15 years later...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

Smurf The Halls

`Tis the Season to be Smurfy! With the Smurfs set to make a splash next summer on the big screen, Smurf merchandise is starting to pop up all over the place this holiday season. The little blue guys have been missing in action for quite sometime, but have slowly been making a comeback on the pop culture landscape. This Christmas season, Macy's department store has enlisted the help of Papa Smurf as their official Christmas Ambassador. I'm not sure what that exactly means, but I know it's cool because it involves smurfs! Macy's even has a Smurf Gift Card (pictured here) available for your gift giving needs this December! Speaking of shopping, we thought we'd smurf up a whole mess of Smurf goodies that you'll be able to smurf in someone's stocking this year!
Of course, the fun begins at Macy's where you can pick up this exclusive plush, the 2010 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Holiday Smurf Toy with Finger Puppets. This would make a fine addition to any home's Christmas decorations. Standing at almost 20 inches high (I'm not sure how that relates to three apples high!?!) this Christmas smurf is sure to Smurf up your holidays! Macy's also has a 2010 Thanksgiving Day Parade snowglobe which features the Smurf balloon among many others in it's dome.

Elsewhere in the mall, you'll be able to find more smurfy goodness at Spencer's Gifts. They have two sets of Smurf glasses, in regular sized 16oz. sizes and also they have a set of four shot glasses. Both really cool gifts that are kind of reminiscent of the old Smurf glasses from Hardee's many moons ago. At Spencer's you might also be able to dig up a Smurf air-freshener, which I grabbed and it really smurfed up the entire car!

At Old Navy you'll find lots of cool retro metal lunchboxes including this one featuring the likeness of a one Mrs. Smurfette. It even has a thermos inside. Well played, Old Navy...well played! They also have some Smurfette shirts for the smurfette in your life.

And scrolling through Amazon, I stumbled across these awesome
Smurf Mega Blocks sets. There are a few different ones to choose from and I'm happy to say my wife approved the purchasing of the largest set to arrive at our home. We're going to build us one Smurfin' carnival!

All this smurfy goodness has made me just realize something....Smurf Happy Meal next summer! Holler!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

H-B Holiday Parade Sightings

I found a very cool Flickr photostream yesterday from a fella named Kerrytoonz, chock full of cartoon goodness. Here's a couple of images he found from some recent holiday parades...
First up is an awesome Jellystone Park float headlined by that smarter than the average bear and his little sidekick, Boo Boo. This image is from a parade in Toronto, Canada. Those Canadians have all the fun, eh?
Here's the mighty Fred Flintstone towering over a puny Captain America at a pre-Thanksgiving parade in Stamford, Connecticut earlier this year. I would have wet my pants if I had seen that down the parade route.

This one's not an officially licenced appearance, but you gotta love when people try. This photo was snapped by a friend of mine at the nearby Gettysburg Holiday Parade. I've never been to that parade before, but this picture is all the invitation I need to hit it up next year!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Hey Vern, It's More Ernest on DVD!

Golly Bob Howdy, I have been waiting for somebody to release Hey Vern, It's Ernest! on DVD. Haven't you!? You know, the Emmy award winning Saturday morning show staring Ernest P. Worrell and all his buddies and alter egos!

Once again I'm sending kudos to the dudes at Mill Creek Entertainment for making this dream a reality. All 13 episodes of the wacky show will come in one handy dandy set for the unbelievable price of Ten Bucks! Can you believe that!? I can't wait to scoop up a copy and finally put to rest my grainy VHS copies that I taped in reruns off the old Family Channel back in the early 90's.

Each episode revolves around a central theme and is filled with quick skits and jokes from Ernest and his off-screen buddy Vern along with the rest of the neighborhood: Auntie Nelda, Dr. Otto, Sgt. Glory, My Father the Clown, Existo the Magician, Earl the Barber, and of course Chuck and Bobby.

My kids have seen a few episodes and they really enjoyed them. Can't wait to sit down and enjoy `em all once again. Hey Vern, It's Ernest! The Complete Series plops on DVD January 18, 2011.

And speaking of our good buddy Ernest, if there is some reason why you don't have all these movies in your personal DVD library by now - here's the perfect chance to pick them up. Mill Creek has licenced from Disney the rights to Ernest films #1, 3 & 4; Ernest Goes to Camp (1987), Ernest Goes to Jail (1990) and Ernest Scared Stupid (1991). They are all coming out, also on January 18, in a triple feature pack. (It looks like Disney has hung onto the rights to 1989's Ernest Saves Christmas.)

In Goes to Camp, Ernest is a handyman at a summer camp who helps the camp fight against some evil land developers. I love evil land developers! In Goes to Jail, our hero is a janitor at the fictional Howard County Bank where a wacky case of mistaken identity ends up with Ernest in jail. Like in real, really, really, really, really real prison. You know, the hoose-gow, the slammer, the joint, Alcatraz, San Quentin, Sing Sing! And Scared Stupid is the Halloween entry in the franchise which I have gone on about before on this blog.

Obviously, all three are really fun films. This new triple feature DVD might be worth the purchase for die-hard fans if the films are presented in widescreen. Only Camp and Christmas got a widescreen release when initially released to DVD in 2002. Next up, I'd like to see them do a triple feature set for the very excellent Ernest Rides Again (1993) along with Ernest Goes to School (1994) and the horribly embarrassing Slam Dunk Ernest (1995).

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Vintage Yogi Bear Christmas Golden Book

One of the many books in our collection which was an awesome yard sale find, actually an Antique Mall find - Yogi Bear - A Christmas Visit, is a 1961 holiday themed release from the fine folks at Little Golden Books. It was written by S. Quentin Hyatt with pictures by Sylvia and Burnett Mattinson. As you can see from the cover, this copy is fairly beat up on the outside but the inside is pure goodness. The picture on the cover is ripped off a bit and it looks like the book's previous owner, Amy Gallagher, took some red pen to the lettering on the front. However, you can't deny that the special Christmas red foil replacing the traditional gold is a nifty touch! I wanted to share some of the festive vintage holiday illustrations from this neat little book.

Everytime I read this to the kids, it cracks me up. Boo-Boo refers to Alaska as "one of the new states." Oh, early 60's!

I dig Yogi and Boo Boo's Christmas vests.

Here's a double page layout featuring Yogi and Boo Boo with Yogi's extended family in Alaska; Uncle Northman, Aunt Kate and the twins Yukon and Klondike.

A beautiful piece of artwork from the title page.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Vintage Christmas on DVD

I've been enjoying the holy heck out of this 4 disc DVD collection, Holiday TV Classics. The fine folks at Mill Creek Entertainment have gathered up 49 episodes of vintage Christmas television programing from the 1950's & 60's, slapped it on 4 DVDs and put it out for only $9.99 MSRP. If you pick it up at WalMart it's actually only $5.00!

I love old television, especially stuff produced for the holiday season. I wasn't around in the 1950's, but it seems that Christmas meant just a little bit more back then. I guess the country had been through some rough times and the holiday season was a really special time to slow down and appreciate everyone and everything around you. Anywho, this collection of old TV shows is great for someone like me who just loves the history of television. The footage on most of these shows is top notch and the audio is also fantastic for material that hasn't been remastered or probably preserved very well.

Now, I haven't watched all 49 episodes...yet. But so far what I've watched has been very enjoyable. Most of the original sponsor cards and announcements are still in place, and some of the shows still have their original commercial breaks still intact. The Bell Telephone Company sponsors Telephone Time, which I was expecting to be a game show but was actually a dramatic anthology series which ran on CBS for two seasons. The episode on this disc is called "A Picture of the Magi," a creative reworking of O'Henry's classic tale.

I, of course, also enjoyed a holiday themed episode of Date With The Angels one of Betty White's earliest network roles. The episode take place mostly in a department store and for my money there isn't a thing much more Christmasy than a 1950's department store at Christmas! From the looks of old movies and shows that I've seen, Toy Trains were the ONLY toys available to boys in the 50's.

There are plenty of shows that you have heard of before sprinkled among the set's 4 discs. There's several episodes of The Beverly Hillbilllies, The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet, Dragnet and The Jack Benny Program. Holiday TV Classics is a real treat for the shows that you can't readily find on DVD...or VHS for that matter: Screen Writers Playhouse, The Paul Winchell Show, Dear Phoebe, and Racket Squad - just to name a few.

I watched the Lux Video Theatre episode, which I later discovered was a redramatization of the movie Holiday Affair. I also enjoyed discovering The Bob Cummings Show, which was racy for it's time but is now as tame as a Disney Channel Show (just more entertaining.)

This is a great collection of material that will provide nights of entertainment throughout the season. Look for Holiday TV Classics at WalMart in the $5.00 DVD section. At almost 21 hours of vintage Christmas television, that's around twenty three cents per hour for your entertainment dollar. Beat that!

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Christmas Comes But Once A Year

Here's a pretty neat little cartoon I like called Christmas Comes But Once A Year. It was released on this date back in 1936 from the Fleischer Studios. Fleischer was responsible for the original Popeye cartoons, as well as the old Superman shorts and Betty Boop. In fact, the star of this cartoon - Professor Grampy - is from the cast of the Betty Boop shorts. The cool effect used in the beginning of this film with the house and again at the end with the Christmas tree was achieved by building actual cartoon sets and filming them traditionally. The effect doesn't stand out from the rest of the picture nearly as much as today's computer animation tucked inside hand drawn work.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Crabs For Christmas

I think a neat little project for some company to put together would be a CD of regional Christmas songs from all over the country. I'm sure there's some Christmas song about the Bears in Chicago, and I bet New York has got a least a half dozen obnoxious Christmas carols of their own. There's probably even a song about a Christmas Lobster in Maine. But in good ol' Maryland (pronounced Mary Land) it just wouldn't be the holidays without a couple of rounds of "Crabs For Christmas," an enjoyable little ditty by native David DeBoy which pays homage to the most sacred of all Maryland traditions: steamed crabs! (Good eats!)

Even though I now only live an hour outside of Baltimore (pronounced Bawl-more) I realized a few years ago that we didn't get to hear "Crabs For Christmas" on our PA Christmas radio stations. Anytime drivetime spent in Maryland over the holidays would be dedicated to hearing "Crabs" on good ol' Lite 102. I believe it was last year that my wife surprised me Christmas morning with a copy of the "Crabs For Christmas" CD. Now I can have Crabs for Christmas whenever I wants, hon!

Somebody on Facebook posted this clip the other day. It's David DeBoy performing his hit song on local TV show "Crabs". "Crabs" was a Maryland style Saturday Night Live that ran for quite a few seasons starting in the mid-80's. It gently poked fun at the Maryland way of life through a half hour of skits and songs, all televised live. Pretty ambitious for local television back then, and completely unheard of now. This clip is from the tail-end of the show, it also features the closing credits of the program.

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