Dec 3, 2022

Now Bring Some Out Here



Figgy Pudding Spam
Hormel Foods (2022)
Three years ago, I was able to have a breakfast that included limited edition Pumpkin Spice Spam, and it was surprisingly very good.  This year, the folks at Hormel have upped the ante with a Figgy Pudding flavored meat-in-a-can.



This one was even better than the Pumpkin Spice Spam.  It had a Christmasy flavor that reminded me of cinnamon and sage - not overly sweet, but with a mild sweet aftertaste.  Not bad at all!  

Dec 2, 2022

Happy Birthday Great-Grandpa



William J. Schweitzer
1904 - 1969
My dad was cleaning out some old boxes over the summer when he found this photograph of his grandfather and my great-grandfather, William Joseph Schweitzer.  He was born on this day in 1904, and this photo was taken in July 1968 when he was 63 years old.  As he sat on the steps of his front porch, I wonder if he had any idea that he would only live for another eight months.
 
Standard Speaker - Hazleton, PA  (March 4, 1969)

My great-grandfather co-owned and operated the Schweitzer Bros. Service Station in West Hazleton with his brothers prior to his death on March 3rd, 1969.  He missed seeing man land on the moon by less than five months.

Standard Speaker - Hazleton, PA  (March 4, 1969)

My great-grandfather died 11 years before I was born so I never got to meet him.  Everyone in my family who knew him best has also passed away, so he really is a mystery to me.  My grandfather was one of the most important influences in my life, and I'll never know much about the man who raised him except for random facts that I can dig up from old newspaper clippings.  The time to have asked those questions would have been when my grandfather and my great-aunts and great-uncles were still alive, but he never came up in conversation... at least not one that I can remember today.  I'm not sure how I feel about that, but it's too late to do anything about it now but to wish the man a happy birthday.

Dec 1, 2022

Happy Holidays



Happy Holidays from the borough.

Nov 30, 2022

The Funk Of Forty (Thousand) Years



Thriller
Michael Jackson (1982)
The sixth studio album from the legendary Michael Jackson was released 40 years ago today.  It went on to become the greatest selling record of all time with over 70 million album sales worldwide.

Michael Jackson's life has been discussed and debated and over-analyzed for as long as I've been in this world, and I'm sure it will continue long after I'm gone.  Instead of adding to this mostly pointless noise, why don't you just click play on the window below and spend the next 42 minutes and 28 seconds enjoying one of the greatest collections of music ever pressed to vinyl.

Nov 29, 2022

My New Favorite T-Shirt



NL Champion t-shirt
Philadelphia Phillies (2022)
There's a lot of merchandise available to commemorate the Phillies incredible 2022 season, including quite a few different t-shirt designs.  I was hoping to find one that to replace my favorite Phillies shirt, which is a NL East Championship shirt that my dad gave to me during their playoff run in 2007.


I didn't expect to find one that was exactly the same, but the main things I was looking for was for a championship shirt that had the team's playoff roster listed on the back.  The new one isn't red, but it's not too shabby.  Hopefully I can get as many years of wear from this year's championship shirt as I did from the 2007 one... and I'm even more hopeful that 2022 will be the start of a successful run for the Fightins as 2007 was.

Nov 28, 2022

When It's Time, You'll Smell It


Bones And All
MGM Pictures (2022)
This is an incredible movie and one of the most interesting love story that I've watched in a long time.  I'm about the furthest thing from a film expert as you're ever going to find at a movie theater, but it wouldn't surprise me too much to see this movie being discussed during awards season.  



The story is set in the late 80's and it follows an 18 year old girl named Maren who has a genetic condition that causes her to commit cannibalism.  The movie does a good job by not bogging down the script by trying to explain this condition.  We are only given hints along with the film's protagonist as she discovers who she is and where she came from throughout the film.  She discovers others who are like herself, including an old man named Sully who sees himself as her mentor, and a boy who is about her age named Lee who she falls in love with.  Their romance reminded me of Mickey and Mallory Knox from Natural Born Killers, but despite the brutality of their actions, Maren and Lee are far more level-headed.  The movie makes you fear them and fear for them, while at the same time inspiring you to root for them to find happiness.

I don't want to say too much more so I don't risk spoiling anything, but if you're not overly squeamish, I highly recommend Bones And All.

Nov 27, 2022

The Greatest Adventure Is What Lies Ahead



The Hobbit
Rankin Bass Productions (1977)
My introduction to the worlds of JRR Tolkien came by way of an animated film that premiered on television 45 years ago today.  It played on various networks sporadically in the years that followed, and I ended up seeing it sometime in the late 80's.




TV Guide (November 19, 1977)
source: CoolAssCinema.com

Nov 26, 2022

Fly Away, Tweety Bird


A billionaire purchased Twitter a few weeks ago, and it's looking more likely every day that he's going to run it into the ground.  Whether this is by accident or by design is debatable, but whichever the case, it seems like an awfully silly way to waste $40 billion dollars.  Hell, if I ever have one billion dollars, you could just go ahead and call me Neon Rockingchair, because I'd kick back and wouldn't do a single thing that resembled work for as long as I live.


I signed up for a Twitter account in 2009.  My first impression was that it was pretty much just the status update feature from MySpace or Facebook, but limited to 140 characters and with every other feature removed, so I really didn't know what to do with it.  I tried though.  Here is the first thought that I just had to share with the world on this new and exciting platform.


The first one is from March 25th, 2009.  I went back to college in my mid 20's and was in the second semester of my sophomore year.  It was posted at 11:02 am, so I'm guessing that I was killing time on my laptop waiting for my Biology professor to show up, and I decided that it was vitally important to announce my location, and the fact that I had a Physical Fitness class coming up next.  I still can't believe they make you take a gym in college.


Two days later, I used my second tweet to announce to the Twitterverse that I had tickets to see Lewis Black perform at the Kirby Center that night.  I then decided that this Twitter thing wasn't for me and promptly forgot that I had even signed up for it for the next seven years.



In 2016, I logged back in to learn more about the upcoming release of the NES Classic, and it was around that time that it occurred to me that this could be a halfway decent platform to keep up with news about the things that I enjoy: new movie releases, announcements of concert tour dates, upcoming video games, and the release of other random products and services that I might want to know about.  I still hadn't really gotten the knack of this thing as a communication tool, but I could re-tweet things so that I wouldn't forget about them.

I spent the rest of my time on Twitter that year re-tweeting life hacks and memorials to people who had passed away, and getting into the occasional debate over baseball or politics that I would almost immediately regret participating in.  It wasn't until The Last Drive-In in 2018 that I finally figured out how to use Twitter as a place to enjoy the company of a fun community of people.
 


Airings of The Last Drive-In on Shudder have become a community event, with members of the #MutantFam sharing their reactions to the movie that we're watching with Joe Bob, Darcy and each other.  It's a lot of fun, but I backed away from it after a while because keeping up with the conversation on Twitter often caused me to miss parts of the movie.  I kept in touch with some of the folks who I met through the show, but Twitter mostly just became a place to put photos from concerts and ballgames, and from a little place in Lehighton that has become my home away from home.



If you thought I was a paid shill for the Mahoning Drive-In Theater, I would completely understand how you came to that conclusion, but you'd be incorrect.  I don't work there.  They don't pay me.  Hell, I'm not even a volunteer unless you count picking up garbage that I come across while I'm walking Harvey around the lot.  It's just a place that I love and spend a great deal of my free time at during the summer, so it ends up being a large part of what I post.  The Phillies making it to their first World Series since the year I created this Twitter account have been another thing that I've enjoyed tweeting about.

Despite its positives, I find that I spend as much time blocking obnoxious politics and bots promoting OnlyFans pages that I do on the things that I enjoy.  In a world where there are more hours of streaming movies and music than I could ever experience in a single lifetime, the platform has mostly become a waste of time.

I think Drago perfectly captures my feelings on what people are calling the inevitable death of Twitter.


That being said, if GeoCities or MySpace ever make a comeback, sign me up!

Nov 25, 2022

You'll Never Make The Six



Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Paramount Pictures (1987)
My favorite movie to watch this time of year is the 1987 John Hughes comedy: Planes, Trains And Automobiles.  The Thanksgiving classic, which stars Steve Martin and John Candy, premiered in theaters 35 years ago today.


For as much as I love movies, I never got on board with Blu-Ray.  By the time the format was released, I had amassed a ridiculously large collection of movies on VHS and DVD, and I didn't have the money, shelf space or desire to start over from square one just for the sake of better picture quality.  However, I may need to go ahead and pick up my first high definition home video with the most recent release of this movie.


The deleted scenes from Planes, Trains And Automobiles have been sought after for many years.  The runtime of the theatrical cut of this film is 92 minutes, but the first cut of the film clocked in at a whopping 3 hours and 45 minutes.  A couple of minutes worth of deleted and extended scenes have trickled out in the years since this movie first appeared on home video, but the bulk of this content has never been seen and was thought to have been lost.  This 4K Ultra HD release of the film which hit store shelves earlier this week includes a second disc with 75 minutes of material that was left on the cutting room floor.  It's probably the closest thing to a remastered directors cut that we're ever going to see.

Nov 24, 2022

Turkey Day



Little Harvey, before and after he was told that he's going to have some turkey at dinner tonight.



From my family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!

Nov 23, 2022

Voll Schpaas



Raymond The Amish Comic
Cinema & Drafthouse - West Hazleton, PA
It's become a tradition for our family to get together to see Raymond The Amish Comic perform at the Cinema & Drafthouse on the night before Thanksgiving.



We got to see his Thanksgiving Eve show at the Cinema & Drafthouse in 2019 and 2021 (there was no show in 2020 due to the pandemic).  Angie and I also bumped into him earlier this year at the drive-in, and I'm glad to say that in addition to being very funny and talented, he's also an incredibly nice dude

Despite the fact that the sound system at the venue wasn't cooperating with him at first, it was a great show as always.

Nov 22, 2022

Another Italian Thanksgiving



Priano Pumpkin and Sage Ravioli
Aldi (2022)
This time last year, I tried Turkey Cranberry and Bourbon Sweet Potato Ravioli from Aldi.  The Turkey Cranberry ones were back, but the sweet potato ones were replaced by an even better Thanksgiving ravioli this year.



The package suggests that these ravioli be served with an amaretto butter sauce with a sprinkle of cinnamon.  Well... I had the cinnamon, but the closest I could come to a butter sauce that would go with these was Land O'Lakes Pumpkin Pie Spice Butter Spread.  I melted some of it to pour on top before adding the cinnamon, and it didn't come out half bad.  Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while.

Nov 21, 2022

The Return Of The Death Egg



Sega Visions Magazine
Volume 1 Issue 9 (August / September 1992)
The cover story from this issue of Sega Visions was just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the amount of marketing in the months leading up to the release of Sonic The Hedgehog 2.  The iconic sequel is turning 30 years old today.  It has been re-released and remastered well over a dozen times since its initial release on the Sega Genesis, and it remains as fun today as it was the first time that I played it when I was 12 years old.

This issue of Sega Visions is available to download and read on Archive.org, and it's a fun read if you want to experience the hype that had every Sega gamer on the edge of their seats back in the early 90's.

Nov 20, 2022

Have You Had Enough Pain?



Home Alone 2: Lost In New York
20th Century Fox (1992)
While I loved Home Alone as a child and still love it today, I can't really say the same thing about Home Alone 2: Lost In New York, which is turning 30 years old today.  I didn't see it in theaters when it was first released, and I didn't rent it when it came out on home video.  In fact, I'm pretty sure that I was in my mid 30's the first time I saw it, so what I'm about to say comes without any warm and fuzzy childhood nostalgia influence.

Home Alone 2 is not a horrible sequel like Airplane 2 or Caddyshack 2, but it's pretty clear that it only exists as an effort by the studio to strike while the iron was hot and squeeze as much money out of this property as they could.  It must not have been enough because they made four more Home Alone movies after this, and each of them make Lost In New York look like an Oscar candidate in comparison.

Despite this not being the most flattering review of a movie ever written, there is still some fun to be had watching Home Alone 2 during the holiday season.  It's not a must-see film by any means, but there's enough here to categorize it as "so bad it's good".  It tells pretty much the same jokes as the first film in a different setting, but it's still better than most of the made-for-tv Christmas movies that get paraded out on cable tv every year if you're looking for some festive background noise.

Nov 19, 2022

Retro Rabbit Inception


1001 Rabbit Tales
Warner Bros (1982)
The movie that identifies itself as "Bugs Bunny's 3rd Movie" was released to theaters in the United States forty years ago today.  It's actually the fourth theatrical movie featuring the iconic cartoon rabbit, coming after Bugs Bunny: Superstar (1975), The Bugs Bunny / Road Runner Movie (1979), and The Looney Looney Looney Bugs Bunny Movie (1981).

The San Francisco Examiner (November 19, 1982)

The movie made up of just over a dozen Loony Tunes and Merry Melodies shorts from 1949 to 1963 which have been edited to fit into the new animation that serves as the narrative framework that takes you from one cartoon to the next.  The cartoons that were used to create this film include Cracked Quack, Apes Of Wrath, Wise Quackers, Ali Baba Bunny, Tweety And The Beanstalk, Bewitched BunnyGoldimouse And The Three Cats, A Sheep In The Deep, Red Riding HoodwinkedThe Pied Piper Of Guadalupe, Mexican Boarders, One Froggy Evening, and Aqua Duck.

I was only two years old when this was in theaters, but I got to see it on home video and on several occasions when it aired on television.  It's the kind of thing I would watch when I was coloring on the living room floor of my grandparents house when I was growing up.


This cover is from a VHS tape that I found at the Hometown Farmers Market a few years ago, and it still plays as good as ever.  It was also released on DVD in 2005 as a part of the Looney Tunes Movie Collection, and it's available to rent or buy through a number of streaming video providers.  There are a number of cuts and alternate audio dubs made to the shorts that were used to make up this film, so I wouldn't necessarily recommend it as the best way to watch these classic cartoons, but it's a pleasant snapshot of its time.  Watching it today is a retro experience of the early 80's to see how folks back then experienced their own retro entertainment from the 50's and 60's.  Woah... that's trippy Doc!

Nov 18, 2022

Chef Never Reveals His Recipes



The Menu
Searchlight Pictures (2022)
I'll write more about this movie after a few weeks so that I won't risk spoiling it for anybody.  For now, please take my advice: don't look up the plot, don't watch the trailer, don't read any reviews, and try not to talk about the movie with anyone who has.  Just go see The Menu as soon as you can.

Bon App├ętit.

Nov 17, 2022

Wanted: McRib



McRib and Western Omelette McMuffin translite
McDonald's (1992)
I'm tempted to stop every time I drive past the McDonald's in front of the Laurel Mall and see the big red Limited Time McRib sign.  That Western McMuffin is looking pretty good right now too, but I'm about 30 years too late for that.

Nov 16, 2022

Enjoy A Nutter Butter With Mike Schmidt



Mike Schmidt grocery store display
Nabisco (1981)
I've always thought that contests like these would make for an interesting subject for a book.  It could include pictures of the promotional materials that were used, and possibly interviews with the winners about their experiences of receiving the prize or the celebrities that were involved.

Nov 15, 2022

The King Of The Ring



Macho King Randy Savage
M&D Balloons (1991)
Professional wrestling legend "Macho Man" Randy Savage was born 70 years ago today.  This party balloon is from the early 90's during his brief run as the "Macho King" in the World Wrestling Federation.

Nov 14, 2022

Salty Retro Munchies



Wavy Lays Potato Chips and Taco Flavored Doritos
Frito Lay (2022)
I've gotta say that I'm loving all of the 80's style packages that have been hitting store shelves over the past few years.  Frito Lay is the latest company to catch the retro bug with limited edition packages for several flavors of Lay's Chips and Doritos.

Nov 13, 2022

The Butcher Of Bakersfield



The Running Man
TriStar Pictures (1987)
By Fall 1987, Arnold Schwarzenegger had established himself as an action star and Stephen King had a reputation as one of the most successful writers of his generation who had multiple film adaptations of his work.  Those two worlds came together thirty-five years ago today when The Running Man premiered in theaters.



Both the book and the movie are among my favorites today, but I was pretty late to the party for both of them.  I've been a big fan of Stephen King since I was a teenager, but sitting down and reading a novel is challenging for me because I get distracted very easily.  For this reason, Audible has been an absolute godsend.  Between college and work, I've had a roughly 30 to 40 minute commute five days a week for about the past twenty years, and a lot of that time alone in the car has been spent checking off boxes in my bucket list of books that I've always wanted to read, but never could find the time.  The Running Man was one of those books.  It's been about ten years since I first experienced it and I would definitely put it in my top ten favorite works of Stephen King.

I don't know that I can say that I liked the book better than the movie, or vice versa for that matter, because they share almost nothing in common.  They each feature a character named Ben Richards who is trying to survive while others are trying to kill him for the entertainment of others, but that's where the similarities end.  Everything else, from the tone of the story, to the personality and motivations of the characters and the world that they live in, is completely different.  The two stories are coming from such a drastically different place that I really can't compare the two.



I was only vaguely aware that The Running Man existed as a motion picture when the lineup for the 2021 Drive-In Apocalypse weekend at the Mahoning Drive-In Theater was announced.  We had just discovered this drive-in a month earlier, and this was the first movie that I got to see here that I hadn't seen before.  If you want to know what 80's action movies are all about, this is one that you absolutely need to watch.  It's balls-to-the-wall from start to finish with Arnold Schwarzenegger delivering violence and hysterically cheesy one liners in equally massive numbers, and it features characters played by Family Feud host Richard Dawson, professional wrestlers Jesse "The Body" Ventura and "Professor" Toru Tanaka, and musicians Mick Fleetwood and Dweezil Zappa.

The movie didn't remind me of the book at all, but that's alright because it stands apart as its own incredible work.  If anything, it could have passed for the movie adaptation of Smash TV if the film hadn't predated the arcade game by three years.

If you've never watched this before and you're looking for something that you can pop a bowl of popcorn, turn off your brain and just get swept away in the absolute chaos on the screen, you could do a lot worse than The Running Man.  It's available to stream on Showtime and a few other places.

Nov 12, 2022

Mistaken Memories Of Mediaeval Manhattan



Mistaken Memories Of Mediaeval Manhattan
Brian Eno (1981)
Last night, I spent a few hours laying back on the sofa with the lights out watching a few hours of MTV that someone had recorded in 1982.  It's a nice way to relax and escape the world for a little while.  The recordings are uncut with the original commercials and VJ segments intact, so when I allow myself to get lost in the moment, it can really feel like I've been taken 40 years back in time.

During one of the segments between the music videos, the late great JJ Jackson had an update on some of the new albums, tours and projects that were on the horizon.  In this news update, Mr. Jackson mentioned a Brian Eno project that I hadn't heard of before.


Following the Brian Eno news, Mr. Jackson mentioned that The Beatles first session with producer George Martin took place 20 years ago tomorrow, which would mean that this recording is from June 5th, 1982.

He described the Brian Eno project as a forty minute video documenting 24 hours of the New York City skyline that's backed by music from his most recent album, which was called On Land.  He then chuckled at the idea that you would have to turn your television set on its side to watch it because the video was shot vertically instead of horizontally.  Today, we're accustomed to flipping our mobile phones depending on the orientation of the video that we're watching, but the reason that JJ Jackson finds this idea to be so ridiculous is the fact that a living room television in 1982 weighed about a hundred pounds and was usually set inside of a large wooden cabinet.  Nobody was flipping their tv on its side to watch anything.

The one thing he didn't mention was the name of this Brian Eno project, but it didn't take too long to figure it out.  It's called Mistaken Memories Of Mediaeval Manhattan.  Mr. Eno referred to this project, which was filmed in 1980 and 1981, as a Video Painting when it was shown at art exhibitions around the world.  He re-assembled the footage in 1987, and I was very happy to find that it has made its way to YouTube in recent years.  Click here if you want to watch the video as it was originally filmed.  Otherwise, click play below to view it with the screen rotated.
 

I tried to embed it without the black bars on the left and right, but I can't figure out how to make it work.  Sorry.

Nov 11, 2022

Flea Market Sunday: Part Two



Freeland Marketplace
Route 940 - Freeland, PA
This was our first time visiting this place and it didn't disappoint.  It's a lot bigger than it looks on the outside and most of the prices were pretty reasonable.  There's even a little deli inside in case you want to stop and have a soda and a sandwich while you're shopping.  We're definitely going to have to pay this place another visit in the future, but until then, here are some of the more interesting things that we found on Sunday.



There was a time in the mid 90's that we saw hundreds of unofficial versions of the Monopoly board game available for sale.  If anything, I'm underestimating because just in my little corner of NEPA, I saw different ones that were based on communities, churches, hobbies and colleges, and if a small city like Hazleton had their own, there must have been hundreds of different versions of this game in Pennsylvania alone.

I kind of wish I would have bought this, and I'm probably going to if its still there the next time we visit the Freeland Marketplace.



Voodoo Lounge was released in 1994 and is the 22nd studio album by The Rolling Stones.  I remember that I had this on CD a couple of years after it was released, but I'm not really sure how I got it because I know I didn't buy it.  It's an ok album... not bad by any means, but not really the kind of thing that I was into, then or now.  I wish that I liked the album more than I do, because this store display is amazing!  The light grey background is backlit, which gives it an eerie glow that is set off by the casino skeletons in the foreground.



When I saw the talking Steve Urkel doll that's hiding behind the model ship in the photo on the left, I thought it would make a good prop for an eccentric weirdo to carry around everywhere he or she goes so that they could make the thing talk at inappropriate moments (which would pretty much be any moment).

The pimp skeleton on the right was tempting, but the last thing I need right now is more holiday decorations.  There was a sports memorabilia store at the back of this room that's run by an awesome older gentleman who happens to also be a Phillies fan.  We were there the day after the World Series, so we talked for about a half hour on the things that went wrong for the Fightins and how they could improve going into the 2023 season.  While we were talking, he called over another older man to come over, and he pointed at me when he introduced me and said "this guy knows his baseball".  There are few compliments that I've received in my life that can measure up to that!



One of the more disturbing things I've seen in a while was a box filled with adult films and exercise videos (on VHS and Beta) in a box that has been labeled "Used Hard".  I bet they were, box guy.  Please excuse me while I bleach my eyes.



The little smiling potato who looks as if he's bending over for the Presto Tater Twister concerned me a bit, but this might have been aftershock from seeing the Used Hard box.  Just when I thought I was safe, I bumped into a homemade Grateful Dead fan doll with a cracked head.  Backing away now...



The Remco Shark is an interesting toy that I've never heard of before.  It's a car that runs on four D batteries, but it was sold in 1961, which is about five years before remote control cars were invented.  It was operated with a string that was attached to a control lever on the side of the car.



I don't know what this is called or how old it is, but it looks very familiar.  I think my dad had something like this when he was a kid and I inherited it when I was little.



Speaking of toys that I inherited from my dad, he had one of these electric football games.  My grandparents kept it in their attic, and they brought it down sometimes when I came over to visit.  It's pretty much just a big metal football field with a surface that vibrated in such a way as to cause the little magnetic players to move around the field.  I didn't understand how to play it when I was a kid, and I don't really understand it now.

I never had an electric pinball game, but I was always obsessed with these things when I was a kid.  When I was little, I used to draw up plans to build my own pinball machine out of tinfoil and soda cans and other junk.



Another thing I was obsessed with as a kid was robots.  One vendor had a stand with at least a dozen different toy robots, and these two looked especially familiar.  I could swear that I had the grey one on the right, or one that looked a lot like it.



The coolest thing here was a 1973 pinball machine from Gottlieb called High Hand.  It was covered in random merchandise, so I couldn't see to much of it let alone play a game of pinball on it, but I'm hoping that they have it plugged in and ready to play the next time we're here.  I've always loved pinball machines.  I can't imagine that I'll ever have enough space or cash to actually own one of these, but they can be a hell of a lot of fun, and I try to play as many of them as I can.

We did pick up a few things here and at the Warehouse Shoppes last weekend, but I'll write more about those later.