Mar 26, 2023

Powered By The Super FX Microchip

Super Nintendo (1993)
The game that introduced polygonal graphics to Super Nintendo was released in North America 30 years ago today.  Starfox was heavily promoted throughout the spring and summer of 1993 as a leap forward in what console games were capable of.  Its 3-D presentation was made possible by the Super FX microchip, which almost instantly turned into ammunition in playground arguments between Nintendo and Sega kids, who countered with boasts that their console was capable of "blast processing".

Starfox has been overshadowed by Starfox 64 which was released just four years later.  While the Nintendo 64 version is an improvement over its predecessor on the SNES, the original is still a lot of fun to play.  If you don't have an original console and cartridge, you can play both Starfox and the unreleased Starfox 2 on the Super NES Classic Edition plug-and-play mini console.  Both games are also available to play on Nintendo Switch Online.

Mar 25, 2023

The Tollbooth Capital Of The World

What Am I Doing In New Jersey?
George Carlin (1988)
The twelfth album and sixth HBO special by the great George Carlin was recorded at Park Theater in Union City, New Jersey 35 years ago today.

left:  The North Jersey Herald & News  (March 11, 1988)
right: The Jersey Journal  (March 24, 1988)

Mar 24, 2023

This Season Just Got A Lot Harder

Rhys Hoskins
First Base - Philadelphia Phillies
One of my favorite Phillies of all time was injured in a Spring Training game when he suffered a torn ACL.  As a result, he will miss most, if not all, of the 2023 season.

I've been a fan of Rhys Hoskins since he was one half of the Bash Brothers with Dylan Cozens in Reading.  In 2017, I sat in the 8th row on the first base side to see him get his first hit in the big leagues after he was called up to Philadelphia.  Shortly thereafter, he tore through MLB pitching at a historic pace that resulted in 18th home runs in just 34 games, which is the fastest accumulation of home runs from a player's first appearance in the history of the sport.

It is no exaggeration to say that the Phillies would not be the defending National League Champions this season without Rhys Hoskins.  He had his second season where he reached 30 home runs and was a key contributor to the Phillies offense during the regular season, and although the World Series didn't turn out the way that we hoped, his four home runs in the NLCS got the Phillies there in the first place.
Photo Credit: Cheryl Pursell

The player who will try to fill Hoskins shoes at first base is Darick Hall.  At 27 years old, Hall is older than most of the team's top prospects, but I'm cautiously optimistic about his chances to succeed.  He made his MLB debut last season on June 29th and established himself by becoming the ninth player since the expansion era began in 1969 to collect three home runs for his first three hits in the big leagues.  I was in attendance for his third career MLB home run which came on my birthday.  On that night against the St. Louis Cardinals, Hall's homer in the sixth inning gave the Phillies the lead in a game that they'd go on to win 5-3.

I'm not expecting Hall to replicate what Hoskins brings to the Phillies lineup.  He hasn't been able to draw nearly as many walks as the man that he'll be replacing, and he's got an uphill climb to prove that his power can come anywhere close to Hoskins.  Still, his minor league career has been incredible, and he's been hitting extremely well in Spring Training.  The Phillies also have the option to move Alec Bohm to first base and start Edmundo Sosa at third base against left handed starters (Hall hits right handed pitchers much better than lefties), so it's possible that they could make adjustments throughout the season that will allow the Phillies to get a lot of production out of the first base spot in the lineup, but there is absolutely no question that the team's chances of getting back to the World Series in 2023 have just taken a massive hit.

Photo Credit: Yong Kim

Hoskins is going to hit free agency for the first time in his career after the 2023 season, so there has been speculation about whether or not this injury represents his last appearance in a game as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies.  I'm not willing to go that far.  There's a slim chance that he could be healthy by the end of the season, or potentially for the post-season if the Phillies make it that far.  Even if that doesn't happen, it would be both Hoskins' and the team's best interest for him to accept a qualifying offer for the 2024 season.  It would give Hoskins the opportunity to reestablish his value after a lost season before hitting free agency, and it would give the Phillies another year of their home grown slugger at first base.  Time will tell.

Mar 23, 2023

The Art Of The Hot Dog

Jimmy's Quick Lunch
Doug Brown
There's quite a bit of artwork on the walls of this 85 year old icon of downtown Hazleton.  I'm not sure when this watercolor was painted, but if I had to guess, I'd say that it was sometime in the mid 2000's because I remember that the Support Our Troops sign was put in the front window during the Second Gulf War.  If you stop by the restaurant, they will sell you a nice print of this work for ten dollars.

Jimmy's Quick Lunch
Nicolene Fulton
There were no prints of this painting available, but it's still a very nice work that I wanted to share.  It was painted in the mid 90's.  The red candle decoration on the light post to the right of the Jimmy's Quick Lunch sign suggest that this was painted in November or December, as these decorations are hung during the Christmas season in downtown Hazleton.

Mar 22, 2023

You'll Stumble In My Footsteps

Songs Of Faith And Devotion
Depeche Mode (1993)
The eighth studio album by Depeche Mode was released thirty years ago today.  It became the first record to make its debut on the charts at #1 in both the United States and the United Kingdom.
I would tell you about the things they put me through
The pain I've been subjected to
But the lord himself would blush
The countless feasts laid at my feet
Forbidden fruits for me to eat
But I think your pulse would start to rush

Now I'm not looking for absolution
Forgiveness for the things I do
But before you come to any conclusions
Try walking in my shoes

You'll stumble in my footsteps
Keep the same appointments I kept
If you try walking in my shoes

Morality would frown upon
Decency look down upon
The scapegoat fate's made of me
But I promise now, my judge and jurors
My intentions couldn't have been purer
My case is easy to see

I'm not looking for a clearer conscience
Peace of mind after what I've been through
And before we talk of any repentance
Try walking in my shoes

You'll stumble in my footsteps
Keep the same appointments I kept
If you try walking in my shoes

Mar 21, 2023

Let's Try This Again

Regal Mystery Movie Monday
Regal Cinema - Hazleton, PA
We went to Mystery Movie Monday last month, but something went wrong and they weren't able to show it at my local theater.  I'm glad to say that there was no trouble this time around.

The mystery movie was Paint, which stars Owen Wilson as an artist named Carl Nargle who stars in a painting show on PBS.  Picture a demented Bob Ross who seemingly has no understanding of the world around him or any of the people in it, with the exception of Mount Mansfield, which he paints over and over again.  Carl's world begins to fall apart with the appearance of a younger artist named Ambrosia, played by Ciara Renée, who gets her own PBS show in the timeslot immediately after Carl's show.

This movie reminded me a bit of Napoleon Dynamite, both for the presence of outdated technology in the modern world and in the way that the characters behave and interact with each other.  It makes the city of Burlington, Vermont seems as if it exists in a parallel dimension.  It's a lot weirder of a flick than the trailer makes it out to be, but it works.  I don't know if I'd recommend this to everybody but I thought it was pretty great.  It hits theaters nationwide on April 7th.

Mar 20, 2023

People Aren't Always What They Appear To Be

Wild Things
Columbia Pictures (1998)
This neo-noir crime thriller premiered in theaters twenty-five years ago today.  It's a big budget film that I couldn't imagine being made today with the prudish trends that Hollywood has taken, but it was definitely a hit in the late 90's... and for good reason.  This movie is a lot more than its sex scenes.  It's a mystery that unfolds with twists and turns that you won't see coming, and it has an ending that you won't forget.  It's available to stream on Showtime and to rent on YouTube.

Mar 19, 2023

A Great Place For Pasta

Eli's Penne Pasta with Chicken
Eli's Place - West Hazleton, PA
This is one of my favorite restaurants and it's within walking distance of my house.  We stopped for dinner after going to see 65 on Sunday night.  Everything was delicious, as always, and the portion sizes were so big that I had lunch for the next day.

Mar 18, 2023

Did That Give You An Erection, Coach?

Regal Cinema - Hazleton, PA
We went to see Mystery Movie Monday a few weeks ago, but there were technical difficulties that the theater were not able to resolve.  The movie that was supposed to be shown that night was Champions, which hadn't premiered yet.  The trailer for this movie was funny, but I was a bit apprehensive about going to see it on the chance that it would either be schmaltzy or disrespectful to people who have intellectual disabilities.  I'm very glad to say that neither of those things were the case.

This movie hit on the right combination of being both funny and heartwarming.  Woody Harrelson as Coach Marcus was fantastic, as always, but I particularly enjoyed the performance of Kevin Iannucci, who plays Johnny, and Kaitlin Olson, who plays his older sister and Harrelson's love interest, Alex.  The other standouts of the cast include Casey Metcalfe, who is hysterically funny, James Day Keith, who delivers an inspiring performance of a young athlete who stands up to his ignorant boss so that he doesn't miss the big game, and Madison Tevlin, who plays the bad ass who whips her teammates into shape when they won't listen to the coach.  I was also very glad to see Ernie Hudson and Cheech Marin, both of whom deliver powerful understated performances.  All together, Champions is right up there with the best sports comedies that I've watched in a long time.

Mar 17, 2023

Do The Risks Outweigh The Reward?

Photo Credit:  Sam Navarro (USA Today Sports)

Edwin Diaz
New York Mets (2023)
After striking out the side and earning a save to close out Puerto Rico's Wednesday night victory against the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, Mets closer Edwin Diaz suffered an injury to his right knee while celebrating on the field.  As a result, he is expected to miss the 2023 season.

The elephant in the room is the fact that this happened at the World Baseball Classic - a series of exhibition games that, like the All-Star Game, stand separate from the 2023 season. When you strip away the marketing, the tournament is essentially a clever gimmick cooked up by Major League Baseball to exploit the national pride of the players and the fans to lure a global audience to their product.

On the surface, I have no problem with this.  If it draws new fans into the sport, that's great.  However, I'd be lying if I said that I have any interest in how Team USA is doing in the tournament.  I could not care less if they win every game in a blowout, or if they're no-hit by every country in the world.  The only attention I've ever paid to it is to see how current and former members of the Phillies are doing, regardless of which country they represent.  Many of the players and fans take a greater interest in this than I do, and I respect that.  However, I can't help but to chuckle about the national pride sales pitch when I remember that Shane Victorino, who is of Hawaiian and Portuguese heritage, was recruited to play for Team Italy in the 2006 World Baseball Classic because they thought his last name sounded Italian.

I suppose that the reason that I don't care too much about this tournament is the fact that I really don't have any national pride.  My nationality is purely an accident of birth; I happened to be born to American parents in Pennsylvania.  Being proud of that makes about as much sense to me as taking pride in the cleanliness of the bathrooms of the hospital where I was born.  My nationality is not an accomplishment, so Major League Baseball's efforts to use it to make a buck isn't something that I'm ever going to be receptive toward.  Would I feel differently if I was from Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic?  I don't know... maybe... maybe not.  It's a moot point though, because I'm not.

I'd be much more interested in the World Baseball Classic if it was an exhibition of amateur, collegiate and minor league players who aren't on the active roster of an MLB team (or the equivalent pro league of other countries).  It would give future stars of the sport a place to showcase their abilities and compete for national pride in a way that could benefit their career... especially if it took place in the Fall instead of immediately following the winter.  Spring Training is held for a reason... to give the players an opportunity to ramp up slowly and prepare for the season.  Coming out of a long winter layoff and being tossed immediately into an emotionally charged tournament is not at all the same thing.

The Edwin Diaz injury is a direct result of his participation in the World Baseball Classic.  Players are pushing themselves much harder in the WBC than they ever would in a Spring Training game, so instead of slowly ramping up to begin a long and grueling season, they're putting unnecessary wear and tear on their body.  Innings can add up pretty quickly, so that alone puts a pitcher at a disadvantage for the regular season.  The fact that the injury took place while celebrating after the win doesn't absolve the WBC of responsibility.  I strongly doubt that Diaz would be pitching and celebrating like it's Game 7 of the World Series at the end of a Spring Training game in Port St. Lucie, no matter how many mock celebrations the Mets have.

The bottom line is that, yes, injuries can happen anywhere, but this injury didn't happen at some random place and time... it happened while an MLB player was competing for a team other than the one who is paying his salary.  If Diaz was an avid skateboarder and suffered an injury on Wednesday competing for Team Puerto Rico in an international skateboarding competition, I suspect that the fans, the media, and the league would be lining up to lay blame and to ask the question of whether or not this should void his contract... just ask Jim Lonborg.  But because it happened at the World Baseball Classic, everybody's just supposed to shrug their shoulders and pretend that it's no different than if it happened during Spring Training or a regular season game.

The Mets will not have their elite closer, who they just signed to a $102 million dollar extension, for the entire 2023 season.  I'm a Phillies fan, so this actually helps my team's chances of getting to the playoffs, but I'm not happy about this in the slightest.  It's a damn shame, and it didn't have to happen.

So, does the reward of the World Baseball Classic outweigh the risk?  Go to Citi Field this season and ask a Mets fan.

Mar 16, 2023

Fifty Years Of The Trixie Virus

The Crazies
Cambist Films (1973)
A plague film that was decades ahead of its time is half a century old today.  The Crazies was written and directed by George A. Romero and premiered in theaters on March 16th, 1973.

The Crazies wasn't a hit at the box office, but it found its audience on home video in the 80's and 90's, which is where I experienced it for the first time.  It got a remake in 2010, and it's one of the few times that I've enjoyed the new version as much as the original, but both films are definitely worth watching.

If you want to watch the original on its 50th birthday, you can stream it on Tubi and Shudder.

Mar 15, 2023

Winter Movies Recap

Regal Cinema
Hazleton, PA
We spend a lot of theater, and I don't always think to write a review (or whatever passes for a review on this blog) for everything that we see.  With that in mind, here is a brief recap of some of the movies that we've gotten to see throughout the winter that I haven't mentioned before.
Regal Cinema - Hazleton, PA
I'm not sure how to explain my thoughts on movies like this, so I usually avoid writing about them altogether.  It's the same way I feel about most comic book movies, which is to say that I enjoy them while I'm watching them, but I usually forget all of the details about the characters and the plot after a day or two, and I have no desire to watch the movie a second time.  This isn't how I feel about every big budget action adventure or comic book movie, but it's true about most of them.

Before we went to see the second Avatar movie, I couldn't remember the names of any of the characters, or the race of native people of the planet, or the animals on the planet, or even the name of the planet itself.  The only thing I could remember is that the mineral was called "unobtanium", and I only remembered that because it was ridiculous name.

I saw the first Avatar movie on January 15th, 2010.  It was a visual spectacle and I enjoyed it, but I thought that the story was a beat-for-beat copy of Dune that used a rainforest planet instead of a desert planet.  You've got a group of the wealthy elite landing on a planet with an unfamiliar environment to strip it of a rare and valuable natural resource.  Their presence is a threat to the native people of this world who live in harmony with the environment, but one of the newcomers adopts the native's way of life and is later found to be the "chosen one" who is destined to lead the natives to fight off the group that brought him to the planet.  This "chosen one" wins the trust of the native people by adopting their customs, falling in love with a native woman, and taming one of the wild creatures that is held in a spiritual regard.

Avatar: The Way Of Water is just more of the same thing I saw in the first movie, but with a little family drama and sibling rivalry sprinkled on top.  It still looks as visually stunning as the first film, but we're all used to it now so it doesn't feel as special.  The story is alright.  The acting performances are alright.  The whole movie is just... alright.  It's worth watching, but I can't imagine anyone over the age of 9 would ever say it's their favorite movie.

This is one of the reasons I didn't write about Avatar 2 after we saw it, and why I didn't write about the first movie for that matter.  It comes across as negative or overly-critical, but it's just the way I feel and I'd be lying if I said anything else.  Movies like this remind me of a Big Mac - I'm glad they're available and I enjoy them once in a while, but it's just not something that I can get too enthusiastic about.  If I didn't have the Regal Unlimited pass, I probably wouldn't have gone to see it at all.

One positive that came from the release of Avatar: The Way Of The Water was their partnership with a children's charity called Variety.  The theater was selling these pins, with the proceeds helping to provide equipment and services to children who live with special needs or who are disadvantaged.

I'm a big fan of M. Night Shyamalan's films; even the ones that people don't seem to like.  For example, I loved The Happening, even though it's mostly remembered these days for the asinine memes shared by people who either didn't see the movie or didn't understand what it was meant to be.  The same goes for The Village and Lady In The Water, despite the fact that the latter has a role played by the director that is the very definition of self-indulgent nonsense.  This is the first time I've seen one of his movies that I really can't get behind.

Knock At The Cabin has an interesting premise, but really poor execution.  Spoiler alert: four people show up at the cabin of a gay couple and their adopted daughter to tell them that one of the members of their family has to sacrifice their life to prevent the apocalypse from happening.  If they don't, there will be a series of cataclysmic events that will kill every human being on the planet except for the three of them.

Before I go any further, please know that if the plot of this movie ever plays out in real life, and the four strangers choose my house as the one that has to make a sacrifice, then you can kiss the human race goodbye.  I don't like people very much to begin with, so the idea of knowing for a fact that my family will survive and that we'd have the world all to ourselves after all of the chaos is over sounds like a good deal.  Judge me for that if you want to... I don't care.

Anyway, the home invaders are doing all of this because a dream told them to, and every time that the family they are terrorizing refuses to sacrifice one of their own, the home invaders kill a member of their own group which unlocks one of the plagues that fall on the human race.  Doesn't that seem kind of stupid?  Let's set aside that these morons are only doing this because a dream told them to.  Let's give them the benefit of the doubt and say that god himself came down from the sky and told them what they have to do.  According to their own rules, the plague only gets released on humanity when the little terrorist gang kills one of their own members.  So... um... maybe just don't do that?  Seems like a pretty easy way to avoid the apocalypse, dontcha think?

The whole film is just absurd, and not in a fun b-movie kind of way.  The premise is stupid, the special effects are cheesy, and for all of the praise that's been heaped on him, I think Batista sounded like a guy who had never acted a day in his life and was reading his lines off of cue cards.  I really wanted to like this, or to find some redeeming quality in it after it was over, but it's just an all around stupid movie.

There's not too much that I can say about this movie other than the fact that I enjoyed it.  I probably would have gotten more out of it if I saw the first and second Ant-Man movies, but I understood enough of what was going on to have a good time watching it, and the characters kept me interested enough to make me want to circle back and see the first two films of the trilogy.

This movie was truly something special.  I went into this knowing absolutely nothing about it except for the fact that it was set in Post-WWII London.  It was beautifully filmed with perfect pacing and a performance from Bill Nighy that brought a tear to my eye several times.  I don't want to say too much about the plot because I don't want to spoil it, but also because it's the kind of story that isn't going to sound appealing on paper, but if you've ever felt like things were hopeless or meaningless, either in your life or your work, this movie is going to appeal to you.

The previous movie in the Scream franchise was a master class in how to bring a beloved franchise from the past into the next generation.  Scream VI took that ball and ran with it by continuing the story of the "Core Four" and put more distance between the current film universe from the Wes Craven originals.  Everything you're expecting from a Scream movie is present and done well: brutal kills, a "whodunit" mystery, some laughs ,and a lot of meta commentary about the horror genre and movies in general.

The movie listing didn't make it clear that the 5:30 screening was in 3-D, but when they told us that it was, we just said the hell with it and paid the upcharge.  There's no reason why this movie should be in 3-D.  It didn't add anything special to the film, and there were no scenes that really took advantage of the technology.  If you go to see it, save yourself a few bucks and go to a regular screening... you won't be missing anything.

They didn't have these at my local theater, but if you're interested in a Ghostface popcorn bucket, it's not too late to order one from Cinemark.  The one that I ordered isn't being delivered until August, but I'll still have it in time for the second half of drive-in season this year.

The first time I saw the trailer for 65, I jokingly called it "Jurassic Planet"  It's the story of two travelers from another planet who crash land on Earth 65 million years ago, just before the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs struck the Yucatán Peninsula.  They have to work together, despite the fact that they don't speak the same language, to find the escape shuttle that broke off of the main ship and escape the planet before it's too late.

This is a very fun action-adventure movie, but since it isn't a sequel, or a reboot, or a movie based on a comic book, it's getting unfavorable reviews.  I'm not going to pretend that it's an Oscar-worthy masterpiece, but with the exception of Living, I enjoyed 65 more than any of the other movies in this post.  It's an original idea that is well executed, and Adam Driver does a great job as the lead of an action flick.  If you can't have fun watching a movie like this, you have my sympathies.

...and that's a wrap for now.

Mar 14, 2023

Cooking With Olive Oyl

Prime Buffet fortune cookie
Church Street - Hazleton, PA
Who knew that Confucius went through a Saturday morning cartoons phase?

Mar 13, 2023

Every Award All At Once

I don't usually care too much about awards shows, but I couldn't be happier with how this year's Oscars turned out.  In 1992, Brendan Fraser and Ke Huy Quan worked together on Encino Man.

Thirty-one years later, the two were honored at the Academy Awards, with Mr. Fraser winning Best Actor for his performance in The Whale and Mr. Quan winning Best Supporting Actor for Everything Everywhere All At Once.

The hits continued for Everything Everywhere All At Once with two of my favorite actresses of all time winning their first Oscar - Jamie Lee Curtis for Best Supporting Actress, and Michelle Yeoh for Best Actress.

Everything Everywhere All At Once won a total of seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay.  I absolutely loved The Banshees Of Inisherin, but Everything Everywhere All At Once was absolutely deserving of all of the awards associated with it, and there was no one more deserving of Best Actor this year than Brendan Fraser.

Mar 12, 2023

You Can't Push Willy 'Round... Willy Won't Go

Willie P. Bananas
West Palm Beach Expos (1989-1997)
The video that I wrote about a couple of days ago reminded me of one of the best parts of going to see the West Palm Beach Expos when I was a kid, which was the team mascot.  He was a bright orange dancing gorilla named Willie P. Bananas.

West Palm Beach Expos promotional booklet  (1989)

In the winter before the start of the 1989 season, the West Palm Beach Expos hired a new general manager named Rob Rabenecker.  One of his first decisions with the new franchise was the introduction of a team mascot.  

top left: Palm Beach Daily News  (May 12, 1989)
top right:  Miami Herald  (May 29, 1989)
bottom:  West Palm Beach Expos program  (Summer 1991, pg 38)

Willie P. Bananas got his name from a young Palm Beach Gardens girl named Elizabeth McDonald, with a little help from her dad.  The mascot's initials, WPB, are the same as the initials of the city where the Single A affiliate of the Montreal Expos played their home games.  Willie's bright orange fur matches the hair of the parent club's mascot, Youppi.

top:  Sun Sentinel  (August 30, 1989)
bottom:  The Palm Beach Post  (June 16, 1994)

The person who brought Willie to life at the ballpark was a local 21 year old college sophomore named Marianne Carlisle.  She performed as the orange gorilla from 1989 through the end of the 1992 season before going on to graduate from the Burt Reynolds Institute For Theater Training in 1994.  Below are a few clippings from her work from the first year of Willie P. Bananas at the ballpark.  Click on them to enlarge them to a readable size.

Palm Beach Daily News  (May 12, 1989)
Tampa Bay Times  (June 28, 1989)
The Palm Beach Post  (July 16, 1989)
The Palm Beach Post  (August 1, 1989)
Sun Sentinel  (August 30, 1989)

The original Willie P. Bananas worked in theater for a number of years after moving on from the West Palm Beach Expos.  She is now a speech language pathologist in South Florida.

The Palm Beach Post  (August 14, 1994)

It seems like the team had a hard time filling the mascot's role after the departure of Ms. Carlisle.  The only other person that I found who was connected to Willie P. Bananas was a local 14 year old high school student named Brad Sclater.  In this interview from August 1994 he mentioned that he got the job because a friend of his didn't show up for work, and the article suggests that there were more than one performers who donned the orange gorilla costume over the 1993 and 1994 seasons.

Willie spent the game wandering around the ballpark meeting fans, playing games, and taunting the other team and the umpire, which once led to an ejection.  However, the thing that I'll always remember Willie for is dancing.  The character's trademark dance at every game (or at least every game that I went to) was to the song Little Willy by the 70's British glam rock band The Sweet.  I haven't seen Willie P. Bananas dance around to Little Willy since I was 13 years old until just a couple of days ago when I found a video that Bill Craib and Sue Easler shot on May 25th, 1991 as a part of their tour of every minor league ballpark in the country.  The part of the video with this song is just a few seconds long, but it brought back a flood of memories.

The only other video I found of Willie P. Bananas was shared by the woman behind the mask herself, and I'm pretty sure that it was from a game that I was in attendance for.  My dad and I went to see the West Palm Beach Expos play the Ft. Myers Miracle on August 20th, 1992 when I was 12 years old.  The special attraction during that game was a visit from a traveling mascot who is best known as the San Diego Chicken, but he was performing as The Famous Chicken at the time.

I recorded the news that night and have since uploaded the video to YouTube but the news crew didn't capture the epic dance battle between Willie P. Bananas and The Famous Chicken, so a huge thank you to Ms. Carlisle Salem for allowing me to experience this happy childhood memory again.
1993 Classic Best - WPB Expos Team Set - Card #30

There were a few baseball cards that featured the big orange gorilla from West Palm Beach.  These are the four that I have in my collection, but mascot cards don't tend to get a lot of attention among collectors, so it's possible that there are others out there.

1991 West Palm Beach Expos game program (click here to enlarge the article)

1993 West Palm Beach Expos game program (click image to enlarge)

Willie was front and center of most of the West Palm Beach Expos marketing, including the game programs.  The mascot also made quite a few appearances at festivals, fundraisers, and other community events.

Unfortunately, the reign of Willie P. Bananas was short lived.  He was the team's mascot for just nine seasons before the West Palm Beach Expos moved 15 miles north to the city of Jupiter after the 1997 season.  The franchise was renamed the Jupiter Hammerheads, and the Expos beloved orange gorilla was retired to make room for a new mascot named Hamilton R. Head (Ham R. Head... get it?).  The Hammerheads continued to be the Single A affiliate of the Montreal Expos until the end of the 2001 season.  They became the affiliate of the Florida Marlins in 2002, and they continue to be the Marlins representative in the Florida State League to this day.

Even though the mascot's time was short, it's a character that I'll always think of when I remember the years that I spent in South Florida.  I lived there in the early 90's and haven't been back since 1995, so I've never known a Florida without the cozy little ballpark on Hank Aaron Drive.  It was home to a team of kids who were just getting their baseball careers started, a big fuzzy dancing orange gorilla, and a lot of very happy memories of a time when I had my whole life ahead of me.