Sep 25, 2022

Food At The Fair



Bloomsburg Fair
Bloomsburg, PA (2022)
For as long as I can remember, I have loved the Bloomsburg Fair.  The opening day of the fair is right up there with the Phillies Opening Day, the opening weekend at the drive-in, my birthday, Thanksgiving and Christmas as the dates that I look forward to every year.  It's hard to pinpoint exactly what makes this place feel so special to me.  I'm sure a big part of it is nostalgia - I'm walking past many of the same stands as a 42 year old man that I looked up at when my grandfather brought me to the fair as a child, and that I stopped at when I came here with friends as a teenager.  The food is incredible, and I love to walk around to check out the vendors and see the animals, art projects, and other displays that are set up, but the thing that it has in common with Citizens Bank Park and the Mahoning Drive-In Theater is that it's an overall atmosphere that makes me feel happy and at peace.

Ok, that's enough mushy stuff.  Let's get to the food!




We usually have a very light breakfast on the morning that we go to the Bloomsburg Fair, so we're pretty hungry by the time we get to the fairgrounds.  The next 15 minutes tends to play out the same way almost every year.  First, we'll look around to see if we can find something that we haven't tried before.  Everything looks good, but nothing jumps out at either of us as the first thing we want to eat at the fair.  Eventually we'll wander into the row where the Top Of The Beef food stand is located.  One of us will turn to the other to say something about how delicious their sandwiches are, and the decision has been made.  This is how the Top Of The Beef roast beef sandwich has accidentally become our traditional first food at the fair.

I know it looks like there's a lot of meat on the sandwich in this picture, but trust me when I tell you that this photo doesn't tell the whole story.  These things are absolutely packed with big slices and chunks of roast beef, to the point where it's almost impossible to eat the whole thing as a sandwich.  You will always have a pile of roast beef beef on the wrapper when the bread is gone.  These are huge, and very filling, and absolutely delicious!  I ate this sandwich about 18 hours ago and I'm salivating as I write this because I want another one!
 


Shortly after packing away a Top Of The Beef sandwich, I found a place that I have never stopped before.  I'm not sure if this is their first year at the fair or if I just never noticed them before, but their Stuffed Jalapeno On A Stick stopped me dead in my tracks.  You get two of them and a side of dipping sauce for five dollars, which is definitely worth the money.  Each one is about the size of a corn dog, and it's a fresh, crispy jalapeno pepper that's stuffed with cheddar cheese and bacon before being deep fried in pretzel dough.  I gobbled these up so quickly that I'm pretty sure I ate part of one of the sticks.




Dessert was next on the menu.  Angie had been talking about how much she was looking forward to a funnel cake for a few days, so we had a pumpkin funnel cake with cream cheese icing.  It was every bit as delicious as it sounds.

We've been to a few places over the years that load up their funnel cakes like they're an ice cream sundae, with a ridiculous amount of sauce, whipped cream, fruit, sprinkles, chocolate chips, and other toppings.  Not only is this overly messy, but it completely covers up the flavor of the funnel cake.  It would taste pretty much the same if you piled all of those toppings onto pieces of toast.  Take it from a fat middle-aged American dude - less is more when it comes to funnel cakes.  If you order a regular one, get it with a dusting of powdered sugar.  If you order a pumpkin one, get it with a cream cheese drizzle.  I know that those loaded ones look good, but trust me on this.
 



My wife and I have two traditions at the Bloomsburg Fair that we have kept since we starting coming here together 16 years ago.  One is that we start entering the buildings at around 5:00 when it's still bright and sunny out, and then we take our time going through them.  By the time we are finished with the buildings, the sun has gone down and the concourse is lit up with all of the multicolored lights from the food vendors.  Our other tradition is that we sit by the fountain in the horticulture building and have apple cider floats.

The apple cider floats are sold by a place called The Apple Cart at the back right hand corner of the agricultural building.  It's not fancy; just a couple scoops of vanilla ice cream and apple cider in a cup.  No photo I take of this is going to rock your world, but it's one of the most delicious and refreshing desserts at the Bloomsburg Fair, and at three dollars, it's also one of the best values you're likely to find on the fairgrounds.  If you like ice cream floats and you like apple cider, you've got to try one!



A much more recent tradition is that we pick up a Grilled Beef & Cheddar sandwich at Lora's to bring home.  Like Top Of The Beef, these things are packed with meat.  They're very wide and they're made with deli sliced roast beef with mushrooms and onions.  They re-heat in the air fryer very well, so they make a perfect late night dinner in front of the tv after we're all settled in at home.
 



Our final stop before heading home is the Mr. Sticky's truck to pick up cinnamon buns.  The lines are almost always huge, but the folks who run this place have their jobs down to a science, so it moves very quickly.  Their cinnamon buns are to die for, and they make a perfect breakfast for the morning after the Bloomsburg Fair.  Just zap 'em in the microwave for 45 seconds, spread the cream cheese icing on top, and enjoy!

If you'll indulge me in one final pro-tip from a Fair veteran: bring a little cooler with some ice packs and bottles of soda or water or whatever you like to drink and leave it in the car.  You will be thirsty by the time you leave, and you'll probably be in the car for a long time as you try to exit the fairgrounds.  Not only will this planning ahead save you a few bucks, but it'll be less things to carry for the long walk (or tractor ride) back to your car.

Sep 24, 2022

Welcome To The Edge



The Sci-Fi Channel first launched thirty years ago today.  This was by far my favorite channel on cable television when I was a teenager.  In the days before streaming video and television seasons being released on DVD, the Sci-Fi Channel was the best source for vintage sci-fi and horror shows.  They showed mainstream movies like Star Wars, but they also showed a lot of old creature features and other movies that weren't usually available at video rental stores.  Some of the shows and movies that they aired during the 90's still haven't had an official DVD or BluRay release and aren't available to stream from an official source to this day.

Sep 23, 2022

They Never Taught Us What Was Real



The Nylon Curtain
Billy Joel (1982)
The eighth studio album from Billy Joel is turning 40 years old today.  It sold over two million copies and was an Album Of The Year nominee at the 25th Annual Grammy Awards in 1983.

This is an album that I've never owned or listened to all the way through, but it includes two songs that I am very familiar with.  One of these is a song called Pressure, which is one of my favorite Billy Joel songs and one of my favorite songs from the decade overall.  The other song that I know is the very first song on the record, and it's the reason that I'm writing about this album.  The single spent six weeks in the #17 spot in the Billboard Hot 100, and it's a song that is very familiar to just about everyone who has grown up in Eastern Pennsylvania.  It's called Allentown.



It occurred to me as I write this that a lot of songs about my home state are pretty depressing.  We've got Harry Chapin singing about a truck driver getting killed in Scranton while he was delivering 30,000 Pounds Of Bananas.  The soundtrack to the movie Philadelphia has not one, but two extremely sad songs about The City of Brotherly Love: one by Neil Young and the other by Bruce Springsteen.  Even Philadelphia's beloved legends Hall & Oates dragged their city through the mud in Fall In Philadelphia.  It seems that unless it's a polka, if you are listening to a song about Pennsylvania, there's a pretty good chance that the lyrics aren't going to be especially upbeat.

Allentown is no exception to this.  In fact, it's probably the definitive song about the hopelessness and depression that can come from growing up in The Keystone State.  The part about the graduations hung on the wall not helping us at all, and our chances of getting as far in life as our father's got hit especially hard for Gen-Xers like myself.  I'd imagine that it hits even harder for Millennials and Zoomers who have inherited a world where the things that could be achieved on a single non-college graduate income for their parents and grandparents now seem out of reach even with two people working two jobs.
Billy Joel (1982) 
Well we're living here in Allentown
And they're closing all the factories down
Out in Bethlehem they're killing time
Filling out forms
Standing in line

Well our fathers fought the Second World War
Spent their weekends on the Jersey Shore
Met our mothers in the USO
Asked them to dance
Danced with them slow

And we're living here in Allentown
But the restlessness was handed down
And it's getting very hard to stay

Well we're waiting here in Allentown
For the Pennsylvania we never found
For the promises our teachers gave
If we worked hard
If we behaved

So the graduations hang on the wall
But they never really helped us at all
No they never taught us what was real
Iron and coke
And chromium steel

And we're waiting here in Allentown
But they've taken all the coal from the ground
And the union people crawled away

Every child had a pretty good shot
To get at least as far as their old man got
But something happened on the way to that place
They threw an American flag in our face

Well I'm living here in Allentown
And it's hard to keep a good man down
But I won't be getting up today

And it's getting very hard to stay
And we're living here in Allentown

Sep 22, 2022

It's A Great Escape



Blind Melon concert poster
W.O.W. Hall (1992)
This poster was used to advertise a Blind Melon concert that was held in Eugene, Oregon just a few weeks after their first studio album was released, which was thirty years ago today.



In the years since the death of lead singer Shannon Hoon, Blind Melon has been unfairly labeled as a one-hit wonder.  It really is a shame, because their self-titled debut album is much more than its hit single, No Rain.  It's one of the best rock albums to come out of the 1990's with incredible guitar throughout on every track, particularly on Tones of Home and Deserted.  If all you have ever heard out of Blind Melon was No Rain, take a moment and give this album a listen.

Sep 21, 2022

Pizza, Burgers and Ice Cream

If you've ever looked at the food that I write about, you'll see that my diet is that of a twelve year old boy.  It's not that I eat nothing but junk food.  The problem is that I like all foods and I want to try everything.  However, I'm not wealthy and I live in a small town that doesn't have the world's most robust restaurant scene (we just got a Starbucks in town three years ago and a Chipotle this summer).  Because of this, the foods I tend to write about are fairly humble - things that I find at the grocery store, fast food, diners, chain restaurants, and the occasional foods that I come across at concerts, carnivals and fairs.

The Bloomsburg Fair starts this weekend.  I'm sure that I'll be posting a ridiculous amount of food over the next few weeks, so I wanted to take a moment to write about some of the things that I've tried for the first time over the past few weeks before my blog becomes an unofficial food catalog for the Fair.
 
When I was in college, my philosophy professor structured one of his lessons around his favorite Indian food: Chicken Tikka Masala.  I've wanted to try it ever since, and I had the chance to order it eight years ago when we were in London for the holidays, but I ordered something else instead.  What I ended up getting was absolutely delicious, but I still regret passing up on Chicken Tikka Masala.

What you see in the photo above is obviously is not proper Indian food.  It's a refrigerated pre-made pizza from Aldi's grocery store, and if I'm being perfectly honest, I only bought it because it was on clearance.  I can't speak to how much it tastes like Chicken Tikka Masala, but it wasn't bad at all.  It would have been better if it had a little more chicken, but for the price it cost, it had a fair amount.  It's not very big (maybe about the size of a slice and a half from a large takeout pizza), so if you're having this for dinner, you'll either want to pick up two of them or to have a salad or something with it.
This was an unintended cheeseburger.  I stopped by Sonic to pick up a couple of milkshakes at the drive-thru, but I was told that "the machine is down".  I'm pretty sure I was told the same thing the last time I visited Sonic a few years ago.  Now, I've come to expect the milkshake machine to be "down" when I'm at a fast food restaurant, especially if you're there after 7 pm, but this was the mid-afternoon at a fast food chain whose primary menu item is milkshakes.  If I'm being honest, I didn't even know they sold burgers until earlier this week.

Since I was already there at the drive-thru and I had the munchies, I went ahead and ordered the burger that they were advertising on the menu board, which was the Chophouse Cheeseburger.  The website describes this burger as a pure seasoned beef patty with two slices of American cheese, bold Chophouse aioli, and crispy onion strings, served on a toasted brioche bun.

This burger wasn't terrible, but it wasn't worth the six dollars and change that they were charging for it.  The Rodeo Burger with Cheese from Burger King is practically the same thing, except it cost less than half as much and I think it tastes a lot better.  The Chophouse Cheeseburger is going to be a one-and-done for me.
Last, but not least, I tried the new limited edition Sweet Potato Marshmallow Casserole ice cream from Van Leeuwen, and hot damn!  This is one of the best ice cream flavors that I've tried in a long time.  I know you really can't tell from this photo, but the carton was chock full of marshmallows.  I'm not talking about the little tiny specks of marshmallow that you find in instant cocoa either... these were big honkin' marshmallows, and they were surrounded by a delicious ice cream that tasted a lot like candied sweet potatoes.

This is a dessert that would be perfect to have alongside a slice of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, but working in the ice cream industry has taught me that if you see a limited edition product that you want to try, buy it when you see it.  The production lines for a limited edition product often stop well before the holiday that's associated with that flavor, so if a flavor sells out in your area, there's a pretty good chance that you won't see it again until next year.  If you like sweet potatoes as much as I do, this is a flavor that you'll definitely want to have on hand for Fall.

Sep 20, 2022

A Long Time Ago In A Living Room Far Far Away



This artwork by Chicago artist Hilary Barda was published in the Fantastic Films Collectors Edition #20 magazine which hit newsstands in December 1980.

Sep 19, 2022

Penny Is Still Being Backed Into A Corner



Dirty Dancing
Mahoning Drive-In Theater - Lehighton, PA
I was in second grade when this movie premiered in theaters.  From that year on through the end of elementary school, practically every girl I knew could not stop talking about this movie.  They either raved about how much they loved it, or how much they wanted to see it and how mad they were at their parents for not letting them.  Naturally, that meant that most of the boys would say that they hated it even though most of them had never seen it.

While I wasn't one of those kids who claimed to hate Dirty Dancing, it also wasn't the kind of movie I ever would have rented.  My tastes skewed pretty heavily to whatever action, sci-fi, slapstick comedy and horror flicks managed to slip through the MPAA with a PG-13 or less (my grandfather would never let me bring home a Rated R movie no matter how much I begged).  By the time I was a teenager, Dirty Dancing had fallen completely off of my radar.

At some point when my wife and I were in our mid 30's, I mentioned to her that I had never watched Dirty Dancing before, and she insisted that we sit down and watch it ASAP.  I didn't know too much about the plot except for what you could obviously glean from the title, so I expected that it would be something like the schmaltzy romance flicks that they air on The Hallmark Channel around the holidays.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that it's a wonderful movie.  It's a sweet story that's well written with excellent performances from everyone on the cast, and I'm extremely happy for the opportunity to see it on the big screen under the stars at the Mahoning Drive-In Theater.



The poster art for Sunday night's event was designed by Tom Bifulco, and I think it's one of his best of the season.  At this point, I think I have enough of this dude's work to cover most of the walls of my garage.  If I can find a way to hang them out there and keep them safe from the elements, I might just do that.  What better way to start the day than to pull out of the garage surrounded by happy memories of our nights at the drive-in.




We brought Little Harvey out to the drive-in with us, and he had the chance to meet a few new four-legged friends.  He did quite a bit of woofing before the movie started, but as always, he settled into my lap and was a very good (and quiet) boy throughout the feature.



Seeing this movie in 2022 is a surreal experience.  The story of Dirty Dancing is set in the summer of 1963; ten years before Roe v. Wade was decided.  When this movie premiered in theaters in 1987, the issue of a woman's right to choose was a settled matter.  Women had bodily autonomy, and the decision of whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term was entirely her decision, as it should be.  Part of the emotion that this movie inspired when I first saw it came from a reminder of an unfortunate part of our past compared to the progress we have made as a society.

When I first saw this movie, I never imagined that we would regress so much as a country that we would strip away the basic human rights of a woman to have control over her own body, but here we are.  This is still an absolutely wonderful and heartwarming movie, but the story of Penny lands a lot harder when you realize that as you are watching it, there are thousands of women in the United States who are in exactly the same position she was forced to be in.

Sep 18, 2022

Mondo Argento



Saturday: Suspiria / Inferno / Opera
Mahoning Drive-In Theater - Lehighton, PA
Five years ago, I had never heard of Dario Argento and had no idea what a Giallo film was.  The closest I had come to either is that I had once heard that some American actors go to Italy to make films, and that these sometimes get picked up and distributed in the United States.  If I had ever rented one of them back in the day, I didn't realize it at the time and I don't remember it today.  That was all changed by Joe Bob Briggs and The Last Drive-In on Shudder.

The tenth film of the original 2018 Last Drive-In Marathon was the Argento-produced 1985 horror flick, Demons.  It's absolutely batshit crazy and was one of my favorite movies that was shown that night.  They also showed Deep Red in the second season which aired at the start of the pandemic, and Tenebrae was screened during the most recent season four months ago.  If I'm being perfectly honest, I don't remember seeing Tenebrae so I'm guessing that I was at the Mahoning that night and hadn't gotten around to watching the episodes from this past season that I missed.  I'll never understand why Shudder can't air new episodes of The Last Drive-In during the winter months when most actual drive-in theaters are closed, but that's another topic.  However, I definitely remember watching Deep Red in 2020 and I found it to be one of the most fascinating films I had ever seen. 

I've wanted to dig into the Argento filmography for a while now, so I jumped at the chance to buy tickets to a two-day festival of his works at the Mahoning Drive-In Theater.



The poster for Mondo Argento was designed by artist Sarah Karess.  This isn't her first poster for an event at the Mahoning, but it's the first one for a show that I got to see and it's one of my favorite posters for the 2022 season.  Check out some of her other work on Instagram.
 
Friday, September 16th, 2022



The opening film of Mondo Argento on Friday night was originally released in Italy as Phenomena in 1985.  New Line Cinema distributed the film in the United States, but not before they cut 20 minutes and renamed the movie as Creepers.  It was this American cut of the film that was screened at the Mahoning this weekend, but since this was my first time seeing this movie, I couldn't miss what I didn't know was supposed to be there.

Creepers stars Jennifer Connelly in her second film role, having been released a year and a half before she would go on to star alongside David Bowie in Labyrinth.  It also features the great Donald Pleasence in one of his many excellent performances.  Connelly is an American student who enrolls in a Swiss boarding school, and there are two things about her that make her the target of bullying from her classmates: she is prone to sleepwalking, and she loves insects.  She comes to realize that she actually has a psychic connection with insects, which is nurtured by a forensic entomologist (Pleasence) who lives not far from the school.  These powers play a role in the two working together to catch a serial killer who has been murdering young girls in the area.

This film absolutely blew me away!  When I saw the description written out, I thought "this could be ok", but it's an absolute masterpiece.  It's not for everybody (particularly if the sight of bugs bothers you too much to enjoy a movie), but this is easily one of my top five flicks that I saw for the first time at the Mahoning.  I'm going to have to set aside some time this winter to watch the uncut version. 



The movie that I am the most familiar with from the Mondo Argento weekend was the second film from Night One.  I first saw Demons in 2018 when Joe Bob Briggs screened it as a part of the original Last Drive-In marathon, and I've watched it several times since then.  This isn't actually an Argento movie (it was directed by Lamberto Bava), but it was produced by Dario Argento and it certainly fit with the theme of the weekend.

Demons takes place in Berlin where a group of people attend a screening of a horror movie after being given a free ticket by a masked man.  The lobby of the theater has a display set up with what appears to be props from the movie that they're about to see.  This includes a mask that has a sharp pin on the inside.  One of the moviegoers puts the mask on and is scratched by the pin.  Later while they're watching the movie, she notices that one of the characters in the film is also scratched by the mask, after which they transform into an evil demon who begins attacking her friends.  The woman from the audience who was scratched excuses herself to the bathroom, and sure enough, she begins to transform into an evil demon who starts attacking the rest of the theater.

From this point, the movie starts to feel like a zombie flick because the people who are attacked by the demon transform into demons themselves, and a group of strangers have to work together to find a way to survive.  I don't want to spoil any more of the movie than I already have, but you should know that the plot just gets crazier from here, and it's one hell of a fun ride!
 


The last movie of the first night was the 1975 Giallo classic Deep Red.  It was called The Hatchet Murders on the title card that we saw, which suggests that the 35mm print of the film that was screened at Mondo Argento is from January 1980 when the film was re-titled and re-released in the United States.



Deep Red is a cinematic masterpiece.   It's a visually stunning murder mystery which strikes the perfect balance of having a deep plot without crossing the line to being so complex that you have to be a student of filmmaking for the story to make sense.  I am far from an expert on his body of work, but out of the movies of his that I have seen, I think that Deep Red is Dario Argento's finest work.

Saturday, September 17th, 2022

At the end of the first night of Mondo Argento, Rob (the projectionist) said that Saturday night's lineup of Suspiria, Inferno and Opera is "one of the best lineups this drive-in has ever had".  As it turns out, he and I have very different tastes in movies, because for as much as I enjoyed the first night of Mondo Argento, the second night was a big disappointment.
 


Before I get into my thoughts on Suspiria, I want to make it clear that I was really looking forward to seeing this movie.  It's widely considered to be Dario Argento's finest work, and is the first film in The Three Mothers trilogy.  I had heard about this movie for years and always wanted to see it, but I never got around to watching it.  In fact, I didn't even really know what it was about.  I knew it by reputation only, and the opportunity to experience a classic film for the first time at the Mahoning Drive-In Theater is one that I truly cherish.

One thing I will say about this film is that it is absolutely beautifully filmed.  The sets and shots are colorful and stunning and give the movie an other-worldly feeling.  Having said that, by the time the credits rolled, my first thought was "man, it's a shame that they wasted such incredible shots on a dull screenplay".

It's not that I think Suspiria is bad necessarily, but it doesn't come anywhere close to living up to the hype.  It's the story of a ballet dancer who moves to Germany to attend a highly prestigious boarding school of dance, only to learn that it's being run by an evil witch.  The villains border on being generic stock characters.  They're not particularly interesting or well-written, nor is the protagonist or any of the other students in the school.

The worst part of this movie was its use of music.  It's not that the music was bad, but the way that it was used reminded me of the way that television sitcoms use a laugh track to sell jokes that aren't funny.  The film blasted trippy prog-rock over long stretches of bland scenes where the plot grinds to a halt with nothing of interest happening on the screen to artificially inject a feeling of suspense.  Like the visuals, I was left thinking "damn, it's a shame they didn't use this music in a better film".

Go ahead and watch it and decide for yourself.  Again, I don't think it's a bad movie.  It's ok.  I'd give it  2.5 stars out of 5 for the stunning visuals alone, but for the ridiculous amount of praise that has been heaped onto this, I was expecting this film to be amazing, and it was just kind of... meh.  I probably would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't gone in with such high expectations, but as it stands, I'm just happy to be able to check this off of my list just to say that I've seen it.



My takeaway from Suspiria is that it was a disappointment, but not a bad movie overall.  However, it was a thousand times better than the second film of the second night of Mondo Argento, which is also the second film in The Three Mothers trilogy.

I spent twenty minutes staring at my keyboard trying to think of anything positive that I could say about the 1980 film Inferno, and the best that I can come up with is that some of the shots of the architecture are impressive.

Simply put, this is gore porn, and it's not even a particularly good example of it.  There is zero character development, or even an attempt at character development, so I had absolutely no investment in the characters who were getting killed.  I'm writing this less than 12 hours after seeing the film and I can't even remember their names.  The only death that provoked any kind of reaction at all from me was when some guy killed a cat.  I don't even remember who the guy was, and I don't care enough to look it up.

The plot was such a convoluted mess that I'd need to be able to pause it and take notes to understand the story that they're trying to tell.  Perhaps this means I'm not smart enough to keep up with it, and I won't argue that this isn't the case.  Maybe I would have got something out of this film if it was shown on The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob breaking in to make me laugh and to say something that inspires me to give a damn about any of these characters.  The bottom line is that I watch movies to relax and to have a good time, and this one just bored me half to death.  I never knew 107 minutes could feel this long.



I couldn't tell you how Opera was because we didn't stick around long enough to see it.  When faced with the option of either getting home at a somewhat reasonable hour or the possibility another hour and a half of what we just saw in the first two films (after a long intermission hawking raffle tickets), both my wife and I agreed that a fluffy bed was looking pretty good right about now.  For all I know, Opera might be the best film ever made, but that's a discovery that I'll be happy to make some other time.
 


If I had to do it over again, I would have just bought tickets to Night One, but Suspiria has been on my bucket list of films to watch for so many years that I was genuinely looking forward to last night.

I guess that they can't all be winners

Sep 17, 2022

Ferris Bueller Is A Time Lord



We got to see Ferris Bueller's Day Off at the Mahoning Drive-In Theater last weekend.  It's a movie that I'm very familiar with, but have never had the opportunity to see on the big screen before.  As we watched, I found myself looking at some of the places and things in the background and wondering if there were enough clues to determine what day Ferris Bueller took off.


I did a Google search when we got home and found a video on Twitter from IMDB which treats this as an open and shut case.  They have determined that the day Ferris Bueller skipped school with Cameron and Sloan was June 5th, 1985, and their evidence for this is based entirely on one scene in the film - the ballgame between the Braves and Cubs at Wrigley Field.



In a 2011 article for Baseball ProspectusLarry Granillo examined several things that we can see take place in the game during the movie.  The Braves have a runner on first with no outs.  The television in the pizza shop shows the runner on screen for a few second, and he has been identified Paul Zuvella (#18).  This scene also shows that Leon Durham (#10) is playing first base for the Cubs.  Announcer Harry Caray lets us know Zuvella reached base on a single, and gives us a few more clues by saying "that's the first hit they've had since the fifth inning, and only the fourth hit in the game".  We then see that reliever Lee Smith is pitching for the Cubs, and Braves right fielder Claudell Washington fouls off a pitch to deep left field which Ferris Bueller catches in the stands.
 


This may not seem like much to go on, but it's a pretty specific fact pattern that can be used to identify which game these events took place in.  First of all, the movie was released on June 11, 1986, so the game had to have taken place well before that date.  Lee Smith didn't face the Cubs at Wrigley Field at all in 1986, but he did pitch against the Braves at home in Wrigley a total of four times during the 1985 season.  In the top of the 11th inning of one of those games, he gave up a single to Paul Zuvella, which was the first hit that the Braves had since the 5th inning and their fourth hit in the game, and the next batter in the Braves lineup that day was Claudell Washington.  That game took place on the afternoon of June 5th, 1985.

Chicago Tribune - Chicago, IL (June 6, 1985)

This date makes sense from a storyline perspective as well.  The story takes place on a beautiful Spring day, which is what inspires Ferris Bueller to take the day off in the first place.  We know it must be toward the end of the school year because in one of his talks with the audience, Ferris mentions that he and Cameron would very soon be graduating from high school.  Also, Principal Rooney warns Mrs. Bueller that "if Ferris thinks that he can just coast through this month and still graduate, he is sorely mistaken".

So, that must mean that Ferris skipped school on June 5th, 1985, right?

Maybe... but there's more to the story.



After the ballgame, our heroes visit the Art Institute of Chicago before taking a cab to the Von Steuben Day parade.  There are quite a few coats and jackets in the crowd for a beautiful day with temperatures expected to reach the upper 70s according to the DJ at the start of the movie.  This is probably because the annual Chicago parade that is held in honor of General Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben takes place in September.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find an article about the Von Steuben Day parade in 1985, but there's a clue on the movie theater marquee in the background of this shot that helps us narrow down which date in September this took place.



This theater at 45 West Randolph Street on the Loop started out in 1921 as the Apollo Theater.  It was sold to the United Artists Corporation in 1927 and it remained in operation as a single screen United Artists movie theater for over 60 years until it closed in 1988 and was demolished a year later.
 
Chicago Tribune - Chicago, IL (September 20, 1985)

While the 1985 Von Steuben Day parade was taking place, this theater was showing Godzilla 1985 (which we got to see at the drive-in earlier this year) and Teen Wolf.  Both of these films premiered in theaters on August 23rd, 1985.  It's not too surprising to see that they were both being shown at the United Artists theater in downtown Chicago on the weekend of September 20th.  The theater only has a single screen, and the summer of 1985 was especially loaded with blockbuster films that were competing for screen time.

The letters below these two features on the marquee are partially obstructed, but it's pretty obvious that it says:
Coming Soon:
Chuck Norris
Invasion USA

Chicago Tribune - Chicago, IL (September 26, 1985)

The Downtown Chicago UA might not have had Godzilla 1985 or Teen Wolf on opening night, but they made sure to lock down the Cannon Films classic Invasion USA for its premier.  Since the two features on the marquee were being screened at this theater starting on September 20th with Chuck Norris karate kicking them out of the projection booth on the 27th, we can narrow it down to this date range.  In addition, while I wasn't able to find anything with the exact date of the parade, the Chicago Tribune did publish a photo from the parade on Sunday, September 22nd.  Since this all takes place on a school day, I think we have enough evidence to conclude that Ferris performed Danke Schoen and Twist And Shout on the parade float on Friday, September 20th, 1985 - three and a half months after he caught the foul ball at Wrigley Field.



So, did Doc Brown install an extra flux capacitor in the taxicab that our heroes took to the parade?  It's possible, and it would make a pretty good basis for a fan fiction that ties together the universe of Back To The Future with the John Hughes films, but I think there's another explanation, and it also answers the question of how he can squeeze so many different things into a single day.

Ferris is very confident that he won't get caught despite the fact that over 60,000 just saw him lip syncing on a parade float.  He's a confident dude to begin with, but there's more going on here.  He is absolutely certain that no one at that parade would ever turn him in, despite the fact that his father's office is in downtown Chicago and he could easily have taken a few minutes away from his desk to watch the parade floats go by.  

Why is he so sure that he won't get caught at the parade?  I think it's because he knows that they've traveled to September 20th because Ferris Bueller is a time lord.
 


Ferris takes a moment at the beginning and end of the film to clue us in on what's going on.  He looks straight into the camera at the audience and tells us that "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it" and that's all he's doing by taking the day off from school.  He's about to graduate from high school.  He laments to the camera during the scene when Cameron is catatonic that he and Cameron will have jobs during the summer, and then they'll both go to different colleges while Sloan stays behind for her senior year of high school, and then that will be it.  He may not be at a Doctor Who level of controlling time and space, but he has some ability to stretch out the day by traveling a short distance within the year to spend a little more time with his best friend and his girlfriend.

He knows that he'd be able to take a day off from his college classes, and he can take a sick day or a vacation day from the job he'll have after college, but there's something special about taking a day off from high school.  It's special because it's forbidden, and you run the risk of getting caught.  He's living the last few weeks where he can enjoy the thrill of getting away with skipping school.  He's stopping and looking around in the last moments of his adolescence because he knows that it won't be long before he misses this time of his life.