Dec 27, 2002

Post-Christmas Penguins

Philadelphia Phantoms @ Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
First Union Arena - December 26, 2002
My boss gave me tickets to see the Baby Pens game in Wilkes-Barre for the day after Christmas.  If they were playing any other team, I would have been rooting for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, but the Phantoms are the AHL team for the Flyers, and I can't root against a Philadelphia team.  The Phantoms won in overtime, 4-3.

Dec 22, 2002

Do You Have To Open Graves To Find Girls To Fall In Love With?

The Mummy
Rivoli Theater - Newark, NJ (1932)
This Boris Karloff horror classic premiered in theaters 70 years ago today.

Nov 25, 2002

The Search For The King's Gold

Nintendo Superstars Kids Meal
Burger King (2002)
There is a new series of Nintendo toys available with Burger King Kids Meals.  Part of this promotion is The Search For The Golden Toy Sweepstakes.  If the toy in your Kids Meal is gold, you win a Game Boy Advance game.

Oct 4, 2002

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, Children of All Ages...

New Age Outlaws
World Wrestling Federation (1998)
"Road Dogg" Jessie James and "Bad Ass" Billy Gunn made their debut as a tag team on an episode of WWF Shotgun Saturday Night that aired five years ago today.  This publicity photo was taken in early 1998 after the team had won their first WWF World Tag Team Championship.  They would really come into their own after that year's Wrestlemania when they joined Triple H and X-Pac in the second run of D-Generation X.

Sep 26, 2002

Learning To Catch The Golden Snitch

Harry Potter: Nimbus 2000 Broom
Mattel (2001)
Parents have discovered a problem with a vibrating children's toy that is designed to be straddled and sat on.  Evidently, it's been giving their daughters a magical experience as their re-enact the scenes in Harry Potter & The Sorcerer's Stone.

Source: The Weekender (9/25/2002)
Source: National Post (9/21/2002)

Aug 30, 2002

He's Back

Eric Bischoff
World Wrestling Entertainment (2002)
It's amazing how things can change in just a few short years.  Imagine sending this photo through a time warp to a wrestling fan in 1997.

Aug 29, 2002

Ahmad's Persian Cuisine

Ahmad's Persian Cuisine
Old Market - Omaha, NE
I've never had Persian food before, but we stopped here for dinner and it was outstanding.  I didn't have my camera on me, so these photos are from the Lincoln Star Journal.

Aug 16, 2002

Big Ben Takes A Bow

Win Ben Stein's Money
Comedy Central (1997-2002)
It was reported today that one of my favorite game shows has been cancelled.  The final episodes of Win Ben Stein's Money have been taped and will begin airing in October, but after that, there won't be any more.

Jul 31, 2002

Chinese Food At The Old Movie Theater

Jumbo China Buffet
Route 309 - Hazleton, PA
I'm staying in La Vista, Nebraska, but I was back in Hazleton to pick up a few things last week.  While I was in town, I had to hit up the Jumbo China Buffet.  It's an all-you-can-eat buffet that has tons of different things to choose from, including made-to-order sushi, steak and crab legs.  For under $9 bucks a person, you can't go wrong!

The building used to be the Church Hill Cinema before the new theater near the Laurel Mall put them out of business.  You would never be able to tell that this place used to be a movie theater when you're inside.  It's weird thinking that I'm having shrimp and crab legs in the same spot where my grandfather used to take me to see kids movies, and where I went on dates when I was in middle school and high school.

Jun 20, 2002

Ticket To Election Night

Jesse Ventura / Mae Schunk Campaign
Election Night Party Invitation (1998)
One last piece of Jesse Ventura governor ephemera I have to share is this invitation to his party on election night in 1998.  They mailed it out to Pennsylvania.  I wish I could have gone - bet it was one hell of a night.

Jun 19, 2002

Jesse The Bumper Sticker

Jesse Ventura For Governor
Bumper Sticker (1998)
This is a scan of one of the bumper stickers that I mentioned yesterday.  It came with the Jesse Ventura "Retaliate in '98" t-shirts that Dad and I ordered when Jesse was running for Governor of Minnesota.

Unfortunately, my Jesse Ventura sticker was lost when my Mercury Topaz was hit by a pickup truck that ran a red light, but my dad still has his.

Jun 18, 2002

The Jesse Ventura Campaign

Jesse Ventura
Campaign Pamphlet (1998)
Earlier today, The Body announced that he wouldn't run for re-election as governor of Minnesota.  I don't blame him a bit, but it's a shame.  The country needs leaders like Ventura who don't bow down to the two major political parties.

Dad and I ordered t-shirts and bumper stickers from his campaign in '98 and this pamphlet was in the package.

Jun 11, 2002

Peace Out Cub Scout

Standard Speaker
June 11, 1987 - Hazleton, PA
I can't remember what award I won, but it's a safe bet that it wasn't for math.  What I do remember is that my dad asked me why I was flashing the peace sign when they saw this picture in the paper.  I wish I could say that I was that chill of a kid, but no.  The photographer said that he was going to take the picture on the count of three, and for some reason I felt compelled to count along with my fingers. 

Apr 14, 2002

Georgie Brehm

Georgie Brehm
April 14, 1892 - September 15, 1981
Today would have been the 110th birthday of my great-great uncle, George Michel Brehm.  He passed away when I was a baby, but I've heard a million stories about him.  I wish I could have known him.

Apr 1, 2002

Raiding Grandma's Fridge

Leftover spaghetti and meatballs, it is.

Mar 23, 2002

The Door Went "Creak"

Standard Speaker
March 23, 1987 - Hazleton, PA
I wasn't much different as a little kid than I am now.  I liked to read and write and I loved anything spooky.  My favorite things to watch were Ghostbusters, Scooby Doo, and whatever ghost or monster stories that my family would allow, and my favorite place in the world to go was Dracula's Castle in Wildwood.

Most weekends were spent with my grandparents back in those days.  Every Sunday morning, we went to the Wyoming Valley Mall in Wilkes-Barre or the Schuylkill Mall in Frackville.  It was about a 20 minute drive and my grandfather spent most of the ride telling me stories that he'd make up on the spot.  Most of them involved me and my two cousins going to an old haunted house (where Dracula lived) or to a pyramid (where Mola Ram from Indiana Jones & The Temple Of Doom lived).

My first grade class had a creative writing activity where we could write about whatever we wanted.  With my mind filled with memories of all the spooky stories from kids books, stories from my grandfather, and countless tv shows, movies and cartoons, I came up with this story.

It may not be Shakespeare, but I guess it wasn't too shabby for a six year old.  It was good enough to win first place in the Hazleton Area School District's creative writing contest anyway.  The grand prize was a five dollar gift certificate for the school store, which was redeemed for a Thundercats View Master gift set.

I wish I could say that this inspired a young boy to grow up and become a writer, but no such luck.  Every so often, I'll come up with what I think is a good idea for a story, but the closest I've come so far is a few pages worth of ideas in a notebook or an extremely rough outline.  In fact, I'm pretty sure that these four pages from first grade are the closest I've ever come to finishing a story.  Maybe someday...

Mar 1, 2002

The Penn State North Halls Champion Chowhound

Mr. Bad Food (February 28, 2002)
Throughout the 90's, my father's best friend, John, wrote for The Sun.  It's one of those tabloid newspapers that you see at the grocery checkout that has stories about alien and bigfoot sightings.  He would occasionally work my dad into some of his stories, like the time that he wrote about Fidel Castro sneaking into the United States to watch baseball.  According to the article, my dad sat next to the Cuban dictator at Veterans Stadium to watch the Phillies play the Blue Jays in the 1993 World Series.

These days, John writes for as Mr. Bad Food, but he's still finding ways to work my dad into his stories.  Unlike the baseball story, this anecdote is true... Dad really did eat 18 burgers in his time at Penn State.  Click here to read the whole article. 

Feb 27, 2002

My Neverending Soap Opera

Thank you for looking at my spontaneous online public journal.  I hope you enjoy the sprinkled links to cool webpages.  I apologize for not being quite as interesting as RuPaul  (source: Time Magazine - February 11, 2002).

Jan 31, 2002

Introducing The Villainy Of Cheesefinger

Cheesasaurus Rex comic
Kraft Foods (1992)

Jan 21, 2002

Dungeon Moat Ride

Here are the photos of the Castle Dracula Dungeon Boat Ride that I mentioned yesterday.  All of them were taken from 1985-1989.  Once again, the ones that look nice and clear were taken by my grandfather.  The grainy, off-center ones were taken by me when I was a kid.

These three photos of two staff members who worked at the entrance of the Dungeon Boat Ride were taken in the summer of 1989.  Like all of the folks who worked at Castle Dracula, they stayed in character, and they weren't limited to the entrance of the boat ride.  There were live performers hidden among the attractions in the dungeon, some of whom would jump on your boat as you were riding through.

These two photos from 1987 show my dad and I sitting in one of the boats as we're about to enter the Dungeon.  Each boat had a grim reaper statue standing at the back.  The concrete moat that held the water that the boat floated on was painted red, which made it look like you were riding through the dungeon on a river of blood.

There are lion face fountain built into the wall of the castle.  You can see them from a distance in the photos of the outside of the castle that I shared yesterday.  I'm pretty sure that I took this picture when I was sitting in the boat waiting to go into the entrance of the Dungeon.  Usually, the water squired out of the mouth of the lion in an arc, but I guess it wasn't working properly on the day that I took this picture because it appears that the water was trickling down from the mouth along the side of the wall.

After you boarded your boat, you'd enter the Dungeon through the mouth of this giant white skull.  There were red lights at the tunnel's entrance, which gave the impression that you were about to enter a blood-soaked hell.

I wish that I had more and better quality photos of the inside of the dungeon.  Keep in mind, these were taken in a dark tunnel by a kid between the ages of 5-9 using a 110 film camera with a lousy flash.

One of the rooms that I remember best was a pirate ship that was crewed by skeletons.  All of the skeletons moved, including the one at the center of this picture who turned the wheel.  The photos really don't do it justice.  The flash photography not only kills the lighting and the ambiance, but it reveals some of the wires that were used to make the skeletons move.  All of these were hidden in darkness, with the lighting used to show off only what they wanted you to see.  It was spooky as hell!

Here are three more of the demons that you'd see in the Dungeon, which are just a small sampling of that you'd see.

About halfway through the ride, the boat left the dungeon and went through a cemetery in an outdoor courtyard.  I'm not sure where in Castle Dracula this was set up, but you couldn't see it from the outside.  To the best of my knowledge, the only way that you'd see even a hint of this cemetery is if you rode through the Dungeon on a boat.

There was a catacombs section with mortuary cabinets that looked like the bodies were attempting to escape.

Last, but not least, you'd ride beneath this massive demon.  I think this was at the end of the ride, but it's been over ten years since I've been here, so I can't say for sure if that's right.  When you consider how the castle met its untimely end, the flames painted on the wall are even more unsettling.