Jul 2, 2022

The Phillie Phanatic Saves The 4th

Friday, July 1, 2022
St. Louis Cardinals @ Philadelphia Phillies
Citizens Bank Park Philadelphia, PA

Results: Phillies defeated Cardinals, 5-3
Section 214, Row 6, Seats 9-10

My birthday game this year was pretty spectacular!  It had a little bit of everything.  A franchise legend came back to pay tribute to a legend of the game in his final year.  We got our first look at a rookie who has started his big league career with a remarkable home run streak.  The Cardinals third baseman hit for the cycle, but the Phillies came from a 3 run deficit to win.  Last, but not least, we got to see the world premier of a short film followed by an incredible display of fireworks.

The traffic getting into the ballpark was pretty rough, so we didn't have time to stop at the Bull's BBQ.  I have to remember to take the Schuylkill Expressway to the ballpark no matter what Google Maps says.  It's super congested, but it's a straight shot to the parking lot once you take your exit.  We ended up grabbing dinner at Baker Bowl Bistro in the Hall Of Fame Club where I had the Seared Crab Cake Sandwich.  Not quite as good as the smoked kielbasa, but a thousand times better than the PB&J Bacon Burger that I tried last time.

This game would have been started by Zach Eflin, but he was placed on the 15-day injured list (retroactive to June 26) with a bruised right knee.  The Phillies DFA'ed Óscar Mercado so that they could call up left hander Bailey Falter to take Eflin's spot in the rotation.  It was his fifth career start at the Major League level, and his first start at Citizens Bank Park.  As for Mercado, he only had a single plate appearance in a Phillies uniform after they took him off of waivers from the Guardians on June 27th before getting designated for assignment for the second time this season.

Before the game, the Phillies took a moment to honor one of the greatest players the game has ever seen: Albert Pujols.  The future Hall Of Famer made his MLB debut on April 2nd, 2001 and is only one of two active players who are older than I am (the other being Red Sox pitcher Rich Hill).  In his phenomenal 22 year career, Pujols has hit 683 home runs, which rank him fifth on the all-time list, behind only Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Alex Rodriguez (and he has a realistic shot of passing A-Rod).  He has 2,167 career RBI, which is second only to Hank Aaron for the most of all time, and his 3,324 career hits are the 9th most of all-time.  He's only the fourth player in baseball history to reach both the 3,000 hits and 600 home run milestones in his career, a ten time All-Star, three time MVP and two time World Series champion.  This man has literally done it all in this sport and among the truly all-time greats who have ever played the game.  He has already announced that he's retiring at the end of the season, and this is the last series that the Cardinals will play in Philadelphia in 2022, so we are witnessing the final swings of the bat that a true legend of this sport will take in our city.  It's truly a historic event, and I feel privileged to have witnessed it.

With two outs in the top of the first, Paul Goldschmidt singled and Nolan Arenado scored him with a triple to put the Cardinals up 1-0.  The duo did more damage in the top of the third when Goldschmidt doubled and Arenado hit his 15th home run of the year to give the Cardinals a 3-0 lead.  Fortunately for the Phillies, the three runs driven in by Arenado would be the only runs that they'd score all night.

Nolan Arenado had a hell of a good night overall.  He ended up hitting for the cycle with the triple in the first, the two run homer in the third, a double in the sixth and a single in the 8th.  He got a nice ovation from the fans in attendance for the accomplishment.  It was the second time in his career that Arenado hit for the cycle, and it was only the 17th time a Cardinals player has hit for the cycle in the 141 year history of the franchise.

Albert Pujols didn't have such a great night at the plate.  The future first-ballot Hall of Famer went 0-3 with two strikeouts before being lifted for rookie Nolan Gorman in the top of the 8th.

In his first career start at Citizens Bank Park, Bailey Falter pitched four innings and gave up three earned runs on five hits with a walk and five strikeouts.  The Phillies bullpen held the Cardinals scoreless for the rest of the game, starting with Nick Nelson in the 5th, Jose Alvarado who came in with one out in the 6th, Andrew Bellatti in the 7th, Seranthony Dominguez in the 8th, and Brad Hand in the 9th.  Alvarado got the win, with Hand notching his third save of the season.

I was hoping to have a chance to see Mark Appel pitch in the big leagues.  The former first pick overall in the 2013 draft had finally made his Major League debut on Wednesday, but since he came out of the bullpen two nights in a row, I figured it was a pretty slim chance that he'd get into this game.  We got to see Appel pitch for the Iron Pigs last season in his first game since his return to baseball (which was also our first game back since the Pandemic began).  I really hope the dude can solidify a spot in the Phillies bullpen.

Kyle Schwarber had one hell of an impressive month.  His 12 home runs in June were equal to the total number of home runs hit by the entire Detroit Tigers roster last month, and he's been consistently getting on base.  He was named the National League Player Of The Month, and his offensive production continued into July.  He led off for the Phillies in the bottom of the first with a single and went 2-4 with an RBI in last night's game.

Schwarber's RBI came in the bottom of the fifth when the Phillies tied the game 3-3.  The bottom half of the inning began with catcher Garrett Stubbs reaching base on a throwing error by the normally slick fielding Nolan Arenado.  This was followed by a single from Matt Vierling and a Mickey Moniak RBI double which gave the Phillies runners on 2nd and 3rd with no outs.  Schwarber grounded out to score Vierling and advance Moniak to 3rd, and Rhys Hoskins hit a sac fly to score Moniak and tie the game.

The hero of the night was designated hitter Darick Hall.  He was just promoted to the big leagues and made his Major League debut two nights earlier in the same game that Mark Appel made his MLB debut.  That night, Hall went 0-4, but he went 2-5 last night against the Braves with both being home runs.

Last night, Darick Hall led off the bottom of the 6th with a home run off of Cardinals starter Miles Mikolas that put the Phillies up 6-5.  Long Ball Hall became just the ninth player since the expansion era began in 1969 to collect three home runs for his first three hits in the big leagues.  Rhys Hoskins hit his 16th home run of the season in the bottom of the 7th to make it a 5-3 ballgame, which the Phillies held onto for the win.

Nolan Arenado's final hit to complete the cycle was a single that came in the top of the 8th off of Seranthony Domínguez.  It was hit right to Matt Vierling who was playing third base for only the second time at the big league level.  According to Baseball Reference, he's only ever appeared at third base in a total of 13 games since the Phillies drafted him in 2018.  I'm not sure what the Phillies plans are here, but his lack of experience at the hot corner definitely showed.  He looked uncomfortable out there, and made a couple of pretty bad throws to first base.  Vierling bobbled the ball that Arenado hit to him but recovered to make the throw.  Arenado would have easily beaten the throw even if it was right on target, but the ball sailed over Rhys Hoskins' head which allowed Arenado to advance to second.  It was scored a single, with an error that allowed Arenado to take second base.  Thankfully, the error didn't hurt the Phillies in the end.  Seranthony struck out Juan Yepez and got Nolan Gorman to ground out, which stranded Arenado at second base to end the inning.

Brad Hand came in to pitch a clean 9th for the save.  He struck out Brendan Donovan and got Edmundo Sosa to fly out to center field.  Lars Nootbaar, which may be the greatest name in the history of baseball, came in to pinch hit with two outs in the bottom of the 9th.  Hand struck him out to end the game.  Phillies pitchers struck out 15 Cardinals batters, with each of the relief pitchers striking out two batters.  In five innings of work, the Phillies bullpen struck out 10 batters while allowing 0 runs and just 2 hits and 2 walks, which is a very encouraging sign from a part of this team that had been its biggest weakness in recent seasons.

With last night's win, the Phillies improved their record to 41-37 and are just 1.5 games behind from a wild card spot.  Obviously, it's too early to start thinking about the playoffs since we haven't even hit the All-Star Break yet, but the Phillies have definitely been headed in the right direction since they fired Joe Girardi.

However, the night did not end after the final out...

We got to see the premier of a short film from the Phillies called The Phanatic Saves The Fourth.  It stars the Phillie Phanatic and features cameos from Jimmy Rollins, Mike Schmidt, Ryan Howard and Bryce Harper as The Council Of The MVPs.  It was a lot of fun, and it perfectly set up what was one of the best fireworks shows I have ever seen.

With the way food and gas prices have gone up, this is probably going to be my last Phillies game of the season, but I couldn't have asked for two better games.  I got to spend one day at the ballpark with my dad, and my birthday at the ballpark with my wife.  The weather was beautiful, and the Phillies came back from behind to win both days.  Sometimes it all works out.

Jul 1, 2022

Forty Two

Yes, Loonquawl and Phouchg.  I'm 42.

I can't believe it either.  I still remember that when I was in the 9th grade, there were nights when I honestly didn't think I'd live long enough to get my drivers licence.  It's not because I'm a hypochondriac or anything like that.  It's just that I couldn't picture myself as anything other than what I was - a misfit kid that nobody seemed to understand, and that didn't seem to be able to understand anybody else.

If I'm being completely honest, that really hasn't changed all that much through my adult life.  I still don't really understand people or the world around me, and I can count on one hand the number of people who I truly believe understand me, but I've gotten much better at faking my way through social situations to the point where it's not as big of a problem as it used to be.  I am what I am, and I'm long past the point of feeling like I have to apologize for it.  There are still times when a memory from the past will bubble up to the surface and make me feel like crawling into a hole, but then an angel appears on my shoulder.  He looks disturbingly like Walter Sobchak, and he just shrugs his shoulders and says "Fuck it, dude.  Let's play Tetris".  He knows that I don't bowl.

I guess I've gone through the stages of grief and reached acceptance.  The world is what it is, and I am what I am.  Ozzy put it best - I don't want to change the world; I don't want the world to change me.  I'm heavily flawed, but I do my best to not let those flaws negatively affect anyone else, and I've managed to carve out a life of peace and happiness.  That's a hell of a lot further than I expected to get when I was an angry and scared 15 year old.  If the 42 year old me had a chance to go back and say anything to myself at that age, I think I'd say the following:  "Your story doesn't end here, kid.  You ain't dying today or for a long time, so surround yourself with the things in this world that make you happy, and do your best to ignore everything else unless you don't have a choice.  You don't have to live a life that anyone else approves of, because all this shit is completely meaningless.  Don't hurt anyone, but don't kiss their ass either, and that includes trying to impress people.  Why the fuck do you care what they think?  You don't even like them.  Now, dry your eyes and go see a movie.  The bullshit will sort itself out."

I wonder what the 84 year old me would have to say to me today.

Jun 30, 2022

The Golden Pineapple-Headed Trident Warrior

Baja Gold
Mountain Dew (2022)
There have been a lot of products from the past that have been so successful that they have branched out and become their own brand.  Take Cheerios for example.  When Cheerios first came out, there was one flavor - Cheerios.  For over 35 years, that was all there was.  In 1979, General Mills released Honey Nut Cheerios.  Then, about ten years later, they came out with Apple Cinnamon Cheerios.  Fast forward to 2022 and I can't even tell you how many different kinds of Cheerios there are.

Mountain Dew is another one of these brands.  When I was growing up, the only flavor was Mountain Dew.  It wasn't bad, but it wasn't my favorite. It was my third choice behind Sprite and 7 Up when I was in the mood for a citrus based soda.  In 2004, they came out with Mountain Dew Baja Blast as an flavor that was exclusively available at Taco Bell.  It was pretty good - a lot better than regular Mountain Dew with a strong lime flavor.

These days the Baja line has extended to include all sorts of different tropical fruit flavors.  I recently had the opportunity to try the pineapple one, which is called Baja Gold.  It tastes pretty much like every other pineapple soda I've ever had - not great, but not bad either.  The real story, though, is this groovy little guy on the label.

I've seen a lot of horror movies in my life, but there haven't been too many things that could match a monster with a pineapple diving helmet for a head who's surrounded by gold and jewels and pointing a trident at you.  This dude is too good to be limited to the label off of a Mountain Dew side project.  At the very least, he should have his own comic book.

Jun 29, 2022

Pardon Me...

Grey Poupon Ice Cream
Van Leeuwen (2022)
One of the most well-known commercials throughout the 80's and early 90's was for a little glass jar of mustard.  It became a meme before anyone had ever heard the word meme.  Hell, it was a meme before most people had even heard of the internet.

The first of these Grey Poupon commercials aired in 1981, with different versions of it coming out in the years that followed.  The beginning and end vary slightly, but they all include a wealthy person in a fancy car pulling up next to another luxury automobile before rolling down their window to ask "Pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon?".  The person in the other car always responds "but of course" before handing over a jar of the condiment, although in the later commercials, they drove away leaving their polite requester mustardless.

The commercial has been parodied countless times, with the most well-known example occurring in the 1992 comedy film Wayne's World.  The fact that the ad was still being referenced over a decade after it first aired speaks to the success that a 30 second mustard commercial had in establishing itself as a part of pop culture.  When I see this scene 30 years later, I wonder if younger audiences get the joke.

I would probably have thought you were joking if you told me back in the 80's that I'd eat a pint of Grey Poupon mustard flavored ice cream one day, but here we are.

Earlier this year, I wrote about some other Van Leeuwen ice cream flavors that I had tried, including Pizza and Kraft Macaroni & Cheese.  It seems that their business model is to create flavors that inspire those who try them to say "it's not as disgusting as you think".  If that is the case, they have once again succeeded.

The base of this product is a sweet ice cream (basically vanilla without the vanilla flavoring), with the sauce and the inclusions carrying most of the flavor.  It's got a sweet honey mustard variegate swirled throughout with chunks of salted soft pretzel pieces mixed in.  I don't think I'd buy it a second time, but it's not bad and I'm glad that I got to try it.  I also respect the fact that this company is willing to invest the time and money to put this flavor in stores, rather than to create something bizarre and make it available only to "influencers" and contest winners.  God only knows what these folks will come up with next, but as long as it's in stores and it's being sold for a reasonable price, I'll probably give it a try.

Jun 28, 2022

The 42nd Street Theaters At Night

John A. Mozzer has led an interesting life, which include two decades of his adult life spent behind a camera.  These photos of the theaters on 42nd Street in New York City were taken from his car on June 28th, 1986.  Here are the comedy, horror, adult and kung fu flicks on the marquees that I could make out.

Jun 27, 2022

A Half Century Of Atari

On June 29th, 1972, electrical engineers Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney incorporated Atari Inc.  The ownership of the company has changed hands quite a few times over the years, but there's are still products coming out under the Atari name today, including an upcoming microgame collection called Atari Mania.

I wasn't able to find any photos of the company from their first year.  The one above was taken at a trade show six years later.  The yellow pinball machine in the center is called Middle Earth and was released in February 1978 (photo source: New York Heritage Digital Collection).

Happy 50th birthday, Atari!

Jun 26, 2022

Every Child In The World Will Know His Name

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
J.K. Rowling (1997)
Although I don't always agree with its author, I will always be grateful for the stories that she gave to the world.  The first of those stories, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, was first published 25 years ago today.

Jun 25, 2022

The Light That Burns Twice As Bright Burns Half As Long

Blade Runner
Warner Bros (1982)
I was too young to understand and appreciate Blade Runner the first time that I saw it.  In the years since, it has come to be my favorite science fiction movie of all time.  The Ridley Scott classic film, which is based on the 1968 Phillip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep, turns 40 years old today.

Jun 24, 2022

A Bowl Of Aloha

Spicy Bowl
Aloha Poke - Fogelsville, PA
I spend most of the first 40 years of my life believing that I was part Hawaiian, until I received the results of two DNA tests showed that my maternal grandfather isn't a blood relative.  If I'm being completely honest, the family part of it doesn't really affect me all that much.  I'm not at all close with my mother's side of the family, but even if I were, these results wouldn't have made me treat them any differently.  It did kind of rock my world a bit though.  Imagine having a culture that you thought was your own ripped out from under you.  Sorry guy, your grandmother was fooling around behind your grandfather's back, and as a result, your ethnicity is a lie.  Not cool.

So anyway, even in the days that I did think I was Hawaiian, I still had never heard of a Poke Bowl.  I spent about a month in Hawaii in the summer of 1988 and don't ever remember seeing one.  The main food that I remember from that trip is poi... lots and lots of poi.  That should have been my first clue that I might not be a real Hawaiian.  I thought poi was pretty terrible, but these poke bowls are the exact opposite.  I think I could live off of these!

If you've never had a poke bowl before, picture getting a bowl at Chipotle, but the protein and vegetables that you're choosing from are made up mostly of sushi ingredients instead of Mexican food.  I had the Spicy Bowl, which includes spicy tuna, spicy salmon, crab meat, kimchi, edamame, corn, cucumber, jalapeno, crispy onion and ginger with spicy mayo and sriracha sauce.  It was delicious!  If there was an Aloha Poke in my hometown, I'd probably eat there once a week at least.

Jun 23, 2022

Fifty Bucks To Fill Up

Sunoco Gas Station
Broad Street - Hazleton, PA
I hope that I can look back on this photo one day and remember that gas prices went crazy for a little while in 2022.  You know... instead of looking back and saying "remember when we thought five dollars a gallon was bad?".

Jun 22, 2022

Who's That Ghost Knocking At My Door

Garbage and Tears For Fears
The Tipping Point World Tour
Mann Center For The Performing Arts - Philadelphia, PA
Tears For Fears released their seventh studio album, The Tipping Point, earlier this year.  It's an excellent record that I had been looking forward to for a long time, but even more than that, I was looking forward to this show.  Both bands are absolutely phenomenal to see live in concert.  We had seen Garbage in concert when they opened for Blondie in 2017, and we saw Tears For Fears twice before.  The first time was in 2010 at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York, and the last time was in 2017 when they opened for Hall & Oates at the Prudential Center in Newark.  The opportunity to see both of them on this tour was too good to pass up!

There's a Trejo's Tacos stand at this venue, so I had to pick up a pre-show snack.  They could have done with a little hot sauce, but they were very tasty.

Our seats weren't the crazy expensive ones that were right in front of the stage, but they were still pretty good.  We were in Row BB towards the center of the stage with nothing obstructing our view.

Garbage took the stage at around 7:30 to a recording of Rosemary's Lullaby from the 1968 horror classic Rosemary's Baby, which is a pretty badass way to make an entrance.  They opened with Automatic Systematic Habit off of their 2012 album Not Your Kind Of People.  That was followed up by a song called The Men Who Rule The World, which is off of their latest album, No Gods No Masters, which was released just nine days earlier.  Later in the set, they played another song off of their new album called Wolves.  I haven't heard the new album yet, but if these two songs are any indication, I think I'm going to love it.   I'll definitely spend some time with it this weekend.  

Most of Garbage's set came from their first three albums.  They played Stupid Girl, Queer and Only Happy When It Rains from their self-titled debut album (1995), and four songs from their second album from 1998, Version 2.0: Special, Wicked Ways, Push It and their closer for the night, You Look So Fine.  They worked in parts of Personal Jesus (Depeche Mode) into Wicked Ways and Dreams (Fleetwood Mac) into You Look So Fine, and let me tell you, hearing Shirley Manson singing a Stevie Nicks song is a haunting and beautiful experience.

They did two other songs in the middle of the set that are among my favorites: Cherry Lips from their 2001 album Beautiful Garbage, and their 1999 James Bond theme song: The World Is Not Enough.  The band almost skipped over the 007 theme and went straight into Wolves before Shirley stopped them.  She seemed like she was having a lot of fun on stage last night, and she sounds as incredible as the first time I heard her when I was 15 years old.

I've been to two other Tears For Fears concerts and this one is my favorite of the three.  The new album is a big part of the reason why.  It's the band's first studio album in nearly 18 years, and it's absolutely amazing.  They started their set with the first two songs from the new album: No Small Thing and the title track, The Tipping Point.  Altogether, they played seven out of the ten songs from the new record, including, Long Long Long Time, Break The Man, My Demons, Rivers Of Mercy and End Of NightMy Demons is fast becoming one of my favorite Tears For Fears songs.

The rest of the 19 song set was a mixture that included many of their biggest hits from as far back as their 1983.  From their debut album, The Hurting, they played Mad World, Pale Shelter, Change and Suffer The Children, the latter of which was beautifully sung by Lauren Evans.  She also sang Woman In Chains with Roland and she sang backup throughout the rest of the show.  I cannot say enough positive things about this incredibly talented woman.  She added a new dimension to songs that I've loved for most of my life.

Speaking of Woman In Chains, they played it and two other songs off of the 1989 The Seeds Of Love album, including the title track and Badman's Song.  They also performed Secret World off of Everybody Loves A Happy Ending, and one of my all-time favorite songs, Break It Down Again off of Elemental.

Many of the biggest Tears For Fears hits are from their biggest album and one of the most successful records of the decade, Songs From The Big Chair.  The third song of the night was their #1 hit single from 1985, Everybody Wants To Rule The World.  It's an timeless new wave hit, and they play it with every bit of passion that I saw in records of the shows they performed when I was five years old.  Roland has more energy at 60 than I have at 41, and he belts out the lyrics in a way that is so powerful that is seems effortless.

The closer for the main part of the show before the introductions and encore was Head Over Heels.  It's a song I loved as a kid listening to my parents records when I was coloring.  I fell in love with it all over again when I watched Donnie Darko for the first time.  Again, the crowd went wild.

They performed a three song encore, starting with End Of Night from the new album and Change from their first album before closing out the night with the first song of Songs From The Big Chair - Shout.

Last night was an unforgettable night of music from two of my favorite bands, and I feel very fortunate to have gotten to experience it.  No matter how much chaos is going on in the world, music always makes things better.

Jun 21, 2022

Build A Time Machine And Save Money

Weis Market
Standard Speaker - Hazleton, PA  (June 21, 1982)
I can't remember the last time I watched the news and didn't see at least one story about the supply chain, or shortages of goods and services, or the increase in prices for just about everything.  One of the places that inflation has hit the hardest over the past few years has been the grocery store.  With this in mind, I wanted to take a look back to see what the prices looked like at one of my local stores 40 years ago today.  Go ahead and compare these prices to what you're paying in 2022, but whatever you do, please, for the love of god, don't use Jell-o for salads.

Jun 20, 2022

They Abide And They Endure

Mahoning Drive-In Theater - Lehighton, PA
Most of the time when we go to the Mahoning Drive-In Theater, we're going to see a movie that we know and love.  It's often the first time that either of us are seeing it on the big screen, but we're familiar with it because we've watched it before on home video or on television when we were growing up.  On a few occasions, we've gotten to see a movie here for the first time, but that's usually because it's part of a double or triple feature that's being shown along with something that we know and love.  Those are some of my most treasured memories at the drive-in because I'm experiencing the film for the first time in the way that moviegoers saw it during its initial run.

Jim Thorpe Times News - Jim Thorpe, PA  (December 12, 1955)

The Night Of The Hunter premiered on July 26th, 1955 and was screened at the Classic Theater in Lehighton, Pennsylvania later that year.  As near as I can tell, last night marked the first time in over 60 years that this film is being shown at a theater anywhere in Northeast PA.

Not only had I never seen The Night Of The Hunters before, but I never even heard of it.  I wasn't even sure what it was about.  In fact, the only things I knew about this movie at all when we bought the tickets was that it's a black and white suspense film from the mid 50's, and that it has been called it one of the greatest movies of all time.  So, with this in mind, I bought the tickets and then forced myself to not look up anything about the movie or its plot.  How many chances in life do you get to go into a 67 year old film completely cold, with no expectations of what it's even going to be about, and to get to experience it for the first time at a drive-in theater?

I wasn't the only one who was excited for the opportunity to see The Night Of The Hunter at the drive-in.  The lot was pretty packed with folks, and among them was one of the funniest stand-up comedians I have ever seen, Raymond The Amish Comic.

Before the show, my wife and I were relaxing in our camping chairs enjoying the music and talking to our neighbors in the car next to us.  We got to talking about some of the other shows we had been to earlier that year, and I pulled out my phone to show the photo op that was set up for C.H.U.D. at Zombiefest a few weeks ago.  When I opened Instagram to get to the photo, I noticed a picture that was just posted a few moments ago by Raymond, who was having his own Night Of The Hunter during the pre-show by hunting for Pokemon in front of the Mahoning screen.  I went over to say hi and to let him know that my family and I go to his pre-Thanksgiving show in West Hazleton every year (well, in 2019 and 2021 - the pandemic put the kibosh to just about everything in 2020).  I didn't want to bug him because he wasn't there to perform or to do a meet-and-greet; so my intention was to literally stop for just a second and say hi and that we're big fans, but he was very awesome and took a few minutes to talk with me.  He also took a selfie with me on his phone to post on his Instagram page.  Seriously, if this man is performing anywhere in your area and you want to laugh your ass off, go see his show!

The poster for this show was designed by Tom Bifulco.  He's the same artist who created the poster for Enter The Dragon, the Sing-Along Weekend and the Remake Double-Take for The Fly, and that's just for the shows that we've been to this year so far.  He's done dozens of others in previous years for the Mahoning.  Check out his work on Instagram.

Before the start of the movie, there was a brief video introduction given by Preston Neal Jones, author of the book Heaven & Hell To Play With: The Filming Of Night Of The Hunter.  To be honest, I was pretty guarded about how much attention I was paying to this.  You never know what the folks who introduce a film are going to say, and I had gone out of my way to come into this experience with as little advanced knowledge of the plot as possible.  The last thing I wanted was for a major part of the movie to be spoiled just minutes before I finally got to see it on the big screen.  However, I'm happy to say that nothing about the story was spoiled.  Most of what he spoke about was how Charles Laughton came to direct this movie, as well as some of the casting choices and the unusual ways that Mr. Laughton went about making the one and only film he ever directed.

After the introduction, but before the trailers, they showed a 35mm print of one of the greatest Loony Tunes of all time, the 1955 Chuck Jones short: One Froggy Evening.  Even if you've never seen it before, I guarantee that you know something about it.  This cartoon was the debut of Michigan J. Frog, the little green frog who was the mascot for The WB.  He has a top hat and cane and he sings "hello my baby, hello my honey, hello my ragtime gal" (among other things) while dancing around.

If you like cartoons and you've never seen this one, I implore you to go on YouTube and check it out as soon as possible.  It was ranked at #5 in The 50 Greatest Cartoons list, and it is absolutely hysterical!

After the trailers, we watched The Night Of The Hunter, shown from a 35mm print that was restored by the UCLA Film and Television Archive.  The print was absolutely gorgeous, and the movie itself is jaw dropping.  Earlier in the night, I spoke with Virgil at the snack bar and he said that he wouldn't hesitate to call this one of the top five movies of all time.  After seeing it, I can say that I completely agree with that assessment.  This is unlike anything I have ever seen before.  It is decades ahead of its time and presents its characters with a depth that no movie I have ever watched has surpassed.

The story takes place in West Virginia during The Great Depression and it stars Robert Mitchum as one of the greatest movie villains of all-time, Reverend Harry Powell.  I don't want to say too much about the plot just in case anyone reading this is like me and has never heard of this movie before.  If this is you, please trust me when I say that if you love movies, you really, really, really need to see this film.  It's available to stream for free on Tubi and PlutoTV, and it's available to rent or purchase on Amazon Prime.

The list of incredible experiences we've had at the Mahoning Drive-In Theater has gotten ridiculously long, and the season is still young.  There's so many incredible movies already on the calendar, with many more of their annual events to go which haven't even been announced yet.