Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas 2014!

Hello everyone! It's Christmas Eve Eve, and I'd like to take this opportunity to say thank you for reading all year long--many years, in some cases. I love writing this blog, and I hope you enjoy reading it just as much.

Every year at Christmas I wish to be as prolific as I am during that other most wonderful time of the year, but alas, the duties of the holiday and the workplace make that too difficult. Still, make no mistake--Christmas is my favorite time of year. Period.

In that spirit, I heartily say to you--Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer TV Special Outtakes

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first airing of Rankin/Bass's Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Coincidentally, there are a couple of rare pieces cut from earlier airings that I've come across recently.

First, here (in black and white, unfortunately) are the original closing credits for the special, featuring an elf sending out packages adorned with the names of the show's creators. This differs starkly from the usual sequence of the Misfit Toys being delivered to children. That later sequence was created due to viewer demand. They didn't just want to hear Santa promise to find homes for the Misfits, they wanted to see it! The more familiar credits began airing with the second airing in 1965 and have remained ever since.

Here is another scene excised from the original airing due to the later credits sequence--Yukon Cornelius finding a peppermint mine--what he was really looking for the entire special (hence the creepy licking of his pick ax).

Finally, here is an ad that appeared in TV Guide to announce the first airing of the special in 1964.


Monday, December 15, 2014

Elves Horror Movie from 1989

Why yes, there was a horror movie in the 80s about killer elves around Christmas. Why yes, it did star Dan Haggerty, TV's Grizzly Adams. Why yes, I do have the entire movie embedded below for your viewing enjoyment. Why yes, it is a bad movie. Why yes, it is still worth seeing once. Enjoy!

Friday, December 12, 2014

List O' Links for Friday, December 12th, 2014

It's weekend number 3 of the holiday season 2014. Take a break from your hectic shopping and partygoing with these links!

Spider-Man has faced a lot of challenges and setbacks in his career, but he's currently dealing with what may be his biggest challenge yet--everyday life in Cairo, Egypt. A young photographer is making a film of an actor in a Spider-Man costume to show the struggles citizens in the country are experiencing. A humorous yet sobering look at the country!

Remember last week's post about Pizza Hut's attempts at Christmas marketing? They should take a look at inroads chicken franchise KFC has made into ingratiating itself into Christmas celebrations--at least in Japan.

You guys! Digital comics retailer Comixology is offering 12 Days of Free Comics! It started yesterday, but you still have 11 more chances to get a free comic. Go there--now!

You may have heard of Krampus, the horned creature who used to follow around Santa and beat the crap out of bad kids. Well, there's more Christmas terror where that came from. Take a look!

The shopping mall probably sees more people tread its grounds at this time of year than any time of year by far. It can be a frustrating experience, but you know what would make it more fun? If we could go back in time and check out the mall back in 1989. Looking at these awesome photos is the next best thing! I love the 80s-ness!

Finally, 'tis the season for beer drinking! Here is one site's list of 15 of the best Christmas-themed beers you'll find this year.

Feliz Navidad!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Little Rascals Christmas Special (1979)

Why yes, there was indeed an animated Little Rascals Christmas Special that aired in 1979--December 3rd, 1979, to be exact, on NBC. Produced by King World Productions and written by celebrated Rankin/Bass writer Romeo Muller, the special starred only a small handful of the famous Our Gang cast--not the originals, of course--trying to make enough money for Spanky and Porky's mother, who exchanged her new coat for a toy train for her boys. With the help of a street corner Santa, Our Gang manage to do just that.

I assume I didn't need to put a spoiler warning there.

I found this special at a summertime flea market a couple of years ago, and just watched it this weekend. I remembered seeing it once, probably when it first aired, and although it's certainly not the best special out there, it's worth watching if you come across it--like right below, courtesy of YouTube. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Christmas Food Ads from the 1970s

The title says it all. Enjoy the original Pillsbury Dough Boy (voiced by the late, great Paul Frees) and these delectable holiday food stuffs from the glorious 1970s. Hm hmmmmm!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Pizza Hut Christmas TV Commercials

As usual at the beginning of a holiday season, I like to post a series of TV commercials related to said holiday, as seeing those on TV are usually the first signs that another holiday is upon us. I'm doing things a bit different this Christmas in that I'm doing a couple of commercial posts which involve another underlying theme. For example, today I feature Christmas commercials by Pizza Hut.

Pizza is certainly not the first thing I think of when I think of Christmas, but the restaurant chain has made many efforts to get itself into people's heads during the holiday season. Here are just a few examples.

In 1980, Pizza Hut had a special Christmas offer--buy any medium or large pizza, and you could purchase a Paddington Bear tree ornament for only 99 cents a piece. Now that a new movie starring the famous bear of children's literature is about to be released, I thought this one might be a bit timely.

In 1983, Pizza Hut reached out to consumers to let them know that, should their shopping take a toll on their schedules and wallets, they could count on Pizza Hut to provide tasty sustenance for their family--no cooking, no cleaning. I have to admit, having a fresh, hot pizza waiting for you when you're very busy is a great convenience!

By the way, is that country music legend Mac Davis narrating and singing the jingle?

Looks like consumers needed a reminder of this fact in 1987, so the Hut happily obliged, along with the offer of gift certificates for those hard to shop friends and relations. I'd be OK with a Pizza Hut gift card!

I've saved the best for last. This is a commercial I've wanted to find for years now, but I couldn't because I couldn't remember the product name or the advertiser (plus I just gave up looking once in a while), but this year I finally found it. The sponsor is indeed Pizza Hut, and the commercial involves a man a little too tired of leftover turkey after Christmas--a feeling we all share after a day or two, I think. I love this one, and I'm thrilled that I finally found it!


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Film: Scrooge (1935)

The first Tuesday's Overlooked Film of the holiday season is the 1935 British release Scrooge. Starring Seymour Hicks as Ebeneezer, this is the first film adaptation of the classic Dickens story to feature sound, and is also the only adaptation to feature an invisible Marley rather than the well-described version covered in chains of his own making.

This version is in the public domain, and therefore easily available, so sit back and enjoy!

Monday, December 1, 2014

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas!

Ho Ho Ho! Hello everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. Now it's a new week, a new month, and another opportunity to experience what I find to be the best time of year.

Christmas time is here, happiness and cheer...

I've said this before, but I pretty much spend the first eleven months of the year twiddling my thumbs waiting for December. I love celebrating all holidays, but when I do, I'm usually trying to imitate the celebration of Christmas. There's always been a strong connection between me and Christmas to the point where I have a hard time putting it into words. I guess it all goes back to being a young child, feeling the holiday in every aspect of life starting the first school day after Thanksgiving and building up more and more every day until December 25th. Decorations were everywhere, music was everywhere (but not nearly as ubiquitous as it is today), it was all over TV, advertising, everywhere. Plus, I attended Catholic school throughout my childhood, so the spiritual significance of Christmas was very much in the forefront of my holiday experience--it still is.

I attended Mass regularly, and of course my church had an advent wreath prominently displayed there. With every passing week, one more candle would be lit--and oh, the joy of seeing that pink candle being lit the third week!--adding to the anticipation. The entire month just seemed so magical--literally magical--that, by the time it was Christmas Eve, the magic felt so tangible, so real, that it actually felt to me that the veil between Heaven and Earth was pulled away and that we truly about to experience Heaven on Earth.

Did I just blow your mind or what?

Lest you think I was completely devoid of the hedonistic pleasures of Christmas, of course I couldn't wait to get my loot from Santa Claus. In my youngest years, I was so excited about it, and so nervous, I actually lost my stomach because of it a couple of times. After that would pass, I would tear through the goodies that awaited me like a rabid monster. After examining my presents from Santa, my parents' gifts were next--oh nice, corduroys, thanks Mom and Dad--and then, there was a pleasantly meditative experience that is best described as afterglow.

Later on we had Christmas dinner, but it was a more casual event compared to Thanksgiving, with a buffet style layout at the table for us to grab what we wanted. By evening time, I simply sat in the living room surrounded by gifts and family, warm and content that the greatest day of the year that just happened, and was worth all the wait.

Another day this month, I'll describe how we spend Christmas today. I hope my children feel the same way about their Christmases the way I feel about mine. The bar has been set awfully high.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Images

Happy Thanksgiving everybody! I'm just popping in for a quick minute before I join my family for the big day. Here are cool "appetizers" to whet your whistle for turkey with all the trimmings. Enjoy these Thanksgiving pics!

From my family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!

But wait, what's this?

Ho Ho Ho! Let the 2014 Holiday Season officially begin!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

November's Underappreciated Music: "Wheels," Chris Hillman and Gram Parsons

I don't have a Tuesday's Overlooked film or TV series for you this short week, but I do have this month's Underappreciated Music--the song "Wheels," written by Chris Hillman and Gram Parsons.

Although not a household name, countless rock and country musicians will site Gram Parsons as an influence. His story, while brief, is deep and tragic, so I'll let you read his story on your own.

I first song his song "Wheels," written with songwriting partner Chris Hillman, covered by the defunct Irish band Stars of Heaven in the comedy Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, but I didn't know it was a Parsons song until a few weeks ago. Upon learning this, I sought out previous recordings of it.

First, here is the original version by the group The Flying Burrito Brothers, a band that included Hillman and Parsons.

Next, a cover version from 1975 by Parsons friend and collaborator Emmylou Harris.

I've tried to find the version by Stars of Heaven that inspired this post, but unfortunately it isn't available on any streaming sites that I can find. That's as good a reason as any to check the movie out via your retailers or streaming service of choice.


Friday, November 21, 2014

List O' Links for Friday, November 21st, 2014

This is the last weekend of the year before the holiday season. There's something significant about that, even if I'm not exactly sure what that is. Regardless, here are some fun links to amuse you as you wait for the The Most Wonderful Time of The Year to begin!

The Den of Geek has done us all a favor and created a handy guide of as many Christmas movies and TV episodes as they could find. What a great holiday hook-up!

Would you like some cool Batman wallpaper for your desktop computer? Of course you would! Thanks to Neato Coolville for this!

The Peanuts Movie just released its first full-length trailer this week, and I couldn't be more excited about it. Here are some still images released from the film courtesy of Geek Tyrant, as well as the trailer itself. Coming to theaters November 6, 2015!

Automaker Honda is tapping into the fact that Generation X is now the breadwinner of America by using 80s-era (mostly) toy characters to encourage the purchase of their vehicles. Nicely done, and shrewd! The Skeletor one is my favorite.

Add this to the collection of holiday music sites worth visiting regularly--My Festive Fizzy Pop, poster of cool new Christmas songs!

Finally, Shawn Robare of Branded in the 80s blows our minds with his Back to The Future theory. Behold: The Other Marty McFly Theorem! Great Scott! This is heavy!

Have a great weekend. See you in the future!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked TV: Automan

This week's Tuesday's Overlooked TV doubles as a tribute to the late Glen A. Larson, who passed away Friday, November 14th at the age of 77. Larson created some of the most popular action/adventure series of the 70s and 80s, including the original Battlestar Galactica, Knight Rider, The Fall Guy, BJ and the Bear, Quincy, M.E., and McCloud, among others. One of those "others" is this week's installment.

Automan starred Desi Arnaz Jr., as a computer programmer who creates a super-sophisticated hologram for use in solving elaborate crimes. The hologram was played by Chuck Wagner, who wore a special suit which special effects teams highlighted with starry imagery to give the illusion of a computer generated figure (except for Wagner's head). Automan was accompanied by a 3D cursor that could created any number of weapons, vehicles, or other tools that were needed. Adventure ensued.

The premise is certainly incredulous, but for the early 80s, the effects were unusual and exceptional, especially for TV. However, the expensive costs of the series combined with lukewarm ratings (not terrible, but not spectacular either) led to the series' premature demise, being canceled after 13 episodes.

It was corny, it was wacky, it was kitschy--so of course, I enjoyed it. I was also 8 at the time.

Here is the series' opening sequence, followed by an hour-long featurette starring Arnaz, Wagner, and other cast members reminiscing joyfully about their experiences making the show. This was featured on a DVD release of the series in the UK, the only nation in which the series is commercially available on DVD.


Friday, November 14, 2014

List O' Links for Friday, November 14th, 2014

It's Friday, and I haven't posted anything since Sunday. Should I post a List O' Links? Why not?

Skeletor is really good at insulting people. Really good.

Someone has uploaded the entire 1967 Spider-Man cartoon series to YouTube--in one 7-hour block. Well, get to it!

The business world is frought with cutthroat competition and shrewd gameplay. For a small example, just look at the seedy world of--fruit flower arrangements. You'll never look at pineapples shaped as sunflowers the same way again.

Don't let it be said that this blog doesn't provide a public service. Here are 17 things we learned from cartoon public service announcements. Be the change to want to see in the world, people!

Finally, if you're a dude--scratch that, if you're a man--you may want a resource to help you be a better one (however you define that). An interesting and fun resource is The Art of Manliness, a long-running free online magazine that features articles, podcasts, and videos of ways in which men can improve themselves as fathers, husbands, and men in general. From grooming to dress to behavior, this site covers all the bases. Highly recommended!

Thanks, and have a great weekend!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Packing On The Pounds

Dude--I'm fat.

I've had bouts with chubbiness most of my life; certainly when I was a boy and teenager, followed by a skinny phase in college, then back to pleasingly plump when marriage and kids came along. Back in 2011, I joined Weight Watchers and stayed in the program for 2 and half years. My starting weight was 203 (my height is about 5' 8"), then I dropped some off, with my lowest weight at 182; then it started creeping back up. It was in the mid-190s when I dropped out over a year ago, and now I find myself at 206. Yeesh!

I enjoyed being in the program, but increased work responsibilities made it more difficult to attend regular meetings, which is why I stopped going altogether. I don't see me returning to Weight Watchers anytime soon for the same reasons, but I have to do something. I just turned 40 back in September, and it's only going to get more difficult to lose the weight as I age, so the time is right. But how?

The first thing I want to do is get back to exercising. I have a Nintendo Wii Fit in my basement, which I've always enjoyed using, so that's a good place to start. There is a set of 3 lb hand weights in our house, so it wouldn't hurt me to use those as well. Plus, there are some free workout videos available on demand on our cable system, as well as DVDs available from the public library. Finally, I should take my dog for more frequent walks, since her vet said she needs to lose weight as well, so the walks will be good for both of us. Based on the above, I certainly have the tools at my disposal.

Then there's the other side of the equation, eating. I loves me some fast food. Especially meat. Boy, do I love meat. And french fries. French fries. And cheese. Delicious, artery-clogging cheese. Tomatoes? Pshaw! Beans? No thanks. Do you see my problem now?

I know this post is atypical of the usual fare you'll find here, but I had to get this out of my system. Thanks for letting me vent. I'll let you know if I manage to take some positive steps toward a leaner, meaner blogger. In the meantime, I'm going to find something to eat. I'm hungry.


Friday, November 7, 2014

List O' Links: Christmas Prep 2014 Edition

I know what you're thinking: "Oh no, you haven't succumbed to Christmas Creep too, have you?" Nope! I'm very much in a November state of mind. However, it is a good idea to at least plan ahead for the holidays now. Planning and celebrating are two different things! The more planning you do now, the more time you'll have for celebrating later. Isn't that how you'd rather spend the season?

These links we'll help you get your holiday house in order, from buying gifts to preparing meals, and even for finding out what the coolest new holiday music is. Surf away!

If you plan on visiting the Philadelphia area this Christmas, we in the City of Brotherly Love have amazing holiday events. Check out this link for 15 of the best!

A great one-stop shop for preparing for the holidays is Organized Christmas. They have several plans you can use to budget for gifts, clean your home, entertain guests, and prepare food for the season. There are great ideas here!

A great Christmas site that I've been following for years is Xmas Fun. They have recipes, crafts, video channels, music, clip art, and fun games and programs to download (including an awesome Christmas Lights program for your desktop that I've been using for over a decade now). One of my all-time favorite Christmas sites!

If you're a subscriber to SiriusXM satellite radio, as I am, you may be happy to know that they start airing two of their holiday channels, Holly and Holiday Traditions, next Tuesday, November 11th! More holiday stations will be added next month. Click here for the details!

For all things Christmas, but especially news and streaming of the latest holiday music releases, you must follow Santa's Working Overtime. If it's holiday-related, and it's new, this blog will mention it. It also has cool links to other great sites--sometimes, it even mentions my blog!

For the passionate Christmas music lover, look no further than the awesomely named Mistletunes. This site does a great job of highlighting the latest and greatest releases, especially some obscure ones. I never celebrate Christmas without it!

OK, you can look further, because I also must mention Stubby's House of Christmas. Everything I said above applies here too. Stubby doesn't miss a thing when it comes to great new Christmas music. I can't praise it enough!

Lastly, I suggest you bookmark Amazon's Holiday Digital Music Store. It always has good deals on Christmas music, and they change frequently, so check back often so you don't miss anything. I especially enjoy their 25 Days of Christmas event, in which they offer one Christmas song a day for free from December 1st to the 25th. It's a great way to freshen up your holiday music playlist!

Of course, I'll have other great Christmas links when the season is in session, but until then, I thought it a good idea to bring these sites to your attention now so that, when the time is right, you can hit the ground running. Happy Holi--I mean, have a great weekend!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked: Blog Reruns

I've been wracking my brain for a new selection for this week's Tuesday's Overlooked feature, but I'm afraid I've come up empty. However, I still wanted to post something today, so I thought I bring to your attention some selections from weeks past in case you missed them or are new to the blog--reruns, if you will. Here are some of my favorites!

Robert DeNiro and Charles Grodin in the action comedy Midnight Run

Bill Murray and Gena Davis in the New York comedy Quick Change

Gene Wilder and Bob Newhart in the hilarious Thursday's Game

The briefly aired post-World War II TV drama Homefront

The well-respected music documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown

The 1980s "rock 'n' roll fable" Streets of Fire

The charming Maurice Sendak animated TV special Really Rosie

Not an official Tuesday's Overlooked entry, but it still fits--my article defending the quality of the horror sequel Jaws 2

For more of my Tuesday's Overlooked/Forgotten features of the past, simply click on the "Tuesday's Forgotten" label along the right of the blog. If you see any broken links or missing videos along the way, please leave a comment on the article in question and I will update them when I can.

Thanks! For more current Overlooked gems, check out friend Todd Mason's blog Sweet Freedom.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Thanks for a Great Halloween 2014!

Hi all! As I type this, I'm sitting in my basement listening to the Halloween music playing on Music Choice on my cable TV system, with a bag of Thanksgiving decorations at my feet waiting to take the place of the Halloween decorations that came down Saturday. In about a half hour, I'll be catching the latest episode of The Walking Dead, which will be my official capping off of the Halloween season.

This Halloween, I wore two different "costumes" to work--a Ghostbusters t-shirt which looked like the suits the boys wore in the movies, as well as a hooded zip-up sweatshirt which looked like Batman's costume--complete with a hood that resembled his cowl! When I got home, I ushered my kids into their bedrooms to get into their costumes, and off we went for an almost two hour haunt (with a half hour break in the middle) throughout our 'hood in search of the ambrosia of Halloween--candy! Our neighborhood was very light on trick-or-treaters, but unfortunately, there aren't as many younger kids in our immediate area than there used to be. The upside--we get to keep all the candy we didn't give out. It's the good stuff, too: Reese's cups, Kit-Kats, and mini Hershey bars. Let the calorie retention begin!

My daughter was a zombie bride (completely her idea), and my son was Darth Vader. I tweeted this picture of them, and it was retweeted by the official verified account of David Prowse, the original Darth Vader. My son for the win!

Thank you one last time to everyone for celebrating Halloween with me all month long. It is, without exaggeration, one of the highlights of my year every year!

But fear not, because although one holiday is over, another great one is right around the corner...

Let's have a great November!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween 2014!

We made it! As quickly as it arrived, the 2014 Countdown to Halloween comes to a close. I want to thank everyone who stopped by my blog this month, and I hope you enjoyed everything I shared. But if you didn't, please let me know! The only way to improve the blog is for you to let me know what you like and don't like. Please leave comments whenever possible, or shoot me an email at phillyradiogeek@gmail.com

I've also loved what you guys have shared. Your hard work and dedication to your blogs is greatly appreciated. Thanks so much!

You may feel sad to see the season go, but don't be! You can celebrate Halloween any day of the year you choose! And before you know it, that October wind will blow by and bring all the thrills and chills you love all over again. Besides, with Halloween a Friday night this year, I'm sure the celebration will last through the weekend as well. With All Saints Day being tomorrow, and Dios de Los Muertos on Sunday, it's entirely appropriate!

Before Mr. Manilow sings our love song to October to bring the Countdown to a close once again, I leave you with my usual ending treats as I've done in years past.

Stay safe, and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

October's Underappreciated Music: Halloween Songs

Since I've been doing the Countdown back in 2009, I've sharply increased my time spent listening to Halloween music. Of course, there's not much music out there specifically written about and for Halloween itself, but there certainly is if you expand the definition of the term to mean any music that is spooky, horror-themed, or monster-themed. Once you do that, you can have yourself a full-on Halloween hootenany! Here are some of a few of my favorites, not including the usual suspects such as "Monster Mash" and "Ghostbusters."

Bert Convy, "The Monster Hop"

I loved this song the first time I heard it. The music is fun and makes you move, but still has a touch of thrill and urgency to it. The late Bert Convy, most famous for his hosting duties on various game shows such as Win, Lose, or Draw, takes this novelty song and adds real drama to it, selling the sizzle. What a fun record!

Dave Gardner, "Mad Witch"

Before he became better known as Southern comedian Brother Dave Gardner, Gardner recorded a couple of obscure vocal records, one of which is this unusual song, describing a victim's experience at the hands of "the Devil's wife." It's a rhythmic, bass-driven song that grabs your attention right away and never lets go.

Kip Tyler, "She's My Witch"

A slow, sultry rockabilly tune. Any strip club not using this song in their October performances is doing it wrong.

The Ran-Dells, "The Martian Hop"

This is a fun, all-ages novelty tune perfect for any grade schooler's Halloween party.

Speak Low, "Thriller"

Finally, here is an awesome cover of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" by Spanish funk band Speak Low. It has a funky retro-70s feel to it that adds a whole new dimension to the familiar song. Put on your leisure suit and medallion before dancing to this one!

Well, tomorrow's the big day! Get ready!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Halloween Images and Gifs

One of the joys of surfing the Web during Halloween season is coming across some awesome artwork, images, and animated gif files. I've amassed a nice collection over the years, and I add to it all the time. Here is just a small sample of what I have!

Many of these can be found at my (relatively) new Tumblr site, Me and You Too.  Give it a try. Thanks!