Friday, May 30, 2014

The Story of the Amazing Burger King Coupons

This is a weird story to tell but it's something I've always wanted to write about and finally, 11 years later, I finally get to do so in the proper venue. One day after work, I went to the local library which was common practice for me. I'd sit there, go online or read a book and be left alone. It was pretty relaxing and since I didn't have a girlfriend and responsibility at all, I had nothing else to do other than smoke cigarettes and watch old copies of New Adventures of He-Man. Now, that I think about it, being 20 totally sucked. If I ever get a time machine, I should go back and smack my 20 year old self around for being such a obnoxious, lazy bum. And when I say obnoxious and lazy take a look at me circa 2003...
I thought this was a cool look at a convention.

Yeah. Tell me you don't want to smack me. Anyway, so there I was at the library one day after work, just chilling out with a book and my portable cd player and I get up to leave when I stop by the used book section to see if any good videos or books were for sale. Not today, sadly. I was prepared to walk away when something caught my eye. Something just sitting there, collecting dust. Now, before you question it, I've come into this library at least 3 times at week and every day I go by the used book shelf and never ONCE have I seen this item. So I'm guessing either some old lady had been using as a bookmark or Doc Brown fired up the Delorian from 1989 and left this amazing artifact just for me. Either way, I grabbed it and walked out. My mind wondered to how it got there but I was more enthralled to discover that it was obviously meant for me to discover and cherish. What am I talking about?

Yup. Old Burger King coupons from 1989. One used. The other three remained. Now, the taunt of attempting to use these at a local Burger King was always there just to see how it go over with the workers but I never did. Three coupons that offered 2 burgers and fries for 2 dollars, a free whopper or chicken sandwich and 99 cents for a delicious breakfast sandwich. My gosh, I've always said Burger King has been the leader of addicting fast food, but with these deals, you can expect a burger fueled stampede back in the day. I'm just hoping it resembled one of those old Royal Rumble posters.
Just imagine this rushing into a BK with a bunch of coupons.

Finding these coupons definitely made my day and remained on my miscellaneous pop culture goofiness shelf for years. I can't explain it much better than it was just a very random and weird thing to discover.

Sadly, before the move to New York, I went through boxes to find what excess odds and ends I could sell and further discovered that the coupons were destroyed and had to throw them away. Apparently years ago my cat Booklet decided that since he couldn't cash in on the deals, he'd at least try to eat the coupons themselves. I cant say I blame him. If I wasn't able to digest burgers and fries, I'd take my anger out whatever was in front of me. Thankfully, the scans, remain and forever archive it's existence.

Geez, now I'm totally jonesing for a burger...


Thursday, May 29, 2014

In Buffalo With David Venable

On May 28th, I got the chance to participate in something big. How big? Well, so big it brought in almost a thousand people and took the entire Canalside in downtown Buffalo which has to be pretty big. So why all the hub bub? Simple. A live taping of In The Kitchen With David.

For those unaware, In The Kitchen With David stars the mega popular, food lover, David Venable, a happy and upbeat Southern food connoisseur who loves food so much he breaks out into Happy Dances.  Yes. I said Happy Dances. David is known to bust one or two out as he enjoys his favorite foods, usually mac and cheese or chocolate while accompanying it with a goofy facial reaction that would normally be reserved for a cartoon character or a very skilled stage performer. To some degree, I tend to think David was born to be the greatest entertainer-salesman hybrid ever.

Accompanied by his on screen sidekick, Mary, David and QVC set up shop and filmed a live show in downtown Buffalo.  To my knowledge, this is QVC's first live show that doesn't involve the safety net of a television studio. A lot could've gone wrong on live television. Weather, act of God, nWo invasion, anything. Weather up here in Western New York is more unreliable than your 45 year old cousin that lives in your mom's basement because he's still trying to make his music career come together. But thankfully, the weather conditions decided to play nice and let us "Foodies"(David's loving term for his audience) have our fun for two hours. With the exception of a stagehand coming into frame too soon, nothing went wrong.
One of the many ships in the downtown harbor.

My lady and I live in Rochester, just an hour and a half away from Buffalo. I normally get home around 6:30. With show time starting at 8, you can see my dilemma. Thankfully, I got off work early, raced home in record time and we were up in Buffalo by about 7:45. We were able to find great seats on the lawn which also amazed me. We also arrived just in time to see David warming up the crowd by signing autographs and taking a few photos. We attempted to grab him for a photo, but we couldn't get him in time before he started getting ready to go on air. So, after taking our seats, we watched as David started taking his cues from his producer and before we knew it, it was show time! David started his monologue about Buffalo, food and other fun things. Also, guess who made it on air during the intro? Yup.

Ok, so it's a tiny frame, but we made it on air. Pretty cool huh? Anyway, after the show started, David started shilling familiar wares and QVC favorites including Lock n Lock containers, slow cookers, hot dogs and other great items. It didn't take long, however, for David to break out a Happy Dance. And go figure, I missed it. Ever hear stories about people who go to Nascar races and miss the first crash because they went to the bathroom? Nuff said. The bathrooms were about a quarter of a mile away from the show area and as soon as I open the door to the bathroom, what do I hear but the loudest yell of  "HAPPY DANCE HAPPY DANCE!!!". Of course he would pull out a happy dance in the first 30 minutes. This is a total rookie mistake for those of us who watch David.  You can imagine my disappointment. I returned to my seat and continued to hope for more entertainment.Happy Dances would follow later and made up for my goofup.

The master at work.

So as the show continued, we'd see many of the familiar faces that normally play in the popularity of the show every week. The production of the show fascinated me as well. To see the amount of stagehands and crew put out to make it work at a hurried pace. If David had to walk over to another side of the stage, the crew would hurry like they were being held up at gunpoint. And everybody busted their butts to make sure the show ran smoothly. Mary, his social media correspondent and roving reporter moved through the crowd for "Taste-A-Monials" and listening to stories of the local cuisine. Mary definitely added a great fan interaction aspect for the show and was a delight.

Sadly, every show has to come to an end. At 10, David signed off and came down to meet fans, Mary in tow. David seemed to relish meeting his fans and talking about their favorite moments of the show. Mary, held court with fans discussing the production, which was quite amazing to witness. My girlfriend and I were lucky enough to score a quick photo with David and left shortly afterwards.

A tad bit blurry and it looks like I have a silly putty chin, but the pic is still a good one!

In The Kitchen With David remains a weekly tradition of me and my girlfriend Laurie. And after watching the amazing production, hard work of all the staff and stagehands, and the amazing entertainment of David, we will continue to welcome David in our house every week. If David and QVC stops by your town, attend the taping. David is probably the last great entertainer and entertainer of our time and spreads the joy of eating and positivity wherever he goes.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Freddy At 30: Freddy's Nightmares

 I feel like most people who know me know about my deep and long lasting love of everything Freddy Krueger. Usually I'm the one they ask "Hey, which movie did Freddy kill that kid this way?" or "What was the name of the blonde girl in Elm Street 4?" or "Did Freddy really beat Jason?". It's all generally harmless questions that I enjoy discussing with casual fans or just those who haven't seen the series in a while. And now that we're reaching 30 years of the first Elm Street movie, there's going to be a lot of questions. But one question I usually have a split reaction to is the question of "Hey, remember that Elm Street TV series?". I usually have to stop myself from shuddering at the mentioning of it.

Ok, for the uninitiated, Freddy's Nightmares was a Tales From The Crypt/Twilight Zone-like show that was split into an hour of tales. After the first episode reached it's conclusion, the second part would begin thanks to a character that was either in the background of the first episode and would carry on from there. Freddy would pop in maybe once in a while to be a part of the episode, but other than being the host and having odd host segments, he didn't really do much but set up the story. A few witty comments here, a cameo there. It was more of a "Freddy reads us a story from his book of Springwood history".

The first episode served as a way to setup Freddy as a whole. It was done by Tobe Hooper, who had done Eaten Alive, a movie that starred Robert Englund early in his career, as well as Texas Chainsaw Massacre and many other iconic horror movies. It was a good effort and a very entertaining hour to watch. Cleverly, Robert's face was shrouded throughout the whole episode so you couldn't entirely see Freddy's real face. A fun episode to watch, especially since up until this, we had no true scenes of Freddy being burned.
Robert DID still put out a great effort.

Sadly, that's where the fun declines. After the first episode, despite many future stars like Mariska Hargitay and Brad Pitt and familiar faces in horror like Jill Whitlow starring in episodes, the seasons just went downhill. The episodes felt boring. They kinda dragged on. The effects were awful(even though the budget was lower than most other shows at the time. The creativity wasn't all there, corny stories, bad acting and despite people like Mick Garris, Tom McLoughlin and even Freddy himself, Robert Englund directed an episode, this series was meant to be nothing more than an attempt to make Freddy more known in the public eye. And to a degree, it worked because by 1989, Freddy was EVERYWHERE and became a huge public figure.

Some of the episodes were worth at least one watch but it didn't last beyond two seasons mainly due to it's racy content, budget and scheduling. The greatest episode may just well be the Mick Garris-directed episode entitled "Killer Instinct" starring Lori Petty in which she finds a magic stone that makes her a better athlete.. Normally, out of frustration, I'd spoil it further. But it must be appreciated as top level 80s cheese, so watch it and discover why the line "I'm a bullet, I'm a missile, I'm a rocket to the moon” comes up in Nightmare fans discussions. It truly is worth watching this episode for the cheese alone.

Lori Petty. Magic Stone. Headband. I give you the 1980s, ladies and gentlemen.

Funny story: After my 7th birthday, I decided to invite my next door neighbor to stay over after the party to sit and play with my new gifts(it was a Ninja Turtles party in 1990, so imagine all the amazing Turtles figures I received.) and also enjoy the Freddy's Nightmares marathon that was being played on our local station. It was a pretty fun afternoon and served as a solid memory of Freddy invading my childhood.

Years later I'd buy the entire series in a bootleg set for $35 dollars. It had been almost 20 years since I saw the show last and for a good few months, I watched at least 3 episodes every night until the full series had been completed. That's right. I'm admitting to watching the ENTIRE SERIES. Although, my favorite line, even moreso than the Lori Petty line mentioned in above was after an episode involving drugs and the final shot is a sad Freddy saying "Drugs. Now that's a REAL nightmare.". I'm assuming Freddy's feeling remorse only because drugs killed someone and he didn't. Other than that, I have a hard time thinking Freddy truly cares for anyone in Springwood considering they turned him into a human s'more.
Line up now, folks.

The show was kind of popular enough to get a few VHS releases in the late 80s/early 90s. I actually own one. Which one? I really don't know. I'm too terrified to play it. The series has yet to see a legit release in America, but the first series got released in 2003 in Ireland with promises of the second series to follow. As you can imagine, the first series didn't sell, so no dice on the second series.

Thankfully, two episode, the memorable "Killer Instinct" episode was released alongside "It's A Miserable Life" were included on the BluRay set released in 2011.

So if you ever, EVER get bored and decide you need to either kill an hour or yourself, this is a good way to do both. The show is as a bad as it gets. But I gotta say, as an Elm Street fan, it's still better than Freddy's Dead.


Friday, May 23, 2014

The Joys of Being a Sleepaway Camp Fan

I discovered the joys of Sleepaway Camp just a mere 12 years ago during a very fateful trip to my local video store. Actually, my exposure with it came via Sleepaway Camp 2: Unhappy Campers. Thanks to the back of the box depicting the sexy Ally being shoved in the porta john by that dangerous Angela Baker, I was officially hooked by the second I looked at the screen shot. Sure, starting off with a sequel is usually a bizarre way to get hooked on a film series, but this was the way it was meant to be. It turned out to be just what I needed at that point in time.
The reason I'm obsessed.

So, shortly after discovering Sleepaway Camp 2, I went back to the store and rented both Sleepaway Camp 1 and 3. Obviously having deep love of 1980's slashers, I instantly fell in love with the first movie. I can't tell you why, but it took me over and wouldn't let go. It was like a weird possession or something. I don't know whether it was Felissa Rose doing a great job as Angela, the bizarre muders in a random summer camp, or just the ending. In all fairness, we can all agree it was most likely the eerie Aunt Martha played by the charming Desiree Gould, who seemed more like she could've been the one responsible for all the grizzly deaths. For what it's worth, the entire cast was pretty good for their experience levels. Everyone involved really put out a great effort to be there best. But, Aunt Martha is my favorite character in the entire series, so I may be biased.

AUNT MARTHA. Nuff said.

Sleepaway Camp stuck with me from the first viewing to today. Just a few months after discovering the series, the fabled "Survival Kit" was released with all three movies(as well as the found footage of the abandoned Part 4). Elated that I could stop renting the movies and own them all for myself, I bought the set the day it came out for my birthday that year and proceeded to watch the daylights out of. Funny enough, the set would be recalled just a few weeks later due to the Red Cross getting antsy seeing their logo associated with a slasher. Of all the dvds that have left my collection over the years, this is one I still have. In fact, my friend Phil Fasso of Death Ensemble was kind enough to get it signed for me at this past Monday's big screen viewing in NYC by director and creator Robert Hiltzik and the actor who played young Peter and Ronnie.
Looks great. Looks even better signed!

 Around this time, I also became heavily involved in the Sleepaway Camp fandom. Including becoming a charter member of the forum. I'd spend hours upon hours discussing the SC series as well as other slashers. Webmaster John Klyza had a hand in producing the Anchor Bay releases of SC 2and 3 as well as finding the lost footage of what was meant to be "SleepAway Camp 4: The Survivor". It was an interesting experience. It was my first major exposure to the horror fandom as a whole and definitely proved to be a valuable experience in becoming aware of horror. More importantly than SC itself, I learned through this site and many other forums(including the sorely missed Fangoria board, where many familiar faces from every horror board posted as well). In fact, I learned a lot of inside info from Klyza himself. I guess it's safe to say I wouldn't be blogging right now without SC.

But it finally happened. After many years of rumors of releasing it, the true fourth installment of the series was being released. In 2008 Return To Sleepaway Camp was finally here. I gotta say, I was a fan of RTSC. I know it's unpopular, but I found it to be an entertaining film. It was a good update and had people talking about SC again which was needed for it to survive and cement itself as one of the best series ever.

So now, Scream Factory is releasing the end all, be all edition of the first  Sleepaway Camp. Boasting an uncut release featuring a beautiful new transfer and a long list of new commentaries, interviews, a short entitled "Judy", and many other goodies, this blu-ray will gladly a secure spot on my movie shelf the second it arrives on my doorstep. And featuring amazing artwork by Nathan Thomas Milliner, this will be quite the favorite for any and all slasher fans.

Quite frankly, no matter how you slice it, Sleepaway Camp is here to stay. Fans still talk about it's shocking ending and it's often silly lines and kills. But to me, its a series that rivals even the Elm Street series as my personal favorite.


Me meeting Felissa in 2010. 27 years later and she STILL can pull out that famous look!(and look gorgeous at the same time!)

Oh and by the way, yes I skipped over discussing Sleepaway Camp 3: Teenage Wasteland for a very good reason. If you've seen it, I'm sure you'll understand. But if you haven't...well...Sorry...