Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Year Santa Brought Me Poop For Christmas

Not the actual gift

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

One of the "perks" of working in the news business is having to be there on holidays.  In broadcast journalism Christmas, New Year's and Thanksgiving are no different than a typical Wednesday or Thursday.  There are no days off and through the years I've worked more than my share of Christmas mornings.  I'm not complaining, just using that to set up this story.

On Christmas morning 2007, it was an unusually warm day and pouring down rain.  It didn't feel like Christmas at all.  We finished the morning broadcast and waited to do the Good Morning America news and weather cut-ins and then finally at 9 a.m., we'd all get to go home.  For me, it meant letting my kids finally tear into their Christmas presents as my wife kept them busy with the stocking stuffers Santa had left the night before.  My oldest son was seven at the time and had already called twice asking when I was coming home.

It wasn't long after the newscast ended that someone came into the newsroom and told us there was a Christmas present sitting outside the front doors of the station.  Like I said, it was pouring rain and the box was soaked.  Without hesitation, I went out and picked up the package and promptly brought it to the newsroom.

One co-worker worried that it may be a bomb.  I held the water logged box to my ear and didn't hear any ticking, so I decided it was safe.  There was no tag or card attached, but being the nosey guy I am, I decided to rip off the paper and take a look.

Under the wrapping was a plain box.  I popped it open to see several large pieces of dog poop with a hand written letter inside.  I read the note aloud (I wish now that I would have saved it, I also wish Smartphones were around so we could have taken pics).  It condemned the news department for not doing a story on a motorcycle riding "Santa" in the area who had been requesting coverage from us for the weeks leading up to the holiday.  The letter informed us we were all bad that year and our gift was the poop (he used a more colorful word) from his helper dog.

Despite being mildly irritated by this guy's brazen move, we ended up having a good laugh.  We all questioned why someone would be that upset about not getting their way that they would go through the lengths of wrapping up dog poop and delivering it to the station.  I doubt this "Santa" will be reading the post, but thanks for making that Christmas morning an enjoyable day to be at work.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Ugly Christmas Sweater Day

The News 3 This Morning team decked out
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

I've always had a thing for ugly Christmas sweaters, but I've never owned one.  I've had some horrendous Christmas sweatshirts during the college years, including Mickey Mouse and Wile E. Coyote.

December 12 is Ugly Christmas Sweater Day and we celebrated on the news by wearing our own.  I made mine because as usual I wait until the last minute to shop.  The thrift stores around town didn't have any in my size, so I decided to convert my green Polar Plunge hoodie into an ugly sweater.  I found some awesomely bad fabric Christmas decorations at the Create-A-Smile Thrift Store in Carterville and with some safety pins and velcro I had an original creation.

Sharp dressed man
I received some great photos, but my buddy Tom Harness may have won the prize for the ultimate outfit.  He snagged an ugly Christmas SUIT from the website OppoSuits.  I'm hoping they have a sale after Christmas because I have my eye on the snowman design.  Anyway, check out pics I collected and let's plan to celebrate again next year.  Merry Christmas.

Rusty & Duke 
Morning crew circa 2011


Tom & Beth

Little Jace




Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Listen Up!

Artwork by Joe Dodd & Jason Hunsperger
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

About a year ago when I wrote my 2014 goals blog, I wrote about starting a podcast.  Time and a lack of knowledge prevented me from getting this feat accomplished.  Then in late November, Greg Mehocko, host of Nerds United on the website Jittery Monkey invited me to start a wrestling podcast and join the network.  I jumped at the chance and once I got some quick tips from another podcasting buddy of mine Jeff Rose (Dollars & Roses) I sat down and recorded my first show.

I'm very green at this. I'm using Garage Band on my computer to put the My 1-2-3 Cents Podcast together.  Once I work out the bugs,  I will add discussions with my friends and eventually interviews with wrestlers, managers, and others involved in the wrestling business.

To hear the My 1-2-3 Cents podcast, click here.  You can also find it on iTunes! Thanks for the support and please feel free to offer suggestions.  

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Everything's Coming Up Milhouse

My boy Milhouse
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents

I realized recently I never finished my recap of our family vacation to Orlando.  Besides Disney World, we also visited Universal Studios.  While my wife and kids loved the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (I did too), I was even more excited to visit Springfield USA.  Four years ago when we were there, all that was at the park was The Simpsons Ride and the Kwik E Mart, which is a gift shop filled with t-shirts, treats, and other Simpsons knick-knacks.
Kang & Kodos' Twirl & Hurl
Upon our return in October 2014, a new ride had been added.  Kang and Kodos' Twirl and Hurl is similar to the Dumbo ride at Magic Kingdom.  It offers riders a bird's eye view of things via a space craft.  The ride is pretty simple and my kids weren't overly impressed, as they're at that age where they want a bit more thrill with their rides.  I however enjoyed the time relaxing.

Inside Fast Food Blvd.
But it's really not the rides in Springfield that caught my attention.  Oh before I go any further, The Simpsons Ride itself is a lot of fun and the kids returned to it a couple of times during our visit.  If motion sickness is a problem for you, this might not be your thing.  I'm biased and loyal, so I find it fun each time we ride it.  Back to my point, it was all the restaurants located inside Fast Food Blvd. that I enjoyed the most.  The atmosphere can't be beat.

Krusty Burger with cheese & curly fries
There's a large seating area and a long line to boot.  Instead of staking out a table on your own, staff members take your name and find a place for you while you wait in line. Time goes by quickly as clips from classic Simpsons episodes play on TV monitors positioned throughout.  There are plenty of choices, including Krusty Burger (that's what I had), along with Lisa's Teahouse of Horror which features mostly vegetable and fruit options, but they do have turkey wraps too.  Luigi's Pizza is self explanatory as are the Frying Dutchman (fish) and Cletus' Chicken Shack.  Prices are what you'd expect for an amusement park meal, but the food is plentiful and delicious.

Drinking a Flaming Moe
At the end of the food area is Flaming Moe's, which features the signature drink.  I had to have one, even though they cost eight bucks.  But that includes the souvenir cup.  The drink has no alcohol, but it did produce a lot of steam thanks to a chunk of dry ice in the protective area at the bottom of the "shot glass."  There's Buzz Cola, which is a no calorie soda with cherry flavoring, and Duff Beer. 

Welcome to Moe's!
Speaking of Duff, of course Springfield isn't complete without Moe's Tavern.  Duff, Duff Lite, and Duff Dry are all on tap.  On a hot day roaming the park, the beer really did hit the spot.  There's a giant replica of Barney at the end of the bar, along with the love tester machine.  The set up is spot on to what you'd see on the show each week.
Big ol' donut
Other places to eat just outside of Moe's are The Bumblebee Man's Taco Stand and Lard Lad Donuts.  Four of us started the morning with a giant donut.  It was a great value at five bucks as we all feasted on it. Other photo ops include Chief Wiggum with a wrecked squad car, the Jebediah Springfield statue, and the entrance to Duff Gardens.  Costumed characters like the Simpsons family, Krusty the Clown, and Sideshow Bob make frequent appearances too.  

Duff Gardens
I can't say enough about Springfield USA.  The place was authentic and I really felt like I had stepped into my favorite television show.  For fans who are upset that The Simpsons Ride bumped The Back to the Future Ride, don't worry.  Doc Brown and the Delorean are nearby for pictures.  Click here for more photos from Springfield.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Springfield USA in Pictures

These are some pics from our trip to Universal Studios Orlando in October 2014.


Double Krusty Burger with cheese

"You called 9-1…2"

Worst picture ever.

Big ol' donut

Striking a pose

Duff Gardens

Duff Man & Me

The Frying Dutchman

Inside Fast Food Blvd.

Flaming Moe

Tacos anyone?

Lunch time

Lots of veggies

The town founder

Kang & Kodos' Twirl & Hurl

Order here


Everything's coming up Milhouse


A toast

Sideshow Bob caught us

Adding to the dysfunction 

Monday, December 1, 2014

D'Oh Christmas Tree

Happier times with the tree
By Kevin Hunsperger 
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Each year for the last several years we have set up a big, beautiful pre-lit Christmas tree.  It is quite convenient in that you don't have to spend time stringing up lights, then unraveling them and storing them at the end of the season.  But as you can see from the title of this post, something has gone wrong.

A few years ago I noticed some of the lights at the top of the tree were burned out.  I tried changing bulbs and fuses, but to no avail.  So I did what anyone out of ideas would do, I spun the burned out side to face the wall.  No harm, no foul.  Then last year, when I plugged in the three sections, I noticed more burned out bulbs.  

Light Keeper Pro: $20
This meant a trip to the nearby Walgreens for one of those bulb guns.  It's called the Light Keeper Pro and for the most part the device did the trick.  There were still a few lights that didn't shine, but again, I put those against the wall and called it a day.

This year, however, when my wife plugged the sections in, nothing came on.  Everything was dark.  We zapped a few spots with the trusty "gun" but nothing happened.  Obviously, we couldn't do the old "face the wall" routine this time, so we did the next best thing.  The five of us started removing the lights from the tree.  It's a painstaking task.

Snip, snip
We snipped wires with scissors and started the unraveling process Sunday evening.  It's almost like a new family tradition, instead of trimming the tree, we're taking it apart.  My family worked on this for a couple of hours and as I write this (taking a break from it again) there are still lights to be removed.  The kids complained often and my wife and I reminded them that at least they didn't have to sit there and add the lights to the pre-lit trees in the factory.

Hard at work
It is the most wonderful time of year.  But between last year's Toy Soldier incident, me nearly falling off the roof to fix lights that were wiped out by ice, and this latest episode with the tree, it's easy to see why some folks say "Bah humbug!"  But we're keeping a positive attitude and looking forward to "ooohing and awwwing" our tree in the coming days.