Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Way Back WhensDay: The Smurfs

Smurfy
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

I can still remember the first time I saw a Smurf.  It was the summer before third grade (1981) and I was looking at the comics section in the Sunday edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  The section that week featured a half page ad with all the upcoming cartoons on the Saturday morning lineup on NBC.  Back then, Saturday mornings were filled with hours of cartoons and it was glorious.  Anyway, there was a picture of the Smurfs, promoting its September debut in the United States.  I was instantly obsessed.

Later that summer we went back to school shopping and I insisted on getting a Smurf lunch box.  The blue plastic box featured many of the Smurfs staring in awe of the only female (at the time) Smurfette.  It came with a yellow and white thermos with a Smurf and Smurfette featured on the front.

Gargamel & Azrael
I tuned in each Saturday and watched with interest as Papa Smurf lead his pack of little Smurfs.  They talked funny, substituting the word "Smurf" for other common words.  They sang and danced.  They got along pretty perfectly for the most part.  The Smurfs seemed to love everything and were loved by all, except the evil wizard Gargamel and his cranky cat Azrael.  The evil duo created Smurfette as a way to destroy the Smurfs, but his attempt backfired and Smurfette became a part of the Smurf family.  Through the years new additions arrived, including Grandpa Smurf, a batch of Smurflings, and a little Baby Smurf.  They joined my favorites like Brainy, Clumsy, and Grouchy.

Of course with any successful show there are plenty of things to market along with it.  My favorite was of course the little rubber toys.  I had (and still do have) dozens of these little Smurfs.  There was a bowling Smurf, a clown Smurf, a doctor Smurf, even a Santa Smurf.  I also had a collection of plush Smurfs, tshirts, games, and even ate the Smurf cereal (which for the record I hated)  When Hardee's introduced a line of Smurf soda glasses, you can bet my family was there each week to get another one.  They're still packed away ever so safely in my attic.  I ate breakfast in bed on my birthdays on with my metal Smurf TV tray.

Just a few of my Smurfs
Even after I graduated from college,  a full six years after the Smurfs went off the air, I went back into a collection phase.  I scoured flea markets and picked up a handful of toys to add to my collection.  I bought a record player, alarm clock, and kitchen ware.  I even found the Smurf toy box.  I was obsessed all over again.  Of course, as I was preparing to get married my wife pulled the plug on most of the Smurfiness.  I ended up selling almost everything, except the glasses, toys, and lunchbox.

4th grade & now
Now, with the movies out, my kids have gained an interest in the Smurfs.  My daughter still plays with the figures.  And I've picked up three or four Smurf t-shirts over the last couple of years.  A couple years ago I even wore my Smurf pajamas on the air on National Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day.  In 2005, I dressed like Papa Smurf at an 80's New Year's Eve party too.  It's like what's old is new again, and when it comes to most things from the 80's, I'm on board, especially for my beloved Smurfs!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Christian's Second (or Third) Wind

Christian
Photo courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents

I've been a fan of Christian's since his days in the Brood.  He was the first member of the clan to capture WWE gold when he won  the Cruiserweight championship.  He and Edge evolved from a pair goth "brothers" into a dynamic duo who had the right combination of charisma, comedy, and wrestling ability.

When the team split and both went their separate ways, I feared the Christian would be the Marty Jannetty to Edge's Shawn Michaels.  It goes without say that Christian may not have had the glory Edge did, but it's easy to see he did not flounder in the singles ranks either.

Pinning the champ
Photo courtesy: WWE
Since returning from his most recent injury, Christian has had a renewed passion.  I like the push he's getting at the moment.  His pinfall victory over World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio was one of the highlights from Raw.  The match was solid and both men put a lot of heart and soul into the contest.  I must admit I was surprised by the win, as I figured the plan was to make Del Rio be a dominant champ heading into SummerSlam.

Even though Christian has picked up several wins in recent weeks, I do not anticipate him getting another run at the top of the mountain.  It's a shame too, as I feel like his time as WHC was cut too short in 2011.  He and Randy Orton had a great rivalry for the gold, a feud that slightly sparked my interest in Orton.  Then out of no where, Mark Henry walked in and got the championship push.  I don't know all the factors involved in the decision, but I wish Christian could have had more time in the spotlight.

I'm not going to over analyze things right now and just sit back and enjoy the ride as one of Christian's peeps.  Who's with me?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Extreme Makeover: Gnome Edition

Should I add more color to my gnome?
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

I have a weird obsession with gnomes.  I only have a few, but if I had the opportunity I would populate my yard with the creatures.  Maybe it stems from my love of Smurfs (which I'll be blogging about in this week's Way Back WhensDay post).

A new paint job
A few years ago, my parents gave us a bunch of concrete gnomes that they'd gotten from a friend.  As you can see in the picture on the left, he's in pretty rough shape.  Originally painted black, he's weathered plenty of storms in his day and now is faded and chipped.  All but one was damaged in a storm, and the surviving "Fisherman Gnome" sat sadly on my back porch for the last two years.  I've always wanted to spruce him up, and had the idea of painting him a solid color and then covering that with the typical bright, vibrant colors you'd find on an everyday gnome.

With his gnome gneighbor 
Over the weekend, I finally got the ambition to start the project.  I grabbed a can of silver spray paint and went to town.  As I started covering him, I actually liked the solid color of silver.  The more I looked at him, the more I thought, this isn't a bad look.  So I proudly moved him to the front of the house and put him on display.

Monday morning my wife and one son (who were out of town for the weekend) both said at different times and separate of each, "That's kinda weird looking."  I argued that I liked the solid look and figure I would slop it up if I attempted to paint his face, beard, hat, clothes, and fish all different colors.  So I told my wife I'd put it up to a vote online.  What do you guys think, should I keep my Fishergnome silver, or does he need a splash of color?  Post your thoughts here.




Friday, July 26, 2013

Fill in the Blank Friday: The Rock

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

In 2011, the Rock returned to WWE Monday Night Raw and announced to the world that he was "here to stay."   Many fans took his words to be the truth, while cynics like most us of who write wrestling blogs knew he wouldn't really leave Hollywood to return full time to the ring.  I don't blame him for that.  After all, in the first six months of 2013, the star had earned $46 million dollars.  I have no idea how much he was making at the height of his wrestling career, but I'd imagine it was no where near that.

So the Rock had a few matches from late 2011 until his final (so far) encounter at Wrestlemania 29 against John Cena.  The Great One even held the WWE championship for a few months, ending CM Punk's long talked about title reign of 434 days.

You know how this works (I hope).  I present three statements, and you comment below by filling in the blank.

Passing the torch?
Photo by My 1-2-3 Cents
1.  Instead of bringing The Rock in to feud with and eventually put over John Cena, the WWE should have used the opportunity to push ______________.

2.  The Rock wrestled legends like Hulk Hogan, Triple H, and Stone Cold Steve Austin. I believe his greatest match was ___________.

3.  The Rock has done what so many other wrestlers tried doing in Hollywood, but with much more success.  My favorite movie starring the Rock is ______________.

Thanks for participating.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Way Back WhensDay: Spuds MacKenzie

Spuds!
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

In the 80's there was a party animal, and his name was Spuds MacKenzie.  The Bull Terrier became a part of the marketing of Bud Light.  Anheuser-Busch introduced the world to Spuds during the SuperBowl in 1987.

I still have my stuffed Spuds
Depending on your perspective, I guess you could say the dog was being used to market alcohol to kids.  After all, there was a line of plush toys and tshirts in children's size saturating the market.  I should know, I bought a stuffed Spuds on a trip to Busch Gardens back in December 1987.  I was a teenager at the time, and had no interest in drinking the beer the pooch was selling.  I just liked the character.  I never once felt compelled to buy or even try alcohol, just as Camel Joe never inspired me to smoke, but that's a subject for another day.

My wardrobe that year was composed of several Spuds MacKenzie tshirts too.  My grandfather worked for AB and although retired from the company, still received a discount on merchandise.  When a seasonal catalog was released, I'd take the opportunity to add a tee to my collection.  I also had a variety of neon colored sun glasses, the AB swim suit and matching flip flops.  Hard to believe I didn't have a girlfriend back then, right?

Who had a shirt?
Eventually the public pressure to end the ad campaign got to AB and Spuds was sent into retirement.  It didn't stop me from continuing to sport my tshirts with the famous dog surfing, skateboarding, or just hanging out with a bevy of beauties.  I think my school issued a ban on the shirts if they said anything about drinking.  I remember wearing some of the shirts, but not all in my collection and I think that was the reason behind it.

By the way, if you didn't know Spuds was portrayed as a male dog, but was in fact a female.  She died a few years after her retirement from kidney failure at the age of 10 (70 in dog years).  Thanks for the great memories Spuds.



Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Who's the Boss?

Vince, Triple H, Brad, & Vickie
Photo courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

As much as I want this to be a blog about the popular 80's sitcom by the same name, it is not.  The task at hand today is addressing the maze of management that currently reigns on WWE programming.  I meant to tackle the topic last week, but got busy with other things.

The late, great Jack Tunney
Photo courtesy: WWE
I'm trying to be less negative about my posts, but this blog will take me away from that goal.  I miss the 80's and 90's when the "authority figure" was only on TV for special appearances.  Jack Tunney only showed up a handful of times to lay down the law.  Often times, his directives were read by the announce team or the back stage interviewer.  He wasn't a part of the weekly show or pay per view.  Even in the early 90's, when Roddy Piper and Gorilla Monsoon became "President" of the WWF, they very rarely were so involved in the story.

Triple H, Brad, & Steph
Photo courtesy: WWE
Right now, there are no less than 5 people vying for the role on WWE programming.  Brad Maddox is finding his way as the Raw General Manager.  Vickie Guerrero is the new GM of SmackDown.  Now, each week we're getting doses of Vince McMahon, the CEO, his son-in-law Triple H, the COO, and Vince's daughter Stephanie, Director of Creative (I think that's the title they've given her on air).  Let's not forget the two men recently relieved of their duties, Booker T and Teddy Long.  I suspect we haven't seen the last of them either.  And did I miss something or is Alex Riley hanging out with Brad now too.  Is he the assistant GM?

Past bosses
Photo from Bleacher Report
The constant rotation of authority figures is nothing new.  We saw the guest GMs a couple of years ago.  Then superstars have come and gone and had their time back in the spotlight.  It seems to me like it's a lazy way to work past stars or guys they have nothing for into some kind of on camera role.  I can accept a GM.  Maybe even an assistant.  But is it necessary to have the McMahon-Triple H faction on weekly as well?  I know this is all leading to some sort of power struggle between Vince and Trips, and Maddox and Guerrero are merely the pawns in the game.  I'd much rather see the company continue to focus on the wrestling, like the series of matches Daniel Bryan went through on Raw.  They were simply amazing.

I know it's the era of sports entertainment, but we're not all entertained by everything we see.  I hate to hate on anything, especially the Divas, but that segment on Raw with Miz and Jerry Lawler and the stars of the new Divas show was one of the worst segments in recent memory to me.  Many of these ladies are talented and need a chance to shine, not be part of a skit to promote a show on E!  But again, I get that the days of "wrestling" have been replaced for the most part with "entertainment."

Okay, ranting over.  Thanks for reading, I appreciate the support.


Monday, July 22, 2013

Let Them Eat Cake (Recipe Included)

An award winning Cub Scout cake
Made by me and my boys
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

When I was a kid, my mom used to make all of our birthday cakes.  I can remember she even took a cake decorating class to hone her skills.  That's exactly what she ended up doing.  Family birthday cakes were the launching pad.  Mom was soon doing cakes for friends, and then friends of friends, and even complete strangers.  The craft went from just birthday or baby shower cakes and she made several wedding cakes as well.

I knew when I had kids of my own I wanted to continue this tradition.  I, however was no match for my mother's culinary skills.  But for the first several years of my kids lives, I baked and decorated their birthday cakes.  I used the Superman cake pan from my childhood to recreate Mr. Incredible and Batman.  My wife and I would take turns, and I must give credit where it's due, her volcano dinosaur cake blew the doors off of any of my creations through the years.

Because I wanted things to be perfect with the cakes, I of course tended to screw them up.  I always had a much cooler picture in my head of how I wanted to the cake to look, as opposed to the reality of the situation.  To keep myself from going insane, we've done a lot more store bought cakes.  But my mom makes a pretty mean chocolate chip cookie and the last couple of years, the kids have requested a giant cookie with icing instead of a cake.  Anyway, here's my mom's recipe for icing.  It's really pretty good, and very sweet. I've also included some of our cakes through the years.

Memaw's Cake Icing (she doubles this recipe, as it only ices one small cake  typically.)

1/2 cup Crisco
1 stick of softened margarine
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 TBS milk
1 pound powdered sugar

Beat first four ingredients (Crisco, margarine, vanilla, and almond extract) well and slowly add the powdered sugar.  When mix becomes dry, add the milk.  Beat an additional two to three minutes.


Elmo
Mr. Incredible
Elvis

Doll

Rubber ducky (fail)

Volcano made by my wife

Batman (hard to see)

Lily pad (made by my wife)


Friday, July 19, 2013

YouTube to the Rescue

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

This is not a post about my own YouTube channel, but cheap plug, click here for the My 1-2-3 Cents page.  No, today I'm sending a shout out to Jeff Wong with Expert Village.  While his video on how to remove a spare tire didn't save my life, it certainly saved the day.  I wish I would have found it sooner than I did.



I'm not used to getting dirty.
Friday afternoon I had taken my daughter to the mall.  When we got back into the van, it wouldn't start.  I assumed the battery was dead and as I was under the hood looking for possible culprits, the woman parked next to me pulled out of her parking spot.  I heard that telltale sound that she had a flat tire.  I was able to get her attention and tell her about the flat. Then I asked if she needed help.  To be honest, I was hoping she would say her husband or boyfriend could do that job, but instead she said, "actually, yes I do."

It's not that I didn't want to help the woman.  It's more about my inability to do anything remotely mechanical.  I learned how to change a flat tire 25 years ago.  I've changed two in my entire life, but they were both on cars.  This woman was driving an SUV.  After taking what seemed like an eternity to figure out how to jack up the front of her vehicle, I was able accomplish that seemingly simply job and finally loosen the lug nuts and get the tire removed.

Then came the fun part.  The spare was under the back of the SUV.  She said it unscrewed somehow, so I slid under and tried to pry the rusted wing nut (I think that what it was) but it hardly budged.  Even after using the tire iron and some DeIcer (the idea of the mall security guard) I was baffled.  It's a blistering hot day and my body was dripping sweat.  I got light headed at one point as the sweat rolled into my eyes.  My skin burned on the hot asphalt.

Dirty face
I finally thought to Google "removing a spare tire" and came across Jeff's video.  Within 30 seconds, I was in business.  All it requires is putting the tire iron into a small slot in the back of the vehicle.  A few turns later and the tire was free.  Sweaty, dirty, and flustered, I was finally seeing the end of this ordeal. I put the spare on, lowered the jack and loaded the flat tire into the back of the woman's SUV.  She was grateful, and so was I.  Grateful that I could help someone and grateful that the task was over.

I'm also grateful for technology and the fact that YouTube has so many uses other than uploading videos about wrestling.

Fill in the Blank Friday: The Ultimate Warrior

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

I'm starting a new feature here on the blog each week.  I'll come up with a topic, but I want you to write the blog.  I'll post three statements, and in the comments section below, I would love for you to fill in the blanks.

This first edition is about the Ultimate Warrior.  Since he has come to an agreement with the WWE on the new 2K14 game, I thought it would be timely.  I haven't really said anything about this new relationship, but honestly I hope it's something that develops into more involvement from the Warrior.  I wasn't the biggest Ultimate Warrior fan back in the day, but for the sake of nostalgia, I would love to see him back at least on a temporary basis.  As time has gone by, I've become more of a fan of this legend.  The WWE seems to recycle the same superstars of yesteryear, so seeing the Warrior back would be something fans haven't seen since 1996 (not counting his WCW run in '98).

Photo courtesy: WWE
That being said, it's time for you to Fill in the Blanks...

1.  If the Ultimate Warrior does in fact wrestle again for the WWE, the one opponent I would love to see him face is _________________.

2.  The Ultimate Warrior had two runs as Intercontinental Champion and one reign with the WWF(E) championship during his time with the company.  I think his greatest match during that time was against ______________.

3.  I believe the Ultimate Warrior (chose one) should or should not be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame because _____________________.

Remember, enter your answers in the comment section below.  You don't have to have a Blogger or Google account to participate.

Thanks!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

On the Phone with Samoa Joe

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

TNA Impact Wrestling is coming to Cape Girardeau, Missouri on Saturday, July 20.  Bell time is 7:30 p.m. at the Show Me Center, on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University.  Bully Ray will defend his title.  Kurt Angle will be on hand as well, and so will Samoa Joe.  I recently interviewed him about his career, including his favorite opponents, his dream match, and how he prepares for someone like Necro Butcher.  Check it out!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Way Back WhensDay: Garbage Pail Kids

A few from my collection
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

In the early 80's a new toy was introduced to the world.  Baby dolls who were in need of a loving home, born in a cabbage patch.  These awkward looking dolls were appropriately named Cabbage Patch Kids.  They were the must have toy.

Like anything successful, there needs to be a spoof.  A couple years after the introduction of the dolls, the world met the Garbage Pail Kids.  They were not cute and cuddly dolls though.  They stickers that came in a pack just like baseball cards.  Each pack contained five stickers and a piece of gum that was flavorless after a minute in your mouth.

I would ride my bike to the nearby drug store and purchase several packs at a time.  Back then they were a quarter a package, a bargain by today's standards.  Each time I ripped into the wrapper to reveal the batch of stickers, I got excited wondering which misfits would be added to my collection.  Duplicates would quickly get traded with friends.

Gross!
Some of the names were meant as a spoof, like Tiffany Lamp, Ella P. Record, and Farrah Fossil.  Others were just plain gross like Louise Squeeze, Acne Amy, and Drillin' Dylan.  Each sticker had a twin, Holly Wood was paired up with Woody Alan, King-Size Kevin and Hugh Mungous were twins, and Formalde Heidi and her sister Decapitated Hedy.

I still have my collection of stickers, much to the chagrin of my wife.  I don't know how many I have, but there are years worth from the many different collections they introduced.  They've made a comeback of sorts recently too, but I have no idea if there are new stickers or just a re-release of the classics.

In 1987 The Garbage Pail Kids Movie was released.  It's as awesomely bad as you might imagine. That's what you get for basing a film on a series of stickers with gross, ugly, and potentially offensive characters. A cartoon series only lasted briefly, but the stickers left a lasting impression on the children of the 80's and may mount a comeback for generations to come.




Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Will the Real Mr. Money in the Bank Please Stand Up?

Randy Orton wins
          Photo courtesy: WWE 
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Let me start off by saying I do not hate Randy Orton.  I'm not even sure I dislike him.  But there is something about him I'm not 100% sold on.  I think it's partly because of the things I've read about his past behaviors backstage.  Maybe I shouldn't let that influence my opinion of the man, but I have.

My question in the headline is simple.  On the Raw following Money in the Bank, Michael Cole referred to Orton as "Mr. Money in the Bank."  I understand the reference, of course Orton won ONE of the Money in the Bank ladder matches.  He's earned a shot at the WWE title whenever he wants it.  But Damien Sandow also won a Money in the Bank match. So why does one superstar get the moniker?  While we're on the subject, why does Sandow start off his "push" with a loss and Orton rolls over the competition?

Damien Sandow wins
Photo courtesy: WWE
In the 24 hours after the pay per view, it would appear that Sandow will get the Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler treatment of 2011 and 2012.  Both men won their respective MITB ladder matches for the World Heavyweight Championship.  Each man also struggled through the year leading up to their cash in.  Bryan dropped the title in 18 seconds to Sheamus after holding it for roughly four months.  Ziggler lost the title back to Alberto Del Rio about two months after cashing in his briefcase.  I think it's partly lead to the devaluation of the WHC.  The company has made it clear the WWE title is the more important championship.  I'm still of the opinion the two titles should be merged, but that's a topic for another day.

Granted both Bryan and Ziggler are still in the hunt for gold today, I am just a bit frustrated with the fact that the SmackDown or WHC winner seems to get stuck in a rut once they've won the briefcase.  Yes, Randy Orton has accomplished more in his career than Damien Sandow has.  Is that the reason for the new nickname? I'm probably reading way too much into the situation and should just let it go.  It's certainly nothing to lose sleep over, and it'll all work out in the end I'm sure.  I just wanted to see if others noticed the name reference and share similar feelings as me.


Monday, July 15, 2013

Mmmm....Twinkies

The News 3 This Morning crews chows
WSIL TV
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

After an eight month hiatus, Twinkies and other popular Hostess snack cakes have returned to store shelves.  To celebrate the occasion, we feasted on the spongy, cream filled cakes live on the news today.  The freshly made treats have a shelf life of 45 days now, I had always thought Twinkies are like diamonds and are forever, but apparently they're not.

Deep fried goodness
I'll admit, since cutting back on sweets, I don't eat a whole lot of Hostess snacks or other treats in general.  I had my last Twinkie back in August at the Du Quoin State Fair, but it was the deep fried variety, topped with powdered sugar.  Hardly healthy, but I always maintain that snacks like these are okay in moderation.

The re-release of Twinkies brings a few changes too.  A serving size is actually two cakes.  They have 270 calories and 33 grams of sugar per serving.  That's 135 calories per cake, down 15 calories from the old version. So if you can limit yourself to one, it's not horrible.  I did run just over two miles today to more than make up for the one-and-a-half Twinkies I ate during the show.

When I was in second grade we went to the Hostess plant in St. Louis.  During the visit, we got a variety of snack cakes that day.  One of the few things I remember about the trip was eating so much and puking when we got back to school.  You'd think that might have deterred me from having them later in life, but it did not.

Twinkie the Kid & my kids
In high school, I worked in a grocery store and had my eye on the Twinkie the Kid cut out display.  One of my friends claimed it before I could, but when I went away to college, he gave it to me.  It was a kitschy piece that often sparked a conversation.  Twinkie stayed with me all through college, but ended up in my parents attic when I got married.  When my wife and I bought a house, Twinkie came out of hibernation, but unfortunately the wife did not approve and a short time later, he became a memory.  Before I said my goodbyes though, I snapped a pic with my two sons, who were little guys at the time.

While I like Twinkies, my favorite Hostess snack is the Chocodile.  It's basically a chocolate covered Twinkie, but I haven't had one of them in years.  The actual chocolate Twinkie, which was out for a brief period of time, was also a favorite.  In high school, I ate a package of cupcakes every day at lunch.  When I'd take a break at the grocery store I worked at, it usually included a Strawberry Fruit Pie, Ho Hos or Ding Dongs.  So many great memories tied to a tasty little snack.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Jaws: The One That Got Away

Being attacked by Jaws
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents

I have visited Universal Studios in Florida three times in my life.  The first was back in 1991, right after I graduated high school.  One of the rides that stuck out to me was Jaws.  When I went back in 2008 and 2010, I rode it again and of course posed by the giant shark hanging outside the entrance.

This is by no means new news, but I wasn't really aware the ride had closed more than a year ago.  It was taken out to make way for the expanding Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  The waters where the guided boat tour once cruised have been paved over for Diagon Alley.  Like I said before, I've only been there three times in the last 20 + years, but it makes me a little sad to see the classics getting bumped.

My kids in Harry Potter World
Don't get me wrong, I love Harry Potter.  I love the books and the movies much more than Jaws.  The area of the park we visited in 2010 that's dedicated to the boy wizard is amazing.  I also thought it was sufficient.  But I understand as things in popular culture get old, they have to fade off into the sunset.

Yabba Dabba Don't close this ride
Something similar happened about a decade ago when my favorite ride at the park, The Funtastic World of Hanna-Barbera was replaced with Jimmy Neutron's Nick Toon Blast.  I'm sorry, but the likes of Fred Flintstone, Yogi Bear, Scooby Doo, and George Jetson have and will stand the test of time compared to Jimmy Neutron.  But I get it.  The park is appealing to a much younger demographic.  And so Despicable Me has replaced Neutron.  As they say at the other theme park in Orlando, "it's the circle of life."

D'oh!
I do sing a different tune when it comes to the Simpsons ride.  I've loved the show since it started off as short sketches on the Tracy Ullman Show in the 80's.  The ride replaced the Back to the Future Ride.  A great movie, a fun ride, but my love for Springfield wins this battle.  Moe's Tavern and Krusty Burger have also been added since I was last there in 2010.  I don't know (and couldn't find after a brief search) what, if anything the new features are replacing.

While it's hard for me (not really hard, but you know what I mean) to see these blasts from the past become extinct, I know that new memories will be made for generations to come, including my own kids who loved the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  It's a great experience, even for Muggles.


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Way Back WhensDay: Pac-Man Fever

Pac-Man Fever!
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

I remember the night my family bought the Pac-Man video game for our Atari.  I don't remember the exact date, but it wasn't long after it was released.  This odd game with a bright yellow pie man eating dots and avoiding four little ghosts captured my pre-teen imagination.  The sounds still echo in my memory bank as I remember mastering level after level, eating the power pellets and chasing after the Pinky, Blinky, Inky, and Clyde.  Of course, I had had practice playing the arcade version prior to owning the home copy.  Perhaps I picked up my love for fresh fruit and pretzels from playing Pac-Man.

Ms. Pac-Man
The thing I love about Pac-Man is that the video game was only the beginning.  There was a spin off featuring a female version, called Ms. Pac-Man.  A bow and lipstick helped players tell her and Pac-Man apart.  The two eventually got married and had Baby Pac-Man.  And like his famous parents, he too got his own game, but this time it was pinball game with video.

I wish I had this album still....
Just like today, anytime there is anything popular out there, we get lots of new products too.  There were stuffed toys, breakfast cereal, and a Saturday morning cartoon featuring the Pac-Man family and their ghostly enemies.  I collected Pac-Man trading cards and stickers and I had an awesome Pac-Man album with really cool artwork.  As much of a pack rat as I am, this item didn't get saved.  I'd love to have it again.

Through the years, just like everything else Pac-Man has evolved.  His look has changed, but his mission has remained the same, eat those pellets and power up! I'm still a fool for old school and like to play the original arcade version.  Dave & Buster's even has a giant screen version of it.  I had a chance to play it last summer.

Thanks to modern day technology, I don't have to drop quarter after quarter into the machine.  I can play the game on my phone and online.  I've promised myself if I ever win a large sum of money, I'll buy an arcade version because more than 30 years later, I still have Pac-Man fever.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

We Are (Wyatt) Family

The Wyatt Family
Photo courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

For weeks I've been eagerly awaiting the Raw debut of the Wyatt Family.  I have only seen a little bit of their work on FCW, but liked what I saw.  Plus, the vignettes that have been airing, added to my interest.  As I've mentioned before, I get up for work at 2 a.m., so watching all of Raw isn't in the cards for me.  I stayed up until the firing of Vickie Guerrero, which I expected to be interrupted by the Wyatt Family.

I was disappointed as I turned off my TV at 9:10 and Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, and Erick Rowan hadn't yet come out.  I was even more disappointed to get home from work to find for whatever reason my DVR did not work.  I'm grateful we live in a world of online video and I was able to see these three  unique individuals make their debut.

Harper & Rowan attack Kane
Photo courtesy: WWE
Overall, I am impressed with what I saw.  I like how the production team put together the promo of Wyatt talking before the group headed out to the ring.  Kane was an interesting choice of victims, as I had read speculation it would be everyone from the Shield to Triple H to Mr. McMahon.  The pain and destruction they inflicted on the Big Red Machine showed us the Wyatt Family isn't a group to be taken lightly.

It was a powerful debut, short and to the point.  It'll be interesting to see of course what this means for Kane as he was carted away from the ring, just days before he's to appear in the Money in the Bank All Stars match.  I also wonder what this all means for Daniel Bryan.  Is Team Hell No finished?  Bryan seems to be getting over as a solo star and going back to Kane could be viewed as a step back.

Of course another possible ally for Kane in this battle would be big brother The Undertaker.  But with his limited schedule, I don't know if that's realistic either.  One thing is for certain, the Wyatt Family has made an impact on the WWE and will have fans eagerly waiting to see what their next move and who their next victim will be.


Monday, July 8, 2013

Movies I Haven't Seen, But Should

By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

When my wife and I started dating more than 20 years ago, we went to the movies all the time.  In those early years, we saw everything from Jurassic Park to Basic Instinct to Dennis the Menace.  So as you can tell, we had quite the variety.  Fast forward to marriage and children and busy lifestyles, working weekends, base ball games, dance recitals, and life in general.  We stopped going to the movies, and when we do it's usually the latest Pixar film or something else family related.  The last movie just the two of us went to was This is 40, which was appropriate as we were both facing the big birthday.

So I've been thinking about the films that I have yet to see.  Some of you will shun me for this list.  I'm actually kind of embarrassed to admit I haven't seen some of them.  I was going to do a top 5, but because number 5 includes its sequel, the list is actually 6 films.  By the way, I'm only listing films that are not currently in theaters.

The Green Mile
1.  The Green Mile: I really can't use the kid excuse for this one.  Well, I guess I technically can.  My wife was VERY close to delivering when The Green Mile was released in late 1999.  It's one of those films I've always wanted to see, but refused to ever watch on basic cable because it's something I feel like I need to watch without commercial interruptions.  The death of Michael Clarke Duncan served as a reminder that I still haven't seen this classic. (is it too soon to call it a classic?)

"I see dead people..."
2.  The Sixth Sense: This is another pre-kids release.  But a quick back story on it.  The film came out in the summer of 1999.  I had just been laid off from my job in Alabama after the station decided to end the local newscast.  With a baby on the way, hitting the movie theater fell to the low end of the totem pole.  I have heard plenty about The Sixth Sense and know how it ends, but I still really want to see it.

Silver Linings Playbook
3.  Silver Linings Playbook: I'll admit, I don't know a whole lot about this one, but there's been plenty of hype concerning it.  Some of my friends have seen it and said it was a great film.  Silver Linings Playbook and its cast has been nominated (and won) several awards, so by that alone, I should probably see it.  Another confession, I haven't seen many Best Film nominees or winners through the years, so I think it's probably time to open myself up to a wider variety of films.

Blazing Saddles
4. Blazing Saddles:  Kind of a tongue and cheek post here.  When I admitted about two years ago to my coworkers that I hadn't seen Blazing Saddles, my friend Weston quickly provided me a copy of it on DVD.  That DVD is still sitting in my closet, waiting to be played.  I haven't not made it a priority to watch, but before the end of the year (maybe the summer) I will watch it.  I've seen bits and pieces, but need to find two hours to sit down and enjoy this classic comedy.

Use the force!
5. & 6.: Star Wars Episodes II & III: I was a kid when New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi were released.  I saw all of them in the theaters and/or at the drive in.  I had the lunch boxes, action figures, and plush toys.  In the spring of 1999, I actually convinced my wife to see The Phantom Menace.  The new film didn't really hold up to the three before it.  That's part of the reason I haven't taken the time or made the effort to see the other two.  However, since I've committed myself to the Star Wars franchise as a child, it's only fair that I see Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith,  especially before Disney releases Episode VII.

So there's my list.  There are plenty more films to add, but these are the ones that immediately come to mind.  Wish me luck in seeing these before the end of the year.