Monday, October 31, 2022

Trick or Treat for Halloween

Began my Halloween with stories from the Colliers Harvest of Holidays anthology. "The Blue-Nosed Witch" is a scatterbrained young sorceress who is always late to her coven's broom formation. On Halloween, she accidentally sets her alarm so early, she ends up trick-or-treating with the local kids. Another young modern witch uses her magic to bring up "The Water Nixie," but she's disappointed. She and her friends were hoping for fairies. Also read several spooky poems on the frights and delights of the Halloween season. 

Switched to the original Legend of Sleepy Hollow after I finished those. I found a book of Washington Irving's short stories on the sale rack at the Oaklyn Library several years ago and have read it on or around Halloween ever since. The story of Ichabod Crane and what he did (or didn't) run into on that fateful bridge remains genuinely creepy to this day, especially the part where he encounters the infamous Headless spook!

Went into Halloween specials while having breakfast. "Spook-a-Nanny" was the only episode of the original Woody Woodpecker Show made directly for television. Woody ends up spending most of the episode blowing up balloons for his boss Walter Lanz. He wants to attend the big party for Lanz animated stars, but Chilly Willy, Andy Panda, and the other guests play pranks to keep him out. He joins a ghost rock group, but forgets he can't walk through the walls like they can.

Moved to Garfield's Halloween Adventure while I got organized and brought the laundry downstairs. I went further into this and Halloween Is Grinch Night the day before Halloween in 2018 on my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog. 

Headed out for a very quick run to PNC. I needed to pick up money and talk to them. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of going around 12:30, when everyone was at lunch and had time to do the same thing. I had to use the ATM outside, and everyone inside had too many customers to ask them about how the upgrades to my John Hancock accounts are going. I'll call them tomorrow. 

Had lunch and switched the laundry to the dryer while watching Arsenic and Old Lace. Theater critic Mortimer Brewster (Cary Grant) has a heck of a Halloween when he marries the girl next door (Priscilla Lane), then comes home to Brooklyn to tell his sweet old aunts and delusional Uncle Teddy (John Alexander), who thinks he's Teddy Roosevelt. He's horrified when he learns that the little old dears have been giving elderly gentlemen with no family poisoned elderberry wine and having Teddy bury them in the basement. Worse yet, his homicidal brother Johnathan (Raymond Massey) comes home, with his plastic surgeon (Peter Lorre) in tow and his own bodies to bury in the basement. Mortimer has to figure out how to keep his new wife away from the madness and alert the local beat cop (Jack Carson) that something's rotten in the borough of Brooklyn, before he's their next victim!

Hilarious pitch-black comedy benefits from Grant's expert timing and some sharp and funny lines from the hit stage play of the same name. Alexander steals the show as Uncle Teddy, who yells up the stairs blowing a bugle while yelling "Charge!"

Worked on writing while the movie was on. Ross tries to remind Brett that he's not Gene, has never tried to be Gene. He's himself. Brett, however, misses Gene badly and wishes Ross was more like him. Charles tries to point out that they're having as much fun together as they ever did. 

Got my costume together towards the end of the movie. I had that blue-checked long-sleeved button-down shirt I got from a friend of mine in March. Threw the navy corduroy vest my mother made for my cowgirl costume in 1989 over it, along with jeans and my Ugg boots. Tied the plastic knife around my waist with a crocheted belt I made the last time I dressed as a cowgirl. Tried to keep my plastic cap gun in my pocket, but it kept falling out. I just left it on the front steps.

Spent the next few hours sitting on the front stoop, reading Washington Irving short stories like Dolph Heylinger and Rip Van Winkle between kids. I gave out candy for a friend who says she usually doesn't get many trick-or-treaters. Maybe more took advantage of the compressed time out (Oaklyn's trick or treat was from 3 to 7 this year) to go out earlier and stay closer to home. I gave out all 30 of my Mystery Bags (including two for my friend's daughter and her friend) in less than an hour. She ended up buying more candy and fruit snacks to give away, and we didn't have a lot of that left by the time rain ended trick-or-treating prematurely around quarter after 6. 

I saw a lot of creative costumes this year. One little angel in fluffy wings and a tutu was so excited to find out what was in her Mystery Bag, she tore into it after I put it in her hand. One group was The Wizard of Oz, a mom Glinda and dad Tin Woodsman with a tiny Dorothy and lion and older Scarecrow and Witch of the West. Saw at least five Spider Men and one Spider Girl, along with a very small Iron Man. There was a tiny toddler shark, a dad Stripe and kid Gizmo from Gremlins, Hermoine from Harry Potter, Pikachu, and Evie from the Descendants films. The elementary-school-age girl who lives across the street went as a black cat. A teen group included Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, and a grim reaper. There were two small police officers, Buzz Lightyear, and a plethora of ghouls and witches. Ran into at least three other cowgirls, a mom, a tiny adorable miss in a cow-print skirt, and an elementary-school girl in a glitzy white costume I suspected may have been a western-themed dance outfit. The final two Mystery Bags went to a pair of flower maidens in lilac and soft gold gowns. 

I wasn't the only adult who dressed to give out candy, either. The man across from me sported a Friday the 13th hockey mask. A woman on the next block was a Phillies cheerleader. A lady across the street wore a yellow Victorian dress and carried a parasol. The male couple across the street didn't dress for the holiday, but they were joined by a handsome and well-behaved young Irish setter. He didn't even bark when my friend's cat joined me for scratches and belly rubs. A couple dressed as vampires even walked their dogs wearing bat wings. Another woman walked a terrier in a mermaid-print sweater. 

It had been gloomy, humid, and breezy all day. Perfect Halloween weather...until the clouds finally opened up around 6 PM. Sat on the porch for another 15 minutes after that. The rain did lessen, I suspected trick-or-treating had ended. I saw no more kids and finally went inside for dinner.

Had dinner upstairs while watching the 2002 version of Family Feud with Richard Karn as part of that Buzzr Halloween marathon. Maybe they should have worn costumes all the time on that version. Dressing the part sure woke up Karn. He had far more fun wearing Dracula's cape and doing his accent and playing pirate and imitating Jack Sparrow than he did on most regular episodes. Lots of cute costumes in these shows, too. One family in the second episode appeared as a football team, with son "players," a wife cheerleader, and Mom as the coach. The other family was all greasers with a Pink Lady cousin. 

The rain continued to fall at 7, but it wasn't nearly as heavy. I debated going to the parade, but I couldn't seem to find whether or not it was still on. Finally decided to at least go look at lights. Rain or no rain, I wanted to do something on Halloween night. 

It finally let up as I strolled down West Clinton. A small group of mainly elementary school kids and their parents gathered under umbrellas, surrounded by fire trucks. Yes, the parade was on. There were even people watching us on West Clinton as a ragged group made its way down the road. More and more people joined us on the way. We still weren't as big as usual, but a slightly larger parade made its way into the Fire Hall five or so minutes later.

They did have costume judging this year, too, and tons of candy. There were some great costumes here, too. My former neighbors Ronnie and Brittany's son Ryan was a huge red squid in an inflatable costume. Their daughter Savannah was a punk ghoul. I saw two Spider Gwens, two more Spider Men, a pretty pre-teen witch in a glittery black cape, bright green alien parents with two boys dressed as an astronaut and a UFO surrounded by tinsel, a darling little Phillies Phanatic in a green tutu, a little unicorn, a girl firefighter with a blow-up truck, a mom sorceress, two more policemen, another black cat, Luke Skywalker, and a college age elephant wearing a Phillies jersey. A toddler Elliot rode in a red wagon tricked out complete with a stuffed ET in a box up front. Mom and Dad were Elliot's siblings. 

I knew the parent aliens would get first place in the adult division. They really were that cool in their lime-green suits and wigs. I felt sure the elephant or sorceress would get second, but lo and behold, they called me! I got 10 dollars that will go towards a treat later in the week. (The elephant came in third.)

Ran It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown when I got home as I put away my costume pieces. Linus claims  the Great Pumpkin will come on Halloween night and bring treats to all the good little children. Sally joins him in a "sincere" pumpkin patch against her better judgement. Charlie Brown has more trouble trick-or-treating, while Snoopy spends his Halloween fighting the Red Baron.

Finished the night after a shower with two rare late 70's Halloween specials on YouTube and a classic short at Disney Plus. Once Upon a Midnight Scary from 1979 has Vincent Price narrating three spooky stories from horror and fantasy novels. The first segment is based on The Ghost Belonged to Me. This short from the Blossom Culp series has a young boy discovering he can speak to ghosts. His ghost is a young girl who warns him about how she drowned when the local bridge washed out. He can avert disaster if he warns a bus driver from doing the same. Rene Auberjoinis is Ichabod Crane in a brief but spooky version of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. The House With a Clock In Its Walls is the longest segment. A boy learns his uncle is a wizard, and tries to use magic to impress a classmate. He ends up raising the spirit of an evil witch named Selenna, who attacks his uncle to find the Doomsday Clock in the walls of their house.

Obviously low-budget and not terribly good. Auberjoinis' performance as Ichabod and the genuinely spooky finale gives Sleepy Hollow a lift. House starts a little slow, but builds to a decent climax with the destruction of the clock. (And I like that Price encourages the viewers to read the actual books if they want the full stories.) 

Judd Hirsch is an extremely unlikely Dracula in The Halloween That Almost Wasn't, also from 1979. He's horrified when the Witch (Mariette Hartley) refuses to ride her broomstick over the moon and begin Halloween. She wants more recognition and to be the co-leader of the monsters. He's about to agree to her demands, until two trick-or-treaters remind her why they love the holiday and appreciate her. 

Donald Duck also has trouble with a witch in "Trick or Treat," one of his most famous shorts. He plays mean tricks on his nephews and won't give them candy. Kindly Witch Hazel takes pity on them and puts a spell on Donald and his house. When that doesn't work, she uses her magic to make Donald's feet dance the candy out of the closet!'s a good thing the parade ended when it did. It started raining much harder about a half-hour after I got home and has been pouring off and on ever since. Here's hoping that you had an equally fun (and drier) Halloween with all the little ghouls, police officers, squid, Gremlins, and cowgirls in your life!

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Frightening Games

Barely had enough time for breakfast before dashing out to work. It was so early and quiet when I arrived, I spent the first half of my shift putting unwanted items away. It finally started to pick up around 11:30-12 when people came in to buy food for Halloween parties and Eagles tailgating, not to mention the beginning of the month. I ended up spending the rest of the afternoon on a register. It didn't even really slow down when the Eagles game started at 1. Thankfully, it did die enough (and we had enough help) by 4:30 for me to head home without a relief or a need for one.

(Oh, and according to one customer, the Eagles were up 21-7 by the end of the first half. They ultimately went on to beat the Steelers 35-13 and remain the only unbeaten team in the NFL.)

Went straight into popcorn and a spooky episode of Press Your Luck when I got home. Buzzr's doing a marathon of Halloween or horror-related episodes from 4 to 7 all weekend, but they've shown this 1984 episode many times before. Trick-or-treating Whammies slam the contestants, but the champ dodges them long enough to win. Host Peter Tomarken sports a Frankenstein mask while doing a weird little dance during the credits before collapsing!

Worked on writing for a bit next. Yes, Brett does resent that Ross is not Gene. Ross doesn't get into the questions the way Gene does, and he lacks Gene's authority. He is, however, the host and star of the show. Gene was her friend, but he's a different person, and she needs to understand that.

Broke for dinner at 6:30, and because the Match Game '90 Halloween episode deserves to be watched on a large-screen TV. This is by far the best episode of the show's short-lived 90's revival, with terrific decorations and some very funny questions. Charles Nelson Reilly dresses as Superman with inflatable muscles and his favorite drinking buddy Brett Somers comes as a little girl. Host Ross Schafer is Dracula, and Vicki Lawrence is Little Red Riding Hood in a super-short dress. Ronn Lucas and his dragon puppet Scorch are the ones who manage to come up with the scariest Halloween costume of all.

(It would seem that Buzzr isn't finished with Match Game '90 or the later Family Feud episodes just yet. Saw a commercial for this year's Veteran's Day Armed Services marathon, and it looks like episodes of the later 90's and 2000's Feud will be joined by the almost-as-funny Armed Services Week on Match Game '90.) 

Finished dinner and had dessert while listening to Witchcraft...! I found this heavy old LP ages ago. It's a collection of jazzy standards revolving around magic, sorcery, witchcraft, and anything related to them, like "Witchcraft," "Old Devil Moon," "Kiss of Fire," and "The Night Has a Thousand Eyes." 

Moved to YouTube for even more Halloween game show episodes. While the original What's My Line never got into the holiday per se, they did have an occasional horror-themed contestant, like this 1956 episode featuring Vincent Price as the Mystery Guest. Actually, my favorite guest on this one was the woman who moderated the Brazilian version of Line. As Bennett Cerf joked when he finally guessed who she was, the panelists down in Brazil had the good fortune to look at her instead of John Daly!

Likewise, the brief 1972 revival of I've Got a Secret settled for having Price as a guest. They played on his love of art and drama by showing him and several other people recreating a famous painting. My favorite guest was the first one, who showed off a strange little contraption attached to the back of his car that could use the heat from the vehicle to cook his dinner.

Family Feud traditionally does at least one Halloween episode a year. Richard Dawson got his only Feud Halloween episode in 1994. He didn't dress in costume, but Ray Combs did in 1991, when he admitted he was a bit embarrassed to be garbed as Robin Hood in tights and an open shirt.

Alex Trebek also got into dressing the part on Classic Concentration in 1988. He's a matador in the episode I went with, and the contestants are a werewolf and a can can dancer. Marjorie Goodson doesn't exactly like being called "Mom" in her gypsy costume!

The Price Is Right has always done a Halloween episode during Drew Carey's tenure as host. I went with the show from 2012, which has a unique carnival theme. The models are dressed as a snake charmer, the strong woman, and the bearded lady, while the announcer is supposed to be a contortionist. Mini-games like Plinko and Rat Race are as close to carnival games as Price is going to get. 

Even low-budget shows celebrated Halloween. Peter Tomarken returns in Wipeout from 1987. Contestants snack on candy in mini-pumpkins as they try to guess which titles on a block of TV screens belong to a certain category. 

I loved the late 90's-early 2000's version of Hollywood Squares, and its Halloween episodes were no exception. By 2002, Whoopi Goldberg had vacated the center square, but that didn't stop Ellen Degeneres from dressing as her. Martin Mull appears as a priest, Kathy Najimy as a fairy princess, and Hulk Hogan tosses on a feather boa. Vicki Lawrence is back, too, this time garbed as her "Mama" character from The Carol Burnett Show and Mama's Family. Elvira adds the perfect touch of the macabre. 

Celebrate the spookiest day of the year with even more classic games to play at your Halloween party! (Price, Squares, and the 1994 Feud come with their original commercials and the ones from their run on Game Show Network. And watch out for Wipeout - the episode is in three parts.)

Saturday, October 29, 2022

History Is Made at Night

Started the morning with breakfast and Halloween Is Grinch Night. When a sour sweet wind sends the Grinch on the prowl with his Paraphernalia Wagon filled with psychedelic scares, all of the Whos flee for the safety of their dwellings. Little Eukeriah Who gets lost up on the mountain and takes it on himself to make sure the Grinch and his infamously weird wagon never make it to the town.  

Headed out shortly after Grinch Night ended. Work was busy and harried. We had long lines, and often little or no help. If people weren't buying food for their Halloween parties, they were preparing for the Phillies game tonight or the Eagles game tomorrow. Thankfully, it settled down enough by 7 for me to let off slightly early to return a bag of fried chicken someone didn't want and rush out. 

Got my schedule during one of my breaks. Not thrilled with working very early tomorrow. However, that does mean I'll get to see at least part of Buzzr's Halloween marathon, including Match Game '90. The rest of the week is more realistic, though I do have another eight-and-a-half hour day on Saturday. 

Rushed home fast as I could to catch Match Game PM #12. This episode hasn't been seen anywhere since 1975! To my disappointment, I switched on the TV to discover Buzzr running the last five minutes. I thought they made the mistake...but I later discovered that the episode has been mislabeled for almost 50 years. It's really episode #11. 

Match Game Productions re-ran it on YouTube at 9:30 PM, and it was worth the wait. Adrianne Barbeau and Gary Burghoff join in to admire Fannie Flagg's sweater with a winking sequin eye and see a young man strike out twice on the Audience Match, one of two times this was known to happen on the nighttime shows. The young man just took off after that, leaving Richard to do a dramatic reading in his Newkirk cockney accent of a letter sent in by a British bricklayer who had a rough time with a barrel of bricks. 

Stayed on YouTube to finish the night with Lawrence Welk Halloween episodes. This is the last show you'd probably think would get into this frightening holiday, but they really ran with it. Jo Ann Castle and Jack Imel had a blast scaring the younger Lemmons as a pair of ghouls singing "Trick or Treat" from the Donald Duck cartoon in 1965, while Arthur Duncan got devlish tapping to "Old Devil Moon." Duncan joined Ken Delo to spoof Young Frankenstein in 1981 as Duncan helps Delo's monster get ready for a night on the town to "Puttin' On the Ritz." Bobby Burgess is Dracula looking for his perfect victim in "All I Need Is the Girl," while dashing Zorro Tom Netherton admits "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face" and Bride of Frankenstein Kathie Sullivan sings how "I Enjoy Being a Girl," mile-high hairdo and all.

My favorite episode I hadn't seen before was from 1979. Arthur Duncan is a hobo who is delighted to be dancing with "My Grandfather Clock." Slinky Anacani croons about how "The Moon Was Yellow," real-life country singer Jim Turner tells us about "Ghost Riders In the Sky" dressed as a cowboy, and Bobby and Elaine Niverson are two "Alley Cats" out for a night stroll with Myron Floren. Kathie gets the best number here, as her vampiress sings about how "It's Nice to Have a Man Around the House"...provided those men are Dracula and a werewolf! Jack and Mary Ann Metzger are a little spookier as a Jeckyl and his nurse who get their invisibility on with "They'll Be Some Changes Made." 

Who says champagne and pumpkin pie don't go together? Let Lawrence Welk's merry musical Halloween bashes play in the background at your Halloween party! 

And here's that review of Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie that I watched yesterday!

Oh, and the Phillies didn't get lucky this time. They lost their second World Series game to the Astros 5 to 3.

Friday, October 28, 2022

Laughing at Your Fears

Started the morning off with breakfast and the Disney Junior Muppet Babies. Fozzie's dressed in lederhosen for "Happy Hallo-Wacka," but all of the other babies wore scary costumes. He decorates the playground to look like a haunted house in order to scare them, but it takes Animal dressing as a ghost to be really scary! Kermit refuses to try Nanny's "boo-berry" pancakes in the shape of ghosts, so Summer tells him "The Teeth Chattering Tale of the Haunted Pancakes." A frog named Kermabod and his monster buddies can't stop ghostly pancakes from taking over their town unless he tries them.

Switched to Match Game '75 while I cleaned up and made my grocery list. I came in for a wild one. The girl who wins the main round is so excited, Gene claims her jumping around causes a crack in the floor of the set! Richard was even happier to flirt with a challenger with a radiant smile and a hilarious answer to a question about what prints the police take on Lola the Stripper.

Headed out for a small grocery run next. I work too late and too long tomorrow to do it then. Went to the Westmont Acme, since it's closer. Went with more of those fruit-topped granola bars and Kind protein breakfast bars on sale, cranberry-orange scones for breakfast, smaller bags of popcorn, and Simply Jiff peanut butter. I thought a Secret deodorant was on sale, but it turned out to have been in the wrong place. I had to wait while the manager took it off of self-checkout. (Which is the big disadvantage of self-checkout. You can't take off an item you don't want yourself, and the people in charge of the self-checkout lane may not always be able to do it right away.)

Rode to and from Westmont through Newton Lake Park. It's really starting to look like fall now. The leaves are finally morphing into glorious shades of gold, scarlet, lime green, and sun yellow. Canadian geese munch grass along the waterways, and dried reeds blew in the breeze as I passed. Other people were out, too, dog walkers and other bikers and a family with their two children out for a lunch-time stroll.

Got in and put everything away, then had lunch and popcorn while watching Young Frankenstein. Dr. Fredrick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder) travels to Transylvania to check out the castle he inherited from his grandfather. The previous Frankenstein did notorious experiments to reanimate the dead that frightened the local townspeople. Thanks to his housekeeper Frou Blucher (whinny) (Cloris Leachman), he finds his grandfather's notes and decides to attempt the experiments as well. Unfortunately, his assistant Igor (Marty Feldman) brings an abnormal brain for the giant man they dig up (Peter Boyle), turning his creation into a monster. With the help of his far more comely assistant Inga (Terri Garr), he has to figure out how to give his creation a real brain and fend off his snooty fiancee Elizabeth (Madeline Khan) when she arrives, not to mention deal with a suspicious inspector (Kenneth Mars) who knows something is going on in that castle!

One of my favorite Mel Brooks movies. This movie was as much fun for the cast to make as it is for people to watch. Apparently, they enjoyed making it so much, they added extra scenes, just to keep going! Moody black and white cinematography and the use of the real sets from the original 1932 Frankenstein adds greatly to the elegant atmosphere. 

Headed across the White Horse Pike to the other side of Oaklyn after the movie ended. I wanted to check out the last Final Friday Festival of the season....but I came too early. At 4:30 PM, they were still setting up tents, booths, and trucks. Bought a funnel cake at the Puddin' Palace for a treat instead. I never had a funnel cake before, not even on the boardwalk as a kid. Mom always said they were too fattening. Yum! Like eating a tubular doughnut...but it was also so huge, it came in a paper container. I only ate half of it. Picked up a "Manor Mixer," a fresh fruit drink with coconut milk, at Common Grounds Coffee House.

After I got home, I made the bed and went through paperwork that piled up on my printer while watching Pooh's Halloween Heffalump Movie. I'll go further into the final Pooh direct-to-home-media holiday film to date at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog tomorrow.

Did a little work on my story next. Though Ross agrees that their boss can be humorless when it comes to their shows, there's nothing he can do about it. Brett goes too slow. Brett argues that the point should be matching the contestant with their answers, not with a mini-game.

Broke for dinner at 7 PM, just in time for the infamous Match Game '77 episode 1005. This one doesn't get out of control until the very end. Yes, this is the episode where the judge Ira Skutch won't match the contestant's "school" with Richard and Debralee Scott's "finishing school," or a terrified Patti Deustch's "night school" in response to the question about where Dumb Dora sent her cultured pearls to. To make things worse, he did match Brett and Ed Asner's "college" responses. Richard and Debralee protested, the contestant got the audience in on it, and Gene couldn't keep order. Charles and Brett tried to defuse the situation by having Charles lay on the steps as "the first victim of the School Riot," but the damage was done. The lower tier kept their answers up in protest for what little remained of the episode.

Finished the night online with more comic horror. The original Ghostbusters debuted in the summer of 1984 and was that year's instant sensation. Three former Columbia University professors go into business as professional ghost-catchers after they're fired from the school. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) is delighted when their first client is an attractive classical musician named Dana (Signorney Weaver) who claims to have a monster in her refrigerator. Turns out that monster is the key to opening another dimension in the strange Art Deco high-rise where Dana and her nerdy neighbor Louis Tully (Rick Moranis) live. 

The Ghostbusters have other problems. They're so swamped with work in New York, they hire a fourth man (Ernie Hudson) to help them out. Their secretary Janice (Annie Potts) frets that something is going to go wrong...and she's right. When Walter Peck of the EPA (William Atherton) shuts down their containment grid, he sends every ghost into the city...and worse, lands the Ghostbusters in jail. Now they're the only ones who can stop a menace from beyond and the world's largest marshmallow man from turning New York City into one massive fried s'more. 

My sisters and I have been huge fans of this franchise since its debut. We used to spend afternoons running around our home in Cape May, wearing backpacks while looking for "ghosts." This has actually dated really well, with a hilarious screenplay and special effects that still look good to this day. I haven't seen Afterlife, don't think Ghostbusters II is that bad, and still believe the all-female remake from 2016 gets a bum rap, but this is really the only one you absolutely need. 

The Ghostbusters aren't the only ones trying to clear spooks out of Manhattan. In the fourth season Odd Couple episodes "The Exorcists," Felix is convinced the spirit of their apartment's previous owner is in their air conditioner. Oscar is convinced he's being ridiculous, and even teases him and his secretary Myrna (Penny Marshall) when they hold a seance. A professional exorcist finally sells them a book that supposedly allows them to do it themselves. 

If you enjoyed those, here's lots more vintage horror specials for your enjoyment this weekend!

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Knights and Aliens

Began the morning with breakfast and Halloween Hall of Fame. This is another vintage Disney special Mom taped for us, this time off of our local Fox channel around 1987. Johnathan Winters is a security guard who discovers a jack-o'-lantern (also Winters) hiding in a crystal ball among props at the Disney studio. Seems Jack thinks Halloween's gotten too tame lately. Winters directs him to "Trick or Treat," "Pluto's Judgement Day," and most of "Legend of Sleepy Hollow" to prove otherwise.  

Worked on writing for a while after I finished breakfast. Brett complains to Ross that Mark Goodson was always humorless and never really understood Match Game, and it seems his son is a chip off the old block. Ross agrees with her, but also adds that he's just the host, and it's not his place to say. 

Broke around 1 for lunch and Z.O.M.B.I.E.S 3. I go further into the final film in Disney's series of teen horror parables at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog. 

Headed straight to work after the film ended. Work was a little bit busier than it has been the past few days, but still not that busy. Once again, by the end of the night, it died so fast, I spent my last few minutes putting away cold items people didn't want. 

Went right into dinner and Match Game '77 when I got home. Maybe Buzzr's not as cowardly as I thought. They switched right back to the week with Ed Asner and Debralee Scott. Someone must have been sleeping over the controls yesterday. At any rate, there was a lot of messing around with the microphones in this episode, including Richard "accidentally" smacking his sleeves into his. Richard also has trouble with "Are You __" in the Head-to-Head, and his frustration will spill over into the next episode...

Took a shower, then finished off the night with more vintage Halloween episodes. Addison and the residents of Seabrook aren't the only humans to encounter aliens. In the fourth season Perfect Strangers episode "Aliens," Larry dreams Balki is a far less benevolent extraterrestrial after watching 12 hours of horror movies during a Halloween party.

Michael Knight has a spooky holiday of his own in the third season Knight Rider episode "Halloween Knight." Mechanic Bonnie thinks she saw a woman being strangled by a gorilla in the apartment across from hers. Michael investigates, only to find no one there. Someone is out to frighten Bonnie out of her new apartment, throwing out everything from the victim floating in her bathtub to a gremlin-like face that speaks backwards. Michael and KITT try to figure out who's out to get Bonnie, before she's the killer's next victim. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Halloween Harts

Started off another gloomy, foggy morning with breakfast and The Cat In the Hat Knows a Lot About That. It's "Trick or Treat," but the kids have to wait for their mothers to finish household chores. The Cat takes them to meet a spider monkey, a coconut crab, and a fruit bat to see how they do tricks for their favorite fruit treats. "King Cecil the Seahorse" is the world's best dad. He keeps his eggs in his pouch while he searches for a good place to raise them. When the Cat and the kids help him find a home, they realize that taking care of babies can be even more of an adventure than fighting a dragon. 

Worked on writing for a while after that. Brett admits that Ross is cute, but he's not Gene. He can't do voices like Gene, and he's not the comedian that Gene was. Of course, Ross comes over at that point to remind Brett that she needs to speed up on the Match-Up mini game. She's been going slow. Brett doesn't see the point to it and laments that their boss Mark Goodson's son thought it was a good idea. 

Broke for lunch a little earlier, at 1. Watched Disney's Halloween Treat while I ate. Mom taped this Disney Channel special somewhere around 1988, and I've watched it at least once almost every October since. A talking pumpkin introduces spooky classic shorts like "The Old Mill" and "Donald and the Gorilla," segments from films featuring their villains, and a sketch from the Wonderful World of Disney anthology show on the cat's contribution to horror. Wonderful World of Disney also contributes a segment that focuses wholly on villains from Disney animated films made up to that point, narrated by Hans Conried as the Magic Mirror. It ends with probably the most famous of Disney's classic spooky shorts, the Donald-Goofy-Mickey vehicle "Lonesome Ghosts" and Donald's "Trick or Treat" with his nephews. 

Headed out to work at 2. I left early because I had an appointment for my next Covid booster shot. I'm not taking chances after I spent my New Year's and the week after sick as a dog. I don't want to go through that again. I did have to wait a minute while she read over my vaccination card and got the shot ready, but once it was ready, she gave it to me in my right arm, and I was free to go. It took less than 10 minutes, and I still had plenty of time to relax before work.

As it turned out, work went almost exactly the same as it did yesterday. Rush hour made it a bit busy when I got in. By the time I finished, we were so dead, I got off the register a little early to put cold items away. No trouble whatsoever.

Went straight into dinner and Match Game '77 when I got home. Buzzr must have chickened out on showing the School Riot episode, because they jumped back to earlier in the year. Soap star Rosemary Forsyth and Broadway playwright Abe Burrows join Betty White and the others in honoring a female Army officer and helping the contestant with "Pinkie __" in the Audience Match. 

Spent the rest of the night watching vintage Halloween, horror, and thriller-themed TV show episodes online. MASH finally got to a Halloween episode in their eleventh and final season, "Trick or Treatment." The doctors swap spook stories as they help a constant flood of casualties Halloween night. Charles isn't amused...and he's even less happy with the soldier who shows up with a cue ball in his mouth (George Wendt) and the one who drove through a chicken coop (Andrew Dice Clay, and that sounds like him). Meanwhile, Hawkeye helps a malnourished soldier who can't bring himself to eat after he saw his comrades killed during a meal, and Father Mulcahy discovers that a supposedly dead soldier isn't quite gone yet.

Halloween is a lot less dire for Ricky Stratton and his friends during the third season of Silver Spoons. When "A Dark and Stormy Night" knocks out the power, Ricky's dad Edward suggests they tell their own round-robin ghost story. He and the boys finally come up with the story of three kids in 1895 who end up stranded in a haunted mansion with a beautiful lady, a really goofy mad scientist, and his extremely polite and intelligent creation. 

The Muppet Show had two guests who were associated with the horror genre. Vincent Price appeared during the first season. The erudite legend played on his sophisticated reputation by appearing in a sketch with him and Kermit interviewing (and Kermit being eaten by) a massive hungry gourmand monster and Kermit showing him that he can learn how to be a horror actor too. (The copy at Disney Plus restores a number cut from the DVD, Price singing "You've Got a Friend" with the Muppet Monsters in a crazy fright wig.) 

Alice Cooper turned up in the fourth season for a frighteningly funny story involving him trying to convince the Muppets to sell their souls. Gonzo was the only taker. Along with renditions of his hits "Welcome to My Nightmare," "School's Out," and "Superstar," we get monsters singing "Once a Year Day" and Piggy and the crew of "Pigs In Space" contracting a disease that makes them invisible. 

Johnathan and Jennifer Hart have a less spooky fall in the fifth season Hart to Hart episode "Harts and Hounds." They're in England to visit a friend and take part in a traditional fox hunt, but their friend is killed by an exploding gun before he can take part. The locals suspect his wife wasn't happy with him, but Johnathan and Jennifer have to join the hunt in order to corner her and her lover. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Rainy Day Spooks and Frights

Started a late morning with breakfast and the Halloween episode of Sheriff Callie's Wild West in honor of my costume. Bandits commit "The Great Halloween Robbery" when they steal the town's jack-o-lantern filled with treats. They bury the treats under what they think is a lone cornstalk...and get a major shock when they return and it's surrounded by a corn maze. Sheriff Callie, Peck, and Toby chase them through the maze and look for the treats. Peck thinks his fictional spook story "The Ghost of the Scary Prairie" is great fun. Toby, however, believes it...and gets the townspeople believing it too when he sees what he thinks is a ghost chasing him and Peck.

Worked on writing for a couple of hours after that. Brett teases Charles about finding a Coast Guard officer to be handsome. Charles was an auxiliary member of the Coast Guard for many years, something he often spoke of on the 70's and 90's Match Games. Brett wishes she was better at the fast-paced Match Up portion of the show that had panelists quickly guessing between two words the contestant chose. She misses Gene Rayburn's strong handling of the panelists and wishes Ross Schafer, the current host, was better at reigning everyone in.

Broke for lunch at 1:30. Dug into one of my homemade holiday DVDs for Raggedy Ann & Andy and the Pumpkin Who Couldn't Smile. The famous rag doll duo first bring a depressed pumpkin to a sad little boy whose strict aunt forbid him from dressing up for Halloween or having a pumpkin. They then remind the aunt that she used to be a child, too, and that she used to have her own fun at Halloween.

Switched to the swashbuckler spoof Jack of All Trades as I got ready for work. Jack and Emilia are shocked when Jack's Scarlet Pimpernel-esque alter ego the Daring Dragoon is accused of desecrating church tombs. Emilia drinks a potion that turns her into a "Dead Woman Walking" in order to get a close-up look at the tombs and catch the real villain. Jack joins her, only to almost end up burned to death in a coffin!

Headed out to work shortly after that ended. Work started out busy during rush hour, but after that ended, our customers died out. It got so quiet, I shut down a little early to put away cold items before I went home. No trouble whatsoever, other than I ended up in a register again.

I found out why our customers vanished when I emerged to a dark, wet world. The damp clouds that lingered all morning must have finally burst sometime during the afternoon. Thankfully, the rain had long disappeared by the time I got out. 

Had dinner while watching Match Game '77. Ed Asner, Lou Grant himself, and Debralee Scott join in for the beginning of what became a rather infamous week. Things start fairly innocuous here, with some odd answers to a strange question about what the Godfather crushed in Italy. Richard has less trouble with "__ Jar" in the Head-to-Head.

Took a shower, then ended the night with Rock n' Roll Nightmare at Amazon Prime. I go further into this campy low-budget horror musical from Canada at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog. 

Monday, October 24, 2022

A Foggy Day In Oaklyn Town

Slept in this morning. It was so late when I finally got moving, I watched the noon Match Game '75 as I had breakfast. Sweet ingenue Melinda O'Fee makes her debut on the show in this episode. She didn't do very well, but that didn't stop Gene from giving her a welcome aboard kiss! The second episode had a few jokes about "__ Buns" in the Audience Match and Gene saying Betty and Richard were "almost twins," with Richard in a black and white houndstooth jacket and Betty in black and white gingham. 

After breakfast, during the second show, I finally got around to putting away the albums I bought at On the Record the other day. Pulled out the Christmas records and just leaned them against the crate on the end until I can find a crate that will fit them. Any canned food I had left from the mother-in-law suite went in the red bin. 

Headed out around quarter after 1 to run errands. It remains gloomy and foggy, but the precipitation was limited to the barest sprinkles. Even that vanished as I headed down Cuthbert, crossing at McDonald's before pushing my bike up the service road to the Haddon Township Library. Dropped off the two mystery novels (I need to look over the books on money), went to the bathroom, and headed out.

First of all, they're apparently working on putting the old gym, Tuesday Morning, and AC Moore store together into something called Sprouts Farm Market. It sounds like an imitation Trader Joe's, an organic and healthy food supermarket. I'd have fewer problems with this if there wasn't already a Target next-door and an Acme down the street that sell healthy food and probably do it cheaper. We'll see how long this lasts.

Hit Target after dodging the scaffolding around the stores. I was thirsty as heck, so I hit Starbucks and tried a Zombie Frappuchino. Couldn't resist it this close to Halloween. Turned out to be a pleasant surprise. It was green and brown and sprinkled with green and brown cookie dust. The mint flavor drowned out the coffee bitterness, and other than being a bit watery, was quite pleasant.

I was really there to pick up mouthwash. Turns out they have the Hello healthy gum bottle I got off the clearance rack at Acme, and for a not-bad price. All of their remaining Halloween items were dropped into bins up front. They mostly just had candy left. I got into a long line for self-checkout.

Dollar Tree still had two aisles of Halloween goodies left up-front amid the Christmas decorations. Did much better here. Didn't find anything for my cowgirl costume, but I did pick up more candy and wooden ornaments for my Mystery Bags. 

Next stop was lunch at Geneva Pizza on Cuthbert, about three or so blocks down the street from Westmont Plaza. Thanks to it being past 3 when I walked in, they were empty. Even the TV showed the Roku background. I ate my two slices of square shaped tomato-basil pizza and Caffeine- Free Diet Coke in silence. 

Briefly looked at Family Dollar, but they didn't have cap guns for my Halloween costume. I needed more electrolyte drink mix anyway, so I rode a couple of blocks down the White Horse Pike to Dollar General. Found a cheap bow and arrow set with a plastic knife in their toy section and decided that this cowgirl learned archery from the Natives along with being able to shoot a gun. I can always make a sheriff's badge from tinfoil and cardboard and a rope belt from yarn. 

Went straight into writing when I got home. Started my next Match Game short story, Change of Blank. This is my first story to be set around the underrated Match Game '90. I actually liked the host, Ross Schafer, and while I don't like how Gene Rayburn lost his career due to ageism, I realize Ross had nothing to do with that. Brett Somers, who appeared on the show for a couple of weeks around September and October, resents Ross having taken Gene's place and doesn't feel comfortable with him. Charles Nelson Reilly ends up refereeing them. 

Broke at 6:30 to finish my Mystery Bags for trick-or-treaters. Watched The Cat In the Hat Knows a Lot About Halloween as I worked. Nick and Sally can't figure out what they want to be for Halloween, so the Cat takes them to the Ooky Makooky Closet to find just the right costumes. He also teaches them how to deal with their fears when Nick's frightened of a thunder storm, and Sally's spooked by the creaky old house where the Closet is. Fish keeps trying to scare the Cat, who claims he doesn't get scared. But there is one thing that scares the cat...the most famous Halloween symbol of them all...

Had dinner while watching the second half of Match Game '77. Everyone had trouble not hitting the microphones in this episode, from the contestant to Charles to Richard. (I think Rich did it on purpose to annoy Gene.) Meanwhile, the others try to help the contestant with "__ Escape" in the Audience Match.

Finished the night online with very strange vintage horror. Watched The Haunted Palace at Kanopy. This is one of the many low-budget horror movies Vincent Price did in the 50's and 60's for American International Pictures. Price plays Joseph Curwen, who is burned for witchcraft by the townspeople of Arkham, Massachusetts in 1765. His decedent, Charles Ward (Price) and his wife Anne (Debra Paget) arrive in town to look over Curwen's castle. The townspeople aren't what you'd call friendly. Curwen cursed them before he died, and they blame his curse for the many deformities on their citizens. Neither Charles nor Anne buy this, until Charles becomes obsessed with Joseph's portrait in the castle. Curwen's able to possess Charles, and with the help of two local warlocks, intends to mate Anne with two supernatural demons. 

I have to give American International credit. For a low-budget studio, they seem to have done consistently good work. I enjoyed the Beach Party movies and had almost as much fun with this. Price adds his eerie elegance to both erudite Charles and bitter Joseph, who is determined to get back at those who destroyed his work. It's also Paget's last movie before she retired to marry wealthy, and the first movie to be based after a HP Lovecraft story. If you love Price, the creepy low-budget horror of the early 60's, or Lovecraft, this is worth a watch.

Boo! on YouTube is even weirder. This random horror-themed variety show debuted in 1980. They even acknowledge on the show that variety programs were dying by this point in North America. This Canadian Halloween special apparently turned up in syndicated markets for several years in the early 80's, if the title of the post is any indication. And I thought The Paul Lynde Halloween Special was bizarre. Dionne Warwick shows up to sing a lovely "Deja Vu" while surrounded by candles and a less-likely "I'll Never Love This Way Again" to Frankenstein's monster, who has a crush on her. Frankenstein's creator insists that he didn't make Howard Cosell, the Wolf Man is hypnotized to not go crazy whenever he hears the word "moon," aliens eat telephones with mustard, and Rip Taylor shows up mid-way through to throw confetti and make bad jokes for an unimpressed alien crowd at a disco. This is about the most campy, oddball thing in existence. I have no idea what went on in Canada during the disco era, but it must have been wild. Check this one out if you love the guest stars or camp...if you dare. 

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Games In the Rain

Began a cloudy morning with breakfast and one of the records I found yesterday. I'm guessing Wonderland Records was a British children's music company. They put amazing work into the two fairy tales I found. "Snow White & Rose Red" and "The Goose Girl" not only were decent adaptations of their respective Grimm's fairy tales, but they were mini-operettas, complete with full orchestras and lovely songs. I might have to look for more Wonderland fairy tale albums, if they're all as charming and fun as this one.

Hurried off to work after feeding kittens for a friend. The Acme started out busy before about 2 PM, then died hard, thanks to a combination of bad weather and the big National League Championship game between the Phillies and the Padres. I spent a lot of the second half of my shift standing around, pulling sodas and organizing shelves. It died so hard, I spent the last ten minutes of my shift returning cold items people left in the soda coolers.

(Oh, and the Phillies beat the Padres 4-3 in a wet game and are going to play the Houston Astros in the World Series Halloween week. Probably just as well the Eagles were off today. I suspect most Philly sports fans would have been downright overwhelmed to focus on two winning sports teams.)

I rode to work under soft, gray clouds that didn't do much more than look ugly. They gradually darkened throughout the day. They must have burst sometime around 2 or 3; that's about when someone at work mentioned it was raining. I emerged to roads that were wet, but not flooded. Thankfully, by 6 PM, the rain had gentled down to a sprinkle. It died all together as I crossed the White Horse Pike. It wouldn't rain again until well into the early morning hours. 

Got organized when I got home, then had dinner while watching Match Game PM. The first episode is one of my favorites from 1975. Richard and Charles pass around their wide-brimmed straw hats, claiming they're "your basic big picture hat society." It ends up on the contestant after Richard helps her with "__ Robber" and comes in handy with hiding Richard kissing her! 

Dr. Joyce Brothers and tough-guy producer and actor Sheldon Leonard join Fannie and the regulars for the next episode. The female contestant had just as much fun here with some randy answers to what the 102-year-old man doll does when you wind up his key. Richard got to help her in the end with "__ Meter."

Finished off the night with more panel game shows. They go further back on TV than almost any other game show genre. What's My Line? and To Tell the Truth ran for 17 and 15 years on nighttime and daytime respectively. I have older friends with fond memories of tuning in every week to see the mystery guest or guessing along with the panel who is the fibber. Not much changed in Line over the years besides the panel line-up, but Truth had major shake-ups in their final seasons, including letting the audience in on guessing the fibber. 

Local channels got in on the panel games, too. What In the World debuted on what was then the Philadelphia CBS in 1951. It ran through 1955 on CBS and apparently was so popular in the Philly area, it was moved to the Philly educational channel until well into the 60's. Three professors (or in this case, three professors and erudite Vincent Price) try to identify works of art from the University of Pennsylvania Museum's collection. No wonder it ran for so long. This is surprisingly good for a local show, playing up the spooky and sophisticated atmosphere with smoke and eerie music. The hosts have genuinely interesting insights on the works of art under discussion, too. 

Panel shows got randier in the 70's. The revamped Match Game debuted in 1973 and immediately became a sensation for its ribald answers and wacky shenanigans. They could be funny even when the contestants were downright awful, as in Richard Dawson's third-to-last nighttime episode in 1978. The only reason either contestant made it to the Super Match was Charles matched them each once, then matched one in a tie-breaker round.

The success of Match Game spawned imitations, most of which didn't last nearly as long as the original. You Don't Say began as a clone of Password on ABC in the early 60's. They dusted off the name and host Tom Kennedy and resurrected it in 1975 as a Match Game clone. Here, four panelists act out words and phrases they want the contestant to guess. For the bonus round, the contestant acts it out for the panelists. Not bad, and it's nice to see Charlie Brill and Mitzi McCall together on the same panel somewhere besides Tattletales.

Even PBS tossed its hat in the ring for its first national game show. We Interrupt This Week from 1978 had panelists, many of them from England, guessing the answers to joking questions based after the news of the past week. Very funny, especially if you know anything about the late 70's. Host Ned Sherrin was a droll delight.

Though panel games existed in the 80's, they rapidly fell out of fashion. Most of them likely moved too slow for the changing landscape of 80's TV, and the celebrities may have been out of the budget of many shows. Alex Trebek hosted Battlestars, which had contestants trying to capture three triangles on a board after guessing whether a celebrity's answer for a question is true or false. Merrill Heatter had such high hopes for this Hollywood Squares imitation, he revived it briefly in 1983 with a new bonus round after it barely lasted from fall 1981 to spring 1982. 

Jim Lange didn't have any more luck in 1982 with a syndicated revival of his Oh My Word as Take My Word for It. Once again, two contestants faced four panelists. This time, they gave odd answers to obscure words. Contestants had to guess which one was the real definition. This would be done far better under the name Wordplay with quicker a more-game Tom Kennedy in 1987. 

Guess along with these celebrities as they changed the standards for TV from the 50's through the 80's! (To Tell the Truth comes with its original and Buzzr commercials. (Oh, and thanks to Wink Martindale and his YouTube channel for the Battlestars episode!) 

Saturday, October 22, 2022

An Animated Weekend

Got a quick start today with breakfast, feeding kittens for a friend, and Charlie & Lola. "What Can I Wear for Halloween?" Lola asks. The kids are all supposed to dress up for the school Halloween party, but she has no idea what to go as. Morton's accident with their huge pumpkin finally gives her an idea. 

Hurried out after Charlie & Lola ended. I was later than planned again. At least it was another gorgeous day for rushing, blue and gold and warmer than even yesterday, probably in the upper 60's-lower 70's.

Work continues to be a pain in the rear. I ended up in a register the entire day. Had some really annoying customers, too. One woman dropped piles of meat on the counter, then wondered why it didn't come to under $150. She would have been lucky if it didn't come to over $500! The head bagger got upset when she had to put it all back, too. She had other things to do. Had a hard time explaining our rewards system to some people, too. Thank heavens they were able to pull a teen from the deli to take my long line when I finished. 

Not happy with my schedule this week, either. Three four hour days in a row and two days off would be great if I didn't have to work two 8 hour days, and if they weren't all late and on the busy Halloween weekend. I wish I could get some actual respect. I've been with this company for 20 years, and they can't even let me work consistent hours. 

Did a little shopping after work. There's a great sale on Acme microwave popcorn this week; thought I'd try kettle corn. I won't make it to the farm market this week or next week, so I grabbed apples and oranges on sale, too. Also found a sale on Fiber One bars where you buy two, you get them for $2.50 each. 

Hurried home after I bought everything to feed the kittens, feed myself, and watch Match Game PM. Came into the first episode in time for the Audience Match...and got to see Charles strip off his jacket and hat to illustrate his answer in the Head-to-Head! Ate popcorn while Gene scolded Sarah Kennedy for leaving his microphone on the floor in the second.

Finished the night online with more wacky horror animation. I watched Scooby Doo! Stage Fright at Amazon Prime. I go further into this Scooby Doo spoof of American Idol and The Phantom of the Opera at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog. 

The Tiny Toons have an even spookier time in the third season of Tiny Toon Adventures. Elmyra spoofs Elvira and her old creature features with "The Horror of Slumber Party Mountain." Babs, Fifi, and Shirley are looking forward to a relaxing girl's weekend. It turns out to be anything but quiet when first their boyfriends play tricks on them, and then they're all pursued by the ghost of cobbled-together legendary local monster One Eyed Jack. 

Friday, October 21, 2022

The Music of Fall

Started off my morning with breakfast and Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. Daniel and his friends are excited to get ready for "Dress Up Day" (aka Halloween) in the neighborhood. Daniel finds a Tigey the Adventure Tiger costume and Miss Elania makes her robot outfit, but "Katerina's Costume" winds up being a lot more creative. O the Owl loves his "Dress Up Day" traffic signal costume and is upset when it rips. Daniel and the others encourage him to turn it into something else.

Put on Match Game '75 while cleaning up and getting organized. Mary Ann Mobley brings up memories of a famous radio commercial with her "Call for Phillip Morrriissss!" answer to "Call for __" in the Audience Match. (It was the catchphrase for Phillip Morris cigarettes, supposedly yelled by a bellhop.) Meanwhile, Brett tosses out a joke about her and Gene supposedly going to a hotel in Encino when Charles walks around her to hear the question and she asks him if he's made the reservations. 

Took out the trash and recycling, then called Uber for a ride to Woodbury. Got them within a few minutes; they arrived in 11 minutes. A nice older lady picked me up, fielding a call from her grandson asking where she left the keys as we drove through West Collingswood Heights. (According to her, he had his own keys and continually lost them.) 

She dropped me off at On the Record in Woodbury about 20 minutes later. Yes, this is another local independent record store. They were about the same size as Phidelity Records in Westmont, with no dollar bins, and a similar remodeled wood floor and old and new music posters on the wall. The cheapest record I saw was four dollars. Most of the ones I found were five or six dollars, but I did find one for $15 that was still sealed. He also had CDs and music-related DVDs and books. 

Took me almost an hour, but I came up with a nice haul. The records:

The Broadway original casts of Nine with Raul Julia and Flahooley with Yma Sumac and Barbara Cook

Snow White and Rose Red & The Goose Girl (British children's album from the 70's - Ceila Johnson of Brief Encounter narrates The Goose Girl.) 

Grimm's Fairy Tales Told by Danny Kaye (This also features Snow White & Rose Red, one of my favorite fairy tales.) 

John Denver - Rocky Mountain Christmas

The soundtrack and story of The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas (This was the $15 dollar record - not only is it fairly rare, but it was still sealed in its original plastic.)

The CDs: 

The original London cast of the stage Sister Act (Apparently, the short-lived Broadway cast wasn't recorded.)

Manheim Steamroller - A Fresh Aire Christmas

And a new CD I picked up for Lauren as a Christmas present.

Asked the owner if he knew of a good place for lunch. He had several suggestions, so I thought I'd check them out. Decided I wasn't in the mood for the Mexican place a block down...but I did like the look of a little thrift shop next-door. The narrow building held piles of mostly newer items, including a room full of clothes. My main interest was in a small room in the back piled with books, CDs, videos, and DVDs. Picked up Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie on DVD and Philadelphia Homestyle Cookbook. The latter is a locally-printed book of recipes from Philly families, with information on its neighborhoods in 1984. (I may have to do some research and see how some of those neighborhoods have changed since then.)

Saw a dollar store across the street and thought I'd check it out. Alas, it turned out to be shut down. Someone did paint really nifty Halloween artwork on the windows, though. 

Oh, well. It was a gorgeous fall day, with a robin's egg-blue sky and a warm golden sun. It couldn't have been a nicer day for a stroll in a historic downtown. Some of the buildings on Broad Street in Woodbury date back to the 1700's and were major stops during the Revolutionary War. The further down I went on Broad Street, the newer the buildings became. The large shops of the 1700's and 1800's that housed On the Record gave way to smaller homes and storefronts from the early-mid 20th century and the modern Inspira Health hospital buildings. There were not one, but two small bridges over glittery rivers. 

The Colonial Diner stood a few blocks from Inspira Health. Its Beetlejuice-esque black and silver stripes were hard to miss! It wasn't terribly colonial. The outside screamed typical 60's-70's chrome diner, other than the stripes. The interior had a more modern veneer, with hardwood floors and soft teal leatherette booths. They were fairly busy for almost 3 in the afternoon, which made their quick service all the more appreciated. I had a tasty breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs, peppers, cheddar cheese, and tomatoes, and slightly flavorless hash browns. 

When I checked Uber, the cheapest ride listed cost almost 40 dollars! Went two doors down to wait until it slowed down enough for better prices. The Town Store was a local convenience store that was far larger than it appeared from the outside. I went in expecting a few shelves of candy and cigarettes. They were more like a smaller cross between Dollar General and WaWa. Shelves groaned with not only candy and cigarettes (and medical marijuana behind glass), but pharmacy items, drinks, and every kind of snack imaginable.

They had a lot of sodas I never saw before or rarely saw elsewhere. I ended up with a strawberry Perrier and a Reeses Snack Bar package. Should have been more careful with the latter. It turned out to be a bit melted. The strawberry Perrier was really tasty, though. It did taste like strawberry.

Finally picked up an Uber for a decent price about 10 minutes later. He took nearly 15 minutes to appear, though it could have been worse during rush hour. And of course, he was across busy Broad Street when he arrived. I had to dash over during a rare time when there were no cars. After all that, the traffic wasn't bad, and he did get me home within 20 minutes.

Went upstairs and into writing after I got in. Finally finished Acting Blank. As the others trickle in, Bill admits that, they may not agree on acting, but they do think Gene is the perfect host for Match Game. Gene decides while he waits to enter his door that, no matter how much he enjoys stage acting, he truly loves his other job, too. 

That took me way longer than it should have, but I haven't had time to write on 8 hour days, and there were days when I could barely focus. I won't have a chance to write this weekend, either. I'll resume writing Monday with Change of Blank, my first story based around Match Game '90. Brett and host Ross Schafer argue over her treatment of him and how she wishes he was the snubbed Gene. Charles tries to play referee.

At any rate, here's Acting Blank if you need a really quick read tonight!

It was nearly 7:30 when I finally broke for dinner and Match Game '77. We skipped ahead a few episodes to a new panel. Sweet soap star Trish Stewart, crusty character actress Mary Wickes, and neurotic Bill Daily join Richard Dawson in wishing his younger son Gary a happy birthday. Meanwhile, Gene jokes about a lady's nifty butterfly-shaped glasses.

Finished the night after a shower on YouTube. Ernest Scared Stupid is currently free there. In the late 19th century, the small town of Briarville, Missouri is attacked by trolls who turn children into wooden dolls. Town elder Phineas Worrell (Jim Varney) traps the largest troll in a gnarled old tree. The troll puts a curse on him that his descendants will become less and less intelligent. By 1991, Phineas' ancestor Ernest (Varney) is the dim garbage collector. His only friends are local kids Elizabeth (Shay Astar) and Kenny (Austin Nagler). After bullies destroy their cardboard haunted house, he builds them a haunted treehouse. That treehouse happens to be in the very same tree that keeps the troll at bay...and of course, Ernest inadvertently says the right incantation to release it.

Horrified when kids start disappearing (including Elizabeth and Kenny's other friend Joey), Ernest turns to troll trap-makers Tom (John Cadenhead) and Bobby Tulip (Bill Byrge) for help. Their so-called traps don't really do much besides make a mess. Local eccentric old lady Frances Hackmore (Eartha Kitt) knows how to really stop the trolls. It'll take help from all the kids in town and Ernest's kind and gentle heart to save them from this truly terrifying menace.

This one has a lot in common with Hocus Pocus, which came out two years later, including a relatively low budget and a lot of wacky slapstick mixed with believable Halloween lore. It's surprisingly dark for one of Ernest's vehicles. The troll costumes are genuinely scary and hideous, and they really do turn the kids into dolls. There's a lot of non-slapstick violence for his movies, too, including the trolls attacking the adults and Ernest nearly torching the head troll for attacking his dog. 

I remember my family renting this a lot in the early-mid 90's at Halloween and enjoying it, and I still think it's one of Varney's most underrated vehicles. Might make a nice triple-feature with the Hocus Pocus movies for older elementary school-age kids who can handle the trolls and the violence level.

Kenny isn't the only kid who went up against strange creatures on Halloween in the late 80's and early 90's. The Wickedest Witch from 1989 is Avrissa (Rue McClanahan), a nasty witch who has been forced to spend the last 300 years with goofy, game show-loving monsters underground. The Great Schitck (seriously, that's what they're called) tells her that forcing a pure-hearted being to do a bad deed on Halloween night will end the curse. She sends one of the monsters to befriend and bring a child down below. She tries her hardest to get him to do something terrible...but no matter how much he wants real magic, the kid can't harm his new buddies, even if they annoy her. 

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Ghosts A-Go-Go

Overslept this morning and barely had time for breakfast before I dashed out. At least the weather was nice for rushing. It was a gorgeous, perfect fall morning, 50's, sunny, and breezy, with a radiant bright blue sky.

And that may have been the most exciting thing to happen all day. I ended up in a register again, but we weren't really that busy. It got steady off-and-on, but the worst thing I encountered was a gentleman who threw a fit when he had only two items and the express lane wasn't open. They closed the express lane so it can removed and made into more self-checkouts. There were two lanes open, but neither were express. While he was a bus driver and probably in a hurry, he didn't need to carry on and be as loud as he was, either. A woman in my line got so tired of listening to his growling, she let him through in front of her.

(Oh, and later in the afternoon, they did move the express sign down to that lane.)

This time, I went straight home. When I got in, I changed and watched The Ghost In the Invisible Bikini while eating popcorn and working on putting together those mystery bags. I go further into this horror-themed Beach Party movie, the last in the series, at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Did some writing after the movie ended. Bill reminds Gene that he prefers to work without a script. He hadn't had much fun doing It Happened to Jane, but he's not sure why Gene didn't want billing. (In real life, Gene didn't want billing because he didn't think his performance was very good.) 

Broke for dinner at 7 PM. Match Game '77 tossed out a lot of jokes about snow and shoveling when the panel has to answer "__ Shovel" in the Audience Match. Orson Bean and Lee Merriweather help them try to figure out why the police desk sergeant thought the new prisoner was weird and meet a contestant who wants to be a game show producer. 

Finished the night online with several vintage Halloween specials from the 80's and 90's at Tubi. The Halloween Tree from 1993 has a quartet of children getting ready for trick-or-treating, only to discover their best friend Pip, who loves Halloween, was rushed to the hospital with appendicitis. They follow the ambulance to the hospital, taking a shortcut across a spooky ravine. It ends them at a dark old house, with a huge tree covered in pumpkins outside. Mr. Moundshroud (Leonard Nimoy), the owner of the house and the tree, insists they help him find Pip's spirit after he carries away a pumpkin with his face. They travel through 10,000 years of Halloween history, learning something about the significance of their own mummy, monster, witch, and skeleton costumes in the process.

Jerrica Benton has an equally exciting and spooky holiday in "Trick or Techrat" from the second season of Jem. She and the other Holograms want to hold a benefit concert to earn money for restoring an old opera house. Their rivals the Misfits are just angry they're holding a concert and hold a Halloween show of their own. Their slimy manager Eric Raymond lends a hand to a developer who wants the land the opera house is on by trying to scare the Holograms off and make them think the building is unsafe. One of the orphans from the Starlight House does get spooked and runs off...but she's the one who finally takes down Eric and his goons when she finds out what they're up to. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Scary Tales for a Chilly Day

Ate breakfast quickly, then hurried out into a sunny, cold morning. Dodged traffic as the wind nearly blew me back across the White Horse Pike, then around the school as the kids headed to class. Just barely got to work on time.

I may as well been infinitely late. We were dead for most of the day. It did pick up during the evening rush hour, to the point where they needed to send in a boy from the deli so I could go home. Other than I'm still getting overwhelmed dealing with all these people in the register, there were really no major problems. 

Changed into a regular shirt, then picked up pumpkin muffins from the bakery clearance rack and a gift card for Lauren's birthday, which is today. By this point, the lines finally got busy. I had to wait a few minutes in the express line, but the cashier moved quickly.

Since I had no other plans for today, there were a few more stops I wanted to make. Spent nearly an hour looking over Halloween costumes and old clothes at Goodwill. I originally considered being a fairy, but the weather's been up and down so much lately, I thought I should go with something more practical. They had several decent "play" cowboy hats, so I decided to be a cowgirl instead. 

Went in to peek at Goodwill's next-door neighbor Five Below. I hoped to find more novelties for my Halloween mystery bags, but they only had candy and not much else. I'll make use of them when we get closer to Christmas instead, as they have a great toy selection.

Briefly stopped at Dunkin' Donuts next. I wanted to try the pumpkin-faced donut Matt Caracappa mentioned at his Dinosaur Dracula blog, but they didn't have them. I settled for an unsweetened iced tea and an orange glazed doughnut with chocolate drizzle. To my surprise, they gave me two. I only asked for one. I saved the other for dessert.

Rode across the street to Family Dollar next. Their selection of novelties wasn't as good as Dollar Tree's, but they did have a few things. Picked up more wooden ornaments kids can color, mini-Moon Pies, and felt stickers. I also grabbed the most recent Peanuts holiday DVD, a series of 26 shorts revolving around the Christmas season. 

Headed straight home after that. Got organized, then did some writing. Bill and Gene both appeared in the 1959 Doris Day comedy It Happened to Jane. Bill was in the segment where Day's character was a contestant on I've Got a Secret, while Gene played a blow-hard reporter who won't let Jane get a word in edgewise. Neither man was especially fond of the rigmarole of screen acting, and it would be the only screen appearances of both. (Although, in Gene's case, it's too bad. I did think he was genuinely funny.) 

Broke at 6:30 for dinner. Watched Match Game '74 while I ate. Jimmie Walker marked the last day of his first week on the show, joined by fellow sitcom stars Joyce Bulifant and Loretta Swit. Brett starts out doing her strange idea of an introductory tune for Gene. The others do their best to help break a series of ties (so many, they never had a Super Match in this episode). 

Had dessert during Match Game '77. In the first episode, everyone tries to figure out "Whipping __" in the Audience Match, while Richard has to deal with "__ Columbus" in the Audience Match. The second episode had a lot of jokes about Orson Bean's new earring, including Gene borrowing one of Brett's clip-on earrings and Charles attempting to make one of his own.

Moved online for Mystery Science Theater 3000 at Shout Factory TV. The Atomic Brain is one of the earlier Mike episodes. The robots start off making fun of a juvenile delinquency short that has a young man trying to decide which peer group he's better off with. The main attraction is a lot stranger. A rich and elderly woman (Marjorie Eaton) insists on having her brain transferred to a young and beautiful body. She hires three lovely women to work for her. Dr. Frank (Frank Gerstle) uses Anita (Lisa Lang) as an experiment, exchanging her mind with that of a cat. Her fellow servants Bea (Judy Bamber) and Nina (Erica Rhodes) try to save her when she's on the roof, then each other when the lady decides their bodies are perfect for her brain!

Originally released under the title Monstrosity, this is a weird one. It's too bad the story is cliches of the highest order, because they do manage a nicely spooky atmosphere despite the low-budget trappings, and Anita with a cat's brain is genuinely scary. While the movie itself has its fans who appreciate the camp, MS3K fans don't think highly of this one, seeing it as one mad scientist movie too many. 

Ended the night on a brighter note with "Jack O'Lantern" at YouTube. This episode of the Rankin-Bass series Festival of Family Classics is the closest they get to a Halloween special. A grandfather tells his grandchildren the story of how a magical leprechaun living inside a carved pumpkin helped him and his sister drive away two witches who were destroying their crops and trying to force them off their land. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Walking In Autumn Glory

Began a late morning with breakfast and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. "Mickey's Treat" has them invited to Pete's Trick or Treat Tower for his big Halloween party, but no one's ever come to it. His friends are determined to appear. They have to climb over giant candy corn, find their way through a foggy forest, and get around many frogs jumping in their way to get to the tower...and then they have to get past Pete himself, who wants a trick from Mickey!

Put on Match Game '75 as I cleaned up from breakfast. I don't know why Buzzr always skips over the episodes Alex Karras appeared in. They're on YouTube, and there's nothing offensive about them other than a woman wrestler taking Karras down rather easily. Said woman wrestler is defeated when they pick up with Scoey Mitchilll and a pair of Pattys, Duke and Deustch. Richard has to help the new champ with "__ Tent" in the Head-to-Head.

Spent the next half-hour or so on the phone. Called Creran Funeral Home on the White Horse Pike in Oaklyn first. They handled Dad and Uncle Ken's deaths. No luck there. They suggested I call Oaklyn's city hall. I did...and this time, I hit pay dirt. They did have it, and were willing to hand over a certified copy if I applied for it and turned over 10 dollars.

Since it was a gorgeous fall day, in the upper 50's, sunny, and breezy, I walked to the City Hall. It's also on the White Horse Pike, two blocks from Creran's to the west and my rooms to the east. Went in, signed the application, paid for the copy, and went out in less than ten minutes.

I had to go to PNC anyway to deposit money, so I figured I'd drop it off. Strolled back down East Clinton in the opposite direction, this time to the stone steps into Newton Lake Park. It's definitely fall now. Trees glow in shades of lime green, lemon yellow, scarlet, and plum. They crunch under your feet as you head down the path, past fallen logs and waving brown reeds with dried seed pods on the ends. 

Used the inside ATM machine, then went inside to deliver the death certificate. I had to wait a few minutes while the woman there helped an older lady. I explained to her boss why I was there. He said that my financial adviser wouldn't be around until Thursday, but he'd put it on his desk for me. 

Went for a short walk in Collingswood next. I didn't have any other plans for the day, and I hadn't done a day in Collingswood proper for a while. Occasionette was closed for a few days "to prepare for the holiday," but they did have a new store, Occasionette Joy, in the space that used to be Frugili Consignment. It looked like a baby store, with picture books and toddler toys on pastel shelves and baby onesies hanging on low racks. I peered around there and Educational Ed toys, but didn't see anything interesting. (I'll return to both when we get closer to Christmas.)

Most stores in Collingswood are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, but Innergroove Records had its door open. I wasn't in the mood for spending the entire day sitting on the floor and riffling through their dollar bins, and they had a lot of people in and out. Plus, it was getting late. I just ended up with: 

The George Shearing Quintet featuring Brass Choir - Satin Brass

33 Golden Hits, a soft-rock collection put out by Sessions, a music compilation company similar to K-Tel

Went straight upstairs and into a very late lunch and Pennies from Heaven on Tubi after I finally got home. I go further into this slightly dark Depression-era vehicle for Bing Crosby at my Musical Dreams Movie Reviews blog.

Worked a little bit on writing after the movie ended. Bill really doesn't think Gene's heart is as much into acting as he claims. He doesn't have the discipline. Gene points out that he does do other things, including gardening shows in Cape Cod with his wife Helen.

Broke at 7 for dinner and Match Game '77. Richard Dawson wasn't happy in these episodes at all. In the first, he angrily said to write producer Bobby Sherman when he wouldn't match his answer of "toasted" for "warm buns." In the second, he tried to explain that he meant to write "ate" instead of "sat on," but Ira didn't pass that, either, or his heated argument that he'd been up all night doing a telethon and was tired. Richard was clearly frustrated, and his seething anger would boil over into the coming weeks...

Finished the night on YouTube to spend Halloween with curmudgeonly Paul Lynde. The Paul Lynde Halloween Special may be one of the strangest holiday variety shows in the annals of television, or at least the most mid-70's. Lynde joins his housekeeper Margaret Hamilton at her sister's house. Turns out the house is haunted, Margaret is the Wicked Witch of the West, and her sister is Billie "Witchepoo" Hayes. They give him three wishes for helping them out. In the first, he dreams he's a tough guy trucker, Tim Conway is his rival, and Roz Kelly is the waitress they both love. The second has him as a sheik, Florence Henderson as the frigid British beauty he's romancing, and Conway as the Foreign Legion officer who's after him. He turns the witches' home into a disco with the third. In between, the Osmonds annoy Lynde, Betty White appears as Miss Halloween, and KISS pop in to perform three of their biggest hits, "Detroit Rock City," "Beth," and "King of the Night World."

That wasn't Lynde's first encounter with an especially wild Halloween party. "Twitch or Treat" from the third season of Bewitched has Endorra (Agnes Moorehead) living across the street from her daughter Samantha and her husband Darrin. They want her to remove the house, and she agrees to it on the condition that she can have her Halloween party at their house. Uncle Arthur (Lynde) invites himself, to Endorra's annoyance. While Samantha tries to figure out what Willie Mays is doing there, Darrin has to extract himself from a beautiful lady who is a little too feline to be really human. Their next-door neighbor Gladys Kravitz thinks something is going on, but Uncle Arthur isn't about to let the authorities spoil their fun. 

Monday, October 17, 2022

Surprise Storms

Started off the morning with a phone call from PNC. No, I haven't gotten the death certificate yet. Turns out Jodie doesn't have it after all. I need to call the funeral home that dealt with Dad's remains tomorrow. 

Read Caramel Pecan Roll Murder and wrote in my journal, then had a quick breakfast while watching Charlie & Lola. Charlie's able to tell Lola "Boo! Made You Jump!", but Lola can never seem to scare Charlie. She finally gets him during a night when Marv and Lotta sleep over, and they all tell scary stories.

Worked on writing briefly after the show ended. Bill tells Gene he admires his ability to get into a role. He prefers to toss out off-the-cuff puns and isn't a fan of learning a script. Gene thinks Bill is one of the best hosts ever and certainly one of the best panelists. He's won big money for people on Match Game and is frequently right on To Tell the Truth

Barely had time to change and pack lunch before I rushed out for work. The hurry turned out to be unnecessary. We were dead almost the entire day. It did get a little busy during rush hour, but was otherwise fairly quiet. Really the only thing going on right now is sports. We're between major food holidays. It's still a tad too early to prepare for Thanksgiving, and most people buy candy and party trays for Halloween, not big meals. 

We were so quiet, they finally pulled me to help the head bagger gather carts around 5 PM. It became apparent why they wanted me out there when I noticed thick, menacing dark clouds on the horizon. I rushed around, gathering all the carts I could find, including on either side of the store, in the back near the Kid's Gym and dentist's office, and at the bus stop. 

No sooner did I push the last four carts to the patio than I felt big raindrops on my shoulders. It just started pouring as I turned around. Lightning flashed on the horizon, and thunder purred in the background. Needless to say, I spent my remaining hour inside returning unwanted items and cleaning the bathrooms. 

Though the rain slowed down by the time I finished, it wasn't done. It finally ended as I headed across Oaklyn. I arrived home damp and with wet knees, but not nearly as soaked as I would have been if I finished earlier. It picked up just as I got in, and has been off and on since. (The pyrotechnics are long gone, though.)

Had dinner while watching Match Game '77. The last of the Barbara Rhodes week features a question with some very awkwardly un-PC answers and is usually skipped by Buzzr. We pick up with Avery Schriber, Jo Ann Harris, and Fannie Flagg answering questions about whom Carter shouldn't have sent to Cuba as goodwill ambassador. One contestant takes nearly ten minutes to answer a question; another shows off a fine singing voice performing a rousing gospel number near the end of the show.

Finished the night online at Paramount Plus. "Ship of Ghouls" is the first Halloween episode of The Love Boat from season 2. Gopher and Doc compete for a pretty former model friend (Barbara Anderson) of Julie's, not knowing she wears veils to hide facial scarring and her fear of not being attractive. A little boy tells lies when he assumes that his father (Gary Collins), who left his mother (Mary Ann Mobley) but returned to her, is lying, too. The Amazing Alonzo (Vincent Price) is the ship's illusionist who is wildly popular with all the older women on board, but his own girlfriend (Joan Blondell) wishes he'd pay more attention to her.

Richie Cunningham's fifties Halloween is less complicated on the second season Happy Days episode "Haunted." His buddy Ralph Malph hopes to avoid the local gang by holding his annual Halloween costume party in a reportedly haunted local house. Joanie insists that the ghost who resides there will chop off everyone's heads. Richie goes to the party with Fonzie and his friends to prove there's nothing to fear but fear itself...and some of Ralph's bad jokes. 

Sunday, October 16, 2022

We Need a Little Games

Started off the morning with breakfast and the original cast album for Mame. Lansbury really made a splash on Broadway in this massive follow-up to Hello Dolly. Mame Dennis adopts her brother's son Patrick into her wild and eccentric world. He's eventually taken to boarding school, just as she's hit hard by the Great Depression. Her attempts at appearing on the stage with her friend Vera Charles (Beatrice Arthur) and working as a saleswoman don't work out, but the latter does introduce her to the handsome and wealthy southerner Beau. She marries him, and Patrick grows up reading about their exploits. After Beau passes away, she returns to New York...but Patrick is all grown up and about to marry a snooty Connecticut debutante. With help from Vera and Patrick's former nanny Agnes (Jane Connell), Mame reminds Patrick that life can be a banquet when you open your eyes to different people and experiences.

A smash hit in the mid-60's, this is probably Jerry Herman's second-best-known score after Dolly. It produced the holiday standard "We Need a Little Christmas," the big ballad "If He Walked Into My Life," and the rousing, south-celebrating title song. Everyone toasted Lansbury in the title role, and she's still associated with it, especially in New York. A failed revival with Lansbury in 1983 probably scared people away from this title since then, but I'm hoping the relative success of Funny Girl on Broadway now will lead producers to dust off other forgotten 60's musical hits. 

Didn't even finish the album before I rushed off to work. Work continues to be a pain. I'm so uncomfortable cashiering. Everyone says I do fine, but I don't feel like I do fine. I get frustrated and overwhelmed when things go wrong. I don't know how to explain things to people when they're upset or how to talk to them when there's a problem. 

And the next person who whines to me about having to use and buy non-plastic bags will get a box of them shoved down their throat. I can't help it if no one can remember them. Pack your stuff in the parking lot if you left them in your car. Carry packable ones in in your purse or pocket. People used to complain about how flimsy and small the plastic bags were and how they could never get them open. If they don't want plastic or cloth or vinyl bags, what the heck do they want? 

Picked up a few things after work. Grabbed more of those Fruity Fun granola bars on sale and a box of Kind granola bars. Found more tasty fudge-topped shortbread cookies on the bakery clearance racks, along with corn muffins for work this week. Tried to stop at WaWa on the way home, but you apparently can't make deposits in their ATM machines.

Went straight upstairs and into dinner and Match Game '74 when I got home. Bert Convy got more than a little crazy after Richard helped the contestant win, including rushing down and nearly making out with Louisa Moritz. Cleaned up during Match Game PM. Gene had to fix Joyce Bulifant's microphone in the first episode. Bill Macy joins in on the second to watch Brett and Betty White trade quips and Richard try to figure out "__ Beans" in the Head-to-Head.

Speaking of PM, I finished the night with more syndicated game shows, these made directly for the syndicated market. While most syndicated game shows were adaptations of daytime shows like Match Game and Wheel of Fortune, some were created just for independent stations and the early evening hours that the networks didn't control. One of the bigger syndicated hits in the late 70's was The Cross-Wits, a cross between crossword puzzles and Password Plus. Two celebrities help a contestant solve a series of crossword clues that lead to a subject. If they guess the subject, they win the puzzle. Nipsey Russell was perfect for this game; he's joined by Rita Moreno, Jack Reilly, and Misty Rowe. Gentlemanly Jack Clark presided here.

Tic Tac Dough also made it big in syndication around the same time. This is one of the few game shows to do better when it was syndicated. Its network run barely lasted a few months on CBS, but it ran from 1978 through 1985 in syndication. Wink Martindale leads two contestants through an intense quiz show that involves answering questions on a tic-tac-toe monitor. I loved answering trivia with contestants and hoping they avoided that scary roaring dragon in the bonus round!

Syndication's been around since television began. The market really started to take off as more independent networks debuted in the late 50's and early 60's. More stations got in the game, creating shows for that market like The Big Payoff. This revival of a network show from the late 50's has two couples competing at New York's Tavern on the Green for a full fashion wardrobe for the lady, including a mink coat. Host Bob Paige would later go on to be a political analyst. 

Most syndicated games tended to be simpler and lower-budget, like The Movie Game from 1969. We once again have four celebrities helping contestants win money. In this case, Dick Martin and Dan Rowan at the height of Laugh-In's fame join Greer Garson and a young Sharon Farrell to answer trivia on the latest movies, then act out scenes that reveal a title or subject. Cute if you know about the movies from this era or want to hear gossip about these stars; boring if you don't.

Most syndicated game shows tended to run less than a year. The Challengers from 1990 with Dick Clark is a revival of The Who, What, and Where Game and is an obvious Jeopardy clone, right down to people making bets on their answers. The $1,000,000 Chance of a Lifetime from 1986 with Jim Lange imitates Wheel of Fortune, with its Hangman-based main game. It apparently started well, but petered out when it couldn't stand up to the competition (including Wheel).  (It seems to have done slightly better in England, running four years under the name All Clued Up.) 

Syndicated shows continue to be released for streaming and MyTV and other networks even in the new millennium. Street Smarts had two contestants decide from watching interviews if one of the people interviewed would give a correct answer or an incorrect one. They occasionally throw a dunce cap on a contestant and make them answer the question given to the interviewees themselves. This proved to be a surprise hit, running from 2000 to 2005 on the strength of those goofy answers and people's reaction to them. (Germany really loved it; their version still runs to this day.) 

Go independent with these rare and unusual bits of game show history! (Watch out for a bad tape on the ultra-rare The Big Payoff and the commercials from its USA run on Tic Tac Dough.) 

(Oh, and the Eagles started out well against the Cowboys in the first half. They were up 20-3 by halftime. The Cowboys caught up in a big way, but the Eagles managed to get one last touchdown that won them the game 26-17.)