Tag Archives: Good Times

October 2014: Chiller Theater!

27 Oct

October 27, 2014

I LOVE the Chiller Theater convention. Twice each year in Parsippany New Jersey, hundreds of actors, artists, wrestlers, former child stars, musicians, and yes, even people involved in horror movies, come together and, when you factor in the huge dealer area, you get a convention that is always fun. I’ve been going for five conventions in a row, and despite Parsippany being a little inconvenient (would it be that hard to hold it in NYC?) it is worth the trip.

Before I go on, let’s check in on Greg “The Hammer” Valentine. In past years, though I am sure, absolutely positive, (I say that from a CYA legal perspective) that he was stone cold sober, he gave every appearance of being drunk. Was he? I have no evidence but, if he or his lawyer is reading this, I’m sure he hasn’t had a drink since dyed his hair black and tagged with the Honky Tonk Man as Rhythm and Blues. Though he looks perpetually drunk.

Hulk Hogan Fan Appreciation Day at Toyota Park - July 10, 2009

So how does he look this year? Pretty much the same.

Hulk Hogan Fan Appreciation Day at Toyota Park - July 10, 2009

The only difference is that I got up close to him, walked right by him, and his face, while looking exactly the same, looks ridiculously heavy, as if his flesh and skin weigh far more than normal flesh and skin and is about to slough off his face. Years of hard living will do that.

Brutus Beefcake was there and he just looked sticky.

But there were high points aplenty this year.

100_0602 blogI met Joel “MST3K” Hodgeson and took a picture with him and Tom Servo, one of the show’s wisecracking robots. Joel Hodgeson may be the nicest guy I ever met at this convention. When I spoke, he listened and made eye contact. He didn’t try to rush anyone despite the long line. He said nice, positive things, smiled all the time, and was so sweet and earnest that I am sure he was out in the parking lot handing out tracts after the show.

True story: As I was entering the room where he was signing, we bumped into each other as he came out of the bathroom. This is now my second celebrity bathroom story.

Saarah and I also had a professional photo taken with Henry THE FONZ! Winkler. For a fee, you can have a professional photo taken with a celeb, with pro lighting and a pro taking the picture. I know from personal experience that Henry Winkler is a very nice man, very generous with his time, and he has a reputation for being good to his fans, so this experience struck me as odd and out of character.

There were about 20 people in line to take a picture with Winkler. The line moved ridiculously fast. When we got near the front, the assistant told us that, as soon as the guy ahead of us was finished, we should jump in and get ready for the picture. I was told that’s how he liked to work. I barely had time to put down the bag I was holding and get next to him. He stuck his hand out, I shook it, and I got five words into “this is a pleasure to-“ when Henry said “HIYAGLADGREATAKATAKA” and the director said “hold it!” and the picture was taken and we were shooed out. Seriously, maybe he had dental work, but though he was smiling a big, sincere smile,  his teeth never parted and he spoke so fast I really have no idea what he said. And it is too bad, since I have a “seven degrees of separation” sort of legit connection to but never got a chance to tell him.

After that, there was the usual assortment of Godzilla actors, Debbie Gibson, and the cast of Good Times and although I couldn’t get close to him, Jimmy Walker seemed to be having a ball. (And yes, he was wearing that silly J.J. Evans hat.)

We were here on Sunday, only the second time I didn’t make it on a Saturday. My only disappointment was that they ran out of Chiller glasses the day before. Every year, the convention sells a commemorative glass with a horror personality on it. In the past they had the likes of Lon Chaney Sr. from London After Midnight and Bela Lugosi from White Zombie. This year’s glass had Edgar Allan Poe, which I feel isn’t that big a deal. It isn’t hard to find Poe stuff. But if anyone would like to like to sell me one so I can keep my collection intact, drop me a note in the comments below. But being here on Sunday had one advantage- much less crowded.

The guest list changes for every convention so, with the exception of some wrestlers, Zacherly (the Cool Ghoul) and some indy guys from some Sherriff Joe film (WHY? Not impressive.), the lineup for the April 2015 show will be nearly 100% different. It is a different convention every year. I’m already looking forward to the next one.

You can read columns about past shows 1, here, 2, here, 3, here and 4, here.



My Review of Beyond Scared Straight (Repeat Rerun)

19 Sep

September 19, 2013

This ran over the summer and following the TV tradition of reruns I am posting it again. Be glad this is only the second time I have run this. The network has aired this 30 or 40 times already.

from July 23, 2013

Have I ever told you that I love my TiVo? It really is great. I never know what I am going to find when I check the Now Playing List. Will it be the newest episode of The Big Bang Theory? A repeat of The Big Bang Theory? A repeat of the newest episode of The Big Bang Theory? You never know, but given that
A- I like The Big Bang Theory and

B- I have a season pass for it and
C- I gave it three thumbs up and
D- TBS and WWOR air it about 39,000 times a day,
it is a good bet I’ll find it on my TiVo.

But there are other shows out there, and if you know TV as well as I know TV, you realize that some of those other shows are almost worth watching. Take for example this show which I saw on my Now Playing list:                       DSCN2177

“Ferocious Killer Hustle Man attacks an at-risk teen who refuses to comb another prison inmate’s chest hair.”

ALL IN BABY! Never mind the latest episode of Masterpiece Theater, this goes to the top of my viewing list.

I love Beyond Scared Straight. In a nutshell, the show follows “at-risk teens” (i.e.: juvenile delinquents, wannabe gang-bangers, bullies, teen drug abusers and thieves, twelve year old Nazis, etc, etc, etc.) I saw all of this when I was a NYC high school teacher.

I accompanied a group of thugs on a trip to the Arthur Kill Correctional Facility in Staten Island, (what an ironic name, BTW), a medium security prison. I went because I am a straight shooter and will never, ever, under any other circumstances, see the inside of a prison. I am not built for that life.  This was really my chance for a little adventure. And also I had a thing for the guidance counselor running the trip. Not that this impressed Ms. G at all, not for a second. Maybe I should have spoken to her instead.

Anyway, the kids were taken into the jail, put through the metal detector, pat downs, etc, and brought into the jail. They saw the cells, the yard, all of it. The inmates spoke to them and tried to teach them some sense. It worked a little: on the way home some of the kids were spooked silent. (And others were loud and obnoxious. I am sure most of them ended up in there for real. BTW- the prison closed in 2011 so they are all out on the streets. Lucky me.)

At one point I left the group to go to the bathroom. This was a medium security facility and I had to walk through a common area where certain inmates were allowed to roam free. I got halfway across and looked up. The common area was ringed by a large walkway, and the ceiling gave way to a wide open space which allowed a view of the cells on the second level. I was right about in the center of this when I realized that I was alone, inmates were walking all around, and peering down at me were bored inmates who had nothing better to do than attack. There were guards around, but few and far between.

I hustled to the bathroom and back.

We made it out of the prison and back to school. I wanted to leave a few behind but unfortunately the Department of Corrections had other ideas.

Which brings me to Beyond Scared Straight.


On this particular episode, the show went back for the third time to a prison they had taken other groups of kids to. There are always various inmates featured, but there is one “break out star” (hopefully not literally) of the show, Hustle Man.  Here are the descriptions of his previous two appearances. hustle man 2

hustle man 3

This is Hustle Man: 12-hustle-man-talks-to-david

I bet that doughy white kid just about crapped his pants.

My problem with the show is that I never think they go far enough, a lot of the kids know that the inmates will not really lay a finger on them. I would have a plant in the group, a teen who secretly works for the jail, so when he got angry, the inmate could really grab the fake and lay a beating on him. These at-risk darlings need to believe that the prisoners are only a hair’s breadth away from sodomizing them.

So in this episode, Hustle Man tried to intimidate the kids by getting them to comb the chest hair of another inmate. I’ve heard a lot of strange or freaky things that go on in prison, but that was a new one on me. Anyway, If Hustle Man asked me to comb another inmate’s chest hair, I’d comb it, weave it, and ask him if he wanted any styling gel. One of the kids took the comb and, in a scene I guarantee his friends and enemies will replay for him for the rest of his life, he combed the inmate’s chest hair.


The other kid refused and Hustle Man had to be restrained by four or five guards and dragged away. They should have tasered him too, put on more of a show for the teens.


Hustle Man showed up again later in the show to talk to the teens, and if I were running the show I would have brought him back in chains. In fact, I would have gimmicked the chains, and had him snap them like they were toys, burst free, and attack the kid again. Now THAT would show him. 05-26-hustle-man-towers-over-dabriyon

At the end of the show, most of the kids they followed seemed to have turned their lives around, which really disappointed me. Part of the fun of Beyond Scared Straight is guessing the ones who will go back to their old ways and wind up back in jail, this time for real.

I am not sure how Hustle Man got his nickname, but I think that title belongs to the original TV Hustle Man:

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