There’s a common misconception that the multi-Grammy Award winning Weird Al Yankovic only performs parody songs. For those of us who’ve been buying his records/cassettes/CD’s for nearly four decades, however, we know full well that some of his funniest stuff is completely his own. These Al-riginals include “Dare to be Stupid,” “This is the Life,” “One more Minute,” and my favorite of them all, “Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota.” It was included on his UHF (1989) soundtrack and revolves around a family road trip to a rather unique roadside attraction. These folks have a penchant for pickled wieners and visiting as many bizarre places in the United States they can find with the Twine Ball their clear favorite. Most of the locales mentioned in the song are real places and I had the opportunity to visit the “Mecca of albino squirrels” (Olney, Illinois) last November.
With the end of Labor Day weekend also unofficially signifies the end of summer (even if the calendar says otherwise). This is actually my favorite time of year. The cooler nights, shorter days and Halloween decorations galore in every store. Yes…Halloween is my favorite holiday, even at my age. Growing up has many fond memories for me, especially at Halloween…carving pumpkins, dressing up as one of my favorite monsters, trick or treating and even listening to the Dr. Demento Show with his annual Halloween special. It’s a real shame that kids these days make little effort to keep the Halloween traditions alive (perhaps they should watch the movie TRICK ‘R TREAT to see what can happen!). Kids rarely dress up as scary things anymore. Witches, vampires and ghosts are a thing of the past, replaced with super-heroes, princesses and whatever top 40 music star is popular that year (or my favorite costume, wearing army fatigues and painting your face black…ooooh scaary! Could you tell that I was just extremely sarcastic?). Also missing these days is the Dr. Demento Show, at least in my area. According to the good doctor’s website he is in fact still broadcasting every week, just in more of a limited capacity. It’s too bad that Sirius/XM wouldn’t pick up his weekly show.
It’s hard to imagine what my life would have been like had I not had the honor of growing up with Svengoolie. The “1970’s world” I was raised in was devoid of VCR/DVD’s and DVR cable. Consequently, watching monster movies at your own convenience was simply not the option that it is today. I suppose this is the “you kids don’t know how good you have it” story that my generation gets to tell in place of “having to walk six miles to school in the freezing cold.” All kidding aside, however, you really did have to be home at the right time to catch a rare showing of what interested you. During this era, many of us “scary movie” kids depended on our local horror hosts to reliably deliver those goods.