Friday, October 22, 2010

Happy Birthday, Christopher Lloyd!

Happy 72nd birthday to the greatest Doc Brown of all time!

Thank you, Mr. Lloyd, for unintentionally becoming such a huge part of my life.

For those of you out there who didn't catch him on stage the other night with Michael J. Fox at the 2010 Scream Awards, here's a clip:

That man looks GREAT for his age.

And, if you haven't pre-ordered the Blu-ray Back to the Future: 25th Anniversary Trilogy Box Set (with a digital copy for Pete's sake!), what are you waiting for??  Do it now!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

ROBOT Hello Kitty

During my last trip to Japan, I had the unfortunate luck of trying to find a hotel room in Osaka during a holiday weekend. When I did finally find a place, it was totally inconvenient to where I wanted to be and cost a whole lot more than I wanted to pay.  It was in a business hotel and - since business hotels are mainly for businessmen - my room was tiny, sparse and reeked of smoke, desperation and briefcases.

As I sat on the scale model of a single bed and lamented my current situation, I flipped through the information packet showing local attractions as well as how to escape a fire, earthquake or Godzilla attack.

That's when I found the following piece of paper:

That’s right. It’s an advertisement for a "Hello Kitty" robot.

A $3500 "Hello Kitty" robot.

For sale in a business hotel. For men.

Suddenly, this expensive little detour started to seem worth it.

I flipped the brochure over:

As you can see, Robo Kitty-chan can use her twin video camera/laser beam eyes to function in a variety of everyday situations. I’ll do my best to translate but my Japanese is a little rusty so bear with me:

“You call that a salute?? Bow before me, mortal!”
“All hail Hello Kitty Overlord!”
“I made you some tea, Robo Kitty-chan.”
“For this, you shall die.”
“Not enough PINK in this room! You have earned my wrath.”
“Forgive me, Robo Kitty-chan. Forgivvvve…”
“Uh-oh, Robo Hello Kitty looks hun-gry…”
“Indeed! Which of your children shall I eat to-day? La la la!”


My three favorite things: robots, pointless Japanese pop-culture and desperately lonely old people.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Best. Coffeeshop. Ever.

DeLorean time machine in the window?
Original Ghostbusters poster?

Sorry Seattle, Chicago's got us beat.

Read the full story about The Wormhole here: Or visit them here:

The Wormhole
1462 N. Milwaukee
Chicago IL

And if you've been or ever get the chance to check it out, let me know all about it in the comments!

(Thanks, Ken!)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Return of an Old Friend

The Saga Begins
I got my first real camera back in the mid-1990s. I'd actually had a camera for a few years before that – a little plastic windy-upy job that captured my last year of middle school as well as two trips to the Philmont Boy Scout ranch in New Mexico – but it wasn't until right before I went to Australia as an exchange student in 1995 that I bought an actual camera: an Olympus Stylus Infinity.

It was probably the nicest thing I owned at the time. It was black, compact, had a shiny silver button and a sleek clamshell shape that just felt like it was meant to fit into my hand. The lens was behind a cover that would slide to the right with a satisfying click. The lens would then pop out slightly with a pleasant little mechanical buzz.

Even putting film in it was a treat. (Remember putting film in a camera??) Just pop open the back, slip the film canister in one side and thread the start of the film into the other. Close the door and the camera would whirr to life, doing the rest of the work.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, it was actually a really good camera, too. It had a f/3.5 lens which took some remarkably clear pictures. While the camera didn't zoom, it had a semi-wide angle lens which meant I could fit an awful lot into a photo for such a little camera. I realize now that it was my time with that lens and my 4 years of high school art class that really shaped how I currently frame a shot. Also, the camera's slowest shutter speed was only 1/15th of a second meaning I could turn the flash off and still do a lot in dim light without the shutter being open for too long. Here are three of the nicer pictures of the handful I have scanned onto my hard drive:
Rainbow in the Blue Mountains
The Olgas
Ayers Rock at Dusk

Down Under
As you can see, that camera made the trip to Australia with me. It ended up documenting so much: my first plane flight, my apartment, me getting an Akubra-style hat, a surprise birthday party two Australian friends threw for me, my bathing suit and boxer shorts lying on a rock during my first nude beach experience, me standing in front of a "No Standing" sign. So many great memories and my camera was there for all for them.

A few months later, shortly after I arranged to extend my time in Australia another semester, my best friend Mike came to visit from Scotland and he helped me blow the next 6-months worth of rent on a backpacking trip around the country.

So young! So thin!

My Olympus Stylus went with us. And barely survived.

I can't tell you the number of times I dropped it or it fell out of my backpack. But, in a testament to the quality of its Japanese design, I only had to pick it up, slide the lens cover to the right and it would buzz me a little "Hello! Let's take some pictures!". So durable, that little camera.

We did have one particularly close call where, after taking a few hero shots among Kangaroo Island's Remarkable Rocks (below), I dropped the camera and Mike and I watched in slow-mo terror as it tumbled down a series of large boulders before sliding to a rest mere inches from a sheer cliff overlooking an Indian Ocean being violently churned by an approaching cyclone.

I probably shouldn't have risked my life retrieving it but it was my camera, dammit! Thankfully, that little guy survived the rest of the trip and did really well my last few months in Australia, right up until I accidentally killed it.

Sex on the Beach
I'd had a few more stops left on a bus pass from Mike's and my earlier backpacking trip so, before I went back to America, I used it to go up to the Gold Coast. One evening, for some dumb reason, I decided to take my camera with me to a night club. (Do they even call them "night clubs" anymore?) It was there I drank a lot, danced like an idiot and met an attractive British girl with a nose ring.

Miraculously, she found me attractive. Maybe it was my accent, or perhaps my ponytail (or she was just really, really drunk), but we ended up spending several hours making out on the moonlit sandy beaches of Surfers' Paradise. The very, very sandy beaches. Just the two of us.

With my camera in my back pocket.

I awoke at the youth hostel sometime the next afternoon and, when I went to slide the lens cover to the right, it didn't budge. Odd. I tried it again with a bit more force and the grinding noise it made still gives me shivers. The normally cheerful lens didn't so much "buzz" as "wheeze". Sand was all over the lens and in every available gap and crevice. When I tried to slide the door closed, the lens wouldn't retract. And then it just died on me, right there in my arms, forcing me to use disposable cameras for my last few weeks in Australia.

Cut to Tampa a few months later. I've returned from Australia and am now finishing college, battling post-travel depression and lamenting to a new roommate about my beloved and very broken camera.
"And then it just died on me, right there in my arms. Man, I loved that camera."
"Do you still have it?"
"You mean 'its carcass'? Yeah."
"Do you still have the receipt and the original box?"
"Of course." (If you know me, this is not a surprise.)
He thought for a second then said:
"Clear as much sand out of is as you can, wipe it down, make it look brand-new and I'll take care of it."
I did as he suggested and, a few days later, we found ourselves at a branch of the same store I'd bought it from the year before. As we stood a few feet from the Customer Service desk, he asked me for my clean and repackaged camera. He also asked for the receipt that he'd had me trim to remove the date.
"Be right back."
It was then that my very large, very imposing and somewhat Italian-looking/somewhat Middle-Eastern-looking roommate played both parts of "Good Cop, Bad Cop" with this poor Customer Service rep.

Because of my non-confrontational nature, I couldn't bare to watch so I stood mostly out of earshot, trying not to look. I did, however, catch bits of him explaining how "it just stopped working" and how "extremely dissatisfied" he was. He didn't even miss a beat when she pointed out that this "recently bought" camera now came in a different-looking box.
"I didn't buy it HERE. I bought it in New York."
Whatever else he said must have worked because, a few minutes later, he walked away from the desk with a brand-new Olympus Stylus camera for me. While this guy would end up becoming a huge pain in my ass a few short months later, at that moment, he was a hero to me.

I took a lot better care of that replacement camera over the next few years. I may have used it a lot less, but I also dropped it less and can happily say that I never fooled around on a beach with it in my back pocket again. Sadly, that camera would end up dying an even worse death than the last.

Crash Test
As the 2002 holiday season drew to a close, so did my time playing the Grinch at Universal Studios.

A very handsome Grinch
It was a particularly melancholy time for me because I knew there was a very good chance I wouldn't be playing the Grinch ever again. In just under 2 months, I'd be going to Japan to work and I planned to make my time there last as long as possible.

I used my camera to document my last day playing the Mean Green One. I got a bunch of pictures on set as well as some great behind-the-scene shots: Grinches ripping their faces off, Candy Cane Who kissing Cheerleader Who, Max the dog posing like he was going to pee. All classic stuff.

Anyway, late one evening, right after my final (and very long) Grinchmas shift, I went to a local bar to meet up with some Whos and fellow Grinches to celebrate not having to wear prosthetics again for another year. We drank and shared memories and I captured it all with my trusty ol' camera.

After I'd had a beer or four, Shane, the last of the Grinches, showed up.
"Shane! You're here! You know that CD I made for us to listen to in the makeup room?"
"Hilarious, right? Well, I made you a copy! It's in my car! Let's go get it!"
I snapped a quick picture of him, slipped my camera into my coat pocket and ran out the door and across the parking lot to go get the CD. Shane came out as well but stayed by his car parked right in front of the bar. While I was walking back towards him, CD in hand, two guys holding motorcycle helmets were leaving the bar.  Just as they were about to pass me, one of them gave me a menacing look.
"What's up, STUPID?"
They both laughed and high-fived.

Clearly this was a joke, right? Two grown men taunting me at a 3rd grade level? Really?? Maybe they knew me already and I just didn't recognize them. Maybe they knew I was one of the Grinches and they were just playing along.

But no, it turns out they were just two drunk biker assholes with limited vocabulary, low self-esteem and small penises.

Now, normally, I would have just let something like this pass. Like I said before, I'm not confrontational and, honestly, I'm really not much in the muscles department.

But this was different.

You could blame it on my being tired and a little drunk. Or blame it my being emotional about all of the changes about to happen in my life. Also, remember, I didn't really think they were insulting me. But, if I had to choose why I did what I did, I'd say it was mainly due to the fact that I'd just spent the last two months getting paid to make fun of people.

Whatever the reason, before I even had a chance to think twice, my inner Grinch took the controls.
"Hey-ey…'Stupid'! GOOD one, man! You really should consider doing stand-up. 'Stupid'. Wow."
I shook my head as I continued to walk.
"I'll bet you both just can't wait for middle school."
As I approached Shane's car, I continued being suicidal.
"Hey Shane, is this your car? It's hard for me to tell, you know, because I'm so 'stoooopid'."
I made a little "der-dee-doo" kind of noise and started walking funny to emphasize just how stupid I was but stopped as soon as I got close enough to see Shane's clearly terrified face. That's when it dawned on me what was about to happen. I didn't even have to look over my shoulder. When I handed Shane the CD, I asked him in a low voice:
"They're coming back this way, aren't they?"
"Yep," he squeaked.
"Awwwww, shit."
I turned around with the desperate hope of trying to talk my way out of it but my inner Grinch wouldn't let that happen.
"I'm sorry, pal. Did I offend your girlfriend?"
Shane visibly flinched at this, then took a few steps back. That's when I saw that the guy who I was making fun of had a crazed look on his face and was holding his motorcycle helmet like a weapon.

If he hits me with that thing, I'm dead.

I put my hands up in a "Whoa, hey, this has all been a big misunderstanding" kind of way, hoping it would protect me from his helmet. I was so preoccupied with that damn helmet that I didn't even notice his other hand until it connected with my eye.

You know how they always draw stars when someone in a cartoon gets hit in the head?

There's a reason for that.

The stinging on the side of my face sobered me right up. And pissed me off. I'd never been punched by a man before. (Yes, I had been punched by a woman before but that's another story.) I'd also never been in a real fight before - certainly not a bar brawl - so I had no idea what kind of fighter I'd be. Sure, I had taken some martial arts lessons as a kid but it was from the "Christian Karate Association".

Let that name sink in and you'll get an idea of how effective of a street fighter I am.

Thankfully, my dad once gave me some very sound advice:
"If you ever get into a fight with someone bigger than you, act crazy."
Well, here I was potentially fighting two people bigger than me so, instead taking a fighting stance and breaking out into an intricate kata, I screamed like a pre-pubescent warrior and ran head first into the guy who punched me. As I flailed my arms and rammed him with my head, I kept yelling stuff like:

"You want some of THIS?? HUH?? C'MON!! I'm CRAZY, muthafukahs!! CRAZY!!! What? BOTH of you, huh? You girls are gonna NEED it! BRING it, bitches!! BRING IT!!!"

I think I may have even referred to myself as "The Matt". It was all bluster but it must have been pretty effective because, instead of the two of them leisurely taking turns kicking my ass, one of them spent all of his time just trying to pull me off of the other.  I really don't think they expected me to fight back.

Who am I kidding? I didn't expect me to fight back.

At one point, the second guy grabbed me by the shoulders and nearly had me off of his friend when I wiggled out of my coat and dove right back on.  In fact, I didn't even stop until I heard the other guy ask me something.
"And what do we have here?"
I turned. In one hand, he was holding my coat. In the other, my camera.
"Yours?" He tilted it towards me.
"No. Don't."
He wound up like a pitcher and then launched my beloved Olympus Stylus up and across the parking lot. It arched high, soaring through the night sky. We couldn't see it – I imagined it slowly turning once or twice mid-flight, its neck strap trailing behind like the tail of a kite - but we all followed the parabolic route we assumed it would take. I caught a brief flash of it when some light from a streetlamp reflected off of its sleek, black clamshell exterior in the instant before it hit the concrete. Then it shattered like a Lego explosion, destroying my camera as well as the roll of undeveloped pictures of my last day of Grinchmas.
" camera..."
I now no longer had to act being crazy.

I went to tackle the guy who threw my camera while, at the same time, trying to kick the other guy in the face.  I would have kept fighting too had some of the other Grinchmas cast members not come out of the bar to see what all the commotion was. It took 2 or 3 of them to pull me off.

As my friends held me back, I kept shouting cliched stuff like "Let me at 'em!" and "This isn't over!" as the two guys walked to their bikes and loudly drove away. I tried to run after them but nobody would let me. Eventually, my friends got me to sit down on a bench and calm down a bit.

I'm sure I didn't do any real damage to the 2 motorcycle guys but - and here's the amazing thing - aside from my throbbing, sucker-punched eye (and my poor camera), they hadn't done any real damage to me. God knows it wasn't pretty, but I had defended myself.

At some point, I went and gathered the remains of my camera and returned to the bench. As I sat there cursing to myself over what happened, a co-worker looked at my face then whistled through his teeth.
"How's it look? Bad?"
"Yeah. You're going to have a shiner."
"Dammit. And I'm just about to go on vacation, too. 'Hi grandma! Oh this? Just a little something I picked up in a bar fight. Who's hungry?'"
The vacation still ended up going well. I visited lots of family and friends and got to see a nice chunk of the U.S. before my trip to Japan.  But all of the pictures I took on that trip were done with a disposable camera and, in every photo of me, I had a giant, shiny black eye.

Bidding War
Thanks to my little bar brawl, I would also have to use disposable cameras for my first few months in Japan.
Welcome to (dark and grainy) Japan!
Every time I snapped a picture with a cheap cardboard camera and had to wind its crappy little plastic dial, I would silently curse the 2 motorcycle guys. Every time I thought of that roll of pictures they destroyed, I would wish the worst of motorcycle accidents on them. I kept having to remind myself that I was the one who was out traveling the world and getting paid to act, not them. They would probably be spending the rest of their (statistically shorter) lives stuck in Central Florida.

Eventually, I bought my first digital camera and I felt a lot better about the whole situation.

My first digital camera!

Look, waterproof!
Nice haircut, huh?

A few years later, I bought my first digital SLR camera. I love both of my cameras dearly and have captured a ton of new memories with them, but I always missed having my first real camera.

Then, about two weeks ago, I started reworking the chapter of my book about my time just before Japan. I wanted to mention the brand of my camera, a shout out to my twice-fallen friend. Seeing as I hadn't had the camera for over 7 years, I couldn't remember the brand name or model type but it's amazing what powers of the internet (and an overwhelming desire not to work on my book) can do.

After a few Google searches, I found this entry in for the Olympus ยต[mju:] (the Japanese and British version of the camera) and, there in the right-hand corner of the page, was a picture of what had been my brand of camera.  Now that I had this information, I did a more specific search and I actually found a few used ones on eBay. One still had the box and everything!

Current bid: $1.05 (plus shipping and handling).

Now, I don't really get eBay. I've bought stuff with the whole "Buy It Now" feature but I've never really understood the whole bidding thing. If I say I'm willing to pay $20 but no one bids above $5, do I have to pay $20 or $5? I could never figure it out because, the one or two times I've tried bidding in the past, I would be the highest bidder for most of the auction but I'd still end up getting an email saying I'd been outbid at the last second.

Besides, I don't NEED a new camera, much less a film camera. But it's only a dollar (plus shipping and handling), right? Wouldn't hurt to try. Might be kind of neat. So I bid $2.

Five days passed and I remained the highest bidder. A few people tried but nobody seemed willing to offer more than $2. I wondered if I should raise my bid, just in case. So I kicked it up to $3. On the last day of the auction, I got home from work early and saw that there were about 2 hours left of bidding time. I kept eBay open in a tab and occasionally checked to see if I was still on top. No big deal.

But, as time ticked away, I started thinking about how much I wanted needed this camera. I just KNEW somebody was going to try to take this away from me. I pictured the two bikers, somewhere in the Midwest, huddled around a computer, waiting to outbid me at the last second.

Sure enough, with around 15 seconds remaining, someone outbid me. I panicked, put in a bid for way more than I needed to and clicked it.

And I got it. For $5.50 (plus shipping and handling).

Two days ago, it arrived.

Here's the box:

And here's the camera:

Beautiful, isn't it?

Holding its shape in my hands brought back such a stream of memories that I would eventually have to write this blog post. I popped the back of my new toy open to remind myself what the inside of a film camera looks like. When I clicked it shut, it gave a healthy whirr. Whoever sent it had been nice enough to put a fresh battery in it for me. I slid the front cover to the right and the lens extended slightly. It buzzed me a "Hello, Matt! Been a while, huh?"

Yes, old friend… it has.

Now if I could just find a place that sells film.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Chimpanzee! On a Segway!

Everything I love about Japan crammed into one delightful, little clip:

Interesting fact: This was actually the original premise for Doc Brown's Fifth Element Show.

Related Posts:
Monkey! In a Subway!
Monkey! In a Subway! Again!

UPDATE: Someone totally made a song about this.

I love you, Internet.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Spaworld Creepiness

I used to love going to SpaWorld.

Of course, that was before they introduced their new mascot, "Super Poo Man".
Um, scary.

And it doesn't help that all the women who go there turn into Sekai no Nabeatsu.

No. Not so omoro.

(Hat tip to JapanProbe)

UPDATE: Oh, my bad. It's "Spa Poo Man".

That's SO much better.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I Figured Out Who I Want to Draw My Book Cover

Drew Struzan.

And who is Drew Struzan, you ask?

Only the greatest movie poster artist... ever.

Here's a piece of his you might have seen before:

Speaking of which, the fine folks over at /Film (who seem to love Back to the Future almost as much as I do) have pointed out that there's a preview of a documentary about Drew over on (Yeah, he did the Star Wars posters as well.) Click through below to see the video:

How good does that look?? Now I just have to figure out a way to become famous enough by the time my book is done so I can afford to have Drew draw the cover. (At the rate I'm going, that shouldn't be a problem.)

Anyway, here are a few pictures of some Back to the Future Concept Art that I had on my hard drive.

From the first film:

 And from the second:


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Universal is Really Trying to Get Me to Buy a Blu-Ray Player

Digital copies!!

Universal adds Digital Copies to upcoming Blu-ray & DVD releases (via BackTalk):
"Universal Studios Home Entertainment has just notified that they will be adding digital copies of all three films to both the Blu-ray Disc and DVD releases of the 25th Anniversary box sets being released October 26, 2010."
Can you just imagine being able to watch "Back to the Future" on your iPhone whenever you wanted??

I love technology.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Hey! You! Guys!! - Goonies 25th Anniversary Road Trip (Part II)

As promised, I'm (finally!) picking up where I left off in my earlier "Goonies Road Trip" post:

So, once everybody was done milling about at Mikey's house and exploring every corner of a childhood fantasy, it was time to get back on the bus. As the last of the group boarded, the tour guide announced that we'd be going to Andy's practice field next.

On the way there, the bus slowed so we could snap pictures of a house whose chimney had a Goonies mural on it.  The tour guide explained that the previous owner made sure that - no matter whether the house was sold and remodeled - the chimney could never be torn down.

We all thought this seemed perfectly sensible.

Partial glimpse of a Goonies-themed chimney

We also passed the school they used for the film "Kindergarten Cop":

It's not a tumor! It's a playground.
It's not a tumor! It's a school.
(Later in the tour, we would also pass the house that was used as Penelope Ann Miller's house in the same film.)
It's not a tumor!  It's Penelope Ann Miller's house.
(I can do this all day, people.)

It didn't take us long to get to the high school.  I can't say that anybody was really thrilled about it.  I mean, we had just been in Mikey's house!  In his attic, no less!  And now we were going to see some playing field that got a few milliseconds of screen time? But, like good little Goonies, we all filed out of the bus and stood on the edge of a deserted Warren Field.

It didn't look like much but, had we had a screen capture (like the one below) or had Apple had the foresight to make Goonies available to download on the iPhone (and you know I totally checked), we would have noticed that, except for the lack of purple and gold paint, the bleachers look pretty much the same as they did in the film.

A glimpse of the bleachers behind sexy, sexy Andy

And there's Andy. Oh man, did I have a crush on Andy.

You can kiss me with my braces any day.

Who's your Goonie, huh? Who's your GOONIE??

That's right, I am.

I'm sorry... Where were we?

Oh yeah, playing field.

Here's another screen cap, this one showing the sweet flower Andy getting ready to wrangle a group of high school girls into a pyramid:

Standard School Attire Policy: No two students may wear the same color sweatpants.

Standing on the sidelines, I fought the urge to run out to the middle of the empty field so my brother could get a photo but I didn't want to look like an idiot (said the 36-year-old at a Goonies anniversary celebration).  It didn't take long for some of the others in the group to decide that, if they had come all this way to see Andy's field, they may as well make a human pyramid.

And we thought WE were dorks.
It took them a few tries but eventually they got their pyramid.

And our respect.

Put your arms up and smile...
You got it!
Our next stop: Mouth's House.  As our bus driver expertly drove us up the steep, narrow streets, the tour guide explained that the higher we went up the hill, the newer the houses became.  Back when Astoria was just a fur-trading fort (and the first permanent U.S. settlement on the Pacific coast), people built their homes closer to the shoreline.  The hillside may have had spectacular views but, without cars, it was much too inconvenient of a place to live.

A bit later, at the end of a long, straight stretch of road, our bus pulled up in front of an inconspicuous brick and wood house with two garage doors.  Our guide reminded us that we would, once again, be entering somebody's home and, not only should we be grateful for their allowing such a motley crew of awkwardness to stream through their home all weekend (I'm paraphrasing) but we should show our respect as well.

A beared gentleman came out of the house.  He looked like a college professor.  He boarded the bus and was handed the mic for the loudspeaker.  He cleared his throat like a man ready to give a lecture, and then he got to talking.

He first welcomed us, occasionally stopping to take some meaningful pauses.

He then talked about how great it was that the movie connected with so many people.

He then explained that they'd only bought the house a few years ago so they weren't there for the filming.

He then talked about some of the remodeling they've done since then. "But we're still using the same dishwasher.  It works.  No need to replace it."

I think he then cracked a joke about his wife never doing the dishes but, by this point, everyone's attention was straying towards the inside of the house.  It wasn't that he wasn't interesting. It's just that keeping a load of Goonies fans trapped in a bus sitting outside of Mouth's house could be considered "cruel and unusual" in some states.

Eventually, he got to talking about his house's part in Goonies. "So, why THIS house?" he asked aloud. "Well, as you'll be able to see once you're up in the kitchen, the window next to the sink has a view of a long stretch of road.  This is the road the police chased the Fratellis down at the beginning of the movie."

Here's a screen cap of that scene:

He then talked a bit more about the scene in which Mouth jumps up on the counter next to the sink and, when he looks into the drain, gets sprayed with water. "We were also going to try to have some water spurting out of the sink but, in the end, we decided not to. For two very important reasons.  First, logistically, it was no easy feat. Have you ever tried to rig a drain to spray water? It's not easy. And second, and more importantly, it was dangerous.  They last thing we'd want is for one of you guys to slip on our wet kitchen floor."


We were all pretty antsy by the time he finally got to talking about us actually going inside. "OK, so we'll be heading in soon.  For your convenience, we've got the scene from the movie playing on a loop inside.  We want you to have a chance to make that connection.  This whole thing will mean a lot more to you if you can see it on the screen," he held up his hands like a director and then swung the lens toward the house, "...and then see it in person.  Make that connection.  The connection between the movie and the house."

"All right!" he said with some finality, giving his hands a clap. My brother and I started to gather our stuff.

"Any questions?"

My brother and I put our stuff back down.

After the Q&A, he proposed a question to us. "Just a little something for you to ponder while you're inside.  Were Mouth and his father fixing their own sink?  OR... were they on the job at somebody else's house?  Something to think about."

And with that, we gave him some applause and started to unload. "To make sure you all get a chance to really see the kitchen," he added, "we'll only be allowing groups of 10 or less in at a time." Naturally, Ken and I were in the first group. "Don't forget to sign the guest book!" he reminded us as we walked up the brick steps into his home.

Once inside, we thanked his wife for all of the hospitality and we paused to watch the scene which was playing on a loop in the living room.

Here's the famous sink and, just above it, the view that got this house cast in the movie:

And here's Corey Feldman (so young! so innocent!) and his on-screen dad in the very house we were standing in:

"Turn that TV off, son. I can't hear myself think!"

Here's Ken standing between the famous view and the famous sink:

He's beaming, I tells ya!
Ken and I both had a chance to enjoy the view and, dare I say, make "the connection". (And, I won't lie, having the video playing on a loop really made it special.) Once we left the house, we immediately got back on the bus to tweet and Facebook about our experiences thus far.  Blogging would come later.

Much later.

As soon as everyone was back on board with us, the owners of the house came out to bid us farewell (and to breathe a sigh of relief that the "Goonies 25th Anniversary" was finally over). Here's a picture of the house as it is now:

"Thank God THAT's over!"
And here's a screen cap of the same house in the Goonies movie:

You'll also notice that there's a plumbing van parked in the driveway which lends credence to his theory that this was NOT Mouth's house, but just a plumbing stop.

Hey, you learn something new every day.

Our drive back to the seaside took us on another series of precarious streets across and back down the hillside. Each twist and turn of the road presented another view of the Astoria-Megler bridge:

Near the bottom of the hill, the tour guide pointed out a cluster of homes. "Annnnd, just inside there... that is where the home from Short Circuit is." The following blurry shot is the best we could get from the moving bus:

Thankfully, the house was no disassembled. (Ouch.)
From there, we went to the Lower Columbia Bowling Alley, better know as the place where Chunk smeared pizza and milkshake all over the window:

"Oh wow! A police chase!"

Before we arrived, the tour guide shared with us a rumor about the purpose of the "milkshake and pizza" scene. "You'll see when you get inside the bowling alley that there's a McDonald's across the street.  Well, Goonies had arranged a promotional deal with Burger King. And, needless to say, Burger King didn't want a McDonald's in their movie. So, rumor has it that they had Chunk hold up his pizza to hide the McDonalds."

Sure enough, if you look at the first screen cap below (click to make it bigger), you'll see the Golden Arches just between the bar in the middle and Chunk's left hand, and in the second picture, you won't:
Now you see it!
Now, you don't!

Here's the window as it is now from the outside:

The dirtiest window in Astoria

And here it is from the inside, along with a screen cap (and clever marketing opportunity):

The sign included the following warning (which I'm guessing was written by some fed-up janitor):

"Please do not recreate the milkshake spilling scene!"

Ken got himself a milkshake and posed for a picture:

As did a few others:

And, of course, the original:

The Money Shot

From here, the tour was pretty much over. We now had the option of taking the bus back to the Goon Docks or we could walk to the nearby county jail and the Flavel house, two more Goonies landmarks which, while we had passed them before, we would be able to explore on our own.  We opted to walk.

Here's the Flavel House Museum as it is now:

They were having a "History of Astoria" retropactum.
That's what I said.

And here it is as the Astoria Museum (and workplace of Mikey's dad) in the Goonies Movie.

And, literally, right across the street, is the former Clatsop County Jail.

Here it is in the film (with a dapper looking Joey Pants):

And here it is now, painted blue and converted to (fittingly) the Oregon Film Museum:

And what's that parked out front, you ask? Is that a 4-wheel deal with a real neat ORV??

Yes. Yes, it is.

Not only that, but check out what's inside:

Mama Fratelli's crackers!
Gas containers!
A Chunk-autographed dashboard!
Why, there's only one thing that could make this ORV cooler...


From the movie
In person
Obligatory bullet holes shot.

At this time of day, there were only a few other people in the parking lot, three of which I recognized from the human pyramid back on Andy's field. One of them offered to snap a picture of my brother and me in front of the bullet-holed vehicle.

Turns out that the 3 of them had also come from Seattle together but, unlike Ken and myself, they'd left at 5 in the morning to catch the Meet & Greet with Jeff "Chunk" Cohen, Corey "Mouth" Feldman and Joe "Hey, weren't you in the Matrix, too?" Pantoliano.

Sadly, it's didn't go well.

"None of the actors showed up!"
"Yeah, the whole thing would have been a total bust if Curtis Hanson hadn't shown up."
"Troy's dad. Great guy."

Troy's dad? Really? Here he is in the movie (on the right):

"Is your mommy home?"
Mr. Hansen must have really made an impression because they couldn't stop raving about him.
"Totally professional.  A real stand-up guy."
They all nodded in agreement.
"Yeah, I want to watch the movie again but with a new respect for Troy's dad."
"Absolutely! You know... I WANT him to get his balls out." (A movie reference that only a true Goonies could appreciate.)

"We take it all back, Troy's dad!"
They handed us our cameras back and we headed back to Ken's truck, ready for the long drive back to Seattle.

The Hero Shot
Thank you, Astoria.

See you next year for the 25th Anniversary of Short Circuit...