Monday, September 17, 2007

Rocky & Bullwinkle (1959-1973)

The eagle-eyed Bob Yannes emailed me this weekend about a Wilkes-Barre reference he remembers from the popular Rocky & Bullwinkle character Boris & Natasha.

If you were like me and spend most of your childhood morning watching Miss Judy on WNEP's Hatchy Milatchy, the cartoons that they showed (Rocky & Bullwinkle and Underdog, just to name two) were the highpoint of your day---especially the cliffhangers that never seems to get resolved, no matter how many days you watched.

Before reruns on shows like Hatchy Milatchy, the characters of Rocky & Bullwinkle first appeared on Rocky & His Friends, which ran from 1959 to 1960. A year later in the fall of 1961, the newly-titled The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle (AKA The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show) premiered and ran until 1973. Lots of other regular characters began to appear in both series, including the bubbling spies Boris and Natasha.

Bob Yannes told me of one direct reference to Wilkes-Barre in the original incarnation of the R&B series Rocky & His Friends when the character of Boris (voiced by Paul Frees) was assigned to the fictional town of Moosesylvania, which is someplace no one in their right mind would want to go (for details on Moosesylvania itself, click here). When he learns of his assignment, Boris begs his superior not to send him:

Boris: Send me to Siberia, send me to Wilkes-Barre, but NOT Moosesylvania!!!!!!!

I'm not sure if it's a compliment or not when one groups Siberia with Wilkes-Barre, but what can I say?

Mr. Yannes also wrote me told me that, in one of the episodes of The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle, Boris & Natasha have the following exchange:

Natasha: Boooooris, I didn't know you went to college. Penn State?

Boris: No. State Pen.

Episodes of Rocky and Bullwinkle are available on both DVD and VHS from libraries throughout Lackawanna County. To check our catalog, click here.

A GREAT BIG OL' THANK YOU again to Bob Yannes for this kickin' reference.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Twilight Zone: Episode 1.12 "What You Need" (December 25, 1959)

The brilliant Peter Metrinko from Chantilly, Virginia recently emailed me with a Scranton reference featured in an episode of the very first season of the classic CBS television series The Twilight Zone.

Narrated by Rod Sterling, The Twilight Zone focused on ordinary people who suddenly found themselves in extraordinary (sometimes supernatural) situations. The stories would typically end with an ironic twist that would see the guilty punished. It premiered on October 2, 1959 and ran for five seasons on CBS until 1964, running a total of 156 episodes (138 half-hour shows and 18 hour-long episodes). The final episode aired June 19, 1964.

On Christmas night, Friday, December 25th, 1959, an episode titled "What You Need," was first broadcasted. "What You Need," the 12th episode of the inaugural season, told the story of an old eccentric Pedott (Ernest Truex), who wanders the streets and in bars offering people "what they need," whether it be matches, shoelaces, scissors--he seems to have exactly the item he forsees a person will need in the immediate future. When a grifter (Steve Cochran) at the bar sees his clairvoyant powers firsthand, he starts manipulating Pedott for his own financial gain.

The Scranton reference occurs in an early scene at the bar where the skeptical conman Fred sees Pedott's accurate predictions firsthand. A bartender relates a story about one of the patrons sitting at the bar, a down-on-his-luck former baseball pitcher named "Lefty" whose professional career has ended with his pitching arm nonfunctioning and him drowning his depression in the bar every night:

Pedott: I know what it is you need. Right here. (takes a piece of paper from his basket and hands it to Lefty) Take it.

Lefty: Bus ticket?

Pedott: That's right. That's what it is. A bus ticket.

Lefty: Bus ticket to Scranton, Pennsylvania. (laughs) Now what's in Scranton, Pennsylvania, old man?

Pedott: One never knows.

Bartender: (laughs) Coal mines. That's what's in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Nice, lovely, beautiful coal mines. You can't pitch with that arm anymore, Lefty. Maybe you can dig with it. (laughs)

Suddenly, Lefty is called to the pay phone. When he returns to the bar, the good news from the phone call is revealed.

Bartender: Dead rich uncle? Or did your horse come in?

Lucky: No. Crazy. Real crazy. Old manager of mine, been looking for me for three weeks. Got me a job. Coaching job. Minor league club in Scra... (looks at the ticket in his hand) Scranton, Pennsylvania. Wants me to take a bus there. He wants me to take a bus there, how 'bout that?

For a complete description of the episode "What You Need," click here.

Season One of The Twilight Zone is available on DVD. VHS copies with 4 classic episodes from the series on each tape, including the episode "What You Need," are available to borrow from Valley Community Library. To place a hold for the VHS ("What You Need" is the third episode on Volume 1 of the set), click here.

A GREAT BIG THANK YOU again to the incredible Peter Metrinko for this Scranton reference. I promise to post all the other Scranton references you included in your email to me as time permits.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Bestselling Author Lauren Weisberger at The Scranton Cultural Center, Thursday, September 6, 2007

Blogger Bill C. with bestselling author (and Scranton native) Lauren Weisberger before her lecture Thursday night.
Photo by Mary Barna.
Bill C. and his brother JR with Lauren Weisberger.
Photo by Mary Barna

The extra-ultra-fantastic duo of Mary Garm and Mary Barna gave me the wonderful opportunity of meeting bestselling author and Scranton native Lauren Weisberger (The Devil Wears Prada, Everyone Worth Knowing) before her lecture Thursday night. Lauren was incredibly sweet and posed for pictures with me and my brother JR.

Over 400 people were in attendance at last night's event. The lecture itself was a Q&A between Lauren and Library System Administrator Mary Garm. Through Mary's question, plus questions that were submitted in advance by email, Lauren shared her experiences as a writer living in New York City, her similarities to her characters, and her experiences growing up in Scranton. The lively talk was followed by questions from the audience.

After the lecture, Lauren signed copies of her book for over an hour and kindly posed for pictures.

For more pictures of last night's event, click here.

A big thanks again to the incredibly groovy Mary Garm and Mary Barna.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Office: Season Three Nifty Gifty Box Set (Only at Target)

UPDATED 9/16/07

Check out the packaging of "Nifty Gifty" edition of Season Three of The Office, sold exclusively at Target. Not only does the deluxe packaging include a script for the premiere episode of season three and a bonus Q&A DVD, but the packaging includes a quote (featured quite prominently) on the packaging that reads:

"The Office put Scranton on the map."--David Falchek, The Scranton Times-Tribune

The quote is also included on regular editions of the DVD for Season Three of The Office, but is displayed less prominently.

In addition, on the audio commentary of the episode "The Coup," Angela Kinsey says she "just got back from was WILD," referencing her trip to Scranton in May with Brian Baumgartner. Kinsey also mentions her trip to Scranton on the commentary of the episode "Women's Appreciation."

To place a hold for the DVD of Season Three of The Office, click here.

UPDATE 9/16/07 Also included with Target's "Nifty Gifty" edition of Season Three of The Office is a bonus disc featuring a 22-minute group interview with the cast and writers as part of The William S. Paley Television Festival 2007. The highlight is Rainn Wilson describing his experiences visiting Scranton and The Mall at Steamtown. He states that he was "driven through the city of Scranton in a stretch Hummer by the mayor." He also says that people are "so ga-ga in that city for that show." And regarding the crowds at The Mall at Steamtown there to see him, "I felt just like Justin Timberlake." In addition, he proudly states that he was made an honorary sheriff for the City of Scranton as well as an honorary security guard for The Mall at Steamtown.