Day 41: My First Ever Taste of Ecto Cooler

Just like most semi-dorky dudes my age, I've been keeping my eyes out this summer for the newly re-released Hi-C Ecto Cooler. Back on shelves for the first time in decades, this promotion for the new Ghostbusters movie has been next to impossible to find here in the Midwest -- but I was okay with that. You see, despite my love for 80s pop culture, I have never once consumed one drop of Ecto Cooler. Apparently it was one thing I missed out on during the decade in which I grew up.

But I've been looking nonetheless. I had to see what the hype was all about.

Every time I was in a store that could potentially carry juice boxes, I'd check. I even spent the better part of an afternoon a few weeks ago looking for this stuff -- in and out of every grocery store I could find.

But nothing.

Again, there was no nostalgia factor here like there has been for most others who have been on the hunt for Ecto Cooler. It was just the thrill of the hunt.

I had all but called off my search until this morning when I got a message from a friend back home who shares my interest in quirky stuff like this and has provided me some valuable leads in the past during other searches (Holiday Capn' Crunch, anyone?). He mentioned that he had found some Ecto Cooler at a Schnuck's grocery store in Southern Illinois. With three Schnuck's stores in Champaign-Urbana, the hunt was back on.

My first stop was on the west side of Champaign...and right off the bat....JACKPOT!

. . .

So here I sit. Almost 40. A child of the 80s. About to try Ecto Cooler for the first time.


And . . . . . I don't get it.

It tastes like any other citrus-type Hi-C drink on the shelf.


With three kids in the house (four if you ask my wife) it certainly won't go to waste.

It was all about the thrill of the hunt ... and I won.

Now somebody give me a call when Purplesaurus Rex is back on the market.

Day 40: One Bad Pig

In 1990, I was wrapping up 8th grade and my musical tastes were all over the place as I was listening to everything from New Kids on the Block to N.W.A. Included in my regular musical rotation were a handful of Christian artists including a punk band called One Bad Pig.


One Bad Pig -- a band whose name was inspired by KSHE 95's mascot Sweet Meat -- had a few albums out by the time I stumbled upon Swine Flew as a soon-to-be-freshman.

Plain and simple. I was hooked.

I even painted up my skateboard (which I bought off my next-door neighbor for five bucks) to look like the deck seen on the Swine Flew album cover.

One Bad Pig was a fast-paced punk sound with a message that seemed to go hand-in-hand with the religious beliefs I had been taught since I was a kid -- beliefs I was starting to take ownership of as a teenager. Sure the message of One Bad Pig was quite different than that of Eazy-E, but I like to think I was well-rounded from a young age. :)

Swine Flew was followed up the next year with I Scream Sunday -- an album that featured a duet with Johnny Cash.

Really.


I like to call this the high point of Johnny Cash's career.

The live album and video came after that and, as you'd expect, they all ended up at my house.

Also, as you'd expect, I still have them today.


Over the two and a half decades to follow I finished high school, finished college, finished grad school, got married and had some kids. As my music collection grew by leaps and bounds over that time, I also filled in the gaps in my One Bad Pig discography and kept up with their further compilations and live releases as they continued to tour off and on until that time.


One CD I ordered through the band's website a few years ago came cleverly packaged in the VHS cover of the 1991 live video. A blast from the past sending me back to when I dropped some hard-earned yard-mowing money on that tape.

News flash: I keep everything.


The One Bad Pig story was put into book format within the past year or so and shares with fans the history of this Christian punk band. Although it's (in my opinion) very poorly written and lazily published, it's the only title of its kind so buying a copy was a no brainer. I'll take a mediocre book over no book at all.


But the biggest news came in recent months when rumors started to circulate that the band was getting back together for a new album and maybe even some tour dates.

Could it be? Was this legit? Was the Pig gonna go at it again after all these years?

One successful Kickstarter campaign later, the answer was "yes" and the product of that campaign arrived in my mailbox today!


As if that wasn't enough, among the small number of tour dates One Bad Pig will be playing to support this new album, one happens to be at the Audiofeed Festival -- held right here in Champaign-Urbana this coming weekend!

For Christmas this past year, my wife bought me two three-day passes to the festival knowing there were several artists scheduled to be there that I wanted to see -- Josh Garrels, Propaganda, JGivens, Spoken Nerd.....and One Bad Pig.

So let me sum this up -- one of my favorite bands from my childhood has a new album out after 25 years which I received today..... and this weekend, I get to see them live!

PIG! PIG! PIG! PIG! PIG!

. . .

I suppose the search continues for a copy of the censored version of Police Academy. I checked the tape by brother gave me this weekend and it's full of Robotech and Freddy's Nightmares episodes. Following the last episode on the tape, Police Academy cuts in half-way through the riot scene from the end of the movie.

The hunt goes on.

. . .

Last night, I may or may not have eaten half a box of Chicken in a Biskit crackers for dinner.

Don't judge.

. . .

I bought a Karate Kid story book on eBay for 99 cents.

Shipped.


It cost the seller $1.50 to send it to me.

Here's some quick math:
Sale price (0.99) - shipping costs (1.50) - eBay final value fees (0.10) - PayPal fee (0.33) = -0.94
It cost this seller almost a dollar to sell me this book.

. . .

Here's some classic Pig as we hit the half-way point in the 2016 Summer of Tim.

Day 39: Hometown Junk, Chickens & Foxes

We left my dad's today and headed home -- but not without some hometown junk shopping first.

There is a consignment store back home where we often take our stuff when we visit my dad. It certainly hasn't made us rich or anything, but we have better luck there than we do at any local spots here in the Champaign area.

Of course, browsing is required after dropping off a trunk full of odds and ends. Today I came home with a near complete Fisher-Price Little People Play Family Main Street set.


I did already have the base structure for this set but mine was in pretty rough shape in comparison. I picked it up for next to nothing this past spring along with a box of other Fisher Price junk and an All in the Family record.

Anyway, I paid a little more than I typically would for something like this but did so knowing full well that the mail truck, mailman, and letters could easily be sold for twice what I paid for the whole thing.


The question now is what to keep and what to sell.

. . .

About once week this summer we've seen a fox trot across our backyard an hour or so after the sun has risen. It's become somewhat of an attraction that we and our neighbors enjoy seeing.

But our neighbors have chickens.

Late last week, we found a curious amount of feathers scattered in one part of our yard. Now I'm no genius, but I've got a pretty good idea what happened.

Then tonight, our neighbor informed us that a fox had been hit on the highway not far from our house.

There has been no official statement released by the surviving chickens, but I'm interested in hearing their alibi.

Day 38: Beer, Bacon, Burgers, Birthday

Dad. Poppy. Bob.

Whatever those around him choose to call him, today was his special day.

The Big 7-0.

. . .

My family and I, along with my brother and his family, joined my dad for his church's 150 year celebration which, of course, was followed by a massive feeding for the 500+ in attendance. One church service and a stomach full of fried chicken later, we were off to celebrate the birthday boy.

My brother had looked into a winery near Marion, IL which seemed to be a great fit for what we had hoped to accomplish that afternoon and evening. They had food and drinks for everyone and an open area full of bounce houses and playgrounds for the kids.

Perfect.

Except for the fact that the heat index was just over 105 degrees when we arrived.


After letting the kids bounce some sweat out of their pores for a few minutes, we all headed inside to cool off but quickly realized we were going to need to come up with a back-up plan. It was going to be a while before anyone was hungry, it was way too hot for the kids to play outside (i.e., too hot for us to be out there with them), and the 13-and-under crowd was sure to grow restless in a hurry.

The almost-40 crowd may have been getting a little stir crazy, as well.

What came next I couldn't have written better myself as my sister-in-law made a suggestion for dinner:
Something, something, brewery, something, something, burgers.
[Sorry, Joli. This is all I needed to hear so it's all that registered in my brain.]

. . .

Off to Du Quion, IL we went for a dinner date with the St. Nicholas Brewing Company.


My friend from college, Susan, is from Du Quoin. You've heard me talk about Susan before. She loves Full House.

But I digress.

The SNBC (not sure if they call it that but I'm going to) was one of the best eating experiences I've had in recent memory -- apart from that Haystack a few weeks ago. Let me summarize as simply as I can.

Beers -- I went with the Cadence Porter. My brother went with a flight of everything.

Whatever. He shared.


Bacon -- an appetizer appropriately named the "Pint of Bacon." Check out my niece looking longingly at the glass of fried meat.


Burgers.

My brother got some mess called the German Burger (Swiss cheese, mashed potatoes, sauerkraut, pickles and brown mustard). My niece got the Mac & Cheese Burger (self-explanatory and almost my choice). Amy and Joli both opted for the Morning Glory Burger (egg, guacamole, cheddar cheese and Sriracha aioli). Me and Dad went with the Goat (goat cheese, roasted red pepper and caramelized onion).

I knew it wasn't socially appropriate for me to just smash this burger all over my face. But I kind of wanted to.

It was that good.


Birthday -- of course.

The reason we were all together was to celebrate my dad and together we did just that. Don't let Mason fool you.


I think I said this on Father's Day but I'll repeat myself here.

It's said that a person learns most by example and I've learned from one of the best!


Happy 70th, Dad.

Day 37: VHS Treasure, Fallen Trees, Ski

After picking up my nephew at the U of I basketball camp, our full van headed south to spend a few days back home where my dad is about to hit a milestone birthday -- one of those birthdays that ends in zero.

This one may or may not start with a 7.

. . .

As kids, my brother and I both found it hilarious to pick apart the censored versions of movies aired on network television -- ones that were likely censored by the local St. Louis affiliate and therefore done on a minimal budget. The example we recall most often is an edited version of Police Academy which includes a scene where Lieutenant Harris' line "Nobody screws with me" is terribly overdubbed with the word "plays" replacing "screws."

I swear it's funny if you could hear it.

Matt and I were talking about this recently and he mentioned that he might still have a copy of this movie recorded on a decades-old VHS tape -- a tape he gave me tonight!


Stay tuned as this amazing story plays out...

. . .

Out at my dad's house, I noticed something new hanging on his living room wall -- an etching made from an old photograph of my grandparents' farmhouse (my dad's childhood home). I thought it was a pretty cool idea he had to have this made and even better that he had enough made that I got one, too!


I haven't been by there in quite some time -- not since we stopped by following my grandmother's funeral a few years ago (which came only a handful of weeks after my grandfather's funeral).


. . .

You might recall the piece I wrote a few years ago about the cherry tree in my old neighborhood that served as the "on-deck circle" for batters waiting their turn to hit as we played backyard baseball (one of my favorite things I've ever written, actually). The cherry tree was all but wiped out by a storm and general negligence which sort of took a bit of wind out of my childhood sail.

The same could be said for the huge tree that my dad recently lost in his back yard -- a tree that was planted around the time I was born.

Here's a shot of my dad's backyard taken about a year ago.


Here's how it looked when we arrived this weekend.


Different...but same.

. . .

On a positive note, however, we were back in Southern Illinois and that meant that near the top of my to-do list was a stop at the grocery store to pick up a supply of one of my all-time favorites.


You can have your impossible-to-find Ecto Cooler.

I'm drinking Ski.