Typically, couch potatoes are people who spend a lot of time in front of the television. And many people have blamed television and video games as a major reason for the rise in childhood obesity in this country.
But your television can actually serve as a catalyst to help you lose those unwanted pounds AND bring your family closer together.
Don’t believe me? Then you’ve obviously never strapped a white Nintendo Wii controller to your wrist. Mickey DeLorenzo is a regular guy from South Philadelphia who lost weight with his beloved Wii and had fun doing it. In 2006, he began his “Wii Sports Experiment,” in which he simply added 30 minutes of Wii Sports to his day for six straight weeks. Pounds melted away and a media onslaught followed.
We caught up with Mickey for an interview. We asked him about the details of his workout regime, his favorite Nintendo game, and got him to share some tips for people who’d like to try using their Wii to get fit.
Run Time: 20 minutes, 52 seconds | Subscribe with iTunes
“Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener…”
Have you ever been driving down the road and seen a giant hot dog on wheels? (It’s kind of hard to miss.) If so, you spotted an Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. According to Wikipedia, The Wienermobile was created in 1936 by Oscar’s nephew, Carl G. Mayer, and variants are still used by Oscar Mayer today. Drivers are known as Hotdoggers and often hand out toy whistles shaped as replicas of the Wienermobile, known as Wienerwhistles.
We had the distinct opportunity to explore one of these road dogs last summer while we were filming a feature length project about the childlike side of Madison. Below is a webisode featuring our exclusive tour and interview with the Hotdoggers on duty.
The first time Brian Jones saw the holiday classic A Christmas Story, he immediately became a fan. A super fan. After a low period in his life, Brian’s parents decided to try and cheer him up my making him his very own “major award” — a homemade replica of the iconic leg lamp that Ralphie’s father receives in the mail. A new career path emerged, and Brian launched RedRiderLegLamps.com.
The business took off, and a few years into the venture, he had the opportunity to buy and renovate the actual house used in the movie. The A Christmas Story House has become a Cleveland, Ohio tourist destination for fans of all ages.
In our interview with Brian, he recounts the wild story of buying the house on eBay, discusses some of the neatest aspects of the house, reveals some little-known tidbits about the movie’s production, and shares his favorite scene and character from the movie.
If you’re a fan of the movie, or are looking for a nostalgic look back at Christmas Past, you will love this interview, which is interjected with classic soundbytes. We promise you won’t shoot your eye out!
Run Time: 15 minutes, 31 seconds | Subscribe with iTunes
Most people dream about having a career that allows them to follow their passion. But what if your passion seems to be a little out of the ordinary?
Well, Burnie Franke’s passion is rocks. And he’s made a pretty good life for himself following that passion. Burnie’s Rock Shop has been a Madison staple since 1963. Kim first learned of it from her kindergartners, who told tall tales of making trips to the popular destination. From shiny rocks to smooth rocks, fossilized rocks to fancy rocks, Burnie’s Rock Shop sells rocks and minerals, gems and jewelry.
We visited Burnie to explore his collection and learn more about his love for rocks. This webisode will eventually be part of a feature length project about the childlike side of Madison that we’ll be releasing in the Summer of 2009. Enjoy!
Ryan “Cubby” Culbertson is a Navy guy, father of seven, and Club K&J member. He has routinely delighted us with his creative entries in the Thursday Giveaway. A few months back, I wrote an article outlining some important tips for finding your dream job. Ryan commented on the article with a hearty, “Here, here.”
A little while later, his wife Melynda chimed in to tell us that there was more to the story behind the simple comment.
She shared that Ryan was beginning his dream job. For years, he had served in a mind-numbing job that he found boring and redundant. But he was good at it and it paid the bills. Eventually, Ryan decided to step out and go after something he really wanted to do: become a Navy pilot. Said Melynda, “Actually, he wanted to be Superman, but being a pilot is as close as reality can take him. For the first time since he was a teenager he loves his job. For the first time ever he wakes up excited to go to work.”
We wanted to chat with Ryan to hear more about the story in the hopes that it might serve as inspiration for others who have a steady job but yearn for something more. He shares his struggles and successes, as well as his infectious enthusiasm. He also explains what it feels like to fly and reveals one of the main things his family does to deal with Adultitis.
Run Time: 19 minutes, 34 seconds | Subscribe with iTunes
There’s always something inspiring about talking to someone who is passionate about what they do. While touring Europe as a stage carpenter for dance companies, Peter Robertson fell in love — with the food of Italy. He began studying the traditional fresh pasta that was a staple of the Italian food he loved. And ultimately, began making authentic fresh pasta on his own.
Robertson later moved to Madison, Wisconsin, where he gave gifts of his fresh pasta to friends and family. One of those friends, proprietor of the award-winning Pasta Per Tutti restaurant in Madison, asked Robertson to supply pasta for the restaurant. Soon after, RP’s Pasta Company opened for business.
We really wanted to hear a firsthand account of how Peter turned his passion for pasta into a business. And we were dying to have him show us the noodle-making process. (Especially Kim, a self-avowed noodle junkie.) Enjoy this webisode about Peter and RP’s Pasta. It will be part of a feature length project about the childlike side of Madison that we’ll be releasing in the Summer of 2009. But you get to watch it right now, because you’re a Club K&J member. And we think you’re cool.
According to its website, Grace Before Meals is centered on one fundamental concept: the simple act of creating and sharing a meal can strengthen all kinds of relationships. Founded by Fr. Leo Patalinghug in 2003, Grace Before Meals has grown from a simple idea to a worldwide movement, producing a book, blog and even a pilot for a TV show endorsed by PBS.
Research shows that having frequent family dinners can reduce the susceptibility of teens to risks like teen pregnancy, smoking, drug use and depression. And these benefits don’t just apply to traditional families or people with kids. Stronger families foster stronger communities, and that’s the goal we’re striving for–one meal at a time.
We sat down with Fr. Leo to learn more about where his love for cooking came from and what inspired him to start Grace Before Meals. In this candid and humorous interview, Fr. Leo also shares why it’s so important to have regular family dinners and gives advice to people who are having a hard time fitting it into an increasingly busy schedule.
Run Time: 20 minutes, 39 seconds | Subscribe with iTunes
Mallatt Pharmacy in Madison sells all the things you’d expect any normal pharmacy to sell. You know, medicine and greeting cards and candy. But Mallatt Pharmacy is no ordinary pharmacy. They also sell wine. And costumes. And theatrical makeup, including fake bullet holes. And the staff is quite the cast of characters. It’s a pretty childlike place.
We did some filming there this summer as part of our feature length Escape Adulthood video project. The webisode below covers the costume rental department, where Kim and I had a chance to try on a few of the more interesting costumes.
Chris Riddle, the official Halloween transponder for American Greetings, a major national manufacturer of Halloween party supplies and cards, has earned himself the nickname of “Mr. Halloween.” He has been a featured guest on HGTV, Fox News, and his Halloween Trend Observations, has been quoted in Time, USA Today, and The New York Times. We sat down with Chris to learn more about his cool job, his Halloween tattoos, and some of his favorite holiday memories.
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Jason: Tell us a little bit about your job, what you do, and how you got to be known as Mr. Halloween.
Chris: Well, Mr. Halloween has followed me since my childhood. Being an artist I was always drawing, and it just so happened – this is a funny story – that way back, I want to say fourth, fifth, sixth grade, all the way through high school, they always had contests in Ohio where you would actually paint the outside of a business in any given city.
And so we’d start school and I was always sketching Halloween pumpkins and witches and all that. From fourth grade all the way through my senior year I won the contests for the school, and I was always out there painting Halloween stuff.
But I also have to thank my mom because she loved Halloween. Looking back on all the pictures that I have of the family, she was always the one that was most in-costume, with the biggest smile, encouraging us to carve pumpkins and make our own costumes at Halloween.
So, as you see all the time on TV with athletes, I’ve got to thank my mom. You know, it’s one of those things where it was real important. So that kind of followed me then when I started my career at American Greetings. Everyone found out that I was actually collecting Halloween antiques and that I had quite a history of that, and I have a couple tattoos that are Halloween tattoos.
It’s kind of weird. I like to play the scary one, so it’s been that way for a long time. In a sense, even though I started as an illustrator on the board at American Greetings and kind of worked myself up to an art director and all that, because I have such a love for the holiday and such an interest, they said, “Well, why don’t you help every year with trends? Think in terms of a year out, where we want to be in the way of color and subject matter. Work with as many of the staff as you need to to come up with new ideas based on a proven subject matter.”
So it was just the matter of then going out – it really starts about the end of August – and looking at a lot of different aspects. Mostly women’s fashion, because 95 percent of our products are bought by women. So you’re kind of looking at color.
We also have some color organizations in New York City that we are members of. We fly out to New York and look at the colors a couple years out at that point. But then you’re just projecting where you want to be the following year. I have a group of artists that do that, and it’s just wonderful to work with such creative people, but to also do something that is a part of your passion as well.
Jason: That’s cool. So what tattoos do you have?
Chris: Well it’s interesting. I also collect original turn of the century Wizard of Oz books, because I love The Wizard of Oz. In the actual second book, I think it was, Jack was a highly respected member of Oz, and so the tattoo I have on my leg actually has the pumpkin head of Jack and the symbol of Oz.
On my back I have a frowning and a smiling pumpkin.
And then I have the the pumpkin patch. The weeds and all the vines go down to other areas on my back. It’s something I’ve had for a while. But when you have a passion you don’t mind doing that kind of crazy stuff.
Well, my wife wasn’t happy, but hey, that’s just the way it is.
Kim: Oh, that’s so cool. Tell us a little bit about your antiques and memorabilia. How did that all begin and what’s your favorite item that you have?
Chris: Yes, it’s interesting. My parents passed away young and I inherited a lot of boxes. I found so much of my mom’s stuff that she had collected from the ‘40s and kept. I said, “Boy, now I know why she so loved Halloween as a family-oriented holiday.”
In my early 20s when my wife and I would travel around the United States, one of the first places I’d want to go visit would be the nearest antique store. Even though we might be at Mt. Rushmore or we might be in L.A., I was going through the Yellow Pages looking for antique stores. It just started clicking that way and it’s been probably well over close to 30 years that I’ve been collecting Halloween antiques, way before they got too expensive for people to do it.
So it’s just something I have up all year-round. I have display cases in all parts of the house, and I also have little sneaks of Halloween in the kitchen and the dining room and the bedrooms. When people visit, every part of the house is a little bit special about Halloween.
And from my standpoint, Halloween antiques especially are a little bit about the loving spirit of those people that actually kept that pristine Halloween antique over the decades. I end up getting something in my possession, and it brings me such joy because I know the love that that person had for the holiday has now entered my house and my collection. So it’s really special.
Jason: Do you have a favorite item in your collection?
Chris: Well, you know, I love my Halloween postcards and greeting cards, because that’s where it gets kind of personal. People are talking about the time of year and the harvest and missing the family, and “I can’t wait to see you during Christmas,” you know, things like that.
It’s interesting because the addresses are not like you have a long numeral address. It’s like 12 Central Street. I mean, that’s all it is, and even when they say “Give me a call,” the telephone number’s like three digits.
Chris: Way back in the ‘20s and ‘30s, that’s all it was. So that kind of thing is very endearing to me because it was special enough that someone kept that close to their heart, and now I have it as part of my collection, so it’s wonderful.
Jason: So, as a trends person, how have you seen Halloween change over the years?
Chris: You know, I think it changes, but it changes fashion-wise, it changes in color. But I have to believe that everyone goes back a little bit to their childhood when they think in terms of Halloween. Of course, it’s like that as Christmastime as well. I think when you talk about Halloween to people and they bring up their memories about Halloween, they smile.
I think it’s a little bit about the fact that they remember when they were children and running around the neighborhood and getting candy. And going to school in costume and having a great time, and also the memories with their family at that time.
So when I talk in terms of what’s happening in the way of product, it’s a little bit of looking back, but looking back with an eye towards where color is going to be a year from now, or where styled art is going to be.
But yet, the subject matter and the warmth in the copy is always going to be there, and maybe a little bit from where you’ve come from. And in terms of what decade you grew up in. And then how can we put that into our product? So it’s a little about looking forward and looking back at the same time.
Jason: And it seems like adults really are taking Halloween back.
Chris: Yes, they really have. I mean, next to New Year’s Eve parties and Super Bowl Sunday, Halloween is the third largest celebration that adults involve themselves in. It’s become a $5 billion industry. You can just go through suburbia and people are decking out the outside of their homes with the lights and spider webs and all kinds of wonderful things.
And I think it’s just a wonderful release for people at this time of year with the pressure they have at work and all of that. They just kind of go back and say, “You know what? I remember how this used to be. And as an adult, and maybe part of a wonderful family, I’m going to continue to celebrate this.” So I think it’s just a wonderful time of year.
Kim: What was Halloween like for you as a kid? Obviously you say it was really great and you have some awesome memories. What do you remember the most?
Chris: Well, you know, it always started probably a week before when my mom and dad would get one of the largest pumpkins there were. All of us kids would carve pumpkins that we knew were going to be put out on the front porch. And of course you would have to make the yearly scarecrow in the front yard.
My mom would bake apple pies and things like that, so you’d have that smell in the house. And of course, it’s all about the smell outside, because with the turning leaves and the way that the light and the sun changes outside as well, it creates warm shadows at this time of year.
You can tell I’m excited just to be talking about it, but it’s what you see visually and the smells and everything else I think that gets you going. Then all of a sudden it’s a couple days before Halloween, and of course time has changed, so there’s no light out at 6:00.
You know, it’s the anticipation of going out and just running yourself ragged trick-or-treating with your friends. It’s just wonderful memories.
Then as you get older, instead of watching, going to the movies of course. And I remember as a child going to horror movies – they were black and white at that time – and being scared to death. And now of course it’s all DVDs and cable television but it’s just a wonderful time of year.
Jason: So what about these days? What do you do for Halloween? What’s your favorite Halloween activity now?
Chris: Yes, I have to say I’m running around now as an adult. I mean, there are probably three or four different neighborhoods that I need to go to, and I only have two-and-a-half hours.
And I have my video camera, my normal camera. My wife is with me, we’re running around, I’m trying to photograph families. I’m photographing the way people have decorated the outside of their homes. I’m invited inside homes now because people know I’m coming every year, so they need me to come in and they take pictures with me and their family.
Kim: It’s Mr. Halloween!
Chris: Yes. It’s kind of fun. But for me it’s always about going out on trick-or-treat night and just hearing the laughter of the children and the wind blowing through the trees. And hopefully it’s going to be a night where it’s cloudless and there’s a moon out casting a wonderful shadow on everything. Oh my God, it’s wonderful. I can’t wait!
Kim: It’s coming soon!
Chris: Yes, it’s coming soon.
Kim: Well, we always end our interviews with a question that gets you thinking back to childhood.
Jason: Which is not too hard for you at this time of year.
Chris: No, it’s not.
Kim: This is a very easy one, but what was your favorite Halloween costume as a kid?
Chris: Well, there was a time in my life when I was a teenager where I’d get pretty decked out. And I think one time I was a werewolf, and I spent hours and hours and hours on it. This was before I really bought rubber masks and things like that.
I made myself up really, really good. I would actually be on all fours a lot and then come up to the door and I’d be on my haunches. But I was so good that I’d scare everybody away.
So I just had to go in the house at that point because my mom and dad were going, “You know, no one wants to come to our house this year.” And so I ended up having to go out because they didn’t want me around. But from my standpoint, I created such a buzz in the neighborhood and everybody wanted me to go up to their house.
Kim: It must have been pretty convincing if people were so scared of it, Chris.
Chris: Oh, I know, but it’s all about the trick and the treat. People don’t remember that, I would always tell kids when they used to come to the house, “So, what kind of trick do you know, because it’s trick-or-treat? Do you know why you’re saying trick-or-treat?” and all that. There’s a little bit of that history that a lot of kids don’t know.
Jason: So, tell us about that. What was the original concept behind Halloween?
Chris: Well, boy, Halloween goes back so far, but I would have to say it started way back in New England, way back in I want to say the 1860s. There were farms back then and people had a lot more parties in those days. You’d go to a barn party and you’d have to entertain in order to get anything, whether it be the food or it was part of the harvest festival. So people put on skits, and actually had to do things. They just couldn’t come. You had to come with something in the way of an entertainment.
So it’s a little bit about the “trick” in treat-or-treat and you’d get a treat. In New England, they kind of said to people, “Well, is it a joke? Do you have to come in and say something? Something to make them laugh? What kind of trick?” You’re doing something magical or something when you ask for a trick-or-treat, and you have to do something in order to get a treat. So it kind of goes back to that, and I don’t know if people even know that these days. But it’s so funny to hear kids going “trick or treat.” They usually don’t want to do it anymore.
Jason: It’s all about the magic words. I guess kids will do whatever they can do to get candy!
Chris: Absolutely, yes.
In this episode of the Escape Adulthood Show, brought to you from studio 315 in Madison, Wisconsin, we interview Toby Sells, who runs his own creature makeup effects shop and makes creatures and gore effects for film and television. We also talk about the World Series, baby showers, and embarrassing teenagers. Just click “Play” to listen to the show, or you can subscribe to the show with iTunes…
• Check out some of Toby’s gruesome creations on his MySpace page.
• Visit dicksmithmake-up.com to learn more about Dick Smith’s work (he’s the guy responsible for the make-up done on the Exorcist) and get info on his highly recommended make-up course.
• Cool Thing: 500 XL Earbud Speakers
• Show Music: Coyote Sleeps by Ethan Elkind
• Show Length: 51 minutes, 24 seconds
• Shout Outs: A big welcome to all the new members from Milwaukee, WI, Pulaski, WI, and Lifeline Wisconsin.
• Feedback: What’s your favorite scary movie? What did you think of our interview with Toby? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Add a comment below, e-mail us, or give us a jingle via the exclusive Club K&J Hotline at 608-554-0803.