The bulk of Hersheypark in the heart of Hershey, PA, is basic top-notch amusement park rides. As you’d expect, one building in particular housed an animated tribute to the cornerstone of the city’s economy and the source of sugary happiness throughout all the land: the mass production of chocolate and chocolate-based goodies.
Parents and other former children lamented, waxed nostalgic, and raged at the news this week that Toys R Us, the last American large-scale brick-‘n’-mortar toy store chain, may be shuttering its remaining 800 stores over the next several weeks due to the long-term shenanigans of the evil corporate overlords who bought it in 2005 and basically ransacked it for cash for years. Soon that kaleidoscopically immersive childhood shopping experience, one of the few places a family could go and spend a day surrounded only by wall-to-wall playthings, will be downgraded from endangered to extinct.
I’m saddened by the loss, but not devastated. My life has been one long series of toy store collapses.
For the years when my son tagged along on our road trips, we tried to include a few kid-friendly stops for his sake — often an amusement park, or a zoo, or someplace loaded with sinfully sugary treats. We never expected to find a place that combined all three in some sort of animal snack funtime heaven.
Such was the magic we found in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
You know that feeling when the end of a long winter is coming, but it feels like the doldrums are the only state of mind you know because they’ve pervaded your everyday world so deeply that you forget what life was like without them? Or is it just us? Did everyone else have a positively thrilling winter and we’re the only ones yearning to ditch it all for just a few days out of town? Or at least a few minutes away from early post-winter potholes?
Longtime MCC readers know Anne and I love to travel together. We look forward to our annual road trips to different parts of the United States every year. In recent years we’ve added a slate of in-state birthday outings for more quality time together. Then there’s our favorite penchant for frequenting the Midwest comic/entertainment convention scene. Even before February had ticked off its twenty-eight days with Oscar season and not much else in its favor, the two of us were already putting our heads together and planning our 2018 getaways from our present homebody status. We have a loose framework for our 2018 road trip, early into its mapping stages and too soon to share spoilers. We have no idea how to spend this year’s birthdays because it’s far too soon for such talk. Conventions, on the other hand, are already nigh.
Fun fact we learned in 2010: Pennsylvania is really, really, really long. Not as long as South Dakota had been in 2009, but long enough to instill déjà vu. We approached from the west; our target Philadelphia was on its east end. The Pennsylvania Turnpike helps the trip go by faster like magic…but magic comes with a price. Fortunately we saved a little money with every digression that lured us away from the Turnpike.
It’s been years since we’ve seen a major studio act so sheepishly about a film of their own doing as Paramount Pictures has with Annihilation, the strikingly “intellectual” new brainchild from writer/director Alex Garland, whose past successes include science fiction head-trips like Sunshine and the Oscar-winning Ex Machina. Paramount’s last-minute no-confidence vote has denied it an international theatrical release in favor of dumping it on overseas Netflix. Paramount’s official page for the film provides only the trailer embedded via YouTube and a link to the film’s “official site“…which just redirects to a Facebook page. I’m accustomed to short films and indie projects setting up shop on Facebook, but it’s disappointing for a corporation of Paramount’s size to limit their own product to such a minuscule online footprint. Apparently they were holding out hope that Garland might rewrite and reshoot to add some super awesome monster fights.