Pop Culture Chronicles
Opening Day, Drive-Up Restaurants and … Wizard World?
We’re finally shaking off Old Man Winter. When the Indians’ equipment trucks head West, you know more daylight, warmer weather and the opening of drive-up restaurants are right around the corner.
For my wife and me, it’s pop culture convention season. Now let me make this clear. We stand in line for tickets just like everyone else, but we stand in a lot of lines because there are so many of them. Most are just an hour or two away, and most have a Cleveland connection.
The Wizard World show at the Cleveland Convention Center in March is huge, and there’s always plenty of star power. There’s Wizard World Columbus in June, and both shows are similar to the San Diego Comic-Con International.
What started out as comic book conventions are now about TV shows, pro wrestling, movies and more. You see Lou Ferrigno, the guy who played the Incredible Hulk, at a lot of these. He used to live in Columbus and he visits friends when he travels to Ohio.
Which brings us to movies. Last issue I mentioned Cinevent 50 in Columbus, and I got a couple of emails asking what it was about. It’s one of the oldest film conventions in the country, an annual event that marks 50 years this Memorial Day weekend. Morrie Everett from Cleveland sets up his movie poster auction there that brings people in from around the world.
Just over the state line in Mars, Pennsylvania, is Monster Bash. There are two of them, one in June and one in October.
I’ve said before that so many Clevelanders show up there you think Mars is in Northeast Ohio. Promoter Ron Adams convinced Joe Flaherty from the old SCTV show to make an appearance in October. That Cleveland connection? I spoke to Joe years ago and he said he had never visited the city, but his dad took his only trip out of Pennsylvania to Cleveland and talked about it the rest of his life.
SCTV was brilliant sketch comedy, and the producers actually did another pilot with members of the troupe and hosted by Bob and Ray. It was called “From Cleveland,” filmed here, and the series was going to be based on the shores of Lake Erie. One problem: They ran the pilot, and it turned out to be the only thing SCTV ever did that just wasn’t funny.
Canton’s Monster Bash, Akron Comicon and MonsterFestMania in Akron are on the horizon later this year. Get your geek on, folks; there’s plenty to do in the coming months.
I mentioned there’s always a Cleveland connection and this is a good one. The CW has a hit this spring with its show “Black Lightning.” The character was created decades ago by Clevelander Tony Isabella, who’s still in this area and busier than ever with the success of the show. This probably came as a surprise to Tony, who likely envisioned himself yelling at kids to get off his lawn at this stage in his life. (OK, I stole that line from Tony.) Just another example of the wide range of talent here.
Last issue I mentioned that parts of 1978’s “The Deer Hunter” were filmed in Northeast Ohio with several scenes shot around St. Theodosius in the Tremont neighborhood. When the church needed emergency repairs, some cast members traveled back to Cleveland to re-create the wedding reception scene in the church hall. Tickets went fast, and you got to walk into the scene of a famous film (with an open bar).
For next time here’s a real head scratcher. What did Babe Ruth never do at Cleveland Municipal Stadium? I’ll have the answer and the surprising response from an 8-year-old in the next issue.
Mike Olszewski is a veteran award-winning radio, TV and print journalist who’s best known for his time on the legendary WMMS-FM. He and his wife, Janice, wrote the best-selling “Cleveland Radio Tales” and “Cleveland TV Tales.” Mike also is president of the Siegel & Shuster Society, the nonprofit group promoting Cleveland as the hometown of Superman’s creators. Contact him at [email protected]