A Blaze of Cholesterol


On September 6th Tim and I headed for Vandergrift, Pennsylvania to attend Drive-In Super Monster-Rama, an event that features 8 classic drive-in horror movies over two nights. This would be our 3rd Monster-Rama, and we’d be meeting up with friends from Maryland and Nebraska to enjoy these excellent film prints.

This is part six of my trip diary, in which I limp toward a conclusion.

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Tim and I finally got up around 2 PM on Sunday. We headed back to the Yakkitty Yak for some sort of meal. Then we went to Monroeville and scavenged at the Half-Price Books. I can’t satisfactorily explain why we always wind up at a Half-Price Books, but it’s not a Fiasco Brothers trip until we’ve filled our luggage with books, movies, and tunes from one of their many fine locations.

We’d thought of going to the Monroeville mall (location for much of the filming on Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead”). We’d gone on our previous two Monster-Rama trips, but there was supposed to be a new zombie museum that we wanted to check out. Not this year, alas.

Tim got a call from Scott while we were wrapping things up at the Half-Price. He and Jessica were going to have dinner at Cuban restaurant before heading home. They wondered if we’d like to join them. Well, yeah!

We drove to Pittsburgh and met up with them at a place called the Black Bean. It was pretty tasty, and we enjoyed talking over the weekend’s events and about kinds of things. It’s nice to be able to relax with similarly minded people and only have to censor myself a little.

Afterwards we walked down the street for dessert at Dave and Andy’s ice cream parlor. Then we went to the University of Pittsburgh Cathedral of Learning, which does have a rather imposing lobby. We rode the elevators up to an observation floor, where we looked out over Pittsburgh while discussing trashy films by the likes of Jesus Franco and Jean Rollin. It seemed right.

We said our farewells, and Tim and I headed back to Vandergrift and a peaceful night’s sleep. What we got was a couple of men next door arguing drunkenly over the price for some hunting equipment. I slept fitfully, dreaming of banjo fights.

Nonetheless I awoke Monday morning feeling almost human again. Tim fussed with the GPS settings and gave it to understand that we would prefer a direct route even if there would be tolls. This stern approach seemed to work as there were no confusing turnouts on the way to Michigan.

We stopped for food at a chain restaurant, and I had burger and a pumpkin shake. I expressed a touch of remorse over this decidedly unhealthy option, but Tim waved it off.

“It’s the last day of your vacation,” he said. “It’s okay to go out in a blaze of glory. Or cholesterol.”

I mused on this wisdom as burger grease ran down my chin into my goatee. The rest of the meal passed in cholesterol-laden glory.

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Bonus Entry

The place where we ate on Monday had cookies called smileys. For me, this at last provided context for that mysterious icon, the frownie. I concocted the following story to explain my entirely baseless understanding of the situation.

Emotional Dining Icons: a fable

Once upon a time in western Pennsylvania, there was a chain of family restaurants. All family restaurants being more or less the same, the plucky restaurant chain needed a way to distinguish itself from the other chains of family restaurants.

One day while making sugar cookies for the restaurant chain, a baker was struck by whimsy and decorated the sugar cookies with smiley faces. An icon was born! From then on the little chain of family restaurants branded itself with the Smiley, and lo! did t-shirts get sold.

Seeing the success that the Smiley had brought to the chain of family restaurants, a rival chain worried that they could no longer compete. The power of the Smiley was strong, for how can anyone counter a smile? Grins were considered but ultimately rejected due to the dangers of unchecked escalation of happiness. So to were leers discarded, as this was after all a chain of family restaurants.

At last one baker, perhaps driven mad by the attempts to create edible emotions, suggested putting frowns on brownies. “We’ll call them Frownies!” he proclaimed before retreating under a table to giggle at nothing in particular. The other bakers stared at each other in shock, and at the first baker to check for knives. Then one cleared her throat.

“It’s… It’s not a bad idea, really.”

And so it came to pass that the two chains of family restaurants competed fairly for the family dining business of western Pennsylvania.

And some say that on moonlit nights in the woods surrounding Pittsburgh you can still hear that baker giggling at nothing in particular.

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One thought on “A Blaze of Cholesterol

  1. I have to say that even with Drunken Sporting Goods Price Argument taking place next door, it was a very good idea to sleep 300 yards from the drive-in. I hope you have no objections to trying that again next year. (Also for next year: Double-checking to make sure the Mapquest and GPS directions are the same; zombie museum!)

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