Outside The Dispenser
Spring Loaded: A Message from the Editor top
Hello out there! It's been a few months since the last issue of Pezhead Monthly. I've been keeping busy for sure. In terms of Pez, this includes making updates to my Pez room, getting and preparing for and attending a Pez convention, and continuing to add new pieces to my collection. It's been a lot of fun, and especially these past few weeks, it's been good to focus on when so much of the world seems to be going crazy right now.
This issue of Pezhead Monthly will hopefully bring some lighter moments to you as well. Starting things out is a song I wrote about the new Marilyn Monroe Pez dispenser, which is a parody of Elton John's "Candle In The Wind." And, I put together a crazy video for it too! Unfroutnately, the YouTube police will not allow me to embed the video, but I do provide a direct link to it, as well as the lyrics below. Also in this issue is the vaunted return of Pez Poetry.
And last but certainly not least, I present a lengthy recap of my experiences at ThePigTOO convention in March. This was such a great time and I thank Josh again for everything. I look forward to going back next year! As it turned out, the convention happened mere days before events starting getting out of control with respect to COVID-19. As we all celebrated Pez, as we laughed and learned and devoured pulled pork, we had no idea of what was coming, and what we'll continue to be dealing with for months to come. The convention on its own was already special, but sharing in those last moments of normalcy together (for the foreseeable future anyway) adds an extra touch of grace that I'll hold onto forever.
I hope to return to this newsletter soon with an update on my Pez room, which is coming along nicely. There are a few final touches that I need to do before it's ready to unleash upon the world, but you'll learn all about it right here on the pages of Pezhead Monthly.
Be well, stay safe, and for goodness sake, Keep On Pezzin'.
One of the newest Pez releases as of this writing is none other than Marilyn Monroe. To paraphrase Ron Burgundy, this is kind of a big deal. So I put together a song called "Candy Loaded In" and made a video to celebrate the occasion. The lyrics are below and the link to the YouTube video is here. Be sure to check it out!
And it seems to
me that you're livin' life
Bein' Pez is tough,
And it seems to
me that you're livin' life
And it seems to
me that you're livin' life
And you shouldn't
feel so lonely
Pez Haiku #142
In early March of this year, I had the extreme pleasure to attend the Pez Informational Gathering event, otherwise known as the P.I.G. Event or ThePIGToo (as it was the second year for the event). It took place just north of Cincinnati and was hosted by the one and only Josh Bales. Although this was a smaller Pez convention, it made a big impact on me as a reminder of the fun and passion of the hobby and the people involved in it.
Prior to ThePIGToo, my personal life was very busy, in particular with getting married in September 2018 and getting a new house in July 2019. The house purchase, while the highlight of 2019 for me, also caused me to miss Pezamania for the first time since 2001. In October 2019, I attended the IN CROWD gathering. It was a small group, and was a great time and a nice way to connect with Pez friends old and new.
And then came ThePIGToo.
I arrived at the Hilton Garden Inn on a sunny Thursday afternoon. As the front doors slid open, there were lots of Pez dispensers lined up on a table to greet everyone. Looking around the lobby, they were everywhere. On the check-in desk. In the bar area. On the fireplace mantle. On all window sills in the lobby. On the tables outside the elevators. It was, unmistakably, the place to be. And it was a nice way to set the tone for the convention: Pez is everywhere and for everyone. #HandsOnPez!
After getting my convention badge and raffle tickets from Josh, along with, easily, the softest, most comfortable Pez convention shirt I've ever owned (with a great design too!), I spent a little time setting up the extras in my room for sale. Having started to set up my Pez room back home, I was able to gather up my extras in a few large bins to bring with me to the convention. This was probably the most prepared I have been in terms of bringing stuff to sell, complete with a spreadsheet and a large folding table (along with the table that Josh had provided for those of us selling out of our rooms).
When I finally had things set up and had a chance to look around, I took a walk around outside my room. All rooms that were selling were located on the same floor, on the same stretch. The smaller size of the convention (only about 100 attendees) allowed this, and it made for a much more relaxed experience. Pezamania, being by nature a much larger convention, has rooms open on multiple floors and sometimes even in multiple buildings in the hotel. That massive variety and scope is unparalleled and amazing, and I certainly look forward to being a part of it again in July of this year, but there is something to be said for the more subdued experience that ThePIGToo offered. Maybe I appreciated it more because of where I was as a collector at the time. To me, it was a great transition from the IN Crowd, which took place at a house, and Pezamania.
Most of the attendees who had arrived on Thursday soon made their way to the huge international grocery store Jungle Jim's for a tour. Jungle Jim's is known for lots of things, including their incredible Pez selection, which I've written about a few times in this publication. However, I chose to sit out the tour and to remain at the hotel. On the one hand, it would have been good to go with everyone as a shared experience and for the memories. On the other hand, I have been to Jungle Jim's many times, and will go many times again. And, I also heard that it involved a lot of walking. After the (brief) drive from home to the hotel and then setting up the room, I was ready to just chill for a bit. Even if it was a ghost town with pretty much everyone else being at Jungle Jim's!
As more people came in later Thursday night and into Friday, I alternated between selling out of my room and going room hopping. This continued into Friday night and part of Saturday too. There were a few things I had set aside for people ahead of time, and a few things people had set aside for me too (more on that later).
One of the items waiting for me was a giant bag of Batman Pez dispensers, courtesy of the awesome Jim Blaine, host of the upcoming Michigan Pez convention. I bought all of these Batmen from Jim because I am hoping to start making fantasy Batman Pez dispensers, to add to my ever-growing collection. Thanks to a small screwdriver that Jim loaned to me for a while, along with a handy YouTube video, I started to do this right at the convention. At the end of this recap, there is a picture of my scores that include the custom Batman that I made at the convention.
On Friday night, Josh hosted a great forum about Pez factory errors. There so many examples to be seen, provided by Josh as well as those of us who brought our own errors to display. I brought a couple of boxes of errors myself. (In this publication, factory errors have been the subjects of poetry, song, and even an interview) At the forum, Josh talked about all of the various types of errors, how common they are and thus how valuable they may be to those of us who collect them.
After the forum, we played the potato game. I won't go into details, except to say that it involved, among other things, a potato, a bedpan, and the importance of following directions. I will also say that I was particularly bad at this game. All of that being said, it was a fun and unique gaming experience that I can't really compare to anything similar at other Pez conventions I've been to. I hear this game also took place last year, and fingers cross it will return next year too.
Also, huge thanks to Don, who left the room to get some beer and then came back with an entire CART OF BEER for the room. What a generous and fun gesture that was. The room erupted in applause. Well done, sir!
On Saturday morning, the big event took place. It started out with Josh handing out boxes to everyone. These boxes contained a small ball, familiar to Pezheads as the balls sold in Walmart that contained miniature items (and, if we were lucky, we'd find miniature Pez items). Inside the balls were a number of goodies, but the main attraction was a custom-made VERY miniature dispenser (made by Handmade Miniatures By Alma www.handmademiniaturesbyalma.com) [LINK] When I say very miniature, I mean VERY miniature. Here is a comparison of the miniature Pez versus a standard Pez dispenser, along with a close-up view of the miniature one (as best as I can get!). The details on this thing are just incredible and it's one of the coolest and most unique convention dispensers I've ever seen. (lLick on the images for larger views.)
Josh also handed out another dispenser to everyone, with a head in the shape of the moon and the words "Out of This World" on the package. And speaking of the package- this was a brilliant design note that I would love to see more often: the package was sealed not with staples, but double-sided tape. This allows you to keep it in the package if you want, or take it out for photo or display purposes, while still having the bag if you want to put it back. This is pretty rare to see for custom Pez dispensers and I tip my hat to Josh for doing this.
There was also THAT thing that happened. I am sworn to secrecy but let me tell you, it was something that everyone who attended will always remember. I still can't believe that it happened!
After the box unopening and THAT thing that happened, there were some sharing sessions, where anyone could get in front of the group and share their Pez knowledge with the group, or perhaps ask a question that they had about something in the Pez world. There were so many great things happening here. There was a very in-depth sharing session about all of the Star Wars variations by Rory, a great talk about the robot dispensers by Steve, some nice info about vintage dispensers from Kevin, and some very interesting details into the origin of the Bubbleman dispenser by Jon. There was a cool presentation by Misty featuring all of her Pez Cows. There was a very well thought out game by Rusty that shined a light on Pez pricing guides. There was an insightful moment where Jim described rooming with Josh.
For my part, I shared a few poems from this publication's archives. Two of them were timely to the convention and the weekend: one was about a factory error Eve dispenser and one was about Daylight Savings Time, an event which took place the very next day. For my closer, I led the group in a rendition of "A Pezhead's Life For Me." This was the same poem/sing-a-long with which I closed out my 2009 Live Pez Poetry Slam. You can experience it for yourself here! And, good luck getting the chorus out of your head.
Two sessions stood out above the others for me, though. The first one was by Michael, who shared a prototype for a Superman Pez dispenser form back in the 70s that never made it to market. He had the dispenser along with an ad for it, and it was simply amazing. This is one of those once in a lifetime type of dispensers where only 2 or 3 are known to exist, much like the famed political donkey made for JFK. It was thrilling to be witness to such a neat piece of Pez history.
My other favorite session was led by JoAnn. She busted out an Instant Pot and an apron, and then, in a truly unforgettable moment, surprised Josh with another apron that all of us had signed. Then, she proceeded to talk about the Instant Pot and busted out some pork butt. As Steve passed out special dispensers relating to this, JoAnn and Josh prepped the pork butt and put it into the Instant Pot. A short while later it was finished, and there was enough pulled pork for the entire group! And let me tell you, it was just delicious, along with the Cheerwine that was served along with it. I have been to many Pez conventions over the years, but never before has someone made and served a meal for the entire group! (Grated, this would definitely not be easy at a larger convention, but my point stands.) It was an incredible act of sharing and kindness on the part of JoAnn, and again was so very tasty. And on top of all of that, the Pez dispenser that was handed out contained a piece paper with the very recipe that JoAnn used, so that we could all try it for ourselves. Thank you JoAnn, I am never going to forget this!
Throughout the day, Josh also raffled off a whole bunch of great Pez items. I like the way he approached this because the raffles were never for any specific item, but for first choice (or first two choices, depending on the ticket), and he was constantly adding stuff to the table. It definitely seemed like everyone in the room won something at some point. For me, the big prize came when I got up there and found a Yellow Deadpool Pop Pez! This was one of those Pop Pez that I had told myself I would probably never add to my collection, due to the high price it commands because of its rarity. I was happy to be proven wrong that day! I also scored a mug and some shoes for my non-footed dispensers.
Most of the group eventually made their way up to Vera Cruz in Middletown for some tasty Mexican food. I attended that, and it was nice to talk with some folks who I had not had the chance to talk to prior. I sat near Becky, Ilona, and Rory, so I think I had the best seat in the house!
Saturday night closed out with some toasts. This again was something fun and unique, and perhaps a distinct advantage of a smaller convention. For this event, Josh toasted several people, including everyone who shared something at the session earlier in the day, as well as three people in particular who were a big help to him in putting the convention together. The prize for each of us was a custom pig dispenser made by Penny Ressler- in a package sealed with double-sided tape, of course!
And then, in what could not have been a more perfect closer, Josh led the group in the song "We'll Meet Again", which I first heard in the ending to "Dr Strangelove" and was more recently covered by Johnny Cash. I've always found the chorus haunting and beautiful, even more so in the Johnny Cash version, when the group sings the chorus. And, considering the major, life-changing global situation that we were blissfully unaware that we were just days away from at the time of the convention, the chorus is even more poignant in retrospect:
Before I get to all of my scores, I want to send out a few thanks to people at the convention. First, an overall thanks to everyone I met, new friends and old, including those that bought from me and sold to me. Thanks for the chats in the rooms, halls, elevators, in the event room, and at Vera Cruz. Rusty, Rory, and so many more of you. It was so nice to see so many of you again and to meet new friends too. I was in awe of your knowledge and passion of the hobby, and I appreciate your kindness to me. Thanks again to JoAnn for sharing the pulled pork. Thanks to Misty and Penny for bringing your mad artistic skills to the Pez world, and in particular to Misty for the steampunk Batmen and to Penny for the antiquated Batmen. When I finally set up and unveil the Batman section of my Pez room, you will see that your pieces are standouts, without question. Thanks also to Penny for your advice on making fantasy dispensers. And thanks to Jim for all of the Batman Pez and the advice on how to remove heads from stems. I will see you in Michigan, sir!
Most of all, I want to thank Josh Bales for putting together PIGToo, a truly "unconventional" Pez convention that I will never forget. I can only imagine the hours, days, and months Josh spent to pull this off, and let me tell you, he nailed it. Thanks for prompting me for that final push, on the last day of registration, that I needed to sign up and get me out there. I would have kicked myself if I didn't go, for sure. Those of you that know Josh know that he has a very outgoing, boisterous, showman personality, while at the same time being kind, thoughtful, and considerate of everyone. There were so many little touches to this convention, many of which I described above, that made everyone feel welcome and part of the fun. What a great time this was. Thank you for all that you do for this hobby and for all of us, and I cannot wait for the PigPigPig next year!
As for my scores, This very well may have been the first convention where I did not pick up a vintage dispenser. But I definitely added quite a bit to my collection! In addition to the stuff mentioned above, I also added a misfit Witch and Snowman, the 2020 ladybug, some Batman factory error cards, a custom light up Orko (thanks Jeff!), a Superhero Girl set, and a Policeman bobblehead.
Here is a picture of all of my scores.
I know this might sound corny, but I think one of the biggest scores I got at PIGToo was KNOWLEDGE, not only of particular Pez information, but also of how to grow my own fantasy collection. I also was reminded of how fun and creative this hobby is, and how much I enjoy being a part of that aspect of it. Yes, I very regularly add pieces to my collection, but taking that extra step to "think outside the dispenser" is something I haven't done in a while, and look forward to getting back to again.
In closing, ThePIGToo was a spectacular time that I will treasure forever. It was great to be there and I look forward to many more good Pez times down the road. Things may be uncertain right now, but I know we'll meet again some sunny day.
Enjoy Pez, but please do so responsibly.