Jul 20, 2019

The Highest Point In Human History

Apollo 11 Mission
July 20, 1969
Fifty years ago today, the human race reached it's highest point.  The world collectively held its breath as Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin landed the Eagle lunar module on the moon and took their first steps on its surface while command module pilot Michael Collins orbited in Columbia.

NASA shared this video on YouTube of the original mission video that aired live on television throughout the world.  The broadcast began at 10:39 pm Eastern Daylight Time on Sunday, July 20th, 1969 and continued for nearly three hours.

Take a moment to watch some of this footage today and remember a truly noble pursuit of greatness.  It may be the only time in human history when we truly set aside race, religion, politics, nationalism and ideology and united as a single species behind three men who risked their lives to achieve what was once thought to be impossible.

Jul 18, 2019

Today I Became An Honorary Millennial

Sabra Breakfast: Avocado Toast
Not gonna lie, it was pretty tasty.  Not sure what the deal is with the orange wedge on the package though.

Jul 16, 2019

Bryce Comes Through

It's been a bit of a rough season for the Phillies, who have fallen to third place in the division.  Hopefully, tonight's game will be a turning point.

Trailing the Dodgers 8-6 in the bottom of the 9th, the Phillies battled back against closer Kenley Jansen.  Andrew Knapp started off the rally with a double.  This was followed by a single off of the bat of Cesar Hernandez and an RBI single by Scott Kingery, which brought Bryce Harper to the plate.  Harper doubled to drive in two runs for the 9-8 victory over Los Angeles.

Jul 15, 2019

My New Favorite Tea

Cold Brewed Iced Tea
Twinings of London
I love unsweetened mint iced tea, and I cannot express how happy I am that this product exists.  Mint iced tea isn't easy to find, and finding it unsweetened has been damn near impossible.  Not only does this make a delicious glass of mint tea, but you don't need a kettle because these tea bags brew in cold water.

Jul 14, 2019

The Big Piece Says Goodbye

Sunday, July 14, 2019
Washington Nationals @ Philadelphia Phillies
Citizens Bank Park - Philadelphia, PA

Pitching: Aníbal Sánchez vs. Jake Arrieta
Results: Phillies defeated Nationals, 4-3
Photo Gallery

The Philadelphia Phillies have played baseball for 136 years.  The team was founded in 1883, less than 20 years after the Civil War.  In all of that time, there have been only nine players who have played for at least seven seasons to spend their entire Major League career with the Phillies.  Two iconic sluggers who played in my lifetime are among the nine: Mike Schmidt and Ryan Howard.  At this afternoon's game, the franchise and the fans honored the latter with Ryan Howard Retirement Day.

Prior to the game, the Phillies invited a number of special guests on the field to honor Ryan Howard, including Charlie Manuel, Milt Thompson, Ed Wade and Roly de Armas (Howard's manager when he was in the minor leagues with the Clearwater Phillies, and the bullpen coach of the 2008 World Champion Phillies).  The team also showed a pre-recorded congratulatory message on the big screen from Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike TroutRyan Howard was introduced on the field and he gave a nice speech to wrap up his professional career as one of the most iconic and beloved players in franchise history.

On top of everything else, it was a great game.  The Phillies were coming off of two losses to the Nationals and trying to avoid the sweep.  With the game tied 1-1 in the bottom of the 5th, Maikel Franco drew a walk and Adam Haseley singled (the second hit of his MLB career) to put runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs.  Brad Miller struck out and Scott Kingery popped out, but Jean Segura hit a line drive to right field to give the Phillies a 2-1 lead.  The ball was misplayed in the outfield and Haseley should have scored, but he held up at third base.  Thankfully, the Phillies tacked on another run in the 6th on J.T. Realmuto's 11th home run of the season.

The Phillies brought in J.D. Hammer in the top of the 7th.  He was rushed to the major leagues because of the many injuries in our bullpen.  He's been reasonably effective so far this season, all things considered, but this was not one of his better outings.  He walked Kurt Suzuki and Victor Robles which brought former Phillie Howie Kendrick to the plate in a pinch hitting appearance.  Kendrick hit an RBI single, which was followed by a Trea Turner RBI single which tied the game at 3 and chased Hammer from the game.

Ranger Suarez was brought in to finish the 7th, and he, Adam Morgan and Hector Neris combined to keep the Nationals from scoring again.  Finally, with one out in the bottom of the 9th, Maikel Franco hit a walk-off home run off of Matt Grace to give the Phillies the 4-3 win.  It was Franco's 100th career home run and the second walk-off homer of his career.  Franco is one of the few remaining members of the team to have played with Ryan Howard, so it was a fitting end to a game that began with a tribute to The Big Piece.

Pork Barbecue At The Ballpark

Pulled Pork Sandwich and Mexican Street Corn
Bull's BBQ
Citizens Bank Park - Philadelphia, PA
Before the game this afternoon, pop and I had lunch at Bull's BBQ.  I had the pulled pork barbecue sandwich, which was delicious.  The elote was a nice surprise that I hadn't noticed on their menu before today.  It could have used a little chili powder, but it was very tasty and nearly as good as what I had when I worked in El Paso.

We also had an opportunity to take a photo with Phillies 1980 World Series Champion Greg "The Bull" Luzinski.  I'm going to try to have it printed to an 8x10 and ask Mr. Luzinski to autograph it so I can have it framed and give it to Dad as a present.  He's not big on reading blogs online, so no worries about spoiling the surprise.

Jul 13, 2019

An Old Favorite And A New Favorite

Psychedelic Furs - James - Dear Boy
Franklin Music Hall
Philadelphia, PA - July 13, 2019
Photo Gallery
I first saw the Psychedelic Furs in Jim Thorpe nine months ago and they were incredible.  I couldn't pass up the chance to see them again; this time at the Electric Factory in Philly (I still can't bring myself to call it "Franklin Music Hall").  As great as they were last October, this performance was even better.  I can't begin to tell you how awesome it is to hear Heartbreak Beat live.  It's my all time favorite song, and I cannot put into words how thankful I am to have been present to see it performed by the Psychedelic Furs not once, but twice.

As great as their performance was, I was completely and unexpectedly blown away by James.

When I first bought the tickets, I really didn't even notice Dear Boy and James, and I had assumed that they were both opening acts.  Dear Boy is a relatively new group, and they performed a good opening set that I enjoyed.

A few days before the concert, I did a quick search on James and learned that they had a hit in 1993 called Laid that I know and enjoy.  If you've seen the American Pie movies, you've heard it.  It's one of those songs that most people might not know by the name or the artist, but if you play two seconds of the beginning, they can sing the rest of the song.  When I learned about this, I was happy that I would see an opening artist who had a song I was familiar with.

Before the show, I met a dude from Rhode Island who told me that James is his favorite band and this was his third time seeing them on this tour.  Not gonna lie - I was a bit shocked to hear that, but it made me think that maybe there was more to this band than I was aware of.  He filled me in on who this group was and what they're about.  They're an alternative rock band out of Manchester who began in 1982.  The band broke up in 2001 when lead singer went off to work on other projects, but they came back together in 2007 and have been touring and releasing new albums ever since.  He told me the band toured with The Smiths back in the 80's, and cited a few artists who had a similar sound and message, all of whom I was a fan of.  It sounded right up my alley, and I was pretty hyped up to see his set before it began, but nothing could have prepared me for how incredible this would be.

Tim Booth may be the most intense and captivating singer I've ever seen live in concert.  His presence demands your attention, and it's entirely genuine and real.  The set began like a shotgun blast with a song called Hank.  The lyrics make it very clear what the song is about and the values that the artist stands for.  It is everything that a protest song should be - powerful, intelligent, and unmistakable in it's message.  It was also a fantastic opening to a set that included Booth scaling the wall and singing Tomorrow while hanging off of the balcony on the second floor, and singing Picture Of This Place while crowd surfing face down.  Between these, Booth explained that he wrote All I'm Saying about his best friend who died of cancer, but didn't tell anyone that she had the disease.  As he sang his incredibly moving tribute to her, I doubt that there was a dry eye in the building.  By the end of this set, I went from barely remembering this band as the guys from the American Pie song to feeling a level of respect and admiration that is equal to any artist whose work I've been lucky enough to experience.

Jul 12, 2019

Porking In The Car

Pulled Pork King
Burger King - Hazleton, PA
First of all, I love that this is product includes the words "Pork King".  I'm picturing an ad campaign where a car is in the parking lot.  It's rocking and the windows are all steamed up.  The manager knocks on the window and it rolls down to reveal the King eating this sandwich, followed by the tag line "Pork King in the car... have it your way."

As for the food itself, my opinion is a bit torn.  It was a good sandwich and I'm glad I got to try it, but something is missing.  Maybe it would be better with cheese or bacon?  I don't know.  I just know that I wished I had gotten a Rodeo King instead.

Jul 11, 2019

Really Dude?

For the discerning gentleman who wants a clean ass, but is scared to death that touching it might make him gay.

Jul 10, 2019

Pop Ink

A friend of mine recently got to meet Tiffany and Debbie Gibson backstage at a concert.  The ladies signed his arm, and he had the autographs tattooed.  Timmi posted it on Twitter, and it was re-tweeted by Tiffany.

Jul 9, 2019

The 2019 All-Star Phillies

During Spring Training, there was a lot of speculation over how many Phillies would be All-Stars by mid season.  The general consensus among fans and podcasters was that Harper and Realmuto would definitely get voted in, and there was potential for Rhys Hoskins, Aaron Nola and Jean Seugra as well.  It wasn't an outlandish prediction.  The Phillies added four players over the winter who were All-Stars in 2018.  As it turned out, the Phillies won't have any starters on the 2019 All-Star Team, and we'll have our third consecutive season of only one All-Star representative who will ride the bench to start the game (Realmuto), but two of my favorite Coffee Cup Phillies from the past have experienced a career resurgence and have been voted to start for the American League this year.

The Phillies signed Carlos Santana to a three year contract prior to the 2018 season.  He was a productive bat in the lineup (and to televisions in the clubhouse), but it's fair to say that it wasn't his best season.  While I would have loved to see him stay with the Phillies, his signing caused a problem because it forced Rhys Hoskins to left field - a position he should never play again under any circumstance.  Santana was traded with J.P. Crawford to the Mariners for Jean Segura and Juan Nicasio.  Ten days later, the Mariners flipped Santana to the Indians for Edwin Encarnación, and Santana has been having a fantastic season in his return to Cleveland.  He will be the starting first baseman for the 2019 AL All-Star Team today.

Hunter Pence was acquired by the Phillies in 2011 after a mid-season trade with the Astros.  He wasted no time endearing himself to the city after scoring the winning run in extra innings shortly.  In the post-game interview that night, he was asked what was going through his mind as he rounded third base, and he responded with "Great game.  Let's go eat."  The phrase became to the 2011 NL East Champion Phillies what Brad Miller's Bamboo briefly became to the team this year.  Sadly, the good times didn't last into 2012.  The team fell into a tailspin and began trading away all of the star players for prospects.  Pence was traded to the Giants for Tommy Joseph, Nate Schierholtz and Seth Rosin.  None of the players that we received in that deal did much for the Phillies, while Pence helped lead the Giants to win the 2012 World Series.  Prior to the 2019 season, most of the baseball world had assumed that this was the end of Pence's career.  He was a 36 year old free agent coming off of several seasons of sharply declining production, and there weren't very many rumors of teams that were interested in signing him.  In fact, he didn't sign with the Texas Rangers until the first week in February, and it was a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training.  However, Pence has been on fire and has already hit more home runs in half of 2019 than he had in each of the previous four seasons.  From a minor league contract that didn't guarantee a roster spot, Pence was voted to be the AL All-Star Team's starting designated hitter.  Unfortunately a strained groin will keep him from playing, but it's an impressive comeback story nonetheless.

Congratulations to Carlos Santana and Hunter Pence.

Jul 8, 2019

Orange You Glad They're Not Banana

Orange Cream Pop Snack Balls
Herr's (2019)
The Hometown Farmers Market is the place to find all of the bizarre snack foods that no stores carry.  These are basically cheese balls that are Creamsicle flavored instead of being covered in cheese powder.  They're surprisingly very good with a flavor very similar to sugary breakfast cereal, but with a more light and airy texture.

Jul 7, 2019

Swahili Conservation Message

Lehigh Valley Zoo
Schnecksville, PA
It's been a nice, sunny weekend - perfect to spend a little time with some animals.

Jul 6, 2019

Happy National Fried Chicken Day

Today is National Fried Chicken Day.

I want to see Hallmark come out with a greeting card for this.  I want to see communities get together on the local high school football field and do the chicken dance.  I want to see eight herbs and spices strapped to the leftover fireworks from Thursday and shot into the sky, sprinkling the crowd with Kentucky fried deliciousness.  I want to see a birth announcement today for a child named Colonel Popeye.

Make it happen.

Jul 5, 2019

Jul 4, 2019

A Return To Hawkins

Stranger Things
Season 3 (2019)
After months of anticipation complete with New Coke, Upside Down Whoppers and David Harbour throwing out the first pitch at Citizens Bank Park, the third season of Stranger Things is on Netflix today.

Jul 3, 2019

Two Milestones, One Swing

Tonight in Atlanta, with one swing of the bat, Bryce Harper recorded career hit #1,000 on his 200th career home run.  He's the first person to ever reach both milestones at the same time.  As of tonight, 20% of Harper's career hits have been home runs.

Jul 2, 2019

Cody Rhodes Makes Pudding With Unicorns

All I can picture is a kitchen where Ultimo Dragon casts spells on a Snack Pack treasure chest and Stardust sitting on the back of a unicorn while stirring a massive pot of pudding.

Jul 1, 2019

Four First Round Future Phils

Monday, July 1, 2019
New Hampshire Fisher Cats @ Reading Fightin Phils
First Energy Stadium - Reading, PA

Pitching: Jon Harris vs. Mauricio Llovera
Results: Fisher Cats defeated Fightin' Phils, 7-5
Photo Gallery

For a brief time last week, the Double A team had four first round draft picks on the team at the same time:
Since then, Haseley's rehab assignment has taken him to Triple A.  Also, Moniak was removed from the 6th inning of the game last night after tweaking his hamstring, so he sat out of tonight's game to heal up.  However, Alec Bohm and Cornelius Randolph both played and had a great game.  Randolph went 2-4 and Bohm went 2-5 with a stand-up triple to right center.  First baseman Darick Hall also had a great game, going 2-3 with a home run and two walks.  It looked like the Phils were cruising to a victory, but the Fisher Cats tied the score at 5-5 in the 7th and pulled ahead in the 9th when Josh Palacios hit a triple to score Nash Knight.  He then scored on a Christian Williams double.

It was a bummer that the Fightin's lost, but the game was a lot of fun.  Bohm is the real deal.  The talk is that he may be the starting 3B in Philadelphia next season.  The highlight of the night for me happened in the 8th inning when they put me on the big screen for one of the trivia games.  The way it worked is that I represented the guys in attendance, and the trivia question was "what percentage of the Fightin' Phils players have shaved their legs at some point in their life".  I had to give a number, and then the woman who was selected to represent all of the gals in attendance had to guess if the correct answer was higher or lower.  I guessed 25%, and the female contestant guessed that the correct answer would be lower.  Mickey Moniak then came on the big screen to say that the right answer was 33%, so I won four tickets to a game later this month, which was a pretty awesome and unexpected birthday present.  The dude who asked me the trivia question mentioned that it was my birthday, so as we were leaving the stadium, a bunch of people who recognized me from the big screen wished me a happy birthday.  I'm not always super comfortable with attention, but honestly, it made my night.

Jun 30, 2019

AEW Is The Real Deal

AEW Fyter Fest
Ocean Center - Daytona Beach, FL
If you are a fan of professional wrestling and you didn't watch All Elite WrestlingFyter Fest, please do yourself a favor and go stream it now.  This show was held in conjunction with the CEO Gaming and it was streamed live for free on B/R Live in the United States and Canada, and on the Fite Network elsewhere around the world.

I don't want to spoil any of the matches or label anything with star ratings, but I will say this: I have never heard of 22 year old Darby Allin prior to this show, but he is an absolutely incredible pro wrestler.  I cannot overstate how excellent his match with Cody Rhodes was, and how much command over his character and his performance that Allin has.  I highly recommend watching the entire show, including the "Buy In" pre-show, but if you only have time for one, Cody vs. Allin is the one to watch.

Jun 29, 2019

The Heyman/Bischoff Era

On Thursday, Sports Illustrated reported that Paul Heyman has been named the Executive Director of Monday Night Raw while Eric Bischoff will take on the same role on Smackdown.  According to the article, the roles are legitimate and not part of a scripted storyline, like the "general manager" role that WWE rolls out from time to time, but the advertisements sent to potential ticket buyers for next week's Raw and Smackdown seem to indicate that the roles will be acknowledged on the show.

Paul Heyman has a reputation of being one of the most creative and effective bookers in the history of the industry, taking ECW from an unknown brand operating out of bingo halls to a worldwide brand.  Meanwhile, Eric Bischoff took WCW from a runner-up brand in a dying industry in the early 90's to the premier brand of professional wrestling, and is largely responsible for the renaissance of the industry in the mid to late 90's.

While both promoters have strengths and weaknesses, both have created pro wrestling characters and storylines that are far superior to the disastrous writing that has plagued WWE television for nearly 20 years.  The success of this move depends entirely on one person - Vince McMahon.  If he can stay out of the way and let Paul and Eric work with their creative teams, this has the potential to greatly improve WWE programming.  If he continues to meddle in the creative process, this will be just the latest in an ever growing list of professional wrestling that could have been great if not for the influence of a man who is several decades out of touch with the audience.

Jun 28, 2019

They're Very Refreshing

They're giving away a free download of the Junior Mints episode of Seinfeld from 1993 when you buy a box of the candy.  It's the perfect snack for having your spleen removed.

Jun 27, 2019

The Mets Are Bamboo-zled

Since Brad Miller brought that bamboo plant into the clubhouse, the Phillies have broken a 7 game losing streak by sweeping the Mets in a four game series.  They capped off the sweep by hitting two home runs off of Mets closer Edwin Diaz in the bottom of the 9th.  In each game of the series, the Phillies came from behind to beat the Mets, including two walk off victories (their first two of the season).  This is the first time the Phillies swept the Mets in a four game series since 2007.

The latest walk off home run by Jean Segura earlier today inspired Mets radio personality Mike Francesa to launch into a tirade and suggest that the team head south down the turnpike and allow the '69 Mets to suit up and take on the Braves in their upcoming series.

Meanwhile in Philadelphia, bamboo has become the hottest selling item in Chinatown.  Also, Brad Miller's Bamboo has its own profile on Twitter, and the souvenir shops at Citizens Bank Park have gotten on board with their own collection of lucky plants for sale.

The Phillies are flying down to Miami this evening for a three game series with the Marlins that starts tomorrow.  John Clark of NBC Sports bumped in to Phillies reliever J.D. Hammer, who is making sure that Brad Miller's lucky bamboo makes the trip with the team.

Jun 26, 2019

Whoops There Goes Another Bamboo Plant

Tuesday, June 25, 2019
New York Mets @ Philadelphia Phillies
Citizens Bank Park - Philadelphia, PA

Pitching: Walker Lockett vs. Jake Arrieta
Results: Phillies defeated Mets, 7-5
Photo Gallery

Someone that my dad works with gave him tickets to last night's game, so we had an unexpected Tuesday night at the ballpark.  Because of this, I spent most of the day in a Rockstar and coffee-fueled haze as I tried to get through a day of work without collapsing into a coma, but it was well worth the lack of sleep.

Prior to the game, the Phillies honored The Sounds of Philadelphia as a part of African American Heritage Celebration Night.  The highlight of the celebration was Russell Thompkins Jr (lead singer of 70's soul icons The Stylistics) singing You Make Me Feel Brand New before the start of the game.  He also sang Take Me Out To The Ballgame during the 7th inning stretch.

Actor David Harbour threw out the first pitch of the game.  He plays police chief Jim Hopper on Stranger Things, and he showed up to the ballpark without New Coke or an Upside Down Whopper.  On the plus side, it looked like he threw a strike.

It didn't look like it was going to be a good night for the Fightins for the first few innings.  Jake Arrieta didn't have his best stuff.  He gave up a base hit on the first pitch of the game, and the Mets scored in each of the first three innings, including home runs to Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith. The Phillies hit a pair of solo home runs - Scott Kingery in the 1st and Rhys Hoskins in the 4th.  By the middle of the 6th, the Mets were leading 5 - 2, but the Phillies fought back in the bottom of the 6th.  Bryce Harper drew a walk and J.T. Realmuto hit a double to put runners on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out. Jay Bruce scored Harper from third on a groundout to bring the score to 5-3. Caesar Hernandez then singled to drive home Realmuto, and Maikel Franco hot a two run homer to give the Phillies their first lead of the game. Brad Miller (inspired by his lucky bamboo) came up to bat next and hit his first home run as a member of the Phillies to take a 7-5 lead that the Phillies would hold for the rest of the game.

After giving up home runs in consecutive at bats to Franco and Miller, Mets pitcher Wilmer Font proved himself to be a real piece of garbage by throwing at Scott Kingery's head. He ended up catching Kingery in the shoulder, and instead of ejecting the pitcher, home plate umpire "Cowboy" Joe West issued a warning to both teams. Gabe Kapler came out to argue the ridiculous call and was thrown out of the game. West has been the biggest horses ass in all of baseball for many years, so this is just another line on his long resume of asinine decisions. It's safe to say that absolutely no one in the game will miss Joe West when he's gone.

The Phillies bullpen didn't make it easy, but they managed to get through the rest of the game without giving up a run.  This is the first game in Philadelphia that I've been to with my Dad that the Phillies won.  Whoops, there goes another rubber tree bamboo plant.