Sep 15, 2019

Can You Smell What The Rock Is Slow-Cooking

I feel like I could start a whole separate blog for ridiculous wrestling merchandise, but the majority of it is marketed to children.  This lovely piece of cookware is a whole new level.  I love pro wrestling, and I enjoy cooking in crock pots, but sweet baby Jesus, this may the the ugliest appliance I have ever seen.

Sep 14, 2019

Chicano Cheesesteak

Mexican Barbacoa Hoagie
La Casita de Familia Restaurant
Hometown Farmers Market - Tamaqua, PA
This was a tasty and interesting twist on a cheesesteak.  I'd like to try one with some chipotle dressing.

Sep 13, 2019

Money Made The World Go Round

Eddie Money passed away this morning.  The rock icon of the 70's and 80's had recently been diagnosed with stage 4 esophageal cancer, but the cause of death was complications from pneumonia that he contracted while recovering from heart valve surgery that he had two months ago.

I got to see him perform with his daughter and two of his sons at the Bloomsburg Fair last year.  He seemed like he was having a great time, telling stories and joking with the fans between songs.  I'm sure he enjoyed being able to share the stage with his family and perform for his fans.  I'm very grateful to have gotten the chance to see him.

Rest in peace, Money Man.  You will be missed, and your music will live on forever.

Sep 12, 2019

For The Record...

One of my favorite shows when I was a teenager was Sliders.  It's a sci-fi series in which a 20 year old college kid named Quinn travels to parallel dimensions along with his professor, his co-worker, and a soul singer who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  The parallel worlds sometimes appear to be similar to our own in the beginning, but the gang eventually discover where this new world differs from their home.

The first time Quinn traveled through to another world, he believed that nothing had happened, but the DJ on the radio (voiced by Harry Shearer) starts to say some strange things; the first of which is that today is the day that the last CD rolls off of the assembly line, and that Vinyl LP won the battle and is here to stay.

A recent article by Rolling Stone made me thing of that line for the first time in over 20 years.  According to their research, the combination of sharply declining CD sales and a consistent increase in the sale of vinyl records may very soon lead to a world where record sales top CD sales.  Whether that happens or not, it appears that Day Tripper was right about one thing: vinyl is here to stay.

Sep 11, 2019

Meatless Monday

Questlove Cheesesteak
BB&T Pavilion - Camden, NJ
I first tried the Questlove Cheesesteak on Opening Day at Citizens Bank Park, but the one I had yesterday was a bit different.  It was topped with a red pepper and cucumber relish that gave it a fresh flavor and a nice crunch, like pickles on a hamburger.

Like all of the food sold at Morrissey concerts, the Questlove Cheesesteak is 100% vegetarian - made with impossible meat.

Doing Shrooms With Danny Trejo

Mushroom Asada Taco Plate
Trejo's TacosBB&T Pavilion - Camden, NJ
I found out they'd be serving Trejo's Tacos at the Morrissey show yesterday, and I couldn't wait to try them.  They may not have meat, but they were flavorful and very filling.  They also served tortillas with a pistachio guacamole that were equally delicious.

Sep 10, 2019

I Was Happy In The Haze Of A Drunken Hour

Interpol - Morrissey
Fall 2019 US Tour
BB&T Pavilion - Camden, NJ
Photo Gallery - Videos
I've been looking forward to this show for a long time.  I've loved The Smiths and Morrissey for as long as I've known what music was, and I've grown to respect Morrissey more than any artist I can think of.  I don't share all of the same views that he has, but I admire the fact that he is genuine at all times.  He didn't conform to groupthink in the 70's and 80's and he doesn't now.  He is an individualist who thinks for himself, and he is unapologetic when his viewpoint conflicts with others.  Also, he has fought through depression to write and perform beautiful music that has been a source of comfort and relaxation throughout my life.

Interpol began at around 7:30.  I haven't heard much of their work prior to this show.  My first impression is that the music was incredible, but the volume on the vocals was so low compared to the guitar and bass that the set would have been just as good if Paul Banks decided to not sing at all.  I gather that this is a style choice, but I don't know for sure.

Morrissey took the stage at around 9:00 with all of the swagger and presence that you would expect from a king.  He opened with How Soon Is Now, Alma Matters and Hairdresser On Fire, the latter of which has one of my favorite lyrics ("Here is London, home of the brash, outrageous and free. You are repressed but you're remarkably dressed. Is it real?").  This was followed up with two of my favorite Moz songs: Suedehead and I Wish You Lonely.

Next, he performed three cover songs off of his latest album, California Son - Morning Starship, Wedding Bell Blues and Lady Willpower, and later in the night, he sang Some Say I Got Devil from that same album.  He remarked between songs that the album got terrible reviews, but he didn't seem to care, nor should he.

Afterward, Moz went into some of his songs from the 90's and 2000's, starting with I'm Throwing My Arms Around Paris, Why Don't You Find Out For Yourself and If You Don't Like Me Don't Look At Me.  Then came his tribute to the Manchester United players who died just over 60 years ago with Munich Air Disaster 1958, and a track from 1985's Meat Is Murder - That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore.  Later in the night, he sang The Bullfighter Dies, which I absolutely love for its brash, in your face message about a brutal human behavior and the justice of the bull coming out victorious.

After Bullfighter was over, he sang one of my favorite songs of all time from any artist: Everyday Is Like Sunday.  I didn't know if it was going to be on the setlist, and I feel incredibly lucky that it was.  I, and everyone around me, sang along with every word as we soaked in the moment.

When he came back on stage to perform his encore (in a Bruce Lee t-shirt and white sport coat), he gave a a heartfelt show of appreciation for his fans.  Seconds later, one of those fans who was standing just a few feet from me jumped up on stage.  Security was pretty quick to pounce on the guy, and thankfully, it turns out to be just a harmless fan who had a few too many to drink and he just wanted to shake Morrissey's hand.  Moz took it in good stride and graciously shook the guy's hand, while we all breathed a sigh of relief that it wasn't a douchebag attempting a protest.  They didn't kick the fan out, but they did plant a member of security right in front of him to stop it from happening again.

At the end of Speedway, Morrissey pulled a Hulk Hogan move by tearing his Bruce Lee shirt off and tossing it into the crowd.  The fans who caught it fought with each other, and security came out later with a pair of scissors to cut the shirt in half so that each of them could have some.  Dude, I love Morrissey, but I'm not fighting anyone to bring home his shirt.  I was hoping he'd conclude with First Of The Gang To Die, but the show ended after Speedway.  No complaints at all though.  It was an incredible show from the first moment to the last, and it's an experience I'll never forget.

Sep 9, 2019

Don't Dream It's Over

Sega Dreamcast
The last video game console released by Sega first hit store shelves on 9/9/99 - twenty years ago today.  In many ways, the Dreamcast was years ahead of its time.  It was the first major console to ship with a built in modem.  This feature is taken for granted today, but it was a huge breakthrough in the late 90's, when even PC gaming online was in its infancy.  It also was the first dual screen console with removable VMU memory cards with an LCD screen that plugged into the controller.

I spent hours playing Sonic Adventure, Tony Hawk Pro Skater, Shenmue and Phantasy Star Online on the Dreamcast.  Even the demo disc was a lot of fun.  It had a fun and addictive puzzle game called Sega Swirl, and a full web browser which, at the time, was the only way to see the internet on a screen larger than my computer monitor.  In more recent years, homebrew developers have used the Dreamcast to emulate vintage consoles like the NES and Genesis with impressive speed and accuracy.

It may not have lasted long, but the Dreamcast won't be forgotten.

Sep 8, 2019

I'm A Voo Dew Child

Mountain Dew Voo Dew (2019)
Not bad.  Sort of tastes like Fruit Loops mixed with a Creamsicle.

Sep 7, 2019

The Return Of Bob Gray

It: Chapter Two
Warner Bros (2019)
Stephen King is my favorite writer, but if I were making a list of my favorite 20 of his novels, It wouldn't be among them.  It's not that I don't like it, but I've enjoyed his other work much more.  Most of the roadblocks I've had with It have to do with the behavior of Pennywise.  He's had ample opportunity to kill each of the kids as quickly and efficiently as killed Georgie, but he fools around instead.  I've heard the argument that he wants to frighten the children first because what he's really after is the consumption of their fear, but they're all pretty damn scared of him throughout the entire story.  Besides, it doesn't explain why he kills some of his victims in just a few minutes while he has to go through elaborate pranks with the others.  I've also never really been a big fan of the way they fight him - particularly in the original television mini-series.  No, Mike, that's not battery acid, and even if it was, why would it kill a demon?

Having said all that, I'm happy to say that Chapter Two was a very good horror flick.  It doesn't address all of the issues that I have with the source material, but it's a better and more frightening film than the first one, and it doesn't resort to cheap jump scares.  My local theater added a nice touch by tying a red balloon to the door of the theater and all around the lobby while the movie was playing.

Sep 4, 2019

Pumpkin Perfection

Pumpkin Pie Kit Kat
Hershey (2019)
After I graduated from college, I took a job with Nestlé customer service on the confections, baking and ice cream team.  It was intended to be a temporary gig to pay the bills while I looked for something in counseling or social services, but I had a knack for it and earned a few promotions - first to social media specialist, then to quality assurance coach, and finally as the trainer of a team of nearly 100 agents in several states across the country.  One of the incentives that I put together that the team seemed to enjoy were the Japanese Kit Kat baskets that the team could win.

Most Americans don't realize this, but Kit Kat is a Nestlé brand in every other country outside of the United States, and they're a massive success in Japan.  They're such a big hit in the Far East that they have special stores called Chocolatory's which are dedicated to selling nothing but Kit Kat products and their hundreds (yes, hundreds) of unusual and delicious flavors.  Until recently, the Kit Kat products sold in the USA were just plain old chocolate, but I was happy to see that Hershey is now following Nestlé Japan's lead by creating fun, seasonal flavors of the classic confection.  Nothing could have prepared me for how good they are.

I don't know how they did it, but these things taste EXACTLY like a pumpkin pie.  You get the flavor of pumpkin, a graham crust and exactly the right amount of spice that you'd get in a pie.  They're much better than any of the other seasonal pumpkin product I've ever had.  They're much better than any of the flavors of Japanese Kit Kat bars I've ever had the chance to try.  In fact, I wouldn't hesitate to say that they're the best candy of any kind that I've ever tasted.  These are absolutely perfect.

Part of me wants to buy cases of these and gorge myself silly, but I'm going to limit myself to eating one mini bar per day.  I've got a long family history of diabetes and I've been very lucky so far, but I've had a few experiences over the past few months that have made it clear that I'm pushing my luck with my eating habits.  I might give up snack food altogether in the new year, at least for a little while.  If I do manage to live a life without candy, it's hard to go out on a more tasty treat than these.

Sep 3, 2019

Kill Or Be Killed

Lyric Theater (1986)
214-26 West 43rd St - New York, NY
In September 1986, the Lyric was showing Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives and April Fools Day.  That's a pretty solid double feature of 80's horror flicks, including one in which no one dies (a rarity in the genre).

In case you find a time machine and want to check 'em out, here's the showtimes from 33 years ago today.  Just remember to stop at the bank and get dollar bills from the 80's.  Grab a few vintage quarters for Pac Man while you're there.

Sep 2, 2019

Thank You, Chris Jericho

AEW All Out
Sears Center - Chicago, IL
I know the exact date when Chris Jericho became my favorite wrestler. It was March 30th, 1998. I was 17 years old sitting in my bedroom at my grandparent's house watching WCW Monday Nitro, which was airing live from Chicago, IL. The Cruiserweight Champion was feuding with Dean Malenko whose gimmick was that he was "The Man Of A Thousand Holds". Naturally, Jericho had to one up him by claiming to know 1,004 holds. After successfully defending the belt against Marty Jannetty, he took out a comically long ream of dot matrix computer paper and began reading them to the crowd. Some of the moves were ridiculous, like "left handed punch" and "right handed punch". Others were even more ridiculous and made up, like the Saskatchewan Spinning Nerve Hold and the Super Blizzard. The best part was that every other move on the list was "armbar".

The show went to a commercial break with the commentators annoyed that the villainous "Lionheart" Chris Jericho was wasting time with this list. When Nitro returned from commercial, he was still in the ring with the list with move #712 - armbar!

Since that time, Jericho has gone on to become one of the most successful wrestlers in the world. He's headlined Wrestlemania.  He has reinvented his character over a dozen times to keep everything fresh and entertaining.  He's become a rock star with a band that has released seven albums and who has been on tour off and on since 1999.  The latest accolade in the books took place two nights ago in Chicago - the same city where he read that hysterical list 21 years ago. The dude is going to be 49 years old in a couple of months, but he hasn't missed a step. Chris Jericho wrestled an incredible match with "Hangman" Adam Page to be crowned the first ever AEW World Heavyweight Champion.

Congratulations to one of the greatest entertainers to ever set foot in a professional wrestling ring.  I can't wait to see what you do next!

Sep 1, 2019

Tacos And Bryce Cream

Tacos Al Pastor and Bryce Cream Sundae
Harry the K's Broadcast Bar & Grille
Citizens Bank Park - Philadelphia, PA
Before yesterday's game, we had dinner at Harry The K's in left field.  The tacos aren't part of the regular menu, but they were one of the specials of the day.  Very tasty!  The sundae was equally delicious, but I don't think my juvenile brain can get past that name.  I mean, I love our right fielder as much as the next Phillies fan, but I have my limits.

Aug 31, 2019

Rhys Goes To Pieces

Bryce Harper's 29th home run of the season

Saturday, August 31, 2019
New York Mets @ Philadelphia Phillies
Citizens Bank Park - Philadelphia, PA

Pitching: Steven Matz vs. Jason Vargas
Results: Mets defeated Phillies, 6-3
Photo Gallery

These tickets were a free perk for members of the Fightin' Phils Fan Club.  I highly recommend it.  For $25 bucks a year, you get access to stream all of the Phillies radio broadcasts for the season, 10% off your purchase at and two tickets to a game during the season.  It's a pretty good deal, even if the Phillies have a pretty rough game, which is exactly what happened earlier today.

Jason Vargas entered the game in search of his first win since being traded from the Mets to the Phillies on July 29th.  He didn't have a lot of success facing his old team for the first time.  After a two run double by Joe Panik extended the Mets lead to 5 - 1 in the top of the 5th with no outs, Vargas was pulled from the game.  If there was any good news in this game, it was the bullpen.  Blake Parker came on in relief of Vargas, got out of the 5th with no further damage, and pitched a scoreless 6th.  His delivery to the plate is amusing.  He starts in a crouch, then stands and wiggles between 8 - 12 times (I counted) before throwing the pitch.  It looks like he's from Street Fighter Alpha and he's charging up his special move.  Hell, if he can come on in relief and throw two scoreless innings every time, he can wiggle all he wants.

Ranger Suárez was a little shaky, giving up a single and allowing the runner to advance to second on a balk, but he got out of the 7th inning intact.  He was pulled in the 8th after Rajai Davis reached first base thanks to a horrendous throw by Jean Segura, who was a defensive disaster for most of the game.  This brought in Jared Hughes, who did his customary run at top speed from the bullpen to the mound before pitching a scoreless 8th.

José Álvarez came on in the top of the 9th and immediately gave up a double to former Phillie Wilson Ramos, who had a hell of a game for the Mets.  He went 4-5 with an RBI single in the 1st and he extended his hitting streak to 24 games and concluded a month in which he hit .455.  That's damn impressive, especially when you consider the fact that he's a big guy who has to really bust his ass down the line to get an infield single.  I'm beyond happy with J.T. Realmuto, but I liked Ramos a lot last year after we acquired him from the Rays, and I wish he could have played a role on the 2019 Phillies.  The Ramos double was followed up by singles from Michael Conforto and Todd Frazier which scored another run to make it 6 - 3 with no outs.  Thankfully, Álvarez settled down and retired the next three batters.

The Phillies offense started out well.  Jean Segura led off the game for the Phillies with a triple, and he scored on a Bryce Harper ground out to tie the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the first.  Segura and Harper each had two hits on the night, as did Cesar Hernandez and Scott Kingery, who moved from center field to third base in the 5th inning when Sean Rodríguez was taken out of the game.  Rodríguez is still getting booed after his comments about some of the more negative fans at the ballpark.  Honestly, after hearing what he had to say, I don't disagree with him.  I've been a Phillies fan for as long as I've known what baseball is, but I can't help but to be a little envious of places like Boston, where fans got behind Shane Victorino when he was having a rough year, and they sang back in a chant of "every little thing's gonna be alright" for each of his at bats.  People forget that Shane came out to Bob Marley's Three Little Birds when he was a Phillie, years before he ever suited up for the Red Sox.  However, when people look back on his career decades from now, will their first memory be his transformation from Rule 5 pick to 2008 World Series Champion?  Will they remember how the Flyin' Hawaiian was beloved in Philadelphia?  Of course, but the first thing they're likely to remember is the magic of his three years in Boston.  Why?  The fans...plain and simple.  The fans make the difference.  Philly fans are passionate, but our passion far too often takes a negative tone, like an abusive parent.  Boston fans are passionate and supportive.  I hope we can be too.

Bryce Harper made some pretty decent catches in right field and had a good day at the plate, including his 29th home run of the season.  His other hit was a single in the bottom of the 3rd, which he followed up with a stolen base with Rhys Hoskins at the plate.  Hoskins has looked like he's chasing walks since the All-Star break (which I blame on the coaching staff's poor interpretation and overuse of analytics), and it has led to the worst slump of his career.  He seemed to be turning things around over the past few games now that Charlie Manuel is working with him, but today was not one of his best moments.  He struck out to end the 3rd, and to his credit, the pitch was definitely high and a little inside and should have been called a ball.  However, Hoskins, who has developed a reputation for arguing with umpires, spiked his helmet at the plate and was ejected from the game for the first time in his career.

Hoskins stood at home plate arguing with the umpire while the Phillies were trying to honor a World War 2 hero between innings, which made the situation all the more embarrassing.  Eventually, "Cowboy" Joe West waddled over from first base with a Cheshire Cat grin to lead the hotheaded first baseman back to his dugout.  I like Hoskins a lot.  He's been one of my favorite Phillies since they called him up in late 2017, but he's got to keep his temper under control.  Getting tossed in the third inning won't win any ballgames.

Logan Morrison came into the game at first base to replace Hoskins.  He didn't get a hit, but he reached first base on a fielding error in the 6th right after Harper's home run.  It started a rally that followed with singles from Corey Dickerson and Scott Kingery to load the bases with no outs.  Cesar Hernandez lined out, but Andrew Knapp was brought in to pinch hit for the pitcher drew a bases loaded walk from Luis Avilán to score the Phillies third run.  With bases loaded and only 1 out, you have to expect the Phillies offense to capitalize off of the Mets bullpen.  Unfortunately, rookie Adam Haseley grounded into a double play to end the inning and to end what was the Phillies best chance to break open the game.  They wouldn't score again for the rest of the night.

It was a tough loss in the middle of a wild card chase, and it was made more demoralizing by the large amount of New York fans in attendance who managed to get "Lets Go Mets" chants going at several points during the game.  The Phillies fans quickly drown them out with boos each time, but it's a far cry from earlier in the season when the Bamboo-inspired Phillies were sweeping the Mets.  Now, they'll have to win tomorrow against Marcus Stroman to avoid being swept at home.

On a positive note, the weather was absolutely beautiful - maybe the most pleasant of any game I've ever attended in Philadelphia.  I also was able to ask Greg "The Bull" Luzinski to sign an 8x10 of a photo that my dad and I took with him earlier this season on July 14th.  As he signed it, I told him I was born in the summer of 1980, and I sat on my dad's lap as a baby and watched him and the Phillies win the World Series.  I'm going to have this photo framed with the ticket stub from that night and give it to my dad for Christmas.  Thankfully, he doesn't visit my blog and probably doesn't even know I have a blog, so the surprise won't be spoiled.

Aug 30, 2019

Why So Furious?

Hobbs & Shaw
Universal Pictures (2019)
I've never been a big fan of the Fast & Furious series.  They're decent films, but I've never been into cars as anything other than a way to get from place to place. so much of their appeal is lost on me  I was pleasantly surprised that this didn't feel like a Fast & Furious film, but more like a traditional 80's action film.  I especially liked the scenes in Samoa with The Rock and Roman Reigns.  As a Hawaiian, I've always seen the Samoans as the bad ass big brother of our greater Polynesian family, so the battle scene was especially satisfying and enjoyable.

Aug 29, 2019

The Invasion Of The Maple Vampires

Maple Creme Oreo Cookies
Nabisco (2019)
Halloween is two months away and the vampire invasion of our grocery stores has begun.  First up are the seasonal Oreo cookies.  The ones on the left are just plain Oreo cookies with regular cream that's been dyed orange, but the cookies offered by Mrs. Dracula are Vanilla Oreos with Maple Cream filling.  As I expected, their flavor reminded me a lot of the Dare Maple Leaf Creme cookies that you can find all year long at Big Lots.
I'm sorry... what's going to appear when opened?

Aug 28, 2019

Hazleton Catches Up With 1995

Route 93 - Hazleton, PA
Hallelujah, we've finally got one!

Aug 27, 2019

Taco Truck Tuesday

Korean Steak Tacos
Truck 'N Kitchen
We have a new food truck at work.  If everything on their menu is as good as these were, I hope they make our parking lot a regular spot.

Aug 26, 2019

Golden Gamers

Golden Gamers
Duane Perera - @duaneshootstoys
This dude has a bunch of awesome photos, but this one is my favorite.

Aug 25, 2019

XFL Round Two

Vince McMahon's second attempt at the XFL football league is set to debut in 2020.  They announced the team names and logos in a tweet this past Wednesday.

The first run of the XFL was a complete disaster, but it wasn't for their lack of marketing.  I went to WWF New York in 2001 a couple of weeks before they played the first XFL game, and they hype was pretty intense.  They actually had incredible ratings for their debut on February 3rd, 2001, but the games were so awful that the ratings tanked after that.  Hopefully they'll do a bit better this time around.

Aug 24, 2019

I Wasn't Ready

Ready Or Not
Fox Searchlight Pictures (2019)
This movie had a very enjoyable Robert Rodriguez feel to it.  I haven't laughed this hard at violent bloodshed in a long time.

Aug 23, 2019

A Short Title About A Funny Product

Burrito Blanket
I love the idea, and I might have gotten one if not for the gimmicky nonsense that they use to try to sell them.

For starters, I bookmarked their ad three months ago.  At the time, there was a message warning me that I had better hurry because there's only five more left.  Also, the clock is ticking, because the sale will end in just a few minutes, after which the price goes back up to $89.95.  Sure enough, I clicked on it today and by an astonishing coincidence, there's only five in stock and a half hour left in the sale.  It's a bit hard to believe that this blanket won't fall apart when everything else they have to say about it is such obvious crap.  Then, there's the e-newsletter pitch on the website, which they have hilariously not changed from the template.
I don't know about you, but that short sentence that described what I'll receive by subscribing has really inspired me to start handing over my contact information.  Sorry, Team Burrito Blanket.  You've outsmarted yourselves.  I'll wait until they're at Dollar General for five bucks.