Feb 14, 2019
Ferrara Candy Company (2019)
Nestlé sold their American candy division to the Ferrara Candy Company at around this time last year. Since that time, they have completely reformulated the Butterfinger recipe. To promote these new bars, they've created this awesome creepy alien that reminds me a bit of the old Reese's Pieces "Cousin Willie" commercials.
The new recipe bars are finally in stores in my area and I have to admit that this new version is a big improvement. The peanut butter is creamier, the chocolate is more rich, and the texture now resembles a 5th Avenue bar, a drastic improvement over the dense orange brick that could get hard enough to break your teeth.
Feb 13, 2019
I went onto the Nintendo eShop to see if they had released any new Sega Ages or retro arcade games and found a very pleasant surprise in Tetris 99. The game is free for Nintendo Online subscribers and it's worth the $19.99 yearly subscription by itself. It's a brilliant twist on the game that puts you against 98 other competitors at the same time. As you play, you can target other players to send junk pieces to, and as you knock other players out of the game, you earn badges that allow you to dump more junk pieces on your opponent. Check it out!
I'm up to Level 16 and I've won my first battle.
Feb 12, 2019
Feb 10, 2019
Feb 9, 2019
Feb 8, 2019
The new Diet Coke Strawberry Guava and Blueberry Acai flavors are pretty decent. They don't have the same spicy aftertaste as the four flavors that came out earlier, and the fruit flavor is mellow and not overly sweet. I still think the faux Red Bull can and overly simplistic design is lame, but I'm sure that their marketing team has a whole power point deck that it "tested well with millennials".
Feb 7, 2019
Just a few hours ago, it was announced that the Philadelphia Phillies have acquired the best catcher in baseball by trading Jorge Alfaro, Sixto Sánchez and Will Stewart to the Miami Marlins for J.T. Realmuto.
It seemed like the Phillies had been chasing after the replacement for Carlos Ruiz since 2012 when the Phillies traded Hunter Pence to the Giants for Tommy Joseph. Injuries moved Joseph to 1B and the team turned to Cameron Rupp and Andrew Knapp. By the summer of 2015, the team was able to land catching prospect Jorge Alfaro (among others) from the Rangers for Cole Hamels. I had high hopes for Alfaro, but I feel like he was rushed to the big leagues, as he struck out a lot and seemed to have trouble with passed balls. With this trade, the Phillies have put an end to their search for a catcher. Realmuto is 27 years old (only two years older than Alfaro) and is signed through the end of the 2020 season. He is a proven talent, both offensively and defensively, and I have every expectation that the Phillies will try to extend him for at least a few more years.
The criticisms I've heard about this trade center around Sixto Sánchez and whether or not the Phillies overpaid for Realmuto. It reminded me of the fans and writers who wondered if the Phillies would regret giving up Kyle Drabek in the trade that brought Roy Halladay to Philadelphia. Sixto is young and has a lot of potential, but I'm not convinced that he's the next Pedro Martinez, as some sports writers and scouts have suggested. He has yet to pitch above the Florida State League, and he's had some pretty serious elbow injuries that cost him nearly all of the 2018 season. The last I heard was that they kept him out of the Arizona Fall League due to a setback in his recovery. He may recover and develop into the ace that Miami is hoping he'll become, but it's just as likely that he'll be another Kyle Drabek who the Phillies were able to trade while he still has value. If he were pitching for Lehigh Valley, or if this was just a short term rental on Realmuto, I may have felt differently, but Sixto is a long way from the major leagues, and quite frankly, his health may keep him from a major league rotation altogether, let alone to become the next Pedro Martinez.
I could not possibly be happier about the way this winter has been shaping up. By trading guys like J.P. Crawford, Jorge Alfaro and Sixto Sánchez this winter for All-Star caliber MLB talent, the Phillies are making bold moves that demonstrate a desire to win now, and to put and end to the "wait-and-see" prospect watch that has dominated much of the decade.
Also, a certain target of the Phillies front office this winter just so happens to be a big J.T. Realmuto fan. Hmmm....
Feb 6, 2019
Feb 5, 2019
Serbian techno artist Remute has a history of using creative media to release his music. With the philosophy that "floppy is the new vinyl", his 2017 album, Limited, was released on a 3.5" floppy disk. His follow-up album, Technoptimistic, is scheduled to be released on March 22nd on a Sega Genesis cartridge.
The upcoming plug-and-play techno album will be region free and will play on any model Sega Genesis or Mega Drive console, though Remute has said that it will sound the best on the original 1988-1990 model. Samples of the new music have been added to Remute's Bandcamp channel.
Feb 4, 2019
I binged the entire series in a single day and was fascinated from start to finish. It stars Natasha Lyonne (Nichols from Orange Is The New Black) who has managed to top her amazing performance in Orange. Maxine, the woman who is throwing the "sweet birthday baby" a party is played by Greta Lee. I've never heard of her before this show, but she is fantastic and hysterically funny.
The series also includes Brendan Sexton III as a mysterious homeless man. I mention him because he was the kid who plays "Warren" in Empire Records, and I'd like to think that they take place in the same universe where Empire Records eventually closes due to file sharing and streaming media, and it sends "Warren" into a spiral that brings him to this series. It also has short appearances by Devin Ratray (Buzz from Home Alone) and Burt Young (Paulie from Rocky).
The show is absolutely brilliant. I imagine that this is what Groundhog Day would look like if it were written by David Lynch, but that doesn't do it justice. I almost don't want to see a Season 2 because this series is perfect as it is. I wouldn't change a thing.
Feb 3, 2019
The last time there was a Halftime Heat, I was 18 years old and the company was still called WWF. It was called Halftime Heat because, at the time, there was a wrestling show called Sunday Night Heat, and the match aired on Sunday against the halftime performance at Super Bowl 33.
The event was held at the America West Arena in Phoenix, and it was promoted as an "empty arena match". There were no fans in attendance - just The Rock, Mick Foley (as Mankind) and the referee. In one of the most creative matches of the Attitude Era, Mankind defeated The Rock to win his second WWF World Heavyweight Championship.
Later today, twenty years after this match, WWE will be airing a second Halftime Heat to lure fans away from Maroon 5 at Super Bowl 53. This time around, the match will be taking place at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida and will feature a six man tag team match between Aleister Black, The Velveteen Dream and Ricochet taking on Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano and Adam Cole. It's bound to be interesting as it's the first time Ciampa and Gargano will be teaming up since the former turned on the latter after DIY failed to win the NXT Tag Team Championship.
Feb 2, 2019
Tip Top Bistro
108 Cass Street - Woodstock, IL
This was one of the locations used in the filming of one of the greatest and most original comedies of all time - Groundhog Day. The restaurant, which is called the Tip Top Cafe in the film, is where Bill Murray gorges himself on cake and donuts and announces to Andie MacDowell that he is a god. The curb outside where Phil Connors is mocked by Ned Ryerson after stepping into a deep puddle, is marked with a plaque that reads "Bill Murray Stepped Here".
Photo Credits: Arthur de Wolf  
Feb 1, 2019
Route 315 - Pittston, PA
When I first heard that McDonald's was coming out with limited edition Cheesy Bacon Fries, I was excited. After I opened the box and took a look at them, I was disappointed. Then I tasted them and I was excited all over again. They're not much to look at, and it wouldn't kill them to add a little more bacon, but whatever they're using for the liquid cheese mix is absolutely perfect. I want a big cup full to pour on a cheesesteak.
Jan 31, 2019
Nintendo Wii Shop
December 10, 2006 to January 31, 2019
Today, we take for granted that games can be purchased and downloaded at any time, and that retro games will be re-released and made available on a variety of platforms. Much of that began with the launch of the Nintendo Wii Shop for the holiday season of 2006.
The retro gaming renaissance owes itself in large part to the Virtual Console games on the Wii Shop. For the first time, gamers were able to download NES, SNES and N64 games alongside Sega Master System, Sega Genesis, Turbografx-16, Commodore 64 and Neo-Geo classics. There was even a selection of vintage arcade games and Japanese titles that were never sold in the United States. While it's true that these have all been available to the emulation community for many years, there was something very special about Nintendo bringing all of these together and making them available for fans to purchase and enjoy.
The end of an era came at 1:00 am today when after 12 years, the Wii Shop Channel has been officially closed. YouTube user Shoebillan has preserved the iconic music from the shop on a 10 hour loop in this video.
Jan 30, 2019
It was announced by CBS a few hours ago that they've ordered a 10 episode mini-series of my favorite novel - The Stand by Stephen King. Since it was first published in 1978, it was adapted into a four episode television mini-series on ABC in 1994 and a Marvel Comics series that was published from 2008 to 2012. The newest adaptation will be written by Josh Boone and Ben Cavell and will air exclusively on the CBS All Access streaming service.
Jan 29, 2019
WWE World Heavyweight Champion
Tonight on Smackdown, WWE Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan unveiled his new customized championship belt, made out of 100% sustainable organic hemp, oak from a naturally fallen tree, and what appears to be turquoise stones.
Bryan Danielson has been one of my favorite pro wrestlers since I first started going to ROH shows in 2005. He is incredibly creative and talented, and it's been a lot of fun to see his transition from a beloved underdog good guy to a hipster-ish environmentalist bad guy - essentially playing himself with the heel volume turned way up.
Jan 28, 2019
Jan 26, 2019
Secret Quest (1989).
Programmed by Steve DeFrisco
Thirty years ago, the last officially licensed Atari 2600 cartridge to be released in North America hit store shelves. Although it was very advanced for the console, it went almost completely unnoticed at the time, as the majority of Atari consoles in homes were kept in a box in the attic or basement in favor of the Nintendo Entertainment System.
Secret Quest is a space-themed game inspired by The Legend of Zelda, though it plays more like an advanced version of Adventure. It's not an expensive or rare cartridge, and it pops up on compilations and Flashback plug-and-play machines from time to time, so it's accessible and worth playing.
Jan 22, 2019
Jan 21, 2019
Guard - New York Knicks
1990-91 NBA Hoops - card #205
Sometimes the strangest things are found hiding in plain sight. Take this basketball card, for example. On the surface, it's not remarkable. Mark Jackson was a fine player who had a long and successful career, but this card from the 1990-91 Hoops set was nothing special. They mass produced the hell out of trading cards in the 80's and 90's, and this isn't a rare card or Jackson's rookie season or anything out of the ordinary. That all changed late last year when crime novelist Stephen Zerance spotted two notorious murderers among the fans pictured on the card.
In an investigation that would make Jessica Fletcher proud, Mr. Zerance made this discovery while following up on the Lyle and Erik Menendez murder trial. The Menendez Brothers killed their wealthy parents on August 20th, 1989. They weren't suspects at first, but they were overhead talking to each other about the murder and were arrested in March 1990. The crime and subsequent trial became a media circus, in part due to the fact that they burned through $700,000 of their parents life insurance policy in the 7 months between the murder and their arrest. The outlandish ways in which they spent the money have been documented and discussed in the trial and in numerous documentaries and articles. Among the items on the list were courtside tickets to a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden.
Taking a closer look at the card, you can see that there's a black ribbon on the left shoulder of Jackson's jersey. That ribbon was a tribute in honor of Knicks announcer John Condon who died of cancer on October 13th, 1989, and it was worn by the team during the 1989-90 season. The Knicks played 28 home games during the spending spree before Lyle and Erik Menendez were arrested. Since Mr. Zerance's findings, it has been confirmed by multiple news sources, including the Washington Post, that the the notorious brothers are, in fact, the two men in the background of the card. The only missing piece to the puzzle is knowing the exact game that the photograph used in this card was taken.
Prior to this discovery going viral, this basketball card sold for about five cents. In the last few months, it has been selling on eBay for as much as $30 dollars per card. Kids, the lesson here is to never throw out your common cards. You never know when they might unexpectedly become valuable. Oh yeah, and don't kill your parents.
Jan 20, 2019
Mario Kart 8
Kauffman Stadium - Kansas City, MO
Tom Martin of KCTV5, the CBS affiliate in Kansas City, shared this video on Twitter last week. Their news helicopter was on the way to Arrowhead Stadium to get some aerial footage for the upcoming AFC Championship Game between the Chiefs and the Patriots. On the way, they passed over the adjacent home of the Kansas City Royals and found that someone in the ballpark is playing Mario Kart 8 on their Crown Vision screen.
I hope someone raced as Princess Peach to represent the royal family of the Mushroom Kingdom.
Jan 19, 2019
The photo doesn't do justice to these sandwiches. They're grilled cheese made with smokehouse cheddar, colby jack, provolone, muenster, mozzarella and tomato & basil jack, served with a steaming hot bowl of tomato soup. The perfect meal for a snowy day in Northeast PA.
Jan 18, 2019
Jan 17, 2019
Max Siedentopf (Vimeo)
Somewhere in the Namid Desert on the western coast of Africa is a circle of seven pillars. Artist Max Siedentopf set them up to hold six speakers and a solar powered MP3 player that has been playing Africa by Toto on an endless loop ever since. His goal is to have the song play in this undisclosed location "for all eternity". [source: CNN / Nerdist]