Jun 18, 2019

Killing The Shift

The shift has been one of the worst things to happen to the game.  I hate when the Phillies do it, and I hate when other teams do it against the Phillies.  I hope Matt Carpenter can start a trend of left handed hitters throughout the league stuffing the shift down the opposing team's throat.

Jun 16, 2019

Eat Cereal and Meet Egon

The New Ghostbusters Movie Mystery Sweepstakes
Ghostbusters Cereal (1989)
The sequel to Ghostbusters was released to theaters thirty years ago today.  I think of Batman, Ghostbusters 2 and Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade as being the closing chapters of the 80's - the last big things of the decade.

One of the many ways that Ghostbusters 2 was marketed was through The New Ghostbusters Movie Mystery Sweepstakes.  The name of this contest makes me wonder if they had other ideas besides "Ghostbusters 2" for the name of the movie.  The marketing materials usually go into production long before the movie hits theaters, so referring to the film as "The New Ghostbusters Movie" might have been a way to hedge their bets, just in case.  The record featured the voice actor who played Egon in The Real Ghostbusters (the Saturday morning cartoon) asking three trivia questions based on the new movie.  If you knew the answers, you could write them on a 3x5 card and mail it in for a chance to win the grand prize of meeting Egon (Harold Ramis) in person.

There were two versions of the record.  Vinnie Donadio has shared the recordings on both the white one and the yellow one on YouTube.

Jun 15, 2019

Stranger Promotion

Upside Down Whopper
Burger King (2019)
Ok, I love Burger King and Stranger Things.  I'm also a sucker for limited edition fast food items, particularly when they relate to the 80's.  That being said, I think we've reached a new level of bizarre when the limited edition food item in question is literally the exact same hamburger turned upside down.

To make things even more strange, they're only selling these one day (Friday, June 21st) and they'll only be available at eleven select Burger King locations, the closest of which to me is at 2400 Caster Avenue in Philadelphia.

Jun 14, 2019

I'm Tempted To Drink It Upside Down

New Coke / Stranger Things Collectors Pack 
The original launch of New Coke happened in April, 1985.  I was four years old, so I missed out on the fiasco that followed when Coca-Cola discontinued the original recipe.  Consumers and bottlers protested the change and they brought back "the real thing" 79 days later.  In the years that followed, they sold the original recipe as Coca-Cola Classic and the new recipe as New Coke.

I don't drink Coca-Cola very often so I'm no expert, but I tasted the New Coke and really couldn't tell the difference.  It was a bit more sweet, I suppose, but nothing to get too worked up about.  I'm glad to have had the chance to try it.

Jun 13, 2019

What's Up With Arcade 1Up

I'm not sure what to make of the Arcade 1Up machines.  They haven't been getting great reviews, and the ones I've seen and played at Wal-Mart felt a little cheap.  They're much smaller than a genuine arcade cabinet, so they don't have an authentic feel to them.  This is especially true for two player games.  I'm not sure how two grown adults could have a halfway decent match of Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter without elbowing each other.  Additionally, the ones that were on display at Wal-Mart were out for a few weeks, but most of the artwork had worn off of the control panel.  I know kids can be pretty hard on display model merchandise, but I wouldn't expect something to look that worn after five or six years, let alone two or three weeks.

Having said all that, the price is pretty fair for what you're getting.  If you set aside $50 a month and bought one at a time when you saved up enough, you could fill a room of your house as a personal vintage arcade in just a few years - far less expensive and with less upkeep and required technical knowledge than doing the same with the actual vintage coin-op machines.  It helps that they can easily be carried by a single person and fit in the back of a car.  Vintage arcade are heavier than your refrigerator and require freight shipping or a road trip with a truck and a few friends to help you load and unload.

Then, there's always the question of emulation.  You could build or commission a custom cabinet and load it with emulators that will play thousands of games.  It's not entirely legal, but it's also not very likely that the local police are going to be kicking down your door to see if your copy of Defender is licensed by Williams Electronics.  Ethical concerns aside, the joystick configurations and other settings can be a pain sometimes.

The real game changer in my eyes came with the unveiling of the Star Wars cabinet at E3.  I can't describe what these games mean to me.  The vector graphics on the original Star Wars, the chiptune Ewok sounds on Endor in Return Of The Jedi, the feel of the flight yoke in your hands... all of it.  It's a pure experience of few kilobytes of crude lights and sounds that have the power to transport the player simultaneously back to the 80's and to a galaxy far, far away.

This is going to be the Arcade 1Up that I'm going to have to bring home.

Jun 12, 2019

Another Retro Gaming Rebirth

Turbografx 16 Mini
Konami (2019)
I never owned or played a Turbografx 16 when I was a kid.  The console comes up in conversation frequently on the Retro Warriors podcast, so I downloaded a few of the games that they recommended from the Wii and Wii U Virtual Console.

It was announced yesterday that Konami will be joining the trend of releasing mini consoles with a built-in library of games.  So far, they've announced that it will include R-Type, New Adventure Island, Ninja Spirit, Ys Book I and II, Dungeon Explorer and Alien Crush, and they've said that many others will be announced in the lead up to the release date (which hasn't been announced yet).

I'm looking forward to this.

Jun 11, 2019

Kids... Don't Eat And Drive

I passed this car on the way home.  I feel bad that someone would do this, but not bad enough to not share it.

Jun 10, 2019

Bruce Almighty

It's a damn shame that Andrew McCutchen is hurt, but we got pretty damn lucky by bringing in this dude.  What an incredible way to start in Philadelphia!

Jun 9, 2019


Howard Jones - Men Without Hats - All Hail The Silence
Transform Tour - June 9, 2019
Penn's Peak - Jim Thorpe, PA
Photo Album - Ticket
I got to see Howard Jones and Men Without Hats a couple of years ago on the Retro Futura tour.  The show was a sampler platter of artists who are primarily associated with the 80's.  On their New Jersey stop on the tour, Howard Jones performed 11 songs while every other artist sang four or five songs.  It was a fun show, and it made me want to see more.

In the weeks leading up to this concert, I had been listening to the Transform album at least once a day at work.  It's the first Howard Jones studio album since Ordinary Heroes came out in 2009, and it's very good.  It has the classic Howard Jones infectious and relentlessly positive synthpop vibe without being too similar to any of his previous work.  I'm happy to say that it was even better to hear live.  He performed all of the songs off of the new album except for Eagle Will Fly Again and Mother, and all of his classic hits were mixed in throughout the show.

Men Without Hats had a much longer set than they had on the Retro Futura tour.  Ivan Doroschuk is two years older than my dad and he has more energy than I have on my best day.  Included in their performance was Pop Goes The World (my favorite of their songs), an awesome cover of Abba's S.O.S. and, of course, Safety Dance.

All Hail The Silence was a nice surprise.  I listened to some of their work on YouTube before the show and thought they had a really good sound.  When they started, the crowd didn't seem too interested, but they were won over pretty quickly.  By the middle of the second song, I heard several voices echoing the sentiment that these guys are pretty damn good.  Later in the night, singer
Christian Burns and keyboardist BT came out to perform with Howard Jones on some of his songs, including The One To Love You, which Jones and BT co-wrote.

Jun 7, 2019

Congratulations, Joaquin Wilde

This photo was taken on February 16th, 2007 at Night One of the Chikara King Of Trios tournament.  The card that night included several performers from the DDT Pro Wrestling promotion out of Tokyo, including a twenty year old cruiserweight named Shiima Xion.  He wrestled Nobutaka Moribe in the only non-tournament match of the night.  I met him at intermission and he was a pretty cool dude.

In the years since, Xion wrestled across the world as Zema Ion and DJ Z, including a run in TNA / Impact Wrestling as the X-Division Champion.  Earlier this year, he signed with WWE.

Last night at Minnreg Hall in Largo, FL, Xion made his WWE debut at an NXT live event.  Wrestling under his new ring name, Joaquin Wilde, he defeated Kona Reeves.  Congratulations, dude.  Looking forward to seeing your NXT / WWE career.

Jun 6, 2019

Pretzels With Trout

Superpretzel Soft Pretzels
Not long after Aaron Nola became the face of Yuengling beer, Mike Trout has signed on to promote Superpretzel.  It seems 2019 is the year of Pennsylvania baseball sponsorship deals.

Jun 5, 2019

Chickedy Canada - The Canadian Chicken

Tomato Mozzarella Chicken Sandwich
McDonald's - Mountain Top, PA
The Canadian contribution to the Worldwide Favorites menu is the Tomato Mozzarella Chicken Sandwich. It doesn't have as colorful of a name, but it's very tasty. The description refers to the dressing as a "tomato and herb sauce", but this doesn't do it justice. It's a very tasty condiment, and it makes this a must-try menu item.

Jun 4, 2019

You Smell A Little Gamey

Axe goes by the name Lynx in Australia and New Zealand.  They've just announced a new line of X-Box soap, deodorant and body spray that I can only imagine is geared towards boys between the ages of 8 to 14.  If they wanted old farts like me, the would have co-branded with Atari.

Jun 3, 2019

For All Of Your Hall & Oates Emergencies

Since December 2011, the Callin' Oates hotline has been available 24/7.  Just call this Colorado Springs number and you'll have your choice of four Hall & Oates tunes to listen to over the phone.   Just dial 719-26-OATES.  Call now.  The operator is standing by.

Jun 2, 2019

Matt Stairs 2.0

The Phillies just announced that they've traded a 23 year old infielder from Clearwater to the Seattle Mariners for three-time All Star Jay Bruce.

Although his best years may be behind him, his presence will be very welcome in Philadelphia.  We needed a left handed power bat, and he certainly fills that role.  He already has 14 home runs this season, which is more than any other member of the Phillies this season (Hoskins has 13, Harper and McCutchen have 10, Realmuto and Franco have 8).  We also need an OF to take Odubel Herrera's roster spot when the Phillies trade or release him, and we need someone who can pitch hit on nights that he doesn't start.  Also, by all accounts, he's a fantastic teammate and a team leader.

Jay Bruce is signed through the end of the 2020 season.  He's owed just over $21 million, but Matt Gelb reported that the Mariners are sending $18 million to the Phillies in the deal, so we're getting a season and a half of a left handed veteran power bat who can come off the bench and rake at Citizens Bank Park for $3 million.  Not too shabby!

Jun 1, 2019

Pitfall Harry's Swimming Pool

Dave Jacobs stayed at an Airbnb in South Miami recently and found this cheerful looking gator relaxing in the pool on an inflatable gator (source: Palm Beach Post).

May 31, 2019

Delco Plaza Mall

Delco Plaza Mall
York, PA (May 1993)
This photo was shared by the Hills Department Store page on Facebook.  The five films at UA Cinemas are Cliffhanger, Posse, Super Mario Bros, Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story and Indecent Proposal, all of which were in theaters 26 years ago today.

May 30, 2019

It's Grand and It's McExtreme

Grand McExtreme Bacon Burger
McDonald's - Pittston, PA
First and foremost, I love that I live in a world in which something is called the Grand McExtreme.  It sounds like a nickname that you'd give to your grandfather if he had a purple mowhawk and a nose piercing.  Though not as amusing to look at as the picture in my head right now, this product from McDonald's in Spain is a damn good burger.  The Gouda cheese and the smoky bacon dressing are a fantastic combination.

May 29, 2019

Stranger Soda

As part of their Stranger Things: Season 3 promotion, Coca-Cola is bringing back New Coke for a limited time.  It's available for sale now on CokeStore.com.

May 28, 2019

The Closest Thing To SweeTART Soda

Mountain Dew Liberty Brew (2019)
I'm not sure what they mean by 50 Flavors In One, but this is pretty good.  It tastes very much like blue raspberry candy - like blue SweeTARTS or Blow Pops.  It'd probably make a pretty tasty float with some vanilla ice cream too.

May 27, 2019

It's A Rib Right Out Of History

The Flintstones Grand Poobah Meal
McDonald's (1994)
The Flintstones movie, starring John Goodman and Rick Moranis, debuted in theaters 25 years ago today.  McDonald's ran a promotion using the film as a vehicle for the return of the McRib sandwich.  Since then, it has come and gone at least a dozen times, the most recent of which was last October.  If they ever release it in conjunction with the Shamrock Shake, I may go into a food coma.

I found this sign a few years ago at the Garden Drive In Flea Market for five bucks.  It now hangs in my garage and serves as a daily reminder of my love of cheesy movies and unhealthy limited edition fast food products.

May 26, 2019

Double Or Nothing

AEW Double Or Nothing
MGM Grand Garden Arena - Las Vegas, NV
This company is one of the only things keeping me interested in pro wrestling these days, and their first official ppv did not disappoint.  It was a perfect combination of old school booking and ring psychology with modern wrestling styles.  It's refreshing to see a company that takes professional wrestling seriously again.

May 25, 2019

Pork At The Park

Pulled Pork on a Ciabatta Bun
Dexter's Deli - Knoebels - Elysburg, PA
Amusement parks have their own version of the Oscars and the Grammy Awards.  It's called the Golden Ticket AwardsKnoebels won the Golden Ticket for the amusement park with the best food 16 times since the year 2000, and it is well deserved.  We ordered a pulled pork sandwich, a Memphis Pork Barbecue, an order of deep fried broccoli and cauliflower and rice pudding with cinnamon and whipped cream. All of it was delicious, and it clocked in at less than twenty dollars.  That's not a bad price for a roadside diner, let alone an amusement park.  You could have a full meal at Knoebels for less than the cost of a soda at most places.

By the way, Knoebels also has free parking and free admission, and in addition to the reasonably priced food, everything else in the park is very affordable, from the rides to souvenirs.  The family that runs this place are outstanding human beings who run a very successful and fun park that is approaching its 100th anniversary, and they do so without squeezing every last dime out of your pocket.

Pineapple Overload

Dole Whip Float
The Loaf - Knoebels - Elysburg, PA
I've never been to Disney World, but I've been told they have a delicious frozen desert called a Dole Whip.  As it turns out, Knoebels has them too.  You can get them in four different flavors, or you could opt for the Dole Whip Float, which is the Dole Whip served in pineapple juice with large chunks of pineapple in a plastic pineapple mug.  I am one happy Hawaiian.

May 24, 2019