Feb 25, 2021

Back In Blak

Coke With Coffee
Coca-Cola (2021)
It has been about fifteen years since Coca-Cola blended cola and coffee in a product that was sold in the United States and I couldn't be happier about it.  This time around, they're doing things a bit differently.  Coke With Coffee comes in three flavors: Dark Blend, Vanilla and Caramel.  The Dark Blend and Vanilla flavors are also available both with and without sugar, whereas the Caramel one is only available with added sugar.

In 2006, Coca-Cola released a product called Coca-Cola Blak that I absolutely loved.  Unfortunately, I think I was the only one who liked it, because it was discontinued before the end of 2007.  It was sold in 8 oz glass bottles that could be purchased individually or in a pack of four.  Each bottle was only 45 calories, which worked perfectly for me because I was on a diet at the time, and it had a smooth and unique flavor.  It was carbonated and definitely tasted like a Coke, but it had a strong coffee flavor that was very pleasant.

I bought a pack of the new Coke With Coffee in the Dark Blend flavor, and I'm happy to say that it tastes very much like my memory of Coke Blak.  The 8 oz. glass bottles have been replaced by 12 oz. aluminum cans that are similar in appearance to an energy drink.  Each can is 70 calories compared to 45 calories for a Coke Blak, but you're also getting 4 oz. more to drink.  I'm sure the recipe isn't exactly the same as Coke Blak, but between the flavor and the calories per serving, I'd have to guess that it's pretty close.

The new Coke With Coffee is a little pricey compared to buying a 2 liter of Coca-Cola, but Aldi's has it at a pretty reasonable price.  I hope it does better this time around, but if not, I'll be sure to stock up if they put it on clearance because if I have to wait another 15 years, I'm going to want a supply to carry me through for at least a few months.

Feb 24, 2021

Jeat Yet? I Brang Bra-Zhoot From The Ack-A-Me.

There's a lot of crossover between the South Philly and Hazleton Coal Cracker accents.  source: Brian Miles

Feb 23, 2021

Best Served With Fava Beans and a Nice Chianti

Red Dragon Cheddar
This is the perfect pairing of two of my favorite things to eat.  Somerdale Red Dragon is a creamy cheddar cheese blended with wholegrain mustard seed and ale, and it's really very good.

Feb 22, 2021

There's A Shadow Hanging Over Me

Universal Pictures (2019)
A few days ago, I watched a WhatCulture video called "10 Movie Characters You Didn't Realize Actually Survived", and it reminded me of this movie.  I heard about it when it first came out, but it must not have come to my local theater because I never saw it, and with all the craziness going on in the world, it had completely slipped my mind.  I finally sat down to watch it on Saturday, and it's an absolutely brilliant film.  It's about a musician who gets hit by a bus and wakes up to a world in which The Beatles never existed.  There are other differences too, but I don't want to give away any more of the story than that.  If you have any interest at all in The Beatles, or the concept of parallel worlds, or if you just want to watch a fantastic romantic comedy, I highly recommend that you check out this movie.

Back in 2002, I had an idea for a story like this, but mine wasn't about The Beatles or parallel worlds.  I was moving back home to West Hazleton after living in La Vista, Nebraska (a suburb of Omaha) for a few months.  It was nearly a 17 hour drive on I-80, alone in a hot car with no air conditioning, and not a whole lot in the way of distracting scenery, so my mind wandered a bit.  I had an idea for a story bouncing around my head for a few hundred miles, and I realized by the very end of this trip that if I didn't write it down soon, I was going to forget what it was.  If I waited until I got to my grandparent's house, the idea would be as good as gone, because I would have to unpack the car and they would want to sit down at the kitchen table and talk with me over coffee since I hadn't seen them for a few months at this point.  That is why on the last ten miles of the trip, I pulled the car over to the side of I-81 and wrote out the framework to a story that I swore I'd write, but never did.

I've long since lost those original notes, but here's the gist:

View from the stage during Mountain's 9:00 pm set at Woodstock
Saturday, August 16, 1969

An unsigned band have been playing local bars, clubs and festivals for a number of years.  They've attracted a small, passionate group of fans because they're excellent at playing rock covers from the 70's and 80's.  However, any time they try to write their own music, things go horribly wrong.  The band argues every time they try to write original work, and the few things they have successfully come up with have not been well-liked by the audience, in large part because so many compromises have been made to satisfy everyone in the band that the song comes across like a disjointed mess.  Finally, after years of trying and failing to make it big, they decide to call it quits.  They have one more big outdoor festival on their schedule that they have agreed to play as their farewell gig before going their separate ways.

The band decides that they want to go out on a positive note, so they give the audience what they want by playing covers, starting with Bon Jovi's 1988 hit, Bad Medicine.  The crowd goes wild, and the cheers get louder with each of the nine songs that they play.  Not long after they walk off of stage, they learn that when they took the stage, they have stepped back in time to Saturday, August 16th, 1969, and they had just played a setlist of classic hits on the stage at Woodstock to an audience who had never heard them before.

Over the years, I kept a few notebooks with different ideas for how the story could progress.  Each of them involved the band signing a recording contract and releasing albums that would essentially be a greatest hits collection of the 70's, 80's and 90's, but passing it off as their own original work.  For a brief time, the members of the band had come back together and rekindled the friendship that led them to form a band in the first place, but their differences in opinion over how to handle this unexpected jump back in time eventually caused them to go their separate ways.  One idea that involved a laptop computer that the drummer kept in a backpack that he brought out on stage, and how he would use it to navigate the past.  Another idea involved the bass player trying to find her grandparents who passed away when she was 13 years old.  The main story arc would have focused on the lead singer using what he knew about the future to invest in the right companies at the right time to become rich and powerful (and dangerously unhinged).

One of my many problems is that while I'm halfway decent at coming up with a story idea, I'm horrible at following up on it.  I get distracted very easily, and I procrastinate, and then I eventually tell myself that I'm not a good enough writer to have it published anyway, so I should just let it go.  Then, in 2010, I saw Hot Tub Time Machine and thought to myself that my idea was dead in the water right there.  Even if I was disciplined enough to finish the story, everyone would just think that I'm ripping off the end of the movie where Lou Dorchen goes back in time to become the lead singer of Mötley Crüe and become wealthy by founding Google.

I came up with a few other ideas in the years that followed, most of which involve time travel, but they never got past the stage of being a list of ideas in a notebook.  Seeing Yesterday reminded me of this notebooks and the idea that started them off.  I'd like to say that it inspired me to finally put pen to paper and at least come up with a rough draft, but if I haven't written it by now, I doubt I'm ever going to.

Feb 21, 2021

The Legend Begins

The Hyrule Fantasy: Zeruda no Densetsu
Famicom Disk System (1986)
Thirty-five years ago today, the game that we know in the States as The Legend of Zelda was released in Japan for the Famicom Disk System.  There is absolutely no way to overstate the influence that this classic has had on the video game industry throughout the world.

Feb 20, 2021

Will They Or Won't They?

source: Matt Patterson
Kilobaud Microcomputing
June 1980

My parents aren't home.  Wanna come back to my place and compute?

Feb 19, 2021

The Echelon Mall

Echelon Mall
Voorhees, NJ (1970)
The lamp posts, plants and fountains surrounded by clean tile and brick gave the Echelon Mall a peaceful vibe that you don't see very often anymore.  It's a shame that so many of these have been demolished when the retail outlets closed.  Imagine how awesome it could have been if they remodeled the stores into luxury apartments and condos.  The center of the mall with the fountains and benches could have been used as an open indoor town square where residents of the mall apartments and folks from the area could meet friends and neighbors, host events, take a walk or just have a pleasant place to read a book and relax.  It could also have supported a few businesses that would suit a neighborhood setting, like a day care center, pizza parlor, coffee shop, post office, drugstore, or even a public library.

Instead, most of these malls have either been torn down or remodeled out of their charm, and this once common slice of life exists today only on old, forgotten postcards.

Feb 18, 2021

A Tasty And Nourishing Breakfast

3 Minute Breakfast: Vegetable Upma
MTR Foods
Earlier this month, I found a couple of these at the grocery store on clearance for a dollar each.  I've never heard of MTR, and I can't say that I've ever heard the word "upma" before then, but I figured I'd give it a shot, and I'm glad that I did.

It's pretty easy to make - just boil up some water fill the cup up to the line, stir it up, cover the top and wait three minutes.  The resulting product is a semolina and vegetable porridge with a texture that reminded me of warm cornbread.  It was quite tasty and surprisingly filling.  I hope that I can find this again.

Feb 17, 2021

Piano Music From The Moon

Animatronic Mac Tonight
The World's Most Magnificent McDonald's - Warren, OH
This two-story McDonald's in Northeast Ohio once had an animatronic Mac Tonight who played piano on the second floor of the restaurant.  According to CLE Weekly, the restaurant was refurbished in 2018 and a lot of the unique aspects of the property were taken out.  At some point prior to that, Mac Tonight was replaced.  I'm not sure if that choice was made because of the repugnant ways that Mac Tonight has been used by some truly terrible people in this country, or if it was retired when they stopped using the character in McDonald's advertising in the late 80's.  Either way, the replacement was slightly disturbing.

Future generations will never know what it's like to eat lunch while being stared at by a creepy looking Hamburglar with a massively deformed left hand.  What is the world coming to?

Feb 16, 2021

The Birth Of An Icon

Pac-Man: Birth Of An Icon
Arjan Terpstra and Tim Lapetino (2021)
In honor of the 40th anniversary of Pac-Man in North America, Cook & Becker are publishing a written history of arguably the most iconic video game of all time.  Pac-Man: Birth Of An Icon is available for pre-order and is expected to ship on July 30th.  The Collectors Edition comes with a slipcover and a 7" vinyl reprint of the 1981 Buckner & Garcia single: Pac-Man Fever.  The slipcover and record are nice, but I'd opt for the Standard Edition and buy the book without the slipcover and record for less than half the price.

Feb 15, 2021

Just Another Robot Dinosaur Love Story

Tammy And The T-Rex
Imperial Entertainment (1994)
Paul Walker's brain is surgically removed by Bernie Lomax and implanted into a robotic tyrannosaurus rex that was built by Isaac Chroner from Children Of The Corn.  He leaves a path of destruction before reuniting with girlfriend Denise Richards through a game of charades while the local police sort through the blood, guts and wreckage.

If this sounds like something you might enjoy, we can be friends.

Feb 14, 2021

Doctor Love of Mushroom Kingdom

Dr. Mario Valentines
The Paper Magic Group / Nintendo (1990)
Remember back in the day in when we'd all make boxes out of construction paper and tape them to the front of our desk, and then we'd all walk around the room dropping valentines into everyone's box?  Well, if you went to elementary school with me, there's a pretty good chance that you got at least one with a Nintendo character on it.

These Dr. Mario ones were sold in 1990.  It's a strange choice of a game to base valentines around because the only character in the game is Mario himself.  I guess you could say that there are four if you count the red, yellow and blue viruses, but they create a whole other problem.  "How was school, son?  It was great - Lori from homeroom gave me a virus for Valentine's Day!"

They kind of shoehorned Princess Peach onto a few of these despite the fact that she's not in the game, and they also went out of their way to label the pills as vitamins.  I suppose the folks in charge thought might be in poor taste for kids to give each other pills, even if they are printed on paper and surrounded by hearts.

Feb 13, 2021

Duran 40

Duran Duran 40 billboard
Times Square - New York, NY
In celebration of their 40th year, Duran Duran have partnered with Pandora to release Duran 40: An Oral History of Duran Duran.  The playlist takes you through 40 of their biggest hits with the story behind the music as told by the band.

Feb 12, 2021

The St. Valentine's Day Massacre

Joe Bob Put A Spell On You
Shudder (2021)
The great Joe Bob Briggs brings joy to another holiday tonight at 9 pm.

Feb 11, 2021

The Night That Kid Dynamite Fell

Mike Tyson vs Buster Douglas
Tokyo Dome - Tokyo, Japan - February 11, 1990
I was nine years old on the night of this fight that took place 31 years ago today.  I don't know much more about the sport of boxing now than I did on that night.  However, I did know two things: Mike Tyson was one of the most dominant professional fighters in the world, and he was defeated for the Undisputed Heavyweight Championship by a man who wasn't expected to last 90 seconds in the ring.

For many years, it has been tucked away in the back of my head to include this fight in a story about time travel.  The story wouldn't focus heavily on the fight, but the traveler would use his or her knowledge about the outcome to make a bundle of money by betting on the 40:1 underdog.  I've come to suspect that I have neither the talent nor attention span to ever finish anything that's good enough to be published, but one of these days, maybe I'll defy the odds like Buster Douglas and come out a winner.

Feb 10, 2021

Create Monsters From Living Ice

Mad Scientist: Living Ice Compound
Mattel (1986)
This was one of my favorite toy lines when I was growing up, and I was shocked to discover that it didn't even have its own page on Wikipedia.

There were a bunch of different kinds of toys, but they all had the same general theme of creating monsters.  Some of them were molds with a gelatinous compound, like this Living Ice set that I had when I was a kid.  Others included the skeleton of a monster that you would build the creature's body around, then drop it into a tank of liquid and watch the flesh dissolve off of its bones like acid.  Another one that I had when I was little was basically a stand that inflated a small balloon.  It came with a thick paint that you could use to turn the balloon into a monster's head, then either inflate the balloon to make the head larger or deflate it to watch your design contract into something that looked like a shrunken head.  It was pretty gruesome stuff, but for a kid that was obsessed with haunted houses and horror stories, they were perfect. 

This is from the back of the package.  The Monster Flesh and Living Ice kits were basically the same product.  You would knead the goop in the tub, put it in the mold, and create a semi-solid monster that sort of felt like a sturdy Jell-O Jiggler.  It would stand on its own and it wouldn't fall apart on its own, but you could easily break it apart with your hands.

I think this toy line would have been better if it came with a plastic compound like Creepy Crawlers did so that kids could create a more permanent action figure with the molds.  If that were possible, I expect the creatures would have come out looking something like a toy from the Monsters In My Pocket line that was introduced by Matchbox a few years later.  Instead, the figures that were made from Mad Scientist kits were sort of like Play Doh - fun to play with in the moment, but destroyed before the end of the day.  That might explain why the toy line itself has been largely forgotten.

Feb 9, 2021

The Krukker Turns 60

John Kruk
Philadelphia Phillies - 1989 - 1994
My favorite baseball player of all-time turns 60 years old today.  John Kruk had a 10 year career in the big leagues, and spent more than half of that time as the first baseman of the Philadelphia Phillies.  He retired in 1995 with even .300 career batting average, 100 home runs and 592 RBI (photo: The Sporting News).

Feb 8, 2021

For The Mind, Body, and Planet

The Coca-Cola Company (1994)
In the mid 90's, Coca-Cola tried to muscle in on Snapple's fruit juice market with Fruitopia, which was branded under their Minute Maid line.  It was marketed with psychedelic imagery and, for lack of a better word, hippie-inspired flavors such as Strawberry Passion Awareness,  Blueberry Watermelon Wisdom, Tangerine Wavelength, and Raspberry Psychic Lemonade.  You can see more examples of the artwork that was used in their advertising and packaging here.

The Fruitopia line is still available in Canada, but it had all but disappeared in the United States before the end of the 90's.  It was officially discontinued in America in 2003, which is a shame.  I only had it a few times, but I remember that it was quite good.

Feb 7, 2021

Sometimes, The Beast Does Include Selling Out

Uber Eats Wayne's World commercial
Super Bowl LV (2021)
Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar are back, and they're helping to draw attention to restaurants around the country who have partnered with Uber Eats.  The standard commercial will air during Super Bowl LV, but there is also long version of the ad on YouTube.  It's a really long version.  It's over two and a half hours long, and it scrolls through over 89,000 restaurants throughout the United States whose food can be ordered through the mobile app.

Naturally, I had to fast forward to see which Hazleton restaurants are represented.  Just past the two hour and one minute mark, there are three restaurants that I'm familiar with: Booty's Place (in the Church Hill Mall), Bottlenecks (in West Hazleton - excellent wings), and Vesuvio's Pizza (on Wyoming Street).  I've never eaten at El Panchito or the Fireside Lounge before.  I'll have to give them a try sometime soon.

Feb 6, 2021

Grandpa At The Capitol

Class Of 1954
West Hazleton High School
Today would have been my grandfather's 84th birthday.  This photo of the West Hazleton High School Class of '54 was taken in front of the US Capitol on their senior class trip to Washington DC.  Grandpa is the third man from the left standing in the back row.

Here's a cropped version.  He's the man in the white shirt.

I miss you, Grandpa.  Happy birthday, big guy.

Feb 5, 2021

My New Second Favorite JoJo

Ok, let's get the obvious out of the way.  I was 22 years old when JoJo Siwa was born, and I'm the furthest thing from her target audience.  I know nothing about her work at all except that she's very popular with tweens and she wears a big bow in her hair.  Prior to her appearance on The Tonight Show this week, I've never even heard her speak.  Having said all of that, I am a huge fan of her bravery and energy, and I support this bow-topped tornado of awesome 100%.

She has come out of the closet and I'm crazy proud of her.  Now, if she comes out of the Phillies bullpen to lock down the 8th inning after demolishing a Red Bull, she'll overtake Jojo Romero as my all-time favorite JoJo.

Feb 4, 2021

Who Has The Top Score On Crazy Caterpillar

The Secret Of The Video Game Scores
Meadowbrook Press (1984)
This artwork was recently shared by @Retroist on Twitter.  It was drawn by Robert Sauber and used for the cover of a children's mystery book from the Hawkeye Collins and Amy Adams series called The Secret Of The Video Game Scores.

I wasn't familiar with this series of books when I was a kid, but I sure would have picked this up back in the 80's if I ever saw it.  It's been republished a few times since it first came out in 1984, so it's easy to find on Amazon and eBay.  The description says that it's appropriate for a fourth grade reading level, so if you have kids who are gamers and like to read, they might enjoy it.

Feb 3, 2021

C Is For Crystal

Cookie Monster Agate
Lucas Fassari / Mike Bowers
This volcanic rock that looks like the Cookie Monster was found the Rio Grande do Sul region near Soledade, Brazil in November.  The team that found it has received five offers to buy it for over $10k.

Feb 2, 2021

That's Right Woodchuck Chuckers, It's...

Groundhog Day
Columbia Pictures (1993)
It's cold out there.  What is this, Miami Beach?

Anyway, Randy Sarafan from Instructables.com has published detailed instructions on how to modify a Panasonic RC-6025 Clock Radio to play the audio clip that Bill Murray (as Phil Connors) heard every morning in the 90's hit comedy Groundhog Day.  It's actually been on the website for around six years, but I found it in 2021, so here you go.

Click here for a step-by-step walkthrough with photos.  If you live in the Northeast and have the equipment laying around the house, it'll give you something to do during this... big blizzard thing.

Feb 1, 2021

Burrito Bargains

J. Zapata
Laurel Mall - Hazleton, PA
Other than walking the dog and getting groceries, I haven't gone out much since the pandemic began.  In fact, in the past 10 months, I can only remember putting gas in the car twice.  One of the few exceptions has been the Laurel Mall to pick up food from J. Zapata.  Everything I've had there has been delicious and affordably priced.  Right now, they have a deal that works out to $14 for two burritos that are each about the size of an adult cat.

I'm feeling too tired and lazy to find the tape measure, so to give you a perspective of how big these burritos are, here is one sitting on a copy of Dimensions Beyond The Twilight Zone by Stewart T. Stanyard.  If you're a Twilight Zone fan and/or you really want to know how big this burrito is, I highly recommend this collection of memories from the folks who worked on the iconic show.  It's not an ad link or anything, so I won't make any money from this plug despite this butter-smooth cross-promotion of Mexican food and classic television.  It's just a pretty good book that I happened to have within reach without having to get up.

The woman behind the counter really jam packed these things full of pork.  It was so filling and delicious that I needed a nap after eating it, during which time I had a weird dream that Ruben Amaro Jr. was the new head booker of World Wrestling Entertainment.  I can't say for sure that this was caused by the consumption of pork, rice, beans and hot sauce surrounded by a cheesy tortilla, but I don't rule out the possibility.

Jan 31, 2021

The Consolized Game Gear

Consolized Sega Game Gear
MGS (2021)
This impressive modification of a Sega Game Gear console was made by hobbyist MGS.  The project transformed the early 90's Sega handheld into a console that resembles a Sega Master System and can be hooked up to a television to play Game Gear cartridges on a much larger screen.  Unfortunately, he is not producing them on a large scale, so there are none available for sale.

Jan 30, 2021

Didi's Back, And We Have Moore Reason To Be Optimistic

photo source: Yong Kim (Philadelphia Inquirer)
Didi Gregorius
Shortstop - Philadelphia Phillies
It's official - the Phillies are getting the gang back together.  A few days after signing catcher J.T. Realmuto to a 5 year, $115.5 million dollar contract, it was announced that shortstop Didi Gregorius will return to the Phillies on a 2 year, $28 million dollar deal.

When the season ended, John Middleton was talking like an owner who had no intention of spending this winter.  My expectations that they'd bring back either Realmuto or Gregorius were pretty low.  The fact that they've brought both of them back on multi-year deals is a very pleasant surprise.

Matt Moore
Left Handed Pitcher - Philadelphia Phillies
There was another signing this week that flew under the radar as a result of the Realmuto deal.  Southpaw Matt Moore signed a one year contract for $3 million (plus incentives) to compete for a spot in the back end of the Phillies rotation with Spencer Howard, Vince Velasquez, Ranger Suarez and Ivan Nova.

I believe this deal could end up being one of the most important acquisitions the Phillies make for the 2021 season.  Moore was a very effective starter for the Rays after his call-up in 2011.  He was an All-Star in 2013 and finished the season with a 17-4 record and a 3.29 ERA.  He ran into a roadblock in 2014 when a torn ligament took him out of action for over a year.  His comeback after Tommy John surgery had a few moments of brilliance, including a game he started for the Giants on August 25th, 2016 where he came within one out of a no-hitting a stacked Dodgers team.  Later in the 2016 post-season, he threw 8 innings against the Cubs in Game 4 of the LDS in which gave up only 2 hits and struck out 10 batters.

Moore had a difficult stretch in 2017-2019, including a freak knee injury after fielding a bunt, but he came back strong in 2020 pitching for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in Japan.  He went 6-3 with a 2.65 and threw 7 innings of no-hit ball in Game 3 of the Japan World Series.  His season in Japan also suggests that he will be entering the 2021 season fully healthy.  When you include his rehab and post-season starts, Moore threw a total of 85 innings last year - more than any pitcher in Major League Baseball during the Covid-shortened 2020 season.  Whether he can replicate this level of success pitching for the Phillies in 2021 remains to be seen, but I expect that he'll be a significant upgrade over Jake Arrieta and is likely to win the 4th spot in the rotation.

Jan 29, 2021

The Wrestling Peacock

WWE Network
2014 - 2021
When I was a kid, the WWF television shows used to have a segment with Sean Mooney speaking to the fans from the Event Center.  It was presented sort of like a news broadcast, where Mooney would briefly discuss one of the feuds that was going on, then cut to a prerecorded interview, then back to Mooney to set up another feud, then cut to another interview, and so on until the segment was over.  Usually it concluded with a plug for whatever big show was coming up in which these feuds would be settled in the ring.

The interviews were typical 80's and early 90's WWF material: funny, over-the-top rants from dudes in strange costumes talking about god only knows what.  Seriously, go back and watch some of the Ultimate Warrior interviews from these shows and you'll think that you're having a fever dream.  However, for as entertaining as the interviews were, the part that fascinated me the most was that wall of television monitors that Sean Mooney was sitting in front of.  I used to think of how awesome it would be to spend a day in the Event Center with the ability to watch any match from the WWF archives on these screens.

Fast forward to February 24th, 2014 and the wish I had as an 8 year old kid was granted to a 33 year old man in the form of the WWE Network.  Thousands of hours of archived WWF and WWE matches, and current events that once cost up to $50 each on pay-per-view were made instantly available for $9.99 per month.  It was a deal that almost seemed too good to be true for a fan of professional wrestling.

I subscribed to this service for a number of years, and I enjoyed it quite a bit.  I especially enjoyed the old WWF Saturday Night's Main Event shows, the Coliseum Home Video archive, the weekly WWF shows from the late 70's through the early 90's, and the years of ECW, WCW Nitro and Thunder episodes (although with a lot of the music edited out).  I had lost interest in keeping up with the weekly WWE Raw and Smackdown programs years ago.  They're horribly long and dull, and the writing is so poor that it's become embarrassing to sit through.  However, for a few years, I watched their weekly NXT show and the monthly pay per view events.  Unfortunately, the product devolved into such a ridiculous mess that I've given up on those too, and I ended up cancelling the service about a year ago, but I can't deny that for a few years in the mid 2010's, the WWE Network was a childhood dream that had come true.

photo source: NBC / Getty Images
Now after seven years, the WWE Network is coming to an end.  On Monday, it was announced that NBC Universal has acquired the rights to the entire catalog of WWE content, and that its streaming network would be absorbed into their new Peacock service.  They have a free tier, but to have access to the WWE content, subscribers will need to pay $4.99 a month for Peacock Premium (with limited commercials) or $9.99 for Peacock Premium Plus (with no commercials).  They're still pretty new, so they have a modest amount of content.  Right now, they seem to be pretty heavily focused on The Office, Law & Order and Two & A Half Men, which I couldn't possibly care less about.  Frankly, I wouldn't agree to watch any of those three programs if they paid me $4.99 a month; however, if they bring Seinfeld on board someday, I might have to give Peacock a try.

Jan 28, 2021

What Part Of Maui Wowie Don't You Understand?

Ferdinand's Family Restaurant
15th Street - Hazleton, PA
Ferdinand's opened in 1983 and was a fixture in Hazleton for a good portion of my life until it closed in 2010.  We only ate here a couple of times over the years (our family's spot was always The Blue Comet), but the food was always good every time we were there.  I can't remember what I ate when we were there, but I'll never forget that they served homemade ravioli because of the commercials they used to run on tv.

The commercial that burned this place into my memory forever featured a little girl, probably around 9 or 10 years old.  She was sitting at a booth, and she looked into the camera and calmly said "I want ravioli".  The camera then cut away to a montage of the different dinners that you could order at the restaurant, with a narrator listing them off.  It then cut back to the little girl, who repeated "I want ravioli" in a grumpier voice than she had the first time.  The narrators voice responded "yes, we have ravioli, but we also have..." and then the camera once again showed a montage of foods while the narrator read out more of the menu.  Finally, it cut back to a closeup of the little girl's face where she looked angrily into the camera and shouted "What part of ravioli don't you understand!"  The commercial ended with the child being served a big plate of ravioli with her family at Ferdinand's.

They aired this commercial in Hazleton a lot in the late 90's, and every time my grandmother saw it, she would say something along the lines of "I would smack that kid right in the mouth".  It must have been a common sentiment in the area, because I remember eating at the restaurant and mentioning the commercial to the waitress, and she immediately rolled her eyes and told me how many angry phone calls the restaurant got because people hated seeing the bratty kid demand ravioli.  People get really touchy about the dumbest things.

After Ferdinand's closed in 2010, it sat vacant for a number of years before it was sold and reopened in 2015 as Eddie's American Diner.  We went there for breakfast once and it was very good - one of the few places that not only serve scrapple, but who cooked it right.  I definitely would have been a regular customer if they had stayed open.  I couldn't tell you how long Eddie's was in business, but it seemed like it was only a couple of months after the grand opening that the building once again sat vacant.

On Thursday of last week, Franklin BioScience secured zoning approval from the city to turn the old Ferdinand's Restaurant property into a medical marijuana dispensary.  There are still a few hurdles to jump over, but if they are successful, they will turn the property from a place where people came to eat pasta to a place that may give folks an intense craving for it.

I'm not a smoker, but I'm rooting for these guys.  I'm also not sure what the laws are for advertising such a business, but I would love to see them reach out to that little girl from the old Ferdinand's commercial.  She's got to be at least 30 by now.  They could film a commercial where she comes out of the dispensary wearing a tie dyed shirt, looks dead into the camera and says "I could really go for some ravioli right about now".