Mar 19, 2019

The Best Hit Of The Season

Carlos Santana hit 24 home runs for the Phillies in 2008, but his most impressive hit of the season didn't happen on the field.  It happened in the clubhouse on September 28th after the Phillies had been knocked out of a playoff spot.  ESPN's Jeff Passan reported that during a game against the Braves, Santana caught several of his teammates skipping out on their team to play Fortnite.  Understandably, the veteran was ticked off at the unprofessional attitude of his teammates, and he responded as a leader in the locker room should - he smashed the television with his bat.
“I see a couple players — I don’t want to say names — they play video games during the game.  We come and lose too many games, and I feel like they weren’t worried about it. Weren’t respecting their teammates or coaches or the staff or the office. It’s not my personality. But I’m angry because I want to make it good.”
Santana may not want to say names, but it's a pretty safe bet that Odubel Herrera was one of the gamers that night.  He was taken out in the top of the 5th inning, and he's known both for being an avid gamer and for not always making the best choices.

Whoever it was, I hope they learned something that night.  Santana was one of my favorite Phillies and I have even more respect for him after learning about this.  I hope that HarperMcCutchen and Realmuto can step in and fill his shoes as the veteran leaders in the clubhouse who won't put up with teammates who are happy to lose and to bail on their teammates during a game.

Mar 18, 2019

Hazleton Has Made It To 1998

Starbucks (coming soon)
Woodbine St off Rt. 93 - Hazleton, PA
In only a few short months, I won't have to drive 28 miles to get Egg Bites and a Venti Blonde Roast.  Hooray Hazleton!

Mar 17, 2019

Colonel Lefty Mustard

Steve Carlton (1972)
Pitcher - Philadelphia Phillies
This photo was taken after Carlton's first season with the Phillies.  It was one of the most remarkable seasons ever put together by a pitcher.  He won 27 games for a team that only won 59, he pitched 30 complete games, had 310 strikeouts and an ERA of 1.97.  His winter wardrobe was remarkable for other reasons.

This photo was shared by Brian Flaspohler on Vintage Baseball Photos.

Mar 15, 2019

The Best Part Of Lent

Jimmy's Quick Lunch
Broad Street - Hazleton, PA
Jimmy's makes the most amazing potato cakes.  They're about as big as my fist, thick as a deck of cards, and they're delicious!  They only sell them on Friday's during Lent, which means that there are only seven days all year that you can get them.

Mar 14, 2019

Space Flight Arcade

Space Flight Arcade
Church Hill Mall - Hazleton, PA
When I was a kid, I looked forward to the days when my grandparents would take me to the Church Hill Mall on Route 309.  While they shopped at Gee Bee's, I went to the Space Flight Arcade.

Aladdin's Castle in the Laurel Mall was the main arcade in town.  As new games were released, older games would be cycled out and would disappear.  When games like BagmanCrossbow and Discs Of Tron were taken out and replaced with newer games, there was a good chance that I'd never get to play them again.  Most of the home ports of vintage arcade games on the Atari 2600, Sega Master System and Nintendo were very limited and bore only a faint resemblance to their arcade counterparts, while others weren't ported to home systems at all.  Many of the vintage arcade games of the late 70's and early 80's disappeared entirely until MAME and the emulation scene of the early 2000's brought them back to life.

Space Flight was my last chance I had to play these games before they disappeared.  Unlike Aladdin's Castle, it was an independently owned arcade.  They didn't get new games very often, so the old classics remained here throughout the decade.  This was the last place I would have the opportunity to play some of my favorite arcade games in my childhood, and for that reason, I will always remember it fondly.

Mar 13, 2019

Ground Zero: Ork

Robin Williams playing Sega CD (1993)
Photo by Arthur Grace - "Robin Williams, A Singular Portrait, 1986-2002"
I love this photo.  Robin Williams loved video games, and he looks completely enthralled by Ground Zero: Texas.  The little chair that Mr. Williams is sitting on and the toys on the shelves suggest that this was his daughter Zelda's play room.  He's playing on the original model Sega CD on the shelf to his left, and there's a Super Nintendo hooked up on the shelf beneath the television.

Mar 12, 2019

Thirty Years Of Surfing

Today is the 30th anniversary of the World Wide Web.  Back in 1989 when it was first invented, no one I knew had a computer.  I remember getting a computer as a Christmas gift in 1993 and I had never heard of internet or the web.  The first time I even heard any reference to it was my stepmother telling me that there was a service called Prodigy that hooked the computer up to a phone line and let you use it as an encyclopedia.  Slowly over the next few years, there were more references to the internet on television and in the news.  The Sci-Fi Channel in the mid 90's was one of the few places that would reference their website in their commercials and in short documentaries about the future of computers.  Before I ever got online, I kept a notebook with a list of websites that I learned about from magazines and the Sci-Fi Channel that I couldn't wait to check out.

I was 17 years old when Grandpa and I went to Radio Shack to buy the IBM Aptiva computer in this photo.  It had a 28.8 kpbs modem, and I was excited to go on the internet for the first time.  This was years before DSL modems, so I had to find an ISP with a local phone number - otherwise we would have to pay about .20 cents per minute in long distance fees every time we went online.

We signed up for an account with Uplink.  In the mid 90's, signing up for internet service meant waiting for the installation discs to come in the mail.  Not a CD ROM... four 3.5" floppy discs with a dialer program.  After the discs arrived, I discovered that I had to call to Verizon and make a change to our home phone before we could go online.  It turns out that you need touchtone to log in to dial up internet.  My grandparents never switched over from their rotary phone because it cost an extra .45 cents a month.  Once that last hurdle was cleared, I was all set to head to Happy Puppy to download demos of DOS games.

Happy 30th birthday to the World Wide Web, and a tip of the hat to Uplink for (eventually) bringing me there for the first time 22 years ago.

Mar 11, 2019

Looks Good To Me

Star Trek Color and Activity Book
Merrigold Press (1979)

Mar 10, 2019

Happy Mar.10

Take a moment to play your favorite Mario game this Mar.10.

Mar 9, 2019

The Asphalt Jungle

46th and Broadway (1955)
New York City, NY
The marquee of the Globe Theater is showing a double feature of "two MGM all-time thrillers" - Asphalt Jungle (1950) and Battleground (1949).  The billboard at the top left that advertises the all new Plymouth '55 dates this photo.

Mar 7, 2019

Coca-Cola Creamsicle

In January, I tried four new spicy, fruit flavors of Diet Coke.  In February, two additional non-spicy fruit flavors were released.  None of them impressed me too much.  The flavors weren't very strong, and thin, Red Bull size silver cans were dull and generic looking.

They made the right move with Orange Vanilla Coca-Cola.  First of all, it's in a regular sized can that you can drink without feeling like a hipster doofus.  Secondly, it's not in a lifeless, boring silver can.  Coke is red and Pepsi is blue.  That's just how it is.  This flavor comes in two version, regular and Zero Sugar, and even the latter is red behind the Coca-Cola logo.  On a side note, I have no idea why Coke feels the need to have two separate product lines for "Diet" and "Zero Sugar", but I digress.

The most important thing is that Orange Vanilla Coca-Cola tastes good.  It's reminds me of a Coca-Cola Creamsicle - very refreshing.  It would have been excellent to enjoy on a hot summer day, but it's only available for a limited time - from March to May.  I guess I'll have to stock up for July.

Mar 6, 2019

Klaatu Barada Nookie

The Necronomicondom
Forever Midnight
Brought to you by the same crazy bastards that delivered the Angela Baker light switch, this Rubber Of The Dead is sure to protect your boomstick on Ash Wednesday.

Mar 5, 2019

The Master Of The Five Count

Professional wrestling legend King Kong Bundy passed away yesterday afternoon at the age of 61.  News of his death was shared by longtime friend and promoter David Herro.

He'll always be remembered for his feuds with Andre The Giant and Hulk Hogan, the latter of which culminated in a cage match at the main event of Wrestlemania 2.  He was one of the best big men in the business, and he was remarkable on the mic, drawing fans in with humor and cool bad-guy swagger.

Bundy retired from the ring in 2007 after a lengthy tour of independent promotions, but remained active with fans at shows, conventions and online ever since.  In fact, three hours before his passing, Bundy shared a tweet to promote his upcoming scheduled appearance at Wrestlecon this April.

The big man from Atlantic City will be missed.  Rest in peace, sir.

Mar 4, 2019

975 Career Home Runs

Mike Schmidt photos from the 70's are priceless.  If this tweet from Super 70s Sports is correct, he is pictured here with another future Hall of Famer.  Schmidt and Piazza would hit a combined 975 home runs in their career and would become among third baseman and catcher the game has ever seen.

Mar 2, 2019

Mar 1, 2019

The Official Game For When You're Home Alone

ToeJam & Earl: Back In The Groove
HumaNature Studios (2018)
The Sega Genesis was my console of choice when I was in middle school in the early 90's, and one of my favorite games for the Genesis was the incredibly fun and creative classic ToeJam & Earl.  Although there have been other games in the series, there haven't been any sequels that have the same style as the original... until today.

The long awaited successor to the original is now available on Steam, Switch and Playstation 4.  I've been looking forward to this for the past four years since I backed their Kickstarter, and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Macaulay Culkin has backed the project as its Executive Producer.  He was also a huge fan of the original, and he helped to make sure that the game felt authentic and true to the spirit of the Genesis classic.

I only had chance to play for about a half hour or so, but I'm very happy to see that you can still reach Level Zero by heading south into the ocean and falling through the hole in the center of the island.  I also geeked out quite a bit when I scrolled through the credits and found this:

I've never had my name programmed into a Nintendo game before, and I have to say that it's pretty cool to be in a list of credits with the star of Home Alone.  😃

Feb 28, 2019


When I was 12 years old, my sister made me a mixtape of songs that she thought I would enjoy.  Included on this tape was a cool dystopian rock song by Warrant called April 2031.  It was about a world that has suffered from an environmental catastrophe.  I remember thinking how far off in the future it was.  Hell, I would be 50 years old by then.

Earlier today, I learned that April 2031 will be the start of Bryce Harper's final season in Philadelphia.  It was reported this afternoon by Jon Heyman that the 2015 NL MVP had just signed a 13 year contract with the Phillies for $330 million dollars.  It includes a full no-trade clause, and no opt-out clauses.  Jon Morosi reported that Harper had a four year offer from the Dodgers that would have paid him $45 million per season (his contact with the Phillies will pay him about $25 million per year), but he preferred to play in Philadelphia due to the long term security, the commitment by team owners to winning a championship (in 2019 and in the future), and Citizen's Bank Park, which seems like it was custom built for the power lefty to put up massive numbers.

This contract is right up there with Pete Rose and Jim Thome as one of the most important free agent signings in franchise history, and this winter is among the most successful off-seasons for any team in the history of the game.  Going into the 2019 season, our outfield will now include two former NL MVPs with Harper and McCutchen.  With this signing and the trades made with Seattle and Miami, the Phillies have brought in three 2018 All-Stars (Harper, Segura and Realmuto).  The bullpen has had a massive upgrade with the addition of Robertson, NicasioÁlvarez and PazosRhys Hoskins is back at 1B where he belongs.  This is going to be a very exciting season!

On a side note, if you're interested in the song April 2031, it's track 3 on the Dog Eat Dog album.  It was released by Warrant in August 1992 - two months before Bryce Harper was born.  By the time he's entering his last season in April 2031, I'm hopeful that we'll have a number of World Championships to fly alongside the 1980 and 2008 flags, and we'll be talking about the final season of a player who will wear a Phillies cap on his Hall of Fame plaque.

Feb 27, 2019

Coney Island In The 80's

May 1981

August 1988

September 1988

Feb 26, 2019

Coney Island In The 70's

October 1972

June 1975

August 1976

November 1976

Feb 25, 2019

Coney Island In The 60's

February 1962

May 1962

October 1966

Feb 24, 2019

Hazleton's Coney Island

Coney Island Restaurant
North Wyoming Street - Hazleton, PA
This restaurant was a fixture in downtown Hazleton for over 70 years.  It opened in 1922 and was well known and loved throughout the area for generations.  I remember coming here with my grandmother for hot dogs and rice pudding when I was a kid.  It sadly closed in 1995, but it is fondly remembered in the area.

Over the next few days, I'll share some of the vintage newspaper ads I've found from the 60's, 70's and 80's from this lost Hazleton treasure.

Feb 23, 2019

Steak & Egg Starter Kit

These 3.5 oz. steaks are only a buck at Dollar Tree, and they're the perfect size to pair up with a few eggs, a piece of toast and some coffee for an economical steak & eggs breakfast.

Feb 22, 2019

That's A Lot Of Denim

Millers Outpost (1988)
The Ms. Pac-Man machines in the background of this magazine ad for Jordache Jeans are interesting.  The one in the center appears to be a Pac-Man cabinet with a Ms. Pac-Man marquee.  Also, the timing is interesting.  Ms. Pac-Man was certainly still in arcades in 1988, but it was a six year old game by then.

Feb 21, 2019

Spicy Coconut

Zico Coconut Water
Jalapeno Mango flavored
This is shockingly good.  It has an interesting sweet and spicy combination that is very refreshing.