Dec 22, 2007

Pac Tree


Pac Man LED Christmas Tree
Madrid, Spain

Dec 19, 2007

Now You're Playing With Power


Christmas Eve (1987)
I've been a gamer for as long as I can remember.  My dad and grandparents used to take me to Aladdin's Castle when I was three and four years old and had to stand on a stool to play the game.  At around the same time, my dad brought home an Atari 2600, and we played games like Pitfall, Taz and Adventure.  No matter what else was going on in life, games brought me a lot of joy.

My first experience with Nintendo was in the arcade, with games like Donkey Kong, Super Mario Bros. and the PlayChoice-10.  I don't remember when I first learned that Nintendo had a home console, but I'm sure that I talked about it constantly to whoever would listen.  I have a vague memory of an older woman who used to watch me after school until my mom got off of work asking me what I wanted for Christmas.  I told her I was hoping I would get a Nintendo.  She misheard me, and she knew that I liked He-Man, so she surprised me with an action figure called Extendar
It's no Nintendo, but I had fun creating adventures with this little guy when I played with my He-Man toys.

I spent Christmas Eve at my grandparents house when I was seven years old.  My Dad came over and brought a huge, blue present.  I wasn't sure how big the console was, but I spent all of our Christmas dinner thinking about that box and hoping that a Nintendo was inside.  Sure enough, when we finished our Long John Silvers (a Christmas Eve tradition) and started opening presents, I found the Nintendo Entertainment System waiting for me, complete with R.O.B. The Robot, Gyromite and Duck Hunt.

It's been twenty years since the Christmas where I first became a Nintendo kid.  In the years that followed, I've had countless hours of fun playing Nintendo with friends, family and by myself.  To this day, playing an old school NES game never fails to bring a smile to my face.

Dec 18, 2007

Homer, Homer Everywhere



The rental stores in my area have really pushing The Simpsons Movie, which comes out on DVD today.  The little magazine at Hollywood Video and Movie Gallery this month have had nearly identical covers promoting it.

Dec 16, 2007

Grandma's Power Outage Ordeal


The power went out at my grandparents' house for about an hour. My grandmother described this as "the worst thing that has ever happened to me." She wasn't too thrilled to learn that the camera was on either.

Dec 1, 2007

Elephants and Melting Clocks


The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory
Salvador DalĂ­ (1954)
This is my favorite painting from my favorite artist.  It's a follow-up to his 1931 work, The Persistence Of Memory, and it shows the original landscape after it has been flooded.  It is said to represent the potential of humanity to bring on our own destruction.  I think it's fascinating to compare these two works: one that was created between the World Wars in the same year that the Empire State Building first opened, and one that was created after World War II, during the atomic age.


I ordered a shirt of this panting from a seller in Thailand a couple months ago, and the stamp on the package had a cute family of elephants on it.  It cost 253 Baht to ship this shirt from Thailand to Pennsylvania, which converts to nearly $8 American dollars.

Nov 17, 2007

Four Second Fury


Attention deficit gaming and a rave remix of The Neverending Story score come together in Armor Games’ Four Second Fury.

Nov 3, 2007

The Second Pillar Of Heaven


ROH Glory By Honor VI: Night One
PA National Guard Armory - Philadelphia, PA
A little over two years ago, I attended my first Ring of Honor show.  In a show that would be released on DVD as ROH Unforgettable, the main event featured Japanese legend Kenta Kobashi wrestling alongside Homicide in a tag team match against Samoa Joe and Low Ki.  I fell in love with the promotion on that night, and for the next year and a half, I bought tickets to nearly every ROH show in Philadelphia, New Jersey and New York.

Since returning to college this fall, I haven't had as much time and money to keep up with the shows the way that I used to.  However, I couldn't resist the opportunity to see the second of the AJPW "Four Pillars of Heaven" to wrestle in an ROH ring in Philadelphia: the great Mitsuharu Misawa.

The card was originally advertised to include Roderick Strong vs. "Lightning" Mike Quackenbush.  Roddy and Quack are two of my favorite wrestlers, so I was looking forward to this match, but it didn't happen.  Instead, Roderick and stablemate Rocky Romero wrestled The Briscoes for the tag team championship.  I'm not sure what happened that kept Quack off of the card.

Here are the results of the show:

Oct 2, 2007

Rollins Led The Way


Philadelphia Daily News
October 1, 2007
On January 24th, shortstop Jimmy Rollins boldly proclaimed the Phillies as "the team to beat" in the division.  In the final games of the regular season on Sunday, Jamie Moyer and the Phillies bullpen shut down the Washington Nationals to win 6-1.  Meanwhile, the last place Florida Marlins scored 7 runs off of Tom Glavine in the top of the 1st, knocking him out of the game after 1/3 of an inning.  The Marlins went on to defeat the Mets 8-1 to finish off their collapse and knock them out of the post season.  Rollins was right.  The Phillies are the team to beat, and they weren't beaten.  They are the 2007 National League East Champions.


Jimmy Rollins truly emerged as the team leader in 2007.  As the Los Angeles Times pointed out, the shortstop hit as many home runs as Ken Griffey Jr, as many doubles as Albert Pujols, as many stolen bases as Chone Figgins, and he had more hits than Derek Jeter.  He also led the National League in triples and runs scored.

The stat that I was most impressed by was that Rollins started in all 162 games this season, and in the process, he broke the record for at-bats (716) and plate appearances (778) in a single season.  When he set the record for plate appearances, he passed Dave Cash, who had 776 in 1975, and Lenny Dykstra, who had 773 in the Phillies 1993 NL Championship season.  As it stands today, three of the top five plate appearances in a single season were reached in a Phillies uniform.


When you consider all that he has achieved and all that he has meant to the Phillies, I don't see how anyone else in the National League deserves to be named the 2007 NL MVP than Jimmy Rollins.

Sep 21, 2007

Who Won This Trade?



Dickie Noles
1988 Topps - #768
Few photos have captured the moment a moment in baseball as perfectly as the one that was used for this Dickie Noles card from the 1988 Topps set.

Dickie made his major league debut with the Phillies in 1979 and pitched out of the bullpen for the 1980 Phillies World Championship team.  At the end of the following season before he was traded to the Cubs.  He bounced around a bit in the mid 80's with the Rangers and Indians before returning to the Cubs as a free agent before the start of the 1987 season.



The Cubs traded Dickie Noles to the Detroit Tigers 20 years ago today.  The trade was took place with less than a month remaining in the 1987 season, and his 1988 Topps card was already in production at the time.  They were able to add a few lines to the front and back of the card at the last minute to indicate that the reliever was now a member of the Detroit Tigers.

Adding a "now with _____" line to the card of a player who has been traded late in the season was common practice for Topps at the time, and a player being traded for a "player to be named later" has been a routine occurrence throughout the history of the game.

A far less common occurrence is when a player is traded for himself, which is exactly what happened in 1987.  After the season was over, it was decided that the "player to be named later" who the Tigers would send to the Cubs in exchange for Dickie Noles would be... Dickie Noles.  It's a circumstance that has happened only four times in the history of the sport, but at no other time was the moment captured so perfectly on a baseball card, with the relief pitcher seemingly staring in disbelief at the announcement of his trade on the front of the card.

By the time collectors found this card, Dickie had moved on to the Baltimore Orioles.  He spent the '88 season in their organization, and the following year playing for the Columbus Clippers (then the Triple A affiliate of the Yankees) before returning to the Phillies in 1990 where he finished his career.

Aug 31, 2007

The Sun Sets On West Palm Beach


Municipal Stadium
West Palm Beach, FL
Ten years ago today, the West Palm Beach Expos played their last game in Municipal Stadium.  In front of over a thousand fans, the Class A affiliate of the Montreal Expos lost 4-1 to the Vero Beach Dodgers.

The team began in the spring of 1969 and won two Florida State League Championships in franchise history.  The second of those championships came in 1991 - the season that Dad brought me to my first WPB Expos game, which was also the first professional baseball game I ever attended.

After the 1997 season, the team moved 15 miles away to become the Jupiter Hammerheads.  They remained affiliated with the Montreal Expos through the end of the 2001 season.  Presently, the Hammerheads are the Class A team of the Miami Marlins.

Aug 6, 2007

Uncle Fester at Knoebels


The Addams Family Generator
Nova Productions
Knoebels Amusement Resort - Elysburg, PA
This game gave the player "electric shocks" as they held onto the metal rods.  The longer you could hold on without letting go, the higher you would score.

Jul 31, 2007

Homer's Whopper


The Simpsons Movie: Homer Simpson Ultimate Double Whopper banner
Burger King - Edison, NJ

Jul 30, 2007

Person Of Interest


Spider Person sticker book
Found at a One Dollar Depot in Edison, NJ.

Jul 29, 2007

Dad in the Desert


Dad got to ride a camel through the desert in China this summer.

Jul 2, 2007

Greetings From China




Dad went on a trip to China with Penn State this summer.  He sent this postcard of Tiananmen Square home to my grandparents in June.  The postcard had a weird pashmina swatch embedded in the top right hand corner.

Jul 1, 2007

Happy Birthday To Me


My little buddy Sammy is spending my 27th birthday with me.

Jun 26, 2007

The Last Of A Dying Breed


Boardwalk Boulevard
Laurel Mall - Hazleton, PA
When I think of arcades in Hazleton, the first thing that always comes to mind is Aladdin's Castle.  Boardwalk Blvd. opened in 1989 in the same mall and pushed Aladdin's Castle out of business within a short amount of time.  I wasn't happy about it.  Where Aladdin's Castle focused on pinball and traditional arcade games, Boardwalk Blvd had a lot of ticket games and kiddie stuff.  I played the occasional Skee Ball here, but that was pretty much it.

I spent a lot of time here as a teenager during the Mortal Kombat / Street Fighter II arcade renaissance of the mid 90's.  At the time, there was a two player sit-down Daytona USA machine at the entrance on the right hand side, right next to Mortal Kombat II, so the intense battles on the joystick were always accompanied by the Daytona music.

The arcade has a second floor on the far right hand side.  It has a few retro games, like Super Sprint and Ms. Pac Man.  There was also an X-Men vs Street Fighter game there that I used to play on my lunch break when I worked at K-Mart in the late 90's.

These days, the arcade is nearly empty almost every time I go to the mall, but it's still chugging along.  I imagine they get a fair amount of birthday party business that keeps them going.  I was a bit grouchy about it when it first opened, but I'm glad that it's still here after all these years.

Jun 25, 2007

Great Wall Of China


Dad at the Great Wall of China.

Jun 15, 2007

Relaxing With The Pup


My little buddy, Sammy, and me.

Jun 14, 2007

Enter The Dragon... Shirt


I found this Avirex shirt last week at the Pier Shops in Atlantic City.  Part of me likes it, and part of me regrets buying it.

Jun 13, 2007

Takeout And Horror Flicks


The Hometown Farmer's Market was the first stop of our mini-vacation last week.  While we were there, we picked up a few tapes, including Frankenhooker, Slaughter High, Humongous and Cherry 2000.  The box for Frankenhooker was cut up and put inside of a plastic squeeze box so it didn't talk anymore, but it only cost a buck and the tape itself was in perfect condition.

I didn't expect to be able to watch any of these until we got back home, but we lucked out.  The Candlewood Suites in Philadelphia had a VCR/DVD combo hooked up to the television in our room, so we had a night of Boston Market takeout and vintage horror flicks before the ROH show.

Jun 12, 2007

Predator On 43rd Street


Lyric Theater (1987)
214-26 West 43rd St - New York, NY
This theater opened its doors in 1903.  It was converted to a movie theater in 1934 and they continued to show films for almost 60 years.  Lyric closed in 1992.  The interior was demolished and combined with the interior of the Apollo Theater in the mid-90's.  The combined and remodeled Lyric/Apollo theaters were reopened in 1998.

This photo was taken in June, 1987 before the premier of Predator.  The 80's action flick was released twenty years ago today.

Jun 11, 2007

A Winning Line Up


Chase Utley Tastykake Billboard
Not far from Citizen's Bank Park in Philadelphia.

Jun 9, 2007

Nitro Shirt


I found this t-shirt at Goodwill in Wilkes-Barre a little while ago.  I can't say for sure if it's really from the last episode of WCW Monday Nitro, but it was previously worn and it's a pretty good quality shirt, so I think it's legit.  Either way, I'm wearing it to the ROH show tonight.

Jun 8, 2007

Oh My Godard


Oh My Godard Gallery
The Pier Shops at Caesar's - Atlantic City, NJ
We paid another quick visit to the Pier Shops before heading back to Philly and I'm glad that we did.  The Michael Godard gallery was closed before we got there last night, but it was open today. His work is very cool.  If I could have afforded it, I would have bought the painting on the right.

Jun 7, 2007

The Trinity


The Trinity - Irish Pub and Carvery
The Pier Shops at Caesar's - Atlantic City, NJ
We found this beautiful pub on the third floor at the Pier Shops.  They serve breakfast all day, so I ordered the Irish Breakfast.  It came with eggs, potatoes, black pudding and white pudding.  Black pudding is basically fried blood and it was very tasty - a bit like scrapple.  White pudding is mostly animal fats and doesn't have blood.  It was alright, but I liked the black pudding much more.

The atmosphere really is incredible and worth visiting.  Our waitress told us that all of the wood and materials used in the pub are from an old pub in Ireland that was disassembled, shipped to New Jersey and reassembled piece by piece.  Before we left, she offered to take this photo of us in front of one of the walls.


Jun 6, 2007

Dirk On The Beach


We're on a short vacation to Atlantic City, so I had to take some time to relax with a good book on the beach.  This one is Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams.  I got this a little over a year ago from the dojo when I found the signed Hitchhiker's Guide.

Jun 5, 2007

The 8-Bit Goddess


Athena
SNK (1987)
When I was a kid, the vast majority of video games in my library were presents that were given to me by my parents or grandparents for Christmas, Easter or my birthday.  Most of them cost over $40 each, so it wasn't the impulse buy that the $1 to $2 Atari 2600 cartridges were a few years earlier, so if I got a game, it was usually because I specifically asked for that particular game.

There weren't as many ways to learn about a new video game back in the 80's.  I can't speak for my entire generation, but my exposure to new games was limited to the following:


I have no idea how I first learned about the NES port of Athena, which turns 20 this month.  I don't remember playing it at a friend's house or seeing it in a magazine.  There wasn't a commercial for it on American television, and I've never come across the arcade cabinet to this day.  Nevertheless, I had this game in my collection when I was a kid, and I can't explain why.  Maybe it was the cool box art which includes pyramids, mermaids, centaurs and Medusa.  Maybe it was the starburst which advertised it as "Japan's top arcade hit."  It might have even been the fact that the package name checks Ikari Warriors, which I had definitely played at the arcade.  Something must have inspired me to ask for it, because I'm positive that no one in my family would have picked it up randomly.

Even though I don't know why I had it, I'm glad that I did.  The mechanics take a little getting used to, but it's a fun game with a lot of different weapons, armor and other secrets hidden throughout.  It is also a deceptively hard game.  When you first turn it on and see the Athena character happily winking, you might get the impression that you're about to play an easy or childish game.  However, despite the cute and colorful graphics, Athena is tough as nails.  In fact, I don't think I ever made it past the second level (World of Cavern) and I'm pretty sure I needed a few Game Genie codes to get even that far.  If you haven't played it before, give it a shot.  Just be prepared to be frustrated while you get the hang of it.

Jun 4, 2007

More Sunday Shopping Photos

Grandpa and I outside of Big Lots.
Grandma and I inside Big Lots.
Grandma getting some instant lottery tickets at the Wyoming Valley Mall.
It doesn't look like Grandma's ticket was a winner.
Let's see if Grandpa got a winner.
Stopping for a drink at Cafe Europa at the Wyoming Valley Mall.
Grandma's coffee must have been better than her lottery ticket.
Grandma, Grandpa and I in the parking lot outside of Sam's Club.