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

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.

Jun 3, 2007

Pleasant Sunday Shopping

Grandma is feeling very cheerful while shopping with Grandpa and I at JC Penney's in the Wyoming Valley Mall in Wilkes-Barre, PA.

Jun 2, 2007

Liquid Memories

Liquid Television
MTV (1991)
The first episode of Liquid Television aired on Sunday night 16 years ago today.  My step-sister and I discovered this sometime in 1992 and we both became instant fans.  The show was made up of strange animated shorts from independent studios and producers.

The cartoons I remember best from watching this back in the early 90's were The Killing Of An Egg, Frog Baseball, and Mirror.  The latter two were spun off and given their own cartoon series: Beavis and Butthead and Aeon Flux.

Jun 1, 2007

The Cow's A-Peeing

The Fountains
Schuylkill Mall - Frackville, PA
There are a few fountains throughout the Schuylkill Mall.  They look cool and sound pleasant when you take a seat near them, but I love them because of a funny thing that happened in childhood.  I don't remember this, but my dad told me a story about he and my mother bringing me to the mall during the holiday season when I was very young.  The fountains were decorated for Christmas, and one of them had a statue of a reindeer.  From the perspective of a toddler, I suppose the reindeer looked like a cow, and the water spraying out of the fountain looked like it was peeing.  Naturally, I had to point this observation out to my parents, so I shouted very loudly in a crowded mall: "Look Dad.  The cow's a-peeing!"  Dad tried not to laugh and to quiet me down, but instead of taking the hint, I tried even harder to show my dad what I saw: "No, really Dad, look!  The cow's a-peeing!".