Dec 31, 2009

Best Buy-2k

Y2K Warning Sticker
Best Buy (1999)
Ten years ago, much of the world had fallen into a mild mass hysteria over the fear of the Y2K Bug.  The panic was born out of the idea that many computers only used the last two digits of the year in their coding.  This meant that when the clock rolling over from December 31, 1999 to January 1, 2000, the computer would misunderstand the two digit "00" year as 1900 and crash the system.

This story made the media rounds throughout 1999 with "experts" predicting all manner of things, from airplanes dropping out of the sky to a power grid shutdown that would cause citywide blackouts at the stroke of midnight in the dawn of the new millennium.  Stores like Best Buy advised their customers to turn off, and in some cases even unplug their electronic devices on New Year's Eve before midnight.

I thought it was all a lot of nonsense at the time.  The vast majority of computers had switched to a four digit year long ago, and I couldn't imagine it would take a Bill Gates or Steve Jobs to write a code to patch whatever machines or programs that were still in use that operated with a two digit year.  Still, my grandparents fell for the panic and insisted that I remember to turn off the computer, just in case.

I worked third shift at Turkey Hill on Rt. 93 and Airport Road in Hazleton at the time, so my shift that night started at 11 pm on December 31st and ended at 7 am in the new millennium.  After my shift, I came home and turned on the computer.  Sure enough, everything worked normally.  From my understanding, the biggest impact the Y2K Bug had in the United States was a brief shutdown of about 150 slot machines at a race track in Delaware.

Dec 21, 2009

Walking Through Black Diamond

Black Diamond Antiques & Collectibles
Schuylkill Mall - Frackville, PA
Angie and I took a trip to Black Diamond to buy some vintage toys and collectibles as an early Christmas present to ourselves.  This is an almost 20 minute walk-through of the store.

Black Diamond is an incredible place to walk around and spend a few hours.  If you get tired, the other side of the mall has a movie theater to spend a few hours relaxing.

Dec 19, 2009

A Festive Hockey Tradition

Wilkes Barre Scranton Penguins vs Toronto Marlies
Wachovia Arena - Wilkes Barre, PA
Over the past several years, it has become a tradition to go to the last Baby Pens game of the year before Christmas.  It didn't go the Penguins way this year, with the Marlies winning 4-3 on the strength of the first career hat trick by Troy Bodie.

The Penguins briefly held the lead during the second period, but the Marlies quickly tied up the game and then took the lead shortly afterward when former Philadelphia Flyers defenseman  Nate Guenin fell to an injury.

Even though the Penguins lost, the game was a lot of fun.  Tux spent the game wandering around the crowd with his female counterpart.  I'm not sure if she was supposed to be his mom or his wife, but either way, they spiced up the game.

One of the traditions the Baby Pens have every year in the game before Christmas is the Teddy Bear Toss.  Fans bring new stuffed toys to the arena, and when Santa comes out on the ice in his sleigh between periods, everyone tosses their bears onto the ice where they are collected to be given to children.  It's a pretty cool sight to see hundreds of teddy bears flying through the air toward the ice.

We bought one souvenir at the game - an autographed Christmas hockey puck.  They were wrapped in red tissue paper, and you didn't know what player you would get until you bought one and opened it up.  My puck was signed by goalie Adam Berkhoel.  The 28 year old is an NHL veteran who played for the Atlanta Thrashers in the 2005-06 season.

Dec 16, 2009

The Pink Stars Are Falling

Under The Dome
Stephen King (2009)
This is right up there with The Stand in my list of favorite Stephen King novels.

Dec 15, 2009

A Day In The Life

My final for Digital Photography was a "day in the life" project in which I was to capture a typical day in a series of images that show some of the techniques taught by Professor Sedor.  I used my grandfather as the subject.  These are my favorite photos from the set.

Nov 19, 2009

Vincent Van Moose

Fifty years ago today, Rocky & His Friends aired for the first time.  It was broadcast on ABC after American Bandstand, and it was the highest rated daytime show.  It helped to establish Jay Ward as one of the most creative and hysterically funny creators in the history of animation, and it led to Bullwinkle's rise from a sock puppet to a household name everywhere that cartoons are shown.

This picture came from a t-shirt that was used to promote the VHS release of The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle.  Each tape in the series was a parody of a famous work of art.  To those of us who love animation, the works of Jay Ward are valuable works of art in their own right.

Nov 18, 2009

Greinkamole Wins The Cy Young

Zack Greinke is my favorite non-Phillies player in baseball.  He's one of the most dominant pitchers in the game today who just won his first Cy Young Award.  In addition to his performance on the mound, he has a very interesting personality that make his interviews among the most enjoyable I've ever heard.  Take, for example, his reaction to learning that Chipotle was raising the price on their guacamole by 30 cents:
"I like the guacamole.  Now, I don't really love the guacamole, so I get it when I feel like it.  They changed their guacamole from $1.50 to $1.80. I mean, $1.50 is already pretty darn high.  So they changed it to $1.80 and I'll never again get guacamole.  It's not about the guacamole itself.  I just don't want to let them win."
I'm not sure how this topic came up in a baseball interview, but he's right, paying almost two bucks for a small side of guacamole is ridiculous.

Nov 16, 2009

Theyyy're Adequate

Frosty Corn Flakes
Forrelli Foods
I want to meet the person who drew the Dollar Store knockoff of Tony the Tiger.  The lightning bolts on the jacket are a nice touch.

Nov 13, 2009

Still Annoyed That I Didn't Get That Steak

Writing about that stop sign that I got autographed at the ECW show got me thinking about the accident that led to that sign coming into my possession.  It happened less than a month before my 19th birthday on June 8th, 1999.  

I was on the way to my girlfriend's house to pick her up.  Bonanza Steakhouse was having an all-you-can-eat steak deal, so the plan was to stop there there for dinner and then to go see a movie.  That never happened, because as I was driving down South Broad Street across Route 924, a pickup truck that was speeding north on Route 924 towards Hazleton blew through a red light and smashed into the passenger side of my car.

Standard Speaker - June 9, 1999

That bit in the caption about me initially refusing treatment is true.  Here's what happened:  When the truck hit me, my car kind of ricocheted into a chain link fence that surrounded a PennDOT equipment storage yard.  From my perspective, I hit the fence which brought my car to a stop, and I got out of the car a few seconds later.  However it wasn't until later that night that I realized that there was a crowd of people around me by the time I got out of the car, so I had been unconscious for a period of time.  I'm not sure how long, but I'm guessing that it must have been at least five minutes because there were quite a few folks standing there on the side of the road.

As soon as I got out of the car, a dude ran toward me and told me to lay down while he held my neck.  I didn't know what the big deal was, but again, from my perspective, this all happened in a matter of seconds.  From their perspective, it was a few minutes with no movement coming from the driver of the white Mercury Topaz.  I also didn't realize that my head was gushing blood.  So when someone first told me that the ambulance had arrived, I said "naah, I'm alright".  The dude who was holding my neck in place pointed out that I lost a good amount of blood, so I reconsidered and was brought to the hospital.
Standard Speaker - June 10, 1999

It may not have hurt in the moment, but I was pretty damn sore by the time we got to the hospital, and for a good month or two afterward.  They stitched me up, gave me some good pain meds and a neck brace, and they took some x-rays.  I was pretty lucky to have not broken any bones, but I was even luckier that I was on my way to pick up my girlfriend instead of on my way to Bonanza after picking her up.  The gash where I lost all of the blood was on the right hand side of my skull, which was the side of the impact from the pickup truck.  It hit my passenger side door.

Now, scroll up and take a look at my car after the accident and imagine if someone was sitting in the passenger seat, or if my car was turned around headed the other direction.  I was told at the hospital that if I had a passenger, they would have been killed on impact, and if I was headed in the other direction and the truck had hit the driver's side door, I would have been dead.

I may have missed out on all-you-can-eat steak, but let me tell you, my birthday cake tasted a whole lot better that year.

Nov 12, 2009

A November To Remember

ECW: November To Remember - The Aftermath

Kingston Armory - Wilkes-Barre, PA
Ten years ago, a friend won tickets from a local radio station to an ECW house show at the Kingston Armory in Wilkes-Barre.  The show took place five days after the November To Remember pay-per-view, and about a year and a half before the the company went under and was ultimately sold to Vince McMahon and the WWE.

We showed up to the venue about an hour before the show and noticed that the wrestlers were entering the building through the same doors that we were lined up at to get into the show.  Some of them stopped to talk with fans and sign autographs.  I'm not really much of a wrestling autograph collector, but since they were there and seemed happy to meet the fans, I figured what the hell and asked Axl Rotten to sign the back of my ticket stub.  He was a very nice dude, and he hung out for a few minutes signing autographs for other people and chatting with the folks in line before he went inside.  It was about that time that I remembered the stop sign in my trunk.

A little over five months before the show, a pickup truck ran a red light and smashed into my car.  The impact sent me into a chain link fence where I came to a stop.  The fence was wrecked, as was a stop sign that was bolted to the side of the fence.  My head and neck were pretty banged up, and I spent a good portion of the summer of 1999 watching tv while laying back in my recliner in a neck brace.  I was out and about (for the most part) by the Fall, and I was surprised to see that the stop sign that was knocked down in the accident was still laying face down on the side of the road.

After seeing it at least a dozen times and thinking about taking it, I finally pulled over one day and put it in my trunk.  I was 19 years old at the time, so I probably thought it would look punk rock to have a stop sign that I crashed into hanging in my garage.  Anyway, it was still sitting in my trunk on the night of the show. and there have been a few occasions in the history of ECW where a wrestler used a stop sign as a weapon to smack their opponent in the head, so I figured it'd be great for autographs in case any other wrestlers passed by us... and they did.

The stop sign is long gone; one of the casualties that was left behind in Barnesville when Megan and I broke up in 2002, so I'm sure that she put it out for the trash pickup years ago.  I took a few photos of it the night after the show, but the digital camera I had back in 1999 was pretty terrible so they're not the greatest quality.

The biggest star at the time who autographed the stop sign was the current ECW World Heavyweight Champion Mike Awesome.  He was one of my favorite wrestlers in those days, so I was very happy to have met him.  He was a good dude and much bigger in person than he looked on tv.  I remember that he chucked when he saw the stop sign and seemed to get a kick out of signing it.  Five months after this show, he jumped ship to WCW while he was still the reigning ECW Champion.  He got a lot of unfair heat for that from ECW fans, but I didn't blame him one bit.  Paul Heyman liked to try to weasel out of paying his talent, so I had zero sympathy for him or his company when the performers who busted their ass for his company decided that they deserved to get paid for their work.  Awesome worked for WCW until it was purchased Vince McMahon in 2001, and he continued to appear for WWF/E off and on for a few years after that.  He retired from the ring in February 2006 and sadly passed away just a year later at only 42 years old.

Two other wrestlers autographed the sign, including future ECW World Heavyweight Champion Justin Credible, who would go on to win the belt shortly after Mike Awesome departed for WCW.  Like Awesome, Credible spent a number of years working for WWE since the closure of ECW.  He also spent time working for Ring Of Honor in the same group as the other wrestler whose autograph was on this sign, Tony DeVitoDeVito was part of a faction called Da Baldies in ECW at the time of this show, but he would go on to greater notoriety in ROH where he won the tag team championship in 2005 as a member of The Carnage Crew.  There were also two other members of the roster who I met and who autographed the sign - manager Bill Alfonso and referee John Finegan.

The show was a lot of fun, with a main event that was a rematch of the six man tag team main event from the November To Remember pay-per-view that took place five days earlier.  That match included Raven, who had just returned to the promotion about ten weeks earlier after his run in WCW had ended.  Tommy Dreamer and The Sandman teamed up with him in the main event and celebrated with the fans at ringside after the show.

The rest card was a nice mix of young talent and established ECW wrestlers.  Chris Candido wrestled in the midcard on this show.  He would go on to join his Triple Threat partners in WCW a few months later.  After its closure, he continued to wrestle on the indy scene until he passed away due to a blood clot in 2005 at just 33 years old.

Nova would go on to become Simon Dean in the WWE.  Lance StormTajiriSuper CrazyJazz, and Spike Dudley would also go on to spend a number of years wrestling in WWE.  Rhino spent time in WWE as well, and is currently wrestling in TNA where, earlier this year, he feuded with Danny Bonaduce of all people.

There was no way I could have known at the time, but the end was drawing near for Extreme Championship Wrestling.  I remember that there was an announcement during this show that our ticket stubs would be honored for the upcoming tv taping in Binghamton if we would like to attend that show too.  In hindsight, I really wish that I would have gone.  It wasn't far out of the way - just about a 90 minute drive on 81 North from the Kingston Armory - but I must have had work that day or something because I didn't go, and this show on November 12th, 1999 would be the only time that I ever got to attend an ECW show in person.

The company would continue for another year and four months before going under on April 4th, 2001.  It was purchased by Vince McMahon, and they brought the ECW brand back for a few pay per view events and for a third weekly show to join Raw and Smackdown, but the only thing that the current product has in common with the original ECW is those three letters in the name.


Nov 1, 2009

Rule 32: Enjoy The Little Things

Zombieland (2009)
Cinemark - Moosic, PA
Horror comedies have a habit of being overly cheesy.  Sometimes it works, but far too often, it's not genuinely funny enough to be a good comedy or scary enough to be a good horror flick.  I'm happy to say that Zombieland doesn't fall into these traps.  This may be the most creative and well-written horror comedies I've ever seen, and Woody Harrelson delivers an absolutely flawless performance.

Oct 28, 2009

Oct 4, 2009

You've Got A Friend In 3-D

Toy Story / Toy Story 2 Double Feature
Cinemark - Moosic, PA
These are two of the best animated feature films of all time, and Disney did an excellent job with the transformation to 3-D.

Every time I hear You Got A Friend In Me in the first Toy Story, it reminds me of when I worked at Wal-Mart during the 1996 Christmas season.  They had a wheel cart with a television and a VCR set up at both of the store entrances, and they would play Toy Story, which had just recently come out on VHS at the time.  If I was working in the "10 items or less" lanes, or on register 29 or 30 near the GM entrance, I would hear the song play a few times a day during my shift when they rewound and restarted the movie.

Oct 1, 2009

Be A Colonel. Steal The Wallpaper.

Why yes, I did save a copy of my school's computer desktop wallpaper.  No, I don't have a good reason why.

Thank you for asking.

Sep 25, 2009

A Beautiful Day On The Greenway

The Greenway
Wilkes University - Wilkes-Barre, PA

Sep 23, 2009

Brad Lidge In The Ninth

Brad Lidge In The Ninth
Conklin Classic
WIP Philadelphia
After having a perfect 2008 and helping the Phillies to win their second championship in franchise history, closer Brad Lidge has just blown his 11th save of the season. WIP Philadelphia has commemorated this with their parody of Frank Sinatra's Strangers In The Night.

Sep 20, 2009

The Apocalypse Never Looked So Beautiful

9 (2009)
Cinemark - Moosic, PA
This is one of the most stunning animated films I've ever seen.  I truly cannot recommend it highly enough.

Sep 10, 2009

Cowboy Cookies

Cowboy Cookies
Wilkes University - Wilkes-Barre, PA
The dining hall at school has kind of a hybrid oatmeal and chocolate chip cookie that I've never had before.  They're called Cowboy Cookies, and they're absolutely delicious!

Sep 5, 2009

Taking The Fun Out Of Woodstock

Taking Woodstock (2009)
Cinemark - Moosic, PA
This film is evidently based on the the true story of Elliot Tiber.  This is the man who was responsible for getting the permit to bring the 1969 Woodstock festival to Max Yasgur's farm in Bethel, New York.  If the film is to be believed, he's also the man who wasted his opportunity to take part in the most iconic moment in the history of rock & roll.

As for the movie, it somehow manages to make Woodstock feel dull and boring, and it tops off a disappointing story with a cringe-worthy scene that borders on antisemitism.  I can't think of anyone that this movie would appeal to on any level.

Aug 31, 2009

I Am A Colonel

Wilkes University
Wilkes-Barre, PA
Today is the first day of the Fall semester and my first day at Wilkes University.  My original plan was to transfer from Luzerne to Bloomsburg University after my sophomore year.  I got accepted, but Wilkes is a better fit for me for a few reasons.  I've also changed my major from Secondary Education / English to Psychology with a minor in Sociology.  The plan is still to pursue a teaching opportunity in Japan after graduation, but my long-term goals have shifted away from public school and toward counseling at-risk youth and maybe teaching at a community college.

Two years down, two years to go.  Let's do this!

Aug 30, 2009

On The Road Again

Angie took a picture of me on the way to the drive-in on Friday, and I actually don't look half bad for a change.

Aug 29, 2009

A Bloody Double Feature

Halloween II and Inglorious Basterds
Garden Drive-In - Hunlock Creek, PA
On the last Friday night before the start of the Fall semester, we decided to take in a double feature of Rob Zombie's Halloween II and Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds at the Garden Drive-In.

The Garden Drive-In is a two screen outdoor theater.  The features that we were seeing were on the larger main screen at the back of the lot.  The second screen was showing a family friendly double feature that started off with Aliens In The Attic.  The advertisements for it sort of reminded me of a movie that came out when I was a kid called Spaced Invaders.  The second half of that double feature is a movie called Shorts.  I haven't heard of it, but it was written and directed by Quentin Tarantino's partner-in-crime, Robert Rodriguez.

Our first movie of the night was Rob Zombie's sequel to his remake of Halloween.  I'm not usually a big fan of remakes, but I liked Zombie's take on the Michael Myers story in the movie that came out two years ago, so I was looking forward to the direction he was going to take the story for Halloween II.

Unfortunately, Halloween II is a massive step down from his first remake.  Quite frankly, I think it's one of the worst horror movies I've ever seen.  It feels like it's trying to be an artsy fartsy with a bunch of scenes of a woman with a horse that were just plain ridiculous.  Whatever Rob Zombie was trying to achieve with this movie, it didn't work... at all.

The second half of the double feature made this a night to remember.  For as much as I disliked the first movie of the night, I absolutely loved Inglourious Basterds.  The sixth film from writer/director Quentin Tarantino is a war movie that takes place during World War II in Nazi-occupied France.  It's the story of a platoon of Jewish-American soldiers, led by Brad Pitt, who are on a mission to kill Nazi soldiers in the most brutal way possible.  It's difficult to say too much without spoiling major plot points, but it is an incredible movie unlike anything you've ever seen before.

Aug 26, 2009

We're Caught In A Trap

WARM 590 Top 40
Scranton PA - November 9, 1969
Elvis Presley's last single to hit the Billboard Hot 100 before his death was released forty years ago today.  Suspicious Minds is my favorite Elvis song, and one of my favorite songs of the 1960's.

Aug 21, 2009

Can Your Heart Stand The Shocking Facts...

RiffTrax Live: Plan 9 From Outer Space
Cinemark - Moosic, PA
This was a hell of a lot of fun.   How can you go wrong with Mike, Crow and Tom Servo from the MST3K crew riffing on an iconic Ed Wood cheesefest?  As an bonus surprise, Jonathan Coulton performed his ode to undead office politics, Re: Your Brains.

Aug 20, 2009

Best Pancakes On The Planet

The Abbey Gourmet Coffee House
Winters Avenue - West Hazleton, PA
The banana walnut pancakes at The Abbey are EPIC.  This easily makes my top ten list of favorite things to eat.

Aug 19, 2009

Exciting Socks

Hometown Farmers Market
Tamaqua, PA
Surely they can't be 1st quality and best price?  Wow!

Aug 13, 2009

The Captain Turns 60

Sports Illustrated
February 23, 1976
Happy 60th birthday to the one and only Bobby Clarke.

Aug 8, 2009

Now In Donkey Kong Yellow

Tommy Hilfiger ad
Nintendo Game Boy Color (1999)
Ten years ago, Nintendo had a deal with Tommy Hilfiger where you could get a special yellow Game Boy Color with the Tommy Hilfiger logo in the center.  Like the ad says, it cost $57.50 with any $50 purchase of clothes.

I never had one of these, but I had some of the clothes when I was a teenager in the 90's.  My grandparents always thought it was called Tommy Heffelfinger for some reason.

Aug 6, 2009

Reading's Greatest Pitcher

Pedro Martinez
Reading Phillies (2009)
Ruben Amaro Jr. was in attendance at FirstEnergy Stadium last night to watch Pedro Martinez pitch for the Reading Phillies against the Trenton Thunder.  Pedro struck out 11 in his rehab appearance, and the Phillies Double A affiliate won 8-4.  The three time Cy Young Award winner should be in Philadelphia very soon.

Jul 31, 2009

Freakier Friday

Cinemark - Moosic, PA
I don't know if this technically qualifies as a horror flick, but it's definitely a freaky movie.  I figured out the twist about ten or fifteen minutes before the reveal, but it was still satisfying all the same.

Jul 30, 2009

Love Will Always Find You

The Wedding Singer: The Musical Comedy
Dutch Apple Dinner Theater - Lancaster, PA
When I was second grade, my elementary school brought my class on a bus trip to the Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre to see the Man of La Mancha musical performed by the Daedalus Productions touring group.  To the best of my recollection, it's my only exposure to theater until today.

It's Angie's birthday, so we got tickets to go to the Dutch Apple Dinner Theater in Lancaster to see the musical theater adaptation of the Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore romantic comedy, The Wedding Singer.

They don't allow photography inside of the theater, so I was only able to take pictures of the outside of the building.  Just to give you an idea of this place, I "borrowed" the above photo from the Dutch Apple website.  You can see the buffer area near the upper right corner.  The food was delicious, with turkey, fish, roast beef and plenty of veggies and other side dishes.  It was the kind of foods you'd typically find at a place like the Old Country Buffet, but it tasted much better.  Honestly, I would come here to eat even if it was just a restaurant.  There were also dozens of cakes and pies to choose from for dessert.  Everything was fresh and delicious.

The Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore roles were played by Michael and Jillian Zygo, who are a married couple that has been touring with this show all year.  I know absolutely nothing about musical theater, but I think that they, and the rest of the cast, did a great job.  As much as I love the movie, I think I might actually enjoy the musical even more.  The songs were catchy and funny, and it had just enough differences from the film to keep things fresh and interesting without changing the story that made the movie so special.