Sep 26, 2013

The Roof, The Roof, The Roof Is On Fire...


Impromptu team photo in the parking lot after the roof of the building caught fire.

Sep 23, 2013

The Steak n' Egger


The Steak n' Egger
Bloomsburg Fair - Bloomsburg, PA
This is a a sandwich of steak and bacon with fried eggs between two thick pieces of buttered Texas Toast, and it's marketed with The Terminator.  It's things like this that make the Bloomsburg Fair my favorite place to eat.

Sep 10, 2013

A Winner In Hazleton


Hugh Mulcahy
Hazleton Mountaineers (1936)
In my research for the 100th birthday of "Losing Pitcher", I came across this 1939 Play Ball card that mentioned that Mulcahy pitched in my hometown for most of the 1936 season.

Hazleton is not a very large city, but it had an off-and-on presence in minor league baseball from 1887 to 1950 which included the Hazleton Mountaineers.  According to Baseball America, the franchise got its start after Star Park in Syracuse fell down and the Syracuse Stars of the Class A New York-Penn League relocated to Hazleton.  The Hazleton Mountaineers were an affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies from 1934 to 1936, and Mulcahy was a pitching prospect who was optioned to Hazleton at the start of the 1936 season.

While his major league career may have been defined by losses, Hugh Mulcahy was phenomenal with the Hazleton Mountaineers.  The 22 year old finished the 1936 season with a record of 25-14 and won the league MVP award.

He may have been a losing pitcher in the big leagues, but he'll always be an ace in Hazleton.


April 13, 1936 - Standard Sentinel


April 29, 1936 - Standard Sentinel


September 8, 1936 - Standard Sentinel


October 8, 1936 - Standard Sentinel

Sep 9, 2013

Losing Pitcher Turns 100


Hugh Mulcahy
Philadelphia Phillies (1935 - 1946)
Right handed pitcher Hugh Mulcahy was born 100 years ago today.  He is best known for having the unfortunate nickname of "Losing Pitcher" during his time in the National League.

In 1938, Mulcahy led the league with 20 losses pitching for a Phillies club that went 45-105.  Despite having a record of 10-20 with a 4.61 ERA, he finished 25th in the NL MVP voting.  He didn't have the most losses for the 1939 season when he finished 9-16, but he did lead the league in earned runs allowed, wild pitches and hit batsmen.  The 1940 season was simultaneously his most successful and least successful season.  He was named to the National League All-Star Team and he once again received MVP votes, but he also reclaimed his crown as the league leader in losses, finishing the season with a record of 13-22.

He managed to avoid leading the league in losses for the next five seasons after being drafted to fight in World War 2 just before the start of the 1941 season.  In fact, he was the first MLB player to be drafted to fight in the war.  He didn't come back to baseball until the war was over in 1945.  He pitched in parts of three more seasons in the big leagues, two with the Phillies and one with the Pirates.  He ended his Major League career with a record of 45-89, never once pitching a season in which he had more wins than losses.

Sep 6, 2013

Mazan: Flash Of The Blade



Mazan: Flash Of The Blade
Namco (2002)
This is one of the most interesting arcade games that I've seen in a long time.  The photo came out a little too dark to see it clearly, but the thing that I'm holding in my right hand up near my chest is a samurai sword.  There are no joysticks or track balls or buttons to control your character in this game.  The controller is the sword itself.  To play this game, you stand inside of a small plexiglass enclosure that surrounds an area to the left and right of the cabinet and swing the sword at the enemies, many of whom are skeleton warriors who are wielding swords, spears, and other melee weapons.  It's a hell of a lot of fun to play, and it's exactly the kind of game that would have been perfect on the Nintendo Wii, but it has never been ported to any home consoles to the best of my knowledge.



The arcade flyer shows the full cabinet, although it's quite a bit smaller than the photos that we took at The Great Canadian Midway.  You can see the sword in it's sheath-like holder at the center of the cabinet below the screen, as well as a floor mat that shows the player where to stand, and the walls that contain the player to keep them from smacking their fellow arcade gamers in the noggin with the sword.



After your game has ended, the screen displays a password that you can use on the Namco Wonderpage to register your high score and see how you rank against players around the world... or at least you could have prior to April 2006.  The URL now redirects you to the Bandai Namco website, and it seems that everything relating to the old Wonderpage and its ability to log your score with a password from their arcade consoles has been removed from the new website.  However, thanks to the magic of Archive.org, you can at least see what the page looked like when this feature was still active.



I have a special appreciation for the mid 90's to mid 2000's era of the web.  It all still seemed magical back then with so many possibilities.



Another thing I appreciate is any arcade game that allows you to put in your initials.  I grew up in the 80's, and back in the days when my dad and my grandfather used to bring me to the arcade, almost every game would allow you to save your initials if your score was high enough to crack the top ten.  I still remember that when I was very young, I'd always put my initials in as "BBB" (for "Billy Billy Billy" I guess) because I didn't quite understand how initials worked.

Unlike those games from the early to mid 80's, this game doesn't just have you select your initials from an on-screen block of letters.  Instead, you use the samurai sword to carve them into the screen, which is pretty awesome!

I wish I had known about this game eleven years ago when it was first introduced in arcades.  If I'm this impressed with it today, I can only imagine that it would have blew my mind back in 2002 before I had ever heard of a Wiimote.  I'm not sure how common this cabinet is, but if you happen to be at an arcade and see Mazan: Flash Of The Blade sitting off in a corner somewhere, definitely spend a few quarters (American or Canadian) and give it a try.  It's a lot of fun!

Pac-Man Ticket Mania



Pac-Man Ticket Mania
Bandai Namco (2013)
One of my favorite games that I played for the first time at The Great Canadian Midway was Pac-Man Ticket Mania.  It's one of the most fun ticket-based games that I've ever played.  It might even be more fun than Skee-Ball, and it definitely lasts longer if you're pretty good at Pac-Man.
 


Pac-Man Ticket Mania is like a neon remix of the original Pac-Man where the amount of tickets you win depends on how many dots, bonus items and blue ghosts (after eating the power pellet) that you can much without getting eaten by the ghost monsters.  If you clear all of the dots, you have five seconds to go to the ghost box in the center of the screen to win the Pac-Pot (jackpot), which is a massive amount of tickets.



I wasn't fast enough to make it to the Pac-Pot, but I did manage to win a bunch of tickets! 



The Great Canadian Midway had a machine that I haven't seen at an arcade before, and it's a really good idea.  After you've won a bunch of tickets, you come over here and feed them in to the Ticket Eater and it automatically counts them and prints you out a voucher with your total number of tickets that you've won.  I suppose it's only a matter of time before the industry switches over to having a plastic card that will keep a record of your points digitally, but for arcades that want to keep it old school with prize tickets, the Ticket Eater is an excellent way to manage your winnings without having to carry around a big plastic bucket full of tickets.
 


There was also a Pac-Man Coin Pusher at The Great Canadian Midway.  These have been around for decades in just about every arcade that has a prize counter, but this is the first time that I've ever come across one that was Pac-Man themed.  I never really could get the hang of Coin Pusher games, so I didn't play this one.

A Short Simpsons Carnival



The Simpsons Kooky Carnival
Stern Pinball Inc (2004)
These photos were taken at The Great Canadian Midway on Clifton Hill, but I'm pretty sure that I saw this game before, either at the Playland arcade at Knoebels Amusement Resort or at Boardwalk Blvd in the Laurel Mall in Hazleton, PA.



The Simpsons Kooky Carnival looks like a pinball machine and was developed by a company that makes pinball machines, but there are no small metal balls to hit or flippers to hit them with.  Instead, you insert either a quarter or a token in the front of a machine which is launched into a playing field full of targets.  Each of these targets are worth a varying number of tickets which are dispensed from the front of the machine after you hit them.  These tickets can be collected and taken to the counter at the arcade and redeemed for a prize.

Even though I'm pretty sure I saw this game before, this was the first time I ever played it.  Some ticket games are a lot of fun, but I prefer games like Skee-Ball that last a little bit longer.  The Simpsons Kooky Carnival lasts for about three seconds after you launch your coin.  I'm not going to say that there's no fun to be had here, but that fun is very brief unless you're willing to feed it a pocket full of quarters.  It's the kind of game where the licensed characters are the entire attraction.  If this game didn't have a Simpsons theme, I wouldn't have stopped to look at it at all.



The artwork on this cabinet is pretty incredible.  As the name of the game suggests, the theme of the game is that The Simpsons are visiting a carnival.  It's loaded with references and characters from the animated series, including the Flanders' family, Milhouse, Comic Book Guy, Groundskeeper Willie, Itchy and Scratchy, Krusty The Clown, Mr. Burns, Smithers, Principal Skinner, Patty and Selma, Fat Tony, and several others.  There's even a Treehouse Of Horror reference.

If you're a Simpsons fan, there's definitely some fun to be had here, but if you're a Simpsons fan on a budget, you'd probably have just as much fun if you watched someone else play this game and then take your quarter to go play something else at the arcade instead.

The Great Canadian Midway



The Great Canadian Midway
Clifton Hill - Ontario, Canada
Clifton Hill reminds me very much of the Boardwalk in Wildwood, NJ that I visited when I was a kid in the 80's.  They even have a massive arcade here that would give Ed's Funcade a run for its money.  It's called The Great Canadian Midway, and just setting foot in the front door was enough to make me feel like a kid again.  Here are some photos that I took inside this incredible place:












There's so much more to this place than what you can see in these photos, but I had to put the camera away if I wanted to play some of these games.  Quite a few of these are games that I've never played or even seen before.  I'll go into more detail about some of these in separate posts.

Sep 5, 2013

The World's Largest Pinball Game


Hercules
Atari Inc. (1979)
The Guinness Book of World Records Museum on Clifton Hill has a display set up for the largest pinball machine in the world.  Hercules was the last pinball machine released by Atari.  It came out in 1979 and is nearly seven foot tall, 39 inches wide and has an eight foot deep playing surface.  An average pinball machine is about 28 inches wide with depth of four and a half feet, so the Hercules isn't just big, it's massive.


Atari only manufactured about 400 Hercules machines, and it's difficult to say how many have survived until today.  The one at the museum is in very nice condition and cost $2 Canadian to play.

A Peel Without Appeal


Peelin' Pops
Nestle (2013)
Every once in a while, we get a call, email or social media post at work from a consumer who asks where they can find the banana flavored ice cream pop that has a peel you can eat.  It's available in a few countries, but the United States isn't one of them.  Thankfully, Canada is, and I found them at a gift shop after we went on the Journey Behind The Falls.


I'm glad I got to try it, but they're nothing to write home about.  The peel is kind of slimy and flavorless, and the frozen dairy dessert on the inside isn't much better.  They're not very big, although I'm not sure that you want them to be after the first bite, and before you start to peel the outer shell, it looks sort of like a tampon applicator.  That last part really doesn't really make the thing any worse, but I found it to be pretty amusing.

While I'm in Canada, I'm going to stock up on Coffee Crisps to bring back home, but I think I'll leave the Peelin' Pops for the folks up north.

House Of Wax


Louis Tussaud's Waxworks
Clifton Hill - Niagara Falls, Ontario
I've never been to a wax museum before.  To be honest, it's not really my kind of thing, but it was part of a combo ticket deal for the Ripley's Museum and the Ripley's Moving Theater which we both wanted to go to, so what the hell.  I had a good time.  It's not something I'd necessarily rave about, but I'm happy that I got to see it.  Here are some of the movie and horror-themed displays: