May 21, 2017

A Refreshing Barbecue Sauce Candy Bar

Texas BBQ Payday
Hershey (2017)
I don't know what member of Hershey's product development team came up with this, but I want to keep them on retainer as my personal lawyer.  I don't care if they don't have a law background.  If they managed to convince a billion dollar food company into making a candy bar out of peanuts, caramel and barbecue sauce, they can argue their way out of anything.

It's actually not as bad as it sounds.  I wouldn't say that it's good, but the fact that it's not disgusting is quite an accomplishment.

May 19, 2017

Turnin' Back The Pages To The Times I Love Best

Gordon Lightfoot
Penn's Peak - Jim Thorpe, PA
I truly feel privileged to have had the opportunity to see one of my favorite musicians, and one of the most gifted singer and songwriters of all time perform - the great Gordon Lightfoot.

Unlike a lot of the music that I love, I never owned a Gordon Lightfoot album when I was growing up.  His singles weren't among the songs in the box of 45 records that my mother gave to me, which shaped a lot of my musical interests before Kindergarten.  When I bought CDs in the 90's, I gravitated toward grunge rock, punk, new wave and classic rock, so Mr. Lightfoot's music wasn't in the mix at that point either.  However, the music of Gordon Lightfoot has been a constant presence in the background throughout my life.  I couldn't tell you if I heard them on the radio, or if a member of my family played his records when I was in the room, but I knew his music and I knew it well.  The melody and lyrics of songs like Carefree Highway, Sundown and If You Could Read My Mind were burned into my memory.  I didn't know anything about the man who wrote and sang these beautiful songs, but I could sing along with most of the lyrics before I was out of elementary school.

It wasn't until the late 90's and early 2000's when the internet first became something that could be used for music that I learned about the man behind the music.  In the years that followed, I discovered more of his catalog, and every song had the same strong, but peaceful vibe that had a way of putting my mind at ease.  He's nearly 80 years old, so I didn't think I'd ever get the chance to see him perform.  When I saw he was coming to Jim Thorpe, seeing this show became one of my top priorities.

My seats for this show weren't the best.  I had Row A, Seat 1 which looked great when I was ordering the tickets, but it turned out that these seats were far off to the side where the restrooms are.  I'm not sure if the acoustics of Penn's Peak are wonky or if they're using a jet engine to run their bathroom hand dryers, but there were times when I could hear those as loudly as I could hear the guitar.  It's definitely something I'll keep in mind for the future when picking seats if I go back to this venue.  However, even the peculiar addition of a paperless hand dryer as an instrument did little to damper the beautiful music that came from the stage.  I hope that I get to see Mr. Lightfoot perform again sometime.

May 10, 2017

Schuylkill Mall In The 90's - Pocket Change Arcade

K-Mart wing
Schuylkill Mall - Frackville, PA (1996)
The photo on top was taken between McDonald's (left) and Arby's (right) of the K-Mart wing of the Schuylkill Mall.  Throughout the mall, there were large round skylights that let the sun shine into the mall and onto trees and plants.  You can see the K-Mart anchor store in the center of both of these photos, but the photo on the bottom is much closer.  If you turn left at the K-Mart, it led to a hall past The Peanut Shack and to the movie theater.

The real attraction of this part of the mall was the arcade.  When I was a kid in the 80's, I would come to this mall with my grandparents and make a bee line for the Pocket Change arcade, which you can see on the right hand side of these photos.  It was very close to K-Mart, so I had plenty of time to spend some quarters while my grandmother poked around the anchor store.  To the best of my knowledge, Pocket Change was the first arcade in the area to have a row of Skee Ball machines and a prize counter.  It was a very large and well stocked arcade that had a nice mix of traditional arcade and ticket games throughout the 80's, 90's and early 2000's.

May 9, 2017

Put Your Paddle In The Air And No One Gets Hurt

Ping Pong Gun
Part of me regrets not buying this, but they were charging a bit more than I was comfortable paying.

May 8, 2017

Strange Laundry: Ryan Howard

Ryan Howard
Gwinnett Braves (2017)
After spending 13 years with the Philadelphia Phillies, 37 year old Ryan Howard signed a minor league contract with the Atlanta Braves.  He was assigned to their Triple A affiliate in Gwinnett in the hopes that the Braves could call him up to utilize as their DH for interleague games.

Things didn't go as planned for Howard or the Braves.  He played a total of 11 games with the Gwinnett Braves, batting .184 with two walks, a single home run and 11 strikeouts in 42 plate appearances.  He was released by the Braves earlier today.

May 7, 2017

Schuylkill Mall In The 80's - Spencer Gifts

Spencer Gifts
Schuylkill Mall - Frackville, PA (early 1980's)
This was always one of my favorite stores in the mall.  As a kid, I gravitated toward the posters, stickers, toys and pranks.  There was no better place to go if you wanted to pick up a Guns N' Roses poster and a package of fake vomit.

May 6, 2017

Schuylkill Mall In The 80's - The Peanut Shack

The Peanut Shack
Schuylkill Mall - Frackville, PA (early 80's)
This was a nice little candy and snack shop on the corner near K-Mart on the way to the movie theater.  It remained in operation until 2001.

May 5, 2017

Wolfgang Mozart Down The Road That I Must Travel

NEPA Philharmonic - Masterworks IV: A Season's Grand Finale
FM Kirby Center - Wilkes-Barre, PA
I had a very nice time at the Kirby Center tonight; however, I made a couple of faux pas that I won't live down any time soon.

The first occurred when we took our seats and I heard music coming from the stage.  I thought we arrived in plenty of time, so I rushed and got settled in.  I'm not at all knowledgeable about classical music, but it didn't sound very good.  After a few minutes, I leaned in whisper to Angie that the music wasn't as good as I hoped it would be.  When she was finished chuckling, she let me know that the musicians were tuning their instruments, and the lights would be dimmed before the concert began.  Whoops.

The second happened just a few minutes later while I sheepishly reviewed the program.  The way it was written, I thought that they would be performing Mozart's Requiem in D Minor, and then after that, they were going to perform the list of other songs that appeared below.  I got excited when I saw Kyrie and I told Angie that I was surprised to see that they're doing a modern song.  It was then that I learned that the NEPA Philharmonic would not be performing the 1985 pop song from Mr. Mister, but would instead continue with the second section of Mozart's Requiem, which happens to also be called Kyrie.

You can take the boy out of the 80's, but you can never take the 80's out of the boy.

May 4, 2017

I Find Your Lack Of Chicken Disturbing

Star Wars Chicken Soup
Campbell's (2017)
I found this can of soup in my cupboard.  It's got a best buy date of June 2017, so I probably bought it last year.  I'm normally a Progresso or Campbell's Chunky Soup guy, but the pull of Lord Vader was too strong to resist.  May the Fourth be with you!

May 3, 2017

As Good As Two Guys From Italy

Cafe Europa
Laurel Mall - Hazleton, PA
When I was a kid, there was a pretty awesome restaurant in the Laurel Mall called Two Guys From Italy that I have to write more about one of these days.  The food at Cafe Europa reminds me a lot of that place, especially the pizza.  It's by far the best and most authentic pizza in town.

May 2, 2017

Pork Passport

Official Iron Pigs Pork Passport
Coca-Cola Park - Allentown, PA
The Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs are the Triple A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies.  They play their home games at Coca-Cola Park, one of the newest and most beautiful parks in minor league baseball.  However, if the sights and sounds of the ballpark aren't enough to get you out to the game, perhaps the Pork Passport will.

Fans are given stamps for their pork passport for every pork item they consume at the ballpark.  For every five pork items that you purchase, you'll be given a free pound of bacon.  After your tenth stamp, you earn the status of "Most Valuable Porker" and a free limited edition baseball cap.

Menu items include a quarter pound of deep-fried bacon, a quarter pound slab of bacon on a stick that has been candied in maple syrup and brown sugar, chocolate covered bacon, pork mac & cheese parfait, and the "three little pigs" sandwich, which includes barbecue pork, fried ham and bacon.

Bring the kids for a night at the ballpark to feast on the meat of your team's mascot and you can return home with a pound of bacon and a swell hat!

May 1, 2017

Nuts For Nintendo

Nuts For Nintendo
20/20 - ABC Television (1988)
Uploaded by Steven Hertz from a VHS tape recording.
News segment that focused on the new Super Mario Bros 2 and Zelda 2 for the NES.