Oct 31, 2017

Careful Man, I'm Training Beverage Here!

There were only about five people in the whole building that understood the costume.  Such a sad state of affairs.

Happy Halloween!

Oct 30, 2017

A Musical With A Splatter Zone

Evil Dead: The Musical
FM Kirby Center - Wilkes-Barre, PA
I first heard about Evil Dead: The Musical about ten years ago and always wanted to see it, but I didn't have the opportunity until now.  It exceeded my already high expectations in every way.  I can't remember the last time I enjoyed a musical this much.  The Wedding Singer is the only thing that even comes close.

It's the first live show that I've been to that has a Splatter Zone.  Unlike Gallagher, you're not getting hit with pieces of flying watermelon at Evil Dead: The Musical - you're getting drenched in gallons of blood from the limbs that are being chopped off on stage.  They play it a lot like the old Shaw Brothers kung fu films, with a comical amount of blood shooting like a fountain out of the victim.  We were sitting just a couple of rows back from the Splatter Zone range.  Most of the folks sitting in those rows either had plastic tarps to cover them, or were wearing plain white t-shirts, or both.  The few who weren't very likely regretted their lack of preparation.

The entire show was hysterically funny from start to finish, and the music was surprisingly catchy.  It'll be a long time before I manage to get "Do The Necronomicon" out of my head.

The audience had a Rocky Horror vibe to it with lots of folks showing up in costume.  This includes the creepy ass dude who photobombed my wife and I before the show.  Whoever you are, dude, I ain't even mad.  You've got a groovy costume!

I didn't take too many photos of the show, both because it was prohibited and because I didn't want to watch it from the lens of a smartphone.  When we first walked in, the Necronomicon was sitting ominously on the stage. as shown in the top photo.  The bottom photo is from the very end of the show, by which point the cast has taken to using Super Soakers filled with prop blood with a target on anyone who managed to stay clean and dry.

Oct 29, 2017

Strawberry Cream Cosplay

J-Pop singer Yua Mikami dressed up as a Starbucks Strawberry Cream Frappuccino for Halloween this year.

Oct 28, 2017


Nestle Crunch (1986)
Artwork by Jack Davis.

Oct 27, 2017

Back To The Upside Down

The second season of Stranger Things is available on Netflix today.  Pixel art by Maucho Fett.

Oct 26, 2017

Halloween Savings

Halloween sales flyer
K-Mart - mid 1980's
This takes me back to a simpler time when I looked forward to putting on my costume and going out to collect candy and goodies.

Oct 25, 2017

Spooky Cereal

Froot Loops, Apple Jacks and Chocolate Frosted Flakes (with Marshmallows)
Kellogg's (2017)
There are a few new twists on some old favorites in the breakfast aisle.  Kellogg's is selling Froot Loops, Apple Jacks and Chocolate Frosted Flakes in Halloween themed packages.  Each of them have skeleton bone marshmallows added which can be pieces together to make a full skeleton.

Not to be outdone, General Mills has released Halloween Crunch, which is a variation of Captain Crunch.  These don't have any added marshmallows, but they do have special ghost cereal pieces that turn your milk green.  They really missed out on having the Cap'n at the helm of a ghost ship on the package, but it's still a pretty cool idea.

Oct 24, 2017

Vampire Dirt

Click here to enlarge

Dracula's Castle Soil Amulet

Warren Publishing Company (1979)
The ad says that no mystical powers are claimed for this amulet, but I'm not so sure.  I'll bet that it had the mystical power of turning random dirt into $9.95.

Oct 23, 2017

Vincent Price Has A Cookbook

Come Into The Kitchen Cookbook
Mary Grant Price and Vincent Price (1969)
My dad's school library was getting rid of this, so he rescued it for me.  How could anyone pass up the opportunity to make dinner from the Vincent Price cookbook?

Oct 22, 2017

Candy Command

Missile Command Halloween Costume
Collegeville (1982)
During the time of peak Atari, children would dress up as their favorite game characters for Halloween.  Since most of the characters of the day were just a solid block, costume companies has to get creative.  This Missile Command costume features the unnamed character that appears on the arcade flyer and on the Atari 2600 cartridge label.

Oct 21, 2017

Invisible Cola Man

For the Halloween season in the 90's, Pepsi cardboard cartons featured Universal monster posters.  Naturally, the Invisible Man represented Crystal Pepsi.  Source: Dinosaur Dracula

Oct 20, 2017

Castle Dracula

Castle Dracula
Midway Pier - Wildwood, NJ
In this side shot of the castle, you can see the I-Scream shop (with the giant pretzel).

Oct 19, 2017

Melynie the Defender

Melynie the Defender (1985)
Using a kitchen colander as a space helmet, Melynie pilots her starship while blasting enemy ships and rescuing the humans on Defender for the Atari 2600 on a black and white television.  The wood paneling and the table covered in Tomy Pocket Games complete this scene from the 80's.  Shared by Melynie Withington [source]

Oct 18, 2017

2017 Baseball Scrapbook

The 2017 season was rough for the Phillies, but there were a lot of great memories and reasons to believe in the future.  Among other things, I was lucky enough to be in attendance for our home opener, for Rhys Hoskins first major league hit, the Iron Pigs clinching the wild card in their final regular season game, and the Yankees defeating the Indians in the final game of the ALDS.

Oct 17, 2017

Quite Hung Over

Bill "Spaceman" Lee - LHP
Boston Red Sox (1969 - 1978)
Montreal Expos (1979 - 1982)
One of my all-time favorite players, and at the top of my list of players who I wish played for the Phillies.  To the best of my knowledge, he is also the only player to have campaigned to become the President of the United States on the platform of banning AstroTurf and the Designated Hitter Rule.

Bill Lee ran for the presidency in the 1988 election as a member of the Canadian Rhinoceros Party.  When asked how a candidate for the American presidency could live North of the border, he said "I live in Canada because I've got a lot of plaid shirts."  Among his other campaign promises were to turn the White House into a Rastafarian-themed Mexican restaurant that offers free showers in the West Wing.

He also wrote this letter to himself as a baby, which was published last year on The Player's Tribune.

Letter To My Younger Self
by Bill "Spaceman" Lee  (August 19, 2016)

Dear Recently Born Bill Lee,

(For the record, it’s Bill Lee, not Billy. Your first memory of rejection will be in kindergarten, when you come to class on your first day and your kindergarten teachers asks, “What’s your name?” You’ll respond “Bill Lee.” She’ll say, “Oh, well what’s your last name?” You’ll say, “Bill … Lee.” She’ll say, “Don’t be smart with me. What’s your last name?” It will be humiliating.)

(Eventually, she’ll realize her error, but the damage will have already been done.)

The first time you’ll ever drive a truck will be to take a load of elk and deer meat over the pass up on Route 80. You’ll be with your grandfather coming back from Tahoe during a snowstorm. He’ll say to you, “It’s getting slippery, you better drive.” And you, somewhat scared, somewhat intrigued, will respond, “Grandpa, what do I do?”

His response will be simple, but profound: “Don’t accelerate, but don’t brake.”

Good luck with that, kid.

Right now, things might seem slow for you. You’re a really shy kid. People think you’re weird, or that you’re dumb because you struggle with dyslexia. You’re probably a little scared about what’s to come. But as you move forward in life, try to remember your grandpa’s advice. Don’t accelerate and be obsessed about what awaits in the future, but at the same time don’t brake and be consumed by the past. There’s nothing you can do about the past, and not much you can do about the future, either. You might as well do the best you can right here in the present.

Also, this is unrelated to the metaphor, but keep two hands on the wheel. It’s really icy.

As you embark on your journey through life, here are a few bits of advice that you might want to keep in the recesses of your mind:
  • Ask questions. Always. If you don’t ask questions you’re never going to learn anything.
  • That being said, don’t be satisfied with the answers you get. Embrace the Socratic method. Have the courage to dig deeper, to seek more and more information. There’s so much to learn. Never be satisfied.
  • When you play YMCA football, Father Crow will come to the house and yell at you because it’s a Protestant sport that he says you shouldn’t be part of. He’ll tell you that you’re going to hurt yourself. The next game you play, you’ll punt a ball off the back of a kid’s helmet and have it come back and hit you right in the fucking teeth. Now, at the time you’ll wonder, How did Father Crow know that was goin’ to happen? But don’t overthink it. The universe unfolds as it should. That football was always destined for your teeth, Bill. You didn’t do anything wrong.
  • You’re destined to be a pitcher. But you already know that. Your grandfather played pro ball, your aunt played pro ball and your dad played semipro ball. Hell, when you were a baby, you had these blocks with A-B-C and 1-2-3 on them, and whenever you fell down on their sharp edges it would hurt … so you threw those fuckers out of the playpen. Pitching is in your blood. Don’t overcomplicate it by letting your mind get in the way. Throwing a baseball is feeling, not thought. It should be like a religious experience every time you go to the hill. Approach this game with sound mind, sound body and controlled emotions. When you think, you only fuck it up.
  • You’ll get your tenacity from your father, but when it comes to pitching form, listen to your aunt. There’s a reason she was the first woman to throw a perfect game in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. She’ll teach you your fundamentals and delivery. When you do pitch professionally, you’ll have the same movement as her, the same pitches and the same arm slot. Most baseball players might be hesitant to learn from a woman, but guess what? Most baseball players suck.
  • Oh, and a side note here: It’s amazing what you’ll one day know about volcanology, climatology and sedimentology.
  • The most important thing in this life is attitude. The lining of your stomach changes constantly — every four hours you produce a new layer of cells. So if you’re ever feeling upset, just wait around a bit, take a good shit and you’ll be fine.
  • A big turning point for you will come when you decide where to go to college. You’ll want to go to Oregon, but your family will push you toward USC. Your dad will sit you down one day and ask, “Son, do you want to be a big fish in a small pond, or a small fish in a big pond?” You won’t know the answer, so he’ll continue, “Well, if you’re a big fish in a small pond, you’re never gonna grow. But if you’re a small fish in a big pond, you have a chance to grow a lot.” You’ll scratch your head, and then you’ll ask, “What does that even mean?” He’ll say, “It means you’re going to USC.”
  • Just a heads-up: You’re going to get kicked out of Shanghai in ’75 for smoking dope. But hey, it’s better than being hanged!
  • On that note, let’s discuss marijuana because you’ll get asked about it a lot as you get older. It’s in the nature of man to try and alter his state of consciousness, whether it be with alcohol, peyote or religious ceremonies. The only problem with any of these things is if you become reliant on them and use them as a crutch. You don’t need pot to pitch, but you’ll recognize that it helps you. Many of the drugs you’ll encounter in the big leagues, such as amphetamines, are meant to speed you up. But marijuana slows you down, and allows you to focus. Some of your greatest athletic feats will occur while you’re high, but not because you’re high. Understand that distinction.
  • Thomas Malthus was wrong, Bill! Malthusian economics surmise that goods and services grow arithmetically and population grows exponentially, therefore there’s not enough to go around. That’s bullshit.
  • Think twice before you decide to climb up to a second-story balcony to say goodbye to that girl in Montreal. Your heart is in the right place because you don’t want to disturb the whole house by going through the front door, but when you slip and fall you’ll be placed on the 21-day disabled list and feel like a total asshole.
  • Throwing hard is overrated. Pitching is all about movement and location. Guys who throw the same speed are only pitching in two dimensions. A guy who can throw the ball at different speeds is pitching in three dimensions. He can add or he can subtract, and he can move it every which way. Always pitch in 3-D.
  • During your playing career, you’ll be mostly a loner. Not everyone has the same outlook as you, and that’s fine. But in Boston, you’ll become part of a group called the Buffalo Heads, which will include Ferguson Jenkins, Jim Willoughby and Rick Wise. The buffalo is the dumbest animal on the face of the earth. As Ferguson used say — and pay close attention, because he’ll be your idol one day — “We don’t even use arrows to kill them, we just run them off a cliff and go pick ‘em up.” The Buffalo Heads will understand that, in the grand scheme of things, we know very little about the universe that surround us. But that’s not a reason to be upset. Instead, be close with those who embrace the unknown and revel in it. Those who fear what they do not know have little room for growth.
  • If you seek revenge, you dig two graves. Get mad early, and get over it early.

Bill, for you, true happiness and joy will come from living in the moment. Try to make those around you feel relaxed and happy. Don’t get hung up on living the best life possible, instead, think about how you can make every single day the best it can possibly be for yourself and those you encounter. Influence people to have bigger smiles and more generosity. More than anything else, this is what will bring you joy.

And chop your own firewood, godammit!

From Planet Earth,

Bill Lee

Oct 16, 2017

Super Mario Makeup

Super Mario Bros. Makeup
Shu Uemura
With names like Fire Flower, Saved Peach and Stage Cleared, the Super Mario Bros. Holiday Collection from Shu Uemura offers gamer girls (and boys) a way to feel like a different kind of princess.  Enjoy these after a Sonic The Hedgehog Sephora skin firming treatment to re-live the 16 bit wars on your face.

Oct 15, 2017

Christmas in October: 1989

Kay Bee Toys flyer
October, 1989
This sale from 28 years ago was distributed only a couple of months after the Nintendo Game Boy was introduced in the United States.  Prior to the Game Boy, the portable game market was dominated by LCD games from companies like Tiger Electronics, and even those who worked at Nintendo weren't convinced that it would be a success.  Before the end of its life cycle, the Game Boy would go on to sell over 118 million units.

Oct 14, 2017

Give Me A Break

Kit Kat wrapper
Hershey's Chocolate (1987)

Oct 13, 2017

Tennessee Ernie Ford Warned Me About This

Henri's Company Store
Nestle USA - Solon, OH
There is an employee store in the Solon, Ohio campus of Nestle USA where you can purchase just about any product we make.  I stocked up on Cailler chocolate to bring back to the team in Wilkes-Barre.

Oct 12, 2017

The Solon Campus

Life can take you in some pretty strange and wonderful directions.  Just over six years ago, I had just graduated from college with a degree in psychology and sociology and not much of an idea of how I would use them to make a living.  I had a business card that was given to me by a recruiter who had visited the campus in my senior year, so I called, had my interview and was hired as a temp.  I expected to work here through the holiday season, and maybe for a few months in 2012 while I found something in my field.  After all, this was the kind of customer service job I had before I went to college.  In fact, it paid significantly less than the job I had before I went back to school full time in 2007.  However, I took an interest in the company and my role in it, and it allowed me to grow.

Now, as I leave Ohio, I can only look back on the past six years and smile.  The temp gig that was supposed to last a few months until I could find something better has turned into a career as a trainer.  I just worked with one of the largest corporations in the world to develop a piece of software, and a training program for that software, and I will be facilitating the training for this software to a team of over 100 brand ambassadors.

I can't say I ever saw any of this coming, but I am very grateful that it did.

This is where I've been spending a good portion of my time over the past few days.  It's the Solon, Ohio corporate campus of Nestle USA.  I cannot possibly say enough positive things about this company, who I feel have truly taken me under their wing and allowed me to develop into my best possible self.  Before we left, they took my team on a tour of the facility.

This is the front of the building.

This is the rear of the building with the parking lot.

This is the view from the front door on the ground level.  The Stouffer's plant on Harper Road is on the left.

The center of the building is open from the ground level to the ceiling.  Each floor of the building has a walkway around this center.  The glass wall is at the front of the building.

This is the view of the ground level looking in from the front door.

This is the same area as the photo above, but as seen from the second floor.

When you walk past the small seating area on the ground level, you come to a seating area with a large wipe off wall.  Team members are encouraged to share their favorite places that they can visit on a single tank of gas.  This is a pretty cool idea that I'd like to bring back to Wilkes-Barre.

We did the vast majority of our work this week in this glass room on the roof.

As you might imagine, there is a lot of branding and company slogans hanging on the wall throughout the facility.  The "five behaviors to live by" are a solid way to conduct business.

Nestle was founded by Henri Nestle.  He was a German man who moved to Switzerland in his adulthood.  My father's side of the family went the opposite direction; they were Swiss born and they emigrated to Germany.  Our name, Schweitzer, is the German word for a man from Switzerland.

This is the hub of social media communications for Nestle USA.

This is one of the test kitchens where recipes are developed for Nestle Prepared Foods products, including Stouffer's, Lean Cuisine, Hot Pockets and DiGiorno Pizza (among many others).

We've got a big challenge ahead of us, but we're off to a great start after this trip.  It's been an overwhelmingly positive experience.  I hope to have an opportunity to come back soon.

Oct 11, 2017

The Evil Empire Strikes Back

Wednesday, October 11, 2017
New York Yankees @ Cleveland Indians
Progressive Field - Cleveland, OH

Pitching: CC Sabathia vs. Corey Kluber
Results: Yankees defeated Indians, 5-2

This game is a first for me.  I was living in Florida when the Phillies went to the World Series in 1993, and I moved back to Pennsylvania before the Marlins made it in 1997.  Then, the recent Phillies playoff run happened when I was in college.  I graduated in 2011, but then got married, got a new job, and bought a home, so both time and money were short.  By the time everything settled down, the Fightins were back in the basement of the NL East.  I've been to a lot of ballgames in my life, but I've never had the opportunity to be in attendance for a playoff game; not even for a minor league team.  As luck would have it, I'm in Cleveland for a few days with my job, and the Yankees managed to come from behind and force a Game 5 with the Indians in the ALDS, so I finally got to see a post-season game in person.

She said "Tell me, are you a Cleveland fan".  I said "Ma'am, I am Tonight".

I haven't worn the gear of any other team besides the Phillies (or their minor league affiliates) since I was a kid, but I made an exception tonight.  Truth be told, I really didn't care who won this game, but I'm in Cleveland and they're playing against the Evil Empire, so of course I rooted for the Indians.  There's also quite a few icons that the Indians and Phillies have had in common in recent years, including Charlie Manuel and Jim Thome.  In fact, their current manager, Terry Francona, started his managerial career with the Phillies from 1997-2000.

It was really easy to get into the vibe that Indians fans had going for this game.  Everywhere you looked, there were rally towels and playoff slogans, like "Rally Together" and "Cleveland Against The World".  Very cool.

Unfortunately for Indians fans, the Yankees didn't waste too much time taking the wind out of their sails.  With one out in the top of the first, shortstop Didi Gregorius hit a solo shot to put the Yankees up 1-0, and they didn't give up the lead at any point after that.

Didi wasn't done with Corey Kluber either.  With Brett Gardner on first in the top of the third, the Yankees shortstop hit his second home run of the night to put the Yankees up 3-0.

Meanwhile, CC Sabathia was masterful in shutting down his old team at the plate for the start of the game.  He didn't allow a baserunner until a Francisco Lindor single in the fourth inning.  The Indians finally managed to rally in the fifth.  Austin Jackson and Jay Bruce hit back-to-back singles, which was followed by back-to-back RBI singles from Roberto Perez and Gio Urshela.  After giving up four consecutive singles, David Robertson was brought in to relieve Sabathia.  He quickly got Francisco Lindor to ground out into a double play to end the inning and the Indians rally.  They wouldn't score again for the rest of the game.

The Yankees tacked on two more runs in the top of the ninth after a Brett Gardner single, but they didn't need the insurance runs.  The Indians bats were ice cold against David Robertson and Aroldis Chapman.  The two relievers held the Indians hitless for the last four innings of the game, and allowed only two walks (Jay Bruce in the seventh and Jose Ramirez in the ninth).  As a mostly neutral observer, I felt pretty bad for the fans in attendance.  You could almost feel the life drain out of them after the rally killing double play in the fifth, and there wasn't much of anything for the rest of the game that they could get behind.

So, the Yankees are going on to the ALCS to face the Houston Astros.  Houston has been a juggernaut all season, but then again, so were the Indians and the Yankees managed to come from behind in the series to knock them out.  If I had to bet, I'd say that it's going to come down to the Astros against the Dodgers in the World Series, but it wouldn't surprise me a bit to see the Evil Empire continue to defy the odds and go all the way.