Nov 30, 2017

Everything's Bigger in Texas

West Texas Chophouse
1135 Airway Blvd.
El Paso, TX
The appetizer was an entire head of cauliflower covered in melted cheese and almonds.  I couldn't even get through a quarter of it if I wanted room for the massive steak and potato that was yet to come.  Even though I was so stuffed that I couldn't move, I had to try the  Tres Leches - a vanilla cake soaked in milk, vanilla and rum.

Nov 29, 2017

Luchador In The Box

Jack In The Box
1318A George Dieter Drive
El Paso, TX
I've never been to a Jack In The Box before today so I can't say for sure, but I'm guessing they don't all have a AAA luchador painted on the wall.  I love this city!

Nov 28, 2017

Green Chile Chicken & Waffles

Crave Kitchen & Bar
11990 Rojas Drive
El Paso, TX
I've had chicken and waffles before, but nothing like this.  If the rest of the food in El Paso is anything like this, I'm not going to want to leave.

Nov 27, 2017

Sushi Burrito

The Sushi Place
1327 George Dieter Drive
El Paso, TX
The Sushi Burrito is a pretty interesting concept.  If it wasn't so filling, I would have ordered a second one.

Nov 26, 2017

In Enemy Territory

Wearing enemy colors in Atlanta on my way to El Paso.

Nov 25, 2017

The Thanksgiving Night Tradition

Thirty years ago, the World Wrestling Federation aired the first Survivor Series live on pay-per-view on Thanksgiving night.

The main event that night was a five-on-five tag team elimination match.  It was one of the rare times that Hulk Hogan wasn't victorious at the end of a pay-per-view in the 80's.  His team lost when Andre The Giant pinned Bam Bam Bigelow and became the sole survivor for the bad guys.

Nov 24, 2017

Hazleton's Swan Song

Swan Song
Robert R. McCammon (1987)
The best post-apocalyptic novel not called The Stand was first published 30 years ago.  It includes not one, but two mentions of Mob City in it's pages.  The second reference to Hazleton goes so far as to call out the First Presbyterian Church downtown on the corner of Broad and Church Street, though I can't say if they've ever had a Rev. Bowden.

Nov 23, 2017

Thanksgiving Reflections

Every year for Easter and Thanksgiving, Dad brings us to Genetti's at around lunchtime for their holiday buffet.  The food is good, and I'm always happy to spend time with pop, but it's just not the same since my grandparents passed away.  We would invite him over for dinner at our place, but he spends the holidays with his wife's family.

That's why this time of year reminds me that I should try to live in the moment and be thankful for the happiness that you have.  This is especially true for the happy moments that become so much of a part of our routine that we take them for granted.  The little things that have put a smile on our face on an almost daily basis have happened so many times in the past that we have no doubt that they'll keep on happening.  If we pause and think logically about it, we all know that these things don't go on forever.  The world changes.  Our lives change.  People die.  However, all of those things seem so far away from the moment that we're in that it's easy to forget that the things that have made you smile every day will someday be a distant memory.  We rarely ever recognize when we're experiencing one of those moments for the last time as it's happening.

One of those moments for me is having lunch with my grandparents during the summer when I was out of school.  Grandpa usually came home for lunch, and Grandma would have a sandwich waiting for him.  It was usually ham (which my grandparents called "cold meat") and American cheese on a Kaiser roll with butter.  Sometimes they would have turkey or lebanon instead of ham, but it was usually ham.  We would sit at the kitchen table, have coffee and chat about whatever while having lunch.  It was an ordinary, everyday lunch that has happened thousands of times from my childhood to my teenage years and through my 20's, but not too long into my 30's.  I can't say for sure when the last time was that the three of us sat at the kitchen table and ate lunch.  I'm certain that on that day, when I took my last bite of sandwich, I had no idea that it would be the very last.  So today, I try my hardest to be thankful for every pleasant moment, no matter how much they've become a part of my daily routine, because I probably will never know when I'm experiencing it for the last time.

Nov 22, 2017

Give A Dog A Bone

Harvey is very happy with his new bone.

Nov 21, 2017

I Can't Hear You. I Won't Fear You.

Don't wanna live as an untold story
Rather go out in a blaze of glory
I can't hear you
I don't fear you

I'll live now 'cause the bad die last
Dodging bullets with your broken past
I can't hear you
I don't fear you now

Wrapped in your regret
What a waste of blood and sweat

I wanna taste love and pain
Wanna feel pride and shame
I don't wanna take my time
Don't wanna waste one line

I wanna live better days
Never look back and say
Could have been me
It could have been me

Don't wanna live as an unsung melody
I'd rather listen to the silence telling me
I can't hear you
I won't fear you

Don't wanna wake up on a Monday morning
The thought of work's getting my skin crawling
I can't fear you
I don't hear you now

Wrapped in your regret
What a waste of blood and sweat

I wanna taste love and pain
Wanna feel pride and shame
I don't wanna take my time
Don't wanna waste one line

I wanna live better days
Never look back and say
Could have been me
It could have been me

Nov 18, 2017

A Night At The Garden

A Night At The Garden
Marshall Curry (2017)
On February 20th, 1939, an event was held at Madison Square Garden that was attended by over 20,000 people.  It was organized by the German American Bund and promoted with a sign outside the venue which called the event a "Pro-American Rally".  Just over six months after this event took place, the Invasion of Poland began, and with it came the start of World War II.

This rally at Madison Square Garden has been all but forgotten with the passage of time, but director Marshall Curry has combined footage from the National Archives, the Sherman Grinberg Film Library, Streamline Films, and the UCLA Film and Television Archive into a seven minute long documentary that shines a light on this shameful night in our country's history to serve as both a history lesson and as a warning.

New York Daily News (New York, NY) - February 21, 1939

Attendees to the Pro American Rally that night in New York stood as Fritz Julius Kuhn led them in reciting The Pledge of Allegiance to a row of American flags.  Both he and the flags stood on a stage with a massive portrait of George Washington flanked by two swastikas on the wall behind them.  Following the pledge, the crowd erupted into applause and Sieg Heil salutes.  The footage continues to show part of a hate-filled speech that is interrupted by a protester who was beaten while the crowd watched on in what appeared to be delight.

This documentary isn't a work of fiction.  It doesn't show something from another planet or a parallel dimension.  This took place less than a hundred years ago in New York City at a venue that is known throughout the world.  This is our fellow citizens who have allowed public speakers to manipulate their ignorance, their fears, and their intolerance of others into a movement that led to the bloodiest war in the history of the humankind.  It is a phenomenon that we're seeing play out in the world around us today.  The symbols may have changed, and the rhetoric has been updated for the new millennium, but the method remains the same: incite the masses by playing into their ignorance, their fears, and their intolerance of others to serve the purpose of the fuhrer, whether that be a failed infantryman in the Bavarian Army, or a failed casino mogul.

We are living in dangerous times, and A Night At The Garden reminds us of where this can lead.  I hope that a documentary filmmaker in the future doesn't have a reason to piece together footage from the rallies that are being held in our time to teach others about what the rise of fascism looks like.

Nov 17, 2017

Smoke Rings Over Broadway

Winston Cigarettes Billboard
45th & Broadway - New York, NY
From 1972 to 1977, a Winston billboard of a smoker that puffed real smoke rings into the skies above Times Square stood at the top of the Bond's Clothing Store building.  The billboard had a steam-producing copper box behind the head of the man in the sign which generated 1,000 smoke rings per day over a period of five years.  According to the New York Times, it was taken down by the cigarette company in the Fall of 1977 for a combination of reasons, including the expense to the company to keep the sign in operation.

The movie theater marquee showing The Exorcist in the photo on the left makes it likely that it was taken in 1973.  It was shared by Vintage Everyday, and I believe it was scanned from a magazine, but the source was not provided by the website.  The photo on the right was taken in September 1976 and was shared by Blair Stirrett.  In this photo, you can see that the theater beneath the billboard is showing Street People, starring Roger Moore and Stacy Keach.

Nov 16, 2017

The World May Never Know

I passed this Tootsie Roll truck on I-81 on the way to work this morning.  I'm not sure I ever saw one before today, but they're pretty cool.

Nov 15, 2017

I Believe It, Mr. Ripley

Earlier this month, the Ripley's Believe It Or Not comic strip had to twist the knife a little bit with a reminder that the Philadelphia Phillies are the first team in the history of Major League Baseball to have reached 10,000 losses.  On a more positive note, they also shared a couple of interesting facts about the signing of the US Constitution and the theme song to Tetris (source: and

Nov 14, 2017

Love Puff

I found this on the desk of someone who I just hired and trained.  Slightly afraid...

Nov 13, 2017

Nov 12, 2017

Winter Breakfast

Hot Cocoa Coca Puffs / Cinnamon Vanilla Lucky Charms
General Mills (2017)
These are both interesting twists on classic kids breakfast cereal.  It's also a pretty cool idea to brand them as limited edition winter flavors instead of Christmas.  I'm sure the conspiracy theorists will jump on their soapbox to say that this has something to do with a "war on Christmas".  In reality, it's just a smart way to sell a product after December 25th without stores being pressured to put their merchandise on a clearance sale, even though they're well within the product's shelf life.

Nov 11, 2017

Harvey's Peanuts

The shirt is from the Harvey's Peanuts stand at the Bloomsburg Fair. They don't actually sell t-shirts, but they were nice enough to sell me one of their employee shirts. My little Harvey may not eat peanuts, but he's a big fan of peanut butter.

Nov 10, 2017

Why Settle For Sonic Boom In A Bag When You Can Have...

Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Cans
Red Bull (2017)
Capcom and Red Bull have teamed up to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the release of the first Street Fighter game in arcades.  It also comes with a code that you can use for Street Fighter V on Playstation 4.

Nov 9, 2017

Off The Mark Tower

The Dark Tower
Sony Pictures (2017)
I absolutely love The Dark Tower books and the way that it brilliantly ties together nearly all of the Stephen King novels.  When I learned that they were going to attempt to condense seven novels into a single film, I knew it was going to be a train wreck.

First and foremost, the elephant in the room is the decision to cast Idris Elba as Roland.  I could only imagine the uproar across social media if the Blade comics were turned into a movie that starred Jason Statham as Eric Brooks.  If a character's race or gender isn't a key part of the story, I usually don't care if they take creative liberties, but this casting choice all but eliminates a huge part of the dynamic between Roland and Detta Walker, who's mistrust of The Gunslinger is based largely on the fact that he's a "honky mahfah".  So, by miscasting Roland, they've pretty much written out a powerful woman of color who also happens to be one of the only badass action stars I can think of who is in a wheelchair.

As it turns out, the casting of Roland didn't really matter because the film bears only the slightest resemblance to any of the novels.  Clarisse Loughrey of The Independent put it best when she wrote that the film is "a dull disappointment without any set audience: incomprehensible to newbies, and wildly unfaithful and simplistic to fans of King's books".  There's no path of the beam.  Hell, there's no beam, other than the one that The Breakers (now kidnapped children instead of selfish men and women who took the job) shoot out of their heads from Algul Siento to attack the Tower directly.  Jake Chambers is just another kid they want to kidnap to work as a breaker.  The only thing he shares in common with the Jake from the book is the fact that he's a young boy from New York City.  Nearly everything else about the character has been changed, and we're left with a random generic kid.

It's not even worth discussing the rest of the ways that the film bastardized the novels.  Suffice to say that if you changed the name of the film and the names of two or three of the characters, I suspect few would have even guessed that the folks who wrote the movie have ever even read the books, let alone that the film is meant to be an adaptation of them.  Stephen King has attempted to justify these changes by saying that the film is a sequel to the books and another turn on ka's wheel, but that doesn't hold any water at all.  It's a completely unrelated, dull, Hollywood cookie-cutter story that, at best, has a handful of easter eggs that reference the works of Stephen King.

Nov 8, 2017

First Snow

Sometimes, the first snowfall of the year happens while the trees still have most of their leaves.  This results in a beautiful contrast of white snow on the red Japanese Maple leaves.

Nov 7, 2017

Roy Halladay

Roy Halladay
Toronto Blue Jays (1998 - 2009)
Philadelphia Phillies (2010 - 2013)
One of the greatest pitchers in the game is no longer with us.  Mr. Halladay was 40 years old.  Rest in peace, Doc.

Nov 6, 2017

Anime In The 80s: Tobor The 8th Man

Tobor The 8th Man
TCJ / Eiken Studio
54 years ago today, Tobor The 8th Man made its debut on Tokyo Broadcasting System.  The story focuses on Detective Tobor, an officer who is killed by gangsters.  His life force is transferred into an android body by Professor Genius, which makes Tobor impervious to bullets and gives him the ability to shape shift and to run at top speeds.  This anime was ahead of its time with elements that can be seen in works such as The Six-Million Dollar Man, Robocop, Mega Man decades before their existence.

My first experience with this anime was in December, 1988.  I had just been given a VCR for my bedroom as a Christmas present (one of the best gifts I had ever been given, then or since), and my grandmother bought me a few tapes from the drugstore so I would have something to watch on it.  The one that jumps out from my memory was Tobor.

Not only was this unusual for the fact that the cartoon was black and white, and that it had an other-world feel (it would be years before I had ever heard of the word "anime"), but the tape was released in an oversized box that also contained a bag of microwave popcorn.  It was released by New Age Video in their Kiddy Popcorn Classics series, which was comprised of public domain cartoons packaged with popcorn.  What more could an 8 year old ask for!

I've looked for this particular VHS tape in the years since, but no luck.  In fact, this tiny gif is the largest photo I could find to confirm that this wasn't a figment of my imagination.  The series has since found its way to the Dollar DVD rack, and many episodes have been uploaded to YouTube, though you'll have to supply your own popcorn for each.

The entire series can be seen on YouTube from

Nov 5, 2017

Amiga Tetris

Spectrum Holobyte (1988)
Tetris was created in 1984 by Soviet programmer Alexey Pajitnov.  It didn't become a household name until Nintendo acquired the license to port it and pack it with the new Game Boy system.  However, in the years before Nintendo, many different versions of Tetris found their way to consoles and computers across the world.   One of the first was an Amiga port by Spectrum Holobyte, which included Russian imagery and music that became synonymous with the game.

Nov 4, 2017

Just Like Every Cowboy Sings A Sad, Sad Song

Five Star
Laurel Mall - Hazleton, PA
Either Bret Michaels has a second job writing fortunes, or somebody at the cookie factory has been listening to 80's rock ballads for inspiration.

By the way, this place has the most delicious dumplings I've ever eaten.  Even if they ran out of the rest of the food in the kitchen and had nothing but dumplings to serve, I'd still come here for dinner and leave full and happy.

Nov 3, 2017

Atari Shop

Atari Shop
Las Palmas de Gran Canariane, Spain
This photo was taken earlier this year by Roman Dudek and was shared with AtariAge.  The store, which closed sometime in the early 80's, is in an abandoned shopping mall on The Canary Islands in Spain.  Presently, it is used as a storage facility for a local furniture store.

Nov 2, 2017

The Power Forward Power Reliever

Ron Reed
Relief Pitcher - Philadelphia Phillies (1976-1983)
Today is the 75th birthday of a former Phillies reliever who has had an especially interesting career.  The 6'6" Ron Reed played basketball for Notre Dame.  In 1965, he was drafted by the Detroit Pistons and signed with the Atlanta Braves.  For three years, Reed was a two sport athlete who pitched in the Braves minor league system while playing for the Pistons.

Reed's basketball career ended after the 1966-67 season when he was brought to the Major Leagues and decided to dedicate himself to baseball full time.  He was traded to the Phillies in December 1975 and was a key contributor out of the Phillies bullpen for their years of contention in the late 70's and early 80's, and was a member of the 1980 World Series Championship team.  He retired after the 1984 season after pitching for 18 seasons in the big leagues.

The 1983 Fleer card in this photo is one of my favorite Phillies cards.  Reed was a good reliever, but he never won the Rolaids Relief Man Award in his career.  Maybe he got a label maker and stole it from Bruce Sutter when the Cardinals were in town?

Nov 1, 2017

8-Bit Arcade

8-Bit Arcade
Wendy's Kids Meal: Design Your World
Fast food kids meal toys are usually themed after movies, cartoons or toys that the restaurant has licensed.  Despite this, some of the most memorable toys throughout my lifetime have been their own unique creation.  The most recent of these sets are the Wendy's "Design Your World" toys.

These are very simple toys - just four cardboard walls, a floor, and a plastic frame to use to put it together.  Each toy also comes with a plastic figure and a sheet of stickers that can be used to decorate the building and to turn your plastic figure into either a boy or a girl.

The 8-Bit Arcade is my favorite of the toys in this set. While not featuring any trademarks or specific games, the inside walls of the arcade features a claw machine, a space shooter, a racing game, and other retro video game imagery.  Very cool!