Jun 30, 2018

Pre-Birthday Snoopy

Peanuts: June 30, 1972
Charles Schulz

Jun 29, 2018

More Ghoulish Than Ever

Castle Dracula billboard
Wildwood, NJ
This photo was taken by Mike Vlkovic in the late 80's and shared to a website called Dark In The Park which is dedicated to the greatest haunted house attraction that I have ever experienced.  It once hung on the old carousel building at Cedar and The Boardwalk in Wildwood, New Jersey.

I took a photo of the same billboard when I was a kid.  I believe that I took this in August 1987 when my family and I were on vacation in Wildwood.  I'm pretty sure that my photo was taken a couple of years earlier than Mike's because the theater referenced on the top billboard shows "Blaker & Shore Twin Theaters" in mine, and "The Shore 4 Theaters" in his.  I think it's pretty cool to be able to see small changes of a single spot over a period of time.

Jun 28, 2018

Have You Been To Zayre's Today

Zayre's commercial for Atari 2600 (1983)
When I was growing up, Zayre's was one of the anchor stores in my local mall.  The chain of stores was sold to Ames

This is technically a commercial for the store, but it sure feels like it's for Atari.  It begins with a mother and son looking through a store flyer.  For some reason, they used a photo of an Atari 400 computer in the ad, but it's labeled as the 2600.  They rush to the store and walk past about a hundred ColecoVision consoles only to find someone walking off with the last Atari 2600.  However, the kid is in luck.  A store employee is on his way with an armload of seven Vader consoles.  Why he didn't bring them out in a shopping cart, I don't know, but the kid yoinks one off of the top of the pile before heading home to play Defender with Dad.

Jun 22, 2018

So I Ask You Why...

Phish - Theme From The Bottom
Billy Breathes (1996)

I feed from the bottom, you feed from the top
I live upon morsels you happen to drop
and coffee that somehow leaks out of your cup
If nothing comes down then I’m forced to swim up

On the way upwards the colors come back,
but all on the bottom is blue, gray and black,
the darkness is cold and perception goes wrong
and the night seems to go on incredibly long

Pantomime mixtures of heaven and earth,
jumbled events that have less than no worth
time in the forest to dig under rocks
float on the ocean and sleep in a box

Or sink just below all the churning and froth
and swim to the light-source, or fly like a moth
so toss away stuff you won’t need in the end
but keep what’s important – and know who’s your friend

So I ask you why
if I’m swimming by
don’t you see anything you’d like to try?

Jun 20, 2018

Duck Season

Viva Farms
1189 Route 315
Wilkes-Barre, PA
There's no better way to end a day than with a good meal, and this one hit the spot.  I've never had a cheesesteak with duck before, but it was absolutely delicious!

Jun 18, 2018

Peace On Earth

Peace On Earth
Directed by Hugh Harman - MGM (1939)
One of the most important animated features was shown in theaters for the first time in 1939 - the dawn of the Second World War.  It imagines animals rebuilding the world after humanity had finally destroyed itself.  It remains as powerful today as it was almost 80 years ago.

UPDATE: Even though it was on YouTube for nearly a decade when I first posted this, Warner Brothers decided to have it taken down.  I'm not sure why, since there are about a dozen other copies that are uploaded right now, so I suppose they're content to pay someone to play Whack-A-Mole for an 80 year old cartoon until the end of time.  Anyway, I'm not going to keep updating video links on here, so just do a search and you'll find it.

Jun 15, 2018

The Tom Clan

My grandparents had this photo taken of my mother's side of the family 30 years ago.  It was in a frame in their house for most of my life.

Jun 12, 2018


Hi-C Pac-Man Game (1983)
Five grand prize winners got 10,000 quarters to use to play Pac-Man.  You could also win an Atari 2600 system, a Coleco Tabletop Pac-Man mini arcade unit or a Pac-Man wristwatch.  Everyone who entered and didn't win one of the prizes automatically received a Hi-C Pac-Man t-shirt iron on.

Jun 11, 2018

Veryfine Fridge

Veryfine retail display refrigerator
Sixth Street Vendors Market - Wyoming, PA
I mostly remember this brand for the commercials where a guy said "Very, very, Veryfine.  Here's to your health" in a very mellow voice.  The juice was pretty tasty too.  Sadly, this cooler didn't have any of it.

Jun 10, 2018

Grand Slam

Gottlieb's Grand Slam (1972)
Sixth Street Vendors Market - Wyoming, PA
Buried under model train cars and a copy of The Who's Tommy on VHS is a Grand Slam pinball machine.  The coin slot on the left accepts dimes for a single play, and the one on the right gives you eight plays for a quarter.  This one wasn't set up to play and looked to have seen better days, but it would be an awesome restoration project if I had the room for it.

Jun 9, 2018

There Is No Hope. There Is Only Endurance.

Anthony Bourdain
1956 - 2018
What does it mean when the man who lives your dream takes his own life?

If a genie came out of a bottle and gave me the opportunity to trade lives with anyone who has ever lived, I would have answered with no reservation - I want to be Tony.  Everything about this man was the very definition of a rock star.  He was intelligent, talented, confident, handsome and had a spirit of adventure.  He was everything that I ever wanted to be.

He also suffered from clinical depression and deep feelings of isolation.  In describing this, he once remarked that having a hamburger in an airport could send him spiraling into a depression that can last for days.  I can definitely relate to this.  While I've never been triggered by a hamburger, there have been many times throughout my life where something insignificant happens that causes a random memory from many years ago rises to the surface, which puts me in a place where I feel like nothing matters - nobody wants me here, and I don't belong here.  Eventually, I always come out of it, and so did Tony... until he didn't.

The whole thing leaves me feeling completely hopeless.  If a man who is loved, admired and respected by literally millions, and who has my dream life couldn't beat back the demons, what the hell chance do I have?  I work at a job that I hate, and I'm not handsome or talented.  Plus, I'm a selfish jerk who can only think about himself when another human being has died.

Any time that a beloved celebrity takes their own life, there are always plenty of people with good hearts who use it as an opportunity to share the Suicide Hotline number.  I understand that they mean well, but it kind of feels like they're saying "Hey, sorry you're fucked up, pal.  Go call someone who's paid to care."  They also encourage people who are suffering from depression to "seek help".  Yeah, I'll get right on that.  Why don't I run right out to a doctor so they can hospitalize me and fix me up like a broken car.  I'm sure that someone will pay all of my bills in the meantime, and that I'll have a job and a home to come back to.  I get it - I really do.  They want to help, but there are no easy answers.  In fact, there are no answers at all, or else people like Tony would still be here.  You just roll with it as best you can, and you hope that there doesn't come a day when you can't.

Jun 8, 2018

All I Need Is A Little Plutonium

1981 DeLorean DMC-12.
Berger Mazda
Susquehanna Blvd - Hazleton, PA
Too expensive for my budget, but if I hit Powerball before this thing sells, I'm going to be blasting Huey Lewis from this bad boy.

Jun 5, 2018

Mind Over Matter

Atari Mindlink System
1984 Summer CESChicago, IL
In this photo from June 5, 1984, an attendee to the Consumer Electronics Show tests the Atari Mindlink.  This was a headband controller that worked in tandem with a wireless remote and was going to be marketed as a way to control video games with your mind.  It worked through electrical impulses from the movement of your forehead, but it didn't work well and was never released (photo by Charlie Knoblock - Associated Press).

Jun 4, 2018

Bring Your Amigos

El Pancho Villa Steak House
West Hazleton, PA  (1978)
This restaurant is a few years before my time, but my dad still speaks very highly of it to this day.  It opened 40 years ago today and was where my dad worked when he was 19 years old and home from college for the summer of 1978.  He loved their fried chicken and their enchiladas.

This place didn't stay in business for very long, but it's not in a great location.  You have to be traveling northbound on Route 93 to be able to turn into a very small restaurant cove to get there.  There's an intersection that's pretty close by, but it's just far enough from the intersection to make it impossible to make a left turn from Route 93 South to get in there, so you have to go pretty far down the road and make a U-Turn on a five lane highway to get back to the point where you can turn into their parking lot, which is not at all ideal.  That spot is now home to a bagel shop and a Pizza Hut.