Feb 28, 2019
When I was 12 years old, my sister made me a mixtape of songs that she thought I would enjoy. Included on this tape was a cool dystopian rock song by Warrant called April 2031. It was about a world that has suffered from an environmental catastrophe. I remember thinking how far off in the future it was. Hell, I would be 50 years old by then.
Earlier today, I learned that April 2031 will be the start of Bryce Harper's final season in Philadelphia. It was reported this afternoon by Jon Heyman that the 2015 NL MVP had just signed a 13 year contract with the Phillies for $330 million dollars. It includes a full no-trade clause, and no opt-out clauses. Jon Morosi reported that Harper had a four year offer from the Dodgers that would have paid him $45 million per season (his contact with the Phillies will pay him about $25 million per year), but he preferred to play in Philadelphia due to the long term security, the commitment by team owners to winning a championship (in 2019 and in the future), and Citizen's Bank Park, which seems like it was custom built for the power lefty to put up massive numbers.
This contract is right up there with Pete Rose and Jim Thome as one of the most important free agent signings in franchise history, and this winter is among the most successful off-seasons for any team in the history of the game. Going into the 2019 season, our outfield will now include two former NL MVPs with Harper and McCutchen. With this signing and the trades made with Seattle and Miami, the Phillies have brought in three 2018 All-Stars (Harper, Segura and Realmuto). The bullpen has had a massive upgrade with the addition of Robertson, Nicasio, Álvarez and Pazos. Rhys Hoskins is back at 1B where he belongs. This is going to be a very exciting season!
On a side note, if you're interested in the song April 2031, it's track 3 on the Dog Eat Dog album. It was released by Warrant in August 1992 - two months before Bryce Harper was born. By the time he's entering his last season in April 2031, I'm hopeful that we'll have a number of World Championships to fly alongside the 1980 and 2008 flags, and we'll be talking about the final season of a player who will wear a Phillies cap on his Hall of Fame plaque.
Feb 27, 2019
I remember seeing these in diners and pizza parlors back in the 80's. If I ever remodel my garage in the way that I'd like to, I would love to have a restaurant booth with one of these stereos installed at the end of the table against the wall.
Feb 24, 2019
Coney Island Restaurant
North Wyoming Street - Hazleton, PA
This restaurant was a fixture in downtown Hazleton for over 70 years. It opened in 1922 and was well known and loved throughout the area for generations. I remember coming here with my grandmother for hot dogs and rice pudding when I was a kid. It sadly closed in 1995, but it is fondly remembered in the area.
Here are some of the vintage newspaper ads I've found from the 60's, 70's and 80's from this lost Hazleton treasure.
Feb 23, 2019
These 3.5 oz. steaks are only a buck at Dollar Tree, and they're the perfect size to pair up with a few eggs, a piece of toast and some coffee for an economical steak & eggs breakfast.
Feb 22, 2019
Millers Outpost (1988)
The Ms. Pac-Man machines in the background of this magazine ad for Jordache Jeans are interesting. The one in the center appears to be a Pac-Man cabinet with a Ms. Pac-Man marquee. Also, the timing is interesting. Ms. Pac-Man was certainly still in arcades in 1988, but it was a six year old game by then.
Feb 21, 2019
Feb 20, 2019
You wake up and sleepily stumble into the bathroom. You do your business at the toilet and start to brush your teeth. As you brush, your brain catches up with you and you start to feel fully awake. By the time you're finished and ready for the mouthwash, the reality of your situation comes clear. You're about to spit your Listerine down the same porcelain basin that the artist who sang Blowin' In The Wind spat in when he was a toddler. This fantasy can be yours for the opening bid of $4,000 on eBay.
Now if only I could find Arlo Guthrie's toilet brush.
Feb 19, 2019
Mister Donut restaurant sign
In the 80's, there were more Mister Donut restaurants in the area than Dunkin' Donuts. Some time in the early 90's, they were all converted to other franchise donut shops; mostly Curry Donuts and Donut Connection. These days, the Mister Donut chain is still going strong in Japan, but it has disappeared in the US.
Feb 18, 2019
Phillies Bullpen Cart
Veterans Stadium (Early 80's)
In honor of the start of Spring Training, here is relief pitcher Ron Reed being brought to the mound 35 years ago (give or take).
Feb 17, 2019
WWE Elimination Chamber
Houston, TX (2019)
Daniel Bryan had an excellent match in the main event, which came down to he and Kofi Kingston fighting for the championship, but the real MVP of the show was that guy on the right with the sign. He had a different one for nearly every wrestler entrance, and most of them were pretty funny. The one above is my favorite, followed by the sign that he held up with the Australian tag team The IIconics came down to the ring.
Feb 16, 2019
Hazleton Roll ?
Hana Sushi & Hibachi - Hazleton, PA
We checked out a new sushi restaurant earlier today that opened in a building at the end of a strip mall that used to be a Mister Donut when I was a kid, and was a Donut Connection as recently as last year.
I ordered the Hazleton Roll, which is supposed to be spicy scallop, cucumber and masago rolled together and topped with sliced beef. What I received seemed to be beef topped with jalapeno slices and ketchup. This doesn't match anything on the menu, so I'm not sure what to call this, but I won't be ordering it again (not that I meant to order it the first time).
Feb 15, 2019
Ferrara Candy Company (2019)
Nestlé sold their American candy division to the Ferrara Candy Company at around this time last year. Since that time, they have completely reformulated the Butterfinger recipe. To promote these new bars, they've created this awesome creepy alien that reminds me a bit of the old Reese's Pieces "Cousin Willie" commercials.
The new recipe bars are finally in stores in my area and I have to admit that this new version is a big improvement. The peanut butter is creamier, the chocolate is more rich, and the texture now resembles a 5th Avenue bar, a drastic improvement over the dense orange brick that could get hard enough to break your teeth.
Feb 14, 2019
The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening
Nintendo Game Boy (1993)
I got so excited about Tetris 99 that I didn't notice the major announcements that were made on Nintendo Direct yesterday. Not only are we getting Super Mario Maker 2, but we're also getting a remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening on the Switch. The video clips show a beautifully rendered remastering of the 1993 Game Boy classic that reminds me of a smooth claymation cartoon. Both games are due for release later this year.
Feb 13, 2019
I went onto the Nintendo eShop to see if they had released any new Sega Ages or retro arcade games and found a very pleasant surprise in Tetris 99. The game is free for Nintendo Online subscribers and it's worth the $19.99 yearly subscription by itself. It's a brilliant twist on the game that puts you against 98 other competitors at the same time. As you play, you can target other players to send junk pieces to, and as you knock other players out of the game, you earn badges that allow you to dump more junk pieces on your opponent. Check it out!
I'm up to Level 16 and I've won my first battle.
Feb 12, 2019
Feb 10, 2019
Feb 9, 2019
Feb 8, 2019
The new Diet Coke Strawberry Guava and Blueberry Acai flavors are pretty decent. They don't have the same spicy aftertaste as the four flavors that came out earlier, and the fruit flavor is mellow and not overly sweet. I still think the faux Red Bull can and overly simplistic design is lame, but I'm sure that their marketing team has a whole power point deck that it "tested well with millennials".
Feb 7, 2019
Just a few hours ago, it was announced that the Philadelphia Phillies have acquired the best catcher in baseball by trading Jorge Alfaro, Sixto Sánchez and Will Stewart to the Miami Marlins for J.T. Realmuto.
It seemed like the Phillies had been chasing after the replacement for Carlos Ruiz since 2012 when the Phillies traded Hunter Pence to the Giants for Tommy Joseph. Injuries moved Joseph to 1B and the team turned to Cameron Rupp and Andrew Knapp. By the summer of 2015, the team was able to land catching prospect Jorge Alfaro (among others) from the Rangers for Cole Hamels. I had high hopes for Alfaro, but I feel like he was rushed to the big leagues, as he struck out a lot and seemed to have trouble with passed balls. With this trade, the Phillies have put an end to their search for a catcher. Realmuto is 27 years old (only two years older than Alfaro) and is signed through the end of the 2020 season. He is a proven talent, both offensively and defensively, and I have every expectation that the Phillies will try to extend him for at least a few more years.
The criticisms I've heard about this trade center around Sixto Sánchez and whether or not the Phillies overpaid for Realmuto. It reminded me of the fans and writers who wondered if the Phillies would regret giving up Kyle Drabek in the trade that brought Roy Halladay to Philadelphia. Sixto is young and has a lot of potential, but I'm not convinced that he's the next Pedro Martinez, as some sports writers and scouts have suggested. He has yet to pitch above the Florida State League, and he's had some pretty serious elbow injuries that cost him nearly all of the 2018 season. The last I heard was that they kept him out of the Arizona Fall League due to a setback in his recovery. He may recover and develop into the ace that Miami is hoping he'll become, but it's just as likely that he'll be another Kyle Drabek who the Phillies were able to trade while he still has value. If he were pitching for Lehigh Valley, or if this was just a short term rental on Realmuto, I may have felt differently, but Sixto is a long way from the major leagues, and quite frankly, his health may keep him from a major league rotation altogether, let alone to become the next Pedro Martinez.
I could not possibly be happier about the way this winter has been shaping up. By trading guys like J.P. Crawford, Jorge Alfaro and Sixto Sánchez this winter for All-Star caliber MLB talent, the Phillies are making bold moves that demonstrate a desire to win now, and to put and end to the "wait-and-see" prospect watch that has dominated much of the decade.
Also, a certain target of the Phillies front office this winter just so happens to be a big J.T. Realmuto fan. Hmmm....
Feb 6, 2019
Feb 5, 2019
Serbian techno artist Remute has a history of using creative media to release his music. With the philosophy that "floppy is the new vinyl", his 2017 album, Limited, was released on a 3.5" floppy disk. His follow-up album, Technoptimistic, is scheduled to be released on March 22nd on a Sega Genesis cartridge.
The upcoming plug-and-play techno album will be region free and will play on any model Sega Genesis or Mega Drive console, though Remute has said that it will sound the best on the original 1988-1990 model. Samples of the new music have been added to Remute's Bandcamp channel.
Feb 4, 2019
I binged the entire series in a single day and was fascinated from start to finish. It stars Natasha Lyonne (Nichols from Orange Is The New Black) who has managed to top her amazing performance in Orange. Maxine, the woman who is throwing the "sweet birthday baby" a party is played by Greta Lee. I've never heard of her before this show, but she is fantastic and hysterically funny.
The series also includes Brendan Sexton III as a mysterious homeless man. I mention him because he was the kid who plays "Warren" in Empire Records, and I'd like to think that they take place in the same universe where Empire Records eventually closes due to file sharing and streaming media, and it sends "Warren" into a spiral that brings him to this series. It also has short appearances by Devin Ratray (Buzz from Home Alone) and Burt Young (Paulie from Rocky).
The show is absolutely brilliant. I imagine that this is what Groundhog Day would look like if it were written by David Lynch, but that doesn't do it justice. I almost don't want to see a Season 2 because this series is perfect as it is. I wouldn't change a thing.
Feb 3, 2019
The last time there was a Halftime Heat, I was 18 years old and the company was still called WWF. It was called Halftime Heat because, at the time, there was a wrestling show called Sunday Night Heat, and the match aired on Sunday against the halftime performance at Super Bowl 33.
The event was held at the America West Arena in Phoenix, and it was promoted as an "empty arena match". There were no fans in attendance - just The Rock, Mick Foley (as Mankind) and the referee. In one of the most creative matches of the Attitude Era, Mankind defeated The Rock to win his second WWF World Heavyweight Championship.
Later today, twenty years after this match, WWE will be airing a second Halftime Heat to lure fans away from Maroon 5 at Super Bowl 53. This time around, the match will be taking place at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida and will feature a six man tag team match between Aleister Black, The Velveteen Dream and Ricochet taking on Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano and Adam Cole. It's bound to be interesting as it's the first time Ciampa and Gargano will be teaming up since the former turned on the latter after DIY failed to win the NXT Tag Team Championship.
"If I had a gun and was sitting inside a tank with one shell left and Meng is 300 yards away, he's mine, right? Well the first thing I'm going to do is jump out of the tank and shoot myself because I don't want to wound that son of a bitch and have him pissed off at me."
- Jake "The Snake" Roberts
Whether you call him King Tonga, Haku or Meng, it is undisputed by everyone who has ever worked with the man that he is legitimately the baddest man who ever set foot in a ring of any kind. Happy 60th birthday to Mr. Tonga 'Uli'uli Fifita, and may god have mercy on anyone who pisses you off.
Feb 2, 2019
Tip Top Bistro
108 Cass Street - Woodstock, IL
This was one of the locations used in the filming of one of the greatest and most original comedies of all time - Groundhog Day. The restaurant, which is called the Tip Top Cafe in the film, is where Bill Murray gorges himself on cake and donuts and announces to Andie MacDowell that he is a god. The curb outside where Phil Connors is mocked by Ned Ryerson after stepping into a deep puddle, is marked with a plaque that reads "Bill Murray Stepped Here".
Photo Credits: Arthur de Wolf  
Feb 1, 2019
Route 315 - Pittston, PA
When I first heard that McDonald's was coming out with limited edition Cheesy Bacon Fries, I was excited. After I opened the box and took a look at them, I was disappointed. Then I tasted them and I was excited all over again. They're not much to look at, and it wouldn't kill them to add a little more bacon, but whatever they're using for the liquid cheese mix is absolutely perfect. I want a big cup full to pour on a cheesesteak.