Mar 31, 2019

This Watch Is Bonkers

Bonkers Candy
Robot Watch comic book ad
Nabisco (1986)

Mar 30, 2019

The Oath

The Drive-In Oath
Joe Bob Briggs
The return of The Last Drive-In on Shudder begins with a clip of Joe Bob taking the stage on July 25th, 1985 and leading the audience in reciting The Oath.  The movies for the first week are C.H.U.D. and Castle Freak, which make a perfect double feature for horror fans.  Barbara Crampton is on the set with Joe Bob for the second movie, and while she takes herself way too seriously, she can't cramp our style.  The drive-in will never die.

Mar 29, 2019

An Impossible Lunch At The Ballpark

A cheesesteak with a bucket of crabfries and a lemonade are my go-to dinner at the ballpark.  I look forward to it every year.  However, this year's Opening Day meal had an impossible twist.
The Roots co-frontman Questlove launched a meatless cheesesteak at the ballpark. Questlove's Cheesesteak is made with Impossible Meat 2.0, a vegetarian meat substitute.  The plant-based "meat" is topped with onions, peppers and cheese served on an amoroso roll.

What Questlove lacks in throwing out opening day pitches, he makes up for in creating unusual cheesesteaks.  It's not going to change your life (unless you're a vegetarian), but it does taste like a cheesesteak.  It's not something I'd go out of my way for, particularly at a ballpark where you can't throw a rock without hitting six places that serve cheesesteak, but this is a solid choice if you want to avoid eating meat.

Mar 28, 2019

Opening Day 2019

Opening Day
Thursday, March 28, 2019
Atlanta Braves @ Philadelphia Phillies
Citizen Bank Park - Philadelphia, PA

Pitching: Julio Teheran vs. Aaron Nola
Results: Phillies defeated Braves, 10-4
Photo Gallery

It's been ten years since my first Opening Day.  It's a very different team than it was back in 2009, but the energy at Citizen's Bank Park is back.  One of the reasons why is this dude - right fielder Bryce Harper.  We scouted out a place near Chickie's & Pete's at the edge of Ashburn Alley to greet the players at the Leadoff Walk.  It's sort of like a mini parade where the players high five and fist bump the fans as the walk down Ashburn Alley and to the field.  That's where I took this photo of Bryce and where I got to fist bump him before his first game as a member of the Phillies.

Opening Day was a day of Phillies firsts.  It was the first game in a Phillies uniform for Harper, center fielder Andrew McCutchen, catcher J.T. Realmuto, shortstop Jean Segura and relief pitcher David Robertson.  On the other side, it was the first appearance of third baseman Josh Donaldson as a member of the Braves.

The Phillies got off to a great start.  Andrew McCutchen led off the game with a solo homer in his first at-bat as a member of the Phillies.  Aaron Nola had a rough 2nd inning giving up a single and three walks, but he limited the damage to one run, an RBI single by Nick Markakis that scored Ronald Acuna (Markakis was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double).  The Phillies took the lead again in the bottom of the 4th when J.T. Realmuto walked and both Odubel Herrera and Cesar Hernandez followed with RBI singles.  The Phillies added to their lead in the bottom of the 6th when Maikel Franco hit a three run homer off of Shane Carle to score Rhys Hoskins and Cesar Hernandez.  The Braves fought back in the top of the 7th when pinch hitter Matt Joyce hit a two run homer off of Hector Neris, but the Phillies did more damage in the bottom half of the inning.  It began when Andrew McCutchen walked and Jean Segura singled.  The runners advanced to 2nd and 3rd on a throwing error, and the Braves responded with the dumbest intentional walk I have ever seen, putting Bryce Harper on first to face Rhys Hoskins with the bases loaded and no outs.  On the second pitch of the at bat, Hoskins hit his first career grand slam.  The Braves scratched out one last run in the top of the 8th when Ronald Acuna hit an RBI single off of David Robertson to score Josh Donaldson, but he got out of the inning, and Pat Neshek pitched a scoreless 9th for the 10 - 4 Phillies victory.

Mar 27, 2019

Pilot A Starship For Your Birthday

Birthday Party Flyer
Aladdin's Castle (1983)
I had two birthday parties at Aladdin's Castle when I was a kid, and both of them were a blast.  The one in the Laurel Mall in Hazleton had Discs Of Tron, but they didn't have the full immersive cabinet that's pictured at the bottom right corner of this flyer.

Mar 26, 2019

Ahead Of His Time and Gone Too Soon

Ranking Roger passed away earlier today at 56 after a battle with lung cancer and brain tumors.  The brilliant British singer of The Beat and General Public was decades ahead of his time with music that fused ska, punk and new wave in the late 70's and throughout the 80's and 90's.

I wasn't able to see The Beat in concert until the Retro Futura tour in 2017.  Ranking Roger didn't perform on that tour (King Schascha was in his place), but the energy of the music that Roger gave to the world permeated through the building.

Rest in peace, sir, and thank you.

Mar 25, 2019

All The Phils?

Sports Illustrated
March 25th to April 1st issue
I'm very happy to see the Phillies on the cover of Sports Illustrated.  While I'm not at all surprised that 2015 NL MVP Bryce Harper is front and center, I am quite surprised and disappointed that 2013 NL MVP Andrew McCutchen has been left off altogether.

Mar 24, 2019

Larry Cohen

Larry Cohen died yesterday at his home in California.  He wrote and directed numerous cult classic horror flicks, including It's Alive and The Stuff.  Depending on which press release you believe, he was either 77 or 82 years old.

Mar 23, 2019

Console Of A Madman

Mike Gedeon has owned and operated the Video Game Connection store in Cleveland for over twenty years.  He shared this incredible Polaroid of his Atari setup, complete with an Ozzy poster, from the early 80's.

Mar 22, 2019

Major League Memories

Sunday, March 22, 1992
New York Mets @ Atlanta Braves
Municipal Stadium - West Palm Beach, FL 

Pitching: Bret Saberhagen vs Pete Smith
Results: Mets defeated Braves, 9-3

My dad brought me to my first major league game 27 years ago today.  It was a Grapefruit League Spring Training game between the defending National League Champion Atlanta Braves and the New York Mets in West Palm Beach.  Most of the photos I took at this game are pretty blurry (I was 11 years old and using an old 110 camera), but they capture a pretty important memory in my life.

The Mets picked up four superstars in the winter before the 1992 season.  They signed right fielder Bobby Bonilla to a five year contract that made him the highest paid player in the game at the time.  The also signed future Hall of Famer Eddie Murray to play first base, and six time All-Star Willie Randolph in what would be the final season of his playing career.  Unfortunately, none of these three players appeared in the game; however the fourth and arguably best off-season acquisition was the ace who started the game.  On December 11th, 1991, the Mets traded Gregg Jefferies, Kevin McReynolds and Keith Miller to the Kansas City Royals for two time Cy Young Award winner and former World Series MVP Bret Saberhagen.

I think that is David Justice running to first, but it's too blurry to say for sure.

The Braves were coming off of a historic worst to first season in which they narrowly lost the 1991 World Series to the Minnesota Twins.  I was eleven years old and '91 was the first World Series that I watched every game of, so I was excited to see the players that I watched in the Fall Classic just a few months earlier.  Among the Braves lineup for this game were the 1991 NL MVP Terry Pendleton, and an outfield made up of 1990 Rookie Of The Year David Justice, two-sport phenom "Neon" Deion Sanders, and back-to-back 30/30 man Ron Gant.  Gant would go on to play for the Phillies from 1999 - 2000.  Lonnie Smith was another Braves outfielder with ties to the Phillies who would appear in this game.  He came into the game as a pinch hitter, and in so doing, he became the only player from the 1980 World Series Champion Phillies that I ever got to see play in a game that I attended.

Pete Smith was the starting pitcher for the Braves.  He was originally drafted by the Phillies in 1984.  Prior to the 1986 season, The Phillies traded Smith and catcher Ozzie Virgil to the Braves for Steve Bedrosian and Milt Thompson - a trade that the Fightin's definitely got the better end of.

The Mets beat up on Pete Smith and reliever Mike Stanton in the first six innings of the game en route to a 9 - 3 victory.  Kevin Elster went 3-5 and narrowly missed a home run.  Vince Coleman hit a double and scored two runs.  Howard Johnson went 1-3 with two RBI.  Todd Hundley went 2-4 with an RBI.  Hell, even Saberhagen managed to get a hit and an RBI.  Kent Mercker came in in relief in the 7th and he and closer Alejandro Pena combined to hold the Mets to one hit and no runs for the final three innings of the game.  Meanwhile, Saberhagen did a good job keeping Atlanta in check. The Braves managed to score three runs: Deion Sanders hit an RBI triple, Mark Lemke went 2-4 with an RBI, and a very young Vinny Castilla got a single and an RBI in his only at bat after replacing Jeff Blauser at shortstop late in the game.

This is as close as I could come to piecing together two photos that show the entire field.
This is Bret Saberhagen on the mound, but I can't tell who he's pitching to.

An interesting side note to this game is that it included three pitchers who were involved in a no-hitter in the 1991 season.  As the ace of the Royals rotation, Bret Saberhagen no-hit the White Sox on August 26th.  Just over two weeks later, Kent Mercker and Alejandro Pena (along with Mark Wohlers) pitched a combined no-hitter against the Padres.

One of the main things I'll always remember about this game was the rain.  The game was being televised on TBS.  We sat in the left field bleachers with a group of fans who all worked for the same company and all had matching umbrellas with their company logo that they were hoping to get on tv.  When it started raining, these folks gave Dad and I an umbrella to stay dry.  It wasn't a torrential downpour and there were no delays, but it rained steadily throughout most of the game.  The folks with the matching umbrellas left at around the 5th inning, and the guy who gave us the umbrella must have felt bad for us because he let us keep it.  Actually, everybody in our row left early because of the rain, except for Dad and I who sat through the whole game like a couple of yutzes.  Years later, Dad said that we would have left early too, but he didn't want to go because it was my first Major League game.  He's a pretty awesome Dad.

Mar 21, 2019

Thank You Ichiro

Ichiro Suzuki - Last Time At Bat
Seattle Mariners vs. Oakland Athletics
One of the greatest ballplayers of all time played his last game earlier today at the Tokyo Dome in Japan.  Professional baseball's true hit king ends his career with 3,089 MLB hits and 4,367 hits combined across MLB and NPB.

Mar 20, 2019

Getting Drunk On Film Developing Fluid

Dogfish HeadSuper Eight 
This gose beer is made with a blend of prickly pear, mango, boysenberry, blackberry, raspberry, elderberry, kiwi juices, quinoa and Hawaiian sea salt.  It was designed to have a low enough pH that it could be used to develop Kodak Super 8 film.

Mar 19, 2019

The Best Hit Of The Season

Carlos Santana hit 24 home runs for the Phillies in 2008, but his most impressive hit of the season didn't happen on the field.  It happened in the clubhouse on September 28th after the Phillies had been knocked out of a playoff spot.  ESPN's Jeff Passan reported that during a game against the Braves, Santana caught several of his teammates skipping out on their team to play Fortnite.  Understandably, the veteran was ticked off at the unprofessional attitude of his teammates, and he responded as a leader in the locker room should - he smashed the television with his bat.
“I see a couple players — I don’t want to say names — they play video games during the game.  We come and lose too many games, and I feel like they weren’t worried about it. Weren’t respecting their teammates or coaches or the staff or the office. It’s not my personality. But I’m angry because I want to make it good.”
Whoever it was, I hope they learned something that night.  Santana was one of my favorite Phillies and I have even more respect for him after learning about this.  I hope that HarperMcCutchen and Realmuto can step in and fill his shoes as the veteran leaders in the clubhouse who won't put up with teammates who are happy to lose and to bail on their teammates during a game.

Mar 18, 2019

Hazleton Has Made It To 1998

Starbucks (coming soon)
Woodbine St off Rt. 93 - Hazleton, PA
In only a few short months, I won't have to drive 28 miles to get Egg Bites and a Venti Blonde Roast.  Hooray Hazleton!

Mar 17, 2019

Colonel Lefty Mustard

Steve Carlton (1972)
Pitcher - Philadelphia Phillies
This photo was taken after Carlton's first season with the Phillies.  It was one of the most remarkable seasons ever put together by a pitcher.  He won 27 games for a team that only won 59, he pitched 30 complete games, had 310 strikeouts and an ERA of 1.97.  His winter wardrobe was remarkable for other reasons.

This photo was shared by Brian Flaspohler on Vintage Baseball Photos.

Mar 16, 2019

Sea Devils at the Seashore

The Boardwalk (1953)
Atlantic City, NJ
These photos were taken on the Boardwalk near the Steel Pier.  The billboards at the entrance of the pier promoted the High Diving Horse and two feature films: Sea Devils and Port Sinister.

Mar 15, 2019

The Best Part Of Lent

Jimmy's Quick Lunch
Broad Street - Hazleton, PA
Jimmy's makes the most amazing potato cakes.  They're about as big as my fist, thick as a deck of cards, and they're delicious!  They only sell them on Friday's during Lent, which means that there are only seven days all year that you can get them.

Mar 14, 2019

Space Flight Arcade

Space Flight Arcade
Church Hill Mall - Hazleton, PA
When I was a kid, I looked forward to the days when my grandparents would take me to the Church Hill Mall on Route 309.  While they shopped at Gee Bee's, I went to the Space Flight Arcade.

Aladdin's Castle in the Laurel Mall was the main arcade in town.  As new games were released, older games would be cycled out and would disappear.  When games like BagmanCrossbow and Discs Of Tron were taken out and replaced with newer games, there was a good chance that I'd never get to play them again.  Most of the home ports of vintage arcade games on the Atari 2600, Sega Master System and Nintendo were very limited and bore only a faint resemblance to their arcade counterparts, while others weren't ported to home systems at all.  Many of the vintage arcade games of the late 70's and early 80's disappeared entirely until MAME and the emulation scene of the early 2000's brought them back to life.

Space Flight was my last chance I had to play these games before they disappeared.  Unlike Aladdin's Castle, it was an independently owned arcade.  They didn't get new games very often, so the old classics remained here throughout the decade.  This was the last place I would have the opportunity to play some of my favorite arcade games in my childhood, and for that reason, I will always remember it fondly.

Mar 13, 2019

Ground Zero: Ork

Robin Williams playing Sega CD (1993)
Photo by Arthur Grace - "Robin Williams, A Singular Portrait, 1986-2002"
I love this photo.  Robin Williams loved video games, and he looks completely enthralled by Ground Zero: Texas.  The little chair that Mr. Williams is sitting on and the toys on the shelves suggest that this was his daughter Zelda's play room.  He's playing on the original model Sega CD on the shelf to his left, and there's a Super Nintendo hooked up on the shelf beneath the television.

Mar 12, 2019

Thirty Years Of Surfing

Today is the 30th anniversary of the World Wide Web.  Back in 1989 when it was first invented, no one I knew had a computer.  I remember we got a family computer for Christmas in the early 90's when i lived in Florida, and I don't think I had ever even heard the word "internet" at the time.  The first time I even heard anything about it was from my stepmother.  She told me that there was a service called Prodigy, which she described as a subscription service where you would hook up a phone line to your computer so that you could access an encyclopedia.  I remember thinking that it sounded silly.  Why would anyone pay a monthly fee to read the encyclopedia.  It's right over there on Dad's bookshelf.

Slowly over the next few years, there were more references to the internet on television and in the news.  The Sci-Fi Channel in the mid 90's was one of the few places that would reference their website in their commercials and in short documentaries about the future of computers.  Before I ever got online, I kept a notebook with a list of websites that I learned about from magazines and the Sci-Fi Channel that I couldn't wait to check out.

I was 17 years old when Grandpa and I went to Radio Shack to buy the IBM Aptiva computer in this photo.  It had a 28.8 kpbs modem, and I was excited to go on the internet for the first time.  This was years before DSL modems, so I had to find an ISP with a local phone number - otherwise we would have to pay about .20 cents per minute in long distance fees every time we went online.

We signed up for an account with Uplink.  In the mid 90's, signing up for internet service meant waiting for the installation discs to come in the mail.  Not a CD ROM... four 3.5" floppy discs with a dialer program.  After the discs arrived, I discovered that I had to call to Verizon and make a change to our home phone before we could go online.  It turns out that you need touchtone to log in to dial up internet.  My grandparents never switched over from their rotary phone because it cost an extra .45 cents a month.  Once that last hurdle was cleared, I was all set to head to Happy Puppy to download demos of DOS games.

Happy 30th birthday to the World Wide Web, and a tip of the hat to Uplink for (eventually) bringing me there for the first time 22 years ago.

Mar 11, 2019

Looks Good To Me

Star Trek Color and Activity Book
Merrigold Press (1979)

Mar 10, 2019

Happy Mar.10

Take a moment to play your favorite Mario game this Mar.10.

Mar 9, 2019

The Asphalt Jungle

46th and Broadway (1955)
New York City, NY
The marquee of the Globe Theater is showing a double feature of "two MGM all-time thrillers" - Asphalt Jungle (1950) and Battleground (1949).  The billboard at the top left that advertises the all new Plymouth '55 dates this photo.

Mar 7, 2019

Coca-Cola Creamsicle

In January, I tried four new spicy, fruit flavors of Diet Coke.  In February, two additional non-spicy fruit flavors were released.  None of them impressed me too much.  The flavors weren't very strong, and thin, Red Bull size silver cans were dull and generic looking.

They made the right move with Orange Vanilla Coca-Cola.  First of all, it's in a regular sized can that you can drink without feeling like a hipster doofus.  Secondly, it's not in a lifeless, boring silver can.  Coke is red and Pepsi is blue.  That's just how it is.  This flavor comes in two version, regular and Zero Sugar, and even the latter is red behind the Coca-Cola logo.  On a side note, I have no idea why Coke feels the need to have two separate product lines for "Diet" and "Zero Sugar", but I digress.

The most important thing is that Orange Vanilla Coca-Cola tastes good.  It's reminds me of a Coca-Cola Creamsicle - very refreshing.  It would have been excellent to enjoy on a hot summer day, but it's only available for a limited time - from March to May.  I guess I'll have to stock up for July.

Mar 6, 2019

Klaatu Barada Nookie

The Necronomicondom
Forever Midnight
Brought to you by the same crazy bastards that delivered the Angela Baker light switch, this Rubber Of The Dead is sure to protect your boomstick on Ash Wednesday.

Mar 5, 2019

The Master Of The Five Count

Professional wrestling legend King Kong Bundy passed away yesterday afternoon at the age of 61.  News of his death was shared by longtime friend and promoter David Herro.

He'll always be remembered for his feuds with Andre The Giant and Hulk Hogan, the latter of which culminated in a cage match at the main event of Wrestlemania 2.  He was one of the best big men in the business, and he was remarkable on the mic, drawing fans in with humor and cool bad-guy swagger.

Bundy retired from the ring in 2007 after a lengthy tour of independent promotions, but remained active with fans at shows, conventions and online ever since.  In fact, three hours before his passing, Bundy shared a tweet to promote his upcoming scheduled appearance at Wrestlecon this April.

The big man from Atlantic City will be missed.  Rest in peace, sir.

Mar 4, 2019

975 Career Home Runs

Mike Schmidt photos from the 70's are priceless.  If this tweet from Super 70s Sports is correct, he is pictured here with another future Hall of Famer.  Schmidt and Piazza would hit a combined 975 home runs in their career and would become among third baseman and catcher the game has ever seen.