Jun 30, 2019

AEW Is The Real Deal

AEW Fyter Fest
Ocean Center - Daytona Beach, FL
If you are a fan of professional wrestling and you didn't watch All Elite WrestlingFyter Fest, please do yourself a favor and go stream it now.  This show was held in conjunction with the CEO Gaming and it was streamed live for free on B/R Live in the United States and Canada, and on the Fite Network elsewhere around the world.

I don't want to spoil any of the matches or label anything with star ratings, but I will say this: I have never heard of 22 year old Darby Allin prior to this show, but he is an absolutely incredible pro wrestler.  I cannot overstate how excellent his match with Cody Rhodes was, and how much command over his character and his performance that Allin has.  I highly recommend watching the entire show, including the "Buy In" pre-show, but if you only have time for one, Cody vs. Allin is the one to watch.

Jun 29, 2019

The Heyman/Bischoff Era

On Thursday, Sports Illustrated reported that Paul Heyman has been named the Executive Director of Monday Night Raw while Eric Bischoff will take on the same role on Smackdown.  According to the article, the roles are legitimate and not part of a scripted storyline, like the "general manager" role that WWE rolls out from time to time, but the advertisements sent to potential ticket buyers for next week's Raw and Smackdown seem to indicate that the roles will be acknowledged on the show.

Paul Heyman has a reputation of being one of the most creative and effective bookers in the history of the industry, taking ECW from an unknown brand operating out of bingo halls to a worldwide brand.  Meanwhile, Eric Bischoff took WCW from a runner-up brand in a dying industry in the early 90's to the premier brand of professional wrestling, and is largely responsible for the renaissance of the industry in the mid to late 90's.

While both promoters have strengths and weaknesses, both have created pro wrestling characters and storylines that are far superior to the disastrous writing that has plagued WWE television for nearly 20 years.  The success of this move depends entirely on one person - Vince McMahon.  If he can stay out of the way and let Paul and Eric work with their creative teams, this has the potential to greatly improve WWE programming.  If he continues to meddle in the creative process, this will be just the latest in an ever growing list of professional wrestling that could have been great if not for the influence of a man who is several decades out of touch with the audience.

Jun 28, 2019

They're Very Refreshing

They're giving away a free download of the Junior Mints episode of Seinfeld from 1993 when you buy a box of the candy.  It's the perfect snack for having your spleen removed.

Jun 27, 2019

The Mets Are Bamboo-zled

Mike Francesa’s live reaction the Jean Segura’s walk off home run is an instant classic.
Since Brad Miller brought that bamboo plant into the clubhouse, the Phillies have broken a 7 game losing streak by sweeping the Mets in a four game series.  They capped off the sweep by hitting two home runs off of Mets closer Edwin Diaz in the bottom of the 9th.  In each game of the series, the Phillies came from behind to beat the Mets, including two walk off victories (their first two of the season).  This is the first time the Phillies swept the Mets in a four game series since 2007.

The latest walk off home run by Jean Segura earlier today inspired Mets radio personality Mike Francesa to launch into a tirade and suggest that the team head south down the turnpike and allow the '69 Mets to suit up and take on the Braves in their upcoming series.

Meanwhile in Philadelphia, bamboo has become the hottest selling item in Chinatown.  Also, Brad Miller's Bamboo has its own profile on Twitter, and the souvenir shops at Citizens Bank Park have gotten on board with their own collection of lucky plants for sale.

The Phillies are flying down to Miami this evening for a three game series with the Marlins that starts tomorrow.  John Clark of NBC Sports bumped in to Phillies reliever J.D. Hammer, who is making sure that Brad Miller's lucky bamboo makes the trip with the team.

Jun 26, 2019

Whoops There Goes Another Bamboo Plant

Tuesday, June 25, 2019
New York Mets @ Philadelphia Phillies
Citizens Bank Park - Philadelphia, PA

Pitching: Walker Lockett vs. Jake Arrieta
Results: Phillies defeated Mets, 7-5
Photo Gallery

Someone that my dad works with gave him tickets to last night's game, so we had an unexpected Tuesday night at the ballpark.  Because of this, I spent most of the day in a Rockstar and coffee-fueled haze as I tried to get through a day of work without collapsing into a coma, but it was well worth the lack of sleep.

Prior to the game, the Phillies honored The Sounds of Philadelphia as a part of African American Heritage Celebration Night.  The highlight of the celebration was Russell Thompkins Jr (lead singer of 70's soul icons The Stylistics) singing You Make Me Feel Brand New before the start of the game.  He also sang Take Me Out To The Ballgame during the 7th inning stretch.

Actor David Harbour threw out the first pitch of the game.  He plays police chief Jim Hopper on Stranger Things, and he showed up to the ballpark without New Coke or an Upside Down Whopper.  On the plus side, it looked like he threw a strike.

It didn't look like it was going to be a good night for the Fightins for the first few innings.  Jake Arrieta didn't have his best stuff.  He gave up a base hit on the first pitch of the game, and the Mets scored in each of the first three innings, including home runs to Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith. The Phillies hit a pair of solo home runs - Scott Kingery in the 1st and Rhys Hoskins in the 4th.  By the middle of the 6th, the Mets were leading 5 - 2, but the Phillies fought back in the bottom of the 6th.  Bryce Harper drew a walk and J.T. Realmuto hit a double to put runners on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out. Jay Bruce scored Harper from third on a groundout to bring the score to 5-3. Caesar Hernandez then singled to drive home Realmuto, and Maikel Franco hot a two run homer to give the Phillies their first lead of the game. Brad Miller (inspired by his lucky bamboo) came up to bat next and hit his first home run as a member of the Phillies to take a 7-5 lead that the Phillies would hold for the rest of the game.

After giving up home runs in consecutive at bats to Franco and Miller, Mets pitcher Wilmer Font proved himself to be a real piece of garbage by throwing at Scott Kingery's head. He ended up catching Kingery in the shoulder, and instead of ejecting the pitcher, home plate umpire "Cowboy" Joe West issued a warning to both teams. Gabe Kapler came out to argue the ridiculous call and was thrown out of the game. West has been the biggest horses ass in all of baseball for many years, so this is just another line on his long resume of asinine decisions. It's safe to say that absolutely no one in the game will miss Joe West when he's gone.

The Phillies bullpen didn't make it easy, but they managed to get through the rest of the game without giving up a run.  This is the first game in Philadelphia that I've been to with my Dad that the Phillies won.  Whoops, there goes another rubber tree bamboo plant.

Jun 25, 2019

Health Food At The Ballpark

Donut Burger
Boardwalk Eats
Citizens Bank Park - Philadelphia, PA
My dinner at the game tonight consists of a thick hamburger topped with applewood smoked bacon bacon, American cheese and cherry pepper jam in a glazed donut bun.

Jun 24, 2019

Brad's Bamboo

This horribly pieced-together collection of screenshots from an NBC Sports video shows Phillies utility infielder Brad Miller holding his lucky bamboo.  Brad is confident that this plant will end the Phillies losing streak, which is currently at 7 straight games after being swept by the Nationals and the Marlins.

As I write this, the Mets just took a 6-5 lead in the top of the 5th inning.

Jun 23, 2019

Four Birds In Five Hours

A certain 22 pound schnoodle is having a field day chasing birds.  This little fellow is the fourth one that he's caught or cornered in the past five hours.  He has also managed to chase a baby bunny into a bush, and he's kept a close watch on it in the hopes that it will hop out.

My Sunday afternoon has been spent chasing after the wildlife in the yard and relocating Harvey's new feathered friends to my neighbors yard where they will be safe, and hopefully smart enough to not come back and get caught again.

Jun 22, 2019

The Moon Is Made Of Marshmallows

Oreo Marshmallow Moon cookies
Mondel─ôz (2019)
If ever there was a product marketed specifically to me, this is it.  Limited edition snack food?  Check.  Glow-in-the-dark packages?  Check.  Free stickers?  Check.  NASA and rocketships?  Check.  Delicious cookies with creme that tastes like Lucky Charms marshmallows?  Check.

Someone wake me out of my sugar coma before work on Monday.

Jun 21, 2019

Ten Year Challenge

Better late than never.

Jun 20, 2019

The Warehouse In The Woods

Dave Matthews Band
Summer 2019 Tour
Bethel Woods Center For The Arts - Bethel, NY
When I was in my early teens, my favorite store to visit was Gallery Of Sound.  Not only did they have tapes and CDs at decent prices, but they also had imports that no other store had, and they would tear the cover off of the previous month's Guitar World magazines that had gone unsold and put them at the front of the store to take for free.  Next to this pile of free rock magazines were a line of cardboard boxes in front of signs, with a pencil and little scraps of paper nearby.  If you filled one out with your name and phone number and put it in the box, you were entered for a chance to win a prize.  I never won the grand prize, but I did end up with some pretty cool things, like an autographed Deep Purple CD box set.  This was also how I was introduced to the music of what would become one of my favorite bands after I won a copy of Under The Table And Dreaming along with a t-shirt and a hat.

These tickets were an early birthday present, and it was a very good show.  I didn't get to see much of the stage due to the two massively tall hippies dry humping each other directly in my field of vision, but Bethel Woods had recently installed screens on the lawn, so I still got to see the show.  The acoustics of the venue are fantastic, and Dave sounded as amazing as usual.

Jun 19, 2019

Standing Guard Outside The Hippie Mecca

ZacMax Monster
Bethel, New York
I passed this awesome statue of a metal cyclops holding a ray gun on the way to see the Dave Matthews Band.  He's on County Road 117 just a little bit before you get to the entrance of The Museum at Bethel Woods in Bethel, New York.

This was the best picture I could get of it while I was driving past, but there are better photos of it on his Instagram.  He has a ton of pictures of his rad art there, and on ZacMax.com.

Jun 18, 2019

Killing The Shift

The shift has been one of the worst things to happen to the game.  I hate when the Phillies do it, and I hate when other teams do it against the Phillies.  I hope Matt Carpenter can start a trend of left handed hitters throughout the league stuffing the shift down the opposing team's throat.

Jun 17, 2019

Lunch Truck Cheesesteaks

Provolone Cheesesteak w/ Onions & Mushrooms
Taste Time To Love Us food truck
They may have a wonky name for their restaurant, but they make a damn fine cheesesteak.

Jun 16, 2019

Eat Cereal and Meet Egon

The New Ghostbusters Movie Mystery Sweepstakes
Ghostbusters Cereal (1989)
The sequel to Ghostbusters was released to theaters thirty years ago today.  I think of Batman, Ghostbusters 2 and Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade as being the closing chapters of the 80's - the last big things of the decade.

One of the many ways that Ghostbusters 2 was marketed was through The New Ghostbusters Movie Mystery Sweepstakes.  The name of this contest makes me wonder if they had other ideas besides "Ghostbusters 2" for the name of the movie.  The marketing materials usually go into production long before the movie hits theaters, so referring to the film as "The New Ghostbusters Movie" might have been a way to hedge their bets, just in case.  The record featured the voice actor who played Egon in The Real Ghostbusters (the Saturday morning cartoon) asking three trivia questions based on the new movie.  If you knew the answers, you could write them on a 3x5 card and mail it in for a chance to win the grand prize of meeting Egon (Harold Ramis) in person.

There were two versions of the record.  Vinnie Donadio has shared the recordings on both the white one and the yellow one on YouTube.

Jun 15, 2019

Stranger Promotion

Upside Down Whopper
Burger King (2019)
Ok, I love Burger King and Stranger Things.  I'm also a sucker for limited edition fast food items, particularly when they relate to the 80's.  That being said, I think we've reached a new level of bizarre when the limited edition food item in question is literally the exact same hamburger turned upside down.

To make things even more strange, they're only selling these one day (Friday, June 21st) and they'll only be available at eleven select Burger King locations, the closest of which to me is at 2400 Caster Avenue in Philadelphia.

Jun 14, 2019

I'm Tempted To Drink It Upside Down

New Coke / Stranger Things Collectors Pack 
The original launch of New Coke happened in April, 1985.  I was four years old, so I missed out on the fiasco that followed when Coca-Cola discontinued the original recipe.  Consumers and bottlers protested the change and they brought back "the real thing" 79 days later.  In the years that followed, they sold the original recipe as Coca-Cola Classic and the new recipe as New Coke.

I don't drink Coca-Cola very often so I'm no expert, but I tasted the New Coke and really couldn't tell the difference.  It was a bit more sweet, I suppose, but nothing to get too worked up about.  I'm glad to have had the chance to try it.

Jun 13, 2019

What's Up With Arcade 1Up

I'm not sure what to make of the Arcade 1Up machines.  They haven't been getting great reviews, and the ones I've seen and played at Wal-Mart felt a little cheap.  They're much smaller than a genuine arcade cabinet, so they don't have an authentic feel to them.  This is especially true for two player games.  I'm not sure how two grown adults could have a halfway decent match of Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter without elbowing each other.  Additionally, the ones that were on display at Wal-Mart were out for a few weeks, but most of the artwork had worn off of the control panel.  I know kids can be pretty hard on display model merchandise, but I wouldn't expect something to look that worn after five or six years, let alone two or three weeks.

Having said all that, the price is pretty fair for what you're getting.  If you set aside $50 a month and bought one at a time when you saved up enough, you could fill a room of your house as a personal vintage arcade in just a few years - far less expensive and with less upkeep and required technical knowledge than doing the same with the actual vintage coin-op machines.  It helps that they can easily be carried by a single person and fit in the back of a car.  Vintage arcade are heavier than your refrigerator and require freight shipping or a road trip with a truck and a few friends to help you load and unload.

Then, there's always the question of emulation.  You could build or commission a custom cabinet and load it with emulators that will play thousands of games.  It's not entirely legal, but it's also not very likely that the local police are going to be kicking down your door to see if your copy of Defender is licensed by Williams Electronics.  Ethical concerns aside, the joystick configurations and other settings can be a pain sometimes.

The real game changer in my eyes came with the unveiling of the Star Wars cabinet at E3.  I can't describe what these games mean to me.  The vector graphics on the original Star Wars, the chiptune Ewok sounds on Endor in Return Of The Jedi, the feel of the flight yoke in your hands... all of it.  It's a pure experience of few kilobytes of crude lights and sounds that have the power to transport the player simultaneously back to the 80's and to a galaxy far, far away.

This is going to be the Arcade 1Up that I'm going to have to bring home.

Jun 12, 2019

Another Retro Gaming Rebirth

Turbografx 16 Mini
Konami (2019)
I never owned or played a Turbografx 16 when I was a kid.  The console comes up in conversation frequently on the Retro Warriors podcast, so I downloaded a few of the games that they recommended from the Wii and Wii U Virtual Console.

It was announced yesterday that Konami will be joining the trend of releasing mini consoles with a built-in library of games.  So far, they've announced that it will include R-Type, New Adventure Island, Ninja Spirit, Ys Book I and II, Dungeon Explorer and Alien Crush, and they've said that many others will be announced in the lead up to the release date (which hasn't been announced yet).

I'm looking forward to this.

Jun 11, 2019

Kids... Don't Eat And Drive

I passed this car on the way home.  I feel bad that someone would do this, but not bad enough to not share it.

Jun 10, 2019

Bruce Almighty

It's a damn shame that Andrew McCutchen is hurt, but we got lucky by bringing in this dude.  What an incredible way to start in Philadelphia!

Jun 9, 2019


Howard Jones - Men Without Hats - All Hail The Silence
Transform Tour - June 9, 2019
Penn's Peak - Jim Thorpe, PA
Photo Album - Ticket
I got to see Howard Jones and Men Without Hats a couple of years ago on the Retro Futura tour.  The show was a sampler platter of artists who are primarily associated with the 80's.  On their New Jersey stop on the tour, Howard Jones performed 11 songs while every other artist sang four or five songs.  It was a fun show, and it made me want to see more.

In the weeks leading up to this concert, I had been listening to the Transform album at least once a day at work.  It's the first Howard Jones studio album since Ordinary Heroes came out in 2009, and it's very good.  It has the classic Howard Jones infectious and relentlessly positive synthpop vibe without being too similar to any of his previous work.  I'm happy to say that it was even better to hear live.  He performed all of the songs off of the new album except for Eagle Will Fly Again and Mother, and all of his classic hits were mixed in throughout the show.

Men Without Hats had a much longer set than they had on the Retro Futura tour.  Ivan Doroschuk is two years older than my dad and he has more energy than I have on my best day.  Included in their performance was Pop Goes The World (my favorite of their songs), an awesome cover of Abba's S.O.S. and, of course, Safety Dance.

All Hail The Silence was a nice surprise.  I listened to some of their work on YouTube before the show and thought they had a really good sound.  When they started, the crowd didn't seem too interested, but they were won over pretty quickly.  By the middle of the second song, I heard several voices echoing the sentiment that these guys are pretty damn good.  Later in the night, singer Christian Burns and keyboardist BT came out to perform with Howard Jones on some of his songs, including The One To Love You, which Jones and BT co-wrote.

Jun 8, 2019

Bustin' Makes Me Feel Good

Columbia Pictures (1984)
One of the most iconic movies of the decade and of all-time was released to theaters nationwide 35 years ago today.  Since that time, it has been the base material for sequels, reboots, cartoons, comics and video games, but none of them have come close to being as incredible as the original.

Jun 7, 2019

Congratulations, Joaquin Wilde

This photo was taken on February 16th, 2007 at Night One of the Chikara King Of Trios tournament.  The card that night included several performers from the DDT Pro Wrestling promotion out of Tokyo, including a twenty year old cruiserweight named Shiima Xion.  He wrestled Nobutaka Moribe in the only non-tournament match of the night.  I met him at intermission and he was a pretty cool dude.

In the years since, Xion wrestled across the world as Zema Ion and DJ Z, including a run in TNA / Impact Wrestling as the X-Division Champion.  Earlier this year, he signed with WWE.

Last night at Minnreg Hall in Largo, FL, Xion made his WWE debut at an NXT live event.  Wrestling under his new ring name, Joaquin Wilde, he defeated Kona Reeves.  Congratulations, dude.  Looking forward to seeing your NXT / WWE career.

Jun 6, 2019

Pretzels With Trout

Superpretzel Soft Pretzels
J&J Snack Foods (2019)
Not long after Aaron Nola became the face of Yuengling beer, Mike Trout has signed on to promote Superpretzel.  It seems 2019 is the year of Philly area baseball sponsorship deals.

Jun 5, 2019

Chickedy Canada - The Canadian Chicken

Tomato Mozzarella Chicken Sandwich
McDonald's - Mountain Top, PA
The Canadian contribution to the Worldwide Favorites menu is the Tomato Mozzarella Chicken Sandwich. It doesn't have as colorful of a name, but it's very tasty. The description refers to the dressing as a "tomato and herb sauce", but this doesn't do it justice. It's a very tasty condiment, and it makes this a must-try menu item.

Jun 4, 2019

You Smell A Little Gamey

Axe goes by the name Lynx in Australia and New Zealand.  They've just announced a new line of X-Box soap, deodorant and body spray that I can only imagine is geared towards boys between the ages of 8 to 14.  If they wanted old farts like me, the would have co-branded with Atari.

Jun 3, 2019

Pitfall Harry's Swimming Pool

Dave Jacobs stayed at an Airbnb in South Miami recently and found this cheerful looking gator relaxing in the pool on an inflatable gator (source: Palm Beach Post).

Jun 2, 2019

Matt Stairs 2.0

The Phillies just announced that they've traded a 23 year old infielder from Clearwater to the Seattle Mariners for three-time All Star Jay Bruce.

Although his best years may be behind him, his presence will be very welcome in Philadelphia.  We needed a left handed power bat, and he certainly fills that role.  He already has 14 home runs this season, which is more than any other member of the Phillies this season (Hoskins has 13, Harper and McCutchen have 10, Realmuto and Franco have 8).  We also need an OF to take Odubel Herrera's roster spot when the Phillies trade or release him, and we need someone who can pitch hit on nights that he doesn't start.  Also, by all accounts, he's a fantastic teammate and a team leader.

Jay Bruce is signed through the end of the 2020 season.  He's owed just over $21 million, but Matt Gelb reported that the Mariners are sending $18 million to the Phillies in the deal, so we're getting a season and a half of a left handed veteran power bat who can come off the bench and rake at Citizens Bank Park for $3 million.  Not too shabby!

Jun 1, 2019

That's Quite A Poker Face, Pete

Philadelphia Phillies at Riverfront Stadium
The Chicago Tribute - June 1, 1979
This photo of Pete Rose playing cards with Larry Bowa and Greg Luzinski was taken 40 years ago today.  My favorite part is that it looks like Pete is wearing a t-shirt with his face on it.