Jul 31, 2019

A Square Meal From A Shady Place

Shady Maple Smorgasbord
East Earl, PA
I've heard about this restaurant for years, but I hadn't been here until this past Saturday.  The people who told me about this place said that it was huge, but nothing could have prepared me for just how large it is.  At first, I thought Google Maps had brought me to the wrong place, because the building looked like a megachurch or an arena.  It's neither of those things, but it is the largest buffet in the United States.

Not only was the place massively huge, but it was jam packed.  The line to pay to get in was about 15 minutes, and it was a longer wait in an even larger line to get a table.  It wasn't for a lack of tables or staff either.  There were hundreds of tables, and the employees had a table cleaned and a new family seated there at a speed that would have impressed the pit crew at a race track.  However, it was definitely worth the wait.

I didn't take photos of the buffet area, but it was massive.  There were stations where New York strip steaks were being grilled up alongside thick, juicy hamburgers.  This wasn't far from fresh grilled Cajun catfish and salmon station, and right in front of buffet tables that included crab cakes, fried chicken, turkey, potato stuffing, pierogies, roast beef, pork barbecue, and tons of other meats and vegetables from local Amish and Mennonite farms.  One of my favorite foods were the ham balls.  You can see one in the photo at the upper left - it's the big meatball-looking thing at the center right, next to the pierogies.

The drink options were almost as impressive as the food.  They had everything you could think of with multiple options for soda, milk, juice, coffee (hot and iced).  They even had an Icee Machine.  I had a strawberry banana kiwi juice that tasted like Snapple.  There were plenty of desserts too, but I didn't make it that far.  After these two very large plates of food, there was no room for anything else.  I can't eat the way I used to.

Afterwards, we went downstairs to the gift shop.  I was picturing a cash register with some postcards, t-shirts, magnets, and maybe some keychains.  What we found was a ridiculously huge department store that sold just about everything you could think of.  Seriously, it was larger than Boscov's.  There was at least a dozen toy aisles alone, and it wasn't little drug store toys - they were the types of toys you'd find at a Toys R Us, if they were still around.  I'm trying to be more careful with money, so I didn't buy anything, but this little guy was my favorite.

All in all, this place left me feeling blown away.  My grandparents would have loved it - especially my grandfather.  I wish I could have brought him here.  I could only imagine how he would have reacted to all of this food.  My grandmother would have enjoyed it too, particularly the store, but I doubt she could have been convinced to sit that long in a car unless there was a casino involved.  As for myself, I will definitely make it back here any time I'm in Lancaster County.

Jul 30, 2019

Hearts In Aquarius

Heart - Sheryl Crow - Elle King
Love Alive Tour
Bethel Woods Center For The Arts - Bethel, NY
This was a very interesting tour.  An icon of rock & roll from the 70's and 80's headlining with an icon of the 90's and 2000's, and with a modern star opening.

The only thing I knew about Elle King coming into this show was that she's Rob Schneider's daughter and she has a lot of tattoos.  If I'm being honest, her music is not my cup of tea.  It's a little bit more country than rock & roll, and country isn't my genre.  The lyrics came across as a bit too much like a one-of-the-boys or "bad girl" cliché, and her voice has a squeaky, clipped sound that I found to be unpleasant.  I feel like she's trying to be Janis Joplin, but it comes across sounding like what I'd imagine Cyndi Lauper would sound like if she tried to sing with her jaw wired shut.  I know that sounds mean, so I'll give her benefit of the doubt and just say that her music is not part of my generation, so it didn't speak to me.  On a more positive note, she performed one of her hits that I did recognize called Ex's & Oh's, which I enjoyed.

Sheryl Crow was awesome and hasn't missed a beat since I first played Tuesday Night Music Club when I was 13 years old.  On a side note, I still wonder why MTV edited out the "Billy" character from the music video for All I Wanna Do.  She opened with A Change Would Do You Good, All I Wanna Do and My Favorite Mistake.  Then she did a couple of songs from her eleventh album, Threads, which is due to be released at the end of August.  She mentioned that Stevie Nicks sings with her on the second of the new tracks that she performed, and that she tried to sing Stevie's parts in her voice.  After these two songs, she went right back to performing six of her biggest hits, including Leaving Las Vegas as closing with my favorite of her songs, Everyday Is A Winding Road.

This was the fifth time I got to see an artist who has a James Bond theme song on their resume.  The other four were Chris Cornell (You Know My Name), Garbage (The World Is Not Enough), Duran Duran (A View To A Kill), and A-Ha (The Living Daylights).  Each of these four performed their Bond song at the show, but I wasn't lucky enough to make it a perfect 5 for 5 because Sheryl Crow did not sing Tomorrow Never Dies on her set.  I didn't really expect her to, so it wasn't too disappointing.  Besides, it's kind of impossible to be disappointed when one of your favorite artists beautifully performs a ton of hits that you've listened to for over half of your life.

Heart was equally phenomenal.  Ann Wilson has one of the most powerful and distinct voices in all of rock & roll, and it was fully on display.  What About Love sounded just as amazing as it has for the past 30 odd years since it first hit the radio.  However, the highlight for me came about a third of the way through their set when they performed my favorite Heart song, These Dreams.  The song is special to me.  It's for a strange reason that I can't fully explain, but I'll try.  The brain is a funny thing.  Sometimes, two completely different things can become tied together in your mind forever.  For example, every time I eat Royal Dansk butter cookies, I think of the Sega Master System (and vice versa).  Every time I hear These Dreams, I picture myself at six years old laying on my grandmother's living room floor looking at my Garbage Pail Kids stickers.  I've forgotten a million things over the years, but that moment in my childhood has somehow burned into my brain's long term storage.  I closed my eyes for a second at the show while they were playing this song and I could picture it, crystal clear.  It's a beautiful song, and I fully acknowledge that it's strange association, but These Dreams will always touch my heart because it reminds me of a much simpler time.

Their set included a few unexpected cover songs.  Right before These Dreams, the Wilson sisters performed a soulful rock version of I Heard It Through The Grapevine, followed by a beautiful cover of one of my favorite songs of all time - The Boxer by Simon & Garfunkel.  Later in the night, they began their encore with an incredibly haunting rendition of Stairway To Heaven.  After this, the ladies ended the night with two of their biggest hits (and two of my favorites): Alone and Barracuda.

Jul 29, 2019

A Spark Of Beauty

The Museum At Bethel Woods
Bethel, NY
Photo Gallery
If I had access to a time machine and could only make one trip, I'd go back fifty years to August 1st, 1969 and stay for one month.  I'd spend the first few weeks listening to records and experiencing the time, and make my way to Max Yasgur's farm in Bethel, New York in time for Woodstock on August 15th.  Doc Brown isn't going to show up with the DeLorean, but this museum and the incredible men and women who work there and help to share the story of Woodstock are the next best thing to going back in time.

I've uploaded a lot of photos to the gallery, but they don't even come close to doing this place justice.  It's incredible to walk around this place, to read the stories, to put on the headphones and experience the multimedia presentations, to sit in the bus and learn about the journey to Bethel, to see all of the museum exhibits, and to talk to the museum interpreters who put their heart into what they do.

Before leaving, I picked this up at the gift shop.  It's a peace sign pendant made from pieces of the actual chain link fence that originally stood around Woodstock in 1969.  It was meant to be part of the gateway to take tickets and to keep people from sneaking in without a ticket.  It didn't work.  Days before the festival officially began, the fences had been knocked down and torn open, and tens of thousands of people had already begun camping on the grounds where the concert would be held.  It was decided by the festival organizers that Woodstock would be a free concert.

After the concert, the fencing was salvaged by local farmers.  It was purchased by local artist Joey Alexy, who donated a large portion of the fence to the museum and used the metal from other parts to craft these peace sign pendants.  It's no time machine, but it's a very nice souvenir of the museum and a small piece of history from a time and place that I wish I could have been a part of.

Jul 28, 2019

A Link To The 90's

A Link To The Past
by Rachid Lotf
If you were a nerdy kid like me at any point during the 80's or 90's, this room would have been heaven.

Jul 27, 2019

Blue Balls On A Hot Summer Day

Blue Ball, PA
Just passing through town, and I suddenly feel a little sore.  Must be the heat.

Jul 26, 2019

Return Of The Saturday Night Specials

Mike Schmidt and Pete Rose
Montreal Expos @ Philadelphia Phillies
May 19, 1979
At the start of the 1979 season, the Phillies announced that they would wear an alternate uniform for part of the season.  They were known as the Saturday Night Specials and were made up of maroon pants held up by a maroon belt that sat below a maroon jersey and a maroon hat.  It was one hell of a lot of maroon, and they were ugly as sin even by 70's standards.

The plan was for the Phillies to wear these for Saturday home games throughout the 1979 season, but the reaction from fans and the media was so negative that they only wore them for a single game on May 19th.  The fact that the team got shelled for 10 runs by the Montreal Expos that night probably didn't help anyone fall in love with them either.

The Saturday Night Specials were never seen again, except for the occasional blog or ESPN countdown show featuring the ugliest uniforms in the history of professional sports.  However, these hideously awesome threads will be making a return tomorrow for the Phillies Saturday night game against the Atlanta Braves.

Jul 25, 2019

Little Debbie Is Trying To Kill Me

Christmas Tree Cakes
Little Debbie (2019)
I know that they make practically the same exact cakes all year long in different shapes with different names, but damn it, they taste better when they're Christmas Trees.  I could eat these things every morning.

Jul 24, 2019

Bowties Are Cool

Pasta Romangola
Top Of The 80's - Hazleton, PA
Bowties tossed with garlic, mushrooms, prosciutto ham, cherry tomatoes and spinach, finished with a sherry cream sauce.

Jul 23, 2019

Crossing Over The Streams

WWE Elite Collection: Ghostbusters 35th Anniversary
Mattel (2019)
It was announced at the San Diego Comic-Con that Mattel is producing a crossover line of toys featuring WWE wrestlers as Ghostbusters.  The toy line features, from left to right, Shawn Michaels, John Cena, The Rock and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, with The Undertaker appearing as a purple ghost wearing an ectoplasm WWE Championship belt (because he's "The Deadman"... get it?).

Jul 22, 2019

Smile - You're On PhantaVision

Most of the fan reaction to this signing has been negative or sarcastic, but those opinions are off base.  Drew Smyly is not an ace, and he would very likely be the first one to tell you that.  However, this was a smart signing for several reasons:
  1. He is very likely an upgrade over both Vince Velasquez and Nick Pivetta.
  2. He's a left handed pitcher - something that this rotation has been missing for far too long.
  3. Because he opted out of his contract with the Brewers, we didn't have to trade prospects.
  4. He's had a limited workload in 2019, so there's reason to be optimistic that he'll stay healthy.
  5. His contract won't prevent the Phillies from taking on additional salary in a summer trade.
The bottom line is that ownership is not going to go over the Luxury Tax threshold - period.  They've never gone over the threshold since it was first implemented in 1997 (and then brought back in 2002).  It's possible that they might do so at some point in 2020 or 2021 if the right opportunity presents itself, but they're absolutely not going to put themselves in that position when they're sitting at a distant third place in the NL East with a team that has more holes than they could possibly fill in the current trade market.

Additionally, they will not part with the few top tier prospects that they have in their minor league system, nor should they.  Alec Bohm could very well be the Phillies starting third baseman in 2020, and that's a hell of a lot more valuable than a rental pitcher, or even a pitcher with one more year of team control.  Their other top prospects include Adam Haseley and Mickey Moniak, both of whom play center field, which is one of the positions they would presumably want to fill in a trade.  When you've committed $330 million to Bryce Harper over 13 years, you're going to need cost-controlled players so that you can continue to be active in free agency, so it doesn't make a lot of sense to trade young, home-grown talent that could contribute for six seasons before hitting the open market.

Smyly made his Phillies debut yesterday in a start against the Pirates, and gave up one run on four hits with 8 strikeouts over six innings.  Considering that Velasquez and Pivetta combined to pitch six innings only four times all year, the addition of Smyly is a low risk gamble that is absolutely worth taking.

Jul 21, 2019

Halladay In The Hall

Roy Halladay
2019 Baseball Hall Of Fame
Today, the National Baseball Hall of Fame honored its 2019 inductees.  Among them is one of the greatest pitchers of our generation, and one of the best players to ever wear a Phillies uniform.

Doc became a Phillie just under ten years ago when we traded Kyle Drabek, Travis d'Arnaud and Michael Taylor to the Blue Jays for the ace.  He went on to have a dominant season in 2010, winning the NL Cy Young Award and finishing with a record of 21-10 with 219 strikeouts and only 30 walks.  He was the first pitcher to throw over 250 innings in a season and allow 30 or fewer walks since Grover Cleveland Alexander in 1923.  In addition to this, he pitched a perfect game against the Florida Marlins on May 29th, and he threw a no-hitter on October 6th in Game One of the NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds.  The only base runner that night was current Phillie Jay Bruce, who walked in the fifth inning.  That game was only the second playoff no-hitter in the history of the game, joining Don Larson's perfect game in the 1956 World Series, and it was the first time that a pitcher threw two no-hitters in a season since Nolan Ryan in 1973.

Sadly, Doc will not make his induction speech.  Twenty months ago, he died at age 40 when his plane crashed into the Gulf of Mexico.  His legacy will live forever in Cooperstown and in the memory of the players and fans of this game.  Congratulations, Mr. Halladay, and thank you for the memories.

Jul 20, 2019

The Highest Point In Human History

Apollo 11 Mission
July 20, 1969
Fifty years ago today, the human race reached it's highest point.  The world collectively held its breath as Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin landed the Eagle lunar module on the moon and took their first steps on its surface while command module pilot Michael Collins orbited in Columbia.

NASA shared this video on YouTube of the original mission video that aired live on television throughout the world.  The broadcast began at 10:39 pm Eastern Daylight Time on Sunday, July 20th, 1969 and continued for nearly three hours.

Take a moment to watch some of this footage today and remember a truly noble pursuit of greatness.  It may be the only time in human history when we truly set aside race, religion, politics, nationalism and ideology and united as a single species behind three men who risked their lives to achieve what was once thought to be impossible.

Jul 19, 2019

Lonnie Walker Day

Friday, July 19, 2019
New Hampshire Fisher Cats @ Reading Fightin Phils
First Energy Stadium - Reading, PA

Pitching:  Nate Pearson vs. Gustavo Armas
Results:  Fightin Phils defeated Fisher Cats, 3-1
Photo Gallery

Earlier this month, I won four tickets to tonight's game between the Reading Fightin Phils and the New Hampsire Fisher Cats (the Blue Jays Double A team), so we took my dad and stepmom out to the ballpark for the evening.  However, there were two things that we didn't know when I won the tickets:

  1. Thursday night's game was rained out, so Friday turned into a double header.
  2. It was the most balls hot day of the summer, with temperatures in the mid 90's as late as 8 pm.

We arrived at the ballpark in the 6th inning of the first game and decided to have some dinner at the ballpark before heading to our seats.  I noticed a sign for what I thought was a meat pie on the way out last time, and I was looking forward to trying it today.  It wasn't bad - sort of like a gourmet hot pocket, but not quite what I had pictured from the description.

The promotion of the night was an appearance by Lonnie Walker.  He played basketball at Reading High School for the Reading Red Knights.  He went on to the University of Miami to play a season for the Miami Hurricanes before he was taken #18 overall in the 2018 NBA Draft by the San Antonio Spurs.  He made his NBA debut earlier this year on January 3rd in a game against the Toronto Raptors.  He met with fans before the game to sign autographs, and all of the kids who came to the game got a free Lonnie Walker bobblehead.  He gave a brief speech and threw out the first pitch before Game 2.  I know next to nothing about basketball, but I hope his career is successful.  He seems like a good dude.

We got to our seats in the bottom of the 8th of the first game, so we got to see the tail end of the Fightin Phils 6-4 victory over the Fisher Cats, including a Luke Williams double that was his fifth hit of the game.

By the time the second game began, pop and I already had a few beers in us and we both looked and felt like we were in a sauna.  Gustavo Armas was making his Double A debut starting for the Fightins, and he did pretty well.  He pitched four scoreless innings and only gave up one hit.  He was followed by Garrett Cleavinger who struck out four in two innings, but gave up a run in the 6th when Logan Warmoth grounded out and scored Santiago Espinal from third.  Jonathan Hennigan struck out the side in the 7th for his second save of the season.

On the offensive side, former 1st pick overall Mickey Moniak went 0-2 with a walk.  He also made a hell of a great catch in center field.  Alec Bohm went 1-2 with an RBI groundout.  The Fightins scored their second and third runs when left fielder Josh Stephen doubled to score Darick Hall and Cornelius Randolph.

Jul 18, 2019

Today I Became An Honorary Millennial

Sabra Breakfast: Avocado Toast
Not gonna lie, it was pretty tasty.  Not sure what the deal is with the orange wedge on the package though.

Where's The Mushroom?

Super Mario Maker 2 was released for the Nintendo Switch on June 28th.  Someone at Wendy's Headquarters spent the past two and a half weeks creating not one, but six levels that use the fast food chain as their theme.  You can play them using the codes below.

World 1 - Fresh, Never Frozen: 3C0-VKW-HYF 
World 2 - Fry In The Sky: 790-WRG-VRG 
World 3 - Nuggs: Y8B-FXP-X8G 
World 4 - Drink: C1R-7LJ-SSF 
World 5 - Frosty: HH3-S5X-0SF 
World 6 - Drive Thru: M11-10S-HPG

Not to be outdone, the Arby's social media team have shared their own Super Mario Maker 2 level, which they promise to be loaded with meat slicers.

Arby's: JGX-MQ8-VRG

Jul 16, 2019

Bryce Comes Through

It's been a bit of a rough season for the Phillies, who have fallen to third place in the division.  Hopefully, tonight's game will be a turning point.

Trailing the Dodgers 8-6 in the bottom of the 9th, the Phillies battled back against closer Kenley Jansen.  Andrew Knapp started off the rally with a double.  This was followed by a single off of the bat of Cesar Hernandez and an RBI single by Scott Kingery, which brought Bryce Harper to the plate.  Harper doubled to drive in two runs for the 9-8 victory over Los Angeles.

Jul 15, 2019

My New Favorite Tea

Cold Brewed Iced Tea
Twinings of London
I love unsweetened mint iced tea, and I cannot express how happy I am that this product exists.  Mint iced tea isn't easy to find, and finding it unsweetened has been damn near impossible.  Not only does this make a delicious glass of mint tea, but you don't need a kettle because these tea bags brew in cold water.

Jul 14, 2019

The Big Piece Says Goodbye

Sunday, July 14, 2019
Washington Nationals @ Philadelphia Phillies
Citizens Bank Park - Philadelphia, PA

Pitching: Aníbal Sánchez vs. Jake Arrieta
Results: Phillies defeated Nationals, 4-3
Photo Gallery

The Philadelphia Phillies have played baseball for 136 years.  The team was founded in 1883, less than 20 years after the Civil War.  In all of that time, there have been only nine players who have played for at least seven seasons to spend their entire Major League career with the Phillies.  Two iconic sluggers who played in my lifetime are among the nine: Mike Schmidt and Ryan Howard.  At this afternoon's game, the franchise and the fans honored the latter with Ryan Howard Retirement Day.

Prior to the game, the Phillies invited a number of special guests on the field to honor Ryan Howard, including Charlie Manuel, Milt Thompson, Ed Wade and Roly de Armas (Howard's manager when he was in the minor leagues with the Clearwater Phillies, and the bullpen coach of the 2008 World Champion Phillies).  The team also showed a pre-recorded congratulatory message on the big screen from Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike TroutRyan Howard was introduced on the field and he gave a nice speech to wrap up his professional career as one of the most iconic and beloved players in franchise history.

On top of everything else, it was a great game.  The Phillies were coming off of two losses to the Nationals and trying to avoid the sweep.  With the game tied 1-1 in the bottom of the 5th, Maikel Franco drew a walk and Adam Haseley singled (the second hit of his MLB career) to put runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs.  Brad Miller struck out and Scott Kingery popped out, but Jean Segura hit a line drive to right field to give the Phillies a 2-1 lead.  The ball was misplayed in the outfield and Haseley should have scored, but he held up at third base.  Thankfully, the Phillies tacked on another run in the 6th on J.T. Realmuto's 11th home run of the season.

The Phillies brought in J.D. Hammer in the top of the 7th.  He was rushed to the major leagues because of the many injuries in our bullpen.  He's been reasonably effective so far this season, all things considered, but this was not one of his better outings.  He walked Kurt Suzuki and Victor Robles which brought former Phillie Howie Kendrick to the plate in a pinch hitting appearance.  Kendrick hit an RBI single, which was followed by a Trea Turner RBI single which tied the game at 3 and chased Hammer from the game.

Ranger Suarez was brought in to finish the 7th, and he, Adam Morgan and Hector Neris combined to keep the Nationals from scoring again.  Finally, with one out in the bottom of the 9th, Maikel Franco hit a walk-off home run off of Matt Grace to give the Phillies the 4-3 win.  It was Franco's 100th career home run and the second walk-off homer of his career.  Franco is one of the few remaining members of the team to have played with Ryan Howard, so it was a fitting end to a game that began with a tribute to The Big Piece.

Pork Barbecue At The Ballpark

Pulled Pork Sandwich and Mexican Street Corn
Bull's BBQ
Citizens Bank Park - Philadelphia, PA
Before the game this afternoon, pop and I had lunch at Bull's BBQ.  I had the pulled pork barbecue sandwich, which was delicious.  The elote was a nice surprise that I hadn't noticed on their menu before today.  It could have used a little chili powder, but it was very tasty and nearly as good as what I had when I worked in El Paso.

We also had an opportunity to take a photo with Phillies 1980 World Series Champion Greg "The Bull" Luzinski.  I'm going to try to have it printed to an 8x10 and ask Mr. Luzinski to autograph it so I can have it framed and give it to Dad as a present.  He's not big on reading blogs online, so no worries about spoiling the surprise.

Jul 13, 2019

An Old Favorite And A New Favorite

Psychedelic Furs - James - Dear Boy
Franklin Music Hall
Philadelphia, PA - July 13, 2019
Photo Gallery
I first saw the Psychedelic Furs in Jim Thorpe nine months ago and they were incredible.  I couldn't pass up the chance to see them again; this time at the Electric Factory in Philly (I still can't bring myself to call it "Franklin Music Hall").  As great as they were last October, this performance was even better.  I can't begin to tell you how awesome it is to hear Heartbreak Beat live.  It's my all time favorite song, and I cannot put into words how thankful I am to have been present to see it performed by the Psychedelic Furs not once, but twice.

As great as their performance was, I was completely and unexpectedly blown away by James.

When I first bought the tickets, I really didn't even notice Dear Boy and James, and I had assumed that they were both opening acts.  Dear Boy is a relatively new group, and they performed a good opening set that I enjoyed.

A few days before the concert, I did a quick search on James and learned that they had a hit in 1993 called Laid that I know and enjoy.  If you've seen the American Pie movies, you've heard it.  It's one of those songs that most people might not know by the name or the artist, but if you play two seconds of the beginning, they can sing the rest of the song.  When I learned about this, I was happy that I would see an opening artist who had a song I was familiar with.

Before the show, I met a dude from Rhode Island who told me that James is his favorite band and this was his third time seeing them on this tour.  Not gonna lie - I was a bit shocked to hear that, but it made me think that maybe there was more to this band than I was aware of.  He filled me in on who this group was and what they're about.  They're an alternative rock band out of Manchester who began in 1982.  The band broke up in 2001 when lead singer went off to work on other projects, but they came back together in 2007 and have been touring and releasing new albums ever since.  He told me the band toured with The Smiths back in the 80's, and cited a few artists who had a similar sound and message, all of whom I was a fan of.  It sounded right up my alley, and I was pretty hyped up to see his set before it began, but nothing could have prepared me for how incredible this would be.

Tim Booth may be the most intense and captivating singer I've ever seen live in concert.  His presence demands your attention, and it's entirely genuine and real.  The set began like a shotgun blast with a song called Hank.  The lyrics make it very clear what the song is about and the values that the artist stands for.  It is everything that a protest song should be - powerful, intelligent, and unmistakable in it's message.  It was also a fantastic opening to a set that included Booth scaling the wall and singing Tomorrow while hanging off of the balcony on the second floor, and singing Picture Of This Place while crowd surfing face down.  Between these, Booth explained that he wrote All I'm Saying about his best friend who died of cancer, but didn't tell anyone that she had the disease.  As he sang his incredibly moving tribute to her, I doubt that there was a dry eye in the building.  By the end of this set, I went from barely remembering this band as the guys from the American Pie song to feeling a level of respect and admiration that is equal to any artist whose work I've been lucky enough to experience.

Jul 12, 2019

Porking In The Car

Pulled Pork King
Burger King - Hazleton, PA
First of all, I love that this is product includes the words "Pork King".  I'm picturing an ad campaign where a car is in the parking lot.  It's rocking and the windows are all steamed up.  The manager knocks on the window and it rolls down to reveal the King eating this sandwich, followed by the tag line "Pork King in the car... have it your way."

As for the food itself, my opinion is a bit torn.  It was a good sandwich and I'm glad I got to try it, but something is missing.  Maybe it would be better with cheese or bacon?  I don't know.  I just know that I wished I had gotten a Rodeo King instead.

Jul 11, 2019

Really Dude?

For the discerning gentleman who wants a clean ass, but is scared to death that touching it might make him gay.

Jul 10, 2019

Pop Ink

A friend of mine recently got to meet Tiffany and Debbie Gibson backstage at a concert.  The ladies signed his arm, and he had the autographs tattooed.  Timmi posted it on Twitter, and it was re-tweeted by Tiffany.

Jul 9, 2019

The 2019 All-Star Phillies

During Spring Training, there was a lot of speculation over how many Phillies would be All-Stars by mid season.  The general consensus among fans and podcasters was that Harper and Realmuto would definitely get voted in, and there was potential for Rhys Hoskins, Aaron Nola and Jean Seugra as well.  It wasn't an outlandish prediction.  The Phillies added four players over the winter who were All-Stars in 2018.  As it turned out, the Phillies won't have any starters on the 2019 All-Star Team, and we'll have our third consecutive season of only one All-Star representative who will ride the bench to start the game (Realmuto), but two of my favorite Coffee Cup Phillies from the past have experienced a career resurgence and have been voted to start for the American League this year.

The Phillies signed Carlos Santana to a three year contract prior to the 2018 season.  He was a productive bat in the lineup (and to televisions in the clubhouse), but it's fair to say that it wasn't his best season.  While I would have loved to see him stay with the Phillies, his signing caused a problem because it forced Rhys Hoskins to left field - a position he should never play again under any circumstance.  Santana was traded with J.P. Crawford to the Mariners for Jean Segura and Juan Nicasio.  Ten days later, the Mariners flipped Santana to the Indians for Edwin Encarnación, and Santana has been having a fantastic season in his return to Cleveland.  He will be the starting first baseman for the 2019 AL All-Star Team today.

Hunter Pence was acquired by the Phillies in 2011 after a mid-season trade with the Astros.  He wasted no time endearing himself to the city after scoring the winning run in extra innings shortly.  In the post-game interview that night, he was asked what was going through his mind as he rounded third base, and he responded with "Great game.  Let's go eat."  The phrase became to the 2011 NL East Champion Phillies what Brad Miller's Bamboo briefly became to the team this year.  Sadly, the good times didn't last into 2012.  The team fell into a tailspin and began trading away all of the star players for prospects.  Pence was traded to the Giants for Tommy Joseph, Nate Schierholtz and Seth Rosin.  None of the players that we received in that deal did much for the Phillies, while Pence helped lead the Giants to win the 2012 World Series.  Prior to the 2019 season, most of the baseball world had assumed that this was the end of Pence's career.  He was a 36 year old free agent coming off of several seasons of sharply declining production, and there weren't very many rumors of teams that were interested in signing him.  In fact, he didn't sign with the Texas Rangers until the first week in February, and it was a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training.  However, Pence has been on fire and has already hit more home runs in half of 2019 than he had in each of the previous four seasons.  From a minor league contract that didn't guarantee a roster spot, Pence was voted to be the AL All-Star Team's starting designated hitter.  Unfortunately a strained groin will keep him from playing, but it's an impressive comeback story nonetheless.

Congratulations to Carlos Santana and Hunter Pence.

Jul 8, 2019

Orange You Glad They're Not Banana

Orange Cream Pop Snack Balls
Herr's (2019)
The Hometown Farmers Market is the place to find all of the bizarre snack foods that no stores carry.  These are basically cheese balls that are Creamsicle flavored instead of being covered in cheese powder.  They're surprisingly very good with a flavor very similar to sugary breakfast cereal, but with a more light and airy texture.

Jul 7, 2019

Swahili Conservation Message

Lehigh Valley Zoo
Schnecksville, PA
It's been a nice, sunny weekend - perfect to spend a little time with some animals.