Aug 31, 2019

Rhys Goes To Pieces

Bryce Harper's 29th home run of the season

Saturday, August 31, 2019
New York Mets @ Philadelphia Phillies
Citizens Bank Park - Philadelphia, PA

Pitching: Steven Matz vs. Jason Vargas
Results: Mets defeated Phillies, 6-3

These tickets were a free perk for members of the Fightin' Phils Fan Club.  I highly recommend it.  For $25 bucks a year, you get access to stream all of the Phillies radio broadcasts for the season, 10% off your purchase at and two tickets to a game during the season.  It's a pretty good deal, even if the Phillies have a pretty rough game, which is exactly what happened earlier today.

Jason Vargas entered the game in search of his first win since being traded from the Mets to the Phillies on July 29th.  He didn't have a lot of success facing his old team for the first time.  After a two run double by Joe Panik extended the Mets lead to 5 - 1 in the top of the 5th with no outs, Vargas was pulled from the game.  If there was any good news in this game, it was the bullpen.  Blake Parker came on in relief of Vargas, got out of the 5th with no further damage, and pitched a scoreless 6th.  His delivery to the plate is amusing.  He starts in a crouch, then stands and wiggles between 8 - 12 times (I counted) before throwing the pitch.  It looks like he's from Street Fighter Alpha and he's charging up his special move.  Hell, if he can come on in relief and throw two scoreless innings every time, he can wiggle all he wants.

Ranger Suárez was a little shaky, giving up a single and allowing the runner to advance to second on a balk, but he got out of the 7th inning intact.  He was pulled in the 8th after Rajai Davis reached first base thanks to a horrendous throw by Jean Segura, who was a defensive disaster for most of the game.  This brought in Jared Hughes, who did his customary run at top speed from the bullpen to the mound before pitching a scoreless 8th.

José Álvarez came on in the top of the 9th and immediately gave up a double to former Phillie Wilson Ramos, who had a hell of a game for the Mets.  He went 4-5 with an RBI single in the 1st and he extended his hitting streak to 24 games and concluded a month in which he hit .455.  That's damn impressive, especially when you consider the fact that he's a big guy who has to really bust his ass down the line to get an infield single.  I'm beyond happy with J.T. Realmuto, but I liked Ramos a lot last year after we acquired him from the Rays, and I wish he could have played a role on the 2019 Phillies.  The Ramos double was followed up by singles from Michael Conforto and Todd Frazier which scored another run to make it 6 - 3 with no outs.  Thankfully, Álvarez settled down and retired the next three batters.

The Phillies offense started out well.  Jean Segura led off the game for the Phillies with a triple, and he scored on a Bryce Harper ground out to tie the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the first.  Segura and Harper each had two hits on the night, as did Cesar Hernandez and Scott Kingery, who moved from center field to third base in the 5th inning when Sean Rodríguez was taken out of the game.  Rodríguez is still getting booed after his comments about some of the more negative fans at the ballpark.  Honestly, after hearing what he had to say, I don't disagree with him.  I've been a Phillies fan for as long as I've known what baseball is, but I can't help but to be a little envious of places like Boston, where fans got behind Shane Victorino when he was having a rough year, and they sang back in a chant of "every little thing's gonna be alright" for each of his at bats.  People forget that Shane came out to Bob Marley's Three Little Birds when he was a Phillie, years before he ever suited up for the Red Sox.  However, when people look back on his career decades from now, will their first memory be his transformation from Rule 5 pick to 2008 World Series Champion?  Will they remember how the Flyin' Hawaiian was beloved in Philadelphia?  Of course, but the first thing they're likely to remember is the magic of his three years in Boston.  Why?  The fans...plain and simple.  The fans make the difference.  Philly fans are passionate, but our passion far too often takes a negative tone, like an abusive parent.  Boston fans are passionate and supportive.  I hope we can be too.

Bryce Harper made some pretty decent catches in right field and had a good day at the plate, including his 29th home run of the season.  His other hit was a single in the bottom of the 3rd, which he followed up with a stolen base with Rhys Hoskins at the plate.  Hoskins has looked like he's chasing walks since the All-Star break (which I blame on the coaching staff's poor interpretation and overuse of analytics), and it has led to the worst slump of his career.  He seemed to be turning things around over the past few games now that Charlie Manuel is working with him, but today was not one of his best moments.  He struck out to end the 3rd, and to his credit, the pitch was definitely high and a little inside and should have been called a ball.  However, Hoskins, who has developed a reputation for arguing with umpires, spiked his helmet at the plate and was ejected from the game for the first time in his career.

Hoskins stood at home plate arguing with the umpire while the Phillies were trying to honor a World War 2 hero between innings, which made the situation all the more embarrassing.  Eventually, "Cowboy" Joe West waddled over from first base with a Cheshire Cat grin to lead the hotheaded first baseman back to his dugout.  I like Hoskins a lot.  He's been one of my favorite Phillies since they called him up in late 2017, but he's got to keep his temper under control.  Getting tossed in the third inning won't win any ballgames.

Logan Morrison came into the game at first base to replace Hoskins.  He didn't get a hit, but he reached first base on a fielding error in the 6th right after Harper's home run.  It started a rally that followed with singles from Corey Dickerson and Scott Kingery to load the bases with no outs.  Cesar Hernandez lined out, but Andrew Knapp was brought in to pinch hit for the pitcher drew a bases loaded walk from Luis Avilán to score the Phillies third run.  With bases loaded and only 1 out, you have to expect the Phillies offense to capitalize off of the Mets bullpen.  Unfortunately, rookie Adam Haseley grounded into a double play to end the inning and to end what was the Phillies best chance to break open the game.  They wouldn't score again for the rest of the night.

It was a tough loss in the middle of a wild card chase, and it was made more demoralizing by the large amount of New York fans in attendance who managed to get "Lets Go Mets" chants going at several points during the game.  The Phillies fans quickly drown them out with boos each time, but it's a far cry from earlier in the season when the Bamboo-inspired Phillies were sweeping the Mets.  Now, they'll have to win tomorrow against Marcus Stroman to avoid being swept at home.

On a positive note, the weather was absolutely beautiful - maybe the most pleasant of any game I've ever attended in Philadelphia.  I also was able to ask Greg "The Bull" Luzinski to sign an 8x10 of a photo that my dad and I took with him earlier this season on July 14th.  As he signed it, I told him I was born in the summer of 1980, and I sat on my dad's lap as a baby and watched him and the Phillies win the World Series.  I'm going to have this photo framed with the ticket stub from that night and give it to my dad for Christmas.  Thankfully, he doesn't visit my blog and probably doesn't even know I have a blog, so the surprise won't be spoiled.

Aug 30, 2019

Why So Furious?

Hobbs & Shaw
Universal Pictures (2019)
I've never been a big fan of the Fast & Furious series.  They're decent films, but I've never been into cars as anything other than a way to get from place to place. so much of their appeal is lost on me  I was pleasantly surprised that this didn't feel like a Fast & Furious film, but more like a traditional 80's action film.  I especially liked the scenes in Samoa with The Rock and Roman Reigns.  As a Hawaiian, I've always seen the Samoans as the bad ass big brother of our greater Polynesian family, so the battle scene was especially satisfying and enjoyable.

Aug 29, 2019

The Invasion Of The Maple Vampires

Maple Creme Oreo Cookies
Nabisco (2019)
Halloween is two months away and the vampire invasion of our grocery stores has begun.  First up are the seasonal Oreo cookies.  The ones on the left are just plain Oreo cookies with regular cream that's been dyed orange, but the cookies offered by Mrs. Dracula are Vanilla Oreos with Maple Cream filling.  As I expected, their flavor reminded me a lot of the Dare Maple Leaf Creme cookies that you can find all year long at Big Lots.
I'm sorry... what's going to appear when opened?

Aug 28, 2019

Hazleton Catches Up With 1995

Route 93 - Hazleton, PA
Hallelujah, we've finally got one!

Aug 27, 2019

Taco Truck Tuesday

Korean Steak Tacos
Truck 'N Kitchen
We have a new food truck at work.  If everything on their menu is as good as these were, I hope they make our parking lot a regular spot.

Aug 26, 2019

Golden Gamers

Golden Gamers
Duane Perera - @duaneshootstoys
This dude has a bunch of awesome photos, but this one is my favorite.

Aug 25, 2019

XFL Round Two

Vince McMahon's second attempt at the XFL football league is set to debut in 2020.  They announced the team names and logos in a tweet this past Wednesday.

The first run of the XFL was a complete disaster, but it wasn't for their lack of marketing.  I went to WWF New York in 2001 a couple of weeks before they played the first XFL game, and they hype was pretty intense.  They actually had incredible ratings for their debut on February 3rd, 2001, but the games were so awful that the ratings tanked after that.  Hopefully they'll do a bit better this time around.

Aug 24, 2019

I Wasn't Ready

Ready Or Not
Fox Searchlight Pictures (2019)
This movie had a very enjoyable Robert Rodriguez feel to it.  I haven't laughed this hard at violent bloodshed in a long time.

Aug 23, 2019

A Short Title About A Funny Product

Burrito Blanket
I love the idea, and I might have gotten one if not for the gimmicky nonsense that they use to try to sell them.

For starters, I bookmarked their ad three months ago.  At the time, there was a message warning me that I had better hurry because there's only five more left.  Also, the clock is ticking, because the sale will end in just a few minutes, after which the price goes back up to $89.95.  Sure enough, I clicked on it today and by an astonishing coincidence, there's only five in stock and a half hour left in the sale.  It's a bit hard to believe that this blanket won't fall apart when everything else they have to say about it is such obvious crap.  Then, there's the e-newsletter pitch on the website, which they have hilariously not changed from the template.
I don't know about you, but that short sentence that described what I'll receive by subscribing has really inspired me to start handing over my contact information.  Sorry, Team Burrito Blanket.  You've outsmarted yourselves.  I'll wait until they're at Dollar General for five bucks.

Aug 22, 2019

The True Mavericks Of Baseball

The Battered Bastards Of Baseball
Netflix (2014)
It's been a long time since I watched a baseball documentary that was as enjoyable as this.  This is the story of the independent Portland Mavericks of the Class A Northwest League.  The team was founded by actor Bing Russell in 1973 after the Portland Beavers moved to Spokane, Washington.

Unlike the majority of minor league clubs, the Mavericks were independent (not affiliated with a major league franchise), and the team was made up of players who weren't drafted and players who were released by other clubs, including the owner's son, actor Kurt Russell (1973, 1977) and Ball Four author Jim Bouton (1975, 1977).  Until they were forced out at the end of the 1977 season by Major League Baseball, they dominated the Northwest League, winning four division championships in the five year existence of the franchise.

It's a damn shame that the Mavericks had such a short run.  Had they been able to continue after the 1977 season, I'll bet that Bill "Spaceman" Lee would have felt perfectly at home on the mound pitching for Portland.  Even though the team is gone, I'm glad that the fun spirit of a team that played baseball for all the right reasons has been captured and preserved in this documentary.

Aug 21, 2019

The Home Of The Future

Futuro House (1968)
Futuro Corporation - Philadelphia, PA
The UFO building that was used in the Star Trek, Star Wars and Empire Strikes Back attraction at Morey's Pier in the late 70's and early 80's was designed by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen.  The Futuro Corporation created 96 of these beginning in 1968 with approximately 60 still in existence today.

Five years ago, the one that was used in the Wildwood ride was put up for sale on eBay for $29,900.  It was in Berlin, New Jersey at the time.  The seller shared this document with the dimensions of the fiberglass and plastic structure, as well as an original floor plan and publicity photos that show how it can be turned into a living space.

After the sale, the Futuro House was transported to 390 Hancock Harbor Road in Greenwich, NJ.  Five months ago, photographer Jeff Heilman shared a short video of the inside and outside of the structure.  Sadly, it has not been turned into a home, but it's been preserved and remains an attraction in New Jersey.

For more information on the former Wildwood attraction and the remaining structures, check out  They do an excellent job keeping track of the remaining Futuro Houses with photos and videos of each of them that are still known to be in existence.

Aug 20, 2019

The Boardwalk Strikes Back

The Empire Strikes Back: The Ride (1980)
Morey's Pier - Wildwood, NJ
The Star Wars ride was updated after the release of The Empire Strikes Back in the spring of 1980.  The spaceship, which had been white in the days of the Star Trek and Star Wars ride, had been painted like the Millennium Falcon, and the mountain on the right was turned into a massive Darth Vader helmet (photo credit: James Ippoliti).

After the ride closed, the UFO portion was moved to Berlin, New Jersey.  In 2014, it was put up for sale on eBay as a Futuro Home.

Aug 19, 2019

Star Wars At The Seashore

Star Wars: The Ride (1978)
Morey's Pier - Wildwood, NJ
This incredible photo (above) was shared by Lack Emeyer whose father recently scanned a collection of slides from the late 70's.  The ride debuted on the Wildwood boardwalk in 1975 and was originally called "Star Trek: Journey To The Planet Of The Apes" and was converted for the summer of 1978 when the world was in the grip of Star Wars fever.

The photo from shows the mountain on the right of the ride's entrance.  This would later become Darth Vader's mask when the ride was converted for the release of The Empire Strikes Back.

Aug 18, 2019

Captain Kirk and Dr. Zaius Go To Wildwood

Star Trek: Journey To The Planet Of The Apes (1975)
Morey's Pier - Wildwood, NJ
In 1975, vacationers to the Wildwood boardwalk were treated to an incredible sci-fi crossover experience.  The ride was created by Fred Mahana with the UFO portion created from a 1968 Futuro prefabricated home.  It was described by Wildwood Video Archive as "a one-of-a-kind attraction which allowed riders to travel through space until their ride was cut short by apes who would attack the crew".

The ride would continue for three years until it was converted into a Star Wars themed attraction for the summer of 1978.

Photo Credit: Wildwood Video Archive

Aug 17, 2019

A Year Of Unlimited Movies

A Year Of Unlimited Movies
Regal Cinema - Hazleton, PA
I love movies, but it's not often that I go to the theater.  All the movie trailers tend to look the same, so they don't usually inspire me to take a chance on dropping $12 on a film that I may not like.  The Regal Unlimited subscription provides the freedom to check out a movie that you may not have heard of without the risk of feeling like you've wasted your money.  In fact, it does the opposite - it inspires you to go see more movies to get your money's worth from the subscription.  That's not hard to do at $18 a month because the subscription pays for itself if you see two movies a month.

Aug 16, 2019

The Moment...

Bryce Harper
Philadelphia Phillies (2019)
This is the moment that every kid who has ever played little league has fantasized about - bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth - two strikes - and here's the pitch...

Last night, Bryce Harper lived that moment.  The Phillies were down 5-2 in the bottom of the ninth.  Harper stepped up to the plate and smashed a second deck grand slam that became an iconic moment in the history of Philadelphia the second the bat made contact.  With this win, the Phillies have just swept the Chicago Cubs and remain undefeated since Charlie Manuel returned to the team as the hitting coach.

This may be the moment when the 2019 Philadelphia Phillies turned it all around.  Just watch.  It's a thing of beauty.

Aug 15, 2019

A Moment In Time That Will Never Be Equaled

Woodstock Music and Art Fair: An Aquarian Exposition
Max Yasgur's Dairy Farm - Bethel, NY
August 15 - 18, 1969
Fifty years ago today at 5:07 pm, Richie Havens took the stage and played the first notes at what would become the most iconic gathering in the history of music.

Starting at 5:07 pm today, Philadelphia's WXPN Radio will broadcast the reconstructed audio archive of the concert.  Every moment of audio recording that exists today - the concerts, the announcements, everything - will be shared in as close to real-time as possible.  If you live in or around Philadelphia, you can listen to it at 88.5 FM.  If you live out of the area, you will be able to stream Woodstock for free on your PC or via their mobile app, available on Google Play and the Apple Store.  The schedule is below.  Stop in and experience a moment of peace, love and music.

Thursday, August 15
5:07 pm — Richie Havens
7:10 pm — Swami Satchidanadna
7:30 pm — Sweetwater
8:30 pm — Bert Sommer
9:20 pm — Tim Hardin
10:20 pm — Ravi Shankar
11:20 pm — Melanie
11:55 pm — Arlo Guthrie

Friday, August 16
12:55 am — Joan Baez
12:30 pm — Quill
1:20 pm — Country Joe McDonald
2:00 pm — Santana
3:30 pm — John B. Sebastian
4:45 pm — The Keef Hartley Band
6:00 pm — The Incredible String Band
7:30 pm — Canned Heat
9:00 pm — Mountain
10:30 pm — Grateful Dead

Saturday, August 17
12:30 am — Creedence Clearwater Revival
2:00 am — Janis Joplin
3:30 am — Sly & The Family Stone
5:00 am — The Who
8:00 am — Jefferson Airplane
2:00 pm — Joe Cocker
6:30 pm — Country Joe & The Fish
8:15 pm — Ten Years After
10:00 pm — The Band

Sunday, August 18
12:00 am — Johnny Winter
1:30 am — Blood, Sweat & Tears
3:00 am — Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
6:00 am — The Butterfield Blues Band
7:30 am — Sha Na Na
9:00 am — Jimi Hendrix

Aug 14, 2019

Cole Comes Home

Cole Hamels
Chicago Cubs (2019)
Cole Hamels returned to Citizens Bank Park for the first time since he was traded on July 31st, 2015.  The last time he took the mound in Philadelphia, he was pitching against the Chicago Cubs, and in his last start as a member of the Phillies, he threw a no-hitter.

Today, he took the mound for the Cubs against the Phillies, and he did so wearing a DLM patch in tribute to Phillies president David Montgomery, who passed away in May.

Phillies fans in attendance gave Cole Hamels a standing ovation in his return to Philadelphia, both when he took the mound and in his first at bat.  He may be a member of the Cubs this season, but Cole Hamels will always be a loved and respected icon in Philadelphia.  He will become a free agent at the end of the 2019 season, and nothing would make me happier than to have the Phillies sign him so that he can end his career where it began.

Tonight's game was also the first official game with Charlie Manuel as the hitting coach, and the team wasted no time in declaring the start of hitting season.  Cole had a warm reception from the fans, but the Phillies offense welcomed him by scoring 8 runs off of the left hander, knocking him out of the game with no outs in the third inning.  He was relieved by Alec Mills.  The offense wasted no time in loading the bases to set up J.T. Realmuto to hit a grand slam that gave the Phillies a 10 - 0 lead.  As Realmuto rounded the bases, the fans in attendance chanted Char-lie, Char-lie in what may have been the first standing ovation and chant for a hitting coach in the history of baseball.

It's been a rough season, but damn...  I love this team.

Aug 13, 2019

Welcome Back, Uncle Charlie

The greatest manager in franchise history is back... as the hitting coach.  Charlie Manuel led the Phillies to five straight NL East Championship seasons from 2007 to 2011, which included a National League Championship in 2008 - 2009 and a World Series Championship in 2008.  He was abruptly (and unjustly) let go on August 16, 2013.  It is not an exaggeration to say that the 75 year old was the last successful manager the Phillies have had, present company included.

Charlie will take over for John Mallee who has been relieved of his duties, and not a moment too soon.

Aug 12, 2019

Wakey Flakies

The Dick Van Dyke Show
CBS (1961-1966)
Wakey Flakies were used on a variety of shows back in the 50's and 60's.  They weren't a real product, but they really should be.

Aug 11, 2019

Applesauce!! Applesauce!!

Wheel Of Fortune
ShareData Inc. (1987)
Retroist recently shared this photo of the old Wheel Of Fortune game running on a Tandy 1000 at the Living Computers museum in Seattle.  Seeing it brought back a pleasant memory of my maternal grandmother.

When I was six years old, Mom Mom had a Tandy in her home office with three games on floppy disk: Shanghai, Police Quest and Wheel of Fortune.  We played all three of them frequently when I went over to their house, but Wheel of Fortune was the one that we played the most.  There are two things that I remember best about this game.

  1. Vanna White took forever to cross the stage and reveal the letters (check out this video of the game in action).
  2. When you solved the puzzle, the bottom of the screen would read "Applause!!  Applause!!"  The first time I saw this at six years old, I read it out loud as "Applesauce!!  Applesauce!!"  Through her chuckles, Mom Mom corrected me, and I still remember it 33 years later.  Who says video games can't be educational?

Aug 10, 2019

Nice Start, Corey

Exactly two months ago today, newcomer Jay Bruce was named Player Of The Week in his first week in Philadelphia.  Corey Dickerson is well on his way to being the second member of the Phillies to earn that distinction in 2019.

Aug 9, 2019

I've Believed As Many As Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast.

Impossible Whopper
Burger King (2019)
Earlier this year, I had Impossible Meat when I tried the Questlove Cheesesteak at Citizens Bank Park on Opening Day.  It was good, and it made a without meat that tasted more or less like a regular cheesesteak at the ballpark.

The Impossible Whopper is more of the same.  It looks like meat, it tastes like meat, and when you put it on a bun with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and condiments, it's not much different from a regular Whopper.  The main difference I noticed is that it doesn't smell like a Burger King hamburger.

The Impossible Whopper patty - complete with flame-grilled marks.

It's cool that they make it, and I hope that it helps out vegetarians who have been craving a Whopper, but unless they suddenly become less expensive than a traditional Whopper and I'm strapped for cash, I think this will be my last Impossible Whopper.

On a side note: maybe it's just me, but the Impossible Whopper logo reminds me of an upside down German flag.

Ich bin ein hamburger

Aug 8, 2019

Ice Cold Soda On A Hot Summer Day

Early 80's Soda
These are what soda cans looked like in the early 1980's when I was a kid.  I don't ever remember seeing Brownie Chocolate Drink, but it was still sold in stores as late as 2007.  You can see it in this photo at the top right hand corner beneath the Tab cola.

Aug 7, 2019

Anybody Order Fried Sauerkraut?

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (2019)
Regal Cinema - Hazleton, PA
Quentin Tarantino has been my favorite director since I first saw Pulp Fiction when I was 14 years old, but when I heard he was writing a movie about the Manson Family murders, I wasn't sure what to think.  I hate when I see pop culture glorify Charlie Manson.  He was a douchebag, his "family" are douchebags, and the jackasses who try to be edgy by wearing Manson shirts are douchebags.  I love blood and guts horror flicks as much as the next weirdo, but cheering on Michael Myers in a fictitious world and glorifying a piece of trash who orchestrated the murder of innocent people are two very different things, and it's not cool that so many people are comfortable crossing that line.  I'm happy to say that after seeing this movie, I feel like Mr. Tarantino might agree with me.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood comes from the Inglourious Basterds side of the director's brain, and it's absolutely brilliant.  The commercial jingles and vintage product and pop culture imagery are about as subtle as a flamethrower, but the over-the-top immersion in 1969 Hollywood is perfect.  Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio are as fantastic as they always are, and the final scene of the movie is the most satisfying and enjoyable thing I've seen in any film since Donny Donowitz introduced Werner Rachtman to baseball.

Aug 6, 2019

Aye Matey

Treasure Chest
Long John Silver's (1986)
McDonald's may have had the best toys, but Long John's had pretty awesome boxes for their kids meal back in the day.  If they bring these back and come up with some gimmick where they have pirate treasure coins that have different characters every month or two, I'll bet kids would start bugging their parents to have fish for dinner to collect them all.