May 31, 2021

Clowns, Toilets and Cigarettes

Today, the World Health Organization is holding an event called No Tobacco Day, with the goal of raising awareness about the risks of tobacco use.  The number one danger that smokers face is the risk of lung cancer.  The second biggest risk is that you might one day purchase a ceramic ashtray of a clown sitting on a green toilet.

This was found at the Weil Antiques Center in Tamaqua, PA.  If you ever see one of these outside of a retail setting, run.

May 30, 2021

Free Fall At CBGB

Debbie Harry shared this incredible photo that, if they ever published a photo book about the 1970's would be a strong contender for the front cover.  It was taken in May, 1977 at CBGB and it shows the lead singer of Blondie playing a Gottlieb Free Fall pinball machine (photo by Bob Gruen).

May 29, 2021

Grandpa Joe the Mortician

Dead & Buried
Embassy Pictures (1981)
One of the trippiest and most interesting takes on the zombie genre was released 40 years ago today.  It tells a great story and has an incredible twist ending that I didn't see coming.  It also features the last theatrical performance of Jack Albertson, who is perhaps best known for his performance as Grandpa Joe in Willy Wonka & The Chocolate FactoryMr. Albertson was battling colon cancer while he was working on this film.  He finished the movie and was able to attend it's world premier screening in Hollywood, but sadly, he passed away six months later at the age of 74.

Joe Bob Briggs screened Dead & Buried on The Last Drive-In on Shudder earlier this month, so if you would like to watch it and have a great time learning more about the film in the process, I strongly recommend it.

May 28, 2021

Stars Full Of Wishes Fill Our Beds

Smashing Pumpkins (1991)
The debut album from one of the most innovative bands to come out of the 90's was released thirty years ago today.  I didn't discover it until after I heard Siamese Dream, and I was completely blown away.  Like their sophomore album, it has a trippy sound that fuses hard rock guitars with Billy Corgan's mellow, almost ethereal voice.

May 27, 2021

El Mago's Latest Trick

Javier Báez
Shortstop - Chicago Cubs
This afternoon in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cubs shortstop Javier Báez hit into an RBI fielder's choice that must be seen to be believed.

With a runner on second in the top of the 3rd, Báez hit a routine ground ball to third base.  The ball was fielded cleanly and thrown to first baseman Will Craig and should have been an easy out to end the inning.  For reasons known only to Craig, he decided to tag Báez out instead of simply stepping on first base.

Báez backed away from the tag and ran back down the baseline toward home plate.  This gave Willson Contreras the opportunity to score from second base.  The missed play at the plate allowed Báez to turn around and reach first safely, and to make matters worse for the Pirates, the ball was thrown away and the runner advanced to second on the error.

All I can say is thank god this didn't happen to the Phillies.

May 26, 2021

Amy Farrah Fowler: The High School Years

Blossom's Family Album
Hometown Farmer's Market - Tamaqua, PA
Ok folks, I'm not gonna lie.  I watched Blossom in the 90's... a lot.  When I was in middle school, I had the biggest crush on Mayim Bialik, and everything I learned about the actress in the years that followed make me feel pretty good about that fact.  She's earned a Ph.D. degree in neuroscience, she had a decade long run on The Big Bang Theory in a role that earned her a Primetime Emmy, and she's just an all around awesome human being.

As much as I admire Ms. Bialik's work, I had to pass on the Blossom Family Album, so it's still at the Farmer's Market if anyone's interested.  While you're there, you can cross Pez and Carmex Lip Balm off of your shopping list.

May 25, 2021

Funky Cold Moderna

I was so proud of myself when I wrote the name of this post.  That lasted for about 30 seconds until I googled it and found that not only did Jimmy Fallon think of it first, but he performed a full parody of the Tone Loc classic on The Tonight Show last November.

That aside, I'm happy to report that I am now fully vaccinated!  In celebration, I give you this musical masterpiece which features the most insane and brilliant instrument to come out of the 1980's - the DJ Turntable Guitar.

May 24, 2021

A Return To The Regal

The Unholy and Spiral: From The Book Of Saw
Regal Cinema - Hazleton, PA
This past Friday, the movie theater in town reopened for the first time in over seven months.  It closed on October 8th due to the Covid pandemic, and I was a little worried that the financial hit the chain took over the past year might cause them to close it completely.  I'm very happy to say that they're back in operation, and as of yesterday, so is my Unlimited Movie Pass.

The first movie we saw was The Unholy, starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Cricket Brown and Cary Elwes.  I went into this with no expectations.  In fact, I never even saw the poster until I found a picture to use for this post.  The only previous exposure I had to it at all was about a minute of the preview that I watched on the Regal app yesterday morning.  I just watched enough to get an idea of what kind of movie it was.

This was a very pleasant surprise.  I thought it was an interesting horror twist on the phenomenon of Virgin Mary appearances that have been claimed over the years.  I was raised Catholic, and Mary sightings was a topic that my grandmother was obsessed with - especially Medjugorje.  One of the funniest memories I have of my grandmother has to do with this.  When I was a teenager, she hounded me for weeks to watch The Song Of Bernadette with her.  It's an old black and white movie from the 40's about a girl from Lourdes who claimed to have spoken to the Virgin Mary and received predictions from her about the future.  I finally agreed, but only on the condition that she watch episodes of Beavis & Butthead with me for the same length of time as it took for us to watch The Song of Bernadette.  Let me tell you, it was a boring movie, and it was pure torture to sit there and watch it with my extremely Catholic grandmother trying to sell it to me as evidence that I should be going to church, but seeing the look on her face while she suffered through two and a half hours worth of Beavis and Butthead episodes made it all worthwhile.

The Unholy played into the story of the Virgin Mary sightings in a very creative way.  Jeffrey Dean Morgan knocked it out of the park in his role as the disgraced reporter who stumbles upon a miracle that isn't what it seems.  It's not an especially gory horror flick, but it definitely has an element of real-world terror, it's paced well, and it tells a compelling story that I enjoyed very much.

Spiral is the latest installment in the Saw franchise.  I was excited to see what direction they would be taking in this sequel / spinoff film, and I even re-watched the first five Saw movies recently to refresh my memory on the series.  Unfortunately, it ended up being a bit of a disappointment.

Don't get me wrong - Spiral isn't a bad movie, but it's just kind of meh, and it definitely fell short of its namesake.  The overall story wasn't bad, and the acting was good - particularly Chris Rock and Samuel L. Jackson who play father and son in the film.  However the structure strayed pretty far from the Saw franchise, and not in a good way.  It was light on suspense, and the majority of the victims weren't very sympathetic characters.  Also, with the exception of the first one, the traps were pretty underwhelming compared to what we've already seen in the franchise.  The end result was that I wasn't emotionally invested in their fates at all, whether they played the game and got away or gotten killed by the trap.

I'm not a movie expert by any means, but I figured out who the killer was 15 minutes after they were introduced, and I came pretty close to knowing their motives before the movie was half over.  Also, there are plot holes that you could drive a truck through, particularly in a few of the trap locations.  Two of them are especially ridiculous.  I don't want to get into any specifics to avoid spoiling the movie, but both of these trap locations left me saying "Come on, how the hell could the killer have set this up here!"

The worst part of Spiral was the voice that they used for the recordings that the killer sent to the police.  I didn't expect that they'd use the same Jigsaw voice, but they could have at least used something creepy.  The voice used in the Spiral recordings wasn't scary in the slightest - it sounded pretty silly.  In fact, it sounded like Tor Eckman in Seinfeld.
"I would like to play a game.  It involves cramp bark, cleavers and couch grass."

Seriously, if you're seen Season 2, Episode 8 of Seinfeld, I'd be shocked if you didn't picture the holistic healer every time you hear one of the killers' recordings.  Between that and the natural comedic delivery of Chris Rock, Spiral had more laughs than scares, which is the last thing I expected.  I was hoping for an homage to John Kramer, not Cosmo Kramer.  Again, it's not a bad movie, but if I had to sum it up in one sentence, I'd say that it's an average detective film disguised as a horror flick.

May 23, 2021

Marley's And Me

Bloomsburg, PA
After we left the Red Mill Bargain Barn, we drove around for a while looking for a place to eat.  A lot of the restaurants we stopped at were closed, which turned out to be a lucky break because it allowed us to find this place.

Marley's has a really cool vibe.  Our waiter was a very chill and funny dude who mentioned that he also works as a stand-up comedian.  There's indoor and outdoor seating, and an extensive menu.  Good people, good atmosphere, good beer and good food - what more could anyone ask for?

This is Marley's Purgatory Lager, from their head brewer Kyle Kalanick.  I know nothing about craft beer other than that I like to drink it, so this description is straight from the website.  This is a hybrid American Lager with a clean malt taste featuring biscuit and toasted flavors, finished with generous amounts of the Falconer’s Flight 7C’s blend of hops. Expect fruity, spicy, and earthy notes for a complex finish.  It was very good.

If a loaded baked potato could have sex with a plate of nachos, I imagine that one of them could give birth to something like this.  The horseradish aioli, pepperjack cheese and corned beef blend together perfectly with the seasoned waffle fries.

Last, but not least, I ordered the cheesesteak.  It was delicious, but I think I was too quick to make my decision.  When I got home, I saw dozens of other incredible looking things on the restaurant's Instagram page.  I'm definitely going to have to come back and try a few of them.

Down At The Red Mill

Red Mill Bargain Barn
Bloomsburg, PA
Every year for the past two decades, I have seen this building off in the distance from the highway on my way to the Bloomsburg Fair, but I've never visited until yesterday.

This store is pretty incredible.  It's part antique store, part closeout store, like if Ollie's Bargain Outlet merged with Weil Antique Center.  It's a lot bigger than it looks from the outside.  The store is two floors of vintage merchandise for sale, including furniture, clothes, electronics, toys, board games, video games, books, movies, music, art, Christmas decorations, sporting goods, and tons of other random things that don't neatly fit into a category.  Even better, the prices were extremely reasonable.

Here is a small sampling of what was in the store.

May 22, 2021

We Must Meet With Other Names

Secret Separation
The Fixx (1986)
The first single from the fourth studio album by The Fixx turns 35 years old today.  It's one of the most creative and original love songs I've ever heard.

Singer and songwriter Cy Curnin described this song as being about soulmates who keep meeting each other over in different lifetimes.  Their love affair continues through the centuries, and although they're not able to be lovers in every lifetime, the connection is always there.  They both recognize that they have been lovers in previous lives and will become lovers in future lives, because they're passengers in time who are locked together.

We're passengers in time lost in motion
Locked together day and night by trick of light
I must take another journey
We must meet with other names

You touched my heart so deeply
You rescued me, now free me
Don't watch me cry, just see me go
I'll take away the strongest feelings you will ever know
There will be no more isolation in our secret separation
You touched my heart so deeply, you rescued me
Now free me

We're passengers in time lost in motion
Locked together day and night by trick of light
I must take another journey
We must meet with other names
If only you and I be brave

You touched my heart so deeply
You rescued me, now free me
Don't watch me cry, just see me go
I'll take away the strongest feelings you will ever know
There will be no more isolation in our secret separation
You touched my heart so deeply, you rescued me
Now free me

We are matching spark and flame, caught in endless repetition
Life for life, we'll be the same
I must leave before you burn me
I'm the stranger who deserts you, only to love you in another life

There will be no more isolation in our secret separation
You touched my heart so deeply, you rescued me
Now free me

I'll bear one precious scar that only you will know again
We're passengers in time, free me

You’re Either Marvelous Or Boring, Regardless Of Your Age

Morrissey bumper sticker
KROQ 106.7 FM (1980's)
The always marvelous and never boring Morrissey turns 62 years old today.  This bumper sticker of Moz was given away by KROQ in the 80's.  It was shared by Rob Macey, and it includes the radio station's weekday schedule, including Richard Blade, Jed The Fish and Doug The SlugRichard and Doug continue to spin Morrissey records to this day on SiriusXM 1st Wave.

May 21, 2021

Just For The Record...

There was a good dude from South Jersey who was selling boxes of LPs at the Hometown Farmers Market on Wednesday.  He had a nice selection at a fair price.  The sleeves were all in good shape, but more importantly, the records were all perfect - not a scratch on any of them.  A few of them were K-Tel Records that were sold through tv commercials, including an awesome compilation record from 1982 that includes Billy Idol, Genesis, Van Halen, A Flock Of Seagulls, Kansas and Joan Jett.  There was also an original pressing of the George Carlin stand-up comedy album, FM & AM.

Here are the albums that came home with me.

May 20, 2021

Randy And Hercules

"Macho Man" Randy Savage and Hercules (1988)
Ten years ago today, the world lost one of the most colorful and talented entertainers of all time: Randy Poffo, who was known throughout the world as "Macho Man" Randy Savage.  This photo from May, 1988 shows Randy lounging in the yard with his German Shepherd, Hercules.  The dog was given to Randy in the mid 80's by fellow WWF wrestler Hercules Hernandez.

The Poffo family gathered at Randy's house for Mother's Day in 2011.  When he spoke to his mother on the phone, Randy asked if she would bring the cremated remains of Hercules.  She did, and Randy took the ashes and walked to a tree on his property with his brother, Lanny.  Randy asked his brother to pour the dog's ashes on the tree.  When Lanny questioned his brother, Randy explained by saying: "I want you to do it. If anything happens, I want you to do the same thing with my ashes. The same place. If it’s good enough for Herc, it’s good enough for me."  Ten days after that conversation, Randy died of heart disease and Lanny honored his brother's wishes.

Source: Bleacher Report

May 19, 2021

It's So Good

Peter Gabriel (1986)
If you have never listened to this incredible album, please do so as soon as you can.  So is the seventh solo album from Peter Gabriel after his departure as the lead singer of Genesis.  It was released 35 years ago today, and I think it's one of the greatest records of all time.  It includes two of the greatest pop rock songs of the 80's with Sledgehammer and Big Time, an honest and beautifully sad love song with In Your Eyes, and two absolutely haunting ballads with Red Rain and Mercy Street.

My favorite song from this album is Red Rain, but the one that I have the most appreciation for is a duet that he recorded with Kate Bush called Don't Give Up.  I have a hard time listening to it without tearing up a little.  It's been a source of comfort during some pretty dark times when I was a teenager.

May 18, 2021

No One Sings Like You Anymore

Chris Cornell
1964 - 2017
It has been four years since my favorite singer took his own life.  This hit me especially hard, and I didn't know what to say about it at the time.  The words came a lot easier the following year when Anthony Bourdain committed suicide.

If they were everything that I dreamed that I could be and they couldn't beat back the demon, what chance do I have?  The answer, of course, is whatever chance I allow myself to have.  Stand up.  Move forward.  Find a way to have an adventure if you can.  Be good to the world, be good to yourself, and allow the world to be good to you.

(photo source: Tom Morello)

May 17, 2021

Hershey M&M's

Hershey (2021)
For years, my father has been telling me about the time when he was a kid when Hershey made their own version of M&M's.  I don't know how it keeps coming up in conversation.  I'd like to say that it's because I worked for a major candy company for the better part of a decade, but he has talked about these for many years prior to that, and he continues to talk about them to this day after my former employer sold off their American candy business.  So, imagine my surprise to find a big bag of Hershey-Ets at Ollies, in retro styled packaging, no less!  I had to pick them up for him.

Now, my pop has had type 2 diabetes since he was 30, and he has been eating and drinking with reckless abandon for his entire life.  The drinking hasn't slowed down much, but he is starting to watch what he eats a little bit.  He said that these would be good to have around the house for when his blood sugar crashes.  Then, he proceeded to remove every last Hershey-ets with a crack in its candy shell and eat them.  I think pop might have a touch of OCD.

As for the candy, they taste exactly like you probably expect they would, which is to say they're M&M's.  Maybe somewhere out there is someone with such a refined pallet for chocolate in a candy shell that they can tell the difference between the two, but that somebody isn't me.  However, it was still worth the purchase for the glee in my father's eyes as he shouted "I told you so", as if I was on the other side of this debate.

May 16, 2021

Thoughts On Fried Chicken, Inspired By One Tough Cookie

May's Drive-In
Ashland, PA
Back in 2012, an 85 year old woman named Marilyn Hagerty wrote a sincere review in her weekly newspaper column in which she praised the new Olive Garden restaurant that opened in Grand Forks, North Dakota.  Her review went viral, and most of the commentary about Ms. Hagerty ranged from sarcastic to condescending to outright ridicule.  It was if they were asking how dare someone take the time to appreciate something that she enjoyed and to share that appreciation with others.  Thankfully, there were strong voices in the food community who came to Ms. Hagerty's defense, including Anthony Bourdain - a man who I admired to a degree that is borderline unhealthy.  He published a book of her reviews, and he wrote a forward that slammed the door in the face of the kind of people who would make fun of this woman.  Ms. Hagerty is about to turn 95 years old, and she's still going strong and writing columns for her local paper.

I thought of Ms. Hagerty when I began to sort through the photos on my phone to post this entry about the May's Drive-In that I visited yesterday.  I admire this woman a great deal for her ability to rise above the attitudes of the people who go through this life trying to prove how damn cool they are at the expense of others.  I also admire her talent.  She's a published writer, and a damn good one.  I'm just some dumb schmuck from Northeast Pennsylvania with a blog that nobody cares about but me.  On the off chance that someone ever does find this post, there's a pretty good chance that they'd think I'm stupid for writing about a simple fried chicken dinner that was served on a styrofoam plate with some french fries and a little tub of cole slaw.  When I looked at the photos I took of my dinner, I almost deleted them and decided to not write about this place, but it's people like Ms. Hagerty who remind me to do what makes me happy, and to appreciate the good things in this world with an open heart and an open mind.

May's Drive-In has two counters where you can place your order - one that is accessible from the parking lot and one on the inside.  They had a lot of ice cream options, and they're right across the street from a football field, so I imagine that this place is hoppin' after a game when everybody comes streaming across the street for some ice cream or a burger and fries.

As much as I wanted to try the ice cream, I just couldn't.  I've been doing pretty well on my diet so far - lost ten pounds and already feel quite a bit better than I did at the start of the year.  It's not a super strict diet when it comes to meals, which is why I ordered the three piece country style chicken meal without a moment's hesitation, but I am limiting myself to meals only: breakfast, lunch and dinner.  No snacking and no desserts - at least until I get down to my target weight.

I was tempted to get the cheesesteak, but I have cheesesteaks and reuben sandwiches so often that I wanted to try something else.  It had been a long time since I had fried chicken that didn't come from KFC or Popeye's, so I decided to give it a shot, and I wasn't disappointed.  It was juicy and delicious with crispy skin and a touch of seasoning.  It was served with french fries, a buttered bun and some cole slaw, all of which were tasty.

Like I said, I'm not the writer that Ms. Hagerty is, but I would definitely come to May's Drive-In again.