Jan 31, 2023

Old Mother Hubbard

Mother Hubbard Flour advertisement
West Hazleton, PA
I've passed by this building at least a thousand times over the past 40 years and never took the time to see what this thing on the wall was.

If you've been to this blog before, you'll know that I am the furthest thing on earth from a graphic artist, but I poked around with the colors balance and gamma correction settings to try to get a better look at what this advertisement may have looked like when it was first painted.  It turns out that it was for Mother Hubbard enriched flour.  The company that produced this was called The Hubbard Milling Company, which was founded in Mankato, MN in 1878.  It still exists today as a subsidiary of a company called Ridley Inc who manufacture feed and vitamin supplements for livestock.

Jan 30, 2023

Go Birds!

Philadelphia Eagles
2022 NFC Champions
Philadelphia is having a moment right now.  The Philadelphia Phillies were the National League champions and played in the 2022 World Series, and the Philadelphia Union were the MLS Eastern Conference champions and played in the 2022 MLS Cup.  Last night, the Philadelphia Eagles added to the trophy case by curb stomping the San Francisco 49ers to win the NFC Championship and advance to Super Bowl LVII.

I'll always be a baseball fan first with every other sport in the world tied for second.  I don't know much more about football than I do about soccer, but I'm a Philadelphia boy at heart regardless of the circumstances.  If they start up a one-legged drunken yo-yo league and the Philly team makes it to the finals, I'll be rooting for them too.

Go birds!

Jan 29, 2023

I Felt Saddest Of All When I Read The Boring Chapters

The Whale
A24 (2022)
For most of my movie-going life, I haven't been able to understand the public's fascination with award shows.  They're important to the people who work in the industry and to their friends and family, but I don't see the point in debating who deserves Best Picture or Album Of The Year with other fans.  I wouldn't go so far to say that I don't care at all, but I don't get a vote and it doesn't influence what I like or don't like.  The most it's ever been to me is a mildly interesting piece of trivia.

Having said all that, I think that this film might have opened my eyes to why fans can find themselves getting into awards season, because Brendan Fraser absolutely deserves to win Best Actor at the Academy Awards.  His performance in The Whale was of the most intense things I have ever seen on the big screen, and there isn't a trophy in this world that's big enough to do it justice.

When I was a teenager, there was no one in Hollywood that I thought was cooler than Brendan Fraser.  I first saw him in a movie when I was 12 years old and my dad, stepmom, stepsister and I went to see Encino Man in theaters, and I walked out of the theater wanting to be this dude.  He was funny, good looking, and he looked like he was having the time of his life on that screen.

My appreciation for this dude grew every time that I saw one of his movies.  He was incredible in the lead role of School Ties as a Jewish teenager from Scranton who earns a football scholarship from an elite prep school and endures antisemitic attacks from the other students.  He was also excellent in With Honors, which is a much better movie than it's given credit for (and has one of the best soundtracks of any film from the 90's), and I enjoyed his performances in The Scout, George Of The Jungle, Blast From The Past and The Mummy.  However, the role that he played in the 90's that really spoke to the teenage me was Chaz Darby in the 1994 comedy Airheads; a nerdy kid who got the hell out of his hometown to go somewhere where nobody knew him so that he could start a band and become a rock star.  You couldn't have written a character that the 14 year old me wished that he could be more than that.

Then the 2000's happened and it seemed like Brendan Fraser went from being one of the biggest stars in the world to nearly disappearing altogether.  The only things I remember seeing him in throughout my adult life was a role in Crash and the starring role in Journey To The Center Of The Earth, the latter of which we saw at the drive-in during its initial run.  The reason for his disappearance didn't become clear for many years until Mr. Fraser spoke out publicly that he was sexually assaulted by a powerful movie executive who had him blacklisted from Hollywood.  In the years that followed, his physical and mental health took a turn for the worse, and he gained quite a bit of weight in the process.

If there's one way that I can definitely relate to Mr. Fraser as a human being, it's in the effect that mental health can have on your weight.  Although neither he nor I have even come close to the weight of the character that he plays in The Whale, I can tell you that I have definitely been in the headspace that his character was in toward the end of the film.

I'm not fat because of a genetic issue or because this is my natural body type.  I was as skinny as a rail from elementary school all the way through high school, but my mental health was never really in what you would call a good place.  I've drank and used drugs in my life, but neither ever gave me the dopamine hit that I got from food, so food became my drug of choice.  When I was old enough to make my own money and go out and get food whenever I wanted, I packed on the pounds to the point where I was over 300 pounds when I was 25 years old.  I managed to get my life back on track in my late 20's by cleaning up my act and returning to college, and I lost almost half of my total body weight.  I made it down to 159 pounds when I was 29 years old, and I did it in a pretty healthy way.  No diet pills, no bulimic behaviors, no starving myself, and no exercising to an unhealthy degree... just moderate exercise and a commitment to eliminating any form of recreational eating.  I ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and that was it.  I didn't even really limit what I would allow myself to eat for meals, but I did limit the quantity to one plate of food.  I put on some of the weight in my early 30's when I allowed myself to eat snacks and desserts again, and I found that my natural weight when I'm not dieting or binge eating is around 180.  Then my grandfather passed away, and I started binging again.

For the past ten years, I've bounced back and forth between 220 and 280 pounds, and the weight gain is entirely due to binge eating.  When I'm in a good place mentally and don't feel the urge to binge, I tend to drop the extra pounds pretty quickly and get closer to a healthy weight, but when my mental health is suffering, I eat to a degree that is absolutely ridiculous.  I can say that I've never gone to the excess that Charlie goes to in The Whale (when you see the film, you'll know what scene I'm talking about), but I've torn through three or four Burger King Triple Stackers and then finished it off with an entire box of Tastycakes and a pint of Ben & Jerry's in a single evening.  I'd do even more damage at a place like the Old Country Buffet or at an all-you-can-eat Chinese restaurant.  The real problem is that this kind of eating becomes compulsive.  A healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner doesn't feel like enough after a week of binge eating, so even after I'd make a conscious choice to put a stop to it, I'd find myself constantly snacking throughout the day in between meals, so the end result of calories that I'd consume in a 24 hour period worked out to being just about the same as when I'd binge.  It's a god damned miracle that I never did any serious or permanent damage to myself (knock on wood).

The Whale addresses the issue of binge eating through its main character in a way that is honest, heartfelt and thought-provoking.  It has gotten a fair amount of criticism from some people who feigned outrage that the movie did not cast a 600 pound actor in the starring role, or who claimed that this movie somehow dehumanizes or mocks obese people.  Quite frankly, I'm of the opinion that these critics can cram their phony outrage straight up their ass.  The movie is not disrespectful in any way, shape or form, and the current trend of complaining about actors who portray characters who don't match their real life is absolutely ridiculous.  It's acting.  The entire craft is built on people pretending to be someone that they're not so that they can tell you a story.  If you don't have the emotional maturity to handle that concept, do yourself and the rest of us a favor and stay out of the theater altogether.

This movie does not stigmatize obese men and women at all... it shines a spotlight on the stigma that exists in our world.  Like I said before, I never even came close to being as heavy as the main character of this movie, but I can tell you that when I was at half of his weight, I was treated differently by the world around me.  People were a lot nicer to me when I was 160 to 200 pounds.  Friends, co-workers, hell even total strangers would talk to me in a more kind tone of voice.  They listened with more interest when I had something to say.  They were pleasant and would go out of their way to include me in conversations or in things that were taking place.  This is very different than the way that people have interacted with me when I've weighed between 260 to 300 pounds.  I haven't weighed myself in a long time, but I would guess that I'm around 280 right now.  People aren't out-and-out rude to me or anything like that, but they're not as pleasant and agreeable as they were when I didn't weigh this much.  Some folks like Gabriel Iglesias have a natural charisma that can break through those barriers, but for those of us who don't have his charm and personality, being the weight that I'm currently at tends to attract more disgusted looks and condescending attitudes than it does friendly conversation.  That's one of the reasons that I grew my hair and my beard out.  Part of it is because it helps to hide the double chin and the weight that I've gained in my face, but when I throw on a black t-shirt and a leather jacket, it all serves the same purpose as the stripes on a scarlet kingsnake.

Bottom line: if you've read the criticism that this film has received and think that it has any merit whatsoever, my advice to you is to watch the movie and judge for yourself.  Don't let these people dictate what your opinion should be.  I can't speak for the whole world, but as an overweight man who has struggled with binge eating throughout his adult life, I can tell you that the people who criticize this movie and its casting do not speak for me.

The Whale was directed by Darren Aronofsky.  If you will indulge me in a brief humble-brag, I worked as an extra in the final act of his fourth film, The Wrestler.  In addition to The Whale and The Wrestler, he has had an amazing career directing films such as Pi, Requiem For A Dream, The Fountain, Black Swan, Noah, and Mother.

Now, I am not at all a professional actor.  I've never even been in a play in high school.  I'm just a guy who likes professional wrestling and who helped set up the arena for a few Ring Of Honor shows, and they happened to be the company who partnered up with Mr. Aronofsky to provide the ring and set dressing for the last scene in the movie.  The opportunity to appear in the movie just sort of fell into my lap, so there I was with a bunch of SAG extras in the crowd scenes.  I didn't know what I was doing, but I stood where they told me to stand and did what they told me to do and it was a pretty great experience.  Everybody was very kind and welcoming throughout the shoot, and Mr. Aronofsky met with us at the end of the day to talk and take a photo.  He even gave me the call sheet for the day as a souvenir (you can see it in his hand in the photo).  He's an incredibly nice man who didn't have to take time after a long day of filming to spend some time talking with a big old nerd like me, but he did and I'll never forget it.

This movie wasn't screened by my local theater when it premiered nationwide in December, but they've started showing it once a day along with several other Oscar-nominated films at Regal Cinemas.  If you haven't had the opportunity to see it yet and you have any interest in it at all, I strongly recommend that you check it out.  This is an incredible movie that is absolutely worth your time.

Jan 28, 2023

Do They Have Sea Lions In Mypos?

Slappy And The Stinkers
TriStar Pictures (1998)
I found this movie on the VHS wall at the Mahoning Drive-In Theater and couldn't resist the temptation seeing what would happen when Henry Wu and Balki Bartokomous mix it up with a sea lion and a bunch of kids who look as if they've been chasing Pixy Stix with Mountain Dew all day long.  If that wasn't intriguing enough, the rental stickers on the tape sealed the deal.

I've found quite a few tapes with stickers from places like Blockbuster Video, Hollywood Video and West Coast Video, but this was the first time I ever found a movie that was once on the video rental shelves of a Phar-Mor drugstore.  We never had a Phar-Mor in my hometown so I didn't rent movies there, but my family and I shopped there when we went to the Schuylkill Mall.

The chain went out of business in 2022 and was at the center of a financial scandal when founder and original Colorado Rockies team owner Mickey Monus embezzled $10 million dollars from the company. He was convicted of conspiracy, bank fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, tax evasion, obstruction of justice, and 96 counts of interstate transportation of stolen property, and was even charged with jury tampering during his first trial. and he served ten years in federal prison.  Hell, for all I know, this movie may have purchased for the store with stolen money.

Jan 27, 2023

Happy Birthday To The World's Greatest Host

The one and only Mr. Joe Bob Briggs is celebrating his 70th birthday today.

I've been a fan of Mr. Briggs since he hosted movies on MonsterVision, Summer School and Last Call on TNT when I was a teenager.  In the years that followed, I discovered a lot of movie reviews that he wrote in the 80's and 90's and it led me to discover a lot of movies that I may never have discovered otherwise.

Years later, Mr. Briggs returned to horror hosting with The Last Drive-In on Shudder, and he once again began to introduce me to dozens of movies that I had never seen or even heard of before, in addition to introducing me to a place that has become my home away from home over the past two years, the Mahoning Drive-In Theater.
Joe Bob's Jamboree  (July 15, 2021)
How Redneck's Saved Hollywood  (May 7, 2022)

We had the opportunity to meet and talk with him three times over the past five years.  He was one of the most gracious and genuine people that I've ever met.  He's a truly good dude who loves to meet and talk with folks about life, movies, and everything, and I feel very fortunate not only to have met him, but for all of the happiness that his work has brought into my life.

Happy birthday, Mr. Briggs, and thank you for everything!

Jan 26, 2023

When That Clock Radio Strikes Half Past Six, Babe

Mac Tonight
McDonald's (1988)
This incredible photo of a Mac Tonight store appearance was shared yesterday by Consumer Time Capsule on Instagram.  There was no source given for its exact date or location, or the name of the lucky winner of what appears to be a GE clock radio telephone, but if the late 80's in the United States had its own flag, it would be this Polaroid.

Jan 25, 2023

Blessed Are The Cheesemakers

Ski Queen Classic Cheese
Tine (2022)
I found this at Wegmans not long ago and it's one of the most delicious cheeses that I've ever had.  It's a type of Norwegian cheese called brunost (brown cheese).  It's made by separating whey from curd.  The whey is then boiled and blended with cow and goats milk.  The mixture is then boiled a second time to dissolve the sugars and caramelize the cheese, which is then cooled in a way to prevent sugar crystals develop slowly and don't become too large... or at least that's what their website says.  I may be cheesy but I'm not a dairy farmer, so I'm going to go ahead and take their word for it.

This cheese has a texture similar to fudge, and it has a sweet and smokey caramel flavor.  It's not sweet to the point where it tastes like a caramel candy but it's a very strong flavor.  The flavor is probably going to be overpowering if you use too much of it as a topping, but it's incredible when used in small amounts.  The only difficulty I ran into is when I melted some to spread on a bagel (it's too thick to spread on its own).  It burned a bit, but it spread reasonably well when heated and it was absolutely delicious.  Highly recommended.

Jan 24, 2023

Batman Gets His Dew At Applebee's

Mountain Dew: Dark Berry Bash
Applebee's (2023)
We stopped at Applebee's for a bite to eat on the way home from a movie earlier this month and I found that they have a flavor of Mountain Dew that is exclusive to the chain.

The menu described this flavor as a combination of blue raspberry and blackberry.  I can't say that I caught too much of the blackberry, but it definitely had a strong blue raspberry flavor.  It's something that I would definitely pick up if they ever come out with a Zero Sugar version of it in stores.

The flavor of Dark Berry Blast reminded me of the Mountain Dew Dark Berry flavor that was sold during the summer of 2012 as a part of a cross-promotion with the release of The Dark Knight Rises.  The 2012 package didn't specifically call out blue raspberry or blackberry, and it's been over ten years since I had it, but it wouldn't surprise me if they brought back the Batman formula the soda that's currently available at Applebee's.

Jan 23, 2023

Teeny Tiny Tetris

Tiny Arcade Tetris
Super Impulse USA (2019)
The greatest puzzle game ever made was introduced to the United States 35 years ago this month.  It has been ported to practically every device that has or hooks up to a screen in the years that followed, including this Tiny Arcade keychain that I was given as a Christmas present a couple of years ago.  It looks pretty close to the Tetris cabinet that appeared in arcades in 1988.

Jan 22, 2023

From Russia With Love

Tetris arcade flyer
Atari Games (1988)
I've played video games for over 38 years.  If someone were to ask me what game I spent the most hours of my life playing, I wouldn't hesitate for a second to give my answer... it's Tetris.  I'm not even sure that there's a close second.

The Sacramento Bee  (January 22, 1988)

Tetris was created by Alexey Pajitnov in 1984, but because he was a citizen of the Soviet Union at the time, it took a lot of time and a series of negotiations before it found its way to the western world.  The earliest reference I could find to the game in an American newspaper was from a Reuters article that was published 35 years ago this week.  Tetris began popping up in American arcades and on home computers later in the year, and it made the transition to home consoles by the spring of 1989.  In the years that followed, it would become recognized as one of the most impactful and influential pieces of computer software ever created.

Jan 21, 2023

A Peek Inside The Castle

Aladdin's Castle (1981)
This video of an Aladdin's Castle arcade that was shot in 1981 was shared by Vampire Robot on YouTube.  The channel is an archive of B-roll footage from news broadcasts over the years.  It's an interesting snapshot in time of ordinary places that no longer exist.

Jan 20, 2023

We Have All Been Here Before

David Crosby
1941 - 2023
God damn... this year is starting with one gut punch after another.  David Crosby, the singer and guitarist who founded two of the most iconic bands in the history of rock music in The Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young passed away earlier this week at the age of 81.

I am not remotely qualified to write a fitting tribute to a man who has been recording incredible music on a consistent basis for over a half century, so I will close this off with one of my favorite songs that Mr. Crosby has ever written and performed.  It's the title track off of the second studio album released by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.  It was never released as a single to the best of my knowledge but it's a song that I strongly connected to from the first time that I heard it.

Thank you, Mr. Crosby.  Maybe I'll get to meet you someday on another time around the wheel.
If I had ever been here before
I would probably know just what to do 
Don't you?

If I had ever been here before
On another time around the wheel
I would probably know just how to deal
With all of you

And I feel like I've been here before
Feel like I've been here before
And you know it makes me wonder
What's going on under the ground
Do you know?

Don't you wonder
What's going on down under you?

We have all been here before

Jan 19, 2023

Feelin' Good Was Good Enough For Me

Janis Joplin
1943 - 1970
Today would be the 80th birthday of a pure soul if we were a fortunate enough world to still have her among us.  I don't know if it's possible to miss someone who died ten years before you were born, but that's the feeling I get when I listen to her music and see her interviews.  Happy birthday Pearl, and thank you for singing for us.

Jan 18, 2023

Reach For The Sky

Jay Briscoe
1984 - 2023
One of the most talented and charismatic professional wrestlers in the world today was one of two people who passed away in a car accident yesterday not far from his home in Delaware.  Jamin Pugh, known better by wrestling fans around the world as Jay Briscoe, was just eight days away from his 39th birthday.

Jay has been a professional wrestler since he was 16 years old... a time when he had to wrestle under a mask to disguise the fact that he was underage at the time.  Over the next 23 years, he and his brother Mark established themselves as one of the most dynamic tag teams in professional wrestling in the world.  In the eyes of many fans, myself included, they are the greatest tag team in the history of professional wrestling to have never worked for WWE.  He also had a hell of a career as a singles wrestler, which included two reigns as the ROH World Heavyweight Championship.  Any wrestling fan who has ever watched a match that included Jay Briscoe will never forget it.  He brought an energy to his character and to his matches that very few in the history of the business could equal.

Jay Briscoe worked for promotions all over the world, but he's best known as one of the pillars of Ring of Honor where he wrestled for over 20 years.  He appeared on nearly every ROH show that I've ever attended and his match was always one of the highlights of the night.  As the outpouring of support from those who knew him can attest, he was also a hell of a nice guy.  I didn't know him personally, but I did get to meet him at an NYC show in June 2006 and he was incredibly kind to take some time to meet the fans and take pictures.

He was only 38 years old, and to make matters even worse, his two young children were in the car when it was struck and it has been reported that both are in the hospital.  I can't even imagine what his friends and family must be feeling right now.  My thoughts are with them.

Jan 17, 2023

No, I Am Not A Busy Beaver

A Man Called Otto
Sony Pictures (2023)
We went to a second movie over the three day weekend, and I'm glad to say that not only was the movie much better, but there were no shooting at the theater this time.  A Man Called Otto was based on a Swedish novel called A Man Called Ove.  There was also a a Swedish film that was released in 2015 based on the book.  I hadn't heard of the novel or the 2015 film before, but I'm going to have to look into both of them because the American version is fantastic.

I'm not the kind of man who claims that he never cries.  In fact, there have been quite a few movies that bring a tear to my eye.  I still can't watch the end of Field Of Dreams without tearing up, and I've seen that flick at least two dozen times in my life.  However, I can't think of any other movie that has made me cry not once, not twice, not three times, but on six separate occasions.  It may be a cliche, but A Man Called Otto made me laugh and it made me cry.  This is Tom Hanks at his best.

Jan 16, 2023

Everything Is Personal If You're A Person

Warner Bros (1998)
One of the best supernatural thrillers that I've ever seen was released in theaters 25 years ago today.  Fallen stars Denzel Washington as a police detective who discovers that a murderer who he captured and witnessed the execution of is more than he appeared to be.  The movie also features John Goodman and James Gandolfini as police detectives.  It premiered just a year before Mr. Gandolfini would take on the defining role of his career on the other side of the law: Tony Soprano.

Even though it's a quarter century old, I'm hesitant to say any more than that at the risk of spoiling the plot for anyone who hasn't seen or heard about this movie before.  If that's you, take my word for it - this movie is worth your time.  It's available to rent on Amazon Prime.

Jan 15, 2023

The Real Horror Was Off Screen

Regal Cinema - Hazleton, PA
We've watched at least a hundred movies here since we first signed up for the Regal Unlimited plan three and a half years ago.  It's a pretty good deal because there's no risk in taking a chance on something that you've never heard of before.  The price is the same whether you go or not, so we go to see pretty much everything.  We have never walked out on a movie that we saw as a part of the Unlimited deal, but there's a first time for everything.

The description for Skinamarink looked pretty interesting on the Regal app.  There was a link to the trailer too, but I usually try to avoid those because they give away too much about the plot.  That wouldn't have been too much of a problem in this case because there was nothing here to spoil.

I would say that this was one of the worst movies I've ever seen in a theater, but that would be giving it too much credit because it really didn't feel like a movie at all.  It was more like a bad art school project on Tiktok.  Every shot about about 10 to 20 seconds long, and it looked like it was being filmed on a cell phone with a VHS tape filter.  It looked as if they had the phone that filmed this thing sitting on the floor and tilted to look up at the corner of the room where the wall meets the ceiling.  The first 20 minutes of the movie was just shot after shot of different rooms in a house with most of the lights turned off, and a tiny bit of dialogue of a guy on the phone talking about how his kid fell down the stairs.  It wasn't scary, or spooky, or atmospheric.  It was just a cheap gimmick that kept going on and on without ever transitioning into an actual movie.

After about twenty minutes of this nonsense, my wife and I looked at each other.  I don't remember if she asked me if I wanted to leave or if I asked her, but we both agreed that we've had more than enough.  I'm not exaggerating when I say that I've been less bored sitting in the waiting room at the dentists office where I could at least read the magazines.  I'm sure that this kind of artsy fartsy stuff appeals to some folks, but I'm not one of them.  If you like movies with a plot, I would recommend going to see literally anything else.

We stopped at Applebee's for dinner on the way home and overheard people talking about a shooting that had just happened at the Regal Cinema... the place we had literally just come about five minutes earlier.  I'm not sure where in the theater it happened or if anyone was killed, but it's a hell of a lot scarier than anything I saw on the screen last night.  Is it possible that walking out early on Skinamarink could have saved our lives?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Either way, that's too close for comfort.

UPDATE [1/15/2023]: The shooting took place in the arcade that's off to the left hand side in the lobby, and the victim was pronounced dead at the hospital the next day.  It's a crazy world that we're living in.

Jan 14, 2023

A Starry Sight

PepsiCo (2023)
The lemon lime soda wars have taken a new turn with the recent PepsiCo decision to discontinue Sierra Mist and replace it with a new brand of citrus soda called Starry.  I tried the Zero Sugar version and it tastes pretty much exactly like I thought it would, which is to say that it tasted exactly the same as Sprite and Sierra Mist.

I doubt that this is going to set the world on fire, but I can see why they made the change.  The can design is pretty cool and the name is definitely an improvement over Sierra Mist.  I always thought the old brand sounded more like a body wash or deodorant scent.  Maybe they'll try to push their new brand with some interesting limited edition or seasonal variations this year.  I'm hoping for a Starry Night version with a Van Gogh can.

Jan 13, 2023

A Rough Start To 2023

Jeff Beck
1944 - 2023
We're not even two weeks into the new year and the world has already lost two fantastic performers.  The first was on Tuesday when one of the greatest guitar player who ever lived has passed away after a bacterial meningitis infection.

Yesterday, a very talented singer and the only child of arguably the greatest performer of the 20th century suffered from cardiac arrest.  She died later in the day.  Both her father and grandfather also had heart conditions that contributed to their death.

Jan 12, 2023

When You Pry The Fork From My Cold Dead Hands

Kentucky Fried Chicken
Standard Speaker - January 12, 1988
All-you-can-eat fried chicken, mashed potatoes, biscuits and gravy for $3.49?  The 80's truly were a glorious time.

Jan 11, 2023

The Designated Hitter Turns 50

Ron Blomberg
1988 Topps - Card #663
The first overall pick in the 1967 MLB draft made baseball history on April 6th, 1973 when he became the first player to record a plate appearance in a MLB game as a designated hitter.

The game took place at Fenway Park.  Luis Tiant started the game for the Boston Red Sox against the New York Yankees, and the night did not start off too well for him.  With two outs in the top of the first inning, he gave up a double to Yankees right fielder Matty Alou and walked both Bobby Murcer and Graig Nettles to load the bases.  In the first plate appearance taken by a designated hitter in a regular season game, Ron Blomberg drew a bases loaded walk to score the first run of the game.  Things didn't immediately get better for Tiant, because Felipe Alou came up next and hit a two run double that put the Red Sox down 3-0.

Despite the rough first inning, Luis Tiant would go on to pitch a complete game and get the win on the strength of the Red Sox offense.  They tagged the Yankees for 15 runs on 20 hits for the 15-5 victory on Opening Day of the 1973 season.

The Philadelphia Inquirer  (January 12, 1973)

The designated hitter rule is a half century old today.  It was adopted by the American League at a meeting of MLB owners that took place fifty years ago today on January 11th, 1973.  For the next 48 seasons, the DH was only a part of the American League.  It was finally adopted by the National League prior to the start of the 2022 season.

Jan 10, 2023

Above Us Only Sky

John Lennon mural
Renaissance Plaza - Scranton, PA
This mural of John Lennon was the result of a collaborative effort between artists Eric Bussart and Ryan Hnat.  It was completed in October 2020 and can be found on the wall at Renaissance Plaza in Scranton.

Jan 9, 2023

Disappointment Sometimes Leads To A Pleasant Surprise

Adams Avenue - Scranton, PA
We took a walk to grab a bite to eat after we left the Electric City Aquarium on Saturday.  Our first stop was a place called Bartari.  It was advertised as a retro-inspired facility that is "part restaurant, part bar, part arcade", however from what we saw, it was just another cookie cutter sports bar with a few pinball machines and arcade cabinets thrown in.  Nothing about the place felt "retro" in the slightest.  After standing at the hostess counter next to a sign that said "please wait to be seated" for about five minutes without being seated and without being acknowledged even once by the bartender who was looking right at us, we left.  Frankly, I think that the employees there did me a favor because after we left, we found a very cool hot dog joint that's been in business for a century.  As for Bartari, from what I could tell, it fails to be an adequate restaurant, bar, or arcade... hard pass.

Quick side note: if you're in Pennsylvania and you love video games from the 70's, 80's and 90's as much as I do, and if you want to have a genuine retro arcade experience, take a drive to York, PA and visit the Timeline Arcade.  You pay one price to play all of the retro games you'd like, and they have far more vintage arcade games and pinball machines than I have ever found under one roof in the state.  There's also quite a few bars and restaurants within walking distance of the arcade.  I guarantee you that it's worth the road trip.

But enough about arcades for now... onto the real purpose of this post.

Coney Island Texas Lunch
Cedar Avenue - Scranton, PA
Just down the block from Bartari is a restaurant that we both noticed when we were driving to the Aquarium.  It's in the basement of a building that was built on a hill so the storefront is heavily slanted down until you get to the intersection of Cedar Avenue and the alley where the front door is.  This is where we stopped for a late lunch.

Coney Island Texas Lunch opened its doors in 1923 and is entering its 100th year of continuous operation.  Think about that for a second.  Restaurants have a failure rate of approximately 90% in their first year, but this place opened six years before the start of The Great Depression and sixteen years before the start of World War II and is still going strong.  Hell, I'm a 42 year old man and this place opened fourteen years before my grandfather was born.

One of the things that I love about restaurants like this is that they're unique entities onto themselves.  There may be places that are similar, but no two will ever be the same.  Case in point: there was a Coney Island Restaurant in downtown Hazleton when I was growing up, and we visited a Texas Lunch hot dog restaurant in Hanover a few years ago.  I've also eaten at Jimmy's Quick Lunch many times throughout my life.  All of these restaurants had been in business for many years and are known for their Coney Island-style hot dogs, but each of them had a distinct menu and atmosphere all of their own.  Even the hot dogs at each place were very different.  This is also true of Coney Island Texas Lunch in Scranton.

The Texas Weiners that are served in Scranton are made from Gutheinz hot dogs topped with spicy mustard, chopped onions and a Coney Island chili sauce and are served on a bakery roll.

I also had a Texas Cheeseburger, which was about the same size as the Texas Weiner and topped with the same sauce, and we split an order of Chili Cheese Fries.  Everything was very tasty, and while I will probably always prefer Jimmy's Quick Lunch to any other hot dog joint, I would definitely stop here again when I'm in the area.