Wednesday, October 25, 2017

It's Been A Long Time... Favorite Stuff I Got Recently: SNES Classic/Star Wars Shirt/Spiderman/Apples/Boo Berry

There's been a lengthy lag in time since my last post.  It's because...  I got a temporary counsel position with a medical device company downtown and have been working since the beginning of September (and therefore, no posts).   I know that's not a valid excuse to stop posting but well, I got busy...  For those who inquired, thanks for caring!!!  This post will break the seal and get me back on my posting schedule.  So, enjoy a glimpse of Pop's world over the past month and a half!!! 

Continuing on my Force Friday II post, Toys R Us in Bloomingdale did get my shirt in after all.  Here are pics of the exclusive Funko shirt:

Rey and Porg
I got to Target early on September 29th and was rewarded with... a SNES Classic!!!  Early bird gets the worm, right?
Nothing like the smell of gamers early in the morning!!!
Number 17, woo hoo!!!
Almost there...
With Halloween around the corner, I got part of the inspiration for my Pop's Ghostly moniker, my favorite cereal in the world... Boo Berry!!!
Too bad Halloween is only once a year...
There's Boo himself in all of his berry glory!!!
I paid 13 dollars for a 5-dollar bag of apples from an apple orchard in Woodstock (80 in total for my family).  But Hell, it's all about the experience in picking the apples right?
I did not see any apples that looked like those that you find at Jewel or Mariano's...
The pumpkin did not come off of a tree...
Wifey did make a delicious apple pie though...
Finally, we had a nice trip to Enchanted Castle where I won an awesome Spider-Man in the claw machine!
Do you want a balloon too, Georgie?
What a crappy Go-Kart picture I took.  Small track but big fun racing against a bunch of elementary school-aged girls it was.  All I needed was a Koopa shell and a banana peel.
Still had the U.F.O Catcher glory in me from my Japan days!
Well, got that guilt off of my chest for not posting so long.  Thanks for the read and have a good one!

Friday, September 1, 2017

No Shoes, No Shirt, No Force- Force Friday II; Toys R Us, Bloomingdale, Illinois

Another quick post.  About a week ago, saw this ad for the new Star Wars toys:

Upon seeing it, I immediately wanted to partake in the Star Wars excitement as part of the bonus of being back home in the States.  What I wanted most was the free shirt for attending the festivities, much like in high school and college when we got shirts to prove we were actually at fill-in-the-blank concert.   So, at 11:30pm on Thursday night, I hopped into the Camry and drove 4.8 miles to the closest Toys R Us.
I got to Toys R Us around 11:45pm.  On the way there, I did not hit any stoplights.  To my relief, the crowd was not too large and it looked like I'd be getting my shirt and poster.  I made small talk with the other geeks in line with me and Facebooked and Twittered the fact I was in line so the world would know that Pops was getting a limited edition Star Wars Force Friday II shirt, a poster and whatever goodies that were to be released.
On the dot at midnight, the doors were opened and the small crowd rushed to the action figure aisle.  Immediately I wondered where the free shirts and posters were.  They were not at the door, so I figured they must be at the action figure aisle and joined the rush.  They were not at the action figure aisle either.  At that point though, my curiosity about the new toys took over and I started snapping pics on my iPhone. 
That's mine dammit!!!
The other fans were most interested in the deluxe figures and were looking, or more accurately, jockeying for position and grabbing them.  To be honest, of what was released on Friday, the selection wasn't too great and nothing was too exciting.  This might be the fact that Disney doesn't want to reveal too much before the movie is released.  Here are some pics of what I saw:
Holy Snokes!!!
More Porgs
And yet more Porgs
New character!
Another new character!!!
This guy looks bad-ass, much tougher than those imperial guards from ROTJ

Relative to the Sarlacc pit?
New Lego set 1
New Lego set 2
New Lego set 3
New Lego set 4

Worse yet, I still didn't know where the free shirts and posters were.  I asked an employee about the shirts, and to my chagrin, he told me that they had not gotten the shirts.  My first impression was that the whole campaign had been a big lie, a false advertisement to get us into the door.  After a pause, the employee then told me to go to the Service Desk and have them take my name and number so I could be called when the shirts arrive.   I trudged my way over to the Service Desk, gave them my name and number and grabbed a poster, which they did have, and left the store. 
The poster is pretty cool  I admit.
Being late at night, I was disappointed at not returning home with the shirt.  Whether I actually will get a shirt or not is to be seen.  I'll keep you guys posted.  Thanks for the read, and have a good weekend.  


Thursday, August 31, 2017

Lolli and Pops; French Market, Downtown Chicago

Quick mid-week post.  During one of the interviews downtown I had the pleasure of discovering Lolli and Pops in the French Market at Ogilvie Station.  The truffles were all so pretty that I had a hard time deciding which ones to select.  Yeah I know that someone only making part-time wages shouldn't be splurging sixteen bucks on four truffles, but damn these things are big and beautiful.  More importantly, the truffles were a little something for wifey, who's courage in moving to the U.S., ability to get a job at the kid's elementary school and patience in dealing with me is greatly appreciated.  She's worth every bit of the sixteen dollars spent!  

As an aside, what's particularly frustrating is that nearly one month later, I still haven't heard back from the large publisher I interviewed with after the interviewer told me the next step would be for me to meet the rest of the team...  Why lead me on and then not have the courtesy to tell me they aren't interested?  Worse yet, my status inquiries have been ignored.  Maybe that's a sign how the company is run and I should be glad I'm not joining them.  Anyhoo, at least I got some awesome truffles as a result of my haul downtown.

Here are some pics:
When you get a box like this, you know you've paid for quality or at least an expensive box.
The Fab Four!
Wifey thought the black cat was a mouse.  This guy was creamy dark chocolate delight.
My favorite here, the key lime truffle, really smooth taste.
Perfect mix of dark chocolate and sea salt caramel on this one.  My wife's favorite of the bunch I think.
This birthday cake truffle was the big guy of the box. Pleasantly not too sweet.
Thanks for the read and talk later during the weekend!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Gotta Catch Them While You Can; Review of Chuck E. Cheese; Nationwide But At the Darien, Illinois Location

When I heard that Chuck E. Cheese is removing the animatronics, I immediately knew that the kids had to experience the terror of my childhood birthday parties.  As an aside, I recently accepted a three-month role with a medical device company downtown, so the Chuck E. Cheese visit was a bit of a celebration of our ability to survive that much longer.  So, on Friday night we hopped into the car and headed to the Darien, Illinois Chuck E. Cheese after confirming that location had the full fab five Chuck E. Cheese band.   Other locations like the Villa Park and Naperville (two western Chicagoland suburbs) only have one animatronic, Chuck E. Cheese himself.

Without verifying the facts, much like our present embattled administration, I feel that Chuck E. Cheese and its one time rival, Showbiz Pizza, sprung up in the late 70's to emulate the success Disney had with its Country Bear Jamboree and to a lesser extent, the Tropical Tiki Room.  Those two attractions feature singing and sometimes instrument-playing animatronic animals.  Of course, the restaurants didn't nearly have the Disney resources like Imagineers and 24-hour maintenance, but the results weren't too bad- the Country Bear Jamboree located in every other metropolitan suburb!!!

What I remember as a child about Chuck E Cheese/Showbiz Pizza was:
  • A terribly dark animatonics dining room;
  • Large gigantic animatronics that creepily seemed to be watching me;
  • Horribly tasting pizza that had rubbery cheese; 
  • An awesome automated personal helium balloon making machine;
  • A smelly ball pit with an urban legend that the finder of the golden ball got 100 free tokens;
  • Running out of tokens hours before my fellow birthday party attendees did; 
  • Being forced to simply watch others play games because I had no tokens left; and 
  • More eerie monitoring by gigantic animatronics.
You aren't officially paroled into the game area/restaurant until you place your order.
To start, to my horror there are no more tokens!  All of your tokens are put on a credit card-like pass.  As expected, kids lose these cards like none other and our nice hostess told us that in the event a little one loses a card, a replacement can be obtained by showing the cashier a receipt.  We had a coupon and ordered a large pizza, four drinks and cards with 90 tokens-worth of credit for $43.99.  Not bad at all. 
The dining room wasn't dark but rather wide, well-lit and spacious.  No curtains between sets!
Well, the dining room was not dark at all.  There was no curtain that opens to reveal the band each music set; rather, the animatronics are exposed the entire Chuck E. Cheese experience.  
Maybe 5'8", not 10' as I remember

And well, they aren't as big as I remember.  They do blink constantly and some had a half-blink problem that evidenced repair was needed.
Look into my eye...
My seven-year old was scared and asked me if the animatronics were meant to be scary, which resulted in a good chuckle amongst the family.
Did they retrofit a purple costume over the gorilla dude's skin?
I makea' da' shoes!!!
The band didn't play pop hits as I remember and they just weren't loud enough.  Verdict- upgrade (or removal) is needed.  I guess this is why Chuck E. Cheese is making the dramatic change.  Also, no one was really watching the show either.

Not bad at all.
But- which poll are they referring to, the one among Chuck E Cheese marketing executives?
The pizza wasn't too bad.  It was significantly better than frozen pizza, Ci Ci's Pizza and the Shakey's Buffet in the Tokyo area, but in my opinion, still below Pizza Hut and Domino's.  The crust had a nice garlicky quality to it and the cheese wasn't rubbery.
No more ball pit!!! Let me let that sink in. No more ball pit!!!
The ball pit and tube climbing structure was gone!  Perhaps too much of a health risk with poopy diapers, unwashed hands and kids having accidents in the pit?  Since the girls are seven and ten, we didn't miss the play area.  So with the extinction of the ball pit, I assume the urban golden ball legend died too.  The tables, restrooms and game area was surprisingly clean, which impressed us.
Let's mine for thar' gold!!!
Hell's yes.  I still only win two tickets each time I play.
Simpson's ticket game!
I bet the kids understand this one.  Only the kids though.
No more arcade games or automatic balloon machine.  Instead it was all ticket games.  90 tokens-worth of credit lasted almost three hours.  We were very happy about this.  At other game centers, the kids would be done in after half an hour with the same amount of credits.  Also, all of the games were only one credit, which probably explained the great length of time we had playing.
The prizes were a bit to be desired but who cares if the kids got three hours of fun out of a 43-dollar dinner.
We left Chuck E. Cheese with a handful of Tootsie Rolls and Air Heads prizes, a semi-full stomach, nice pictures with the soon-to-be removed and not too overly scary animatronics and a bit of nostalgia sadness that Chuck E. Cheese had changed so much from my childhood.   It was a really fun time though, and I recommend that all of you experience this bit of 80's Americana before it changes to something that is completely different from our memories.  Thanks for the read.  

It's Been A Long Time... Favorite Stuff I Got Recently: SNES Classic/Star Wars Shirt/Spiderman/Apples/Boo Berry

There's been a lengthy lag in time since my last post.  It's because...  I got a temporary counsel position with a medical device ...