Americana Mine


While sitting at work today, I received a text on my phone. It was one I never would have expected to get in a million years. It was from my girl, who said, "This would work well for your Fallout based kitchen." To it, she attached a photo.

Looking at the image, I immediately had to have it. I envisioned it in the side of our kitchen nook with classic red napkin dispensers and my Fallout salt an pepper shakers.

The seller wanted $100.00, or best offer. I said, "Tell them I will pay $100.00, and pick it up now!" The deal was made, and my workday cut short as I left the office and headed down the road.

This right here is hot! This table and chairs totally screams Fallout to me with its classic Americana look, and red finishes. Sure, it's missing a chair, but honestly, three seems more comfortable than four. Gives you that elbow room.

The folks I bought it from said that it belonged to their grandmother, who has had it for years.

Here's where you might think me crazy, as that Coca-Cola logo that has been neatly painted into the surface will soon have a large sticker placed over it. I don't look at it so much as destroying an antique. Rather, bringing it into the 21st century for an all new generation.

This has finally stoked my fire hot enough to push finishing my kitchen in a Fallout style. I'm all in at this point!

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Retro Spins: Tears For Fears - Sowing The Seeds Of Love

I feel like people made a bigger deal about Tears For Fears in the 80's than they really deserved. I mean, they're okay. Their prior album, Songs From The Big Chair, was pretty good, but it didn't blow my mind by any means.

As I fired up their 1989 entry, Sowing The Seeds Of Love, it didn't poise itself to grab my either. It started out with the ballad, Woman In Chains, which derailed it pretty much from the start for me. One, I'm not a big fan of ballads. Two, you should start your album on a high note and then work your way into the ballads. At least that's my opinion.

By song two, I was already checked out. The album simply wasn't interesting to me. I left it run in the background while I fiddled around my toy room, hoping something would divert my attention back to it. This never happened.

The album continued to drone on in the background until it finally ended. Sowing The Seeds Of Love was somewhere in there, but it was never one of my favorites from Tears For Fears, so I really paid it no mind.

Overall, that's a hard pass for me.

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Homemade Chicago Dogs


Hot dogs come in many shapes and sizes. While there's no wrong way to eat a dog, there are certainly ways that are far superior to some.

Today, I want to talk about the king of dogs. The Chicago Dog. While you can throw any number of condiments on any brand of hot dog, and call it a day, this meaty delight has specific guidelines that have to be followed, and a whole list of condiments to accommodate it.

When it comes to a Chicago style hot dog, natural casing is a must have. This is what gives it that "snap" when you bite into it. Boars Head has come in at number one for many dog enthusiasts, but they're far from the only options out there. Especially if you're looking for the "authentic" approach.

As for my opinion, Vienna Beef makes the best dogs for this. Being based out of Chicago, they can proudly and firmly state that they deliver a true Chicago experience. Of course finding these outside of The Windy City isn't always easy. As such, it's great that the company provides a mail away service, delivering products to your door packed in ice.

With that said, unless you're a massive fan of hot dogs, this is not exactly cost efficient. A Chicago Style Hot Dog Kit will currently set you back $54.99! If you're interested in splurging, or simply want to know what all the hype is about, then it's definitely worth checking out, or even sending as a gift. That's how I got mine, as a gift through the mail from my mom for my birthday.

The next critical ingredient in a Chicago Dog is a poppy seed bun. The black bits not only add a nutty flavor to the bread, but are also rooted in the era, where Jewish immigrants were the connoisseurs of bakeries, often using them on their breads. This also contributes to the Jewish heritage, where poppy seeds are a necessity of Purim.

Of course, the bun also has to be fresh. Soft in feel, and light in texture.

Onions and tomatoes are the produce needed, and for these, you're simply going to dice up an onion, slice a tomato, and then cut each piece of the fruit in half.

The onions will add a good crunch, while the tomatoes deliver a soft flesh with a juicy burst. This is also one of only two ways I will ever eat a raw tomato. The second being on club sandwiches. Any other situations, and I will avoid them like the plague.

These, however, are far from the only necessities of ingredients. Celery Salt, Yellow Mustard, Sports Peppers, Dill Pickle Spears, and Neon Relish, also known as Chicago Style Relish, will all make their way onto this gourmet meal. Basically, this thing is packed to overflow with toppings, and each one brings its own layer of goodness.

The yellow mustard adds just a hint of spice, which punches harder with the crunchy blast of heat from the sports pepper. These are evened out with the sweetness of the neon relish, and briny pickle spear. The celery salt adds that savory notch, and quite honestly, you don't know you've been missing the umami spice until you've had it.

Grill your dog, boil it, fry it up. Whatever your preference. Mine hit the grill, and got a nice char on the ends to add that extra bit of crunch and flavor.

Placing two dogs in a set of buns, two slices of tomatoes get wedged in place between the meat and bread. This is then hit with a generous spray of mustard, giving it a nice coating.

On top of this, sprinkle the onions.

Give the top of this a spread out layer of neon relish.

Side note: Neon relish is incredible hard to find outside of Chicago. I have yet to find a store in my area that has it.

Lastly, top each dog with two sports peppers, and a dill pickle spear. Alternatively, the sports peppers can sit at the bottom of the bun, with the dog resting on top.

Generously sprinkle this with celery salt.

Truly beautiful. The royalty of hot dogs.

You know what's up. Get you one, and get to digging in. It's crucial to get everything in one bite so that you can enjoy all the flavors coming together. You'll know what it's all about when you do.

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A Week With Saints Row 2022


This past week I've been spending a lot of time with the new Saints Row reboot released on August 23. As a fan of the series, I won't say I was excited when I saw the trailers dropping, but I was at least willing to give it a try. The question is, was it worth the purchase?

Well, not that you care about my opinion, nor should you, you should make up your own mind, but here are my thoughts so far. 

The Look And Feel

The Saints Row reboot gets the look and feel of the game right. It plays like I expected, and visually, the exteriors look good. It feels like a Saints Row game, at least as far as controls go.

It falters greatly in bringing the heart and soul of the series, but to the developer's credit, they made no bones about the fact that they weren't here to deliver the game fans were accustomed to. That's fine. At least they were honest about it up front, and didn't pull a bait and switch. Still, I can understand why this would turn off the core audience of the series, and quite honestly, I was almost among them.


Let's just say it's not for me. Bring down the man, establishments, and wealth. It's the siren call of Twitter dwellers, and the audience the developers are clearly looking for.

While I understand that a lot of people find the dialog cringe worthy, and as a result of its "woke" nature, opted not to buy the game, I was able to get through this. Ever since Saints Row 2, I've always made it a point to create a character based on The Joker, and having him give the dialog actually made it easier to get through because I just chalked him up to being dumb, and as a result, having dumb henchmen.

The humor aspect is missing from the game in a big way. The vibe that made Saints Row what it was is gone. I know I said above that the developers made no bones about this. However, the biggest loss for me is that the developers of the prior games made it a point to fight against the stigma of simply being a GTA clone, and this installment is nothing more than that.

Sprawling Empty World

There is no doubt that the map is large, with several streets and alleys to explore. However, there was one very noticeable aspect missing from my time with the game. Numerous instances I would drive down multiple streets that were void of both cars and people. Where is everyone?

Rival gang members and police are few and far between, making it rather cumbersome to get into a "good" fight. Be it a one star or four star notoriety level with my enemies, often times nobody would give chase. or show up in general to defend the honor of their fallen companions. It was if they simply weren't interested in me or my activities of murder.

The world just felt empty, and as a result, boring. 

Unique Stores With Nothing To Buy

One of the things that prior Saints Row games prided themselves on was customization. While the 2022 iteration nails this aspect for your overall character design, it falters greatly in the shopping experience. Where prior games offered a store on almost every corner, with a plethora of themed shopping options, this new iteration spreads stores out so sparsely that driving to them becomes a chore. Further, once arriving at said store, options are so minimal, it's barely worth the trip.

Where prior installments offered an array of options mixed in with unique costumes, both meant to add comedy and an element of risque, this new game limps across the finish line. While I found one or two pieces here and there, such as a barbecue wizarding hat, and ice cream costume, that was as eccentric as it got. It was incredibly disappointing, and this was the moment I felt like the life of this franchise had been ripped out.

Quite frankly, with how few shops there actually are, the map could have been condensed to a much smaller radius. Additionally, because they offer so little, you'll pretty much buy everything in each shop your first visit, making them useless locations quite quickly. This is a far cry from prior games where buying everything was not something you could feasibly do for a long time, due to the volume of options available.

No Unique Interiors

Prior games encouraged exploration because you never knew if you would find a unique location with an interior to investigate. I still remember my first time entering Stillwater Caverns in Saints Row 2. It was awe inspiring.

With the exception of shop interiors, I have found no such places to explore in 2022's reboot, nor do I think I'm going to after my futile searches on Google for signs that anyone found anything. This is a completely missed opportunity.

Where Are The Unique Weapons?

Okay, I get it. The developers of the reboot didn't want to add sexually oriented weaponry to the game, and that's fine. However, what they've done is ripped out every aspect of conceptually interesting weapons, and left in their wake bland firearms and common melee weapons. It's quite frankly boring to its very core. After buying a magnum and sawed off shotgun, I simply stopped visiting the weapon shop because I didn't care about any of the other combat options.

Vehicle Options Are Plentiful, But...

One thing you will find in Saints Row is a slew of vehicles to chose from, all of which you can pick and choose to store in your garage and customize.

Change the paint color, add new rims, tires, and a vast amount of other upgrades to your car to make it just the way you want it. Like the character build, customization of vehicles is on point, and a lot of fun to play with.

Sounds great, yes? Well, no. This has, and appears will always be one of my problems with the franchise. A game that offers so many vehicles, and then caps your storage space annoys me. I want to collect every single car, and making it so that I can't makes me loose interest in vehicles in general.

What makes this aspect worse in the reboot is that every car has a special ability that can be unlocked. However, I'm not going to waste my time hunting each vehicle down, and complete the task to unlock this aspect, if ultimately I can't keep the vehicle in my garage. I'm certainly not going to waste the in game currency on customizing them.

Instead, I'm going to find the fastest car, the fastest motorcycle, and be done. All my other vehicles will comprise of the special unlocks I get from completing missions and side tasks.

Mind you, that's just the land vehicles. Water and air vehicles are a whole other point of contention in the reboot. Air and sea vehicles are minimum, at best. For that matter, where the heck is the airport? Prior games offered you the ability to buy a hanger at an airport, and a dock off the water where you could store a vast array of helicopters, planes, boats, and other sea craft. 2022's game does not. In fact, there are no planes at all.

Activities, Missions, and Collectibles

There are no shortages of missions, activities, and hidden collectibles to find in the game. As someone who prefers to handle all side business before tackling the story, I am thoroughly happy with this aspect. With exception of a handful of story missions, this is mainly where my focus has been, and I've yet to run out of things to do.

There is a lot of content here, and in that regard, there is value to be had. If you focus on everything, you're not going to complete this game in a few hours. In fact, the game encourages you to take your time, and essentially do what you want to do.

Progression System

Saints Row 2022 offers a progression systems which has a max level of 20. Whereas in prior installments maxing this out would see you reaching a God like status with infinite health and ammunition, the reboot does not.

As such, while you can progress to a higher level, I honestly never felt like doing so achieved anything useful or important. Sure, my health bar increased, and I got more flow. However, what I really wanted, and expected, was to become untouchable.

I know a lot of gamers don't like it when their character is overpowered. I'm the opposite. If I am going to put in the time, I feel that the reward should be to mow over everything in your path. 

Glitches and Bugs

I could forgive a lot of the misses of Saints Row 2022 if the game itself wasn't so buggy. Glitched animations, screen popping, and online multiplayer which is sporadic at best when joining or being joined flat out ruin the gaming experience.

I can't even tell you at this point how many cars I've had to abandon because I simply couldn't get in them anymore, or finisher moves that glitched out in some form or fashion. Don't even get me started on how many times I've had to accept the online terms and send multiple invites to initiate a co-op game.

This is by far my biggest gripe with the game, and it only annoys me more when the developers seem to have their attention focused on attacking people for not buying the game for (insert your favorite "ist" or "phobe" here). How about you get off Twitter, and get back to work on fixing the game for those of us who did shell out sixty dollars?

Saints Row 2022 was not ready for release, and quite frankly, it shouldn't have been in this state.

Final Thoughts

Saints Row 2022 feels like Saints Row, but is so stripped of the things that made the franchise what it was, that it truly is just a GTA clone. It's disappointing that in removing all the risque items from the game that the developers felt inclined to devoid the game of any form of humorous weaponry or unique clothing. Had they embraced this in any manner, I can't help but feel the game would have been better received. You can still fight the establishment while firing a toaster rifle that utilizes waffle ammo.

More importantly, and like I said above, the game wasn't ready for release in its current state. All forgiveness could be given for the developer's directional choices or the overall story and in game content had the game simply worked the way it should have. In its present state, it is not worth $60.00.

Have you played Saints Row 2022? Do you want to? Do you want to with my character? Go to Boss Factory, and search boss code dqhtzef.

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Shelf Revisions


I call this post, "Shelf Revisions", but in reality, it's a new shelf in general. In the past, my NES games were stored in two drawers. However, due to the hefty weight of them, that was not going to be a long term solution. It actually got to the point where I stopped playing my Nintendo Entertainment System because I didn't want to put the stress on the drawers.

This new setup not only puts the games on full display, which they absolutely deserve, but makes them far more accessible.

It also gives me the opportunity to display the games with my complete in box stuff, as well as provides a place to store my extra controller and zapper.

This is great! I can actually see, and read, all the titles. Now I just need to hunt down the remaining sleeves I need to properly protect them from dust.

There's just one single game left on my want list from my childhood, and that's Wrecking Crew. I'll pick it up one day. For now, I have plenty to play.

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Retro Spins: Frida - Shine

During her solo career, Frida produced several albums. However, of them, only two were in English. Her 1982 Something's Going On, produced by Phil Collins, was the first. Her second, today's Retro Spin, 1984's Shine.

Though this follow up album was supposed to also be produced by Phil Collins, scheduling conflicts prevented this from happening. As a result, she turned to Steve Lillywhite for the job. This probably wasn't a bad choice as the end result was definitely a solid 80's sounding album.

With that said, while it nailed the sound of the era perfectly, where Shine falters in hooking you. The music itself grabs your attention. However, the lyrics don't do the same. There are no catchy choruses or soul jerking notes. It's just okay and that's what makes it the most disappointing.

The album title song, Shine, stands out the most. Unfortunately, this is also track number one. As such, the end result is it's downhill from there. Though the album boasts track five, Slowly, as (at the time of its release) the last song written by ABBA alum Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus, it's definitely not their best. It sounds like ABBA, but it's not. A rejected B-side at best.

Sadly, this is usually the end result of any one member of a group / band going solo. The sound is familiar. You want to love it, but it just doesn't capture the full magic of what made you "love" that person to begin with. The group. Everyone encompassed together, sharing, and in some cases, fighting for their input on an album is what ultimately results in a finely crafted end result. When you only have one of those members interjecting 100% of their own creative juice, you lose that balance, and that's what's happened here. Frida is a good artist, but with ABBA she's great.

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Just Doodling: Ren And Stimpy


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A Final Day Of Outings


Saturday wrapped up my planned outings for my birthday, and these series of adventures took me to Hershey, Pennsylvania with George of G.I. Jigsaw

Our first stop took us to the Hershey Action Figure and Toy Show. This was something that George found out about a week or two ago, and floated the idea of going my way. For me, it was the perfect ending to a week off, and I was all in.

Though there was certainly a large selection from multiple vendors, Star Wars and G.I. Joe were the biggest contenders for space. I dare say every booth had either or of these franchises in some form or fashion.

Of course, someone, or rather, multiple someones had Pops for sale.

There wasn't honestly anything on my want list when I came to the show, but when I saw one of the G.I. Joe vendors I did a lot of business with during my days at Timonium, I decided I'd peruse his wares.

If this box were in better condition, that Deluxe Set Nintendo would have been coming home with me.

My brother, who lives somewhat in the area, decided to meet us at the show. When we left, he said he had some gifts in his car for me, and offered to take us to lunch at Primanti Bros.

The place specializes in big sandwiches, and that's what all of us had after sharing a giant pretzel.

Are you freaking kidding me with the size of this thing?

I did my best, but finishing it wasn't in the cards for me.

My brother also gave me a wrapped box for my (belated) birthday, which inside had four smaller wrapped items.

Everything inside was something from my want list.

It's stupid how expensive this CD has gotten thanks to Stranger Things.

With these two games checked off my want list, there is only one final game I'm on the hunt for to complete my childhood collection of NES games.

I'm also still checking off issues between 1 and 99 of The Amazing Spider-Man. Though I have no plans to honestly obtain a full run of those numbers, I'll definitely try and get as many as I feasibly can. I'm not spending more than a hundred dollars on any single issue...anymore. There are just 49 more issues on my list, but I won't get but a few more before they're out of my price range.

From lunch, my brother invited us to join him at the Crossroads Antique Mall, which was about a mile away. With the afternoon open, we opted to join.

As was usually the case for me, the place was fun to walk around, but there wasn't anything there that I was personally interested in buying.

These Batman figures were laughably overpriced.

From there George wanted to make a stop in Gettysburg, which we did, and on the way home we stopped at Gateway Candyland where we looked at all the fun candy, and got some ice cream.

I opted for Play-Doh ice cream, which was a yellow colored vanilla base with blue and red sugar cookie bits. It was quite delicious and refreshing after being in the car for several hours throughout the entire day.

I snapped some quick photos of what I got from the show, as well as another of what my brother gave me, and now we're at this moment, where you've caught up with my current events.

These top photos are (again) the items I got from my brother for my birthday. Below are the four Tiger Force Joes I picked up from the toy show. Though Flint is missing his shotgun, I've got one on order, as well as a Tiger Force Bazooka, which is the last in the sub-series I don't have. There really aren't any Joe figures on my "want list", but if I'm out and about, and the mood strikes, there are always some from 1988 to 1994 that I'll consider.

For now though, this wraps up my birthday week. Monday, it's back to work.

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