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Nov 24, 2022

Watch Me! My lifelong love affair with wristwatches

Those who know me well, have most likely never seen me without a watch on my wrist. Acquaintances and co-workers quickly learn that they can always ask me for the time, and I've got them covered.

My watch obsession started when I was six years old and my Old Man bought me my first watch, It was a swiss made 3 jeweled Mickey Mouse watch. I proudly wore that watch for two years before I fully grasped the concept of how to tell time. I continued to wear it until the digital watch craze took hold of me around 1980.

a few of my watches.. 
including a few Mickey Mouse's

I owned countless digital watches throughout my childhood. They were incredibly affordable, and I spent plenty of my lawn mowing money on them over the years. I owned watches with video games, calculators, stopwatches, timers, and alarms. I had enough of them to wear a different watch every day of the week. 

They truly took a beating during my rough and tumble 80s Gen-Xer childhood. When I'd wear one out or break them, another snazzy and affordable piece of tech was always easily within my grasp.


Casio CA-53W-1CR
Calculator Watch

I actually owned the CS-83 CASIO calculator watch back in 1982, which was one of the CA-53's predecessors. It was the first CASIO I ever bought with my own money, and have been a loyal CASIO fan ever since. 

I actually got in trouble a couple of times using it to do calculations in math class. I forgot to turn the chime off and the 'beep' instantly gave me away. This of course was back in the olden days when calculators weren't allowed in class.

Growing up in the 80s was an amazing experience. So much technology was being thrown at us, and digital watches were one of the many wonders that excited me to no end.

My vintage HMT Pilot 
hand winding wristwatch from India

While I do love my digital watches, I collect and use all kinds of timepieces. I love pocket watches, but seldom use them unless I am wearing a long sleeve shirt. You see, I have what appears to be a permanent white stripe around my wrist, under where my watch sits. 

The times I do give my wrist a chance to breathe and go watch less, I find myself consistently flipping my bare wrist to check the time. I often sleep with my watch as well, so I can quickly reference the timepiece in the middle of the night if required. 


Pizza Time!


I truly feel naked without a wristwatch attached to my person. Wearing a watch was engrained into my psyche from a very young age. I was even taught to never go to a job interview without wearing one, as you'd instantly be judged as an irresponsible person who doesn't manage their time.  

Forty years of watch wearing has definitely given me a good grasp of time, as well as how to manage it. As a young boy I used to chuckle at the term 'Timekeeping'. I knew no one could keep time, but soon learned I could manage and efficiently use it. I take pride in being prompt and on time. I would rather be an hour early, than one minute late anywhere. 

Yes, watches can be fun, stylish and invaluable tools, but timepieces helped in part to mold the man I've become. Somewhere along the way.. I became a watch collector. There's no rhyme nor reason to what I collect, although it does tend to heavily lean on the digital side. If it looks good to me and feels good on my wrist, I'll buy it.

CASIO 3405 GW-M530A 
G-SHOCK Tough Solar

I could write a book on CASIO watches, and if I did, a good part of it would focus on the G-SHOCK 500 series of watches. My 500's have proven to be indestructible and have never failed me. In fact, my daily wearer is now almost ten years old. The watch grabs radio waves and syncs to atomic time nightly. It is without a doubt the toughest, most reliable and most accurate watch I've ever owned.

I've have recently begun cataloguing my collection, so I'll have to write some posts soon on some of the pieces I own. I foresee several articles focusing specifically on CASIO models. Stay tuned..

Aug 24, 2022

That time Gomez Addams sold Mission Tortillas

There are so many advertising slogans from the 70s through the 90s that are permanently burned into my data banks. One such tagline was at the end of a Mission Tortilla commercial, when the voice over actor simply utters the words 'Mission Tortillas' before the screen faded to black. I know it's just the brand name of a mass produced tortilla, but the person who uttered that brand name is the reason it stuck with me.

That voice over actor was no other than John Astin aka.. Gomez Addams! It always impressed me how he spoke that phrase with perfect inflection on the Spanish accents. He rolled his 'R' and pronounced the double L's perfectly. I remember seeing these commercials around 1990, and the voice was undoubtedly Astin's. 

Apparently, Astin started out as a voice over actor, and was a renowned voice-artist throughout his career. He lent his voice to series like Justice League, The Wild Thornberrys, Pinky and the Brain and Bonkers just to name a few.

I did a little research and couldn't find if Astin was indeed fluent is Spanish, but learned he did star in a 1972 Spanish language film called 'Un Secuestro de locura'. While Google and YouTube generally turn out wonderful results in regards to 80s and 90s TV commercials, I have not been able to track down a Mission Tortilla commercial as of yet, that Astin has voiced. If you happen to run across some please let me know! And.. if I do locate one, I will most definitely post it here.

Aug 22, 2022

BIGFOOT! My childhood obsession & adult fondness for the legendary cryptid

 


As a kid growing up in the 70s, I witnessed Bigfoot fever firsthand. The now infamous Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot video shot in 1967, started an obsession with the cryptid that carried on through the 70s to present day. I remember learning of Bigfoot for the first time on an old TV show called 'In Search Of'. It was a show hosted by actor Leonard Nimoy, that covered all sorts of unexplained mysteries and phenomenon. While the TV shows and news outlets shared sightings and stories, I got super interested when a sighting was reported in the Red Feather lakes area of Colorado, located about an hour away from where I grew up in Fort Collins. 

Growing up camping in the Red Feather Lakes area, I was always on the lookout for the big guy. At the ripe old age of ten, I would set out on secret solo Bigfoot hunting expeditions during our camping trips. I must admit that I got in my own head many a time whilst alone in the wilderness, or in my tent at night. There were several occasions when I heard/felt strong footsteps close by as well as hearing huge branches being snapped like twigs. Granted, this was also where Colorado Parks and Wildlife released Moose into the wild, and by the mid 80s, they were very abundant in the area.

I remember drawing WANTED type posters with my rendition of Bigfoot and taping them to my bedroom wall. Many a night I fell asleep staring at the drawings I made, wondering if there were the slightest chance he existed. My family didn't celebrate holidays when I was growing up, so I never had any lore like Santa, Leprechauns, The Easter Bunny, heck.. not even the Tooth Fairy to believe in. In a way, Bigfoot was the only legend in my childhood that I wanted to believe in, and held out hope for its existence.

Fast forward to adulthood. While I've been alive long enough to definitely experience some weirdness and unexplained phenomenon, I'm no conspiracy theorist. I'm from the school of I want to believe.. but my brain requires hard evidence. That however, certainly does not mean that I'm no longer a fan of Bigfoot and anything to do with it.

I'm a sucker for any kind of Bigfoot gimmick. Just look at some of the stuff I've gladly spent my hard earned money on over the years.


BIGFOOT PIZZA
from Pizza Hut


No.. that's not a young Billy Crystal, it's some cat that people called 'The Pizza Hut Guy'.  And for a time from 1993 to the mid 90s, he pedaled Pizza Hut's newest creation BIGFOOT Pizza! This pizza was Pizza Hut's answer to Little Caesar's 'Pizza Pizza' promotion, which even came in similar packaging. Pizza Hut's pie however, was one huge pizza that measured about two square feet. 

The advertising campaign was quite ingenious. People would run around screaming their lungs out, and the Pizza Hut Guy would pop up screaming "IT'S BIGFOOT!".  I fell for this gimmick hook, line and sinker, and bought a heckuva lot of BIGFOOT Pizza over the years. I really do miss that pizza, but then again, I also really miss the way Pizza Hut Pizza used to taste back in the day.






SASQUATCH PIZZA
I've bought this 3 pound frozen pizza a couple of times. 
In the end, the gimmick was way better than the pie.


BIGFOOT Lunchbox
I display this great lunch pail and don't use this for lunch although maybe I should. I love the way he's just watching the fisherman (and Nessie) not to mention how he is properly social distanced. That scene reminds me so much of the wilderness I grew up camping in.




BIGFOOT Air Freshener
Pine.. not BIGFOOT scented



BIGFOOT Action Figure


My Bob's Burgers BEEF SQUATCH Tee


Sasquatch Sweat Soap
I can attest this does not grow hair



Great Divide Brewing's YETI Stout
Great Divide Brewing in Denver Colorado makes a wonderful Imperial Stout, my favorite in fact. They also have a killer logo for the beer, and I jump at the chance to buy any of their YETI merch I can find.




BIGFOOT SOCK CO.
I'm crazy about this company's BIGFOOT socks, and want every pair they make.


I'm not exaggerating when I say this is just a portion of things I've squandered my money on over the years. Bigfoot lore to me now is just fun, and his mentions in pop culture are usually entertaining and lighthearted. My adult self wonders about the ancient carvings, totems, and cave drawings that feature sasquatch type beings. However, I also often wonder why there's a law stating that it's illegal to kill a Bigfoot in Canada. I guess the kid in me wants to still believe, and my ears do perk up whenever a news story makes the rounds about a Bigfoot sighting.

Until I learn any different, I'll still make the occasional comment that Bigfoot exists. My bride will roll her eyes as she always has, my kids will giggle and agree with me just to tick Mom off, and we'll all have a good laugh. Real or not, Bigfoot has made for some great memories and entertainment over the years, and indeed made life a bit more colorful, mysterious, and entertaining for this particular boring Gen Xer.


Aug 12, 2022

Snack review - Congo Tropicals Plantain Chips

Congo Tropicals in Miami recently offered to send me a couple bags of their plantain chips to review. I'm always down to sample new brands of healthier snacks, so I gladly accepted the offer. I was excited to try a product from just down the road, and if I'm being totally honest, that awesome Monkey logo of theirs also helped to bolster my desire to try them. I'm a sucker for great logos, and this one is genius. I mean how great would this look on stickers, hats, frisbees or shirts?

The sister fruit to bananas, Congo Tropicals’ Plantain Chips are the perfect alternative to the crunchy potato chips you crave. Found in tropical regions, plantains are high in fiber, potassium, energy, and low in cholesterol. Brought straight to your home with Congo Tropicals, the sugar-free snack is the superfood you never knew you needed in your home! The perfect healthy snack for heading back to school and packing lunches!

Living in central Florida, I've sampled dozens of varieties of plantain chips. After recently losing 55 pounds I've stopped eating them, as many contain too much salt and are very greasy. They kind of taste like potato chips, and that's partly because they are made in a similar way. In all actuality, Plantain Chips should be a healthier snack option seeing as they're truly a superfood. Congo Tropicals boasts a healthy plantain chip, so I was all too ready to see if they were any good.


My Review..


Congo Salted Plantains
Upon opening the bag and grabbing a few chips, I immediately noticed there wasn't salt falling off of them, nor were they greasy. So many brands make plantain chips that are super thin and greasy. I'm happy to say that Congo Plantain chips are not! They were thick, crunchy and perfectly salted. These chips only have 15 mg of sodium per serving, equivalent to 1% of your daily allowance. They have no cholesterol, saturated or trans fats, and are gluten free with no added sugar. They are without a doubt the best plantain chips I've had in years.

Congo Ripe/Maduro chips
Maduros are ripened plantains that are sweet. The closest thing to these for taste would be a dried banana chip. Banana chips however are a lot sweeter and have less flavor. These chips were considerably harder than the salted plantains, but not as hard as your typical bulk banana chips. I only eat maduro chips on rare occasion, but I really enjoyed the Congo brand of sweet plantain chips. They were not overly sweet, with a complex flavor. If available, and I had a sweet tooth to take care of without breaking the calorie bank, I would definitely grab a bag of these.

All in all I enjoyed both varieties of these chips immensely. It makes me want to try out their garlic flavored variety soon! These days, any snack that ticks all the boxes for healthier eating makes me happy. And.. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention they're quite filling as well! So in closing, if you want a salty or sweet, incredible tasting guilt free snack that's actually satiating, look no further than Congo Tropicals!

If you can't find Congo Tropicals Plantain Chips at your local grocer, fear not! You can find them at their website for a couple dollars per bag, as well as on Amazon. I highly recommend them, and am ecstatic to add another healthy snack option to my rotation. I've listed links below if you you want to give them a try.

Note: These are so good.. they sell out FAST.
But fear not, you can also buy them on the  Congo Tropicals website




This was a sponsored review. Opinions are my own, and I take pride in giving my honest and truthful opinion about everything I review. If you would like to work with me on a project or promotion, by all means contact me. Click here to view our privacy policy.


Aug 2, 2022

The Hunt for Powdered Raspberry Filled Donuts (an expedition of the sugary kind)

I have not bought snack cakes for almost a year now. In fact.. abstaining from them completely, helped me to lose 55 pounds since then. However, now that I have a healthier relationship with food, I occasionally allow myself to indulge in a treat from time to time. I asked myself today what is the one snack cake I would allow myself to enjoy once a month. The answer was quite simple, my favorite snack cake of all time. Hostess Raspberry filled Donuts.

Unfortunately (or fortunately depending how you look at it) treating myself to this delicacy may never happen, as they are no longer made by Hostess. They were discontinued around 2012, and while there were some reasonable simile's to be found here and there, even these now seem to be non existent. Web searches seem to be of no help, but I desperately want to believe there are Raspberry Filled Donuts manufactured by a snack cake company, somewhere in this country.

Therefore, I've now made it my mission to find a suitable replacement to take the place of my long lost snack cake. I started by hitting up the grocery store closest to my home, and will then broaden my search in an outward radius. As I love road trips, I will also be steadily searching stores across the state of Florida, the Southern U.S., as well as westward across the country. Here are the results of my first foray in this snack cake hunting expedition I've embarked upon..


The Hunt for Raspberry Filled Donuts
Expedition #001 - Wal Mart
(Four Corners, Clermont Florida)

It was really strange perusing snack aisles for the first time in over a year, after going cold turkey on snack cakes in any form. I forgot just how many varieties are offered in some major supermarket chains, and was surprised by a couple new additions to the snack cake world. Below are my findings..


The Main Snack Aisle


Nothing remotely similar to Powdered Raspberry Filled Donuts to see here. In fact, I was kind of shocked at just how small this snack cake section was.


The Stand Alone Displays

Little Debbie
Had no hope of finding them here, but checked anyway



Entenmann's
A decent variety, but again, nothing close to what I'm looking for. I had to squeeze my way around this display because of the boxes and pallet jacks surrounding it. CRIPES! Have I ever mentioned how much I detest day stocking in supermarkets? Oh yes.. I believe I have!




Spanish Snack Cakes
The Spanish brands of snack cakes always intrigue me. The 'Pinguinos' filled cookies caught my attention for sure. They look like a cross between an OREO Cakester and a Hostess Cupcake! The old me would have walked out with a box, but I was able to shake off that old impulse, and refocused on the task at hand.



Tastykake Donuts

Getting closer, but not close enough.



End Cap Displays..


TASTYKAKE
Tastykake has really surpassed Hostess in recent years all the way across the board. Quality, shelf space, distribution, they seem to be hitting on all cylinders. I will keep a close eye on this brand as they often release new items while still embracing the classics.



Little Debbie
On this trip, I noticed that Little Debbie snacks were peppered widely throughout the store. While I initially almost passed by the sections stocked with Little Debbie treats, I quickly started rethinking that line of thought. 

When Hostess went through bankruptcy and the company ceased production on all snacks, supermarkets quickly backfilled the empty shelves with Little Debbie snacks. It must have done wonders for Little Debbie earnings during that year. Since then, I've noticed a steady string of new snack cakes being released all year long. I made sure to give them a look, but unfortunately came up short.


Minion Cakebites
I swear Minions have a wider reach & presence than Mickey Mouse these days.



The Store Bakery


Not Raspberry filled Donuts. Rather.. Strawberry Sweet Rolls. I almost grabbed these as they looked similar to my second all time favorite Hostess snack.. Cherry Sweet Rolls. I stayed strong however, and continued my mission.


A sea of pastries and donuts..
but none that were filled.


So my inaugural expedition was unfortunately a bust. As for now, I am holding strong in regards to my snack cake celibacy. If I find any snack cake products that are similar in any shape way or form to the old Hostess Raspberry filled donuts however, I will snatch them up and review them with haste! 

How about you? Were you a Raspberry Filled Donut fan as well? Have you seen anything remotely resembling this great snack on the shelves anywhere? If so.. drop us a comment below. In the meantime, I will continue the hunt, and will share my findings here. 


Jul 29, 2022

Old Shakey's Pizza Colorado locations as they look today

It's happened to most of us. You drive past one of your old hangouts, restaurants, or stores that has since closed for business, and you are suddenly bombarded with old memories. Maybe they have to do with good times had with friends or family, or simply an incredible value of services or entertainment experienced. 

This my friends, is how I feel every time I drive by former Shakey's Pizza Parlor locations once frequented during my youth. Sadly, there are no longer any Shakey's restaurants located in the state of Colorado. When I visit Colorado however, I regularly pass by two of the old locations, and thought I'd share some pictures of what they look like today, as well as a few lingering memories.

 
The old Shakey's location in Fort Collins Colorado
1500. E Mulberry Street.
 
The Shakey's location shown above has been a gas station for many years now. Other than the rectangular shape and size of the structure, there are no other features still present that even faintly resemble a Shakey's Pizza Parlor. 

This is the Shakey's I visited the most during my youth. It was only about a mile away from my home, and I would often ride my bicycle there to get some lunch and play video games. Very seldom do I drive by this location without reminiscing about my many visits there throughout the late 70s and early 80s.  

I remember playing classic arcade games like Battlezone, Tempest, Ms. Pac Man, and one of my favorites which was a less popular game at the time called "Cheyenne". Cheyenne was a stand up console that had a rifle mounted to the play board. The point of the game is to protect lawman "Buster Badshot" from gangs of outlaws, wild animals, and various other hazards. The gangs of outlaws included cowboys, Indians, hillbillies, Mexican Bandidos, and from what I remember, some women outlaws as well.
  
There were several levels such as saloons, mines, deserts, forests, ghost towns, graveyards and canyons. I used to get a kick out of the fact that the game allowed you to shoot at random objects, like bottles, lanterns, and even a piano player in the saloon level. My folks had to literally drag me away from this game when the pizza hit the table (and that's saying something if you know how much I love pizza).


The old Shakey's location in Evans Colorado
2831 11th Ave 

As you can see, apart from the old stained glass windows that were a fixture at the old Shakey's Pizza Parlors, this building still very much resembles an old Shakey's. I can probably only count on one hand, how many times I dined at this location. It was usually when we went to this town for concerts, or other events, and were in search of sustenance before our 30 mile trek back home to Fort Collins where we lived. I know of numerous other Shakey's locations that were located in other parts of the state, so maybe I'll do some research as to where they were, and post some pictures soon of what they now look like.