Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Ramen Time!

Well, my blood re-test came back as "still alive"! The important numbers managed to go down to safe levels (or safe-ish), so that's a win in my book!

I celebrated by going into NYC on Sunday and finally trying out Ichiran Ramen.

It's a NYC location of a popular chain of ramen shops in Japan, and I've been itching to try it for ages but couldn't until now. Mostly due to the long lines it always has.

This time I managed to get there just before it opened at noon, but still had to wait an hour to get in.

A look at the menu. They only serve ONE type of ramen, a tonkotsu (a pork-based broth). But you can customize it any way you want: how salty or garlicky it is, if you want pork, how firm you want the noodles to be, etc. I'm not TOO familiar with ramen, but I liked what I've had over the years. It's noodle soup, it's pretty universal in terms of food standards. I'm also not one for a lot of bells and whistles that you typically find in ramen dishes, so I went rather basic. Just pork, noodles, scallions, and spice.

And here it is! Yes, it smelled and tasted just as good as it looked. It was certainly worth the wait. Next time I'll up the spice level, I can barely feel a level 3. This was just a test run just to see how spicy it really was. See that red sauce? Every dollop is another level, and that's what three looks like. I've seen people order level 10 and it's more sauce than broth at that point.

Either way, make sure you don't get that broth in your eyes, as that happened to me a few times while eating it. I made the mistake of eating the noodles when they were fresh and really hot, which actually burned some of my lower lip. I'll spare you what it looks like, it got kinda gross. But absolutely worth the pain. Again, something to fix for next time.

If there's a negative it's that they only give you two slices of pork with your order, just so you'll buy the refill. Which totally worked on me, because it was really good. The same with getting extra noodles, and I'm really glad that's an option since I got sad once I finished them and still had plenty of soup left over. Yeah, it's not cheap, but this is NYC after all.

Look at me, I'm a regular Naruto or whatever his name was! I only know that he liked ramen and had a really raspy voice, and that he's really popular with people born after 1992. It's tough using chopsticks as a lefty, but I was really impressed with myself with how easy I was able to handle things with it.

As good as this was, I keep hearing that the ones in Japan are even better than this, and I can believe it.

Just watch this video of a guy eating Osaka Ichiran:

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I don't like watching people eat...except for the Strictly Dumpling guy. Thanks to the magic of HD cameras, everything he eats also looks amazing. Hell, he's most of the reason I went here in the first place.

The other cool part is that everyone gets their own booth, and you're served through that window there. It's great with people with social anxiety and like eating by themselves like me.

And with that out of the way, some other cool things I saw and did this month:

The new Pokemon TCG set Astral Radiance came out (mostly based on the Legends Arceus game), and I snagged some good hits! I never pulled a black and gold card before, and these two cards came out of the same pack! I bought ten packs from the Pokemon Center site and I got some other nice hits:



Once again I'd say I'm gonna retire from pack opening, but buying more booster boxes is seriously tempting. Thankfully, I haven't given in. Yet.

I also caught the Bob's Burgers movie last week! I haven't been back in a movie theater in ages, but I had to make an exception for the Belchers on the big screen. I loved it, but I might be biased because I love the show. Instead of going "big" by doing big stupid movie tropes like the family goes on a road trip and meet characters we'll never see again, the movie felt more like a 90 minute episode. But it was a GOOD 90 minute episode of Bob's Burgers, with some great songs and fantastic animation. And frankly, that's all I could ever hope for.

Slight spoiler alert, but I really loved that the villain WASN'T some flat character created for the movie, it was somebody already established! They don't give Tina a new love interest that's totally boring, either. They keep it to Jimmy Jr. If you like Bob's Burgers the show, you're gonna like Bob's Burgers the movie.


The Cradle of Aviation Museum had their first Cradle-Con since the covid mess started and I had a good time! But the highlight was their hall of vintage arcade cabinets, which included a working cabinet of Computer Space. It was the very first arcade game, and it was quite primitive and hard to control. Imagine asteroids but harder to control. But at least I can say I finally played it.

They had all the classics, including the Simpsons beat em up game, Moonwalker, Centipede, even more "modern" hits like Marvel vs Capcom 2. They also had every version of Donkey Kong. I've NEVER seen an arcade cabinet of Donkey Kong 3 before. In that one, you play as Stanley the Bugman, trying to spray gas on bugs Donkey Kong keeps throwing at you.

That'll do it for this month. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna get me a New York slice.


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Saturday, April 30, 2022

April Showers. Of Pictures.

It's April 30th, and you know what that means!

It's Al "Grandpa Munster" Lewis's birthday! He was born on this day in 1923! I never got to meet the guy, but I did find this autographed picture at a con a few years back.

What's happened to me since we last spoke? Well, I'm still around, still trying to get the good health numbers up, and the bad numbers down. It's honestly refreshing to not feel constant heartburn, or thinking my heart was ready to explode at any given moment despite my vitals feeling normal.

I think I've been starting to get the hang over this "finally eating healthier" thing. What I need to do is start exercising on a regular basis, but if you know me any way, you'd know that's probably not gonna happen.

I clean up well, don't I? Don't get used to this getup, it was for a wedding. And not just any wedding, my first one outside of the family, and even THEN I was only ten years old.

I had a great time! Good food, good people, even good dancing.

Did I mention the party favors were burgers from All American?! For those not in the know, it's a fast food stand on Long Island that loads of people swear by, myself included. I had no idea this was even an option, this certainly set a high bar for weddings this point forward.


In case you were wondering just how long my friends had their wedding pushed back, DJ (who passed in 2019) was supposed to be the best man. But he was certainly there in spirit, I think wherever he is, he was watching us all having a good time.

But before I bum myself out again, I'm proud to announce that the DJ Schiulaz Memorial Scholarship, which I helped start, has reached its $25,000 goal! We had five years to raise that money, and we pulled it off in less than ten months! It's amazing news all around.

What sucks is that the school immediately raised the goal to $30,000, I really wanted to see that 100%. But if you'd like to contribute to meet this new goal, just go to this link: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/DJSchiulaz10MemorialScholarship

There's lots more I want to talk about, like the sudden losses of Gilbert Gottfried and Neal Adams, but it's late and I'm tired, so I'll just post some mementos in my collection:

I never got to meet the great Gilbert Gottfried, but I did listen to his podcast for the past eight years, and that's more or less the next best thing. You feel like you got to know the guy, which might explain why this celebrity death hit me pretty harder than usual. The Amazing Colossal Podcast was one of five I regularly listen to, and I'm pretty sad that it'll never be the same again.

I'd ask why he had to leave us, but I know what he would've said: because Chico needed the money.

I snagged this pic off of eBay. I don't know if this is a genuine Gilbert, but the guy who listed it swore it was, so that's what I'm going with.

I never got a picture with Neal Adams, but I did sneak this picture OF him back in 2017. Being a legendary comic artist, he was a NYCC staple and a few years ago I finally mustered up the courage to go up to his booth. He's got a reputation for being pretty grumpy, but if you're aware of what he went through in his career, he had a very justifiable reason to be one.

He was more than happy to sign this print of the infamous "Speedy is a junkie" cover for me. I think he was glad that I wasn't one of those weirdos that only went up to him to sign a stack of comics. No, I'm just a shy nerd that gets intimidated easily. Knowing that he'll never do so again, I probably should have gotten him to sign ONE, but I like having these prints.


That'll do it for this month. See you in May!

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Thursday, March 31, 2022

Thirty-Five

 It's March 31st!

It's the day Ron Swanson had 91 meetings scheduled because April didn't think that date existed. Ahh, mid 00's comedy.

But in any case, last week was my 35th trip around the sun, and I still don't quite know what to make of that.

Getting random pains, gotta lower the triglyceride level, feeling the existential dread that you wasted your twenties and you still haven't started a family, let alone moved out of the house. That...this is all there is to it. Yep, the mid thirties has it all.

But I have Kirby. We all still have Kirby!

I picked up Kirby & The Forgotten Land last week, and I'm just gonna say it, it's one of the all time best Kirby games. They manage to translate Kirby's world, and especially his powers, to three dimensions incredibly well. The ability evolutions are a great mechanic as well, each new upgrade is mostly a power-up, but there's drawbacks, too. The upgrades that hit harder move slower, or the ones that move faster are harder to control. You know the deal.

It's weird to think that this might be one of the few Kirby games without the Stone ability. Certain Mouthful modes pretty much replace it, like you can inhale stairs or a car, and you can plow through almost anything. It's all incredibly cute, and of course frustrating on the harder missions. The game itself goes by pretty quickly, but there's big levels to make up for it. And unless you're really good or lucky, getting 100% completion mainly involved replaying levels until you rescue all the Waddle Dees.

I haven't beaten the game yet as of this writing, but I just KNOW that new little critter buddy is an evil nightmare beast. They've done that twist a few times, it's pretty inevitable.

Also, hidden HAL room in the third level of the first world!

Also, Batman '66 returned to MeTV and the world got a little better. It started right at the beginning, introducing the Batusi to the world.

Frank Gorshin's Riddler was the first villain of the show, and he remains the best actor to fill the ? suit. Until then, The Riddler was a D-tier villain in the comics until Frank Gorshin's cackling, boundless energy brought him to life. It's a completely ridiculous outfit, but he manages to make it work.

I just posted this one because I wasn't expecting the funniest line in the episode. Sixties slang was strange.

See you all in April, folks. I'll still be here, sitting on the couch and contemplating existence.


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Monday, February 28, 2022

We're 14!

 Yesterday was February 27th, which means it was the blog's birthday! The fourteenth to be exact!



...Yeah, there's not a lot of fun things revolving around 14. That's the age blogs stop being cute and get acne. I don't miss those days.

I will, however, share some cool stuff that happened in the past month!

My new setup is here! For many many years I had these old cabinets that served as my TV entertainment center/place to store all my crap and since I got the walls and the floor redone in my room, I was due for a change here, too. We ordered this back in NOVEMBER and it finally showed up two weeks ago. There's so much more room for activities now! I'm due to upgrade the tv, it's comically small by these standards.





My cat could not get enough of the New Thing and of course had to try to explore every nook and cranny. Thankfully she only did it the first day I had it. She's lucky she's cute or else I would've been bothered by it.

It's been furnished a bit since then but I'm nowhere near done yet. I've been busy lately, but it's rather nice to actually organize my DVD collection for once.


I finally got a new futon mattress this past Saturday, too! I honestly forgot what it was like to be comfy on a couch. I'm loving it. It's gonna redefine how we think about sitting on things.




The Brilliant Stars set of the Pokemon TCG was finally released and the ETB I bought off the Pokemon Center site finally showed up. This set has FIVE Charizards, and I managed to pull two of them out of this box. And frankly, they're the two best looking ones. That alt art Charizard V might be one of my favorite cards of all time. It's a really nice looking card. 'Zard cards usually go for big bucks, and I managed to pull one of the heavyweights on the first try. I might as well retire from collecting these...for now. Again.

I'll be back. Eventually. But for now, I'm gonna admire this one.

NEW POKEMON!!

Gen 9, Scarlet and Violet, were announced yesterday and with them three new starter Pokemon. I was asleep when the announcement video went live so when I first saw these, I thought these were the fakest of fakemons I'd ever seen. You usually see stuff like Duck Wearing a Hat (Quaxly) and Chili Dino (Fuecoco) in the pages of Deviantart, not in an official promo video from the Pokemon Company.

I mean, you still do, just not in this capacity. Within an hour, the internet fell in love with all of them, especially Sprigatito, the weed grass cat.




Much like the Sword & Shield starters, this is yet another rare generation where I like all three of them. It call comes down to the final evolutions for me to decide who I'll ultimately go with. Judging by the the tuft on Quaxly's head, and that the new region is most likely based on Spain, it might evolve into a Matador and give us a water/fighting type. We haven't had one of those types in a while, plus fire/fighting and even grass/fighting are played out by now, but I wouldn't put it past Game Freak to zig when we're expecting to them to zag for once.

In either case, it's coming in "Late 2022," which means sometime in November. It just seems like yesterday that we just got Sword and Shield, and that was in 2019.

And this brings us to our last update, I picked up Pokemon Legends Arceus and I have been absolutely absorbed by it. It's a spinoff that finally makes the Pokemon world an open world one (or close to one as possible), where the emphasis is now on exploring and surveying Pokemon by catching them rather than battling other trainers and stopping some existential threat by doing so.

Well, there's still battles and the existential threat, but it's just so much fun. In Sword & Shield, there was a large Wild Area where Pokemon roamed around in the overworld and you could kind of explore it. If you were like me and had been wanting an entire game based around that concept, this game delivers in spades. Sure, the areas are a little sparse and there's only a fraction of all Pokemon available (only about 225 out of many hundreds), but there's more than enough sidequests and Pokedex filling to keep you occupied for a while. It takes place in an ancient version of the Sinnoh region, so it a Pokemon appeared in the Diamond & Pearl games, it's in this one. I won't spoil how they manage to include ones like Porygon, Magnemite, the fossil Pokemon or even the legendaries, but it's all explained in due time. It all seems to be a test run for a main series game, and if the teaser for Scarlet & Violet is any indication, we might be getting it sooner than we think. 

But the main attraction is shiny hunting. With a limited pool of Pokemon to choose from, and filling out Pokedex entries make shinies more likely to spawn, it's pretty stupidly easy to find them in this game. Every once in a while, you'll find outbreaks, where multiple of the same type spawn at once. That in and of itself causes a better opportunity to find a shiny. Or was, up until yesterday's update. 

You see, if you didn't find a shiny in the first spawn, you could reset the game, leave the area it's in and come back to it, you'd get a whole new chance to find a shiny. Repeat until you get one. That doesn't happen anymore, and it might've killed the streaming community for this game after a month. It was to be expected. The game's been out for less than a month and I've seen people with boxes and boxes of shinies. Safe to say, the process was pretty broken and it was nice while it lasted.

But that didn't stop me from finding my own! That Gible above came from the first time I succeeded in finding an outbreak shiny, and that took about seven tries.

Here's the rest of the ones I have: 







The Yanma I found last night out of the blue (ha), and the Sudowoodo and Aipom were also random encounters. The rest were all outbreaks. Geodude I got on the first try, while everyone else took quite a few before I found them.

I even managed to get two in one outbreak! And here I thought that was a myth.


All in all, not bad for 14, don't you think? Happy birthday, blog. I still believe in you.


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