Tag Archives: Nostalgia

A&W Root Beer Served The Way Root Beer Should Be Served

On my way out of Palm Springs along Interstate 10, I found an A&W Restaurant just outside the Morongo Hotel And Casino. This was not a combination A&W store with another one of Yum! brands like Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), Taco Bell, Long John Silvers, etc. This was an A&W restaurant that was just an A&W restaurant. This was exciting since all the San Diego A&W’s were combination stores and all of them withdrew the A&W portion of the stores, it means the only chance to sample A&W is on the road outside of San Diego.

When I got there, it was about a half hour before they opened. I was surprised they weren’t opened earlier as it was 10:30 am when I stopped by. I didn’t want to just find the next A&W because I might not see another one on the road ahead, so I went for a quick fill up on gasoline at Morongo’s gas station and then just waited for the A&W to open. At about 10 minutes left to go before the placed opened there was a line forming outside the door. Apparently I wasn’t alone in my want for A&W Food. Sure it’s not what I really should be eating but it’s an out of town treat.

Once it opened, I opted to get a burger combo and removed the bun, like I usually do at burger joints. But I was interested in the upgrade of the fries to Wisconsin Cheese Curds. Thanks to my friend Caroline Bender for introducing me to what Cheese Curds really are, I was anxious to try these. I had never tried Cheese Curds until Caroline introduced me to them because I didn’t know what a curd was and it sounded disgusting. So now that I’ve been corrected and know that cheese curds are delicious plain, let alone deep fried like they were here at A&W.

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Press Your Luck Comes To The iPhone and iPod Touch

Press Your Luck was one of my favorite game shows from the early 1980’s. As a child I loved all the game shows of the period but one of the ones that always stood out was the short lived Press Your Luck with it’s host Peter Tomarkin. My brother and I used to enjoy the show, probably more for the Whammies than the actual game, as we were kids at the time. We loved to see the contestants hit a Whammy and have their money taken away so we could see one of the animated Whammy graphics come on and make the money disappear. They had so many wonderfully creative ones from ones that blew up a little dynamite detonator, to Whammies dressed like Boy George and the Beatles coming in to sing a little line from a tune before taking the money away. I also loved the sound effect from when the Whammy was hit, it just sounded like a dramatic electronic “Uh-oh.”

The game consisted of a round of questions where three players compete for the right to spin on the big board and earn cash and prizes, then a round of playing the spins followed by one more round of questions and then a final round of spins on the big board. The winner at the end of the game was the player who collected the most money in cash and prizes. Part of the strategy for the big board was to spin a few times to collect enough cash and prizes then to pass on the remaining spins to another player who would have to play those spins in the hope that the passed spins would force that player to hit a Whammy to steal their cash and prizes. It was a fun and high energy show that got quite competitive and a player could hit three whammies and stay in the game. A fourth Whammy eliminated them from the game.

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The Return Of Captain Eo

On a recent visit to Disneyland with some friends, we took the opportunity to see the return of Captain Eo, which Disneyland brought back as a tribute to Michael Jackson due to Michael’s death last year. The attraction is billed as the “Captain Eo Tribute” as opposed to just Captain Eo. And the attraction is replacing “Honey, I Shrunk The Audience” 3-D attraction which I think is what originally replaced Captain Eo in the first place when Disneyland pulled the attraction.

The attraction starts out with a “pre-show” which Disneyland highlighted was the original pre-show from when Captain Eo first premiered back in 1986. And I think the pre-show just really showcased how attention spans have gotten considerably shorter, as the pre-show just dragged on and on and on endlessly where the footage would have been sliced and spliced considerably more if it was being made for today’s audiences to keep the pace moving. It showcased some of the casting, the rehearsal process, and the making of Captain Eo. The pre-show was also hammering down the notion of how landmark Captain Eo is as a collaboration of Michael Jackson (arguably at his peak of popularity), George Lucas (still hot off the heels of the success of his original Star Wars Trilogy), Francis Ford Coppola (a legendary director) and of course, Disney. Okay, we get it, big names bring big expectations.

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Stopping At Lou’s Records In Encinitas

I don’t often make it to the coastal areas of San Diego any more, and these days when I do it’s the coastal areas near San Diego, not so much the North County coastal areas. I opted for a nice drive down the coast and when I neared Encinitas, it struck me that it’s been ages since I last visited Lou’s Records on Coast Highway.

I spent a fortune there back in the day as they were the best place to get import CDs back when I used to buy a lot of music. In fact, my very first visit was an expensive one as I found some amazing hard to get ABBA imports that to this day I’ve never seen anywhere outside of overpriced eBay auctions. Lou’s Records was also the store where I did my very first special order of an import, which was for a Swedish language solo album by Marie Fredriksson of Roxette. So when I decided to stop in at Lou’s I wasn’t sure they were even still around as it seems stores dedicated to selling music are harder to find than they used to be. Fortunately Lou’s was still there and I was instantly nostalgic for the hours I would spend combing the racks there for the many treasures I would find there.

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Where Have All The A&W’s Gone?

Every once in a while I get a craving and generally nothing really satisfies it until I get what I’m craving. And today I was just getting the bug to have some food from an A&W restaurant. I grew up in Canada and A&W’s are one of the first and larger fast food chains in Canada. I’d even go so far as to say they are far more popular in Canada than I’ve seen here in the United States (using in Southern California anyway). Usually when I get a craving for A&W its due to nostalgia for the Canadian A&Ws. I know the last time I got a craving for A&W and went to one of the ones here in San Diego I was disappointed because American A&Ws are nothing like the Canadian ones. The menus don’t offer the same items and the food doesn’t even taste the same. So I knew I was probably setting myself up for another disappointment but it’s been a couple of years since I last went to A&W but I was willing to chance it.

These days A&W is one of the “brands” of restaurants part of the YUM! Corporation which consists of all the restaurant brands bought up by the Pepsi Corporation. (In Canada, A&W’s were started by the American A&W’s but were sold off in 1972 and have no ties to the American A&W operations) I’m not sure if YUM! is just a new name for the division, a spun off & separate company, or even sold off, but anyway, they are home to familiar restaurant names, like Kentucky Fried Chicken (or KFC), Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, A&W, and Long John Silvers. Pepsi originally bought up these restaurants so they could ensure these restaurants served only Pepsi products as beverages. One of the concepts YUM has been doing in recent years is putting in single locations that offer more than one brand in one restaurant. Usually it ends up being a KFC or Taco Bell co-branded with one of the other not quite as popular brands.

In any case, all of the ones in San Diego county were KFC/A&W’s and oddly enough all of them are in the South part of the county, none of them were in North County. So none of the locations are conveniently located for me. So I headed off to the closest location that Google maps pointed me to. I even checked it on the street view to see the location before going there and sure enough, there was a KFC & A&W combination store. However, when I got there, the signage for the A&W was gone, just the KFC remained. From the dirt on the walls where the signs used to be, it looked like it must have been a recent removal. Continue reading Where Have All The A&W’s Gone?

Virtual Speak & Spell

Speak And SpellIf you were a child of the 1980’s like I was, then you probably either had one or had a friend who owned a Speak & Spell toy from Texas Instruments. It was probably most popular after it’s role in the film, “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” as one of the components used in the communicator built for E.T. to “phone home.”

In probably the first time I’ve actually turned my television to see anything being broadcast in over a year, I passed by either MTV or VH1 and caught sight of a Speak & Spell unit in the video for “Fireflies” by Owl City. This sparked a Google search and I read about the history of the device on the Wikipedia page for the Speak & Spell units. And probably a highlight of my search was an online emulator.

According to the website for the emulator, the flash program was inspired by an eBay purchase of an old Speak & Spell unit, which unfortunately wasn’t in a working state when he obtained it. So his emulator is able to recreate the sounds and some basic functionality but not all the various modes of the device. The Speak & Spell was a revolutionary toy at the time as it was the first time an educational toy utilized speech that was not recorded on a tape or phonograph, it was built into the solid state electronics of the device.

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Louis CK Says “Everything Is Amazing Right Now And Nobody Is Happy”

Louis CKThanks to my friend from High School, Elyssa Lowell, I was introduced to a video clip of comedian Louis CK who made an appearance on Conan O’Brien’s show and shared a very amusing but accurate assessment of how everything is amazing in our modern world and yet nobody is happy. He shares some highlights about how things have changed since his childhood and how those new conveniences we take for granted are downright amazing compared to how it used to be.

Some of his highlights invoked memories of rotary phones, phones that actually had cords to them, phones would just ring and ring until they either got answered or the caller gave up, credit cards were a laborious process to use, and even how people are spoiled about how good they have it now. His example is about flying on an airplane, how people are bitching about how it’s bullshit if the new in-flight internet access goes down, when you should really be amazed that your in a chair in the sky getting where you’re going in just a few hours.

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