Excessive Excursionist

My life- in 2D.

More Pussification Of America

Facebook Envy? Are you serious? From the following link: “Add “Facebook depression” to potential harms linked with social media, an influential doctors’ group warns, referring to a condition it says may affect troubled teens who obsess over the online site.”

If I had a kid who based his/her self-worth on how many “friends” they had on Facebook, I’d slap them silly.

Sorry parents, but this bullshit lies squarely on you. If your child is depressed because of his social-status on Facebook, and is causing them mental issues, it’s no one’s fault but yours. So goes the further Pussification of America. Just stop it, already.

I’m done on this subject. Now, excuse me- I have to go poke someone.

I Wawa, Wawa, Wonder

Think 7-11 or Circle K on steroids, with superior quality, and you have Wawa. A staple in the Mid- Atlantic region of the U.S., Wawa should be nationwide. Period.

From the coffee to the custom-made Subs (Oops, sorry- I’m still a southerner. I forget it’s “Hoagies” here), Wawa is the Disney World of convenience stores. According to Wikipedia, On April 16, 1964, Wawa Food Markets opened their first store in Folsum, PA.

But I won’t bore you nor myself with the details.

 

Hello, happiness.

Upon stepping into a Wawa, the first thing you notice is the space- lots of it. Now again, it is just a convenience store, with all of the usual necessities- snacks, groceries, toiletries, soft drinks, etc. But Wawa takes it to the highest level.

Coffee- the Wawa staple, like most convenience stores- gives more choices than I ever saw.

 

Coffee Canister Mania in the center of the picture.

About 10 or so different types of coffee, in canisters for an easy pour into your cup, or flavored coffees out of a machine- if you’re a coffee drinker, welcome to Nirvana. Then to the coffee accessory bar- where every kind of sweetener, flavored creamer, half gallons of every type of milk or half and half, etc. can be found.

Hoagies- Wawa has them. Now, I won’t tell you that the quality is up there with Primo Hoagies, or for my South Florida brethren, La Spada’s (which coincidently, originates from Philadelphia- and is still there), but I think they’re a step above the Subway class.

It’s how you order that’s so cool, too. Blew my mind the first time I walked into a Wawa for a su…. er, hoagie after a night of hanging out with my good pal Captain Morgan, and was directed to a touchscreen. From there, you can choose any hoagie they offer, then choose your condiments and toppings. Once you’ve entered your decision, the sandwich maker gets cracking, and in a few minutes you’re ready to dive in. Rock and roll.

 

I'll never have to eat an erroneous-placed pickle again.

The hot dogs are ball park-like. All fresh and seated in individual cardboard containers, in a see-through, heated glass warmer. Good stuff. When was the last time any of you actually ate a hot dog from 7-11?

Near the cash register, when you’re ready to pay for your gatherings, there’s another heated glass warmer, carrying my favorite Wawa breakfast food- The Sizzli. Sizzli’s are your basic Egg McMuffin®, but with a wider range of choices. Croissant, bagel, and now even a pancake as the outer holders, with egg, cheese, bacon, sausage or even pork roll (hello, Philly) as the meat and filling. Fresh, hot and I say just as good, if not better than the clown’s counterpart.

 

It's a beautiful thing... (sniff)

They also have fresh Philly-style pretzels.

Not bad, but not nearly as good as The Philly Pretzel Factory (for another blog). They’re not hot as they should be, but go home, throw it in the microwave for 30 seconds, and all is well. Wawa also has stuffed pretzels, with cheddar or cream cheese. Let’s just say they don’t suck.

If you’re ever in the Northeast, heed the slogan of this awesome store- “Gotta Hava Wawa”. You’ll see what I mean…..

H.R. Pufnstuf- Drugs For Kids

It’s where I live most of the time- in my head, of course. The 70’s. The perfect decade. AKA “My Childhood”. It was a very turbulent time as far as politics, but gave us some of the best music, TV and overall pop culture. From time to time, and in totally random fashion, I’ll post something here from said decade to hopefully stir a memory for you as well……

The first post on this subject will be my favorite Saturday Morning show from the time- HR Pufnstuf.

But first- Everybody sing!

H.R. Pufnstuf,
Who’s your friend when things get rough?
H.R. Pufnstuf
Can’t do a little cause he can’t do enough.

Once upon a summertime
Just a dream from yesterday
A boy and his magic golden flute
Heard a boat from off the bay
“Come and play with me, Jimmy
Come and play with me.
And I will take you on a trip
Far across the sea.”

But the boat belonged to a kooky old witch
Who had in mind the flute to snitch
From her broom broom in the sky
She watched her plans materialize
She waved her wand
The beautiful boat was gone
The skies grew dark
The sea grew rough
And the boat sailed on and on and on and on and on and on.

But Pufnstuf was watching too
And knew exactly what to do
He saw the witch’s boat attack
And as the boy was fighting back
He called his rescue racer crew
As often they’d rehearsed
And off to save the boy they flew
But who would get there first?

But now the boy had washed ashore
Puf arrived to save the day
Which made the witch so mad and sore
She shook her first and screamed away.

H.R. Pufnstuf,
Who’s your friend when things get rough?
H.R. Pufnstuf
Can’t do a little cause he can’t do enough.

H.R. Pufnstuf,
Who’s your friend when things get rough?
H.R. Pufnstuf
Can’t do a little cause he can’t do enough.

This little gem from brothers Sid & Marty Krofft was their first of many live- action Saturday Morning shows- usually combining actors with a lot of live “cartoon” characters in some funkified costumes,  in a realm full of psychedelia.  This could and would, consequently- scare the living shit out of some kids. Thankfully, my upbringing and inner-cool overlooked that possibility.

The basic story was that of Jimmy (Jack Wild- may he rest in peace), a Londoner pre-teen with a Cockney accent thicker than Charlie Sheen’s black book, who comes to the US as a result of his fathers business firm. This is all briskly explained in the 1970 feature film, simply titled “Pufnstuf”, but never in the T.V. series (which is weird, considering the series was actively playing before and during the movie production and release). Jimmy is obviously deemed an outcast by the other kids (those meanies), and gets kicked out of the school band (he played the flute). When Jimmy is all alone and is at his lowest point, voila!- his flute transforms into gold and starts talking to him. Freddie (as he so eloquently introduces himself) instantly becomes Jimmy’s new best friend.

A solid gold, talking flute with a diamond skin condition- the way Punstuf calls it.

Jimmy and Freddie then go frolicking through the meadow, singing songs and partying- the only way “a boy and his magical golden flute”® can. A talking boat calls out to them for a ride on the seas, so of course, they go. One problem- this is nothing more than a fiendish plot conjured up by none other than Wilhemina W. Witchiepoo- more affectionately known by her moniker, simply Witchiepoo. Witchiepoo has a hard-on for Freddie Flute. I mean, it’s GOLD, people- and what woman, witch or no witch, doesn’t like gold? Witchiepoo, from the sky above- riding her “Vroom Broom” (a souped-up, kick-ass, mechanically- engineered, rocket-powered broom- that incidentally,  seats two comfortably) turns the nice talking boat into an evil one, which grabs Jimmy and tries to hold him until the witch can get her hands on the flute.

So now you have the basic plot- which is recurrent throughout both the series and movie. But now, back to the story.

Jimmy, with Freddie in shirt pocket (Freddies “home sweet home”), wash to shore after wrestling away from the evil boats grasp. He is rescued by the Mayor of Living Island, none other than HR Pufnstuf who is, at best, some kind of dragon. He also sounds like a flamboyant Gomer Pyle.

Pufnstuf’s job- along with the rest of the good guys residing on Living Island (including such characters as Keystone Cops Cling & Clang; Horsey, the polka-dotted horse; Dr. Blinky, the inventor owl; Ludicrous Lion, and more) is to keep Witchiepoo and her evil sidekicks Orson The Vulture and Seymour The Spider, from grabbing the flute.

Some of the above-mentioned characters, in all their mind-altering glory:

Jimmy & Pufnstuf with Ludicrous Lion & Horsey

Cling & Clang

Seymour & Orson

The show was REALLY intense as a kid. Overly- colorful, and fantasy- driven backdrops, along with every inanimate object turned animated (trees, books, mushrooms, etc.), made for a severely trippy show. That, and the fact that I was usually sugar-zinging on 3 bowls of Quisp by 8 in the morning (that’s for another day). Every episode would throw in a groovy tune, usually sung by Jimmy, that would get the toes tapping. The show was so creative overall, and even though it’s been rumored to have drug references (ya think?)- that’s something the Krofft Brothers vehemently deny to this day. According to folklore,  “H.R.” supposedly stood for “Hand Rolled”. Hmmmm, let me think about that.

Besides, to the typical 7-year old, they wouldn’t catch the references anyway. To them, it’s of a strictly fantasy nature. Aren’t most kid’s shows like that anyway? Think, more recently- The Teletubbies. Someone HAD to be doing some serious hallucinogens to come up with that- and it would not surprise me in the least if I learned that the Teletubbies creators were die hard “Puf” fans as kids.

The show obviously made a lasting impression on my fellow baby-boomers, because it’s being re-released in a special edition, boxset DVD. Click below to order on Amazon. If you have kids, it’s a must-get. Don’t you want them as mentally-stable as you are?

Yeah, I’ll be getting it. It’s where I live. Now, where’s my Quisp?

See ya next week!

All Hail Harold’s

After posting multiple pictures of food and travels I have endured through the last few years, a good friend suggested I start a blog- so I took him up on it, and figured I’d give it a shot. So here goes…..

I have finally found the Promised Land- and it exists in Edison, New Jersey.

Being a South Florida native and a “nice Jewish boy”, I’ve had my share of “New York” style deli- but living in the Northeast now, I’ve learned first-hand that South Florida pales in comparison to Delis up here.

Yesterday, after a few postponed plans, I finally made it to Harold’s New York Deli- which sits- unassumingly I might add, off of a highway next to a Holiday Inn. A Holiday Inn….. no joke.

Upon arriving at Harold’s, I had one thing- and one thing only in mind. Hot Pastrami On Rye. It’s been awhile since I’ve had it- and it rates right up there with sex as one of my favorite things to partake in (sidenote: sex edges it out, only by a margin of minute proportion).

If It's Good Enough For Adam Richman....

Upon entering Harold’s I was greeted by the above sign. “Man vs. Food” was here! I already knew that- seeing the show with Harold’s featured. It was then that I knew that an appearance here was in my not-too-distant future.

The place is huge inside- absolutely huge, which is a good thing- it was packed. Not overly- packed like I would have expected, but enough to have us wait a full three minutes before being seated. The following picture shows the front seating area. There’s a huge dining area to the right, where my guests and I were seated….

While waiting to be seated, in the waiting area, are refrigerators housing Harold’s over-the-top, ginormous-sized desserts. The picture below doesn’t even do justice of showing just how huge they really are. I got this random lady in the picture to try and show some scale:

Are you kidding me?

And next to the desserts, the refrigerator chock-full of Dr. Browns sodas- the obligatory beverage of any deli outing:

Black Cherry, thank you.

So once we’re seated, we look over the menu, (which was pointless- for me at least, knowing without question what I was there for). Upon looking at the menus however, I was reminded exactly why “Man vs. Food” was there. At Harold’s they are best known by their “Triple-Decker” sandwiches, which the menu states: “Recommended to feed at least 5 -6 people”. A more accurate description would be “9-10 people”, in my opinion. I didn’t see any groups of people ordering one, so here’s a picture I grabbed off of the internet- of Adam Richman, host of “Man vs. Food” on The Travel Channel, along with some guests:

The Triple Decker sandwiches will cost you slightly over fifty dollars, but if you split between 6-8 people, it’s actually cheaper than getting individual sandwiches.

After our drink and food orders are taken, we’re told to go to the “Pickle Bar”. Pickle bar? Yeah. That’s the place where you get all the accessories to go with your meal. Every kind of pickle you can imagine is there on display, along with stacks of fresh-baked rye bread, because Harold’s sandwiches (which come in sizes of “Large” and “Extra-large” only) are so huge, that it’s a mountain of filling, in-between two slices of bread. The idea here is to take off the top piece of bread and distribute the meat amongst the masses, all of whom will need their own bread to build their own sandwich- get it?

Something you don't see everyday....

The Pickle Bar:

No explanation needed.

Upon arrival back to the table, I was amazed that the main course was already there- waiting for me to devour. It could not have been more than a five-minute trip to-and-from the pickle bar.

My "pickle plate".

The time had finally arrived- it was here, in all of it’s hot, steaming glory. Insert the clouds parting, and hearing angels singing here:

There might be a God, after-all.

Words cannot describe- it’s beyond grasp, akin to trying to explain the feeling of a drug. But I’ll try…..

Upon first bite, the butter-like texture of the meat hits you. It’s neither chewy or stringy- two adjectives that usually show up (unfortunately) in describing many-a-pastrami sandwich. This was pure quality- just the right amount of fat needed to bring out the salty, pungent brines flavor of the meat. The consistency was really that of what I imagine biting into a stick of butter is. The after-taste of the peppery outer- crust was simply spectacular. It was the perfect pastrami sandwich.

You might think that a restaurant with a gimmick of using comedy -like proportions would be doing it to cover up the quality, or lack thereof- of the food. This is definitely NOT the case at Harold’s. If anything, the superb quality only adds to the thrill of watching the waiters deliver mammoth- sized food to other customers, and the patrons reactions to when their food is delivered to their table. I had a funny thought that this place is like Alice In Deli Wonderland, after eating the “small” pill.

Between me and two others, we shared two sandwiches- which, between the three of us, we ALMOST finished a complete ONE. The other sandwich was a Salami on rye. It wasn’t nearly as euphoric to me as the Pastrami, of course- but stood quite proud on its own. Again, the proportions made me laugh aloud:

And this is just the regular “Large”….

As we prepared to indulge in the feast, we grabbed for the napkins and all laughed out loud…

Open napkin up, and....

Get your Deli lingo on.

Something else I noticed on the menu, which will make some people happy (You reading this, Steve M.?)

Unfortunately as it was pointed out, it was too bad there were only three of us. With immense proportions like this, you really need a group of at least six to explore the side dishes, and split a couple of sandwiches to get the full experience of Harold’s. We saw a potato pancake- one per order, mind you, that was literally the size of the large plate it rested upon.

The Matzoh-Ball soup comes with one matzoh ball. I’d put its size as somewhere between a softball and a bowling ball. We didn’t order it, so I have no picture. Next time, and you’ll just have to trust me.

We were so full from just a portion of the two sandwiches, that we passed on dessert- yet another reason for the need of a group of people. I did, however get some closer shots of the desserts on the way out:

That's a chocolate eclair, by the way- third shelf down.

Don't ask.

All in all, it was a lunch of epic proportion (pun intended), and there was so much pastrami and salami left over, i was able to enjoy a big second sandwich for dinner. I would recommend in a heartbeat this place, even to the casual deli patron. It is an experience enough to talk about a couple days after- and with a blog now, a chance to relive over and over.

At least, until I go back.

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