It’s been a few years since I caught a Thanksgiving hockey game. The first one was at a Riverkings game back when they still played at the Mid-South Colosseum in Memphis back in the mid/late ’90s. That game I got to meet “Les Nessman”/Richard Sanders during their Thanksgiving Turkey Drop.
No turkeys were dropped this time, but the teperature sure did! We stood around outside for a bit and listened to the marching band (who played the Batman theme from the ’60s TV show) and the live band who later played inside during intermission. We did a bit of shopping at the outdoor kiosk and got a good deal on some Preds tees- $5.00 each, even on my XXL one.
Once the doors opened to the arena we hurried inside. We were dressed in layers but it was nice to be indoors. Did a bit more shopping at another kiosk by the escalators. Picked up a Santa hat for Nicki, a Thanksgiving game puck, and a couple stocking stuffers for Christmas. That’s Nicki in her new player jersey (an anniversary present) with her new hat and favorite player- #6 Shea Weber.
Delta Dental was sponsoring free fan photos before the game so Nicki and I had our pic taken. We each got a 4″x6″ souvenir photo to take home. We’ve gotten a few at other games, too. They’ve got a great green screen set up and are very quick. We had our photo taken and in our hands in just a minute or so. Thanks to the Preds, Delta Dental, and Schenk Photography for our Thanksgiving treat.
We walked around the concourse some more and found another kiosk that had a GNASH Christmas ornament and some Preds guitar picks. We then made our way to the Nashville Predators Foundation booth. Lots of autographed items were in their silent auction.
They also had several wrapped “mystery pucks” signed by Preds players for $25.00 each. Nicki picked up autographed #7 Matt Cullen and #57 Gabriel Bourque pucks- two players she didn’t have. She also bought a Preds 2014 calendar. There was a special 50% off sale starting at the 2nd intermission but we passed on it. We already had a bag full of Preds goodies to take home with us, and the line after the game was still reeeeaaaaalllllly long. I’m sure we’ll do more shopping in the pro-store the next trip.
Before the game started we decide to have Thanksgiving dinner. Nicki and I each had a chicken and waffle sandwich- just like the pilgrims!
I’ve never had chicken and waffles before, but now that I have I plan to again. Wish Gus’s Fried Chicken served them here in Memphis and Southaven. Good spicy chicken with some sweet maple syrup and warm waffles…oh, yeah! Maybe they have it on the menu at the new Gus’s in Southaven…
Oh, speaking of Southaven, we ran into one of my old high school buddies- Jay Barnes. He was on duty as an EMT at that night’s game and got to bring some of his family along. Good to catch up with him.
After dinner Nicki headed down to the ice to take some shots of the team warming up while I went to find our seats. We were up a bit, but just off center ice- our normal seats. I like them because we can see the whole rink. I’ve had seats down on the ice or behind the players at other hockey games and ended up not seeing a lot of the action.
Nicki found a great spot near the Predators’ goalie end and got some great action shots of the players practicing shooting goals. Hopefully she’ll be posting some of those on one of her sites- but look who ended up skating and standing in front of her… #6 captain Shea Weber!
This was “Nicki’s Happy Place” and the closest she’s ever been to Shea. I’m sure this violates the restraining order on her, but I won’t tell if you won’t..!
It’s always weird to watch a Preds game and not hear Pete Weber and Terry Crisp call the game- we’re so used to watching the games at home on our TV, but we did get to see the two on the Preds’ big screen just before the game started.
The game did not go well for the Predators (you can see all of the stats here). They not only lost 3-0 (one goal scored on an empty net- ugh!), but Shea got injured on one play late in the game and had to leave the ice. He was struck in the face by a puck (OUCH!), or as the NHL calls it, “suffered an upper body injury“. My favorite player, goalie #35 Pekka Rinne, is currently out due to hip surgery. Hoping both players have speedy recoveries!
Some good news, during the second intermission Nicki was able to snag the last bacon on a stick the concession stand had!
Food is always better on a stick, or fried, or deep fried, or deep fried on a stick! The only thing that would have made it better is a bit of pepper on it…and more bacon! Mmmm…bacon!
Despite the loss to the Oilers we had a great time being back in SMASHVILLE, and look forward to catching another game soon.
The next morning we checked out of our hotel and headed back across town to Noshville for breakfast. It’s not too far from Bridgestone Arena and one of our favorite places in Nashville to eat. Normally there’s a bit of a wait for breakfast. We usually hit it on a Saturday or Sunday morning, but we seemed to time it just right on Friday. We got a parking spot up front and were seated immediately after walking in.
I got the corned beef hash, scrambled eggs, fruit cup, orange juice, and bagel. Don’t remember what Nicki had- I was too busy enjoying my breakfast to notice. After we were done I asked for one of their pickles. It’s a kosher dill- but not sour like I’m used to getting from the supermarket. It has more of a garlic and salt flavor that I haven’t had in a pickle before and is a nice change. I grew up with both sets of grandparents making their own pickles- the Workmans made dill pickles, and the Morgans made bread & butter sweet pickles. I really enjoyed gardening with my MaMaw and Pop Morgan in Memphis, and enjoying a pickle and a soda in my Grandma and Grandpa Workman‘s ceramic shop in northern Utah. Love me some pickles! And ketchup..!
I have been wanting to try their bottled sodas ever since I first ate at Noshville, but always forget to pick up some. This time I got a bottle of grape, orange (which I’m enjoying as I type this), and a couple bottles of root beer. They’re quite tasty, but I have to admit they made me miss getting a grape Nehi or Sun-Rise soda when I was growing up- those will always be my favorite. I really like A&W and IBC root beer, so I’m looking forward to trying the Boylan ones this weekend.
We were surprised at how light the traffic in Nashville was on Thursday and Friday, even as we passed the Opry Mills Mall exit. “Shopryland” was packed as usual, but we decided we’d shop there when it wasn’t “Black Friday”. Nicki had been reading news stories about all the fights and more going on around the country- especially at Walmarts in Tennessee, so we avoided Black Friday sales like the Black Plague!
We figured it would be safe to slide by Rick’s Comic City instead. The fanboys and fangirls were all well behaved and I picked up a couple comics, a Harry Potter stocking stuffer for Nicki, and several ’60s Batman buttons for me. Saw some of the new DC Bombshell statues and an Adam Hughes Harley Quinn Cover Girls statue I don’t have (but want, hint-hint!). Also saw a couple things I might have to pick up for Nicki on our next trip if I need some more stocking stuffers (her stocking is about 3-4ft tall). We usually hit Rick’s before or after eating at McNamara’s Irish Pub just up the street, but we were both still full from breakfast at Noshville!
I always try to hit The Great Escape when I’m in Nashville, too. I really loved stopping by the old location off Broadway in the Vandy area (near Noshville), but they merged it with the Charlotte Avenue location a couple years ago due to rent increases in that area. It had been there for 33 years and was one of the first places in Nashville I learned how to get to.
Since we hadn’t been to the Madison one before we went to look for it. It’s smaller than their other locations but Nicki found a Doctor Who comic she was missing, and I found a few more Christmas presents for Nicki- which ended up being 25% off. They opened up at 7:30am for their Black Friday sale, and were still busy while we were there around 1-2pm. And like at Rick’s, the customers were all well behaved.
One of our other usual stops while in Nashville or Murfreesboro is Sport Seasons. This time we hit the new location in Cool Springs. We didn’t realize the store had changed locations so when we saw “WE’VE MOVED” signs in the dark and empty windows we got a bit sad. Luckily it was still in the same shopping center and just a few doors down from it’s previous address. Nice shop, lots of Preds and Titans merch (and even some Rams and Yankees items). If/when Nicki and I get a sports bar in our house we could go nuts there! I did get a bit worried when Nicki found a cute kids Preds hockey jersey and baby booties. Thought I might have to take her to Walmart for a dose of “screaming kid birth control“- STAT! I was told if we have kids I lose my Batcave…NOOOOO!!! The crisis was averted and she actually ended up buying me an early Christmas present- a Pekka Rinne player jersey! We didn’t see one in my size on the rack, but as we were leaving we saw more on display in the window and went back in to check. It was already on sale and she ended up getting an additional 25% off which made it half off…she SCORES!
With the last of our purchases in the trunk we headed back home. I was really afraid the weather was going to be horrible during the trip up and back or that the I-40 road construction I ran into on my Wizard World day trip would still be going on, but other than it being cold the two days it was a really nice and quick drive.
Hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving and survived Black Friday!
What do Superman and Catsup have in common?
Well, beside the color red- there are small towns in Illinois with giant monuments and annual festivals to celebrate them! This month I got to visit both towns in one day.
A few weeks back my wife Nicki and I took a trip up to St. Louis for the weekend to celebrate my birthday and our anniversary. On the way back home we decided to make a couple detours. The first one was across the state line and Mississippi River to Collinsville, IL- the home of the world’s largest catsup bottle.
We drove down Main Street and turned right onto HWY 159 and just a couple minutes later the giant catsup bottle water tower was just ahead of us!
The water tower stands 170′ tall- 70′ bottle on 100′ legs, has a bottom diameter of 25′, top diameter of 8′ at the cap, and a capacity of 100,00 gallons. It was built in 1949 by Caldwell Tanks of Louisville, KY. Brooks brand catsup/ketchup is still being made by Birds Eye Foods in Canada, but is hard to find in the states. You can purchase a bottle of your own here.
This famous red condiment created in Collinsville was once produced at the base of the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle for many years. At one time the bottle’s future was in danger, but the Catsup Bottle Preservation Group was formed and it was restored in 1995 at a cost of $77,440. You can read more about the rich history of Brooks and the giant catsup bottle at www.catsupbottle.com. The Annual Brooks® World’s Largest Catsup Bottle® Festival Birthday Party & Car Show is held each year in early July. My kind of party! You can follow them on Twitter- @CatsupBottleSTL
After taking my photos Nicki and I got back on the road and found our way over to I-24 and headed south to Metropolis, IL- the Official Home of Superman. It has a frequently photographed water tower, too.
It was a bit cold and rainy on the way to Metropolis, but slacked off a bit once we got in town- at least long enough for us to take some pics. We first hit Daily Star Comics to check out their TARDIS and do some Doctor Who shopping (you can see that HGWT blog here). Then we went around the corner to Market Street and down to Superman Square.
That’s where the $120,000 giant bronze Superman statue has been keeping watch over the city since 1993. I’m not sure of the exact height of the statue- I’ve heard everything from 12′-18′ tall, but it’s pretty big and a heck of a photo op for any Superman fan.
It also beats the heck out of the original $1000 7′ tall fiberglass statue that first stood there for a short time and was more of a target than an attraction for the town. (That’s the official Superman of Metropolis, actor/bodybuilder Josh Boultinghouse above.)
Back in the ’70s the real Metropolis (which is more like the fictional Smallville) officially became the “Hometown of Superman” and the town had plans to build a thousand-acre, $50 million Superman theme park. The main attraction was to be a 200′ tall Superman statue which cars could drive between the Man of Steel’s legs to enter the park. But OPEC and the “gas shortage” that decade killed those \S/uper plans faster than kryptonite ever could.
Luckily you can’t keep a good Kryptonian or his hometown down for long. I’ve been visiting Metropolis since 1999, and I’ve been back to town every year since- some years 2-3 times for different events like the huge Superman Celebration in June.
Fans of all ages descend on the small town during the 4 day event, and this year at the 35th annual Superman Celebration they celebrated Superman’s 75th birthday. You can find out more on the celebration at www.SupermanCelebration.net and follow them on Twitter- @SupermanCele
On the way out of town Nicki and I took a few more pics, swung by Creations The Florist to say hi to our friends Lisa and Karla (two sisters who are the co-chairs for the Superman Celebration) and their dad Papa Cliff, we headed across the Ohio River into Paducah, KY and then on to Sikeston, MO for a belated birthday dinner at Lambert’s Cafe- home of the throwed rolls! It’s just off I-55, and one of my favorite stops when heading to/from Metropolis, Chester, or Cape Girardeau.
Over the weekend we ended up driving through 6 states and I lost count of how many times we crossed back and forth over the Mississippi River, but I had a blast and look forward to heading back this summer for both festivals.
If you like unusual roadside attractions and fun statues check out my other blogs on the Lois Lane/Noel Neill statue in Metropolis and the Popeye Picnic and statues in Chester, IL- another small town festival in Illinois that celebrates Popeye and his creator E.C. Segar.
Hope everyone has a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!
Today was the 93rd birthday for a very \S/uper lady- Noel Neill, the original Lois Lane!
Noel was born on November 25, 1920. I first met her about a dozen years ago in Metropolis, IL at one of the annual Superman Celebrations. She’s been named “The First Lady Of Metropolis“, and for good reason. She’s been back to meet fans and sign autographs over and over, and never seems to tire of talking about her favorite Superman- George Reeves.
Noel has become a good friend and I always look forward to seeing her smiling face at many of the conventions I attend. That’s us at the San Diego Comic Con when she and her manager/biographer Larry Ward stopped by my Bushi Tales booth.
Here are some of my favorite pics of Noel. This one was taken in Metropolis just before one of the Marvels VS Meteors baseball game.
Ground breaking in Metropolis for the Noel Neill/Lois Lane statue.
The original Lois Lane being interviewed after the statue ground breaking.
The Lois statue being unveiled by Superman and Noel. The statue stands at the corner of 8th and Market Street in Metropolis, IL- just a few blocks away from the GIANT Superman statue.
Noel getting some help from Larry Ward at a convention.
Actor John Schneider coming over to say hello to Noel during the guest Q&A panel in Metropolis.
My friend Tim Brown and me with Noel at the Metropolis Chamber of Commerce.
Having dinner with Noel, Larry, Len Wein, Bret and Pat Blevins, Micah Stewart, Dave Beaty, Antone and Janet Wade at the Phoenix Comic Con.
Noel and Len Wein at the Phoenix Comic Con.
Noel and Larry in Phoenix.
Cake from the Phoenix Comic Con staff. I’ve got to find the pics of her and Lou Ferrigno with it!
Noel was a Metropolis resident for a short time.
A painting I did of Noel for Larry.
Superboy Gerard Christopher and Noel when she made a special surprise appearance at the Metropolis Superman Celebration last year. My phone erupted with text messages telling me Noel was at the Q&A!
Noel and writer John Ostrander in Metropolis. It was awesome watching John become a total fanboy when he met her!
Hope you had a happy birthday, Noel- and hope you have many more!
This past week or so my wife Nicki and I have been catching up on some Doctor Who episodes on BBC America.
Friday night we watched the special An Adventure in Space and Time which featured David Bradley (Filch in Harry Potter) as William Hartnell, the first Doctor. Great story of the birth of the Doctor Who series- and amazingly cast! Kinda scary at just how much they looked like the real life people they were portraying. Nicki and I both wouldn’t mind seeing some of the lost first doctor episodes recreated with them. We ended the week on Saturday afternoon by watching the worldwide simulcast of the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special The Day of the Doctor. We both really enjoyed it, and ended up watching it a second time when it was shown again that night. Great mix of humor, action, drama, adventure- and 13 Doctors (Spoilers!). Great to have 10 back (or is he now #11..?), really liked John Hurt as the Doctor, and there were lots of Easter eggs, nods, and mentions- many of which Nicki had to point out to me on our second viewing. She’s good at noticing those sorts of things.
Since it’s been a very Who week, I thought I’d do a post about our trip to Metropolis, IL a couple weeks ago to see a TARDIS in person. Yes, Metropolis- official home of Superman. These days it’s also home to a TARDIS.
I discovered it on my trip to the annual Metropolis Superman Celebration last June. It’s just a few blocks away from the famous giant Superman statue in the center of town, and stands in front of Daily Star Comics.
While I was driving into Metropolis on Hwy 45 (which turns into 10th Street once you hit Metropolis) I saw the TARDIS- sitting under a large ice cream cone. I pulled over my Batmobile to check it out.
The TARDIS and comic shop are both owned by “Doctor Will” (above).
I did a bit of shopping and took home a few Dr. Who goodies for Nicki who didn’t get to make the Metropolis trip that time. It’s a small shop, but I did find some fun things to make my Dr. Who fangirl happy. The shop is not located on the busiest side of town, but Dr. Will said his customer traffic has seriously increased since putting the TARDIS out front, especially now that it lights up at night.
Earlier this month Nicki took me to St. Louis for my birthday and our anniversary to see the Rams VS Titans (a story for another blog), so on our way home we took a bit of a detour and stopped in Metropolis to visit the TARDIS for a fun photo op and do some shopping.
It was a bit rainy, but luckily the Doctor unlocked the TARDIS so Nicki could step inside. Once inside out of the weather I snapped a few shots of Nicki wearing her Geekey Jerseys’ TARDIS hockey jersey (a 10th Doctor), her 4th Doctor scarf and hat, and TARDIS earings.
We had a lot of fun with the big blue box- and it even sounded like the TARDIS.
So, if you’d like your own TARDIS photo op and/or some Dr. Who collectibles and are near southern Illinois, be sure to take a trip into Metropolis and visit Daily Star Comics.
Daily Star Comics
300 West 10th Street
Metropolis, Illinois 62960
This past Saturday my wife Nicki and I headed up to the Memphis Comics and Fantasy Con at the Hilton Memphis, or “Tin Can” as locals like myself call it. It has become the home for a few local conventions including the Anime Blues Con and MidSouthCon.
The convention is a blend of comics and fantasy, with some anime, Lego, cosplay, dealers, and other things thrown in. There was a good mix of things to do for kids of all ages.
The Lego areas were very popular with many attendees. There was a Lego city which had a Lego Hall of Justice and working Lego train. There were also tables set up for attendees to build their own Lego creations.
One of the big attractions at the con was a replica 1960′s Batmobile which belonged to con guest Jerry “The King” Lawler.
Jerry, a Memphian and big comics fan, was there to take pics and sign autographs, as well as do con sketches. In addition to being a famous WWE wrestler/announcer he’s also an artist and has done work in comics. It was great to get to see his new ride in person.
The main guest of honor was voice actor Jess Harnell. Jess is best known as the voice of Wakko from “Animaniacs“, but has voiced countless other cartoon and video game characters, done commercial voice-over work, been the announcer on “America’s Funniest Videos”, and is the lead singer for Rock Sugar- an amazing band that does some hilarious pop/rock mash-ups.
Nicki and I got to catch most of Jess’ Q&A panel that afternoon where Jess answered questions about the various characters he’s voiced (many times in one of those voices), how he got into voice acting, actors he’s worked with, and the status of Rock Sugar’s legal “Journey”. He also gave advice on getting into show business and even did some personalized video greetings for fans.
I got to ask Jess the last question of the panel, which was, “You’re known for doing so many characters and fantastic celebrity impressions, have you ever had a voice or impression that no matter how hard you tried you just couldn’t nail- and how do you handle those situations?” Jess said, “Yes- and you’ll never hear them!” He said if he doesn’t feel comfortable with a certain impression he will politely pass on it and suggest another voice actor, and only do ones that he feels are good enough.
After the Q&A panel Jess moved outside the ballroom to sign autographs, pose for pics, and talk more with fans. He thanked me for my question and we talked briefly about “Comic Book: The Movie“, Rob Paulsen‘s “Talkin Toons” podcast, Drake and Zeke, and Memphis in May Music Fest. Unfortunately I’ve been out of town when Rock Sugar played Memphis, and since Nicki and I had plans to go to the Orpheum Theatre’s Annual Auction we missed out on Jess’ live concert at the con on Saturday night with the Memphis School of Rock.
I finally got a hold of a copy of Rock Sugar’s CD “Reimaginator“- it ROCKS! I’ve wanted one for a few years now and have enjoyed playing it in the car and at work a lot. They are a bit hard to come by these days. Hoping they come out with a new one soon!
Across the hall from Jess was writer/director and fellow Memphian Craig Brewer. Picked up a signed copy of his first movie “The Poor & The Hungry“, some signed mini-movie posters, and talked a bit about mutual friends and his movies “Hustle & Flow” and “Black Snake Moan“. Really nice guy.
We hit the dealers room a few times while we were there that afternoon, and saw some friends and familiar faces like cartoonists Lonnie Easterling and Charles Ettinger (above). They are both members of The MidSouth Cartoonists Association in town.
The dealer room was bigger than other cons I’ve attended at this hotel, but it still felt a bit cramped at times. Not sure if they could really expand too much more in that space. There was a decent mix of artists, authors, comics, books, toys, tees, buttons, prints, and posters. Nicki and I made our way around and bought some Dr. Who and Batman merch, talked to friends, and took a few shots of some cosplayers.
There wasn’t a ton of cosplyers at the con, but a decent amount of folks dressed up. We did see our friends Kimberly Dunaway (Teela above) and Kelldar (Batgirl above) and several Dr. Who fans around the hotel. Nicki was sporting her 4th Doctor hat, scarf, and sonic screwdriver, plus her 10th Doctor TARDIS jersey (from Geeky Jerseys).
We had a gOOD time at the con, and after a few hours of checking it out we slid by Swanky’s for some lunch before heading downtown for the Orpheum auction. Thanks to Joe, Allan, and the MCFC staff and volunteers for putting on a great show and bringing in great guests. Hope to make it back next year.