Quarantine Post #44: The Marietta Diner


My goodness do I miss this place. I have a soft spot for diner food. Since I have been home for a little over a year now, I have had a lot of time to look back over my life. I found that diners remind me of going on road trips with my family. We used to drive up to New York and stop and eat along the way. We didn’t eat out a lot so I always relished in being able to stop in different cities and eat. Where I lived, there wasn’t a lot of diner places near me. Or at least I didn’t think so but my mother brought me to the Marietta Diner.

So a bit of background history. Marietta Diner is a family restaurant located on Cobb Parkway in Marietta, GA. It was founded in 1995 by Gus Tselios. Now Mr. Tselios owned a restaurant in West Chester, NY and figured that he could bring the same thing to the south. The Marietta Diner is open 24/7 and packed all the time. It was fun for me to learn that because it does have a very NY feel. It is just very warm and inviting family restaurant. My mother had been going to this place for years. I felt like she was hold out on me. I am not sure that I have forgiven her for enjoying this place without me early on. That changed. The Marietta Diner quickly became a place that my mother and I went at least 2 times a month maybe more. Our routine was going for breakfast or brunch on a day off. It became our favorite thing of ours to bring friends and family to the diner if they had never been. As you know, I enjoy places that have a lot of variety on their menu… and Marietta Diner fits the bill. The diner offers seafood, including shrimp, scallops, flounder, catfish and lobster tails. The diner also offers several dinner entrees; such as chicken, steak, turkey and meatloaf. Pasta and Burgers make an appearance. They have great soups. It is just awesome. Appetizers include Buffalo wings, chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, onion rings, potato skins, fajitas and more. Breakfast is served all day and there is no downside to that for my mother. She is a very simple woman… and if you have read my previous posts, then you know she has a lot of allergies. That leads a person to make simple decisions with food. The great thing about the diner was that I could as adventurous as I wanted and she got to eat as well. Finding a place to eat that we both enjoy is usually hard…

I want and deserve a Marietta Diner Cake death.
I wonder when this was taken because this place is always packed.

I have yet to concur the whole menu. There is a page on the menu that changes consistently. There are different things that they highlight. The specials page… and it is AWESOME… I usually glance over that before looking for something new on the menu. I remember getting this really gnarly pastrami burger (The Godfather as they called it.) and it was like a heart attack on a plate which I thought was great. One of the many things that people who we bring there say is that the size portions are out of control. It is true. You won’t go hungry here. There is a lot that comes with what you order. Many of the entrees I have ordered usually come with a soup and salad… or a soup and vegetable. It is so great that I had to make a separate trip for dessert one time. Good times.

This is a variation on what my mother normally gets from the Diner. It comes in 3 forms Steak, Chicken and Lamb. Mom usually does double salad, but you can do whatever and be fine. The tzatziki sauce is awesome.

I wasn’t all that shocked that there are several other restaurants that Mr. Tselios owns. Makes it easier when the wait time is long to still get some excellent food. I have been going to the diner for many years. The place mats often display the other restaurants that were in the family and it was fun to watch grow over time. But I will say it comes as a surprise to realize that 1.) Guy Fieri shows up for Triple D. So Marietta Diner was featured on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives. Check out this clip (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IziCPeuvEX0) If you have Discovery Plus, the episode is Season 3, Episode 5 A World of Flavors. I have to say… it is odd to see a place you know on TV. 2.) Apparently, it is ranked on the 21 diners in the country you need to eat at before you die. That makes me laugh because it really is fantastic. To look at a list of places and say… I have been there is fun.

Brought to you by the same people from the Marietta Diner.

One of the things I love about this place is the free Spanakopita (Spinach Pie). On the episode with Guy, they talk about how it is made and how much they usually make daily. (Read as: HELLA). I usually get myself into trouble with the Spinach Pie. Since it is given out before your order is taken… and the fact that my other family members stay away from it… (Not because it is bad… but because it is very filling and with this place you need all of the space you can get.) I usually scarf down everyone’s. And while I usually end up taking my food home… I never miss out on the Spinach Pie. It is awesome… and it tastes the same every time I go. I regret nothing.

Because it is a diner, the prices are pretty reasonable. You and another person can eat for about $30. Of course, that is just for non alcoholic drinks and two entrees. There are a of course some expensive entrees and you can end up spending between $50- $100 per person if you order seafood or the red meat. But even with that knowledge you get more than enough food for what you order. I imagine that even if you got dessert, it could run two people about $45-$60. The funny thing is that my sister pointed out… That with the leftovers.. you could actually take 3 days to finish your food.

It is just such a great family place. As such, whenever family would come down to visit… we couldn’t wait to bring them to the Diner. The servers are pretty attentive. I remember my aunt and grandmother saying that it was a lot of food. Most people understand afterwards why we bring them. I had two coworkers that had never been there. They were blown away. I called a day later and my friend and her husband were still working on their dessert.

Speaking of desserts… This is definitely the place to come if you have a sweet tooth. My sister and I are really trying to work our ways through their different cheesecakes… and it does not disappoint. I remember particularly my sister and I, out with a group, and her ordering a butterfinger cheesecake and me ordering a snicker cheesecake. It was as awesome as you might imagine. I don’t usually get anything but plain cheesecake but I can now say I trust this place enough to up the ante.

There is a plethora of things to like with this place. In my neck of the woods… if you get a a feeling for food in the early mornings there is only two places you can go. (Waffle House, and IHOP) neither of which holds a candle to this place. We won’t talk about the service that you get in these places because…. it is nonexistent. There is something for everyone. I am not too into breakfast food… but my mother loves that it is served all day. In the end, for me, it is the yardstick with which all diners are measured. I say it is a 9.5/10. It is highly recommended for a reason.

I have a friend that lives for the French Toast.

That is all for now. If you have ever been to the Marietta Diner… let me know your thoughts.

Quarantine Post #43: Batman TAS


If you were a 90’s kid… chances are you remember Batman the Animated Series. If you don’t… I am sad for you. It was my introduction to Batman and all things DCAU (DC animated universe) as it was for a lot of kids. Prior to this show, I wasn’t into comic books but this show still captivated me. It was something that my brother and I watched religiously. It came on Cartoon Network where we were at. So I am doing a rewatch on HBOmax, (I needed something after the SynderCut.) And to be honest, it is even better than I remember which is interesting since I thought it was great then.

Batman: The Animated Series was developed by Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, and Mitch Brian, and produced by Warner Bros. Animation. It originally aired on Fox Kids from September 5, 1992, to September 15, 1995, with a total of 85 episodes. For the final 15 episodes, the series was given the on-screen title The Adventures of Batman & Robin. The series became the first in the DC Animated Universe, spawning further animated TV series (Superman TAS, Batman Beyond, Static Shock, and Justice League), feature films (Batman and Mr. Freeze: Subzero, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker), comic books and video games. The series took influence from Tim Burton’s live-action films, Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992), but there were several characters that were placed in comic books after being created for and appearing in the show. Those characters include: The Joker’s accomplice Harley Quinn, Gotham City police detective Renee Montoya, the vigilante Lock-Up, former actor Simon Trent, and ninja Kyodai Ken. Some characters, however, were refigured for the series.  Mr. Freeze was changed to a tragic backstory while Clayface was changed in the comics to look like he does in the show.

So I am going to pick several of my favorite episodes from the iconic series. I did note that the series was pretty dark even though no one died… I am not sure that 13 year old me and my 8 year brother grasped the storylines fully. But revisiting them was fun. Let’s jump to it… in no particular order.

  • Nothing to Fear – Batman’s first run in with the Scarecrow. Scarecrow has a vendetta against Gotham University. Crane became a Professor of Psychology at Gotham University until his experiments in fear became too dangerous. He lost his job due to his obsession with inspiring terror in his patients and students. He was apparently called a lunatic… well he was. No doubt about it. Using his fear toxin, he is wrecking havoc on the university. Batman ends up exposed to the toxins while keeping the university from burning down and it is fun to see him crack the case beat the Scarecrow while battling his inner fears and demons.

  • Two Face 1 & 2 – Everyone knows that the prosecutor Harvey Dent becomes Two Face. Every iteration the story is a bit different. In TAS, Harvey is leaning on organized crime in Gotham City trying to get reelected. His re-election campaign proved so tiring that he started having violent outburst and they became more frequent, to the point where his psychiatrist recommended committal to a psychiatric ward in order to prevent a traumatic psychotic break. However, such an action would ruin his campaign and Dent instead compromised, agreeing to a reduced campaign effort and increased medical treatments. Rupert Thorne isn’t liking the extra police attention. Thorne decides to get all the dirt he can on Harvey even going so low as to dig through his psychiatric files. Thorne finds out that Harvey is suffering from multiple personality disorder (DID). Thorne knew if it was exploited it could ruin Dent’s career. When a fight ensued between Dent and Thorne’s cronies, a freak explosion destroyed the left side of Dent’s body. The trauma was powerful enough to force his alternate personality to dominate, and left in state where right and wrong no longer held any meaning. Bruce is left feeling like he failed his friend… Just like his parents. In part two of the episode, with his new identity Dent started a crimes’ spree against Rupert Thorne. He also started using a double head coing with one of the sides scratched to act upon. Every decision Two Face made fell on the flip of this coin. Two-Face attacked several of Thorne’s fronts causing Thorne to lose substantial money. When Two Face decides to return the favor to Thorn and blackmail him. Batman of course saves the day. But you end up feeling bad for the Bat because he did all he could… and you feel bad for Harvey. He was a rising star and now he is just another criminal.

  • Heart of Ice – Enter the start of Mr. Freeze’s tragic backstory. (Freeze is one of my favorite characters in this series. You find out that a lot of the villian have turned to crime after they were done wrong. Revenge should be Mr. Freeze’s middle name.) Freeze is out for revenge on behalf of his wife (which he usually is.). This is the start of his story. Victor Fries was a scientist working at GothCorp. His wife, Nora, diagnosed with a terminal unspecified illness. It is sad that they don’t seem to know how to cure her. Victor is just a doting husband trying help his wife. Victor started experimenting with cryogenics using GothCorp’s funds. Was this wrong…? Totally. Did he deserve what happens next? NOT AT ALL. When the CEO of GothCorp, Ferris Boyle, learned of Freeze’s experiments, he decided to shut them down. Not caring what happens to Nora… Boyle broke into his laboratory, destroyed most of his equipment and kicked Fries into a batch of chemicals, leaving him to die. (But this is a kid’s cartoon…. and an origin story… so no one dies.) Freeze makes it out alive although he can no longer survive outside of cold temperatures. (Sub Zero). He built a cryo-suit that kept his body at low temperatures and also tripled his normal strength. He also built a freeze gun to start a criminal campaign against GothCorp and Boyle. Mr. Freeze made numerous break-ins on GothCorp, stealing parts for a giant freezing gun. While Batman intervenes throughout the episode (I remember a henchman getting shot with the gun accidentally, Freeze with his cold hearted self wants to leave the guy behind… It is Batman who helps the guy.) The ending culminates in Freeze confronting Boyle at his Humanitarian Ceremony. (Imagine believing you killed to people and getting a humanitarian ceremony.) Batman challenged Freeze at the party, fighting him one-on-one until he broke Freeze’s helmet with a flask of chicken soup. Freeze was defeated, and detained along with Boyle, as Batman presented evidence of Boyle’s crimes to the press. Victor Fries was incarcerated in a special cell in Arkham Asylum.

  • Feat of Clay 1 & 2 – Roland Daggett is a turd. And I thought that as a kid. TURD. Bruce Wayne is framed for the attempted murder of Lucius Fox. The real perpetrator is an actor and master of disguise named Matt Hagan, who was disfigured in a car accident years ago. Matt Hagan starts doing sketchy jobs for Daggett in order to get his hands on a monthly supply of an addictive face cream known as Renuyu (a pun on “Renew You”) that can temporarily reshape his face back to normal. For botching the murder, Hagen’s supply is cut off, and poor Hagan goes through a side bout of withdrawal. When he breaks into Daggett’s lab for more Renuyu, he pays the price dearly when Daggett’s men drench his face in the formula and force him to swallow liters of it. Matt is not okay and Bruce is locked up for the attempted murder. Matt’s overdose saturated every cell in Hagen’s body, altering his appearance to a bulky and misshapen clay-like form who can, for brief periods of time, shapeshift into anything or anyone he intends. Clayface subsequently attempted to get revenge on Daggett. He posed as an overweight woman in the audience of a talk show where Daggett was promoting Renuyu (after being released on the market) and then morphed back into himself to try and kill him. His efforts were stopped, however, by Batman using footage of Hagen’s old movies to remind him of who he was, and thusly, what he has become. Clayface relents, and just prior to his capture by the Dark Knight, fakes his own death.

  • Joker’s Favor -Mark Hamill as the Joker… is there anything better? (2nd best goes to Heath Ledger.) The worst possible person to owe a favor to in the Batverse would be the Joker. Charlie Collins comes across the Joker after a rough day and has had enough. After hurling curses at the car that cut him off only to find out that it is the Joker. Desperate to save his life, Charlie mentions he has a wife and son and promises to do anything the Joker asks of him. Joker accepts, but decides not to put Charlie’s promise to use just yet. He takes Charlie’s driver’s license and leaves. This leaves the terrified loser at the beck and call of The Joker. Two years later, Charlie has moved and even changed his name but the Joker still locates him. The Joker learns that Commissioner Gordon is to be given an award, and decides to call in the favor that Mr. Collins owes him. Charlie is surprised when he learns what the favor is to be: Holding a door open for the Joker’s right-hand woman, Harley Quinn, when she wheels a cake into Gordon’s testimonial dinner. Joker promises to send Charlie home immediately afterwards. (Who would actually believe that though….?) Not knowing what the Joker is planning but desperate to avoid it, Charlie fashions a crude Batsignal, which is seen by Bruce Wayne as he is leaving the dinner. Just then, Charlie is called to hold up his end of the bargain. Charlie dutifully opens the door for Harley, but then finds that his hand has been glued to the handle. Joker and Harley release a gas that paralyzes everyone else in the room. As the guests watch, immobile and helpless, the Joker enters the room in grand fashion and “congratulates” Gordon by pinning a miniature bomb on his lapel. The Joker and Harley leave, explaining, to Charlie’s horror, that the Joker does intend to let him go home, but not alive. Batman frees Charlie from the glue… and pursues the Joker through the building, dealing in turn with his henchmen and Harley. The Joker manages to escape the building, only to then see Charlie waiting for him in an alley. The Joker laughs this off, but is surprised when Charlie belts him in the gut, knocking him into some garbage. Charlie holds up another one of the Joker’s bombs, which he acquired from the van and vowing to protect his family by doing them both in and robbing Joker of the only dream he has, defeating Batman in a huge spectacle or dying in the effort. He laughs at the thought of making sure Joker will only be remembered as having been blown up by “a miserable little nobody”. Panicking, the Joker tries to talk Charlie down, while simultaneously screaming for Batman’s help. Believing that Charlie has lost it and feeling he has no other choice, the Joker gives up his notebook containing all the information he has on Charlie and his family. After the Joker surrenders the information, he runs to the vigilante for protection Charlie tosses the bomb towards him anyway. The Joker screams and hides behind Batman, but the bomb is revealed to be a harmless confetti firework. Batman laughs, surprisingly, and promptly takes a greatly irritated Joker into custody. Fun times. Easily one of favorites.

  • Fear of VictoryFear of Victory is the episode marked the first appearance of Robin in the series from an airdate viewpoint. It is also the second episode featuring the Scarecrow. After escaping from Arkham Asylum, the Scarecrow has come up with a fear chemical that is triggered by the release of adrenaline.  He uses the chemical on Gotham City’s greatest athletes, then bets against them to rake in the winnings. At Gotham University, Dick Grayson and a friend named Brian Rogers watch the TV news about the excellent performance of Rogers in a University match, when news about strange incidents related with athletes seemingly lost control of themselves in a very strange way was aired leaving them worried. A delivery man knocks on their door room to deliver a telegram addressed to Rogers and then leaves without saying much. The message of the telegram wished Rogers luck for the upcoming match and also advised that “only a fool knows no fear”. Both he and Dick are left powder on their hands. At the football game, Rogers performs poorly and in the last minute he panics in the middle of the field, paralyzed with fear. He had seen his opponents as scary monsters and isn’t able to continue playing the game. later that night he goes on patrol with Batman. Robin tells Batman about the events when they spot a robbery in progress in the rooftop of a skyscraper. They use their grapple guns to get to the top of the building fast, but as they get higher, Robin looks down to the street and is overwhelmed by fear. Robin loses the grip of the rope and almost falls off, but manages to cling to one of the building’s columns. Batman has to retreat to help Robin (who grew up in a circus and should have no fear of falling.) Batman takes the telegram to the Batcave to investigate it further. He experiments with animals and discovers that the chemical is a variation of the Fear Toxin that is absorbed by contact and is triggered by a rush of adrenaline. Batman decides to pay a visit to Jonathan Crane; the Scarecrow. At some gambling center in Gotham, a man who likes to be called “Lucky” is seeing making lots of money of the recent games. Later, Batman tells Robin that they are going to a match to prevent the Scarecrow from committing further crimes. Robin is still trying to overcome his fears and agrees to go, reluctantly. At the stadium, Robin spots a strange man and follows him. After a while Robin discovers that the man is Scarecrow and goes to check what was he doing in the players’ locker room. A helmet is turned upside down and Robin knows what to do. During the match, the top player performs better than ever, much to Scarecrow’s frustration. Batman confronts Scarecrow and tells him to give up his plan. Scarecrow threatens to drop a vial of a potent version of the chemical compound to the attendees so he can escape without Batman following him. The two of them struggle for a while and the vial is inches from falling down to the crowd. Robin, who has been looking the situation, fights his fears and uses the batrope to swing toward the vial before it falls down. Scarecrow tries to escape but is captured and taken into custody. I am always fascinated when the Scarecrow is involved. Fear toxin… I would have never come up with something like that ever… and I can’t imagine what I would see if sprayed with it. (Insert Shudder.)

  • Mad as a Hatter – This episode introduces The Mad Hatter to the show. The villain was rarely used in comics and his appearance on the series helped improve his portrayal in the comics. Jervis Tetch develops a form of mind control which he implements by placing devices in people’s hats. He uses this to impress Alice, a woman he’s attracted to, turning all of Gotham City into a wonderland to please her at every whim. When he learns she’s in love with another, the jealous Tetch decides to use his mind control power to do away with her, emulating a figure he idolizes: The Mad Hatter. Jervis Tetch is a scientist who works at Wayne Enterprises on a project on using microchips to increase the brain’s potential. Tetch has developed a technology that allows him to control the minds and bodies of any animal or person he wants by using micro-chips attached to his brain and to the other person.  Alice enters the laboratory to announce the unexpected visit of the head of the WayneTech division Marcia Cates, and Wayne Enterprises owner Bruce Wayne. Tetch is embarrassed to tell them that the project isn’t complete but Bruce Wayne thinks it is fine and gives the man more time despite Cates displeasure. Tetch starts feeling down and Alice cheers him up, but in doing so, Tetch develops a romantic feeling towards Alice which would be turned awry when he learns that she is in a relationship with a man named Billy. Tetch falls into a depression and he starts to think about forcing Alice to like him using his mind-control device. Later he learned that Alice had argued with Billy and they had broken up and he takes the chance to invite Alice to spend the night with him in Gotham. Tetch uses his mind-contol device to make the people in Gotham do what he wants and pretends to be a well known man in the city. When the couple are at the park, two goons try to mug them but Tetch uses his controlling cards and tells them to jump to the river. At that moment, the police radio sends the message to all the units about two men climbing the Gotham bridge above the river. In the Batcave, Batman examines the cards and remembers that his employee, Jervis Tetch, was working in a similar project at WayneTech. Alfred also indicates that the card is too similar to the one depicted in a book of Alice in Wonderland. Batman also remembers that he saw the same illustration at Tetch’s laboratory. (I don’t know anyone that has an even a passing interest in that story. Maybe I should read it but I only know what I know from the movie.) The next day, Tetch arrives at his office and learns that Alice and Billy are together again and that they were going to get married. Tetch is angry and when Marcia Cates tells him that Bruce Wayne is looking for him, he uses one of his cards to control her. A few moments later, Bruce personally arrives at Tetch’s office and asks Alice for him. Alice tells Bruce that Tetch and Cates had left the building together some time ago. Alice then receives a phone call from Billy and after she hangs the phone, she starts crying disconsolately. Bruce becomes aware that all the events are a bit weird. It is later revealed that Tetch is controlling Billy and he made him call Alice and tell her what Tetch wanted. When Alice arrives at her home, she finds that it has been covered with big flowers all over the place. Tetch is waiting for her but she is scared of him and at the fact that he knew about Billy when she didn’t tell to anyone. Batman appears from the shadows and questions Tetch about his experiments and then Tetch calls two mind-controlled men in disguise to fight Batman while he takes Alice with him using his mind-controlling cards. The Mad Hatter takes Alice away from there and Batman follows them into a maze of cards. After struggling for a while Batman finds his way out and confronts Tetch in the tea table of Wonderland. Tetch drops one of the maze’s walls on Batman and gets ready to strike Batman, when the dark knight used his Batarang to cut the rope of a hanging statue above them. The statue falls to the ground, leaving Tetch trapped inside and Batman takes the top hat, removes the mind-controlling device and destroys it. Alice is free of the mind-control and she and Billy are reunited much to The Mad Hatter’s sorrow. (So as a kid… I missed the implications of what Alice was going though… that I and many women face as they move through life. Tetch is a stalker and thinks he is entitled to be with Alice whether she wants to or not. So much for the “nice” guy.)

  • Perchance to Dream – This episode features the return of The Mad Hatter for the second time as the main antagonist since his first appearance in Mad As A Hatter. The episode is notable for dealing with the psychology of Bruce Wayne and Batman. Batman is knocked unconscious while chasing some crooks, only to wake up in an alternate existence that’s sees Bruce Wayne leads a fulfilling life with family (Parents and all. I was like… WHAT THE F***) and fiancée Selina Kyle. And someone else has the burden of being batman…. (RED FLAG.) Batman is chasing some crooks in the Batmobile, and when they enter a warehouse, Batman steps out and enters the building through the window. Upon entering, Batman is shocked by a flashing light and then a big metallic object dropped on top of him. When Bruce wakes up, he realizes that he’s on the safety of Wayne Manor and when Alfred Pennyworth comes into his bedroom to serve the breakfast, Bruce complains about falling into a trap so easily and then asks him about last night events. Bruce thought that Robin had saved him, but Alfred doesn’t know anyone under that name. Later, Bruce tries to open the grandfather’s clock entrance to the Batcave and realizes that it is not there. Bruce asks about the entrance to Alfred, who doesn’t understand what Bruce is talking about and when Bruce starts to lose his temper, someone comes into the room and asks what was going on. It is Thomas and Martha Wayne; Bruce’s parents and the two of them are alive. After that, Bruce talks to Alfred and asks him to tell him about his own life. Alfred tells him about Wayne Enterprises and his commitment to Selina Kyle. Bruce then goes to Wayne Enterprises to keep working as he supposedly does, when he receives a visit from Selina, her future wife. She is there on behalf of Bruce’s mother, who was worried for him and asked for Selina to cheer him up. Bruce tells Selina that he is feeling like he’s living someone else’s life. Selina then screams “Batman” and Bruce is shocked by the name, thinking that Selina might know his secret, but he realizes that she screamed because she saw Batman outside the window crossing the sky with his Batrope. Later, Bruce goes to the only doctor he trusts, Leslie Thompkins and tells her about his situation. Thompkins just clears up that Bruce is simply identifying with Batman, because he feels as though he’s been given everything his whole life and the lack of real accomplishment is manifesting the fantasy that he is Batman, who has worked for everything he has and every deed is of great value. When Bruce returns home, in a much better mood, he hugs his father and even plays a joke on Alfred, who is happy to see Bruce acting normal again. Bruce then grabs a newspaper and tries to read it but all the letters and words were scrambled and don’t make any sense. Bruce tries to read a book but the book had the same problem as the newspaper and he begins to understand that something is very wrong. Bruce goes to buy a rope, a grappling hook and flares as the police find him and try to take him back to his parent’s home, but he refuses and escapes by climbing to the rooftops. Finally, Batman appears and tries to reason with Bruce, but Bruce tells him that he had deduced that it is all a dream and that it was all Batman’s fault. Batman asks Bruce how did he realize it was a dream and Bruce tells him that he knew it when he couldn’t read anything. The reading is a function controlled by the right side of the brain and dreams were a function of the left side, so he figured that it is impossible to read something in a dream. Batman and Bruce start to fight each other and Bruce unmasks Batman to find that it is Jervis Tetch, The Mad Hatter under the mask.

  • Robin’s Reckoning 1 & 2 – Both episodes are notable for showcasing the origin of Dick Grayson and how he came to be Robin, Batman’s sidekick. During a fight with some gangsters at a construction yard, Batman and Robin learn the name of their boss: Billy Marin. While Robin looks forward to going up against Marin, Batman becomes distant, and after a falling out at the Batcave, Batman doesn’t allow Robin to accompany him on the search for Marin. Seems the Bat knows something that we don’t. Robin wonders what happened for Bruce to act that way and he decided to investigate about Billy Marin in the Batcomputer’s files. Robin discovers that Billy Marin is an alias used by Tony Zucco; the man responsible for the deaths of John and Mary Grayson; Robin’s parents. It is the flashback that threw me (even as an adult.) Batman is dark… knowing that Dick’s parents are dead is one think… seeing that they were murdered is another. It was done in a great way for kids… but still jarring. Would I want revenge????? Definitely! Was Batman going to be able to start Dick from going down a slippery slope? I had so many questions. Robin calls Batman and tells him that he deserves to apprehend the man who caused him so much pain but Batman refuses to let him in the case. For this reason, Robin decides to get into the action by himself with or without Batman’s approval. Robin then remembers the time when, as a kid, he went out to the city looking for Zucco’s place after hearing a conversation between Lieutenant Gordon and Bruce. Robin becomes more focused on finding Zucco and he goes to check on the place of Zucco’s captured henchman. Robin uses a tracking device in the telephone and he calls the last dialed number. Zucco answers and Robin learns his address thanks to the tracker.  Zucco is freaking out because of the Batman and he tells his henchmen that the bat is following him. Zucco notices some weird noises coming from the ceiling of his hideout and he starts shooting the roof with a machine gun. After the gun is depleted, Batman falls from the ceiling and hurts his leg in the fall. Using a smoke pellet, Batman escapes from the place and walks to a nearby abandoned amusement park. Zucco and his men follow Batman and separate to find him. At that moment, Robin is rushing to the place and Batman has to fight the three of Zucco’s henchmen with an injured leg. Robin arrives in his motorcycle and draggs Zucco across the pier. Robin is mad at Zucco and gives him a proper beating before throwing him off to the end of the pier. Robin is not sure whether to kill Zucco or hand him to the police, but Batman arrives and tells him to stop. Robin snaps at him, insisting that Batman can’t know know how he feels, but immediately realizes who he has just said this to, and apologizes. Robin lets the police take Zucco.

  • Joker’s Wild – Why in the world would you build a casino based on the Joker? Well that is what the Batman is trying to find out. A man called Cameron Kaiser has opened a casino that he named Joker’s Wild. The place was modeled after the criminal mastermind The Joker and it caused the wrath of the clown prince of crime, who escaped Arkham Asylum in order to teach Kaiser a lesson. While watching TV from the rec room at Arkham Asylum, the Joker watches a news report about the opening of a luxury casino in the outskirts of Gotham City. The casino’s owner Cameron Kaiser unveils the casino, “Joker’s Wild”, which is heavily modeled after the Joker’s image much to the surprise and shock of everyone. Kaiser states that he is paying tribute to the joker symbol’s classic roots, rather than the criminal himself no matter how it looked. This infuriates Joker, who realized that Kaiser is obviously stealing and profiting off his own image. Joker destroys the TV and fakes an injury to get out of the rec room. Joker promptly escapes from Arkham, steals a truck, and heads directly to his namesake casino. Bruce Wayne attends as guest at Joker’s Wild and is suspicious of Kaiser’s motives. As Batman, he then infiltrates Kaiser’s office and found files relating to massive construction bills for “Camelot” casino, and a dossier on Joker. The Joker arrives at the casino with intentions of destroying it in spite of appreciating the place’s dedications to him. As Joker plants explosives in the casino’s basement, Kaiser prepares to leave but is then confronted by Batman. He tells Kaiser that he deduced why he constructed a casino modeled after Joker: Kaiser bankrupt himself building the “Camelot” casino before changing its theme in order to invite Joker’s wrath to destroy it, thereby allowing Kaiser to collect the insurance money from the casino’s destruction. Kaiser admits this, but manages to incapacitate Batman with a electrical device and sends him to the basement, where Joker’s captures and ties him to a giant roulette table attached to the explosives that are rigged to detonate. When Batman wakes up, he reveals Kaiser’s intentions to Joker, who then reluctantly deactivate the explosives and is resolved to chase Kaiser, but not before throwing a live grenade to Batman. Fortunately, Batman escapes by shooting the grenade away with his grappling gun. Joker hijacked Kaiser’s helicopter and takes the casino owner with him, as he tells Kaiser that he decided to kill him and run the casino from behind the scenes. Batman chased the helicopter with his Batglider and manages to grab the helicopter. Batman tries to stop Joker and the two of them start to fight inside the helicopter, causing the aircraft to crash into the casino’s front doors. Summer Gleeson reports the arrests of Joker and Kaiser, whose insurance fraud plot was exposed and was condemned for endangering his employees and guests. 

  • If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Rich? – The episode is notable for introducing to the series the classic Batman enemy: The Riddler; in a story that contains similar elements from the character’s first comic book appearance. After being fired from Competitron; Edward Nygma takes over the identity of The Riddler in order to get vengeance over his former boss Daniel Mockridge. I so enjoy the Riddler and I love this episode mostly because Mockridge is a tool. Edward Nygma arrives at his office at Competitron and finds that his nameplate has been removed and that he has been fired by his boss, Daniel Mockridge. Nygma tells him that the company owed him the prestige for developing the game of the Riddle of the Minotaur, but Mockridge tells him that the game was owned solely by Competitron. Clearly, he wants to keep the funds all to himself… although their isn’t much Nygma can do for himself since he signed a contract. Furious, Nygma tells him that he is nothing compared to a mastermind like him, to which Mockridge replied, “If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?” Two years later, Mockridge tries to sell his products to Wayne Enterprises in order to expand his market into Gotham City. Lucius Fox and Bruce Wayne listen to the man but they notice that Mockridge is suddenly distracted with a billboard outside of the window. When they turn, they see a stock update screen addressed to Mockridge, written in a riddle and saying something about a wasteland. Mockridge loses his nerve and leaves the building without any explanation. Later that night in the Batcave, Bruce still ponders the solution to the riddle while Dick plays the “Riddle of the Minotaur” game. Alfred comes in with their suits and stays a while, trying to understand the game. When Dick says that his character has been trapped in the wasteland, Bruce realizes that Mockridge owns a bar in Gotham called The Wasteland. Mockridge arrives at “The Wasteland” and he finds Edward Nygma sitting on his desk. Mockridge warns him to stay away from him, but Nygma tells him that he has an offer to make. Nygma tricks Mockridge and traps him with some trick rings. At that moment, Batman and Robin arrive at the place and Nygma comes out to meet them. He introduces himself as The Riddler and Batman asks him if it was a pun on his real name. Batman and Robin fight Riddler’s henchmen and then Riddler starts a fire in the place. Batman had to decide whether to follow Riddler and save Mockridge or stay and save Robin from being burned. Batman chooses the latter and by the time they escape from the burning building, Riddler and his men were gone. Batman and Robin drive in the Batmobile when they realize that the city lights are flashing in a strange pattern. Batman deduces that it is Morse code and uses the computer on his gloves to decipher the message. Riddler is manipulating the lights from Gotham’s Lights Power Plant. The message was a riddle relating something that was “as high as an elephant’s eye”. Batman solves the riddle and goes to the place were the Riddler is leading them; The Riddler of the Minotaur amusement park that featured a maze as part of its attractions. They have only 10 minutes to find the center of the maze and when their time starts to run out, Batman decides to use one of the traps in his advantage. Using “The Hand of Fate” as a vehicle, Batman and Robin arrive at the center of the maze and answer the last riddle. They free Mockridge but Riddler tells them that they must survive the attack from the minotaur and the robot minotaur comes to life. Batman uses the hand of fate and destroys the minotaur. Riddler, while unhappy with the results, is yet relaxed because at that precise moment, he is far away from their reach. In the aftermath, Wayne Enterprises acquires Competitron, but Dick is still bitter that Mockridge made millions out of the buyout and got away. Bruce, however, is strangely satisfied, noting that the Riddler is still at large and he wonders how well Mockridge is coping with the unfortunate events. Mockridge is living in a constant state of fear and paranoia and, because of his guilty conscience, cannot sleep well at night. (“How much is a good night sleep worth anyway?”)

  • The Man Who Killed Batman – It is one of the few episodes that doesn’t feature Batman as the main character and instead it focuses on Sidney Debris, a new character created exclusively for this episode. Sidney Debris was acting as look-out for drug-runners when Batman showed up.  The two struggled, and Sid’s bumbling causes Batman to fall off the roof and into a shed of explosive gas. After the ensuing fire, the only thing found was Batman’s cape and cowl. It seemed Sidney had done the impossible and become the man who killed Batman. In prison, Officer Montoya learns from Harvey Bullock about the supposed death of Batman at the hands of a master criminal called “The Squid”. Renee is in shock and Harvey tells her to go talk to Gordon and try to help him cope with the news. Harvey wonders if any of the people they caught at the pub know something about the case. Harvey asks Sid about it, but before he can answer, a woman comes into the place and demands that Sidney Debris be set free as she paid his bail out of jail. The woman introduces herself as Harleen Quinzel, Sidney’s lawyer. Harvey seems to recognize the woman but he is unable to make the connection. When Harleen and Sid are finally out of jail, Sid asks her who was the person that bailed him out. She didn’t answer and instead she starts powdering her face. After a while, she is done with the makeup and Sid recognizes her as Harley Quinn, the woman that works for the Joker. Harley takes Sid to Joker’s hideout and the clown prince of crime greets the man who killed Batman. Joker tells Sid that they are going to make sure that Batman has meet his final destination. Joker and his people break into a jewelry and they take Sid with them. They are going to wait until Batman shows up. As time passes, the GCPD arrive and surrounds the building but there is no sign of Batman. Joker starts to worry about the situation and he finally comes to the conclusion that Batman was in fact dead at the hands of Sid; which makes him completely sad. Using some of his Joker laughing gas, they escape the place without taking anything. (Poor Joker?) Joker takes Sid to the Ace Chemical Processing Plant and starts a funeral ceremony for Batman. With the cape and cowl placed inside a coffin, Joker begins his eulogy. Before finishing his speech, Joker blames Sid for all the damage he has caused him by killing Batman. Joker tells his henchmen to put Sidney in the coffin and locks him inside, and the coffin is sent on a conveyor belt towards a vat of acid. The acid is getting inside the coffin and Sid can’t escape. It all seems to be lost, but in a few seconds, the coffin breaks open and Sid realizes that he was outside the plant, nearby the river.  Sid’s first thought is to look for help from Thorne himself and so he finishes his story. Thorne is amazed to learn that Sid is just a victim of consequences. Sidney wants to get out of Gotham but Thorne comes to the conclusion that Sid is actually a mastermind that wants to steal his drug racket and prepares to kill Sid. Some noises come from outside and after a while, Batman enters the room. He disarms Thorne and beats him to a pulp. Sid is shocked to see Batman alive and Batman explains that he managed to escape from the explosion just moments before. Sid was glad to know he was innocent of murder and tries to leave the place but Batman reminds him that he is still an accomplice in the drug deal. Sid was afraid to go to prison but Batman changed his mind. At Stonegate Penitentiary, Sid “The Squid” is cheered by all the inmates for almost killing Batman, setting up Rupert Thorne, and making a fool out of the Joker. A pleased Sidney realizes that he is finally a “big shot”.

  • Read My Lips – This is an episode that is notable for introducing The Ventriloquist and Scarface to the series. Gotham Police are baffled by a series of crimes executed with clockwork-like precision. Batman investigates and discovers that the crimes are planned by a mob boss known as Scarface. He traces Scarface to his lair — a deserted mannequin warehouse — and discovers, to his astonishment, that the crime czar is a wooden dummy, manipulated by a mild-mannered man called the Ventriloquist. There is a robbery after a great boxing match between Dynamo Dave and Mad Dog Ted, at the Gotham Square Garden by a very organized gang. After their first successful crime, the leader of the band tells them that they are going to own Gotham City. The following weeks, all the news are related to the crime spree and it seems like the Gotham City Police Department can’t figure out a way to stop the new gang in town. At the Batcave, Batman identifies one of the perpetrators as Rhino. Batman follows Rhino on the streets and confronts him in a dark alley about the latest crimes and also questions him about his boss. Rhino is not giving Batman any answer and instead he fights the dark knight.  Batman follows Rhino to the secret base of operations to learn who is the mastermind behind the crimes. Batman watches as Rhino tells an old man to get the boss because he has important news for him. The man goes to get the boss, who is sleeping. The old man comes back to the main room, where Rhino and is waiting with Ratso and Mugsy, the other gang members. The boss speaks to them in an angry way for waking him up when he has gone to bed, but Batman is surprised to see that the “boss” is actually a ventriloquist dummy that calls himself Scarface, because of the “scar” on its face, and is controlled by the old man, called Arnold Wesker; or The Ventriloquist as he is known among the gang. Scarface asks them what is so important that they needed to wake him up and one of the thugs starts talking to the Ventriloquist, which makes Scarface angry. The dummy wants to be talked to him and not to the “hired help”. Batman sneaks into Scarface’s bedroom and examines the dummy, which is laid in a very fancy bed and the room itself is very ostentatious. The dummy opens its eyes and Batman is scared at first but then he closes the eye lids again. At that point, the Ventriloquist comes into the room to make sure that Scarface is alright and Batman grabs him from behind and pulls him back to his bedroom, which Batman notices is much smaller and poor in comparison. Batman wants some answers, but Wesker is completely honest when he tells Batman that Scarface is the brains of the gang and that only he knows the location of all the stolen goods. Then, somehow, Scarface calls for the Ventriloquist from the other room and the man, completely scared of what Scarface might do to him if he learns that Batman is in the room, answers his boss’ call. Back in the Batcave, Batman shows Alfred the skills of the Ventriloquist in voice throwing and changing voice tones with help of the microphone. Alfred is amazed to learn that Scarface and the Ventriloquist are the same person and Batman explains that even the Batcomputer is confused. Batman himself knows a bit of ventriloquism. Batman also deduces that Wesker suffers from multiple personality disorder and that Scarface and The Ventriloquist are in fact two different persons in the same body. (The first time I heard about multiple personality or DID. I really thought it was made up for this show.) Rhino and the other two men go to the ship and get inside it to steal some of the platinum just as Batman arrives and tries to stop them. Batman takes the man driving the boat and then he attacks Rhino before going for the last man standing However, Rhino recovers fast and pushes a pile of platinum bars on top of Batman, knocking him down. After a while, Batman recovers consciuosness and he finds himself hanging above some spikes carved out of old mannequins. Scarface talks to Batman and tells him that the robbery of platinum was a trap from the beginning since The Ventriloquist told them about his encounter with Batman and Scarface found the bug on the bow tie. To make some time, Batman tells Scarface that one of his gang members told him about his secret place and Scarface believes him since he had a hunch of a double-cross. Scarface is not sure of who could it be and Batman tells him that it is The Ventriloquist. Wesker turns Scarface to face him and he starts having a discussion with the dummy. (It is one of the oddest Batman scenes I have ever watched.) Batman uses his own ventriloquism skills and says some offensive words to Scarface in the voice of Wesker, which only makes the mob boss angrier. He tells the henchmen to kill Wesker, but they aren’t sure of it since without The Ventriloquist, there would be no Scarface. During all that time, Batman unties himself and tosses a Batarang to Scarface, taking off his hand and preventing him from Killing Wesker. The Ventriloquist to drop Scarface and at that moment, one of the thugs picks up the machine gun and starts shooting at Batman, where there was also the Scarface dummy. Batman gets cover behind the fallen shelf and the Scarface dummy is shot and completely destroyed in front of The Ventriloquist, who screams in desperation. When the shooting stops, Wesker gets near the broken doll and cries over his “dead boss”. The Ventriloquist is taken to Arkham Asylum and some time later, the doctors think that Wesker is making progress and has left his other personality in the past. However, during the crafting sessions, The Ventriloquist have been carving a new dummy.

  • Trial – One of my favorite episodes because it features most of the rogues gallery. Gotham’s deadliest criminals, The Joker, Two-Face, Mad Hatter, The Ventriloquist, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy among many others, kidnap Batman and put him on trial in Arkham Asylum. The Dark Knight’s only hope rests with District Attorney Janet Van Dorn who, despite her anti-Batman stance, is forced to defend the Caped Crusader’s life as well as her own. At Gotham’s courthouse, Poison Ivy stands on trial and is sent back to Arkham Asylum since she was captured by Batman and not by an official law enforcer. D.A. Janet Van Dorn is upset at the outcome because she wanted Ivy to be sentenced to life in prison, and she blames it all on Batman. Upon arriving at Arkham, Ivy meets Harley, who tells her that they’re about to start something big in the asylum and just as she says that, two guards appear in front of them with some strange cards on their hats. They’re being controlled by The Mad Hatter. A few hours later, Janet goes on a date with Bruce Wayne and they meet in a fancy restaurant. They start discussing the Batman issue and Bruce tries to change her mind about it, but they’re interrupted by an important call from Janet’s office. She goes to answer the call, but after half an hour later, she doesn’t come back and Bruce starts worrying about her. Back at the GCPD HQ, Gordon gives Batman a note telling him to go alone at the Gotham Courthouse. Moments later, Batman goes to the arranged place and Poison Ivy uses her crossbow to attack Batman from behind and when he starts feeling weak Harley attacks him. Janet is being held in a cell of some sort of prison and she demands to be set free. Suddenly, Two-Face enters the cell revealing to Janet that she is in Arkham and then Batman is taken inside, carried by Killer Croc and in a straightjacket. Two-Face tells them that Batman is going to be on a trial in Arkham and that Janet is going to defend him if they want to survive. They’re taken to the main hall where the trial is being held and The Ventriloquist, acting as bailiff along with Scarface, introduces the prosecutor, Two-Face; the accused, Batman; the defense attorney, Janet and the jury : Killer Croc, Mad Hatter, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, Scarecrow and The Riddler. Lastly, the judge Joker is introduced. (There is no way he will get a fair trial in Arkham… or one would think. Who would want the joker as their judge?) One by one, the members of the jury are called to testify and Van Dorne does her best to prove that they are criminals because of their own twisted minds and not because Batman caused them to turn into criminals. Each one of them fall short and all the evidence shows that in fact, they would have turned into criminals one way or another. Hatter’s testimony gets him excused for saying something he was not suppose to say, (“I would’ve killed her first.” in response to being asked why he didn’t just respect Alice’s decision to not date him. Creepy. And still very relevant today.) Harley starts flirting with Joker and gets kicked out, and Ivy sends a dig at Two-Face which gets a rebuke from him but she breaks when Van Dorne pushes her buttons and rips up Joker’s flower. In the end, Van Dorne concludes that Batman didn’t create them, but instead it happened the other way around. After hearing all the testimonies, the jury comes to the conclusion that Batman is not guilty of making them the way they are, which amazes Batman and Janet. Joker congratulates Janet for successfully defending Batman, but reveals that since they are already crazy by themselves, they might as well kill the two of them after all. The Arkham inmates take Janet and Batman to a dark cell, where they put Batman on a security bed and tie him to it. Joker walks towards him and before eliminating them, he wants to take off the cowl from Batman to know the identity of the man behind the bat. Janet remembers that she kept the batarang with her the whole time and tosses it to the only light bulb in the room, leaving it in complete darkness for a few seconds. In the dark, Batman escapes from the restraints and  starts taking them out one by one and he starts by pulling out Harley and tying her upside-down with the straightjacket.  Batman grabs Janet and they try to escape the asylum, filled with lunatics and mind controlled orderlies. On their way out they come across Scarecrow and on the other end they are trapped by Ivy, Hatter, and Scarface. Scarecrow uses his scythe but he misses and decapitates Scarface instead with Ventriloquist having to put him back together. Batman manages to outrun them and he leads Janet as far as he can from the psychopaths. However, they find themselves trapped in a dead end hallway, forcing Batman to use his Grapple Gun to get them to the rooftop from a skylight. The psychopaths are left cornered in the dead end and at that moment, the GCPD enters the building and captures all of them. After all the inmates are back on their cells, Janet Van Dorn admits that Batman is much needed in Gotham, but she warns him that she will still work for a city that doesn’t need Batman.

  • House and Garden – It is the first episode aired of the second season of Batman: The Animated Series, rebranded as The Adventures of Batman & Robin. It is the last episode from the series to feature Poison Ivy as the main antagonist. (It has got to be the most disturbing one.) Poison Ivy is my favorite female character of the series. She is able to hold her own in any situation and seems to work well with Harley. Not only has Poison Ivy been released from Arkham Asylum, she’s also married her doctor and settled down to help him raise his two sons. Still, wealthy Gotham bachelors are being poisoned and robbed in ways that exactly mirror Ivy’s old crimes. The attacks take a personal turn when Dick Grayson is kidnapped by the mysterious assailant. A green monster has been attacking and poisoning the wealthy men of Gotham City, taking away their money and all the clues lead to Poison Ivy. However, when Batman suggests this to Commissioner Gordon, the man thinks that is not a possibility since Ivy has been released from Arkham Asylum several weeks earlier and she was legally declared as sane for completing her rehabilitation. She got married and has settled down. (I am not sure why getting married absolved her from doing bad things. Makes absolutely no sense. I remember in college where a teacher of mine talked about the idea of wife and motherhood clouding the idea of doing bad things.) Gordon and Batman drive to the new residence of Poison Ivy, now simply called Pamela Carlyle. She married Dr. Steven Carlyle, a professor at the Gotham University and a staff member of Arkham Asylum. She lets them in their home and when she is asked about the recent events, she tells them that she is not involved in the whole situation and that she wants to live a happy life with her husband. At that moment, two little boys come in the room and are surprised to see Batman in their living room. Pamela explains that Chris and Kelly are Steven’s sons and that after experiencing motherhood, she knew that it was exactly what she wanted to be happy. Dick Grayson is studying with Cindy on his room at the Gotham University. The situation starts turning a bit romantic when the telephone rings. Batman has already left Pamela’s house and is calling Dick to investigate about Steven Carlyle. Cindy leaves the room angry at Dick for not paying attention to her. Batman apologizes for the inconvenience and Dick tells him that he knows Steven, as he was his professor the previous year. As soon as Dick hangs the phone to do what Batman asked him, the green monster comes bursting through the door and after attacking the youngster, the monster leaves the place taking Dick with him. Bruce gets in his car and starts driving home, when suddenly, the monster grabs him from the backseat of the car and tells him to deliver 5 million dollars at the docks in exchange for Dick’s life. After giving the instructions, the monster jumps off the car and disappears in the night. Bruce gathers the money and puts it in a suitcase. However, he is not convinced of Ivy’s innocence and he decides to check her every move for one day until he finds a clue. The whole day, Batman spies on Ivy, but can’t find anything unusual as she is living a normal life along with her children and husband. Bruce takes the money to the docks and follows the instructions given by the monster. However, instead of returning Dick, the monster attacks Bruce and makes him fall down to the water below. Bruce swims underwater and changes into his Batman outfit. The monster feels unsafe and runs away from the place. Batman rescues Dick and together, they get in the Batmobile. Dick changes into his Robin outfit and he questions Batman about Ivy. Batman replies that she seems to be happy with Steven and his two sons, but Robin reveals that Steven’s ex-wife has the custody of their children and that Chris and Kelly are actually girls. Batman turns the car and they go straight to Ivy’s house. Robin checks the place and finds that Steven and the boys are asleep. He joins Batman at the greenhouse and he notices Batman adding something to the water pump outside. They get inside the greenhouse and discover a secret entrance to an underground laboratory. After looking for a while, they discover the real Dr. Steven’s body trapped in a water bed. They take the man out and help him recover. Steven explains that Ivy tricked him during her therapy sessions in Arkham. Batman takes a look around and finds that Ivy is creating baby creatures from plants.  Ivy appears behind them and she explains her plan. After kissing Steven, she controlled the man and she made him sign her release papers. Later, she used his DNA from to create a family for herself. However, with Steven’s DNA she could only replicate boys and also, the creatures’ lifespan is short, just like that of a flower. The creatures look like kids during the first stage, on the second stage they are adults looking like Steven and on the third stage, they transform into green monsters. (Ugh, it was weird and horrifying. Probably too much so for Ivy. Aside from her obsession with plants rights… I did not see this extreme thing coming. Although, I will say earlier in the show’s run… Poison Ivy tried to do away with District Attorney, Harvey Dent.) Ivy traps Batman, Robin and Steven with her vines and she gives the recently born creatures a serum to make them grow faster and in a few seconds, they transform into the green monsters. Batman cuts the vines with a knife and helps Robin and Steven to get out of the laboratory. Using a couple of electric cables, he stuns the monsters until he is able to get out of the lab. Batman has her cornered but then, she starts melting away, just like the other creatures. Before dying, she explains that she is just another replicate from Ivy’s DNA and that the real Ivy has already escaped. At that moment, Ivy is traveling by plane to some place away from Gotham and she sheds a tear over her loved family.

  • Harlequinade – This was such a funny episode right up until the end… I am not of fan of the weird romance between Joker and Harley… but both of them are delusional so…. yeah. The Joker gains possession of an atomic bomb which he uses to threaten Gotham City; forcing Batman and Robin to form an uneasy alliance with Harley Quinn in order to stop the Clown Prince of Crime. Harley leads them on a hunt through Gotham, and eventually into a deadly show-down where Harley is torn between her promise to help Batman and her twisted love for the Joker. A gangster meet up is happening in a secret warehouse and the leader is selling an atomic bomb to the highest bidder. From the shadows of the warehouse, Joker comes in and tells the thugs that he is taking the bomb and paying nothing for it. The gangsters pull out their guns and point them towards Joker, who in turn pulls out a bomb from his hat. The thugs run away in fear of Joker’s bomb triggering the atomic one and only the leader stays in. Joker tosses the bomb to him but instead of exploding, a “jack in the bomb toy clown” comes out of it. Commissioner Gordon tries to evacuate the city, but Mayor Hill wouldn’t allow it. (I guess… but Mayor Hill is an idiot.) Batman decides that in order to figure out Joker’s plan, he would need to think like the Joker, or at least, have someone who thinks like him. In Arkham Asylum, Harley Quinn plays with a clown doll when suddenly Batman comes into her cell unannounced. Batman explains Quinn the situation and he tells her that he needs her to capture Joker. Harley refuses at first, but as soon as she learns that Batman would help her to be released from Arkham if she cooperates, she quickly has a change of heart. Batman takes Harley in the Batmobile with handcuffs to prevent her from trying to escape. In the car, Batman contacts Robin and tells him that he and Quinn are going to the last known Joker’s hideout. They arrive at Joker’s Ha-Hacienda and Harley decides to change the Arkham inmate clothes to her traditional jester outfit. Batman investigates the place and learns that Joker has cameras installed in the GCPD Headquarters on Gordon’s office and also on Mayor Hill’s house. Suddenly, Batman is attacked by Joker’s hyenas until Harley comes in and distracts them with food. Batman and Harley arrive at the place and when they open the main door, they find that the place is now an illegal casino, bar and lounge for the organized crime of Gotham. The place is filled with thugs and when they notice Batman there, they get their weapons ready to attack. Batman also gets ready, but he is knocked unconscious by Harley who attacks him from behind. The thugs tie Batman and put him in the pool table. They are about to kill the dark knight when Harley notices Robin trying to get in through a window. Harley buys Robin some time by staging a darkly humorous number, and she sings her own version of “Say that We’re Sweethearts Again” to distract the gun-toting party goers, while Robin sneaks in and unties Batman. (It is such a strange rendition… and I know I missed the significance of this as a kid.) After Harley finishes her song, Batman and Robin start taking down all the thugs and criminals. Harley feels really accomplished about her collaboration with the dynamic duo. They get to their respective vehicles and Robin tells Batman that Mayor Hill still refuses to evacuate the city. Harley then starts to laugh as she understands Joker’s plan. The Clown has kidnapped Mayor Hill and is using him to control the police force. Joker is enjoying himself in Mayor Hill’s swimming pool and he orders his henchmen to bring the Mayor to him. Joker comes out and pushes Hill, who is tied to a chair, to the bottom of the pool. Batman and Robin arrive just in time to prevent Hill from drowning. Batman uses a Batarang to stop Joker’s escape and after a few punches, Batman finally captures Joker. However, as soon as he is taking the madman with him, Harley appears and ties Batman and Robin using a device she found in the Batmobile. She joins Joker, who is utterly surprised to see her there and with the heroes tied up, Joker activates the bomb that would explode in 10 minutes. Joker has already planned an escape using an old fashioned biplane and he takes Harley with him. Robin tells Harley that if Joker blows up Gotham, all her friends in Arkham would die and Harley tries to convince Joker to free them. But Robin also points out that Joker was planning on allowing her to die in Arkham as he was going to escape without her.  Harley attacks Joker and tries to free Batman. Joker, who is already flying on the plane, drops a couple of bombs towards Batman and Harley, but they manage to dodge the bomb and remain safe. As Batman frees Robin, Joker makes his henchmen turn the plane around and he starts shooting at Batman with a machine gun incorporated in the plane. Batman dodges the bullets and in the meantime, Robin successfully defuses the bomb. Harley, who feels nothing but contempt for Joker, aims her little jester weapon at Joker and shoots him, hitting him in the head and knocking him out for a while. The plane explodes, but Joker comes out alive and without a single scratch. He is still a bit dizzy because of Harley’s hit and he falls down to the ground, where Harley is waiting for him, armed with a machine gun. Batman and Robin try to stop her, but Harley is determined to finish the Joker once and for all. Joker realizes the situation and he stands up and defies Harley, telling her that she wouldn’t dare pull the trigger because she is weak and worthless. Harley is hurt and she actually pulls the trigger; Joker flinches—and a flag that reads “RAT TAT TAT” pops out of the barrel. The Joker smiles and says: “Baby, you’re the greatest!” and the mad couple embrace each other in a loving hug.

  • Torch Song – This the twelfth episode of The New Batman Adventures. It is the first time we see Firefly. The synopsis for this episode reads that a pyrotechnics expert seeks revenge on his former girlfriend (except I never thought of her as his girlfriend but that’s me.) Bruce Wayne and his date, Shannon, go to a concert. Before the show, the star, Cassidy, has an angry confrontation with her show’s pyrotechnics expert, Garfield Lynns. Apparently, the two dated briefly before Cassidy broke it off (because they went on a few dates doesn’t make her his girlfriend.), but Lynns refuses to accept this. (Keep in mind, I didn’t particularly like Cassidy’s character.) In anger, Cassidy orders him fired before going out on stage. As the show starts, an enraged Lynns overloads the stage pyrotechnics, creating a rising wall of fire around Cassidy that drives the band away and traps her. Bruce tries to intervene but suddenly Batgirl appears to rescue Cassidy from the fire. Afterward, the police storm Lynns’ apartment with a warrant for his arrest. Lynns is gone, but they get a look at his apartment, a virtual shrine to Cassidy, lit candles and all. (Super weird…. Has he been hanging with Jervis?) At Cassidy’s apartment, she is talking with her agent, Frank, and receives a letter that burns up in her hands. Unnerved, she makes an appearance at Rock City with other musicians, but Lynns appears, now dressed in a fireproof battlesuit and calling himself “Firefly”, and shoots firebombs.t Cassidy’s apartment, she is talking with her agent, Frank, and receives a letter that burns up in her hands. Unnerved, she makes an appearance at Rock City with other musicians, but Lynns appears, now dressed in a fireproof battlesuit and calling himself “Firefly”, and shoots firebombs. Batman and Batgirl appear and save Cassidy, but Firefly manages to escape. Batman and Batgirl investigate Lynns’ hideout and discover an arsenal of pyrotechnic weapons. While looking through them, Batgirl pulls a lever that triggers a booby trap, igniting a firebomb that starts to consume the entire building. At the studio, Cassidy is rehearsing when smoke starts to fill the room. Coughing, Cassidy is led out by a man she thinks is her agent, but realizes too late is Firefly. Unable to contain the fire, Batman and Batgirl escape out a window, but Batgirl is injured by falling debris. The news reports Cassidy’s abduction. The police have no idea where to find her, but Batman picked up a matchbook at the hideout with the name of a paint company on it. At the Mephisto Paint Company’s manufacturing plant, Cassidy is tied up while Firefly works with the equipment. Cassidy tries to reason with him, but he says it’s too late for that. He shows her an incendiary gel he’s invented that can burn through any substance—to demonstrate, he sets a small amount of the gel alight, and she watches in horror as it burns through a block of ice, then down through the floor. Firefly has made enough of the gel to pour down the sewers, covering the entire city. Then he will ignite the gel and the entire city will burn—in Lynns’s twisted mind, the perfect cover for him and Cassidy to disappear together. (You know…. against her will.) But before he can release the gel, Batman appears, wearing a heat-resistant suit of armor that is able to withstand Firefly’s fireballs. irefly gains the upper hand long enough to empty the gel into the sewers. Firefly then unsheathes a flaming sword, and attacks Batman. The two fight again, and the sword goes flying into the gel, igniting it before it can spread across the city. As the plant starts to burn, Firefly escapes, while Batman frees Cassidy and gets her outside. The building explodes, and Firefly staggers outside, only to collapse from exhaustion. Cassidy has dinner in a restaurant with her agent, who tells her that Firefly’s kidnapping and mayhem have done wonders for her publicity, and they should capitalize on it right away. While he starts describing his new ideas for a fire-themed tour, a flambe dessert is ignited at their table, and Cassidy recoils. (Having PTSD from her ordeal with a man that can’t take no for an answer. Her agent, who seems oblivious, is planning a tour based around fire. It was very unsettling.)

  • Baby Doll –  It is notable for introducing the original character Baby Doll to the series, although it is her only appearance in the show. She does get re-used with a new appearance in New Batman Adventures though. A former child star, now grown bitter and insane, kidnaps her TV family and holds them prisoner on an abandoned sound stage. After finishing a play, some actors get out of the theater through the back door and a young actor notices a little girl crying on the corner of the alley. She tells him she’s looking for her big brother. When he glances at her you can see the recognition on his face before he is attacked from behind and knocked unconscious. A few days later, Commissioner Gordon calls Batman and Robin to discuss the recent abductions of actors that used to work on an old sitcom called “Love that Baby”. The main character was a little girl by the name of Baby Doll, who was portrayed by Mary Dahl, an actress with a pyhsical condition that prevented her body from aging and thus she looks like a child. Gordon informs them that until that moment, three of the main actors have been abducted. Gordon informs them that until that moment, three of the main actors have been abducted. The youngest woman of the cast is being abducted and the police can’t get a handle on the situation. Batman and Robin arrive in time to stop the couple of thugs, but when they think they’re safe, a big truck comes into the alley, crashing against the police cars and the vigilantes. The woman is placed inside the truck and the thugs get away with her. Batman and the boy wonder are in hot pursuit. However, Batman stops the car as he notices a little girl on the way and forces the car to crash against some crates on the street. The little girl is scared and looking for her mom and a few seconds later, a woman comes and takes the girl away. Batman recognizes the voice and when he talks to her, Baby Doll uses an exploding ball to create a smoke screen and get away. Knowing that Dahl is responsible for the abductions, Batman and Robin go to Summer Gleeson and ask her for a couple of her documentary episodes on the TV show where Dahl used to perform. the kidnapped actors find themselves in a recreation of the old set for the TV series and Baby Doll tells them that they are going to be a happy family again. With help of a couple of thugs and her personal bodyguard, Dahl prevents the other actors from leaving the place. Batman and Robin learn about the tragic acting career of Dahl and they realize that she might be holding a grudge against her peers for that. However, it was Dahl who decided to leave the TV series after the producers introduced a new character that upstaged her in camera. When she failed on other acting roles, she wanted to go back to the series, but the producers wouldn’t accept her offer and the show was officially cancelled. Batman and Robin realize that Dahl hasn’t kidpapped the actor who upstaged her and they deduce that he might be the next victim. The next day, Spunky, the former kid actor and now musician is playing guitar in his garage when a woman crosses in front of his place with a baby carriage. She approaches Spunky and tells him to lower the volume of his music since her baby needs to take a nap. Spunky tells her that he needs to practice, but from the carriage comes Baby Doll and uses knockout gas on him to capture the last member of the cast. Baby Doll recreates the last episode of the series, where she celebrates her birthday, but this time, the actors are tied to the chairs and the candles of the birthday cake have a dynamite among them. Dahl first pushs Spunky face into the cake..and then lights a dynamite stick ..she plans to “stay” with her family forever ..by killing both her “Family”…and herself. Spunky is the one to blow the candles out and he grabs the dynamite with his teeth and tosses it away from them. When the dynamite explodes in the next room, it creates a big smoke screen and from it comes Robin, who was disguised as Spunky in order to save the real Spunky and to learn Dahl’s secret hideout. Batman arrives at the scene and with Robin’s help, they incapacitate Dahl’s henchmen and untie the actors. Dahl runs away and tells her bodyguard to take care of the duo. Dahl runs away to a nearby fair, where she tries to merge with the people in the crowd. Batman tries to find her by looking from the highest point of the place, but there is too many people to locate her. Batman tries to keep up with Dahl, but her little body allows her to get in small places and move faster than Batman. He tries to explain her that he understands that she must be feeling confused and that he wants to help her. Dahl doesn’t believe him and she runs towards an abandoned house of mirrors, where she is overwhelmed by her own image reflected in all the mirrors. Dahl walks to the final mirror, which reflects her as the adult woman she could have been and suddenly she feels joy. However, she realizes that the reflection, just like her TV family, and everything else in her life, is not true. Realizing that she can never have either a normal family or a normal life, Dahl starts shooting all the mirrors until the only one left is the one with her adult image. Suffering an emotional breakdown for the life she will never have, Dahl breaks down and shoots that mirror as well and she keeps pulling the trigger, even though her gun has ran out of bullets. 

  • Lock Up– This episode was so interesting because I don’t think that I have ever seen Dr. Jonathan Crane tremble with fear. He is the Scarecrow. Fear is his thing. It introduces the original character Lock-Up to the series. A vigilante on another vigilante. Several Arkham Asylum inmates lodge complaints against Lyle Bolton, the Asylum’s sadistic new chief of security. When Bolton is fired, he vows revenge on societies’ true lunatics, the officials whose policies have turned Gotham City into a haven for crime. Taking on the new identity of master jailer Lock-Up, Bolton kidnaps several prominent Gotham officialsand locks them away on an abandoned prison ship. Batman and Robin take Scarecrow back to Arkham Asylum, but they notice that Crane is completely afraid of returning. The cause is the new security chief, by the name of Lyle Bolton, who acts aggressively towards Crane, leaving Batman wondering if the man is doing his job or if he is going overboard. A few days later, Bruce Wayne requests a hearing in Arkham Asylum to learn about Bolton’s performance. The members of the jury are Commissioner Gordon, Mayor Hill, Doctor Bartholomew and Bruce Wayne. The inmates that are questioned about Bolton’s behavior are Harley Quinn, Jonathan Crane and Arnold Wesker. Bolton is present in front of them. All of the inmates are asked questions about Bolton’s attitude to the inmates in Arkham, but they all reply that the guard is doing an excellent job, while looking at the guard with evident fear in them. Bruce notices their anguish and he decides to act as he speaks that in light of their testimony, they should grant Bolton a permanent job at Arkham Asylum. At that moment, the inmates show their true feelings about the way Bolton mistreats them as well as the other inmates and Bolton loses his temper, attempts to attack them until he has to be stopped by several Arkham orderlies and Bruce, who drops a chair in front of Bolton, making him trip over. Doctor Bartholomew fires Bolton from Arkham and never allows the man to get another job in security. As he is being taken out of Arkham, Bolton starts rambling that he needs to clean the city from the real scum like the police, the politics and doctors who refuse to recognize them for the scum they are. Six months later, Bruce Wayne and Summer Gleeson come out of a fancy restaurant after they had an interview over dinner. Bruce is called back to the building to answer a phone call and Summer gets on her car. Suddenly, the door locks on Summer’s car are shut and when she tries to open a window, the handle breaks on her hand. Summer uses the horn of the car to alert Bruce and he tries to get out, but the door from the building is locked tight by some special device. Bruce opens his suitcase, where he keeps his Batsuit and he starts a smoke machine to create a smoke screen while he changes into Batman. Using some explosive devices from his Utility Belt, Batman opens the door and goes straight for the truck. Batman opens the back doors and finds a big man in a disguise, who offers Batman to work together, but when Batman refuses, the man who calls himself Lock-Up, attacks Batman and overpowers the Dark Knight. t the Mayor’s house, Bullock and several other officers surround the Mayor to prevent him from being abducted by Lock-Up. Hill insists that his personal security is more than enough to protect him. At that moment, Lock-Up uses a smoke grenade, throws it to the main room, and captures Hill. Batman and Robin search information about Bolton’s past and they learn that he was in charge of the security when Stonegate Penitentiary was being built. Robin recalls the code F-84 and they discover that it’s the name of a ship that was used as a temporary prison until Stonegate was finished and that it was under Bolton’s command. Batman and Robin search information about Bolton’s past and they learn that he was in charge of the security when Stonegate Penitentiary was being built. Robin recalls the code F-84 and they discover that it’s the name of a ship that was used as a temporary prison until Stonegate was finished and that it was under Bolton’s command. Lock-Up tries to stop the duo by setting traps on them, but none are effective. Batman finds Lock-Up and they start fighting, while Robin locates the power source and disconnects it. Robin locates the prisoners and he does his best to free them from their cells, which start to fill with water. After a while, Batman comes out of the water, with his hands freed and carrying the unconscious body of Lock-Up. Lyle Bolton is taken to Arkham Asylum as a patient and prisoner, much to the inmates’ amusement. However, Bolton seems to be fine with it, since now he would be able to keep an eye on all of them.

  • Almost Got Em – The Joker, Two-Face, Killer Croc and the Penguin are sitting down in a dimly lit club playing poker. In walks Poison Ivy who kicks Croc’s chair over and decides that she wants in on the game. After Ivy settles herself into the game, each of the villains take turns regaling one another with tales of how they almost defeated the Batman. Poison Ivy tells the story about her last encounter with Batman during last Halloween when she was infecting a pumpkin patch with her patented toxic spray. She succeeded in getting the drop on Batman, but Batman used the remote control on his Batmobile to chase Ivy up a tent pole, trapping her. (Poor Ivy… She really almost had him.) Two-Face then tells how he had captured Batman and flipped his coin, which landed on bad heads. He took away Batman’s utility belt and strapped him down to a giant penny which was resting upon an over-sized coin-flipping device. Two-Face activated the device, sending Batman flying through the air-which depending on how it lands will either crush Batman to a pulp or break every bone in his body; but Batman managed to snatch Two-Face’s lucky coin and used the jagged edge to cut the ropes and free himself. Landing on his feet, he kicked Two-Face into a bag of stolen loot and apprehended his henchmen with the crane. Killer Croc then tells the group about the time he encountered Batman in a quarry. The story is just that he threw a rock at him. The others look at Croc waiting for the rest of his story. Croc adds that it was a “big rock.” (What kind of story is this?) Unimpressed with Croc’s story, The Penguin starts his tale about how he baited the Batman into his “Aviary of Doom” where he unleashed a flock of poisonous humming birds at him. The Batman avoided their dangerous beaks with his cape and managed to incapacitate the birds by turning on the sprinkler systems. The Penguin then sent a giant bird after him which began tearing through Batman’s costume with its talons. Batman picked up one of the unconscious hummingbirds and stabbed the cassowary in the leg. The fast-acting poison knocked the creature out and Batman was free to apprehend the Penguin who had escaped via his umbrella-chopper. Finally, the Joker starts telling them how his gang once caught Batman and strapped him to an electric chair. The chair was positioned on a theater stage before a literal captive audience at gunpoint. (I mean it is the Joker.) With Harley Quinn, the Joker demonstrated that the chair was activated through the power of laughter. Forcing the audience members to laugh through his laughing gas caused thousands of volt of electricity to shoot through the machine. Fortunately for Batman, Catwoman arrived in time to rescue him from the Joker’s clutches. Once the villains finish telling their tales, the Joker reveals that he has since captured the Catwoman and had Harley tie her down to an assembly line at a cat food processing plant, where she was to be ground up and mixed with supplies of cat food. (Because how dare you foil his plans Catwoman?) At this point, Killer Croc reveals that he is actually Batman in disguise. The other patrons of the club are members of the GCPD who all pull their weapons on the villains simultaneously. They force the Joker to reveal where Catwoman is being held.

I could write about all of these episodes but Batman TAS still holds up for me in a way that a lot of shows do not anymore. My nephew and I are watching it now so it is something that I get to share with him… along with my TMNT… that may be a post for another time. I enjoy Kevin Conroy as Batman and Mark Hamill as the Joker. But honestly the voice casting and acting in the DCAU is unmatched. I realize that this was the reason I fell in love with Batman and DC comic in general. I love it. So that is all for now.

Quarantine Post #42: Goldberg’s Bagel Company & Deli


As you guys know by now, I spent my early childhood up north. NYC, Massachusetts and the like. I can remember my mother buying fried shrimp for us to eat on the bus when I was about 2 or 3. Good times. My family and I eventually moved to the south… where we have been all this time. One of the things I remember about being in our duplex in Mass was my mother making us breakfast in the mornings. Because we didn’t eat pork, my mother would make eggs with turkey bacon… but the highlight of my breakfast time was when she would make a breakfast sandwich on a Kaiser roll with pastrami. I didn’t realize that pastrami was a northern (and Chicago thing) like you can get it at the grocery store (deli) but if you were at a sandwich shop… chances are that they didn’t carry it because enough people didn’t eat it.

Ahh, it looks like my childhood on a plate. Just missing a large glass of orange juice. To be young.

As I got older, I found that you could get pastrami at diners… but not much else. (I may do a post of my love for all things diner food at a later time. Yet another thing that reminds me of being a kid.) In about 2014/2015 (I remember I still had a horrendous job and was still finishing up college.) Subway ran a commercial that they were now selling pastrami sandwiches…. I don’t hate Subway but normally if I am going to get a sandwich… there are a few other places that come to mind first. But I decided to stop by there before my shift started to get my sandwich. To this day, I remember walking in, and being the only person there and thinking… this is perfect… no one to slow me down. I asked for a hot pastrami… the guy gave me a weird look like I had asked to drink the blood of his ancestors and said… “You must be from up north. We don’t have pastrami. No one eats that around here.” I always find it odd that my simple request always garners a look like I have 3 heads. So when I responded and asked why are the commercials saying that you have it if you in fact don’t? (Rhetorical… because how would he know?) He just shrugged and offered me a Philly cheesesteak instead. (Very good… but even remotely the same.) I thanked him for… (I am not really sure what… It was the polite thing to do but honestly… I could have done without the condescension but…) There was a sign on the door advertising the Hot Pastrami but maybe he just didn’t feel like doing it. I went to the nearby McDonald’s instead. I did eventually get a Subway pastrami sandwich… and it wasn’t that great. I didn’t realize you could do it wrong. (Insert eyeroll.)

Trust me… this ain’t it.

Fast forward to me getting an adult job and working closer to the city. I had forgotten all about trying to find a sandwich place that sold pastrami. One particular day… I left for my lunch break and decided to see what was around the city. Fun times. I figured that I would find a quick place to order food and come back and eat it at my desk. Well with my handy GPS… I stumbled onto Goldberg’s which my phone told me was a sandwich shop. So I figured I would stroll in and give it a try. Best decision I made in a while.

My first clue should have been that breakfast was sold all day. Not normally something you see where I am at.

For those of you that don’t know… (I didn’t). Goldberg’s Bagel Company & Deli, originally named Goldberg & Son, started in 1972 as a small true father-and-son run Atlanta deli serving six varieties of authentic New York-style bagels. It became a very popular traditional New York deli. Goldberg’s has expanded its menu offerings to include a wide range of breakfast and lunch items, bagels are still at the heart of the company. That’s why Goldberg’s staff continues to bake more than 500 dozen bagels every weekday and more than 1,000 dozen on the weekends.

I walk in and I was transported back to the young age where I would go out to see with my mom during the day. It was an odd feeling too like I had been there before when I really hadn’t. There was a to go order counter and a place for people who want to dine in. There were a lot of murals and old (black and white) pictures. Just had a great ambience for me. I knew immediately that I would have to bring my parents here. (Cue maniacal laughter.) Here was another place that a large menu. (See post about Red Robin.) Pages and pages of great things. But it didn’t take long to select what I wanted. Hot Pastrami with a side of fries. It took me a minute because they also had a hot corned beef sandwich too. You could get it regular or a “NY Stack” which was much more meat… as people would say, “heart attack on the plate.”

Great sandwich… a bit pricey though.

You got your choice of bread be it bagel or bun. There is also a breakfast option of most sandwiches they have to choose from. I was never a big breakfast person but I could see myself coming for breakfast more often to a place like this. I ended up leaving there super full which is always a good sign. It did leave a good dent in my pocket though. Cost me about $25 with the tip just for myself. Did I think it was worth it…? Sure. 100% but also I may not go there as often as I would like. The sandwich ran me about $15 the drink being about $2.00 with tax and tip put me in the mid 20 range. There is nothing like being super satisfied during the mid day work blues.

My next mission was to bring my parents to this place. There was a bit that I remembered from my childhood. But my parents would be the real judges with them being hard to impress. My mother is very particular about what she eats. She has severe allergies so it is always hard to try and get her to try something new. But she agreed to come with me for lunch one day. That was all I needed. We parked and walked into the restaurant, and my mother looked around before turning to me and saying… “Never bring me back here again.” O_o What?! we haven’t even eaten yet! She amended her statement to let me know… she could tell from walking in that it was going to be good. And didn’t want to make a habit of coming back. She ordered a turkey sandwich with a salad. And I got the corned beef… With the egg roll appetizer.

It was fantastic. I am not sure what the sauce was but it went with it perfectly. Highly recommend.

Because my mother has a shellfish allergy…. she normally avoids getting French fries while out and about. (Yes, you read that right.) Since a of places that fry fish usually throw the fries in the same grease as the fish… she avoids it altogether. (Now, yes there are more regulations now but my mom has had a few instances at different places where she has ordered fries and had a reaction. Mistakes happen but she doesn’t get anything fried from places anywhere.) But even with a turkey sandwich, they managed to impress her… She had little to complain about aside from the service being slow. (The place was packed… so probably not a good place to go if you are pressed for time. Definitely our bad.) It is a popular place so that was to be expected. She loved it but refused to come back. We will make a place a habit with the quickness.

My next victim was my father. He is a bit easier to impress. We met up at the place…. and he was also taken by the atmosphere. He ordered a hot pastrami sandwich, fries and soup. He bit into the sandwich and I got the laugh of my life watching his eyes roll back. He turned to me and asked “How the hell did you find this place? It really reminds me of being back home.” We loved it. We were able to sit back and reminisce. My dad actually got a to go order for some other people before he left. It was a hit with the whole family. I would say give this place a 9/10. I could really eat here everyday. Don’t hesitate to visit.

Quarantine Post #41: Red Robin…. Yuuum….


Another thing you’ll learn about me… is I love trying out new restaurants…. One of the things I enjoyed and miss from my pre-pandemic days was dragging one of my friends off to a new place that I heard about. Like in most things in my life, I am not too picky. There is not a lot that gets under my skin. One of my first jobs was waitressing at a burger joint, (I also have a love a good burger.) so I know the stresses of the job. Since my friends are all over when they come to visit, I am always looking for someplace good to break bread with them. Apparently Red Robin was founded in Seattle in 1969. I didn’t hear of it until well into the 2000’s but I am sure that is only because I am no where near Seattle.

Enter Red Robin. I began seeing the commercials for this place in my neck of the woods about 10-12 years ago. (circa 2008ish). The odd thing was that up until that point, any time you saw a commercial for something it was because they were building it at least about 20 minutes from you and if it hadn’t already opened… would be in the next 30 days. But try as I might, I could not find one near me. It was an odd cycle because the commercial would play… I would try to find it near me (which at this time was imperative because I didn’t have my own ride so it would have needed to be something I could walk to.) when I could not locate a place… I would sulk about it then forget about it. And the damn commercial would play again. Thinking back on it makes me laugh because it wasn’t one of those that played all the time, only once in a blue moon… There was so much time in between that I would forget the name of the place. But I lived kinda in the sticks… without a car the search was hopeless.

Fast Forward to 2014 – I was invited to go to Nashville with a guy that I used to know. It was his mother’s birthday… It was a place that I had never been so that intrigued me. We got in the car and left for the week. We did a lot on that trip… but one of the things that stood out to me was sitting in the truck, watching the scenery pass me by… (my favorite leisure time activity when I am not driving.) We pass by a shopping center where I notice Red Robin. I had to make a case for stopping and eating there. Hard to when I had never laid eyes on one. But how can you mess up a burger joint?

I think that the first think I remember was that they actually had a bar and served alcohol. It was almost like a combination of Steak N Shake (where I used to work… ) and a Taco Mac… where I also used to work. (Shout out to waitresses.) Seemed handy… simple operation and execution.

My sister was shocked when I brought her to one.

The other thing I remember was the menu was extensive. There was pages and pages of different things. Drinks, appetizers, salads, sandwiches, soups, burgers (of course), desserts and shakes. I love a place that has variety. I also love a place that has enough to intrigue me to come back and try it all. Therefore I plan to make many more trips to it in the future. I figured I would start with something simple. (Anytime I try something out for the first time, I usually go with something not too extravagant. Nothing that will turn me off right away. That’s just me.) I got the crispy chicken sandwich. Pretty good. Wish they had a spicy version… (I am picante myself.)

Looks great.

There wasn’t a whole bunch of fries which I love with any good sandwich. Steak fries are the best and it was a bummer to run out so soon. I soon figured out that there was a reason for that. They have bottomless fries. If I allowed them I could still be eating fries galore. When I asked for ketchup, I was delighted to find that they had a sweet and spicy ketchup. Check out the list here: (https://www.redrobin.com/pages/everyday-value/sauces/) So no downsides for me. My job now was to push the Red Robin agenda… on any and everyone. My first victim… MY SISTER… (Cue maniacal laughter.)

My sister being much younger than me… was a bit skeptical in the place that I picked. Mostly because I was about an hour away from where we lived. (After coming home from Nashville, I made it my mission to locate a place near me. There were three. All were a good distance from me… but when I got my car… I could con friends into going, especially if I drove.) My sister and I decided that we were hungry but she was tired of the same old same old. I told her that we could ride down to Red Robin.

Good Times. It is always fun to bring someone to a place that you love and watch them fall in love too. She didn’t think anything of getting in the car and letting me drive… I figured that I had about 30 minutes before she started asking questions. Right at that mark, she looked around and asked where we were… where were we going… how much longer? Etc etc. I told her it would be worth it when we got there. We get there and walk in and she was in awe from the time we walked in to the time we left. My sister loved the place. She was just as taken with the selection as I was and we ordered a bit of each thing. In Nashville, the first time around I was on a time limit. This time around… since my sister and I are on the same page… We decided that we were going to pick 2 appetizers, 2 different sandwiches, and fries and onion rings. We really did have a great time.

It is so good. The strawberries get caught in straws but it is fine nonetheless
The chips were a nice touch although they lost they crispiness underneath the wings but as an appetizer they were solid.

Nothing like boneless buffalo wings to start you off and a bit of strawberry lemonade. Wish they were a bit spicier but it was a great presentation nonetheless. You can order the wings in your choice of sauce: Buzz with bleu cheese, Whiskey River BBQ, Banzai, or Island Heat. If you get a chance to go definitely spring for the buffalo wing appetizer. Then the burgers came. Blue Cheeseburger (The Black and Bleu) for me and the Smoke and Pepper burger for my sister. Let me tell you… we were not disappointed. For burger joints, my favorite go-to is usually a Buffalo and blue cheese combination. I love it and this one was great. I usually don’t like the grilled onions on my burger (they are too slimy for bread to me.) But it somehow worked here.

The onion rings are as great as they look. Super crispy and it comes an a fantastic Onion Ring Stack.

My sister and I ate a bunch. So there was no room for dessert. That saddens me to this day… but I shall return and partake at some point. The only other thing to mention is the cost. The service is always great when I go… so I’ll be focusing on the price.

Red Robin prides itself on having gourmet burgers. That comes at a price. My first sign should have been that it sold alcohol. They have several tiers of burgers (Tavern, Finest, and Gourmet) that range in price from $7 – $15. If your appetizer runs you about $10 and the burgers run a good penny. For a full meal, you could be looking at $60 bill or more depending on how many people are with you. I felt it was well worth the price. But it is good to know beforehand. I can’t wait to get closer to one so that I can drag Leah out with me for good food and even better company.

In the end, I give it 8.5 out of 10. It currently sits at my number one with Burger 21 coming in second and Burgerfi coming in third.

My next victim was my friend B. She lived out in the sticks… further than me. She comes into town periodically and we hang out. So when I asked if she was hungry and she said yes… I decided to ask her to come to Red Robin with me. I usually don’t tell people beforehand that the ride out is going to be far. But just like my sister, B started asking question about 30 minutes in… and when we pulled up she seemed ready to figure out what we are doing. Like… why all the way out here? She ended up loving the place too and ordering to go meals for her families. She was impressed with the drinks… the onion ring tower, the bottomless fries, and the great burgers. It was a good time.

My sister and I carried on the tradition now to drag people who have never been to Red Robin. Our next victim? My brother. I sent my sister some Red Robin gift cards since all of us had birthdays in October. (It is so funny that I could go down the street and get gift cards to a place that is no where near me.) Apparently, there is a location close by and they head there for birthday dinner. They loved it. Another one down. Another one bites the dust. It was fun to share in something you love with people you care about.

Quarantine Post #40: M. Night Shyamalan. The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Split & Glass


I have a love/hate relationship with M. Night Shyamalan and his movies. Some of them I love… some of them I hated… (Avatar anyone?) This post is about some of the movies I loved. After a few movies, he became known for his twist endings. His movies were some of the first that I watched… and they all took my by surprise. When I am writing, my mind doesn’t work in the way of twist endings… so I was enthralled with the stories. In most cases, like that of The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable… many clues are given to you about the ending beforehand. Got to love that foreshadowing. So I will talk about the films that I really enjoyed. So let’s get to it. As always, a spoiler alert is in effect… but honestly some of these are 20 years old and Split is about to be 4 years old and Glass is about to be 2 or 3.

My sister calls him the creepy kid. lol

The Sixth Sense – Now everyone knows this story. It came out in 1999 and by now it is about 23 years old. My sister and I were talking about it the other day and I realized that there were things in the movie that I want to blurt about. There are a few moments in the movie that always stand out to me. One of the things that I have learned since watching this movie… is remember the thing that you are shown that is not explained right away. (Something that I perfected while watching anime… One Piece anyone?) What I enjoy about this movie was that on the face of it… it is a family drama before the secondary aspect of what becomes a scary movie. Cole (Haley Joel Osment) is having what his mother thinks are behavioral issues. She decides to get him a therapist to help. We all know what the issue really is but it was nice to see her try and get her son her some help.

In the first few minutes of the movie… we see that a patient broke into Dr. Malcolm Crowe’s (Bruce Willis) home. His therapist. Ironically, it is after Dr. Crowe is awarded for all of his work in the field. His patient (Vincent) claims that the doctor didn’t help him. We see that he shoots the doctor, and then himself. As is the way with M. Night, he moved on from that with little explanation… and it should have been my first red flag. I was probably 20 at the time that I watched this movie. But we get a time shift… the story that Dr. Crowe’s marriage is on the rocks, since his wife seems distant (another red flag) and we meet Cole Sear whose mother is worried about him. So we get the relationship between Dr. Crowe and Cole. But here are a few moments that stood out to me.

  • The Kitchen Cabinet Scene – At some point, Cole’s mother had to know that something was up more than him just needing better social skills. One morning, she is trying to get Cole ready for school. She removes his tie and heads into the washroom to get him another one. She is only gone a few seconds. When she returns, he is sitting at the table… obviously not having moved but almost all of the cabinets and drawers are open. She asks him what he was looking for… and he knows she won’t believe him even if he tells her the truth… So he says he was looking for Pop tarts…. He even asks her what she is thinking because he doesn’t want to believe that his mother thinks he is a weirdo. But honestly, she had to know that there was something else going on. I mean she was only in the other room… and you don’t hear any noise from the kitchen. But it stands out to me because you see how Cole doesn’t want his mom to believe he is strange and she is struggling to understand her kid. He tells Malcolm that he doesn’t share things with his mom… but she still knows something is going on with him.
  • Stuttering Stanley – During a history lesson, Cole’s teacher asks a question to the class. Cole takes it upon himself to answer… “What did they use this building for 100 years ago?” Cole’s response is that they used to hang people here. (A bit heavy for the class.) And when the teacher tries to correct him… and causes the class to gape at him basically weirded out by him… Cole yells that he doesn’t like being stared at. When the teacher continues… Cole blurts out that the teacher used to stutter when he attended school… all the way up to high school in fact. (Something a 9 year old could not have known but the original theory I had was that since he was teaching in the same school he used to go to… many parents would have been classmates… maybe one of them let it slip in front of Cole.) Cole starts taunting the teacher… calling him stuttering Stanley… obviously a name he had in middle school…. The teachers stutter returns.. he finally slams his hand on the desk telling Cole to shut up… and calls him a freak. Really dude? Rewatching the scene with the context of the ending… creepy. Was it a possession?
  • Ghosts at the School – So of course, Cole’s school is haunted. Poor Cole can’t escape it for a minute. Gift? or Curse? When leaving a school play, Cole stops dead in his tracks. In the distance, you can see 3 bodies hanging from the rafters. His answer to the teacher makes sense. Dr. Crowe tries to talk Cole through it. But Cole tells him that the feeling he gets on the back of his neck or that when it gets cold… is them. Haley’s delivery is flawless which only adds to that layer of creepy. Later on in the film, Cole is preparing for his part in the play. He is seated with a woman who looks like she is doing his make up. But when she walks away, you see that she is horribly disfigured. When his teacher “stuttering Stanley” comes to get him… he tells Cole that this part of the school burned down years ago… to which Cole responds with “Yeah, I know.” These scenes get me because there is an obvious difference in where he is at both points in the story. You see the growth by the time he gets to the play. He is stronger and no longer afraid.

  • Vomiting Ghost Girl – (This had to be the seen that stayed with me all that time.) We see her pull down Cole’s tent in the middle of the night. By this point, Cole has been told by Malcolm that the ghosts are appearing to him because they want his help. So even though he is freaked out… he returns to help her. Asking her if she has something to tell him. The next scene is that of Cole traveling to a funeral. You realize that it is the vomiting girls funeral. So she had just died. Cole rides the bus a long way to attend her funeral. Oddly enough, no one at the funeral notices Cole there by himself. From the chatter at the funeral, you learn that her younger sister is getting sick also by some unnamed illness. Presumably, the same illness that vomiting girl has died from. Cole visits ghost girl’s bedroom… Looking around when she appears again and gives him a box with a VHS tape in it. He gives the tape to her father and it reveals that her mother (Stepmother?) was poisoning her food and drink. Like just pouring the lysol all in the girls drink. The father and those at the funeral are flabbergasted by what they just saw. By showing up, and handing over the tape… he helped save her sister.

  • “She’s standing next to my window.” – This scene was epic to me because his mother is really trying to understand what is happening with her son throughout the movie. And when he finally tells her what is going on, her reaction is what I thought it would be. They are sitting in a traffic jam… there is an accident up ahead, his mother makes the comment that she hopes everyone is alright… He tells her everyone isn’t… that a cyclist died. When asked how he knows that, he replies that “She’s standing outside my window.”(There is a scene early on in the movie… before even the ‘I see dead people’ scene, where she is looking at pictures of Cole in various stages of life and she can see these orbs and doesn’t know what to make of them. I’m pretty sure Cole knows what was happening in those moments and can actually see what exactly was captured in those pictures.) His mother doesn’t want to think that Cole is a freak… but she needs time to process what he is telling her. Cole goes onto say that he is visited by his grandmother frequently. He goes on to describe how the two had gotten into an argument before her dance recital… He tells his mother that his grandmother did watch her in a dance performance when she was a child, giving details he could not have known. His mother excepts him unconditionally.
  • I see dead people / The big reveal – Would any countdown be complete without this one? (Keep in mind that the vomiting girl is still my favorite thing about this movie.) What I thought was great about it, is that M. Night preyed on our preconceptions that everything you see is what it is at face value. We aren’t giving any concrete information that Dr. Crowe survived the shooting in his house. Actually, we are given plenty of foreshadowing to the contrary. We never see Dr. Crowe actually interact with anyone other than Cole. The initial scene after Malcolm gets shot, he watches as Cole leaves his house. Cole spots him and speeds off down the road. (You find out later that Cole is initially freaked out by the ghosts that come to him.) He heads off into a church… (Church being a place where you would ward of evil spirits.) When Cole returns from school, it looks as though Dr. Crowe and Cole’s mother are sitting in the living room chatting. However, when Cole comes in… Dr. Crowe is not introduced to Cole… there is no acknowledgment from Cole or his mother about Dr. Crowe sitting there. In Cole’s case, he isn’t talking to his mother about Dr. Crowe because there is no point. She can’t see him anyway. One could argue that there is no reason to introduce Malcolm… because Cole has met him already. But it doesn’t explain why he is not acknowledged at all.

    Later on… Cole makes the comment… “You’re nice… but you can’t help me.” Well he can’t help because he is the problem. Cole knows that he is actually a ghost. When Dr. Crowe visits Cole in the hospital, again neither Cole’s mother or the doctor (M. Night himself) acknowledge him. Cole tells him… he sees dead people.

Cole Sear: I see dead people.

Malcolm Crowe: In your dreams? [Shakes head]

Malcolm Crowe: While you’re awake? [Cole nods]

Malcolm Crowe: Dead people like, in graves? In coffins?

Cole Sear: Walking around like regular people. They don’t see each other. They only see what they want to see. They don’t know they’re dead.

Of course, this is the explanation ties into what we see at the end of the movie…. when Crowe realizes he is dead. What struck me is the line that they see what they want to see. For Cole, he sees the effects of their death. The little boy earlier in the movie tries to show Cole his father’s gun… he turns and we see his head wound. We see the woman in the kitchen who Cole mistakes as his mother… she is beaten and bloody. The idea is that Cole can see the bullet wound that Dr. Crowe doesn’t seem to notice. It is how he has always seen Dr. Crowe. A man with a horrible gunshot wound who doesn’t know he is dead. It all makes sense as to why Cole ran from Dr. Crowe the first meeting. Most of the scenes between Malcolm and his wife… are where he does all of the talking and she doesn’t respond. Viewers think that it is because their marriage is on the outs… but no…

It has been parodied millions of times, that doesn’t make Haley’s delivery any less chilling.

The Sixth Sense will probably always be one of my favorite movies. I have said before in other posts that the lens of age has changed a lot of shows, movies and things that I used to enjoy. I watched this movie again in preparation for this post and it is still as entertaining as it was when I first watched it years ago.

UNBREAKABLE – I wonder how many of you guys went back and rewatched this movie once Split and Glass came out. I know I did. But I rewatched it a bunch over the years. So this came out in 2000… We meet David Dunn who for some unknown reason is the lone survivor of train crash that kills 130 people. But not only does he survive the train accident but he doesn’t have a scratch on him. (This is about as much information as I had and decided to see the movie.) much I mean the train wreck is horrific and no one can figure out how he survived it. But an eccentric old comic book store owner may have the key. Now there are a few scenes here that I really enjoyed.

 David Dunn boards the Eastrail 177 train home but is later caught in a crash. David is recovered and examined by doctors, who reveal he was the only survivor of 132 passengers and hasn’t broken a single bone. After a memorial service for the victims he finds a note on his car windshield asking if he has ever been ill and inviting him to Elijah’s art gallery, “Limited Edition”. David realizes that he has indeed never been ill. David tries to ignore him, but Elijah stalks him and his wife, trying to get his attention. To relieve his family from further distress, David finally agrees to hear Elijah out, and begins to test himself. While lifting weights with Joseph, they discover that his physical strength is far beyond what he previously thought and Joseph begins to idolize his father and believe he is a superhero.

Elijah Price, a comic-book art dealer with brittle bone disease, develops a theory based on comic book stories that there must be someone “unbreakable” at the opposite extreme. It is an interesting premise, but not one that is far fetched. I had no idea what brittle bone disease was before this. I will say… It was an interesting read. (Apparently, it also effects the whites of the eye, short height, loose joints, hearing loss, breathing problems and problems with the teeth. The severity may be mild to severe.  In real life, a person suffering from Osteogenesis imperfecta would almost never grow to be as tall as Elijah is.) Elijah is kind of weird. He proposes his theory of real-life superheroes… David D and I are a bit skeptical. What is great is the acting of Samuel L. Jackson… he straddles the line between fantasy and reality pretty well. But Elijah’s love for comics books makes sense given that it was probably the safest thing they could do.

  •  The Orange Man – In this movie as in most of M. Night’s movies, color always has meaning. So see that Elijah wears a lot of purple and that is not by accident. This is because purple is Samuel L. Jackson’s favorite color, and it is a color often associated with famous comic book supervillains (The Joker, Lex Luthor, just to name a few). In this scene, David Dunn finally leans into Elijah’s theory and becomes a superhero. He is complete with a power to see things people have done when he touches them… Frailty anyone? He collected visions at the stadium workplace, and after seeing clues relating to a serial killer, he tracks the criminal down. But our hero is new at this… and it shows. He is thrown into his weakness ( a pool of water. That Elijah helps him figure out.) and at one point you wonder if he is going to make it… Someone doesn’t make it and it leaves us feeling that even in the superhero world everything can’t be accounted for. I love that David didn’t get everything 100 percent right on his first go round. Would have been odd to me if he had.

  • Bench Pressing – Having been talking to Elijah, and thinking that he was just a nut job… (more on that later) David puts off self introspection. He takes the things that happened in his life at face value. David finally decides to test his limits for the first time in the movie, wondering if Elijah’s claims are true. As his son looks on, David adds more and more weight and is able to successfully bench press it. We are David’s son in this scene. We want it to be true… we will it to be true. We need answers. The great thing is that discovers truth using an everyday exercise we can actually do for ourselves.

  • Joseph pulls a gun on David – When I tell you that my jaw dropped… That would be an understatement. But kids are young and impressionable. With all this talk about Dad being a superhero (which I believe kids think naturally), that leads Joseph to believe that he too is invincible. (Naturally.) Joseph confronts some bullies but ends up beat up. David tries to console his son by saying that Elijah is wrong and that he’s just as normal as everyone else. Joseph takes it upon himself to prove his father wrong. Joseph decides to take David’s loaded pistol and point it at him saying that if shot, his father would not die. David manages to talk him out of the deed. But it is sad commentary. Mostly because it is easy to see how this could happen in real life and end in tragedy. David deescalates the situation by threatening to pack up and leave for New York. Which still seemed odd to me. The marriage is hanging in the balance… and threatening to leave him seemed damaging but the flip side was letting the son shoot and possibly kill you. I would imagine shooting and killing your father would be pretty scarring.

  • David develops extra sensory perception – David can glimpse immoral acts committed by people he touches. At Elijah’s suggestion, he walks through a crowd in a Philadelphia train station/and later at his job at the stadium, and senses crimes perpetrated by strangers who brush past him: a jewel thief, a racist hate crime perpetrator, and a rapist. The worst offender is a sadistic janitor holding a family hostage and torturing them inside their home. It definitely had an old comic book feeling. Here is out hero coming into his own and learning more and more about himself. It was interesting to see who he decided to help. The issue being that as one man… there is no way he could save everyone. There was a flashback of the car accident he and Audrey were in, it is revealed not only that he was unharmed, but that he had ripped a door off the car in order to save Audrey, a memory he had long repressed. It was interesting to see David and Elijah hone David’s skills together. Even though David doesn’t seem too happy to be an other. David’s dawning realization that he isn’t like other people doesn’t fill him with confidence, but with sadness and dread. David behaves as if his differences are an unbearable burden that will separate him from the rest of humanity and change his life in ways that aren’t necessarily positive. I didn’t see this take again until watching Man of Steel… Having always known the story of Superman… I don’t think I put much stock in how being an outsider or different effected Clark at a young age… or his parents for that matter. When I saw Clark have to keep moving on after showing his strength…. I immediately thought of David Dunn.

  • The only man to survive – This scene (more or less) was in the trailer… it is what drove me to watch the movie in the first place. The scene is masterfully shot… and from the trailer and the hospital scene, where the story goes is nowhere near what I was thinking. Remember this came out just after The Sixth Sense… so I was definitely not prepared for the direction that the movie took. In the scene… You see Joseph watching television… and you hear the news talking about a train crash and derailment. You hear the commentators talk about how there is debris strewn all over and some of the rail cars are still on fire. When they announce that the trail was Eastrail 177, Joseph hops up and runs to the kitchen where the note on the fridge shows that Dad was on that train. In the hospital, you see David sitting up on the stretcher and he is having a hard time finding out why the doctor is looking strangely at him and why he is being asked where he was sitting on the train. David finally asks “Where are the other passengers?” The doctor lets him and us know what is going on. David was aboard the derailed train… him and another person are the only two to have survived. The other gentlemen has been crushed, has several broken bones and probably will also pass away. This leads the doctor to his other startling revelation. David has not suffered any broken bones or any injuries that they can see and they don’t understand why. Especially since everyone else perished. David has no answers himself. The weirdness is palpable as he is greeted by his family in front of press camera and families of those who lost loved ones on the train. The scene is shot where David and the doctor are having conversation in the background but in the foreground. You see hospital staff fighting the losing battle of trying to save the only other gentleman that has not died right away from his injuries. You can hear the heart monitor as it finally flatlines throughout the scene. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfDOmCLf0bQ)

  • It was Mr. Glass all along – After the battle with the man in Orange, David is reconciled with Audrey and the following morning, secretly shows the newspaper article of his anonymous heroic act to his son. David attends an exhibition at Elijah’s comic book art gallery and meets Elijah’s mother, Mrs. Price. One of the things that we hear in this movie is that the train wreck wasn’t the only tragic event where scores of people died. There are mentions of a fire that killed hundreds of people in a hotel. There was also the bomb that exploded on the airplane. Elijah and David have at this point become friends with Elijah taking David under his wing. Elijah is the one that points out what David’s weakness might be (water). Elijah’s mother explains to David the difference between villains who fight heroes with physical strength versus those who use their intelligence. David shakes Elijah’s hand when Elijah congratulates David on his success. That is when all hell breaks loose. David sees visions of Elijah orchestrating several terrorist disasters, including David’s recent train accident, causing hundreds of deaths. David is horrified, but Elijah insists the deaths were justified as a means to find him. The movie quote from Elijah stands out to me. “Do you know what the scariest thing is? To not know your place in this world, to not know why you’re here. That’s… that’s just an awful feeling. I almost gave up hope. There were so many times I questioned myself. But I found you. So many sacrifices… just to find you. Now that we know who you are… I know who I am. I’m not a mistake. It all makes sense. In a comic, you know how you can tell who the arch-villain’s going to be? He’s the exact opposite of the hero, and most times, they’re friends, like you and me. I should’ve known way back when. You know why, David? Because of the kids. They called me Mr. Glass.” Elijah theorized that, if he represented the frailest a human being could be, then there had to be someone in the world who stood at the opposite end of the scale – someone who couldn’t be injured like most humans. This was to form a lifelong obsession, beginning simply with him studying the newspapers for stories of people who’d survived catastrophic disasters without being harmed; however, this gradually grew to dangerous extremes. He would make bombs, plan future acts of sabotage, and chart the patterns of survival in catastrophes throughout the world – some of them planned by him, some entirely accidental. He killed hundreds of people and David turns him in. Elijah explains that his own purpose in life is to be the villain to David’s hero. Elijah was convicted of murder and terrorism and committed to an institution for the criminally insane. So here was another thing that M. Night spoon-fed me, that I missed the big twist at the end. I was lulled into the superhero story and forgot all about Mr. twist ended. It blew my mind to know that David’s mentor… was the villain, who had killed hundreds of people. Even though he was trying to find his place…. there is not a justification. Samuel L. Jackson played a great villain. I loved him way too much to see the bad in it. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10TK19duC3s)

Split came out in 2016. It is an American psychological horror thriller film and the second installment in the Unbreakable trilogy written, directed, and produced by M. Night Shyamalan. The film is a man with 24 different personalities who kidnaps and imprisons three teenage girls in an isolated underground facility. Can I just say how great James McAvoy was in this movie? I mean he usually is but this was great. He did a fantastic job. FANTASTIC.

Casey Cooke is attending the birthday party of her classmate Claire Benoit at the King of Prussia Mall. Maybe it was me, but I didn’t get having a party at the mall. Probably the restaurants. Claire tells her father that she only invited Casey because she was inviting the entire class and didn’t want to leave one person out; Claire reveals Casey is a loner in school and always acts out in class. Well, I will say it would have been best if Casey had sat this one out. Casey accepts a ride home from Claire’s father, who also takes Claire’s friend Marcia. As the girls wait in the car, a man suffering from dissociative identity disorder (DID) knocks Claire’s father unconscious and enters the car, spraying the girls with an unknown chemical knocking them out and kidnapping them. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LK5QIZgbfZQ) So a few scenes stand out to me… Let’s jump to it.

  • Dr. Karen Fletcher has been had – Dr. Fletcher has been Kevin Crumb’s therapist for a bit. She is the one that has diagnosed the 23 personalities. Poor Kevin. I don’t think I could take anymore flashbacks of his childhood. The dominant personality, “Barry”, controls when and which of the others can manifest. But recently, it isn’t Barry who has been coming to the sessions, but Dennis… For Doctor Fletcher…. Dennis appearing wouldn’t have been a big deal… but the fact that he is pretending to be Barry is. When she tries to get to the bottom of why he is there and what he is up to, he keeps the front up. She tells Dennis all of the things he did to give away that he was not Barry. Starting with the fact that she keeps receiving emails from Barry begging for her help.  “Dennis” and Fletcher talk about Kevin’s father, who abandoned Kevin as a child. The personalities began manifesting to help Kevin cope with the abuse he was subjected to by his mother, who suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder. “Dennis” doesn’t tell her what he has been up though… which only leaves her more suspicious. But there is little she can do. She struck me as not necessarily wanting to help but trying to preserve her test subject. Dr. Fletcher had been studying, and giving speeches about what physiological changes can occur with patients with DID. One of which being that one of the personalities can have diabetes and need insulin even though the other personalities do not.

  • Patricia has entered the chat –  Within his mind, all of his personalities sit in chairs in a room, waiting for their turn “in the light”, i.e. controlling the body, while “Barry” controls who gets to go in the light. Two personalities, “Dennis” and “Patricia”, are kept out because of Dennis’s voyeuristic tendencies and obsessive–compulsive disorder, and both personalities’ worshiping of “The Beast”, a rumored 24th personality. The girls find an opening to a vent in the ceiling, and Claire escapes through the vents, before being discovered hiding in a locker. She is locked in a storage room separate from Casey and Marcia. Casey and Marcia hear who they believe is “Dennis” coming but are startled when Kevin appears wearing a turtleneck, skirt and heels. “Patricia” has taken over….  (a matronly Englishwoman), another one of Kevin’s alters. This bewilders and invokes fear within the girls. Patricia prepares food for Casey and Marcia, she forbids them from having Claire join them. (Who makes sandwiches with such sharp knives….? Spreading mayonnaise threateningly…) Maybe Marcia thought this personality was a push over but even as Casey warns her not to… Marcia takes the chair and hits Patricia over the head and tries to escape. She is cornered quickly and locked in another isolated cell. Now after seeing what happened to Claire…. why Marcia would want to do this is beyond me, especially since she didn’t know where she was. It was an epic failure. I was counting on her too.

  • “Hedwig” the window and the walkie talkie – Never trust M. Night. I should have known better. It would never be that easy to find a window out of there. “Hedwig” shows up and he reveals that he is 9 years old… and is wondering why the girls can’t seem to get that. It is Hedwig who lets the girls know that the girls will be sacrificed to “The Beast”. (The Beast being the all powerful 24th personality that only some of the personalities believe in.) He says that he stole control over the light from “Barry” and was persuaded to help “Dennis” and “Patricia”. Casey tries to use Hedwig to get out of the underground. He mentions having a window in his room… which seems odd. There is nothing about the place where they are that would suggest to me that there was a window, but she convinces Hedwig that she wants to see his room and see him dance. He likes Kanye West. However, when she gets there… there is only a picture of a window drawn by Hedwig. Casey does find a walkie talkie… and when she starts calling for help the person on the other end thinks she’s playing. I was so annoyed about that. People don’t help for shit. Insert Eyeroll. This girl is telling you she is being held against her will…. you tell her to stop playing and asking how she got on this channel. Man if you don’t get help. UGH. Casey is subdued when Patricia takes over again. Dennis chastises her for taking advantage of a kid.

  • The Beast and Dr. Fletcher cross paths –  Fletcher suspects Kevin is responsible for the kidnappings. After reviewing some security footage… and continuously receiving emails from Barry, Dr. Fletcher comes to believe that Kevin (more likely Dennis) is responsible for the disappearances of these girls. She takes it upon herself to go after him… What I didn’t get was if you thought that your patient is kidnapping people… why didn’t you call for back up? She goes to where she thinks Kevin may be and has a discussion with Dennis. He reveals that he has met “The Beast”, in reality a yet-to-manifest 24th personality. Fletcher realizes that there is an internal conflict between the personalities and becomes concerned that “Dennis” kidnapped the girls in order to sacrifice them to “the Beast”. She fakes going to the bathroom and finds Claire locked in the storage room. Dennis sprays her with chloroform and carries her into the living room. Dennis then buys flowers and Patricia visits a train car (presumably the same train Kevin’s father left him at.) Dennis then becomes ‘the Beast’, exhibiting physical changes such as increased muscle mass and several inches added to his already tall height. When she recovers, Dr. Fletcher writes down Kevin’s full name, knowing that the resulting awakening of his original personality will be enough to subdue him. “The Beast” arrives and kills her by crushing her torso. Poor Dr. Fetcher… and she could have saved herself and the girls if she had just called someone beforehand. But that is just me. He then proceeds to rip apart and eat both Marcia and Claire.

  • Claire vs The Beast – Casey escapes from her cell, only to find that “The Beast” has already killed and eaten some of Marcia and sees him attack Claire too. Casey finds Fletcher’s body and the piece of paper. Casey sees that the note instructs her to call out Kevin’s full name, a tactic which would call Kevin to the light and throw the Horde (other personalities) into chaos. . When the Beast closes in on her, demonstrating the ability to climb up walls, Casey uses Kevin’s real name to call him to the light. The actual Kevin (who has been restrained for years by the other personalities, and has no memory of what he has done between then and now) emerges. Upon learning of the situation and realizing that he has not been in control for two years, a horrified Kevin begs Casey to kill him with a shotgun he has hidden. She takes the gun but hesitates. Another thing I didn’t get…. Kevin hasn’t been in control for a long while and 3 people have been killed, but she doesn’t pull the trigger which made me want to pull out my hair. Kevin’s request to be shot prompts all 24 personalities to fight for control in a desperate attempt to and “Patricia” is the victor. Casey is told that “Kevin” has been made to sleep far away, and he will not awaken now even if his name is called. They once again let “The Beast” take hold. So Casey is on the run… Casey retrieves the shotgun and cartridges before escaping into a tunnel… The Beast chases her to the in the basement of where she’s been held captive in a cell. She manages to load the shotgun and shoot the beast twice as he tries to bend the bars displaying superhuman strength, but he is not harmed. “The Beast” voices his plans to rid the world of the “untouched”, those whose hearts are impure because they have never suffered in their lives. Casey doesn’t fit this bill because she is being raised by her uncle who has been molesting her for years.(That flashback was quite disturbing.) “The Beast” begins to bend apart the bars of the cage in which Casey has locked herself, but then notices numerous old, faded scars on her shoulders and lower torso. He then rejoices in the fact that she is “pure”. Concluding that troubled people are exceptional, “The Beast” spares Casey’s life and leaves. Casey is rescued by one of Kevin’s coworkers (finally!) and learns she was being held underneath the Philadelphia Zoo, where Kevin worked and lived. In another hideout, “Dennis”, “Patricia”, and “Hedwig” discuss the power of “The Beast” and their plans to change the world.


Now Glass was the movie that I was waiting for since Unbreakable. It didn’t know that I would actually get it. I wanted to know what happened with Elijah Price and then I saw the trailer. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95ghQs5AmNk). David Dunn made an appearance at the end of Split… so you couldn’t wait to see how that turns out. At least, I couldn’t. Glass is a 2019 American psychological superhero thriller film written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. The film is a crossover and sequel to Shyamalan’s previous films Unbreakable (2000) and Split (2016) and the third and final installment in the Unbreakable trilogy a.k.a. Eastrail 177 Trilogy. The premise of the movie being that the security guard David Dunn uses his supernatural abilities to track Kevin Wendell Crumb, who has kidnapped several more teenage girls to sacrifice to the beast. After pursuing Kevin Wendell Crumb and the multiple identities that reside within, David Dunn finds himself locked in a mental hospital alongside his archenemy, Elijah Price. The woman that oversees the three of them is annoying… and that is her job to be annoying and in the way… But I was so Patricia from the trailer. “I specialize in delusions of grandeur…particularly those who believe they are superheroes…” “Good for you.” As you can imagine… things get a bit interesting.

  • The Overseer vs The Beast – Early on in the movie, we see David Dunn and learn that he has been trying to sniff out Kevin Wendell Crumb/the Beast from Split alongside his son Joseph. There is a group of girls that have disappeared again. I knew it was too soon for there to be a battle between them. Three weeks after the “Horde” incident, the Dunn’s track down Kevin Wendell Crumb, the “Horde”, at an abandoned factory where he holds four cheerleaders hostage. I would like to point out that sometimes young people are right… Joseph didn’t want his father to go out that day. Saying that the police presence is too strong… and he was right… but to David’s point… the kidnapped girls were running out of time. After seeing Hedwig on the street, David manages to use his powers to see the girls trapped in an underground warehouse. The Beast is surprised that David has strength to match him. Before the fight could totally get going, armed forces led by Dr. Ellie Staple intervene and imprison them at the Raven Hill Memorial Mental Institute. Also being kept there is David’s “destined” foe and global terrorist Elijah Price, a.k.a. Mr. Glass, who is kept under sedation and is considered completely harmless.

  • Dr. Ellie Staple tries to “help” – David and Kevin are placed in separate rooms that contain unique security measures based on their weaknesses of water and light flashes respectively. (James McAvoy shines again…. it was so odd to see the lights flash and seeing him don another persona. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3tOW8j5RtUE) Elijah’s mother Mrs. Price, Joseph Dunn, and Casey Cooke, a victim who survived Kevin/the Horde’s captivity, try and fail to convince Staple superhumans are real. David, Kevin and Elijah are brought out of their cell and into a meeting together where Dr. Staple explains she believes they suffer from delusions of grandeur (which is her area of expertise and trying to convince them that they do not have superpowers.) David seems to have a crisis… we saw him have a hard time believing he had powers… now 19 years later after he has settled into and accepted his powers…. now someone is voicing some of his insecurities. In the conversation, she asks them to explain their superpower… and then uses that explanation to point out how the characteristics that describe aren’t extraordinary. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i71zp2X4XDw) David and several of Kevin’s personalities become confused and distraught while Elijah remains catatonic. I wondered what having Elijah there if he was catatonic was supposed to do. Unless Dr. Staple thought that he wasn’t really catatonic. I really enjoyed Casey’s scene with Kevin. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BukBIgMvCc) Dr. Staple talks the family members and Casey into trying to enlist their help to break David, Kevin and Elijah from their delusions.

  • Mr. Glass and the Beast team up – Elijah has revealed that he has faked his catatonic state. He escapes his room (the idea being that in the night, he scampers around the mental hospital like he owns it. Dr. Stapler at one point tells him that if they have installed cameras all over… and will be able to see if he leaves his cell…. Clearly they already know this is going on. The ending result would be a lobotomy.) Elijah escapes his cell to conduct research on Kevin before visiting him and telling him he feigned his sedated state and plans to escape the institute but requires one of Kevin’s personalities—the Beast—to help him. Elijah meets “Patricia” first… he asks her permission to meet the beast. She is happy about his manners… but issues him a warning…“For your sake, I hope he likes you.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=noakeL8pCX8) Staple discovers Elijah’s escape plan and proceeds to do a prefrontal lobotomy to silence him. Upon returning to his cell, Elijah reveals he sabotaged the surgical laser and kills his caretaker Daryl before freeing Kevin. Elijah then manipulates David into fighting the Beast by revealing his plan to destroy a chemical lab inside a new skyscraper, the Osaka Tower in Philadelphia that would kill thousands. David breaks free from his cell and pursues The Beast.

  • The Overseer vs the Beast & Mr. Glass – There is so much that happens here. Earlier in the movie, Hedwig asked who was the guy in the cell that is as strong as the beast. The trio spills out into the parking lot and reinforcements are called in. Interestingly enough… Joseph Dunn, Casey and Elijah’s mom all show up to witness the carnage. David and the Beast go at it as Elijah looks on. Elijah does tell the beast that David’s weakness is water… and in true comic book fashion David tries to help the reinforcements… (Ugh they were so in the way. I get it was their job but…. with The Beast breaking through these shields… they couldn’t pay me enough.) It is Joseph who points out what Elijah learned when looking into Kevin’s past… Kevin’s father died in the train wreck caused by Elijah Price nineteen years earlier. The implication being that had Kevin’s father not died… Kevin may not have developed DID and the Beast might not have existed…. (Here is another twist that I was not ready for. I should have known better but I didn’t.) But being the villain in his purple… Elijah doesn’t seem as though he is remorseful. He gives off the end justifies the means feeling. Despite thanking him for his creation, the Beast mortally wounds Elijah out of distrust for him. He then throws David into a water storage tank that drenches the area when he gets out. Casey manages to bring Kevin’s dormant original personality out, inadvertently allowing the police to fatally shoot him. (I figure that had to be sad for her… but he killed a lot of people. And it was his wish….) Staple’s men drown David in a flooded pothole (so… he made it out of the large water tub only to be while Staple reveals that she is part of a clandestine organization that has been suppressing the existence of superhumans for millennia to keep people from knowing about them and killing those with superhuman abilities as they see them as a threat to the balance of the world order.

I would feel bad if I didn’t mention that these movies caught a lot of flack from the medical community for it’s depiction of DID  (dissociative identity disorder) and its perceived stigmatization of mental illness. In contrast with McAvoy’s character, Deckel said, people with DID, who may represent over 1% of Americans, are rarely violent. Research has shown that they are far more likely to hurt themselves than to hurt others. But movies tend to portray only “the most extreme aspects” of the disorder, she said. Movies like Psycho and Identity that also contain violent characters with multiple personalities. This can misrepresent a form of mental health that is not well understood by the lay public, and even some psychiatrists, she said.

While I really enjoyed these movies, generally when I hear something has been directed/written by M. Night… I am not sure I am going to watch it. I think the edge he had in the beginning is lost now that people (me) go into it waiting for the plot twist. I watched Avatar… and I was as disappointed as everyone else. But it is what it is. The thrills that I allowed myself to get were fun… and I cannot stress enough how great James McAvoy was in his role. (I would love to see the bloopers or behind the scenes at some point.) But here are my top moments. Definitely drop a comment and tell me your favorites… if you have seen these movies… jump to it. That is all for now.

Quarantine Post #39: High Speed Rail Anyone?


When you have been stuck at home for over a year, you find the most random things to read about online. Did I ever think that I would be that passionate or intrigued about mass/public transit? Absolutely not. I ended up visiting Denver for work about 2 years ago and I loved it. Mostly because it was easy to get around which I did not expect in Denver. (But that is just me not having been out west before… not anything further than Texas and that was about 4 or 5 years before.) I was able to board a train in the airport and ride into Downtown Denver… it was just so easy to do. From there, I caught a free city bus… Yes Free… which dropped me off on the corner from my hotel. There were trolleys, I have nothing against rideshares… but they cropped up because in areas like where I live… it is hard to get around without a car.

The light rail ride into Downtown cost about $10. ravel from downtown to DEN (or the reverse) by train within 37 minutes.

I was really impressed with Denver’s set up because where I live is sorely lacking. I know we can get basic systems like this in place around the country.

For those that don’t know… I was born in NYC, and lived a bit in a city outside of Boston. For reference, my mother didn’t get a driver’s license until she was almost in her thirties because we moved to a more rural area in the south. She didn’t have a need for one when we were north, we did everything by the bus or train so it was an adjustment for her. We have been here for a good chunk of my life… but in my travels I have noticed that other major cities have strong public transportation and other countries have high speed rail network that extends across the country. For some reason, I had the idea that we, here in the U.S., had high speed rail. Keep in mind that I had never taken a train ride until last year, but I remember when relocating from the north to the south my dad took an Amtrak (over 20 years ago). I took that idea and ran with it apparently. Imagine my dismay to learn high speed rail is not to be just yet. With all the talk during the election about topics to tackle, a friend of mind mentioned high speed rail and I have been reading up on it ever since.

The first thing I did was compare rail maps from other regions to what we have here. I remembered that a friend of mine studied abroad in France, and that she was able to catch a train (or two) into London. So of course that was one of the first places I looked. What I found was interesting. I think that I was blown away by the transit systems in other countries and how far behind we are.

This rail map is pretty intense, and not all of it is even high speed. But it is still awesome that you can get pretty much anywhere in the country.
So apparently, China is home to the largest high speed network. It is also home to the fastest commercially operating train. Running at the top speed of 431 kph. Here is another map that I figure is pretty intricate and awesome.
Japan has a plan for construction for the next 20 years.

So I couldn’t wait to see what we had to work with in our rail system. Amtrak is the forerunner for passenger rail. Amtrak serves more than 500 destinations in 46 states and three Canadian provinces. Nearly 87,000 passengers ride more Amtrak trains daily. It is a fairly common in northern states for people to take the train to work. Many people travel into NYC for work. Nearly two-thirds of passengers come from the 10 largest metropolitan areas; 83% of passengers travel on routes shorter than 400 miles. Some track sections allow trains to run as fast as 150 mph. I was impressed with the rail system we had but anything can be improved. If you have read my blog post about my trip last year for hockey, then you know that my friend and I spent almost ten hours just trying to get from Pittsburgh into NYC. That wasn’t a big deal as when we started out but as we moved closer and closer to New York the train got more crowded and that became less fun. LOL. I enjoyed my time with Amtrak but I am sure that we can benefit from a few high speed trains that get us into major cities all around the country. My dad’s biggest complaint was the fact that the train was so slow and he didn’t exaggerate.

So this is more expansive than I thought… which is good but I know that there should be an overhaul here.
From the Amtrak website…

So why high speed rail? They’re a fast, easy, and affordable way to get around. Not to mention they are a way to combat the carbon emissions. According to the International Association of Railways (UIC), highspeed rail is eight times more energy efficient than airplanes and four times more efficient than automobile use. It will also decrease greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality. I am not necessarily a fan having to drive everywhere and that is sad because living where I live would not be possible without a car which means traffic can be a beast depending on where you are going. I am also not a fan of not having much choice in traveling. It usually either planes or driving. Driving long distances is pretty draining. With trains, they free up time that you would spend driving for the things that you actually love about travel. You can socialize, have a meal, read, and enjoy the passing scenery.

I can imagine sitting here with my family on the way to Disney, playing cards and watching the scenery go by.
It will be so much easier to bring my bike to trails around the country.

One of the first things I thought was this will be a great way to decongest highways and expressways across the country. I have friends that moved from California that talk about how bad the traffic is there. It is the same in the metropolitan area where I live now. I have lived through several attempts at widening highways, and streets… but it never seems to help… and with the population growing as it is… this solution seems to always be behind the times. According to my research, there is billions spent on wasted time and fuel costs. High-speed rail can reverse this situation – delivering 200mph transportation for every train, every day – into city centers without delays or congestion.

Another thing that crossed my mind was the alternative to flying. I have nothing against flying or airlines, but I don’t see any issues with choices. Airfare can be quite expensive depending on where you’re going. A single high speed train carries as many people as 9 airplanes. I am not a fan of having to go through airport security. I totally get it. I am totally understand the need for it but I still hate it. It takes so long. We did not have that problem when we boarded the train. It was quick and painless. We were on our way in about 10 minutes.

I mentioned lower carbon emissions earlier. I learned through research that America uses 20 million barrels of oil everyday, 70% of which is for transportation. This seems like a ridiculous amount and especially when we don’t have any alternatives. Acquiring oil requires digging up the oceans and the national forests, drilling the arctic tundra. I am not sure how much longer that can be sustainable. The type of transportation it is fueling includes all our transportation networks (cars, trucks, buses, airplanes, ships, and diesel trains.) It is my understanding that high speed rail is electric (here’s to making America greener. I am all about renewable energy.)

What was interesting that I found through my reading was that high speed rail can help with housing affordability. We have all seen the articles floating around about how millennials are not buying houses anymore. As is the case with me and everyone I know, because housing prices in the city have skyrocketed most people have had to move further outside the city to find something they can afford. This usually mean heavy reliance on cars. I live about 45 minutes from my job but with traffic I can spend up to 4 hours on the road altogether before and after work. I even have some friends that have driven farther. The theory is that high speed rail (I would argue rail in general) allows us to live in second tier cities and commute by train. By opening up so many new housing options in a region, the pressure is taken off the high price “hot spots” by leveling out pricing at the regional scale. High speed rail also spurs the development of additional rail systems such as local light rail and streetcars, which open up additional possibilities for affordable living near those stations to a wider segment of the population.

Proposed ideas of what the high speed train between Houston and Dallas would look like.

Job creation is always a good thing. And with implementing high speed rail, there will be millions of jobs in several areas across the country. It is what we need right now. A national high-speed rail system in the U.S. will create millions of well paid jobs building the infrastructure and system components, managing the rail systems and operating the stations and related real estate development. There are several fields we could see job creation in.

  • Consulting – (Design, Construct and Operate)
  • Manufacturing – (Supply Chains, making components)
  • Operations
  • Technology
  • Real Estate – (Creating walkable communities around stations.)
  • Maintenance – (Maintaining tracks and rail systems
  • Planning – (Land Planning and development)
  • System Design – (Component Design, Engineering and technology.)
  • State Design
  • Urban Design

There are a few projects that I am excited about but not so excited about the timeline on. Firstly… the expansion of the Brightline in Florida. It currently runs from West Palm Beach through Fort Lauderdale to Miami and back. They want to expand to into Orlando (Disney Parks) and into Tampa (eventually). Check out their website. (https://www.gobrightline.com/florida-expansion) It would make it easy to gather with my family in Tampa and get everyone to Disney without having to drive and paying to park.

This is supposedly under construction…. and should be complete in 2022 (the Orlando station)… Which I think is fantastic.

I read a blog about the Southeastern Rail Plan. The plan is a multi-state effort that progresses a long-term regional passenger rail vision for the Southeast. It connects the entire Southeast region and the core of the network for the SE Corridor is centered around the economic hub of Atlanta. From Atlanta, 3 high-speed lines would link the region: Atlanta to Tampa Bay via Jacksonville and Orlando, Atlanta to Nashville and Atlanta to Washington D.C. via Charlotte and Raleigh. This core service would carry about 70 percent of the region’s passenger rail travelers with service at top speeds over 125 mph. It would improve connectivity throughout the region and would strengthen the case for regional and emerging service. The entire network would then connect 70% of the region’s population directly to passenger rail, while improved transit and bus service could be built out to reach even more.

Why is it going to take 40 years?! Ugh… this is fantastic.

Apparently Brightline is also building a high speed rail system out west. It looks like Brightline West, a Brightline affiliated company, will connect the 260 miles between Las Vegas and Los Angeles. They’re looking to have the trains travel 200 mph and the expected travel time is about 3 hours. Train ticket prices will be on par with the cost of gas and parking. (I just think this is fantastic.) As is the case with South Florida, Brightline West will offer: free onboard Wi-Fi, fully ADA accessibility from station to train, a wide selection of food and beverage, checked luggage and hotel check-in services. (https://www.gobrightline.com/west-coast-expansion)

Brightline Map

High-speed trains can cut the travel time between Los Angeles and San Francisco by half, compared to driving. A combination of local and express trains will serve more than 15 cities on the main trunk line, forming the backbone for a much larger transportation system. By connecting the high speed backbone to California’s extensive network of trains and buses, it will link hundreds of cities across the state. The California High Speed Authority estimates that the state would have to build 4,300 miles of new highway lanes and 115 new airport gates to equal the passenger capacity of the new high speed rail line.

Midwest High Speed Rail seems the most interesting. I think that I am enjoying the idea that Chicago being the hub. I am all for a cheap way to get away to Chicago for a 3 day weekend. There are a lot of projects going on in the Midwest… and I am just going to summarize the few that I am super excited about. Unlike the above though… these are some ideas being thrown out for the Midwest but I am not showing any real movement in this. But I will list them here because I like these and they should be done.

CrossRail Chicago – CrossRail Chicago is a vision to bring fast, frequent and reliable trains through Chicago and Cook County by upgrading existing tracks. CrossRail would create a north-south link that serves frequent commuter trains, airport express trains, and fast intercity trains from around the Midwest. This passenger rail corridor would provide effortless travel, serving both high-speed intercity trains and frequent, all-day commuter trains. It would allow direct access to O’Hare, not only from downtown, but from the entire Midwest. CrossRail Chicago would link together the Metra Electric Line and Metra’s Milwaukee District West and North Central Line. The program would consist of four major initiatives that eliminate bottlenecks and upgrade the entire route to modern standards with overhead electrification. It would separate passenger rail traffic from freight traffic, providing fast, seamless travel on clean, quiet electric trains. CrossRail Chicago will be a modern, electric railroad that can serve many types of trains and every type of traveler, from everyday commuter to business and leisure travelers. CrossRail Chicago will be a modern, electric railroad that can serve many types of trains and every type of traveler, from everyday commuter to business and leisure travelers.

For businesspeople and conventioneers, CrossRail creates a fast, one-seat ride between O’Hare, Union Station, and McCormick Place. It makes it easy to get to the University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of Chicago, and Chicago State University. And, it gives visitors and locals alike easy access to Millennium Park, the Museum Campus, Soldier Field, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Obama Presidential Center, and the Pullman National Monument.

O’Hare Direct – O’Hare is the Midwest’s gateway to the world. It has more international destinations than all other airports in the Midwest combined. But it is hard to get to. I have a lot of family in Chicago who complain about getting there. A Midwest high-speed rail network would put 45 million people within a 3-hour train ride of O’Hare. Most trips will take much less than that, of course. There are 3 ideas that they want to focus on for this:

  • A train station at the airport – A new ground transportation hub is part of the ongoing O’Hare expansion. It could be where rental cars, hotel shuttles, and regional buses are housed. It will be connected to the terminals by the airport transit system. Adding a train station here would make it easy to hop off the train and catch the airport shuttle to your terminal. Trains from all over the Chicago region and around the Midwest could stop here.
  • Select track upgrades – The tracks are already in place for trains from Chicago Union Station, but O’Hare needs trains from more than just downtown. By adding track to existing Metra lines, trains from around the Chicago region—and the entire Midwest—can stop at O’Hare. We can replace puddle jumping flights. With the later addition of new high-speed track, these trains from around the Midwest can even be faster than flying. (Sounds like all pluses to me.)
  • New trains – Once the station and tracks are in place, the trick is to run the right kind of trains. The aging cars that Metra and Amtrak use today require you to climb stairs, which is difficult when you’re carrying luggage. Modern train equipment has bigger doors with fewer or no steps to climb. They have luggage racks near the doors and wide aisles that make it easy to get on and off. They also have spaces for bikes and are easier to use for people in wheelchairs. And With modern locomotives, trains are quieter, cleaner and more fuel efficient. 

O’Hare Express – (This is more of an idea in the works. Not sure yet where they will land on this. But this sounds great.) The City of Chicago should partner with Metra to create an express train that links Ogilvie Station and O’Hare Terminal 2 with a trip of 25 minutes or less. The service will slash travel times by roughly half and make O’Hare much more accessible. The express line should have departures every 15 minutes during normal operation and every 7 minutes during peak hours, with two-tiered pricing—$10 for tourist class and $25 for business class. The full ride—O’Hare to downtown—should take 25 minutes (or less). The line could have intermediate stops at River Grove and Fulton Market. The service should also have full integration with the CTA’s Ventra card, offering convenient tap-on/tap-off boarding and exiting. They should do this make this happen people. Union Station is one option for the downtown terminus, but Ogilvie Station is easier to navigate. The most likely route would run from one of these stations through the A2 interchange and along tracks owned by Metra and CN Rail, stopping at River Grove and Fulton Market.

The Chicago – St. Louis 110 MPH Project – The Chicago – St. Louis Lincoln Corridor is a great project—but it’s taking longer than we had expected. This shared-use line linking Chicago and St. Louis.  There are 5 daily trains a day.  The 300-mile trip takes roughly 5 hours and 30 minutes. The Joliet to East St. Louis portion was completely rebuilt. All the grade crossings have been rebuilt and improved, with gates that are harder to drive around and systems to detect trapped vehicles. It looks like all the signals have been replaced with state-of-the-art technology.

Some other proposed ideas that seem like great ideas.

Wisconsin – Cities across Wisconsin—including Green Bay, Madison, Eau Claire, and LaCrosse—are pushing for new or upgraded Amtrak lines to their communities. Residents are already using the Empire Builder to move around within the state, even though it offers just one round trip per day. Wisconsin already has a great foundation for creating a game-changing passenger rail network. Faster trains and more frequent service will build support for an expanding network that ties the state together and helps support our tourism industry.

Michigan – Michigan needs a gold-standard rail network that shows the power of trains to drive economic development and promote environmental sustainability. Trips to every part of the state—as well as Chicago, Cleveland and Toronto—should be fast, affordable, and convenient. About 80 percent of Michigan lives within 25 miles of an Amtrak station; 85 percent live within 50 miles of one. That population density near train stations means Michigan’s railroads are a remarkable, but under-utilized asset.

Texas – Houston to Dallas – I went to Dallas about 7 years ago in 2014. I enjoyed it. I am not sure I knew how far Houston was from Dallas. (About 4 hours). This proposal would see this commute shortened to about 90 minutes. The electrified trains will run at maximum speeds of 205 m.p.h., and the trip will take 90 minutes. That’s 2 hours less than driving and about an hour less than flying (including airport terminal time). The trains will run 18 hours per day, with departures every half hour during peak periods. I-45, which connects Dallas and Houston, is the second deadliest road in the U.S. By offering riders a safe and stress-free 90-minute trip, the Texas Central line will reduce traffic on I-45 by about 15,000 vehicles each day. Sounds like a no brainer to me. Texas Central is now waiting on two things: the completion of an Environmental Impact Statement and the approval of a new set of safety standards—called a Rule of Particular Applicability—by the Federal Railroad Administration.

So that is enough word vomit from me. In the end, this is a great idea, the issue is going to be trying to get it up and running. Looks like Florida is the front runner. Keep in mind trains are greener and will help lower carbon emission. It will be a better travel experience than being stuck in traffic… you can actually engage with your travel party. And I can imagine all of the jobs that this would help create. Seems fantastic to me. Anyways, as always be sure to drop your thoughts below.