Sunday, December 22, 2013

Goodbye, CandleStick Park

I only ever got to go to one 49er game (the only NFL game I've really ever been to, actually) and it was a preseason game against Seattle in '96 I think it was. Naturally,  the Niners won that game.
( side story: I gotten trouble after I got home from the game because I lied and told my mom that The bus I was taking home didn't show up till later, however we stayed and were on "the point after" post game show on KTVU. Since we are in the front and my mom watch the game she saw me on TV and caught me. Grounded for two weeks for lying.)

But for me, memories of BEING at candlestick ( or 3com or whatever they changed it too then changed it back to...) will ALWAYS be about San Francisco Giants baseball. 

I can remember, Clearly, in 1990 when my cousin Michael took me to my first game at The Stick. I was in the fourth grade and won some award that got me free Giants tickets. The game was in either April or May and I think my dad was supposed to take me but unfortunately he passed away in March of that year. My cousin took me and it's a day and game I've never forgotten. The San Francisco Giants lost the San Diego Padres with Kevin Mitchell popped up in the 9th. 
A few years later it was me who is the older cousin taking my cousin Chris to his first baseball game. 
It was during one of those games with Chris that I got my first and thus far only ball caught during batting practice. The ball ricocheted off one of the bleachers at candlestick and though he was caught on the bottom of a dog pile of people trying to get that ball... it rolled right over to me. I quickly tossed my hat over it and it was mine . ALL MINE. I have it to this day.
I Remember one Sunday in 1997 when my mom just randomly said "hey, do you want to go to a giants game this afternoon?" Naturally the answer was yes. I also Remember from that same game, her buying me a Giants shirt  that, I think, celebrated 40 years the team were in San Francisco..  I wore that shirt for so long, for years after, until it practically had holes in it and then I used it as a pajama shirt. 
Games with friends. Games ( both Giants and Niners) on TV. Wishing I was there in 1989 to see the the Battle Of The Bay World Series and then immediately not wishing I was there when the earthquake hit. 
Will Clark. Kevin Mitchell. Robby Thompson. Dave Dravecky. Joe Montana and Jerry Rice. Steve Young. When neon Deion played for both the Giants and the Niners. Matt Williams .Barry Bonds. and being frustrated as hell when Rod Beck would blow a save. 
You know,  I might not have not realized it till just now but candlestick does represent a little bit of my childhood and several great memories that flood my mind at the mere mention of its name. 

I'm sure you, reading this right now, might feel the same way too. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Whatever happend to good customer service at Disneyland?

Several weeks ago I wrote an email to disney parks talking about the poor customer service I received on my last trip to Disneyland . 
In the letter I mentioned how if this last experience is any indication and the legendary customer service they USED to provide is gone... Then this email will probably go unnoticed .
It's been weeks... Thus far, my email has gone unresponsed.
Here is the original email: 

To whom it may concern ,

I've been hesitant to send this email. 

I hate that I feel the need to complain about places, Disneyland and California Adventure, that I love so much. However, I realize, it is BECAUSE I love your parks so much that I want you to notice an awful change taking place. What I'm talking about is the death of the legendary customer service your parks pride themselves on.

First, some background:
My wife and I do not live a life of luxury. Both hard workers, we get by paycheck to paycheck. Using the little money we have scraped together we decided, in May of this year, for our five year anniversary, to buy Disneyland Annual Passes.
Both of us are lifelong Disney fans (it was, in fact, on our first trip to Disneyland together that I proposed infront of the castle) and we always look forward to leaving the grind of working in the Bay Area and enjoying the wonder your parks provide. Our first trip this year, May 2013 was fantastic. 

When we decided to go back in 
September, we noticed a change... And not for the better.

After walking into Disneyland and enjoying a few rides we decided to park hop to California Adventure. However, before we could exit from Main St. we were stopped by a cast member asking if we would want to take a survey about any purchases of food we might've made during our time in the park. There was a number of cast members asking people if they would like to take the survey. And like the rest, this particular woman talking to us was polite ( at first). Before we could give her an answer she started asking the first question so my wife said, " oh, no thank you. Maybe we can take the survey later?"
This is when the cast members mood changed and she looked up from her electronic tablet she was using and told us, sharply, "FINE. WHY ARE YOU WASTING MY YIME THEN..." Before walking off.
We were stunned. The people next to us who heard were shocked too.

I would like to think this cast member was simply having a bad day, however later I would realize this poor display of customer service was NOT an isolated incident.

While eating lunch at California Adventure at the Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill we waited patiently while the only woman behind the register finished her conversation with another cast member. They were talking about what they had planned later that night. Once they were done the register woman looked at us and said,  " now WHAT do you want?" She was mad/annoyed that our waiting in line to order food was somehow interrupting her personal conversation .

The food was great... The people helping us buy it, not so much...

However, the worst was yet to come...

Later that day, in California Adventure, while exiting the Twilight Zone Tower Of Terror, we found cast members clearing a pathway for people to get by while an upcoming parade was about 15 min from starting. As I walked by I stepped off the curb wrong and fell to the ground, cutting my knee and seriously spraining my ankle in the process. Strangers waiting for the parade came over and asked if I was okay, asking if I needed help up ( I was still on the floor at this point). But instead of offering help, when your cast member came up to me, she started yelling, " SIR YOU NEED TO GET UP AND KEEP MOVING, I NEED TO KEEP THIS SPACE CLEAR SO PEOPLE CAN WALK !!!" I was still on the ground at this point, rubbing my ankle ( which I thought I had broke, but thankfully I did not). My wife and a few strangers said,  "can't you see he fell" to which your cast member replied, " I DONT CARE. YOU JUST NEED TO KEEP MOVING. I NEED THIS AREA CLEAR SO PEOPLE CAN WALK !"
With assistance from strangers I got up and hobbled over to the entrance of the Tower to sit for a second and see if my knee was bleeding but this same cast member came overly  and yelled " YOU CANT SIT, KEEP MOVING !! I NEED TO KEEP THIS AREA CLEAR SO PEOPLE CAN WALK THROUGH !!"
I limped from the Tower Of Terror to the first empty benches we could find, by Cars Land, in pain because of this woman. My ankle was swollen and hurting. The walk to our hotel was a slow and painful one . These incidents occurred on the first day of our trip and my ankle was bad enough that we were forced to cut our vacation short and return home the next day.

For years I know Disney parks have prided themselves on outstanding customer service. It's something I've come to expect and enjoy when visiting. And it's, sadly, something I found to be lacking on this most recent trip.

As Annual Pass members we had planned to visit  the park several more times in this year and the next. A trip for my birthday in November (in which we were thinking of splurging and staying at one of your on site hotels ) has been put on hold.

 We can be treated poorly at six flags for much less money, at Disney parks, you EXPECT the best. The best rides. The best shopping. The best dining. And yes, the best customer service and connections. Both my wife and I work in the service industry, dealing with people everyday and we know what legendary customer service looks and feels like, having provided just that for our customers on a daily basis.
I could let the rude cast members slide, but to not offer a man assistance when he's fallen is not only poor customer service on your part, but it's just plain rude. 

So that this doesn't go unnoticed, so that this doesn't happen to anyone else, THAT is the reason I felt I should write.

Hopefully , I'll hear back from you. But if the customer service in the park is a reflection of the NEW way Disney does things... I'm sure this email will go unnoticed. And ignored.

But it hope I'm wrong....

Thank you for reading, 
Tom Valdespino

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Johnny Lawrence , the real Karate Kid

WARNING, THE FOLLOWING RANT CONTAINS SPOILERS FROM A MOVIE FROM 1984... (which you shouldve seen at least once by now):

I mean, homie comes to your school, plays a prank on you on halloween, F'n up your skeleton costume... gets THE SUPERINTENDENT FROM HIS  BUILDING ( who just happens to know a few moves) to kick your ass.... THEN, he tries (and eventually does) steal your chick. ... And after all that he trains for like A WEEK and beats you in ( the one thing your good at, the one thing you have left) a karate tournament ... The more I watch the original Karate Kid the more I dislike Daniel-San ... At the end, taking the high road, our REAL protagonist JOHNNY LAWRENCE  has tears in his eyes as he hands Daniel the trophy...Which Daniel grabs and celebrates with ( also leaves with Johnny's girl) and I ask you, my peeps, WHO was the bully here? In that situation , wouldn't you have swept the leg too...?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

R.I.P. Michael Jackson

June 25, 2009 I was at my moms house when I heard Michael Jackson died.

 I remember Mel calling me from her work when she heard the news. we were shocked. It's still kinda weird ... We had never met michael jackson... And yet, there was a sense of loss that we felt, as if someone we had known our whole lives had just passed. And I guess, in a sense, personally speaking, that's kind of  true. 

I ( and prob you reading this) have listened to his music our entire lives. It had always been around. 

For a child of the 80s like myself, one of my earliest musical memories was dancing to "Thriller". My parents had the video for "the making of Thriller"  on VHS... and beta max ( whats beta max? look it up kids) 

The drive home on that day in 2009 was bittersweet. We had all lost a legend. Yet, the radio (KMEL) made a fantastic MJ mega mix that I couldn't help but enjoy the hell out of as I listened to hit after hit (and a few Jackson 5 covers I never knew existed till then).

I have no reservations saying that I miss Michael Jackson. I could care less about what happened in his personal life ... I choose to remember the genius who helped provide so many musical memories that define the soundtrack of my life. 

It's been years since the sun set on his life and yet his music is still on the radio. And still played regularly at our house.... I suspect it always will. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

An update on the comic...

A few people have asked me recently, " How's the comic going?" And my usual answer is, " okay. Going slow though." Which, I guess, is true. 

For those not in the know ( and if ya Don't know now you know) in short I'm writing/drawing / eventually self-publishing my own comic. Eventually I might turn it into a whole graphic novel but I want to see how this first comic does. And the process on how to do it. 

 This project started last year in fall semester at DVC. I learned about a comic book contest given by the school through my English class. My comic was about My Uncle. There were around 100 entries. I was one of 12 winners. I won some art supplies and went to an award ceremony. It was hella cool to say the least. And while my artistic ability is lacking ( i hope to improve on this) they liked the story and the way it was written. 

The subject matter is serious and, at times, heartbreaking (it's not easy to write) but his story is one that people to relate to. Everyone, at some point, has seen someone they love in pain.

Because of the award and the encouragement ( both from the teachers who've read it and my famiy at home) I kept writing . Kept drawing. 

Progress , with work & school, has been slow but now in summer I start what I feel is the last section (chapter?) before I attempt to self publish.

Formatting and self publishing is something I don't really know ANYTHING about so it might take some time. 

I'm using a medium which I've loved my whole life, yet never thought I'd be creating something in. But more than that it simply feels good to be writing again.

When I do publish. I will let you know. Bring money. Haha. 

Thank you for reading. Thank you for your support.


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tommy's 1st year of college

Last year,  I went back to school and took my first college class in more than a decade. God, that makes me sound old. 
Unsure and scared i was setting myself up for dissapointment ( I had never been more than a lifelong C student)  I went into the unknown at DVC on that  first day of class. However, I ended up getting an A in that summer 2012 class. Never did I think I would get an A in every class I Subsequently took this  year. 
I won an award for a  comic I wrote & drew ( and will continue to work on this summer) . Because of this award and another comic i was in school paper twice this year . But the biggest deal... 
For the first time EVER, in my academic life, I have a 4.0 GPA. 

I'm VERY  proud of myself and thank you to all the people who supported me this year. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Trading Cards... Tommy was all about that life !!

Trading cards were big when I was a kid, much bigger than they are today. I remember buying packs of Garbage Pale Kids , DC, basketball ( Shaq rookie cards) & baseball cards, cards about TV shows.  GI Joe cards were big for me
and , my favorite, Marvel Cards ( I had the holograms for the first 2 series... BE JEALOUS !!)
 Back then they were only, at most, $1 
( I think KB toys had marvel cards for .75 cents)
... The other day I saw Pokemon cards at target for $6 ... For ONE PACK ?!?

Anywho, my point was I liked trading cards. 

Today I came across an ad for a comic mini series based on an 80s trading card series called DINOSAURS Attack !!
i don't remember this series at all but.. A  quick search on google images and SHIT !! I'd have been all over this a a little Tommy and am kinda looking forward to reading at least issue # 1 in July. 

I wonder where all my trading cards went too . One day I might go searching for them... 
Wonder how much they are worth.

Also, can't understate this enough, the razor blade sharp gum they packaged with each of these was ALWAYS gross. If they still have them I assume the recipe hasn't changed...

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A reading from the book of Swanson

" I've never had a hangover. If I feel I've had too much whisky , I cook myself a large steak with salted butter, put on some wet socks. And I go to bed." - Ron Swanson

Monday, April 22, 2013

Goodbye to The Dome in Pleasant Hill

When I first moved to walnut creek I went to see movies in The Dome by myself alot.

I watched "Indiana Jones & The Crystal Skull" . I watched "Wanted" and a bunch of other movies. "Garden State" i think. " Blood Diamond" . "Cloverfield " might've been in there somewhere.

Sometimes, i brought my own food. sometimes i brought my own drinks ( mixed or otherwise). i got candy from dollar tree next door. Being new to the town i didn't know anyone to go to movies with. Or anyone who might like the same movies I did.

Later on, when she and me became we , I'd found someone to go see independent films with. And someone to drag to Comic book movies. We watched "Like Crazy" which was good. And "Year One" which wasn't. "(500 days of) Summer". Perhaps a "Fast & Furious"

There are lots I'm forgetting.

It was at The Dome that Mel & I went to see the greatest superhero movie I've ever seen. " The Dark Knight".

It's weird to write a "eulogy" of sorts about a movie theatre. It was weird to hear it was closing.

My final memory of The Dome is not of the movies I watched but rather of the building itself. That big domed theatre was FRIGGIN COLD , even for someone, like myself, who seldom IS cold, I always remembered to bring a jacket.

I'll miss The Dome in Pleasant Hill. I don't think I'm the only one a bit sad to see it take its final curtain call.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Mike Tyson, member of The Grateful Dead

Heard some music at work that reminded me of Mike Tyson's "Punch Out !!" , the montage were little Mac is training with his plus sized trainer ( Doc I think his name was) . It's a typical 80s beat.
Anywho, a song similar sounding came on at work today. It was the song " Touch Of Grey" by The Greatful Dead. It is, in all honesty, the only Dead song I've ever heard.
I'm saying though.. did The Greatful Dead secretly write the score for Mike Tyson's "Punch Out"?!??"
Was Tyson secretly in the band ?
And WHY did I always have trouble beating Great Tiger ?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Harrison Ford HAS a sense of humor ?!?

I thought it was funny

Shrinky dinks

I Specifically remember my mom getting me transformers ones at the Woolworth's ( kids be like, what's that ?!?) in the excelsior district.
Thinking about it now, a toy you color , then BAKE IN THE F'N OVEN till its plastic you play with seems crazy dangerous & had to give off some kind poison fumes or whatever...
That said I might've gotten some he-man ones too but I remember TF specifically

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Award winning shoutout ...

Class started like this tonight:

"Before we get started today I just wanted to make mention , that last week one of your classmates, Tom Valdespino , won an award here at DVC for a graphic novel he's writing.. I wanted to go to the ceremony but couldn't but some of the other teachers in the department were talking about it.. Tom, stand up.
( People gave a polite golf clap)
Here is the website and you can check out his comic... I'll put it up on the screen. It's a great and emotional story. Are you still working on it?"
( I nod yes.)
" great. It was just fantastic. Okay, let's get started..."


Hella cool moment.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


"Later on that day my homie Dre came through with a gang of Tanqueray..."

Lord Voldemort... Defense against the dark arts teacher ?

Was watching "Harry Potter and the sorcerers Stone" recently and... it occurs to, Voldemort possessed Prof. quarrel sometime in the summer, right? So knowing the professor had to return to Hogwarts in the fall , does that mean that, he spent at least PART of the summer, after taking over Quarrell, making lesson plans for the year ... than later, grading papers at Hogwarts ? I mean, in between drinking unicorn blood or whatever they at least HAD TO TRY to keep up appearances that he (Quarrell) was a real teacher ( so nobody got suspicious). Now I know you might say they shared the same body and he didnt take over total possession but you think the prof could've said , at one point, "Hey, My Lord, do ya think this paper deserves a B and A- ? " in a way was He Who Must Not Be Named living out some weird dream of his to teach at his beloved school? Did he ever think to himself, "Voldie, you taught a great lesson today, you deserve this huge cup of unicorns blood."
And I wonder if the dark Lord graded fairly ?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Fila Grant Hills

I remember the summer almost all of my cousins got this shoe.

Mine was the white on white.

Might have to get a pair if it comes out.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

What's better than comics ? HOW'S ABOUT FREE COMICS !!

What's better than comics? HOW'S ABOUT FREE COMICS !!

While getting my award they had stacks of free comics and I was told I could take whatever I wanted. I picked up a few things I'd never heard of/never read. I was happy with my picks.

- Stumptown: I had no idea what it was about . This was the fourth issue of what looked to be a good detective story, I'd be interested in checking out the other issues. Artwork was fantastic .This story is set in Portland and features characters from the writers other works.

The Sixth Gun: like Stumptown, I went into reading The Sixth Gun not knowing anything and read a good issue # 1 . A supernatural western that was real interesting. I, no doubt, want to read more.

Two great reads Oni Press !!

Got one other thing ...

I remember the show Tales From The Crypt from when it was on HBO way back in the day , I think in the 1980s. I never read the comic before and I was looking forward to checking out the old stories.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Bacon Scope and how Tommy easily falls for nerdy April Fools pranks...

Saw a video and thought THIS:

Holy. Shit.

Is this for real for reals ??


Set to debut April 1st. Well played Scope. Nice April fools joke.

Other April fools jokes I've been excited for:

- In 1992, EGM ( that's electronic gaming monthly ya'all ) posted a story about a hidden character you could fight after M. Bison, an old guy who taught Ryu & Ken, though it was nigh impossible to unlock him...

- In Wizard magazine they mentioned a comic book sequel to The Goonies featuring them in high school called "The Goonies : The Search For Sloth" ... totally fell for that and even asked comic stores when it was coming out... Should've just bought the next issue where they said APRIL FOOLS... Though I still think they should make a comic book continuation of the movie. The kids will NEVER get old and, shit, if they can make "Buffy" and " Smallville" why NOT continue the adventures of Mikey, Mouth, Data & Chunk.

Some April fools jokes I thought was real, later on REALLY HAPPEND... Kids, Wikipedia the game "Battletoads/Double Dragon"

Course, now that I've blogged about it, if you read about an actual Goonie comic happening... You can expect a huge YOUR WELCOME from ya boy.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Greatest day of the year... So far.

From finishing "Love Is A Mix Tape" to shrimp ceviche for breakfast to winning a award for my writing/work on my comic to getting free art supplies to having cheese ice cream from Guanatos to reading magazines & listening to music to getting my seafood Buffett on to coming home to watch a battle of the bay ball game (sadly Gmen lost) ... TODAY WAS THE BEST DAY I'VE HAD ALL YEAR.

Best of all was that Mel had the day off too and, for reals, I don't think this day would've been half as good had she not been right next to me all day.

Today will be hard to top. Though I'd enjoy a few more days like this...

Wouldn't we all.

Tommy Valdespino... Award winning Writer !!!

Been waiting for a LONG time to write this : TOMMY VALDESPINO , award winning writer!!

The James O'Keefe Prize for Graphic Literature was a contest open to any student at DVC. The objective was to create a comic ( could be one page, could be several - up to you) about anything . ANYTHING. I found out about this in my English class ( The graphic novel as literature. Awesome class) and wrote & drew a personal comic about my Uncle Bobby.
There were over 100 entries . Ya boy was one of 12 winners.
I won " The Newcomer" award and went to an award ceremony ( Mel went too ). They called my name and people clapped.
There was no cash prize but I did get some art supplies. And my comic was published online.
You can read it ... Here :

( This is just a bit of what i now have... a #TOMexclusive if you will...)

More than anything else when my comic was mentioned they talked about how well it was written. The fact that they enjoyed something I wrote.. And that it was even CONSIDERED to win anything, let alone that IT ACTUALLY DID win something... . THAT, more than anything else, was the best part of what I took from this months long experience.

When, not if, I get this published & into stores... I'll let you know...

Thank you for reading and your support.