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The Great American Road Trip - 2 - History And Barbecue

Posted by Sumiki , in The Great American Road Trip May 17 2012 · 131 views

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Today's adventure started early in the morning - earlier than I think we expected. The fact that we are in Central Time has worked to our benefit. Breakfast - a meal that I would not otherwise remark upon - was interesting. They had a waffle iron at the hotel breakfast, and beside of it was a rather large dispenser that slowly oozes batter if you press the appropriate button. Well, I had a hankering for a waffle (there wasn't much else besides it, to be honest), so I made one.

As it turns out, the waffle might cook in its iron casing, but you can't very well get it out once it's in there. My mom had to come over with a few prongs to help me coerce the apparently shy waffle out of its shell. Then I ate it.

My dad had done a little research and found out that the home of President Andrew Jackson, called "The Hermitage," was just outside of Nashville, right on our way in. It's over 1,000 acres of land, the prime focus of which was the mansion - which, we were informed, had been built, added onto, burned, and then completely rebuilt again. It was re-completed just a few weeks before Jackson's second term was up and he came home to it. (In ... 1837, I believe it was, he became the only president to pay off the national debt. Later in the same year there was an assassination attempt on his life, which provided a kind of irony.)

We were provided with these dorky headsets, and we occasionally punched in a number corresponding to a particular sign. Soon we realized that the voice of the lady in our ears was not telling us much more knowledge than that which could be gained by reading the signs.

When we got to the house, we could barely hear our tour guide over the wheezing, scratching, incessant cough of another tour guide, who loudly informed one of her co-workers that yes, she already had a Ricola in her mouth, and that no, he didn't need water, her water bottle was inside. Once inside, we were shown around the house, where - among other interesting tidbits - that Jackson was a lawyer who specialized in helping old Revolutionary War veterans settle land disputes, as the government had often given them land in lieu of money for their service. Often, he was paid in land as well, and he eventually got thousands and thousands of acres of land across various southern states, so he got his start in the real estate business.

Jackson was also an avid reader to make up for his lack of education (he only completed the fourth grade). He subscribed to newspapers all over the United States, and found them to be such a valuable resource that he'd never, ever throw one away, instead choosing to have them bound in thick tomes that must have been quite a production to lift. Aside from the newspapers, he had a personal library of over 700 books, many of which are still in his library room. There were also bells on the outside of the house, which were attached to springs, which were in turn controlled from controls in various rooms of the house. The dining room was also ornate, with a floor covering that looked like linoleum. Jackson himself didn't sit at the head of the table, preferring to sit somewhere in the middle "so I could have two ladies on either side." (Jackson's wife died a few months prior to his inauguration.) Jackson also began the tradition of sitting next to the incoming president on the ride to the inauguration.

Outside, on the Hermitage grounds, the garden and surrounding buildings (mostly where slaves worked and slept) were bypassed by us, as most of what they would say would be things that we already would have known from visiting other historical sights. I wouldn't have minded poking around a bit more, but time was marching on and the grounds were swarming with hordes upon hordes of school kiddies.

We then properly headed into Nashville. The Nashville Sounds, the Triple-A minor league affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, weren't in town, but we didn't know when we'd ever be back, so we wanted to see if the shop was open so we could get a pennant for the basement collection. The front-office lady, who was very nice, explained that the person who ran the shop was out having lunch at the moment. We were going to stay in Nashville for a little while longer before heading on down to Memphis, so we headed back on out.

There were four or five different local places to eat at, and eventually - deciding that we wanted Greek - went to a place called Athens Family Restaurant, where the gyros came with tangy tzatziki sauce and bits of my mom's lamb kept flopping out of her blatantly overstuffed pita. The fries came with feta cheese on top, which, given the meal, was decidedly better than ketchup. While they served things that could be found at pretty much any Greek place, they did it well.

Next, we went back to the Sounds ballpark, in the hope that we'd be able to get into the shop and get a pennant. The front office lady was as surprised as was probably possible for her when she realized that, though lunch hour was most definitely over, there was no one to help us. A few minutes later, a fellow showed up and led us through the empty stadium to the shop - all for six dollars. (Tennessee residents, I have found, are very nice folks. I can't count how many times the residents have, en masse, been cordial in ways that I'm not used to seeing.)

Directly next to Herchel Greer Stadium was a place called Fort Negley, which defended Nashville during the Civil War. Nashville was the second-most fortified city during the war, second only to Washington, D.C. We walked around it a bit and took a number of pictures, remarking on its advantageous location on a large hill. The man who met us in the building was a former NC resident, so we talked for a bit about how much it's changed and grown over the past decades.

After having walked along the asphalt and gravel trail completely around (and on top of) the remains of Fort Negley, we hopped back in our car. Memphis was in our sights. (To alleviate any potential hotel issues, we'd been able to book one yesterday.)

Side note: Tennessee has some strange geography. Its eastern mountains gradually morph into hills, which in turn gradually morph into rolling terrain, which gradually flatten out. I was driving along a particularly empty section of highway when our trip odometer showed that we'd gone 600 miles so far. That is, at the most, just one-tenth of the total distance that we'll be going. Aside from Knoxville, Nashville, Jackson, and Memphis, the state is campestral countryside that looks as if it belongs in a painting instead of real life. Metropolitan areas are aberrations.

I drove all the way into Memphis, eventually making in to Neely's Barbecue, the original restaurant owned by the now-famous-for-being-on-Food-Network couple of Pat and Gina Neely. The building was bought from a place called "Ireland's" and some of the interior design is still somewhat reminiscent of a pub. The smell of cooking barbecue fills your nostrils as you walk in, intensifying as you adjourn into a dimly lighted area. A picture of the Neelys, with Guy Fieri making an inane face as usual, is one of the most eye-catching, mostly due to Fieri's ridiculous two-tone hair. Another picture has them with the cast of the Today Show.

The actual dining area looked as if it had been used quite a bit - gashes in the booths were covered with strips of duct tape, and there was what appeared to be barbecue sauce ... on the ceiling. Whether this was a product of a kid's saucy hands wilding catapulting dollops of delicious sauce up into the air, or the result of a particularly hungry person exploding, we didn't ask. All in all, it didn't look neglected as much as it looked like it has been really popular for a really long time. If the food was as good as the batch served to us, then I can see why. I ordered juicy, buttery ribs whose meat was literally falling off of the bone. I'm not sure how I kept it on the bone in order to eat it - I think I used the bone as a sort of makeshift utensil. My mom got the pulled pork, slathered with delicious, mouthwatering, ever-so-slightly-spicy barbecue sauce. My dad got the beef brisket, which was only slightly less tender than my ribs but still delightful. Our meals got shared, which is why I can relate what the other meals were like. (I was just surprised that they were willing to give up such delicious food for sampling benefit.)

I really cannot describe how good it was. It was easily the best barbecue and ribs I have ever had. It'll be hard to get excited about lesser versions of barbecue again ... though I remember that my mom has a Neely's cookbook. Of course, we heard they had dessert there, so we couldn't pass up the prospect of pecan pie.

Oh, man, that pecan pie. Going there just for the pie would be totally acceptable in my mind. The pie was just melt-in-your mouth delicious - a warm, delightful little slice of gelatinized heaven underneath a layer of pecan. My mom loved it so much that she took a picture of the decimated slice that we had so hungrily descended upon with our forks.

Tomorrow, we'll visit something that we didn't know was in Memphis at this time: something called the World Barbecue Championship, where competitors from all 50 states and 8 foreign countries come to pit their pits and pork against each other. While, for food safety reasons, visitors cannot eat the competitor's barbecue, you can sample previous winner's fare as well as do some "people's choice" voting. I guess we'll figure it out when we get there. After that, we'll at least get to Fort Smith, and possibly Oklahoma City.


The Great American Road Trip - 1 - Go West, Young Man

Posted by Sumiki , in The Great American Road Trip May 16 2012 · 64 views

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The Great American Road Trip really started last night.

Last night, I compiled the places that Guy Fieri has visited for his "Diner's, Drive-Ins, and Dives" show on the Food Network. (Anyone who has seen the show will attest that it just makes you want to hop in the car and go to the places he eats at just to stuff your face with what he's stuffed his face with.) I listed them by state, then further by city, so as we pass through places we can sample local fare in the stead of fast-food joints. I went (roughly) by our expected route. I also added an appendix listing all the major and minor league baseball ballparks that are along the way - and I expect to accrue massive amounts of pennants by the time we return.

We got started at precisely 2:20 PM, and made good, uneventful time down I-40. Aside from the occasional rest area, our first real "stop" of the day came in Knoxville, TN, where we encountered the first of the many local joints that we will inevitably visit in order to sample their food: a little hole-in-the-wall called Pizza Palace. While its surroundings have clearly seen their better days, Pizza Palace retains a sort of nostalgic air of americana about it. For example, all of its parking spots are drive-ins, and it recently celebrated their 50th anniversary. The building is still the same, though sadly some of it doesn't look like it's been updated too much. A picture of Fieri - complete with goofy hair and even goofier grin - modestly hangs near its inspection certificate.

We didn't see much point in sticking around in our cars for even longer - we needed to stretch our legs a bit - so we headed on in. We ordered the same things that Fieri when he visited in 2007: a pizza, spaghetti, and a half-batch of onion rings.

While the food they served was not anything absurd, creative, or even remotely inventive, what they made was of excellent quality - and boy, do they give you a lot of food. For 21 dollars, only the pizza's size was anything like we expected when we ordered. The "half-batch" of onion rings might have been mistaken for one of the smaller of the Smoky Mountains. The pizza had probably the most delicious crust I've ever had, though it got progressively thinner towards the middle. This was rather an issue - the cheese was piled up so high on this pizza that it took multiple hands and utensils to keep it from sliding off. The spaghetti - which came with meat sauce - was second only to my mom's recipe, and even then it gave it a good run for its money. The spaghetti portion was so monstrous that the lady that took our order originally asked if we wanted the kid's size. We realized this was just for manageability's sake. (Funnily enough, as soon as we showed slight trepidation in ordering, she asked us if we'd seen them on TV. We said yes, as the kitchen seemed somewhat familiar.)

Last item about Pizza Palace: we were all surprised to note the sheer variety of people who made up their clientele. Businesspeople driving Lexuses to construction workers to folks that looked like they were a few notches above being a bum all drove in, ordered, and upon inevitable satisfaction, drove out again.

There are five places like this to eat at in Nashville, and nine more places in Memphis. There are none in Arkansas, though Oklahoma City has five candidates for our gastronomical delight. From there, we plan on heading south to Dallas/Fort Worth, then moseying our way on over to the Grand Canyon.

After eating in Knoxville, and concluding that the Tennessee Smokies minor league team was too far out of our way to get a pennant and/or hat, we thought about where we'd stop. If we'd stopped in Knoxville, we would have had nothing to to except sit in our hotel room and tell stupid stories to each other. Memphis, we unilaterally decided, was much too far to drive. Nashville was a much more reasonable drive, so we broke out a few maps and books and found a hotel to call.

It was booked. You can probably guess how thrilled we were at this. Repeating the 1:00-in-the-morning Pittsburgh epic, which I alluded to in the introduction - was not high on our agenda. Another hotel was called: it too was booked. Yet another - from a different hotel chain - was filled.

We abandoned our hopes that Nashville would be reached within the day. As we passed into the Central Time Zone, and so appropriately readjusted our clocks, we decided to just wing it and hope that there'd be a hotel somewhere. As the mountainous, ear-popping terrain resumed after a brief reprieve when we crossed the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, we stopped at our last rest stop, where a friendly fellow stopped us to ask us where we were headed. His eyes got big when we explained that we were driving all the way out to the Pacific, and when his bald, bearded, slightly dumpy friend walked up, he mentioned where we were going with a tone of voice and look in his eyes that said "I think these people are a little strange ..." (He's right.)

We eventually were able to stop in Cookeville.

Tomorrow will be a fun, busy, and hopefully tasty day, unlike today - which, I will admit, was a rather anticlimactic beginning. Tomorrow: Nashville and Memphis. Tomorrow?

Tomorrow, the fun really begins.


The Great American Road Trip - 0 - Introduction

Posted by Sumiki , in The Great American Road Trip May 15 2012 · 140 views

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Good grief, I hear you think. What the heck is Sumiks getting into?

I'm resisting the urge to ask that of myself. That is a valid question, one that I hope to elucidate as I introduce this new, special segment of Blogarithm.

Ever since I was small, my parents and I wanted to take a big trip "out west" - a trip where we'd just hop in our car and ride out, seeing all the major (and some minor) sights of the American West - specifically, the southwest. It was continually put off until next summer for various reasons.

"Next summer" has arrived. This gigantic road trip - which I have yclept "The Great American Road Trip" - will commence tomorrow. (It may commence Thursday, but that would be unexpected.)

And you expect us to care?

Why yes, I do. Because trips are never boring, especially our road trips.

Here's an example: Last May, I was offered beer not once, but twice in Pittsburgh and then once again in Toronto - and that wasn't even the most bizarre thing that happened on that trip. No, we got on some back roads in West Virginia after getting off the highway to look at some caverns, and ended up going through backwards-looking towns with such names as "Carl" while hoping dearly that the coal-hauling trucks going 70 miles an hour down these narrow mountain roads wouldn't turn us and our car into pâté.

(After getting back on the main highway in one piece, we learned a most delightful little fact - you couldn't, apparently, acquire a hotel room in West Virginia on a Tuesday night. Even Pittsburgh was packed at 1:00 in the morning, as someone from one hotel made a reservation with another - but that hotel didn't have a room either, so we ended up sleeping in a "mock room" - which was not a room with a picture of the city where the window would be, but rather like an extended-stay room.)

Oh yes, and there was the incident in Toronto where we paid $120 for three sandwiches and a large glass of bottled water. (At least we stayed near the CN Tower.)

The point is that that trip was considered to be a normal trip. Things have a tendency to just happen to us, whether we like it or not - and we do like it.

As I wrote to my grandmother, expounding upon our various exploits and misadventures, I wished that BZPower wasn't down so I could post them, for it occurred to me that the hilarious exploits and somewhat dubious misadventures we inevitably get ourselves into would make hilarious blog entries. With this trip, however, I have the ability to do just that.

Buckle up, BZP - because you're along for the ride too.

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He's the lord of all strangeness. - Ignika: Nerd of Life

How awesome is Sumiki on a scale of 1 to 10? - Waffles
42. - Black Six

[He's] the king of wierd, the prince of practicality, the duke of durr! - Daiker

Sumiki is magic. - Cholie

Sumiki says, "Do I creeeeeeep you out?" Yes, he does. - Waffles

Sumiki is a nub. He's cool, but he's still a nub. - Ran Yakumo


"What is a Sumiki?" You may ask. But the answer to that is still unknown, even to the Sumiki itself. - Daiker

Ah, Sumiki. - Electric Turahk




Sumiki is best snickerdoodle. - Takuma Nuva


BZPower = Sumiki + McSmeag + B6. And Hahli Husky. - Vorex


What's a Sumi? Does it taste good? - Janus


I would have thought Sumiki wanted to reincarnate as a farm animal. - Kraggh




Sumiki: the horse_ebooks of bzp - VampireBohrok


Everything relates to Sumiki. No really, everything. - Daiker


He's in worse mental condition than I thought. - Obsessionist


I'm just wondering why I'm looking at some cat dancing ... I suppose the answer would simply be "Sumiki." - Brickeens


I was like a beast, screaming through the mind of Sumiki at the speed of sound. I.. I wasn't strong enough to stop myself. What I saw was the end of infinity, through which one can see the beginning of time, and I will never be the same. - Portalfig


I imagine the 13th Doctor will be rather like Sumiki, at the rate we're going. - rahkshi guurahk


I was quite sure Sumiki had another set of arms stashed somewhere. - Bfahome


Note to future self: don’t try to predict Sumiki, he’s unpredictable. - Voltex


Let's be honest, I would totally have picked my main man Sumiki to lead my goose-stepping night killers anyway. We tight like that, yo. - Xaeraz

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Every week, I post a new "Tuesday Tablescrap", a small MOC not worthy of a topic, but something to post and inspire me to build more.

10/25/11 - Duplo Flower
11/1/11 - Slender Man and Masky
11/8/11 - Bizarre Black Spaceship
11/15/11 - 2001 Monolith

11/22/11 - My Little Slizer 50
11/29/11 - Punching Bag
12/6/11 - Thunder and Escorts
12/13/11 - Three Concepts
12/20/11 - Kaxium Alternate
12/27/11 - None (Christmas Break)

1/3/12 - Daiker
1/10/12 - None
1/17/12 - Volant
1/24/12 - Nidman's Chute Shoop Shop
1/31/12 - None (Brickshelf down)
2/7/12 - None
2/14/12 - Atomic Lime
2/21/12 - Spearhead
2/28/12 - Glatorian Kahi
3/6/12 - Seeker
3/13/12 - Skyscraper
3/20/12 - Microphone
3/27/12 - Toa Vultraz
4/3/12 - Flammenwerferjüngeres
4/10/12 - Umbrella
4/17/12 - Lime Beetle
4/24/12 - Special - Flame Sculpture
5/1/12 - None (BZPower down)
5/8/12 - Purple Ninja
5/15/12 - The Original Sumiki
5/22/12 - 7/24/12 - None
7/31/12 - Tahu
8/7/12 - None (BrickFair)
8/14/12 - Special - Chess Set
8/21/12 - Heavily Armored Wasp
8/28/12 - Spaceship Drill
9/4/12 - Scuba Vehicle
9/11/12 - Orange Guy
9/18/12 - Strange Flying Thing
9/25/12 - Goblet
10/2/12 - None
10/9/12 - Aim .............................. Down
10/16/12 - Gold Bot
10/23/12 - Teal Mech
10/30/12 - Special - Teal Mech (#2)
11/6/12 - Bits and Pieces
11/13/12 - Two Spaceships
11/20/12 - TARDIS Interior
11/27/12 - Christmas Creep
12/4/12 - Toaraga
12/11/12 - Fireplace
12/18/12 - Abstract Duckling
12/25/12 - None (Christmas)
1/1/13 - Black Bot
1/8/13 - 1/22/13 - None
1/29/13 - Handheld Rhotuka Launcher
2/5/13 - 8/6/13 - None
8/13/13 - The Hinklebot
8/20/12 - Special - Post-Apocalyptic Piyufi

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Formerly known as the Bring Back Teal Club, the Unused Colors Society is a club that serves to promote colors that are little-used or discontinued, such as teal, old purple, or metallic blue.




ToM Dracone
-Toa Lhikevikk-
Dirk Strider
Toa Flappy
Lime Paradox
Toa Robert
The X
Dave Strider
Akuna Toa of Sonics
Commander Helios
Popup2: The Camel
~Shadow Kurahk~
~System Of A Down~
Kohrak Kal17
Jackson Lake
Thunder on the Mountain
Ackar's Follower
Bitter Cold
Doc Scratch
Mendicant Bias
Darth Eryzeth
Toa of Vahi
Makuta GigaDon
~Toa Drokonas~
Progenitus Worldsoul
Toa Kuhrii Avohkii
Bohrok Kal
Toa Neya 2011 Edition
~prisma son of dawn~
.: WoLVeRINe :.
Alternate Velika
Schnee 1
Brickeens (again!?)
The Great Forgetter
Thomas the Tank Engine
Jonah Falcon
Oh my miru
Element lord Of Milk.
Lexuk Toa Of Insanity
Michael J. Caboose
knuckles chaotix
The Bean
Lord Kaitan de Storms
Toa of Dancing
Toa Arzaki
The Oncoming Storm
Lego Obsessionist
Toa of Pumpkin
Teal Armada
Toa Zehvor Blackout
Mr. M
Mylo Xyloto
Lord of Ice
Gamzee Makara
Zarayna: The Quiet Light



Vorex: Keeper of Time


Toa of Smooth Jazz



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If you learn one thing in life, learn this:

You should never, ever question why demons would possess a soda.

just a heads up - Cthulhu would probably eradicate mankind before bringing back Bionicle
so yeah, all I'm saying is, please think twice about this okay

nothing gets democracy flowing like erratic capitalizatION

[the NSA] couldn't say no when I offered them an ostrich farm in exchange

Sumiki -- nice try but we all know Toa Mata Nui stuffs its bra




You have a great understanding of history, but don't forget, war, murder and other poor decisions are also huge characteristics.

Also a long line of really great hats.

Shhh, I'm trying to focus on the negative to justify my dislike of history.

have we mentioned hats

To be fair, I am the one responsible for the invention of Mafia in the 1320s by seventeen bored italians locked in a mine shaft.
It's a long story.


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