Vegas Weekend

For the first time in a couple of decades, I am heading out for a “Boys Weekend” today. A coworker asked me about a month ago if I wanted to go to Vegas for his bachelor party. Initially I was leery because of a few reasons.

First, I don’t gamble. I have been to the casino twice in my life. Once was $20 and I lost it in the first five minutes. The second time was $5 and I won $50 in the first five minutes. I am also really bad at card games. I have gone to friends places for poker and always leave empty handed.

Secondly, I thought that I wouldn’t know anyone else. Turns out there will be a couple of other coworkers going. So at least I’ll have some people to hang out with.

Thirdly, I’m the oldest of the group. The next oldest is 11 years younger than me and the youngest is 20 years difference.

But I’m excited to have some time to just enjoy myself with a bunch of guys. There will be a lot of drinking. And insults galore. It’ll be a ton of immaturity and silliness. I have been asked to not take pics of our stupidity and not to share on my blog. So I will be respectful of my friend’s wishes.

Time to enjoy some Viva Las Vegas before we head out.

Hidden Wonders

For Darwin’s Birthday, I took her to a magic show in New Westminster. I learned about it from a coworker who heard it from someone else. Which is kind of neat, because it’s a Magic Speakeasy called Hidden Wonders.

First off, entering the building was a unique “Curios” style store. We walked around and looked at some of the items on display. Later, during the show, we found out all of the items were personal belongings saved/hoarded, by the magician.

We were the second group to enter the store. When it was our turn to go to the back, they gave us a key and told us to open the door to get into the show. Only we weren’t told which lock would open the door. This was a bit frustrating, but entertaining afterwards. That’s because once seated in the small auditorium, you got to watch from a hidden camera, the difficulty everyone was having.

Once past the door, there was a display of magic items, trophies, pictures, etc related to the magician we were about to see. Once past that section, we were seated in an intimate auditorium of about 30 seats. I picked up VIP tickets, so we were at the front. Great seats with the opportunity to view the slight of hand up close.

An hour and a half went by with the magician, Shawn Farquhar, telling us stories of his past and sharing tricks. Darwin was asked to choose a trick and ended up choosing to play “A game that you couldn’t win.” That was entertaining as Darwin knew that there was no chance to win, yet Shawn would give the illusion of choice- numerous times. Darwin did end up winning a hug from one of Shawn’s assistants- that was a nice touch that Darwin needed.

At the end of the show, Shawn had a set list of what went on throughout the evening. “Darwin loses the game” was written on the paper. Now Darwin has it in writing that “They lost the game.” If you know, you know.

Once the show was over, we ended up looking around a bit more at the Curios portion of the theatre. We also spent some time talking with Shawn Farquhar a bit and he did a few more slight of hand tricks as we shared tales of Disneyland vacations. I will say, he is a great showman and keeps his stories relatable and connects with the audience on a personable level.

If you want an intimate venue with some humor and magic- I fully recommend the show. If you really want to be involved a bit more- spend a couple extra dollars and get VIP seating. This was a great experience and it is the perfect way to get out of the past couple of years of enduring a lack of human interactions.

A big thank you to Shawn Farquhar and his staff. As awkward as Darwin was at one point, Shawn was a professional and has dealt with crowds and people over the years. He was a gracious host and I highly recommend the show. Check it out at Hidden Wonders and be sure to use the promo code HW15 for a discount.

Dinner And Music

Last night my wife took me out to a fancy dinner at the hotel we were staying at. We went a bit early to enjoy the lounge because there was live music being played.

We sat across from the piano player. He mentioned that he was taking requests. So I asked for “Easy” by Commodores. He played it immediately and my wife and I grooved to the song. When we were being seated for dinner, the maitre’d asked if we still wanted to be seated near the piano. So we did.

We had a beautiful dinner together. I requested a couple more songs, and the pianist obliged. He played “Memories” by Dean Martin (the piano player said he will add this to his repertoire after) and “Your Song” by Elton John. Our dinner was elegant and by far the best meal I have had this year.

I enjoyed my birthday dinner tremendously. The company was exactly what I wanted and the entertainment was on point.

Comic Strip Orange Cats

Back in the 80’s and early 90’s, I had a book collection of comic strips. It started with the original fat cat- Garfield. This was a good way to get me into reading at a young age.

All through elementary school I obsessed about Garfield. I had all the books that had come out at the time. I also had a dozen or so bookmarks and numerous t-shirts with the cat and some sort of catchphrase on them. Before Garfield had a regular tv show, there was a Halloween special that I had recorded off the tv and watched numerous times, memorizing every word.

Then came a new obsession- Calvin and Hobbes. Some of the greatest adventures and imaginative storytelling ever. Again I bought the books which were filled with a collection of comic strips and Saturday funnies. The relatability of the characters and their escapades were unrivaled to any other comics at the time. At one point in my life, I could relate to the father!

As I grew up, my humor changed and I started to see more of the real world portrayed in the daily newspaper comics. Bloom County had some great satire with slapstick tossed in. Bill the Cat was ridiculous and fun. My binders in high school were filled with doodles of Bill and his infamous THBBFT.

Eventually, my comic strip books were given away. But when I married my wife, her collection of the same Calvin and Hobbes books brought me a renewed joy. I knew I met the right woman for me. I re-read the books at a time when our kids were little and their imaginations were running wild. It helped in my parenting by remembering that fun is an important learning tool.

Thank you to the artists out there who made these comic strip cats a big part of my life.

Bear Creek Park Lights

Since moving from Langley and into Surrey, my wife and I have been doing our best to explore what this new city has to offer. One of the best things about Surrey is the parks. They are bountiful and beautifully maintained. There is a lot of green space to explore. Last night we wandered around Bear Creek Park and enjoyed the ambiance.

The City of Surrey had set up a walking path of Lights and Nature. Tickets are free and available at Bear Creek Park Lights. Currently they are set for 200 attendees every half hour. The event is currently scheduled to run from November 5th to the 19th.

The walk itself is about a half kilometer. Which took us about twenty minutes as we stopped for plenty of photos. It wasn’t busy mind you on a Tuesday night. Normally there are food trucks, but this year they said you could bring a snack, just take the trash with you as it is a park. I microwaved a couple bags of popcorn and we snacked as we wandered the park.

Overall, the experience was enjoyable and we had a good time. I’d recommend it to anyone for an evening out with family or friends.

Shatner In Space

Today was another one of those incredible days for humanity. The second customer based space flight took place on Blue Origin. This time the oldest person to travel to space was on board. William Shatner aged 90 was Jeff Bezos’ guest. Which is fitting considering that Star Trek paved the way over 55 years ago. In 1970’s NASA named their space shuttle “Enterprise” as a nod to the 60’s sci-fi as well.

This morning I took thirty minutes out of my day to watch the launch and re-entry into Texas. The take off and landing is always the most exciting parts to witness. As technology has progressed over the years, I am in awe of the accuracy in which these feats are achieved.

I’ve always been fascinated by space travel. I know that I am unable to ever accomplish that goal at this time. Even if money was no object and I forked out that money to get on an Amazon rocket- the tallest a person can be is 6’4”. I’m about four inches too tall. Darn you genetics!!! But hey, if a 90 year old can go to space and safely return home- I’ve got 45 years to figure out how to get there myself.

For now, I live vicariously through the events that NASA and these Private Companies showcase. It’s a brief entertainment value that allows for the imagination to run wild. Congratulations to William Shatner for being the first living Star Trek star to make it into space. As well as being the oldest person to do so as well. I can’t wait to hear his tale of travel once he gathers himself together after such an emotional journey.

Raunchy Musicals

I love musicals. The way they tell a story through song and dance brings me joy. My mother took me to a few Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals back in the day. I enjoyed the experience of going to the Queen Elizabeth Theater in Vancouver to watch the shows.

However, I have an unusually soft spot for raunchy musicals. “Chicago” “Little Shop of Horrors” and “Rocky Horror Picture Show” are classics and relatively tame when you consider some others.

Recently, my sixteen year old daughter introduced me to “The Book Of Mormon”. The subject matter and lyrics are definitely offensive. But humorous nonetheless. I knew of this musical, but I missed out on it the last time it came around. Once shows start happening again- I hope to catch this one live one day. Perhaps I should show her “Cannibal! The Musical” by the same creators.

Because my daughter has a twisted sense of humor, like her old man, I am trying to find “The First Nudie Musical” from 1976 for her to watch. The last time I saw this film was in 1988. I don’t remember much about it and only saw it the one time. However, I do recall laughing quite a bit at the film. Perhaps that was partially due to the uncomfortableness of starting puberty.

Nonetheless, raunchy musicals push the envelope of people’s comfort and explore the deviancies and taboos of the world. I guess that’s what makes it art.

Do you have any musicals of that nature that I should watch? Let me know in the comments. Catchy songs are always good as well, even if they a more vulgar.

Ignoring the Faults in What You Love

We all have something that we love to indulge in. Be it food, a sports team, a book, a park, or even a movie franchise. Whatever the case may be, we each have a thing we love. And most of us ignore the flaws.

And we love to share these interests with others. Myself for example- I really enjoy Star Wars. The movies, the books, the toys, the props, the tv shows- all of it. I just love the sci-fi fantasy realm that has been created.

But it’s not perfect. I can even look past the flaws- Those Ewok movies and the Christmas Special- and still appreciate the shows. Nothing is perfect. And that adds to the charm of the series. The diehard fans can nitpick and dissect the shows all they want. But I’m gonna still love the series no matter what.

Especially Empire Strikes Back. That is the best of the film series hands down. Maybe Rogue One…

Generational Music

Mama said don’t give up, it’s a little complicated.

I like the song “High Hopes” it has a good beat and I love the lyrics. Our oldest daughter doesn’t always like the fact that I enjoy the music she listens to. But then again, she has been known to enjoy the music I once liked. At one point, my wife had a good bond with our daughters over Katy Perry.

Our son had become obsessed with Green Day: Dookie a couple of years ago when he discovered it on an old iPod of mine. He also has a penchant for comedic songs like I do. So we bond over it.

However, it’s our middle daughter who loves every style of music the same way I do. She also listens to it like I do- in a very eclectic manner. Moving from classical to pop, etc. Her taste in music is similar to mine so we often sing along together. The only exception is she has a closer connection with my wife’s taste in music than I do. Our daughter has snagged the old records and cassettes of my wife’s and plays them regularly.

Music is meant to be shared. I wish sometimes that I was talented enough to write music. Maybe one day I’ll monkey around with it- I always had high, high hopes…

Natural Born Killers

We love having family movie night in our home. Usually it’s a choice we all can agree on. But sometimes I show films to my teenagers that are uncomfortable to watch as a family. I want them to see moving picture shows for what they can be. Not just special effects or cartoons. But artsy.

Last night I put on “Natural Born Killers”. Besides the excessive violence, my teenagers didn’t quite understand Oliver Stone’s vision. I had to explain about the absurdity of the 90’s and the fascination with court cases and police brutality that went on. The worst part is that after 26 years since the film came out- it seems society is still obsessed with crime. And there are more cameras sharing today than there was when this film was made.

I know what you may be thinking. Why would you show your teenagers that film? Because it is an amazing film. It showcases a variety of music, film angles, and styles that look haphazardly thrown together, but in reality weave the tale. A perfect love story filled with society’s imperfections and obsessions.

Watching “Natural Born Killers” is like trying to understand what makes an abstract painting good. After a quarter century, the film still holds up. And is probably more relevant now by shoving the glamour of the lowest parts of humanity into your face.

It also gave my kids a chance to see many actors in a role that isn’t what they see normally. Juliette Lewis (Christmas Vacation), Woody Harrelson (Solo), Robert Downey Jr (Avengers), and Tommy Lee Jones (Men in Black). All of which were the films that my kids recognized them from.

Of course right after the film, we watched “The Muppets”. I think the kids wanted to remember what life was like in a more simpler time. Nothing wrong with that. I love reminiscing and watching movies from my childhood.

Computer Animation

I’ve always loved computer animation. Back in 1982 “Tron” came out and changed the film industry. Shortly after was “The Last Starfighter” in 1984.

Then in the 1990’s, one of my favorite artsy styles of the animation came out with a mix of music and creativity- “Beyond The Mind’s Eye” showcased the future of computer animation. Shortly after- some of the scenes were used in “The Lawnmower Man”. This was a couple of years before “Toy Story”.

The late 90’s had “The Matrix” making people question reality. Side note: In 2003 I picked up a metallic holographic style poster for the sequel and had it framed.

Back in 2010, we enjoyed Flynn’s Arcade in Disneyland. A throwback of the arcade from the 80’s film “Tron” and a segue into the sequel.

The art style of computer animation has come a long way in four decades. Seeing some of the older shows proves how far film has gotten.

What are your favorite computer rendered films?

Mandalorian

Ok Disney. I have bought into your Disney+ and so far am really happy with it. At first I wasn’t thrilled that the new series, “The Mandalorian”, didn’t have all the episodes readily available to marathon through. But then I realized that what you’ve done is sparked “water cooler talk” amongst everyone.

It took until last weekend for me to really notice. I hadn’t seen the third episode yet, but numerous coworkers, friends, and the Internet in general were discussing it. Not too shabby for a new streaming service. The buzz generated for this series is quite strong.

After finally watching the third episode, I can see why. “The Mandalorian” is far exceeding my expectations. It is not like any other Star Wars film or show. It is written, directed, and filmed in its own way that the pace of each episode is rhythmic and flows precisely. With Disney+ only releasing one episode per week- my anticipation level of each one grows. It has caused me to discuss the show far more than simply mentioning it in conversation.

In a time of instant gratification and marathon watching, going back to waiting for weekly episodes has made me appreciate the show more. As I wait and scroll through the available movies and shows, my kids have got me enjoying another series with guilty pleasure:

Don’t tell anyone…

Saying Farewell To A Coworker

It’s bittersweet when a coworker leaves. You’re happy for them to be making a change, but upset that they are leaving. Especially if you’ve worked side by side for years.

This week at the railroad is the last for a close friend of mine. It’s going to be hard to say goodbye, so the sarcasm and jokes are already coming out. I wrote a note of “encouragement” on a picture that I had hanging in our office for almost a year.

KC,

Good luck @ KM. You’re only gonna last 3 weeks!

#sixseasonsandamovie

-Joe

He and I had very similar tastes in entertainment. We often had discussions about movies and tv shows. My farewell to him is in reference to the show “Community”. A show we both enjoyed.

In a couple of days, he shall be off to a new adventure. We will still be in contact periodically because our railroad services the company he is moving to. The dynamic will change, but out jokes shall remain the same. I wish him all the best in his new adventure.

Guided By TV

There once was a time that the tv required a weekly tv listings magazine to be made available.

Why should I read a magazine weekly?

TV channels were pretty much set in how they ran things. A new show every hour on the hour or half hour. Reading a magazine with the listings for your area was the best way to plan your viewing week. There was also a crossword and articles about the Fall Lineup or a puff piece about your favorite shows. Picking up a TV Guide when grocery shopping was fairly common practice. There wasn’t a listings option to show on the bottom of the screen. Eventually there was a dedicated channel to a scrolling listing that changed about every fifteen minutes.

After a while, people just left their TVs on. Or at least that’s how my home functioned. Monday to Friday was the same routine. My day even began with morning cartoons before school. From the minute I came home from school to well after my bedtime the glow of the boob tube illuminated our home.

Immediately after school, I enjoyed afternoon cartoons for a couple of hours until my parents came home. Then it was 6 o’clock news followed by Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. It was after these few shows that the daily programs would alternate.

Sometimes it was Murder She Wrote. Or it could’ve been Cheers, Doogie Howser, Night Court or Quantum Leap. After a while it didn’t matter. Our TV just stayed on. During commercial breaks was when I ran to the bathroom or got changed for bed. Bedtime? That was the four minutes of credits and ads before the 9pm late night shows. Only to have me slink off to my room to turn on my TV to fall asleep to the horizontal lines of electric hums and late night infomercials.

For me, purchasing a magazine devoted to TV is a thing of the past. In fact, regular tv viewing has changed to streaming at my leisure. No more programming myself to be glued to the tv in thirty minute increments wasting my time. Let me marathon through a tv series at my discretion.

Lost

Recently we have been enjoying the tv series “Lost” on Amazon Prime. The first time I saw the series was on Netflix a few years back. Now I can’t stop watching it.

We are about halfway through the show again. Only this time, our kids are watching with us. And they have so many questions.

So should I spoil the show for them and offer answers when they ask? That wouldn’t be very nice. In fact a few times the show has caught me second guessing what I thought I knew about it. There are so many twists and turns that I forgot about some of the aspects.

In the end, the show is re-watchable for exactly that. I know what is coming up. But I don’t remember the details. I still get a moment of surprise when something happens.

It’s like watching the show all over again for the first time. Only this time I know how it will end. I just don’t remember how we get there.

G.L.O.W.

G.L.O.W. Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling was a wrestling show from the late 80’s (1986-1989). I used to watch it every Saturday night in my bedroom. Hey, I was about to hit puberty- what better way to get myself aquatinted with the female form than to watch them fight? Plus a tv in my room meant my parents had no idea what I was watching.

Women wrestling each other with big 80’s hair and spandex. These were active, hair pulling, smack talking, strong women. I think I developed a type that I began to like in those formative years. Most women I dated (and even married) have been very confident and strong females with a sexy side. And hair! But the show itself was laughable for the most part.

Fast forward my life to earlier this week. I completely forgot about G.L.O.W. until surfing on Netflix brought up the show. Season One was released a year ago and I never heard much about it. I saw it advertised on Netflix but pre-teen me didn’t think the show would be that good. Now this wasn’t reruns or a remake- it was a storyline style show.

I figured what the heck- for a quick show to fill the void of some other sitcoms, I’d give it a try. I was not disappointed. Even my wife got into the show. We watched 2-3 episodes each night this week- loving it. Then last night something odd happened.

We were watching the last two episodes of Season 1. We finished just after midnight. Season 2 began streaming at exactly midnight. What luck! We had managed to enjoy the first season and it rolled over into the next season all ready for our binge-watching enjoyment. In a way I’m glad I missed out on the show last year when it released. Now I am able to enjoy a second dose immediately! Check out G.L.O.W. this weekend, it is a lot of fun.

It makes me wonder though, will Netflix create a series based on “American Gladiators” or “Rollergames” in the future? My inner teen sure hopes so.

Lacking Television

We haven't had cable tv for years. It came to a point where there were too many channels and not enough quality programming. The cost was getting higher and the frustration of trying to enjoy it was too. So we cut the cord.

At first it was tough. But it became easier to just download shows and binge watch. Then came Netflix! (Love that service.) Binge through five seasons of Star Trek:TNG in one sitting? Why not?! Then I discovered Kodi and streaming anything we could find. Of course there are drawbacks to it. But it only costs the price of internet service. Which really is the way to go.


Tonight I used an app called "Modbro". I was hoping to stream Sharknado 5. Because, why not? Alas, I was late in turning it on because I don't adhere to the set norms! So I decided to catch the end of last week's episode of Rick and Morty before this week's episode started. After the episode was done, I tried to channel surf like a normal person. And it sucked.

Usually we watch tv when we are out on vacation. The tv in the hotel room goes on as a way to zone out at the end of a long road trip. Some bad tv is watched. But tonight, even the kids told me to just turn it off so they could watch Netflix instead.


We have been a household of tv show watchers without watching network television. It seems strange. But it works for us. Not glued to the tube. A bit of freedom and the urge to watch tv isn't always there. I don't need to set an alarm to switch on a channel. Even getting schwifty can be done when I want.