Birthday Weekend Flashbacks

Usually for my birthday I just celebrate on the day of my birthday. But since I went out to Throw Axes on Friday, my kids wanted to spend time with me on Saturday. So I did- it was fun and also bizarro with lots of familiarity surrounding it.

First thing in the morning- I shared a box of specialty KitKats that I had saved from last year’s trip to Tokyo. Keeping it hidden from the family for almost a year was challenging. I also ate the special March birthstone one I kept. Needless to say- these were just as unique as any other KitKats we sampled in Tokyo. The Butter flavor was amazing!

Later, we went out for Poké Bowls at a place in Langley called Dal’s Poké. This is probably one of the freshest meals I have ever eaten in a restaurant! If you’ve never tried a Poké Bowl, do it. It’s sort of like deconstructed sushi. Lunch inspired us to go pick up some Asian foods at the H Mart Korean grocery store.

Immediately after lunch we wandered a bit around Downtown Langley. As we hit some thrift shops, it was suggested that when we go to H Mart that we stop at an old video store called Willow Video. Walking into that place was like walking into the past. The store hasn’t changed in almost 30 years. I swear that the used games in the cabinets were the same ones that were there when I was a kid. Used Sega Master Systems, old Game Boys, and assorted Games with price tags from thirty years ago. The place still offers Video rentals and sales. Not to mention that the store was busy as well! Good for them.

After our shopping at the Korean store, and the kick in the nostalgia memory banks of Willow Video, we went to see if an old Billiard hall was open. Three weeks ago I had mentioned wanting to play Billiards again. But since so many of the places from my youth were gone, I could only find one of them- The Ballroom.

Walking upstairs into the hall hit me again in the memory banks of years gone by. Much like Willow Video- this place had also remained unchanged. It had been almost twenty years since I had been there and it looked like I could have been there just yesterday. The hall of a dozen or so tables was empty except for the cashier.

With an uncanny familiarity, I took the family to a corner table that I remember always favoring. My wife and I taught the basics of pool to the kids. They started to pick it up and enjoyed themselves. After an hour or so, we decided it was time to go. By this time a few more people entered the hall. A couple on a date and two older gentlemen with their personal cues.

March 16th, 2019 was like traveling back in time. Starting with some chocolates and ending at a pool hall that my wife and I last went to when dating twenty years ago. It was a great way to celebrate my birthday weekend with my family.

From Monty to Movies

Monty Python is legendary. I have always found their humor to be some of the best in the world. In fact, my kids have also grown to love them. Netflix adding their show and films has made it easy to share once more.

But beyond Monty Python, the actors have done a great deal of other shows and films. One of my favorite films has to be “Brazil” by Terry Gilliam. I saw it when I was younger and fell in love with the crazy dystopian style. I began to digest his other crazy films such as The Fisher King12 MonkeysFear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Gilliam has a way about him that just speaks to me.

I have been waiting for Gilliam’s version of Don Quixote to come out. It has taken 19 years and lots of mishaps for it to finally get a chance to hit the big screen. And even then, there is a one day only screening of it this year in April. So I bought tickets. I suspect only die hard fans of his work will be there. Most likely a dozen other people in a 300 seat auditorium…

But I will be biased and tell you that I am going to love the film whether it is good or not.

Music Of The Night

Every so often I throw on one of the soundtracks to a musical that we own. I have always loved show tunes and movies that incorporate music to tell a story. My first memory of enjoying a musical was “Annie” back in 1982. I recall sitting in the back of the station wagon facing the window humming one of the tunes.

The first stage performance I saw was “The Phantom of the Opera” at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver. Sometime around 1989. It was grand. I saw it again a couple years later. It was still just as good. In between I saw performances of “Cats” and “Jesus Christ Superstar”. I was on an Andrew Lloyd Webber kick.

My other favorite was “Les Miserables”. This one was darker and not as magical. But the story moved me as a teenager. Years later, I would go to see a live performance again. This time, when my wife was pregnant with our first child. I took her on a date to see this show, again performing at the QE, it was our one and only fancy date that we have been on.

Our kids grew up enjoying Disney movies. Many of which have great musical numbers. One our trips to Disneyland, we almost always went to see “Aladdin” performed live. In October we saw “Frozen”. Our kids love these shows.

I’d like to take them to a show sometime soon that is more Broadway than Disney. I know that they would appreciate it. Especially since our kids attend the Fine Arts School and have an immense appreciation of music and acting and the work that goes into it all. As well as the fact that they know many of the songs already after hearing the soundtracks played.

Just like the main title song suggests from that one musical, “GO GO GO JOSEPH!”

Billiards

When I was the age of 17, shooting pool was the start of adulthood. I played fairly regularly for about five years. My skill level was average at best. I enjoyed playing regularly, and would drag friends out with me all the time. Because I wanted to play, I oftentimes paid as well. That was where most of my spending cash went.

Teaching people how to play was always fun. When I first began, I did my best to learn from those who were better than me. I tried to pass on my knowledge to others as well. Playing against people who want to play made it more fun. Especially when the playing field was fairly level.

Being cool and looking cool meant playing pool. I never joined a league, I was never that good. Back in my day smoking was allowed inside the halls and bars. Drinking alcohol also boosted the confidence level with liquid courage. Cocky attitudes led to wagers and losses. But it also led to some witty banter and insults.

Back in 2012, I picked up a free pool table. At the time, we had an old wood working studio on the side of the house that I was using as a “Man Cave/Bar”. I found that I only played once every month or two and that the bar wasn’t being utilized. I wanted a hang out for me and friends, but socializing was difficult when I worked on-call or straight nights. My skill level at pool began to really suck.

Jump ahead to February 2015- I finished changing this bar into my wife’s studio. The pool table was a perfect height for her to use as a fabric cutting table. We joked that when she wanted a break, we would play a game of billiards. Four years later, we have yet to play.

I miss playing pool. I still have my first pool cue. I own a “19” in immaculate condition. I’d like to take my kids out and play with them. Maybe this could be a way to connect with them as they get older. Since our oldest is getting closer to the age I was when I first started. But if dad says “it’s cool” to play the game, they may not want to.

Rug Doctor

We live in a home that has very little carpet. In fact it’s only in our hallway and theater room. The rest of our home has tile or laminate hardwood flooring with a few throw rugs. I like not having carpet because it helps with my allergies. Sort of. Except we have a dog that sheds. He sheds a lot.

His shedding requires us to vacuum every few days otherwise there are tiny dogs everywhere in our home. Dog hair gets on all of our clothes as well.

The small amount of carpet we do have is rather, um, disgusting. No amount of vacuuming will get the dog hair out. Plus our once white carpet has turned beige with tons of spots everywhere. This is due to the kids growing up and spilling stuff everywhere. It may be time to steam clean it. It’s been probably a decade since the last time I tried to deep clean it.

When I was younger, my parents would rent a Rug Doctor every six months or so. They would spend an entire day on a long weekend cleaning our entire home. Being at home for this weekend of cleaning was stressful as well. Furniture would be moved around to one side of the room or kitchen in order to really clean the floors. No matter what they did though, the carpet would remain wet for three days after. Which was really gross because walking around your home in wet socks for a couple of days is unpleasant.

Eventually my parents bought a cheap steam cleaner that they had for years. It was okay at cleaning, but I’m pretty sure a professional would have been better. I don’t want to own a carpet cleaner since I would rather just get rid of our carpet all together.

I’m not sure when I will clean our carpets, if ever, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be renting a Rug Doctor and do it myself. Even if I have to go over the carpet a few times. I’m kind of cheap that way.

Not Socializing on Social Media

Last night as I lay in bed watching Netflix I was also browsing for nothing in particular on my smartphone (or should we just call it a phone now since most of us have one?). I don’t know what I was looking for. But it started and ended with Facebook.

First was a rabbit hole of videos. Everything from Fail Compilations to Wood Carving. Many of which I have seen before on these late night journeys of nothingness. Then I decided to try looking up former coworkers and schoolmates that I am not “Friends” with currently. Why? I have no idea.

Credit:Bizarro Comics

Do I need to pad my online self worth with people I once knew? Was it a deeper connection I desired with these strangers? I stopped myself before I began sending “Friend Requests”. I’ve come to realize that I have some great friends on Facebook. Ones who do share with me quite often even though we don’t see each other outside of social media.

I have also turned into the type of person that rarely comments on posts because I don’t want to offend. So my opinion remains curtailed and I lay dormant and quiet. Which is probably why I watch those videos. There is no interaction required. Just mind numbing useless videos that make me feel inadequate (I cannot turn wood into beautiful works of art) or I feel righteous (because of watching people fail at life doing stupid stunts).

The Fear of missing out prevents me from just abandoning social media all together. Maybe it’s time to reassess my reasons for staying on board. I’ve stopped using Twitter and Pinterest. I was never into Reddit. I enjoy Instagram because I love seeing the beauty in the world. But Facebook? No idea why I’m still going back. Sometimes I see a success story from a friend’s feed that makes me smile. Is it those moments that I crave?

I have a buddy that I have been friends with since kindergarten in the early 80’s. He has zero social media presence. He never did either. He and I are still in contact through text messages and calls on a regular basis. We meet up every few months and it feels like we never separated. I have a couple other friends like this. But I need more of those types of friends.

As I flip flop through deciding to abandon the social networking all together, I have to look at what’s important to me. Seeing success stories makes me happy. Using social media to keep up with technology and entertainment is also useful. Seeing hatred and misinformation spread is not.

Maybe it’s time for me to take my Month Long Break again.

Kill Bill

Last Saturday I revisited an old film series- Kill Bill Vol 1&2. We often show our children films from our past that we found to be entertaining. Sometimes films don’t hold up- sorry Encino Man but wow you are a terrible film. While other times the films remain incredible.

Kill Bill is the type of film that really holds up. From the musical score, to the cinematography, to the story arcs, to the monologues- this film nails it. There is really nothing negative to say about the film.

  • Strong female lead? Check
  • Action packed? Check
  • Plot twists? Check
  • During the film, we discussed every aspect. Our oldest is interested in film making and is trying to find her vision. Our middle wants to be a writer and loves to dissect film and tv shows to understand how they piece together. And our youngest tries to read into foreshadows to guess where the story will lead to. I love that each of them can take something unique and different away from our viewings.
  • As much as I love the fact that this film holds up, I also understand that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. The scenes are a bit gratuitous in the violent aspect but are necessary for the story. I mean with a title like Kill Bill someone has to die.
  • For those who love a good Tarantino film- go back and re-watch Kill Bill. There’s no need for me to give a review of this film because of how long it’s been since it was released. Now to figure out our next family movie. I wonder if Howard The Duck is any good…

    Static Electricity

    Winter months always bring static electricity. Those little shocks from your fingertips to doorknobs. Your hair sticking up after removing a toque. You can feel it hanging in the air.

    As a kid, I remember when people would rub a balloon on my head and stick it to a wall. Making your hairs all stand up on end and that rubber squeak noise as the balloon moved.

    In high school there was a girl, whom I was infatuated with, explained to me that she used cans of aerosol hairspray to combat static electricity. Whether or not this is true, I believed her. I mean, I really wanted to date this girl but I doubted my abilities to prove my worth. So my memory of how amazing she was/is remains locked away in my mind. I do believe there is some merit to her tale of how to prevent static electricity.

    When I worked as a projectionist, static electricity wreaked havoc in the booth. It caused film to “stick” and jam up the projectors if not addressed quickly. We went through cases of “Static Guard” and we even hung dryer sheets from the ceiling to prevent static. The scent of “Static Guard” is still prominent in my mind and it’ll probably always be there. Just like my memory of a former crush.

    And much like static electricity, a smell or an image can spark these memories in an instant.

    Pixie Poo

    We’ve all heard stories and fables from our childhood involving Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. We even buy into these tales as adults and pass the legacy onto our children. We also speak of Leprechauns, Hobbits, witches and wizards. But there is one story that isn’t shared as much as it should be.

    I’m taking about Pixies.

    More specifically, Pixie Poo.

    What is “Pixie Poo“?

    The answer is quite obvious. Let me explain. The fables were close when they told of Tinker Bell from Peter Pan. As many fairy tales evolved, so did this one. You may think of Pixie Dust as a magical dust the fairies pull out of a vial and spread around to make the world shine.

    Nay nay. This be wrong information.

    Whenever you go to bed at night, that is when the pixies come out to play. They fly into our homes to check in on us. Gently landing on the bridge of your nose so as not to wake you. Then they roll back your eyelid, ever so slowly, to make sure you are asleep. This is when the magic happens…

    A tiny flying fairy standing on your face turns around to uses your eye as a toilet. A sparkly gold and green pixie poop landing on the inside corner right next to your nose. Pixie’s love using a person’s eyeball as a toilet because of the natural moisture produced.

    This is the truth about Pixies and their bodily functions. The more poop you find in your eye in the morning means the Pixie chose to give you an extra special night of dreaming.

    So may the eye boogers you have be a reminder of the magic that is still out there. And please share my story of the Pixie Poo.

    Groundhog Day 2019

    After seeing “Groundhog Day” in the theaters when it first came out in 1993- I always wondered what it would be like to relive one day over and over. I saw that movie in the theater??? Ya, I was 16 at the time.

    Since the debut of that film, many shows and movies have taken similar spins on the premise. Two of my favorites are:

    Run Lola Run (1998)

    Every second of every day you’re faced with a decision that can change your life.

    Lola is a young lady whose boyfriend is caught up in crime and she needs to save him. It showcases the choices and adverse effects little moments can have. This is a beautiful 120 minute film with three possible outcomes. The soundtrack is also phenomenal with a mix of German and English throughout.

    This is a film that my wife exposed me to at the start of our dating life. As I fell in love with my wife, I also fell for this movie. She bought it for me on DVD and I bought her the soundtrack on CD. About a year later, I bought her an original German movie poster of it and had it framed for her. A few years later we bought a new car. The first song we played in our brand new 2003 Honda Element was “Wish” from the soundtrack sung by the lead actress, Franka Potente.

    This is my other favorite “Groundhog Day” inspired show:

    Supernatural: Season 3 Episode 11. “Mystery Spot”

    Sam relives the same day over and over again having to deal with his brother Dean’s death repeatedly.

    “Supernatural” tv series has been around forever it seems. This particular episode came out in 2008. It stars one of my favorite characters in the series: The Trickster.

    Much like the film “Groundhog Day” that it copies, the day starts off with the radio playing the same song over and over again. This time using Asia’s “Heat of the Moment”. My daughter marathoned through the “Supernatural” series last summer and loved this episode so much, she downloaded the song. She chose it as her alarm for the first day of school (which was on a Tuesday, just like in this episode).

    Unfortunately this show has its ups and downs and not every episode is as entertaining as this one was. But The Trickster makes a few appearances in later episodes. Such as the episode titled “Changing Channels” which was clearly a rip off of the film “Stay Tuned” from 1992 starring John Ritter. I saw that in the theaters as well. Gawd I’m old…

    Maybe I really don’t want to relive one day over and over. It’s better to reminisce and move on. All of life’s choices can make big impacts even if the decision is relatively small.