Monthly Archives: April 2017

Jean, Scott, and Rick

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On Monday, in a dramatic counter-play to the Bernie Sanders / Heath Mello rally on Thursday, Gov. Pete Ricketts brought Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to a rally for Jean Stothert on Monday. It was as different an event as you could imagine. The crowd was noticeably smaller, but the event started on time, the speakers stayed on message, and they had time to meet-and-greet the three VIPs afterward. The crowd seemed remarkably happier than the disgruntled hipsters I’d stood in line with on Thursday (and no buttons with four-letter words were to be seen). There was a large number of (union) protesters lining the street outside, but their signs weren’t nearly as fun as the protesters at the Bernie rally.

I saw a few familiar faces in the crowd, such as PowerLine blogger Dave Begley, State Board of Education member Pat McPherson, and former Mayoral candidate Taylor Royal (who has endorsed Stothert). An eight-year-old boy named Mason came adorned with campaign pins on his blazer, and I got to see Scott Walker personally add his flag pin to the collection. Most noteworthy of all, however, was that Vivian was able to join me at this event. She and I have both been fans of Scott Walker since before 2015, and it gave me a bit of a thrill by proxy for her to meet him for the first time (as I did a year and a half ago).

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In other, non-political news, we had a lovely cookout with my folks on Saturday, and my dad used his new smoker to make some tasty pork ribs for all of us. I also took in a episode of the MST3K reboot on Netflix, which seemed to be a worthy successor to the original.

On Sunday, took the kids to the Sandy Park to get some quality outdoor time. I discovered a baby doll that I’d seen left on the gazebo roof way back in March was still there (and apparently undamaged from two months’ exposure to the elements), so I retrieved it to get some happy care from Hannah later in the afternoon.

Also: tulips, tulips, tulips, and lilac — enjoy them while they last!

Berned out

The Presidential Election has been over for about six months. So what on earth are Scott Walker and Bernie Sanders doing in Omaha? Why, they’re both campaigning for Jean Stothert and Heath Mello as they both run for Mayor. It’s an election that has apparently garnered national attention for no better reason than the Democrats are hoping for a win somewhere. Anywhere. Even in Omaha.

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First up was Bernie Sanders, who came to the Baxter Arena with Keith Ellison (D-MN) on Thursday to hold a pep-rally for Democrats hoping to get one election win they can call a “bell weather” ahead of the 2018 midterms. The usual merch and button vendors were on hand to work the line before the doors opened, but there’s been a noticeable change in tone since the election. Nearly half the buttons were anti-Trump, and two actually just said, “F–k Trump” (without the dashes). Even worse, these same buttons being worn by actual Democrat volunteers signing people up to vote by mail. So much for “Love Trumps Hate” and “When they go low, we go high.” A few anti-socialist protesters (and a Ben Shapiro fan) showed up across the street, and a pro-lifer or two and along the sidewalk, but no major sparks flew.

The show itself was allegedly sold out, and while it had a fairly good crowd, there was clearly room for more. The media were on hand to interview people outside and capture events inside, and my buddy Tom Becka was there as well, of course. The event itself turned out to be remarkably disappointing, however. It started at 5:30 and was supposed to be over by eight, but at 7:45 — after three different musical performances, a handful of local politicians and special interest groups — not one of the three keynote speakers had taken the stage.

I might have hung around to see the show play out, but my friend Jeff Koterba and the Prairie Cats were doing a free show at the O-Zone until 9:30, so I decided to split and have a couple dances with a few Jitterbugs rather than stick around. (Tom Becka did the same — the splitting part, not the dancing part.)

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Prairie Cats at the O-Zone. Much better!

Eggsciting Easter Weekend

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We just had a jam-packed Easter Weekend with the whole family, and we’re still working off the leftovers several days later, so you know it was good. The festivities kicked off with a Good Friday service at Bellevue Christian Center and then a long night of getting food ready while watching The Ten Commandments. We returned to BCC the next day to attend their Easter Egg Hunt. We were rained out of the festivities last year, but this time around the weather couldn’t have been nicer. Aaron got to collect eggs with a bunch of other tykes for the first time, and then Hannah got her turn — a bit early as the emcee told everyone to cheer with a “ready, set” that everyone thought was meant to start the egg hunt.

Afterward, we made ample use of the bounce houses inside, Hannah got her face painted, and then we had some hot dogs for lunch. There was a friendly Easter Bunny on hand for some high-fives, and then Hannah and Aaron made a new friend back on the playground, who just happened to be the niece of Vivian’s long-lost BCC friend Matt. They got some quality time making butt jokes before we headed home.

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Back at the house, Hannah and mommy decorated some egg-shaped cookies for Easter Dinner. Then once Aaron’s nap was done, the whole family got to decorate some eggs together. Vivian got some “pretend” eggs with messy bags of dye, and I boiled up some regular-style eggs to go with the PAAS brand dye.

The next day, Hannah and Aaron got to wear their Easter Outfits as we all went to Twin Valley Church for a special Resurrection Sunday Breakfast put on by the Elders. They went all out with bacon, eggs, pancakes, fruit, and everything else you would want for breakfast. Since everyone was in their Sunday Best, I decided to hang around and snapped a photo of Pastor Ryan and his family after the service before doing the same with our own family back at the house.

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The afternoon Easter Festivities commented with our own egg hunt in the front yard. There were plenty of eggs that the “Easter Bunny” had hidden the night before (along with the remains of a few carrots), and somehow Hannah decided only to pick the sparkly, pretty eggs that were hidden while Aaron gathered up pretty much everything else.

The kids got some special Easter baskets inside to keep them distracted while the rest of us got Easter Dinner underway. Vivian had made some delicious smoked salmon spread the night before, while I got out my traditional deviled eggs (which Hannah served everyone). Jack glazed a ham while Hannah and Grammy picked some of our blooming lilac and dandelions to make a lovely centerpiece on the table. My parents (and Uncle Jonny) came by later once Easter Dinner was ready, and Hannah got to pass out the cookies she’d decorated to everyone before we ate. Even Uncle Nathan stopped by later once we brought out the Truffle Pie.

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It was a lovely Easter weekend, and then we got to have some perfect weather on Monday for some quality time in the park with the kids. They got some extra time on the swings, and we had a nice little picnic lunch under some trees in full blossom.


Aaron learns the Way of the Dad on Easter Sunday

The Mads Are Back

We just had a massively fun Easter Weekend with the family here in Omaha, but I’ll set that aside for a separate update to bring you this important announcement: The Mads Are Back!

IMG_8771To recap: back between 1988 and 1999 there was a show called Mystery Science Theater 3000, where two guys (The “Mads”) would send a man in space and his robots various bad movies, which they would hilariously riff. The two Mads — Frank “TV’s Frank” Conniff and Trace “Dr. Forrester / Krow T. Robot” Beaulieu — are now back and touring the country to do live riffing for audiences. On Saturday night, they riffed Glen or Glenda for what looked like a sold-out theater full of MSTies. My buddy Richard and I got tickets in the front row for the show, and we wound up sitting in Frank and Trace’s seats by accident. (Who knew there was a “row zero?”)

IMG_8768I got to meet Frank and Trace back last summer at O Comic Con, but this experience was like none other. It was truly surreal to see Frank and Trace’s silhouettes right in front of me riffing the show just like Mike/Joel and the Bots did back in the day. Even cooler, the Mads stayed to meet and greet pretty much everyone who came to see them, signing autographs and having pictures taken with guests — quite patiently, I should add, as the guy I grabbed to get our picture couldn’t seem to find the button. (I resisted the temptation to say, “push the button, Frank.”) They had merch too, of course, so I made sure to get myself a snazzy T-shirt to commemorate the event.

IMG_8782They also had a Q&A session after the show, so I got to ask which comedians Frank and Trace liked best (Frank rattled off a list that included Greg Proops, Louis CK, and Patton Oswald, among others).

I also got to meet several fans of the show after the show and while waiting in line. One guy brought his own homemade Krow and Tom Servo to be autographed. A youngster next to me in the theater (who asked Frank about life in Second Banana Heaven) also reminded me how this show seems to be picking up fans in new generations who weren’t even born when it was cancelled back in 1999.

Of course, I also went to RiffTrax live with a few friends at the Twin Creek theater to see a live telecast riffing of Samurai Cop courtesy of Mike and “the Bots” in Nashville. Maybe one day I’ll get to see them live as well. In the meantime, there’s a whole new MST3K series on Netflix now that I’ve yet to watch. I might have to catch that Next Sunday A.D.

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What do you think, sirs?

Mayors, Blossoms, and a Final Fish Fry

Spring has sprung, if the flowers in our yard are any indication. That means bike rides to work and starting my battle once again with the weeds in the yard. Of course, we’re also on that hairline trigger before we switch from heat to AC as the summer months loom around the corner.

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It’s also Election Season in Omaha as the city gets ready to pick a Mayor once again. I spotted young upstart Taylor Royal doing some campaigning on the corner of 132nd and Center on Tuesday last week on Primary Day. The 26-year-old candidate got 11% of the vote and went on to endorse incumbent Jean Stothert.

Meanwhile, Lent is winding down, so we went for one last Fish Fry with my parents and our friends the Mills. This was actually my parents’ first-ever fish fry experience. We went to St. Matthews’ in Bellevue, which was unfortunately not the all-you-can-seat experience I had been hoping for, so some of us were disappointed. On the upside, there was no mile-long line to stand in before dinner, which was just as well since the Mills had to flee to Homeschool Prom, and my parents left as soon as the band started up. Vivian and I let the kids play outside for a bit and rewarded them with the Last Piece of Pie before calling it a night.

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Lots of flowers are blooming all over Omaha in the meantime, including a bunch in our own front yard. On Saturday, we took the kids to Memorial Park to have a picnic under some blossoms and get some quality time on the playground while the weather was sufficiently gorgeous. We also ran into Kaleb and his family for the first time since the Murder Mystery last year. We may have to do one again sometime (perhaps with our kids).

Then that evening, our mutual friend Kate had a game night with a bunch of our mutual friends. We played a few hilarious rounds of Telestrations while having pulled pork and chicken doctored up with some of Phil and Jen’s Insanely Spicy Barbecue sauce. as usual, I was deeply appreciative of having friends with kids, which cancelled out the need for a sitter.

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Sunday was Palm Sunday, and I got to round up some palm branches for the kids to wave during the opening song, as nobody else seemed to think about it. We stuck around afterward for a lovely family photo outside, since we were all in our Sunday Best (and I just happened to have a tripod and telephoto lens in the car).

Then on Tuesday, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert appeared at Big Mama’s Kitchen in a meet-the-candidates event held by “the hungry club.” I dropped in just long enough to grab a picture or two before being pulled away by a few guests who happened to show up at the office while I was away.