Monthly Archives: February 2020

Cheesy Movie and the Circus

IMG_20200218_192824946IMG_20200218_213552130

There were a couple more fun things in store for us this week. On Tuesday, Joel Hodgson of MST3K fame came to Omaha to riff a movie live at the Orpheum. I got some Chinese food before the show with dad, Uncle Jonny, and Richard, and then we met up with Nathan to get wanded up and down before squeezing inside the Orpheum to find our seats (with LIsa’s help) with a couple hundred other MSTies. As usual, there were a number of dressed for the occasion, either as a character from the show or toting a life-sized Tom Servo.

The show itself followed the format of the original MST3K TV show. Joel came out and played the theme song on guitar (with the audience chiming in with a “la la la” or two), and then they introduced the cast — which included an “assistant” named Emily, a Pearl Forrester clone (and some Pearl puppets), as well as Krow and Servo. The movie being riffed was a monumentally cheesy Karate Kid knock-off called No Retreat, No Surrender, which was so delightfully cheesy it could be watched without riffs. Joel and the Bots performed a few skits during breaks (preceded with video of the classic “tunnel sequences”), and they had a curtain call with the actors themselves at the .

It was a very good show, though it felt like a much more formal a production than the similar shows I’ve seen with “the Mads.” Specifically, Joel and his cast stay on stage, while the Mads sit with the audience and have a Q&A after each show making for a much more interactive experience (especially with the meet-and-greet time before and after the show). Still, as a long-time fan of MST3K, it was great to see Joel himself up close and personal for one last “movie sign.”

IMG_8389IMG_8302

Then on Thursday, I took the entire day off just to enjoy about an hour at the Tangier Shrine Circus in Council Bluffs with Vivian, Grammy, and the kids.. They performed a shortened “free” show on Friday, which included a motorcycle on a swing, some trapeze artists, quick-change artists, a dog and pony show, and a few acts by the local Tangier clowns. They had one new act — a trio of motorcyclists riding around simultaneously inside a spherical cage. My favorite act, however, was the Chicago Boys, who I’d seen multiple times before bouncing around and jumping rope to energetic music. Aaron actually got up and started dancing during their act, which was especially fun to see. Grammy also bought the kids some cotton candy just to get the kids properly sugared up before we headed home.

In the meantime, we’ve had a couple lovely weekends with spring-like temperatures — warm enough to venture at least one trip to Stinson Park during a lunch break this week, and likely more on Saturday. Soon enough it’ll be time for flowers to blossom and for me to get back to work on the lawn and garden again.

V-Day 2020

It’s been another fun and busy couple of weeks, much of which involved romantic activities on and around Valentine’s Day.

IMG_20200206_183346717IMG_20200206_193412421

Last Thursday, I took Hannah out for a “Daddy/Daughter Date Night” down at the Chrysalis Event Center at Papillion Landing. It was a cute little occasion for dads and daughters to get dressed up and then have dinner together. There was also some dancing on the little space available on the dance floor, which Hannah seemed to enjoy after getting properly sugared up. A group of little girls even started a conga line during one song, which was adorable, though I couldn’t get Hannah to join in on it. Our friend Dennis was there with his daughter as well, so the two of us tried taking shaky, blurry photos of each other dancing with our little girls before calling it a night.

IMG_8084IMG_8103

A week later, it was Valentine’s Day, so I decided to take the day off for some romantic family fun on a Friday. I got up early enough to make some heart-shaped banana muffins, heart-shaped eggs, and avocado toast for breakfast. I also had a few bags of treats for the kids along with some hand-cartooned Valentine’s Day cards, per tradition. Hannah also had an assortment of cards made by her assortment of “kids.” Vivian had some things for me as well, including brigadeiro chocolates that she made up when I wasn’t looking.

IMG_8133IMG_8145

Then that evening, Vivian and I took a trip down to Raymond for a romantic dinner at James Arthur Vineyard. We’d been there a couple times before on V-Day for dinners and wine-pairings, but this time was a bit different — a got to pick a bottle of wine to eat over dinner that was served via a buffet line. Most of the food had some kind of chocolate theme to it, even the salad and the tacos. I think our favorite was the Triple chocolate beef and bean chili. We washed it all down with a bottle of “3 Legs White,” named after the very affectionate three-legged cat we met in the doorway on our way in (and out).

James Arthur Vineyards’ Valentine’s Day Buffet

  • Spring mix salad with chocolate chunks and strawberries and a chocolate vinaigrette
  • French bread with chocolate butter
  • Chocolate zucchini bread
  • Tortilla chips dipped in chocolate
  • Triple chocolate beef and bean chili
  • Strawberry brie and chocolate grilled crostinis
  • Cider and beer braised pork with chocolate mole and hwite chocolate rice
  • Chocolate chili tacos

Dessert table

  • Chocolate bread pudding
  • Coconut macaroons dipped in white chocolate
  • Chocolate dipped strawberries
  • Oreo truffles
  • Chocolate bacon and potato chip brownies
IMG_8276IMG_8286

We got to have some lovely, spring-like weather after Valentine’s Day, so I took the kids down to the Sandy Park for some quality time running around. Vivian got some chicken Parmesan happening back at the house, which we ate with our friends the Lenarts. Our kids got some quality time playing together and watching The Little Mermaid for the first time, while the grown-ups enjoyed a family tradition of eating too much for no particular reason.

Pizza Machine and Super Bowl LIV

 

IMG_7765IMG_7731

Over the weekend, we got to enjoy a fabulous amount of family fun. We spent nearly all of Saturday in Milliard at the Amazing Pizza Machine, courtesy of CRCC Omaha. I’d never visited this place before and expected it to be on-par with Chuck-E-Cheese, but I was happy to find it much closer to a Dave & Buster’s. We got to introduce Hannah and Aaron to such things as air hockey, whack-a-mole (or shark), and skee ball, and they both got to go on a few of the rides, including a Frog Hopper that Hannah wanted to ride non-stop. Aaron spent a good amount of time on a Ninja Turtle arcade game, which he eventually played to the finish, and Hannah got to ride a bumper car solo for the very first time.

We had some lunch in the middle of all this, which was especially fun for the kids since they got to pick out whatever foods they wanted from the buffet (including ice cream).

IMG_7776IMG_7819

We had some gorgeous weather on Sunday, so I took Aaron on our first walk of the year to my parents’ house before the Super Bowl kicked off. All four grandparents and Uncle Jonny joined us in our annual tradition of watching football and filling up on food like nachos, chicken wings, and homemade pizza rolls, along with Peppermint Village Inn pie for dessert. Our kids were up to watch most of the game as well, as was Harold the Guinea Pig. Hannah rooted for the Chiefs — and she even had a “pillow pet” to watch the game with her.

I’d recently bought a $10 TV at Goodwill that I set up for the kids in the basement so they could watch a bedtime show during the pole-dancing halftime show. Aaron was in bed before the fourth quarter, but Hannah stayed up all the way through the exciting finish. It was probably the best Super Bowl I’d seen in a while — so good that I barely paid attention to the commercials (aside from Bill Murray’s reprisal of Groundhog Day).

Congratulations, Chiefs — and to the great state of Kansas!

The Week before Caucus Night

The Iowa Caucuses are finally being held today, so it might be worth a quick look back at a busy, busy week in Presidential politics if you happened to be living within a stone’s throw of Council Bluffs, where we had a candidate visiting pretty much every day of the week (some of whom I missed, such as Amy Klobuchar on Tuesday and Joe Biden on Wednesday).

IMG_7164First up was Andrew Yang, who held a rally with around 300 at Abe Lincoln High School on Monday. Our friend Nate had wanted to visit either Yang (or Tulsi — the two sanest Democrats running, IMHO) before the primaries started, so he came along with me to hear what he had to say.Yang was introduced by a few local Democrats and then his wife Evelyn before taking the stage in front of a very friendly crowd, which happened to include Alex Wagner from Showtime’s The Circus. As before, the focus of Yang’s stump speech was on helping workers displaced via AI technology through his “freedom divided,” and I found his keen focus on the economy to be what set him apart from his more socialist-leaning competitors. He took a few questions afterward, including one from a woman whose sister died of an opioid overdose (who Yang also called up front so he could give her a hug). He stuck around afterward for a quick series selfies with everyone who came (including me, of course), and I had the chance to thank him for appearing on the Ben Shapiro show — and that both sides need to listen to one another.

IMG_20200130_143955074Then on Wednesday, the Vice President himself paid Council Bluffs a visit on his way to a rally with President Trump in Des Moines. Nate’s son Jake had expressed interest in meeting President Trump, which I told him was a tall order. A meeting with the Vice President, however, was far more doable. The event was held at the Thunderbowl’s Gathering Room, which was a fairly small venue, so we showed up around two and a half hours early to help ensure we got good seats (in the second row)! The Fox News Channel was among the media there to cover the VP’s visit, along with a handful of local media and even Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk, who came with the motorcade. There was an opening invocation and a recitation of the pledge of allegiance before Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds took the stage to introduce the Vice President.

IMG_20200130_144052666I’d seen (and shaken the hand of) Mr. Pence three times before, but this was the first time I’d been allowed to bring my good camera with me, so I happily snapped photos as the VP gave a brief stump speech highlighting Veterans’ issues and the economy. The real excitement happened in the moments afterward, of course, when Jake and I were quickly able to make our way to the front to meet the Veep himself. Jake was easily able to get a handshake and a selfie with Pence. I brought along a copy of A Day in the Life of the Vice President, a book written and illustrated and Pence’s daughter and wife, respectively, which Pence seemed very happy to autograph for me when I asked.

Among the familiar faces in the crowd were the Halliburtons — David, Mason (the Button Boy), and Haley — who had met the Veep multiples times before but this time brought previously-snapped photos of themselves for him to autograph. We stayed just long enough to watch the motorcade make its way out of town before heading home.

IMG_7449The last Presidential candidate to visit Council Bluffs before the Caucus was Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who held a rally in Ballroom-B the Mid-America Center. Since I’d gotten to see the first candidate visit more than a year ago, I thought it was nice to be able to see the last one as well.

He gave a stump emphasizing the need to bring Democrats, Republicans, and moderates together while also stumping unapologetically for abortion and criticizing Christians for being too selfish to sign onto his social welfare programs. I only stayed long enough to snap some pictures and rub elbows with a few other familiar faces before watching the 2020 Caucus draw to a close.

IMG_7593Then on Saturday, I was up bright and early to attend a nine o’clock town hall with Don Bacon. He’s held more than a dozen of these since taking office in 2017, and as always it drew people from both sides of the political aisle. The left-leaning members of the audience asked questions about climate change and the impeachment, the latter of which seemed a sore spot as the Senate had just voted to draw their proceedings to a close. The event was moderated by KFAB’s Scott Voorhees, who kept things moving along even as some members wanted to ask more than their share of questions — some of which got heated as one guy spontaneously started screaming out of turn. Even though things got heated, the Congressman stayed cool. When accused of voting to end Obamacare with no replacement, he pointed out that he had, in fact, voted for the AHCA, and when one audience member accused Trump of soliciting a bribe, Bacon pointed out that bribery should have been included in the articles of impeachment in that case — and it wasn’t.

I mostly enjoyed the back-and-forth, and at the end of the event, Congressman Bacon said, “Agree or disagree… we’re all Americans.” I’m glad we live in a country where the folks in power — whether a candidate, a Congressman, or the Vice President — are so easily within reach of a nobody like me living in Nebraska. I just hope the Iowa Democrats didn’t screw up their Caucus so badly this year that they’ll pick another state to go first in 2024.