Monthly Archives: June 2017

King Lear, Food Trucks, and Prager University

We just got finished with a massively fun (and full) weekend, fueled partly by some gorgeous 70-degree weather that made outdoor activities all the more enjoyable.

Me and Dennis PragerIMG_0748

On Thursday morning, I got up bright and early to see radio talk show host and namesake of “Prager University” Dennis Prager at the Hotel RL (right around the corner from where I work). The guys at AM 1420 The Answer were hosting him for his 100 Days of Trump speaking tour, so I and a handful of conservative friends got to have breakfast with hosts Chip Maxwell, Ian Swanson, and Clint Bellows before Prager took the stage.

Prager gave a brief talk touching on the political climate, his rationale for supporting Donald Trump, and also a bit of religion and ethics. Then he took some questions from the audience. I asked for his take on the situation at Evergreen College (where a mob of students held the president hostage and demanded all white faculty leave campus), particularly in light of his upcoming movie with Adam Carolla, “No Safe Spaces.” His take was that college presidents were as much (if not more) to blame for the situation than the students — and that it would end “in a nanosecond” is the students were expelled rather than coddled.

It was a fun event, and I got to see a few familiar faces in the crowd, including “Mason the button boy,” was apparently already well-known to the team at AM 1420.


Then on Friday, I nabbed a front-row seat to see King Lear with a bunch of our friends at Shakespeare on the Green. I grabbed an iced coffee from my friend Maxine, and then Frank gave Vivian a ride down to our spot once she arrived. Then we broke out our cheese, salmon, and other vittles as the crowd started to gather. Joining us on our blanket were Phil and Jen, Jon, Lisa, Tamra, and Nate and Lexi. Director Vincent Carlson-Brown had a Q&A with some of the crew, so I asked questions about dealing with changing outdoor light during a show and switching sets between a comedy and tragedy.

The wandering minstrels (a few of whom were dressed as Disney princesses for some reason) wandered through the crowd as usual. Then the evening’s emcee, Douglas Vincent Wesselmann (aka Otis Twelve) from KVNO, spoke a few words before the show started. It was an absolutely gorgeous night, particularly for June, and so cool in fact that we needed to put on blankets and hoodies by the second act. The show was terrific, of course, and even though I hadn’t read up at all on King Lear before the show started, I was able to follow the plot reasonably well all the way to the end.


After a late night in Elmwood Park, I got a few hours of sleep before dragging myself out of bed for an early-morning Senate campaign kick-off with Deb Fischer. There were only a handful of people at Eppley Airfield for the event at seven o’clock, but there were more than a dozen Republican VIPs on hand to endorse Sen. Fischer’s re-election campaign, including Gov. Pete Ricketts, former Governors Kay Orr and Dave Heineman, Mayors Jean Stothert and Rita Sanders (and Hal Daub), Congressmen Don Bacon and Adrian Smith, and several others whose names I couldn’t recall (but should have).

Our friend Jessica Ritchie was there to record the event for KETV, but there were only a handful of “regular” citizens in attendance (and no protesters). I was able to shake hands and chat with just about everybody. Many of the VIPs had to leave for other events (including Fischer, who had a state-wide tour the same day), but I spent a few minutes chatting with Major Stothert about our current political climate (see “Phil Montag” for more information).


The weather continued to be gorgeous throughout the day, so toward evening, I decided to take the kids and Grammy down to Plattsmouth for a “Food Truck War.” A couple thousand people seemed to have the same idea (including our old friend Luke), so all of main street was clogged with people standing in line for food from a dozen food trucks that could barely keep up with the demand. I’d hoped to get a lobster roll from one truck that ran out just as we got our chance to order, so I got a couple tacos for us instead (as the kids nibbled some donut holes of some kind).

There were plenty of other trucks we could have sampled from, but nearly every one had lined 40-people deep, and there was only so much standing in line any of us could manage. Hannah and Aaron did great, however, and had loads of fun just running around before we called it a night.


The beautiful weather continued on through Sunday, so Vivian and I took the kids down to Stinson Park for some farmers’ market fun and some Lindy in the Park. We got a couple breakfast egg rolls for lunch (and balloons for the kids), and then got some quality time dancing with our Jitterbug friends once Billy and Lindsey came by with their kids. Edith Ann (AKA “Honey”) was celebrating a birthday today as well, which included a a birthday jam and a water balloon fight afterward (which Eric seemed to enjoy more than anyone). We danced a little with our kids, but they seemed to enjoy playing with Vivian and some bubbles afterward the most. We wore ourselves out over a couple hours before heading home and getting some ice cream along the way.

Summer is good so far. Next stop: Memorial Park and the Fourth of July!

Father’s Day and a Tornado

It’s been a fairly busy week for the Johnson Family. Between daily swimming lessons with the kids, a brief visit with Uncle Andy and Aunt Nancy, and a night off to see some RiffTrax Summer Shorts at the theater, we’ve had something going on nearly every night even before Father’s Day weekend got started.


On Friday night, I took the kids to their daily swimming lesson just as some severe weather started rolling in. Fortunately, Hannah and Aaron both got some swim time by doubling up with their lesson together before some approaching lightning shut the pool down.

I took the kids home to settle down for bed, and just as I was telling Hannah her bedtime story, the sirens went off. I hustled the kids downstairs to the basement to watch some TV as I checked the green sky outside. There was thunder and rain for about half an hour, but nothing strong enough to do more than knock a few sticks out of our tree. I got the kids back in bed a second time after things settled down, but then Hannah was up moments later exclaiming, “Daddy! There’s a RAINBOW!” Naturally, I took the kids outside to see the rainbow for a few minutes before rounding them back up inside.

The storm itself was much, much worse for folks just to the south of us. A few people lost their homes, thousands more were without power, and there were enough downed trees and limbs to fill an endless line of pickup trucks leading to the dump the following day. More than one trampoline also lost its life this day (but fortunately, no people).


On Saturday, I had an early breakfast with my dad and gave his lawn a mow before watching a new episode of MST3K (#1113: The Christmas that Almost Wasn’t).

Then that evening, we went to Jenny and Kody’s new house for a housewarming. Kody made some pork loin (with the help of a garden sprayer) and a bunch of our mutual friends — and their kids — came by to eat, swing some hula hoops, and jump for joy as the sun went down. This was actually the third of Jenny’s housewarming parties that I’ve been able to attend, the other two for a rental house and an apartment she had before getting married two years ago.


Sunday, of course, was Father’s Day. Hannah and Aaron woke me up with a muffin, coffee, and some hand-made cards. Hannah also put on a Daddy Day show for me with her toys. I dropped by my dad’s house to give him a gift or two before spending the day relaxing by fixing a lawn sprinkler, trimming back some trees, and playing Mega Man 2. Then at the end of the day, Vivian made me a surf-and-turf feast for dinner — prime rib, scallops, and yucca with a Crab Louie salad filled with shrimp and crab. Jack and I both got a few lovely gifts afterwards topped off with some peanut butter chocolate pie once the kids were put to bed.

It was a wonderful, delicious day. I’m just glad there are leftovers. Thank you for making me feel so loved, Vivian (and Hannah and Aaron)!

Listening Session with Deb Fischer

We just wrapped up a fun-filled weekend that involved both Father’s Day and an actual tornado in Bellevue, but first I wanted to write a brief political post.


One of the best things about our Republic is the back-and-forth average citizens are allowed to have with those who represent them, so on Friday, I decided to attend a “listening session” with Nebraska Senator Deb Fischer. It was held her at the Fort Street Campus of Metropolitan Community College near the heart of North Omaha — not friendly territory for a Republican by any means. Word of the event had spread among left-wing circles in Omaha, so when I arrived, the room was filled with rainbowhaired SJW-types, some of them handing out signs that said “demand single-payer” and “save the ACA.”

To her credit, Senator Fischer took questions from just about everyone, particularly those were were clearly hostile to her and the Republican Party. I think the left-wingers in the crowd were more interested in the catharsis of yelling at a Republican than having a dialogue, but Sen. Fischer didn’t even blink as she took their questions. She even stuck around afterward to take more questions one-on-one before she left.

What impressed me most about the whole exchange is that Senator Fischer didn’t have to hold a session like this at all. Brad Ashford didn’t hold even one town-hall event during his brief two-year term (which may be one reason he lost his seat to Don Bacon). Fischer also could have held an event like this with a much friendlier crowd in West Omaha, but instead she willingly walked into a lion’s den and met with some very angry people who would clearly never vote for her. That gives her high marks in my book. (And speaking of books, yes, I gave her a copy.)


Aaron turns 3

Our little boy turned three over the weekend, and now that summer is finally cranking up the heat, we celebrated in the coolest way we could manage (literally).


The fun started on Saturday at our favorite Omaha Sprayground, the Allplay splash pad at Seymour Smith Park. With temps close to 90, it definitely felt good to get a face full of ice-cold water with Aaron and his little friends (though he mostly just got his fingers wet). Vivian grilled hot dogs as the grandparents stayed mostly in the shade throughout the party, and then we had a little lunch before Grammy brought out her adorable Thomas the Tank Engine cake for Aaron to devour. There were also plenty of presents, of course, which Aaron opened on a blanket with his guests. Uncle Nathan even stopped by with a gift for Aaron before we packed up and headed out.


On Sunday, (Aaron’s actual birthday) we continued the celebration down at the Children’s Museum. They’d remodeled a few areas downstairs to include a light-up dance floor and Tetris game, but we spent most of our visit looking at the visiting Dinosaur exhibit upstairs. There were faux fossils to dig around, dinosaur sculpture to sit on, and plenty of (roped off) animatronic dinosaurs to get a picture with. The kids got a train ride and then got to participate in a parade around the museum before closing time.

On the way home, we got some dinner at Burger King along with a few birthday ice cream cones for the kids and plenty of time in the play area. Then Aaron got to open a few more presents at home before bedtime, including some outdoor gifts from Uncle Jonny and some trucks and tractors from mommy and daddy.

Rietjens Return and a Sandbox

Summer’s here now, with temperatures creeping into the 90s, which made for perfect weather to chill with the kids in a lawn sprinkler at Grammy’s house or at the local splash park after a bike ride home from work. Of course, it’s never too hot to have some of grandpa’s cheesy bacon grits, even after mowing the lawn.


On Sunday after church, Pastor Ryan and his family received a gift that could only happen in Nebraska: three boxes of beef from ¼ of a cow! Now, we just have to find a way to help him grill and eat all of it.

Then on Sunday night, we had a reunion with our old pastor Drew Rietjens and his family, who had come back to Bellevue to say hello. Our cluster of kids got to have some fun playing together once again as the grown-ups ate and caught up with one another downstairs.


Grammy and Pop-Pop had us over to have burgers on the deck on Monday night, giving the kids (and daddy) the chance to run in the sprinklers for a bit.

Grammy and Pop-Pop had us over for dinner on the deck on Monday night, giving the kids (and daddy) the chance to run in the sprinklers for a bit. We also picked up a few loads of sand from neighbor Toni for a new sandbox that Vivian and I (and Grammy) have been putting together for the kids in our backyard. It turned out to be a fairly extensive project requiring multiple days of hauling sand buckets, nailing wood, and clearing weeds from our backyard. It should be a fun place for the kids (and Zoey) to play during the summer once it’s done.