Father’s Day Surprise In Song and Bento

I went to bed worn out from the drama of before Father’s Day. I woke up expecting next to nothing. Not because nobody cares, but because Father’s Day is a low key event around here. Imagine my surprise.

I woke up feeling like I had been drinking, odd given that no drinking happened. Possibly rain, oh well most of the night before was spent discussing opening up the bento kitchen. I am all for that given how much I love to cook. The biggest stop to cooking around here has been Barb’s schedule and the fact that most of the stores she works at don’t have fridge or a microwave. However a solution was found and the bento kitchen is open.

Meaning my morning was spent in the kitchen.

  • Honey curry carrots
  • Curry smashed potatoes
  • Sweet and spicy bell pepper slices
  • Cold noodles
  • Rice
  • Tamago rolls
  • Garlic and butter mushroom quarters
  • Burnt onions, sounds wrong, but really good

If that had been the extent of my day, I would have been happy as the kids were being pretty good.

A quick trip to an over crowded store for additional ingredients and storage solutions for all of the food where my favorite meat counter lady knew exactly what I was looking for when I said smocked ham hock for red beans and rice. Not bad at all.

Then at home I get the real surprise.

Ever since an off-hand lengthy joke about the kids forming a band named Curb Service after an ill placed sign seen during C4*, our girl has been practicing the guitar. Almost everyday.

I don’t think about her practicing other than, “good she is practicing” and “good she is getting better.” So when I was pulled out of the bedroom where I was working on the recipe list for more bento stuff I was unprepared to find our girl sitting on a stool, music stand in front of her, guitar in her lap, ready to sing.

She wrote me a song.

“Violets are purple. Roses are red. I love you so Happy Father’s Day dad. Rhinos are grey same with rocks. Have a fun Father’s Day dad. I love you more than purple pie. So Happy Father’s Day dad.”

I have the video. I would share it with you, but I am saving it for when she becomes famous and is out of control. You know how famous people get.

Then to top it off, I was given a pair of plaid shorts. I saw a pair on an elderly man and commented I would like a pair too because he, like me, didn’t seem to give a shit and people gave him what he wanted and were nice to him to boot. My thought, the plaid shorts have magical powers otherwise why wear them when not on a golf course.

And that is why I cannot play the piano and had an awesome Father’s Day.

* This curb service sign was at least 200 feet away from the restaurant on the busiest road imaginable. My story was someone parking alongside the curb and yelling to the people outside about wanting service. This triggered an hour long bout of laughing, a band, their number one song “I want my wiener,” and numerous other good memories.

Trials and Tribulations of Comic Books

As regular readers know, we enjoy going to comic cons. What you may assume is that we are avid readers and collectors of comic books. That would make sense, read and collect comic books, thus go to comic cons to find, share, and enjoy in our love of comic books. The reality is that we are not avid readers nor collectors.

A long time ago, up to the middle of high school I was an avid reader and collector of comic books. I sold them for something or the other I wanted at the time. No regrets, but that marked the end of my comic book reading and collecting.

Then children arrive. In an effort to move them from board books I think how much enjoyment I got from comic books. Plus, I had an itch to read something different. Perhaps I think, comic books might be another bridge for the kids and the adults, might spark some creativity in all of us, and show the kids that the don’t have to give up pictures and words for word only books.

Except the kids…well were kids. They had to see some of the Marvel movies first. Actually SEE Iron Man before they even wanted to open a comic book. Guess what happened then? If you guessed, Iron Man on a page did not look like or act like Iron Man on the movie screen you would be right.

Funny thing is that the stuff in a comic book store caught their attention; a poster, a statue or the cover of a comic book. Slowly over the years I try to introduce a comic book or two that I think one child or another will enjoy based…well based mostly on nothing because there is a problem with comic books and purchasing them, at least for me.

I can read story synopsizes and reviews until I am blue in the face. What I cannot not find out until I purchase something is how much other reading is necessary to make the comic or graphic novel make any sense at all. I know comic books have never been much on anything other than pumping out issue after issue, with variant covers, and crossover stories, and reboots, and blah blah blah…

That’s great for someone to dive in. For someone looking for a place to start for themselves or their children, a real crapshoot and not a crapshoot in favor of the parent. Yes, I am frustrated. If the children had remained immune to comic books I wouldn’t be. But they are interested and they have questions that I cannot answer because I, like them, have no clue about references and history no in the issue or novel they are reading.

That level of disconnect is not good. Try to imagine a book that billed itself as the “first” or “the whole story” and as you read you realized that there were hundreds of other books that were referenced directly and indirectly and you have no way of knowing what they mean. Frustrating right? Now imagine being a kid.

I am happy and surprised each time one of them comes out of the library with a comic book or graphic novel and finishes it, a single issue is confusing and graphic novels are never “the whole story or series” in one book. I hope that comic book creators figure out some way to address this, I know our kids and I would appreciate that. We might purchase more than we do.

Bass Thump Bass Thump Woot Woot

Thumpity Bumpity Woot Woot

AAHhhhhhh!

Chapter 5 is killing me.

Really, what was I writing?

I wish I knew, Chapter 5 of Puddles and Whiskers is getting an overhaul. A massive overhaul. I know what I wrote, I even know why I wrote what I wrote, but as of today I am not happy with what I wrote. Entire paragraphs of “descriptions,” have the note, “Expand, add detail, and fix.” The opening to the chapter is so vague to be worse than a bland description of a location, I have no idea how the location fits into the city as it is written. So I am fixing it.

Then there is the dialog. Ugh! I hate books with bad dialog and I just read my own. I can’t hear the voice of at least two of my characters in the words I wrote. So I am fixing that as well.

Thumpity Bumpity Woot Woot

Frustrated I left town for a few hours. I took my writing with me and that did not help until I zipped the folder up and let all of the information float around my head while I looked for a gift for a friend, picked up a game for us, and generally enjoyed the day.

As parents we have two more days of freedom. After that SUMMER! That means kids at home. We have a vigorous list of ideas for the summer, but the initial start to summer is always slow with the kids at home and being “bored.” For the next two days, the adults are going to do adult things (yes that too) because once the kids are out of school the cost of doing anything goes way up and there are plenty of places we go where the kids will not have fun.

So wish us a happy two days of freedom. 🙂

Bumpity Thumpity Woot Woot

You are sitting at a traffic light. The windows are down on the car next to you. The rap music is up. Every loose part on the car is shaking with each BOOM of bass. You have already made up your mind about the individual and their music, don’t lie, you have. My reaction is amusement, because there is a person with more money than sense and a future filled with “WHAT? I can’t hear you.” And it was their choice. So I am amused.

So I have a smile on my face because the scene is funny to me. The bass is thumping, the rapper screaming, the light goes green and

WOOT WOOT

comes from the car. Not WOOT WOOT in a deep manly voice, but in a someone grabbed the rapper by the balls, squeezed, and squeezed again to get that “perfect” note.

Smile even larger.

For the rest of the day in my head is

bumpity thumpity (yes those words) WOOT WOOT

this is my jingle of happiness. When my tacos fell apart, bumpity thumpity WOOT WOOT and taco disaster was AOK. Stuck at a light, bumpity thumpity WOOT WOOT. Get home and resume editing…

bumpity thumpity WOOT WOOT

Chapter 5 will be AOK. 🙂

Stories From The Con

“Hey, look the Toyota sigil,” our boy says while we are standing in the advance ticket line that stretches to the horizon.

Fifteen minutes later, we are standing at the front door.

“I smell popcorn,” he says as we enter the snake like cue to turn our printed out tickets into a red wristband allowing us to enter and exit the con as we like

Ten feet later we are surrounded by people, this would affectionably be known as crowded, oh how we would learn what a crowd really looked like the next day. In front of us a sticker booth with Spongebob stickers. Yes, I was the first to go “Ooohh” and completely destroy our plans to walk the con first. In my defense the stickers were cool.

As a family we had two shopping goals, a few new posters, and comic books. You would think finding comic books at a giant comic con would be easy. Not if you are me and not if you didn’t feel like dealing with people who are collectors, as opposed to me who hasn’t collected in over thirty years. I really wanted some New Wolverine and some New X-Men, took me until the third day to find New Wolverine that was affordable.

In no particular order here are some stories from the con…

On Saturday, the adult costume contest happened. Now, at this point all of us were tired, a really shitty night of sleep (a story for tomorrow), had us sitting in a corner praying for our feet to recover and trying to figure out how we were going to last until the Wil Wheaton experience in 3 hours. As we sat there, people in costume gathered. Lots of people. Then John Snow fell asleep just as Godzilla’s tail arrived. Soon enough Godzilla’s body arrived and we watched as the body attempted to eat a boy trying to put the body on. Seriously, nothing else was more fascinating than watching this boy and his dad (assumed) put this Godzilla costume on before the contest.

“You collect organs from the other players,” and that is how I found myself purchasing Organ Attack the Family-Friendly Game of Organ Harvesting. This person knew exactly what to say to me and the family. Even better, next to the stack of Organ Attack a stack of Fowl Language. Barb was excited by that as she gets the cartoon on one of her social media feeds. Hilarious, if you can find it and are a parent or going to be one, get it!

The baseball sized illustrations were from an artist around the corner. Hundreds of illustrations of anything and everything popular media wise. He was cools sitting in his chair inviting people to look. That was something that stood out to me, way to many artists and other people did nothing than display their stuff. Those who engaged, they were the ones we stopped at and had fun with.

Which brings me to fun encounters starting with the kids…

Karen and Darrin (link is to their webpage) had a booth with children’s choose your own adventure style books, Myth Solver and many variations of the standard superhero posters, a favorite I am Goof: Goofy and Groot merged. They got our kids attention and then got our attention. By the time we left their booth the kids had picked up six volumes of Myth Solver (our girl is almost done with book one and LOVES it).

Sometimes all it takes is a name, which how our boy found ourselves in front of Donovan Scherer’s booth. Now I can’t claim to know most of what happened, I was on the other side of the aisle ogling artwork. What I can say is that our boy walked away a few bucks lighter, wearing a smile, and with his own reading material.

Tomorrow the Wil Wheaton experience and a high five.

Games We Play: Food Can Wait, We Are Gaming

We are a gamer family, you know this, but I like to establish some credentials first. 🙂 While home we play big games. Games that take time and space to play. Such as Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, Warhammer, and Forbidden Stars. Between big games we play smaller gamers. Games that take little time and space to play. Such as Get Bit, Roll For It, and Tiny Epic Galaxies or Kingdoms.

Our boy, after watching Tabletop Star Realms episode, wanted a deck of his own to take to school. Awesome, he wants to teach his friends how to play and start his own gamer group. Fully behind this and secretly hoping traveling games would travel with us, I got him his own deck.

And that deck went to school the next day. My only guidelines, no playing class, no variant rules (he likes to make his own rules that ensure his victory and everyone elses dislike of his variant rule), and if you get the deck taken away from you at school you are on your own for getting a new deck.

Each day a new game report, mostly interrupted games-lunch ended, recess ended, the wind started, and so on. He is getting his friends involved. At home we already play Star Realms, so all this did was increase the frequency of games. Surprsing to me, he began to bring Star Realms with him everywhere we go. Now, I have tried prior to this to bring games and have had no luck engaging people, which is why I expected the same result.

I was wrong and I am glad to be wrong. Provided someone is sitting across from him he pulls out Star Realms and a game ensues. And because of these experiences we have started to amass knowledge on the do’s and don’ts of gaming at a restaurant.

For games like Star Realms, two sides with a central row of cards, figure out a way to layout the game to take up less space, in this case the explorer cards which are always available are stacked underneath the draw deck, still visible and easy to draw. In addition, loss the authority life counter cards, they take up too much space, a napkin and a pen more efficient and space saving.

Learn how dining works. This is more for the kids playing than the adults. Waitstaff have a rhythm, some are good, some are bad, most fall between that. They want to greet, take your drinks, bring you drinks, take order, bring food, and check out how things are going. Adults know this. Kids may know this, but when deep in a game could care less.

Thus, games have to wait until they know what they want to order. Thankfully ours have learned how to order. Games need to proceed quicker than at home. Nothing irritates waitstaff like having to wait for a game to finish or clear out before food can be served. Of course, if the waitstaff has already demonstrated they are screw ups, an extra minute of holding plates wont hurt them.

Be prepared to explain to the waitstaff they game. Some waitstaff has genuinely been interested in the game. Just don’t let you overeager children explain, take the time as an adult to learn the game (you should be a gamer) and explain to the waitstaff. Service goes up when the waitstaff are also gamers.

I’m sure we will learn more as gaming continues. 🙂

Games We Play: My Little Pony Tails of Equestria

Another apology, my arm is still hurting and the medicine causes me to sleep way more than I normally do. Soon enough all will return to normal. I have the next installment of Puddles and Whiskers and Menagerie almost ready to go. Why am I not finishing them? Because the gamer dad in me is extremely excited about My Little Pony Tails of Equestria by Shinobi 7 and River Horse.

I have tried all of the kids lives to get them involved in games. There are so many positives to play games at all ages. Because I am an uber gamer I have introduced every type of game to our children; card games, collectible card games, deck building, dice, miniature, strategy games and anything else you can think of. The only type of gaming that has not been successful is roleplaying games.

There are very few roleplaying games marketed for children. While our children are interested in fantasy and science-fiction the amount of work for a typical role playing game, even those marketed towards children is off putting. Worse, even if they are willing to do the work to make a character and learn some of the rules, the setting is…not marketed towards children or at least their attention span.

Tails of Equestria is…great. The book is covered in My Little Pony stills and artwork, making everything immediately recognizable to anyone who has watched the show, seen the movies, or read the comic books.

Character creation is simple, pick a pony type-earth, pegasus, or unicorn, sorry no alicorns. Earth ponies are stout, pegasus can fly, and unicorns have magical abilities. Pick an element of harmony, think alignment, but more relatable than alignment has ever been. Then pick body or mind preference, is your character strong or smart (this is selling the two attributes short, but gets the point across). Pick a talent and a quirk, talents are abilities a pony has and quirks are things that set ponies apart, usually negative such as afraid of heights. Finally draw and color your pony and their cutie mark. For those drawing challenged like me there are character sheets with pony outlines coming soon.

Game mechanics are simple, the Storyteller establishes a difficulty number, the Pony Character (PC) rolls a die or two. If the number is equal or great the challenge is overcome. Yes, there are rules for fighting or Scuffling. However, scuffling is the last resort, overcoming challenges and obstacles other ways are preferred.

Teamwork is encouraged throughout the book. There are plenty of ways ponies can work together from working as team (everyone rolls and take the best result) to tokens of friendship. Tokens of friendship are beads or gems each pony character gets at the start of an adventure. Cash the tokens in for rerolls, to automatically pass a test, or better yet share the tokens with fellow ponies to aid them.

I was impressed with the writing. I know I can hand Tails of Equestria to either of my kids and they can understand all of the concepts. Information is kept together with clear page references to where you can find the information.

So why am I so impressed? Tails of Equestria is the kind of roleplaying game that children can sink their teeth into with quick character creation, mechanics easy to understand and implement, and best of all the setting is recognizable and easy to get into (no need to try to explain what a bugbear is), children only need to have seen My Little Pony.

Learning By Living

In an effort to convince myself that I am really am on the mend, I spent the day out with the family. A beautiful day of driving to and fro observing the colors and wildlife, although are cows and horses wildlife? For this purpose, as we drove past, yes they can.

I think I have mentioned how having a home, not an apartment, is a constant learning experience for us. I am hoping that by the second go-around with the seasons we will be ready, for example having gone through one winter here I know the following:

  • Get the windows sealed in October
  • Purchase at least 150 pounds of salt before the first snow fall, we have a HUGE driveway
  • Purchase a snow blower, but allow the snow to compact a bit before blowing the driveway
  • Purchase a third shovel, because three people shoveling is much faster
  • Put at least 70 pounds of sand in the trunk of the car for the ice rink that the driveway can become

We moved in at the very tail end of summer last year, thus have no frame of reference. All I know from last year is mow the lawn in stages to avoid collapsing from exhaustion. However, since the warm-up began we have learned the following:

  • We should purchase some form of riding lawn mower, not because we are lazy, but because almost 2 acres is a lot and instead of having to mow for a month and a half or so, going to have to mow for at least four months
  • A hose is a necessity
  • A second rake is a necessity
  • Lots of charcoal for grilling, lots
  • Opening one window does nothing to improve the internal temperature, however opening a second window on the opposite side creates optimal air flow, fans are not a necessity
  • Outdoors is fun when you don’t have to share your backdoors with neighbors less than twenty feet away, thus lawn furniture is a must

I know we are missing out on several other things, I watch the neighbors do “stuff” and I know we are not doing what they are doing, so I wonder what do they know that we don’t know…I guess we will find out over the next few months.

So while we learn we continue to enjoy our time here, the kids attempted to fly kites, mostly running around dragging kites, and we cooked out. Both of these things are activities we have not had an opportunity to do or see and both, especially the kids playing outside, make us smile…even if the kites crashed into trees, were drug along the ground, or in one bizarre case ended up wrapped around one child’s neck…don’t ask us how and we were watching.