Friday, February 25, 2022

Friday Video: Celebrity Skin

With everything happening in Ukraine, I feel really silly posting this today. Even just typing this sentence makes me think I shouldn't do it. I guess if you're fortunate enough to be able to take a short break from watching and reading about the news, you can check out this cover of Celebrity Skin by Doja Cat.

While I understand that this cover was part of a Taco Bell commercial during the Super Bowl, I dig it. I love the original (the guitar riff is just awesome) and feel like Doja Cat did a nice job recreating the song. I hope that it gets released as a single, assuming that's still a thing.

Here's the original song by Hole in case this song is new to you or if you just want your 90s nostalgia fix!

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Mountain Man

For several years if not longer, I’ve passed this billboard on the Pennsylvania Turnpike:

I’m extremely excited that I finally got this picture. Credit to my brother for playing a photographer on the internet! I’ve often wondered about the Mountain Man character. Is he supposed to be like McGruff the Crime Dog, Gus the groundhog for the Pennsylvania lottery, or my favorite short-lived character G-Hog for the Pennsylvania Department of Labor?

I searched for the Pennsylvania Dairy Promotion Program, and the website is all about the Dairy Princesses. The cold (milkshakes) never bothered them anyway! So was or is Mountain Man ever used in any campaign other than billboards around Pennsylvania? More importantly, is DJ Khaled getting any royalties for the resemblance?

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

The Van Gogh Immersive Experience

My kids often lack culture in their lives. The Moose is all about sports. Pedro Tulo would be happy watching MLW Wiffle Ball, Dude Perfect, and Mr. Beast videos on YouTube all day. Luigi enjoys Paw Patrol and Wild Kratts. None of these activities or interests have much to do with art, theater, or music. So after hearing good things about Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience, I decided to get tickets for a family adventure.

Our initial plan and tickets were for late December. Unfortunately, Pedro Tulo was a COVID close contact from someone at his school and because of Christmas, there was a delay in getting the test results back. While he was ultimately negative, we were able to move the tickets to this past Sunday.

The first few rooms were fine. They showed replicas of many of Van Gogh's works and even created an actual room of the Bedroom in Arles painting. There was a lot of text about Van Gogh's life and the paintings, but my kids were more interested in just looking quickly and seeing what was next. And then we entered the "360-degree digital show" room. 

Sensory overload! And they loved it. In the video, you can hear Pedro Tulo share his excitement. Then, we went to a room where you colored your own Van Gogh work and take a picture to put it on the big screen. I did not intend to make Van Gogh look like a White Walker from Game of Thrones!

Overall, the kids enjoyed it. This was definitely something different for them and was more interactive than many other art exhibits and galleries, so that was a huge plus. Next up, maybe we can find an orchestra or symphony concert!

Friday, February 11, 2022

RIP Chris

What you're reading right now is my 5th or 6th attempt at figuring out what to write. My friend Chris recently passed away at the age of 46. Chris and I grew up together in the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh, and I probably haven't seen him in over 25 years. While I believe that we played baseball and participated in Cub Scouts together, we were definitely on the same "Under 10" championship-winning soccer team. (More on this momentarily.) We also starred in high school musicals together though he was a much better performer than me. (More on this momentarily too.)

There are certainly a lot of negatives about social media, however, one of the positives is that it can bring people back together. Chris and I reconnected on Facebook and on Twitter many years after graduating from high school. We mostly simply liked each other's posts, but we were supportive of each other's blogs. While Chris' The Moldy Cheese blog was short lived and long erased from the internet, it really showed his sense of humor. When I wrote about finding our soccer championship trophy, Chris wrote that he still had his trophy too. He also shared a very sweet message after my dad, who was our soccer coach, passed away.

Back in 2017, there was a show on ABC hosted by Kristen Bell called Encore! The show reunited classmates to perform their high school musicals. Chris organized us online and submitted an application to the show. Although we weren't selected, it was fun getting together virtually with everyone again. Plus, Chris starting this resulted in videos of our Lil' Abner show getting posted on YouTube.

Chris had health problems for some time, but at least online, he maintained his sense of humor. He was one of the nicest people you'll ever meet, and he will definitely be missed.

Chris' obituary is available here.

Thursday, February 10, 2022

We Don't Talk About Uno

Shoma Uno won the bronze medal in the men's figuring skating event at 2022 Winter Olympics occurring right now in China. While you can watch his entire short program on YouTube (NBC won't allow the video to appear here), I recommend going to 3:15 of the video to listen to Tara Lipinski talk about his performance. Specifically, she says that we hear all about Nathan Chen and Yuma Kagiyama but not Uno. What a missed opportunity to say that we don't talk about Uno!

Thanks to my friend Messiah for letting me know about the video and comment and for making this terrific observation!

Tuesday, February 08, 2022

The Moose Plays Basketball

While he has played baseball and soccer over the years, we signed up The Moose for basketball this winter. This is the first time that The Moose and many of his teammates have played organized basketball. It has certainly been a challenge and a learning curve playing on a full court with referees calling traveling, double dribbles, and fouls. The lack of experience, particularly against other teams with kids playing multiple seasons, has certainly shown. Many of The Moose’s teammates aren’t comfortable dribbling the basketball and spacing and movement on offense is generally haphazard or non-existent. While they certainly try hard, the season has not gone well from a record standpoint. 

They started the season 0-5, though the games were all close. The 6th game might have gone in The Moose's team's favor except for one kid who regularly dribbled past the defense for easy lay-ups. Seriously, look at the score book. This kid, who may be a young Steph Curry that doesn't need to shoot from 30 feet away, scored 25 of the opposing team's 40 points.

One thing to note from this game is that The Moose (#21 above) scored 6 points. In his first four games, he scored nothing. Nada. Zip. He had 4 points in the 5th game, and he was so excited about it.

Then came the next game. The Moose's team was 0-6 at this point playing the league's best team. It went poorly. The Moose's team trailed 24-0 at halftime. That's not a typo. 24-0. Fortunately, his team played excellent defense in the second half and ended up losing 28-10 with The Moose getting a late basket. The story of this game for me was the opposing coach, parents, and then the kids. The coach constantly pleaded and argued with the teenage referees for foul calls in this 5th grade basketball league, even when up big. A few of the parents of the opposing team sitting near me did the same thing. While the teenage refs either ignored the complaints or didn't hear them, I got more and more angry. I was actually shaking at one point. Texting with friends and family and posting on Twitter helped. I also made sure to encourage The Moose and his teammates. After the game, I even emailed The Moose's coach letting him know my thoughts on the other team. (It's at the end of the email.)

There's a good ending to this post. Over the weekend, The Moose's team won its first game. And they won fairly easily 26-12. He scored another 4 points and is getting more and more confident each game. The team clearly isn't the best in the league, but they're improving and having fun, and that's what really matters.

Dear Coach,

I just wanted to send you a quick note that I appreciate all of the time that you're spending coaching and teaching the kids. While the kids may be disappointed in the losses, I can certainly see improvement from the beginning of the season. The important thing for the kids is to have fun and learn about basketball and be better at the end of the season from where they were when they started. 

To that point, thank you for being positive. I've been a soccer coach for several years and have also been a soccer referee since I was a teenager. I found myself getting angry yesterday at the opposing coach calling for fouls and arguing calls with the teenage referees. Some of the opposing team's parents were doing the same thing. Naturally, this rubs off on the players as I saw a few of them argue foul calls even though they were up big late in the fourth quarter. I'm glad that our team doesn't do this. This is a 5th grade rec league for fun, not the NBA with professional players, coaches, and referees.