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Wanna Fanta?

No thank you ma’am, I do not.  Some flavors are better left alone.  Especially Pina Colada Fanta!  I have fond memories drinking one of these wine coolers as a kid playing in my friend’s kiddy pool with some action figures.  Yes, back in the day when everything was not so politically correct, and kids could ride their bikes around the neighborhoods by themselves.  I also remember drinking a virgin Pina Colada on the Ferry ride at Moody Gardens in Galveston, Texas when I proposed to my wife.  I guess I got it kind of backwards with the alcoholic one as a kid and the virgin as an adult.  You would have to be drunk though to “Wanna Fanta” with this soda.

What does it taste like?  Absolutely nothing!  The closest flavor I can use to describe this beverage is Alka Seltzer.  You literally cannot tell what they are going for and then the carbonation hits your taste buds.  Now I have an entire two liter and do not know what to do with it.  A normal person might simply just throw it away, but I am cheap and spent $2.00 on this.  So, what would a dad of three boys do with this dilemma?

Science experiment time!  I am not talking about making something with it.  Making stuff is a mom thing. “To infinity and beyond” with this newly acquired rocket it is.  I wonder if Mentos works with all soda or just diet Coke?  Now all the moms who have read this are about to move on but the dads…your about to Google the Mentos with other soda thing.  Am I right?

CIDERCADE IS TOO SWEET!

275 Arcade games, unlimited play, and $10 entry!  Cidercade is a fathers dream for showing their kids the games they grew up on.  Kids also are exposed to the old school nostalgia of being in an arcade, which is rare nowadays.

At first, I was just chasing my kids around making sure nobody abducted them and wasted their gas money returning them after an hour.  This isn’t Chucky Cheese where you get black light stamps on your hands with a door greeter ready to verify who you are chauffeuring around.  The counter at the front is basically to pay to get in and purchase drinks.

They do not sell snacks or food, but you are allowed to bring food in.  My wife got some Little Cesar’s pizza door dashed in and I bought drinks there.  The small cups are like $4.00 a piece but it is unlimited re-fills.  Out of all the drinks we tried Mexican Cola and lemon-lime.  Do not get lemon-lime!  Straight sugar!  It was so sweet that not even my eight-year-old could stand to drink it. 

After lunch I got on WWE Superstars and broke a table over Macho Man’s head.  Then using Ultimate Warrior, I Gorilla Press Slammed Big Boss Man out of the ring.  My two-year-old and I then got on Tekken 7.  I finally got to play as Negan from the Walking Dead.  I own the game at home but spending money on DLC is few and far between. 

Talk about a challenge.  Try holding a two-year-old and play with a joystick on a fighting game at the same time.  That should be difficulty “Daddy.”  I do like the way they took a flat screen T.V. and hooked it up in front of an arcade box and connected it to use the arcade stick controls.  Tekken 7 is not an old school game but is so popular that while other games like Mortal Kombat X have come out with predecessors like MK11, Tekken is going strong in the fighting game community.  Quality over quantity, even though Mortal Kombat has the best fighting engine. 

I did get to game with my four-year-old as well.  A good chunk of time was spent on this Walking Dead game where you use a bow gun to shoot zombies in the head.  We beat the first part and I had 137 kills!  He had 1.  Maybe I got carried away, but I felt like I was protecting him from the zombies.  We played a shark game too and we pretended to try to save Captain Barnacles from a shark…he didn’t make it.  Also, I found out that your kids heads are perfect for balancing your gun on to get better shots. 

My eight-year-old thinks he has a world record now too.  He was playing ski ball and got the ball stuck in the upper left corner, right next to the big 10,000-point hole.  I told him to just roll a ball up there and knock it out.  Well, when he did, he scored the 10,000 and knocked the other one losing adding another 1,000.  So, he basically thinks he managed an 11,000-point shot when only 10,000 is the highest you can get.

He was so excited telling his mother about it on the way home.  I didn’t want to ruin it by letting her know I hit the 10,000 three times out of my nine balls and two were back-to-back. 

I always wanted to give my kids the full arcade experience and Cidercade is the closest thing around.  The only thing that would make it more authentic is having to use quarters, ending up paying more than $10, and having some teenager whose mom drops him off at the arcade everyday come up to you on Mortal Kombat, beat you and basically take over your game.

The Last Weltzbarker

The night was dark, and the wind blew at an unforgiving negative thirty degrees Fahrenheit.  Icicles formed over his cheeks where the tears of loneliness fell from his blood covered face.  His body was not cold, as it was covered in the warm blood of his fellow comrade who gave his life by falling onto the grenade that had landed into their bunker.  Only his heart grew colder with thoughts of revenge and vengeance. 

Now the entire brigade was dead and only one man stood in the way of the enemy winning World War III in Antarctica.  That man was Micheal Welztbarker, the “Last Weltzbarker.”

With no ammo left and no explosives, making a stand in the trench was not an option.  He had to take the fight to them, the Eskimos. 

He scavenged his surrounds for anything that might be of use to him in his final attempt at victory.  Most of the artillery had been damaged in the explosions so he was going to have to get creative.  As he shuffled through the bodies his foot bumped into an open sack of potatoes, and then it hit him.  I will make a potato gun!

Within just minutes the gun was assembled and the “Last Weltzbarker” was ready to take the enemy head on. 

“How can I defeat an entire army with just a sack of potatoes,” he asked himself? 

Just then a rocket exploded in the air and revealed a hot water tower in the center of their camp. 

“That’s it,” he exclaimed!  If I can take out that tower, it will destroy their base and end the war. 

It was time.  He bolted out of the bunker with the sack over one shoulder and gun in hand.  About halfway to the base a snow sled spotted him.  The dogs quickly swerved towards his location. 

As the sled closed in on him, he loaded his potato gun with the largest potato he could find.  He turned back and fired blindly into the night towards the barking snow dogs.  Suddenly he heard the sled stop. 

Instinctively he sprinted to it to finish the job, but the potato had already succeeded.  A perfect headshot.  The Eskimo laid there spread out like a headless snow angel.  Now Micheal had a sled.  He frisked the soldier for anything of use and found nothing.  He would just have to improvise. 

He boarded the sled and mushed the dogs towards the tower.  The enemy open fired on him as he approached with great speed.  As he got closer, he realized they had an electric fence barrier.  He was going to have to use a heavy projectile to take it down. 

The potatoes where not heavy enough and nor was the sled.  He was going to have to use himself.  He barked at the dogs to go faster.  As he built up speed, he poised himself on the rails of the sled. 

Thirty feet, twenty feet, ten feet, and the dogs stopped!  Weltzbarker leapt from the sled into the fence with such velocity it caved under the momentum.  Sparks flew as the lethal voltage consumed his body.  A lesser man would have died instantly but he was a Weltzbarker. 

A voice in his head said, “On your feet soldier!” 

Struggling to his feet, surrounded by smoke and gunfire, the war-torn hero could only make out a small round object heading his way.  It was a grenade!  This was what he needed, however.  He dove into the air like a cheetah and caught the explosive with his teeth.  He struggled to remove it from his mouth as he knew he only had a few seconds before detonation.  He loaded it into the potato gun with hast, aimed, and fired at the water tower.

It was a direct hit!  The tower exploded and instantly turned into a fountain of hail raining down on the enemy.  The frigid air turned the water into a shower of death.  The base was being destroyed and the war was over. 

The “Last Weltzbarker” laid there in the blood covered snow with a deep burning in his chest.  He ripped his shirt with his bare hands to inspect the damage the electric fence had done to his body. 

The fence had burned his chest permanently with what appeared to be an “M” and “W” on his chest.  “Micheal Weltzbarker,” he thought to himself.  The “Last Weltzbarker.”

[In dedication to the real-life Micheal Weltzbarker.  A man who was truly one of a kind.  Known to most simply as Shag, he fortunately got to read this story before he passed on.  Your stories continue to bring us laughter at work when the days feel so long.]

Army of the Dead

(non-spoiler)

Zombie tiger, Bautista, and the “City That Never Dies!”  Released on May 21, 2021 on Netflix of all places, Army of the Dead looks entertaining and creative.  Bautista was dominating in WWE but left the company for the same reasons I quit watching the product, it felt weak and lacked attitude.  I have become even a bigger fan of him since his role in Guardians of the Galaxy as that is one of my kids and I favorite movies.  A Bautista Bomb is not going to be enough though to take out this hoard as director Zack Snyder has evolved the undead with abilities to organize, learn, and grossly enough have relationships judging by the trailer. 

Would I recommend allowing my kids to watch?  If your kids are normalized to zombies and gore, then yes.  I have not seen the movie yet and it got an R rating mainly for gore but that is probably it.  Do not let your children watch before bed though as you will be the one feeling like a zombie the next day after no sleep from your kids under your covers with you due to nightmares.

When will I review the movie?  Probably never.  My kids have not only got my PS4 put away for bad behavior but the T.V. as well.  My oldest is upset that he has been grounded from games for a week.  I have not been able to play for 11 weeks!  I guess we are just going to have to act out the movie.  Time for cheap guns and swords from Dollar Tree.  Inexpensive ghouls make up is easy also.  Just rub Elmer’s glue on the skin, let it dry, peal it a bit and add ketchup underneath to give your flesh a raw, bloody appearance.  Scare your kids and the Door Dash delivery person at the same time.

Magical Beans and The Black Pearl

What does vomit taste like?  Like vomit!  Bertie Bott’s every flavor beans literally are every flavor.  My wife and I were about to have a long overdue date without the kids, and I thought it would be a nice treat to share a pack of these magical jellybeans we bought last time we went to the Strand in Galveston, TX.  Flavors include watermelon, cherry, green apple, earwax, rotten egg, and vomit just to name a few.  We knew it could end up bad, so we bought a drink and some snacks from the gas station.  The horrible taste forced me to be a real “Macho Man” because I had to snap into a Slim Jim just to get the taste out of my mouth.  The candy was not the only magical experience.

The Strand has some amazing art galleries in some of the local shops.  Art is expensive and we would never buy anything worth a lot.  Our kids cannot even make it home from Dollar Tree with a toy still together much less have an expensive piece of artwork in our home.  A hand made bronze head statue of Medusa was priced at $6,000!  Another shop had random books that were eighty years old and still in good condition for that age.  All that walking made us hungry, so we tried to find a restaurant that we have never been to before.

Aye, the Black Pearl.  All but cursed, delicious food and attentive staff.  Set up like an old school diner on the corner, they serve all kinds of seafood platters.  The fried alligator was tender and the jalapeno, shrimp poppers were huge.  I honestly just wanted to be able to tell my kids I ate an alligator.  Even though they love seeing gators at the zoo, they would rather eat candy.  Do not worry kiddos, daddy saved some treats for you all. 

Four-year-old tries vomit flavor, no problem.  Earthworm next, pretty good.  Draws the line at back pepper, really?!  So, he tries dirt and spits it out but its okay because we have soap to counter act that one.  The seven-year-old at least earned four dollars because he was bold enough to accept the challenge and try rotten egg.  Poor boy could not spit it out though because it got stuck in his teeth.  He will survive.  Speaking of surviving, I am giving a big thank you to our friend for watching our kids and allowing my wife and I to get to know each other again after devoting a 100% of our time to our children every day. 

The Broken Sunflower

There once was a sunflower whose hue was so bright,

its petals could pierce even the darkest of night.

Standing five foot six it would reach for the sky,

every day it would stretch another foot high.

Through the summer drought and winter snow,

no matter the weather it continued to grow.

In a garden of flowers stood a lonely weed,

engulfed in darkness needing to be freed.

Sharing its sunlight and water too,

one forever the two of them grew.

Storms took their toll and sadness began to show,

but somehow each day it continued to glow.

Then one day the wind was blowing so hard,

it blew its stem back until it was touching the yard.

Now it could see that it wasn’t as tall,

the weed had been cutting itself to be small.

In time the grass grew and created a wall,

their moments together gone once and for all.

Within the grass jungle there sprouted three plants,

hand to hand like an army of ants.

They extended their leaves from flower to weed,

reuniting the two again through seed.

Only Kids Deal in Absolutes

Three boys and no Star Wars kids!  I do not think my kids would last long if Anakin Skywalker were their father.  I try time and time again to get them interested by skipping to only the light saber duels but to no avail.  My seven-year-old once told me he hates Star Wars.  Well buddy, Steve from Minecraft cannot force choke anybody or use force lightning, so I am not too impressed there either. 

Inside Wal-Mart last weekend getting toys and my oldest got a red, Darth Vader light saber.  He then decided to put it back so he could use the money instead to get more DLC for Minecraft.  I told him to get the sword, but he is obviously a Sith and deals only in absolutes.  I got it instead for myself because the Sith Lord’s weapon is very special to me.  He did not understand what I meant until later that night.

Later that night I showed him a video on my Facebook of his recently deceased dog Cara.  His very first pet.  It was a happy video in first person view of me calling her “c’mon girl.”  As she ran up to me with a cheesy dog grin on her face, in the bottom right of the screen you see me pull out a red-light saber and turn it on with the sound and everything.  She freaked out and took off faster than a Jawa with an Imperial droid!  Now he knew that Vader’s force instrument was not just a plaything but held sentimental value for me now. 

Rest in peace Cara and May the 4th be with you.

YOU’RE A HOLIDAY HARRY!

Imagine telling such an epic tale that you get an international holiday named after your creation.  Author J.K. Rowling, from living in her car, to guiding children of all ages and cultures into enjoying literary works of fiction again, imagined the unimaginable.  She opened kids’ hearts to the inside cover of books filled with magic and meaningful story telling.  May second is officially international “Harry Potter Day.”  I have not read a single page of Harry Potter, but no need in my house as I live it every day.

Multiple copies of every Harry Potter book, movies, t-shirts, socks, hair clips, coffee cups, phone cases, wands, shower curtains, birthday parties and cookbooks.  My wife has it all.  She grew up on the tales of Harry, Hermione, and Ron.  I still remember when my seven-year-old seen the last film where the chosen one is supposedly dead.  He was so sad.  His heart was so invested in the characters that for it to end that way gave him a real since of loss.  When the “boy who lived” leapt out of Hagrid’s sorrowful embrace to challenge the “dark lord” he bounded from the comfort of our couch in a burst of excitement screaming “I knew it, I knew he wasn’t dead!”  That is exactly where I want to be as a writer.  Not to bring the adventure to the reader but rather carry the audience into the hearts of the characters.

Everyone has a favorite that they personally identify with.  Each house possesses different core traits.  Within our home, I believe we consist of all the original masters of magic.  My wife Gryffindor for her helping others, twenty-one-month Ravenclaw for his wit, four-year-old Hufflepuff for his loyalty, and seven-year-old Slytherin for his ambition.  The ambitious one is the most concerning.  Patience, a trait of Hufflepuff, is my best defense against the dark arts taking this one from me.  It has long been plaguing my thoughts that this one will need me the most and when the time comes that he truly needs me it will cost me dearly, possibly my life or worse. 

What is your family dynamic in terms of Hogwarts house affiliation?  Leave them in the comments below.

MK 2021: TEST YOUR MIGHT

(non-spoiler)

Whether Mortal Kombat does it “for the Lin Kuei,” or just wants you to “get over here,” it has tested its’ might with fans and split the bricks down the middle.  Just like in the game franchise, you are either team Scorpion or team Sub-zero.  Fans either hate this movie or love this movie.  I enjoyed it enough to show it to my three boys.

My kids of seven, four and twenty-one months have all grown up watching me play Mortal Kombat.  I do draw the line at Grand Theft Auto but for the most part I expose my kids to this kind of stuff because I played it as a kid and so far, I have not ripped anyone’s spine out or pulled their heart out of their chest, so doing pretty good.  I was worried about the R rating/ border line NC-17.  I got up early on Saturday and watched the first half and then woke up at 3 a.m. Monday, before work, and watched the last half just to make sure it was not too bad.  It does not do any worse than the game.  It is less gruesome except for Kung Lao’s fatality in the movie.  Obviously if you have boys, you know what is happening to daddy after the movie.

After the beat down my three champions gave me in the playroom after the film, I had a chance to reflect on what their memories will be of this new re-boot.  When Scorpion made his intro near the end fight scene my four-year-old lost his shit!  “Get over here!”  With all that high pitch screaming I could of mistake him for Sindel.  A flawless victory in my house.  I highly recommend this to any Mortal Kombat fan. 

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