2016 Mariners Kids Club

mariners kids club logoWe signed the kids up for the Mariners Kids Club again this year. Well, three of them. The increase in price was one major factor, from $15 to $20, and the number of games that we would attend this summer is sort of, well, we already have a packed schedule. There are games when I might not even be taking three kids to the baseball stadium, let alone four. It just didn’t seem cost effective to spend the money on another membership that we might not get any benefit from.

Even at $20 a kid it is worth the price. Sure, there’s a free option, and we did sign one of the kids up for that option. There isn’t a heck of a lot that is associated with it though, so you’re going to want to plunk down the $20 – even now the season is in full swing. (Pun partially intended).

Included in the free version is a birthday card and “special ticket offers” which is sort of vague and there is no link to any further explanation.

Paying the $20 gets you the above, plus a lot more. The biggest perk is a set of $1 ticket vouchers which can be used on a number of different home games. How these vouchers work is parents need to buy one ticket at full price and their kids’ ticket is $1. There are certain sections of Safeco Field that are valid, but the views aren’t bad.

mariners kids club tickets

In previous years there were more vouchers, like 14 or so, each tagged to a specific date. This year there are only 6 vouchers but the number of games available to use the voucher has increased to over 30.

I would have liked to have a couple more ticket vouchers.

mariners kids club water bottle

Each of the paid club memberships also includes a water bottle and a cap. This year’s cap is actually quite nice, much better than some from years past.

mariners kids club cap

Additionally there is a “Mariners Baseball Bracelet” – this is something I think would have been better served had it been replaced with another ticket voucher.

mariners kids club bracelet

Finally there is a lunchbox. This one is much better than what was previously offered. My daughter has been using it every day since it arrived.

mariners kids club lunchbox

Three other items are available to Kids Club members, at both the free and paid subscription levels. Those items are available to be picked up at Safeco Field – a Kids Club badge and lanyard, drawstring backpack, and wiffle ball. I’m not sure how I feel about these. Part of me thinks the packpack might be nice, but couldn’t members have a choice of backpack or lunchbox in exchange for another $1 ticket voucher? And a wiffle ball? Really? Why not a real MLB ball? Maybe instead of the lunchbox, bracelet, backpack and cap a voucher good for one free kid’s shirt and cap at a Team Store?

Still, even though there was a jump in price the Mariners Kids Club is worth picking up, especially if you are on the fence about taking your kids to the ballpark. This could be the shove you need to get out and enjoy some baseball.

 

 

 

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Ciaran’s First Communion

This past weekend was a milestone for our family.

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Ciaran received his first communion.

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It was a great ceremony, and I was surprised mass didn’t run overly long.

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Additionally, August and Dela were altar servers at the mass, and Dela was altar server #1, which is sort of a big deal considering she is only 10 years old. She might be the youngest #1 altar server ever at the parish.

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Afterwards we went to wherever he wanted too go for dinner. We have a Mexican restaurant we go to  which is ridiculously family friendly (which is why it is our favorite) that is where each of the kids always pick whenever they have a choice.

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After dinner we went home to have cake. That interloper next to Ciaran is our good friend Marianne, who also happens to be his godmother. She was last seen a few months ago.

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Of course there were presents.

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Marianne arrived late Thursday night, and left late Sunday morning. It was a short but sweet visit, and rather busy – and not just with Ciaran’s first communion.

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Phamily Foto Phriday 4-29-16

A lot has been going the last couple of weeks. unfortunately there are events where I couldn’t get a good picture or things were so busy I simply didn’t get to take one.

Here is what I did manage to get.

One night was Sounder’s night for the youth group, so I was able to take in a game with August and Dela who both had a great time.

2016 april 29 01

Dela’s dance company performed at the International Children’s Festival, and every single one of those pictures came out horrible. Except this one.

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For almost a full week Tevye wasn’t doing so well. Elevated tempurature, runny nose, etc. One day it was all he could do to stay awake.

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Spring means baseball, and that means T-ball for the younger ones. Well, Xavier anyway.

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He wound up getting a solid hit of this “at bat”.

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ftufgg

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Ratchet & Clank At The Movies

ratchet clank movie posterI was invited to see an advance screening of the film Ratchet & Clank. I asked how many tickets I could get away with asking for and wound up being able to take three of my kids –  August (12), Dela (10) and Ciaran (8). August in particular was anxious to see the film and has been looking forward to it for some time. Dela and Ciaran weren’t fans of the games and barely knew anything about the movie.

How is the movie? Is it worth plunking down the money to go see it on the big screen?

Loosely based on the original Ratchet & Clank PlayStation 2 game, the film Ratchet & Clank serves as a sort of origin story for the duo. We see Ratchet, an orphaned last of his kind creature, found and raised as a mechanic by Razz, voiced by John Goodman. While Ratchet has a natural talent for mechanics, his youth and enthusiasm and penchant for “going big” gets him into trouble.

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When a massive threat is revealed the Galactic Rangers put out a call for somebody to join them. Ratchet thinks this might be what he is supposed to do with his life, and tries out for the team. Along the way Ratchet meets up with Clank, a robot that is more of a defect as initially constructed. That galactic threat involves an army of robots and a mistake in the manufacturing process produced a small robot with more self-awareness than the would-be overlords intend.

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Other voice actors include Paul Giamatti, Sylvester Stallone, and Rosario Dawson. Recreating their roles from the video game franchise are James Arnold Taylor as Ratchet, David Kaye as Clank, Jim Ward as Glactic Ranger Captain Qwark and Armin Shimerman as Doctor Nefarious.

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Do not look to have the plot of the original game recreated here,, though many of the same story beats are present. What we get is a solid story that breezes by its 90 minutes of run time with enough humor to make both fans and non-fans of the franchise leave the theater with a smile on their face.

And the first minute or so could be a perfect in-theater announcement for people to turn off their cell phones.

Ultimately the film is about friendship and finding yourself, whether you are a robot, an orphaned last of your kind cat-like creature, or a narcissistic galactic hero. Of course it is left open for a sequel and I would welcome one.

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I liked the movie, and while I don’t see myself putting it in my top 10 at the end of the year, I can certainly envision picking this up on Blu-ray when it becomes available. Why? My kids liked it. They enjoyed seeing it in the movie theater. Even Ciaran, who doesn’t like movie theaters, which is high praise. My 12 year old video game fanatic enjoyed the film. So my recommendation is yes, you should go see it in theaters, especially if you are a fan of the games. It is different, but you won’t be disappointed. And thankfully you don’t need any knowledge of the games to enjoy the movie Ratchet & Clank.

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April 2016 Geek Fuel

This month’s Geek Fuel box has arrived and here is August opening it up.

Let’s take a slightly closer look at what was in that box. August was thrilled as you could tell from the video to get the Doctor Who comic with the variant cover.

2016 april geek fuel doctor who comic

That bobblehead also was most welcome. He likes the design of the flametrooper, which is the other bobblehead that some people received in their Geek Fuel box, but as a bobblehead the First Order Stormtrooper makes for a better bobblehead.

2016 april geek star wars force awakens stormtrooper bobblehead

There was a little bit of confusion with regards to what the next item was. Turns out the box contains four coasters of famous artworks reimagined to include the TARDIS.

2016 april geek fuel doctor who art coasters

This month’s shirt is a mash-up of Marvel’s Civil War storyline (soon to be a major motion picture) and the classic Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots toy.

2016 april geek iron man captain america robots

An Avenger’s sticker was packed in the box, and this month’s game is Fallen: A2P Protocol.

2016 april geek fuel avengers sticker and game

All told this was a good box. August really likes what is included.

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Zoo Membership Follow-Up

Following up on my blog post from last week regarding my family’s membership at the Woodland Park Zoo, I received a phone call from the membership department. Honestly, I did not expect one, but was not terribly surprised.

woodland park zoo logoI spoke with the membership customer coordinator and we spent a fair amount of time on the phone. She wanted to address my concerns and see what they (the zoo, as an organization) could do. I told her I wanted to know that I was getting what I pay for, a full 12 months of membership, the concern I raised in my previous blog post.

Over the course 20 minutes we talked about membership, and specifically my family’s membership history going back to 1998. There were times when our membership lapsed (usually doe to finances or knowing we wouldn’t be going to the zoo for a few months) and times when we paid for our membership before it expired. The biggest concern I raised in my previous post was addressed in our conversation, at no point did we pay for membership and it did not extend a full 12 months.

Much, if not all, of the problem with the letter I received is due to two different databases being used. Unfortunately I didn’t ask why there are two different databases or what is being done to rectify this situation. I guess I’m not much of a reporter. Oh, I’m actually not a reporter.

When asked what I want, I responded that I would like for the zoo and aquarium to offer joint membership again.

The bottom line is Woodland Park Zoo is not trying to trick members into paying for more membership than they are getting. [Members] “get what they pay for.”

Yes, we are renewing our membership to Woodland Park Zoo. No, I have no animosity towards the organization over this confusion. I am glad to know that everybody gets their full membership as paid for.

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Music Monday: 12 Albums

Since he doesn’t blog anymore it was through his Facebook status update I was made aware of this idea. Here is the introduction as I initially saw it posted:

Rules of the Game: Copy this and post as your status update. List 12 albums that made a lasting impression on you, but only 1 per band/artist. Don’t take too long and don’t think too hard. Tag 12 friends to do the same, including me, so I can see what you listed. No compilations.

What I did was list the albums as per the rules (I did not take too long and didn’t think too hard about it) then I went back later on to write the bits about each album. Here they are in no particular order:

white album coverThe Beatles – The Beatles

It was after John Lennon had been killed. I had liked the band, but was still in the “discovery” phase, in that I was still quite literally discovering the depth and breadth of their catalog. I received the album for my 14th birthday. Vinyl, of course, because it was 1981 after all. The photo mini posters and the massive double-sided poster with a collage on one side and the lyrics on the other were the icing on the musical cake. Yes, there are too many songs here, and that’s being generous with the definition. This was my first Beatles album, the one upon which I would build my collection. This is the album which started me on, in many ways, my path of musical fandom.

ramones pleasant dreams cassetteThe Ramones – Pleasant Dreams

While Too Tough To Die is my favorite album, and I can’t remember which one was the first one I ever picked up, Pleasant Dreams is the album that has stuck with me because of the effort to find it. It was 1988 and my best friend and I at the time were in the midst of gathering the whole of the Ramones catalog. Between the two of us we had everything release up that year (including Ramones Mania), except for one which was hard to find. I was stationed in Monterey, California which was not known to have the largest selection of available music (one chain record store, one independent record store and one used record store) so it had taken the better part of a year for the two of us to find a copy of each album. I finally found the band’s 1981 release on cassette and we celebrated. I know it is by far not the best Ramones album, but the quest for us to compile a complete (up to that time) discography between the two of us is why this album in particular holds a special place in my heart.

queen a kind of magic albumQueen – A Kind Of Magic

Not the first Queen album I ever owned, but the one that had the most impact on me initially. I have discussed A Kind Of Magic before. For all the reasons mentioned before this album has stuck with me over the years. But also possibly because I kept having to replace it. I think it might be the one album I have purchased most often. I think I am on my 6th or 7th copy of the album.

 

devonewtradDEVO – New Traditionalists

When talking about DEVO a while ago this was the second paragraph. My initial introduction to the band was a library copy of the 1981 LP New Traditionalists. Sure I had heard “Whip It” on the radio, but it wasn’t until the summer of 1982 that I heard a full album and was struck with just how different the sound was. I was still in the throws of my “classic rock” phase, and would be for quite some time, but that album stayed with me. Literally. I wound up paying the replacement fee rather than return it.

bill withers just as I amBill Withers – Just As I Am

I grew up listening to this album. A lot. There are some absolute classic songs on here “Ain’t No Sunshine” being perhaps most notable. This album and What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye fueled my lasting love for soul music, or at least a particular type of soul music. Unfortunately all my Bill Withers is on vinyl. This is a man who deserves a massive overhaul and remastering of his catalog for rerelease.

 

foo fighters first album self titledFoo Fighters – Foo Fighters

I remember when I first heard about the debut album by the Foo Fighters. I was in Poland of all places. I had heard Dave Grohl was recording something after Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain committed suicide. For some reason before leaving Seattle I had not heard much about the Foo Fighters project other than Dave Grohl had recorded everything himself. It wasn’t until I was in Europe that I first heard any songs and I was immediately struck by the songs, something that did not happen with Nirvana. There were posters advertising the album all over the place. I have seen the band twice and would see them again. And yes, I picked up the CD in Poland.

police ghost in the machineThe Police – Ghost In The Machine

Before Synchronicity arrived The Police were still a big band. My best friend at the time just happened to live next door to me and had this album. He played it quite a bit during my sophomore year of high school and I wound up becoming a fan of The Police. This isn’t my favorite album by the band but it has stayed with me because it was the introduction I had to not just The Police but in many ways to music that was beyond my mother’s record collection.

def leppard on through the nightDef Leppard – On Through The Night

While most of the world was introduced to Def Leppard through Pyromania, I was familiar with the band because my friend at the time (are you sensing a theme here) was from England and had this album. It was just a few months before we moved from California to Washington, and while I didn’t quite become the Def Leppard fan I would become (that would come with, you guessed it, Pyromania) I was at least aware of the band with On Through The Night so that album has always held a special place in my heart.

yff topsy turvyThe Young Fresh Fellows – Topsy Turvy

I “discovered” The Young Fresh Fellows Labor Day weekend in 1989 at the Bumbershoot festival. I was blown away. The band had just released their album This One’s For The Ladies with new guitarist Kurt Bloch. I became a fan instantly. I devoured each release I could find, and it wasn’t long until I had a copy of the band’s 1985 sophomore effort, Topsy Turvy. This release, more than any other by the band, has remained with me and I keep going back to it.

soul asylum hang timeSoul Asylum – Hang Time

Watching MTV in 1988, in particular the program “120 Minutes” and the video for “Sometime To Return” comes on. It’s not a particularly good video, but the song grabbed me. I picked up the album, and I was the only one in my group of friends that liked it. I simply could not understand it. This was some great “indie” style rock and roll with lyrics at times silly and other times poignant and highly intelligent. I still have yet to see Soul Asylum live despite being a fan and gathering up most of their albums. Still producing some thoughtful stuff, but I keep coming back to Hang Time.

kraftwerk autobahnKrafwerk – Autobahn

The introduction and set-up for why I was a passenger at the age of 9 or 10 in a car going from San Jose to San Francisco is too long for the space here. But that is when I heard something that was not like anything else I had ever heard. It would be many years later before I heard it again, but the memory of that day stuck with me and when I finally did get my own copy of the album I was not disappointed.

echo bunnymen ocean rainEcho & The Bunnymen – Ocean Rain

Another album introduced to me by my best friend at the time. I still listen to it regularly. The word that seems to describe the album best, at least to me, is “haunting” ( even the up-tempo numbers). There is something about this release that I can’t quite put my finger on, and I don’t really want to analyze it much to be honest. I simply liked this one immediately on the first listen and my affection for it has not diminished over the last 30 years.

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My Issue With Our Zoo Membership

woodland park zoo logoI have a major problem with the way our local zoo, the Woodland Park Zoo, conducts its membership.

I had a problem when the local zoo and aquarium stopped featuring a joint membership, but that’s not what I want to talk about. Yes, it used to be that a family could pay one fee for a single annual membership which included both the Woodland Park Zoo and the Seattle Aquarium. Unfortunately the zoo changed how it conducts memberships and pulled out of the joint agreement with the aquarium several years ago. Now we have family memberships to both the Seattle Aquarium and the Woodland Park Zoo, but it would be much more convenient if the zoo would reenter the joint agreement with the aquarium.

But, like I mentioned, that’s not the issue I wanted to bring up.

A few years ago, in August, we renewed our annual membership. So, annual membership should be from August of one year to August of the following year. We got a renewal notice in the mail, and without thinking, we went ahead and renewed our membership. You would expect this membership to extend for another year, to the following August.

Turns out it was an annual membership based not on what we have paid for, but instead is from the time the application for membership was submitted. So our membership, instead of expiring in August, is going to expire in May. That is either a couple of months worth of membership that I have paid for that we are going to miss out on or have double-paid for.

No, I did not notice this at the time.

This was all brought to my attention when we received a renewal notice for our current membership. Go ahead and look at the picture below.

zoo problem

Notice how our current membership expires at the end of May, but if we renew now we can extend our membership through the end of April of next year!

Wouldn’t I be losing a month of membership by renewing now?

Why wouldn’t renewing my membership extend it to May of 2017?

While I am thinking about this, when did we originally purchase our zoo memberships? How many years have we had a membership versus how many years have we paid for said membership? This all feels very sketchy on the part of Woodland Park Zoo.

I love the zoo, my kids as well. But this is the kind of thing that does not endear the zoo to parents or the community at large.

At times we think about dropping our zoo membership in favor of just having the aquarium membership. And now? We are going to be thinking about this even more.

UPDATE: I talked with Woodland Park Zoo membership and got some clarification.

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Music Monday: Rock This Way – Zinzanni On The Weekends

Teatro Zinzanni is a staple of the Seattle nightlife scene and has been for … about 20 years I think. Initially set up in an empty lot with a tent for a limited run the company now features a permanent building, summer camps for kids and shows that feature a variety of different feats.

Their latest show I was invited to attend is Rock This Way, the “rock and roll circus” that runs on the weekends, kicking off at 11 in the morning (doors at 10) and lasts about an hour. Geared towards kids, there is enough on offer that parents will certainly enjoy taking the youngsters to the show. There is a live band performing such classics as “I Love Rock n Roll”, “Dream On”, “We Are The Champions” and “Start Me Up”  but that’s not the full extent of it.

Photo by Mike Hipple courtesy of Teatro ZinZanni

Photo by Mike Hipple courtesy of Teatro ZinZanni

There are two parts to “rock and roll circus” and while the rock and roll part is pretty evident, it is that circus part which will truly captivate audiences. Over the course of the hour there are some aerial acrobatics, but that’s not all of it. We have one young performer getting a showcase at one point in the show for instance.

Photo by Mike Hipple couretesy of Teatro ZinZanni

Photo by Mike Hipple couretesy of Teatro ZinZanni

One of the things I never thought I would see, never thought of combining, and certainly would not expect it to work, is a tap dance to Blondie’s “Rapture” –  but I thought it was fantastic. Then there are other types of performers as well, with everybody getting a moment in the spotlight.

Photo by Mike Hipple courtesy of Teatro ZinZanni

Photo by Mike Hipple courtesy of Teatro ZinZanni

The house band does a good job, the performers are all great, and the hour goes by quickly. Rock This Way was an enjoyable time out of the house. There is a “kiddie mosh pit” which is just an area in front of the stage for the younger set (pre-schoolers) to dance. There are plenty of chairs around the stage for parents and older kids – and even the booths are available, though you might not get as immersed in the show.

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If you recognize the name Keith Lowe on bass that’s because I have mentioned him before.

I attended the show with Xavier and Ciárán, ages 5 and 8, respectively. Did they enjoy it? Well, Ciárán was being obstinate and didn’t want to go for some reason. As we left he said, “That was neat,” without being asked. This is actually high praise from him. Xavier also enjoyed the show right from the onset. He was enthralled especially with the acrobats.

Rock This Way runs through May 22.

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Phamily Foto Phriday 4-15-16

Another week, another batch of photos. Let’s kick things off with the “cute duo”

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I don’t even remember when this was over the previous couple of weeks.

As you might remember Xavier is taking T-ball this spring. Here he is working on batting.

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This past weekend Ciaran and I went on a hike with others in his Cub Scout pack.

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Since the weather was nice the trail was ridiculously crowded.

Also one day this week the kids worked on their wheeled transportation skills.

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2016 april 15 05

Xavier is still working on staying on the bike even with training wheels. No rush.

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2016 april 15 07

And let’s end things with this image of Tevye as he walked into the kitchen as I was cooking dinner one evening.

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