Bugs And Mammals At The Burke

Seattle’s Burke Museum always has some interesting events, and Sunday, November 12 will be no different. Combining the annual “Bug Blast” and “Meet The Mammals” events The Burke Museum will have a full day of slimy, cuddly fun.

Hundreds of specimens from both entomology and mammal collections which are not ordinarily on display will be available, but that’s not all. David George Gordon, better known as The Bug Chef will be there with cooking demonstrations and creations to sample.

http://www.burkemuseum.org/calendar/amazing-animals

This event is included with admission to The Burke Museum (free for members or UW students/staff). In honor of Veteran’s Day, admission to the museum will be free November 12 to veterans and service members with ID.

Additional activities include:

  • Touch live bugs like tarantulas and cockroaches—if you dare!
  • Solve mysteries in an animal-themed scavenger hunt
  • Check out mammal headgear, such as massive antlers and horns
  • See beautifully-preserved butterflies displayed only at Amazing Animals!
  • Examine the variety of ways mammals move—from bats that soar in the sky, to the mammals that swim in our oceans
  • Animal-inspired crafts, face painting, and more!

 

 

 

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Mr. Mom (Blu-ray)

I saw Mr. Mom in theaters when it was initially released in 1983 and found it amusing. As a teenager this comedy about parents swapping roles and responsibilities did not resonate with me the same way it did to many adults. As I got older and saw the film as an adult, but still without kids myself, I was able to appreciate the humor of the situations more, but ultimately it did not resonate in the same way that it was meant to.

Flash forward to today and having watched Mr. Mom yet again, only this time not only as an adult but as a stay-at-home dad, well, my perspective is obviously quite a bit different.

Let’s get this out of the way – yes, the film is dated. There are things about the story that just don’t quite sit well with modern audiences, and certainly some of the jokes, but overall it still holds up pretty well. Actually, because much of the humor is personal in situation, Mr. Mom is still highly effective.

Michael Keaton is Jack, a man who loses his job at the auto plant. In order to make ends meet his wife, Caroline (played by Terri Garr), reenters the work force for the first time in years leaving Jack at home with the three kids including a baby. Because Jack has left the child rearing duties to his wife he is relatively clueless when it comes to the day-to-day operations of running a house.

Dealing with the kids and their school provides much of the humor. Jack is the stereotypical bumbling father, and while many of the jokes and situations may seem overblown, perhaps even unrealistic or cliche, but they are rooted in some sort of realism that makes it seem less like a caricature than some critics would have you think.

As a stay-at-home parent myself, I understand many of the situations Jack goes through. While I was never as incompetent as Jack is at the beginning of Mr. Mom, I can sympathize with how he finds himself in over his head. There’s the part about school pick up and drop off which rings true, and while I walk my kids to school every day, there is a procedure to follow with regards to cars that can be easy to mess up if you don’t know it.

What I really like about Mr. Mom is that Jack learns from his mistakes and grows as a parent and a person throughout the film. By the end he is the stay-at-home dad that is probably more typical today. I know many stay-at-home parents and their experience isn’t like Jack’s at the beginning of the film, but much more like the last part of Mr. Mom.

One of the ideas I had for my blog was a take on the title Mr. Mom, which some stay-at-home dads find demeaning because they see that title as a continuation of the idea that only mothers can properly take care of their children. But that doesn’t show the growth Jack goes through, the growth that all fathers have gone through, not just since this film has released but as a society we all have gone through over the last few decades.

Mr. Mom is a comedy, it is supposed to present outrageous situations for us to laugh at. Some stay-at-home dads are feeling, and not unjustifiably, offended that this is an accurate portrayal of their life. The image of the bumbling dad is one that is still with us. It is a shame, really, because as the movie progresses we see Jack become not only a competent caregiver to his children but relishing and being comfortable in his role, something all parents, working outside the home or not, need to recognize and remember.

Besides, Michael Keaton is just plain funny. Actually, this is a great cast. Terri Garr is in probably one of the best roles of her career here, with Martin Mull and Jeffrey Tambor doing stellar work as their bosses. Then there are supporting cast members Ann Jillian, Christopher Lloyd, and a few others who you might recognize if you watch many films or television series from the 70s and 80s.

This Blu-ray comes with a reversible insert for the cover. The default cover is alright, but the original movie poster was better and the other side of the insert offers up an image taken from that. Special features are short, only one featurette looking back at the film and none of the main cast are present. Still, it’s a decent piece, but does not take the place of an audio commentary.

John Hughes wrote the script, and that’s something I didn’t know. That sort of explains quite a bit about the film. John Hughes was always strong on characters, which is why his “teen” comedies from later in the decade still stand up to this day.

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Celebrating Apples

The Olympic Penninsula Apple & Cider Festival is coming October 13-15 in and around Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. This celebration will feature a variety of events from cider tastings, seminars and more. Tickets are now on sale and will run between $15 or $20 for a few of the single events to $195 for a full weekend pass.
Apples are a big part of Washington State, and have been for a long time and this event looks to honor and celebrate this regional culture and heritage. You can visit AppleandCiderFest.com to learn more about specific events and purchase tickets or the events Facebook page at http://bit.ly/OlyCiderFest.
Friday, October 13
The Firestarter, A Cider Feast
A 5-course dinner with seasonal foods and delicious ciders.
at the Chevy Chase Beach Cabins – 6:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Saturday, October 14
Port Townsend Farmers Market – 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Hard Cider Tasting Festival – 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
The Palindrome, Eaglemount Wine and Cidery
Featuring 10 regional cideries, music, food and fun
After party at Propolis Brewing with food trucks, fire show, and dance party
Sunday, October 15
Open houses at participating cideries, distilleries, and tap-rooms
Seminars at Alpenfire Cidery – 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Finnriver World Apple Day – 2:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
A family-friendly celebration with live music, orchard tours, a parade, games, wood fired pizza, and more
 
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Music Monday: Dropkick Murphys (Again) and Rancid

I have discussed the band Dropkick Murphys a couple of times before. There has only been passing mentions of Rancid before on my blog.

Recently I mentioned spending a week at Boy Scout camp, an excursion that was scheduled and paid for before the announcement of the “From Boston To Berkeley” tour was announced. I was frustrated to say the least. Two bands I was highly interested in seeing touring together? Both with excellent new albums recently released?

To say that I was tempted to drive the 6 hours back to Seattle for the concert then the 6 hours again back to camp, well, I was tempted. But it was going to be more of a hassle than it would be worth.

So Laura let me fly to the opposite side of the country to see the tour.

This means I got to watch Dropkick Murphys in front of a hometown crowd.

My trip to Boston was going to have to be quick. Between everything that we had going on I was fortunate the concert was taking place on a Saturday otherwise I would have missed out. Using some frequent flyer points I got my free ticket, flying out of Seattle Friday night, arriving in Boston Saturday morning, then the concert on Saturday night, then flying back home Sunday morning.

Tired? Well, yes, but I did manage to get some sleep on the plane.

The concert itself was south of Boston, in a town called Brockton, at the fairgrounds. Getting there was easy enough, but everybody I knew from the area warned me not to linger around or look people in the eye. Apparently this was a rough neighborhood.

Jake Burns from Stiff Little Fingers opened the show right at 6, which was surprising for two reasons. First, did we really expect a show like this to start that early and on time? Secondly, Jake Burns! Now, some people who had been paying closer attention than I knew what to expect, but I was surprised, and pleasantly so.

The Bouncing Souls came on next and did their thing. They were good enough but ultimately unremarkable, at least for my taste.

Then Rancid came on. I was struck by how they sounded exactly the same 20 years later. As in literally the same. As if they had not rehearsed.

Now, I saw this not to be critical, but more as a statement of amusement. The thing is, I like Rancid. A lot. It just struck me watching them live for the first time in a while their records are a great representation of their live show – these guys are sloppy punk rockers.

And in all actuality they probably rehearse a great deal in order to sound like they do.

Dropkick Murphys took the stage and blew the roof off. Well, if it weren’t an outdoor venue they would have. An absolutely blistering set.

But that was not the end of it. I expected something from the two bands together, and I was not disappointed.

In addition to Sham 69, Ramones and Clash they covered Johnny Cash.

Easily one of the best concerts I have been to in years.

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August 2017 Geek Fuel

It took a while for this one to arrive, but it finally came.

Here is a closer look at the individual items.

The big Rocket Raccoon figure and the reason the box was as large as it was this month.

Luggage tag themed to Back To The Future.

A pin based on The Justice League member The Flash.

This month’s game is Spacejacked, an arcade tower defense title.

This month’s shirt is taken from the recent Wonder Woman movie.

All in all, a pretty good month.

 

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Camporee 2017

Yes, this is well after the fact, I know, but I still want to post about this, brief though it may be. This year was Ciaran’s first year attending the event, and we took the opportunity to check off a few requirements, such as sleeping in a tent the Cub Scout helped set up, cook a meal outdoors, work on carving items, and more.

Here he is working on his walking stick, waiting for the stove to heat up which in turn will heat up the brands that will be used to “burn” shapes into the wood.

Camporee this year was zombie themed. Attendees were given a multi-purpose scarf slash headwear slash facial cover.

The usual activities were to be had, such as BB guns.

And of course the ever-popular throwing of sharp implements of destruction.

Oh yeah, it’s fun. We spent quite a bit of time on this.

And then we made “camp nachos” for dinner. And they were good. Sure,the cheese wasn’t as melty as one might want on regular nachos, but they still tasted damn good.

Overall it was a good weekend and August was there with the Boy Scouts, so I saw him, but not as much since I was with the Cub Scouts. Ciaran had a good time and got a number of advancement requirements accomplished, so it was a success.

 

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The Lion King: Disney Signature Edition (Blu-ray)

The Lion King is one of those films almost everybody has seen at some point.  This is easily one of the best Disney animated films, so it is easy to see why it is one of the tent poles in Disney’s home video release rotation. For those few who have not seen The Lion King, just go out and buy this. You need this film in your library.

Told over the course of two time periods The Lion King is one story, the tale of Simba and his ascension to the throne. A Shakespearean tale (elements of Hamlet, mostly) we have Mufasa and his brother in an uneasy truce with regards to who wields power over the Pride Lands, but Mufasa’s death throws the order of succession into question.

Even if you haven’t seen The Lion King, you most likely are familiar with the plot and some off the songs. The soundtrack is populated with a number of songs which just won’t go away as they are so catchy and memorable.

For this Signature Edition comes six years after the previous Diamond Edition release, and I think this is the same transfer with regards to the video and audio. Essentially this fantastic film looks and sounds amazing.

What many will want to know about is if this Signature Edition is worth spending money of if you already own the film. If you have the Diamond Edition on Blu-ray you might want to hold off, but everybody else absolutely needs to upgrade.

Most of the previous special features are here either on the disc  or online (unlocked by redeeming the film’s digital code) such as stuff about the creation of the film’s score and songs. On the disc are the audio commentary, deleted/alternate scenes/gag reel, etc. The usual things people gravitate towards first.

New to this edition include a couple of featurettes mostly about voice talent. There’s one about Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick along with a producer, and another on the general voice work and translating that to the visual product. Then there’s one about Scar which defies categorization and one much longer (24 minutes) about the “story room” and how storyboards are used and how it all evolves.

The Lion King is one of the best Disney animated films of all time and this Signature Edition package does a good job of presenting it to audiences. If you have the Diamond Edition you may want to skip this rerelease, as the new special features may not be enough to warrant spending the money. If, however, you have only the DVD or, well, I don’t want to go there, then it is time to upgrade.

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Northwest Trek

Yes, this post is coming months after the fact, but I still want to get it posted, so here it is.

Back in May the Cub Scouts took a trip to Northwest Trek. A couple of requirements for different levels of Cub Scouts involve observing animals and hiking. This outing took care of these, at least for the younger ones – the older Cub Scouts need to go on a longer hike.

Northwest Trek is not your typical zoo. It is divided into three major sections, one houses some exhibits like a you might find in a zoo, or at least one featuring more modern designs. Then there are the nature trails, but we didn’t need to partake of them as the big loop through the exhibits was big enough for the younger scouts to count as their hike.

The third and perhaps biggest attraction of Northwest Trek is the large tram loop. This is the only way to see many of the animals as they are in a large field simulating their natural environment.

Sure, some of them are by the road, and some of them will be difficult to see if they are not outright hiding.

you never know when and where you will come across an animal on the tram ride.

One of the main attractions is seeing buffalo.

There is other wildlife you can get close to as well.

It was a bit of a drive from Seattle, but well worth it. From where we are just north of the ship canal in Seattle it is an hour and a half. If you go plan on spending a few hours there as you need to get a (free) ticket and wait your turn for the tram ride.

The tram ride itself is just under an hour, not including the time waiting in line to board.

You can pack a lunch (there are a number of picnic tables) or grab some food at the cafe which has a decent selection of options.

Northwest Trek was a great outing for the Cub Scouts, and it makes me wish I had visited the place earlier. I have lived in Washington since 1980 and never been. Until now. And I plan on going back.

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Music Monday: Echo & The Bunnymen (Again) And The Violent Femmes

When I first started listening to “alternative” rock on a regular basis Echo And The Bunnymen’s album Ocean Rain had been released a few years previous, as was The Violent Femmes debut. Ocean Rain was one of the albums I listened to a lot in the late 80s and remains one of my favorites. Having seen the band in 2004, I wasn’t necessarily interested in seeing them again, but the tour with Violent Femmes, a decent price and convenient location along with a bit of prodding from my friend got me to go.

And I’m glad I went.

This time the band performed their set with plenty of energy and actually seemed as if they wanted to be performing. The set was full of older “hits” along with a few newer songs. A few of my personal favorite numbers were performed, such as “The Cutter” and “Bedbugs And Ballyhoo” and for the most part the band seemed to be enjoying themselves – even lead singer Ian McCulloch.

The set was probably shorter than they would usually perform, as it was pretty heavy on the older material. That was different with The Violent Femmes.

Alright, so their set was heavy on their first album, perhaps a third of the set. This was to be expected as those are some of the most famous in the band’s history (and that first album is one of the greatest “alternative” rock albums of all time). Peppered in the lengthy set were some cuts from throughout their career, including “I’m Nothing” which opened their set from the often overlooked New Times album.

Having seen The Violent Femmes twice before, the previous time was in 2004 on the same festival bill as Echo And The Bunnymen, I wasn’t sure I needed to see the band again, but with a new album under their belt and the length of time since I had seen both bands got me going. I wasn’t sure what to expect, honestly, but I know I wasn’t expecting to hear “Old Mother Reagan”.

Apparently the band has been changing up their sets on this tour, not playing necessarily the same songs each time. I’m glad, because this means the band is playing what they want to.

The Horns Of Dilemma were present, and if you’re a fan of The Violent Femmes you know of which I talk about. Both times I saw the band previously this augmentation was not present. This made for a very raucous concert.

While The Violent Femmes put on a better (more energetic) set, I personally liked Echo And The Bunnymen more, just because I like those songs a bit better. But the night belonged to The Violent Femmes. They came out with an agenda and let the audience know they were in for a ride.

Both bands have had their “heyday” of relative popularity, and can be forgiven for relying on older hits during concerts, but should not be seen as exclusively nostalgia acts. They have each released new music over the years, certainly worthy of each band’s legacy.

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Star Wars Rebels: Season Three (Blu-ray)

Are you a Star Wars fan? If so, you need to get caught up on “Star Wars Rebels” because this third season has a few moments that are probably the best from throughout the entire franchise, and I’m including those lines from Empire Strikes Back we have all been quoting the last 30+ years.

One of the moments include the long-awaited rematch between Darth Maul and Obi-Wan Kenobi. What? You didn’t know that Darth Maul survived Star Wars Episode One? Not only did he survive (brought back in “Star Wars The Clone Wars”) but his character arc actually makes his character interesting.

Another moment is the reintroduction into Star Wars lore of the character Grand Admiral Thrawn. Originally introduced in the 1991 Star Wars novel Heir To The Empire (and appeared in a number of expanded universe novels, none of which are not canon). His appearance throughout this season provides a fantastic antagonist for the series as well as demonstrating the people running the Star Wars franchise now are willing to take the best of what came before and use it in this new canon.

But really, this whole season showcases why “Star Wars Rebels” is a show that has hit its stride and is a vital chapter in the story.

Other familiar character that show up this season included Grand Moff Tarkin, Mon Mothma, Saw Gerrera, and more. This series is very much tied into the film canon, and where the first two seasons were good and very much worth watching, they ultimately were leading up to this season which is essential viewing, much like Rogue One.

While the animation is fine, I’m not a great fan of the style, but it works. For me it is the storytelling on display here that makes “Star Wars Rebels” worth watching.

Special features are really good and just like the series itself the offerings have gotten better. There are five audio commentaries on episodes where previous seasons had none. Oh, but it does not stop there. The “Rebels Recon” series returns which look at 19 of the season’s 22 episodes and there is a featurette on the Star Wars timeline as it pertains to “Star Wars Rebels” season three, Rogue One, and what may be in store for the fourth (and reportedly final) season.

Four other featurettes are present here, starting off with one that looks at where the Mandalorians fit into Empire (hint – they feature heavily this season). Then there is a look at Thrawn, a look at the conclusion to the Darth Maul and Obi-Wan Kenobi conflict and finally a look at the character of Saw Gerrera.

“Star Wars Rebels” has become something all Star Wars fans need to watch with this third season. The previous two were good and had moments that felt essential, but this whole season now neatly fits in with the film franchise and does not feel ancillary. Get this.

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