Grilled

Yesterday I was hanging out with an old friend of mine. We have been friends for over 35 years. No matter what happens in our lives- we have always remained in contact. We have had many adventures together, dating back to our childhood. 

The first day we met was in Edmonton when his family moved into the neighborhood.  I went over to say hello and introduce myself. Within minutes, we were playing together.  We ended up going down his sloped driveway in a little wooden wagon. We rolled down towards the road where the moving truck was parked blocking the driveway. Two little boys had almost no control over the wagon. Just before we hit the truck, my brand new best friend of five minutes “steered” the wagon with the little metal bar, thus forcing the front wheels to turn sideways.  The momentum of the wagon initiated a sudden crash as we flipped over onto the concrete driveway.  Scraped and bruised we ended our first day together.  A friendship that has never faltered. 

Over the years, we had bicycle accidents together. We attended Boy Scouts.  We played Colecovision for hours.  We made Lego spaceships and had sleepovers.  We got caught by my mother as we recorded on a cassette a song we sang about our penises. We went tubing down a river and he taught me how to play D&D. He was in university and I came to visit. On that trip, we got “arrested” by mall cops for smoking weed in an underground parking lot. He was in my wedding party.  He’s The Godfather of our eldest child. Through it all, we’ve been great friends.  I gave him a nickname when we were in grade 1 that he is still called by my wife and I:

Willbum Pukus.


Last night our adventures didn’t stop.  What should have been a nice dinner garnered some excitement right before the meal was served.  I broke one of my cardinal rules but since we’ve been friends forever, I didn’t think anything of it. 

“Never touch another man’s grill.” 


I have adhered to this rule all my life.  I never BBQ at a friend’s place, even if I am asked to.  You see each grill is a bit different.  There are hot spots and cold spots.  There are places on the grill that meat sticks to or slides gently off.  My grill is off limits to everyone but me.  Even my wife won’t use it.  But last night, my lifelong best friend asked me to attend to the grilling of the pork ribs.

Everything was going smoothly until I was about to take the meat off the grill.  Suddenly a grease fire took over.  I shut all of the burners off and moved the meat to the edges.  My friend in all of his wisdom acted quickly and dumped his beer into the grill.  A huge cloud of smoke went up into the air.  With a sudden crash, the bottom of the grill fell out.


More flames remained stuck on the bottom dancing wildly under the BBQ. My friend grabbed my beer and dumped it on.  This time the flames went out.  Grease fire and beer- not the smartest plan.  I had no idea we were going to his place for dinner and a show.  

My friend and I have had numerous adventures and we have lived to tell the tales. We are only ten days apart in age (I’m older-therefore wiser). Our sons have become good friends because they are very close in age. It’s a lifelong friendship that is passing on for another generation.  Many more stories to tell.

Assuming we don’t burn the place down in the process.

Luxury Automobile?

Often when I am sharing stories about my father, they aren’t always in the best light.  But I have learned a few things from him that stick with me to this day.  The one that sprung up in my mind today was of how to properly wash a car.

1977 Mercedes Benz 450SL similar to my father’s car.

In the mid 1980’s my father bought his “Dream Car”- or rather, bought a car from an automaker that he felt portrayed luxury.  He bought himself a 1977 Mercedes Benz 450SL convertible in white with both a soft top and hard top.  He babied this car for the first couple of years that he owned it.  He taught me how to wash the car with care and diligence.  I was about 9 years old at the time and had washed cars before, just not very well.  

He explained the need to clean the car panel by panel, door by door, top to bottom.  He showed me how to use a shammy with a bit of water on it to dry the car in perfect swipes.  He explained how to care for the black soft top and how to properly clean the glass.  I learned the right way to “ArmorAll” the leather and vinyl interior by spraying on a rag first to avoid overspray.  This car was my father’s pride and joy.  The first summer he owned it, he drove it everywhere.  Every chance he had to take the top down, it was down. I associate automobile luxury with that white car.  A car that was about nine years old when my father bought it.  I believe he spent $20,000 on it and within five years had added another $12,000 in maintenance and engine repairs.  He finally traded in the car for $7,000 towards a minivan. The minivan was purchased because my sister was hit by a truck on my 17th birthday & suffered two broken legs.  This was the easiest way to transport her around. (Future blog post idea…)


I associate luxury cars with the color white now.  That’s probably the reason I bought my Nissan Rogue SLawd in Pearl White.  It was top of the line and luxurious to me.  I have babied this car since buying it a few months ago.  It is my Mercedes Benz.  

At least I don’t think of Yugos as a luxury car.  My father owned a white one back in 1981 that got in a bad accident.  

Bed Neglect.

The age old question, “Why make your bed if you’re just going to sleep in it again?”


Our bed is rarely made up. But it’s not my fault. Usually for a day or two after clean sheets are put on, I tend to straighten out the bed and try to keep it looking fresh.  But then it happens.  Not even slowly.  Seriously, on the third day after clean linens are on- the caring just stops. By the third night’s sleep, the softness of the blanket and the fresh laundry smell is gone.  So is the desire to care about the one thing that brings me great joy after the end of the day. 

Neglected bed.

It lays there in wait.  It doesn’t know what it did wrong or why you just stopped caring.  But it welcomes you anyways.  The disheveled blankets quickly wrap you with the comfort and warmth you need. But it’s not the same as that first day of clean linens. It never is.

“But Josef, why don’t you just make the bed?”

Two reasons. 

1. I’m not the last one out of it and I’ve gone to work already.

2. I’m too lazy to care.

“But Josef, why doesn’t your wife make the bed?”

Two reasons.

1. She claims that the bed needs to “air out” to prevent germs or bugs.

2. Or she claims that I was the last one up, so why didn’t I bother to make it?

The bed remains neglected. After every sleep, you just get out of bed, leave your room and start your day. And you don’t turn back for 12-16 hours. 

But neglected bed remembers your curves. 

Neglected bed will bring you comfort.

Neglected bed won’t neglect you.

Just What I Needed

Nine days ago my wife and I attended the wedding of some old friends. It was a small intimate wedding about the size of ours.  I knew about half of the people there from meeting them over the many years of friendship with the groom. It was great to socialize and laugh. In fact I had the most fun being sober at this wedding.


Those who know me know that I enjoy having a few drinks at these types of events.  Even more so if the booze is running freely.  This time around, I agreed with my wife to give her a chance to let loose.  So she did and had a great time. We sat with some friends and laughed.


Throughout the night music played and people sang.  They sang quite well in fact.  It was a lot of fun. I began having some intense discussions with the non-sober people about music.  Turns out, everyone knows songs from The Cars and Kenny Loggins.

So as we sat at the table singing “The Cars Greatest Hits” over dinner, I realized that I enjoy sobriety as much as I enjoy intoxication. “Let the good times roll.”  We discussed Kenny Loggins impact on the films of the 80’s and how each of the songs he wrote that appeared on sound tracks helped defined the movie.  

The topics we had throughout the night kept everyone in great spirits.  We joked about drugs, dildos, and dinosaurs. At one point, one person was writing a song for my wife and I.  I believe it was called “Pound Town”.  

The night was a riot.  For the car ride home, I drove a couple of other friends home as well who had been enjoying the drinks.  My wife really let loose at the wedding and people began to question who was the more “adult” person in the relationship.

That’s a good sign.  It means that we both still enjoy life and all it has to offer. Be it sober or a bit tipsy. Or a lot tipsy as was the case for my wife and our friends. Like Kenny Loggins once said, “I’m alright, nobody worry about me.”

Where Was My Father Figure in those 1980’s Movies?

I am often nostalgic for my youth.  Mainly sharing with my kids the films that I grew up on.  For the most part, the films were goofy, adventurous and fun. But upon reflection of these 1980’s classics- there was something usually missing…  A father.

I’m not sure if this was the norm in the 80’s.  Perhaps it was because divorce and working mothers were on the rise in society.  It made it seem like no parents were around in these films. It was also very popular to have child actors go on big adventures well outside of their comfort zone. But I loved these films nonetheless. Often watched and rewatched on VHS until the lines of static over came the images.


E.T. was one of the first films that I can remember.  Boy finds an alien and becomes the parent figure trying to get E.T. home. To this day, E.T. scares the crap out of me.


Annie was about a bunch of orphans without parents in search of hoping to have a family one day.  Plus singing! This movie made me fall in love with musicals.


Goonies where the only adults in the movie were the villains trying to hunt the kids down. Even at the end the parents weren’t listening to the kids. “Hey you guys!”


The Neverending Story had us following two separate boys on adventures without adult role models. Only at the start of the movie is the father shown, and he basically tells his son to grow up.


The Last Starfighter was about a teenage boy living with his mom in a trailer park who played an arcade game so well, aliens took him away to protect the universe. Videogames leading to space travel?  Every child’s dream…


Explorers had three young boys traveling into space.  Again, no parents. How did they get out in the middle of the night?


Stand By Me had four boys searching out a dead body and just wandering around. This is an excellent “coming of age” style film about boys becoming men.


Big was a strange film about a boy turning into a man. Besides a brief moment of the mother freaking out, they kind of forget about that aspect of the story as this kid is on his own to explore the world in an adult body.


Pee-wee’s Big Adventure was kind of the opposite of Big. It was a grown man acting like a child.  Maybe PW needed a father figure growing up…


The Secret of NIMH is the only cartoon that I’m going to add to this list. The father was long gone, but constantly referenced as a good man, er, mouse. Plus, Don Bluth animation is my favorite of all time.

Moving on from the lack of actual fathers in these films, there were a few films that had “Father Figures” in them.


Back to the Future where Marty looked up to “Doc” as a father figure since he regarded his own dad was a wimp at the beginning of the film. Plus Marty’s mom was hitting on him in the past.  Creepy.


Beetlejuice did have parents in the movie, but they never listened to Lydia, so the dead couple tried to take care of her and protect her from Beetlejuice. My love of Tim Burton films keeps this as re-watchable to this day.


The Wizard was about three kids running away to go to a videogame competition. At least this film had the father trying to find them and he developed an understanding for the video game fascination.

There are plenty of other films that fit the genre of “1980’s Children Adventures” but these were some of my favorites. There is nothing wrong with the lack of parents to push the story forward.  Maybe it was the fact that I was a child during this era and  that I felt I could relate because my father was constantly working long hours and weekends. It was my father’s way of doing things.  He loved to work.

In the long run, I think these films helped to mold me into being the father I always wanted around.  I’d say I’ve successfully gone on many adventures with my family and hope to have many more.  Sure, none of them have been magical or going into outer space, but who knows what the future holds for us. I’m just happy to be their father.

Music is Life


I love music.  I enjoy hearing it echo throughout my home.  I installed speakers everywhere and I am always searching new styles of music to enjoy.  When I was a teenager, I listened to it as loud as possible while driving my car that my trunk would rattle.  Many a concert that I attended- I don’t remember much about them. But I have ticket stubs to say I was there. I’m surprised that I have only lost just under a quarter of my hearing in my right ear for certain decibels. 

We have kept music alive in our home for years. Once our children were born, we bought into the whole “Baby Einstein” thing.  I loved the music playing from the tv.  I think it helped to raise an appreciation for music and the arts in our children. When our children where in preschool, every month they learned about a different classical musician or artist.  It sure was better than hearing theme songs from Dora or Disney JR sung over and over.

Our children have been taking piano lessons since they were each in grade 1. We bought a grand piano nearly a decade ago.  It cost us the price of a car.  But it has brought much joy (and some anger) as they have played and practiced over the years. Today, our middle child had her Royal Conservatory Exam for Grade 3 piano.  Tomorrow night all three will be performing at a piano recital put on by their piano teacher.

Next year at school, our youngest will have an opportunity to start playing an instrument for band. My wife and I feel he should do trumpet.  He wants to try for a string instrument like the cello as well. Our kids love trying more unique instruments. This year, our middle child took on learning the Bassoon. She already had two years of clarinet, but wanted to stand out a bit more in music.  Our oldest joined choir this year.  I never knew she could sing at the caliber that she can. It also helped her with getting herself out there and perform for an audience.


I hope that our children have a lifelong appreciation for music.  I’d love to see them pursue more long term in the arts after leaving school.  I don’t want them to have regrets about not continuing on like many of my adult friends have had.

From Catchprases to Catastrophic Films.

Recently at work I realized that there are a few “catchphrases” that I use.  These have become a way of my speaking that I don’t notice saying them anymore.  At least not until someone points it out. So I am writing about a couple of them.

One phrase I’ve been using over the past few weeks is one that I used to use years ago. “Pitter-patter.  Let’s get at ‘er.” This phrase strikes me as an odd one.  It reminds me of talking to children about getting things done quickly.  I do tend to say it more in a joking manner when using it.  Sure, I want the work to get done.  But I also want the employees to be a bit relaxed and calm at the start of the shift.  If saying something ridiculous like “Pitter-patter” gives them some motivation, and it works, then why should I stop saying it?

The other phrase I use is one that I began using about eight or nine years ago.  It’s stayed with me ever since.  I still remember the first time I decided to say it.  I was working a nightshift servicing a couple of industries. It made the engineer laugh pretty hard the first time I said it, so it stuck.  I use this phrase whenever a train starts to pull and the tail end finally moves. I used to say it as a Yardmaster as well when I would tail a crew in a track using a camera. I get on the radio and say, “All shakin’ Kevin Bacon.”


It’s a great reference to the films “Footloose and Tremors” starring Mr. Kevin Bacon.  Just a bit of fun as we work moving rail cars. Plus I loved the movie “Tremors” a shit ton when it came out.  I was 14 and must’ve watched it a few dozen times that year.  Big sand snakes called “Graboids” that chase people from underground in the desert?  What’s not to love? 


Mind you- this was at a time in my life that I really enjoyed “B” horror movies.  The kinds that you would find on the 2-4-1 video rental shelves.  Sometimes they had excessive blood and guts, othertimes naked women for no reason. Hey- I was just becoming a teenage boy with a vcr and tv in his room, can you blame me for renting these?  Schlock horror was (and still is) a guilty pleasure of mine.  Give me some “Evil Dead” or “Toxic Avenger” anytime.  Throw in the “Child’s Play” or the “House” series and you’d live through my movie repertoire. 


I’m glad that Netflix has brought back a few classics over the past couple of years as well. I completely forgot about “Killer Klowns From Outer Space”. I can’t imagine some of these films getting made today- especially at a time when remakes and superhero movies are all the rage. 

Wait a second, “Sharknado 5: Global Swarming” is coming out this August! I hope they plan another sequel after it. If not, “Pitter-patter.  Let’s get at ‘er!”

Batman

Adam West passed away yesterday evening. He was the first Batman I saw when I was a child.  The show was already in reruns in the mid-eighties. Batman was my summer time weekday programming. I’ve seen every episode a few times over.  Even the movie is in my collection of DVDs.

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. West at Fan Expo Vancouver.  He was at his autograph table right next to his former co-star Burt Ward.  There was no line up to meet them on the Sunday, so my son and I decided to go say hello.  My son was only six at the time and a couple of days before we had watched the old Batman movie.


Adam West was the nicest man to my son.  They talked for a while about the movie.  My son told him that his favorite part was the scene where he was running around with the big bomb.  It was great to just hear them interact.  Adam West was like an uncle sharing a good laugh with his nephew. After about ten minutes of laughs and conversation, my son said thank you and they shook hands.

Immediately after our meeting, we wandered over to meet the actor who played Boba Fett (Jeremy Bulloch).  My son was so excited- he told Boba Fett that he had just met Batman.

Adam West made an impression on me as a child.  He also made an impression on my son but in a more direct manner.  My son and I have bonded over your version of Batman. Thank you for the years of laughs.  

501st

This is now my 501st blog post.  I’ve written diligently everyday now since I started this hobby.  I often write about my children, my past, comic conventions, and movies.  My favorite movie franchise is Star Wars.  It has had a profound impact on my life.  But instead of writing again about my love of Star Wars, I wanted to thank those who use their passion for the Force and do good deeds.


Of course I’m talking about The 501st Legion.  It started with a small group of Star Wars fans back in 1997.   Then in 2007, George Lucas granted the Legion a limited use of the copyrighted Star Wars characters provided the members of the 501st promised never to use their costumes for personal profit and that they represent the franchise in a positive and respectful manner. 

Originally just having screen accurate Storm Trooper costumes, they now sport a variety of costumes from many of the Star Wars films, comics, and cartoons. Branching out from the original group in California- the group has since grown in numbers and factions. There are groups worldwide in various countries.

Our first Vancouver Fan Expo.

At the numerous Comic Cons I have gone to up and down the West Coast- there is always a 501st Legion in attendance.  Taking photos for donations, sometimes for the “Make A Wish” foundation, oher times for “The Children’s Hospital”.  Nearly every time we see them, I make a donation for my children to have a photo taken.  


The 501st is the only organization that I have been wanting to join.  Giving more than just money, I’d love to give some of my time.  Especially when it comes to children. I have always been a huge supporter of making children happy and keeping the magic alive as long as possible.  From the parades I would volunteer at with the movie theater to my years of working at Chuck E. Cheese’s, to the support of my own children- joining the 501 is something I feel I should do.

To the many volunteers and fans from the 501st- thank you for all you do and have done. Bad guys doing good. I know that many children, and other fans, have loved everything you have done for the communities you live in.  

Good Rest

Getting a good sleep is something I never thought I needed. Today is proving difficult to function.  I rarely have days like this.  Usually I can get a full sleep or a couple naps when needed.  But even after 7 hours in bed, I feel like I could have slept double that.  

Unfortunately I have commitments today.  Ones that I really couldn’t give up on.  Perhaps the word “unfortunately” isn’t the best one to use. Tonight my son and his class are performing a year end show in the school auditorium.  There will be singing, dancing, and acting.


Most people cringe at the idea of watching young children perform.  Our children aren’t always front and center.  They aren’t the lead role or solo singers.  But they enjoy being a part of the groups.  They love knowing that there are no small parts. 

We are lucky to have our children in a Fine Arts School.  It pushes their imagination and abilities.  They explore their talents and discover some hidden talents.  The year end performance showcases these skills.  Our children love being here.


I really enjoy watching them perform as well.  I always made sure to see each and every performance that our children have done.  It can be draining and stressful to make sure I am present.  Days like today, where a part of me would rather be in bed, I won’t pass up the chance to see the show. I will push through the exhaustion and show my love and support.  Because that’s what a parent should do.