Saturday, August 23, 2014

One is the Loneliest Parental Unit

We were really only back from Utah for what, a week?  Let met go check a calendar really quickly.

Yup, we got back from our last trip on August 4.  Melissa drove back to Cedar City on August 12.  She hasn't been home since.  Me, my Mom and Kaylee left on Wednesday morning at 4:30 AM and pulled into Cedar City pretty much exactly seven and a half hours later, but remember, Utah is an hour ahead, so right at 1 PM local time.  That was day two of the shoot on Where We Begin and we met up with my lovely bride at the costume shop, aka the house on 500 West.  We actually arrived just in time for a fitting.  As usual Mel had the situation well in hand and while she appeared stressed, she seemed like she was in her element.

We had to wait a few minutes until our room was ready, so we hung out, catching up a bit and letting Kaylee see her Mommy whom she missed so much.

After checking into the hotel all Kaylee wanted to do was go swim, which Grandma obliged while Daddy took a short nap.  Later we had dinner and fell asleep.  It was a long day.  But nothing like what was to come, but I'm too tired to post what happened on our big shooting day.  Maybe tomorrow.

I will leave you with some cool pictures though.






Oh wait, I haven't explained the title of this column yet.  Bet you thought I forgot.  Well I did.  Until just now.

So yeah, I haven't had a very good experience at being a Single Parent.  Well, not as bad as you would think, the house is still here, the child is fed and has been going to school, etc.  No, I've had a rash of things breaking and needing to be fixed.  For example, just before we left I broke my Office Chair, and the Cable went out in the living room.  See now I'm sure my lovely bride could fix my chair, but she's not here.  The cable is supposed to be fixed this evening.  I complained through social media and boy did they respond quickly.

The kicker to all that...and there's much much more to the story, but we now need to purchase at least two new rims for our new car. For that though, you'll have to be patient.  I have to finish getting ready for Doctor Who!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Posting this for posterity :Pt 2

Thank you for choosing AT&T. A representative will be with you shortly.
You are now chatting with 'Jazz'
Jazz: Thank you for contacting AT&T, my name is Jazz. Please allow me a moment to review the information you have provided.
William Noetling: My account number is XXXXXXXXX. Earlier today I had to schedule a tech to come out between 4 pm and 8 pm tonight to fix my cable box. It is now 8:01 pm, I have had no phone calls and no technician. This is completely unacceptable. I already have escalated this issue.
Jazz: I really apologize for the inconvenience caused to you.
Jazz: I will surely go ahead and check that for you.
William Noetling: I have spoken to Harris, Luke and Arthur at your customer service center NONE of them are helpful in the least. I chatted with James earlier and he assured me this would be taken care of
Jazz: Let me check that for you.
Jazz: For your security and to ensure we protect your privacy, please verify the 4-digit passcode on your account.  
William Noetling: I have escaltaed this to Attcustomercare on Twitter as well. I am sick and tired of paying almost $400 per month for services that are not
William Noetling: XXXX
William Noetling: I already typed that in once.
William Noetling: I shouoldn't have to do it again
Jazz: Thank you. I have authenticated your account.
William Noetling: My daughter is in 3rd grade, she needs to go to sleep by 8:30 pm. This is ridiculous
Jazz: Please allow me a few minutes to check that for you.
William Noetling: I have had techs come out no less than every other month for the past several years because of your service and equipment.
Jazz: I really understand what you are experiencing.
William Noetling: No I don't think you really do.
William Noetling: I don't think anyone at AT&T cares about their customers
William Noetling: Every two months I have a service interruption
William Noetling: Look at my account, look how many times I've had techs come out
William Noetling: Look at how much I'm paying for your services in general, it is completely unacceptable
Jazz: Can I set up the appointment window for tomorrow and I will make sure the technician will definitely come.
William Noetling: NO. You cannot
William Noetling: I am busy tomorrow
William Noetling: I am not waiting around when I was told the technican would be coming out TONIGHT
Jazz: I will send senor technician and if there is need the technician will replcae the Mode.
William Noetling: I don't care at this point who you send, there should have been someone here no less than 8 minues ago
William Noetling: I was supposed to be contacted via phone 30 minutes prior to them being here
William Noetling: I have had no calls I have stayed home all afternoon, I have errands ot run tomorrow
Jazz: I do not want to give any false commitment.
William Noetling: I AM NOT staying home waiting for another four hour window with zero guarantee that AT&T will even be here.
William Noetling: I want a tech here RIGHT NOW
William Noetling: DO you understand?
Jazz: Let me check what best I can do for you.
William Noetling: You do that
Jazz: Okay.
Jazz: I am checking with the Dispatch center team.
William Noetling: Did you forget about me?
Jazz: No.
Jazz: I am trying to chat with Dispatch team.
Chat session has been terminated by the site operator.

Posting for Posterity 1: Pretty Sure this was a Bot

Thank you for choosing AT&T. A representative will be with you shortly.
You are now chatting with 'James'
James: Thank you for contacting AT&T, my name is James. Please allow me a moment to review the information you have provided.
James: Hello, William!
James: How may I help you today?
James: I am really sorry. I was not able to pull up the account using the information you provided.  Can you provide me the 9-digit Billing Account Number or the telephone number which is registered on the U-verse Account?
William Noetling: I have made six phone calls to AT&T Technical Support this afternoon, 5 cut me off or had phone tree problems. I finally get through to "Arthur" at the call center and he is completely worthless in solving my issues. I get through to a manager named "Luke" and he is combative with me, his accent is difficult to understand. It took him five minutes to figure out that I needed a technician to come out.
William Noetling: Account number XXXXXXXXX
James: I can help you with that.
James: Thank you for the information.
James: I have retrieved your account information.
William Noetling: We spent the next several minutes arguing because I am extremely unhappy with AT&T service, he REFUSED to give me the name and contact number of his supervisor and insisted that he was the highest manager I coudl speak to.
William Noetling: He continue to argue with me that there was no one else I could talk to regarding the service. After 40 minutes of being on the call he FINALLY said that Harris would be calling me back within 30 minutes
William Noetling: I have a tech scheduled to come between 4 and 8 pm tonight
James: I really apologize for the inconvenience, William.
James: May I know what is the exact issue you are experiencing?
William Noetling: I cannot tell you how many cable boxes that we've had replaced in this apartment
William Noetling: We received a new wi-fi box within the last two months, this is the box that is no longer working as of this morning.
William Noetling: I am fed up with AT&T
William Noetling: Your call center in the phillipines is horrible. You make Comcast look like SAINTS compared
James: William, I can imagine your frustration.
William Noetling: No I don't think you really can
William Noetling: I spend approxitmately $400 per month on U-verse, Home Phone and Cell service fo rmy wife and I, and for that much money each month I EXPECT the service to be flawless
James: Please allow me few moments to run few line test on your network to isolate the issue and get it fix.
William Noetling: Check my account, see how many times techs have been scheduled to come out
William Noetling: We have the U200 package because it is the most economical for us, and there are maybe, maybe two dozen channels we actually watch on a regular basis. There are about a half-dozen channels on the U300 I would like ot add, but I do not want 94 other channels I won't watch. Your prices stink, your tech support stinks, and your call-center in teh Phillipines is doing you more harm than good.
William Noetling: I have the MAX Speed package on for my internet, I rarely, RARELY get more than 12 MPS when the max is supposed ot be 15, and not only that, I cannot use the wi-fi signal most of the time because it is intermittent even wtih a booster. I have WIRED my two computers to Cat5 cable because it's so bad.
James: What best I can do is that I will mention it in my notes and I will forward it to the concern team.
William Noetling: The "Concern Team" needs to contact me directly
William Noetling: Your services are way too high priced for this amount of problems
James: I am checking on the line test what is the exact issue you are experiencing.
William Noetling: For the amount of money we have spent with AT&T over the last several years we should be getting IMMACULATE service and attention. I shoudl not have to call into a phone tree that doesn't work very often to get to technical support
William Noetling: I should not have listen to the same tired scripts with a heavy Phillipino accent when I need technical support
William Noetling: I can BARELY understand your phone agents
James: I do understand your concern, William.
William Noetling: I cannot be the only customer who has these issues. If AT&T truly understood they would have fixed the issues years ago, rather every time I call AT&T I lose hours worth of time
William Noetling: Arthur figured out that I needed a technican within 5 minutes of taking the call, why then do I need to hear the same tired scripts. Do they even bother reviewing the ntotes?
William Noetling: I'm sure it says "difficult customer".
James: As i have figured out there's a technician appointment on your account I will arrange a call back after the technician visit where I will tell my manager to call you.
William Noetling: I've worked phone centers. I've supervised customer service and I've provided EXCEPTIONAL customer service to my clients. On a grade scale AT&T deserves an F-
William Noetling: Thank you
James: I know the issue what you are experiencing is really very frustrating ever time you need to contact AT&T and you have to spend so much time over the phone.
James: This time I am going to mention it in my notes so that after the technician visit you will get a call from my manager directly.
William Noetling: The technicians aren't even the problem when they come out they always leave with the equipment working. My problem is with your customer service.
William Noetling: If AT&T were smart they would close the outsourced call centers, and give some jobs to LOCAL individuals without heavy accents
James: I am really very sorry for the inconvenience, William.
William Noetling: When someone calls for tech support they don't want a confusing phone tree, give them a direct number where a human being picks up the phone and asks what the problem is.
James: Sure.
William Noetling: They certainly don't want to hear the same tired scripts over and over again
James: I will provide you with the link which will help you to trouble shoot on the issue you are experiencing.
William Noetling: I've used the online links, they don't work very well I hate to say.
James: You can use this tool to troubleshoot the issues related to Uverse services ( TV, Internet and Voice) . Its a personalized support which will give the information of your account on real time service analysis, tailored solutions and troubleshooting.
William Noetling: It does work with Internet I'll say that.
James: Then, you can contact us through the chat support where you can chat with the agent and they will help you to get it fix.
William Noetling: but again, I shouldn't have to use a link, I should be able to call up a human being who will help me and not take up 45 minutes of my time to schedule a tech
James: In the unlikely event our chat gets disconnected, please visit att.com/esupport to connect back to us. You may right click the link and select open a new tab/window and bookmark it now. It will not disconnect this chat.
James: You may reach one of our Specialists at 800-288-2020 and you have to select option "2" for technical support over the phone.
William Noetling: Thanks, I'll wait for your manager's call after the tech has been here
James: Sure.
James: I am trying my best to get it fix.
James: Is there anything else I can assist you with today?
William Noetling: No
James: May I know the best number to reach you at?
James: I have not received any response from you. Please let me know if you are receiving my chats so that we can continue.
William Noetling: XXXXXXXXXXX
James: Thank you.
James: Is there anything else I can assist you with today?
William Noetling: No
William Noetling: Thanks
James: You are welcome.
James: I really wish I could get all the customers as nice as you during my entire shift.
James: Thank you for choosing AT&T; we appreciate your business.
Need assistance in the future? Find troubleshooting tips/trick with our mobile app at att.com/ufix
You may click the "Close" button in the chat window to close this chat.
Chat session has been terminated by the site operator.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Disney Kaboom and Disneyland - Adventures with the Kaylee

So Daddy and Kaylee have a day off together, what else are we going to do?  Yup, go to Disneyland.  Well, first we went to the Disney Kaboom Pop-Up Event at the Center Street Promenade.  This was a pretty cool team building thing from Disney.  I read about it in one of my Disney blogs, and signed up earlier this week.  Didn't need to really, they were taking anyone who walked up.

It was pretty fun for Kaylee and I. We got some nifty water-bottles and we made a "Team Noetling" Flag!  After making the flag we had to build a tunnel with huge foam blocks.  We had five minutes.  We built an awesome tunnel, then Kaylee crashed it down per instructions.

Next was hopscotch with sounds and dancing.  Then the "solve" section which was surprisingly tough, doing a Tangram house.  See I knew it was a house but I deliberately didn't watch the team in front of us, and well, let's say spatial geometry is not my specialty.

Finally is the ball obstacle course, which was way more fun that it looked.  OK not way more fun, but pretty fun.  With more people I can see that being hard, but with just two of us, not so tough.  We flew our flag, took our picture and that was that.  Drove over to the DLR and right after Kaylee got the parking I somehow lost her annual passport.  I looked over the car, but I couldn't find it.  I hope it's still in there somewhere.

Met a cool dude and his daughter Ocean on the way in, he works at DCA as a ride mechanic.  What a cool job!

Guest Services provided me a temporary pass for the day and we were off...to the main street Starbucks because it was HOTTTTTTT at Disneyland.  I mean Africa hot.  It was hot.  Kaylee actually said "To get a cold drink" when queried where she wanted to go first upon entering the Magic Kingdom.  How can I say no.  One chocolate milk and one Grande Vanilla Frappucino later we were off to her second preference, "a show."  She wanted the Disney Junior Playhouse show at DCA, but we weren't going to DCA, so we hit up the theatre just out in front of Cinderella's Castle where they do a stage version of "Tangled" and some other show I can't recall at the moment.  The show is cute and the actors try really hard.  The older I get the more I appreciate these sit-down moments at the Theme Parks, and I'm glad they're there.  Disney always does a professional job too, the costumes were amazing.  The "sit down" part though, well...I sat down with Kaylee, on the floor.  My foot fell asleep.  Sigh.

Next up I decided we'd check out the current Adventureland Traders' Outpost ARG that is going on right now.  Just like the Frontierland game this is a test, though unlike the Frontierland game there's a cost involved.  It's pretty nominal I have to say, $5 for each map, and there's four quests to pay for.  There's two other jujus you can just buy, and two more that you get for buying a specific drink or food item.  Then there's one you get at the hotel.  So if you want all nine Jujus you can spend a pretty fun day doing so.  I saw one person on Micechat collected all of them and framed them with the ephemera that goes with the game.  What a cool souvenir of a fun day they clearly had.

The game was pretty fun actually.  First you have to really look around for the the game markers, they're hidden pretty well.  Step one on our quest was to find the Maya Stone at the exit queue of Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye.  Then you had to rub the alphabet onto your map.  Simple enough  I suppose, but then you have to decipher the text at the top of the map.  That's NOT that easy to be honest.  It helps if you go to the temple guide and take a picture of the lexicon or one of the printed guides in the shop.  The text tells you go Aladdin's Oasis and find the next stone tablet with another text code.  That code will give you a hint as to what chamber you need to put your hand into when you go back to the shop to get your juju.  Kaylee wouldn't put her hand in, I did and screamed loudly - you know, like in "Flash Gordon."  Then Kaylee screamed.  It was fun, and I grabbed her juju which is the Mara Eye like in the ride.  So that's pretty cool.   She wore it as a bracelet for the rest of the day.


She wanted to go to Tarzan's Treehouse so we did that, quickly.  At that point I was bound and determined to do things we hadn't done in a while and avoid as much of the crowd and lines as possible, so we caught the Mark Twain River Boat around the Rivers of America.  I already posted a short video I shot.  I hadn't been on that ship in ages, and it really is a fun little trip.  I had forgotten all the cool stuff they put out there on the shore.

Now at this point it's probably 85 degrees outside, and again we're thirsty.  I had planned on eating at the Rancho Del Zocalo to get the cool Haunted Mansion Stretching Room Prints that they have on promotion right now, but you have to buy $30 worth of food.  And we have the discount, so I was informed that for Passholders you have to spend $38 before tax and discount to get the print for $5 extra.  Sadly it was just Kaylee and I, and there was no way we could have eaten $38 worth of food.  Hopefully they'll still have them next time the entire family goes.

In any case, I decided to just go ahead and splurge on the Dole Whip Float, which was a good call, especially when you go inside the Tiki Room queue and the line is shorter.  Plus you're waiting for the Tiki Room anyway, and you can take it inside, they don't care!  Three songs and the rainshower later and we're nice and cool.  We head over to the Monorail, zip through Star Trader to see if there was anything new (there wasn't).  The Monorail is currently running with a smaller loading area, and it was Heat Index 2, so they were running trains every 5 minutes.  You can see the Nemo Subs lagoon is completely drained right now and the subs are dry-docked.  I don't mind looking at pics of the behind the scenes stuff, but it distresses me to see it in person for some reason.  By the way, the lagoon floor is rather shallow, and the plants are really weird colors.

The Lego store is pretty much the same as last time, only more picked through.  NOTHING new on the floor from what I could tell, and no Guardians sets.  Kaylee finagled a slightly bigger set than I wanted to buy, but then I got $5 off with my VIP points so all was good.  We zipped through Wonderground, Dstreet and World of Disney and back out to the car leaving the park to get on the I-5 North at 5 PM.  We hit the Subway on Robertson and Pico at 5:52, that's pretty darn good considering.


See that's the thing when you have an annual passport, you can go for a few hours, do stuff that you wouldn't normally do, and have a great time.  We sure did.  Now sleep.  Very tired.





 

Friday, August 15, 2014

This Afternoon's 90's Play List

I'm in a 90's mood today.  Mentioned it earlier.  Here's the 90's play list that I've been listening to.  I also realise that some of these songs are not from the 90's.  I should probably put them in the right place.  This all started with the Oasis album "Whats the Story Morning Glory".  




Oasis-Supersonic
Primitive Radio Gods-Standing Outside A Broken Phone Booth With Money In My Hand
Primus-Tommy The Cat
Space-Spiders
U2-The Sweetest Thing
Arrested Development-Revolution
Belly-Feed The Tree
Belly-Gepetto
Butthole Surfers-Dracula From Houston
Dance Hall Crashers-Lost Again
Divinyls-I Touch Myself
Everything But the Girl-Missing
Fatboy Slim-Praise You
Garbage-I Think I'm Paranoid
Hole-Celebrity Skin
Hole-Malibu
James-Laid
Jane`s Addiction-Jane Says
John Cale-Hallelujah
Living Colour-Cult Of Personality
Madonna-Ray Of Light
Marcy Playground-Sex and Candy
Matthew Sweet-Girlfriend
Mazzy Star-Fade Into You
Mojo Nixon-Elvis Is Everywhere
Nirvana-Come As You Are
Nirvana-Heart-Shaped Box
Nirvana-In Bloom
Nirvana-Lithium
Nirvana-Smells Like Teen Spirit
OMC-How Bizarre
Paula Cole-I Don't Want To Wait
PJ Harvey-Down By The Water
Queensr├┐che-Jet City Woman
Queensr├┐che-Silent Lucidity
R.E.M.-It`s The End Of The World As
R.E.M.-Man in the Moon
Richard Thompson-I Feel So Good
Right Said Fred-I'm too Sexy
Rufus Wainwright-Hallelujah
Space-Female Of The Species
Space-Neighbourhood
Spin Doctors-Jimmy Olsen's Blues
Spin Doctors-Little Miss Can't Be Wrong
Sugar Ray-Even Though
Sugar Ray-Every Morning
Sugar Ray-Falls Apart
Sugar Ray-Fly
The Sundays-Here's Where the Story Ends
They Might Be Giants-Don't Let's Start
They Might Be Giants-Istanbul (Not Constantinople)
Third Eye Blind-Semi Charmed Life
Tom Cochrane-Life Is A Highway
Tom Jones-Kiss
U2-One
U2-Satellite Of Love

The dAily WiLL - Friday, August 15, 2014

So I've been a "single dad" all week as my lovely bride is off in Cedar City working on Where We Begin.  We'll be joining her for a few days next week so that Kaylee can appear in the film.  Mom is going to drive up with us, our first 'family' Road Trip since before my Dad died.

If I had to be working right now this period of time would be a lot harder.  I have so much respect for working single parents because raising a child with TWO parents is hard enough.  I can't imagine doing it on my own and working at the same time.


This morning I'm in a bit of a 90's mood.  As I usually tell people, I really had a good time in the 90's.  I have so many positive memories and so many good stories to tell.  In 1990 I turned 19, I was living on my own, renting a room first in a house in La Mesa, then an apartment farther out in La Mesa.  May 1990 I quit my job at the Vagabond Inn because I had reached the highest point I was going to reach in that organization.  At 19 I wouldn't get promoted to be a manager, and I just got bored with a 50 room hotel.  I managed to get a job at the Dana Inn in Mission Bay, and I stayed there for two solid years.  I had my 21st Birthday Party at the Red Hen Restaurant on premises.  I still have the card everyone signed - mostly with the warning "don't drink too much."

Music was great in the 90's.  Not that I don't care for music being produced now, I quite like a lot of the alternative stuff that I hear, but I'm no longer actively looking for new music to enjoy.  I can be a happy camper listening to the songs and albums I've always listened to.  Usually if I am looking for 'new' music it's more like I'm looking for stuff from bands I already know about.

This morning I've got Oasis going, a great CD, one that I still have mostly because there's always so many copies in the used CD places it's not worth selling.  Plus mine is so scratched up that it'd be worthless anyway.  I won't get rid of it though, and I won't play it anymore because it's beat to hell.  I know the entire album by heart I've listened so many times.  "Wonderwall" and "Champagne Supernova" are freaking anthems for my generation.



Change of topic.  There's a lot being written about Robin Williams these days.  Pondering why it's easy to see, he affected a lot of people with his humor and grace.  A lot of people had personal experiences with him (as I did).  He certainly wasn't a perfect human being, but whatever flaws he had seemed to be forgiven by the general public due to his innate humor and humanity.  By all accounts he was an addict, and a philanderer.  He was married three times, his first marriage dissolved because of infidelity.  We all have faults.  No one is perfect.

Many folks are focusing on his issues with depression.  Comedians are certainly a lively bunch of folks, and by and large they are all damaged in some way.  During my stand-up comedy class with Greg Dean I learned that without some sort of flaw you won't be a very successful comic.  Exploiting those issues and problems is part and parcel of being a stand-up.  That and being able to go on the road I think are the two main facets.  Anyone can tell a joke, if you know the tools anyone can write a joke.  To be successful you have to mine the pain, and that's what most comics do, and the best ones do it extremely well.

I think back to Robin's "Live at the Met" performance, which criminally is not available on DVD, and his bit about drugs, and I know that he speaks from experience when he's talking about cat litter being crunchy to stoners.  Waking up with his keys sticking out of his ass because he was too drunk to drive, these are anecdotes that have to be based in reality.

Too many comedians have committed suicide.  Still further too many have died young.  I'm old enough to remember Freddie Prinze, and I watched "Chico and the Man" back in the day.  When Richard Jeni took his own life in 2007 I was devastated.  I loved that man's comedy and when he decided to go it hurt, a lot.  I can understand it more now than I did then, but it still hurts.  It hurts whenever anyone takes their own life.

I think we've all had suicidal thoughts before.  Driving in the car along Pacific Coast Highway sometimes you think to yourself "maybe I should just drive right off the cliff."  Or standing on the roof of a tall building you realize that in a moment everything could be over.  No more cares or worries.  I get that.

But see, I have something to live for.  She's almost 8 years old.  And she has a mother, who I adore.  I could never do something so harmful to either one of them.  Mitigating circumstances aside (and today we learned that Robin Williams was in the early stages of Parkinsons' Disease, which doesn't make Michael J. Fox's job any easier now), there is no way I'd leave either one of them.  Not only am I Kaylee's father, but I'm her biggest fan.  Same with Mel, I'm so proud of her for finally getting a chance to do the things that she wants to do in life.  I miss her more than I'd realized as well.  If you're not checking out the film's Facebook Page, I implore you to do so.  She's even in the latest production video.

Have a good weekend folks, get some sun, get outside and enjoy life!


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Daily WiLL - VACATION EDITION FINAL - Day 7 & 8

I suppose I need to get this finished because it's been almost two weeks since we got back.  AND we're going traveling again.  So yeah.


Where were we.  Family reunion finished?  OK let's drive to Las Vegas!  Melissa did most of the driving as my rib was (and still is more than 10 days later) bothering me.  We listened to two more Doctor Who Audios from last year, this time they were the 7th Doctor as opposed to the last three which were all 5th Doctor.   The only incarnation of the Doctor that I really just don't like is Colin Baker's 6th Doctor, and that seems to be the general consensus, but right next to him is the 7th Doctor for me, but only because I haven't really seen very many of his stories.  However, I digress into a long Doctor Who post and that's not what this should be.

The drive from Orem to Las Vegas is about six hours or so.  We got there just about 3:30 PM and after Valeting the car, getting the bellman to bring up the bags and the interminably long line at check-in, we got to our room just before 5 pm.  Ah Vegas.  Land of the smokers.  Though interestingly they've passed laws where you can ONLY smoke in the casinos now, and of course lounges.  So that's BETTER, but not perfect.

Saturday night, and with the kid in tow, we ambled down to the Midway of Circus Circus and proceeded to play games with the Kaylee.  She won so many stuffed animals and toys, well I should say her PARENTS won most of them for her.  The games there are the typical carnival/circus types, however, they aren't so tough that you can't win them, and the barkers don't seem to care about taking your money and giving you nothing in return.  In fact, most of the games have a sign saying if you're under 12 it's an automatic win for the smallest prize.  The EASIEST game to beat is the Chicken in a Bucket.  For $2 you get six shots to launch a stuffed chicken into one of the many buckets on a rotating platform.  Kaylee and I got five in out of 6, which got us the purple chameleon on the right side of the picture.  That game is all about timing.  Once you figured out the timing it was a piece of cake.

They also have the ticket games in their arcade, and well, Mom and Dad really like those.  SO we ended up with a enough tickets for the two barbie-like dolls there (they're really cheap Chinese knockoffs that are so weird that they have dresses recycled from tupperware wrappers).  Once the fun and games were done we ordered a Pizza from the in-house pizza place which was surprisingly excellent and recommended (the White Cheese pizza).  I gambled about $15 all together and had fun for about 10 minutes, but honestly the games and prizes were enough for me to have fun.  I'm not a big gambler anyway, I prefer to get some return on my gambling, which is why I really like opening up packs of trading cards, they're like a gamble, but you get something in the end.  I mean I'd rather play skee-ball than digital poker anyway.  I WOULD have played the digital roulette wheel in the casino, but it was full every time I walked by.  In any case, I wanted to save my expense allotment for the STAR TREK CONVENTION!

Yes, that's right, Creation Entertainment was holding their BIG Trek con in Vegas that weekend and I convinced the wife we needed to go, and she accepted!!!!!  It was over at the Rio which is a short drive from Circus Circus.  So Sunday morning we got up and drove over there.  It was pretty easy to find once we got in the parking lot we just followed the people in Starfleet Uniforms.  And there were a TON of them.  They have a great ticket option for people who don't care about the panels (like we could get the child to sit in a panel anyway) so entrance was only $20 each for Mel and I.  The kid was free.

Now I've been to a LOT of conventions from large to small.  Creation puts on a good show if you want to see the actors talk about their roles and such.  If you want merchandise it's not quite as good, as there were maybe a couple hundred booths and many of them were cosplay oriented.  Which is not so good for me because let's face it, no one wants to see my fat-ass in a Starfleet Uniform, but it's good for Mel since she is...wait for it...a professional costumer.  In fact on the way in we were talking to two nice gentlemen from the LA area who were interested in her professional services.  She also got to talking to the folks who do corsets and leather stuff about her Wolf costume for Into the Woods.  So you know, we can actually write off our tickets as a business expense!

The Guardian of Forever and my Wife
I did only purchase ONE item relating to Trek itself, the 80 card Print Portfolio Set.   I also managed to find the "Brix" series of Doctor Who Character Building figures, and a table selling card sets for cheap - where I got both the Firefly and Serenity card sets.  The one item I was really looking for were the Kreo Series 2 figures from Trek, but sadly there weren't any available at all.  Plenty of the 6 piece series 1 set that are all over and peg-warming.  Saw lots of items I already owned.  Saw lots of items I'd already sold.  Saw lots of crap I'd never buy in a million years.  Saw lots of shiny things I coveted but couldn't afford.  Mel bought a few things, jewelry mostly.  Kaylee got a tribble given to her because she's so cute, but she got plenty of stuff the day before.

Two to beam down to the planet.
These are the prints that I bought as a trading card set.
No the cards aren't this big.
Oh and saw and talked to a lot of former Trek guest stars.  Which was really cool.  People we talked to included Barbara Luna (Marlena Marleau from "Mirror Mirror"), Richard Kiel (Jaws from Bond), Carel Strucken (Mr. Hom, Lurch from Addams Family movies), Catherine Hicks (Trek IV), Daniel Davis (Moriarty from TNG), Don Stark (That 70's Show), Duncan Regehr (V) and Suzie Plakson (Worf's first wife).  My guest highlight was talking to Will and Holly from Land of the Lost.  Wesley Eure and Kathy Coleman could not have been nicer folks.  When I told Kathy that I had a huge crush on her as a kid she asked if I would come around the booth every 30 minutes and announce that loudly. When asked if the Kroffts were on drugs back in the day Wesley said that Sid was, Marty wasn't.  One was the genius and the other was the businessman.  Or it could have been the other way around.  Either way it was pretty awesome to meet them.  They had a guy in a Sleestak costume too and confirmed the story that most of the Sleestaks were UCLA Basketball players.

Finally, the legendary James Darren walked right by us before we went in and we said hello.  Should have paid for his autograph for my Mom, but oh well.  
This guy had a great look and was really nice.

After the con got too crowded and we'd been there two hours already we decided that we'd had enough, and drove over to the Orleans where we saw Guardians of the Galaxy in 3D.  Tell you what, movies are cheaper in other cities, because 3 admissions was only $30.  For a 3D movie in it's opening weekend!  Needless to say we loved it, and I want to see it again and again.

 When we got back to Circus Circus we decided it was time to check out the pool.  Normally this would have been a good thing as it was hot as heck, but sadly one of the two pools was out of service, so everyone was crowding the other pool.  Seriously there were about 50 people in that thing.  The hot-tub was nice and big and we rested and relaxed there for a few, but the one pool being out of order really was a bummer.

Mels' friend Diane Bates, who lives in Vegas, came over for dinner and talking and we stayed up pretty late catching up with her.  After that it was pack up and get ready to leave.  Monday morning was a blur to be honest.  We just got out of Dodge as quickly as possible and we were home by the early afternoon.  Safe and sound.  It was a long 8 days, but who could have imagined that Mel would be spending even more time in Utah just a few weeks later.  THAT however, is a story for another blog.
 



Monday, August 11, 2014

The dAily WiLL - Monday, August 11, 2014 - RIP Robin Williams 1951 - 2014

I will never ever forget December 1987 - San Francisco, CA. The Hard Rock Cafe, me, Robin Chambers and Monica Lond-Le Blanc were eating lunch while we were on Christmas break. My dad had passed away about six months earlier so this was our first big outing...anyway, we were sat down, and at the table next to us was Robin Williams and his family. Zack was about 6 I think, and he had a GI Joe Space Shuttle. Robin got up to go get a paper from outside and came back in, and as he did, our friend Robin stopped him. She said "I'm sorry to bother you, but my name is Robin too and we just watched your Met Opera special, and you were wonderful, so thank you". He said "No problem, I'll just steal one of your onion rings!" And he did. And he was awesome. I am so shocked right now. And sad, so very very sad.


I have a feeling this is one that I'll remember for a long time.  I remember where I was when I heard John Lennon was dead (at home, my father crying his eyes out).  I remember where I was when I heard John Belushi was dead (same home, different time of day).  I remember where I was when I found out Michael Jackson was dead (just arrived at my wife's Family Reunion in Oceanside).

I was on the field for PE in 10th grade when the Challenger crashed.
I woke up to 9/11 at my apartment in K-Town.

Today we're having the apartment cleaned by a new person who is awesome so far.   Kaylee and I ran around this morning, bought Mel a new "used" Macbook and was setting that up.  Bam the news comes on at 4 pm.  Apparent suicide.  I can believe it, but I'm shocked.  


Friday, August 8, 2014

The Daily WiLL - VACATION EDITION - Day 5 & 6

Where were we?

Dateline July 31, 2014.  Location: Orem Utah.  

After a good night's sleep on my mother-in-law's bed I dropped Melissa off at the SCERA costume shop so she could continue pulling costumes for Into the Woods.  Kaylee and I decided to "explore" Orem, which really isn't all that big, we're talking just over 90,000 in population, but they have all the normal amenities of a decent sized city; all the big-box stores, a many schools, a couple of theaters, etc.  It is, after all, the 5th largest city in Utah.   The one really interesting thing they do have is a miniature Stonehenge outside of a rest-home.  Well, that and some great views of Mount Timpanogos.  

Being me, however, instead of sight-seeing (I've visited Orem over a dozen times since 2001) we ventured to the local Toys R Us, after all, my two local stores seem to stink at carrying the products I would actually purchase.  Lo and behold I managed to find an entire set of the Wave 3 G.I. Joe Kreons, and best of all they were all half price, only 2 bucks apiece.  Kaylee got one of the new My Little Pony Pop figures, which are pretty cool actually, they're more like model kits that become toys, which of course is one of my favorite things.  

Here's where the synergy of the day took over; I knew that I had seen a Joann store somewhere near the TRU, and I knew that I wanted to get a small carrying case with multiple compartments for my new Joe figures, I already have several and I buy them at our local Joann.  So what do I do, I walk over to the Dicks Sporting Goods, and there the Joann store was, right next to a brand new Dollar Tree.  Kaylee loves Dollar Tree, as does her Mom.  I'm not a HUGE fan, but I do like it for certain things like ear-plugs and glow-sticks.  Both of which I bought for the upcoming reunion. 


We walk into the Joann store, and the one item I want is right there, right in front of me.  It was meant to be.  I also managed to find one of their ubiquitous coupons on my phone too, so I didn't even pay retail.  Huzzahs all around.   Kaylee wanted to give money to a disadvantaged kid for a backpack, some sort of program they have, so I let her.  Here she is proud of her donation.

The rest of the daylight hours were spent relaxing, reading and resting.  I picked up Mel and she came back to finish up her work on the costumes.  By the time we got back her brother Brent and his family had arrived so family fun was had with the nieces, especially the new one Saylor, who is now 10 months and standing.  Eventually we all made it up to Wallsburg where the reunion was just underway.  We visited for awhile, and said our goodnights.  We slept in the big house in one bedroom, Chris and Mark had the other.  Brent, Kyleen, Pat and the girls stayed in the Ashton's RV, while Kim and Tom had their fifth-wheel.  The others attending the reunion all had tents, though I think a couple did also bring RVs.  At the LAST family reunion in Wallsburg about 10 years ago we tried to camp, but I had contracted a bad case of temporary food poisoning and camping became a real pain.  So I wasn't going to camp out there again, especially without our good camping gear.  

Friday Morning we slept in, way too long actually.  Missed breakfast.  Kaylee played all day with her myriad of cousins, riding the zip-line, doing the activities and having a blast.  When they finally put up the humongous slip-and-slide I got into the act, however on my first and only run I bruised my rib, and it still hurts today.  That put the kibosh on my fun-time activities.  Mel caught up with her cousins, got all the family gossip and had a great time.  Everyone kept coming up to me and asking if there were too many people for me to deal with.  Of course it was, and I kept running and hiding after it got overwhelming.  

At the dinner on Friday night there were 270 people.  It was a great dinner too, taco salad.  Yum.

Saturday morning quickly arrived and we packed and got ready to go in a jiffy, because we wanted to make it to Las Vegas before too long.  Plus the longer we stayed the more likely we would have hit more traffic and rain.  Mel drove the entire way to Vegas because of my rib.  And on that note, I'll save the rest for one more post.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Daily WiLL - VACATION EDITION - Day 4 Orem Owlz Game

Two days in Cedar City is pretty much all you need.  We saw two plays, ate a couple of good meals, saw some friends and relaxed a bit.  The drive from CC to Orem is about three hours, we left on Wednesday Morning before 8 am, and got there before Noon.  Pat's house was awfully full this time around, she had Cousins Pat and Terry sleeping in the guest rooms, Cousins Dave and Shauna in the basement apartment, and us taking over her master-bedroom for the night.  I'll say this about my MIL, she loves company.

Fortunately the company all had stuff to do, so shortly after arriving, we found ourselves all alone.  For a short time though, Mel had to run over to SCERA to check out their Into the Woods costumes and Kaylee and I chilled out and relaxed.  Later we met up with Christine and her family at the Orem Owlz Pioneer League game over at Utah Valley University.  I hadn't been to a Minor League game since probably the early 80's when we went to a Las Vegas Stars game.

 Thanks to one of Chris' friends we were able to get great seats a few rows back behind home plate.  Of course that really didn't matter because the game was sparsely attended.  The official box score states there were 1720 in the park, I kind of doubt that.  There seemed to be less than 300 to me.

The Owlz are one of two Rookie League Affiliates of the Los Angeles Angels, and have been since their inception in 2001 as the Provo Angels.  In 2004 the team was sold and moved to Orem and renamed the Owlz.  All of the Owlz alumni in the Majors are listed on this nifty plaque on their rotunda, the biggest name to me would be the late Nick Adenhart.  

I don't need to tell you how much fun Minor League Baseball is to watch.  These are KIDS playing, and while many of them are being groomed to play in the bigs, not that many of them will ever make it.  Not at this level anyway.  Trevor Gretzky, the son of the Great One played in 11 games for the Owlz earlier this year before being promoted to their A League team the Burlington Bees.  As to which players I saw playing have a shot at the bigs, I'd say 3B Zachary Houchins (.388 BA, 39 RBI, 6 HR in 36 games), OF/DH Bo Way (.354/27/2) and IF Andrew Daniel (349/24/2) have the best shot.  Houchins went 3 for 3 (2 singles and a double) with 4 RBI, 3 runs scored, Way was 1 for 5 with a Sac Fly, and 2 runs scored, and Daniel went 3 for 6 with 3 runs scored batting first.

I would have bought a pack of the Owlz baseball cards, but they were FIFTEEN BUCKS for a huge pack.  Kind of regretting it now, but oh well.  If I really want it I can get a relative to buy it and ship it.


 

The Owlz beat the Ogden Raptors, the LA Dodgers affiliate 10 - 4.  It was really over in the 6th when the Owlz broke open the 3 - 2 game scoring 4 runs.  The Raptors would add two more on late inning single shot wind-aided Home Runs, but couldn't catch up.

We stayed until the final out, we were perhaps one of the last families to leave the stadium, which while is small and has a dual use as the home of the UVU Wolverines, is charming.  There's really not a bad seat in the house, and several are really cheap because they're just lawns.  As a testament to the obesity epidemic several of the regular seats are wider than normal to accommodate fat-asses like mine.  Lots of Owlz merch is available, and quite a bit of Angels merch is there too.  The Owlz have one of the most awesome Logos in all of baseball, and if I still wore hats, I'd have bought one.  I did get a Lenticular 3D Souvenir cup, and Kaylee got herself an ice-cream in a helmet bowl.

The in-between-innings entertainment was fun, provided by the mascots and promotions team.  Several fan contests were held because it was "Damsel in Distress" day.  In fact they rented a costume from SCERA earlier in the day, I know because Mel was in the shop when they came in.  Synergy abounded this trip.

Next Time - Day 5 and beyond - The Family Reunion.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Daily WiLL - VACATION EDITION - DAYS 1 - 3.

I'm pretty tired at the moment, having driven the five hours from Las Vegas to Los Angeles this morning.  Oh wait, I didn't drive it at all, Mel did.  Why didn't I drive, well, read ahead fellow travelers.


Our journeys began on Sunday morning and we sped away around 9 AM bound for Cedar City, Utah.  We arrived at our destination a little after 6 PM local time, total travel time something like 8 hours, 450 miles.  We stopped about every two hours because Ms. Kaylee has a tiny bladder.  Baker was one of the stops, possibly the first one, I forget.  In any case, it was 104 F in Baker.  Too hot, that's for sure, and the dang AM/PM was crowded.  I hate Baker.

We stopped in Vegas ever so briefly just to get gas, then it was on through Arizona to Utah and finally Cedar City.  Our hotel was the Best Western El-Rey, we had a mini-suite in that we had a queen bed, full kitchen and Kaylee got her own private room with a double bed, though she did have the bathroom.

Kaylee and "The Bard"
Arriving in a seriously small town on a Sunday night, we were vexed as to where to get dinner.  Mel having lived in Cedar City for several years, over a decade and a half ago, had remembered several of her favorite restaurants, but sadly most were already long gone.  We settled for the All-you-can-eat Chinese Buffet which was surprisingly really good.  I really couldn't tell you when the last time I had an All-you-can-eat Buffet, let alone a Chinese one.  Then it was back to the hotel and bed, which was comfortable but small.  Thankfully we both brought our Tempur-pedic pillows, however a restful night I was not to have.

In the morning I got up and grabbed the continental breakfast, which was the typical fare for motels: cereal and milk, danishes, mini-bagels, juice, coffee, a waffle bar, etc.  Nothing too fancy.  I then went right back to bed.  Kaylee and Mel walked over to SUU and ran into Mitsuyo who is Mels' old college chum.  Mitsuyo is also the amazing director of Tsuyako which is a really beautiful short film.  She was at SUU scouting locations and casting for her latest film Where We Begin.  Long story short, Melissa is now working on the costumes for the film.  We are, of course, very excited.

The reason for our visit of course was to check out the Utah Shakespeare Festival and their versions of Into the Woods and Twelfth Night.  We also visited Mels' friend Marks' store Gunjah The Bead Forest which is an amazing combo Bead/Comic Book/Games store.  Picked up the Firefly Card Game "Out to the Black" and it's two expansions.  Yeay nerd stuff.

Sondheim was up first on Monday night, and it delivered a very entertaining evening.  The reviews out there are pretty much accurate, so I won't bore you with mine.  It was very, very good, as was the Shakespeare comedy the next day.  The green-show on both days was a hoot, though sadly we were rained upon and had to go inside for the first one, and were rained upon and stayed outside for the second.  Rain followed us from Los Angeles it seems.  No matter, Summer storms are awesome.  It's also awesome to drive up the canyon right after a storm too.


Coming Soon - Day 4 and beyond.