Wednesday, April 16, 2014

An Evening At The Shrine Circus

 One of the things about having a writing gig and working from home is that I can schedule special events where we don't have to go out in the evenings. A trip to the zoo? We head out when the zoo opens at 9am. A trip to the movies? We are there for the first showing of the day at 10:30am. A trip to the Barnum & Bailey Circus? We are in our seats before 11am.

 So why did we go to the Shrine Circus at 7pm? It was opening night and the seats were less expensive. They were only playing a 3-night gig. If we showed up on the second or third night, it would have cost twice as much for the same seats. But the only show available was the 7pm one. So that is when we ventured into downtown Pittsburgh.

There were clowns everywhere. The Overlord was nervous about meeting them, yet then again she is still shy of people as she places her face into my shirt. Yet, we walked up to almost every clown. And every clown who asked for a "high-five" from the Overlord received one from her.

Perhaps the one thing different about the Shrine Circus from other events is the really high pressure selling. You couldn't get anything cheap, not even the programs that were 4 bucks each. Before the show, during the admission, and after the show they set up rides. Kids could get their face painted, ride on a small train, jump on a bouncy slide, go on a camel/pony/elephant ride (I'm talking about the ACTUAL animals -- not on plastic ones) for a price. I guess this is how the Shrine Circus funds its trips across the country and pays the actors. Yet they could have skipped asking the audience, during the show, to buy the overpriced trinkets hocked by the sellers going up and down the aisles. That was a bit too much.

The acts were amazing. Lions -- and house cats -- doing tricks. People doing acrobatics in the air. Bears dancing Gangnum style. And a gigantic crossbow that launched a flaming guy through the air. We had front row seats, and it was worth the price. The only downside was the two boys sitting behind us who fidgeted and rolled about in their seats. They were there to see Spiderman. They didn't want to see anything else. But overall, it was a fun time. Got there at 7pm and got home a little after 11pm.

Monday, April 7, 2014

LinkedIn - Don't Spam On Me

So today I opened my email to see a message with the headline "company I work for member." I'm a little confused. "Okay, what did I do now" ran through my mind. I open up the email to see this message:

Hi Michelle - It's [name deleted],

Hope all is well. I'd like to recommend clients to "company I work for" so I've added you to my referral network.

Simply click the link below and we can start exchanging referrals. Thanks!

[name deleted]
[business deleted]

There is a link to a business called Referral Key. Since I always do my research (because I can't imagine a person who is in the writing business wants to refer his clients over to someone else in the writing business so he makes less money while I get his clients), I Google the heck out of all of this.

A good article that talks about this is here.  Another good article is here.

Basically, people from LinkedIn are asked to refer their client contacts with other people. As an extra incentive, you can receive prizes such as "money" or money that can be exchanged for gifts like clothing or steak.

Wow! Isn't that just a great service! Makes me want to sign up in a heartbeat. And while it sounds like good business sense, there are several things that jump out at me immediately.

Why would I refer clients to other businesses that I don't know, have never done business with, and can't vouch that their services are any good?

Why would I refer clients to other businesses for "supposed cash" that can be used to buy things from the website's collaborators?

Why would I work with a referral service that is in collaboration with a competitor of "company I work for?"

Why would I work with a business that spams the crap out of all my LinkedIn contacts?

Of course I didn't sign up to the service or even click on the link. I'm debating about deleting the contact, but they may not know that Referral Key spams the crap out of contact lists. Just a heads up! Think about things before you click on them.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Olympic Skaters In Costume

Last Thursday the Overlord and I had the opportunity to watch Olympic and world class skaters show their mettle on the ice at the Consol Energy Center. They twirled. They did backflips. And they wore colorful costumes that even kids enjoyed.

If you are wondering what the heck that is, it is the gray whale Monstro from the Disney film, "Pinocchio." It had just eaten Geppetto and Pinocchio who were being chased around the ice rink. Before that, we saw a happy little dance of puppet skaters make their way around the rink and the blue fairy skate as if she were flying in the air. 

Yes, that is a castle in this picture. It is supposed to represent the large castles found in a southern state plagued with hurricanes as people spend charge large amounts of cash to see an overly sized mouse in red pants. In other words, it is supposed to represent Disneyland/world.

 The Overlord and I went to see Disney On Ice. It was a hard decision to even go there. The tickets cost about as much as going to Florida to see the real thing. If a person wanted to sit in the bottom section there, they had to fork over $70-$100 dollars a ticket. Even the nosebleed section weren't cheap as those seats cost $26. And that doesn't even include all the fees and taxes they piled on.

 I was sent the first email about the show for the ticket presale several weeks ago. Even at a 10% discount, I wasn't interested because the Overlord hasn't been interested about any Disney characters although she has seen a few of the movies. Then I was sent another email about tickets and I dumped it without even reading the message. The third email about 50% off tickets is what caught my attention. They were for the cheap seats in the nosebleed section on the third tier of the Consol Energy Center Arena. I bought two tickets.

I also noticed that the people who did buy the expensive front seats all had kids dressed up as Disney characters. There were dozens of princesses and superheroes down there occasionally shaking hands with the skaters who came nearby.

I must say the first hour was very entertaining. All the kids were quiet and still in their seats. After the intermission, they started the 2nd hour of the show which I liked. But by this time, most of the kids around the arena were restless and shifting about and wanted to do something besides sit there in their seats. I don't have any photos to show of the ice skaters themselves because they are blurry and bright. The spotlight reflecting off the ice distorts the image. The only way to really show the characters skating to you is through a video, which I do have but it takes so long for Blogger to load video and I don't feel like uploading a 3-minute video for 3 hours.

So that was our adventure to Disney On Ice. If you are a person who loves the classic Disney movies (Cinderella, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast) then you and the kids will enjoy the show. But if you are looking for the newer movies such as Tangled, Frozen or Wall-E, you may be a bit disappointed. They don't have those characters. They have all the Disney princesses and segments dedicated to Mulan as well as The Lion King. But the newest characters they have in the show are Stitch from Lilo & Stitch and The Incredibles. The show does sometimes feel dated with Pinocchio and Sleeping Beauty characters.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

11 Questions

Sometimes memes migrate around social media sites. Luckily, this isn't one of those. My friend Suldog did 11 questions posted by another blogger and then listed his own. For fun, and because I need to put something here at Ye Olde Blog, I decided to post his questions and my accompanying answers...

Be afraid... be very afraid...

1 - Have you ever voluntarily put anything up your nose aside from drugs?

Tissues. I have allergies that rage during the summer and winter. If my fingers say something different, they are lying.
2 - Is it still there?

Let me check... not at the moment. I think they are off to lunch.

3 - How many real teeth (that is, not store bought) do you have in your mouth?

 32. Due to the wonders of human anatomy, I have four extra in my mouth called wisdom teeth. Funny how I went through numerous dentist appointments to get my teeth all straight and looking good during my teenage years all to have those 4 teeth erupt later in life, making things all crooked in my mouth. Not the wisest things for them to do.

(If you have them anywhere else, please elucidate.)

Ah... no.
4 - If you could take any two things on the planet and staple them together, what would they be?

Cigarettes and squirrels. Let's see how many people stop smoking when lighting both on fire and shoving them in their mouths.

5 - Do you think plants can hear you think?

No. Because if plants could hear us think, they would be majorly pissed every time a person thought about watering them and then forgot to do it for 6 months. Can you imagine such emotional distress?

Human: "I think I'll water you today."
Plant reading what the human thought: "Hooray! I've been so thirsty for so long that I feel my petals drooping."

Human (6 months later) "I think I'll water you today."
Plant (half-dead): "I hate you, you lying bastard."

6 - How many rocks are in your house?

Seriously, more than I probably think there are. The Overlord likes to hide rocks and bring them home as pets. 

7 - If I asked you to shove a toy surprise up my ass and call me Crackerjack, would you compare and contrast Napoleon's march on Moscow with Ritchie Blackmore's guitar solo on Highway Star?

Who's Ritchie Blackmore?

8 - Why are you still reading this?

Because I'm taking pity on you.

9 - Do you think it's going to get better?

It could. Always be optimistic. Things could be worse. You could be a dying plant that can read human thoughts while trying to light a cigarette/squirrel.

10 - Why is a kumquat not entirely unlike a porcupine?

They are both funny to say together.

11 - When do you think the world will end?

According to the Mayans, it already has.

And those are my answers to Suldog's 11 questions. I'd come up with my own 11 questions to ask, but I will spare you the agony.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Happy Holidays... Seasons Greetings... Merry Christmas

Okay, so what is the big deal with the holiday greeting hoopla?

I'm seeing it again this year on a few Facebook posts. Some people will post memes that they don't say "Season's Greetings" or "Happy Holidays." Instead, they say "Merry Christmas" and are darn proud about it! There are even FB groups of people declaring that others should say "Merry Christmas" and not "Happy Holidays" as they try to justify the fact that people hand out Christmas gifts and not holiday gifts.

Jeez... really... that's what Christmas is about? The gifts?

For me, I'll say, "Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays, Season's Greetings" and any other thing that represents this festive season. Why? Because it is not the greeting itself that matters. It is the sentiment attached to it that counts. Nobody is insulting you if they use a different holiday greeting than what you use. Really. They're not.

It's okay. It's all right. Put the flaming pitchforks, or menorahs, down. Nobody is trying to diss the Christmas holiday. There aren't gangs roaming the streets with the words "Merry Xmas" and "H. Holidays" on their jackets, snapping their fingers to Bing Crosby's "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" as they are about to get into a fight on the Manhattan streets like in West Side Story.

Just be glad that someone was kind enough to send you a holiday greeting. Don't worry about the greeting itself unless they said "Happy Easter" to you. Then you can beat them down with your sugar cookies, candy canes and eggnog for uttering such an atrocity.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Seeing The Greatest Show On Earth

Yesterday, I took the Overlord to see something that she has never seen before, and something that I haven't seen since I was 6. The circus.

To elaborate, we went to the Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus held at the Consol Energy Center. The theme this year was Dragons. So the entire circus had more of an oriental feel with swordsman and Japanese drums and acts of strength with people breaking wooden sticks with their heads.

As I mentioned before, the last time I was at the circus I was 6. I remember the smell of animal dung and hay was strong in the air. Hay bales laid in circles to form a ring as the ringmaster introduced all the acts.

Above is the ringmaster for this show. A very eye-appealing dark-skinned fellow who introduced acts and sang. Yes, he sang through most of the show and was very good at it. His name is Jonathan Lee Iverson and he is officially the first African American ringmaster to join the Ringling Brothers circus. You can read more about him here. I'm giving him a plug because he waved at me while heading 'off stage' when one of the acts started. Our seats were at one of the entrances for the acts to enter the arena. He didn't have to do that, but he did. So he gets his props here. You can also see a better picture of him through the link.

The circus had all tha acts you would come to expect. They had the lion tamer featured above and the elephant balancing act featured in the photo below.

I don't want to say too much about the circus because there was a theme to it, with a logical set of acts to support that theme. So if you plan to take the kids, you'll enjoy the experience without any spoilers coming from here.

While the circus was geared toward kids, it will definitely awe the adults who go there who don't have any little ones. And you won't smell animal dung. They kept it extremely well-cleaned. There isn't even any hay bales to mark the ring parameter if you have hay fever.

The Overlord enjoyed some of the show but was antsy for a bit. There was a kid behind us with an over-priced spinning light toy that made the Overlord reach out for it and get angry that I didn't buy her one. Um... $17 for a light-up toy? I don't think so. Even the light-up necklaces were $11 a pop. And the food prices at the Consol Energy Center were outrageous. I spent a total of $9 and change for a regular french fry and a small container of apple juice that I probably would have spent $5 for at a McDonalds. Yeesh!

Anyway, it was an entertaining 3 hours out on the town. If the weather was better here (40 to 50 degrees outside), it would have made everything perfect. Yet I had no complaints about the circus or the seats (we were six rows up in two seats that were separate from the rest of the aisle -- we felt very important) as I'll take her again when the circus comes rolling into town.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Yeah, I know I don't usually make a post on Halloween. But I need to add some new content and I have the time to post something interesting at the same time. So here it is.

Hey, it isn't every day a person gets to pet an African elephant dressed up as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. Eat lots of candy!


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