You know how when you’re binging a show and you get to that one episode in the season that doesn’t quite stack up to the rest? That’s kinda what this is. Only in blog form.

Sometimes when I think about blog topics I go through three or four topics in my head. I then pick two of the strongest ones and, considering the topics item by item and strength to strength I decide which will be the winner that particular week. Usually this process works.

Today, not so much.

I was going to write about something specific but life, as it does, took a slight detour and I can’t write about that thing yet. Sorry to be so vague, but it may be coming up again soon so no spoilers. Unfortunately, I didn’t get it together to properly think out my back up topic either. Which leaves me with very little to say this week.

So here’s two random thoughts I’ve had recently.

1. If I have a super power, it’s enabling people. If you’d like proof of this, track down my brother and ask him about the guitars in his collection he can blame me for. My wife could probably also have a comment or two about my enablist instincts. Wait, is enablist a word? Well, it is now.

Anyway, I think that “The Enabler” would be a decent super villain name. Or possibly a pro wrestler, but I’m not sure how that would work. Of course, this is a power that can be used for good or evil, depending upon which side you’re on. So maybe an anti-hero? Hmmm.

Somebody get Marvel on the phone. No, scratch that. Get D.C., it seems like more their thing. Either is fine, actually, as long as I get credit for the idea. And a check.

2. Sometimes, when life gets too stressful, I daydream about moving to the country and operating a small goat farm. I could tend the land, look after the goats, and use their milk to make cheese or like, soap maybe. Then I’d sell my wares in farmer’s markets on the weekends, and maybe have a small online store. Then I could live a quiet life away from the hustle and bustle, and perhaps find a more peaceful life.

Okay, so it sounds nice, but I don’t actually know anything about goats. Or farming. Or making soap. Or cheese. Or soap cheese. Goat soap cheese, if you will. So it’s probably best I don’t follow through with it. Stupid reality.

Well, that’s all I have for you this week.. This is what happens here at the the ol’ blog when a plan does not come together. Sorry.

I’ll be back soon with stuff about music, movies, family, dad jokes, and all the stuff you’ve come to expect around here, in future editions of MonDAVEs.


Safe Home

Over the past few weeks, we have been interacting more with our kids’ friends. There have been a few school functions and some birthday get togethers here at the house that have helped us get to know the kids our kids are hanging out with. Our kids are a bit of an eclectic group, and their friends even more so.

All of our children are teenagers now, so we are entering a season of new experiences as parents. Unlike some parents, we haven’t forgotten what the teenage years are like. You see, my wife is a teacher and therefore constantly around young people, and I have resisted adulthood as much as possible. Therefore I think we may be a little more in touch with the teenage experience than some other parents, many of whom seem to get old before their time. This is not a judgement, just an observation that may or my not be all in my head.

Anyway, these kids are all in the beginning stages of figuring out who they are, where they belong, and how they function in the world. We’ve met a lot of people lately, and been able to put faces to names from the stories our kids tell which is nice. We have met pretty much every category of kid you can imagine.

While we have met plenty of your average boy or girl next door types, there have been others too. We have met church kids, and non church kids, with multiple religions being represented (or not). We have met kids who are highly autistic and those who have other special needs. We’ve met popular kids, nerds, and misfits. We have met gay kids. We have met transgender kids. We’ve met kids of different ethnicities.

Here’s the thing though, none of these kids are categories. They are people. Each one is different, special, and in need of the same love and respect as everyone else. This is where we come in.

It’s a big world out there, and there are a lot of angry people in it. Some of these kids we’ve been introduced to will go out into it and be okay. Some won’t. The troubling fact is that many of these people will be targeted and discriminated against because of who they are. Not because of what they do or say, but because they exist in their own identity. Let’s get uncomfortable for a minute.

We all know racial discrimination is on the rise here in America and elsewhere. This is incredibly stupid and dangerous. No one asks to be born any particular color or race, you are as God made you. You are a combination of your parents. Not your fault. Also not your fault that others judge entire races based on stereotypes and incorrect assumptions, or the extreme acts of a few. This should not be allowed in any civilized society and it certainly will not be tolerated in our home.

There is also, somehow, still a bias against people on the autism spectrum. While we as a society have made great leaps in understanding autism and mental health as a whole, there are still those who would belittle others due to their differences. Special needs folks are marginalized, insulted, pushed aside and undervalued by many. Instead of lending a hand and discovering the greatness that lies in every human being, these people are written off or just plain ignored. Not by us.

How about LGBTQIA+ kids? Some of these kids have been aware of their sexuality from an early age. Some are just now beginning to come to grips with it. The same goes for transgender youth. Well, not only youth, but adults too. I know full grown adults who are still wrestling with their own identities well into middle age. I know gay and bisexual adults who have never come out to their parents for fear of how they will react and what it will do to the family unit, not to mention their own social standing. If this is all so difficult for adults, imagine what kids must be going through.

Much is made of the suicide rates among LGBTQIA+ teens. It is estimated that these kids are more than four times more likely to attempt suicide as their peers, and the numbers are higher among youths of color. I hope we can all realize and agree that these young people aren’t thinking of suicide because they are gay/bi/trans/asexual/whatever. It’s because of how stigmatized they are, and the hatred, bigotry, slander, and abuse they are met with on a regular basis-not only from strangers, but from the people who are supposed to protect them in their schools and communities and often, sadly, from the families they love.

Being a teen is hard enough, and a lot of these kids have the potential to live a much harder life than their peers. They don’t need fixing. They don’t need to be shown their place. They need to be treated with respect and shown kindness. They deserve an environment that encourages them to be comfortable with who they are, even if they’re not sure who they are. We have encouraged our kids to be the kind of people who provide that quality to their friends, and have assured them all that we will provide the same in our own house.

We have intentionally built a home of love. Certainly we have house rules, and a strong sense of right and wrong, but everything we do in this home is based upon love. First and foremost, we love in this family.

We are called to “love others as we love ourselves” (Leviticus 19:18). “Faith, Hope and Love: But the greatest of these is love.”-1st Corinthians 13:13.

Did he just drop some bible verses after talking about being supportive of gay and trans kids, and people of other faiths, and those who are different than us? And did it make sense?

Yes and yes.

I don’t get into matters of faith much here on the blog, and I don’t have time to break this all down for you here in this context, but here’s the takeaway. I am a Christian, though not a conservative one. There’s actually a lot of us, most people just don’t know because we’re not as loud as some of our sisters and brothers on the other side. Look, guys, we can bicker and argue amongst ourselves over what the Bible says vs. what it means all day long, but when it comes to how we treat others, there shouldn’t be an argument. Jesus himself said that people “will know you are my disciples if you have love for one another”(John 13:35). That doesn’t mean just us, it means everybody.

Also, stop using the Good Book as a weapon y’all. It’s supposed to heal not harm.

Alright, I’ll get off my high horse. The point is, I will not turn away my kid, or anyone else’s who needs a safe, supportive environment. If one of the friends has had a fight with their parents, or just needs to get away for a little bit and maybe get a snack and a fist bump they are welcome here. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not out to judge these kids or their parents. I won’t keep a kid out of their home (unless there is real danger) and I’m not putting anybody up long term. I will make sure their parents know their kid is at a friend’s house and the parents are home. I don’t want to cause any trouble, legal or otherwise.

Still, I have told my children and they are to let their friends know that this is a safe place. Their friends are welcome here. Only one rule: You don’t judge the way I keep house, and I won’t judge the way you live your life. In other words, don’t judge my mess and I won’t judge yours.

You know, maybe if we all started thinking that way and living it out, we might just make this world a better place. Think about it.

Thanks for sticking with me during all that, faithful readers. I’ll come back to the random silliness next time. Until then, have a great week and meet me back here for more MonDAVEs.


Fun Fact: In All Her Years My Wife Has Never Had An Ice Cream Headache. Anyway…

Summer is almost upon us. Well, not really, I know, but Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial start of Summer in the U.S. and that’s good enough for me. Since we are only a few days away from kicking off the season I believe it’s time to discuss the plan for this year.

Summer is my favorite season, With as much as I go on about Christmas on this blog, you’d be forgiven for thinking I was a Winter guy, but nope. Not even close. I love Christmas but Winter is just depressing. So Summer it is.

While I enjoy most Summers, it does seem that some years are better than others. In fact, some have been taken away from me in recent years. We are all just now beginning to get back to some semblance of normal after COVID (which is not really going away, but it has lost its emergency status, so that’s something). A few years back I lost most of my Summer to a bad shoulder injury. Every year I long to have a Summer like those that I was so fond of in my younger days. Obviously being an adult limits anyone’s Summer fun, what with work, financial and other responsibilities having to take top priority. Still, I believe that if I am intentional with the way I approach my Summer, I can get close.

This Summer I plan to make the most of the season in the following ways:

-I will go walking more. I have mentioned the many park and nature trails available to me in my own town and the surrounding areas. It’s not the mountains, but for landlocked suburbia, the trails ain’t half bad. As much as I enjoy going out for long walks, I have slowed down a little bit, and I didn’t keep it up all Summer last year. There’s really no reason for that, so this year I will make it a point to try and walk all the trails available to me.

-I will cook out more. It’s just about time to break out the pellet grill again. I enjoy cooking this way, and there are a few more recipes I am wanting to try. I’m getting exited and hungry just thinking about it!

-More family fun days! What many outsiders don’t know about St. Louis is the number of free attractions we have in this city. Our zoo, for example, is consistently voted one of the top zoos in America, and it is absolutely free to get in. The much renowned St. Louis Art Museum, Science Center, and the Missouri History Museum are all free as well. Other attractions like the Botanical Gardens and Gateway Arch museums have nominal, affordable fees. Then there’s Laumeier Sculpture Park, Cahokia Mounds, neighborhoods like the Delmar Loop and Main Street St. Charles, and dozens more. We haven’t been to many of these places in the last few years so I think it might be time to get back out into the city and show some love for our hometown.

-Speaking of hometown love, SPORTSBALL! St. Louis is a big sports town, and while my interest in most sports is passing, or “fair weather” perhaps, it is fun to attend a game in person. Earlier this year my son’s school band played the National Anthem at a St. Louis Cardinal’s Game. This was back in April and it wound up being an abnormally cold day so we were freezing but we still had fun. We talked about maybe going back on a nicer day when we could enjoy the weather more, so that may be in the cards, no pun intended. I would also like to take in a St. Lois CITY soccer Club game if I could swing it and it’s not too expensive.

-Like Sheryl Crow, I’m gonna soak up the sun. A family vacation is coming, though some particulars are still being worked out. We try to do a mix of chill days and fun days wherever we go, but this one has the potential for more relaxing moments than adventurous ones. More on that later.

-This Summer I am going to try to just be. I want to try to enjoy the moments more. I want to take in the smells of fresh cut grass and smoke from the barbecue. I want to linger in the morning sounds of songbirds and the crickets at night. I want to listen to the Summer rain as it hits the roof and the concrete while I feel the breeze as I sit on my porch. I want to take in more sunsets and catch more lightning bugs. Let’s face it, there are only so many hours in the day, and the bulk of Summer is gone in just 14 weeks. When you factor in work and other commitments, that’s not much time. So this year I am really going to try to take it all in.

There are other things to do too. Visiting the pool, going to concerts, going out for ice cream, slushies, and snow cones, what have you. Whether I check off everything on my list or not, I am preparing for a wonderful Summer. I wish the same for you, wherever you may be and whatever your plans.

See you next week.


Daddy/Daughter Movie Review: Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol.3

Well, opening weekend has come and gone, but just in case you didn’t get yourself out to the theater, here’s the official MonDAVEs Daddy/daughter movie review of Marvel’s “Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol.3”, featuring guest reviewer/blogger Tessa to provide us with the teenage perspective. There may be a mild spoiler or two, maybe not. I don’t know. I’m not editing this either way. You get what you get.

Say hi to the people, Tess.

Tessa: Hi!

Well done. Okay, you’re up.

T: Overall, I liked this movie. I’ve heard people say this was the best movie since Endgame, and I think calling it the best since Endgame is a bold claim, but I do think it’s one of the best. Phase 4 and Phase 5 (so far) are wild because each movie is very hit or miss. Movies like No Way Home and Shang Chi were amazing, and movies like Eternals and Thor: Love and Thunder kind of missed their mark. I think this was one of the good ones, which makes me happy. It would’ve been sad to see a franchise like Guardians get ruined with it’s third movie. I loved seeing the group together again, and the soundtrack was amazing as always. I think Rocket’s backstory was very heartbreaking and well done, and the pacing was pretty well done in my opinion.

But I do think bringing Gamora back was unnecessary. She didn’t really do anything, I thought she would regain her memories or fall for Peter all over again, but then she just didn’t and it felt weird. I know her arc came to a close by her finding a family within the Ravagers, which is cool and all since she’d always wanted a family and to belong and be loved, but I feel like the payoff isn’t as effective when it isn’t our Gamora that’s getting the family. Why should we as the viewer care about a new Gamora who doesn’t feel even close to the old one? I feel like there was a missed opportunity to expand on her character and actually let us care about the new Gamora. I understand that the movie was already really long and if there was any development on her it was probably cut for time, but I wish we got to see it. I also understand that any problems I have with the plot can’t always be taken up with the movie writers themselves because most plot points come from the comics, which is another thing to keep in mind. The High Evolutionary I think was also a missed opportunity to elaborate upon, I kind of just had to figure things out about him and use my context clues instead of actually being told who he is and what he does.

But I still really enjoyed it, since those are my only complaints. The CGI was really good, you could see all the emotion on the faces of Rocket and his buddies, which is impressive considering they’re all just computer generated images. I think the ending was really well done, and I got all sentimental during the credits when they showed different pictures from all the Guardians movies. I would definitely watch this movie again!

D: Interesting perspective on Gamora. I think it was necessary to bring her back so we could finish the story between her and Peter, also it was useful to the overall story so that Peter’s character could move on.

T: It was already done though. Like I feel like Peter and Gamora’s arc could’ve ended when she died, and Guardians 3 could’ve focused on him moving on without her.

D: Fair enough, but I think people would be mad if she wasn’t in the movie at all. A solo Gamora movie with the Ravagers might be cool though.

T: Real. How about you review the film now.

D: ‘Kay.

I didn’t love it.

Didn’t hate it either, but I didn’t love it. I wanted to love it but just didn’t. It just seemed to be missing something for me. The thing about the last two Guardians movies is that they were a blast to watch. The humor flowed freely and honestly, mixing in well with the action sequences, and the emotional tug-at-your-heartstrings moments were highly effective. This one just didn’t work as well. The humor seemed to be almost an afterthought. It just felt a little forced. Don’t get me wrong, there were some good lines and some truly funny moments, but not anywhere near the level of the last two,

While GOTG3 was definitely action packed, there seemed to be a lot more camera trickery during some of the scenes that kind of took me out of the action, in that I noticed the film making more than the film itself. It wasn’t like Matrix level, but I got that vibe a little bit. I just never got totally swept up in the moment like I have with the past offerings.

As far as emotions goes, this movie swings for the fences and very nearly achieves its lofty goals. Rocket’s backstory is full of heartwarming and heart wrenching moments, but the rest of the movie mostly falls flat. Again, there were scenes that should have led me through the full gamut of emotions but, meh.

Also, this is a really dark movie, both visually in places, and otherwise. That didn’t bother me too much, I like dark. I think though, that the reason this movie is so unbalanced is because there is so much screen time given to the darkness that it wasn’t really possible to balance it out properly. I mean, you need the dark so the light will show (as Bob Ross would say) but the mix was a little bit off.

As far as the story goes, it’s pretty much all just “We gotta save Rocket!” with little subplot in my opinion. What subplots exist are not really given enough time to develop and made some major characters like The High Evolutionary and Adam Warlock less effective than they could have been.

Okay, just so I’m not dogging it too much, there were lots of things I did like. The cast is awesome as usual, and as Tessa said the CGI is just wonderful. Even though I felt it uneven overall there were enough cool ideas to keep my interest. The standard theme of family in the Guardians movie is once again well explored, with new and old characters adding different levels to the mix. The soundtrack is pretty cool too, I was pleasantly surprised by a few selections!

Concerning the fate of the Guardians themselves, I think the movie provides a fitting conclusion to most character arcs, even if they were not what one would expect. Before the movie premiered there were a lot of rumors flying around about which major character would die. While I won’t go into spoilers here, I would have gone in a slightly different way and kind of felt cheated in a way with the direction the filmmakers chose. But Howard the Duck does have a cameo and that’s really why I turned out, so all is good.

T: A lot of the complaints you had I also noticed, but I guess they didn’t affect me as much. I agree that some new characters were very underdeveloped, and it would have been better if there was a bigger subplot than just saving Rocket. I feel like those weren’t big enough things to make me dislike this movie, but I can see why they could change your opinion on it.

D: I didn’t dislike it, I was, let’s say unfulfilled. Maybe the failure doesn’t lie with the movie so much as my expectations though. I don’t know. I will definitely watch it again, and maybe now that I have seen it once and know what to expect I will be able to focus on different things. Sometimes repeated viewings make you understand movies a little better, and the original cynicism fades away. Hoping that happens here because I want to like it way more than I do.

Okay, rating time. Scale of one to five, five being the highest, what do you think?

T: I give it a four out of five.

D: Reluctantly I give it a three, though the four rating you gave is probably more fair and accurate. Cue the haters!

Thanks for chiming in Tess, and thanks for reading this everybody else.

MonDAVEs will return.


Do You Believe?

Conspiracy theories used to be fun. Remember that?

Remember when people would read the articles in rags, er, magazines like The National Enquirer and Weekly World News while standing in line at the supermarket, and laugh about them? Used to be you’d know maybe a few people that read those things regularly, like maybe your Grandma that didn’t get out much, or your weird Uncle Fred, but that would be about it. Maybe you worked with a guy who was all in on one particular theory, but he seemed harmless enough, just a little out there, so you didn’t worry about it.

Now seems like every third or fourth person you meet is spouting some new nonsense like it’s universal, indisputable truth. Not in a fun, silly way either, these people are serious about it all. So serious in fact that they are willing to lose friends and sometimes even family members over their new dark web gospel. It’s insane.

But it wasn’t always thus. I remember a time when you could talk about the conspiracy of the day (aliens among us, Elvis is alive, they saved Kennedy’s brain, what have you) with other people, whether they believed in it or not, and still be friends the next day. You could have a drink and laugh it off if things got heated.

I miss those days. We were being able to chuckle at somebody’s crazy theories and respectfully disagree with no harm done. Now it’s a shouting match and possibly fisticuffs, or worse. What’s a fun loving guy or gal who likes a silly conversation and a bit of a wind-up to do? Can we still have fun with conspiracy theories? Can we find a few that won’t get half the populace all riled up? Can we pause to appreciate the fact that I just used the word “fisticuffs”?

I think there are a few that would still fit the bill. Let’s talk about them here. Some have been around for a while, some are new. I’ll let you decide which side you come down on with each. Just remember, this is all in fun.

  1. William Shakespeare didn’t write all his plays.

    This one has been around forever. It’s a fun one because apart from a few literary/theater geeks and maybe Shakespeare’s remaining relatives, nobody’s going to get mad about this one. Besides, everyone involved has been dead for a really long time, so who are you going to offend?

    Theory #1 states that many of ol’ Wil’s plays were written, or co-written, by a guy named Frances Bacon. Which of course makes them the ever popular duo of Shake and Bake. This theory is a popular one, so much so that it inspired the name of a food product in the late 20th century. Pretty sure.

    Theory #2 is a little more recent. This theory speculates that Shakespeare was even more of a thief than previously imagined. Apparently other playwrights would present Shake with their scripts asking for constructive criticism or approval. Shakespeare would read the plays and invariably tell the ambitious author that the play “sucked hard” which I believe was a popular expression at the time. The other playwright would destroy the play and go back to square one while William would take their idea and rearrange it so he could pass it off as his own.

    Either way you go, this is an interesting thought exercise and some good, mostly harmless, literary fun. This is also a good theory to bust out at a party where there are smart people around and you want to look like you belong in the room.
  2. Bigfoot exists.

    People are really into this one y’all, and have been as long as I can remember. Bigfoot hunters are no joke. Even some scientists have weighed in on this one. This is a fun theory, because it actually does have a small amount of believability to it. Forests are big, and it isn’t completely out of touch to think that maybe there are some species we haven’t discovered yet. Turning that species into a man-monster hybrid just lends a cool, cheesy sci-fi/horror movie vibe to it that is irresistible to some folks.

    While I’m not about to sign on for this one, I am all for the Bigfoot truthers out there keeping on with their search. It gives them something to do with their free time. I just hope they never find him. Not because it wouldn’t be cool, but because then they’d have nothing to do. Then what? They may start turning to more dangerous ideas. Better to keep ’em busy with Bigfoot.

    By the way, you can replace the forests with the cosmos and Bigfoot with aliens, and this whole section still works.
  3. The Moon landing was faked.

    I love this one.

    Now, don’t get me wrong, I really don’t care if the Moon landing was real or not. I just enjoy watching people get so worked up over an idea that is so patently ridiculous. The fun part though, is that the people who get so dramatically upset are the people trying to disprove the theory that the landing was faked. It’s a classic role reversal and it fascinates me.

    You can see this in person pretty easily. Next time someone mentions the moon landing (which happens more often than you’d think) just roll your eyes and say “yeah, allegedly” and watch ’em go. That’s what I do. I never make any real arguments, I just kind of shrug and say “ehh, maybe” or “well I mean, we went to the moon eventually…just not that first time” and then I see if I can count how many veins pop out of their forehead. Then they get upset by the fact that I am so nonchalant about the whole thing and that I am not as wound up as they are!

    Okay, so it’s probably not very nice to purposefully wind people up like that, but it is funny.
  4. Birds aren’t real.

    This is the newest conspiracy theory I’ll be looking at here. It is also by far the weirdest, and possibly my favorite. I stumbled upon this one a few years ago and was just completely enraptured by it. I have no idea if the people behind this are serious or not, but it’s gold either way.

    Okay, so the long and short of it is that birds are not what we think they are, hence the idea that they are not real. Well, they used to be real, many years ago. However (there’s always a however) over time the government got involved because of course they did, and replaced all the birds with drones so they could spy on citizens.

    Real talk. This is clearly a joke, but it’s a good one. The “birds aren’t real” folks sell merchandise and have literature you can spread around to be in on the joke as well. Thousands of people are.

    It was started as a satire of modern conspiracy theories and how nuts it’s all gotten. Yet, I wouldn’t be surprised if there aren’t a handful of people out there spouting off about the “Deep State” and God knows what else, who are falling for this one hook, line, and sinker. Let’s not tell ’em.

All right, everybody, that’s about as far down the rabbit hole I’m willing to go with this topic. Hope you had some fun with this one, and nobody got upset. It’s just me being a little uppity and having a laugh. I’ll be back soon with more stuff.


Walking Down Nostalgia Blvd. (Which is just a block or so north of Memory Lane if that helps)

I’ve been feeling a wee bit nostalgic as of late. Despite my best efforts to mature as little as possible, I am definitely getting older, and missing a few things from the good old days. My social media accounts are often peppered with videos and posts about products, entertainment, places and people from days gone by (there are lots of Gen Xers on YouTube, TikTok, and Twitter producing these things), and I admittedly seek out You Tube compilations of old commercials sometimes as a relaxer before bed time.

All this combined with doing an amazing amount of running around store to store this weekend got me thinking about stores that have closed down which I miss. Sure, I do a lot of my shopping online but sometimes you need to go to a store physically to see what you are buying, and other times you just want to.

So here’s a list of some shut down stores that I miss and would love to see come back.

Payless ShoeSource

One odd thing about me is that I hate spending a ton of money on shoes. I’m not sure why footwear is where my line is drawn about spending money, but here we are. Just today I was in a store looking at the clearance section and everything was still about twenty dollars more than I wanted to pay for it. As a result I walked away with no new purchases.

This made me realize how much I miss Payless. Even without their BOGO offers (which probably helped lead to their decline now that I think of it) I was always sure to find a decent mix of styles for a price I could afford, and the shoes tended to be good quality for the price as well. The loss of Payless has been felt by pocketbooks around the country.

Good news though, they do still exist in an online form. This doesn’t really help me as much as I would like since one of my feet is slightly bigger than the other and I pretty much have to try on every pair of shoes I buy since I am a different size in different brands. Rumor has it that they may be bringing back their brick and mortar stores too, so there is a little bit of hope here.

Borders Books And Music

Wow do I miss Borders. Don’t get me wrong, Barnes & Noble is a decent replacement, but it can’t hold a candle to the old Borders stores. Borders always had a great selection for actual book, movie, and music enthusiasts. Each store had a slightly different inventory beyond the best sellers, but they always had really cool stuff. These stores were stocked by people who really cared about the product they were selling and the staff were always willing to go the extra mile to make sure you found something awesome. I can’t tell you how many oddball DVDs, small press books, and even indie CDs I bought at Borders. They were a store for collectors and geeks run by collectors and geeks, which made them superior to any other large chain or mall based stores out there. The combination of Amazon’s rise, and B&N’s Nook device (which I still despise-give me an old fashioned book with paper and a cover any day) led to their quick demise, and the loss of Borders is a sad one I still feel to this day.

K-B Toys (or Kay Bee Toy and Hobby if you’re old school enough)

Okay, yeah, the big stand alone stores like Toys R Us and Children’s Palace technically were bigger, had more toys and aisles to wander through, and were probably better both on paper and in person.


Being a kid and being dragged to the shopping mall by your mother (years before you went there to hang out and be obnoxious with your friends) was only made bearable by a visit to K-B. You’d spend what felt like hours going store to store while Mom combed through every conceivable rack of clothes, often leaving you sitting outside the fitting room in that chair that was always inexplicably sticky, and then she’d make you try on all kinds of stuff too. Then there’d be the stores full of knick-knacks, accessories, home goods and whatever else was on the agenda that afternoon. If you were lucky, maybe you got a hot pretzel out of the deal. If you were really lucky however, you got to go to K-B.

What a thrill it was to roam the aisles of the only store in the mall that was all for you. You got to see all the latest and greatest stuff. Immediately upon entering you’d start making out your birthday/Christmas list in your head. There were toys you knew your parents could never afford (but you asked for anyway), and there were smaller toys you could buy with your own money if you saved your allowance for a few weeks. There were toys for toddlers, school age kids, some model kits and packaged cards for hobbyists, and even a few bikes, scooters, and skateboards. Digital games too! It was a shining reward of a store for all us long suffering kids.

Then there were those times when you actually went home with a toy. This was the ultimate score in kid-dom. It didn’t matter if it was the newest, coolest doll or action figure, a pack of Garbage Pail Kid cards, or a set of Colorforms (remember those?), leaving the mall with anything from K-B was an absolute win. I kind of feel sorry that kids today don’t get to experience that.

Radio Shack

Radio Shack was THE store for electronics. Back in the day, you had multiple components to all of your electronics in the house. Your VCR, TV, video games, stereo equipment, and pretty much anything else that plugged into the wall all had multiple cords and plugs needed to make them work. Nowadays a lot of this stuff is self contained, or requires one lousy USB cable. Back then you often had three cables just for your VCR. Not to mention the cable/television antenna and adapter for your Atari system. Anyway, back in those days, pretty much everybody had to know a little bit about what plugs and adapters got hooked into where. So when one of those cords went bad, or you needed a new one for your most recent electronic purchase, you went to Radio Shack and took care of business.

It wasn’t just cords though. Radio Shack were among the first electronics stores to sell home computing systems. They also sold phones, both landline and cellular. They had radios (duh) and other portable audio. Radio Shack also carried remote control toys and handheld electronic games, ham radio equipment, cameras, microphones, head phones, you name it, and all at prices your average Joe could afford. Was it all high end stuff? No. But it worked, and it was decent quality nonetheless. Everybody went to Radio Shack and used their stuff, and you could always bet that come Christmas morning, something under the tree would be from the Shack.

It feels like we are not as much of a DIY society as we used to be, which is kind of sad. However, it seems that Radio Shack does still have an online presence, and a few stores kind of willy-nilly throughout the country. I think they mostly do supplies now as opposed to selling electronic products, but it’s nice to know that you can still use them if you look hard enough and have the need.


Ah, yes, the old Fotomat. Those goofy looking kiosks in random parking lots that have all seemed to turn into snow cone places or drive through coffee joints.

In case you forgot (or somehow never knew), we didn’t always carry hundreds of pictures around in our pockets. They weren’t stored on our phones, or on digital cameras and in computers. Used to be that cameras had actual film in them. Once the film was used up, you’d drive the canister over to the Fotomat to be developed, drop it off, wait a few days and then pick up your pictures and see how they turned out. You’d never know exactly how they’d look. Would they be too light or too dark? Would the people in the photos have no heads because your viewing window on your camera was too far away from the actual lens? Would you get just a close up of finger? You never knew-and that made the waiting and the reveal exciting!

I mean, it’s actually better now, since you can instantly see if your picture sucks or not, and you can edit on the spot or just take another one. It’s infinitely more efficient, but maybe there’s a bit of charm lacking, and the whole enterprise is maybe not as much fun.

Show Biz Pizza Place

All right so it’s not a store exactly, but a part of me is still annoyed that these got shut down. Plus, it’s my list and I can do what I want.

Show Biz was a kid’s paradise, it had everything you could possibly want for a birthday party or just a way to spend a rainy day with a friend or two. Pizza? Check. Video games? Check. Skee Ball? Yup. Ball Pit? Some locations!

They also had an animatronic house band called the Rock-A-Fire Explosion. These characters would not only “perform” songs, but they would perform skits as well. They had fleshed out characters who interacted on stage, called out the birthday boy or girl by name, and presented a quality product. I loved Billy Bob, Beach Bear. Mitzi Mozzarella, and my favorite, Fats the gorilla. This was great stuff, and there are still fans of Show Biz out there on the internet preserving the memories of this wonderful restaurant. Some have even recovered/restored the old animatronic characters and there are numerous You Tube videos of the band rocking out to modern songs.

As a side note, I’m pretty sure that Show Biz pretty specifically was the template for the restaurant in the Five Nights At Freddy’s horror video game series. Cool idea, that game, but the actual, real place was awesome, innocent, and fun. I swear!!

Anyway, there were other establishments that used a similar idea (even one pizza place/arcade I remember that featured magicians and had a castle theme for some reason called AbraKDabra), but none came close to the level of fun or quality to be found at Show Biz Pizza Place.

Which is all to say that Show Biz did, and still does, kick Chuck E Cheese’s sorry butt.

Okay, well, that was fun. I hope you enjoyed my little nostalgia trip. Maybe it brought back some good memories for you too. Perhaps we’ll revisit this topic another time. Come back next week and see what lies in store on the next edition of MonDAVES! Bye, y’all.


Somebody Get Me An Agent, I’ve Got Some Ideas

I had a fairly bad cold last week. Not flu level (or COVID) thank goodness, but bad enough to knock me down for a few days. During my two day sick fest my viewing habits went straight back to my old school sick day routine, which meant the morning news shows, a little PBS, and a whole lot of game shows. Pluto TV has tons of game shows from classic The Price Is Right episodes to America Says, Deal Or No Deal, Jeopardy, Wheel Of Fortune and many more on both designated channels and on demand. Oh, and before you regular readers comment, I know I was just complaining about there being too many streaming services a few weeks ago, but I didn’t say it was all bad. Besides, a little small hypocrisy never hurt anybody.


I have continued watching some game shows here and there since I got better. I always forget how much I love game shows until I get on a kick like this. While I doubt I’ll ever make it on a game Show I have had a few ideas for some new Game Shows that I think would be fun. See what you think about these ideas:

1. Chewy/Not Chewy

Here’s one for Food Network. In this game contestants are presented with both familiar and obscure foods, treats, and delicacies from around the world and based upon their smell and appearance the contestants must decide if the foods are chewy or not chewy. It would be a great way to introduce people to new foods. It would also be fun to hear an entire studio audience yell out “Not Chewy!” in unison.

2. Grammar Police

This is a game for all of us grammar freaks. The contestants are read samples of other people’s writing and have to spot the grammar mistakes. As the game goes on the mistakes get trickier. Points are scored for every mistake found. The person with the fewest points at the end of round two is placed in “Grammar Jail” while the winner plays a bonus round for prizes, and an official badge, making them an officer with the Grammar Police.

3. Ex Or Next

Here we have an updated twist on the old Dating Game/Newlywed Game format. The contestants are all people who are recently engaged. Before the show begins, both the contestant’s fiancée and an ex-significant other have answered a series of questions. The contestant hears both the questions and the answers and has to try to work out who said what by matching the response to the appropriate person. A tally is kept showing how many correct matches the contestant has. At the end of the show a prize is given based on how many matches the contestant got right. This consists of an all expense paid date at a swanky restaurant or other romantic location. Here’s the catch: Whoever the contestant matched most answers with is the person they have to take on the date.

4. Name That Odor

This one’s pretty self explanatory. Kind of a gross idea, sure, but you’d tune in. You know you would. At least once. Plus, the celebrity edition would be epic.

5. What’s That Supposed To Be?

In this fun for the whole family game, contestants are shown drawings by toddlers and preschoolers and have to figure out what in the world they are looking at. Sometimes there are hints, sometimes not. Whoever comes nearest the actual intent of the drawing gets the points, and the person with the most semi-correct guesses wins. This show is the perfect blend of adorableness and parental nightmare. It’s bound to be a hit.

So, what do you think? Am I a game show genius? Should I try to get in touch with Hollywood, or would I just be pressing my luck? Either way, I’ll see you back here next week for more MonDAVEs!


Enough With The Streaming Already

Okay, I’ll be the first to admit that I was totally in on the whole streaming idea as a replacement for cable television which, let’s face it, has had an extremely broken business model for years now. I don’t regret my decision to cut the cable chord, nor do I plan to return. I do enjoy my streaming services, and I use them daily.

But we’re now at the point of over saturation.

It all started innocently enough, since there were only a few streaming channels available in the beginning and the big dogs, Netflix and Hulu, are still standing. Remember when those two were basically all you needed? Maybe a specialty streamer was a good idea, say for a favorite sport or particular movie or TV genre, but if you had those two you were good. Once the success of these services was proven you started getting a few others on the scene, most notably Amazon Prime, which really upped the ante as far as what was available to stream.

Then it seemed like everybody wanted to get into the act. Can’t blame them, of course, from a business standpoint. First, the cable and broadcast networks began to enter into exclusive contracts with one service or another for rights to air their hit shows. No longer content with that little piece of the pie, before you knew it many of these networks had their own streaming channels available. Major film studios soon followed suit. Which of course left the main streamers free to develop more and more original programming that, depending upon what was hot at the moment, meant you had to subscribe to multiple streamers so as not to miss out.

Then there’s the battle of the providers, Roku vs. Apple TV. Each have pros and cons, and exclusives that one must consider when deciding who to stream with. Not to be outdone, cable got into the act by requiring a cable subscription to stream many sporting events, since those contracts already existed. Even the new MLS soccer league has a deal with Apple TV where not only do you need to subscribe to Apple, but also to a specific service to see the games. Kinda like the NFL did years back with their “Sunday Ticket” and “Redzone” cable and Satellite TV offers.

Oh yeah, Satellite TV is a thing too. Basically cable you can’t watch when it rains. But I digress.

Now, all of this is fine and well on paper. The multiple streaming channels idea makes sense in our modern world. Give the people choice, and they only need pay for the streaming channels they want, thus eliminating the nonsense of cable. With cable you’d pay for about fifty channels that you don’t care about and you will never watch. That, along with the absolutely ridiculous price, was why we got rid of cable in the first place. All right, so far so good, but there are issues.

Firstly, most of these streaming channels, the really good ones anyway, require subscriptions. Especially if you’d like to watch with no commercials, or you want access to the really primo stuff. Oh, hey, tiered subscriptions. Another reason why we all got rid of cable. Interesting.

The problem though, is that this streaming thing was supposed to save us money, and now most people are finding their monthly streaming bills going up and up. Many are beginning to reject paying for new services when they are only interested in one or two programs provided. Yet you are still paying for hundreds of new choices within the streaming app.

Which brings me to point number two.

There’s just too much choice. Sure, it’s nice to have a seemingly unending choice of viewing material at your fingertips. The problem is that you have a seemingly unending choice of viewing at your fingertips.

Unless a person is going to watch something very specific, picking something out is a Herculean task. First, you must browse the new releases and the “recommended for you” sections. Then it’s a quick look at the “because you watched” section. Then you start to think about a specific genre of show you want to watch and begin scrolling through that category. If you still can’t find anything that seems a good fit for that evening’s entertainment, don’t worry. There are at least five more streaming channels that you subscribe to. Pick one and start the process all over again. Each streamer has hundreds of choices, so you’re sure to find something, right?

Wrong. I don’t know about you all, but I have actually spent the better part of an hour scrolling through choices just trying to find something to watch. There’s only so much you can take of the scrolling, reading descriptions and watching meticulously picked scenes for previews. The frustrating thing is that I want to watch all of it, but don’t feel like watching any of it. After a while it just hurts the brain, and it’s easier to just go to bed.

I’d actually like to see data on how many people just scroll and never find anything, or how long the average person scrolls before choosing. I bet those numbers are way bigger than you’d think. Or maybe they’re smaller. Maybe I’m just a weirdo. Definitely possible.

What I’m interested to see, however, is how this will all play out in the long run. I’m sure we will be stuck with things the way they are for the foreseeable future. Still, I can’t help but wonder how this is all going to shake out. Streaming in and of itself is not very old in the grand scheme of things, and it got really popular really quickly. Sometimes that’s a recipe for success, sometimes disaster. Will the over saturation continue or will people finally have enough and trim the fat back down to only a few channels? Will some new thing come along and make all of this streaming stuff obsolete in another ten years? Time will tell.

Selfishly, I’d kind of like to see this all lead to a rediscovery of and an uptick in sales of physical media. I know, people are all about minimalism now, but hear me out. How many times have you been in the middle of a series only to find it removed from the service you were watching it on? Then it moves to another one you don’t have, but can’t really afford to subscribe to. Or you discover a new favorite movie that disappears entirely and you never do find it again. What about old classics that you used to love but no service seems to have?

Well, that’s where physical media comes in. If you own a copy and have a player to watch it on this will never be an issue. You can always go back to the comfort food that is your favorite shows or films. Let’s face it, even with the hundreds of choices available, Netflix, Hulu et al have limited space available. Sooner or later, something’s going to have to go. Maybe it will rotate back into the system. Maybe not. Wouldn’t it be nice to know you have your own copy whenever you want it? This applies to music and books as well.

Sure, streaming is “now”, but there are signs that physical will never truly go away. Some people are just born with the collector gene, and if you’re into the arts, you’re going to collect the pieces you love. There are more than a few labels out there, for both movies and music, that specialize in niche offerings such as specific genres and classics, as well as the latest popular thing. Many of these companies have seen steady numbers, and some growth in the past few years. Maybe a return to physical media is imminent. Or maybe it’s just wishful thinking on my part.

Okay, rant over. Sorry if it wasn’t as humorous as you’d expect from this blog. Try going back and reading it in Grandpa Simpson’s voice, maybe that will help.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to watch a little TV before bed. I’m in the middle of four different shows. If I can only pick the perfect one to watch…

See you next week.



Here’s a few long-form jokes that have punny endings.


JOKE #1:

A frog goes into a bank. He hops up to the counter, and notices that the teller’s name is Patricia Wack. Being a polite frog with impeccable manners, he adresses her thusly:

“Hello, Ms. Wack, my name is Kermit Jagger, and I’d like to take out a loan. My father is Mick Jagger, and he’s good friends with the manager so it should be no problem.”

Confused, she says, “Okay, Mr. Jagger, how big of a loan would you like to take out?”

“Well,” says Kermit, “I need fifty thousand dollars.”

Now slightly frustrated, Patricia says “For that kind of a loan, you’d need collateral.”

“No problem. This should do it.” The frog then produces a small, white, porcelain elephant.

Now quite frustrated and even more confused, the teller excuses herself and goes back to the manager’s office.

“I don’t know, man…there’s this FROG outside, claims he’s Mick Jagger’s son, wants a fifty thousand dollar loan, and he gave me this stupid little elephant for collateral. I mean, WHAT IS THAT?!!”

The manager thinks it over for a moment and says, “That’s a knick-knack, Patty Wack, give the frog a loan. His old man’s a Rolling Stone!”

JOKE #2:

In the great desert lived a tribe of nomads.

Their leader, Benny, had risen to his rank due to his lush, magnificent beard. Their people believed that a man’s strength, courage, and wisdom came from his beard, so the man with the richest, longest, fullest beard was chosen as chief. This is how the tribe chose their leaders for decades.

After leading the tribe for many years, Benny began to feel uncomfortable in his beard as they roamed this hot, dry, dusty land. He wanted to shave the beard off, but decided to call his royal council for advice.

When he told them of his desire to shave, the councilmen were shocked. His most trusted assistant asked him, “Sire, do you not remember the ancient legend? If the leader of the tribe shaves his beard he will be cursed, and turned into a clay pot!”

Being a modern man, Benny laughed at the old superstition. “Surely, you don’t all believe this ridiculous tale, do you? Now bring me some cream and a razor. I’m going to shave!”

So the headstrong chief went ahead and scraped away at his magnificent beard. As the last stroke was made, a giant dust storm came up, surrounding Benny. It lasted only a few seconds, but when it cleared the councilmen saw only a man sized vessel where their leader once stood. The council then knew that the old legend must be true.

A Benny shaved is a Benny urned.

JOKE #3:

Once there was a group of friars who wanted to build a new belfry, but didn’t have enough funds, so they opened up a small flower shop to raise money,

The shop was a success. It seemed as though everyone in town wanted to buy flowers from the men of God, since they not only received beautiful flowers, but also a blessing when they made their purchase.

This was all fine and well, except that the town’s original florist was losing all his customers. He felt this was very unfair, so he went and asked the friars to shut down, but they would not.

A few weeks later, the rival florist went and begged the friars to close up shop because he was going bankrupt, but again they refused.

so, out of desperation, the rival florist hired Hugh McTaggert, the roughest, toughest, nastiest thug in the land to go and “persuade” the friars to close. He beat the friars up, and tore their shop apart. He then told them that he’d be back for more if they didn’t close up shop. Terrified, they did so, proving that:

Hugh, and only Hugh can prevent florist friars.

Okay, enough of this nonsense. I’ll be back next week with something else. See you then.


I’ve Got A Question For You

Okay dear readers, I’ll admit it. I’m stuck. I have no ideas for this week’s post . Zero. Zip. Zilch. De nada. Bupkis. The big goose egg. Nothing. No thing.

So I’m going to turn this over to you.

There’s really no one focus of topics here on the ol’ blog, but a few different topics and ideas keep showing up. Judging from my stats, readership goes up and down, but the numbers don’t really connect to certain topics or styles of writing. Therefore, I’m just going to ask a simple question:

What would you like to read about?

Do you want more stories about family?

More ridiculous lists?

More Dad jokes?

More movie posts?

How about music based posts?

Or would you maybe like me to talk about food?

The travel blog posts always seem popular, but I don’t travel as often as I’d like. However, I could write more about the attractions here in the St. Louis area. How’s that grab you?

My only real rule is that I don’t talk politics, and I try not to curse much. Otherwise, the field is pretty open. So tell me what you think. Look, it’s still going to be pretty scattershot around here, but if y’all could give me some feedback it would help me focus in a little bit more, and maybe we’ll all have a little more fun. It would also force me to prepare a little more and that’d be great for all of us.

If you’d be so kind, leave a comment and let me know what you think. I will read them all and take your opinions into consideration for how I schedule future posts. Just be nice about it, okay?

All right, I’m going to leave it there for now. I look forward to hearing from you guys. Take care of yourselves and I’ll see you next week.


About Cornelia

Things usually get pretty silly around here, but permit me a bit of a detour this week.

This coming weekend, my extended family is going to gather at another funeral to say goodbye to one of our own, Aunt Cornelia. There have been a lot of these funerals over the past few years, as my Grandmother’s generation is leaving this world behind. It seems like we’re averaging about two a year here lately. It’s a big family, what can you do?

Aunt Cornelia (who’s first name is actually Wilma, but she mostly went by Cornelia, except when she didn’t, which is not quite as confusing as it sounds but there you go) was one who was always in the kitchen fixing something to eat, or opening up her house to visiting family. She loved her big extended family more than anything, whether you were a cousin, great grandchild, niece, nephew, brother or sister in law, whatever, it didn’t matter to her. Once you’re in you’re in, and she made sure to make you feel welcome.

She loved a good story or joke, and I remember hearing multiple stories of family trips that she, Uncle Bob, and her siblings made. I believe Cornelia was the one who, upon getting ready to leave their campsite once to go to another location, came up with the “Speak now or forever hold your pee” line. As a kid I thought that was hysterical, and it still makes me giggle. If any of my cousins are reading this, don’t correct me if I’m wrong about it, because that line coming from her is a riot.

Cornelia was also the one who was always the most vocal about calling me out when I didn’t see my family as much as I should, especially after my mother passed. She was right of course, but I really didn’t want to hear it. I was young and bull headed, and just kind of took it for granted that my family would always be there. I mean, I knew that wasn’t really true, but during those years I was a little too focused on myself and I didn’t take extended family seriously. I’ve tried to make up for that a little bit over the past ten years or so, though it’s hard with everyone living so far apart. Social media helps, but not enough. I really wish I would have listened at the time.

Don’t think for a minute that I’m complaining here, or trying to make my Aunt the bad guy. Far from it. I was the one who was a bit resentful about hearing her speak those words, and my attitude wasn’t the greatest. What I didn’t realize at the time was that family was so important to her that she wanted it to be important to all of us kids too. She wanted me to have the joy in the family that she had.

Honestly, I think she may have known that I was in need of a deeper connection with the family, and she knew that deep down I loved them all to pieces. I had convinced myself that I, as a city kid, had very little in common with my Southern relatives. Talk about getting the wrong end of the stick. Years later I realized how much we did have in common, how alike we really were, and how much I actually did love each of my Uncles, Aunts, and my cousins. I wasted a lot of time, and for that I am profoundly sorry. Aunt Cornelia was right. She always was.

As stated, most of my memories of her come form my childhood, but also from the family Thanksgiving. It was basically a family reunion in a day. Cornelia was the one who always took charge of the kitchen, no matter where the event was held that particular year. Apart from her own family, she had twelve siblings, many of whom had kids and grandkids of their own and we all converged on Cape Girardeau for the day. She made sure everyone was well fed and well loved, grinning ear to ear the whole time. Our big family Thanksgiving has faded away over the past few years, but the warm memories live on, and it remains one of my favorite holidays because of the efforts Cornelia and others went through to make it so special.

One more thing. When we had Tessa, our first born, Cornelia sent gifts to the house. A few were some baby books, but she also sent a hand made dress for the girl. It was very pretty and Tessa looked adorable in it. This got my wife, already someone who loved to sew, interested in making clothing. Since then she has made multiple dresses for the girls, and helped with costuming for school plays, all thanks to that gift box so lovingly sent to us fourteen years ago. This just proves that you never know what a little kindness can accomplish, and Cornelia had kindness both to spare and to share.

So we will gather this weekend. We will cry, we will laugh, we will eat, and we will hug. We will mourn our loss, but we will cherish the time we have together, even under the circumstances.

I hope everyone reading this has a family they love like I do mine. Even if you’re not always great at showing it (been there), next time you get the chance, let them know. Give ’em a hug, and maybe some home cooking. It will do wonders for them, and for you too.

Until next time, take care of yourselves and those around you. See you next week.


Questions? I Got Answers!

I recently read that a personal blog such as this one should be both informational and confessional in order to be considered successful. So with that in mind, I am going to give you a window into my mind, heart and soul by answering 25 “Would You Rather” questions I found while surfing the net. There are 150 questions in the original list but I’m only doing the first section because this post would be way too long otherwise, and I’m too lazy to do more than that anyway. See? A confession already and we’re not even through with the introduction. This should be fun.

Questions from “Happy Toddler Playtime”

  1. Would you rather be called Boo Boo Butt or Willy Willy Wonky Face?
    -In certain circles, I am already known as “Willy Willy Wonka Face” thank you very much.
  2. Would you rather be invisible or be able to fly?
    -Invisibility is the only hip answer to this question.
  3. Would you rather live inside a banana or a watermelon?
    -Ooh, good question. I like bananas way better, but a watermelon has a lot more room. So that.
  4. Would you rather be able to hear things no one else could or see things no one else could?
    -What kind of things would I be seeing? Like ghosts? No thanks. I’ll take super hearing.
  5. Would you rather catch a frog or a fly?
    -For what purpose? A frog, I guess. Maybe we’ll be friends. I’d name him Herbie.
  6. Would you rather take a skunk for a walk or a porcupine?
    -This question comes down to environment. I think a porcupine would be more fun for a walk in the park, but if I’m walking in a bad neighborhood I would take the skunk. Nobody’s gonna mess with a guy walking a skunk.
  7. Would you rather work at NASA or the FBI?
    -Ummm…NASA? I guess? Wait, do I actually have to go into space? No? Okay, NASA.
  8. Would you rather dress as your school principal or your math teacher?
    -Well, my principals mostly wore suits, so I choose that. At least I’d look like maybe I was in charge of something.
  9. Would you rather eat 1000 smarties or 1000 lb chocolate bar?
    -Dude. Smarties are my favorite. Especially those weird ones that look like what the color orange would look like if it wasn’t feeling well.
  10. Would you rather teach someone a new joke or a new dance?
    -New joke. Although it has been said that my dancing is a joke already, so fifty-fifty on this one.
  11. Would you rather drink swimming pool water or toilet bowl water?
    -I’ve ingested enough swimming pool water in my life that I’m probably immune to the chemicals at this point, so let’s go with that.
  12. Would you rather jump into a frozen lake or into a pile of jello?
    -Jello. A frozen lake sounds horrible, especially if I have to break the ice. Jello on the other hand might be fun, and possibly profitable given the right circumstance.
  13. Would you rather climb a mountain or scuba dive in the ocean?
    -I love the mountains, and have hiked some of the ones that already have a trail going up. Actually climbing one however, that seems hard. Let’s go scuba diving and see some fishies.
  14. Would you rather carry 1000 spider-sized lions or 1 lion-sized spider?
    -Thanks for putting that picture in my head, I’m gonna have nightmares now. Anyway, the obvious answer here is to go with having an army of tiny lions at my command. That’s evil criminal mastermind stuff right there, straight out of the cartoons. I’m going lions. Also, combined with my already established power of invisibility, I am getting up to some stuff!
  15. Would you rather constantly have to cough or constantly have to sneeze?
    -Cough. Maybe I’ll develop a cool Tom Waits style rasp.
  16. Would you rather live in the jungle or on an iceberg?
    -Jungle. With an ape named Ape, my elephant Shep, and Fella and Ursula who, no doubt, will stay in step. Might change my name to George.
  17. Would you rather jump up and down all day or stand still?
    -Look, I’m already tired, let me stand still for crying out loud.
  18. Would you rather fly a rocket ship or a plane?
    -With my NASA training you’d think rocket ship, but no. Plane. That’s how I get to the jungle.
  19. Would you rather have to feed 1 elephant or 1 million ants?
    -I actually, no joke, used to know a guy who worked at the elephant house in the St. Louis Zoo, so I’d do that since I already have an in. Shep will not go hungry!
  20. Would you rather be a triplet or have 10 brothers and sisters?
    -Triplet. With three you have a built in band. Coulda used that.
  21. Would you rather have the power to live on the sun or on the moon?
    I suppose the moon. People take trips there every now and then, but nobody ever goes to the sun. It would get lonely.
  22. Would you rather sit for an entire day or stand for an entire day?
    -What do you mean by “day”, is it 24 hours, or just like from sunup to sundown? Need more info, please.
  23. Would you rather have a dinosaur as a pet or an alien?
    -Dinosaur. Small one.
  24. Would you rather be a robot or a flower?
    -Depends. Am I a sentient robot after they have inevitably risen up and enslaved mankind, or just like a dumb ass Roomba? You know what, forget it. I’ll be a daisy.
  25. Would you rather sleep all day or stay up all night?
    -That pretty accurately describes my twenties, so the answer is yes.

Okay, well, I’m glad we took that journey together. It feels good to get things out in the open, and hopefully create a real bond with my readers. See you all next week for more MonDAVES!

Oh, and by the way, if you want to check out the original list from “Happy Toddler Time”, here’s the link:


Most Important Ranking Ever.

Regular readers know that I enjoy writing posts that are lists, and I also enjoy ranking different items. Shoot, I even guest on my brother’s podcast regularly where we rank stuff together in special episodes called The Fab 15.” Here is a link to the most recent one: http://emptychecking.blogspot.com/2023/01/episode-143-fab-15-cover-songs.html

Most of the time, my rankings are pop culture related. You know, movies, music, etc. Occasionally though, I feel the need to step it up a notch and do a ranking of something important, something that will be of use to everyone and viewed as a public service to all.

In that spirit, MonDAVEs proudly presents the ultimate, absolutely definitive, and certainly not totally random and made up on the spot ranking of the months of the year. Yes, yes, I know. You’re welcome.

  1. May- May is the best month, hands down. It’s not too cold or hot (well, not until the last week or so), and it is a beautiful month. Spring has sprung, but the Summer heat has not quite yet shown up. It’s pretty darn perfect all round.
  2. December- On the flip side of things, December is a close second. It can be quite cold and snowy, but it does include the year’s major holidays. It’s also a dark month which would normally be a bad thing, but it gives us extra time to enjoy all the pretty decorations so that’s a win.
  3. July- Summer in all its glory. Pool parties, cookouts, the works. Also, ‘Merica.
  4. September- Pleasant month, right? Summer starts dying down, temperatures begin to come down a little, but Autumn is not quite ready to enter the scene, although a few leaves may start turning early just for fun. September kinda feels like a second Spring in some ways, and I’m down with that.
  5. November- Thanksgiving month-truly one of the greatest American holidays! November’s weather can be unpredictable but you’re sure to be able to take a walk through the fallen leaves and get you some Apple cider to drink, and that ain’t half bad.
  6. April-Spring begins, but it also brings the rains, and in my part of the country, tornado season begins. Oh, and taxes are due too. The outdoors starts greening up though so that’s nice. Overall April a pretty mid month. Which is why it’s smack dab in the center of my list.
  7. October- Autumn really picks up here, the leaves are usually at peak color change in the beginning of the month and it can be quite beautiful. Trouble is, that beauty is balanced out by like, way too many fake spider decorations, and ghosts and monsters and stuff. I mean sure, Halloween can be fun, but it’s a weird ending to such a pretty month. Weather’s usually not too bad though.
  8. June-The beginning of Summer, so it’s fun and exciting at first, but June has no major holidays or anything and is really just a placeholder until July shows up.
  9. March-Okay, so March has got St. Patrick’s Day in it, and that is one of my favorite days (or weeks if you do it right) of the year so I do love that. However, the weather is completely unpredictable. March can go from pleasant to freezing all in one day. Sometimes more than once. Also. that whole “in like a lion, out like a lamb” thing? Hardly. Often those two ideas will switch around. My problem with March is that it doesn’t quire know what it wants to be. Get yer crap together March, and maybe you can move up a few spaces.
  10. February- Just kind of a nothing month. Whatever.
  11. August- Part of my beloved Summer, but to a fault. It just gets too danged hot sometimes. It also tends to feel a lot longer than it is. As much as I’d like to move it up the ranks a bit, I simply cannot justify doing so. Sorry.
  12. January- What a trash month. Granted, it has the unfortunate task of following up October, November, and December with all their holidays and merriment so it’s bound to be a little disappointing, but January excels at being disappointing. It’s cold, dark, gray, long. lifeless, and it just plain stinks all around. Seriously, it’s garbage.

There you have it. Possibly the most important and scientifically accurate ranking of all time. Join me next week for more great stuff.



I like words.

The English language is full of interesting, silly, fun to say words that are either half forgotten or technical in nature. These words don’t pop up too often, but when they do it’s always good for a grin.

Following is a list of some of my favorite words, and their meanings. There’s no particular order here, just a group of words I like. Hopefully some of your favorites are here too. Maybe you’ll even find a new favorite or two to throw out there when you’re trying to impress someone (usually somebody cute or someone with way more clout than you have) so that you can feel intelligent for two seconds, and enjoy watching them try to figure out what it was you just said.

Well, a guy’s gotta have a hobby.

Anyway, here goes.

Bumbershoot– an umbrella

Hullaballoo– a commotion. Also a hip television music show from the 1960’s.

Bamboozle– to trick someone into doing something

Gobbledygook– gibberish

Fartlek– ewww, no, not that. It’s a type of training where runners switch between sprinting and jogging.

Everywhen– all the time, or always.

Megadeath– a unit measuring “one million deaths” when discussing nuclear warfare. It’s also the name of a heavy metal band (misspelled) that is either highly over or under rated depending on who you ask.

Kumkwat– sounds vaguely dirty, but it’s just a citrus fruit that I have never eaten.

Bumfuzzle– confused or perplexed.

Dipthong– not a bathing suit for hillbillies. This is when two vowel sounds join together in one syllable to form one sound, like “ou” in out or “oy” in toy.

Discombobulate– to confuse, frustrate or upset.

Indubitably– expressing certainty about an action. Side note: my father claimed this to be my first word. Indubitably so.

Dongle– an adapter or cord that connects one device to another.

Biblioklept– a person who steals books.

Hoecake– Sounds like an insult, but really is just a Southern style cornbread.

Draggle– to make something wet or dirty by dragging it. Not cute little creatures created by Jim Henson.

Perissology– being overly wordy. Something I have been accused of in the past, and probably a good place to end this list.

Well that was fun. And nerdy. I hope you liked it. See you next week.


Daddy/Daughter Marvel Movie Review, Quantum Edition

If you made it to the end of the last blog you will remember that I mentioned the possibility of a tiny update this weekend, and here it is. The official MonDAVEs review of Marvel’s Ant Man And The Wasp:Quantumania! Ha! See what I did there? Tiny update? ‘Cause y’know, Ant Man? He gets small? Whoo! Comedy!

Tessa: That is a solid joke.

Dave: Really?

T: Yeah.

D: Huh. Oh yeah, teenage daughter Tessa is here too and she will give us her thoughts as well. As always, we will both give our reviews on a scale of 1 to 5 and we will try to get away with only light spoilers if any.

Just in case you’re unfamiliar, this is Ant Man #3. During this adventure, the entire family gets sucked into the Quantum realm (see previous Ant Man movies for info on that), at which point they learn about Janet’s history of being trapped in the realm and all the adventures she got up to. Of course, she is brought right back into the thick of things, endangering the family (particularly Cassie), greeting old friends and new, causing a revolution, and getting Kang The Conqueror seriously ticked off. This will soon have major reverberations throughout the MCU, affecting multiple timelines, alternate realities and pert near anything else you can think of.

Now that you’re mostly caught up, let’s talk about it. Take it away, Tess.

T: This movie was pretty good. Phase 5 of the MCU has been hit or miss so far, when the movies are good they’re really good, but when they aren’t they’re mid and forgettable. In Phase 5, a movie has to have something extraordinary to be remembered as one of the good ones, or to be remembered at all. I feel like Ant Man and The Wasp: Quantumania accomplishes that. This movie was mostly a segway to the future movies, setting up Kang as one of the main villains of the MCU from here on out, and I understand that. But I feel like this movie was missing the character development I felt it needed.

Films can focus on one of four things: Plot, Emotional Effect or Mood, Style/Texture/Structure, or Characters. In my opinion, this movie (along with pretty much all Marvel movies) was focusing on plot. Which is all fine and dandy, I just feel like I personally tend to like character driven films better. I like when there are characters to focus on and analyze as a viewer, which I thought this movie lacked. Sure, Scott and Cassie’s relationship was expanded upon, and Janet played a much bigger role than in the other two Ant Man and The Wasp movies, but the plot was so aggressively shoved in our faces. There was like ten minutes of exposition at the beginning, ten minutes of Lang family bonding at the end and the rest of the movie was about the plot. And to be fair it was a good plot.

Kang was set up as a new villain really well. He has the potential to be really threatening and he could be used in lots of cool multiverse and time travel plot lines. The quantum realm was actually really cool, and I liked all the characters we met there. However, they were not expanded upon at all. I can barely remember any of their names. This comes back to the main point I have, there was no character development. I understand that this is just a set-up movie, and I get they had to take out a lot of things because they wanted it to be more plot driven. I get that this was intentional, I just didn’t like that aspect very much. There was also no Luis, which is sad. But I liked most of this movie, and the cut scenes were pretty cool! I’m excited for what comes next with Kang the Conqueror and the Ant Man gang.

D: I agree with the character development point, although I think the mains were known well enough by fans of the MCU. It would have been nice to know a little bit more about the new characters we met , though, so that we cared a little bit more about their fates. I think perhaps that decision was made in an attempt to shorten the movies down timewise until we get to the big ensemble pieces later on.

I think this movie was quite enjoyable. It was a lot of fun, beautiful to look at, and I think it works as a transition piece. It was a good science fiction adventure movie, but I don’t think it was a good Ant Man movie. I feel like Ant Man works best in his small world, and as a part of the Avengers team. This film just feels a little out of place. With all the new worlds we were witnessing and the multiple alien species involved, it felt more like a Star Wars movie to me than a Marvel movie. That’s okay, I enjoy both, but it just didn’t feel right. But then, I thought that the Star Wars Rise Of Skywalker movie felt like Marvel, so what do I know?

Lastly, I think the cast were all very good, but I’m not so sure about Jonathan Majors as Kang. No disrespect as an actor, but I wasn’t thrilled with his performance here. Kang didn’t feel very menacing to me, but that may have been an intentional choice to introduce us to the more human, relatable side of the character before revealing his true evil in future installments. Still a very interesting character though, and it’s clear that Kang isn’t going to mess around.

T: Side eyeing that last paragraph, but I won’t argue. I give this a 4 out of 5.

D: I give it a 3.5 out of 5. Which feels a little low, actually, but I was probably too kind to the last Thor picture, so I guess this evens that out. Again, I enjoyed it, but it just didn’t floor me.

Alright, there you go. See you next time for more stuff.


Valentine’s Day Post-What A Joke!

I share lots of Dad jokes here at the ol’ blog, jokes for every occasion. I see no reason why Valentine’s Day should be any different. Here are a heart shaped box full of funnies to make you giggle. Also, if you haven’t gotten anything for your sweetheart, print these out and give them to him/her in a card. Way better than flowers. Trust me. Actually, no, don’t do that.

Here’s the jokes, folks:

-Who always has a date on Valentine’s Day?
A calendar.

-Why didn’t the skeleton get a present for his Valentine?
His heart wasn’t in it.

-What did one piece of toast say to the other?
“You’re my butter half!”

-What did the couple say after getting struck by Cupid’s arrow?

-What did the tortoise say on Valentine’s Day?
“I turt-ally love you!”

-Two antennae met on a roof, fell in love, and got married on Valentine’s Day. Their wedding ceremony wasn’t fancy, but the reception was excellent.

-What is an octopus’s favorite love song?
“I Wanna Hold Your Hand, Hand, Hand, Hand, Hand, Hand, Hand, Hand.”

-Why did the cannibal break up with his girlfriend?
She didn’t suit his taste.

-Did you hear about the bed bugs who fell in love?
They’re getting married in the spring!

-Why was the ghost sad on Valentine’s Day?
Because he didn’t have a boo.

-Why did the astronaut couple break up?
They needed space.

-What did the thread say to the needle?
“I’m sew into you!”

-Did you hear about the vampire wedding?
It was love at first bite.

-Did Adam and Eve have a date?
No, they had an apple.

-Why do Valentines have hearts on them?
Because spleens would look pretty gross.

-What’s the difference between a $25 steak and a $55 steak?
February 14th.

Okay, that’s it for this week. I’ll be back next Monday with more stuff, although there may be a tiny update this weekend. Stay tuned.


Cool Stuff You Never Needed To Know But Will Probably Use At Your Next Party During A Lull In Conversation

Craving some useless knowledge? I got you, fam. Here are some weird, random, and interesting factoids courtesy of MonDAVEs, the world wide web, and my son’s random fact a day calendar.

-The height of the Eiffel Tower changes depending on the season. It can be up to six inches shorter in winter due to changing temperatures.

-Millions of years ago, in South America, there were giant armadillo-like creatures the size of Volkswagen Beetles.

-Dateline: April 11th, 1954. Nothing happened. No major events were recorded at all, anywhere, making it officially the most boring day in history. Which is actually pretty interesting, now that I think about it. So, I guess that’s not boring anymore. Kinda defeats the purpose. Sorry.

-During World War II, Great Britain came up with what was known as Operation Vegetarian. The plan was to poison Germany’s cattle by dropping linseed cakes laced with anthrax from the sky. The cakes were never actually used, but five million of them were produced.

-Okay so, at one time, and I swear I’m not making this up, Mattel sold a doll called “Growing Up Skipper” that, when you turned her arm, got taller and her breasts got larger.

-Baby puffins are called “pufflings” which is the cutest thing I’ve heard in a long time.

-There are 293 ways to make change for a dollar.

-A “jiffy” is an actual unit of time. It is 1/100th of a second. So if anyone tells you they’ll do something “in a jiffy” they are either a liar or The Flash.

-A group of bunnies is called a “fluffle” which is the second cutest thing I’ve heard in a long time.

-In 1386 in Falaise, in Northern France, a sow was publicly executed. The pig had attacked a young child, who died from the injuries. The pig was put on trial with full legal representation. The pig was found guilty, and on the day was led into the town square dressed in a man’s clothes, and hung.

Well, there you are. You never know what you’re going to read here next, do ya? I sure don’t. Come back next week and be as surprised as I am for more MonDAVEs!


Elvis And Me

Let me tell you all about Elvis. No, not that one. This one’s smaller, scrappier, and furrier. He would also look better in a sequined jumpsuit, although that’s probably not going to happen. Also, this Elvis is actually ALIVE. Although, honestly, that was touch and go for a bit.

Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me go back a few weeks and start over.

Okay, so the first thing you need to know is that my wife and I are very much fans of adopting our pets. Well, the furry ones anyway. The turtle is another story. Anyway, all of our furry friends have been shelter animals. We had some discussions about the next dog we adopt being a Senior dog, since they don’t tend to be adopted very quickly and can spend quite a long time caged up while the cute little puppies go to a new home in a matter of days. I mean, sure, I get that. But Senior dogs still make good pets and there’s no reason why a healthy dog shouldn’t be able to spend its last four or five years in a loving home instead of a shelter.

This has tugged on our hearts for a while, and the thought was that after the current dog goes (something we hope doesn’t happen for a good, long while), we’d look for a Senior dog. Then, of course, we started thinking about getting a second dog, and pretty much decided against it, since the time, effort and costs involved seemed like they’d be a little much. However, we decided to keep our eyes open, just in case. You see where this is going, right?

Just a few days after Christmas, I searched the shelter pages on my phone, as I would randomly do every other month or so just to see what was what. I stumbled on a picture of a cute little guy that kinda stole my heart, and his story convinced me. His name was Melvin (not Elvis. Yet.), he was a nine year old terrier mix, he was described as a “cuddle machine”, and also as being deaf. I showed the listing to my wife, and we agreed that he’d be worth taking a chance on. So I went down to the shelter after work on Dec. 28th to meet the doggo possibly bring him home.

When I met him, he seemed pretty chill, and quite definitely deaf. The shelter said I could take him on a two week foster because of his deafness, and not have to pay anything or officially adopt until the trial period was over just in case a deaf dog wound up being too difficult for our household to manage. Seemed like a good deal to me, so I left with Melvin in tow. When I called Valerie to tell her I was coming home with the dog, she was happy, but mentioned that she wasn’t too thrilled about the name, since we already have a Mel in the house, and two didn’t sit right. So we tried a few names out over the phone, and she hit upon Elvis pretty quickly, since it has a lot of the same sounds involved and, let’s face it, is a way cooler name.

So we brought him home, had him meet our current dog Zoey, and the kids, and everything seemed all right. We were able to communicate through stomping on the floor or using a flashlight to get his attention, and were working on hand signs for simple commands as well. The first day and a half or so went really well. I even posted his picture on my Facebook page to talk about this cute little doggie we were fostering and possibly adopting. Everything was awesome!

Then it all changed. Elvis started sleeping a lot more, but I didn’t worry about that, he’d been through a lot recently, I figured he was just tired. His tiredness kept on, and he was acting disinterested in everything. We were beginning to think we got a dud of a dog. He was showing no signs of personality at all. Next thing you know, he didn’t want to eat. Between the two of us, we had enough experience to know that a dog not eating is a bad sign. So we figured he was sick.

On Jan. 6th we called the shelter back, and they had us bring him in for an exam. Yup, he had an infection. They sent us back home with some medicine and a special dog food diet. For two more days we fed him as best we could and got the medicine in him, but it wasn’t helping. In fact, he got worse. Even if you got down on the floor and spoon fed him the little guy wouldn’t eat. His poor little nose was running non stop and affecting his breathing. He wasn’t a “cuddle machine” at all-more like a snot machine. Valerie could pick him up and he was a lifeless lump in her arms. We were honestly worried that he wouldn’t make it through the night for two nights in a row. So we had to make he decision to surrender him back to the shelter two days later, even though it made us sad to do so. I was sure to tell them though that if he was to get better we would still be interested, and they said that they would give a call when/if he got better.

After a week went by, I decided to call the shelter and inquire about the dog, just to see if he was even still among us. I was told that he was much sicker than they had originally thought (duh), and that they had to up his medication. They gave him fluids as well, give him nose drops, and were keeping him in a room with a nebulizer. Poor little dude was going through it! The person I talked to seemed to think Elvis could still make it, and they’d let me know if he did.

On January 14th, we got the call. Elvis was ready to come home if we still wanted him. Well, yeah, of course. They were kind enough to restart the two week foster period, just in case, but we were free to come get him. So, with renewed hope, but low expectations I went and picked him up again. This time I was definitely not posting on Facebook about it, because I didn’t want to jinx it-and I didn’t talk about it either-just in case.

Elvis is alive-and almost a completely different dog! First of all, that whole not eating thing is a thing of the past. This is the most food motivated dog I have ever known (and that’s saying a lot) so much so that we actually have to hide food from him. He also likes to jump up on the couch for cuddles (not exactly a “machine”, but still nice), and he enjoys exploring the back yard. He’s also a little mischievous, but in a cute way. Turns out he’s a digger, which isn’t great, but he is going after the mole hills in back which is pretty great, so good boy I guess.

Oh, and we’ve also discovered he’s NOT DEAF. He may be a little bit hard of hearing, since there are some sounds he won’t respond to (or maybe he just doesn’t want to-he could be playing us, still not sure), but he does respond to our voices, and any type of package opening because it could be food.

So far, there hasn’t been too many problems between Elvis and Zoey either. They are both a little jealous of the other when it comes to pets. Zoey, sweet girl that she is, has always gotten all the pets, and she wants ALL THE PETS. Turns out Elvis wants ALL THE PETS too, so there is a bit of a minor rivalry going on there, and I am learning how to successfully pet two dogs simultaneously.

Elvis has snapped at Zoey a few times over food, but he is overly skinny and we think a little bit food insecure. Again, this is pretty minor and we are able to stop anything from getting out of hand. It’s only natural for there to be a little skirmish or two among the two of them as they figure out the pecking order, and Elvis gets used to how things work around here. Besides, they seem to get along pretty well otherwise. Zoey is a Huskador, and is quite a bit bigger than our little Elvis, so he does constantly get biffed in the face by her ever wagging tail, but he doesn’t seem to be too bothered. I have also seen him lick her on occasion as he walks by. So I don’t think there’s too much to worry about there.

As for the rest of us, well we are getting used to him and him to us. He does seem to like us a whole bunch, and we like him back too.

So much so that today we made it official. January 30th, a full month plus since we had our two week trial, Elvis is officially part of the family. He’s a Brink! We look forward to lots of fun and love from our new little buddy.

That’s the scoop for this week see you next time for more MonDAVES. Oh, and to my regular readers I say tank you. Thankyouverymuch.

Sorry. Had to.


Winter Jokes

We are well and truly into Winter here in the STL, and with a snowstorm expected tomorrow night, I thought it might be a fun to share a few Winter themed jokes,

Joke #1

Did you hear about the big Winter storm in New York? It got so cold the bankers were walking around with their hands in their own pockets.

Joke #2

A wife texts her husband on a cold Winter’s day: “Windows frozen. Won’t open”. So the guy texts back, saying “Pour lukewarm water on it”. The wife texts back “Computer’s really messed up now”.

Joke #3

Why are we only concerned about snowmen and not snowwomen? Because only a man is dumb enough to stand out in the cold without a coat.

Joke #4

Last Winter I went bobsleighing with the family. Killed 37 Bobs.

Joke #5

What do you call ten Arctic hares hopping backwards through the snow together? A receding hare line.

And finally, my favorite:

Joke #6

A baby polar bear goes up to his father and says “Daddy am I a Polar Bear?”

The dad says “Of course you’re a polar bear. I’m a polar bear, your mom’s a polar bear, you are a polar bear. Now get outta here and quit asking stupid questions.”

So the kid goes up to his mom and says “Mommy, am I a Polar bear? I mean, really and truly a polar bear?”

“Well of course you are, sweetheart” the mama says. “I am a polar bear, you’re father’s a polar bear, so that makes you a polar bear too. Now why would you ask such a question, dear?”

Kid says, “Because I’m FREEZING.”


See you next week.


Have You Been To Wally’s?

So what do you do when you’d like to take a road trip, but you don’t have the cash or, more importantly, the time to do so? Simple. You grab the fam and make a run to Wally’s!

What’s Wally’s? I’m glad you asked.

Wally’s is a service station superstore with two locations in Missouri and Illinois that bills itself as the “Home of the Great American Road Trip” and honestly, they are killing it. Sure, it’s a filling station, but it is also so much more and, truth be told, a fun destination in its own right. While I have only been to the Fenton MO location, I can testify to its kitschy (yet family friendly) awesomeness. This is not a truck stop, but a travel center.

Spanning 36,000 square feet Wally’s includes:

-72+ filling stations
-Electric recharging stations
-Large, clean, family friendly restrooms (20 women’s stalls, 10 men’s stalls/11 urinals)
-In store Wi-Fi
-Coffee Bar
-Super large beverage stations including multiple fountain drinks and “Sloosh” machines
– BBQ carving station (for sandwiches)
-Beef jerky and Summer Sausage station
-In house bakery
-In house Pizza
-Pop Corn Station
-Ice Cream Station
-Road worthy snacks, both mass produced and Wally’s exclusive
-Camping Gear
-Loads of Wally’s merch
-Books and Toys for the kiddos
-Their own Spotify playlists
-An adorable bear mascot (and his friends)
-Tchotchkes galore

On our family excursion to Wally’s we all got lunch there. The kids had pizza slices and pulled pork sandwiches, while the parental units both opted for sliced brisket sandwiches. The BBQ is surprisingly good and highly recommended. The kids all enjoyed their slooshes too. I can’t report on the pizza slice since somebody didn’t share, but it was devoured quickly and received a thumbs up. We also returned with some excellent cheddar popcorn, yummy gummy candies and some malted milk balls that put your average Whoppers to shame. I also picked up some jerky (original and honey jalapeno) that will be accompanying me to work for the next week or so.

What I like most about Wally’s is the vibe. A gas mart/convenience store that big is pretty ridiculous when you think about it, but there’s a sense of humor to it all. There’s a very 70s feel to a lot of the merch and decor, but in a way that is both nostalgic and “contemporary ironic” which is a style description I just made up, but it fits. I especially like the murals of family road tips on the walls, and of course, Wally Bear being everywhere. The 70’s styling on the soda machines with retro logos are an especially nice touch.

Okay, now it’s time to address the, well, not elephant, but the other animal in the room. By now most of my readers from the South will be shouting at their screens to let me know that Wally’s seems to share a business model and a lot of the same attributes as a certain well loved chain with a beaver for a mascot that more or less does the same thing. Okay, sure, I won’t argue that.

However, Southerners, you’ve had that particular chain since 1982, and you haven’t shared with us. So being Mid-Westerners, we pulled up our bootstraps and we made our own. And it rules. Besides, bears are bigger, better, and badder than beavers any day of the week. So there.

Anyway, non-existent rivalries aside, next time you’re passing through on a road trip (or even if you just find yourself in the area) stop in at Wally’s. Get yourself some gas, some grub, maybe a t-shirt or a hat, and get back on the road with a smile on your face and a belly full of goodness.

Wally’s. home of the Great American Road Trip, and MonDAVEs approved.

This was NOT a paid advertisement, by the way. I just really dig Wally’s.

See you next week.


Holiday Hangover

Anybody else got ’em? The old “post holiday blues” are upon us again, friends.

I get them every year. The last few months has had so much going on that to hit January and be hit with all of this nothing can come as a bit of a letdown. No more parties to attend, family focused or otherwise. No more brightly colored lights all around the neighborhood. Well, except for that one neighbor’s house who leaves them up year round and doesn’t think to turn them off until February. You know the one.

No mound of presents to look forward to giving or receiving. No more singing old familiar carols in public. At least, not without getting some really weird looks, anyway. Also, no more huge feast type meals which admittedly is good for the waistline, but it makes normal day to day food seem extra boring. Especially if you are dieting.

When I was a child, I had a record from the Sesame Street television show all about Christmas. The only thing I really remember about it is a song sung by Gordon, Bob, and probably a few others, but those are the voices I remember. The lyrics were as follows:

“Keep Christmas with you all through the year,
When Christmas time is over save some Christmas cheer,
These precious moments, hold them very dear,
And keep Christmas with you all through the year.”

Sappy, I know, but through the magic of Christmas it becomes sentimental and charming.

Okay, so the question is, how do you do that? How are you supposed to keep Christmas all the year long? Besides keeping love in your heart for your fellow man, celebrating the life and lessons of Christ, and treating everyone with love, honor, dignity and respect, I mean.

Look, just because the calendar has changed over and the decorations have all been put away, it doesn’t mean you have to stop. If you are committed enough, and don’t mind keeping things a little bit on the down-low, you can keep Christmas going.

First of all, nobody can actually stop you from listening to Christmas music. If you want to keep bumpin’ jingle jams in your car or around the house, that’s your own business. Nobody has to know that your windows are up, the A/C is on and you’re hearing those sleigh bells jingling, ring ting tingling too on May 4th.

Plus, there’s like, literally hours of Christmas stuff on YouTube and the streaming services. If you want to watch Rudolph, Buddy the Elf , or that Hershey Kisses commercial while in bed waiting to drift off, that’s cool. You do you.

Here’s another idea. A lot of touristy places have a year round Christmas shop. Convince your family that it’d be a silly bit of fun to go to the Christmas shop in July. And if you find some new décor you just have to have, well, it never hurts to be prepared, does it?

Let’s face facts. The next few months are going to be cold, grey, and miserable. If you need to hold on to the holiday season a little longer for your state of mental health then that is what you should do. Also, if Christmas makes you happy and you need that little Christmassy pick me up on and off during the rest of the year, go for it. Don’t let anybody poop on your parade. A lot of people will think you’re a little kooky if they find out you’re vibing on Christmas all year round, but so what? If they can’t be happy that you are happy then they are probably in line for a big ol’ lump of coal next Dec. 24th.

Fellow Christmas enthusiasts, keep on being you and doing what you do. Keep Christmas with you, all through the year. Even if it means leaving your lights up all year round. Unless you’re just being lazy, then come on dude, step it up.

Oh yeah, and try to do all that peace on Earth and goodwill toward mankind stuff too. That definitely shouldn’t stop at Christmas time.

Take care, y’all. See you next week for more MonDAVEs.


Obligatory New Year Post

I’ve never been a big fan of making new year’s resolutions. Mostly because people put undue pressure on themselves to come up with a list and stick to it. They also tend to make resolutions that are going to be super hard to stick to. What’s the point of making a list of items you know you’re not going to accomplish? On the other end of things, some make lists full of things they were planning to do anyway, thus checking everything off their list easily by cheating the system. Again, what’s the point?

Still, like everyone else, there are certainly a few things that I feel I need to work on, or that I would like to accomplish. There are some good habits I should be putting into place. As much as I feel like January first is just another turn of the page on the old calendar (other people still have those, right? Not just me? Okay, good.) it does feel like a good time to get this sorted.

So in what should come as a surprise to no one, I’m going to lame out here and present a few ideas for my own, well, not resolutions per se, but “long term open ended goals” that I’m gonna start working towards soon.

  1. Be More Charitable.
    It’s not that I am not charitable as is, but I feel as though I am not intentional enough about it. Sure, I round up at the drive through when they ask. I’ll buy something from kids who are fundraising. I give to my local church to help with their ministries to the community at large. Occasionally I’ll throw some change into the bucket when someone is collecting on the street. I even write a check now and again. But let’s face it, I could be doing more, and on a regular basis. There are plenty of worthy causes out there, I just need to make sure I am contributing my fair share.
  2. Spend More Time With My Family
    I mean, sure, I see my own family every day, but there’s no reason why I can’t see other people more often. I see my brother fairly regularly as we work on some projects together, but we could go back to just hanging out more. I should also invite my Dad and Susan (his significant other) over to the house more often or find some other ways to spend more time with them. There are plenty of cousins and aunts and uncles and stuff I could make a more concentrated effort to see. A lot of them are out of state so that’s harder, but this whole “only at weddings and funerals” thing is a drag. Need to find a way to change that.
  3. More Date Nights
    This one is self explanatory. When you are married and have kids it’s easy to let date night slip away. Either you’re running people everywhere, or you feel like the whole family should be doing stuff. there’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but if you build the marriage around the kids, once they are grown and out of the house, you just may find yourself with nothing left to talk about or to do. Certainly I don’t feel like that will happen with my marriage, but spending more time together just the two of us can only be a good thing.
  4. Feed My Creative Soul
    I am at my happiest when creating. While I do some creative stuff (I’m over 100 MonDAVE posts now!), I should be doing more. I talk about ideas for projects but I don’t seem to have the energy or ability to actually do any of them. This is a new problem for me within the last five years or so, as I always prioritized my creative side in the past but it seems as though I’ve lost my creative mojo recently. I could blame age, familial and work responsibilities all I want, but none of those are good excuses. Time to get moving before time slips away.
  5. Control My Over Eating
    I know, I know, this is on everybody’s list. Doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be on mine though. I’m pretty good with my meals (although I go back for seconds a little too often) and with what I eat during the day but at night I go nuts and chow down from the time I get home until I go to bed. Gotta work on that.

So, I’m not giving myself any hard deadlines or difficult to obtain stats, but I am recognizing some of the things I need to work on about myself and by typing them out, further solidifying the goals. There will be stops and starts, failures and successes. Life is an ongoing adventure, even in its most mundane. There’s no reason I can’t take steps to make it better by becoming a better me one day at a time.

Thanks for reading. Hopefully this gets you thinking about some of your own goals too. I hope you achieve them all. See you next week.


MonDAVEs Top Ten Records of 2022!

Well, it’s that time of year again, when all us music geeks get to talk about their favorite records of the year. 2022 was kind of an interesting year for me as far as my musical purchases go. There were only a few records I thought were excellent, but there wasn’t anything that I particularly despised either. Most records were just kind of somewhere in the middle for me. Maybe I’m getting older and a little bit jaded. Maybe it was a slow year. Maybe I’m just tired.

Anyway, here’s the top ten new release discs that kept my ears occupied this year.

10. Drive-By Truckers-Welcome To Club XIII
DBT is one of my all time favorite bands so it’s pretty rare when one of their albums doesn’t find its way into one of my top ten lists. This album is full of nostalgia for the band’s early days, reflective in tone, yet still somehow reflective of our time now. All the elements of the best Truckers records are on display from their alternative country style to an appreciation of Southern R&B, classic rock licks, and a punk attitude. This one came together in just a few days and was recorded quickly. Sometimes that can make for a great album, sometimes not. Welcome To Club XIII lands somewhere in between. There are some fine moments, no doubt, but a number of these songs feel like they could have been fleshed out a little more. Still, the high points are more than enough reason to keep returning to the club.

9. The Cult-Under The Midnight Sun
The Cult are one of those hard rock bands who have been around for a long time but flown just under the radar of massive popularity-though they have had their share of cult (no pun intended) success. They are mostly known as a hard rock outfit with wailing guitars by the underrated Billy Duffy and the Jim Morrison/Dave Vanian style lead vocals of Ian Astbury. They have always mixed AC/DC riffs with semi-goth imagery and pseudo-mysticism. It’s an interesting package for sure, but this album is a bit of a departure for the band. The hard rock side has been quite toned down here in favor of moodiness and slow grooves. It’s proven somewhat divisive among fans but the more time I spent with this album the more I liked it. It’s a grower for sure, but worth the effort.

8. Rolling Blackouts C.F.-Endless Rooms
I just discovered this group earlier this year while poking around the Sub Pop records store at the Seattle airport and looking for something new to listen to. This record was being pushed heavily, so I took the bait, and I’m glad I did. Rolling Blackouts C.F. (Coastal Fever) is an indie rock band who sound like American guys trying to sound British. Turns out they are Australian, which legitimizes it somehow. Anyway, the sound is somewhere between R.E.M. and Joy Division, minus the interesting front man and keys. RBCF instead has three guitarists and vocalists. While I am unfamiliar with their early work, this album uses these attributes to create an aural palate that is both familiar and fresh. It never quite works itself up into an all out rocker of an album, but it is an enjoyable and interesting listen.

7. Def Leppard-Diamond Star Halos
Like any band that has been around for decades, Def Leppard have made some really great albums and some really bad ones, with most falling somewhere in between, but more winners than losers I think. Diamond Star Halos is very nearly great, but it is also maddening when it falls short. First, the good stuff. Never ones to hide their influences, this album is at its best when the 70’s glam rock touches are focused on and come shining through. There are even a few riffs that recall the band’s pre-megastar days. There are a few surprises musically with Eastern influences and a bit of psychedelia mixed in here and there, and most of the ballads hit their mark expertly. The downside? Well, there’s a little bit too much of a cheese factor to a few of these songs, even for Def Leppard. The album is also far too long. By the time we get to the end of the record, the last few really good tracks suffer because the listener is just worn out. I’m also suspicious of the drums on some of these tracks-I think the original drum machine demo tracks were used in a few songs instead of using Rick Allen’s drum tracks. Granted, Allen plays a (mostly) electric kit, but there are at least two songs where it doesn’t sound like a human being playing at all-and believe me there is always a notable difference between man and machine. I could be wrong, but that’s the vibe I get. Still, the first half of this record is every bit as good as anything the band has put out in thirty years and is lots of fun. The second half not as much, but there are highlights to be heard throughout and it’s a great record to listen to in your car, way too loud, on a Summer’s drive. And if that isn’t reason enough to dig a Def Lep record I don’t know what is.

6. Sloan-Steady
I have heard Sloan referred to as Canada’s finest power pop band, and while I won’t disagree, I feel that descriptor to be both limiting and misleading. Sure, there’s lots of great hooks, but these songs are also smart. All four members write and sing lead, so with any Sloan record you’re liable to hear a hook filled sing along sing followed by a punchy, riffy rocker, then a thoughtful alternative piece, topped off with some AM gold. Then song #5 kicks in. The various writing styles are all obviously different, yet the songs fit together perfectly. Sloan have made a career out of delivering well crafted, clever rock songs and Steady continues that tradition. Well worth checking out for fans and newbies alike.

5. Nikki Lane-Denim And Diamonds
My favorite alt country record this year. Nikki Lane sings with a voice that sounds like a smoky club, and her songs speak of confidence brought on by mistakes made, lessons learned, and a quick witted irreverence flying in the face of what the world expects her to be. While this record is a little bit less country than her previous collection, it’s in there all the same. This record was produced by josh Homme of Queens Of The Stone Age, and his presence is felt early on, for better or worse. However, once he gets out of her way Nikki Lane makes some honest, observational music that makes this record a treat to listen to.

4. Off!-Free LSD
This is the punk rock record I didn’t know I was waiting for. This is aggressive music with intelligence, and a bend towards the artistic. The band consists of veterans from the hardcore scene, most notably the bands Circle Jerks and Redd Kross. While not quite as fast and angry as their debut, this record certainly carries that spirit. It also features some industrial noise style connecting tracks throughout the album in what I like to think of as punk rock’s Metal Machine Music, which I hope would make Lou Reed proud. This is a great record, and I am so happy these guys are back.

3. The Linda Lindas-Growing Up
For those who may have been living under a rock, the Linda Lindas are a pop punk band made up of teenage girls aged 12-18. They garnered national attention when their performance of “Racist, Sexist Boy” at the Los Angeles Public Library went viral and appeared on national news. While this album may have a little more polish on it than I would like, and indeed more than their EP and early singles had, there’s no denying the strength of the songs. They mix modern pop punk with early ’80s new wave structure and riot grrl attitudes. This is an album full of Girl Power anthems for Gen Z, and I am here for it. The Linda Lindas have gone from small gigs around LA to national tours, and I genuinely hope more big things are in their future.

2. Dropkick Murphys-This Machine Still Kills Fascists
Who ever thought that Celtic punks DKM would release a mostly acoustic, country tinged album of left over folk songs, and that said album would be one of their best? Nobody. probably, but here we are. The lyrics are unused pieces by the late great Woodie Guthrie. Since the band had covered some of his songs in the past to great success (Shipping Up To Boston, anyone?), Guthrie’s grand daughter Nora invited the band to go through the archives and see what they could find. Armed with a group of lyrics, the band set about writing songs that would honor Woody’s style, yet still be great DKM songs. They succeeded. Not only is this a welcome change to the catalog, but it’s just a really good, fun record that has been in constant rotation since I first heard it.

1. Eddie Vedder-Earthling
This is just a great record. Vedder is in fine voice throughout, and it actually sounds like he’s having fun making the album. These songs are all great, and the sound is fresh and upbeat, even when the lyrics might not be. Eddie brings in friends both famous and not to perform on the tracks, and the creative energy between them is felt on every song, which is infectious to the listener. Earthling is better than the last two Pearl Jam records combined, and it is hoped that some of this energy will spill over into the next PJ record so we can get another classic out of them. For now though. this will more than fit the bill and is absolutely deserving to be my record of the year.

Okay, so that’s the top ten. There were a few others I enjoyed this year that almost made the list, and I’m sure I’ll retroactively discover a record that should have made it (i always do!), but this is a pretty good representation of the music I enjoyed in 2022. Here’s to more great stuff next year and beyond!

Hey, since we won’t talk, have a happy and safe New Year’s celebration, and I’ll see you back here in 2023 for more MonDAVEs.


A Very MonDAVEs Christmas (Part Three)

This week I’ll be wrapping up this series on Christmas TV specials by looking at four classics that are practically guaranteed to make anybody feel like a kid again. Give them a view this week and get into the jingle mood!

Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer (1964)

About ten or twelve years ago, one of my wife’s relatives had temporary custody (long story) of a young child who looked exactly like Hermey the elf. No exaggeration. Exactly like him. Hermey in human form. Iused to talk to him about what he wanted to be when he grew up and try to talk up the field of dentistry. I think about him this time of year and wonder if it stuck. I really, really hope so.


Rudolph the television show was based on Rudolph the song which was based on Rudolph the story written in 1939(!) by Robert L. May. Initially a storybook handed out for free by Montgomery Ward department stores, Rudolph has become an icon of Christmas, and quite a lucrative one, no doubt. Rudolph the song followed ten years later in 1949 and is still sung every year. In 1964, the Rankin/Bass company delivered the stop motion animated classic Rudolph television special, which is arguably his most popular adaptation. Rudolph appeared in cartoons, comic books, View Master reels (remember those?), and scores of other products but it is this special that most people think of whenever the red nosed reindeer is brought up.

Interestingly, the producers of the show didn’t have a copy of the original book when making the show. With only the song as a guide, Rankin/Bass added in a fairly wild original story where after being ridiculed for his shining nose Rudolph runs away from home with Hermey the elf who longs to be a dentist. Along the way they meet up with Yukon Cornelius (my favorite character, hands down) who is digging for gold, er, peppermint, and also hunting the Abominable Snowman because of course he is. Somehow or other the gang winds up on the Island of Misfit Toys (featuring toys such as a Charlie In The Box) before making their way back to the North Pole during a dense fog, prompting Santa to ask Rudolph to use his shiny nose to help guide the sleigh and save Christmas.

Nuts, right? But it works.

The reason it works is because Rudolph is all of us. We all feel like misfits to one degree or another and America loves an underdog story, so when Rudolph saves the day and finally gains acceptance we all cheer him on. Even Hermey and Yukon get accepted back into the community and everybody gets a happy ending. Even the misfit toys get picked up by Santa and delivered to grateful kids, although not originally. The special ends with scenes of Santa and Rudolph delivering toys while the credits roll. However, audiences were not satisfied with the unresolved ending for the misfit toys, so the credits were changed to show Santa delivering them to kids as well.

If you haven’t seen it for a few years, you may be surprised that the first part of the special can be a little difficult to watch, especially when the other reindeer are so cruel to Rudolph (with Santa being, well, oblivious at best) and Hermey gets into trouble with the head elf. However, the high points pull it all together nicely.

Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town (1970)

After the success of Rudolph it was only natural the Rankin/Bass made a special featuring the big man himself. While it hasn’t quite attained the classic stature of Rudolph’s show, I think this special is every bit as good if not a little bit better, at least on the technical side. The animators have really improved the stop motion style on this one, and the story is sweeter overall.

This one is a version of the Santa origin story. It details how he fell in with the elves, why he goes by two names (Kris Kringle and Santa Claus), how he fell in love with Jessica, or Mrs. Claus as we know her today, and how and why the whole giving toys at Christmas bit started. The songs are quite catchy in this special as well, if not quite as classic.

It also features voice work by the late great Paul Frees, perhaps the only voice artist to give Mel Blanc a run for his money. Apart from doing voice work in numerous Rankin/Bass productions he worked for Jay Ward productions by voicing Boris Badenov and Inspector Frnwick in Rocky and Bullwinkle, also providing voices in Tom Slick and Super Chicken among others. Frees also narrated The Manchurian Candidate, did multiple voices for Disney projects, and played both John Lennon and George Harrison in The Beatles cartoon. Google his resume, it will knock your socks off. Frees at work is always a treat and he is on full display here.

Okay, so the whole “sit on my lap and give me a kiss a toy” song doesn’t work really well in today’s climate, but that’s not what the writers meant and you know it, now get your mind out of the gutter for cryin’ out loud. Then, sit back and enjoy this big hearted, slightly overlooked and underrated gem.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

What can be said about this one, other than it’s pretty much perfect? With a story by Dr. Seuss, narration by the great Boris Karloff, and wonderful animation directed by Chuck Jones of Looney Tunes fame, you can’t miss.

The first third of the film is actually my favorite part, when The Grinch hatches his evil plan of stealing Christmas from the Whos down in Whoville (in order to stop all the noise they make which, to be fair, as an adult I kinda see his point) and goes about his preparations. The animation is most reminiscent of the Looney Tunes cartoons here and is a treat to watch, especially the interactions between Mr. Grinch and his so-cute-I-can’t-even-deal-with-it dog Max.

Then, of course, he sets his plan into motion. The animators do an excellent job at coming up with clever ways for old Grinchy-poo to go about his business…and then THAT SONG kicks in. Sung with what can only be described as glee by the deep voiced Thurl Ravenscroft (who, with that name should have been like a wizard or something) and the special goes to a whole new level.

After seeing how devious and awful The Grinch can be, especially when lying through his crooked teeth to the adorable Cindy Lou Who, his eventual and, let’s face it, inevitable transformation is rivaled only by that of Ebenezer Scrooge himself. This is a wonderful little cartoon and has definitely earned its place in the pantheon of great Christmas specials. It is also a million times better than the live action movie, don’t even talk to me about it, get outta here with that nonsense. The original is where it’s at!

A Muppet Family Christmas (1987)

What is the greatest Christmas special ever made, and why is it A Muppet Family Christmas?

Let me make the case.

There have been many entries in the MCU (Muppets Christmas Universe), but this one tops them all and is a show for the ages. The premise is about as straightforward as you can get. Fozzie Bear has decided to surprise his mother by coming home for Christmas and as a bonus he brings all of his “weirdo showbiz” friends with him to the old farmhouse. Trouble is, Mama (Emily) Bear has planned a Christmas vacation in Malibu and rented out the house. Everyone arrives at Emily’s doorstep at the same time and hilarity ensues. There are a few side plots as well. One features the Swedish Chef attempting to cook the Christmas turkey, which is bothersome for him since the turkey is quite naturally against the idea. Another is the fact that Miss Piggy is running a bit late to get to the farmhouse, and there’s a massive storm coming. There’s also a cute sub plot featuring Fozzie where he finds a new partner for the act.

This is enough to set the stage for a quality Muppet venture, but then Jim Henson and company up the ante by introducing the Sesame Street gang into the mix as carolers, and of course more guests for Mrs. Bear. They also use this opportunity to stage a Christmas pageant which is genuinely hysterical. Watching the characters from both worlds interact is delightful, and it’s filled with meta humor, even though back in the 80’s that wasn’t really a thing. We are also treated to a song from the non-cartoon Muppet Babies via an old home movie, and a version of Jingle Bell Rock by Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem that may well be my favorite version ever.

But wait, there’s more! Remember those would be renters I told you about? Well, they are none other than Doc and Sprocket from Fraggle Rock! Does that mean the Fraggles will make an appearance too? Of course it does, and the original song featured in their segment stays in my head each year until roughly June. Not a complaint.

I’ll be the first to admit that, as much as I love them, Muppet productions can be pretty hit and miss. Not this one. All the jokes land. Every beat is hit. It warms your heart and tickles the funny bone in equal measure. This special is highly quotable, and I never get tired of it.

The thing is though, you’ve got to look for it. Due to all the music involved (and there is a lot), licensing this thing for home use proved to be a nightmare. A version did appear on home video years ago, but due to those licensing issues some of the aforementioned songs, and at least one major scene involving Fozzie wound up being left out. This makes the callbacks to that scene and the resolution of the “double act” plotline ineffective. So in order to watch this production in all its glory, you gotta go to You Tube, and make sure you have selected the “full” special. There is even one option that lets you watch the original broadcast with ads.

This largely unknown special is well worth searching out. It’s a classic around our house, and once you see it, I hope it will be a classic at yours as well.

Okay, that’s the Christmas Specials Round Up for you. I know there are many shows I didn’t touch on, many of them absolutely deserving mention, but I can only do so much. Also, I gotta save something for next year.

Here’s wishing a Merry Christmas to all my readers. Enjoy the happiness and peace of the day.

And if you celebrate other holidays this time of year, I hope they are full of joy and meaning for you as well.

See you next week.


A Very MonDAVEs Christmas (Part Two)

For the next two weeks, we’ll be talking about the wonderful world of Christmas TV specials. From the tried and true classics to some lesser known treasures to the truly oddball offerings, I will bring you gifts of glad tidings and good news that can only come from a mix of Santa’s workshop, a lowly manger, and Madison Avenue.

This week, well, it’s just a hodge-podge of stuff. Read on and join me in the merriment! Is that a word? Merriment? Pretty sure it is. Anyway, let’s kick this edition off with…

The Kacey Musgraves Christmas Show (2019)

This show is a salute to the Christmas specials of years gone by, while still managing to actually be one. Back in the day all the big stars had Christmas specials. You name the star, they either hosted their own special or were guests on someone else’s. Some of the more well remembered shows starred Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Andy Williams but even “newcomers” like The Carpenters and even Donny and Marie got in on the action. These shows became staples of the season and were watched by pretty much everyone.

One of the tropes used in these specials was that of the family Christmas party. The show’s star would be throwing a shindig and their famous friends would show up for a little bit of inoffensive comedy and some songs around the conveniently placed piano in the living room. The Hollywood Christmas magic was always in full swing.

This is the premise of Kacey’s show as well, but it takes the extra steps to show the “studio” and live audiences, as well as a few well staged behind the scenes moments. It’s mostly a nostalgic send up, but there are a few nice moments to be found. My recommendation would be to start here, then go to YouTube and look up some of the old specials this was based on to get the full effect.

Guardians Of The Galaxy Holiday Special (2022)

One for the Marvel fans among us. If you have followed the Guardians movies, you have an idea of what to expect. There are lots of laughs, and a little bit of action (as well as some cool Christmas tunes) as Drax and Mantis go to Earth in order to pick up the ultimate birthday present for Peter Quill, who is a melancholy sort around the holidays since, according to a story told to us by Kraglin, Yondu ruined Christmas for Peter when he was a boy. I just realized that people who have never seen these movies are probably totally confused by now. Sorry, but it’s not getting better.

When the pair get to Earth they do what any right thinking friend would do and kidnap Peter’s childhood hero, Kevin Bacon. Will Peter enjoy his gift? Will Kevin Bacon bring the Christmas Spirit to the citizens of Knowhere (where the Guardians are currently stationed) and correct their incorrect interpretation of the holiday? Can anybody save Christmas for Peter? Do you really wonder about how any of this stuff will turn out?

The only real question in all of this is how much of this stuff ties in to Volume 3 of the Guardians movies coming next year. We do get to meet at least one (semi) new character here, and this show does seem like a good jumping off point. Also, one of my favorite bands, the Old 97’s, are in it as a band of aliens trying to write a Christmas song in one of the funniest scenes. Fans of the series should check it out, then check out the Old 97’s. Merry Christmas!

Olive The Other Reindeer (1999)

So, you get the joke name, right? That’s kind of all you need to know. This is a family friendly cartoon (based on a children’s book) with a silly sense of humor, a nice little message, and plenty of heart.

The story follows a sweet little dog named Olive who discovers that Santa may have to cancel his annual run since one of his reindeer is down with an injury. The local news reports that he may be willing to try the run with all of the other reindeer. Well, the doggie mishears this as “Olive, the other reindeer” and figures it’s up to her to save Christmas. Along the way she crosses paths with a two bit con artist penguin named Martini (what else?), and a disgruntled postman who is out to make sure Christmas doesn’t happen.

Okay, so the jokes are mostly groan inducing, but it’s a cute show and I like it. Is it a must see every year? Probably not but it’s certainly worth a viewing as you’re getting ready for the big day.

The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas (1973)

I remember this one from its many airings when I was a kid. After rewatching it this week I have a new take on it. Can’t talk about this one without spoiling the story, so if you are so inclined go stream it now. I’ll wait. Okay, you good? Let’s talk about it.

The titular bear is Ted E. Bear who lives in Bear City and works at the Honey factory. It is almost time for the annual hibernation, but Ted has heard stories of something called Christmas and is obsessed with trying to find it. He has tried to stay awake and look for it in the past but failed. This year he is determined to stay up and find Christmas, no matter what. His friends all think he’s nuts and are worried for his safety, if not his sanity. They all try to talk him out of it, but a bear’s gotta do what he’s gotta do.

So Ted leaves Bear City, mistakenly thinking Christmas is a place, and goes through the forest until he arrives in what I can only assume is supposed to be New York. He sees glimpses of lights and songs, and toys in the display window of a department store. He is so infatuated he goes inside said store, where a little girl and her sister see him through the window and wave at the cute little bear. Oh yeah, he’s super short for a bear too.

Anyway, once the store closes, he wanders the streets looking for Christmas, and bumps into Santa Claus, who tries to explain that Christmas is a feeling not a place. Yet Ted is fairly dim, so Santa gives him an address where he can find Christmas. At first Ted thinks it’s the wrong address, and decides to just rest his eyes for a moment under the sparsely decorated tree in the room. When he wakes up the next morning, Ted finds himself in the apartment of the previously mentioned little girl. She is overjoyed, stating that she knew Santa would bring the little bear she saw in the window. She gives Ted a big hug, and he finally understands the love that makes Christmas what it is. That night he goes to sleep, feeling loved, next to the girl, and the show ends on a sweet, wholesome scene.

Or does it?

I mean, that’s the end, but what happens next? Does Ted just live there now? Does he become an actual teddy bear and lose his entire life and identity? And what of Bear City? Do they never get to experience the joy of Christmas? Do his friends just think he left one night and died horribly out in the wilderness? SO. MANY. QUESTIONS.

This is either a classic tale of the love and joy of Christmas, or a harrowing “Twilight Zone” wake up in Hell/be careful what you wish for type morality play. I will leave it to you to decide.

Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)

Here’s a short but sweet retelling of the Dickens classic, starring Mickey Mouse as Bob Cratchit, Goofy as Jacob Marley, Jiminy Cricket as the Ghost OF Christmas Past, and Scrooge McDuck as himself. No, sorry, he stars as Ebeneezer Scrooge, because of course he does.

With a running time of 26 minutes, this adaption breezes through the story a little too quickly but gets away with it because any adult viewers will be familiar with the story, and youngsters won’t have time for their attention to wane. While Scrooge McDuck makes a mighty fine Scrooge (as he should) and the main characters are all fun to watch, the real fun is spotting all the background characters in the crowd scenes and figuring out which movies they were from.

This is standard Disney fare for the time, and succeeds in telling the story in a way that can appeal to young and old alike. Die hard Disney fans should love this one, but there’s plenty here to like for the rest of us too.

Alright, thanks for reading this stuff. As mentioned last week, I’d love for you to track down these shows and give them a view. Hopefully it will add to your enjoyment of the Holiday. Come back next week when I’ll talk about some stone cold classics-including my favorite Christmas special ever made. See you then!


A Very MonDAVEs Christmas Part One

For the next few weeks, we’ll be talking about the wonderful world of Christmas TV specials. From the tried and true classics to some lesser known treasures to the truly oddball offerings, I will bring you gifts of glad tidings and good news that can only come from a mix of Santa’s workshop, a lowly manger, and Madison Avenue.

This week, we will be looking at TV Christmas specials based on comic strips.

Comics in Newspapers aren’t really a thing anymore, mostly because newspapers aren’t really a thing anymore, but for years both the papers and the comic strips were huge. People turned to the “funny pages” daily to see what their favorite characters were up to. Sometimes the strips had continuous story lines, but mostly not. Many had repeating gags, and an overly formulaic pattern. Some were one panel, sometimes three-and were even longer on Sundays! Some strips were bizarre, and truly funny, others were barely humorous but we read them all and these characters felt like friends. Many newspapers no longer carry comics, or if they do they feature very few. However the artform lives on online.

It’s only logical, then, that film studios would want to make these features into full fledged animated cartoons to try and repeat the successes in another medium. This also had the advantage of gaining larger exposure for some characters that appeared only regionally, or were not carried by as many papers as other strips. The earliest example I am aware of was a series of cartoons from the 1940’s starring Nancy, but it would not surprise me to learn of an earlier attempt. Anyway, this practice has been going on for years, to varying degrees of success.

When it comes to Christmas specials, ground zero would have to be 1965’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, which was a gigantic hit that many popular strips have been trying to achieve yet never quite getting there. I’ve been watching a few of these shows this week in preperation for the blog. Let’s talk about some them.

A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

Well, there’s not much to say about this special that has not already been said, but when has that ever stopped me?

Back in 1965, somebody got the idea to adapt Charles M. Schultz’s adorable “Peanuts” gang to the television screen, and they actually let Schultz have a say in the proceedings. Every decision made seemed to be the wrong one, on paper anyway. These weirdos made a television special about kids that actually had kids doing the voices-not professional adult voice artists. They used groovy piano jazz as the soundtrack. There was a strong focus on the religious aspect of the holiday and practically nothing involving Santa. It should have been a disaster.

Yet that Christmas magic was definitely at work because it all worked beautifully, and has become the Gold Standard by which all other cartoon specials are measured. Even non religious types love it, as well as anyone who has ever pictured themselves as a Charlie Brown type-which is everybody. This is a stone cold classic, and if you don’t have a place in your heart for this one, you need help because you are dead inside.

Bill n’ Opus: A Wish For Wings That Work (1991)

This is the first, and to date only, screen adaptation of characters from Berke Breathed’s “Bloom County” and “Outland” strips (although a new series is in development for Fox). Bloom County was my favorite strip at the time, still is actually, because it was topical, goofy, and just plain bizarre, but it also had a tender heart underneath all that craziness. This special does its best to bring the whole loopy experience to the screen.

Okay, how do I summarize this? Opus the penguin is not happy with his lot in life as a flightless waterfowl. His biggest wish is for a pair of penguin wings that actually work. He is made fun of by a trio of ducks that are strongly reminiscent of the Three Stooges, and attends a therapy group with a chicken who thinks she’s a 747 and a kiwi who’s wife left him for an albatross. All along he is followed by his friend Bill The Cat (the anti-Garfield) who basically bungles everything up and barfs hairballs a lot. After a failed attempt at flight involving a corset and balloons, Opus decides his only recourse is to write a letter to Santa. It’s all up to the big guy from then on.

So, does this special succeed? Well, yes and no. If you are a fan, there’s enough here to keep you happy, although I think the filmmakers tried to include too much content into a short space. The jokes don’t quite land the way they ought to, and the heart so inherent in the story doesn’t transfer well to the final product. If you are new to Breathed’s world this will probably confuse more than delight. Still, if this kind of anarchic humor is your cup of tea, it’s worth a look. Also, there’s a cross-dressing cockroach, so there’s that.

A Garfield Christmas Special (1987)

If Peanuts was the most popular comic strip in America, Garfield was a close second. He was, and remans, America’s favorite fat cat who hates Mondays, loves lasagna, and tolerates those around him as he simultaneously disdains and loves them. He’s just like you and me-only in cat form. Formulaic? Sure, but in the 80’s, Garfield was everywhere and his TV specials (pre Saturday morning series) were beloved.

In this special, Garfield and his house mate Odie the dog spend Christmas with owner Jon’s family on the farm. Garfield is unhappy about it and being a total grump, while the others are annoyingly excited. The extended family is, of course, eccentric as they can be and yet it is through them that Garfield has that magic moment where he embraces the whole family and the spirit of Christmas.

This is simple stuff, but it actually does have a few decent jokes in it. The voice work is also top notch with Lorenzo Music as Garfield and David L. Lander as Jon’s brother Doc Boy (which I guess is a “Waltons” joke?). This is a nice bit of nostalgia that your kids can enjoy too. Give it a go.

B.C.: A Special Christmas (1981)

From the “WHAT?” file, comes this addition which I have just so many mixed feelings about.

For those who may not be familiar, the strip B.C. was not about British Columbia, but cavemen. You know, our ancestors who existed several millennia before the birth of Christ (even if you believe in a “young Earth” the timeline is still way off), and yet here we are with a Christmas special. So what gives? Spoilers ahead for a 40+ year old cartoon, I guess.

The storyline is as follows. Caveman Thor wakes up noticing that the morning star is a few degrees off that day, and goes cave to cave among his village looking for his calendar (which he invented) that has been loaned out to a neighbor. Once he finds it in Peter’s cave, we learn that it is Dec. 24th. After being kissed on the cheek by an attractive cave girl, he somehow gets the idea to make others feel good by conning them. I know. Stay with me. So he and his pal Wiley make up a myth about a man in a red suit who leaves presents on what they have decided to call Christmas Eve. It is written on the ancient slab that they “found and translated” (wrote) that all should carry on this tradition. The next step is, of course, to dupe their friends into buying the gifts from them the next morning, and making a quick buck.

During the night, however, the real Santa shows up to ruin their plans and bring real, awesome, actual Christmas to all. Oh, and he also almost gets eaten by true troglodyte Grog, but no one ever said this Santa gig was going to be easy. Anyway, after all this happens, Peter goes to bed Christmas night but is awakened by the sounds of travelers and sees some dudes on camels going past the cave, as he rushes out to see the star brightly shining in the East. End of show.

This is just a mess y’all. I mean, I grew up with the comic strip so this is high on the nostalgia scale for me. You also have to smile that the two main characters are played by legendary comedy team Bob and Ray. It’s just that the timeline is so messed up. I don’t mind there being a religious aspect to any Christmas themed show, but how awkward can you get? Speaking of awkward, the female characters are named “the fat broad” and “the cute chick” because sexism was alive and well back in the day. Those characters have since been renamed “Jane” and “Grace” respectively, but they still have the cringe names here. Otherwise, the quality of the animation and voice work is really good. So this one is a mixed bag at beat, worth a look as a curiosity or if you just really like cavemen.

Ziggy’s Gift (1982)

Remember Ziggy? Man, in the early 80’s he was like a pop culture icon. While the strip is still produced, you just don’t see ol’ Ziggy around much these days. For those who may not be familiar, Ziggy is a short, bald man with a rather large round nose, who lives in an apartment with his pets, works in some sort of office building, and never wears pants. His one panel comic strip mostly features him dealing with the inconveniences of life. He is a loveable loser who mostly manages to stay positive while everything around him goes wrong. He has been featured on many a poster/coffee mug/ t-shirt with a funny play on words or super positive heartfelt message. Which is how you live your life, I suppose, when you don’t own pants.

Anyway, Ziggy seems like an unlikely fit for a Christmas special but it actually works very well. Long story short: Ziggy becomes a street corner Santa, unknowingly working for a business that is defrauding the charities they claim to be working for and keeping all the dough for themselves. Ziggy, along with his loyal dog Fuzz, must contend with not only his crooked boss, but also other crooked Santas, a pickpocket who constantly follows him around, and a suspicious cop. Can Ziggy’s kindness and good nature save him from arrest? Will the Spirit of Christmas prevail? Will he freeze his little tucchus off in the snow? Probably.

This one is a little bit odd, because it actually deals with some shady goings on in a way that isn’t too broad or cartoonish. There is a bit of a harsh look to some of the city scenes and night time action, bringing an unexpected touch of realism. This just goes to set Ziggy’s inherent goodness off from the rest, and bring focus to the message. The animation is truly the best of the bunch, and the show won a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program. If you’re looking for a surprisingly sweet tale that isn’t too saccharine, you could do worse than to check out this underrated gem.

Okay, that’s the round up for this week. All of these features are available either on streaming services or YouTube, and some have a physical release as well. Check out the programs that appeal to you and I’ll be back next week with more fun stuff.


Christmas Is Coming

Well, it’s that time of year again. Anyone who knows me well is well aware that I am a “Christmas guy” and I am proud of it. I try not to be annoying with it, but I really do love the Christmas season. The lights, the sounds, the songs, the food, all of it brings me good feelings. Most years, I break out the Christmas songs a week or two before Thanksgiving, listening on the sly and grinning ear to ear. I love Christmas so much that whenever I am feeling down, virtually any time of year, I cheer myself up by watching Christmas commercials on YouTube. Not a joke. Although I feel like that’s a good place for one, so feel free to insert your own.

Things are starting to ramp up around the old homestead, and the signs of the season are starting to fall into place. We decorated the house inside and out. The Christmas music has begun, although I did somehow manage to wait until after Thanksgiving this year to begin in earnest. The kids are finishing up their wish-lists, plans for celebrations are being made, and everything is ready to roll for another festive season. All that’s left to do is turn on the tube, bask in its glow, and watch a little Christmas magic.

I have written a few posts in my time about Christmas movies, and we all certainly have our favorites. I thought about doing the same this year, especially since I enjoyed doing the Halloween movie posts so much, but I have decided to take a different, though related approach.

For the next few weeks, we’ll be talking about the wonderful world of Christmas TV specials. From the tried and true classics to some lesser known treasures to the truly oddball offerings, I will bring you gifts of glad tidings and good news that can only come from a mix of Santa’s workshop, a lowly manger, and Madison Avenue. Join me for the festive fun, starting next week here on MonDAVEs!


MonDAVES Saves Thanksgiving-2022

Thanksgiving is coming in just a few days. Along with all the food, parades, football, and what not, you’re almost sure to spend time with family, some of whom may not be on the same page as you are politically, socially, or otherwise. Being a fine, upstanding citizen (as all MonDAVEs readers most certainly are) you want to keep the peace and not get into any scuffles around the table this year. But what on Earth are you going to be able to talk about that won’t get Uncle Gary started on one of his uber-cringey tirades?

Well, have no fear, MonDAVEs is here to save your Thanksgiving by equipping you with what you truly need to keep the conversation safe, change the subject if need be, or just plain old be the life of the party. That’s right, it’s THANKSGIVING DAD JOKES!!!

Here we go.

What did the turkey say to the hunter the day before Thanksgiving?
“Quack! Quack!”

What is a turkey thankful for on Thanksgiving?

What kind of music did the Pilgrims like?
Plymouth Rock.

“Knock knock.”
“Who’s there?”
“Norma Lee.”
“Norma Lee who?”
“Norma Lee I don’t eat so much, but it’s Thanksgiving!”

Why does Meghan Trainor make such good Thanksgiving Turkey?
‘Cause she’s all about that baste.

Why did the cranberries blush?
Because they saw the turkey dressing.

What does a one legged Turkey say?
“Wobble wobble.”

What did Han Solo say to Luke Skywalker on Thanksgiving?
“May the forks be with you.”

What was John Wayne’s favorite holiday?
Thanksgiving, pilgrim.

“Knock. Knock.”
“Who’s there?”
“Tamara who?”
“Tamara we’re eating all the leftovers.”

What did the mother turkey say to her disobedient children?
“If your father could see you now, he’d roll over in his gravy!”

People say I tell too many Thanksgiving jokes, but it’s hard to quit cold turkey.

Why do pilgrims’ pants always fall down?
Because they wear their buckles on their hats.

If a big turkey is called a gobbler, what is a little one called?
A goblet.

Why did the turkey cross the road?
He wanted people to think he was a chicken.

What do you call a sad cranberry?
A blue berry.

Did you hear about the turkey who wanted to be a prize fighter?
He got the stuffing knocked out of him.

Why is corn so popular on Thanksgiving?
Because it’s a-maize-ing!

What should you expect at the end of Thanksgiving?
The letter “g”.

And finally…

Why did the farmer separate the chicken and the turkey?
He suspected fowl play.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody! See you next week.


Another Daddy/Daughter Movie Review! Black Panther:Wakanda Forever

DAVE: Welcome to another Marvel Movie MonDAVE! As usual, I am joined by a guest reviewer, my 14 year old daughter Tessa…

TESSA: What’s up?

D: Um, hi. You’re a little early.

T: Sorry Dad, that’s my bad.

D: No worries. Anyway, we will be giving you our opinions on the newest Marvel movie, Black Panther:Wakanda Forever, and rating it on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the highest. I will, of course, be using a scale of 1-5 Dave’s, whereas Tessa (with a change up) will be using 1-5 slays.

T: Oh my gosh, it rhymes. I love that.

D: Quality stuff here folks. Also, we try to keep these reviews relatively spoiler free, but a few minor spoilers may occur. Okay, Tess, you’re up.

T: Since Chadwick Boseman, the actor who played the original Black Panther, died a couple of years ago, everyone was wondering how the sequel will be handled. The movie starts immediately with a very powerful scene, showing Shuri trying to save her brother from dying of an unmentioned illness, which she ultimately fails at. We get to see how Wakandans handle funerals, dressing in all white instead of all black, which I thought was very interesting. The audience gets to see the many ways Wakandans and individual characters deal with grief and mourning, and we see firsthand on multiple characters the effects of loss, specifically Nakia, Queen Ramonda, and Shuri. The main antagonist, Namor, also experiences loss, which turned him into what he is. This movie does a great job at showing how much losing somebody close to you can effect your mental health and who you are as a person.

D: Agreed. The emotions behind this film are very raw. Bring your tissue, you will probably need it.

While the theme of dealing with loss is prevalent, this movie is also about maturation, and in a weird way, about unity. Both family unity and societal unity are examined to different degrees. The journey of Shuri’s character may be front and center throughout this film, there’s plenty of sub text to chew on as well. Broken people and broken homes figure prominently in this story. This is one of the more character driven films in the Marvel canon, but in the best possible way.

That being said, it is still an action heavy Marvel movie. It feels much more like a traditional Marvel movie than the last few have, which isn’t a knock on the Phase 4 movies (most of which I have really enjoyed), but this serves as an excellent close to the current phase of films.

T: Another thing I wanted to mention was the acting. Obviously Letitia Wright (Shuri) and Angela Basset (Ramonda) were great, but Danai Gurira (Okoye) really stood out to me. Okoye also went through a really interesting character arc in this film, and I think Danai was really good at conveying that.

D: Oh yeah, pretty much everybody brought their A game, which is probably the best tribute they could have made to Chadwick Boseman. If the story had been there but the acting not, it wouldn’t have been nearly as touching.

There are only a few negatives I can give this film. One is that it’s a little long, but then it’s a Marvel so, duh, of course it is. I also think it gets a little bit clunky in the middle while changing between plot lines. These are minor complaints, however, because the acting, story and surprises are more than good enough to get you through.

Oh, and Martin Freeman returns as well, and that’s always a fun treat.

Okay, Tess. Final thoughts?

T: All in all, this movie conveyed a very deep message about life, loss, and love. It also introduced Ironheart, which was pretty cool. And the cut scene is super cool, as it usually is with Marvel movies. This is definitely one of my favorite movies from Phase 4, and I’m excited to see what the MCU has in store. I give it 4.5 slays. It slays the day away!

D: Cool. I agree. I give it 4.5 Daves. It Daves the day away!

T: No.

D: Slays the Dave Away?

T: Just stop.

D: Okay.


An Acrostic for November That Those Of You Who Are Into Cross Stitch/Needle Point Will Want To Make A Sampler Of, I’ll Bet.

Now it starts getting dark early.

Oh yeah, and Thanksgiving will be here before you know it.

Very soon the temperatures will fall.

Embers from the bonfire will dance through the sky (or something poetic like that).

Movember is stupid. Stop it. Y’all look like poster boys for “Stranger Danger” and I don’t want my kids anywhere near you.

Boy, this is harder than I thought it would be.

Everyone is really more focused on Christmas anyway.

Really thought this was going to be a lot better. Sorry guys.

Come back next week when I promise to actually have something decent to write about. Please?


A Traditional St. Louis Halloween

There is a Halloween tradition in the St. Louis area that requires trick or treaters to be prepared with a joke. I stress the St. Louis part because when mentioned to friends who aren’t from around here, they claim to have never heard of such a thing. Usually they say something like, “What? Really? Huh. Never heard of that. Why?” Well, I don’t actually know why, and I don’t think anyone else does either. It’s just a thing we do.

Here is a recreation of the usual scenario (with a little artistic license):

Kids: Trick Or Treat!

Homeowner: Hi kids, happy Halloween! What are you supposed to be?

Kid 1: I’m the latest Disney princess, like every other little girl you’ve seen tonight!

Kid 2: I’m some stupid cartoon character you’ve never heard of!

Kid 3: I’m dressed as a villain from a horror movie that I am way too young to have actually seen!

Kid 4: I dunno, a pirate clown alien or something. I’m too old for this, just make with the candy, dude.

Homeowner: Cool I guess. Got any jokes for me? That’s the game-you tell a joke, I pretend it’s funny and you get the sugar stick. Aaaaaannnnd go.

Kid 1: Why was the skeleton scared? ‘Cause he had no guts!

Homeowner: Ha! That’s cute, here you go sweetie.

Kid 2: Why do ghosts pick their nose? To get the boo-gers!

Homeowner: Gross. Here’s some candy for you, too.

Kid 3: How do you find Will Smith in the snow? You look for Fresh Prints.

Homeowner: Nice. Topical. Did your Dad give you that one? Alright here’s some for you. Next.

Kid 4: A guy walks into a bar and sees a small man playing a tiny piano…

Homeowner: Woah, hey, okay! Here’s yer candy, get outta here with that.

And scene.

That’s basically how it goes. Happy Halloween everyone. See you next week!


Movie MonDAVEs: Halloween Edition 2022 (Part Four)

It’s October again, friends. It’s the time of year when all movie geeks turn their attention towards the macabre and creepy. Here on MonDAVEs we will be doing the same thing, though perhaps in a different way.

This month I shall be focusing on some of my favorite independent horror/sci fi B movies from the early to mid 1960s. These are films that fall outside of the studio system, made by a ragtag bunch of hopefuls with limited funds and resources, but fueled by the desire to make their own movie. Sometimes the results are good, sometimes…not so much. I will give equal time to both. Join me as I discuss the stories behind the films, and the movies themselves. Then, by all means, watch them for yourself…if you dare.

Part 4: Manos: The Hands Of Fate

Hoo boy.

I could actually leave it there, as that reaction pretty much sums up the entire Manos experience and tells you all you need to know. However, since I’ve brought you all along this far, let’s dig into what I and many others believe to be the Worst Movie Ever Made. This is not a movie to be watched, or even experienced, so much as survived.

Manos: The Hands Of Fate is the brainchild of its writer/director/star Hal P. Warren. I use all of those terms loosely. Warren was an insurance agent, and later fertilizer salesman from El Paso, TX who was also involved in local theater. He somehow got himself a walk on role on the popular television show Route 66. During this time, Warren met series writer Sterling Silliphant (brother of Alan Silliphant who wrote last week’s featured film The Creeping Terror) and placed a bet with Silliphant that “anyone could make a horror movie”, and got to work. To his credit, Warren actually did it. Exactly what he did is still open to interpretation, but it is a movie, and it is horrific, although not for the reasons intended. Warren even put his name in the credits using his own signature taking up most of the screen. He won the bet, but at what cost?

Judging from what’s on the screen, it cost about $3.75. But the cost of what it does to those who watch is much higher. Never will you want an hour of your life back like you will after watching this monstrosity. Yet, inexplicably, you will watch it to the end. Mostly because you can’t look away. Once your brain begins to be able to process the colossal ineptitude of what it is seeing, this movie becomes strangely fascinating. Like a train wreck, only worse.

As with most no budget-Z grade movies, technical issues abound. This movie was shot with 16 mm hand wound film cameras that shot only 35 seconds of film at a time. This leads to reaction shots in the movie that are excruciatingly and inappropriately long. It seems as though everything that happens (in as much as anything actually happens) does so at a snail’s pace, almost as though you have entered a different world where time itself moves differently. Which would be cool if it was intentional, but no.

Oh yes, and the cameras did not record sound either. So here we have another poorly dubbed film, featuring one woman for all the female characters, and two, maybe three men. Which means that pretty much everyone sounds the same. Even the little girl, Debbie, sounds like a fifty year old woman trying to sound like a child. Apparently, at the movie’s premier (yes, they had one), when the young girl heard the voice coming through the speakers she cried. Way to go, Hal P. Warren!

Okay, so let’s go through this movie and examine its sublime awfulness as we do.

Manos: The Hands Of Fate begins with a typical 1960s family including a slightly domineering father, a wife who is incapable of doing anything without her husband, and an annoying child daughter, with a stupid little yappy dog who doesn’t yap due to the lack of sound. They are off on their first family vacation headed to someplace called Valley Lodge. We, the viewers, are treated to seemingly endless shots of Texas farmland, followed by Texas desert. These shots were intended to feature the opening credits over them, but they either ran out of money for credits or they just plain forgot to place them in. Therefore, the movie starts mostly with scenery for about nine minutes. The only credit we get is the title card, which reads as “Manos” The Hands Of Fate as though it’s a quote for some reason. Also, interestingly enough, the word “manos” translates into “hands” in Spanish so the movie’s title is actually Hands: The Hands Of Fate. Already brutal, but we’re just getting started.

While our family is lost in the desert, there is a scene featuring two young people making out along the side of the road, who are chased off by the local police. This happens more than once in this film. The reasoning behind this mostly non-sequiter of a scene is because the actress involved was supposed to have a bigger role but broke her foot so they wrote this scene for her. Which was nice, I guess, but still feels unnecessary. Eagle eyed viewers will notice the clapperboard in view at the beginning of this shot, which is the best part of the scene itself.

Soon, the family comes upon an old house. They decide to stop and get directions. Here we meet Torgo, a sweaty satyr-like man who twitches a lot, has two sets of eyebrows for some reason, and “looks after the place while the Master is away”. He is the only interesting character. Unfortunately, John Reynolds who plays Torgo had a bad life, and was “self medicating” on set, with LSD apparently, which explains the twitching. Sadly he would commit suicide a few weeks before the movie premiered. This was his only filmed role. While that sad fact does take away from the unintentional hilarity of the character, he is still a bizarre and, dare I say, the iconic presence of the piece.

So anyway, after Torgo tells Mike (the dad) that he knows of no such place as Valley Lodge, Mike basically bullies his way into an invitation to stay the night. Without the Master’s direct permission, mind you, and against Torgo’s warnings. The couple are freaked out by a painting of the Master with a Doberman/demon dog, and the many statues of hands all over the sparsely decorated house. Foreshadowing. Kinda. I guess.

At some point yappy dog runs off to investigate a wolf howl (I think) and Mike finds el doggo dead. Debbie the daughter goes missing at some point and comes back in with the dog from the painting. Oh, and in between all this Torgo creeps on the wife, who refuses his advances because, duh, but she does not share this info because Torgo kind of apologizes and promises to protect her. He doesn’t explain what from, but he did promise so that’s good enough, I guess.

Here’s where things start to pick up a little (not much). Debbie leads the family out to what appears to be a crypt or tomb or alter or I don’t know what, where the Master is dead/sleeping, surrounded by his many wives, tied to poles, doing the same. The family finally decide to try to leave. Torgo shows up again, claiming that the Master has too many wives, and he wants this new one (the mom) for himself. He declares his disgust for all the dead/sleepers but still pervs on one of the wives for good measure. He then knocks Mike out in order to proceed with his plans.

Anyhoo, ’round about this time the Master wakes up. He looks a bit like Freddie Mercury on a bad day, and wears a robe with hands sewn into it which is so laughably awful it kind of makes you want one. Turns out he is the leader of a cult who worship an unseen and underexplained diety called Manos. According to The Master, Manos is kinda pissed off, and demands a sacrifice. Also Manos decrees that the Master must gain another wife, because of course he should. This leads the wives (the only other members of the cult to my knowledge) to argue among themselves about the fate of the family. This, in turn, leads to the most unerotic and boring catfight ever captured on film.

The Master goes off in search of Torgo, who has “failed us” and uses the hands of fate to doom him. Then the cultists all go looking for the family (even poor Torgo) who have managed to run away because their car, naturally, won’t start. Of course the family don’t make it far before they get the brilliant idea of going back to the house, because, well, surely that’s the last place the cultists will look.

After this, the movie gets weird. I won’t go any further so I don’t spoil it for you, but I will say that the hands of fate do move for not only our family, but the wives, and Torgo too. We are left with a twist ending of sorts, and the always classic “The End?” title card. You know, looking at this synopsis, one might think that it’s an interesting, fun little movie, and it would be if made by people who had a budget and knew what the hell they were doing. As it stands though, this movie is more excruciating than anything else.

Manos was saved from obscurity (where it belongs) by television show Mystery Science Theater 3000 in 1992 when they aired their own version mocking the film. This turned it from a torturous oddity into a hilariously torturous oddity and guaranteed the film cult status for years to come. I would definitely recommend viewing that version, especially if you are a newcomer, as it is one of the show’s best episodes and it makes the movie almost bearable.

As I have stated, the movie is a total train wreck, but one you can’t turn away from. There’s just something about it that’s so…pure. It is definitely unique, and like nothing before or since. Manos: The Hands Of Fate has inspired both a prequel (skip it) and a sequel (worth a watch I guess), a video game (!), and quite a bit of official and unofficial merchandise. It has become a legendarily bad film, and in its own way, beloved for it.

So I guess Hal P. Warren really did do it. He stumbled into greatness, in the most unexpected and ridiculous way possible. Which is why I love B-movies (even, begrudgingly, this one) and why I did this series on my blog. Thanks for indulging me.

You know, when I planned this series of posts out, I didn’t realize that Halloween fell on a Monday this year and I only prepared to discuss four movies. So what do I do next? Do I wrap this all up somehow? Go on to something new? I have no idea. Come back next week and be as surprised as I am when you read the next edition of MonDAVEs!


Movie MonDAVEs: Halloween Edition 2022 (Part Three)

It’s October again, friends. It’s the time of year when all movie geeks turn their attention towards the macabre and creepy. Here on MonDAVEs we will be doing the same thing, though perhaps in a different way.

This month I shall be focusing on some of my favorite independent horror/sci fi B movies from the early to mid 1960s. These are films that fall outside of the studio system, made by a ragtag bunch of hopefuls with limited funds and resources, but fueled by the desire to make their own movie. Sometimes the results are good, sometimes…not so much. I will give equal time to both. Join me as I discuss the stories behind the films, and the movies themselves. Then, by all means, watch them for yourself…if you dare.

Part Three: The Creeping Terror (1964)

So far in this series, I have shared stories of directors and amateur film makers succeeding beyond their means to make interesting, quality films. This time, I’ll be examining a two bit hustler who made an absolute mess that stands tall as a cult classic film that is unintentionally hilarious and the very definition of the “so bad it’s good” idea that all B-movie aficionados love. Let’s dig into the making of the movie first, and then we’ll get into digging the movie. It’s pretty wild, y’all. Buckle in.

At the center of the story of the making of The Creeping Terror is a man named Alan N. White, although he worked under several aliases during his “career”, most notably Arthur (A.J.) Nelson, and Vic Savage which, admittedly, is a pretty cool stage name. Unfortunately that’s about the only cool thing about the guy. According to all sources, he was a two bit criminal involved in pretty much any crime or scheme you can imagine. I won’t go into detail here, only what is necessary for the tale of the film. Let’s just say that the man was a crooked hustler, and used his abilities in this field to make his monster movie.

Nelson enlisted aspiring screenwriter Alan Silliphant (brother of successful screenwriter Sterling Silliphant) to write the script. Alan turned in a parody of a Hollywood monster movie set in Lake Tahoe. Nelson was either too thick to understand this, or too inept to make it happen. The shooting location was changed to the Spahn Ranch (which would later become base of operations for Charles Manson) in Los Angeles County, and the massive Lake Tahoe replaced by a small pond. Nelson also shot the film as a straight up monster movie. After seeing the changes made and witnessing some of what he called the “remarkably rinky-dink” production, Silliphant exited the production in an attempt to at least somewhat save his reputation. This fact alone makes him the single smartest person involved with this movie.

As is the case with all B-movies, the cast was filled with mostly unknowns, in fact, Nelson offered parts to local business persons in exchange for a small investment in the film. The story goes that Nelson would shoot the same scene multiple times, often with no film in the camera while the investors were doing their parts, thus keeping up the ruse and being able to pocket their money, knowing full well these “performances” would never see the light of day. To the best of my knowledge, this was the original “pay to play” scam that so many aspiring performers are victims of today.

Most of the financing came from the only actor in the film who wasn’t someone’s girlfriend (or a wannabe with deep enough pockets), a certain Mr. William Thourlby, a model, actor, Marlboro Man, and future consultant to President Nixon. Taken in by the movie’s star Vic Savage (that’s Nelson again) and his passion for the project, Thourlby was convinced to write a fairly substantial check to help make the film. Where this money all went is unclear-certainly it was not used on the film. Most likely it was squandered away on Nelson’s drug habit and whatever other side hustles he had going on at the time.

Now, a monster movie needs a monster, right? Okay. Enter Jon Lackey, a known illustrator/sculptor/writer to build the beast. What he imagined was a lumbering slug like creature with tentacles that had eyes on the ends, and a gaping maw that could swallow people whole. With a proper budget this could have been quite the creepy creature, and many an artist would later have fun trying to flesh out the original vision. A few mouse clicks will show that the internet is full of interesting interpretations of the monster. In the finished film however, what we get is hands-down the most laughably ridiculous monster ever made. The neck/head is phallic looking, while its tentacles are clearly old springs, and the construction of the monster seems to be a shag carpet base with a…throw rug on top of a…tarp, maybe? It is clearly operated by a few teenagers walking in a bent over position and pulling victims into the maw by hand. Oh, and that maw? It looks disturbingly like a different orifice. I’ll let you decide for yourself what that may be.

But wait, there’s more! Most of the action in the movie relies on the monster roaming the countryside and devouring people. Mostly ladies in short skirts, which happens a lot, and probably says more about Nelson/Savage than any documentary ever could. Anyway, at one point during the production, the monster disappeared. Vanished. Gone. When inquiries were made, Lackey simply stated, “He’s in hiding. He’s not going to work until he gets paid.” Not to be deterred, Nelson just built a new monster, albeit an even sillier looking version which is actually kind of impressive when you think about it. Making the stupidest looking monster in film history look even worse? that’s quite an achievement.

The music for The Creeping Terror was composed by Frederic Kopp, a music professor at Los Angeles State College. All things considered, it’s a pretty decent score. Kopp provided $6000.00 of the film’s budget, and later would file a lawsuit against Nelson for “fraud and deceit”. He won, although Nelson was conspicuously absent from the trial.

Which makes sense, because before the film was completed, Nelson himself would make like the monster and disappear. Vanished. Gone. This happened during a break in the shooting. Convinced something was wrong, Thourlby (remember him?) went to Nelson’s house looking for his director. He found no trace of the man, but he did find a crew repossessing the furniture. Thourlby also managed to find what was left of the footage from The Creeping Terror and rescued it.

Upon watching the footage he realized that the film had been shot with little or no sound. Most scenes had no sound, and what was in place was minimal. No soundtrack reels were ever found, so to try and save something of his investment, Thourlby took it upon himself to piece together whatever he could from the footage. The gaping holes in sound required there to be dubbing by any of the actors available to do so, and large chunks of narration had to be included to fill in gaps in the story and explain what was happening onscreen. A valiant effort all around, but nothing could save this movie.

The Creeping Terror may have been screened in the 1960’s at drive ins and cheap matinees (I’m not actually sure), but was sold to television in the 1980s and began to appear on video once it fell into the public domain. Though its profile was raised considerably by an appearance on Mystery Science Theater 3000, The Creeping Terror has mostly labored in obscurity and grown into legendary myth like proportions as the “man eating carpet” movie, known mostly to those who actively seek it out, or stumble into it by mistake.

Arthur Nelson/Vic Savage never made another film, and basically fell off the face of the Earth. Some sources say he went back to his birth name (Alan White), and died of kidney failure in Kansas in 1975. Others posit that his sordid past finally caught up with him and he sleeps with the fishes after crossing the wrong people. I don’t know which is correct, or if either is.

All right, so there’s your backstory. As for the movie itself…I love it. It is truly, laughably, inconceivably awful in all the right ways. You can’t help but giggle at the ridiculousness of the monster, and the fact that none of its victims put up much of a fight-in fact some of them appear to be climbing into it. The constant narration is just a spectacularly weird touch, and the voice looping? I’ve seen Kung Fu movies from the 1970s that felt more accurate. I mean, the fact that the actors have to slide under the spaceship to enter it because they couldn’t afford a door

Whaddya mean, “what spaceship?”…oh, right I forgot to tell you the plot. Um, aliens. Small town gets invaded and eaten. Police, military, and scientists try to stop it. That’s basically it. You know what? The plot doesn’t matter. You don’t watch this film for the plot, you watch for the cheese factor. You watch because it makes Ed Wood movies feel like Spielberg epics. You watch The Creeping Terror out of sheer curiosity because it is often cited as the worst film ever made. In fact for many years I believed it to be the world’s worst movie myself.

Until I saw next week’s feature. See you next Monday at the Valley Lodge!


Movie MonDAVEs: Halloween Edition (Part Two)

It’s October again, friends. It’s the time of year when all movie geeks turn their attention towards the macabre and creepy. Here on MonDAVEs we will be doing the same thing, though perhaps in a different way.

This month I shall be focusing on some of my favorite independent horror/sci fi B movies from the early to mid 1960s. These are films that fall outside of the studio system, made by a ragtag bunch of hopefuls with limited funds and resources, but fueled by the desire to make their own movie. Sometimes the results are good, sometimes…not so much. I will give equal time to both. Join me as I discuss the stories behind the films, and the movies themselves. Then, by all means, watch them for yourself…if you dare.

Part Two: Night Of The Living Dead (1968)

Last week I mentioned that one could pretty much draw a direct line between Carnival Of Souls and this movie. Not only do they have similarities behind the scenes, but on the screen as well. While I don’t know that the filmmakers of Night ever actually saw Souls, the resemblances are uncanny. If the intent however was to take the tropes of Carnival Of Souls and explode them into an all new (and better) thing, then mission accomplished. Now, let’s draw that line, and then we’ll discuss the film.

Stop me if this sounds familiar. Night Of The Living Dead was directed by George A. Romero, who worked as a director for Latent Image, a small company in Pittsburgh that made commercials. He co wrote the script with John Russo, and made the film with friends and colleagues from the business, local actors, and even some local townspeople, as they set about filming in rural Pennsylvania. Armed with a budget of $114,000, and 16mm black and white film, Romero and crew used their skills to make the most out of their limitations. Boy, did they ever.

Apart from their similar beginnings, both movies share similar tropes. Both films are shot in black and white. Both have a genuinely creepy atmosphere. Both movies are actually helped by not having anyone famous in the cast, and even their occasional amateurish moments somehow seem to help each film’s overall tone rather than hurt it. Both movies begin with a damsel in distress scenario, and feature a theme of alienation throughout, with a similarly bleak viewpoint. Finally, each film features ghouls (who look nearly identical, by the way) as their main antagonists.

That’s right, “ghouls”. While Night Of The Living Dead is widely considered the template for modern zombie movies, the word “zombie” is never used in the movie. That terminology came later. When Romero made his movie, zombies were still the product of Haitian folklore, and were brought to life by voodoo magic, mostly acting as slaves to the one who gave them life. In 1968, the main reference would have been the Bela Lugosi film White Zombie from 1932, which is still widely available but, fair warning, doesn’t play well here in 2022. As for how the creatures in Night went from “ghouls” or “things” to “zombies” I don’t have a clue.

Anyway. Clearly the initial images and ideas were all there for the taking, so much so that it has been stated that Carnival Of Souls is Night Of The Living Dead, only done five years earlier. This is an oversimplification, of course, but it certainly bears examination. In fact, I think the two films would make for a terrific double feature. The main difference, though is that while Herk Harvey’s film is an interesting, thoughtful, moody little film beloved by those who seek it, Romero’s film is a stone cold classic that redefined a genre, and still has influence on film makers today.

For those who may be unfamiliar (is anyone really?), Night Of The Living Dead is the story of a group of individuals who, through different circumstances, find themselves taking refuge in a farmhouse from a horde of flesh eating ghouls. As their plight becomes more and more precarious outside the farmhouse, tensions rise inside as well. The group must find a way to rely on their own cunning, strength, and sense of order and decorum to survive not only the attacking flesh eaters, but also one another.

That’s where the film really succeeds, in that it’s not just another horror movie. It could certainly be viewed through that lens if one desired. The tension amps up regularly throughout the movie as we wait to learn the fate of our heroes. The subject matter is grisly, and the filmmakers make sure we do not forget that. The gore level is fairly miniscule compared to today’s offerings, but it is handled here in a way that makes it very effective, especially in stark black and white. In fact, the black and white look and the decision to present most of the feature in real time makes the film feel almost like a documentary-one that you shouldn’t be watching. All these things line up together to make a harrowing night at the movies, and if that’s all you’re looking for, then there’s enough here to satisfy.

However, there’s so much more to this movie. You see, it’s not really about a zombie attack. I mean it is, but not totally. There are plenty of themes tackled within this story. This is a film about power and control. It’s about how we act as people when faced with extraordinary circumstances. It is a study, and an indictment, of the failings of late 60’s political and moral structure (which, let’s face it, is pretty similar to what we’re dealing with now) especially when it comes to the oppressed. Night also deals with the crumbling of the family unit. Most famously, it is also a movie about race relations, although accidentally.

The main protagonist in this story is a character called Ben, and he is an African American gentleman (played by the late Duane Jones) who finds himself in charge of what happens to the group, while being at loggerheads with the group itself. Interestingly enough, Ben’s character was written as Caucasian, it’s just that Jones was the best actor for the role, therefore he was cast. No racial commentary was intended at the time, but casting an African American hero, especially in 1968, gave the movie racial undertones all the same. Considering how the movie unfolds, it wound up bringing more power and chilling effect to the movie than it ever could have had otherwise.

These facets are all there, though not focused upon in the story. It is up to the viewer to consider the many layers and sub texts involved and figure out for themselves what it all means and what is really being said. One personal observation, though. Most horror movies, especially ones from this time period, offer solutions in the hope of normality. That is to say that the monster is killed (seemingly anyway) and the survivors can get back to their normal lives, normal in this case being the traditional, conservative, all-American “Mom, hot dogs, and apple pie” way of life. With the understanding of its subtext, Night Of The Living Dead posits that these things are all broken, and even if you survive the attacks there’s no normal to go back to. And that may be the most frightening thing of all.

Okay, so far in this series we have looked at B movies that, against the odds, have succeeded. One is a very good, over achieving think piece, and one a touchstone of both modern horror and pop culture at large. But what happens when things don’t go so right? We’ll examine that next week when we look at a film with a shady director, and a shag carpeted beast that is sure to induce nightmares for absolutely no-one. It’ll be fun. Join me, won’t you?


Movie MonDAVEs: Halloween Edition 2022 (Part One)

It’s October again, friends. It’s the time of year when all movie geeks turn their attention towards the macabre and creepy. Here on MonDAVEs we will be doing the same thing, though perhaps in a different way.

This month I shall be focusing on some of my favorite independent horror/sci fi B movies from the early to mid 1960s. These are films that fall outside of the studio system, made by a ragtag bunch of hopefuls with limited funds and resources, but fueled by the desire to make their own movie. Sometimes the results are good, sometimes…not so much. I will give equal time to both. Join me as I discuss the stories behind the films, and the movies themselves. Then, by all means, watch them for yourself…if you dare.


Carnival Of Souls has become a cult classic, though it was virtually ignored upon its release and was kept alive (barely) by late night television. It has since been praised for not only its Twilight Zone-ish storyline, but the acting, cinematography, and unique soundtrack.

As per usual with these types of films, the story behind the movie is almost as interesting as the movie itself. The film was directed by a gentleman named Herk Harvey, who sparked the whole idea off when, while driving through Salt Lake City on the way to Kansas, passed an old, run down pavilion on the shore of the lake and decided that it would be a great location to shoot.

Herk Harvey worked at a production company in Kansas called Centron, which made industrial films for schools and corporations. He began discussing the idea with colleague John Clifford and before you know it, the two had a script, and were ready to begin. Filming was completed in three weeks in both Lawrence, Kansas, and Salt Lake City, Utah with Herk Harvey directing. Shot for a budget of $30,000, Harvey used his skills to make the most out of his limitations.

The cast consists of newcomers and amateur actors, notably Candace Hilligoss as our heroine, Mary, Sidney Berger as shady guy next door John Linden, Stan Levitt as the stoic Dr. Samuels, Frances Feist as housekeeper Mrs. Thomas, and ol’ Herk himself as a ghoulish figure known in the script simply as The Man. While the cast may not be world class names, they are better than one would find in most low budget features, and in this particular film, any odd performances merely add to the otherworldliness of the proceedings.

And now for the movie itself. Carnival Of Souls tells the story of Mary Henry, who mysteriously survives an automobile accident. She moves to Utah to take a job as a church organist. Upon arrival, Mary finds it increasingly difficult to relate to the locals, and begins to have peculiar visions of a man that seems to follow her everywhere she goes. She begins to have strange feelings of isolation accompanied by hallucinations, and starts to question what is real. All the while, Mary is inexplicably drawn to an abandoned carnival on the outskirts of town, which she is sure will provide the answers to what is going on in her waking nightmare.

Watching this movie is an interesting experience. The movie feels very much like a German expressionist film, wrapped up in horror movie packaging. It is a film that relies more on an eerie feeling than straight out scares (though there are a few). The viewer is kind of swept away into an intriguing, dream like world that is harshly beautiful yet full of dread. The fact that the movie is shot in black and white only adds to this effect.

One of the key parts of the film’s atmosphere is its soundtrack. The movie is almost exclusively scored by the organ. It is odd and unsettling, but it works well and it never gets tiresome. In fact, the instrument plays a large part in Mary’s story and one of the film’s most effective scenes involves her playing in church and getting lost in a playing a piece that starts off as a standard hymn and becomes more deranged as it continues. The combination of eerie visuals and music that is at once both beautiful and unsettling gives this movie a very unique feel.

Carnival Of Souls is a horror movie, but it is also an artistic movie. It is about the thin line between the natural and the supernatural, between the waking world and the dream world, between life and death. It is not a perfect movie. There are some technical hiccups along the way and a few questionable decisions in the storytelling, yet these flaws seem to add to the horror overall, and not detract from it as happens with so many other low budget scary movies.

Herk Harvey wound up making a film for the ages, and it’s too bad that this is his only feature. It seems a shame that his talent was used in industrial shorts instead of giving us a full catalogue of cinematic treats. The same can be said of the principal cast as well. There’s no reason why Candace Hilligoss couldn’t have gone on to bigger and better things and been at the very least a B movie Queen, if not a full fledged star. As for Sidney Berger, he should have rightfully been one of those “that guy” actors that fill so many of our favorite films. Although I say it’s a shame that these folks never went on to any other films of note, it does sort of add to the creepiness of watching Carnival Of Souls, knowing that you may never actually see these people again.

Apart from being a bona-fide cult classic, Carnival Of Souls has gone on to influence may other artists, from having its dialogue sampled by musicians to directly inspiring directors like David Lynch and George A. Romero. In fact, you can almost draw a direct line from Carnival Of Souls to Night Of The Living Dead. Almost.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

See you next week for Halloween Movie MonDAVEs part two.


These Sodas Are Rank(ed)!

Anyone who has ben paying attention over the past few years will have realized that Zero Sugar sodas have become all the rage. The so called “diet colas” have more or less been replaced by these new soft drinks on grocery and convenience store shelves all across America. Upon first glance, this would seem to be a healthier, or, at least a less-bad-for-you alternative to the regular drinks we all know and love. But is it a scam?

Very probably. Diet soda was a scam, so why shouldn’t this be one too? However, this is not the focus of the blog post today. Let’s face it, Americans love our sodas, and if this is a way we can fool ourselves into thinking we are making a better decision for bodies, then this is a scam we’re going to fall for willingly. I know I’m on board.

The real question is, “Are these sodas any good?”, and that is what I am going to attempt to answer here today. Taste is subjective of course, but for the sake of argument, let’s just assume that my opinions are unequivocally correct.

For this experiment, we are sticking only to the major national brands and to the original flavors only. So no cherry, cream, or berry flavors will be included. I am also not going to get into specialty sodas, small batch, or anything like that. I am purposefully keeping it simple.

Okay, so here’s the rundown on the sodas I have personally tasted. It should be noted that all zero sugar sodas have a bit of an aftertaste, but you get used to it fairly quickly. Therefore, aftertaste is not part of the equation.


8. Mountain Dew Zero:
Actually, I haven’t tried this one. Sorry. I am just offended by its existence. Nobody has ever drank a Mountain Dew in any situation in which they have even remotely been thinking about their health. This is a stupid product that deserves to be dead last.

7. Gold Peak Zero Sugar Sweet Tea:
Come on, Gold Peak, you’re cheating here. This is pretty much the same thing you make at home with Sweet & Low or Splenda or whatever. Look, it actually tastes really good, and I like it, but I can make it myself so it’s back towards the bottom of the list for you.

6. Sprite/7 Up/Sierra Mist Zero:
So, these sodas are all more or less the same anyway (I know, I know, let it go) and they already don’t have caffeine so I just kind of find this to be a fairly useless idea. They’re okay, I suppose, but it just tastes like watered down versions of clear soda. You may as well drink water. Or sparkling water, which is gross, so…meh.

5. Orange Fanta/Sunkist Zero:
Why? Why with this? Both sodas have no caffeine and no sugar. I suppose it’s all right if you have a kid who loves orange sodas but gets a little too hopped up on it and just goes nuts, then yeah, maybe. Otherwise? No. Still, I suppose it’s nice to have a change up in the sugar free soda department now and again so these guys just barely beat out the clear sodas in my ranking. Barely.

4. A&W Zero Root Beer:
I love a good root beer, and when I heard about the A&W I approached it with cautious optimism. It’s okay. Kinda feels like somebody didn’t close the cap properly on a two liter. So it tastes a little flat, even though it’s not. If you’re jonesing for some root beer and need the zero sugar option, it’ll do.

3. Coca Cola Zero:
This kind of surprised me, that of the big three Coke would take third place. I have been a regular Coke drinker for ages, so I expected it to be really good. Turns out it’s just pretty good. They did change the formula a while back to make it taste more like Coke Classic (with nary a Max Headroom sighting to be found!), and that did help quite a bit. It’s good, I like it, and I reach for it often, but it just falls a little short.

2. Pepsi Zero:
Again, a surprise for me, because I have always preferred Coke over Pepsi, but Pepsi just got it right here, man. Their zero version tastes a lot more like Pepsi than Coke’s tastes like Coke. My objection to Pepsi was always that it tasted a little too sweet. Yet they have pretty much managed to mimic that sweetness in the sugar free version. I still don’t buy Pepsi very often, but I have voluntarily had more Pepsi Zero sodas over the past couple of years than I ever drank of the original, so that says something.

  1. Dr. Pepper Zero:
    Admittedly, I am a bit biased here. Dr. Pepper is my favorite soda, but I know a lot of people don’t like it. I get that, it’s not for everyone. However, I truly believe that Dr. Pepper has come closest to making their Zero version taste more like their original flavor than any of their competitors. I’d take them to task if not, trust me. If you used to be a Pepper, but you haven’t been for a while due to giving up sugar, don’t be afraid to try this out. It’s good.

Well, that just about wraps it up for this week. Do you agree with my findings or am I way off? Is there a different flavor I should explore, or a major player in the game that I missed? Let me know in the comments. Just keep it cool and play nice while you’re posting.

See you next week for more MonDAVEs, friends, when I’ll start the October spooky stuff. Bye for now!



Hey everybody, let me tell you about a podcast I have become involved with.

I have mentioned before that my brother, Derek, has a podcast he calls “Empty Checking”, in which he talks about various music/books/blu-rays, etc. that he has recently purchased, thereby leaving him with an empty checking account. It’s a fun listen. I have come on a few times in the past as a guest, but recently my role has expanded.

I have become a fairly regular guest for a special group of episodes entitled The Fab 15. Or Fifteen, if you prefer. It doesn’t really mater. Anyway, the idea is that it’s a list show where we pick a topic and we both independently make lists of our favorite fifteen things about said topic, then we share our lists and try to come up with an agreed upon “Fab Fifteen”. “Fab” meaning “Fabulous” of course.

So far, the topics for the Fab 15 have been as follows: Beatles songs, Soundtrack Albums, Summer Songs, Movies of 1989, and Queen (the band) songs. These episodes have been a lot of fun to do, and from what I am led to understand they have been quite popular with the listeners. Therefore I would like to share them with the MonDAVE readership who may not have been aware of their existence.

Do me a favor and check out an episode or two when you get a moment. If you enjoy them, drop me a message and let me know, or message the podcast itself through its webpage. Then share it with others. Who knows, maybe we can get this up and running and make it into a permanent thing. If that happens, I will surely let you all know. If it doesn’t, we’re going to keep doing them anyway because it’s fun. Either way it’s a win for us.

I’ve included some links below so you can check it out nice and easy from right here on the ol’ blog page. If you like what you hear, why not go ahead and subscribe to the Empty Checking podcast? That way you won’t miss a show, and you get to hear all the other cool stuff my brother does too.

Thanks in advance for clicking and listening. I’ll be back next week with more stuff.

Empty Checking Fab 15 Links:







Thoughts On HRH

Like many around the world, I have been thinking quite a bit about the passing of Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II over the past few days. Being an American, the actions of the Royal Family have minimal effect on my day to day life, but I must confess that I have a bit more than a passing interest in what goes on in the United Kingdom.

Firstly, I do try to keep up with major world events, even if it’s just to go online and skim the headlines. When I do watch reported news I usually find myself watching PBS shows, and the BBC World Service that follows. I even have BBC News programmed into my Sirius XM satellite radio presets. As you can imagine, the news of Queen Elizabeth’s passing has taken up the majority of air time this week.

Secondly, I am a bit of an Anglophile. Which means that I’m one of those annoying Americans who likes to watch British movies and television shows, listen to British rock bands, read Nick Hornby books, subscribe to the “Lost In The Pond” YouTube channel, and feel like I know a little bit about how things work over in England specifically, and the U.K. at large. It is admittedly a narrow and possibly skewed view, but one I am always eager to expand nonetheless.

This is also how I have formed my image of the Queen. I have seen her lampooned on a few comedy shows, and critiqued, vilified, and ridiculed in punk rock music. I have also seen her staunchly defended, idolized, and loved by her subjects. Sometimes, the very same people who are the loudest naysayers are also quick to claim that they like the Royal Family just fine, really.

So how to process all this? Well, it seems to me that one has to look at the person more than the title. Having never had a sovereign in my lifetime I can’t pretend to know what that experience is like or how it affects one’s life. We do have career politicians over here though, but that’s not exactly the same thing. All I can do then, is try to be as objective as possible when considering the death of the Queen and what it means.

Look, all governments do bad things. All of them. Sometimes they are done in what they truly believe is for the good of the country, sometimes not. It seems to me that in modern times, the Queen’s role was more of a mediator, or an influencer than one of any real practical power. As I understand it, most of the political power lies in Parliament and not with the Queen.

Can blame be put at her feet for some of the atrocities committed during the early years of her reign, particularly since most of these offences were begun before she officially took power? Yes, to a degree, but how many world leaders have hands that are not stained red in some way?

As far as the Royal Family itself goes, yeah, there have been some problems. The Queen did not get along with her daughter in law Lady Diana, or her granddaughter in law, Duchess Meghan. That is unfortunate, and it happens. It’s just that in this case, it happened while the world’s eyes were watching. Besides, us normal folk love to watch the drama unfold and we love to sit in judgement of those who are considered “better” or “more special” than we are. We shouldn’t be that way, but we are.

Now, this is the part where I can hear many of you yelling at your screens about classism or racism being the culprit in these particular family feuds. Maybe you’re right, I don’t know. None of us do. Perhaps it was all just multiple generations clashing. Any article you read on these subjects is likely to be highly biased in either direction and as the band Extreme said in the early 90’s, “there are three sided to every story: Yours, Mine, and Monday Morning’s.” All families bicker and fight. All families have at least one or two people that everyone else gossips about and are looked down upon in private. trouble is, when you are a Royal there is no privacy.

Which brings us to the ugly story of Prince Andrew. He’s been a very naughty man. He got caught. Look, I’m not going to go into details here, I try to keep things clean around here. Google it if you don’t know, but be warned, it’s not pretty.

Of course you can’t hold one man’s actions against the rest of the family, but you can blame the privilege his position allows. He was stripped of his rank within the Royal Family, but it took a little too long to do so. Theory states that Elizabeth was the one allowing him to stay. Perhaps. If so, then yes, she was wrong, but she did do the right thing eventually. Let’s face it though, folks, it’s hard to find out someone you love is up to some shady stuff-and I can understand why they didn’t want that info getting out. It’s a difficult situation, and one I hope to never find anyone from my family in-and I hope the same for yours too.

I do wonder about the future of the Royals. Things seem to be splintering apart. The case can certainly be made that the monarchy is an antiquated idea that has no room in the modern world, and that the money spent on Royal things could do greater good for the working classes and the poor than to be spent on pageantry. These are worthwhile points of discussion, but they are ones best left for Britain to decide for itself. A lot of Americans have an opinion, though, and there is probably just as much Anti-Royal sentiment as there is Pro.

Which I really don’t understand. As Americans we really don’t really have a say. Well, not for a few hundred years, we haven’t. Besides, we’re all still trying to figure out what’s going on with our own rich family with political power to worry about anyone else right now.

So with all that said, I can say that I am sorry to see her go. Queen Elizabeth was thrown into power at an early age, before she should have been, really. She has seen the world change immensely during her reign. As a figurehead she has needed to steer England from the “stiff upper lip” attitude of old to a more modernized, humanitarian era. She wasn’t perfect, but I think she did extraordinarily well all things considered. She presented herself with a certain stoic grace, but always seemed to let her humanity show through. Her life and her lot were certainly not easy. Through all the negatives however, I have heard countless stories of people who encountered the Queen and were treated not like inferior subjects, but like people. Queen Elizabeth made the people she encountered feel like she cared. That quality alone makes for a great leader, figurehead or otherwise.

May she rest in peace.


Do You Want To Hear About Sunday Morning?

Okay, so we’re sitting in church on Sunday, like you do, and the sermon is well underway. This is a church that is new to us, but more on that in another post. Anyway, my son Pat suddenly begins making a noise. It’s sort of a gasping, repeated, quick-inhaling kind of a noise. Now, he’s a bit of a sensitive boy, and the sermon was about cultivating relationships with other people through their, and possibly our own, loneliness. This is a topic that could very easily hit home with the boy due to his own social awkwardness. Dad mode activates, and I check on his well being, believing that he might be starting to cry.

“You okay son?”

“Yeah, I just thought of something funny.”

“Well get it together, dude.”

Dude did not get it together.

He continued his silent, barely-keeping-it-together laughing fit, for a little bit too long. Long enough that his older sister, sitting next to him also became concerned, and also assumed him to be crying. She made a sympathetic sad face and held his hand. Which made him laugh even harder, and threatened to make me laugh as well.

At this point, it’s getting uncomfortable for yours truly. People in other pews are starting to notice. Now I have to take action. It is a well known fact to pretty much all mankind that once a laughing fit starts, it is nearly impossible to stop, especially when one is in a situation where one is not supposed to be laughing. Like a school lecture, or, say, a church you’ve just started attending, are still feeling out, and you are trying to make a good impression.

The only thing left to do was ride it out, so I put my arm around the boy, looking every bit like the consoling Dad, pulled him in close and let him laugh it out into my chest. Anyone observing would have thought I was whispering something loving into his ear, like “It’s okay, buddy. We can talk about this later if you want. Let it out.” But I was really all like, “Come on man, focus, this is ridiculous. You’re missing good stuff here, pay attention.”

With the fit over, we made it through to the end of the service with no other issues. Until, on the way out of the worship center, Pat asked big sister Tessa why she took his hand. She said something about how she was concerned about him since he was crying so much. She’s got a good heart, she does. Then he told her that he wasn’t crying, but laughing.

“WHAT? I was so worried. I held your hand, man! I thought you were GOING THROUGH IT!” She was appalled. Which started the laughing all over again.

And that is how my family makes an impression on a new church.


For Your Late Summer Vieweing Pleasure

Summer is beginning to wind down, and I can’t believe I didn’t think of doing this sooner, but I think it’s time we talk about Summertime movies. Not blockbusters necessarily, but movies that are either about or related to the Summer season. There’s still time to view a few of these before the weather turns, with the upcoming Labor Day holiday being an excellent chance to do so. Or, hey, save a few to watch in the middle of Winter when it’s freezing, dark, and miserable and you’re missing the Summer vibes. Kinda like watching “A Christmas Story” on July 25th.

Anyway, here’s a list featuring some of my favorite Summer flicks. These aren’t presented in any real order here, just as they roll off the top of my noggin. That’s the way things go here at MonDaves! Let’s have at it.

  1. Meatballs:
    I pretty much have to watch this one every year. For those who may be unfamiliar, it’s a Summer Camp comedy from the late 1970’s featuring Bill Murray and a full collection of young Canadian talent. This was made back in the days before PG-13 was a thing, so it’s a bit stronger than the rating would have you think. There are a few problematic moments by today’s standards, but I think the spirit of the film and the sweetness of its central story make up for those issues.
  2. National Lampoon’s Vacation:
    This one is fairly dated and risque as well. It’s somewhat surprising that a movie featuring as much outrageousness as this has become somewhat of a beloved classic, but here we are. Still funny in between the cringe moments, and serves as a reminder of when we all still loved Chevy Chase. Also the theme song is classic, and I never tire of the performances by Imogene Coca and John Candy.
  3. Jaws:
    The ultimate Summer suspense movie. Notice I said suspense, not horror. While the shark attacks are horrific, the film plays more like an adventure movie to me. I just watched this again a few months ago, and it’s still very good. It’s just not a horror film so please stop calling it one. Same goes for “Alien”, although I’m much more willing to let that one slide. Anyway. Moving on.
  4. The Great Outdoors:
    John Candy (again) and Dan Aykroyd in a movie about two families camping, with Candy representing the traditional family values set, and Aykroyd the obnoxious business man brother in law. While this movie was panned during the initial release, cable and home video have made it a semi classic. I have never heard my mother laugh harder or longer than she did at the climax of this film.
  5. Stand By Me:
    Part drama, part comedy, all heart. A group of twelve year old boys hike out to the woods to see a rumored dead body (well, it was written by Stephen King), but along the way they learn about the meaning of friendship in a one of a kind coming of age story that is a definite classic. If you somehow haven’t seen this one, do.
  6. One Crazy Summer:
    John Cusack, Demi Moore, and Bobcat Goldthwait in a pretty bonkers 80’s teen comedy. Is it great? No. Does it try too hard? Yes. However, it’s just absurd enough that it is an interesting view, with likeable people and enough snickers in it (if not outright laughs) to make it worth a look.
  7. That Thing You Do!:
    Perhaps not a traditional Summer movie, but the bulk of the film takes place during the Summer months, and the whole thing just feels like Summer, man. It’s also one of my favorite music movies, and a favorite all around.
  8. Summer School:
    This was a Mark Harmon vehicle about a teacher and teens in Summer school and it’s just as dumb as it sounds, but I saw it about a billion times on cable and can still recite whole passages from the film so it’s on the list. Also, I still think Dave and Chainsaw should have had their own movie franchise, or at least a TV show.
  9. Beach Blanket Bingo/Psycho Beach Party (tie):
    The former is the classic, ultimate “teen beach movie”. Today it is viewed as a reminder of a gentler time. The latter is a modern parody that also throws in references to psychological thrillers and slasher films. It has also spawned a stage play. The two together make a great double feature!
  10. Lilo And Stitch:
    If you haven’t seen it, it’s better than you think. If you have, it’s better than you remember. I love all the Elvis stuff, and the voice cast is great. It mixes Disney cuteness with a manic energy for a good time that can be had by all.

    Okay, there we have it, Dave’s Fave Summer Films. There are a few more, but I think this will do for now. Also, I may want to revisit this topic in the future and I need to have a few in reserve. See you next week.

Literary Round Up

If you recall, last week I mentioned the fact that I am the type of reader who gets stuck into a book and needs a few days to linger in the world described. I have trouble letting go of the characters and their stories. Often I will think about which parts of the book spoke to me and why. Was this just entertainment, or is there a bigger message going on? For the record, this applies to both fiction and non-fiction.

With that in mind, I thought I’d share with you a few of the books I have read over the past few months.. You will notice that most of these selections aren’t very recent. As much as I like to go to the bookstore and peruse the new releases, more often than not I find myself buying from the marked down bargain bins, or picking up something used from the neighborhood charity stores. It doesn’t matter to me how old a book may be, if it’s good, it’s good and I will happily invest my time reading away. So here, in no particular order, are a few selections that have kept me turning pages recently.

ABOUT A BOY-Nick Hornby
I have enjoyed a few of the movies made from Hornby’s work, but never actually read any of his novels. Since this is one of the movies I hadn’t seen, I snatched this one up earlier this year. I enjoyed it a lot.

This is a coming of age story about not only a teenage boy, but also a slacker adult who acts like a boy. I found it to be both funny and sweet, also just British enough to please the Anglophile in me, but not so British that it made for a difficult read. I would definitely recommend this, and I will seek out more in the future.

With the release of Peter Jackson’s mammoth “Get Back” documentary last year, pretty much everybody was talking about The Beatles. While the film covers the period just before the band split up, this book takes us to the bitter end and fills in some of the gaps in the movie narrative. The book is meticulously researched, and gives multiple points of view from interviews done both at the time and later on. While there is naturally a little bit of author speculation here and there, I can’t imagine a better chronicle of the band’s last year. It isn’t a happy story, but it is a human one and quite interesting for any Beatles fan.

Yes, that “Deliverance”. Yes, that scene is in it. No, nobody says “squeal like a pig” in the book.

This one was released in 1970, but the prose feels a little earlier than that, like an early 60’s style of writing, maybe. This book was a little bit frustrating for me, but it was interesting enough to keep me reading. I am often more concerned with the story than the prose, and I think that sometimes too much detail can get in the way and slow things down. That happens more than once in this book, from descriptions of the countryside to the scene where our main character is climbing up a gorge on his own. More than once I wanted to just skip ahead a few pages and get to the good parts. It almost felt as though much of the book was padded out to make a full length novel out of what should have been a short story, or anovella at most. Still, the storytelling is good and the stakes are high, so it is an entertaining read overall. I’m not entirely sure who got deliverance though, and from what. Perhaps I’m not supposed to?

This should appeal not only to fans of Nirvana and Foo Fighters, but also to anyone who has ever dreamed of being a rock star. Dave Grohl is one of the luckiest guys out there, and he knows it. His success story is one of hard work and dumb luck, and it makes for a very fun read. Some of his stories are genuinely funny, others touching. The book feels like a conversation with a friend over a few drinks, which is a welcome change from the “serious” rock journalism tone that many books have. Grohl almost makes you feel like you were there with him. It was highly entertaining and I hope he writes another one soon.

THE KEPT-James Scott
“The Kept” is a gothic western revenge story set in upstate New York, in the winter of 1897. It is a bleak, haunting work that deals with violence, deceit, the meaning of family, long kept secrets, obsessions, and the cost of all of those things. This book doesn’t let up much once it gets going, and I was always eager to read the next chapter and find out what would happen in the end, even if I knew it wasn’t going to be pleasant. The story may be a bit far fetched in places, and I’m not sure what I think about the way it ended (I understand why Scott used that ending, I’m just not sure I liked it), but these complaints are minor. This is a depressing read, but one I highly recommend.

Okay, before somebody decides to comment, yes, I agree, it is similar to “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy in some places. That book was clearly a strong influence on this one, but I think that “The Kept” is definitely stands on its own when compared side by side.

Alright friends, there we have it. Maybe one of these books will make it on to your “to be read” list soon. Maybe not. My own list still has three or four I need to get to, and it seems to grow every time I turn around. See you next week, and happy reading!


A Few Things From This Past Weekend.

Thing 1:

Saturday afternoon as I was surfing through radio stations while driving in my car, the song “Cinnamon Girl” by Neil Young came on. I don’t really know the words, but I started kind of half heartedly singing along anyway since I’ve always enjoyed the tune. The word that came out of my mouth however was not “cinnamon”, but “synonym.” This struck me as uproariously funny at the time.

I must have been tired.

Anyway, I’ve been walking around the house singing that for days now. It’s beginning to drive my family batty. “I wanna live with a Synonym Girl/I could be happy the rest of my life with a Synonym Girl.” The chorus writes itself, as it’s just replacing the one word. But I also wrote a verse or two:

“She’s got multiple words/for ev-er-ything/but I always know/just what she means/She’s a Synonym Girl
She doesn’t get sad/she feels heartbroken/She’s not obnoxious/She’s just outspoken/my Synonym Girl”

Well, maybe it doesn’t read funny, but if you sing the tune it’s better. Sort of.

I tried to write a few more grammar based classic rock parodies, but all I could come up with was “Verbin’ U.S.A. and “(I Can’t Use No) Interjections” which honestly I didn’t get very far with. So I guess Weird Al Yankovic’s job is still safe. For now.

Thing 2:

We are doing a project in our basement that requires drywall. Sunday was load in day, and somehow or other I was actually here for it and got to help. YAY! Twenty-two pieces of drywall, two to a pack, measuring eight foot long by four foot wide, and weighing 68 pounds per pack is what we hauled off the van, into the garage, down the basement stairs and into the storage room. As you can imagine, there were a few corners to work out as well. Even with three, sometimes four of us doing the labor it was a pretty big job. Somewhere in all the lifting and bending and odd angles and whatnot I tweaked my back. It didn’t hurt too badly yesterday, but it got worse today when we decided to do…

-Thing 3:

Family Fun Monday at the bowling alley!

Now, in hindsight, the idea of bowling the day after tweaking out my back is not the best one. I have had multiple Advils and dug the heating pad out of storage to make this evening a little more tolerable.

Still, we did have a nice day. We bookended the bowling alley with lunch at the hometown pizza buffet at Pantera’s Pizza ( a St. Louis County tradition) and dessert at Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt. Funnily enough, according to Facebook, today was “National Frozen Custard Day”. Look at us being all rebellious!

We don’t really go bowling all that much, although any time we do we always talk about how we should go more often since it’s an inexpensive family activity and we all enjoy it to one degree or another. For the record I bowled a 180 my first game, which isn’t too bad since I haven’t been bowling for at least three years now! Although I only got a 60 on game number two, so whatever lost mojo I had revived for game number one got lost again pretty quick. Something tells me I won’t be joining anybody’s bowling team any time soon.

Bonus Things:

-My In-Laws took the family out to Longhorn Steakhouse for dinner on Saturday as a belated birthday celebration for yours truly. It was a good dinner and a nice gesture. They also got a new cat but that’s unrelated.

-I still have a music project forming in the back of my head. I’m not sure how it’s going to materialize yet, but the wheels are turning. I just wanted you all to know I haven’t given up on it since I mentioned it earlier this year, but it’s going to take some time. Patience will be rewarded. Also I promise not to record “Synonym Girl.”

Okay, that’s all I’ve got this week. Until next time, be cool to each other. Don’t be sexist. Don’t be racist. Follow the ol’ Golden Rule as best you can, and I’ll see you all soon.


A Post About Art Which Is Trying To Say More Than It Does, But I Think You Get The Picture Anyway. Also I Use Too Many Italics. Sorry.

Okay, Netflix, we need to talk. I have an issue that needs to be resolved. Share this info with your buddies over at Hulu too.

Let me tell you about what happened last night. I was watching a movie from the 90’s that I never got the chance to see, and since it was due to leave your service today (making the argument for physical media over streaming, but that’s a discussion for another time), I was up late taking the movie in. It was one of those movies with a large cast of mostly character actors and I was curious to see who played a few of the parts. So as the credits began to roll, they disappeared into a little box at the top of my screen while an advertisement for some show I have no interest in at all filled my screen. By the time I grabbed my remote and clicked around the boxes to give the okay to watch the credits I had missed most of the cast list. So I rewound the movie to the beginning of the credits

IT HAPPENED AGAIN. I had to re-click the right box, and then try to read really fast so I could figure out where I was in the cast list and then pause the movie in order to see what I wanted to see.

My point is this: I want to watch the credits. I know it’s not your fault, Netflix, that the credits zoomed by quickly, but if I hadn’t had to mess around with the plethora of choices to click on so the credits could be watched in the first place I would have been able to read them correctly. I suppose having a watch credits option is okay, but why does it have to be difficult to do? Also, why do I only have a few seconds to decide before the next thing just automatically starts, or I go back to the menu?

It’s not just the technical aspect that annoys me here though. The fact is that the credits are part of the movie. If the film was any darn good, I need those few minutes to decompress a little, and absorb what I just watched. The credits can help do that by providing the right music to take the viewer out of the world they have just inhabited for a few hours and back into their own. Of course, many action movies and comedies have extra scenes tagged on, but you’re good about not cutting those off, aren’t you? It’s just the documentaries and dramas that don’t have extra scenes that get lopped off. That’s a shame, because these are the very movies that require some time to think about and live with, often well after the credits roll.

The same idea is true with all art forms though. How often have I attended live theater and spent the next few days thinking about it? I have attended several concerts where I can listen to nothing but the performer’s work for days after, and I keep replaying highlights from the show in my head.

Here’s a question for the book hounds I know: How can you finish a book and just pick up another one? I need to live in that world for a while. If I have invested time in reading about these characters and their lives (fictitious or not), I need a few days to shake the events out of my system and leave the fantasy slowly, and think about what I have just read, the emotions the story called up and perhaps why this work resonated the way it did. Yet I have friends who can finish one book and start a new one immediately, or the next morning.

How do they do that? More importantly, why do they do that? Are they just not present in the moment, or do they just want to have the accomplishment of reading so many books, that the art is lost on them? Or is it possible that reading on an e-reader, phone, or laptop takes away some of the physical, tangible experience that holding a book in your hands and actually turning the pages provides?

Also, how am I going to get this back on track to being about Netflix?

Anyway, I can’t do it. I can’t just move on right away. Perhaps my sense of imagination is too great, or perhaps I am just too sensitive to the stories, sights and sounds to dismiss the artistry of a piece that I relate to so well.

That’s the thing about art. Art gets inside of you, whether you want it to or not. Of course, what is and isn’t “art” can be debated ad nauseum, because what moves one person may do nothing for another. What some see as art, others see as mere entertainment and fluff. There’s nothing wrong with just wanting to be entertained mind you, but a true piece of art is something more. However, we are never all going to agree on what is or isn’t valid art, so it is up to the individual to decide.

That’s why we need the credits to roll. (Now we’re back on track.) That’s why we need to slow down when we watch, listen, or read. We are so obsessed with making sure we consume as much of what is available as possible that we don’t let it affect our lives, we don’t allow ourselves to see ourselves or others in a new light. We don’t allow ourselves to feel anything, which is a pity, because that’s what art is for.

It would be a whole lot easier to have a meaningful relationship with art if the very technologies that provide it to us with ease didn’t also get in the way.

Wait, did I just use a blog to complain about technology? I did, didn’t I? Well, that’s kind of weird. And slightly hypocritical? Maybe?


Anyway…so, um, yeah. See you next week.


Talkin’ Turtles With Dave

Today I learned that the official state reptile of Missouri is the three toed box turtle.

I have one of those.

I’m not sure why Missouri has a state reptile but whatever.

Anyway, I was never supposed to have a three toed box turtle, or any other kind of turtle now that I think of it, but here we are. The turtle’s name is Leah. She was a classroom turtle that my wife brought home from work during the pandemic. Leah was in another teacher’s room, but that person couldn’t take her home for a reason I don’t recall. My wife had agreed to take care of the turtle for three weeks while school shut down, and was going to return her once everything opened back up and we “flattened the curve” which, as you recall, was sure to be a quick thing. Well, one thing led to another and to make a long story short, Leah the Temporary Turtle has lived with us for over two years, and is family now. One of us, one of us! Sorry, obscure movie reference. Also a Ramones song. Never mind. Moving on.

In honor of Leah’s newfound recognition as state reptile (I know it’s not her specifically, just go with it), here are some fun facts about three toed box turtles, and a little about Leah as well.

-Three toed box turtles are so named because of the number of toes on their hind feet. Can confirm. We counted.

-The eyes of a male tree toed box turtle are usually red, and the female’s are brown. Leah checks out here too, which is good because Leah is a bit of an odd name for a boy. Not that I would judge.

-Most 3TBTs (I got tired of typing out that whole name) have a diet that consists of small live animals such as worms, snails, slugs, and various insects, as well as various green leafed vegetation, strawberries, and mushrooms. Leah only eats earthworms and strawberries. She’s picky.

-I read a story that said these turtles do not get sick from eating poisonous mushrooms, but the toxin from these mushrooms can make the turtles poisonous themselves. This is the reason given as to why a group of boys became ill after eating roasted three toed box turtles. Not the fact that these knuckleheads were just roasting random turtles in the first place. Nope. It was the mushrooms. Whatever you say. Stay classy, Mississippi.

-Apparently there are 17 different kinds of turtles found in Missouri. I’m not sure what the criteria was that the 3TBT came out on top to be chosen as the official turtle of the state, but good job, turtles!

-Leah will often burrow into the bedding under her log and stay there for days, not eating or anything. Sometimes she does this outside of the log in plain view. Every time I think, “Oh no, dead turtle” and then the next thing you know she’s active as all get out. I believe this is normal, but it feels kinda extra.

-We have no idea how old Leah is, only that she is the size of a mature turtle. These things can live upwards of 50 years, so it’s possible that one of the kids will inherit the turtle one day. That will be a weird thing for them to fight about someday.

-A turtle’s shell is part of their body. While it is hard to provide protection, it is attached to them, and they can feel what happens to their shell, much like we can with our skin. I know, weird, right? Cartoons lied to us. Anyway, if you ever pick up a turtle, be gentle to it. Also wash your hands because some of them carry salmonella. So there.

-When I pass LeeLee’s enclosure (that’s my nickname for her) and she is on top of her log, I sing to her. She seems to respond to music. Often I sing the song “Ah! Leah!” by Donny Iris, although I’m pretty sure it was not written about a turtle.

-I hope she’s happy here. I mean, for a turtle. I try to make sure she’s got plenty of water to soak in and food to eat. We change her bedding frequently, and try to make her comfortable. I take her outside for walks sometimes too. Mostly in the backyard, though, I don’t like have a leash for her or anything, I’m not a nut. Still, for an animal I never planned on obtaining and one that isn’t traditionally cuddly or brimming with personality, she’s pretty cool. We love our turtle girl.

Oh, also, I have a really sweet girl of a doggy, but we can talk about her another time. Maybe next time. Maybe not. I don’t know yet, but let’s find out together when you join me next week for more MonDAVEs.


50 For 50

Today is my birthday. I will admit that I am a birthday guy, I love celebrating not only my own but other people’s as well. I am not normally one of those people who downplay birthdays and think that they are only to be celebrated by kids, or even only on the day itself. You want to have a birthday weekend? Go nuts. Birthday week? Sure, go for it. Month? Umm, okay I guess, but maybe reign it in a little.

This year has been a little bit different though. It’s my fiftieth birthday and honestly, it’s not sitting well. I could go on about the insecurities and anxieties attached to all of this, but since this is a blog set up to entertain, I will spare you my existential crisis and focus on something else entirely: gratitude.

I am grateful for my existential crisis.

No! Only kidding.

Since I have been all melancholy about today, my wife suggested that I should make a list of fifty things I am grateful for and that may help me feel a little better. Since she is usually right, I figured I’d give it a shot. So here we go, a stream of consciousness list made in real time. Thanks for sitting in on my therapy session. Let’s get started.

  1. My wife. She is intelligent, kind, patient, a good mother, and the best team mate I could have to walk through this world with.
  2. My kids. They make every day both a challenge and a pleasure, and I am proud of the people they are turning into.
  3. My dad. He is responsible for my sense of humor, love of movies and music, and my sense of social justice. He has always shown support and love.
  4. My brother. I always feel bad for adults who don’t get along with their siblings, because my relationship with my brother is special and deep.
  5. Extended family. Cousins, Uncles, Aunts, all manner of relatives. Most people think theirs are the best-mine actually are. We’re far enough apart that we don’t see each other enough but I love them all.
  6. Old friends. I don’t see them enough either, but we can stay connected through social media, and they are never far from mind.
  7. God. Okay, so I’m not really happy with some of his followers right now, or the churches and politicians who use his name for their own gain, but I can’t hold that against Him.
  8. Dogs. Every dog I have ever had, ever will have, and like 90% of the dogs on the planet except the really barkey or bitey ones.
  9. Turtles. I just think they’re neat.
  10. Rock And Roll Music. Rock encompasses more different styles, genres, and points of view than pretty much any other popular music style. And it’s all pretty great.
  11. Air conditioning/heat. Because comfort is paramount and outside can get weird.
  12. Pizza delivery. One of the greatest ideas of our time.
  13. Barbecue. Meat cooked over an open flame is the best.
  14. Mountains. I’m no mountaineer, but hiking to, around, and on various mountains has given me some great memories and is some of the most beautiful scenery there is.
  15. YouTube. Making it easy to find obscure videos of half remembered television and movies at 12am. This is part of why I don’t sleep.
  16. Television. Let’s face it-TV is amazing. You can watch shows from the 50s to now, educational shows or entertainment, live events, news coverage, the choices are seemingly endless. And that’s before streaming! Good television connects the world.
  17. The Who. My favorite rock band. Also my favorite philosophers and accidental comedy act. No one demanded more from the art form-and in their prime no one could match their intensity and passion.
  18. Movies. At the theater or at home, a good movie can sweep you away and bring thrills, laughter, scares, romance, whatever you want. And sometimes even the bad ones are fun to watch.
  19. Automobiles. Because I love a good road trip. Also, sometimes the commute can be the best part of my day.
  20. Denim. The most comfortable fabric ever.
  21. Waterfalls. Beautiful to look at, and an instant mood lifter. Hard to get to sometimes, but always worth it.
  22. The Sun. Provider of heat, light, and amazingly beautiful when rising or setting.
  23. The Beatles. Apart from writing so many classic songs, they set the template for everything that followed over the next 20 years of popular music, and they are still being listened to and rediscovered today. Impossibly good.
  24. Trees. Sustainers of life, and happy little fellas from what I am told.
  25. Dark chocolate. I mean, all chocolate is good. Dark though, once you get the taste for it, all other types fall short. Rich, complex, and divine.
  26. Books. Moreso than any other artform, books take you away to another world, fictional or otherwise. Children’s books, short stories, novels, and biographies all sit on my shelves and are each treasured items.
  27. Glasses. Both the drinking kind and the seeing kind. So I can drink and see. Duh.
  28. Clothing. Because everybody walking around nekkid all the time is a bad call.
  29. Monty Python. Changes the way I looked at humor and, in a sense, the world.
  30. Paintings. From the great masters to Bob Ross to the local art fair, I love to look at paintings and see the world through the artist’s eye, and also see how it may connect or clash with my own views.
  31. Cookies. Especially chocolate chip-and pert near anything home made.
  32. Modern Medicine. Because living is good.
  33. Quiet Walks. Helps to clear my head.
  34. Air Fresheners. Helps cover up the mystery smells that show up now and again.
  35. Soda. Fizzy goodness.
  36. The Marx Brothers. The original comedy anarchists. Chaos, slapstick, and clever wordplay all rolled up into a great big ball of genius. Still funny today.
  37. The Internet. without which this wouldn’t be happening right now.
  38. Tacos. Because tacos!
  39. Rivers. Beautiful and powerful. Still used for commerce and water supplies, but I can sit at a riverbank for hours watching it roll.
  40. Milk. Though I developed some issues with lactose as I aged, and I have to drink specially filtered milk now, I still love a tall glass full. Especially with cookies or…
  41. Cake. Fluffy, soft, spongey, moist, iced wonderfulness. Also way better than pie. For reals.
  42. Houses. Or. any abode one lives in, really, Because as George Carlin once observed, we all need “a place for our stuff.”
  43. Traditional Country and Folk music. Both Country and Folk have gone through a lot of changes, many of them not for the good. However, when you get down to the original, pure, bare bines of these musical forms they can be magically affecting.
  44. Micro Brewed Beer. Okay so these days I drink non alcoholic micro brews, but that just proves how good micro brews can be. Taste, quality, integrity, and passion go into every sip. With alcohol or without.
  45. The Muppets. Sure, they were part of my childhood and nostalgia is a part of my fandom, I’ll give you. But their best stuff is equal parts sweet and subversive, which makes repeated viewings a treat.
  46. Fish. I think fish are pretty cool to look at. They are also delicious to eat. No conflict, no regrets.
  47. Theme Parks. I’m a big kid. I like the rides, games, shows, food, souvenir shops, all of it. Just do the research to know when to show up to beat most of the crowds, and you’re good. I don’t go as much as I’d like, but I don’t turn down the opportunity either.
  48. Live performances. Be it a concert, theatrical performance, dance, stand-up, what have you, there is nothing like a live show. Nothing.
  49. Taking a nap, in the Spring, with the windows open. Early Fall works too. this isn’t always possible due to allergies, but when the conditions are right it’s the best nap a person can have.
  50. Paprika. People don’t use it enough.

Well. I’m not sure I resolved any issues, but I do feel a little better so that’s some success. Maybe this exercise might help you too if you ever need it.

Take care all, see you next week.



I have been writing a little more than usual here recently and I am out of ideas.

Therefore, my wife suggested I use a random topic generator to come up with a topic for today’s blog. Instead, I am going to have her read me some of the topics suggested on the website she found and I am going to write the first thing that pops into my head. Just a few sentences each. This might be fun. Or not. Either way it’s all I’ve got, so just go with it. Okay? Thanks.

Oh, by the way, my wife has spent twenty-three years as a reading teacher, so she always informs me of any egregious spelling or grammatical errors she finds. She has warned me that this will come into play.

  1. If you had to choose would you rather be rich or famous?
    -Why do I have to choose?
  2. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
    -In what setting? Like a restaurant? The egg I would imagine.
  3. What job did Michael Caine, Uma Thurman, and Sidney Poitier all do at one time in their lives? Dishwashers.
    -Oh. I was a janitor. Nobody told me that dishwasher was the way to go. I wasted so much time. I could have been somebody. Damn.
  4. Does a lightning rod on the top of a church show lack of faith?
    -Um, no. It shows proper planning. What a dumb question.
  5. Name three things you couldn’t live without? Why?
    -Presumably because that’s the question you want me to answer? The punctuation here is insane. I’m going to go with water, food, and a basic understanding of the English language.
  6. Why do banks charge you an insufficient funds fee on money they know you don’t have?
    -Because they’re jerks. Next.
  7. Who is your favourite villain/baddie?
    -Ah, there’s an international spelling of the word “favorite” here, usually indicating the author to be from Britain or the U.K., which makes the punctuation thing above even more maddening. Anyway, my answer to the question posed is “all of them,” because no matter how much you may want the hero of any piece to succeed, the villain is pretty much always the most interesting character.
  8. Which is the favorite sound you like to hear?
    -Back to American spelling. Huh. So we fixed the spelling but now the grammar is atrocious. Honestly the first thing I thought of was that Simon and Garfunkel song “The Sound Of Silence” which I’ve always found kind of odd since it mentions silence “echoing,” but how can silence echo if you can’t hear it? You know what, skip it.
  9. What’s your favourite fastfood chain?
    -Okay, now the “u” is back. Also, fast food is two words. Who is in charge here?
  10. What is a controversial opinion do you have?
    -It is my opinion that people should proofread before publishing. Crazy, I know.
  11. Do You Have A Nickname? What Is It?
    -And now we’ve gone crazy with capitalization. Okay, fine. This is the last one. I can’t do this anymore. Nicknames, huh? I have had several from “Sheepdog” to “100 Watt,” “Little David” (that one is from when I was a kid, which was interchangeable with “Dabidito,”) “Brink,” one guy at work calls me “Daveington” or “David Brinkingham,” and the kids sometimes call me “Daddo.” Not Daddy-o, “Daddo.” Most of these have made at least some sort of sense at the time.

Alright, that’s enough. My brain hurts. Come back next week and let’s see what happens then, I guess.


MCU Daddy/Daughter Movie Review: Thor Love And Thunder

MonDAVE on a Friday (or whatever day you are reading this) pretty much means just one thing. That’s right, it’s another Daddy/Daughter Marvel Movie review, WITH A TWIST!

Normally I do these with daughter Tessa, but she had to bail at the last minute, so little sister Melody is subbing for her this time out. Say hi, Melody.

MELODY: Hello.

DAVE: Thanks for going with me, it was fun. Okay, so when I do this with your sister, I give her some time to write out her thoughts on the movie, and then I do mine, and we rate it on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the best. Now that we know the rules, give us your spoiler free thoughts please on Thor: Love And Thunder.

M: Six.

D: What?

M: Six. I rate things from one to six because it’s unexpected.

D: Get your own blog for that. Anyway, what did you think?

M: The movie was an enjoyable mix of funny and serious, although the pacing of the movie was off. I felt it should have been longer because I was unmoved at the emotional parts. I did like how they brought Jane back, because I had forgotten about her. When they went back to extract the reality stone from her in Endgame I remember not knowing what was going on when that happened because once she broke up with Thor we never heard from her again (also Thor Dark World was boring).

D: It wasn’t, but continue.

M: And Korg came back so that was cool because K O R G.

D: Fair. I agree with you about the pacing. I think that those of us who are huge MCU fans will still be moved though, but you’re right the more emotional scenes would have worked better if they had a little more time to develop. I think some of the comedy would work better that way too.

It also would have helped the tonal shifts in the movie. This film has a lot to say about the nature of love and how it affects people, from both the romantic point of view and from that of a parent/child relationship. It does so in a very Marvel way of course, but it could have been a little more effective if we weren’t jumping around quite so much.

Really though, that’s all I have to complain about, so that’s not so bad. I laughed a lot, and I was very invested in Thor’s overall arc as a character. He kind of became an idiot there for a while in the previous few movies, and it’s nice to see him begin to come back around to his hero status. Ultimately this is a sweet movie with some decent action, comedy, and some cool effects. There are a few creatures made up of pure nightmare fuel, but that’s balanced out by some large goats who are pretty awesome. Also the Guardians make a brief appearance early on and that’s always fun to see.

Okay time to rate this one. I give it 4 out of 5 Daves. Melly?

M: I give it a 4.5. Even if I wasn’t very moved by the serious parts I still enjoyed the rest of it a lot.

D: And there you have it, another win from the MCU. Thanks for being my guest Melody and for filling in. See you all back here on Monday for more stuff!


North, To ALASKA! (and a few other places)

The Brink family has returned from this year’s main vacation, a cruise to Alaska on Princess Cruises, thoughtfully given by my in laws and including not only our family but also Valerie’s parents and both of her sisters and their families as well. While we did pay for our own excursions and souvenirs and what not, the majority of the cruise was covered for us. There was no way we could have ever afforded this trip on our own so a big thank you to David and Janet is in order.

I will admit that I wasn’t too keen on visiting Alaska as I am not a fan of cold or snow, and I was a little bit leery of cruising in general. I am happy to report that those doubts were quickly deemed unfounded as we had a really good time. Sure, there were a few minor hiccups here and there, and I was not a fan of every aspect of the trip but the good far outweighed the bad on this particular journey.

As mentioned, I never really understood the appeal of cruising, but I get it now. All staff on board are there to cater to you and provide anything you wish in minutes. It’s kind of like having a butler available everywhere you go on board. In particular, our stateroom attendant, Seccario, and our waiter Eugene were excellent and went over and above for our family-so much so that we insisted on eating in Eugene’s section every night. They both helped make this trip both easy and special.

The cruise director, Jody, and staff were all nice, fun, approachable people as well. We interacted with them on a few occasions. Tessa won an event during a contest with Jody by doing the splits in multiple directions (going to dance class and being 14 pays off), and Team Brink also won a t.v. based trivia contest hosted by assistant director Alistair. We participated in other trivia contests too (tying for first place in a “name that tune” style music contest), and had lots of fun as a family unit.

The food on our ship was all top notch, not only in the formal dining room, but also the buffet and specialty restaurants scattered throughout the ship. I’m going to be on salads for like three weeks to compensate for the many meals eaten on this trip.

We had a balcony stateroom (which is the only way to do it, really, I can’t imagine having an interior room be any good), and so our views were constantly amazing. I also found it extremely relaxing to sit out on the balcony when docked or traveling inland port to port with the waves gently rolling and breeze in my hair. In fact, I may not have ever been more relaxed.

Our cruise was not booked to capacity, which was good because it meant less crowding overall. There were still some pretty long lines for some pf our meals and for exiting the ship come excursion time, but crowding was kept to a minimum.

The only issue I had with our ship was that it wasn’t operating at full power. There was a problem with one of the engines which, while still perfectly safe, adjusted our times, speed, and overall schedule of the cruise. I understand that it wouldn’t be easy for Princess to just stop cruising and fix the issue-they have already missed two years of cruises and so from a financial and staffing standpoint, delaying things further would be a disaster for them, so I get it. However, we did have to deal with some of our excursions being cancelled and replaced by ones that were maybe not as nice. I also think that the engine issue (and one technical delay) meant that when we were on the open sea it meant that the boat had to move faster than it normally would, and on one of our days at sea I got motion sickness, which I have never experienced before. Everyone agreed that the ship was rockier than it should have been, so no one really was surprised, but it did put me out of action for most of the day as I just slept a lot. The next day though, I was right as rain.

As for our destination, I was NOT looking forward to going to Alaska. I am a warm weather guy, and anything below 60 degrees is considered cold to me so I was trying to have a good attitude, but I’m not sure how successful I was. Turns out, Alaska was pretty darn HOT.

Our first days at sea were in the upper 50s/lower 60s, which I expected, but in Juneau it was 75 degrees and in Skagway we hit 85! It was actually warmer that day than it was back home in St. Louis! Trouble is, our excursion that day was all about a sled dog/ gold mining experience and we were warned to dress warmly in layers. So we did. Mistake. We were sweating buckets, and the poor dogs didn’t really know what to do with this unexpected heatwave. Nor did the actors who had to dress the parts of Klondike gold miners, now that I think of it. Everybody was kind of miserable, but we still got to pan for gold (which is super touristy I know, but you kind of have to do it) and we did get to see a presentation of the sled dogs briefly going around the training track. We also got to pet the dogs and hold sled dog puppies which was the cutest thing ever and totally worth it.

We enjoyed all of our ports, I got some fantastic fish tacos in Juneau, which is where I fell in love with Rockfish, and some fresh and delicious crab in Icy Point Straight (where we would have loved to spend the day as there are tons of things to do but we had only a few hours) and the kids dipped their feet in the cold, cold ocean.

Perhaps my favorite stop though was going to Victoria, British Colombia, Canada. On July 1st, Canada Day no less. Some of my favorite musicians are from Canada, and two of my favorite television comedy series as well. I have always wanted to visit (in Summer, of course) and I finally did! Again, we were only there for a few hours but we were able to walk through the outer parts of the town through the Fisherman’s Wharf area and to the edges of downtown. So we didn’t actually participate in any Canada Day celebrations but it was a pleasant walk (though considerably chillier than we were used to) and fun for me. As Bob and Doug would say, “Beauty, eh!”.

Also, our cruise took us through Glacier Bay National Park. The day was in the lower 60s, bright, clear and sunny. We could not have ordered better weather. I took over 150 pictures there alone. Every minute felt like Bob Ross had had a hand in designing the scenery. We saw several otters swimming around, bald eagles, seagulls, and even a few whale spouts, though no actual whale bodies. It was a truly beautiful afternoon.

Our last day of vacation was spent in Seattle after disembarking and before waiting for our evening flight. The tour we were on had no tour guide as she had called in sick with Covid (of course). We were still treated to a trip to the Space Needle, which is cool and interesting, though not quite as tall as our own St. Louis arch. We went to the Pike Place market and watched fish being thrown, had a snack at the chocolate shop, and soaked up the big city atmosphere. Seattle is a cool city. It is green-minded, largely progressive, and has a really good, open vibe. It’s not the prettiest city I’ve ever been in, but I liked it a lot and would definitely consider going back.

After our quick tour we had a few hours to kill in the airport, which can be frustrating and quite boring. Fortunately for me there is a Sub Pop record store in the airport, because it’s Seattle so of course there is, and I was able to spend dome time shopping for CDs and merch. Had I known this existed I would have saved a little more souvenir money for this store, but then I probably spent too much at Sub Pop as is, so I guess it’s just as well.

Our flight back had a little turbulence but not much, however we did change time zones so it wound up being 12:30 am by the time we landed here in STL, and probably after 2:30 when we finally got home to sleep.

All in all it was a really nice vacation filled with memories to last us all a lifetime and a good time was had by all.

Until next time, safe travels.


End Of An Era, But A Good Day

Last week my Aunt Stella passed away. Okay, Great Aunt, but I’ve never been one to specify too much for particulars when it comes to family. She was a great lady. She loved jokes, and had many jokebooks she would read aloud from and share with us whenever she had the chance. Stella was always the one to break out board games, card games, or start a game of croquet out on the lawn, before the mosquitos got too bad, that is. she loved her God and she loved her large extended family. And we loved her.

Stella lived her entire life on the family farm in Goobertown Arkansas-yes, that is the real name of the town and if you poke fun I will fight you. She never married or had kids of her own, but loved children and made everyone who visited the house feel like they were home. I should probably explain “the house” because this particular house was pretty much one of a kind.

Well, not the house itself, there are lots like it all across the country. This house was special due to its occupants and what it meant to so many. This house was where everyone gathered for many years, longer than I have been alive. My great grandparents lived on that farm and raised twelve children there. Most of them married and moved away, but Stella and her twin sister Clara did not. Two other sisters returned to the farm as adults and stayed as well. After Great Mom died Stella, Clara, Marge and Naomi lived at the house, took care of the farm, and over the years, hosted many visits from their extended family from all over the country. There were times I remember as a kid when there were people in every room, on couches, mattresses on the floor, and pretty much anywhere we could fit.

That house holds memories of cousins playing in the fields, counting the cows, picking and canning vegetables, games that would stretch for hours (“Rook”, Dominoes and “Aggrivation” being the ones I remember most), egg hunts, Christmases, running to the pond and back, walking the gravel road out to cross the highway and get a snack at the general store, church services in the small little New Antioch Baptist Church (which has now more than doubled in size), some AMAZING Southern cooking, and so much more. It was a house full of life, love, and family, family, family.

Now, things have changed. Stella was the last of the sisters to live on the farm. As “the girls” as we called them got older, cousin Jennifer moved in and helped take care of them and the house, and I am so thankful for her presence there. The house is still in the family, but it is the end of an era to be sure.

Much to my chagrin, I was not very good at visiting as an adult, and my kids had never visited. My wife has been, and I have visited for funerals, sadly, but the kids were never able to come along. So when this funeral happened on a MonDave, sorry, Monday, since I was off work and the kids were off school I made sure to take whoever was available. That’s how it came to be that Monday morning the girls and I were off to Arkansas.

I am glad I went for several reasons. For one thing, being a Monday a lot of people could not attend, so it was good to be able to be there. It was nice catching up with some cousins and great Aunts and Uncles I don’t see much. The service was performed by cousin Terry and he did a lovely job.

After a walk through the family plot and a few stories shared, we all ate together and I finally got to take the girls to the farm. Their cousin Barbara took them on a tour of the grounds via a golf cart which she apparently mistook for a formula one racing car. Barbara drives fast and maybe a little reckless, but she comes by it naturally, since her uncle once drove me around on a three wheeler in much the same fashion, only this time nobody broke their arm. Anyway, they had a blast and I was glad they had the experience.

It was a lot of driving (about three and a half hours both ways), and a sad occasion, but as tends to happen when you spend time with those you love, it wound up being a good day with a pleasant memory attatched.

Treasure your time with family, folks. Especially the ones you don’t see as often as you like. Tell the people you love that you love them. Hold them in your heart until you see them again.

I’ll see you next week.


Things I Did Today

1. This morning I witnessed a car accident. Thankfully I was not in danger myself, but I watched it happen.

It was pretty bad. I was stopped at an intersection which is an entrance/exit ramp for a highway to the outer road. The traffic light changed to green and the person on the outer road driving their grey SUV (I don’t recall the make, all grey SUVs look pretty much the same)who was just a few cars ahead of me pulled out into the intersection. The person coming down the ramp from the highway (a bigger grey SUV as it happens) did not stop at their own red light. When I say they did not stop, I don’t mean they tried to brake and it wasn’t successful, I mean they DID NOT STOP AT ALL and hit the other driver in the side, making grey SUV #1 spin around at least once, airbags were deployed, the whole nine yards.

Luckily there was a St. Charles Sherriff’s vehicle ( a black SUV for those keeping track) directly behind me who saw the whole thing and immediately pulled around us into the intersection to take control of things.

The cars in front of me pulled over to be a witness, so I did not stay to see the end. Had that not happened I would have done my civic duty and stayed to be a witness myself. Honestly, though I feel like I should have stayed anyway. I did say a small prayer for those involved, for what it’s worth.

So just be careful out there y’all. Look before you pull into any intersection, and try to minimize distractions as best as possible while you drive. Don’t become a story on some stranger’s blog. Don’t become another statistic for the local police force and hospital. None of us are perfect and fate will do what it does, but let’s all be a little more aware of our surroundings and do our best make it where we’re going.

2. One of the things I had to do today was get my car’s transmission inspected. Ironic, perhaps, considering the start to my day, but that’s probably just a coincidence. While in the waiting area I had a pleasant conversation with an African American woman who was there working on her lap top. The television in the room was showing coverage of the Jan. 6th committee hearings. She commented that she would have rather seen “The Price Is Right” instead. I told her that I thought this was more important, though probably less fun. She agreed.

The woman (who’s name I have unfortunately forgotten) commented on how much the participants in the hearings used their hands to talk, which I do as well. This led to a discussion of eye contact, which led into her job, which has to do with assisting the blind. She is currently writing a fiction book for middle school aged children loosely based on one of her past students. Hence the laptop. I didn’t read any of her writing, though if my wife hadn’t come to pick me up I’m sure that would have come next. I wished her well with the book, and also her car, and made my exit. It was good to have a nice chat with a random person in that way. So often we don’t engage with those around us, and having such a nice, interesting chat put me in a better mood to continue my day.

3. I helped my wife clear out some of the stuff from her classroom that she is going to take to her new room. She is currently an English teacher, but switching to a new building and subject next year. She is quite excited about the prospect, but there is a lot of prep work to be done before school starts back up. A little bit at a time and all will be ready to go. So I got to do husband stuff and move boxes and fill trash cans and be the muscle for the day.

This part of my day wasn’t originally planned but I don’t mind. I’m glad to see her succeed and help out any way I can.

4. Speaking of husband stuff, I also went to the grocery store to buy food for the week. This is “Dance Recital Week” for my daughters, which means that it is unlikely all five of us will be in the same room for dinner at the same time any night this week, what with both girls being in multiple dances over multiple nights. The upshot is that it’s an easy grocery week. All I really had to do for groceries was buy lots of frozen food that we can all pop in the microwave and eat whenever. Not the healthiest meal planning I suppose, but we do what we have to do.

5. Early this evening I took my son to Taekwondo and got to watch him practice his forms. He’s really pretty good when he focuses in on it. I suspect he’d rather be playing video games, but this is good for him to help keep the boy focused and active. He started a few years ago and is working his way up to achieving his black belt. He is a red belt now so there are still a few more steps to go but he is well on his way.

Okay, full disclosure, I also sat and read for a little bit while the class was doing their group activities. I just started “The Kept” by James Scott. I have read mixed reviews for this book but I found it on sale and it looked promising. One chapter in and so far so good.

6. Later in the evening I went out to my Dad’s place to pick up a few things from his basement. He wasn’t at home but I got a spare key from my brother and went over to Dad’s condo and picked up a few things. Interesting to see a few things I left over there still pretty much where I left them years ago. One extra thing I took with me were some old paintings I did.

About eighteen years ago I got it into my head that I’d like to try painting, so my soon to be wife bought me a bunch of paints and I gave it a whirl. The paintings aren’t great, but they are a start. I didn’t get very far with it all, but I have periodically thought that I should go back to it. I think I could do it better now. Maybe I will give it another go somewhere down the line.

Okay, that was my Monday. It was pretty full. I’m off to bed now, but I’ll see you next week!

Mayhead 4 Life!

It’s a fun one this week, kids. I have just finished streaming the new series “Muppets Mayhem” on Disney+. In the words of the one and only Dr. Teeth, I can sum it up in two words: “Well, alright!”

For anyone who may be unfamiliar with the premise, the series focuses on Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, who of course, served as the house band for “The Muppet Show,” and have provided much musical merriment throughout many a Muppet movie and television shows. Our favorite sweet but scruffy rockers have spent years touring the country and picking up a solid fan base along the way. Yet they never made an album.

Enter our heroine, Nora, who works for an about to be defunct record label to whom the Mayhem owes an album from an old forgotten contract. She attempts to corral the band into making said album, and that special blend of Muppet heartwarming hilarity ensues.

Seriously, this is really good. The writing here is top-notch. There are multiple references to past Muppet productions (without using any regular characters except the band) and some of the funniest scenes the Muppets have done in years. The cameos from both musicians and actors both add to the humor while delighting and also surprising the viewer. There is also a fair amount of pulling at the heart strings, which does threaten to take over at times but is balanced fairly well by musical scenes and silly ideas. It is earnest, honest, hip, and self-aware, which is just as a modern Muppet production should be.

The only complaint I have is that at ten episodes, the series runs a little bit long. Some episodes drag a little bit, and some parts of the band’s backstory work better than others. While the overarching story is fairly predictable, it works well and there are enough surprises and joyful moments along the way to make the journey worth taking, even when the road gets a little rough and the ride seems to take a bit too long.

Still, this is a minor complaint.

So what else? The soundtrack is a lot of fun, both with the new songs written for this project and The Mayhem’s covers of classic tunes. You don’t have to be a total music freak to enjoy this series, but there are enough cool references thrown in that many of us geeks will get. Also, the cameos range from classic stars from the ’70s and ’80s up through today’s hit makers and media personalities.

Quite simply, this is easily the best Muppet production for at least the last ten years. While it may not grab the attention of young kids, pre teens through adults should all find something to like.

Okay, so I like to do spoiler free reviews, so I need to stop before I go spoiling up a storm. If you are a fan of music biopics or documentaries, watch this series. If you have ever been a fan of the Muppets, watch this series. The high points are many, and it is well worth your time. Also The Mayhem’s record is officially out on streaming and vinyl. You know you want it. So go get it.

I’ll be rocking out with the Mayhem all week, and I’ll see you all back here next week for more MonDaves.

This post was brought to you by the letter “M”.