The Warren Woods Spring Carnival

A Sure Sign of Spring

It arrives every year on the second weekend of May. Along with dandelions decorating the lawns along Schoenherr road, there is no surer sign of Spring than the Warren Woods Spring Carnival. Last year, as I was driving home from work one night, I spotted a multi-colored tower in the distance. It foretold the annual arrival of the fair and hopefully warmer weather. This carnival is not for the faint of heart. Mid-May temperatures in suburban Detroit can still be pretty brisk. This can result in rather severe wind chills on some of the faster rides. You might have some bright red ears for a few hours afterward. However, there is something special about trying to spot your house from the top of the Ferris Wheel.

This sight caused me to instantly flashback on all of the good times our family had at the carnival when my boys were young. We used to spend ridiculous amounts of money on games, rides, and food. Specifically, I remember one year, when my son Jeff had been begging to go to the fair all week. Unfortunately, I got stuck working that weekend. When I was finally able to drag myself home after an emergency in the computer room, all I wanted to do was collapse into my recliner. Even my plan of cracking open a nice cold one was shot to hell. The screaming headache that accompanied me on the ride home from work was a literal buzzkill.

So after eating a rushed dinner, and downing a dangerous amount of Tylenol, Jeff and I headed over to the carnival. This was the first year they had instituted a wristband policy, so you didn’t have to keep buying extra tickets for the rides. Ride all you want, for a price that rivaled Cedar Point! After emptying my wallet, we made our rounds on the Midway. I was hanging in there until Jeff spotted the Gravitron. If you haven’t experienced this nightmare, picture being stuck to the wall of a clothes dryer. Just when you can’t take another second, the floor drops out! It felt like my brains were leaking out of my eyes and ears, and then being stomped on by a rather large elephant. I didn’t win The Father of the Year Award for surviving that ride, but hey, at least I didn’t wind up in the hospital with an aneurysm! The things we do for our kids. I think I’ll pass on the carnival this year, but I’ll remember it fondly as I drive past.

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Breaking Out Buzz

He’s Running Out Of Air!

Whenever my wife and I are traveling and we see one of those hotel room safes, we immediately have a good chuckle. We are instantly transported back to a family vacation in Orlando. My youngest son Kevin had managed to lock a VHS tape entitled, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, in one of these safes. I distinctly remember hearing a metallic “click”, then hearing my older son Jeffrey shouting, “Kevin, what did you do?!” 

What followed was an embarrassing call to the hotel maintenance guy. His task was to find a way to crack open the safe and free Buzz from his Kevin-imposed death chamber before his air ran out (dun-dun-dun)! The safe was opened in the nick of time and Buzz was freed to continue his mission. Protecting the galaxy from the evil clutches of Zurg! Anyway, this whole episode was completely erased from our memories for many vacations. However, Jeff brought it up recently when he spotted a safe in a Las Vegas condo. I had completely forgotten about the whole thing.

What I do remember was how I had reacted to the whole situation. Back in those days, when it came to our vacations, I was a disciple of the great Clark W. Griswold. Everything had to go just right and if our plans went off the rails, I was not proud of my reaction. I think I have come a long way since then, although I still do have my “Clark Moments” from time to time. When this happens, I try to take a deep breath and remind myself to enjoy the vacation process. If nothing else, when things go bad, it can make for some entertaining family stories.

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The Comeback of Board Games

Taking Game Night to a Whole New Level!

A few years ago I noticed a new trend among the chilluns. Kids today are playing more board/card games than ever before. And by kids, I’m talking about Millennials. No, they aren’t playing Candyland, Monopoly, or even Clue. They’re playing complex games like Cards Against Humanity, The Resistance, and assorted other games that leave most of us older folks scratching our heads. I remember one Christmas in particular when the cousins were all playing The Resistance. The resulting shouts and laughter were deafening. It’s a spy game that depends on trusting someone, who usually turns out to be the wrong someone. They were having a blast. For my wife and I, Qwirkle is more our speed.

For a long time, I have been concerned about the youth of this country. I’m not going to get on a soapbox, but I do believe that Millennials are one of the most misunderstood and contradictory generations in our country’s history. They try to live free of possessions, but if they have a cell phone more than 2 years old, it’s cause for social media ghosting. They disdain credit, yet have mountains of school loan debt. They spend so much time with their faces buried in their phones, it’s a miracle boy ever meets girl. A recent article tries to explain the board game phenomenon among Millennials. To me, playing a board game is just about one of the most social activities you can do. It gives me hope that Millennials might not be as screwed up as everyone says they are.

It’s well known that Millennials can’t take a joke. It’s the main reason so many comedians are avoiding college campuses full of trigger-warnings and safe spaces. Now to add to the indignity, Hasbro has come out with series of games that parody our little snowflakes. Games like, The Game of Life: Quarter Life Crisis (Now with Crippling Debt!) Hasbro is betting that board game crazy kids will snap up these insulting diversions. Maybe they can take a joke after all! In the immortal words of Sgt. Hulkaburger, “Lighten up, Francis!” If it gets them to stop looking at their phones for a few hours, I’m all for it! Play on, kids!

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