April 16, 2017

#BGReviewer: The Harlem Globetrotters at Budweiser Gardens

When I hear the words Harlem Globetrotters, two things happen:  

1)  I remember my Dad and I laughing our heads off at the Globetrotters' hijinks in the seventies

2)  I instantly hear Sweet Georgia Brown - the team's catchy theme song (have a listen here).   

Both of these things put a goofy smile on my face, and so when I learned that I had been selected to be Budweiser Garden's reviewer for the Globetrotters show on April 15th, I was thrilled!    

As a child of the seventies, it seemed to me that the Harlem Globetrotters were everywhere.  My Dad and I watched them on tv and laughed uproariously as they "tortured" members of the audience and the opposing team.  We also saw them on a lot of loopy seventies and early eighties tv shows:  Gilligan's Island, The Love Boat and my all-time favourite - Scooby Doo:

pic from Warner Bros.
pic from Warner Bros.
They even had their own cartoon!

I begged my Dad to take me to see them but it didn't happen:  I had to be content watching their shenanigans on the boob tube.  My Dad would have loved to join me and his grandkids at Bud Gardens to watch the show live, but life doesn't always turn out the way we plan.


My kids and husband were super excited to see the show.  We are all fans and we knew that we were in for some good times and a lot of laughs.  

The pre-show featured "Globie" (the team's mascot) and his crew dancing and interacting with the fans: 

pic from Harlem Globetrotters
They hosted a wacky version of musical chairs and staged a truly ridiculous dance contest between audience members.  Ostensibly, the folks with truly terrible dance moves got the most cheers from the audience.  

We could not believe the feats of athleticism that we saw from the dance crew:  they were total athletes in every sense of the word, performing one-armed pushups with ease, and spinning, jumping and tumbling wildly.  We loved their break dancing wizardry! 

When the Globetrotters appeared on the floor, in a cloud of smoke, the crowd went wild!  It looks a little underwhelming in this photo, but had I posted my first picture, all you would have seen was the smoke :-) 

I cannot emphasize enough how hilarious the team is.  They interacted with the fans constantly:  sitting on laps and begging for kisses, stealing phones to take selfies, performing a mock marriage, splashing fans and each other with water and then laughing their heads off.  They also tortured the opposing team - The World All-Stars - by busting into crazy dance moves in the middle of the game, pulling down their pants, and fighting with the ref (hey you big ol' zebra!).  The Globetrotters took every opportunity to good-naturedly embarrass the fans and each other, and everyone howled at their antics.  

We couldn't believe it when one of them scrambled up the pole and sat on the backboard, yelling at the ref and his teammates.  As Jungle Boogie by Kool and the Gang exploded out of the speakers (Get down, get down!), everyone looked on in astonishment, and began to chuckle.  

I don't think he even broke a sweat!

The Globetrotter's supporting cast of characters were also superstars.  When Cager came out (from  the World All-Stars) we were astonished at his height, athleticism and "bad" attitude.  Here, he's deflating a Globetrotters ball: 

pic from Zimbio
One of the Globetrotters donned a pair of huge red boxing gloves to "fight" Cager, but ended up hitting and "knocking out" one of their own instead!

Getty images
pic from the Southeast Missourian
My daughter's favourite character was Big G, who initially reminded me of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man until I saw him perform this stunt:

pic from Signs and Shapes International
Big G is 3 metres tall with moves like Jagger.  Near the end of his energetic performance, he ripped his eyes out of his head, threw them at an astonished player and then fell onto the floor with a giant "splat".  The crowd went nuts!

Between bouts of laughter, the team made sure that everyone knew about World Vision - a charity that "creates lasting change in the lives of children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice".  

We decided to sponsor a child and in return, we met and posed for pictures with the team and asked them to sign our basketball.  Here's Ezekiel, followed by some shots with the team:

The players were exceedingly generous with their time and energy.  They signed programs, basketballs, shirts and even wheelchairs.  They made everyone feel like a "number one fan".  I was so impressed.  

I would like to thank Budweiser Gardens for this awesome opportunity, and the Harlem Globetrotters for their athleticism and showmanship.  I'd also like to thank Downtown London and Tourism London for the Downtown Dollars. We spent them at the Covent Garden Market on bureks (flaky phyllo filled with cheese and spinach, served with a side of sour cream) from Hot Oven.  

mmmmm... bureks

My kids are addicted to these tasty pastries!  If you haven't tried one, get thee to the market pronto.  

Later that afternoon, we were inspired to play a little b'ball at home, using our new basketball, natch:  

We would totally give the Globetrotters a run for their money... well, in our hoop dreams anyway!  


March 26, 2017

I've Blinn Shamed

In March of 2015, I took my family on a "mystery trip" in the swagger wagon.  The family was super excited, because who doesn't want to go on a mystery trip, right?

What will we see?  
Will there be food?  
Where are we going?  
Where, Mumma, where?

This blog post is NOT actually about that particular trip, but let me be brief and detail what we did because I know you're all curious.  We drove to the famed Culbert's Bakery in Goderich for doughnuts and cream puffs, walked around the town square, and checked out some of 2011's tornado wreckage.

It was a bitterly cold day and the kids were cranky, so thank goodness there was food to soften the blow.  

Here are pictures of the town square pre and post tornado:

circa 1985

circa 2011

Quite shocking, isn't it?  The square had been cleaned up by the time we arrived on the scene in 2015, but evidence of the storm's destruction remained.  The kids gave this part of the trip a 6 out of 10 (doughnuts good, walking outside in freezing weather bad; toy store good, not buying anything in the toy store very bad).  

After Goderich, we traveled a short distance to Exeter for the second part of the trip - seeing a "mystery animal" in its natural habitat.  

What kind of animal, Mumma?  A bear?
What does it look like?  Does it have fur?  How many legs?
Is it bigger than the car?
Superexcitedly:  Is it a liger?

I am happy to report that I saw not one, but three mystery animals in Exeter's MacNaughton Park.  I was also thrilled to see that this little park had lovely landscape architecture - bonus!  
The mystery animals were a bit erratic, and one of them "kukked" at me, and I was briefly afraid that it might jump onto my head and attack me.  I didn't need to read How to Speak Squirrel in the Washington Post to know that the squirrel was pissed.  

According to the author, who does "not like to attach anthropomorphic descriptions to the behaviours of lower animals", the squirrel was likely "exhibiting alarm rather than anger", but pissed is pissed, I say. 
Treerat's cute, but cute can be dangerous...
It would be adorbs if it wasn't a squirrel
Kids rated this part of the excursion a solid 5 out of 10 (warm car good, treerat bad;  car ride back to London bad, wasted day bad).  

But as usual, I digress.

Today, I decided that Nath and I would go on another mystery trip, but this one would be by bike.  Nath wasn't impressed (I'm hungry.  Will there be food?  Where are we going?  I don't like surprises...)
Gah.  Who invented teenagers anyway?

He had one job to do to get ready for our trip - get the bikes out of the shed - but he failed, electing to play soccer with the 8-year-old and 5-year-old neighbour kids outside.  Grrrrrr.

After I unlocked the shed, dragged the bikes out, locked the shed back up, and yelled at Nath to "get on your bike now dammit!", away we went.  It's chilly out today, but the sun was peeping through the clouds every so often, and the fresh air smelled good.  

We rode east on Bruce and turned north on to Wortley, turned west on Victor and crossed Wharncliffe at Springbank.  Heading west, we merged on to the bikepath and pedalled to Greenside, where we turned south.  A few blocks west on Springbank and we arrived at our destination:  Woodland Cemetery.  Nath guessed where we going before we arrived, and I was only mildly annoyed :-)  We were having mother son fun!

I've written about this cemetery before in Deerly Departed - how funny am I? - as Nathaniel and I had had an adventure there in 2012, and peripherally, that is one of this blog's more popular posts with 428 hits.

But today.  We had no idea what horrors awaited us today.  

We were just there to see some deer.  There has not been a day when I set foot in the cemetery and have not seen at least ten deer.  "They're ever' damn where!", as my stepDad would say, and today was no exception: 

C'mere deer!  

Deer about to be fed by old dude
An old fellow stopped his vehicle and approached the deer with a bag of what I can only assume was breadcrust.  I briefly considered chastising him (for buck's sake dude, don't feed the deer) but I decided to keep my trap shut.  It was Sunday, he was happy, we were happy, the deer were happy - who I was to intrude and ruin this peaceful scene?  

Well, I am not going to lie, I couldn't help myself and I did say, using my best innocent tone within earshot of the man, "Nathaniel, are you supposed to feed the deer?  I don't think you are... " and "What do you think, Nath?  Should he feed the deer?  Deer don't eat white bread!" 
Nath wisely said nothing.  The man didn't even look at me; he just got into his car and drove off. 

I smiled smugly.  

Hey lady, take off eh?

Deer friends until death do them part 
Things soured right about here, but before I get into that, I will break for a surprise because it's in line with the mystery theme in this blog post.

I have a contest for you!  Yup, a contest.

First person to find the deer in the picture below wins a prize!  Comment below and I will tell you what you win.  :-)

I didn't say "geese".  I said "deer"

Okay, the contest part of this entry is over; we'll return to that anon.  


Things were about to get juicy before the break and so I will resume my tale...

Nath decided to approach the deer on foot, which I did not encourage.  He was honked at and hissed at by two Canada geese and that was totally a sign for him to back off, buster.

I heard a car drive up behind me and suddenly I was being screamed at by a white hair sitting in the passenger's seat of a white SUV:  "You are disrespectful!  You are disrespecting this property!  It does NOT belong to you! Shame!"

I was baffled.  I had no idea what I had done, but whatever it was, it was BAAAAAAD!

She of the white hair, red scarf and dark sunglasses continued her tirade:
"You are IGNORANT!  I saw you stand on that headstone!  THAT IS DISGUSTING!"

I considered this as she continued her onslaught. Had I stood on a headstone?  Really?  Was this unconscionable behaviour on my part?
A - ha!  

I had stood on the bottom ledge (about a foot wide and a foot off the ground) of this headstone (Mr. Blinn) to take a picture because I couldn't see the deer properly:

Hiram Wetherby, you da man.  

I didn't even think about standing on the ledge, actually.  I am in the habit of moving to where I need to be to get a good photo, and as such, I didn't think that this was particularly out of the ordinary or offensive.  I wasn't defacing / humping / spray painting / lounging on / smashing / scuffing / trying to topple said headstone, and Hiram Blinn had expired in 1897.  

I did not want to say anything to the three elderly ladies in the car, so I let them carry on their verbal assault:  "You're DESPICABLE!  You're disgusting!  There's no hope for the younger generation!"  

And you three are bitches...

I said nothing.  Eventually they shut up, presumably exhausted from so much mental and physical exertion, and I said, "thanks and have a nice day".  I smiled and waved.  Please note that I was on the ground, and that I had only stood on the headstone for about ten seconds.  The car was rolling away as I waved gamely, but the driver abruptly changed her mind - did she not like my royal wave? -and slammed on the brakes.  Someone opened the door behind the driver, got out of the car noisily and violently approached me, stomping away in her Tender Tootsies, and getting right up in my face.  

Whitehairfloralscarf pointed her gnarled, ancient finger right at my honker and snarled, "YOU'RE DESPICABLE AND IGNORANT!  These headstones are private property and you have no right!  NO RIGHT!  Our husbands are buried here!"  

I tried not to laugh and retorted, "if this was my father's headstone, and he is DEAD! - I would have no problem with someone standing on his headstone to take a photo of some deer and neither would he!  MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS!"

"It is my business!" (old ratchety finger shaking practically up my nose).  You are DESPICABLE!" [said for the third time].  At this point in the exchange, I had had ENOUGH.  I then saw that one of the old ladies was freaking filming me on her cell phone and I SNAPPED.



I was totally livid and later Nathaniel told me that he was laughing so hard on the inside (not in the ladies' faces thank goodness), and he couldn't believe what was happening (neither could I!).  If those old, mangy bitches thought that I was going to let them insult me like that for something that I did in error and not to cause harm or infuriate anyone they were WRONG.  I chose to NOT respect my elders and treated them as my equals instead, meaning that they were about to be TOLD OFF BY THE WRONG LADY FOR THEM ON A SUNDAY.  

Whitehairfloralscarf shrieked at my sputtering face, and her asinine friends all moaned and made "I've been grievously wronged" sounds.  Then the biddy in the passenger's seat yelled, "I am going to call THE........."  
Okay lady.  Who ARE you going to call? The po-po?

She thought for a second.  "I am going to call the cemetery office!"

"Go ahead!" I screamed.  "GO!"

And they did, tearing off at 10km an hour.  

I was shaking, I was so pissed and upset.  Nathaniel laughed so hard.  He couldn't believe it.
I am so proud of him for saying nothing to the psychotic trio during the incident, but he did tell me that he didn't know what he would have done had they physically attacked me:  "Mum, I'm not sure that I could hit an old lady."  LOL.
I told him that had they attacked me that I would have kicked their sorry asses, and if I wasn't able to do so, he would have had to pull them off me.

Let me finish this disagreeable tale by apologizing to Hiram Wetherby Blinn's kin for my rudeness.  I sincerely hope that they forgive me.   It is not lost on me that "PEACE, PERFECT PEACE!" is carved in CAPS on his headstone, and that our nasty catfight took place directly in front of his final resting place.  Sorry, Hiram.  I really am.


And now friends, I would like to know your take on this?  Was I in the wrong?  Should I have let the biddies insult me so rudely and apologized profusely for my thoughtlessness and ignorance?  This inquiring mind wants to know.

And don't forget to enter my contest :-)  Winner winner, squirrel dinner!

I will leave you with a picture of a wild turkey that Nathaniel spied on our ride home, which he tried to "take down" (his words):  "I'll destroy that turkey.  If I were starving I would catch it and eat it!"  Whatevs, Nath.

And because I always end my blog posts with a tune, I'll leave you with a very brief video about a blind deer.  It's not funny, but it's totally cute.

Previous post about Woodland:  Deerly Departed