pew pew pew – getting smoked at Laser Tag

March 23rd, 2015 No comments

When Lazer Tag came out in 1986 I was a HUGE fan boy. I had the helmet, vest, multiple guns, basically anything with Lazer etched on it had to be mine. Then there was the poor man’s Lazer Tag known as Photon which I don’t know wtf was up with that one. It was the 80s though and merchandising was king. Lazer Tag was cool and futuristic while Photon was more stuck in what the 70s thought the future would be. At least that’s how I remember it. Cut me some slack, I was 10.

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(Watch Lazer Tag commercial on YouTube)

Last weekend I was invited to rekindle my obsession with a trip north to McKnight Rd to Laser Storm for a 2 game winner-take-all-battle-royale-to-the-death match with Mike Sorg and members of the Sorgatron Media family. Picture it, 5 grown men in their 30’s playing a game from the 80’s and whose physical activity for the year is beer league softball. At least that’s how I went into it thinking, I would come out a changed man.

Going in for the first time there is a lot to absorb so I’ll break it down easy for you

  • 2 teams
  • 10 minutes of play
  • Capture the Flag play of red vs green and you need to get more points by shooting the other team while trying to access their base and shoot the target for extra points.
  • You wear a vest and headset plus you get a phaser.
  • You can only get hit twice before you have to go to a charging station and reload.

Now here’s where it gets interesting. First game I had no clue what I was doing. I’m terrible playing 1st person shooter games and along with the hearty mix of thumping techno music plus being in new surroundings, I don’t think many of us knew what to do. You don’t realize the workout you’re getting until the end when you come out a ball of sweat but whooooa buddy let me tell you, that was fun. Below is my score sheet.

Laser Storm Scorecard

There were 2 birthday parties going on while we were there and they proved to be a much needed break while we came up with a game plan against the Red team. Before the next round kicked off and players were called to the starting line, there was a change of plans. A family of young kids and teenagers on dates joined in. D’OH! Our well laid out plan of going in guns blazing were crushed as most of us tripped over kids in the dark or got held up as they would suck up the energizing stations.

Laser Storm Scorecard

I was as good as dead. Red team had time to get situated and every move I made from a charging station got me tagged.

At the end of our hour we were beat but wanted more. As I was catching my breath I noticed around the waiting area there were banners hanging up from championship titles won in their adult leagues. It wasn’t long before we decided we must do this again and with the packages available, could plan for an incredible evening.

Yinz Team Laser Tag. Oh it’s coming…

Categories: Friends, Pittsburgh

Gone Baby Gone

March 20th, 2015 No comments

For the first time in 6 years there isn’t a crib in our house and it’s pretty freaky.

crib

This crib has been a staple in our house for so long that I barely remember life without it. When we bought the crib we made sure to get one that also converted into a daybed which is how it ended up. Teaspoon graduated to his own bed at 18months shortly before Cheeseburger was born and then Cheese stayed in the crib/daybed until this past week when we decided it was time to upgrade. Now Teaspoon has a new futon for his little pimp palace and Cheeseburger gets the single bed. Poor dude has a lifetime of hand-me-downs coming.

If you know anyone looking for a crib we have all of the pieces (i think) and it’s a pretty sturdy piece of craftsmanship. What you’ll get with this model that you can’t find in Babies-R-Us is the artistic design of multiple teeth marks from both kids trying to gnaw their way out.

Here’s a quick flashback to when we bought it in 2009.

My wife teared up when I took it apart while my thoughts were more along the lines of “Thank GOD I don’t have to put this back together again.”

 

 

Categories: Fatherhood

Surviving Pittsburgh’s St Patrick’s Day 2015

March 17th, 2015 No comments

I can’t recall too many St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in Pittsburgh. Not because I may have been up to my waist in green beer but it’s not something I ever celebrated unless my family was in town. My dad would give me the “get your ass down here and have a cigar with me!” call and who can say no to those kind of demands?

Steel City Time Machine

Last year was the first time I flew solo and that ended… well it was a freaking blast! I knew I wouldn’t be able to relive the adventures of a single dad on the town but I was hoping to experience the parade with my boys. Mother nature put the kybosh to those plans with the rain but what did happen made up for it in so many ways.

Lunch with Pho-Friends
Mario, my childhood altar boy partner in crime and his wife Jennifer were in town for the Maroon 5 concert. Since we had the kids and taking them to bars is frowned upon apparently, we met up at my favorite place in the Strip District to eat – Vietnam’s Pho. I had the Pho Dat Biet (Beef eye round, well done flank, tendon, brisket, beef tripe & beef balls noodle soup) which was once again soul warming and everyone else had… ummmm pho probably. I was too busy with my bowl.

Mario and I haven’t seen each other in over a year so this was a much needed reunion to get caught up. Little did I know we would need more time and the adventure wasn’t over.

The South Side Shite Show Spectacular
I dropped the family off and headed back down to Mario’s hotel to pick them up and shuttle them over to the South Side to visit one of his cousins. If you’ve never driven in Pittsburgh before, this is NOT the weekend to learn. I insisted on driving them over and it was a good decision, people were fall down face in the gutter drunk and all regards for rules of the road were out the window.

I have lived in Pittsburgh for 17 years and this was the very first time I’ve been on the South Side for St Patrick’s Day weekend. Most call it amateur drinking day and I can see why from the college kids barely holding each other up at 4pm to the dude passed out in a shopping cart. This is a 100% people watching spectacular and I suggest checking it out at least once in your lifetime. Yeah you might be all hoity toity grown up now but you know what, these people were having fun so take time off from yelling at people to get off your lawn, pull up a chair and watch the magic.

I will give the local police credit, they had a really strong presence and no one seemed to reach the level of belligerent. No one touched my car so I say that’s a win also.

Mario and crew invited me out to dinner at Nakama which was a few blocks away. That’s right, I’m getting Pho and Nakama in the same day. I like where this is going! At dinner Mario served me a spirit I sadly admit I tried for the first time that evening. It was warm sake and it was freaking gooood. In all of my travels to far away lands in search of great beer, I have never tried sake. In fact Mario is the first of my friends to drink it that I’m aware of and let me tell ya, wooooooooo buddy I want a sake set.

  Nakama Cooking

We continued our conversation from lunch over a few drinks and I took a second to think about how far the 2 of us had come from our days of tormenting our teachers since Kindergarten. How many obstacles we’ve overcome to get to this point and how special our friendship is. Then I had a sake burp and we both forgot WTF we were talking about. In fact I probably just made all of that up. I was too busy watching the chef at the table next to us try to set a drunk girl’s green wig on fire.

Green Beer. Green Jello Shots. Green People.
After the South Side I headed home and dropped my car off. Thinking this could be the end of my night I started chilling beers when my buddy Eamon made the call for a night cap at a local bar within walking distance. I’m still in DAS BOOT so it didn’t matter the distance, I was hobbling there.

Green Jello ShotsI have always said that there is a time and place for every beer and this night I had no problem with pitchers of green Yuengling. Not long after we arrived, we were joined by my friends Dudders and Ginger who were wrapping up their night as well. The night was about good times with good friends and being thankful for having awesome people in my life.

The DJ started playing videos on the in-house system around 11pm and we watched in amazement at the ridiculous videos that are apparently still being made. Who on earth approved these and how can I get in on the action? Don’t ask me what the songs were because I have no idea (some hippity hoppity gangsta rap songs about derrieres) but they’re big with the dance clubs and the old dude with silver hair at the bar trying to twerk anyone with a pulse.

2 years in a row I went into the day without a plan and it turned out amazing. The old project manager in me usually needs to know what’s going on at all times so to just wing it was a new and relaxing experience.

Birthday weekend with the Wonders, Stroker Ace and Marty McFly

February 24th, 2015 No comments

Back To The Future AlmanacThis is heavy, Doc!

A Back to the Future themed birthday? GREAT SCOTT!  OK it wasn’t really but felt like it and I’m not complaining. While I didn’t get too much quiet time with a 4yr old and soon-to-be 6yr old running around I was able to take over the TV and enjoy a marathon of:

There was going to be a glorious showing of Flash Gordon but Google Play only has that to buy, not rent. Come on guys get with it!

Google has been bugging me as a cord cutter. The Roku stick YouTube app is absolutely miserable user experience, you can’t pay for Play with your mobile provider unless you’re on your mobile device (should be able to use as form of payment across the board) and every movie should be able to rent, not just buy. Yeah they cost more to rent than say RedBox but to buy is more than Amazon DVD.

Where were we? Oh yes.

The weekend was pretty mellow. There were plans for Saturday night dinner at my favorite pizza shop, Slice on Broadway, but due to incredibly sloppy snow weather we cancelled plans and ate at home while I dined on a 6pack of Weyerbacher Merry Monks.

So what comes next? More craft beer? brewing? podcasting? dad blogging? Who knows. Whatever it is, if I put my mind to it, I can accomplish anything. Right McFly?

Back To The Future Cake

I’ve got friends in low places – Garth Brooks comes to Pittsburgh

February 15th, 2015 No comments

Friday February 6th started like most days. I went to work, came home and played with the kids. Little did I know that by the end of the night I would have spent it with a music legend.

Garth Brooks in Pittsburgh

My first memories of Garth came from the Thunder Rolls video in the early 90’s but it was my college roommate during my freshman year who really introduced me to his music and the new form of country emerging.  However, I never got into the style as I was fully consumed by the grunge age. As I got older and drove around with kids in the car I’ve started to turn my dial back their way to drown out “The Wheels on the Bus”.

Garth’s 2015 “Man Against Machine” tour has set the record for most people to attend a concert series. 110,110 tickets sold – 6 shows – 4 days which included twice performing 2 shows in one day. After seeing up close how physically demanding the show is, I’m amazed and impressed that he pulled off back-to-back shows 2 days in a row. Heck, I respect the man.

So how did I end up going to a sold out show on short notice? Being at the right place at the right time.

Garth and some of his friends spent the afternoon playing basketball at a local university when he bumped into my brother. They chatted, shot some hoops, took a few pics and next thing my bro knows, he’s being offered tickets to the show that night. He gets a hold of me and I jump on the subway into town.

The tickets were for the 10:30pm show and when my bro first asked my thought was “10:30 on a Friday? I’m usually in bed by then.”. He added “Oh, BTW, they’re THIRD ROW SEATS!”. I don’t care who is performing, if you offer me 3rd row seats for any show I’ll most likely be there.

The view was absolutely amazing and the 4th time in my life I’ve been that close to the stage (Motley Crue 97, Pearl Jam/Rolling Stones 05, Pearl Jam 06. Pink Floyd 94 gets honorable mention) for a major show. I knew a few songs and figured I might recognize a few others. What I didn’t expect was that I knew more than half during his 3 hours of singing! The only explanation I can come up with is that I’ve subliminally picked them up.

The energy of Garth and his band were inspirational. The overall quality of music, stage presence, entertainment was off the charts and everyone knew all of the words to every song. It was like being at karaoke, drinking with your friends and talking about good times. The crowd spread across the spectrum of backwoods country coming in after hunting to lawyers and doctors. His music has no boundaries and brings people together. I am absolutely a fan now.

The show was recorded for a DVD but I wish there was a bootleg of the show. KISS does something I wish every band would. They record the first 1/2 of the show, make a CD and have it available by the time you leave. There is a code in the CD to download the ENTIRE show a week later. I gladly dumped $25 on that and I would for every show. Pearl Jam records their own bootlegs and sells them also.

Now I find myself going back through his collection and will more than likely buy them all. OK maybe not that Chris Gains period.

Here are some pics from the night. Not bad for a smartphone eh?

Full gallery on Flickr

Categories: Music, Pittsburgh