College Letters

When I first met Clownfish, she was a 5 year old, who I could convince of anything. (Fun fact: I had a goatee for a while, so I convinced her that I was raised by wolves. One night, I started howling at the moon. She ran away). She was innocent, and cute. She would listen to my stories, and … well she was a kid. She’s not that anymore though. She’s learning to drive (more on that in another post) and she’s getting college letters. My little girl is about to grow up.

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The Number of the Day is … 1

Count Von Count’s alarm woke up at 7:15, like it did every day that he was on the shooting schedule. Truth be told, after so many years, he woke up at 7:15 most days. His wife, Loretta, was up shortly afterwards, and found him downstairs drinking a juice and reviewing the day’s script. She smiled as she looked at her husband, and thought to herself that while it was sad that he was slowing down, it was also good for him. Maybe he could finally retire. Maybe he could finally relax.

At 8:00 on the dot, he got up, kissed her goodbye, and walked out of the door. He drove his car – a 2000 Lincoln – to Kaufman Studios, and was waved in by the guard, Charlie. “Charlie was good people,”  Count thought. He’s been there a while, and I like him. The Count drove to his assigned parking spot – it was a little farther away this season – and as he got out, he looked at his car. Maybe it was time for a new one, but the residuals checks weren’t coming in as quickly, and he wasn’t filming as many new episodes. This one would last another year. He could take that money and go on a vacation with Loretta. She’d like that.

When you’re the Count, you don’t need to flash an ID as you go through the studios, so he never bothered to put his on. He did wave at half a dozen people as he walked, though, quietly counting each one. And laughing, always laughing. Everyone always said that he was in good spirits … “ah ah ah,” they’d add. It was a joke that got old, but everyone always meant well, so he smiled along with them. Each new person on “the Street” as they called it would tell him that joke. Of course, since today was his only day of filming for this episode, that meant that they would all tell it to him today. Some, like Bobby, the second grip, would seek him out. Bobby told him how much he meant – that Bobby had grown up watching him and he couldn’t believe that he was meeting THE COUNT. “My favorite character, when I was a kid,” he’d said. “I wish they had you on more.” Bobby shook his head as he said that last part. Bobby shied away from saying what so few people would: The Count’s days were numbered and it was no laughing matter. Everyone could see it. Elmo and Abby were running things. And there was no place on the Street for an old man like him.

It didn’t matter, he told himself. The internal politics, the backbiting, that was all part of the job. He looked past it. That was what he did. The Count sat down in the makeup chair, and Christine got to work. She was another of the old-timers, and she finished his purple face in no time. “All set,” she told him. “Go make a difference.” He smiled at that. They both remembered the good old days when the show was more than just some red punk running around screaming that he loved everyone. They both remembered when he mattered.

He walked towards the set for his scene. Grover was sitting in a chair doing a crossword. “Hey Count,” he called. “Who you got in the 3rd at Belmont?” The Count just shook his head. Gone were the days of Grover, Big Bird, Bert, and the Count sneaking off to the track on a Thursday, when no one would notice them. Gone were the nights of their late night poker games, with all the beer and scotch. He was met by Phillip, Elmo’s new favorite director.

Elmo went through favorite directors at a dizzying pace. He tired of his hangers-on, and Abby wasn’t helping. She was even worse than he was. Poor Zoe had stood in between them, and now she was almost gone too. Poor kid. But this month, it was Phillip.

Phillip smiled at the Count, showing far too many teeth. It was a little unsettling. Phillip made him nervous. “Count, baby,” he started. “There’s been a change. We’re changing the number of the day. It’ll be on the card.”

“Fine. That’s fine,” Count replied. Changes happened, so he couldn’t get worried about this one.

His set was a white box with soft edges. Two cameras were stacked, one on top of the other, to capture his stomps and his singing. He made sure that he was in the frame, and Phillip called “Action.”

“The number of the day. It really is such fun. The number of the day is. … One!” One? That was it? “Now,” he said, trying to keep the defeat out of his voice, “let’s stomp one time.” Elmo and Abby stood off to the side, watching, reveling in his humiliation. He stomped. And Phillip called “Cut! Print! Great job!”

“You got everything then,” Count asked. “Would you like me to do it again?”

“Nope.” Phillip shook his head and moved away. “Elmo! Ready to start on your musical?”

That was it. The Count was left there on an empty set. One. All that just for one lousy stomp. He changed out of his costume, grabbed a snack from craft services – he hadn’t been there long enough for lunch yet, and he didn’t feel like staying – and got back in his old Lincoln. He’d go home early today; Loretta would be surprised and happy to see him. The car could last another year.

Sesame Character Breakfast

Disclaimer: My family and I received complimentary entry to the Sesame Street Character Breakfast. This review is unbiased.

This post is part of the Beaches 2016 series. The full series is at the beaches 2016 tag.

Guppy loves meeting characters. She loves interacting with them, and giving them hugs. Even now, as she has moved on past the age where she like Sesame Street, she has been excited whenever we see Elmo (in particular) or another one of the Sesame Street characters. Minnow has been excited to see Elmo and the other characters around, but he’s not so sure about them coming closer to him. Both of them loved the Sesame Street Character breakfast at Beaches Turks & Caicos.

The breakfast is a basic buffet: scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, and baked beans(!). And the food is fine – nothing overly special, but nothing bad. That said, nobody goes to this event for the food. You won’t leave hungry, and that’s good enough. The real stars of the show, are the characters. In addition to Elmo, we had breakfast with Bert & Ernie, Big Bird, the Count, Oscar, Zoe, Abby, Cookie Monster, and Grover. They came around to every table and, in addition to posing for pictures, each character interacted with everyone at the table (and I do mean everyone). Ernie came over to our table and tried to feed Minnow (which didn’t go so well) and Guppy (who was much more interested in being spoon-fed eggs). Both of them gave me big hugs. Minnow did a bit better when some of the furrier characters came over (such as Zoe and Cookie Monster), letting us hold him for pictures, but he wasn’t quite ready to give hugs out to them.

However, that’s only part of the program. After everyone has had their chance to take pictures with the characters and to spend a little time with them, it becomes a dance party. The characters bring the kids out to dance to all of the same pop tunes that your kids know and love. Watching Cookie dance to Gangnam Style was probably one of the funniest moments of my vacation to that point.

While this is not the only time during our week that we would have a chance to see a character or two, or even take a couple of pictures, this was probably the best opportunity. All of the characters were in one place, and there was a lot of time and individual interaction. During other photo-taking times, such as at Camp Sesame, after shows, and in meetings around the property, there are usually more kids around and it is harder to get any real interaction beyond a quick hug and a photo. It’s not impossible, because we have managed it, but not in the same way that we were able to manage here. This was a great way to see everyone at once, and spend time with all of them.

One of my big knocks on events like this is usually that the kids have a great time but the parents are bored. That didn’t happen here, because even parents got involved when the characters got to them. If you think you can get away with us sitting there, expect Cookie or Ernie to come over and hug you.

In addition to each child getting to meet and take pictures with the characters in an up-close-and-personal environment, each child gets a cup with a Sesame Street finger puppet. The breakfast can be booked through the sales office either before you arrive or upon arrival, or through your travel agent.

Angelfish is a travel agent, and she would be happy to assist you in booking Beaches, Sandals, or many other vacations. Feel free to reach out to her at www.walkercruises.com

What do you mean this watch doesn’t tell time? Yo-kai what?

Disclosure: I received product and cash for this review. All opinions are my own.

My first experience with Yo-Kai Watch was when I tweeted out this comic. It was cute, and I liked the idea. And that was the end of it … until it wasn’t. Until Hasbro asked me if Guppy and I would like to play with some Yo-Kai Watch toys and tell you about them. Would we!?! Yes … the answer is yes.
Continue reading What do you mean this watch doesn’t tell time? Yo-kai what?

Family Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

This is the first in a series of posts on a family trip to Beaches Turks & Caicos. To see all posts click on the beaches 2016 tag.

Because all of the local schools are closed for a week starting on President’s Day, we always look at this past week as a good vacation week.This year, we hopped on a plane, and dropped in on one of the more popular family resorts in the Caribbean: Beaches, Turks & Caicos. We weren’t alone; the resort was at capacity, and the most full it had ever been. A good half of the people there seemed to be from the same area as we are (the other half split between Boston, which also had off, and Canada). Did we have a good time? Yes. Will I now tell you about my thoughts on the hotel in excruciating detail? Of course.
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