I am not a fan of “Labor Day” weekend. First, similar to other holidays we celebrate in the United States – let’s face it – the use of “day” in the name is a misnomer. For some, “Labor Day” is an entire week of last minute vacation time or at the very least a four-day attempt to get the final moments of surf and sand!
Labor Day – 1960’s-1970’s
When I was young this weekend meant that summer was done and school was to begin. Yes, I liked the idea of going to the FIRST day of school. But, after that – I was not necessarily “in the mood”. I would have much rather been running around with friends until the “lights came on” and wait evenings for the ice-cream truck to stop at the nearby corner. Now, I was being relegated to sit in a row in a school – sans air conditioning – on what was predictably some of the hottest days of the year. Toss in the fact that I had a hefty dose of ADHD and sitting in a chair for HOURS after a couple of months of freedom, was for me – torture!
Labor Day 1977
Labor Day 1977 meant I was going to load a car up and drive the 7 hours from my house to the University of Delaware. While I was “all in” to enjoy living away from home and starting life as a collegiate – I was scared and second -guessing the distance. (Those feelings didn’t last more than a few days, by the way!)
Labor Day 1987 – 2007
When I had children my favorite part of their year (and mine) was indeed – Summer. We initiated the Adventurer’s Club – where each week one child would have the exciting “duty” to choose where we would explore in our local area. From museums to hiking state parks, we relished in the knowledge that we can come and go as we please. The lack of schedule and desire to explore on these mini-staycations were some of the most memorable moments of my parenting school-aged kids. Honestly, there were many times I “got” homeschooling.
Labor Day – My Mature Years
Now as a person with no children at home and my own business – Summer seems to roll in to Fall with nearly a blink. Except for a few notable changes. First, Labor Day weekend means that Hallmark stores (and others) seem to wave a magic wand and all their Christmas ‘stuff’ appears on shelves. Yes, we seem to bypass all other holidays and go straight to Christmas.
Positive Note: Fall also does bring one positive element- cheaper travel rates. Hubby and I often like to take advantage of this time of the year.
Back to my list… Labor Day also means that floral scents are replaced with pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg spices. Good-bye fruit pies and say hello to pumpkin pie! Not to worry – I love fruit and pumpkin pies!
Lastly and my main “complaint” – This time of year means people become more serious. We wear our “school or work clothes” and put away the fun flip-flop sandals.. We accept, begrudgingly, a life with more regimental scheduling of our day and less time to sit and chat without rushing. And clearly many of us forget the care-free and relaxed feelings of summertime. UGH!
Now you know, my friends, why I am not a fan of Labor Day weekend.
In case you are curious – here is the history of Labor Day.
Laughter IS the common language of our world. And, you will find much of it at the National Comedy Center!
From Vaudeville to the Family Guy and every genre of comedy in between – you will find them here in Jamestown, New York!
When you think of destination spots for vacations one usually doesn’t pick Jamestown – until now. The National Comedy Center and the Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz Museums are about to invigorate this sleepy hamlet located in Western New York the way that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame revived Cleveland, Ohio.
In order to truly appreciate this “cultural center” you really need to experience it first person. But, I will try my best to give you a close-up account my words and the images snapped from my trusty iPhone 8 plus.
More than 50 immersive exhibits take visitors on an interactive journey through comedy history, from early vaudeville acts to the latest viral memes.
There is so much to see and “feel” at this center. I can’t stress enough how you need to experience it for yourself. AND EVERY ADULT can access this place. The accessibility factor is super!
To entice you to indeed visit I have devised a TOP 10 list of my favorite “things” about the National Comedy Center. I encourage you to add to my list in the comment section.
Tip 1. Come early and plan on staying several hours!
The center opens at ten. Arrive early to beat the crowds and be able to take in the exhibits without feeling rushed. If you have have all day opt for the pass that allows you entry to the Lucille Ball – Desi Arnaz museum AND the National Comedy Center. Both are amazing and you will be glad you did!
Note: Wear comfortable shoes and bring Kleenex. You will need it to wipe the tears from belly laughs throughout your stay.
TIP 2: Go all out – immerse yourself!
The first step of this experience is to get a wrist band that allows for digital engagement throughout the center. You can use the code to ‘vote” for favorite actors, comedy shows and more! Also, to receive content to your inbox that you generate – you will need to have this “techie wristband”.
Note: The first time I visited I was shy about sharing my personal info so I made a bogus email and name. Bad move. This didn’t allow me to get any of my saved content that I generated along my visit. The second time I was forthcoming and sure enough – when I got back to my hotel there were my interactive videos, etc. waiting for me in my inbox!
And… Don’t forget to wave to yourself when you walk through the entry way!
Tip 3 – Meander among the history of comedy, famous quotes and more
One of the very first exhibits you will encounter is a homage to comedy writers. Plus, a whole section dedicated to the humor of George Carlin. I spent quite a bit of time in this first section not realizing how expansive the remainder of the place was. But, I loved George Carlin and I was thrilled to see such a large exhibit about his genius and tumultuous history of censorship.
Now move on to the the first truly interactive room allows you to see behind the camera- literally. You also can pull up a chair and pick one of your favorite comics to perform. Dana Carvey got us off to a great start!
There are quotes and jokes along the way for all to enjoy. On windows of a walkway between sections of the building you will find great quotes that give you just enough chuckle. They also lead you in to an exhibit of a timeline of comedy in the United States. And, when you are done here – stop as you shouldn’t bypass the writer’s library. This area has some hidden gems – so go enjoy them!
Tip 4: Sit and stay.
There are several places that offer you a place to sit and watch a show, movie, news reel or interactive exhibit. Sit and stay for a while in these areas. Lingering is encouraged as there is sooooo much to see and reminisce. One of the areas I spent the most time was a huge wall with an interactive board of comedy influence – called The Continuum. It was fascinating to literally connect the dots between one comedian to another.
(Shameless side note: I will be working with Harry Shearer this October… guess what I am going to show him?! See below.)
Tip 5. Get a drink and a snack.
This place may seem a bit overwhelming with hysteria. So you may need to refuel. Lucky for you there is a snack bar easily accessible to the exhibits. Prices are fairly standard and won’t break the budget.
Tip 6 – Play with toys.
There is a section that shows you how props were used in comedic scenes, such as Saturday Night Live. . I missed this section during my first visit but went purposely to see it during my second. It was so much fun! Again, playing with toy props is encouraged! Also, a good place for older kids to explore.
Tip 7 – Become part of the act!
There are several opportunities to become part of the show. You can do you own improv stand-up comedy routines. You also can sit in a booth an insert yourself in to several well known scenes from past comedies such as I Love Lucy. Hubby and I took a few photos as Ethel and Fred Mertz.
Tip 8: Go Blue… Go if you dare…
The Blue Room is “rude, crude and at times socially unacceptable”. It also highlights some of the most “on the edge ” comediennes during the past century. I loved this room. It wasn’t salacious but more educational, if comedy that makes you blush can be that. So, if you want to see Richard Pryor, James Carlin, Amy Schumer, Don Rickles, Lenny Bruce and many more at their comedic best – take the elevator to the BLUE ROOM floor. No kids allowed. Read the caution below before entering. And, be prepared. The F-word is used liberally like salt is sprinkled on fries.
Tip 9: Keep going – there is so much more to do!
Just when you thought you were done with the exhibits here you will happen upon one of the most fun gift shops … anywhere. This place alone is a homage to comedy! Stay. Laugh. Purchase.
When you are done keep going and make your way to the Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz Museum a short walk away. If you find yourself hungry – stop for lunch at one of the several little cafes you will find along the streets.
Jamestown also is a stone’s throw to the famous Chautauqua Lake and institute.
Like some night life? Head east to the Seneca Nation Casino and Resort. They have a number of bands that play there, including Peter Frampton who packed the house!
Last Tip – #10 – Avail yourself of the events at the National Comedy Center and make plans to come back!
There is so much that happens at the National Comedy Center- especially in the summer months when the tourist season is at full peak. I am so bummed I won’t be there this week as August 7-11th is the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival with top comedians headlining.
Our world is a bit topsy-turvy these days. In fact, there is so much dissension and violence that laughter gets lost in our collective worry and grief. We NEED a place like the National Comedy Center to help remind us about good times and good people. After all, laughter IS the best medicine.
Lastly, a special shout-out to the wonderful staff at the National Comedy Center. Gary Hahn and Adrienne (sorry forgot your last name) – both were super attentive and answered all my questions to help me prepare for this article. I hope our paths cross again – very soon! And, special thanks to all the staff – they were nice to every person who walked through their doors!
A few nights ago Hubby and I were watching NBC NEWS when they played a segment about young adults taking “Adulting” classes. What is “Adulting”?
Here is the formal definition:
Adulting is the practice of behaving in a way characteristic of a responsible adult, especially the accomplishment of mundane but necessary tasks.
Here is my definition. “Adulting” is when you are grown-up enough to get your teeth cleaned, your laundry done, eat healthy and remember to have your car oil changed without a reminder or money from a parental unit.
This NBC NEWS segment focused on how young adults now are taking CLASSES to learn how to sew, iron, do laundry, make a meal and other tasks that are considered mundane but essential to every day living. (I love adult education, but never thought of “adulting” education!)
Experts during the interview were discussing how such classes are needed due to school curriculums cutting what use to be “standard courses”. No longer do you see in most schools options to take high school “Home economics”, “Personal Accounting” or “Wood Shop”. They have been replaced by advanced courses in science, math and more. To learn basic skills, the commentator stated that many are signing up for ADULTING CLASSES!
I find it funny that there are so many adults who can solve tough calculus problems or write computer code but do not know how to sort and wash laundry nor sew a button on to a jacket. Their “home- cooked meal” is when Door Dash delivers them something from a local restaurant that is not a sandwich or pizza.
So, if I had to pick a “Top 10” list of what are the ESSENTIALS to know when you are “Adulting” – this would be my list:
Learn what to do in an emergency – including CPR.
Learn how to cook and clean up the mess afterwards. A basic cookbook can be your best friend and a money saver!
Learn how to SAVE money. A rainy day fund is not $50. A rainy day fund should be several months of income in a bank to pay bills in case you are out of work.
Do the REAL VERSIONS! Learn how to write a REAL letter vs. EMAIL and know the difference. And – READ A REAL BOOK vs. an electronic version!
How to change a tire, check your oil and pump your own gas. (I “see” you New Jersey folks!)
How and Why to CARRY CASH! Do not travel without some cash. What if there is an electrical outage and credit cards, Venmo or other electronic currencies cannot be exchanged. Oh my! Take out this “thing” called a wallet and use the green paper bills and silver coins to pay!
Know when to fold’em. If you like to gamble know your limits. As enticing as Black Jack is – it is not worth losing your car, your home, your family over. This adulting “warning” goes for anything that can be done in excess.
Learn how to do laundry.
Learn how to take care of a small child without being distracted.
Learn how to be polite, even when you don’t like the person you are with.
Now that I read over my list I realize I have some more “adulting” to do!!
Feel free to add to this list in the comment section.
Update: Sadly after I ran this article the last remaining Blockbusters in Alaska announced they were closing.
This month my family ventured to the Pacific Northwest. We watched whales frolic and feed, walked glaciers and even explored villages and remote areas both by land and sea. But, it was a little store in Anchorage that was deemed the “highlight” of our 12 – day excursion. Yes, apparently one can relive their childhood by simply walking through the doors of one of the last remaining Blockbuster video stores in the heart of Anchorage, Alaska.
This Blockbuster store is under the management of Kevin Daymude. “Blockbuster” as a corporation is long gone, due to the change of the video landscape. Replaced by streaming services, such as Netflix, the demand for video and gaming rentals has dwindled to nearly “zip”. However, in this part of the world, Blockbuster still holds relevance. New and “antique” videos and games adorn the shelves and there is the requisite aisle of theater sized boxed candies. You can purchase older videos for under a dollar and don’t forget the popcorn and cotton candy! The only “addition” to the Blockbuster of 20 years ago was a prominent display of movie memorabilia in the very front of the store, including some “goods” obtained from actor, Russell Crowe.
There is a very interesting story about how Blockbuster of Anchorage and Kevin Daymude received Russell Crowe’s items from the actor’s “ART OF DIVORCE SALE”. It would appear that the items were received via an intermediary who acted as a conduit for this Blockbuster store to receive these “treasures of cinematic history”. Among the memorabilia were two director chairs from the movie American Gangster that were used and embroidered with the actors’ names – Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe. Plus, there was from Russell Crowe’s collection a “jockstrap” that was placed in the display (and reportedly cost 7K!)
Who was the buyer of all these “artifacts” and what was the backstory? Well, the person who purchased many of Crowe’s items would be none other than HBO talk show host, John Oliver. The reason why… well that is a whole other story. Let’s start with Oliver’s announcement via Twitter from April 2018.
Why is this store still open while the vast majority have closed? I had an opportunity to chat with Kevin about the remaining Blockbuster stores in Alaska (and one in Oregon) and get more insight. (There are two videos for easier uploading.)
Lastly, if you do visit the DeBarr Rd. location of Blockbuster know that there are shirts and pullovers available for purchase. My entire family bought one – how could we not!?! Plus, we walked out with a handful of those repurposed DVDs for 99 cents each!
Just a quick follow- up from yesterday’s blog about my going to the social media “awesome” week for the game show The Price is Right. While I can’t divulge any details about the show results, it is safe to say that my garage will not need to be cleaned out for any additional vehicles to reside.
It was a fun day and rather longer than expected. We arrived at 8am and left after 2pm. We only filmed one episode that will air on January 27th. In the interest of educating any future attendees of the Price is Right, I have compiled a list of Do’s and Don’ts.
1- Wear comfortable shoes and clothing
2- Bring sunscreen- you will be outside for a large part of your day.
3- Don’t forget your ID
4- Bring your own lunch and drink – it is very expensive to eat their food.
If you park in their suggested parking lot be prepared for a rather steep payment. Note that there are no parking vouchers, so you pay in full wherever you park.
There are some really nice people who are in the audience. Newsflash: this can be a very good networking opportunity – so pack a few business cards! We met people from all over the country, including a whole bunch of Mary Kay Cosmetic representatives who were attending a local convention! If you are not a social butterfly then bring a book. They take your phones rather early in the waiting process.
Remember that the odds are not in your favor to be chosen, but for those that do hear the words, “Come on Down!”, it seems to be a hoot of an experience!
Below is the tweet of a pre- show photo with hubby and friends. I dressed as the “Queen of Tweet”. Our “interviewer” thought that was funny. My shirt says “TeamDrew” as my original outfit was “flagged” for possible advertising. Apparently @LouiseASL and #411Voices are known brands! OY!
And in the end…
Sorry, can’t tell you the outcome of the day. But, do catch the Social Media Awesome week for the Price is Right! Final note, if you are in Los Angeles and interested in attending a taping of a television show you may want to check out the On Camera Audiences website to see available shows and dates.
It all started with an email asking if I wanted VIP tickets to the Price is Right and to participate in their upcoming Social Media Week! Sounded fun. Why not!? That was about a month ago and now I am addicted to watching the show and “studying” for the “just in case” I get picked as a contestant during tomorrow’s taping. I looked and looked for help on how to “prepare” and found very little advice except from a fun blogger who did win.
What I have learned so far on my own won’t be very exciting to report – yet. Yes, they like to give away a lot of cars and there seems to be required jumping and screaming involved by every chosen contestant. And, that the more “over the top your personality is” then the more likely you are to be chosen.
Sneakers and t-shirts decorated with Price of Right references appear to be the outfit of choice, so I took to decorating a few shirts for my teammates (Hubby and a couple of friends) with a hashtag #TeamDrew ( a reference to host Drew Carey). I also ordered a second shirt with my Twitter handle @LouiseASL and #411Voices as the hashtag- but not sure that it will be allowed. So, I too may adorn a #TeamDrew tomorrow during the taping. I also bought a few obnoxious head bands and one crown. Apparently those with decorative headbands or crowns get chosen as contestants, or so it seems! So I have plenty of selection for our team, including the bright red and sparkly headband to the right
To date, hubby and I have watched over a dozen episodes. Trying to be more aware of the games and techniques used by those obviously more seasoned at this game than the two of us. I must give kudos to the Price is Right procurement team as the trip to Space Camp had me jumping for joy – as if I won it!
I also have found myself wandering up and down the supermarket aisle with much more care than ever. What is the price of baby food these days? Ketchup? Pancake mix? I always buy on sale, but those prices are not helpful when it comes to guessing correctly for this show! In other words, if you are a thrifty shopper you may be handicapped from winning … A brand new car!
I plan on chronicling my adventure, from a ‘social media – educational perspective’. It will be a bit tricky to take photos, as my beloved social media tool of choice, aka my iPhone, apparently is prohibited for use and needs to be handed over to security before entering the studio.
Stay tuned for at least a Part Two – which will either be the next chapter or the “we didn’t get picked as contestants” blog. Either way- I promise to make it educational and entertaining. Wish us luck! Gotta go… I need to make one last trip to the grocery store to learn the price of paper goods!
I am writing this letter nearly three years to the date of my thyroidectomy for thyroid cancer. I was so lucky to be surrounded by great docs at Johns Hopkins Hospital and many others.
I know it seems like the trips to doctors offices, tests and treatments will never end. Your scared, frustrated and perhaps feeling a sense of doom. Welcome to cancer- land. Sorry it isn’t fun – just beastly.
For some of you this will be a short “lump” in the road (thanks to Margaret McSweeney who coined that phrase during her own bout with cancer). For others, the road will be long and bumpy. Here is perhaps a few little suggestions to help you endure whatever path you now have found yourself taking –
1. Surround yourself with those who truly care about you and don’t shut out anyone who genuinely wants to help you because you are too “embarrassed”. NOW is a time to accept anyone with good karma to help you out. (If they have a drivers license and can do errands for you post-surgery – even better!)
2. Delete from social media, your contact list and your life anyone who brings negative energy to you and yours. You don’t need them right now. Maybe never. Also, expect that some people will believe cancer is contagious and will dump your friendship like a hot potato. So be it. Remember stay positive, rid yourself of negative. There are a lot of great people in this world. Those who tossed you aside are not them.
3. Your body will betray you. The surgery will be only the beginning of the changes to happen to your body. Expect a shift in how you look. A few more pounds. A few less pounds. I haven’t met anyone who had thyroid surgery who weighed the same before and after. Your hair will get all funky for a bit. Your voice may change and you will find other oddities that are either annoying or a bit humorous. Just go with it!
4. Ladies – retail therapy for new scarves is a must! Indulge and don’t go too cheap – you want the kind that look fashionable but don’t scratch or make you sweat.
5. Men- scarves can help you out too. So can turtleneck sweaters, etc.
6. Or… wear that scar proudly!!
7. If you have a voice problem – go ask your doctor for recommendations to speech therapist who work with voice disorders. You may need help with your vocal quality (I sounded like James Earl Jones for about two months, frankly!). Also, don’t be shy and discuss with your physician any of your concerns. You paid him/her big bucks to get the cancer out- and you want your monies worth!
8. Accept that you will have a whole host of emotions, from sad to laughing for no reason. Let’s face it – cancer is absurd!
9. Take a break. Even if it is to have a mini vacation at the local Holiday Inn Express for one night. Bring chocolate for medicinal reasons.
10. Celebrate your NEW life. It is not all bad. You have learned some valuable lessons and will learn many, many more. Most of all – every day is IMPORTANT and there is no room for EXCUSES. Now is the time to re-evaluate what you want to keep, change and add to your life.
It has been two years since I went “under the knife” and started my battle as a cancer warrior goddess against Thyroid Cancer. I didn’t intend to do an annual update blog, but considering that several of my friends are now members of the cancer club, been diagnosed with thyroid disease or are enduring other trials and tribulations of simple aging… I thought a post on the light side of life might be what the “doctor ordered”.
Enjoy the list of must haves when you are battling “whatever”…
1. Have a theme song. It was very important for me to have a theme song that made me smile no matter what treatment or follow-up evaluation I had to endure. Trust me the drinks for a PET scan and wait for results is much more bearable when you are listening to the Black Eyed Peas sing I GOTTA A FEELING.
2- Have a special “lucky outfit” that you wear to your treatments and tests. I LOVE my Gallaudet sweatshirt and so far .. it is dang lucky!
3- Load up the Kindle, iPad or other device with mindless games, books and magazines to make the endless waiting for procedures or results go faster. I am now a huge fan of ANGRY BIRDS and SCRABBLE online.
4- Celebrate each step of the process that you can cancel off the list. Last treatment. Last pill. Last visit for six months. Just celebrate, if you can.
5- Wake up happy. Each day is a gift- so don’t waste it.
p.s. Thanks to Top Doc at Johns Hopkins for being a great surgeon and making this my two year survival anniversary! I know you read my blog.. 😉
Video from YouTube – Blacked Eye Peas and Oprah- thanks!