Category Archives: Fun


In July of 2009, I traveled (by limo – go, me!) to Cleveland to see “Mary Poppins,” the musical. I’d seen quite a few musicals by this time, including ”Wicked” several times. Until then, “Wicked” had been my favorite.

“Mary Poppins” definitely gave it a run for its money.

This afternoon, I traveled (by a very good friend’s car – but still go, me!) to the city nearest me – Pittsburgh – to see “Mary Poppins” again.

Once again, it didn’t disappoint. In fact, it may have been even better the second time around.

It was the first time I’d ever sat in balcony seats. I always managed to get orchestra tickets in the past, but this time I wasn’t really willing to spend that much money, especially when I wasn’t entirely sure who would be my “date.” I also was aware of how the show ended, and I knew I wanted to be up high the second time around. And I was pleasantly surprised with the seats. Though cramped, the view was spectacular, and I highly doubt I’ll ever get orchestra seats again (though I may get slightly closer balcony seats).

Caroline Sheen absolutely shines as the title character, and well she should, having first played the role in the UK tour.

Equally talented is Nicolas Dromard, who has also played Fiyero in “Wicked,” so I obviously wasn’t surprised to see him excel here, as well.

The rest of the cast also delivers in every way, but I’d like to take a moment to mention the children in the production. I’m not entirely certain which cast members played the roles today (two boys and two girls alternate playing Michael and Jane Banks). Whichever young actors were featured this afternoon – and perhaps someone from the show will read this and fill me in – they were outstanding. I often wish I had gotten involved, in some capacity, with my school’s theatrical productions, not that they did many back then, and I think it’s excellent to see these children reaching for their dreams and having the talent to back their dreams up. I recall thinking something similar a couple of years ago, watching the young cast of “Peter Pan.”

This show takes me back to my childhood – which tends to be a theme among my favorite musicals, and, for me, outdoes the film, as live theater often does. It often takes every ounce of willpower I have not to start belting out the songs with them, which I’m certain the rest of the audience would not appreciate. I’d be hard-pressed to note my favorites, from the poignant “Feed the Birds” and “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” to the lively “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” and “Step in Time.” Each has an uncanny ability to make me laugh or tap my toes or even move me to tears. (Side note: Microsoft Word’s dictionary apparently includes “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” because spell check doesn’t flag it.)

The end of the show left me with some of those tears, as it did the first time, but, fortunately, the curtain call just brings you right back to excitement.

And I couldn’t help but smile as the young girl behind me cried out, “I love you!” as Caroline Sheen took her bow. I love you, too, Ms. Sheen, for taking me back to an easier time, for owning such an iconic role, and for making me believe in magic.

I love you, too.

Update: The spectacular and beautiful Caroline Sheen and the fantastic Nicolas Dromard have informed me via Twitter that the two young stars were Talon Ackerman and Camille Mancuso. You can, if you like, follow Ms. Sheen, Mr. Dromard, and the show’s official Twitter.

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Unexpected Discovery

Don’t you love it when you’re looking up something seemingly mundane and inadvertently discover something awesome? That would be how I found Charlie McDonnell this morning. Now, apparently he’s quite well-known, but since I’d never heard of him, there’s a chance many of you haven’t either. (Ha! See how I made a funny there? I said “many” like I have more than 10 or 15 readers in the first place! Ahh, I kill myself.)

Anyway, here are Charlie McDonnell’s various links:
Twitter: @coollike


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I Finally Get It

My, how this is a year of evolution for me. Less than 365 days ago, the mere thought of me attending a baseball game would have been nauseating, even laughable. I hate sports, always have. In my entire life, I’ve never attended a single sporting event – professional, school, or otherwise. I’ve had no interest, no desire. I was against the entire principle of sports. After all, athletes are overpaid, school athletics programs often overshadow academics, and riots can even break out over the results of what is ultimately just a game.

So imagine my surprise when I was invited to a baseball game and I actually found myself saying yes.

And if that wasn’t enough, picture my shock when I actually really, really enjoyed it.

Yes, that’s right, I finally understand why people like sports – at least in person. Because I was cheering, screaming, shouting, hoping, and singing right along with all the other fans. Granted, these were the Pittsburgh Pirates, so we really didn’t expect our hopes to be answered. But it was the environment, the atmosphere that really got to me.

I’m not sure what I thought an event like this would be, once upon a time. I think I expected insane fans, long lines, drinks being spilled on me, and other general unpleasantness.

What I found instead was excitement, entertainment, food, and – yes – just plain fun. People always told me that, even if I don’t enjoy watching such things on TV, being there is entirely different. And that, I see, is indeed true. Now I’m even planning on going to a Penguins game this season. (Though I admit, I’ve had a bit more interest in hockey the past few years due to a friend’s obsession with the game, so going to a hockey game is slightly less out of character for me.)

Plus, I got some great pictures, some of which I stitched into this awesome panorama (which is also, at the time of writing this, my header). Click to see it full size (very large).

So, hell froze over, pigs flew, I went to a baseball game and enjoyed it, and the Pirates actually won! A day of insanity, indeed. 😀

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Kennywood, Idlewild, and Family — Oh, My!

What a hectic long weekend it turned out to be. And – lucky you – I’m going to tell you about it.

Thursday was my community day at Kennywood, so I’d had long-standing plans to go and get the second use out of my season pass. I went with my aunt and uncle, my 16-year-old cousin (who just so happens to share my birthday), and my 2-year-old cousin. So, of course, the 16-year-old and I broke off to do our own thing.

Phantom’s Revenge – which I hadn’t ridden yet this year – was closed at the start of the day due to some technical problem, so we headed over to Exterminator. I was a bit wary of getting on this one, since the last time I rode it, I got fairly sick. This time, I’m happy to report, I was fine, so I’m going to blame the last time on the fact that I’d had Potato Patch fries beforehand. I’ve decided those fries, which used to be so delicious, now just aren’t the same. By not eating them, I avoided being sick the entire day.

Then we headed back around to Racer, another of my favorites. Since we were in the area, our next goal was Jack Rabbit. Unfortunately, this is when it started to rain – the first time. Riding Jack Rabbit in the rain was…interesting. I hate being wet, not to mention my cargo pockets were full of things that don’t respond well to moisture – cellphone, camera, et cetera.

Afterward, we waited out the brief rain and then headed to the now-open Phantom’s Revenge. Oh, how I love that ride. Of course, just as we were about to board, the rain started again. And rain, on a hypercoaster, feels more like bullets. Still really fun, though.

At this point, my cousin was starting to get discouraged, but I was still fine. But we sought out the rest of our group and hung with them for a bit before heading out again. We did Pirate – my personal favorite ride, even though it’s not the most fun – and headed to Thunderbolt. While in line for Thunderbolt, the rain started yet again, and they closed the coaster. So we didn’t ride anything else.

Despite the frequent rain (I think we counted six times, overall), it was still an enjoyable day, especially now that I appreciate Kennywood for reasons other than the rides.

Friday, I got up early again and headed to Idlewild. Some of my mother’s siblings have wanted to get together there for a few years now, and finally we did – me, my mom, an aunt and uncle, and an aunt and her boyfriend.

Idlewild is the number-two kids’ park in the world, apparently, but I gotta say, at 26, I still totally love the place. It’s considerably calmer than Kennywood, but now that I’m gettin’ older and all, I don’t mind that. It’s shadier, too, so that’s nice. And the weather, which I’d feared would be a repeat of Thursday, turned out to be fantastic. No rain, the humidity seemed pretty low, and there was a cool breeze.

Friday at Idlewild was Italian Day, so it was packed, which would normally bother me, but despite the huge crowd, lines for food and rides moved quickly. There was a huge pavilion full of Italian food vendors, and everything pretty much rocked. It’s only in the last few years that I’ve really started hanging out with my mom’s side of the family, and I’ve come to realize what a blast they are. Plus, it’s a rarity to see my mother get out and really have fun, so I was glad she got to do that.

The highlight of the day, for me, had to be meeting a really sweet English family who were here “on holiday” (I so geeked out when they said that) to attend the wedding of her sister to an American man. We were waiting to ride the train, and their young son was pretending it was the Hogwarts Express, singing some song he made up – “How do you get to Hogwarts? How do you get to Hogwarts?” I absolutely adore meeting English people, especially as kind as they were. We chatted for a bit about the weather – it’s considerably warmer here than they’re used to, and we explained it’s been uncharacteristically hot here this year – and told them we hoped they enjoy the rest of their vacation.

I also surprisingly liked Idlewild’s circus. I’ve never been a fan of circuses, in general, especially clowns. But the Royal Hanneford Circus puts on a good show. At 45 minutes, it’s the perfect length, and it features quick-change artists (my favorite), a Doberman act, and the Wheel of Doom, among others.

And there were concerts throughout the day, culminating with the Vogues. By then we’d already been there for almost 10 hours, so we only stayed for a few songs (including “Five O’Clock World,” my personal favorite). But that just happened to be my very first concert. Sad but true.

Anytime I get to have Dippin’ Dots, pizza, funnel cake, and potato wedges, it’s a great day, so Friday was – well, Friday was perfect, and that’s not something I say very often. Seems like the best I can usually say about my day is that it wasn’t bad, so to say something was good is rare, let alone perfect. I actually get choked up when I think about how great a day it was, because that’s just not common for me.

I spent Saturday recuperating, taking just enough time to run out for some food. We were all pretty much exhausted. And today, I spent time with Mom and Dad as well as another aunt and uncle from my dad’s side. (My parents each have a decent number of siblings, so I have a huge family.)

This week will be spent working, of course, and trying to figure out a way to make my biggest summer dream come true before time runs out. Granted, I’ve been trying to figure it out for over a month now, so I doubt my chances are very good, but I’m still going to try.

I wish more weekends could be spent like this. Truly a “grateful to God” weekend. I sincerely hope yours was just as good.


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4th of July

I’m Nathan, and this is how my family rolls on the 4th of July.

Every year, family and friends head over to my uncle’s house for my cousin Chad’s 4th of July celebration. After several years, I can honestly say it hasn’t gotten old. Good food, good company, and the ever-entertaining wiffle-ball game. And Chad always puts on a fireworks show. Below is a slideshow of the photos I took, as well as a video. I’d intended to add music to the video, but, well, I got lazy. Anyway, enjoy! Happy 4th, everyone!

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