A Look Ahead …

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This week is the start of the big tour. And the big tour begins with:

LibertyCon

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The Thirtieth LibertyCon starts Friday and goes through Sunday in Chattanooga, TN. For those of us in the SciFi community, it will be a star-studded weekend with some true stars, not just those of the PC-elect.

Master of Ceremonies:  Toni Weisskopf

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Baen Editor & Publisher, Toni Weisskopf, isn’t just one of the most well-known people at LibertyCon, she’s one of the most well-known people in Southern Fandom!  There’s not much to say about her that you don’t already know, so I’m not going to bother…  except to point out that you know how smart, funny and charming this lady can be…  so all I can think is that she’s going to be a heck of a Master of Ceremonies for LC30!

30th Anniversary Literary Guest of Honor:  John Ringo

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John Ringo is not only a world class writer, but is also a very familiar face at LibertyCon.  Every year you can find him sitting and chatting with friends and fans, and now he’s even stepped up his game to take on Todd McCaffrey in the ConSuite with his “Nearly Home-Made Spaghetti” that he brought in for the attendees at LC29!  (I would say all of this is the reason for us having him in as LC30th Anniv. LGoH but really it’s just a ploy so we can hang out with his lovely wife, Miriam)  Wink

You can find out more about John at his website, JohnRingo.net

Literary Guest of Honor:  Kevin Hearne

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Kevin Hearne is a favorite author of quite a few of the LibertyCon family, and we’re sure that once you check out his work you’ll understand why! We’re really looking forward to meeting him when he comes in as our LC30 Literary Guest of Honor!

You can find out more about Mr. Hearne (And his dogs for that matter!) at his website, KevinHearne.com

Artist Guest of Honor:  Dan dos Santos

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Dan dos Santos is an incredible artist who covers the field with his work. Although primarily known for his incredible book cover art, he has also worked in comics and film for companies like DC Comics and Disney. You just never know where this guy is going to pop up, but we’re happy that he’s popping up in Chattanooga as our 2017 Artist Guest!

You can learn more about Dan by checking out his website at DandosSantos.com

Science Guest of Honor:  Dr. Elisa Quintana

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Dr. Elisa Quintana is an award winning scientist that works with both the SETI Institute and the NASA Ames Research Center on the Kepler Mission.  She not only has several advanced degrees in addition to her Ph.D. in Physics, but was also a team lead of the astronomers who confirmed Kepler-186f.  This might not mean much to you said that way, but it was the first  Earth-sized planet found orbiting in another star’s habitable “Goldilocks Zone”!

One thing about it, I can’t wait to see the Mad Scientists’ Panel with her on board!

Special Guest of Honor:  Todd McCaffrey

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Over the past several years, Todd McCaffrey has been a well known face around LibertyCon.  He’s not only a talented author, but also genuinely one of the nicest people around.  (Also we’ve come to look forward to his crepes, which he makes for staff and fans for Saturday morning breakfast.  Really!  We’re not joking, Todd McCaffrey makes our breakfast…  and they’re great!)  We’re looking forward to having him at LibertyCon 30 as our Staff Chef Special Guest of Honor!

You can learn more about Todd by checking out his page at PERNHome.com

30th Anniversary Guest:  Faith Hunter

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Another new face on the list of LibertyCon 30 “headliners”, Faith Hunter is the New York Times bestselling author of the Jane Yellowrock Series, the Rogue Mage Series and the Soulwood Series.  We haven’t had the chance to meet Ms. Hunter yet, but by all accounts she should fit right into our little LibertyCon Family!  We can’t wait to see her in 2017!

You can find out more about Faith at her website, FaithHunter.net

Besides all the guests of honor is a slate of sessions and activities and readings and signings to overflow the day with possibilities. As our second CON, and first LibertyCon, we won’t be quite as green as our first Con, but still gawking our way through the marvels of it all.

World’s of Fun

The second item on look ahead is World’s of Fun. Several items here.

  • This weekend is the big Patriotic Celebration.  Worlds of Fun celebrates the 4th for 4 nights in July with fireworks at 10pm each night, Saturday thru Tuesday. (Please note, the Worlds of Fun Avenue and main parking entrance will be closed from approximately 7:30 pm – 11:00 pm each night. Traffic entering the park will be directed to the Oceans of Fun parking lot.)
  • Family Reunion Days July 1-4, 8, 9, 15, 16, 22, 23, 29, 30 $42.99/person Admission and Meal for Groups of 15 or More. Celebrate your Family Reunion in July at Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun. Enjoy access to both parks, an all-you-can-eat picnic buffet from 2PM – 3PM at one of our picnic pavilions, including Fried Chicken, Sliced Brisket, Potato Salad, Baked Beans, Potato Chips, Assorted Cookies, and drinks from Coca-Cola. All at a reasonable price! With all the rides, slides, shows, and attractions, including the all-new Falcon’s Flight and Mustang Runner there’s no better place to have fun with the entire family. And no simpler way to plan it. Just work with one of our experienced Account Executives, and they’ll take care of everything. You and the family enjoy the day!
  • Military Days –– Worlds of Fun wants to thank the men and women who have served and who are currently serving in our country’s military. Veterans of the American Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard will receive complimentary admission to Worlds of Fun on July 4. Complimentary tickets available for active duty, reserve, or retired military with honorable or medical discharge and government issued ID.  Veterans or active military members only will receive complimentary admission to Worlds of Fun and can bring up to six (6) members of their immediate family on admission at $36.00 + tax each. Please present valid government issued ID at any ticket sales window located at the Worlds of Fun or Oceans of Fun main entrance in order to receive your admission and purchase your immediate family admissions

And of course there is our update on the Season Dining Plan Usage:

 

Total Price Paid $497.44
Total Number of Meals 262
Total Retail $2,699.06
Average Price Per Meal $1.90
Total Drink Price 29.64
Total number of drinks 231
Total Retail $228.00
Average Price Per Drink $0.13

Starlight Theatre — Jersey Boys

I did a late tease on this one Tuesday, but the show goes on through Sunday, July 2.

The strong adult language aside, the show itself was a very good show. The writing was well done. As a musical person, but not one locked into the music of the Jersey Boys’  era, I surprised myself with how much of it was familiar and enjoyable. My wife used her earplugs through the entire thing, and I was tempted to join her, but even with such volume levels it didn’t disturb unduly my ability to follow the weaving of the true-life story and the music that seamlessly told the story with it. This was much more that a musical collage or celebration.

As to the rest of the Starlight experience, I give Starlight a momentary reprise from our growing unease and displeasure at the quality of the experience we have been getting. We arrived earlier to this show than the last, and came in through the 63rd street gate, and were thus parked in grass parking on the correct side of the theatre to be able to get to our dinner reservations without undue circumnavigation of the entire grounds. Of course, we figured that out ourselves, where to come in to park — no one at the theatre suggested it to dining patrons, nor responded to my comments about the same from the previous survey.

The person checking tickets at the gate was having trouble with her reader, but handled the delay in a way that didn’t make us feel disgruntled by the wait. And when we got to the buffet line, there were plates — unlike last time — with a subtle design to remind us of records (thus themed to the evening’s show). Overall there were no glitches to the evening, for once.

All of that is said without being influenced by the other main event of the evening for us.

We won the door prize.

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When they handed us our programs at the gate, each of us looked to see who was sponsoring the show, and then turned to the page with the sponsor’s ad. They always announce that whoever on that page sees the gold Starlight sticker will be the winner of that night’s giveaway.  I turned to that page, saw the star, was subtly startled, closed, opened, gave my wife a peak and then closed the book again, with surreptitious glances.

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We guarded the booklet all through dinner, posed for a surreptitious picture in the our seats, and then went to redeem it at intermission for the $200 in Starlight gift certificates that was our prize.

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And now we still need to decide: will we apply them toward season tickets next year, or just buy individual shows. Will they present us with a good enough season to make season tickets worthwhile next year?

 

A Look Ahead …

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This week’s look ahead has four items, including glance ahead teasers …

 

AUMC — Vacation Bible School

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Avondale United Methodist Church Invites Families to Rome: Paul and the Underground Church

[Kansas City, MO] A summer family event called Rome: Paul and the Underground Church will be hosted at Avondale United Methodist Church. Families step back in time at Rome, exploring the life of the apostle Paul and the underground church. Kids and adults participate in a memorable Bible-times marketplace, sing catchy songs, play teamwork-building games, dig in to Roman eats, visit Paul while he’s under house arrest, and collect Bible Memory Makers to remind them of God’s Word. Each day concludes at Extollo—a time of upbeat worship that gets everyone involved.

Kids and adults at Rome will join The Missouri United Methodist Conference in the “Water for Haiti” project—a project that provides water filters to families in Haiti. With this service opportunity, families’ donations will change the lives of other families across the globe by helping provide them with safe drinking water.

Rome will begin on Friday, June 23, with supper at 6:00 p.m. and conclude at 8:30.  Saturday, June 24, 9:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.  Sunday, June 25, 9:30-Noon. For more information, call 816-452-3518.

Please register both adults and children using forms located in the foyer or by calling the church office.  We encourage parents and grandparents to accompany children as we learn about Paul’s Rome.  All church members of any age are welcome to attend with or without children!

Worlds of Fun

The big events coming up all relate to a week from now, with Celebrate America on the July 4th weekend, and Family Reunion Days and a Military Day all packed into the July 4th celebrations.

KCCC Tug of War

This week, the final week of the Kansas City Corporate Challenge, has been the swim meet, the penultimate competition,  since Monday night.  Tonight is the final event: freestyle — both 50 individual and 200 relay.

Saturday is the ultimate event — the tug-of-war.  I might even be doing it again  for my company this year, for the second time.  We are still trying to put together our team. Event itself starts 7:30 a.m. Saturday at the Longview Lake Swim Beach.

Teaser — Liberty Con

And finally the real look ahead teaser.  More to come next week:

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Food — With a Lack of Personality

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Today I want to discuss a feature of the food plan at Worlds of Fun that has been overlooked this year.

For the previous two years, the foods section of WOF has had a face and a personality: Kevin Williams, executive chef. He gave color and was a presence at the BBQ & Brew Festival, and all the other events that WOF sponsored. He also gave shape and meaning to the food service, and the various meal plans.

But there is a new execituve chef this year. I saw him once at the Battlecreek Barbecue when he was talking to someone else in the line and mentioned the fact. At that time I intended to say hello, but something intervened and I didn’t get to speak to him. Since then, though I have been at the park nearly daily, I haven’t managed to see him around. There is no personality, no presence.

With that lack of personality is a certain lack of direction and cohesion. Almost everyone I have talked to in the foods services has been cheerful and pleasant, but that hasn’t prevented some confusion and contradiction from one person to the next, even one supervisor to the next.

For example, I specifically asked about whether Turkey Legs were on the dining plan at Battlecreek Barbecue when the season started. I was told that they were. Yet recently they said they are not.

Likewise, at G’rilla Grill, we were told originally that we could only get a plain hot dog, or a corn dog, yet now we are told everything on the menu is available, including the brauts.

And then there is the Chicken Shack, which I still don’t know where it is on or not.

I went to guest relations this past week, and they shared what they had gotten from food services, which is supposed to be official, but I still don’t know for sure whether it is or not.

The plan just needs more explanation, and the food services just needs more presence and personality again.

The individual stores have presence and pleasant services, though some of them need to be more efficient. But there is no overarching sense to things this year, as there was in past years.

Some (un)official attractions at Worlds of Fun

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When I started to write this post, I intended to add a map to illustrate where the items I will talk about are located. But when I went to Google Maps I noticed that the new changes to the Worlds of Fun entrance are not on there. And the Worlds of Fun official site uses Google Maps, so they don’t have anything on their website I can find to point out the specific items I want to. So instead I will describe it in words.

If you enter the park through the new entry gates, and cross the new International Plaza, there is a bridge between the Grand Carousel and Pizzo Pizza that takes you into the Asia section of the park. If you look into a pool on the on the Viking Voyager side.

For the past few years, as we have passed over the bridge, we have taken time to pause and watch the pool. We first started watching it after one of us noticed a turtle swimming. After that, we have paused from time to time to see how many turtles are swimming.

This year, we didn’t spot any turtles to start out with, but in the past week we spotted turtles and even this past week tadpoles developing legs into frogs.

Today the effects of last night’s rain were in evidence, the pool was murky, water cloudy, and we could see more leaves and twigs had been swept into the pool. But the tadpoles were still swimming around, what few we could see.

If you go further into the park, into Asia, there is another pond in the middle of the circle formed by Panda Express, the Bamboozler, The RipCord and the CocaCola refresh station. Two years ago there were Koi fish in there you could watch and feed. Last year there were no fish. There were none this year when the season began, but when we saw fish food in the quarter coin food dispenser, we knew and expected that the fish were back. Which they are.

It isn’t just the rides, or the food. It is the ambiance of the park that makes the park experience what it is. In other places I have written about food, rides, even the use of music and sound. But today, I’m focusing on the more natural, and living portions of the park.

So, if you have a moment, between the rides, and the food, and the music, take a moment to enjoy a quieter moment, and watch the fish (official) or turtles (unofficial), part of what makes Worlds of Fun what it is.

A Look Ahead…

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In this week’s look ahead, we have the usual spotlight on World’s of Fun:

Sunday is Father’s Day, and the WOF website has the following blurb about the day:

Celebrate Father’s Day at the Belly Flop Contest in the Surf City Wave Pool at Oceans of Fun! Contest begins at approximately 2:30pm.

Plus, Season Passholders get to bring up to four friends for only $21.99 each! Simply present your Gold or Platinum Pass at any open ticket window to purchase discounted tickets.

Now, I have been going to WOF for years on Father’s day, but have never participated in the belly flop contest.

Because what I will be doing on Father’s Day is running the Kansas City Corporate Challenge Triathlon down at Shawnee Mission Park. Here are a couple of clips from my past year’s experiences:

The rest of the week, next Monday-Thursday, will be the KCCC Swim Meet at the Gladstone Natatorium (community center pool).

  • Monday — 200 yard Freestyle
  • Tuesday — 50 yard Breaststroke, 100 yard Individual Medley
  • Wednesday — 50 yard Backstroke, 50 yard Butterfly, Coed Medley Relay
  • Thursday — 50 yard Freestyle, Coed Freestyle Relay

And that is my brief look ahead. See below for the WOF dining plan update:

Total Price Paid $497.44
Total Number of Meals 214
Total Retail $2,212.36
Average Price Per Meal $2.32
Total Drink Price 29.64
Total number of drinks 182
Total Retail $182.00
Average Price Per Drink $0.16

A Look Ahead …

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I have three main things to mention in this week’s Look Ahead.

First, let’s see what is going on at Worlds of Fun…

Kansas City Flavor

Weekends June 2-11

As the blurb on their website describes it: Worlds of Fun is more than an amusement park, it’s tradition that goes back 3 generations!  And in keeping with our rich Kansas City heritage, we are unveiling a whole new experience: Kansas City Flavor. It’s all things KC, featuring iconic cuisine, and the best of the music scene, culture and local artisans.

Those who pay for the tickets to sample the fare will get, as the website describes it: In the tradition of great Kansas City market fresh flavors, sample six food stations designed by our local chef and featuring great KC inspired food, craft beer, and spirits.

Having participated in the BBQ & Brew festival earlier, I am certain this too will be just as festive, if not more so. Besides food and beverage, Kansas City Flavor will have a children’s craft corner, and live local music groups performing jazz, bluegrass and rock. There will also be the crafts of local artisans on display and for sale.

And now, a side comment about Worlds of Fun. This past weekend was opening weekend for Oceans of Fun. My family enjoyed the water park, but there was one particular distraction. None of the drink refresh stations were open. The only way to get a drink was to wait in the long food lines. While many of us having the season drink bottles, standing in line for 15-30 minutes just to refill it seemed rather excessive and pointless.

And now, I will update with the season dining plan stats, before going on to the other two events:

Total Price Paid $497.44
Total Number of Meals 153
Total Retail $1,581.00
Average Price Per Meal $3.25
Total Drink Price 29.64
Total number of drinks 123
Total Retail $123.00
Average Price Per Drink $0.24

Starlight Theatre Broadway Season

The Little Mermaid, June 3-11

The Starlight Theater Broadway Season also opens this weekend with Disney’s The Little Mermaid. This is obviously going to be a good show, and probably sold out since it is the family show of the season. My family will be there Tuesday evening.

I could be wrong in my estimation, but I expect this to be the highlight of the season for us. To be quite honest, my wife and I have been less than impressed with the choice of shows the past couple of years. As season ticket holders since 1997 that isn’t a pleasant thing for us to think or say. But they keep going for the edgy stuff, which just doesn’t ping for us.

The other shows for this season are:

  • Jersey Boys
  • An American in Paris
  • Something Rotten
  • The Bodyguard
  • Motown the musical
  • Grease

Kansas City Corporate Challenge

Track Meet, Shawnee Mission North High School

The Corporate Challenge track meet will be evenings June 5-8. Personally I will be there Tuesday and Wednesday for the mile run and 100 yard dash, respectively.