Addams Family and onto Halloween

The day after the Opera House visit the kids went to see The Addams Family animated film. Dani had been wanting to see it since the posters appeared in the streets. And as I had been telling him that he was not old enough to see the Joker movie, he was never going to let this one pass him by.

Reaction

They loved it. Susana liked it more than Dani and yet ironically the tale was not too dissimilar to the puppet show they had seen the previous day. One of rejection for being “different” etc… The puppet show had upset her but this one (it seems) was just a lot more fun.

OK: I know what you’re thinking. What did this grumpy old dad think of the film? Well it was just about OK. As with all animation the film makers can push the boundaries that bit further. And they certainly did that with the help of all the usual CGI we see these days. I would class this kids’ movie as “watchable”.

At least they kept the spirit (no pun intended) of the original TV series. The original theme music and song making an appearance. The kids in the audience soon picked up on the finger clicking. Good stuff.

One Joker to Another

Before leaving the cinema, Dani had to get his photograph taken with the Joker himself.

The following day we flew off to the UK where Dani would spend the week leading up to his first British Halloween. Plus a chance to catch up with all his relatives of course.

Halloween…

And what do you know? It is not raining… Or have I spoken too soon?

The plan is to go ‘trick or treating’ with his younger cousins followed by a house party. And we are about to start… More to come.

A Day at the Opera

Not to be confused with the famous Queen album of 1975. This was a daytime trip to see a Chinese puppet style production in the Opera house in Madrid.

No Rugby here…

While many people were watching the rugby semi-final between England and New Zealand I had to travel into the centre of Madrid to watch a performance called “Mi Amigo Frankenstein” (My Friend Frankenstein) in the grand and well-known Opera building. It was for kids.

While the rugby played out in Japan, I was watching a bloody Chinese puppet show. Mixed with some pantomime-like, slap-stick comedy thrown in.

It was immediately after Dani’s swimming class. There were four of us. Myself, Dani, his cousin Susana and her mum. A Metro journey took us right into the beating heart of Madrid. Arriving just in time for the lad to run to the toilet. I swear he would have pissed himself if he had started watching the show without going.

The Show…

Naturally I thought it was crap. But Dani loved it. Far more than I thought he would. Meanwhile Susana had to leave about half-way through the performance. Crying. It as all too much for her. At first, I thought it was because something had frightened her. There was a little scary music at one point and then the image of a skeleton coming to life. Well, maybe…

But no. she was in tears because it made her sad. Sad to see how others were treating the ‘monster’. Funny in a way. She is a lovely and very sensitive girl. I remember she also cried when we went to watch the Dumbo movie when the baby elephant was teased.

More brainwashing for the kids…

Ironically that was supposed to be the whole point of the play. A message about “exclusion”. How we should not exclude anyone just because they are “different”. Typical nonsense these days. Keep enforcing the PC messages to young kids. Never mind the format or story used to do so…

This was a story about a doctor digging up corpses to acquire body parts to make a ‘monster’ right?

Please!! Help me out here!

All that aside, the puppetry was quite good. After the show they even invited the children to see all the puppet parts and how it was done. Dani joined in the crowd of kids but Susana had already left the building.

City Centre Photo

As this was the centre of Madrid there were the usual street entertainers plying their trade. Or in many cases just photo opportunities.

This is the one the kids chose… A giant panda. Nice photo though don’t you think?

panda

Susana now back to normal and unstressed. No pandas were hurt in the making of this photo.

The Gambling Problem

When I first started this blog I mentioned that I would write about my ‘hopes and fears’ for my son. The biggest fears most parents have are the well documented addictions. Smoking is one for sure but it is alcohol and drugs that most parents worry about.

But there is a fourth threat. One that is not only still socially acceptable but actively encouraged on TV and other forms of media. Gambling!

The Advertising Scandal

While alcohol is socially acceptable it is closely monitored when it comes to advertising. At least it used to be.

When I was growing up adverts for cigarettes and alcohol partially filled the TV screens. Then tobacco advertising was phased out – rapidly becoming non-existent. I don’t recall any for gambling.

Nowadays? Wow! It is so different.

My young son is growing up in a world where gambling is the new sexy. Apart from all the national, state and regional lotteries the airwaves are full of it. And these gambling airwaves are everywhere now due to mobile phones and the internet.

In Spain many of the gambling ads on TV are fronted by top footballers (mostly south American). Other gambling adverts are performed by famous and trusted TV personalities and actors.

In UK I noticed an ad with a very well-known sports star; none other than the global super star himself, Usain Bolt. That advert was for online poker.

These sportsmen – and they are always men – are not only (supposed) role models. They are heroes to young boys. And the not so young too. Many adults, who admittedly should know better, are suckered into the world of gambling by these sports icons.

The obvious question…

How can the politicians ban cigarette advertising and regulate the hell out of beer ads while allowing such hero-worshipped “stars” to advertise gambling?

Gambling like alcoholism, drugs and smoking is a serious addiction. While not directly affecting one’s health in the same way as the other three it can lead to serious problems devastating the lives of the gambler and his/her family. If gets out of hand It can rapidly destroy lives more quickly than booze and cigarettes combined.

Finally they are expressing concern

Recently there have been calls to regulate gambling advertising more strictly. The problem is now being discussed at least.

While I do not (yet) worry about Dani becoming addicted to gambling I do think things are getting out of hand. In further posts I will look more closely at the regulations on all these addictive habits. Comparing the rules then and now.

Meanwhile, ask yourself this question: Do you think there is too much gambling advertising?

Radio Ga-Ga-Garden

It’s amazing what you find on the internet these days. It still surprises even me.

Every now and again you come across a website that just impresses you. This one is great. It was introduced to me by a good friend of mine who clearly has too much time on his retired hands. Only joking Neil. Thanks for this one mate…

World of Radio

This internet site shows you all the radio stations operating in any country, any area, anywhere on the planet. Move the globe with your mouse to a country and region and zoom in. The website picks up the radio channels showing them as green dots.

By moving over the green dots you select the radio station. It’s one of those internet sites that you can play with all day. You are quite likely to find a radio station near where you live that you never knew existed.

Pass it on….

The website is www.radio.garden

Please forward this blog post to anyone you know who may be interested in this radio website. Spread the word…

2022 Football World Cup in Spain?

Here’s a bold prediction: Spain will host the next world cup. Football world cup that is. The Mundial.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup was awarded to Qatar some years ago you may recall. So, you may be wondering, what on earth is this old dad going on about?

Qatar and Sport

Qatar recently stage the Athletics World Championships. Despite attempts by certain sectors of the mainstream media to put a brave face on it, the championships were widely considered to be a disaster. A virtually empty stadium for most of the events and high temperatures were the two biggest criticisms. Some athletes collapsed during some of the longer events.

So, imagine a game of football lasting a minimum of 90 minutes. Never mind a game going to extra time – another 30 minutes – and then a penalty shoot-out! Maybe some people would quite enjoy seeing some of these over-paid footballers collapsing due to heat exhaustion. I could see the irony in that. But let’s not be cruel.

Get the drinks in…?

Forget the weather for a moment. What about the lack of alcohol?

As we all know football fans around the world love a party. And that generally involves drinking alcohol. Lots of alcohol.

Really though. What footie fan would want to go? I have been to Qatar. You can only drink in the hotels. But only in the hotels. This means that football fans will be restricted to partying in their hotels. Which I am sure they will do quite well. But surely that is not the point.

They may allow drinking in “fan zones” – time will tell but if it is only in hotels then fans will be stuck there all day, every day… There is very little else to see and do.

Then there will be the inevitable rule changes. Quarters no doubt, instead of two halves. Allowing the players time to recover and rehydrate. It will not be good for old fashioned supporters of the beautiful game.

If Qatar still hosts the tournament I am tempted to say that I hope nobody goes. Many will still go however; no matter what.

The Claim for Spain

And as we all know, Spain is one of the world’s biggest and best loved tourist/holiday destinations. Rightly so. This means that all the infrastructure is all there. Hotels, public beaches and tourist attractions aplenty. Spain also has an excellent public transport system on top of the well-known (tourist industry driven) airport network.

Oh! And plenty of places for fans to have a drink Before, during and after the games.

The stadiums are also ready to go with some of the worlds biggest and best football teams playing in Spain.

Track record

Now, there may be several countries that could stake similar claims to Spain. But Spain now has a track record of stepping up to the mark. Madrid successfully hosted the south American cup final between Boca and River. To successfully stage that event on such short notice speaks volumes. And, as far as I know still, there was no reported violence. (For more on this please see previous posts here…and here.)

Personally, I don’t think the world cup should have been given to such a small, desert country, for all the obvious reasons. I am sure that this is a topic which will be talked about a lot in the coming months. But if any country needs to step in and correct that mistake then Spain is surely it.

Naturally I also have selfish reasons for that. I would love Dani to see it in his own country.

Holidays in the Sun

The more you think about it the more it seems logical. Why on earth would football fans want to visit Qatar for a tournament? There is no obvious reason. I can see even the most ardent fans staying at home to watch the matches. Or, more likely, watching football on TV while sitting in a Spanish bar on holiday.

That is more or less what I did myself back in 1982. The last and only time Spain hosted the football spectacular. That was the first time I ever visited Spain. I remember quite vividly the games I watched including the final in which Italy beat Germany. Or West Germany, as they were then known – that’s how long ago it was.

Apologies to the many football fans in Qatar for starting this rumour (or should I say, ‘prediction’?). But really? Was it ever the right place to host the world’s biggest sports tournament?

I am not a betting man, but I might just try and get some bookmakers odds on this prediction…

Clowns and Halloween

Halloween is fast approaching and Dani is getting excited already. He calls it his favourite fiesta. What he really loves about it is dressing up as a vampire, mummy or zombie. This year he is planning a mixed bag costume. It involves a vampires cape, skeleton suit and a frightening mask of some deranged clown.

What is it with clowns and Halloween?

Send in the clowns
Dani asked a very good question the other day. We were out walking to the shops. Looking for Halloween costumes actually.
“Dad, why are there more scary clowns in films than funny ones?” he said.

It was a good question. And the answer was certainly not immediately obvious. In fact it still isn’t. He came up with the question because this past week saw the premieres of two big movies. One called “It (Chapter 2)” and the other is “Joker”. On almost every main road junction there are posters advertising one or both of these films. Every now and again he would ask about the two clown characters on those posters.

One (It 2) is definitely of the horror/terror genre. The other is a DC Comics character. But we are not talking about Cesar Romero in the 1960s Batman TV series here – my particular favourite by the way.

While Cesar Romero’s Joker was obviously a nut job, that TV series was pure comic book this latest Joker movie is definitely a darker, deeper look at the DC comic villain. I had to tell Dani right away that he will not be watching either movie any time soon. When his old dad goes to see it is another story.

But back to the question.
I could not really answer it. Why are there more scary clowns than funny clowns in the movies? In general even? I made up some pathetic answer. Basically because I do not know the real answer – if there even is one. Clown costumes have come to be associated with Halloween more than making people laugh. 

Does anyone know the answer?

Meanwhile…

Here is that mask….

yeah. Not exactly nice or funny is it? Well, he certainly thinks so. He just thinks this mask is funny. This year we have planned to be over at his nana’s house for Halloween. Dani can have a fright night party with some of his cousins. More on that to come….

A Chinese Puzzle

I have said it before and will say it again; this blog is for Dani to read when he is older. Plus, anyone else who may find it interesting, funny or just weird!

Very few read it; normally. But all that has just changed. At least this past week… Sort of…

The Dad (or Mum) Bloggers…

Regular readers (and there are not that many) will know that I have said on several occasions that this blog was never intended to generate a mass following. Well that part has certainly worked. The only people who read it are those I send the links to such as family and friends Again, that is OK with me.

Some people write these mum or dad blogs with the intention of enticing thousands of followers. This can lead to a site that generates income if there are enough readers. There is no chance of that happening with my blog. And again, that’s fine by me.

Hit rate…

The Word Press blog site I use gives you statistics on many things. One such tool is the site traffic stats. Normally my weekly number of ‘hits’ hovers around the one hundred mark. So, imagine my surprise when I checked how many ‘hits’ I had received over the past week…

Thousands! Yes, thousands! As if that was not odd enough; they were almost all from China.

What on earth is going on?

A Chinese ‘Google’?

A little investigation revealed that my blog site had popped up on thousands of searches in China on a search engine called ‘baidu.com’. It looks a bit like any Google search page but this company is very definitely Chinese. It has been going since the year 2000.

Naturally, I tried it. I typed a few things – in English obviously – and low and behold my blog popped up near the top of the search list. The very top in one search. That is something that does not happen in our search engines. Unless you pay for it!

What exactly were all those Chinese people searching for I wonder?

Is it because of the ‘one child rule’? Or could it be because that rule has recently been relaxed so many Chinese are now having children much later in life?

If anyone knows please let me know.

Or could it be something else altogether? Read on…

Other search results….

A few links to some medical sites revealed some odd results. Like do older dads have smarter/brainy sons? Another site was about older dads having ‘geekier’ sons. I think Dani fits well into both of those categories at the moment. He is both clever and geeky.

There were even a lot of (how shall I say) more inappropriate sites that popped up in some of the lists. I was beginning to think that searching for anything like ‘old dad’ was just as likely to produce a list of porn related sites. The whole thing may now be less of a mystery. Well at least you have to see the funny side eh?

I wonder if they are typing their search in Chinese or English? All very curious…

15 minutes of fame…

I believe it was that 1960s artist Andy Warhol who said: “In the future everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes”. Well I think this old dad just had his 15 minutes of fame. Albeit on a Chinese search engine. Soon it will be ‘back to reality’.

I just put it all down to a temporary blip in a new Chinese search engine. Pretty soon my blog will drop off the page. Along with any chance of (more than 15 minutes) fame and fortune on the Chinese media.

One last thought:

I wonder how many of you will now go and type “old dad” into the search engine on your phone or PC? Hahaha…

Settled in School (plus a kids’ books review)

Everything seems to be going well with school.

Dani has been back for almost a month now and this week they have restarted the judo classes. He also has basketball lessons this year. Although he definitely needs to grow a lot more if he intends to take that sport seriously. That said there are one or two players in the Spanish national team who are not that tall – by basketball player standards. One of whom plays in the famous NBA in the USA.

This past month has been a bit hectic. I finished the work in Italy, returned to site and handed in my notice. The new job started just over a week ago but as the security needed to get on the site is still not approved I fond myself driving an hour and a half each way just to sit in the office. More or less with nothing to do. So, I decided to take this week off.

Homework…

I managed to get a flight over to Madrid and have just returned from taking Dani into school. He certainly seems to have settled into the routine. In fact he couldn’t wait to get into the building, thinking he was late – which we weren’t.

In his first year of primary school following three years of full-time nursery school he has homework. Pretty much every night he is supposed to read for 10 minutes and note down in his agenda the book title, how much he has read and which page he is on.

Each Monday he receives weekly homework sheets where the tasks are broken down into days of the week. He tends to do them all in one sitting and then hands them in the following Monday. Smart arse kid!

Isadora Moon

He is reading one of the Isadora Moon series of books. Quite advanced I thought for a kid who is not yet 6 years old. Not my idea of a good book but they are certainly popular. Written by an English author – Harriet Muncaster – these books have really taken the kids market by storm. The author is also the illustrator so top marks to Harriet. And top dollar too I dare say.

While Isadora Moon may be aimed more at girls it really doesn’t matter at that age. The current read is in Spanish while he has two others on the go.

Geronimo and Greg

There are two other series of books that Dani is currently into. One is the Geronimo Stilton stories and the other is the Wimpy Kid diaries. The latter he is reading with me in English.

For those who do not know here is a quick overview…

Geronimo Stilton is a mouse who lives in New Mouse City and works as a journalist. I have to admit I haven’t read them myself (yet) but it seems that this mild-mannered mouse just seems to get caught up in wild adventures. What a surprise eh? Cleverly the author – some Italian woman – has written the stories as if Stilton himself is the author. So even at book signings anybody can don the moue suit and pretend to be Geronimo Stilton – which is apparently what happens. Anonymity while being incredibly rich and mildly famous. A great idea by the writer. Whatever the reason these books are amongst the best-selling book series ever written.

The other book is in English. The Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a well-known series in the English-speaking world. Written by American author and cartoonist Jeff Kinney the books are the journals of Greg Heffley. Greg really is a wimpy kid about to hit his teenage years.

I like these books as they seem to be as much for adults as for kids. Not unlike the animated (kids) films being made these days. A few of the books in this series have been made into films.

There you have it folks. A look at what books young children are into these days. Or at least Dani…

The gift of reading…

Being able to read is a great thing which is often taken for granted by most people. It is easy to forget that there are adults out there who cannot read. Whose fault is that? The individual? Their schools? Their parents (if they have any)? Probably a combination. Another story for the old dad treatment in a future blog post maybe…