Wednesday, June 09, 2010

A Weekend of Beautiful Weather and Difficult Disc Golf

This past Memorial weekend the Twin Cities had some of the most incredible weather.  Although humid at times, the abundance of sun shine and a cooling breeze made it great to spend time outdoors.
A number of weeks ago the Star Tribune ran an article in the North section of the paper describing the disc golf course @ Bunker Hill Regional Park in Andover, MN
layout of the course provided by Anoka County
Informational signs are now in place, however, there is still construction on hole 6.  For a 9-hole course, it was moderately difficult.  The signs were helpful in determining the shot needed to hit the hole and the number of strokes also made it easy to find ones way to the next hole.  We didn’t have to pay-to-play as it were, but there was a day pass fee for the park of $5.00.
The Disc Golf course is very close to Bunker Beach, the water park in Bunker Hill, and was closed while we were there as their season does not begin until June (now).  It was amazing to see the number of water parks that begin their seasons in June closed with the phenomenal Memorial Day weather.
With as dry as it has been, the course was mostly dirt and scrub grass that was trying to grow in.  The sections that were in the forest smelled of pine needles blistering in the heat.  Near the parking lot we found the usual amenities: a large pavilion that was being used by the local VFW for the Memorial Day holiday, a large play area with a mister for cooling off in the heat, kind of neat to see them here in Minnesota when they are often found in the South and Western states of the country, and then finally a large grassy field.
Kristen and I picked out a nice spot in the shade and unrolled my University of Minnesota blanket, to enjoy a break and some much needed lunch.  For entertainment, we watched a group of kids and parents run wild around the field flying kites.  The father in charge would direct a corresponding child to run like the dickens to keep their kites in the air, searching for that essential updraft that would make it sore.  However, what would ultimately happen was the kid would keep running and the kite would smash to the ground.
With our stomachs full, we packed up and made our way to my parent’s house in Brooklyn Park, our base of operations for the weekend.  Feeling energized from lunch, we stopped at Brooklyn Park’s 9-hole disc golf course located in Central Park.

Map view provided by:
The course is made up mostly of grass and wood chips near the scoring baskets (is that their official title?).  Distances and Par are listed on the base of the throwing platform for the hole, however, unlike other disc golf courses; BP has not installed signs that show this information or how to best set up ones throw.
 However, the course is pretty user friendly and is a great introduction to the past time/sport/activity, that is Disc Golf, and the fact that the course is free: icing on the cake.
Before starting out on the course, we took a couple of shots around the putting circle (lower left corner of photo posted above) which allows players to practice putting from a number of distances that diminish as one gets closer to the hole (as opposed to an ascending order).  Kristen and I’s favorite hole is #8 from the top of the hill; and is also the best hole to watch other disc golfers perfect their throws and plead with their discs to ‘Get Down, Get Down, Get Down”.  The trick is to pick up enough of an updraft to carry the disc to the hole, but not too much, thus having the disc hug the hill as it approaches the hole.
That evening we got a Facebook message from a good friend from College, Matthew Rhett, who told us that’d he would be in town for the weekend and would be up for playing some disc golf.  An avid and semi-pro disc golfer recommended the 18-hole course @ Bryant Lake Park: part of the Three Rivers Park District.  We all agreed on the location and planned for a tee-off time of 10:00 Am the next day.  Kristen and I then went to bed with the hopes that our throwing arms would have enough rest by morning.
Kristen and I awoke with the excitement of playing a new course in the Metro area and reconnect with friends.  Along with Matthew, his older brother and former floormate of Kristen’s @ Middlebrook: Brian Rhett joined us along with his wife Katrina who I often tease as the Hurricane (I hope she doesn’t hate me for this) and their baby daughter Bella.  The course has a daily fee of $3.00 per person of which Matthew was kind enough to cover for all of us, I’ll have to take him out for a beer the next time he is in town, or challenge him to another round at a different course.

Here’s a description of the course from the Three Rivers Park Website:
The 18-hole disc golf course at Bryant Lake Regional Park offers short and long tee boxes, scenic lake views and the infamous hole #17, where golfers throw their discs off a cliff to reach the basket.  
Descriptions of holes can also be found on the three rivers park website, under the tour button.  The course was one of the most difficult that Kristen and I had ever played through, and the wind was also a contributing factor on a number of holes.
We had some throws where we thought for sure and always aloud “Well, that one is gone forever!”; only to later find our discs in either the thick woods or tall grass.  It also got incredibly hot through the course of playing and I had made the mistake of wearing mostly cotton and not bringing anything synthetic.
We kept pace with Matthew and Brian, while Katrina and Bella walked the course behind us.  I can’t remember how we did stroke wise, but will say that we’ll have to go to Bryant Lake again and continue to work on our disc throwing abilities.

This turned out to be a pretty lengthy post, and it took me a while to finish due to grabbing photos and reading some descriptions, finding links to embed etc.  Overall this was a really fun Holiday weekend for Kristen and I and we are looking forward to spending time with the Rhett Family again in late June during Cottage Grove’s Strawberry festival and a tour of Brian’s garden in his backyard.

Today its June 9th already, and I am up North @ the Tulaby Cabin.  It’s been rainy, windy, cold and overcast and not a typical warm summer day as was promised.  But this has lead to some well needed napping and reading of books.
Kristen spent the last weekend and most of this week with her folks: Dave and Lola @ a campground near Collinwood Lake in Cokato, MN.  Lola recently bought a new camper and they spent the weekend breaking it in.  On Tuesday, Kristen and her Dad where out fishing and Dave was able to land a fairly large Carp weighing about 8 IB.  Hopefully Kristen will write a post about her weekend @ Collinwood in the next couple of days.
I need to write a post about new toy purchases, I recently upgraded my old phone to a new Palm Pre Plus through Verizon Wireless and the Pre Plus has been a handy device.  My father got one as well, and now we have 3G wireless through the Mobile Hotspot at the Cabin.  It has been nice for simple web browsing and checking email.
We’ll see if the weather makes it possible to launch the larger boat and maybe do some fishing if we feel adventurous.  Planning to be back in the cities Thursday and then down in Red Wing, MN Saturday for Fusion Dance’s annual Recital.  My older brother Frank’s students did really well this year as well as a number of his pieces were recognized for choreography awards.
Now, back to George Orwell’s 1984, of which I am reading through for the first time, and possibly a fresh pot of coffee.     

Sunday, June 06, 2010

One of the Best Uses of: Sleepyhead by Passion Pit

My vote is for the Little Big Planet 2 Announcement Trailer. While I am not an owner of a PS3 or Little Big Planet, a good friend of mine has got a lot of mileage out of it and has created some good levels. The first time I heard the song "Sleepyhead" by passion Pit was in the first round of commercials for the Palm Pixi. However, the song didn't get me excited about the product itself; although I have gone on to buy a Palm Pre Plus through Verizon (of which I will dedicate a post to in time). The Song does a great job getting me excited for fans of Little Big Planet 2 and the changing adventures of the main protagonist: Sack-Boy.

The song fits well into the marketing of the game for its epicness of creativity and customization through the driving beats in the background of the song. The creator did a great job of linking moments from the game to the song.
So to wrap things up; this is (IMO) the best use of Passion Pit's Sleepyhead song in the use of marketing a product. Whomever attempts to use the song again for an IP, should consult this video to try an out due what was done, or choose another song. I hope the artists have gotten plenty of exposure from these marketing materials, and compels them to put out more tracks for our enjoyment.
As for Little Big Planet; I saw some great level designs based on ABC's Wipeout that were really well done and I am sure it will continue to be a great platform for beginning, amateur, and experienced game designers the world over. LBP 2 is expected to drop Winter of this year.

The Real Ghostbusters Makes #22 on IGN’s top 100 Animated Series!!

From IGN

"There's a part of us that actually appreciates The Real Ghostbusters more than the actual Ghostbusters movies.  Don't get us wrong, the first movie was classically hilarious, but The Real Ghostbusters just told some really mean and nasty supernatural stories. Their take on The Boogeyman -- and we all know that everyone has their own take on that creature -- was the best we've ever seen. This show had a notably darker tone than other cartoons on at the time, and did well in its research of creature myths and folklore. Most of the time, Venkman, Stantz, Spengler and Winston could often be found thwarting famously diabolical creatures. Samhain, Grundel, Tiamat, Marduk, Russian Domovois and even the freakin' Lovecraft beast Cthulhu! They all fell to the power of the real Ghostbusters!" Image obtained from

The Real Ghostbusters: Winston Zeddemor,Raymond Stantz,Peter Venkman and Egon Spengler
Staff, IGN. Retrieved June 04, 2010, from IGN's Top 100 Animated Series:
The reason I am posting this is The Real Ghostbusters was and remains one of my all time favorite animated series of all time. For years and years I would search the vastness of the internets in the hopes that a fan or dedicated group of fans would put together the episodes as a collection or a rallying cry to owners of the works to put a complete set. For the 25th Anniversary of the original film: Time Life released a massive collector's edition DVD boxed set of the entire show: All episodes and special commentary of series producers; including another favorite of mine: J. Michael Straczynski – creator of Captain Power: and the Soldiers of the Future, and more well known; Babylon 5.

The IGN staff nails it in their critique on the series, that while intended for children, there were a lot of mature story lines and truthfully scary moments, particularly episodes that were written by Straczynski.  This allowed for the show to be enjoyed by adults and also add depth to the series.

Last Christmas, this was the top item under impossible never going to happen in a million years category: and my wonderful girlfriend Kristen totally GOT ME IT!! I contained my excitement and the next morning opened the iconic Firehouse Case and dived into Season 1. Months later, I am somewhere near the end of Season 2. Other television series have taken my focus, as well as some video games including: Ghostbusters: The Video Game for the Xbox 360 made by Atari. The game was a real treat for fans, with the majority of the original cast returning to reprise their roles from the first film, and a great mechanic for catching and defeating ghosts that was intuitive, rewarding, and most importantly fun.

For fans of animated series through the years and for those like myself who grew up in the late 80's and early 90's, there are many of the greats in IGN's list and several that are currently in my DVD collection. A series that I recently got back into from the early 2000's is Samurai Jack: from Cartoon Network's Genndy Tartakovsky; who also animated IGN's #21 on the list: Star Wars: Clone Wars (2003)

My thanks to the IGN editorial staff for this piece, and I hope they continue to produce these quality top 100 lists.