The Allure of a Carnival

Throughout our country, in most areas, you will be able to find a carnival, fair, or amusement park. Depending on where you live will determine what you have available and what time of the year they are available.  Many churches and schools have carnivals as fundraisers. Counties throughout the country have fairs, even states have fairs.  You can also find amusement parks ranging from tiny to massive.  What makes these destinations so popular?  There are plenty of rides, games, food options, and entertainment.  Any child that sees the lights and hears the sounds of the event will be hooked immediately.  I would imagine many adults have stirring memories of events like this from your youth.

Some people attend carnivals and fairs just for the selection of food options.  You can always find the tried and true options like pizza, hot dogs, and corn dogs.  I would like to think that if you are at a fair you should be a little more adventurous.  Have you ever had fried cheese curds?  They are delicious! How about fried pickles or fried vegetables?  For the most part, you can not go wrong when frying foods.  I would imagine you have heard of deep fried Twinkies or Oreos? Those are the exciting foods that I recommend getting while at a fair.  Instead of getting a hot dog, get a giant turkey leg or some sort of exotic food like deep fried alligator! If you are at a small carnival and the food options are not exotic, you can always settle for cotton candy, funnel cakes, and ears of corn.  One thing is certain, no matter what food is being made it will smell great!

Another reason to attend is for the rides.  I would think most adults have some great memories of their youth being on a Tilt-A-Whirl or something similar.  How about the rides like the Himalaya? They were great if you had a girlfriend with you on the ride.  It was inevitable that you would smash each other.  Other great rides were the Gravitron, Bumper Cars, the Pirate Ship, and even something as simple as a Carousel. Kids are drawn to a carousel at night.  The lights are enticing!

Games and other live entertainment are another reason to come to a carnival or fair.  Seeing a favorite music act or watching a demolition derby would be a great highlight for many.  You can also see events like tractor pulls, rodeo events, or even smaller entertainment like magicians.  How about the games at these events? You can have games of chance, games of skill, and rigged games. Although, I would think the rigged games do not exist as often anymore.  I can remember trying to make a free throw into a hoop that seemed much smaller or trying to guess the speed of your pitch. How about throwing darts, the milk jug game, or the ring toss?  All of these games are staples at these events and certainly bring plenty of memories.

Regardless of the reason you attend, it is pretty certain that kids will have a blast.  I would think even the adults can let loose a little and enjoy themselves.  At the end of the day you are eating food that is out of normal for you, playing games, riding rides, and watching entertainment.  Even if you are the type of person that cant stand this stuff, be honest with yourself and realize that if you take a child they will have fun. Making memories with family and friends has to take precedent!


—Victor Mandalawi



The Juice is Loose!

I would assume most people are familiar with O.J. Simpson, if you are not you are likely to be a young person.  I would recommend looking him up.  He was a great football player at USC and later in the NFL.  He ended up in the College and NFL Hall of Fame.  He may be more known for the “trial of the century” in which he was charged with the murder of his ex-wife and her friend. He was acquitted of the charges, but later was found guilty in a civil suit on the same charges.  Roughly 10 years later he was convicted on more charges, he was found guilty and sentenced to 33 years with a minimum of 9 years to serve.  O.J. is in the news now because those 9 years are up and he was eligible for parole. Was he paroled?

I will ask again, was he paroled?  Take a look at the picture and let me know if you need an answer.  I will admit that I watched some of the parole hearing.  I can honestly say I have never seen one before and I most likely will never see another.  So why watch this one?  Quite frankly, the O.J. “story” has always fascinated me. I am clearly not the only one as the hearing was broadcast live on most news outlets.  I watched and formulated my own opinion.  Things I saw may not be interpreted the same way by another person.  The Goldman Family feels that he is not a changed man. They are clearly biased but they raise very valid points.  O.J. seemed to avoid answering certain questions and they did not follow up.  He was apologetic at times for the crime in Nevada, but he also at times seemed to not take any responsibility.  When asked about attending AA, O.J. was clear that he did not have much free time while in prison.  After all, he was the commissioner of the softball league.

What is next for O.J.?  He will be on parole when he gets out of prison for roughly 5 more years.  Parole is a very strict regimen.  Leaving the State will not be allowed, possessing a firearm is not allowed, taking illegal drugs is not allowed and all of those seem to be pretty reasonable.  One thing that will be very difficult is not drinking alcohol.  He will be subject to random tests and searches.  He will need to stay out of trouble if he wants to remain a free man.  Going back to prison can’t be on his agenda.

O.J.Simpson will not necessarily be a free man,but he will not be in prison.  He will earn quite a large pension in most people’s eyes.  You would think he will live out the remainder of his years playing golf and visiting with family and friends.  The State of Nevada has moved him to an isolated cell, that seems to be a punishment but it is actually for his own safety.  I do not think this will be the end of the O.J. saga.  Clearly, the public can not get enough of him.  He will be newsworthy until his death. But for now, O.J. thinks that he has done his time.

—Victor Mandalawi

The Judge Renders his Verdict!

On this past Tuesday, the 88th MLB All-Star game was played. It was actually a fun game to watch as it was dominated by pitching and was won in extra innings.  A few fun things happened during the game as well that made it more fun than games in the past.  As fun as the game itself was, I would argue that the festivities from the night before were more fun and memorable. The Home Run Derby was on Monday and it ended up being awesome to watch.  It was set-up from the beginning to be great and it delivered!

The 88th All-Star Game ended in 10 innings after Robinson Cano hit a solo homer in top of the 10th inning, that homer earned him the MVP award.  Andrew Miller of the Indians entered the game in the bottom of the inning and that was it.  He shut the NL team down and the game was over.  During the game something happened that would not normally happen during a game.  Nelson Cruz stepped up to the plate and asked the opposing catcher to take a picture of himself and the umpire, “Cowboy” Joe West.  That seems to a fun moment that baseball is not really known for based on all of their unwritten rules.

As fun as the game was the derby was much better.  In years past the derby has started to get stale. They have tweaked the format a few times and I think this time they got it right.  They have 8 contestants that are put into a bracket, so they compete against each other, not just a total number of homers. They were also given 4 minutes to hit as many homers as possible, with one timeout given during the round.  If they hit 2 balls over 450 feet, they were given a 30 second bonus.  This format really seemed to help or maybe it was the contestants?

The Yankees had two players in Sanchez and Judge while the home stadium Marlins had two contestants in Stanton and Bour.  The other 4 contestants were Bellinger, Sano, Moustakas, and Blackmon.  Last year Stanton put on a show and it seemed destined that he would meet up with Judge.  That did not happen as Sanchez beat Stanton to advance.  Bellinger and Sano advanced as well. That left the match-up between  Bour and Judge, Bour came out of the gates on fire and smashed the 4th highest total ever in a round at the derby with 22.  That was not good news for Judge, pretty tough to overcome.  Well, he did not disappoint!  Judge came out and hit 23 homers to win his first round match-up.  Judge ended up winning the whole contest by beating Bellinger in the finals.  The manner in which Judge hit the homers was quite the sight!  He was hitting massive bomb after massive bomb.  Check out this article to get a pretty decent idea of what he was doing.

As mentioned before, the derby had grown stale.  I think after this performance by not just Judge but the whole group it is back. I certainly will be watching again next year!  The combination of the new format and the massive homers being hit has me hooked and waiting for next year.  Apparently, I was not the only person watching either.  I am happy for MLB but more happy for Judge.  What a performance!

—Victor Mandalawi

The Aftermath!

Last week I wrote about Independence Day.  I sure hope everyone had a wonderful few days as I know I did.  I mentioned loving fireworks and putting on a display for many years.  However, in recent years I had a few close calls and decided to stop for safety reasons.  Unfortunately, many people still put on displays and injuries do occur.  Even the professional displays can have issues from time to time.  I am going to highlight a few of the instances.

I found a list of injuries and deaths related to fireworks accidents.  NewsWeek is certainly a credible news source, but I would think there are plenty more accidents that are not listed.  I also think that the accidents listed are major accidents.  You will not see the slight burns and minor injuries or even the injuries that did not require professional care.  This is not even highlighting the loss of property from fires and such.

In Chicago, a man lost his life after an incident with a firework.  He reportedly leaned over a firework that was previously lit and did not detonate.  As he leaned over, the firework did explode and it cost the man his life.  Obviously, the story is tragic enough, but it happened directly in front of his young son.  That is clearly not something a child needs to see.  In another incident, an Indiana man died in a fireworks accident in Kentucky.  It is reported that a firework did not detonate and he leaned over the device.  When he did, it went off and it hit him in the chest.  The device hit with such force it stopped his heart and cost him his life.  In Maryland, a teenage boy is in danger of losing his hand after a fireworks accident.  It is reported that the firework went off in his hand causing extensive damage to his hand and burning his face and torso.  You will even see damage caused by professional shows.  In Nashville, a large firework went haywire and caused major damage to the Titans football stadium. If you look at the pictures you can see seats that are blown up.  That shows you the awesome power that fireworks contain. These stories are all so similar that they blend in.  The injuries happen in every state and city in every year.  They really are tragic and I would like to think they are preventable.

Here are a few accidents that involve fireworks and the Independence Day celebration, but not from the act of lighting fireworks.  In Northwest Indiana, a teenager was injured by a bullet.  The bullet was not fired directly at the teen but it was fired into the air and on the way down it struck him. I am not sure why anyone would think it is a good idea to fire a gun into the air, especially in a crowded area. What goes up, must come down!  In New York, an SUV burst into flames when a trunk full of fireworks were ignited by an electrical problem.  5 people were harmed and the car is toast.

It is obvious that fireworks displays are an awesome site to behold, especially around the 4th of July. However, it is also obvious that they are extremely dangerous.  Injuries and deaths are bound to happen just because of the nature of fireworks.  Explosions and fire usually claim their share of victims.  Even if you are very careful, injuries can happen.  As shown above, even professional displays can have issues.  Sometimes, you do not even need to light fireworks to cause serious injuries.  The bottom line is to have fun, but at some point you have to weight the good vs. bad.


—Victor Mandalawi