17 Stations at an Elementary School "Field Day"

As one might imagine, the current "Field Day" experience for Generation Z is a far cry from the one of our youth that typically involved little more than foot races and maybe using the playground equipment (all blistering hot steel and cracked dirt, of course, no plastic surfaces or wood chips to be found) as a makeshift obstacle course.  

The format in 2019 - at least for the two Li'l Frys at their elementary school past week - is this: each classroom of 20 or so kids rotates through all 17(!) stations, getting about fifteen minutes per station.  There's a morning group (8:10am-11:00am) and then an afternoon group (11:30am-2:30pm).  The logistics behind this sort of progression involves hundreds of teachers, volunteers, and hyperactive kids is military-like in its complexity and implementation.  Special commendation to the staff member who had to blast the air horn "rotate!" signal every 15 minutes all day.

1. Nine Square (indoors) - Requiring a do-it-yourself PVC pipe cage, nine players each have a square space from which to pass a ball back and forth ("no double taps!") over the top rails of the PVC cage bars.  A kind of three-dimensional variation of the old Four Square game.  If the ball hits the floor inside your square or if you pass the ball outside the cage's boundaries, you're out.  Then everyone shuffles forward to take your spot in the nine spaces a new player enters in the first space.
2. Basketball Knockout (indoors) - This one confused us.  Something about two players shooting but the first shooter has to make it before the second one makes it.  That shooter is safe, so the other is out, but then sometimes the other one can keep shooting.  Huh?  Whatever happened to "Horse" or "Around the World"?
3. Agility Course (indoors) - What you get when you make kids run across taped down circles, hop over small hurdles, and weave through plastic cones. Low tech, but the kids seem to kind of like it.
4. Snack and Class Photo (indoors) - Every kid got a fruit punch popsicle. Hardly seems to us like a proper station.
5. Toss - Throwing tennis balls into holes in a canvas target like a midway carnival game.
6. Bounce House - Why not turn a birthday party gimmick into a "Field Day" station?  Jumping and tackling your friends in mid-air can be exercise.
7. Inflatable Obstacle Course - Self explanatory.
8. Wrecking Ball - Yet another inflatable.  Climb inside and stand on one of four platforms, then swing a giant vinyl ball at each other.  Last one standing wins.  Reminds us of the late, great ABC show "Wipeout!"
9. Playground - This seems kind of lazy, turning the playground these kids use every day into a "station."  And what's up with schools now putting those giant canvas tents over playgrounds to make shade?  Why didn't someone come up with that 40 years ago to better protect us from future skin cancers?  Thanks for nothing, Baby Boomers.
10. Sack Race and Three-Legged Race - Now we're talking.  This is old school "Field Day."  We can't remember for sure that these kind of races were featured at our F.P. Caillet "Field Days" of the late 70s/early 80s, but we're guessing they were.
11. Hamster Balls - Easily the most impressive station.  Kids climb inside huge clear inflatable spheres, then run on the inside surface like a hamster wheel (get it?) to move forward and backward along a "track."  We managed this station for 90 minutes in the blazing afternoon sun.  Big mistake.  They look like harmless, puffy-looking toys but they are formidable beasts of hot vinyl that are hard to maneuver and unwieldy to wrangle, especially for the younger kids who either don't know how or aren't strong enough to run on the inside surface of the ball and create momentum.  Which means we're stuck pushing them while they flop around inside like a tube sock in the dryer.  Then there's the issue of trying to rotate the ball to get the one doorway level with the ground.  If a kid comes back with the ball and the door's facing straight up in the air, get ready for screaming muscle pain and muttered curses.  It's a miracle we didn't get heat stroke out there.  Next year we're going to pick an indoor station.
12. Gaga Pit - A Thunderdome sort of thing where you step inside a plywood octagon and play a game with a ball.  We've heard about it but never seen it in action.
13. Tug of War - Pretty exciting for the first couple of minutes.  But then you have another 12 minutes to kill before the stations rotate.  How many times can you do this without the kids losing interest?  Maybe three.
14. Soccer Kick - Two players are the goalie, two players attack and try to score a goal.  Rotate and repeat.
15. Water Ball - Fill garbage cans with water from a hose, add soakable hacky sack balls, then wage war.  It's really just a delivery system for getting the kids wet.  (No overhead throwing allowed, wink wink.)
16. Water Race - Relay race where two teams take turns transporting water into an empty bucket by filling up cups and holding them over their head as they run.  First team to fill the empty bucket wins.  The "get extremely wet" requirement comes from the holes poked in the bottom of the cups.  As expected, the handoff relay element quickly vanishes and the kids just start running one after the other.
17. Inflatable Slide - The sort of thing we would have loved as a kid.  The slide is 20 feet tall easy.


The Pop Culture Birthday Comparison

The Cheese Fry turns 47 today, which is pretty old no matter how you slice it.  We wanted to rub salt in the wound and look at some performances from our youth and calculate the age of the actor when he appeared in that role.  These characters all feel very grown-up and adult and manly, but in truth most of them were far younger then than we are now. Ouch.

33 - Bruce Willis' age in Die Hard (1988)
33 - Mel Gibson's age in Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)
34 - Sean Connery's age in Goldfinger (1964)
34 - Bill Murray's age in Ghostbusters (1984)
37 - George Clooney's age in Out of Sight (1998)
37 - Robert Redford's age in The Sting (1973)
37 - Arnold Schwarzenegger's age in The Terminator (1987)
38 - Harrison Ford's age in The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
38 - Michael Keaton's age in Batman (1989)
38 - Craig T. Nelson's age in Poltergeist (1982)
40 - Chevy Chase's age in National Lampoon's Vacation (1983)
40 - John Travolta's age in Pulp Fiction (1994)
41 - Clint Eastwood's age in Dirty Harry (1971)
42 - Tom Hanks' age in Saving Private Ryan (1998)
43 - Roy Scheider's age in Jaws (1975)
45 - Dustin Hoffman's age in Tootsie (1982)
46 - Jimmy Stewart's age in Rear Window (1954)
46 - Paul Gleason's age in The Breakfast Club (1984)
46 - Sam Neill's age in Jurassic Park (1993)
46 - Tom Skeritt's age in Alien (1979)

For this bit, a tip of the hat to the great Lex G.


Knee-jerk review: "Avengers: Endgame"

1. It's just amazing the way Marvel has created this 22-film, 11-year tapestry of intersecting plots and timelines with characters mostly unknown to the general public prior to the movies.  You may not like the Marvel movies, but you certainly have to respect them.  Selling billions of dollars of tickets only works when you're clicking with audiences.
2. Contrast that to the mostly disastrous way Warner Bros. has handled the recent string of movies featuring the far more recognizable DC stable of characters.  How did Wonder Woman turn out so well?  Justice League was horrible, people.  Horrible.
3. There was definitely something stuck in our eye on more than one occasion during the movie.
4. The filmmakers go the extra mile to give the villain Thanos some real pathos.  He's not a purely evil, mustache-twirling bad guy.  You can kind of see his point of view in all of this.
5. "Avengers... assemble."
6. The most superfluous and extraneous Avenger: Don Cheadle's War Machine.
7. With two main characters dying (real deaths, not we'll-bring-them-next-movie-with-a-plot-device deaths), we guess it's called Endgame for a reason.  Both deaths pack a big punch.
8. If we had a band, we'd call it the Quantum Realm.
9. The most underrated and needlessly mocked Avenger: Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye.
10. No matter how clever, time travel movies always fall apart when you start to really examine the logic and the many ways the characters should be ruining the established timeline.  So it may be better to just grin and enjoy the ride.
11. We suspect it's probably weird that we have a thing for Nebula.
12. We can see that the filmmakers have to be very careful explaining why Captain Marvel is never around.  Like Superman, she's just so powerful that she completely undermines all of the tension.  We're calling it now: Captain Marvel 2 will follow Superman II's lead and create conflict and stakes by featuring either a temporary loss of her powers or a villain with her same exact powers.
13. It was a good idea, but the execution of that trying-too-hard iconic battlefield gathering all of the female Avenger heroes was too cheesy.
14. "I love you three thousand."  See?  Something stuck in our eye.
15. Thor running with the Guardians of the Galaxy? Yes, please.
16. Very satisfying.
17. But we'd like to call a moratorium on climaxes that feature energy beam combat.  Enough already.
18. Bonus points for the big, sweeping, curtain-call style credits for the original Avengers actors.

The Six Marvel Cinematic Universe Films We Still Haven't Seen (In the Order We'd Like to See Them)

1. Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
2. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
3. Spiderman: Homecoming (2017)
4. Doctor Strange (2016)
5. Thor: The Dark World (2013)
6. Thor (2011)