Outpost: TRF 2021

Taking a trip back in time…..

On the weekend of November 6th, myself and my daughter ventured out to the Texas Renaissance Festival in Todd Mission, TX. Neither one of us are strangers to the event as we have both attended the festival every year since 2007 or 2008 (I can’t quite remember) with myself only missing one year due to work and my daughter missing a few more than me. We hit all of our usual shows including the Clan Tynker Family Circus, Cirque Olympus, the Global Dance Theatre (formerly Gypsy Dance Theatre), and the Great Rondini. We walked the grounds, ate some awesome food, and I had a nice coffee porter from the Brigadoon Brewery known as Contract Killer.

We also decided to check out the joust for the first time in quite a few years. We sat in France’s section as usual and cheered on our knight as he battled competitors from England, Germany, and Spain. There is an amazing amount of athleticism and precision in action when these folks battle and the horses do just as much or more work themselves. Of the two events that the knights competed in, France won the first one and came in second in the second event.

There were a few new pieces added to the Fairy Garden and the Greek Agora and the newest section of the festival from last year expanded even more with new buildings and vendors. I must also add that the weather was perfect. It was cold enough that I had to wear a hoodie with my short pants but as the day wore on, it warmed up but remained cool enough that I didn’t sweat too much in my hoodie.

There was one glaring omission from the festival this year. As some of you may know, Clark Orwick, best known as Smuj, the faceless man that carried around Ded Bob and assisted Bob as he Bobmotized zombies for his show, passed away earlier this year. He was a big part of the festival and one of the funniest acts on the Ren Faire circuit. A new act took his place this year at the Globe Theater that he shared with Clan Tynker, but he was and will always be dearly missed.

The Texas Renaissance Festival was amazing as always. There are still two weekends left to attend so get out there if you can and witness an amazing spectacle. Attending the festival makes me feel happy, accepted, and like I am back home. I love TRF and hope that all of you get to experience for yourselves.

Thanks for reading my post. I’ve got some November Noise coming up on Thursday and Friday.

Outpost: Texas Renaissance Festival 2020

Heroes and Villains Weekend

If memory serves me correctly, this is my twelfth visit to the Texas Renaissance Festival in Todd Mission, TX (just northwest of Houston). I love this festival. Not only do you get to step back in time, but the music, the shows, the food, and the fun are wonderful. Having been to this festival a number of times now, I’ve seen a few of my favorite acts come and go. Thankfully, a couple of my favorites are mainstays and new acts are added all of the time to keep me coming back for more.

This year’s festival was a bit different than prior years thanks to COVID-19. Regulations and requests were put in place in order to provide a safe environment for performers, employees, and visitors. The biggest change this year was that tickets had to be purchased ahead of time on the web for specific dates. A limited amount of at-the-gate tickets were available, but only for military, seniors, and students.

Clan Tynker, one of the mainstays of TRF that also happen to be my favorite performers.

As I have done every single time that I’ve attended TRF, I checked out the Clan Tynker show first. As always, they brought smiles to the crowd with their mixture of magic, music, and mind-blowing stunts. I love this group and I look forward to watching them every year. I normally grab a photo with at least one of the group each year, but I had to skip this year due to the restrictions at the festival. I guess I’ll have to grab two photos with group members next year.

The gypsy dancers are beautiful and their band is nothing short of wonderful.

I attended a number of other favorite shows including Gypsy Dance Theatre and Cirque Olympus. I know that the lovely dancers get all of the attention when it comes to Gypsy Dance Theatre, but folks need to show a little appreciation to the band as well. They are simply amazing.

Apollo gets “loopy” as Athena encourages him during his performance.

Three of the hardest working performers at the festival, at least in my opinion, are Apollo, Aphrodite, and Athena, collectively known as Cirque Olympus. Their dazzling display of rope work, balancing, hula hoop spinning, archery, and more is simply fun to watch. On top of that, they are hilarious as well. Athena brings high energy and neck-breaking stunts while Apollo juggles and balances his way into our hearts. Aphrodite flirts with the audience, does amazing ribbon work, and shows off her archery skills as well. If you’ve never been to TRF, add Cirque Olympus to the top of your list of shows to see when you visit!

Aphrodite spins gracefully (but with plenty of power).

A cool addition to the festival this year was the Pirate Museum. Featuring actual artifacts from sunken ships, this museum was a welcome surprise. Not only was it educational, it was awesome to see a number of items such as blunderbusses, dubloons, and cannons.

Yours truly, yo-ho-hoing!

This was the first year that I tried a gyro, a Greek dish that’s not to be missed! I tried one from the Greek Agora where the Gypsy Dance Theatre and Cirque Olympus shows take place. It was delicious!

My “gyro!”

There were also a ton of wonderful shops and plenty of other performers to check out. I visited the Museum of Cruelty again and also took two strolls through the Magic Garden.

Museum of Cruelty.

If you happen to be visiting the Houston or Conroe area in October or November next year, be sure to check out the Texas Renaissance Festival. It has become an annual treat for myself and my family. There are still three weekends left this season, but be sure to purchase your tickets ahead of time. Also, if you can’t make it this year, keep an eye on the festival’s social media outlets for the date of the Sale of the Century, a sale in which they slash ticket prices for one day only. I highly recommend taking advantage of the deep discount offered!

TRF valiantly fought the plague this year!

Thanks for reading my post. If you’ve ever been to TRF, let me know what you thought about it in the comments section. Also, feel free to tell me about your favorite shows, performers, and food as well!

Just one of the many displays in the pirate museum.

A Look At November

Lift Your Cares…..

With Thirty-One Days O’Horror behind us for the year, let’s take a quick glimpse at what’s ahead for Ken’s Alternate Universe in November. The first episode of season two of The Mandalorian was released on Friday, October 30th, and instead of giving a general review of the series, I think that I’m going to do a weekly review of each episode as it is released. Look for my first review later this week.

I also plan on reviewing Hollywood Gothic by David J. Skal. I hoped to review it in October as part of Thirty-One Days O’Horror, but work prevented me from completing the book in time to give it a proper review. That review will be hitting within the next couple of weeks.

I also plan to continue my regular posts such as Throwback Thursday, Classic Horror, and the occasional Focus On entry as well. I’m also going to have a couple of Outpost entries starting up after next weekend. The first one will be for one of my favorite events of the year: The Texas Renaissance Festival.

I’ll have more toy reviews, collectible reviews, movie reviews, and a few other surprises as well. I hope that you join me.

As always, thanks for reading my post. See you soon!

Outpost: Texas Renaissance Festival 2019

Todd Mission, TX

I’ve been attending the Texas Renaissance Festival (TRF) faithfully for ten years. I only missed one year due to circumstances beyond my control. I love TRF more than pretty much every other event that I attend on a regular basis. It has something for everyone.

I start the festival each year by doing one of two things: 1) If I arrive early enough for the opening cannon, I watch Clan Tynker perform or 2) if I arrive later in the morning, I head to the Magic Garden, stroll around for a bit, and take a photo with the lovely lady behind me in the photo above. I jokingly refer to her as “a topless chick in Texas” and have taken a photo with her every time I visit TRF.

The Magic Garden is my favorite spot at the festival. It’s the quietest place on the grounds and you never know when you might run into a fairie while walking along the path. One of my fondest memories of TRF is the time that my daughter and I found a fairie peaking at us through the bushes. My daughter sat among the lush flora with the fairie and took a photo with her. The fairie was so kind and sweet to my daughter and put a smile on her face. As we strolled along, we found more fairies in the trees, along the path, and playing by the fairie throne (which was replaced this year).

After enjoying a few moments in the garden, I returned to the bustling festival grounds and ate some Irish nachos (cheese fries) for lunch. Then I caught my favorite show, Clan Tynker. I love Clan Tynker to death. They are my favorite performers at TRF and always will be. They are funny, family-friendly, and genuinely appear to love performing for the crowd. They always amaze me with their juggling, music, comedy, and magic. I recently started taking selfies with the individual members of the group. So far I have a photo with Serendipity and Santiago. This year I added Rebekah to my collection! I’ll add Sam and Elijah very soon.

I attended more shows throughout the day including the Fire Whip Show, Birds of Prey, Tartanic, and Ded Bob. I then made my way to the Agora to see two more of my favorite shows: Cirque Olympus and Gypsy Dance Theatre. If you’ve never checked out Cirque Olympus, do yourself a favor and add them to your itinerary for your next trip to TRF. I only discovered them last year. They perform excellent aerial acts, gymnastics, and juggling sets. They are also very funny and interact heavily with the crowd.

On the surface, Gypsy Dance Theatre looks like nothing more than a bunch of lovely ladies belly dancing for the crowd. While they definitely belly dance, they also engage the crowd with laugh-out-loud humor and silly antics. Oh, and their band is awesome! I own a couple of their CDs and highly recommend that you check their work out. Also, if you attend their live show, be sure to check out their yupkas! They encourage you to look at them!

As the day started to wind down, I made my way to the front gates. TRF is always fun. I love attending this festival. In fact, I love it so much that I’m considering moving to the area when I retire so that I can attend all of the festival weekends. Check out a few more photos that I took at the festival this year and let me know if you’ve ever been to TRF in the comments!

As always, thanks for reading. Feel free to share this post with other folks interested in attending this or any other Renaissance festival.

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year: A Visit To The Texas Renaissance Festival!

Way Back When

I always purchase at least two tickets to the Texas Renaissance Festival every year during their spring sale.  Last year, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to visit TRF.  This year, my daughter and I decided to make a spontaneous trip to the festival (with two tickets in tow).  We arrived about thirty minutes later than we wanted to due to traffic, but that didn’t stop me from getting my first photo with the king!


Despite going to the festival for ten years now, this was the first time that I ever took a photo with His or Her Majesty.  Next year I hope to get a photo with the Queen!


The first show that we watched was The Great Rondini!  This was our first time to watch his performance and we’re glad that we did.  Rondini is a superb magician and an excellent escape artist.  After seeing him, we visited the Magic Garden where we ran into some fairies, a dancing class, and a topless girl from Texas!


She’s topless!!!

After the garden, we headed to the Agora to watch Cirque Mythos and the Gypsy Dance Theatre.  This was also the first time for my daughter and I to watch both of these groups, mainly because we spend so much time watching other shows.  This year we decided to visit shows that we hadn’t seen before and we’re glad we caught both of these acts at the Agora!


As the day continued, we visited a few of the shops and ate and drank plenty of delicious things.  I ended up purchasing two of the Gypsy Dance Theatre CDs and an adult beverage.  My daughter got a Henna tattoo and some jewelry.


We also watched the Birds of Prey show (a first for me) and two of our favorite shows:  The Fire Whip Show and Clan Tynker!  All three of these performances were brilliant.  As the years have passed, watching Adam Crack amaze audiences with his multiple whips has never grown old.  Each year he continues to wow me, my daughter, and the crowds.


If I haven’t seen Clan Tynker perform, I haven’t been to TRF as far as I’m concerned.  They were the first act that I ever saw at TRF and I’ve watched them every year ever since.  They are family friendly and extremely fun to watch.  This year I took a selfie with Santiago.  If you ever go to TRF, I highly recommend checking out Clan Tynker!


One other new thing for us to experience was the Museum of Cruelty.  It featured many devices of torture from the Dark Ages and even a few more “civil” torture devices such as the Guillotine and the Pillory.


I walked around the festival grounds with a massive grin on my face.  It felt so good to be back “home” after having missed last year.  Sooner or later I plan to camp at the festival to get the complete faire experience.

Here are a few other photos from our trip to TRF.


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As always, thanks for reading my post.  You might have noticed that I didn’t post anything for last week’s Throwback Thursday, and that’s because I was rather busy over the last week.


Expect posts covering DC Universe’s Titans real soon as well as other DC Universe offerings.  I’m also going to throw in a few Christmas themed posts as well as we near that wonderful holiday.


End Of The Year Review

Adios, 2015

This post is going to be long, so be prepared.  It won’t bother me one bit if you jump ahead to the stuff that interests you the most.  Feel free to do so.

2015 was a pretty good year for me.  I met a myriad of awesome people (celebs and plain janes like myself), lived to see another great entry into the Star Wars saga, celebrated my birthday with friends and Jurassic World, discovered some wonderful new bands, and attended some great conventions.

That Star Wars Flick

Let’s start things off with the long-awaited Star Wars:  The Force Awakens opening in December of this year.  Fans of all ages flocked to see this film, and I was right there with them (on an early Saturday morning with my kids in tow).  My family and I arrived early enough to pick out some great seats and I was instantly a kid again when “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” popped on to the screen.  My eldest child (who only saw Star Wars films on DVD or Blu-ray) finally saw a Star Wars film on the big screen.  My youngest saw The Phantom Menace during its 3D release a few years ago.  It was so great to share something with my children that had literally been a part of my entire life.

I’ll post a review of the film later (because spoilers will be included), and I want to give those who are waiting for crowds to die down a bit before going a chance to see the film.  I may or may not have purchased a few action figures and/or shirts and other cool things emblazoned with the Star Wars logo on them.

Briefly, though, this film is awesome!  If you enjoy the SW saga at all, you’ll want to check out this film.



Another epic film that was released this year was Jurassic World.  It was heavy on popcorn action and fun, and it was highly enjoyable.  It held a lot of box office records until Star Wars came to town, and deservedly so.  I reviewed the film earlier this year and if you’d like to check it out, hop back to my June posts and you’ll find it in there.


Marvel, DC, and TMNT!


Marvel and DC ramped things up this year.  Marvel fired the first shot with Avengers:  Age of Ultron, and kept things going with the excellent Ant-Man flick that, at least in my opinion, surprised a lot of people with just how wonderful it really was.  Paul Rudd convinced me that he deserved to put on Hank Pym’s suit and for this reason, Ant-Man is easily in my top five of Marvel film favorites.

Of course, shows like Agent Carter, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Daredevil, and Jessica Jones also helped out Marvel’s power grab, but television remains the domain of DC in my opinion.  Sure, everybody is talking about Batman Vs. Superman:  Dawn of Justice, but Arrow, Gotham, The Flash, and Supergirl had everyone talking this year.  The Flash is one of my favorite shows at the moment, and I love how the writers have managed to present the Scarlett Speedster and his enemies in a way that is a lot more lighthearted than Arrow and Gotham.


Legends of Tomorrow looks to be another hit for DC early next year, and Supergirl is continuing to pick up the pace.  Gotham keeps getting better as well!

I’m particularly interested in which direction Gotham will be going when it returns from its midseason break.  They’ve loaded up on villains this year (and promise to bring an even colder one into the fray after the break with Mr. Freeze), and I love how the writers have managed to intertwine all of the baddies together.  Here’s hoping that they will keep up the pace!

Conventions, Conventions, Conventions!

Anybody that knows me knows that I love going to conventions.  This year was particularly excellent because I got to attend more events than usual.  To start off this year, I headed to Bossier City, LA, for Louisiana Comic Con.  This was a brand new event and it was extremely crowded.  Still, I got to hang out with some great friends and made a few new ones as well.

A few weeks later I ventured to Biloxi, MS, for my grand return to CoastCon!  It’s one of the biggest little conventions that I’ve ever been to and I simply love attending it whenever funds and time allow.

After CoastCon, I headed home to Lake Charles, LA, for CyPhaCon, the best convention in southwest Louisiana.  There I got to meet Vic Mignogna and Chuck Huber from Star Trek Continues, and made a few new friends as well.

Once the summer heat turned up, I headed to Sulphur, LA, for Bayoucon.  I got to meet Todd Haberkorn, also of Star Trek Continues, at this local event, and it was the place where the Just Us League made their debut.  For those of you who don’t know, the Just Us League is a group of cosplayers that are just out to have fun with silly costumes based off of superheroes.  If any of us happen to be attending a convention near you, come say hello!

Space City Comic Con was next on my list, and there I got to meet the wonderful Michele Specht (of Star Trek Continues, do ya notice a pattern here?).  Not only is she one of the nicest celebs I’ve ever met, she was a blast to hang out with as well!  She showed the Just Us League some love and even sent a photo of myself and her giving the Vulcan “LLAP” sign to be a part of a large photo of Leonard Nimoy after his passing!  It was such an honor to be a part of this wonderful print that William Shatner helped come to fruition.


The last convention for me this year was Louisiana Comic Con in Lafayette, LA.  There, the Just Us League made another appearance.  I also got to hang out with Orion’s Envy and made some new friends.  I met Donald Fullilove and Lew Temple as well!


On the music scene, I picked up Game On from The Amorettes.  They’re my new favorite band right now, and I just helped fund their next album that’s going to be recorded and released next year.  Be sure to check them out if you haven’t done so already.

I also found Dark Sarah, a solo project by the former frontwoman for Amberian Dawn.  I also picked up the newest project from Leaves’ Eyes, which was just as rocking as every other thing they’ve put out so far.

The year in music ended up and down for me, as rumors of a Guns N Roses reunion hit the web and the death of Lemmy from Motorhead landed just a few days later.


Including the aforementioned death of Lemmy, a lot of people passed away this year that have had some type of influence in my life.  For starters, let’s talk about a few that made me laugh.  New York Yankee great Yogi Berra was the epitome of a hard working and hard loving man.  He is, in my opinion, one of the greatest baseball players in history.  He’s known more for his “Yogiisms” now than he is for his excellent athletic ability, but I believe that it was his heart that was truly his greatest gift to mankind.


Dick Van Patten is another person that made me smile over the years.  I watched Eight Is Enough in syndication and really enjoyed it.  Donna Douglas, of The Beverly Hillbillies, was another person that I loved to watch on television.  Watching her in syndication, Douglas quickly became an early crush for me.


We also lost some greats in film like the master of horror, Wes Craven, and one of the most prolific actors and renaissance men of all time, Christopher Lee.  Lee made a great impact on my life, as his work in horror and fantasy was a huge part of my life.


Wrestling greats Dusty Rhodes and Rowdy Roddy Piper left us, as did legendary bluesman, B.B. King.

We also lost Leonard Nimoy.  You all know and love him as Spock.  Of all of the celebrities that we lost this year, his death had the biggest impact on me.  I’ve wept for many celebrities over the years, especially Robin Williams, even though my only interaction with these people was through television, books, or films.  In the case of Nimoy, however, I felt as if I was losing a great friend.  Spock was and still is a huge part of my life, and Nimoy’s portrayal of the great character will be sorely missed.



The End Of It All

So, that’s a quick rundown of my year.  I hope that 2016 is just as awesome, and I hope that all of you have a great year as well.  As Mr. Spock would say, “Live long and prosper.”  Happy New Year to all of you, and as always, thanks for reading.

A Trip Back In Time

Todd Mission, TX

If you personally know me, you are well aware of the fact that I am a huge fan of the Texas Renaissance Festival.  It has been a part of my life for six years now, and I see no chance of it ever leaving my life at any time in the future.  Few places make me feel at home as well as TRF.  Outside of science fiction and comic conventions, it’s one of the few places where I can be myself and have a really good time.

This year my wife and daughter tagged along for the ride to Todd Mission, TX, which is nearby Plantersville and Conroe, TX.  It’s also not that far of a drive north of Houston.  One of my favorite parts of TRF is getting there by taking HWY 105.  Sure, I can hop on Interstate 10 and then head north on Interstate 49 to get there a bit quicker, but if I did that I would miss out on the wonderful views of the east Texas countryside.  There are many beautiful homes, farms, and forests on the drive to TRF, and with autumn in full swing, the changing leaves are gorgeous.

My trip almost always includes a stop in Orange, TX, just across the state line from Louisiana, or in Conroe.  This year, my wife, daughter and myself stopped in Conroe at Einstein Brothers Bagels.  It was our first time to check this place out and we loved it.  The coffee and bagels were delicious, and gave us just enough pep to make it to the festival.  We had been up since 4:30 AM, so this stop was welcomed and much needed.

Once we arrived at the festival, my wife and daughter hit the shops and I hit the Clan Tynker Family Show.  I’ve seen Clan Tynker at least once each year that I’ve attended the festival and they have never let me down.  Their show is funny, exciting, and family friendly.  Santiago, Sam, Rebekah, Serendipity, and Elijah combine music, dancing, juggling, fire, and all sorts of other wonderful things to deliver an excellent program.  When I talk to first-timers or friends interested in going to TRF, I always tell them to enter the gates, stay to the right, and head to the Globe Theater to watch the Clan Tynker show.  It’s my favorite show to watch when I first enter the kingdom.


After watching the Clan Tynker, I caught up to my wife and daughter and we headed to Sherwood Forest so that my daughter could try her hand at archery, using a crossbow, the King’s Confusion maze, multiple rides, and the Magic Garden.  In the Magic Garden, we ran into some rambunctious fairies, a couple of sweet ladies that happily posed for photos with us (unfortunately I can’t post them here, as they include my daughter and for safety’s sake, I don’t post photos of my children on this blog), and St. Felix (or at least a replica of him).  I also stopped to take a photo with a statue in the garden that I’ve taken a photograph with every single time I’ve been to the festival.  Below are a few pictures from the garden, including my photo with the “topless Texas chick” that I love so much.

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After a visit to the Magic Garden, my family made its way to watch Adam “Crack” Winrich’s excellent Fire Whip show.  I’ve watched Crack’s show on many occasions, but this was the first time my wife and daughter watched him.  I believe that my daughter is in love with him!


From there we attended a few more shows, ate some wonderful food, and then headed over to watch Circa Paleo, one of my favorite festival bands, do their thing.  I was only turned on to this band last year, and wish that I had checked them out sooner.  They are awesome!  They played some great tunes and I highly recommend you look them up on the web or see them live if they are at a festival or venue near you.

I grabbed one of their CDs and listened to it all the way home.  They really are an excellent band.

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After listening to Circa Paleo, I naturally gravitated toward the Greek Agorah, where there were some lovely dancing ladies on the stage.  Again, if you know me, you know I’m a sucker for belly dancers.  Here’s a photo for your viewing pleasure:


We spent the rest of the day walking, shopping, laughing at playtrons and just generally having a fun time.  I stopped at the Brigadoon Brewery to have a pint of Hadrian’s Wall Red and finished the day off with another stroll around the festival.  We didn’t get to stay for the fireworks, as we had to get back home to take care of something else, but this year’s trip to the Texas Renaissance Festival was awesome as always.

See ya next year, TRF!

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Be sure to check out these websites:  http://www.texrenfest.com, http://www.circapaleo.com, http://www.clantynker.com.

Thanks for reading!