Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Last night the Portland Gang met up at our house for Gilmore Girls My Name is Earl, but "The Biggest Loser" was having its seasons finale on and preempted it. Brent and I took the opportunity to play XBox--I rented a crazy game called Blinx where you're a "time sweeper" cat that uses a vacuum to pick up trash and then shoot that trash at the bad guys. We were completely enthralled by the game. The girls stayed upstairs and periodically came down to tell us dinner was ready. As we only had ONE more level to go before completing that segment, we told them it'd just be a minute. Pretty soon, someone would come down and remind us, culminating in a shout TELLING us to come eat--fortunately at that point, we'd just killed the major monster on that level, so we were ready to eat, anyway. When we got upstairs, they'd all eaten without us!!! Unbelieveable! Then, when we tried to tell them how cool the game was and how cool the cats were, and how cool the gang of pigs were, they just rolled their eyes and made fun of us! Can you believe it?

That reminds me of when we first got our original Nintendo Entertainment System back in the 80's. It was the one with Super Mario Brothers. We LOVED it--particularly since it was such a HUGE step up from the Atari. We would play it any chance we could get, but when bedtime came, we had to obey, ripping ourselves from the hypnotic glow of the game. Well, I remember one night getting up around 1 or 2 in the morning for a drink of water and found my dad playing Super Mario Brothers in the dark living room. He finally had to go cold turkey, because he wasn't getting enough sleep. I don't think I'm that bad--especially since Margaret will remind me to go to bed. Although, I think I'm definitely going to have to ration my play time--I could totally get addicted to playing during non-sleep hours, and that would cut into my tv watching time--and THAT would be unacceptable!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

It's good to know that this blog is doing some good in the world. I was talking with a friend from Salt Lake yesterday and he told me that he had never heard of Bikini Cuts before reading about it here--he then found out that there was one near his house! Oh the joy--to find out that something like that is in your neighborhood! He said he had seen it before when he had to drop his wife off at a craft store and was parked in front of the salon, which was in the same strip mall, not realizing what the place was. Well now he knows--and I'm sure his hair looks GREAT!

Speaking of haircuts--a while ago, I decided to be cheap save money and try cutting my own hair. I bought some clippers--the kind with various guards to control the length. Well, taking the clippers on their maiden cut, everything was going great. I was thinking, "I've been paying for this for HOW long, and I can totally do it for free." When I got to the back of my head, I made a couple of swipes and felt something hit my shoulder as I made an upward swipe. When I looked at what had hit me, to my horror I saw that it was THE GUARD!! I had just made a swipe at the back of my head with the bare clippers and had cut a swath of hair, exposing a strip of scalp--and just in case you're wondering, my hairline is just receding, I don't have a bald spot, so the loss was noticeable! I was so disgusted, and mortified that I would have to go to work and have people see that bare white skin on the back of my head. After determining that wearing a hat at work wouldn't work, I finally sucked it up and endured the questions, and laughter. I definitely learned my lesson--I still cut my own hair, but now I check that the guard is firmly in place after every swipe!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, we didn't do much in the way of exercising--I guess it's part of the holiday. Anyway, on Saturday, we went down to a local theatre to watch a movie and at this particular theatre, there is a nickel arcade in it. They have all these crazy Japanese video games that have no English instructions, those ball toss games, and those games where you drop coins in and a bulldozer pushes them, and you get prizes if any coins fall over the edge; my dad won a couple prizes on that one. My brother and I played a mountain biking videogame that was CRAZY! To play, you actually had to ride a bike! The faster you pedaled, the faster your character would go. We were pedaling flat out for over three minutes and by the end, I thought my heart was going to EXPLODE! I don't get it--I work out almost every day, but I couldn't handle a video bike ride! My brother was giving me a hard time about it, too--he told me, "Man, I beat you and I don't even exercise AND I'm fat!" Way to make me feel old!

Speaking of my brother--when we were out shopping after Thanksgiving, he saw someone with a mullet, which he had to take a picture of with this camera phone. Evidently he has a collection of pictures of mullets that he's seen in the wild and he was excited to add one to his collection.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Man, I'm still recovering from a food coma that I slipped into yesterday afternoon. All the food...all the delicious food! We had my parents, my brother, and some friends over and had a great Thanksgiving dinner. We'd made as much of the food beforehand as possible, including the stuffing--which we unfortunately forgot to put in the fridge overnight and had to throw it out the next day--since it's always in bad taste to give your guests food poisoning. (Although it would match the sentiment I heard from Jon Stewart--he said he was having a traditional Thanksgiving feast: he would invite the neighborhood for dinner, then kill them and take their land.)

I remember celebrating Thanksgiving once in Norway with a family that had lived in the US for twenty or so years. They had lived in Idaho, and five of the six missionaries were also from Idaho, so we spent the entire dinner talking about how great Idaho was. Well, the odd elder out, who was from Florida, finally got fed up with all the Idaho talk and so he said, "you know, if America were a person, Florida would make it a man." We all just sat there dumbfounded, unable to believe that he'd say something like that in front of this family--(it was mild compared to what we talked about when we were among ourselves, but we TRIED to be a little couth in public). It did make for a memorable close to our Thanksgiving in Norway.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Yesterday I attended a commemoration for the close of Native American Month, and the headline act was a singer who gave new meaning to the term "commercialization of tribal culture"--ok, that's not one term, but she was so over-the-top that she deserves all four words! Her voice was good, but her outfit was Disney's Pocahontas meets Las Vegas showgirl. Her skirt was looked like the animal hide miniskirts that Wilma Flintstone wears, and the top was all fringe and feathers--and when I saw "all," I mean that all there was to it--just fringe and feathers! I imagine that her tribe must live in a very hot climate to have to necessitate such skimpy regalia--somewhere like the surface of Venus. And her fly girls! They were wearing even LESS clothing--less meaning a leather strap that nearly covered their breasts. The dancing looked like they were classically trained dancers from the Showgirls Academcy of Erotic Dance. I asked someone I came with if this was the traditional dance of the Las Vegas Paiute tribe! I was standing next to a traditional tribal dancer that I know here in town and she was appalled--but she couldn't turn her head away, either--it was like watching a train wreck (granted a wreck between a train with a cheerleading squad car and one carrying a variety of leather goods and feathers). I hope this wasn't an indication of where tribal culture is headed as we enter the 21st century--I'm fine with just the casinos!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Wha? First I heard that IKEA has purchased land in Salt Lake to build a store, NOW Apple just opened a store downtown. Between those and the Bikini Cuts opening, the only thing keeping us from moving back to Utah is they don't have Noah's Bagels--they have Einstein's, which are TOTALLY different, depsite being owned by the same company, have the same marketing, etc. Actually, make that TWO things, because until Salt Lake has a Freedom Run (see the 11/03/05 post), we're not movin' back!

Actually, having roots in Utah has given Margaret and me some interesting experiences here in Portland. We're often seen as the ambassadors of Utah and Mormonism to all our friends--(I know--what a scary thought!) One time on Margaret's birthday, the Portland gang went down to a drag show. (See--as ambassadors of Utah and Mormonism, we thought we'd set an example for our friends and go see a bunch of men dressed as women.) At one point in the show, the emcee Darcelle asked if there were any birthdays in the audience. Margaret stood up, and we all urged her to say she was from Salt Lake instead of Portland, which she did. Well that set off the emcee. The rest of the night, everytime Darcelle would tell a joke, she'd tell the lighting guy to "shine the light on Utah to see if she got the joke." That was our cue to laugh, since being from Zion, we really didn't get ANY of the jokes she was telling.
Yesterday a Nike corporate jet took off from here in Portland and after takeoff, one of the landing gear got stuck. This is a picture from the news, emphasizing the problem. When I got to the gym at lunch, it was all over the news--and quite dramatic reporting, too--about how the jet was circling the city to burn off fuel before attempting to land. The news was SO boring--they just showed the plane circling and interviewed various people and asking the most inane questions, like, "what will the pilots do when they've landed?" What kind of question is that? And I think the answer would be: "Change their pants and drink a few bourbons." As it turned out, they took the plane up to a high altitude and all of a sudden--the landing gear worked again! Crisis averted, but don't tell that to the newscasters--they broadcast a completely normal landing as if it were a ticking time bomb about to land--and granted, it WAS that before the gear got fixed--but it was FIXED! Ugh. My favorite part was the constant reassurance that they were boradcasting that they had confirmed with the FAA that there were no sports stars on board--phew, only management, and they're expendable--but thank heavens Tiger is okay!

I swear, watching tv news get us so brain dead. There is always three things that they have to cover--A grisly crime that scares people into thinking they happen all the time and could happen to YOU!; a cute pet story; and something about meth. Last year there was a HUGE ice storm here in Portland that shut down the city for three days. It was AWESOME! No one could drive because the streets were like ice skating rinks (actually, so were the sidewalks--when work started back up, I was getting off the bus and as one person stepped off the bus, they slipped and fell, then the next person stepped off, and HE slipped and fell, then I stepped off the bus--AND SLIPPED AND FELL! It was like a scene out of some penguin movie!) Anyway, the newscasts were broadcasting commercial-free weather reports the entire time, and in reference to the cold air mass that was blowing into the area along the Columbia River, they kept saying one stupid phrase over and over and over and over, "It's like someone left the refrigerator door open." I can see the description once, but to use that as your description every time really tells that you're aiming for the lowest common demoninator--oh wait, this is tv, THEY ARE!

Monday, November 21, 2005

After the post about the hot springs south of Provo, Utah, I got a comment from a friend that refered to "Bikini Cuts." I had never heard of them, so I risked googling the name. (And I put and emphasis on risk because you never know with Google. My brother is in a web development class that needs to design something with a person's head shot and the teacher said to just get a random person's photo off the internet, but warned them to not just go to the Google image search and type "head." Let your imagination fill in the rest.) Anyway, fortunately the first hit that came up was for the actual salon and OH MY GOSH!!! I can't believe that such a place exists--and in Utah of all places. It's a men's hair salon where all the stylists are women in bikinis! They only offer magazines like Maxim and other soft-core porn men's interest reading materials. And to top it off, they offer special cuts for kids under 10. WHO in their right mind would take their 9-year-old child to get his hair cut by a woman in a bikini?!? Plus, I can't imagine how sexy getting your hair cut by a woman that has hair stuck to her amply exposed bare skin--and what is the appropriate way to tip your stylist?

I think this is one of the signs of the Reckoning! When almost naked women are cutting men's hair in frickin' ZION, you know Armageddon is right around the corner. As is says in the Bible, "And lo, when the dancing girls frolic in the places where brethren become clean-cut and entice them with scalp massages and views of flesh, yea, the time is nigh for a great and terrible destruction." I can't remember the exact chapter and verse in the Bible, but it's in the back somewhere.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Harry Potter premiere was great. The Portland gang met up at a British pub near our house called the Horse Brass Pub. We picked it because it's that dark wood walled, dart boarded, smokey, English-style place that also serves authentic British fare--like scotch eggs. If you don't know what a scotch egg is, (and if your cholesterol is above 200 or you are on Lipitor, don't even read the description, because even THAT will be enough to give you a coronary) it's English sausage packed around a hard-boiled egg and then deep-fat fried. Just reading the menu description was making me feel queasy. I ended up getting the standard fish and chips, which were great. We like going to that pub for Harry Potter events (we went there the night of the last book release, too) because it gives us a chance to imagine we're in Hogsmeade (and for the others in the gang, I'm sure the fact that they serve traditional British beers has NOTHING to do with humoring me on the Hogsmeade thing). After eating, we headed over to the theatre and got there early enough to get pretty good seats. We all didn't get to sit together, but we weren't talking during the movie anyway. The movie was by far the best one to date, and certainly the darkest. It did have its moments of levity, however--my favorite being a quote by Professor MacGonagal talking about expected behavior at the Yule Ball. She said she wanted, "well-mannered frivolity," which is coincidentally what we called our behavior in the mission when called into the mission president's office.

On the way home, we were met with even MORE excitment. (I know--how much more could we handle, but we managed, somehow.) Going down the main road from the theatre, we could see a lot of flashing lights from a fire truck. As we neared it, we could see a building actually on fire--not just smoke, but huge flames shooting out of the front windows! We were the last car to pass by before they closed off the road, and I didn't notice that they'd just pulled the fire hose across the street, and drove over it. In a classic gesture, I could see the fireman in the rear-view mirror shaking his fist at me for doing that--WHO still shakes their fist at people? What is that supposed to mean, or even accomplish? It just felt like he was the villain from some Scooby Doo cartoon and we had just nabbed him, and he, shaking his fist, says, "I would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for you meddling kids!"

Friday, November 18, 2005

I was so annoyed last night watching Smallville. They totally sold out on product placement! During one scene, Lois Lane was trying to distract a security guard and so she started flirting with him--he came over and started drooling over her car, to which she had him get in the driver's seat and explain all the great features of the car. I was thinking, "What kind of car is that? It doesn't look THAT special!" Well, at the next commercial break, there was an ad for the new Ford Fusion, which they pointed out "as seen on Smallville." Ugg, THAT explained it. I swear, it's one thing to have basic product placement like when people are obviously using an Apple computer, but when the product ad is part of the plotline, that's gone a little too far. I remember in Smallville season two, there was a football game segment where, in the lockerroom, when Clark Kent opened his locker, you could prominently see his "Old Spice: Code Red" deodorant. Then, when they were coming onto the field, instead of a "Go Smallville Crows!" banner the team rips through, it was a huge Old Spice: Code Red banner! Geesh! (Curiously, on the DVD of that episode, both of those clips were removed--evidently Old Spice didn't pay them enough for THAT!)

It make me wonder how much I would be willing to sell out for--what am I saying—I PAY to sell out. I wear any number of brand names on my clothes every day. Ugg, such a sucker.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

I had to stay home this morning to meet the plumber (you know there is a problem when the water dispenser in the fridge just drips the water out). Since he wouldn't be here until after 10, I wasn't in a hurry to get down to the bagel shop. I finally got down there at about 9:30 and HOLY SMOKES! That place looked like a day care center! Usually I go down from 7 to 8 in the morning, so it's just a few people, and even when it gets busy, it's just people stopping by on their way to work. I had no idea that Noah's Bagels had this alternate personality. Every table was occupied and I couldn't even get to the back of the dining area because there were three strollers just parked in the walkway. It was so strange to see a place that I thought I knew so well be so different just two hours later than I usually see it.

Speaking of which, that reminds me of the Hot Pots, south of Provo, Utah. The Hot Pots are a series of hot springs that are notorious for non-BYU activities. (As opposed to regular BYU activities, which includes class prayer, caffeine-free Diet Coke, dressing like a J. Crew model, and going to devotionals.) A group of us would go down quite often to escape the stringent contraints of Happy Valley and just soak ourselves out of the conformity boxes that a week in Provo crammed us into. The hike up to the Hot Pots was about a two-mile hike, and in the winter was quite dangerous--the steam in the air would freeze the path to an icy slipperiness that, on the wrong stretch, could send you right into the creek. Only hardcore hikers, rebelllious BYU students, or teens that really wanted to get high or drunk would brave the trail from late fall to early spring--which was the only times I had ever visited the place. (Note to family members and Mormon friends who are extremely active and judgmental who happen to be reading this--I didn't fit into any of those groups--I was just doing, uh, research for a geology paper I was writing on...dissolved minerals found in hot springs, yeah--and it was taking me several years to get all my data.) Well, one year, just when school had started, we decided to go up to the springs for a start-of-the-year soak. Provo hadn't gotten to us yet, but it was a preemptive strike. The path was pleasant and safe, and since the days were still a decent length, there was enough light to see the trail without a flashlight. When we finally rounded the bend to get to the Hot Pots, however, we were confronted by a horrifying sight--a Mormon youth conference! At least that's what it seemed like. They were probably ALL BYU students. They all had swimsuits on, there was no visible lawbreaking going on, the faint, yet distinct aroma of burning...herbs wasn't in the air, and to top it off, some of them were singing CHURCH HYMNS!!! What had they done to the place? I halfway expected someone to get up an bear his testimony! I wonder if that's what it's like when your neighborhood gets gentrified out from under you. Anyway, since we'd hiked all that ways, there was no way we were turning back just because the spot had been BYU-ified. We picked a pool that already had several girls in it and got in. Soon, two guys that fit the hardcore user group (see description above) stripped naked right next to the pool and hopped in. The girls that were already in the pool were MORTIFIED and jumped up, carefully averting their eyes, and dashed to another pool. What was perfect was one of the guys who got in yelled to them, "What's the matter? Haven't you ever seen a penis before?" (Which, if she were a good BYU student, she certainly HADN'T!) I'm sure that made the girls' embarrassment complete, confirmed to them the evils of the place, and guaranteed they would have to have a heart-wrenching confession to their bishop on Sunday where they questioned their virtue for having that image seared into their brains. Fortunately, the next time we went was a little later in the year and the place was back to its former seedy glory and all was right with the world.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

I'm sitting here on pins and needles hoping Fandango works--I think they're being inundated with Harry Potter movie purchases. (Which is why I'm using the service--why else but for a major release blockbuster on opening night would some idiot pay the extra $1?) It would seem that they would plan for this--when I bought tickets to Spiderman, I tried at least twenty times before I didn't get a "server overload" message. Since a blockbuster is their bread and butter, you'd think they would be anticipating this level of traffic.

The last Harry Potter movie we went to on opening night, we made the mistake of waiting to get in line only ONE hour before the movie started. We ended up sitting two or three rows from the screen, which always makes me sick, and scared my contacts are going to pop out. Anyway, we sit down and decide we can deal with the seats, since it IS opening night and we're kind of rowdy as a group; having fun, etc., when someone sits down in front of me with the absolute WORST B.O. I have EVER SMELLED IN MY ENTIRE LIFE--and I've been to Oklahoma, so that's saying something! It was an unimaginable stench--but if you would like to try imagining a mere HINT of it, try thinking of a leperous hobo that hasn't seen bathwater since his train left Milwaukee back in 1968 AND he has a catfish that he caught just outside of Denver on that same trip in his pocket that he's been saving "for a rainy day" AND the railroad engineer, upon finding him, pushed him off the train into an open cesspool. That should give you a little whiff of what we had to endure. It was so bad that anyone with an outer layer of clothing took it off to breathe through it, and someone found a vial of lavendar essential oil in her purse, which we applied to our upper lips. That odor STILL made it through, but at least it was downgraded to nauseating instead of toxic. The SECOND the credits started rolling, we were climbing over one another in an attempt to leave the theatre. While the others in our group were doing it to flee the putrefaction, I was actually doing it because I'd made the mistake of drinking a large Diet Coke at the start of the movie and my bladder had backed up into my kidneys. Fortunately I escaped the whole ordeal without a bladder infection or a diminished olfactory sense. We plan on getting there early enough on Friday to make sure we get to choose our own seats, this time. Wish us luck!

Ugg! It took me ten minutes to write this, and I'm STILL waiting for Fandango! You'd think they'd be in a bigger hurry to overcharge me!

Phew! I was finally able to buy the tickets after more than an HOUR online. I watched the entire episode of Apprentice: Martha Stewart a business management program before the ticket was finally processed!
Ugg, Margaret and I are recovering from food hangovers this morning. Last night, we went to B&J's for Earl/Gilmore Girls and since it was J's birthday on Monday, we cooked dinner for her there. Margaret and I cheated and bought pre-mixed meatloaf (we couldn't resist--it was the same price per pound as plain hamburger--and MUCH less work), and I made mashed potatoes. It was a recipe that I wanted to try out to see if it was worthy of making at Thanksgiving and it was--it should be, it had six tablespoons of butter and a cup of HEAVY CREAM! To top off the over-the-top food fest, our appetizer was chocolate fondue--we figured why wait until we were too full from dinner. Normally we don't eat such rich food, and now we're paying for it. I think I'll just have Cream-of-Wheat for dinner!

Speaking of rich--I was totally aggravated when I read that the lottery winners from Oregon (the ones who won $340 million) would only agree to appear on the Today show if they were flown to New York on a private jet, put up in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, given tours of New York, meal allowances, and tickets to Broadway shows. So much for not having the money change you! And what's up with being so cheap? That just puts one more dent in my faith in a higher power deciding who gets to win the lottery--heaven forbid it would go to someone who would actually do any GOOD with it.

Monday, November 14, 2005

My brother Jayson is probably the funniest person I know--in fact in high school, his jokes and sayings proved so popular that one friend took to using Jayson's phrases, followed up by, "copyright 1994, Jayson FiveCrows." Today, Jayson called me and told me about a LAN party he went to where people just sit around networked computers and play games like Doom and Warcraft. Jayson told me that, upon entering the room and seeing all the pale faces glued to the computer screens, he was prompted to say, "If all the nerds are here, who's running the internet?" I'm going to have to tell him to copyright that one--it's too perfect!

Follow-up: I just found out from Jayson that that line is a modification of a line from "American Dad." So much for original thought--he just regurgitated something he'd heard. Although I have to admit, being able to recall germane lines at a moment's notice is STILL quite a skill. (But now I'll have to cancel that copyright application that I'd filled out on his behalf.)
Margaret is the pianist for the primary here in our Portland ward. She really likes to play for the children, and it's a great excuse to practice the piano, which surprisingly gets put off when it comes as a choice between watching Prison Break and practicing piano--go figure! Yesterday she played at a primary program that lasted the entire sacrament meeting. It was funny to see the primary workers almost outnumbering the primary kids--there are only 10. Margaret did a great job playing all the songs and she even got to play the closing hymn for the whole ward. I was totally proud of her.

It's funny how playing the piano is such a rarity outside of Utah these days. A while ago, a friend from Utah was visiting and we went on a tour of a traditional Portland tourist trap site, Pittock Mansion. When we were paying the entrance fee, the woman asked us where we were from and our friend said, "Utah." Then the lady said, "Oh, which one of you plays the piano." The three of us looked at each other quizzically, and the woman continued, "I've found that every group from Utah has at least one person who plays the piano." Instead of going on a tirade over the woman's blatant stereotyping (I mean, who's got the energy these days?)Dave and I both pointed at Margaret and said that she did. The woman told Margaret, "When you get to the music room, feel free to jump over the rope and play the piano in there." We thought that was a little random, but when we saw the music room, I knew Margaret had to play. The Pittocks were totally into music and they had their mansion designed to carry the music that was played in the music room throughout the house. Margaret sat down and played a Mozart piece and it sounded incredible. (Even though I was hoping she would play something from the new music book I'd gotten her "Songs of Light--music inspired by the art of Thomas Kinkade," but unfortunately she'd already burnt it--can you believe it?) I had to laugh, though, when I looked up the open stairway foyer that people up all four floors were leaning over the railings listening to the music that could be heard everywhere in the house. I was about to start tap dancing on the parquette floor of the foyer to attract some attention on myself, when I thought that Margaret was probably a lot more deserving of the other people's praise. (And I'm glad I didn't, because without my satin dance ensemble, I probably would have looked ridiculous!)

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Today Margaret and I went down to the Portland Art Museum to see their new exhibit on the Hesse family. They were a royal house in central Germany, and the art and artifacts they had there were amazing. One thing that we couldn't believe was a 30-foot long table "centerpiece" that was made of gilded bronze. It had hundreds of candelabras, elevated trays, and decorative sculptures. I think we need something like that for our Thanksgiving table setting. All we have decorating our table right now is some pumpkins left over from Halloween, and they're probably not going to last until Thanksgiving--they're already giving off a slight odor which is never a good sign. We also got to see a whole collection of miniature Fabergé eggs, that were pretty impressive--given how small they were.

Since this was an American museum, the exhibit path ended right in the gift shop--isn't that convienient? They had all sorts of re-creations and books, but what caught my eye was a selection of REAL (albeit modern) Fabergé eggs! They had little ones, full sized ones, solid ones, ones with little carriages in them. I was amazed that they were all there just in the museum gift shop (of course there weren't any prices, which I assume means that if you have to ask how much one is, you can't afford it.) I told Margaret that we should get one, not because it is a beautiful piece of art, but because it would sound so cool to refer to it in the house. Can't you imagine what visitors would think when they heard lines like, "That Costco toilet paper is under the table that the Fabergé egg is on," or "The Wal-Mart coupons are sitting next to the Fabergé egg," or "Who put the Fabergé egg in this carton of REAL eggs?" See? Don't you agree that having one of those in the house would really class the place up! Especially since right now, we're decorating with those plastic easter eggs that split in two and are filled with jellybeans.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

I've been wanting to see the new movie Jarhead since it came out, but Margaret didn't really have any interest (which didn't really make any sense--she's usually the first to want to go to every war epic, hyperviolent thriller, or mindless killing movie that comes out--oh wait, that's my brother Jayson!). Anyway, I met up with a friend to see it last night and was glad I saw it. After the movie, since neither of us had eaten (compliments of rush hour traffic, both of us had to head to the theater straight from work), we headed to the P.F. Changs next to the theater for something. We ordered a bowl of hot and sour soup that ended up being a vat full enough to feed a small Vietnamese village, so needless to say, there was a lot left over. I had them put it in a to-go container, because Margaret really likes that soup, and it was my way of making up for the fact that I'd ditched her for the evening (since last night she'd brought me back a piece of stale sacrament bread that she'd found on the floor of the chapel from her primary practice last night--I sure hope that the blessing hadn't worn off yet). I had brought a baggy of dark chocolate M&M's to smuggle into the theater, but had forgotten them, so when I got back in the car to drive home, I found tham and was blissfully snarfing them down and was almost home when I realized that I had left the container on the table. Don't you hate it when that happens? When the food is sucky, or even ok for that matter, I don't feel guilty about throwing it away, but when its good, and the next day you're hankering for the rest of your meal, and go to the fridge to get one more bite of that Chili's Southwest eggroll (aren't those the best?), totally anticipating the left over goodness, only to discover that there is no box in the fridge, and remember that you so stupidly forgot the box that is in the landfill by now!--THAT'S what kills me. Plus, it was my only evidence that we went to the movie and had some food later--now Margaret will probably think we just spent the evening at Jiggles!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

I would just like to announce to the internets just how good a husband I am. Last night, Margaret had to go to the church to play piano for a primary program practice. The practice session lasted from 6:30 to 8:30, and so she had to miss out on our weekly ritual of hanging out with the Portland gang and watching Gilmore Girls "My Name is Earl." Well, being the dutiful husband, I sat through the ENTIRE episode so I could tell Margaret all the sordid details when she got home. Imagine my surprise when she didn't ask me what happened! It's as if she could go on with her life without knowing if what's-her-name reconciles with what's-her-face without losing sight of something or other, while still maintaining who-knows-what! The next thing I know, she'll want to stop watching THE SIMPSONS! Then I'll know that the whole world has gone crazy! (Well, maybe not THAT extreme--however if I every want to stop watching The Simpsons, start packing your hand cart, because the call to walk to Jackson County will be right around the corner!)

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

I was at the Apple Store today and--joy of joys--actually HELD a Video iPod! It was like the moment of splendor when the Nazis opened the Ark of the Covenant on Raiders of the Lost Ark--only I didn't see any sultry maidens fly out only to turn into horrible banshees, nor did I get melted--OK, OK it wasn't EXACTLY like that moment, but it was pert-near close. I checked it for what movies were loaded on it, but there was only movie trailers. Before the sublime moment could be marred, however, I noticed that the full-length trailer for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was on it. Oh man, I'm so excited to see that! Anyway, I started it and was glued to the 2.5 inches of full-color glory, feeling the intoxication of holding the portable movie in my BARE HANDS! I can now say that I know how Gollum felt when he first got his mitts on the Ring of Power--to be able to hold every digitized bit entertainment in the palm of my hand is perhaps the closest thing to heaven that man can attain here on earth. (Aside from meth, but that's so 2004, and I've always hated needles anyway.) When Fox starts selling episodes of the Simpsons to watch on it, then I know I've finally reached the Terrestrial Kingdom (since I'm pretty sure they don't allow Simpsons videos or any music by Madonna into the Celestial Kingdom.), and at this point, I'm resigned to being in the cool section of heaven anyway. Anyway, I've already starting lobbying Santa's representative in our household--Elf Maiden Margaret--to give me this gift that exemplefies the birth of Christ. (And if it helps, I promise not to delete "The Work and the Glory" that unfortunately comes preinstalled on all units sold in Utah, AND to cut back on pirating music by 13%). Right now, I'm just hyping the product, but I'll turn up the pressure as December 25th nears, until she'll HAVE to pass the request on to Santa just to shut me up. I'll keep you apprised of the status of the pestering lobbying.

Speaking of Christmas, several years ago, Santa's Little Helper Margaret got me an iPod for Christmas. We were heading to Utah, but she asked me to open her present before we left Portland. When I started opening the package, I could tell it was a book, and I thought that she must want me to read it on the flight, because why else would she insist that I open it a week before Christmas. Imagine my paralysis when I opened the package to find a copy of WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU'RE EXPECTING!!! I just sat there a minute, mouth agape, not knowing what to say. I looked at Margaret and thought, "This--THIS is how she's telling me we're going to have a baby?!?" Shaking a little, and mumbling a "Wow," I thumbed open the book to find that she had cut a chamber in the book and put my iPod in it. Seeing that iPod was like getting two gifts in one! Afterward (it took about 10 minutes for my adrenalin levels to return to normal), Margaret said that she was going to give it to me at Christmas, but that it might be a little mean to put me through what I had just gone through in front of our family. I'll agree that THAT would have been a little much--plus I don't think that they rest of the family would have taken kindly to have the tantalizing prospect of Margaret and me finally reproducing, only to have it ripped from their cradled arms. Now she could probably get away with it, since everyone in our families have given up on us having kids any time soon.

Monday, November 07, 2005

I just found out that for my weight, I would die from a caffeine overdose if I were to drink 230.53 cans of Diet Coke. (I'm assuming that's in one sitting--I'm WAY over that number if that's per week) Phew! Anyone who knows me knows that my limit is 200--225 if it's a real kick-ass party and I lose control, so I'm good. You can find out what your limit would be, given your caffeine delivery of choice (cola, coffee, cocoa--yes, cocoa has the evil substance, too despite what your seminary teacher told you, etc.) and your weight here.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

This weekend, Margaret and I got some yardwork done. We've been putting it off since spring, so to say, there was a lot to do would be an understatement. We knew that it had gotten bad when, last month when my brother was visiting, he said he had to walk through a jungle to get into the house. Despite the fact that we've carefully nurtured the "wilderness" look (I AM a conservation botanist, after all), something had to be done. Last night, coming home from the store, I got saturated trying to squeeze between two rain-soaked shrubs that line the walk up to the house. Getting all the work done in between rainstorms and before the sun goes down at what feels like 2:00 is no easy task. Every time we put in marathon gardening sessions, I can't help but think of how convenient it would be to live in a condo where the only yard maintenance we would have to worry about would be--NOTHING!

I wish I would have read the fine print in the American Dream of Homeownership Contract©--I'm sure it would have said, "you hereby agree to worry about your roof every time it rains really hard; forgo a twelve-week Kenyan safari and 2006 Honda Civic because this is Oregon and combined, that's how much your property taxes will be; give up your weekends doing yardwork, despite the fact that putting in fewer than 80 hours per week will just leave your yard looking slightly less messy; be prepared to fix at a moment's notice, any emergency repair regardless of other plans, obligations, or desires (these emergency repairs may include, but are not limited to: front steps falling in, upstairs toilet leaking through kitchen ceiling, or garage being declared a hazard and you are fobidden to enter it.)

Am I just kidding myself when I think about how perfect it would be to live in those ultra-cool modern industrial urban loft-style condos? Can't you just see Margaret and me, in our perfect outfits sitting around a gas fireplace, sipping our drinks while chatting about the day's political events, with enough time and energy to cook gourmet meals for our weekly dinner parties, solve world hunger, and write the great American novel? That's what it would be like, wouldn't it?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Since Margaret and I got all the Halloween spirit out of our systems at the party we went to on Saturday, on the actual Halloween, we decided to just stay home, hand out treats to trick-or-treaters, and watch a Halloween movie. We ate all didn't have any Halloween candy, and on the way home I stopped by the store to buy some--imagine my surprise when the Halloween candy aisle looked like a pack of orcs had pillaged it. There was literally nothing left--and I'm talking about even the orange peeps--I mean, who buys those unless they are absolutely DESPERATE! Anyway, I had one last option--there is a dollar store on the way home that I stopped in and they had rolls of stickers for $1. I got those and they worked well--at least for the younger kids, who poured over them choosing just the right sheet (there were trucks, puppies, hearts, etc.) All the older kids asked, "don't you have any candy?" I just told them these would be better for their teeth. Yes, the words, "THESE WILL BE BETTER FOR YOUR TEETH" came out of my mouth. I sounded like a parent--or at least an adult--when did THAT happen? Unfortunately I didn't have any cigarettes to give out to undo my decline into adulthood in the eyes of the trick-or-treaters, so I had to find something else to occupy my mind before it drove me crazy--that's where the movies came in. I rented two options, a scary serial killer movie, and a comedy about a witch. Since Margaret gets terrified a little freaked out watching horror movies, she decided on the comedy--BIG MISTAKE. It was the movie "Bewitched," and it turned out to be awful. It was long, stupid, and the whole time we thought: "What was Nicole Kidman THINKING?" We got through the movie, just barely, and it left an awful taste in our mouths (and since we didn't have any Halloween candy to get the taste out, we were screwed!). I think watching "Mulan 2: The Arranged Marriage" would have been preferable.

Well, last night we decided to watch the scary movie, since it was still early and Margaret thought that would give her enough time to calm down before going to bed. It was the movie "Urban Legend," about a serial killer that uses murder techniques that are from urban legends (like the one where someone gets killed by a person hiding in the back seat after ignoring the warning of the gas station attendant who looked down and saw the murderer.). It was very effective in the scare department--Margaret practically tore a vocal chord or three a couple of times screaming. It got to the point that we had to pause the movie and watch tv for a few minutes before she was ready to watch some more. Fortunately the movie overall was terrible, so it didn't do any long-term damage. We both were able to sleep through the night without any lights on, the house alarm at full-secure mode, and holding a knife aimed at the bedroom door--just in case (uh, not that that's ever happened, but I'm just saying...) I think that nowadays, our idea of a horror movie is anything with Dakota Fanning.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Margaret and I live in the Hawthorne District in Portland. My dad calls it "Hippie Town." It's a pretty bohemian part of town and it fits us really well. When we first moved into the area, there was a Hare Krishna temple near us and we would always see orange-clad, shaved headed youths with bongos and pamphlets. Not long after we moved in, my family was visiting from Idaho and one morning Margaret, my brother Jayson, and I went down to Noah's Bagels for breakfast. Sitting in the shop, all of a sudden we heard shouting, clapping, and honking, and when we looked out the window, the street was filled with STREAKERS! There was probably about 50 of them, of various ages--I even remember a little kid maybe 6 years old holding hands with his mom on one side and his dad on the other. The only thing they had on was running shoes and hearts and flowers painted on their bodies. I remember Jayson saying, "This would NEVER happen in Idaho." (I'm assuming that's because it's so cold in Idaho that they wouldn't get any male runners, but that's just a theory.) The runners ran down the road, with a city bus right behind them, since it couldn't pass the throng. The run ended a block down from Noah's, and from there, the runners just dispersed. That was the more surreal part of the morning--walking home from breakfast, every block we looked up had a naked person or two casually walking to their own home. It's one thing to see a group streaking, but it's another thing entirely to see a person strolling through a residential neighborhood naked. It was then that we knew that Hawthorne was the right neighborhood for us. Unfortunately the details of the annual "Freedom Run," which we later found out takes place every April 1st, are closely guarded--because if the authorities knew about it in advance, they would stop it. I guess we'll have to wait until we see the next one, and then strip down right there and join in--and hope we can find our clothes when the race is over (and I also would hope that it is a particularly warm April 1st!).

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Growing up, there wasn't a single tv show that my siblings and I followed with more religious fervor than Knight Rider. From the exciting intro music with KITT speeding across the desert, red scanner lights tracking back and forth, to the final narration of "one man can make a difference, in the world of... the Knight Rider," we would be absolutely MESMERIZED! A car that was indestructible, could talk, could drive itself--and I won't even get me started on the turbo boost, (a gimmick my brother and I would use when racing each other--we'd pretend we were running all out, then, after lulling the other into a sense of complacency, shout "turbo boost" and run as fast we could, just like KITT!). There was never any question on Sunday nights of what we were going to watch--and we just assumed that our parents were as enamored with Knight Rider as we were, because, hey, check out that car--who couldn't help but be absolutely ENTRANCED by that car!

Well, a couple of days ago, Margaret and I were at Target and they had a collection of 80's tv Halloween costumes for adults. They had Crockett and Tubbs from Miami Vice, Magnum, from Magnum P.I., and, joy of joys, MICHAEL FRICKIN' KNIGHT! It had the black Member's Only jacket (the kind with the epaulets), a permed wig, and a red shirt--but the coup de grâce was the talking wristwatch. When you pressed it, KITT would say things like "I'm scanning the area," "I need a tune-up," or "How is it that I can act better than you, Michael, and I'm just a car?" Seeing the costume didn't make me want to get it (I had the purple pants, remember), but it did put me in a nostalgic mood, so on the way home, I rented the first disc of the first season of Knight Rider. When we got home, we watched the pilot--Holy crap! I have no idea how that tv show survived--it was long, inplausible, and had AWFUL acting. My worldview, shaped by the quest for justice that Knight Rider represented, was crumbling around me. We thought that maybe it was just a fluke and the actual weekly episodes would be better--uh uh, no such luck. What I learned from watching a few of the episodes was that as a child, all I registered was the car could talk, jump, activate turbo boost, and scare away dogs that tried to pee on his tires. Little did I know that that was all there was to the show. In one of the episodes, Michael has to rush a state senator back to the state capitol for an important floor vote--yes, you heard that right, AN IMPORTANT FLOOR VOTE! Talk about edge-of-your-seat suspense--will she beat those dirty Republicans trying to pass an energy bill favorable to an oil company?--hey, wait...nah, that's TOTALLY implausible. Margaret and I couldn't help but laugh throughout the shows, and I'm sure she sprained her eyes rolling them so much at the ridiculous plot devices and turns. I can't believe that my parents tolerated watching that show with us--oh the sacrifices they made for their children! After that experience, I have no more illusions--the last of my childhood beliefs have been pushed away, the harsh light of an appreciation of good writing and plausible plotlines driving away the last remnants of the world of the Knight Rider. I'm glad that I've learned my lesson and only watch quality shows that have completely believable plotlines and superb acting--like Smallville.