Thursday, November 30, 2006

Yellow journalism

Gauging from the news yesterday, Portland should be in the throes of an ice storm never seen since the last ice age. All throughout the night last night, there were rolling text updates on all the tv shows we were watching, telling us that THE STORM IS COMING! My work was making preparations for a late opening or possibly not opening at all. Tons of schools preemptively closed. Well, imagine my surprise when we woke up not to a sheet of ice coating everything and shutting down the entire city, but... wait for it... NOTHING! There was hardly any rain, just enough for the ground to be wet, and the temperature is well above freezing. I guess information like that doesn't garner many ratings. Actually, I'm a little disappointed... I could have used a day home refilling my sleep bank.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Freezing inside and out

Portland is experiencing abnormally cold temperatures... like 30º! I guess my blood has thinned considerably since enduring Utah and Norwegian winters... To avoid being frozen solid I took the bus all the way into the city where I could transfer to the train (I usually walk a couple of blocks to a different train stop, but I wasn't willing to risk frost bite for a few minutes' savings). I'm sure that drinking 48 oz. of Diet Coke this morning at Noah's had NOTHING to do with my feeling so cold.

Speaking of massive amounts of pop, a couple of weeks ago when we were coming back from the hot springs resort, we stopped at 7-11 for caffeine (a strictly prohibited substance at the resort... you'd think it was run by Mormons if it weren't for all the naked people running around). Anyway, the refill prices for different container sizes was posted at the fountain dispenser. It listed the standard 16 oz, 32 oz, and 64 oz, but it also listed prices for 96 oz, 1 gallon, and FIVE FRICKIN' GALLONS! (which, by the way, only cost $6.25) Who in the world would come in with a 5-gallon bucket and fill it with pop?!? By the time the thing was filled it would have gone flat. Although you have to admit it would be funny to take a bucket of pop to the movies and set it down in front of you with an extra long straw and slowly consume enough caffeine to turn a sloth into a cheetah. All you'd need then would be a 55-gallon barrel of popcorn. And a catheter, of course.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Here I was, with a great blog entry all mapped out in my head, when an item in today's paper jumped out at me and forced me to write about it. I'll have to tell you about my Tibetan expedition that was so strenuous that I required 12 sherpas another time. What has gotten me so aggravated? I'm glad you asked. Check this out:

The president-elect of the Christian Coalition of America, which has long served as a model for activism for the religious right, has stepped down, saying the group had resisted his efforts to broaden its agenda to include reducing poverty and fighting global warming.

Over the past few years, Rev. Joel C. Hunter has gained a reputation as an evangelical leader who sought to expand the agenda of conservative Christian activists from issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage.

Because nothing says Christ-like like firing someone who is trying to help the poor and be a good steward of the environment. I bet the millions of Americans in poverty are so thankful that those conservative Christians are using their resources to keep gays from getting married rather than wasting it on something like FOOD!

One last point before I get off my soap box... and of course it has to do with a comparison between the U.S. and Norway. What is up with Norway, whose population's religious conviction compels them to at most go to church at Easter and Christmas--and that's the RELIGIOUS ones, that have done away with hunger, poverty, and homelessness in their country, while here in the U.S., where the majority of the population ranks themselves as religious, we allow people to go hungry, live in poverty, and have rampant homelessness? I wish we could start living up to our ideals. (Unfortunately it seems that money always wins out when there is a conflict between charity and capitalism.)

(Okay, I'm stepping down off my soap box now.)

Monday, November 27, 2006

Thanksgiving follow-up

I forgot to write about our food experience in the Spokane airport. When we were on our way to the airport, my brother asked if we wanted to stop for some food before the flight. Thinking that the Spokane airport would be like the Portland airport and have an entire food court with prices that were dictated by city code to be identical to downtown prices, we told him we'd just grab something while we were waiting for our flight. Well, when we got there, only a single restaurant was open... and they only had pre-made sandwiches, soup, and chips. We decided to share a sandwich, Margaret got a cup of soup, I got a bag of chips, and we both got a Diet Coke. All that came to $18! The dry sandwich alone was $7 and the Diet Coke was $2.50... EACH! (Of course we'd opened them before finding THAT out! After paying, I remembered my mom had brought up a whole bag full of leftover turkey sandwiches. Why hadn't I remembered them before being gouged? For the love of God, WHY?

Thanksgiving travels

Margaret and I went home to Idaho for Thanksgiving. The trip started with the ordeal of Homeland Security-imposed inconvenience that is modern air travel. What's up with the 3 oz. liquid or gel rule? That alone was aggravating, as you had to have all your liquids and gels in a separate ziploc bag. I swear! How far are we from packing EVERYTHING in our checked luggage, stripping naked for a body cavity search, then be issued paper hospital gowns for the duration of the flight? Anyway, another rule was no wrapped packages. Well, we were bringing over all our Christmas presents for my family and so ended up having to wrap them while we were in Idaho. Of course we put it off until the morning we left, so Margaret and I ended up at Jo-Ann fabrics to get wrapping paper (she totally tricked me, telling me that she was going to the Albertson's next door!). The place was busy... their doorbuster sale had attracted a horde intent on getting damask at 1/2 off. Compliments of the ravaging horde, all the registers were open. We tried playing the "switch lines to get into the faster moving one" game and got stuck behind someone writing a check... yes, A CHECK! Those have been banned in Portland for years now, so it was quaint to see someone getting her quill pen and ink pot out to write out a check. Well, of course there was a computer problem processing it, so we waited and waited and WAITED. The person behind us in the original line had already gone through the line and was out the door before our clerk announced that her register was closing and to go to the other line! Arg. We switched lines, like obedient sheep, and waited some more. Just when we were next in line, the other register clerk came back and reopened her line! Ah, love those experiences at fabric stores that reinforce my dread of going to them.

We got back to Portland okay... the only thing that Homeland Security confiscated was a gross energy drink sample we'd gotten at Costco. It was 3.4 oz, which everyone knows would have been enough to do some real damage. Brother!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

God Save the Queen!

Wow! Last night, we went to see Casino Royale, the new James Bond movie and all I have to say is that I haven't been this proud to be English since the signing of the Magna Carta!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Black market's underwater branch

Check out this from CNN:

Tipped off by three plastic pipes mysteriously skimming the ocean's surface, authorities seized a homemade submarine packed with 3 tons of cocaine off Costa Rica's Pacific coast.

Four men traveled inside the 50-foot wood and fiberglass craft, breathing through the pipes. The craft sailed along at about 7 mph, just 6 feet beneath the surface, Security Minister Fernando Berrocal said Sunday.

THREE TONS!!! That's almost a four-day supply for the NBA!

You can read the whole article here.

Hippie weekend

This weekend, we went to a hippie commune hot springs retreat and intentional community. It's out in the middle of nowhere in the Oregon forest. The group that operates it are all new-agey or extreme hippies. They generate their own electricity, recycle everything, and offer random yoga, meditation, and reiki workshops, just to name a few. The best indicator of how new-agey the place was happened when we were checking in. When the woman at the front desk saw my last name and that it was obviously Native American, she asked me where my tribe was from (actually, she first asked me if that was the name I was born with--evidently being used to people like Jane Smith or Michael Jones get all granola and legally change their name to Moonshadow or Running Fox). Anyway, when I told her that I was from Idaho, she told that her daughter was conceived in Idaho and she always felt like it was an ancient tribal spirit from there that had entered her, as her daughter had a great affinity to that location. Trying not to crack a smile, I just nodded my head and slowly backed away. (Although now that I think about it, I wonder if I was conceived in a Gap dressing room, because I've always had an affinity to that store...)

Anyway, back to the hot springs. For us, the big draw is the hot water pools scattered throughout the property--ranging from a natural steam sauna to a series of successively hotter pools arranged in a circle. Nothing says decadence like sitting in a hot pool all day, only to come out for meals. Unfortunately they only offer vegetarian meals, so we had to stop by McDonald's after we's put our clothes back on and left the commune facility (and rest assured, it was in that order).

Friday, November 17, 2006

MasterCard's advertising reach

I know I was a bad snoop who had no business doing this, but... Yesterday on the bus, the woman sitting next to me started writing a text message on her phone. What first caught my eye was how slowly she was typing on her phone--you'd think she'd grown up with a rotary dial--even though I'm sure she was younger than me. Anyway, since I was looking over her shoulder anyway, I started reading the message she was writing. The message was: "Emma's husband: 54; Emma: 28; Emma's husband's daughter: 32; Thanksgiving all together: priceless" AWKWARD! Ah, I love the things one sees on public transportation... that and invading people's privacy.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Fire eating

Last night the Portland Gang© met at a fancy restaurant to celebrate Firechild's birthday. And boy was that restaurant fancy--it seemed like a classic gentleman's club from the robber baron era. (A feeling that was assisted by the fact that the restaurant was in the train station.) The red velvet seats were high backed and someone pointed out that when you laugh, you felt like doing it maniacally and so heartily that your monocle fell out, because it just felt right. It seemed like just the place to plot how to economically exploit the next group of hapless victims. Let's see, who's left? The Irish, Blacks, Native Americans, Chinese, Mormons, Germans, Hispanics, Poles, Japanese, Aborigines, Lapps, Puritans, Basques, Palestinians, and Indians have already been exploited. That only leaves Midwesterners and Skateboarders.

Anyway, back to the restaurant--I always knew that Firechild was a pyromaniac, but after seeing what she ordered, I think she both earned her nickname AND reached a new level of pyromania. One of the offerings on the menu was Steak Diane, which is steak prepared at the table and served flambé. I swear--given the choice between Ambrosia prepared by Aphrodite herself atop Mt. Olympus and delivered to the restaurant by Hermes and food on fire, she'd choose the fire food every time (and not just because Aphrodite ususally charges several hundred thousand dollars per serving). You should have seen Firechild's eyes light up when her meat burst into flames. Satan himself couldn't have been more pleased around all that fire. For dessert, she ordered Bananas Foster, served flambé, of course. If they would have offered a flaming salad, I'm thinking she would have been tempted by it. Maybe for her birthday I should have given her a charcoal briquette and told her that it was an iPod, served flambé.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Fashion Police

I just saw that the Oregon corrections officers won the national Best Dressed Law Enforcement Competition. The competition judged their ceremonial honor guard uniform, battle dress, Class A uniform, summer uniform, K-9 uniform, and SWAT uniform. The article didn't say anything about the swimwear uniform, which consists of a Speedo with a police badge printed on the front, nor did they mention the eveningwear uniform which is a tuxedo with a Kevlar-reinforced cummerbund with a hidden holster. But I'm sure that was just an oversight.

Some of the quotes in the article were so funny they could have appeared on a Saturday Night Live skit. "A head-to-toe look--they've really pulled it off. Accessories make the man. It's what separates us from the beast." (I can't tell whether they were talking about their inmates or those Kentucky correction officer slobs.) "And they really know how to accessorize, down to the keys." (Wha? They must have a locksmith on call to ensure that the keys to the new jail locks match their outfits. "Could I get this key in a oil-rubbed bronze? Brushed nickel doesn't go with my dress uniform.")

This quote was my favorite: ""Look at the bling,' she said, pointing to their glittering silver accouterments. 'That bling adds a level of prestige and importance.'" Okay, that's the first time I've ever heard shiny badges and metallic epaulets refered to as "bling."

Actually, I'm pretty impressed by the work they put into winning. And I have to admit, that their uniforms are MUCH more authoritative and respectable than those crazy uniforms the Pope's Swiss Guard have to wear. Those were designed by Michaelangelo and haven't been updated since. They literally ARE so 15th century!

I'm a good one to talk, anyway. When I first started my current job, I wore a shirt and tie for 6 or 8 months. After which, I dropped the tie. Then after a year or two, I wore the occassional polo shirt. After a while, only on Fridays, I'd risk wearing jeans. Now, I've gotten to the point that I only wear jeans. At this rate, in a few years I'll be coming to work in my pajamas, which isn't a good thing, since I don't wear pajamas!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Stupid homeownership, vol. 2844

After putting it off for weeks, Margaret and I spent THE ENTIRE WEEKEND SEVERAL HOURS THIS WEEKEND pruning, raking up leaves, and generally prepping the yard for winter. After TWO DAYS and TEN yard debris bags, we thought we were pretty much all done. Which was true, until Sunday night, when a major wind storm blew through Portland and we woke up to a yard COVERED with leaves. Of course! Don't they have people to do this... well, people that you don't have to PAY to do this? (Maybe that's why people decide to have kids.)

Speaking of home travails, one of my apartments I lived in in Norway was a total dive. I think that since it had been a missionary residence for years, and therefore the residence of teenage boys during all that time, it hadn't seen much in the way of cleaning or maintenance. I was able to handle it okay for a while (I WAS one of those teenage boys, after all), a while, that is, until I found MUSHROOMS growing on the floor of the shower. The occassional mildew stain was one thing, but to have actual fungi growing there was too much. Fortunately I was transferred shortly thereafter to a house where the landlady inspected our cleaning job every week. Draconian, I know, but effective.

Now I can't imagine tolerating mushrooms growing in my house for an instant. (Peyote excluded.)

Follow-up: We slept in a little this morning and were awoken by the sounds of the yard debris pick-up... and we'd forgotten to put out our ten bags of leaves! Now they'll have to sit on the porch for two weeks until the next pick-up. Arrgg.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Top 10 Reasons to Procrastinate


My aunt sent me this and I couldn't resist posting it. She also sent "333: Only 1/2 evil"

New-fangled technology

I swear, it is so easy to take modern technology for granted. This weekend, while coordinating getting Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas tickets with some friends, at one point I was chatting with one person, while in a video conference with another, who was also on his cell phone with the fourth person, so he put her on speakerphone so she could be part of the video chat! All this coordinated between Utah and Oregon! And yet it still takes Amtrak 36 hours to get people from Portland to Salt Lake! What's up with that?

I'm pretty excited about the Christmas concert because the featured performer is Sissel Kyrkjebø, a Norwegian singer who is amazing. She did the vocals for Titanic and sang the Norwegian songs for the Norwegian language dub of Disney's The Little Mermaid. I'm sure MoTab (as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir is called by the urban hipsters on the streets of Salt Lake) will be good, but a free Sissel concert?!? THAT'S worth flying in from Oregon a week early for.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Norway on top of the world--literally AND figuratively

Has the whole world gone CRAZY? The U.S. isn't the best place to live on the planet?!? Check out this news item from the United Nations Development Program:

The United Nations ranked Norway as the best country to live in for a sixth consecutive year yesterday.

Oil-rich Norway, with its generous welfare state, topped the UN Development Program's human development index, based on such criteria as life expectancy, education and income.

Iceland was No. 2, followed by Australia, Ireland, Sweden, Canada, Japan and the United States.

I guess ridding your country of homelessness, poverty, and hunger actually makes people HAPPIER! Gee! And here we are focusing all our attention on... well, I'll just say that we haven't been focused on solving homelessness, poverty, and hunger.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

On the mend

Well, my ear feels much better. Now I'm thinking that I developed the ear infection from being exposed to so many campaign commercials. Could they BE any more toxic? My immune system didn't stand a chance!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Keeping life interesting

Check out this article from CNN:

VALPARAISO, Indiana (AP) -- A woman who considered loneliness a curse left $2.9 million to several agencies that serve the elderly, including $725,000 each to a day center and a Meals on Wheels program.

"She wanted to use the money to make life interesting for people who are over 60 who are retired," James Bozik, the attorney for Dorothy Risto, said Monday.

Barbara Kubiszak, director of the St. Agnes Adult Day Service Center, said the donation came as a surprise because as far she can tell, Risto never set foot in the center. The same was true for Meals on Wheels, said Laura Harting, executive director of the Visiting Nurse Association, which runs the program.

What a slap in the face that must be to Congress, whose tireless efforts to "make life interesting for people over 60" resulted in the Social Security Prescription Drug plan. From what I hear, firguring out how THAT works is more mentally challenging than the New York Times Sunday crossword, five-star Monster Sudoku, and making the choice between watching Matlock or Murder She Wrote... COMBINED!

Stupid homeownership

Over the weekend, the Northwest has been completely inundated with rain. One of the rain stations near Mt. St. Helens posted 31 INCHES of rain from Thursday to Sunday! Well, Monday, it was still raining buckets. That night, Margaret and I sat down to watch Heroes, and since Margaret abhors commercials with every fiber of her being, she mutes them. (I, being male, have the gene to tune out the extraneous noise, which comes in handy when there's a screaming baby around, I assume.) Anyway, I noticed when she muted the tv that the rain was REALLY coming down. Unfortunately when I went outside to check on it, it was raining pretty hard, but it sounded even worse, as our gutters were clogged. So, in my pajamas, I tried to do something. I can't believe how idiotic I must have looked standing on a ladder with a long stick with a wire tied to it. I tried to run my makeshift gutter cleaner two stories up, but the stupid tool didn't make a bit of difference, other than getting me all wet. I eventually had to climb out on the roof and see what I could do, which was just enough to keep the gutters from overflowing, but just barely. The next day, I got sick and it feels like an ear infection. Arg. Just another example of why people choose condomiums condominiums! (Oops! Thanks Tracy)

And to top it all off, I missed the last twenty minutes of Heroes? Oh cruel fates, why must you mock me?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election nailbiters

Since 5:00 this evening, I've been glued to the tv and internets, hoping to find out what is going on. How many times to you have to click the "refresh" button on your browser before you get more information from CNN? Man, what did people do in olden times when it took DAYS to count the ballots. I remember when I was in Norway during the presidential elections of 1992. That's the year that Clinton defeated Bush, Sr. I remember having two goldfish in our apartment, one named Bill and one named George. We all thought it was a sign that George Bush, Sr. was going to be reelected because Bill (the fish) died. Well, when we woke up, we saw that that wasn't the case. Afterward, the mission president solemnly told us that since the American people had elected a draft-dodging drug-user that the Apocalypse was right around the corner. Well, that didn't exactly pan out--and we even replaced one draft-dodging drug-user with another draft-dodging drug-user! Who in the world could we elect to hasten the Reckoning? Maybe Donald Trump?

Election Day excitement

Everyone at work keeps checking out CNN for the latest election news. I don't want to wait for polls to close... I want to find out stuff NOW! Anyway, while trolling CNN, I found this little gem:

Ky. poll worker charged with assault, interfering with election
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- A poll worker was arrested Tuesday and charged with assault and interfering with an election for allegedly choking a voter and pushing the voter out the door, an official said.

Election officials called police, and the voter wanted to file charges, said Paula McCraney, a spokeswoman for the Jefferson County Clerk.

"That about tops off the day," McCraney said.

It wasn't immediately clear what sparked the altercation. The name of the poll worker was not released and a Louisville police spokesman did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

I can tell you right now what the problem was: when the poll worker says use a No. 2 pencil, HE MEANS IT!

Now brave the overzealous poll worker in your precinct and GO VOTE! RIGHT NOW! (Unless you're Republican, as they have a special polling time to minimize their contact with the poor and minorities. The polls are open for you from 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM tonight.)

Movie excitement

After reading the Mary Poppins entry, Margaret reminded me of something that happened at the movie that could have had disastrous consequences. In the scene where Mary and Bert are at the cafe with the penguin waiters, we were supposed to use the kazoo from our goodie bag to hum along with the frenetic action. Well, Margaret got so frenetic that she almost inhaled the little waxed paper thingy in it that vibrates. Fortunately it only went in her mouth and she was able to cough it out. I can just image how embarrassing it would be to have to stop the movie and be rushed to the hospital due to choking on a kazoo paper! (Although I have to admit it would make a great story... as long as she survived!)

Speaking of which, that reminds me of another choking story. Why are they always so entertaining? Plus, excluding autoerotic asphyxiation, I can't think of a more embarrassing way to go... turning blue with your eyes bugging out is bad enough, but add in the audience of a crowded restaurant and you've got the third ring of Hell. Anyway, my brother was telling me about eating at a restaurant recently where someone at a nearby table started choking. The woman's husband jumped up and started giving her the Heimlich maneuver and their server rushed over to see if there was anything she could do. The husband looked over at the server, stopped giving his wife the Heimlich, pulled his wallet out and handed the server his credit card, then returned to give his wife the Heimlich! What in the world must he have been thinking!?! If there are any servers out there, what is the proper procedure in this situation? Do you walk away and run the credit card, hoping that all will go well or at least you'll be able to write in a big tip when they inadvertently leave the credit card behind when getting in the ambulance? Or do you give them the meal for free? Is this circumstance covered in your training manual? Perhaps between Chapter 22: "How to add disgusting things to problem customer's food without them realizing it" and Chapter 24 "How to time questions of food quality so it's only when the customer's mouth is full."

Monday, November 06, 2006


Last night, I was in the basement talking to my brother on the phone when all of a sudden, Margaret came downstairs and asked me if I'd just felt the earthquake! I hadn't felt a thing and so I asked her if maybe it was the wind (as there was a storm blowing outside) or that maybe I was doing my aerobics a little too vigorously. Anyway, I went online and, sure enough, there HAD been an earthquake, right under the city. I went upstairs (after wiping the egg off my face, which is never flattering) and told her she hadn't been imagining things. In fact, the US Geologic Service had 1500 people enter the "Did you feel it?" link on their website.

That reminds me of a time when a friend and I were driving somewhere in Provo when I was going to BYU. We were driving on a road that bordered the campus, where there are lots and lots of students walking back and forth to classes. Well, as we were driving, we noticed that all the people we drove by were gawking up in the sky. At first we thought, "Saps! What kind of rube just stares at a sunset like that?" Then as we saw even more people doing the same thing, we start thinking that maybe it's an alien invasion force, or a scene out of Red Dawn. Finally, we came to a stop sign and my friend leaned out the window and asked someone what the fuss was. The girl replied, "It's the SPACE SHUTTLE!" Without even turning around, my friend said, "Uh, I'm from FLORIDA! I don't think it's the space shuttle!" (Since one's proximity to Cape Kennedy is a determiner of knowning the exact whereabouts of all the US space craft.) Anyway, I looked in the rear view mirror and, sure enough, it WAS the space shuttle. It was attached to a 747 and was landing in Salt Lake for some event. Boy was my friend sheepish after that. Now when someone tells him something incredible, he's a little more likely to believe it. Which is why you will find him in the middle of the Utah desert with a Mormon fundamentalist cult. Evidently their prophet was telling his followers that the source of his powers was some God Dust he scraped off the space shuttle when it was in Utah.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


I don't know if you've heard about movie sing-alongs before, but they're movie musicals in which the songs have been subtitled so the audience can sing along. They draw quite an audience and people come dressed up as characters and with props. A couple of years ago, The Sound of Music Sing-Along came to town and we missed it--much to Margaret's consternation. We were talking to someone who had seen it when it came to San Fransisco and he said it was hilarious to see all the people (mostly men) dressed as nuns run to the front of the theatre when the "What do you do with a problem like Maria" number came on. Since Margaret was raised on that movie, she felt like she could have quoted the entire film--not just the songs, but the dialogue, too! Alas, it wasn't meant to be, but a reasonable alternative presented itself this weekend in another Julie Andrews classic: Mary Poppins! Yes, the Mary Poppins Sing-Along was in town and we, of course, HAD to go. We found ourselves looking forward to it throughout the week, suddenly finding ourselves singing "Spoonful of sugar" or "Chim chiminey" and not even realizing it. Originally, we hadn't anticipated doing anything special other than attend, but after running a few errands Saturday morning, we drove by a Goodwill and I pulled in, thinking that if something jumped out at us, we'd get it and cobble together costumes. Well boy did we! Margaret found this perfect gray skirt, which set off our hunt for more and more elaborate costumes. After stopping at three used clothes stores, a friend's house to borrow something, and Fred Meyer for the last-minute touches, we came up with two quite elaborate costumes, if I do say so myself.

Margaret's costume was the "First Impression" Mary Poppins, with long gray skirt, frilly white shirt, red bowtie, black hat with flowers on the brim, a long black coat, and an umbrella. Mine was the "Chimney sweep Bert" with a ratty overcoat, red kerchief, hooligan hat, and the coup de grâce: a toilet brush painted black (which was MUCH more convenient to carry around than a full-sized chimney brush, but just as effective, especially with today's gas fireplaces!). When we met up with our friends Cheron and Craig, and I was surprised that they weren't in costume, as they have a long history of dressing up for the most contrived reasons--like when they made silver metallic robot costumes in celebration of National Foil Day back in August. As we entered the theatre, everyone got little goodie bags, which we looked through and thought, "What in the world is all this stuff?" There was a Pixie Stick, a cocktail umbrella, a mini folding fan, a champagne popper (like from the Fourth of July, where you pull a string on a little bottle and shoot confetti right in the face of some unsuspecting kid--despite the fact that the warning specifically forbids that--eh, whatever) two chocolate coins, and a flashcard with "supercalifragilistic" or "expialidocious" on it. Fortunately a woman with a bad English accent came out before the movie and explained all the props--like in the scene where the other nannies get blown away in the wind we were supposed to get out our fans and help blow them away. Or every time someone said "spoonful of sugar" to take a hit off the Pixie Stick.

At this point, we were getting pretty pysched up, only to discover that there was going to be a costume contest, complete with PRIZES! We went up, along with other chimney sweeps and some penguins and came in second! (We lost to the stupid penguins, since they're so hot right now.) Our prize was a movie CD, so we'll be able to relive the evening time and time again. After the contest, the movie started and to say it was a lot of fun would have been an understatement. The crowd was constantly adding commentary, jokes, and sound effects during the movie, and belting out the songs as they came up. One of my favorites was when the bank chairman of the board is trying to get Michael Banks to give up his tuppence. Craig yelled out, "Come on kid, help support the military/industrial complex!") It was so crazy and so Portland. I couldn't believe how many of the songs I knew, even without the subtitles. Some of the songs go so fast, and the subtitling didn't always keep up, but since I'd grown up listening to a Disney Greatest Hits record over and over and over that I found Ididn't really need the subtitles all that much, anyway. (eventually that record go so warped that "Let's go fly a kite" had a slow part and a fast part as the record needle went up one side of the warp and sped down the other side. Now when I hear that song, it sounds funny without the speed changes.)

After the show, both Cheron and Craig admitted that neither of them had seen the movie before. I can't even imagine what they must have thought when they saw us come into the restuarant to meet them and later enthusiastically belting out these songs they didn't even know. They probably thought I'd just forgotten to wash my face and that Margaret was in her Edwardian-era again (like she was back in 1998.) Anyway, we had a great time, and now we have costumes for next Halloween, too!

Friday, November 03, 2006

I'm King of the World!

Don't you just HATE totally clichéd reenactments of lame movies. Any yet here I am, bowing to pressure to entertain (actually, I guess I do that every day I post to this blog... arg, I've devolved into a circus monkey. Meh, at least I'm a circus monkey with great hair Italian villa ridiculously large trust fund... aaaaaiiiieeee! I'm just a circus monkey!!!) Well, now that we've got that settled, here's the background on the photo. A couple of weeks ago, I was in Astoria, Oregon (you know... the town from Goonies, Kindergarten Cop, and Free Willy) for work. While we were there, we stopped by the maritime museum there. (It was that or Seafood Processing Adventure World, but who wants to wait in lines to ride the Shrimp Boat Flume Ride--not me.) The museum was like a scene out of The Guardian--they had lots of dramatic rescue footage, model ships, and duck decoys. Okay, that really didn't have anything to do with maritime stuff, I guess the curator just likes them. Anyway, a retired lighthouse ship is moored at the museum, which visitors get to go through and gawk at and marvel at how boring life must have been for the sailors on that boat. Essentially it was designed to be a lighthouse where there was no land to build one, so they just anchored at the same location permanently. The only excitement would come from major storms--and that would be because you thought you might DIE! One thing that would have passed the time would have been to do lame Leonardo Dicapprio impressions, like I'm doing in this picture. After I posed for this picture, I thought, "Great. I just caught myself on film doing something that I would unmercifully mock someone else for doing." I guess that's the benefit of my particular talent of being able to absolutely justify any action I might do. That was a talent that was very useful on my mission. (See yesterday's entry.)

Thursday, November 02, 2006


After getting several comments back from the previous post, I'd like to point out that I was just a WITNESS to these things. The only rule I broke was being in the room while non-regulation music was playing. I suppose I could have stopped the whole thing, since everyone knows that I'm a completely self-righteous, judgemental, fundamentalist who wants to impose my religious views on others. Oops, I'm thinking of someone else. Maybe that's why I didn't have much success converting Nowegians to Mormonism--I was too tolerant.

Pyschodelic mission experience

Today I read one of my mission friend's online bio and she had married someone else from the mission... a missionary who always seemed a little crazy to me, but maybe he cleaned up his act after... well, if I give too many details, it would be obvious who I was talking about, so instead, I'll tell you a story. Gather round, children, and listen to a tale that will make Mormons cringe in terror and non-Mormons think, "Taking bad LSD is scary, this not so much." Anyway, here goes:

The summer of 1992 was particularly enjoyable in Kristiansand--a sunny, summer-resort type of town on the southern tip of Norway. The area had 6 elders, two sisters, and two member missionaries who were really cool, and we were much more prone to meeting at the pond at the local park than actually knocking on doors. This state of affairs wasn't helped by the fact that our area leaders were, how shall I put this?... liked to have a lot of fun. Anyway, over the course of a beautiful southern Norwegian summer, the eight of us became quite lax, quite tan, and quite close. Unfortunately, as the mission was a cruel taskmaster (the mission president was, in any case), the dreaded day came when transfers were announced. Only one elder was being moved--Elder Johnson. He was REALLY bummed, because the entire group had been together for a few months without any moves and he knew that he'd miss us all and that he'd be missing out on a lot of fun after he'd left. The night before the move, all the elders decided to met at the area leader's apartment for a evening of fun, games, and brownies. Then the evening started to get INTERESTING!

After we met up downtown to catch a ride to the apartment, we all loaded into their car (yes, all 6 of us, in a tiny VW hatchback) and headed up. En route, one of the leaders got to wondering if you could get a buzz off smoking a phonebook (yes, a frickin' PHONEBOOK... he was desparate for stimulation, I guess!), so we stopped at a phone booth and he stole the one there (obviously STEALING was against mission rules). Back at the apartment, the evening started fun--someone made brownies, we played some games, and then, as the evening wore on, the mood drifted to a more somber tone. Elder Johnson realized that he needed to start packing, so he would pack up a few things, then come back out to the living room to talk some more, then head back and pack. We had a little wood stove in the living room, where we had made a fire (also against mission rules--boy, The Man was really oppressing us!). After a while, we were just sitting around staring at the fire. Elder Johnson started cleaning out his food in the fridge and gave us a sausage, since he wouldn't be able to take it on the train. A couple of us took clothes hangers and cut it up and started to roast it on the fire. Someone put on a Simon and Garfunkle tape (which was also against the rules, as we were only supposed to listen to hymns) and we were just quietly sitting there in the dark room, lit only by the little fire. The leader who stole the phonebook took the opportunity to pull it out to try smoking it (which broke a number of CHURCH rules as well as mission rules). He took probably a couple of hundred pages and rolled them up as tightly as he could. He then got up close to the fire and stuck one end of the roll into his mouth (which was COMPLETELY open to accommodate the diameter, and stuck the other end into the fire, inhaling as much as he could to keep the end burning. He sat back and he and another missionary without any sense took turns with that burning phone book. It was so crazy to see them with that huge roll in their mouths, not able to just puff, but having to literally INHALE just to get air movement over the burning pages. Soon both of them were looking completely sick to their stomachs, tears streaming down their faces at having been breathing paper smoke (which smelled awful--maybe it was the ink). I remember at that moment, holding a straightened-out coat hanger with a sausage dangling from the end of it over a fire made of old mission newsletters and planners, in a dark, smoke-filled room with two queasy smokers, with Simon and Garfunkle singing "Homeward Bound," that I realized that that was the most surreal experience of my life up to that point. And even after 15 years, it still ranks up there at least in the top three.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Halloween shenanigans

Well, our Halloween was successful. And by successful, I mean we didn't get any eggs thrown at our house, toilet paper in our trees, or flaming bags of poo left on our porch. It's the little things that you appreciate. We had quite a few trick-or-treaters, who were on the most part delighted that we were handing out mini-tins of play-dough instead of candy. Even the older teenagers who were going door-to-door were excited about it. It was just our way of doing something about the obesity problem here in the U.S. (And if the kids are desparate, Play-Dough IS non-toxic...)

Evidently we had a better Halloween than some kids in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, though. I read a story in this morning's paper about some teenagers who were at a party that decided to go doorbell ditching. Making their rounds, they saw a house under construction and decided to slip into the basement because they thought it would be scary--(I'm assuming because of all the building code violations). Anyway, they saw something hanging from the ceiling--and what do you do when you see some random thing hanging from the ceiling? They shot it with a BB gun, then poked it with a stick (the classic method of fact-finding), only to discover it was A DEAD BODY!!! hanging there! They all ran out and back to the party, where their story met with incredulity. Which I have to say, would have been my response, too. I mean, come on! That's a little too convenient that there would be an ACTUAL dead body on Halloween! When they finally convinced some of the other party-goers to come back with them, they entered the house only to find an old man wielding a machete who came after them. It was the owner of the property, there after seeing the trespassing teenagers. He didn't get caught and upon being arrested mutter, "I would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for you meddling kids." No, upon investigation, it was discovered that the body was someone who had committed suicide not long before the teenagers found him. The old guy decided not to press charges on the kids because they'd gone through enough. I'll say--that sounds like the plot of a bad horror flick... only with property developers! (The most frightening thing I can imagine!) So look for the movie next year, "Housing Development Horror."