Thursday, July 31, 2008

Lots of Material

First of all, Bryce came through his procedure just fine. He's a little sore and will be for a few days, but that's to be expected. Heart of a champion, that one. Thank you, to those of you who saw my post this morning and remembered to pray for him.

I was thinking about not posting anything tonight, but throughout the day, Bryce's grandmother gave me so much material that it was impossible not to write at least a little something. For those of you keeping a family tree, Gayle is the mother of Nicole, Jen, and Ryan, all of whom I've mentioned on here at least numerous times.

Generally, when I'm around Gayle, or any of the Hamilton women for that matter, I prepare myself to be beaten senseless. 'Cause that's what they do. I'll make a sarcastic remark at their expense and my arm shows the bruises as proof. Except for Jen, I think she just hits me for the sheer joy of it. Let's just say that sitting next to Gayle in the waiting room this morning may have been a mistake. I still have full use of my right arm, so I'm doing okay.

Once we got Bryce out of the hospital and headed back to the Greenehouse, Gayle had a little trouble in the car. I should say, she had a little trouble getting out of the car. But I guess it's not the easiest thing in the world to get out of the back of an SUV. She sure did fall. I sure did laugh. I laughed so hard that my head got a little dizzy.

The rest of the day was full of sun and fun at the pool. Well, for a few of us. Poor Bryce was still really groggy (and has to steer clear of the cement pond for a good week). Gayle, Nicole, and myself sat around the pool singing old hymns and harmonizing. It was fun actually singing with someone. Usually it's just me and the radio in my car.

Soon after, Russ (that's Mr. Hamilton to you) and Gayle hit the road and headed back to Virginia. Back here though, Bryce is enjoying the effects of Tylenol with Codeine. If only we were all so lucky.

Early AM Prayer Request

Nothing funny this morning. No silly videos from SNL. Just a simple request. Keep my young friend Bryce in your prayers today. Shortly after this writing, he'll be having some minor surgery. But surgery is surgery and I have no doubt that he's nervous. So pray for him and a speedy recovery. Pray for his doctors and nurses. And pray for the Greenes.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Someone Else's Fault

Yesterday, as I was driving to the Greenehouse after work, Nicole called in a panic. Jen had sent her a message saying there was an earthquake, in big, bold letters. Soon after, all communication between the sisters ended. Nicole, in a worried state of mind, called her mother. Then she called me. And then I just stopped. Well, I was still driving. But my mind was trying to process what was going on and all Nicole was getting from me was silence. She probably thought I'd dropped the call.

I, in a worried state of mind, attempted to call Jen. At this point I wasn't sure what to think. As the phone rang, I figured that if she wasn't answering for her sister or her mom, she probably wouldn't answer for me either. And just as I was about to leave a voice message, my phone lost its signal. Nationwide coverage... pssh... Everywhere except that space of 2.5 miles between my house and the Greenes. When I got the signal back I called again and left the message.

Eventually Jen did get back in touch with Nicole. Eventually the newsfeeds said that the quake was a 5.8 with no serious damage or injuries. All's well that ends well.

When I was reading the AP reports about the earthquake, one article mentioned that California sits on three fault lines and balances between two of the world's tectonic plates. The state experiences approximately 10,000 earthquakes annually. Most of the time they're so small that no one can feel them. Do the math: That means that every day, there are about 27 earthquakes on the west coast.

I spent four days out there and felt nothing. Not a rumble, not a tremor. In fact, my house has shaken more when a large truck drives by than anything I experienced while in California.

I should count my blessings though. When I finally talked to Jen yesterday I told her, if it had been me, I probably would have been screaming like a 12-year-old girl.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


I'm not coming up with a whole lot to write about today. So I bring you another classic SNL commercial. Without further ado, "Oops I Crapped My Pants."

Monday, July 28, 2008

Always Something

I arrived home from work today and pulled up to the curb where I regularly park. Much to my surprise, there was a sign telling me not to park there for 48 hours.

See, for a few weeks, the Town of Wake Forest has been working on the road in front of my place. I'm pretty sure I mentioned that in a previous post. I was hoping it would all be done by the time I got back from LA. But alas.

So I'm left to wonder when this "48 hours" begins. I'm also left wondering where I should park for two days. The signs stretch all up and down the street. I suppose I could try and park on the street behind my house, but that parking is designated for the families that live in those duplexes.

Luckily I still have the Greenes. Luckier still, I haven't worn out my welcome with them. So for two more nights I'll be staying with them.

Looking back at the month of July, I'm pretty sure I've spent approximately seven total nights in my own house. Why am I even paying rent here anymore? I think when August comes around I'll ask if I can get July prorated.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

For the Fun of It

My recent adventure in miniature golf got me thinking about going to Putt-Putt when I was a kid in Roanoke. It's not something we would do often, maybe once or twice each summer. But I remember getting really excited about going and getting to choose which color ball I wanted to have. We got to pick from blue, red, green, or yellow. I usually went with blue, but that's not important.

What was important was which light was on when you got a hole-in-one. See, over the cash register was a set of four colored lights. If the light corresponding with the color of your ball was on and you got a hole-in-one, you could exchange your ball for an orange one.

I'm not sure what was so special about the orange ball, but I know it was like this huge rush when you knocked your green ball in, then looked up and saw the green light on. It's not like getting the orange ball gave you extra points or endowed you with any kind of super-powers that helped your accuracy. I guess you just got bragging rights with your little sister.

Come to think of it, is that how it really worked? I don't remember my Dad ever getting an orange ball, and he scored holes-in-one all the time. Maybe it was just an extra way to make kids feel special. Kind of like how they give out 8th place trophies today.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


While in LA, just outside Point Break Live, Jen and I noticed an annoying phenomenon. I'm not sure there's a name for this event, so I'm just gonna call it "forced chivalry."

As we waited a substantial amount of time for the valet guy to bring Jen's car back around, another car pulled up. A girl walked over to the passenger door and stood there. Her arms were crossed as she just stared at her date. Then she looked at the door handle. Then she looked back at him. The very clear vibe that she was sending was that she would not be opening that door on her own. That, apparently, is the man's job.

Okay, I'm not one to believe that chivalry is dead. My folks raised me right, in that it's polite to hold a door, pull out a chair, or reach for the check after dinner. But ladies, you can't force it. In this modern world where women can vote and own property, and have been able to do so for a very, very long time, is it really realistic for you to expect your fella to remain that shining armor knight?

I think there's a very thin line here. Guys, you can do all that stuff and with some women, it will impress them. But with others, they'll just get annoyed. And gals, if the guy you're with doesn't do all that stuff and those actions are something you expect from the man you're dating, then dump him and find someone who will. If you don't expect your date to live up to that standard and then (gasp) he does hold the door for you, just let it be a nice surprise. Chances are he's really nervous. The nice ones get nervous and will probably overshoot the niceness when they're on a date with a girl they like.

BTW, I don't actually have a cited source on this one. It's all just pure opinion. The fact that I could be wrong is always a distinct possibility. Remember the title of this blog when I start giving dating advice.

When Jen's car finally pulled up in front of us, I thought about rushing around to the driver's side to get the door for her. But then I thought, she's driving... she should be getting the door for me. But then I thought better of it and got the door my own self. I'm a modern guy, I can do stuff on my own. I can even vote and own property.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Question of the Week: And Don't Come Back

Would you accept $1,000,000 to leave the country and never set foot in it again?

I couldn't do it. Not for a million. It's just not that much money these days. I'm sure there's a lot of paperwork that would need to be filed, which would cost money. Then you'd need to get a place to live. Of course there's the ridiculous cost of airfare and shipping charges for all your stuff. By the time you get yourself established wherever you've chosen to go, that million is just about dried up. Make it 10 mil and maybe we'll start talking.

I don't want to call it "un-American" to take money to leave and never come back. I mean, what's more American than greed?

*Question of the Week comes from The Book of Questions by Gregory Stock, Ph.D.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Back in the Real World

I've spent every day for the last week writing about my adventures in and around Los Angeles. And now I'm back at home. Been here since Tuesday night. And what have I done with my time since I've been back? I worked. Then I caught up on some sleep. In that order.

Work yesterday was dull. I was struggling to keep my eyes open throughout the day. Because when I got up to get ready for work, while it was 6:30 am to everyone else on the east coast, my body was telling me to roll back over and go back to sleep. My body was whispering 3:30 am. I'm sure my body would have been screaming 3:30, but my body just didn't want to wake me up by being too loud.

After work, I realized that I needed to go grocery shopping. Before my trip to California, I had been staying at the Greenehouse for about 2 and a half weeks. In that time, I emptied my fridge. So coming home from vacation, my cupboard was bare. I could have put off the shopping 'til today, but then I wouldn't have had dinner last night. So I put off sleep in favor of a full stomach.

This morning I finally unpacked everything in my bags and cleaned house a bit. Since I wasn't living there for nearly a month, I let things go downhill. Junk mail and magazines thrown all over the place. Clothes all over the bedroom floor. Dishes in the sink. This is not how I normally live. I'm not a neat freak by any stretch of the imagination. But I at least have things in their place for the most part. And things are now back to the way they should be.

And now I feel that I should come back to a post from the weekend. I haven't forgotten about the contest that I had on here. The winner is Tiffany who gave the correct answer before anyone else. She said she didn't want a souvenir, so I'm honoring that. But she does have the satisfaction of being right and being first. My favorite answer, though, came from Jen and Nicole's brother, Ryan, who answered with Laurence Olivier in Clash of the Titans. I may do more of these movie quote things in the future. Could be fun.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Picture Postcards From LA

I'm finally posting pictures from my vacation in Los Angeles. I really don't feel like I took too many, since most of the time was spent videoing the places we went. And, like I said, eventually I'll edit all that and make it somewhat presentable. But for now, these few still shots are what you get.
Downtown LA from the Griffith Observatory
Everyone that comes to Hollywood's got a dream...
The Griffith Observatory, as featured in Rebel Without a Cause and Transformers among others
It's just like Baywatch
Home of the world's best pancakesHome of Dr. Emmett L. Brown of BTTF fameHome of Dunder-Mifflin, Scranton branchHome of the world's glaziest doughnutsMe and some girl at the beachJen gets a nap on Monday afternoonJen beating me at Putt-Putt

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Leaving Los Angeles

I feel like I've started the majority of my posts about LA by saying it's been a long day. Well, I'm saying it again. It's been a long day.

Please, do not take that as me saying these long days have not been great. I'm grateful that the days have been long. Jen and I were able to pack into the last four days about two weeks worth of decent vacation goodness.

First, let me recap last night. We did, indeed, go play miniature golf out in Sherman Oaks. It's the first time either of us had played in quite some time. We chose the most challenging of the three courses that this place offered. And, luckily, I'm not very competitive, otherwise, it would be difficult for me to admit that Jen beat me. By one stroke.

After hitting the links, we drove into the Hollywood hills where I was shown a great view of LA at night. Sadly, I saw no coyotes. I was all prepared too. I brought my ACME paint so I could paint a tunnel onto the side of one of the hills, then trick the coyote into going into it. But it was all for nothing.

This morning we got up and left the apartment at 6am. My flight wasn't scheduled to leave until 9:30, but I had to get checked in and Jen had to get back with enough time to get ready for work. So she slowed down when we got to the terminal and I jumped for it. Then she peeled out. I don't think she could've gotten rid of me any sooner if she'd tried.

I kid. While we were quick about saying good-bye ('cause she really needed to beat traffic on the freeway), she actually did stop the car. We hugged, we cried... I hate good-byes... 'scuse me... I've gotta check something out over here... something in my eye...

I'm okay now... I got checked in at the airport and found out that I could upgrade to a first class seat on my second flight (Chicago to Raleigh). And I could do so for only $90.00 more. Since I didn't spend as much in LA as I had budgeted for myself, I thought, why not? LAX to O'Hare was a pretty decent flight. The in-flight entertainment was Horton Hears a Who, which actually turned out to be a very good movie. I think what adds a lot to it is where everyone joins in on a chorus of REO Speedwagon's I Can't Fight This Feeling Anymore. Classic.

O'Hare to RDU was a different story altogether. What should have only taken an hour and a half turned into three and a half hours. Good thing I had paid the extra money for the extra leg room. That could have been an even more uncomfortable flight. See, we got to about Roanoke and started doing circles in mid-air. Eventually the captain informed us that Raleigh was dealing with some storms that weren't really moving away. So the holding pattern lasted for about half an hour, until we were just about out of fuel. We were then redirected to Norfolk, where we were to refuel and wait out the storms. I should have disembarked the plane by 7:20pm. I didn't get off the plane 'til well after 9.

Nothing like a little adventure. I was getting a little tired of hearing the guy next to me in first class though. At first he would just huff and throw his hands in the air. But eventually he started cussing and insulting the pilot when we weren't able to land. Me, I wasn't worried. What's the point in worrying about something you have absolutely no control over? It's not the pilot's fault that there are thunderstorms and air traffic control is stopping planes from coming into Raleigh for a little while. Suck it up dude. You're in your 50s. Grow up!

Once again I'd like to thank Jen for a great weekend. Best. Vacation. Ever. That might be a slight exaggeration. But it was the best vacation I've had in a long time. And thanks again to Kevin for the drop-off and pick-up at the airport. Tomorrow, if I survive the readjustment to Eastern Daylight Time and a full day of work, I'll post pictures from the weekend. And, really, I hope to figure out how to edit the video that we shot, 'cause I think some of it actually turned out okay. When that day comes, it'll make an appearance right here.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Good Day LA

Today has been my last full day in Los Angeles. We began the day eating breakfast at Dupar's, which is famous for its pancakes. I was told in previous months that this restaurant had the best pancakes in the universe. And what I ate was very good. But, unfortunately, I wasn't feeling very well. So I didn't eat much. I wish I had though.

From there we drove out to Pasadena where we located Doc Brown's mansion from theBack to the Future trilogy. We also found George and Lorraine's homes from the first film. In the movie, we're led to believe they lived in different neighborhoods. But in reality, the houses were just a couple houses apart, on the same side of the street. It was very exciting.

We drove back over to Hollywood to visit the Griffith Observatory, which has been featured in a number of films including Rebel Without a Cause and Transformers. We were able to take in a lot of scenery and some nice, smog-filled skylines.

After that, we spent a lot of time just driving around, listening to music and talking. Just having a good ol' time. We made our way to Burbank to enjoy some Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Nicole had told me they were the best Krispy Kremes in the world, but I have to disagree. They weren't "hot now" which may have tainted my results. But I was pretty sure there was too much glaze on the doughnuts. I thought they were too sweet. I just didn't like them as well as the ones back home. I'm sorry Burbank.

For now we're back at Jen's place, resting for a bit. Soon we'll be hitting up a miniature golf course and going for another drive. We just might see some coyotes. Tomorrow morning I fly out of LA and make my way back to Raleigh.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A Dark Knight in LA

It's been another very long day. The stuff that Jen and I did this morning doesn't feel like it all happened today. Again, I'm hoping to eventually put some video clips on here. However, a few minutes ago, when I plugged the camera in to charge back up, I reviewed some of the footage. I'll be honest, it's not good. During those times when it was bright and sunny, it was difficult to see the screen and see exactly what was being picked up. I was afraid a lot of it would be off. A lot of the footage at Venice Beach is way off target... and shaky... and mostly the sidewalk and people's feet. Really, a lot it is bad.

But here's a description of some of the things we saw. The evening began as we drove around town. Jen was showing off some of the sights. We went by the Brady Bunch house. I wanted to go up to the door and ask if Bobby could come out and play. But apparently the owners of the house get really made when people do stuff like that. Or even just stand and stare or take pictures. So it was a drive-by taping.

Next we went to Universal City, seeing the entrance to Universal Studios and the building in which Jen experienced her first earthquake. Next came the Warner Bros. studio. I got to see the water tower where the Animaniacs live. We also saw the Paramount front gate and the building where Disney does all its animation. The building itself is supported by the seven dwarfs.

Making our way into Hollywood, we drove by the scene of the "Enchantment Under the Sea Dance" from Back to the Future. We even saw the parking lot where George punched Biff. This was a historic moment, as George had never stood up to Biff in his whole life.

Soon after, we stopped and saw the Grauman's Chinese Theater. It's hard to tell how may names and hand prints we saw. This one of the clips from the video that I really hope turned out. We made our way upstairs and ate dinner at Johnny Rocket's and followed that with dessert at Cold Stone Creamery. If you get a chance to go to Cold Stone, I must warn you to stay away from the blueberry muffin batter ice cream. I thought I'd give it a shot. Not worth the risk.

On the way back to the car, we noticed a lot of people who were dressed up in character costumes. We saw a Spider-Man, a Darth Vader, Captains Jack Sparrow and Barbossa, Batman, the Joker, Supergirl and Catwoman. But where I got my thrill was when Superman and Wonder Woman were walking toward us. Superman stopped me, got Wonder Woman's attention, and pointed out that I was wearing a Justice League t-shirt. Since they stopped me, I felt I should have my picture taken with them.

We drove around a bit more to kill some time before our movie began. Then, around 10pm, we made our way to the Arclight Theater where we would be viewing The Dark Knight. This movie was very, very good. Heath Ledger definitely deserves a posthumous Oscar for his performance as the Joker. I'd give it a more in depth analysis, but it's 4:20am. I'm tired.

After the awesomeness that was that movie, we went to Santa Monica for an all night art show called "Glow." We actually decided not to stay there long. We walked to the Santa Monica Pier, but when we got there, the police had closed it down temporarily. Apparently there were too many people on the pier, leading to too much weight, leading to potential disaster. It would be 20 minutes before it reopened. By this time it was 2:30am. So then we decided to head back to the car and back to Jen's apartment. I'm going to bed now.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

LA story

Saturday in Los Angeles is really just beginning. Granted, it's currently 5pm locally. But we've got lots to do from here on out. But first, an update from this morning.

We slept as late as possible. But I woke up at 8, long before Jen. That was actually pretty late for me, considering I had been up for more than 20 hours on Friday. After Jen got up we sat around her apartment for a little while, then got ready to go to the beach.

We stopped for breakfast at the Omelet Parlor. We were seated on the patio, where numerous birds roamed freely. And they made themselves known. Flying near faces. Dropping their feces. Good times. The place was pretty good, despite our avian friends. The food was abundant and reasonably priced. I got eggs, bacon, and french toast. And it was scrumdidliumptious.

Next we walked over the beach. We were somewhere between the Santa Monica Pier and Venice Beach. Would you think the Pacific Ocean would be warm? Especially in Southern California? You'd be wrong though. It's actually very, very cold. But I got to stand in the Pacific, it was nice.

After lying on the sand for awhile (and adding to my burn a bit) we took a walk through Venice. We saw the street artists and musicians and freaks. We actually paid to see the freaks. For $3.00 we got to see a two headed turtle, a two headed snake, a five legged dog, and various other freakish attractions. You get what you pay for.

Like I said in last night's post, I'll try to get some video on here at some point. Tonight we'll be in Hollywood. Taking in the Chinese Theater, the Walk of Fame, some ice cream... and all of this leads to (drum roll) The Dark Knight. It's gonna be awesome. And I'm gonna be tired... again. More to come.

Contest from LA

As I was boarding my first plane yesterday, this line popped into my head:

"I fell off the jetway again..."

Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, I offer you a contest with an actual prize. The above quote is from a film of my generation. If you can name the film and the actor who spoke those words, you will receive a wicked awesome souvenir from Los Angeles. Unless Jen is the one that gets it, then she'll just have to wait 'til I get back home and I'll find a wicked awesome souvenir from Wake Forest.

Anyway, the rules are simple. Leave a comment with your answer. The first correct response that I receive is the official winner. I do ask that you not simply go to Google and search for that quote. I know in this age of the internet, it's easy to just look it up and find your answer that way. If that's the way you need to win, well, that's a bigger issue that you need to deal with. Let's just go with the honor system here.

The deadline will be Monday night: Midnight, Pacific Daylight Time. But really, I don't think you'll need the full two days. Get to it!

Long dAy

I thought about just not posting tonight. I'm looking at the clock at the bottom of my screen and it says 3:22am. That's eastern time. Which I'm definitely feeling. Do the math, where I am, it's 12:22am. So still, technically, it's Saturday. Which means I missed my Friday post. That's why I did two on Thursday, just in case.

But here are a few highlights from my trip out west...

A quick thank you again to Kevin for the Bojangle's breakfast and the ride to the airport. My first flight was somewhat uneventful. When I checked in, I had the option to upgrade my ticket to first class for $135. I thought about it. But then figured I could be in a better position to make that kind of call after the trip. So if I get the option on the way back, I might take the upgrade. Assuming I still have some disposable income at the end of my journey.

I say the first flight was uneventful, but the landing was a little rough. Well, not so much rough, but really quick. Apparently it gets windy in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. I got to the terminal with about 90 minutes to kill. Which was good, 'cause I was pretty hungry. A quick stop at the McFood Court and I was ready to wait for my next flight.

This flight was better. The head flight attendant must have fancied himself a comedian. He kept throwing in all kinds of cheesy lines for a cheap laugh. He ended his final speech with, "My name is Bill and I approve this message." Everybody wants to get in on the act.

As I was in the air, I kept thinking about how confusing it was to look down and see nothing. No landmarks to tell me what state I was high above. No major highways or rivers that I could identify. It would be really convenient if we could look down and see blue or yellow and know that we had crossed from one state or country to the next. You know, like on a map. What if we got farmers to carve huge letters into their crops? Spelling out the state they're in... that's very helpful for airline passengers.

I finally arrived at LAX after what seemed like an entire day of traveling. Amazingly though, it was only 2:30 when I got of the plane. Yeah, local time. But what do I do now?

Jen was working, so my ride was a shuttle to the FlyAway station in Van Nuys. This is where I spent a great deal of my afternoon/evening. Eventually she got around to picking me up. Seriously though, I don't begrudge her for having to work. It was a work day after all. And I did choose a flight that would get me here in the early afternoon.

But anyway, she picked me up, we got some pizza at a place called Shakey's. The pizza wasn't bad, but the entertainment was top notch. We didn't know it when we chose the restaurant, but apparently it was Spanish karaoke night. I told her that I should pack it up and fly back home tonight. There's no way we can top that.

Jen informed me of the jam-packed weekend that she's got planned for us. As she described it, as I let the awesomeness of it all wash over me, it felt like we were cramming over a week of vacation into two days. And that was before she even got to what we're doing Monday. And, so you know, we're toying with the idea of doing a video blog. If I can work the technological magic just right, I think it would be pretty cool.

The eventful weekend officially kicked off with Point Break Live. To be totally honest, I was a little unsure of what this would be like. But it was great. Very funny. It's a group that acts out the entire movie (Point Break) on the stage. But there's audience participation. And they pick an audience member to play Johnny Utah, the role immortalized by Keanu Reeves. The guy that was picked did a great job of acting badly. Key for a Keanu role. As we went in, we purchased survival kits, which included a poncho. The poncho was an excellent idea. Remember the scene near the end when there's a huge shoot-out? Well, the actors used real squibs. Which meant fake blood flying all over the place. And it was sticky. And a little gross. But it was a lot of fun.

Day one is finished. Jen said Saturday will be a 24 hour day. So I better get as much sleep as I can. Beginning right now... Good night kids...

Thursday, July 17, 2008

LAst ditch effort

Last week, Jen told me I should get a tan before coming out there. The logic was that if I had a tan, I wouldn't automatically fry myself when I hit the beach in LA. So for the first time in my life, I want to a tanning bed.

I know, I waited too long to begin the tanning process. So between last Thursday and today, I visited the place a total of four times. During my initial visit, I sat under the heat lamps for six minutes. It didn't seem too bad. And then that night I turned a little red. Not bad, but enough to keep me from going back on Friday.

On Saturday, I was still red, so I decided to skip it. On Monday, I had planned to go back, but since I took a sick day at work, I felt it would be a little tacky to be seen trying to get a tan. So I went Tuesday. Another six minutes.

This time it seemed like my skin was rejecting the ultraviolet radiation. No effect whatsoever. So I went again Wednesday after work. This time, the girl suggested eight minutes. It seemed that this too offered little to no effect. So I went again today. It was my last ditch effort to get a tan before going west.

She asked if I wanted to do nine or ten minutes. I figured, what the heck, it's my last try, so I went with ten. It was too much. At this moment, as I prepare to get some sleep, I am in a considerable amount of pain.

Let's recap: in my effort to tan, in order to avoid burning in California, I burned, instead, in North Carolina. Should make tomorrow's flight all kinds of uncomfortable.

LeAving on a jet pLAne

For years I've told Jen I would fly out to Los Angeles to pay her a visit. It's been a lot of talk. Even a couple months ago, when I finally paid for my flight, it still felt like this hypothetical future event that would never actually arrive. That hypothetical future is quickly becoming the present.

Tomorrow morning I'll board a plane and fly far, far, far away from here. Here's what I know for sure: Tomorrow night we're going to see Point Break Live. Saturday night we're going to the 10:30pm show of The Dark Knight (which will feel like 1:30am to me). At some time we're going to the beach (which I hear is a prevalent resource there). Other than that, my fate is in Jen's hands.

I'll be taking my camera. I'll be taking the Greenes' video camera. I'll be taking my laptop. So expect regular updates from the west coast.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Life's Playlist

Nicole sent this to me the other day. I’ve seen something like this before. One of those MySpace bulletin things. But I’ve never actually had the guts to pull the trigger. Never sat down and determined what the soundtrack to my biopic would be like. According to the directions, I pulled out my iPod, hit shuffle, pressed play, and then listed the songs accordingly. These are all going to be great songs. Because I put nothing but great songs on my iPod.

Opening Credits:
“You Don’t Know Me” by Ray Charles

Waking Up:
“She Loves You” by The Beatles

First Day at School:
“Redeemer” by Nicole C. Mullen

Falling in Love:
“Copperline” by James Taylor

Fight Song:
“I Want You to Want Me” by Cheap Trick

Breaking Up:
“Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera

“What I Like About You” by The Ramones

“Time That Is Left” by Mark Schultz

Mental Breakdown:
“All or Nothing” by O-Town

“A Home” by The Dixie Chicks

“It’s About You” by Rachael Lampa

“You’re Glowing” by The Elms

Birth of Child:
“Upside Down” by Barenaked Ladies

Final Battle:
“Holding Out for a Hero” by the fairy godmother from Shrek 2

Death Scene:
“The Star Spangled Banner”

Funeral Song:
“Wake Up” by Andy Gullahorn

End Credit:
“No Such Thing” by John Mayer

I take it back… they’re not all great. And some of them really just don’t make sense at all.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Stadium Drive

Around eleven this morning, I began hearing loud noises outside my house. That's right, I'm finally back in my own place. Last night was my first night back here in over two weeks. In some ways it was strange. In others it was quiet. Again.

Anyway, I was greeted today to the sound of road work right outside my door. There was no warning. Just the sights and sounds of heavy machinery chewing up asphalt about three feet from my car. For a stretch of nearly a mile of one of the busiest streets in town, they've ripped up the road, preparing to repave it.


That is a question to which I haven't the answer. There was no note left on my front door, or under a windshield wiper. Several months ago, March I think, I got a windshield leaflet saying that there would be some work being done on gas lines. It would be done by the end of April. And it was. So what is this today?

Not only have they torn up the road (and are now taking a break) but there is an abyss in front of my neighbors house. Okay, I exaggerate, it's more of a pit. I don't remember seeing anyone digging it out and I don't know what it's there for. But there were several men standing around looking quite proud of themselves.

It's a good thing I don't need to go anywhere right now. But I'm gonna be in trouble when I get hungry later on. See, I don't have any groceries to speak of. Since I've been at the Greenehouse for the last two weeks, I emptied my kitchen out. And I really don't see the point in buying stuff if I'm only here for another 2 days before I fly out to LA. So, come dinnertime, I'm gonna really be hoping they're finished with the street. Really.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Angry Cat

Maybe I'm just being lazy. Maybe I just don't have any good ideas today. Whatever the case may be, I'm not writing anything again. Here's another clip from our good friends at YouTube. This one's a really angry feline. That's cat, to the layperson.

I'm pretty sure that if evil made a noise, that would be it.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Multiple Personalities

I've spent the last couple weeks posting a lot of original stuff. I'm taking a break today. When I was unable to sleep last night, I got on YouTube and was stumbling around and found this clip. It's from Inside the Actor's Studio, the episode with Kevin Spacey. Now, I've thought for some time that Spacey is a very good actor, but I had no idea he was so phenomenal at doing impersonations. The following clip is rated PG. Viewer discretion is advised.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Ladies and gentlemen, I've said it before, I like getting comments on my blog. And in the past, I haven't minded if they came anonymously. But now people are beginning to lie about who they are when they leave these anonymous comments.

Just to let the general public know, I have ways of tracking who is looking at my site. I may not know who you are by name, but I am able to see the times that people click into the blog. I can see how long they are there. I can see where they click to get out. And I can see the IP address unless it's been blocked. This means that I can go in and see what time you leave your anonymous comment, then I can go back and find the corresponding IP address.

Please, feel free to continue leaving your comments, anonymously or otherwise. But do not insult my intelligence by using a fake name when signing your comments. I'm about to call an "anonymous" commenter out. This morning, someone hit my site at approximately 8:23am. The next person to click over to my blog was at 9:13. What does this tell me? It tells me that the three comments that were made between those times were made by the same person.

However, the three comments were supposedly left by different people. One was left without any kind of signature. One was signed "Bill." The other was signed simply "J." On that last one, were you trying to make me think you were Jen? Because she often signs her comments "j" (notice that's lower-case, 'cause that's how she rolls). But you know how I really know it wasn't Jen? Because the IP address came from North Carolina, not California. Yeah, I can tell your general geographic area too.

So, to "Bill" or "J" or Anonymous, don't stop reading my blog. Don't stop making your comments. But own up to them. If you're afraid of someone seeing who you really are or seeing what you're really saying, then don't comment. I don't want to have to start rejecting people's comments. Up until now, I've published every comment I've gotten. I've gone into this thing with my only rule being no vulgarity in the comments, and so far everyone has managed to abide by that. New rule, be yourself. Don't be anonymous, and especially don't pretend to be someone else. It's just rude.

Greene Day Six

Today, the very last day of the Greene Days, we focus on the parents. Mom and Dad, or Nicole and Kevin as I like to call them. I like to think of Nicole as the mother that I, in fact, still have and moved here to get away from (just kidding mom). Kevin is more like a brother than a dad to me though.

Since I moved down here they've welcomed me into their home and treated me like a part of the family. So much so that Kevin even wanted to claim me as a dependent on his taxes this year. If that's not family, I don't know what is.

I don't have a lot of things to say that would be considered funny or sarcastic here. 'Cause mostly I'm using this as another way to say thank you to Kevin and Nicole for all they've done for me this year. They've fed me, let me do laundry, even given me a place to stay when I've needed it. And I know I've said thank you before, but it never seems like enough. Not to me anyway.

Maybe Kevin can claim me on the taxes next year, if I ever get to move into the imaginary apartment above the imaginary garage.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Greene Day Five

Last but not least, we come to Gabrielle. I know I'm probably not supposed to pick favorites, but if you had any interaction with Gabby, you'd know why that's a hard thing to do. Forget it, I'm not a parent, I can pick favorites all I want. I'm sure the favorite thing will change as soon as she starts talking and talking back. Her brothers and sister will probably rub off on her, so I'm sure, eventually, the sarcasm will kick in. What am I talking about? Eventually I'll rub off on her, then the real sarcasm will kick in.

Gabby is the first baby that I've really spent any significant time around. Before her, I was pretty sure that no infant could stand me. My own cousin wouldn't make eye contact with me until she was three. There are other examples, but I won't go into them here. Let's just say I was starting to develop some kind of complex. It's refreshing to be around a kid that actually smiles when she sees me coming.

And I think she's been flirting with me. There are a lot of times when I come over to the Greenehouse and she'll be sitting on the floor in the living room. She'll look around the chair to see who just came in the door. She sees it's me, I say hi to her, she smiles. And then she kind of rolls her eyes, trying to make it look like she's not really interested that I just walked in the room. Gabby, I know you can't read this, but kiddo, I'm way too old for you. How way? Way way.

But now that she's been at the beach for over a week, she's probably forgotten all about me. It'll take months before she's used to me again. Her very first birthday is coming up this weekend. I'm looking for some gift ideas. Your thoughts? I'm all ears.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Greene Day Four

The youngest Greene boy is Braeden. He's at that age where just about anything he says is pretty much adorable and worth writing down. While I was staying here last week due to an unfortunate plumbing problem in my own home, he came back to the office/bedroom to hang out with me for a while. We started talking and I asked him if he knew what he wanted to be when he grew up. He thought about it for a minute and then said he wanted to work at Domino's.

So I asked him why he wanted to work at Domino's. "'Cause I wanna see how many different kinds of pizza I can make." He then went on to list all the different crazy toppings he would later experiment with. Mostly he just wanted to put lots of spicy things on the pizza to see how hot he could make it. After a stint as a pizza artist, he wants to be a "dirt biker."

Another trait that he has is the sticking out of the tongue. It's not in a sense of someone sticking their tongue out at you. He just sticks it out of his mouth and lets it hang there. Usually when he knows he's done something he shouldn't be doing or getting into some kind of mischief.

When you get into a conversation with him, you might get confused at times. See, sometimes, Braeden switches out his Rs for Ls. For example: His name becomes Blaeden. His last name is Gleene. His brothers are Blyce and Blett. It can be pletty funny.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Greene Day Three

The eldest Greene girl is Makenna. As a six-year-old girl, life is filled with Hannah Montana, High School Musical, and drama, drama, drama. About two or three weeks ago I was invited to go along with grandparents from Virginia and neighbors from next door to Makenna's dance recital. I felt kind of special to be on Makenna's short list of people to invite. I was very impressed with the whole production. And Makenna's two dances were both very good.

I found out via the blog that Nicole keeps for the kids that Makenna lost a tooth on Monday. This really clears up a lot of stuff for me. See, Monday night, I was sleeping quite soundly when I heard someone stumbling around upstairs. I was more than a little alarmed, so I grabbed a baseball bat and ran upstairs. I was ready to pounce until I saw some chick with wings. Needless to say I was taken aback by this sight. She almost bolted, but after seeing the wings and the sceptor with the giant tooth on top, I figured she was the Tooth Fairy. I stopped her from flying out the window long enough to ask if she was looking for one of the Greene kids. She looked at her list and said she was looking for Makenna. I told her they were down in Myrtle Beach on vacation. I wasn't real sure of exact directions, but she said she could find them. But I guess it took an extra night, 'cause I hear she didn't visit until last night. So kids, just remember, it's never a good idea to lose a tooth while you're out of town. 'Cause then the Tooth Fairy might get confused.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Greene Day Two

Next in line for the throne is Brett. When I was his age, I would have been intimidated to hang out with a kid like him. Not because of anything that he's done or said. But because I had very little self-confidence and the cool kids, frankly, scared me. Brett's pretty much a cool kid.

A few weeks ago I was invited to go along with the family to Brett's class play. It was a re-telling of Little Red Riding Hood with a "get along with your environment" message and set to the music of the 1950s. The girls had the poodle skirts, the boys had the t-shirt and jeans with the hair slicked back. Brett kind of looked like an 8-year-old James Dean. I told you, cool.

Turns out, his girlfriend is the one that played Little Red Riding Hood. Dude, extra cool points for dating the star of the play. Dating... psh... they're eight...

I'm told that he had a few girlfriends by the time he was in preschool. Don't hate the player. Hate the game.

Late Day Edit: I failed to mention earlier that Brett gave me a family portrait that he drew himself. He gave it to me so I wouldn't get lonely at my house. I put it on my refrigerator. Some six months later, it's still the only piece of art hanging in my kitchen. You too could have your art hanging on my fridge. All it takes is for you to hand it to me, and a willingness to have your work seen by the four people who visit my kitchen annually.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Greene Day One

Welcome to Greene Days. Each day this week I'll devote a blog post to one of the Greene kids, concluding with the Greene adults on Saturday. Today I begin with the oldest Greene kid, Bryce.

Being the oldest, I actually knew Bryce as a baby. He was born not long after my family started going to North Roanoke, where, as mentioned before, we initially became friends with the Greenes. Actually, back then, it was my parents that were friends with the Greenes. I was busy graduating from high school and then leaving for college. I'm pretty sure I heard Nicole say that Bryce used to get a kick out of my Dad and his wacky cartoon character ties.

Despite the fact that I knew him 'til he was about two years old, I knew he wouldn't remember me when I moved down to North Carolina. So I was a little nervous. Not just around Bryce, but around all the kids. I've never been one to hang out with kids on a long-term basis. So initially, there was uncomfort. But it didn't take too long for the kids to warm up to me. I think.

Anyway, at this point, Bryce is the only one who can really give me a run for my money when it comes to wit and sarcasm. Well, he tries. And he gets it honestly. It might just run in the family. Which means if it does, I need to watch my back for the other four as they get older.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Mark Comes to Visit

I've had college friends say that they would come down to Wake Forest to visit. But until this weekend, none of them actually went through with it. After nearly a year of living in North Carolina, I finally received a visit from one of the old Bluefield crew. Thanks for visiting Mark.

He made the drive on Saturday evening and arrived in town around 8:30 or so. He brought stuff for hamburgers, so there was no way I was turning him away. Now, remember, I am house sitting for the Greenes, so Mark was able to stay in a much nicer place than what I would have normally been able to offer. It's just a shame the Greenes weren't here to enjoy the Mark Hipes experience. I think everyone would have gotten along just fine.

He really wasn't here long. Just long enough to go to church this morning and play the mandatory SingStar this afternoon. I'm not sure if I've previously mentioned that Nicole has a rule that anyone who comes to the Greenehouse must participate in SingStar at some time or another. And since this was Mark's first, and possibly only, visit to the Greenehouse, I deemed it necessary. Luckily, Mark does not embarass easily...

In other news, not to be outdone by JenStock 2008, the Greenes will have a week devoted to them. So, this coming week, while they are still at the beach, I will be bringing you Greene Days. Get it? It's a play on the band name. Green Day. Get it? Shut up, you know it's funny.

Also, in unrelated news, an anonymous someone left a comment regarding my blog post from Thursday. I love getting comments. I don't even mind it when they're completely anonymous. But whoever you are requested a copy of something for sentimental reasons. Are requesting a copy of the farewell video that Jen and I made? Are you requesting a video of my upcoming trip to LA? Again, I love getting comments. I'd love to get comments from people on everything I do. I was just left confused by this particular request. Please, dear mystery commentator, reveal thyself that I may honor thine request... if I can. If it's about the Todd video, I don't have a copy of it anymore. I sent my last copy to Jen some time ago. April may have the original somewhere, but I really don't know. Holler.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

My New Love

While the Greenes are at the beach, I'm staying at their house taking care of their pets and plants. That's right, I'm a full-service house sitter. I'm also taking care of Nicole's car. And let me just say, I'm in love. This car is awesome. A Honda S-2000. I was a little nervous about driving it at first. It had been several years since the last time I drove a straight shift. But Lucy's a lot easier to drive than my sister's Miata ever was.

Lucy is the Honda's name, btw. You can see Jade (my car) in the background. Probably jealous...

See, she's almost smiling, but she looks kind of mad too. That lets you know she's serious!

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I think she looks better with the top down.

I quote Ferris Bueller: "It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up."

Friday, July 04, 2008

JenStock 2008: Day 5

There are so many things to say about today. First of all, it's Independence Day in the United States. Our country is 232 years old today. Fairly young by global standards. Second, and most importantly, and possibly the most heartbreaking, it is the last day of JenStock. Take a moment to take that all in.

Because it is the 4th of July, and because it is day 5 of JenStock, I wanted to somehow combine the two events. I'm not sure if I managed to pull off such a feat. I don't have fireworks and I don't have photos of Jen signing the Declaration of Independence. But I do have one more video. I'm sorry to say you won't see me singing in this one, but you do have Jen, so don't panic. In the upcoming clip, she'll be performing Eye of the Tiger on SingStar. You'll also see Nicole and I'm pretty sure you hear Kevin off-camera. I figured this was appropriate for today because, while this song was originally featured in Rocky III, it was also played at the beginning of Rocky IV, where we all know that Balboa became the embodiment of America. I mean, he singlehandedly ended the cold war in the boxing ring. If that's not patriotism, I don't know what is. Anyway, here's Jen, doing better than Survivor ever did. She really takes her SingStar seriously.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

JenStock 2008: Day 4

The year was A.D. 2000. The flying cars and jet packs that we had been promised so many years earlier had yet to appear. That disappointment was setting in. But my spirits were raised with the meeting of Jennifer Hamilton.

That summer she and I were both "leaders" at SuperWeek, a church youth camp held (at the time) at Bridgewater College. I'm not sure when she deemed me a worthy adversary/partner in crime. I could have been when I tricked her into leaving her table at one of the meals and then turning her drink into a gel.

Sidebar: I had this stuff that bought at a magic shop. It was this powder that turned any liquid into a gel. I bet the folks doing dishes had a blast with that.

Anyway, about mid-way through the week, Jen and I came up with the idea of making a farewell video for Todd Brock. He was our youth minister, who would soon be leaving for Montana to start a new church. So there we were, two kids in a small town with just a camera and a dream.

Our first, and thus far only, production consisted of documentary style interviews with the kids in our youth group, a few killer action shots, and of course, an ending musical number.

It was a rousing success. The short film was shown in a youth room and a sanctuary across the North (Roanoke Baptist Church). I'll be bringing a video camera with me to Los Angeles when I go visit her in a few weeks. Just to see if we can recreate that movie-making magic in documenting my first trip to the west coast. So Jen, scout out some locations.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

JenStock 2008: Day 3

Today I have still shots. Photographs if you will. These are all pictures taken from Jen's sister, Nicole. I use her pictures because, sadly, I have very few pictures of Jen myself. I don't use the camera as often as I once did, and therefore a visual record of the people in my life over the last five or so years has become somewhat diminished. I give you the Day 3 Gallery. Commentary is free of charge.

This is Jen.

This is Jen with a camera.

This is Jen with Ryan and Nicole.

I love it. Now make me hate it.
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Tomorrow there will be another story. It might not be as good as the LiquiGel incident, but it'll be good enough.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

JenStock 2008: Day 2

I promised video footage and today I deliver. Today I give you a duo destined for great things. In this rare scene taken from a time before they were stars. Performing Part of That World, here are Jen & Aaron. And please, pay no attention to the idiot trying to figure out what goes into the dishwasher.