Welcome. Now here's a bit.

True story: when I was a kid, I had a real hard time understanding the difference between Jack Nicholson and Jack Nicklaus. For a while, I thought they were the same person: just a raving psychotic golfer.

Likewise, I always confuse the movies Sophie's Choice and Rosemary's Baby, probably because I have never seen either.

Hey, if you're coming to this site for the first time ever or first time in a while because of my mass e-mail, welcome/welcome back. Now take THIS!! *karate chop to the throat*

Ah, I'm joking. I didn't really just karate chop you in the throat. If I had, you would have felt it. Trust me. I'm just trying to keep you on your toes. Now feel free to look around, leave comments, whatever. It'll be fun, I promise. Scout's Honor.*

*I was never in the Scouts.


Shoulda been a boxer

Ah, it's good to be back in Ill-i-nwah. I'd had just about enough of being in a state that Sufjan Stevens hasn't written an album about. I'll never do it again. It's only Michigan and Illinois from here on out. Until he writes more albums. C'mon Rhode Island! (By the way, Sufjan's "Come On Feel the Illinoise" is really good. I'm just finishing it now. Not surprisingly, my favorite track was "Chicago" although coming in a surprising second was "Jacksonville.")

I just got done setting up my room AGAIN. I did it when I came home from college, but apparently, coming home from vacation warrants a re-set up as well. It seems that in my absence it was necessary to box up my entire room and move it so carpet could be laid. (Note that I timed my vacation to avoid this manual labor. Pretty brilliant if you ask me.) So I came back and everything was in boxes. And now, after much work, stuff is no longer in boxes. I'm very proud of my accomplishment, considering I've done nothing that required much effort (except fighting a forest fire) in the last couple weeks. (Oh, and laser tag! I played laser tag with my cousin. It was rad.)

It reminded me of an aptitude test I took once. (The unpacking of boxes, not the laser tag. That would have been an awesome aptitude test.) This was one in early high school and was supposed to tell all the confused little kiddies what careers best suit them. There was a section on your interests that asked a series of "Do you like to..." questions. You then marked yes or no. Sounds like a blast, I know. I remember one question very specifically:

"Do you like to...put things in boxes?"

It made me laugh at first, because it was so ridiculous. But then I started to think, "Wait, I DO like putting things in boxes." Then I started to overthink, "But what if I put yes? Will the results* tell me that my skills and interests mean that I'm best suited to be a packer for all my life? I don't want that! I mean, I like putting things in boxes, don't get me wrong. I like it, but forever is a long time to be packing boxes."

So I put no.

Sometimes I wonder if my life would have gone differently if I had marked yes on that test.** Would I have even gone to college? Would I have moved to some city with docks? Maybe God's trying to tell me something. Something like, "Hey moron! Forget this whole "making people laugh" business! I made you to put things in boxes! Why do you think your arms are so long, huh?! Stop typing on your stupid blog, move to Detroit, and get to packing!" Yeah, I think that's exactly what he's trying to say.***

Well, that settles it. Look out room, you're going back in the box!!

*results: very easy to mistype as resluts. Be careful.
**This is not a serious statement. I am not having an existential crisis. Do not panic.
***I like this footnotes bit.


Cheer up, Charlie: the name of the ska band I never started

The remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: cinematically proving my theory that a pack of attacking squirrels is the scariest thing imaginable. I was literally short of breath while that scene played out my greatest fear in brilliant color and giant size on the silver screen before me. It freaked me out.

I also thought that the stretched-out figure of Mike Teevee as he exited the factory kind of looked like me. Or at least represented how other people see me. And that made me sad. So very sad.

Also, "Puppet Burn Ward." Hee hee hee.

(The preceding three paragraphs would make very little sense if you have not in fact seen the remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I would say that this is something you should rectify as soon as possible. I can recommend the film, as several bits made me laugh heartily, especially the first time they cut to a close-up of Christopher Lee. I just thought it was funny that Dooku/Saruman was Willy Wonka's dad.)

And now, some more pictures from the tropics.

Here I am on an island near Highbourne Cay, feeding native iguanas. They were pretty cool guys, except a couple of them who tried to whip me with their tails. That's how they attack. Pretty scary, but not as much as a pack of squirrels. Ugh...squirrels. *shiver*

This big guy was my friend, but not at first. At first he was all, "I'm gonna eat your face." But I was all, "How about this banana instead?" And he was all, "Sweet! I don't have teeth, but I can just gum that banana into mush. Thanks, man!" And I was all, "You don't have teeth? Forget it, loser!" I
SCREAMED at him!!

Then he ate my face.

It took a long time because he didn't have teeth.

Then I got it back, which is good, otherwise this picture would have been terrible. This is a fish cleaning station in Highbourne. If you'll notice the sign, it gives instructions: "Poke da eyes, cut da guts, clean up da mess." These instructions also apply to the area's mafia-run drug smuggling operations.

I totally look like a model in this picture, but anyone can look like a model if the background is this pretty.

I had a great time on the boat, but all good things come to an end. So to get me home, my aunt and uncle shipped me off with some relative strangers on a sport fishing boat who were headed to Nassau. This is neighborly behavior in the sailing world. We only had to pay them a bottle of liquor.

Nassau is an interesting city, with tons of tourists and also trash. I walked around the opulent Atlantis resort with my right hand buried in my pocket so no one would notice my Holiday Inn wristband. It was worth just looking, because the architecture and accomodations were fairly ridiculous. They had an amazing attraction called "The Dig" which was basically an aquarium with nice set pieces to make it look like ruins. Huge sting rays there. HUGE. I also walked through the casino and thought about playing a bit until I saw people playing $500 blackjack. So I just shouted "Double down!!" a few times and then left.

Now I'm back in Boca, hanging out with my two cousins, which involves skimboarding and scavenging condemned buildings for old electronics equipment, depending on who I'm with. My cousins are very different. Also, we watched Cloak & Dagger. It was great.

Finally, many of you have heard me extol the virtues of Dinosaur Comics, either on this blog or in person. Well, I've taken the obsession to a new level. In the last post's comments, I made a comment that made me feel a bit like one of the characters in the comic. So, since the artwork is the same in every strip, I downloaded a template and made my own. This is dedicated to anyone who didn't like my hat.



Today I decided to use a different format for my blog posting.

Namely...PICTURE POST!! *alarms, sirens, claxons, etc.* Whoop whoop whoop whoop!! Also, woot!

(If you're curious as to what exactly happened "tomorrow," technically speaking what happened was we didn't have Internet access. But other stuff happened too. Here's a rundown, complete with pic-a-tures.)

This is the mighty vessel I find myself aboard: Chartwell is her name. You might not think that you could live for an extended period of time on it, but you'd be wrong. It's Hambone. There is a surprising amount of stuff packed in there - a small kitchen and den, the main bedroom and guest bathroom, a couple bunks, and two heads (that's boatspeak for bathroom). I hear that 9 people have stayed onboard at one time. It's great, although the ceilings are very low. The "hit my head" count is at 11, although only one of those really hurt and made me swear in my own language. (It also left a mark.)

Here are the cast of characters:

This is my Uncle Charles. He's such a good businessman, he needs two computers. I'd say that he looks like he could be in Hackers, but they're obviously not Macs, so that wouldn't work. He pilots the ship and the dinghy most of the time and does a darn good job of it.

This is my Aunt Molly and I standing in front of the skeletal remains of a sperm whale that died from ingesting a plastic bag. Way to go, stupid whale. Loser. Molly is the crazy aunt that sends me weird postcards and news articles when I'm at school and makes art from things she finds on beaches and in dumpsters. I'd call her my weird aunt, but that term really doesn't carry a lot of weight in this family. She's been sailing forever and her sailing knots kick my sailing knots all around the harbor.

This is the real captain of the ship. Paca is a 13-year-old Weimaraner who believes that she's the captain, we're the crew, and our job is to take her to interesting places. Despite her being a dog, this is pretty much true. Sometimes she acts like a bossy old lady and she's mostly deaf, but she's still a lot of fun. I talk to her and it makes me laugh. She also farts a lot. And it smells.

If she uses you as a pillow, it means you're in.

This is what greeted me upon arrival. The Staniel Cay Yacht Club is vastly overnamed, I'll just say that. You're pretty much looking at it. Nice place though.

This is the aforementioned sandbar that was only three feet deep. The island behind me was the closest piece of land. It was very...cool. (Man, I'm writing well today. Guess I can only be poetic once a trip.)

When people clean fish, the fish guts have to go somewhere. For good times and great entertainment, you can dump the guts in the water near the dock and have a party with these awesome guys. Hey, we have satellite, but we only get about three channels. This is about the most exciting thing we do around here.

I fly thousands of miles away from rural Illinois and I still can't get away from the farm animals. These are wild pigs that live on one of the islands. People bring stuff in their dinghys to feed them, so they're used to people. Here I'm feeding them bread. When they know you have stuff, they group up and run at you. It's actually really freaky. Strangely, someone left a bunch of cats on the same island, expecting them to survive. But they're not as fun to feed because cats are evil.

Here I am in Exhuma Park, an obviously beautiful place. Note the awesome new hat and sunglasses by Target. I live large, you all know that. Our days are filled with snorkel expeditions, beach visits, and not too much else. It's wonderfully relaxing...

EXCEPT WHEN A FOREST FIRE BREAKS OUT ON THE ISLAND!! Good Lord. It was Saturday and we were just sitting down to lunch when we saw plumes of black smoke coming from the south end of the island we were anchored off of. So we called it in to the Ranger Station and they said they weren't burning anything (they sometimes burn garbage), so we took the dinghy around to check it out...

...and were promptly put to work as volunteer firefighters. (That's me in the back, pulling hose. And no, that's not a euphemism.) While I pulled the hose and tended the pump, other people were bringing buckets of water and using shovels to make a firebreak. I mean, it's not like the Rangers were unprepared or anything - no, they had a few guys, a boat, a pump, and a not long enough hose with no nozzle. Totally ready for any disaster. At any rate, they eventually put out the raging inferno and we were on our way to the next adventure.

ARE there so many songs about rainbows? I think it's 'cause they're so pretty.

I have a couple days left on the boat, then it's back to Ft. Lauderdale for a few days with my awesome cousins. Then back to boring old Illinois and some stupid wedding, I guess...

Speaking of stupid people and their weddings, how are my new Sufjan Stevens CDs, brother?



Today was a good day.

Today I learned that Hurricane Emily thinks she's too punk rock for this latitude and is going way south of where we are.

Today I flew in a six-seat, double-prop plane to the Bahamas with a carton of strawberries behind me and a Jewish podiatrist in front of me.

Today I regularly saw boats that cost over a million dollars and didn't blink or even drool.

Today I watched about 10 nurse sharks gather by the dock in hopes of catching some fish guts from the worker cleaning fish.

Today I was very careful while walking on the dock.

Today I gave bread to wild pigs and gave looks to wild Spaniards.

Today I snorkeled and saw coral that looked like my brain and fish that looked like my screensaver.

Today I stood on a sand bar in the middle of the Caribbean. It was only three feet deep.

Today I shouted, "LET'S PLAY FUNNY/NOT FUNNY!!" just to see if anyone in the Bahamas likes Wonder Showzen.

Today I kept a running count of how many times I hit my head while walking inside the boat and only had to go to three.

Today I saw water so blue that I thanked God that there was a part of the world we haven't messed up yet.

Today I thought about guessing "Transatlanticism" because Track #5 has ba-bas, but I didn't.

Today I thought a lot about how things are and how things should be.

Today I didn't come to many conclusions.


Today I sighed as the boat gently rocked me to sleep and thought, "What will happen tomorrow?"


Perhaps funny?

I've been up since 4:30 this morning. It's now midnight. This can mean only one thing: I'm on vacation.

I'm in my aunt and uncle's house in Boca Raton, FL right now. I'm hanging out with my two younger cousins, watching, at various points during this evening, parts of Anchorman, Dodgeball, Jumanji, and a lovely little piece of cinema from 1986 entitled The Manhattan Project.

It seems that my younger cousin, Quinn, has taken a fancy to TiVoing what he calls "cheesy 80's movies." Keep in mind that Quinn is 13 and by no means should be able to reference cheesy 80's movies. We were having a discussion about a particularly good one, Cloak and Dagger, when he dropped this line of the day:

"Do you remember any other cheesy 80's movies? Perhaps D.A.R.Y.L.?"

Yeah, my 13-year-old cousin referenced D.A.R.Y.L. You know, Data Analyzing Robotic Youth Lifeform, a lovely little gem from 1985. And he said perhaps. "Perhaps D.A.R.Y.L.?" I'm hoping the humor comes across, because I laughed for 2 minutes straight. At least.

I jump on a small cargo plane with a load of produce and maybe a few other passengers tomorrow on my way to the islands. I'll try to keep you updated on my adventures and maybe even some pictures of paradise, that is if we don't get an unwanted visit from Emily. I've already met a few forces of nature named Emily. I'd rather not meet another.



So let's talk for just a second about Summerfest: the self-proclaimed "largest music festival in the world." We weren't sure if they meant largest as in number of acts playing or attendance. After walking around for a little while, we guessed they actually meant largest as in square footage.

So we were walking around, just people-watching and mullet-hunting (which was frightfully easy). I recognized a Frag Doll, then felt really nerdy and fanboyish that I recognized a Frag Doll. Our journey eventually brought us to a truly magical place: the classic rock stage. There, we were fortunate enough to catch one of the most amazing musical acts ever to perform on this planet:


Oh, excuse me. I don't think I made myself entirely clear. What I really meant to say was:

Now imagine that logo on a giant backdrop onstage. Also, imagine about 800 mostly inebriated, mostly mulleted spectators in front of said stage. Finally, imagine that stage and all the people being rocked to the absolute core of their being. That's how amazing Night Ranger is.

Night Ranger, for those of you who aren't old enough to know, is pretty much the epitome of the 80's metal band that is still touring. They had a platform at the back of the stage - this is what Night Ranger uses because they're too old to climb on speakers. The bass player and two guitarists started the concert on the platform and rocked some opening chords before, not jumping down from the platform, but really just gingerly stepping down and running up to the mics. Remember, they're old.

Night Ranger songs basically consist of a verse, a chorus, then about 6-7 minutes of dueling guitar solos, then maybe another chorus to wrap up the song. And I'm not being facetious when I tell you that those solos were amazing. We only stayed for two songs, but I'm glad we got to see them.

(I make fun, but they were actually still really good...if you're a fan of 1980's melodic metal. And as any of my friends will tell you, I most certainly AM. Also, Night Ranger is really popular in Keri's family for some reason. Apparently, her sister checked out a CD from the library because she liked the name of the band, then ended up listening to it all summer because it was so funny. So there you go - Night Ranger, amazing music that spans generations.)

Anyway, we were really there to see Death Cab for Cutie, who were amazing. The show was really annoying because it was really crowded and we could tell that probably a third of the crowd was there because they saw the band play on "The O.C." We could tell because there was a huge reaction when they played their two "singles" but for anything else - crickets. At one point, I literally heard one girl ask, "Have they played any of the songs they played on 'The O.C.' yet?" to which her friend replied, "No." But at that point, they most certainly had. I'm sure I'm coming off really elitist right now, making fun of all the poseurs, but dang it, I liked them first.

Also annoying - the Summerfest setup. They have great stages set up with rows of metal, backless benches in front of them. This is great, because kids can sit down in between shows and still keep their spot. What would be even greater is if people didn't STAND ON THE FREAKING BENCHES DURING THE SHOW!!! We spent an hour staking out a spot behind the last row of benches, only to see our great view of the stage become a great view of rows and rows of butts. Normally, I wouldn't complain, but these were emo butts - good for crying, not for ogling.

Bottom line - we moved so we could see better and enjoyed a great show. Gibbard and crew played an encore of "Tiny Vessels" and "Transatlanticism" that absolutely made the show for me. Just amazing. So all's well that ends well.

The next day, we went to the zoo, which was a great time. I hadn't been to the zoo in a long time, and I forget how much fun it is. Especially the monkeys, who are always hilarious. We even got to see this special exhibit called "The Sting Ray Encounter," which is a great name for some reason. There was a shallow lagoon with a bunch of sting rays swimming around and you were invited to stick your hand in and touch them as they swam by. They kind of felt like a velour sweatsuit, which is strange, because I own one and never thought that it would feel like a sting ray.

After several aborted attempts, Keri finally worked up the courage to touch one. She did, for a split second, then squeeled and retracted the hand. Keri is a wuss. (I gave this bit its own paragraph to emphasize that point.)

That evening featured some head-to-head Dance Dance Revolution (which I have some surprising natural talent at), some eyeToy games (which I'm not good at, but am apparently really funny while I do it), and some Soul Caliber II. Let's see...did anything happen when we played that game? Let me think...oh yes, something of note did indeed happen. I believe I was crowned


And in grand fashion, too. I was Champion coming in and almost didn't want to play for fear of relinquishing that title, but Raph kept saying that he was on the phone during the arbitrarily decided "Championship Match" at the end of the semester. So it was decided that in order to be crowned Champion, you had to beat all three challengers in a row. (There were four people vying for the title.) We went back and forth for a while, then I hit a streak and had only one person to go: Raph. So it came down to what it always does: Mitsurugi vs. Talim. Strength vs. speed. 29-year-old samurai vs. 15-year-old wind priestess. The first two rounds were split and the third went down to the wire, but in the end, innocence (and awesomeness) prevailed. (I won.)

This may seem pretty inconsquential to most of you, but believe me when I say it is one of my proudest accomplishments to date. And Raph, I will brag about it until the day I die.

Okay, this post is way too long, but there's a reason: it might be all you get for a while. I'm leaving tomorrow to go visit my aunt, who is currently piloting her boat around Exhuma. Yeah, looks pretty rough, I know. We may get wireless Internet every so often when we're in port, but blogging may take a backseat to doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. So uh...have fun. I'll be back in 12 days or so.

Thanks, folks. You've been great. Enjoy Night Ranger.


Some thoughts

Do you think that the people who get their rides pimped by MTV and X-to-the-Z are ever just like, "Hey West Coast Customs, did you ever think that maybe I wanted my trunk to just stay a trunk? I know my old car was kind of ghetto, but at least I could put stuff in the trunk."

The Iron & Wine cover of "Such Great Heights" by The Postal Service (which can be found on the Garden State soundtrack) is now the soundtrack for an M&M commercial. This upsets me greatly, as I
now have to find a new song for the first dance at my wedding reception, lest all my guests say, "Aww...they're dancing to the M&M song."

Hey, did you notice that there's a bunch of new links over dere on the side of the page dere? They're mostly for comics - both of the web and print variety. I recommend you read them all.

Finally, I'm continuing my jetsetting lifestyle with a trip to Milwaukee (which has certainly had its share of visitors) over the next few days. The point is mainly to visit a couple college friends, but we're using Summerfest and a Death Cab show as an excuse. (Just for the record, I liked Death Cab for Cutie before Seth Cohen said he did. And yet if you were to favorably compare me to Seth Cohen, you would be my new best friend. Strange.)

So I'll see you when I get back.


More campy than a midnight showing of Rocky Horror

So last week, I was gone. I told you that. I realize I was a little sketchy on the details. "Volunteering at some junior high camp" was the most I could offer. This is for two reasons - #1, I try not to provide too much information on my whereabouts, lest the Internet stalkers get the best of me and #2, I really didn't know much more than that. Josh and Allyn roped me into helping out and God knows I wasn't doing anything, so I jumped on board. Let me attempt to explain, with visual assistance.

The one looking really stupid (in blue) is me. The one looking vaguely stupid (in green) is Josh. The one just looking jolly (in red) is Sandle, the organizer of this camp. The camp as it turns out, was the Junior High edition of Lake Springfield Christian Academy. But don't let the Academy part fool you - this is summer church camp at its finest. That means lessons, worship, campfire singalongs and all the gloriousness that goes with it. However, due to my aversion to anything serious, I'll be highlighting the silly adventures we had, rather than the important life-changing experiences. It's just what I do.

This is my family group. You can see me at the bottom of the pyramid. The girl at the bottom right was Jan, my co-leader. She was rad. I resisted making Brady Bunch jokes the entire week.

I was trying to remember the last time I was around large groups of junior highers. I determined that it's actually been since junior high. (I worked with freshman boys in Des Moines, which is close, but not quite.) They come with their own set of joys and frustrations. On one hand, they love you just for showing up and because you're older. You don't have to win them over like high school kids. One the other hand, they have the attention span and memory of goldfish and their voices haven't changed yet. Also, the majority of them were born around 1992. That meant my "Flock of Seagulls" references went right over their heads. (Which, to be fair, are only about 4 and a half feet off the ground.)

Turns out they're pretty gross too. This was a morning wake-up activity where we all had to chew gum and then sculpt it into something. Then, after showing our sculptures, one person from our group had to see how much of everyone else's gum they could chew again. Josh was that person for his group. I stood in the corner and gagged. The junior highers LOVE Josh.

This was another morning activity. A guy and a girl from each team went up - the girl covered the guy's face with shaving cream...

...then threw breakfast cereal at him...

...to see how much stuck to his face. Not sure what exactly this has to do with Jesus, but it was super-fun.

Another morning, kids had to put pantyhose over their faces and eat a banana. For some reason, this also kind of made me gag. I've determined that if I had to fill out a bio and there was a "I am good at" and a "I am bad at" section, my #1 thing would be "I am bad at...competitive eating." I just can't do it. That's why I can't go on Fear Factor. I would rock the stunts because as we all know, I'm extremely strong and athletic, but eating - no good.

Case in point - eating cheap imitation Froot Loops off the floor without using hands. I am TERRIBLE. That's not a marketable skill, is it? I don't want to be left behind in today's job market because I suck at competitive eating.

Here's something I DON'T suck at. Breaking it down - b-boy style. Oh yeah.

We did more than silly morning warm-ups. All the kids had two activity slots per afternoon and then free time. Here's the waterslide - a popular attraction during the unbelievably hot week. It was pretty sweet, unless you went Superman like this guy and totally overshot the nice cushiony mat - then you ended up a little bruised. But if you went to camp and didn't have to visit the nurse during the week, then you weren't trying hard enough.

You could go on a ride on the pontoon boat. But when Josh and his group did, it broke down 20 feet from the dock and they had to have the old dude row them in with their one paddle. If they had broken down in the middle of the lake, they would still be out there.

The pool was another very popular attraction. Some kids pretty much lived there. Note that the kids are still at the age in which pigtails are adorable.

Sometimes the kids just made their own fun. They're great like that. This little hoop originally laid on the ground and held basketballs. But then they figured out that kids could fit inside...

...and roll around. I just wish the guy was wearing knickers and rolling her down a dusty main street with a stick . Because...then we'd be in the Old West. And that's funny.

Allyn was a constant source of amusement and joy at camp, even though she left every day to go to work, like a loser. She's pretending to look surprised here, but really, she always looks surprised.

One night we had Water Olympics. Quite conveniently, it was located in the pool. You can't tell in this picture, but the kids are passing a greased watermelon down their lines. Josh and I carried the watermelons to the pool, which led to quite a few Dirty Dancing jokes. No kids were around, but it was just as well. They wouldn't have got it.

Here, the kids are chasing an estimated 250 goldfish around the pool and trying to catch them in their hands. Again, not sure what this has to do with Jesus, but it's really fun to watch.

No week at camp would be complete without a literal all-consuming fire. This one was so big that some embers would fly out and land on the first row of kids. That did have something to do with Jesus. I told those kids that God was trying to set them on fire because they didn't get quiet after Lights Out the night before.

Despite the stereotype, there was not a chorus of Kumbaya to be found. But there were lots of good times and hearts touched by the events of the week. Not to mention too many stories to even start to tell here. I'll just say that I'm now the lead singer of a 7th-grade band called "12-Gauge Heart" and leave it at that.