Monthly Archives: September 2008

Vivian turns 29

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Vivian turned 29 for the first time last week, so I and a bunch of our friends had a couple surprises in store for her. On Friday, a troop of us showed up at her workplace with a birthday cake for a little lunchtime surprise. That evening, we had our obligatory trip to JNO where Vivian got to have her fourth Birthday Jam on the floor of the Eagle’s Lodge.

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On Saturday, I took Vivian down for an afternoon at Thunder Alley for the afternoon. We had lunch at their little restaurant, and Vivian got to open some of her presents while we waited for our food. They included, among other things, a blue Jitterbugs bag filled with candy and limes, a bowling pin with balloons, and a couple Brian Regan DVDs, courtesy of Vivian’s new in-laws (i.e. my parents). Eric and a few of our friends decided to go play pool during much of this, so one of us decided to do Eric a favor and dress up his plate with his least favorite condiment.

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For the rest of the afternoon, we burned off our lunch in the arcade playing air hockey, Deal or No Deal, and a depressingly non-multiplayer version of Mario Kart. We did get to drive around the racetrack on actual go-karts, which was fun, and later played an agonizing round of laser tag. I’m pretty sure Eric’s team won, but since a computer glitch prevented us from getting the results of the match, we’ll never know how badly they beat us.

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We stopped for ice cream afterward and then went on to Mic’s Karaoke Bar for some almost-tipsy crooning. I was able to get Vivian, Sarah, Merinda, and Lisa up on stage to perform Love Shack with me, which was definitely fun and well worth the price of a chocolate martini to give Vivian a shot of liquid courage.

Happy Birthday, Vivian! I can’t wait to see what happens next year.


Video from Vivian’s birthday weekend

Cocoanuts, Applejacks, and Corn on the Cob

Vivian and I have been keeping busy here in Omaha, so busy in fact that we’ve had to designate a few “quiet time” nights this week just to give us a chance to recover from all the fun we’ve been having.

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Wednesday night was our “date night” last week, and we got to have dinner at the Hollywood Diner and go to see The Cocoanuts at the Omaha Community Playhouse. As a life-long Marx Brothers fan, I’ve been looking forward to seeing this play for months, and it was worth it. The cast did a great job filling in the big shoes of comics legends that graced the screen some 80 years ago. I actually think I enjoyed the play more than the film itself. The jokes were mostly the same, but they cut out a lot of the more annoying musical numbers (i.e. Monkey Doodle Doo) and had some much more creative routines instead, such as an “underwater” dream sequence with Harpo and Irving Berlin’s Blue Skies performed on the wings of an airplane.

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On Saturday, we drove down to Nebraska City for their Applejack Festival. We went to the all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast fundraiser at the firehouse, then took a walk around town before going up to the Pumpkin Patch. We took home a number of tasty things they had for sale, such as apple butter, peach butter, and a frozen peach pie. We were also lucky enough to bump into a guy from the State Treasury who was helping people find unclaimed money at his booth. It seems Vivian’s had a check from another job floating around in financial limbo for the last five years or so.

We went to see the parade afterwards, the Shriners driving tiny cars in circles to help sick children and junior high marching bands playing Stars and Stripes Forever loudly and off-key didn’t impress us quite as much this year as it did last year. We had much more fun running around the Arbor Day farm, checking out some dead tree stumps, playing jump rope with a long, limp branch, and dodging piles of horse manure along the winding paths in the park.

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The Jitterbugs were having their Cowtown Jamborama this weekend, but Vivian and I didn’t sign up for a slew of classes like we did last year. We did, however, compete in the corn-eating contest once again. We only got second and third place this time around, but we did get to enjoy dancing the kernels off afterwards to the sound of the Prairie Cats. Vivian especially likes dancing with the “out of towners,” and it’s always fun to see a few of our instructors show off for the rest of us on the floor. We also got to see Jeff Koterba wearing a pink cowboy hat. That alone was well worth the price of admission.

Fremont Lakes

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On Friday, we celebrated our friend Venche’s birthday with a bunch of our friends over at her house. We played a couple rounds of Taboo, and Vivian and I got to “kill” everyone in a sinister game of Mafia. Naturally, we had to take out Eric “Onion Boy” Adamschick first, who was able to guess just by making eye contact who the killers were. The girls also demonstrated some yoga for the rest of us before one sleepy game of Apples to Apples. It wasn’t nearly as hilarious a game without the 96-proof lemon martini in a box.

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On Saturday, a bunch of us went up to the Fremont Lakes in Fremont Nebraska for an overnight camping trip. Jenny and Vivian just have to go camping at least once a year, and they needed to get their annual sleeping-on-the-ground-in-a-tent fix before winter creeps up and freezes us all in our sleep (which it nearly did this weekend). Paul brought his boat, so we got to take a ride around the small, man-made lake, and watch Jenny and Jon go water skiing behind us for a while. We almost didn’t make it onto the lake, because the boat’s battery died and transmission started going nuts, keeping the boat from going in reverse.

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It was the most perfect fall weather imaginable, and provided some ample photographic opportunities as the sun went down. We started up a campfire back at the campsite and cooked up some hamburgers and hot dogs for dinner. Afterwards, we passed around Vivian’s game of Catchphrase, and then told a pass-along ghost story. I always enjoy putting the hood over my head, shining the flashlight under my face, and starting everyone off with a good yarn about old hook hand with the dog leg and the big black whole filled with Darth Vader Puppies. (cccrick, cccrick, cccrick…)

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The next morning, we woke up to gale force winds and some wintry chills in the air. None of our tents blew away, but the sudden cold cut short any hopes for more water skiing or swimming that day. We did get to toast some bagels around the campfire and watch Hugh so some strange belly dancing before we started packing up.

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In other news, the starter on my poor Beige Bomber decided to die on me. It started having problems in the Wal-Mart parking lot on Saturday, but I thought it was the fault of a dead battery, since a jump-start and a replacement battery seemed to fix the problem at first. Ben and Jon were awesome in helping me out, swapping out my battery with his just to determine if it was, in fact, a dead battery at fault. I eventually made it back to Omaha with the help of a tow truck.

I was lucky enough to arrive back in town in time to stop by Lindy in the Park. It had been a couple weeks since I’d enjoyed the outdoor swing dancing, and the beautiful, cool fall weather was too good to pass up. My feet were killing me, but I was able to enjoy an hour of dancing. Eric seemed to enjoy himself as well, as you can see from the picture of him lounging on a couple of lovely ladies.

I was especially happy to see Micah back and dancing with us again. Most of you reading this blog already know about this, but Micah’s been MIA since our good friend Keith had a bad accident while hiking in Yosemite National Park. He fell 40 feet and sustained a number of injuries, but miraculously survived and is recovering now. He’s not a regular among our group, but he’s as good a friend as any we have, so it was good to hear the good news. You can read more on Keith and his condition on GAMe’s website.


Video from our trip to Fremont Lakes

Wine, women, and dancing

The summer has quickly vanished, and we’re now into those beautiful, crisp and cool autumn days here in Nebraska. It’s the perfect time to be outside, and every day when I make the trip from apartment to office building I’m reminded of how short they’re going to be.

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We had another fun weekend, though we wound up spending a good portion of it indoors. Our friend Sarah Little’s birthday was on Thursday, so on Friday a bunch of us showed up at Don and Millie’s for a not-so-surprising burger birthday dinner. She got to do quite a bit of dancing later at JNO, not only during her birthday jam but also during an impromptu Jack and Jill competition. She wound up placing third with Chris and still found the energy to keep on dancing afterwards. We finished off the night at Village Inn, where Merinda scored a plush animal from the crane game that looked like Pikachu’s bizarre cousin. Its creepy feline smile made everybody happy as we gorged on Butterfinger Pie.

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On Saturday night, our mutual Jitterbug friend Lisa had us over to her house for drinks, dancing, and a couple hilarious hours of playing Apples to Apples together. I couldn’t quite tell whether our comments matching nouns and adjectives was really that funny, or if it was just the exceptionally strong Martini in a Box making us laugh. We did learn that Jessica is boring, harmful, lewd, and lascivious. We stuffed ourselves with salmon burgers, hot dogs, and any amount of food to offset the alcohol. We also got to listen to music from Lisa’s 1917 wind-up Edison record player, and had some fun dancing in the dining room, deftly dodging the hanging chandelier. Only Vivian seemed to be able to clear the thing without striking a Limbo pose to avoid being whacked with shiny crystal during a tuck-turn.

Oh, I also got to see Kevin play Mega Man 2 (albeit very slowly) on a cell phone. That was a whole new kind of awesome.

Three-Oh

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On Friday, I officially turned thirty and thus became officially untrustworthy to all the hippie-wannabees of the world. I thought at the age of thirty, I would start feeling more like an adult, or at least acting like one, but as anyone who was at my birthday party can attest, that’s not happening yet.

The festivities started at Elmwood Park, where Vivian took me for a (mostly) unexpected birthday cookout with a bunch of our friends. We tossed Frisbees and water balloons, and I was able to escape nearly unscathed when the entire band decided to try to douse me sometime after dinner. We grilled hot dogs, hamburgers, and I got to make a fool of myself dancing to Hungry Like the Wolf on a picnic table. I got a bunch of gifts from my generous friends and family, including an “over the hill” gift bag from Lisa. That Teddy Bear will come in handy when I need to remind myself that I’m still really a kid at heart.

The day concluded, as usual, at JNO. I got a birthday jam and enjoying trying to dance around on the less-than-smooth surface of the St. John’s Cathedral basement at Creighton University.

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The next day, Troy and Merinda threw their annual twelve-hour barbecue down in Bellevue. Ben and Troy happened to share the same birthday, so we brought them both a couple presents and drank a number of strange mixed drinks in celebration of them both getting older. Alas, Ben still has to stay dry for one more year, but the rest of us got to try interesting mixtures of coconut, coffee, and chocolate liqueurs. Sarah and Corinne amused us all by trying to complete a game of chess with appropriately marked shot glasses, and then we all gathered ’round for a couple hours of Rock Band as midnight pushed on toward morning.

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The rest of Labor Day weekend stayed fairly quiet. Vivian and I spent some time doing laundry and recovering from the festivities, and managed to sneak in a trip to Blair to visit our friends Dennis and Kara. Our big event was purchasing a new flat-panel TV. I have gone without television for the last six years or so, and I was actually quite hesitant about letting this 32-inch LCD “boob tube” back into my life. I think I’m going to enjoy actually being able to watch some of these shows I keep hearing about, particularly Heroes. I’m looking forward to getting this big screen mounted on our living room wall just as soon as I can borrow a drill.


Watch video from Troy and Merinda’s party