Category Archives: 88 Improv

Stinko, Rainbows, and 88 Improv


Aunt Jessica had a last-minute birthday thing on Friday, so I dropped on by with the kids for some “pupcake” and some tacos with a few of our mutual friends. Kate brought a few of her girls, so they got some quality time with Hannah and Aaron as the rest of us played some adult games, namely Qwirkle, Telestrations, and a few others.

I was also able to coax Jessica into playing the piano for us, so she favored us with some Bohemian Rhapsody and the theme of Cheers — both of which we sang along to, of course.


Then on Saturday, Vivian and I (along with Kate) went to see our favorite comedy troupe, 88 Improv, for the first time in about four years. Tim, Nate, and Sarah took the stage at the Backline Theater and performed a bowl full of scenes suggested from the audience for us for the first act (half of which involved a culvert for some reason). Then for act two, they did a long sketch about Little Red Riding Hood starting fires with her “imaginary” wolf, Mayor Jean putting panda habitats in the median of city streets, and two guys getting all vehicular traffic banned — including fire trucks — to make way for bike lanes.

I first saw these guys about a decade ago before I even started dating Vivian, so I’m very glad they’re still performing after all these years!


On Sunday, it finally stopped raining long enough for me to take the kids to the park for a picnic and some fresh air.

Then that evening the whole family (plus Grammy and Pop-Pop) went to Bellevue Christian Center for an awards ceremony at Rainbows. Hannah got an Honors Pin for completing all of her lessons for the past two years. It was very cute to see her and her little friends standing together one last time before getting sugared up right before bedtime.


Vivian and I had some culinary fun later in the week, frying up some of the bologna we’d bought in Pella for Phil and Jen to help us eat. We made some sandwiches with them using toasted pretzel buns I bought at Aldi.

Then on Wednesday, we took the kids (and Grammy) to the Lauritzen Gardens to see Stinko, the corpse flower. The gardens have free admission until the giant flower blooms, (which is hasn’t yet, so it wasn’t even one bit stinky). We took a brief tour through the flora in the greenhouse, and then I took the kids for some exercise on a long walk through the gardens to the rose garden and back before we called it a day. We had nearly the whole gardens to ourselves, which was amazing since the place is usually packed when admission is free (and in the springtime).

We’ve been enjoying some gorgeous weather this past week, and it should hold out long enough to shake our booties at Loessfest on Friday. More on that next time.

Lauritzen Gardens, featuring Stinko

Where’s the beef?

The fun just doesn’t stop for the Johnson Family! Last Friday, it was our turn to set up at Jitterbugs Night Out, so we naturally brought Hannah along for the ride. She tended to be a handful upstairs, toddling out onto the dance floor and trying to participate with the Lindy Hop lesson, so I took her downstairs where the older folks at the Eagles’ Lodge got to go all gooey over her. Vivian and I stayed long enough to have a dance or two together, and we also said hello to an old friend, who’d grown his hair out and decided to show up.

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On Friday, I took a trip to Lincoln with Vivian and Hannah to celebrate my old friend Mike Duewling’s 50th birthday. It was a reunion of sorts, as I got to see several familiar faces I hadn’t seen in many years, ranging from high school classmates to friends from one old bible study or another. For whatever reason, it was a men-only affair, so Vivian took Hannah to a cute little children’s activity center called Lost in Fun. Hannah was too little for most of the activities, but she did enjoy swimming around in the ball pit.

Sunday, of course, was the Superbowl, so Vivian and I crashed at the house of church friends Kelly and Andy. Pastor Drew and his Crew stopped by to play with Hannah as we watched the game (or pretended to, anyway). I think Hannah was rooting for the 49ers, and the blackout pushed the game a little beyond her bedtime.

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On Tuesday night, the grandparents treated us to a baby-free evening of fun. We had a Groupon for the Pizza Shoppe in Benson that was about to expire, so we decided to spend it while taking in a live comedy show from 88 Improv! We invited a whole troop of our goofy friends, which was perfect as the group decided to play a series of improv games rather than their usual “long form” improv show. That meant we had volunteers from the audience coming up on stage to be “handy” with the players. Vivian provided some manual dexterity, and I got to be a bit of a poser, seeing how long I could bend over acting crazy in a slideshow routine. It was a fun time, as always, and our Groupon paid for our whole pizza. What could be better? Well, maybe Stilton Blue Cheese ice cream from Ted & Wally’s. (Yes, we did that.)

By the way, where’s the beef?

Babies, birthdays, and 88 Improv

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Saturday night was our friend Dennis‘ birthday, so Vivian, Hannah, and I all went up to Blair to say hello. We hadn’t seen any of the Lenart family since Hannah was born, and that meant we hadn’t met the newest addition to their family, baby Matthew. We had cake, makeshift sangria, and burgers while catching up with a handful of old friends and taking turns carrying a handful of babies throughout the night.

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On Tuesday, Jenny had the bright idea of inviting a bunch of our mutual friends up to the Pizza Shoppe Collective in Benson to have dinner and see 88 Improv — our favorite local improv group. They’re raising money to restore the Benson theater this month, so we got to participate in a good cause while we were there, a nice added bonus. Vivian and I arrived 90 minutes ahead of time to snag a front-row table for the dozen of us. Once we got settled, the radio overhead started to play “Love Shack,” so Jenny, Vivian, and I got to test our karaoke skills and sang along with the B-52s entirely from memory for the amusement of the rest of our friends.

Vivian and I stuffed ourselves with a king-sized Roundtable and cheese bread before the show, and then I spent half the performance snapping pictures with my camera. The story of the night started with “angry flamingo lovers” and turned into an hour-long sketch involving an angry HOA president and the unrequited love between a French/Italian Francois and his dragon-lady.

Burgers, Bathrooms, and Renaissance Fairs

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It was another eventful weekend in Omaha, and Vivian and I got to enjoy some of the gorgeous spring weather we’ve been blessed with. Our weekend started off with a burger grilling contest at Tamra and Andy‘s house. We competed against them both, along with Tamra’s brother Michael and their mutual friend Avery, in coming up with the best burger recipe. Vivian and I took only fourth place with our Bay Burgers made with basil and minced garlic, while Tamra took first with her burger made with “special sauce.” It was a good time even if we didn’t win, and we got to stuff ourselves with plenty of juicy ground beef all around. (I personally liked Michael’s Danger Ranger Special the best.)

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On Saturday, I got to attend my very first Renaissance Fair. I’d heard of these things before, mostly from my geeky friends, and had wanted to attend one for quite some time. The event was held at the Bellevue Berry Farm, which seemed like a Western-themed version of Vala’s Pumpkin Patch, at least when it isn’t dressed up with Medieval Festivities. Vivian and I got to see a joust, some dancers playing with fire, and sword-fighting demonstrations from both pirates and ninjas. We also got to tour some of the more education booths, where we could try on chain mail and churn butter. We also got to have a turkey leg and some homemade root beer for lunch, a swell as browse through a large selection of swords. Topping the day off was a performance by 88 Improv, who were hilarious, as usual.

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On Sunday, we took over a Cici’s Pizza restaurant with our friends from bible study, and then dropped by Lowe’s to buy some things to remodel our upstairs bathroom.

Our friend Dennis gracious volunteered to spend Monday with me tearing it apart and cutting out the 35-year-old plumbing so we could install some new fittings, specifically a shower head for a bathtub that lacked one. We both owe Dennis one of the biggest Ones that has ever been owed, as he did pretty much everything while I mostly watched and handed him tools as needed. After three or four trips to the hardware store (and much soldering), we had a fully functional shower where once had only been a leaky faucet. Awesome job, Dennis!

Tea Parties, Easter, Improv and Pizza

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Vivian and I enjoyed a pretty fun and busy Easter weekend together. It all started on Thursday, when I was able to kick off my three-day weekend by visiting the Tea Party Express as it rolled through Omaha. It was something like a Woodstock for disgruntled conservatives, and I was able to join a few thousand fellow Omahans who came to participate in the rally at Lake Zorinsky park. There were so many people that the police had to close the gates. A number of people got on stage to give speeches and sing a couple songs, which included a Hispanic rapper from Waco named Polatik. I kept my eyes open for members of the Ku Klux Klan, who people had been whispering lurked in the crowd somewhere, ready to yell out “the n-word” and spit on people they disagreed with. Much to my surprise, the crowd was quite civil, even to the three or four counter-protesters who decided to sit near the back.

It was actually a fun event, and I even got the chance to stand on stage toward the end and attempt to sing God Bless America in front of the crowd with Lloyd Marcus (above on the right) and Diana Nagy, thoroughly embarrassing myself when I realized that I didn’t know the words to the second verse. Lloyd gave me props for trying.

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I had Good Friday off and was able to have breakfast with Vivian at Panera before she went to work. That evening, we attended a Good Friday service at Calvary Christian Church in Bellevue. We joined our friends at JNO a little later, which included the return of veteran Shoveler Jillian to our dancing crew. Sadly, she was in town because her grandmother had recently passed away, but it was nice to have her back for a dance and some Improv & Pizza (more on that later).

On Saturday, Vivian and I prepared for a big Easter Dinner, and we also did an unexpected amount of yard work. With Donna’s help, we trimmed away a good deal of tall grass and other lawn debris from the yard, and I swept up the garage and helped rake things up a bit. The weather was just perfect for it, and being able to take of our very own lawn for the first time help cement a sense of ownership to our house.

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On Sunday, Vivian and I were among the few who got up at the crack of dawn to attend the sunrise service at Christ Community Church. There were so few people that we were able to park right up front and didn’t have to fight crowds to get inside as we usually do. That afternoon, we had Vivian’s parents over for Easter Dinner together. Jack brought ham with a pineapple glaze, and Vivian provided pistachio fluff, green bean casserole, poppy seed biscuits, crab and artichoke dip, and fruit salad. I made my deviled eggs, which turn out differently just about every time I make them. I used honey mustard, white vinegar, dill weed, and garlic powder this time, which seemed to be a decent combination. After stuffing ourselves silly, Donna treated Vivian and me to an Easter Egg hunt outside, which was fun. We found all but one plastic egg, which managed to escape with two Lindor truffles inside (and then turned up with them melted a few days later).

We worked off a little of our meal playing with our new toy — a combination foosball coffee table that is currently living in our basement. It’s smaller than your typical foosball table, but seems to work great, and should give our guests something to do downstairs instead of watching TV (or doing laundry).

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On the following Tuesday, we had a long overdue reunion for the Order of the Shovel. Since Vivian and I still had possession of the small plastic digging instrument (dubbed by Sarah Little as “Valerie Bruce”), we made an event for dinner and a show in Benson, courtesy of the Pizza Shoppe and 88 Improv. Vivian and I somehow managed to devour a king-sized Round Table while watching three guys make up an improbably hilarious tale of a plot for world domination spawned in a retirement home foiled by a couple wandering priests and a hotel clerk who wants to be a ballet dancer. Now that’s comedy.

Date Night with Improv 88

Since arriving back home from our trip to Kansas City, it’s been a fairly uneventful week for Vivian and me. Last Wednesday, I went to Lincoln to hang out with some of my former co-workers from Land and Sky. It was nice to hang out and have a burger while catching up on what’s happening back there now that I’ve moved to Omaha. Vivian and I dropped by Jitterbugs Night Out for about an hour on Friday and got to hang out a bit at Village in afterward with Lisa, Kevin, and Suzie. The weekend was fairly uneventful, outside of church, watching the Hulk on DVD, and doing a little grocery shopping.

88 ImprovThe highlight for this week was having a “date night” on Tuesday. Vivian and I went up to Benson after work to have tapas and paella at España, and then walked next door to see Improv 88 performing at the PS Collective inside the Pizza Shoppe. They put on a good show, as usual. I’d seen them just once before, back before Vivian and I were even officially dating, so it was nice to see the, again.

In other news, I’ve officially completed my Nanowrimo novel, passing the 50k word mark today during my lunch break. My little piece of literature will require much more editing before it’s fit to be read by the general public. I’m hoping to polish it up soon, however, and try putting together an actual bound-and-printed copy on or some such service. I’ll let you all know if and when it ever becomes available for purchase that way.