Category Archives: GAMe

Pancakes, Comedy, and the Whiskey Roadhouse

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There’s nothing better after a hard night of dancing than pancakes, and why go to Village Inn when you can have a pancake party right at your own house? Vivian proved to be the selfless hero of the night, using a whole box of Aunt Jemima to feed our hungry dancing crew. She also fried up some bacon that we washed down with orange juice and lemon lime soda that a few Jitterbugs were kind enough to bring. The best part of having a house is being able to have all your friends over for a midnight pancake party.

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On Saturday, Vivian and I attended a comedy night fundraiser with GAMe at 1314 Jones Street. About five or six stand-up comedians performed for donations to help the Haitian relief effort and the Market Church, which meets in the same building on Sunday mornings. I love stand-up comedy, and it was fun to see a couple good acts while drinking coffee with friends. Now I just need me some Sheboygan Sausage!

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On Sunday, I was able to attend two dances with my Jitterbug friends. The first was part of a fundraiser for Burke schools, where Dan Wondra was called to help out. He gave a few lessons in East Coast Swing and Jitterbug for the parents of high school and middle school band members (as well as a few of their kids), and we enjoyed dancing while the bands played a number of songs, ranging from Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy to Thriller.

That night, the Prairie Cats and Grand Marquis were performing live at the Horseshoe Casino, and admission was free. Who could turn that deal down? Apparently not most of our Jitterbug friends, as they all showed up to dance on a jam-packed floor for an hour or two. There’s nothing quite as fun as dancing to live music in front of a room full of curious spectators.

Cheesecake and a Superbowl

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Vivian and I enjoyed a somewhat improvised weekend with our friends in Omaha. On Friday, Vivian and Robin had a “girl’s night in” to watch a chick flick (in this case, the Time Traveler’s Wife) while I went to JNO. The Grand Marquis was playing, so I got to enjoy some live music with the rest of the regulars. Bill and Shannon, two dance instructors who usually show up at Cowtown, were also on hand for a workshop weekend. Some of their student got up to strut down the dance floor.

On Saturday, Vivian and I stayed buy with a Body Pump class in the morning and then shoveling snow in the afternoon. Nebraska had its one hundredth snowfall this year, and I got to borrow Donna’s snow rake to scrape off the roof. We also watched a couple CGI-animated movies — Monster vs. Aliens and 9 — both of which were enjoyable. We rounded off the evening eating cheesecake made from scratch (thanks to Vivian) that we ate with with Eric and Venche. Yummy.

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On Superbowl Sunday, we joined a bunch of our friends from GAMe to watch the big game and stuff our faces with chili. There were about fifteen different pots of chili to choose from, and I didn’t have nearly enough room to sample them all. As for the game, I really couldn’t have cared less which team came out on top, though I was secretly rooting for the Saints, being the underdogs. I was mostly interested in the commercials, which were somewhat disappointing this time around. No Apple to smash big brother or trio of beer croaking frogs this year.

Fall Fun

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Fall’s finally here, and with it comes weather that’s only slightly cooler than the weather we’ve enjoyed throughout the summer so far (which is insanely wonderful). Per tradition, Vivian and I went by Vala’s Pumpkin Patch to check out this year’s festivities. We went with our bible group from Christ Community Church, (which is the first time I’ve mentioned them in my blog so far, oddly enough) and got to wander through a corn maze, have some succotash, and pick out a pumpkin for carving later on.

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Another fall tradition is the Great at Adventures Hayrack Ride up in Santa’s Woods. Vivian and I opted to take the less “rowdy” hayrack ride so we could enjoy looking up at the stars and not have to pick straw out of our clothes and hair for the next two weeks (like some other friends of ours will have to do). We did get to enjoy swing dancing in the barn to some country music and grilling hot dogs and smores on an open fire as well.

Surprise Party Weekend

This was a weekend for a couple of (so-called) surprise parties, as two people both Vivian and I know celebrated some landmark, decade-turning style birthday parties this weekend.

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The first surprise party was held for Chad, the unofficial leader of the Christian singles group Great Adventures. It couldn’t have been much of a surprise, as Angie led him up to the garage where we were all hiding wearing a blindfold. For the clueless among us: blindfold = surprise party. We had a flaming grill with hamburgers and hot dogs and a volleyball court cake made with coconut and red licorice.

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Vivian and I spent the weekend in Cedar Rapids visiting with my Uncle Ben there. We came at first to talk about our wedding: my Uncle Ben will be performing the ceremony, and he’s been through this routine enough times that he gave me and Vivian a list of things to figure out ahead of time.

What we didn’t know when we arrived was that last Thursday my Uncle Ben turned seventy, so after we attended a church service on Saturday night, a bunch of our family from town came by to throw a “not so surprised party.” We had a good time, and my Uncle Ben got ribbed quite a bit over turning over another decade.

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On Sunday, Vivian and I got to visit my Grandma Gibbs. Aunt Carol said that she seemed to be much better today than she had been in a while. Vivian and I visited Arlan and his family a bit before heading on back for home. We drove along part of the Lincoln Highway, having an adventure traveling a few of the less traveled roads along the way home. We also stopped to have a picnic at a park in the tiny Iowa town of Elderon before the final stretch home.


Video from Chad’s Party

Laser Quest

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Vivian and I went down to Lincoln. on Saturday to go on a double date with my brother Nathan and his girlfriend Ranae. We went to Laser Quest and had some fun trying to find each other in a very large maze filled with mirrors, haze, and freshly-waxed floors. Ranae was beating us rather easily and it was a very fun time, and I was glad just to find other people in that very large maze. The four of us had the room out to ourselves. Afterwards, we went practically across the street to go to Grisante’s to have dinner together. It was packed, especially for a Saturday night, but the food was great and we got to enjoy some Italian food with bread warmed by candlelight.

On Sunday, after going to church and having lunch with our friends at IHOP, I got to introduce Vivian to the Marx Brothers. We watched the movie Horse Feathers, and Vivian liked Harpo the best of the bunch. I was still getting chuckles from Groucho even after seeing this movie multiple times. On Monday night, we went out with our friends to GAMe for our Monday night bible Sunday. It was much more comfortable at this time in the room because they were furnished very nicely with couches, end tables, and coffee tables from Nebraska Furniture Mart.

IMG_8377.JPGI also wound up eating very well on Monday night. Vivian made me pork ribs for dinner with mashed potatoes loaded with garlic and sour cream, asparagus and some toasted baguettes. It was very lovely. Then the next morning, Vivian got up and made me a breakfast of eggs with bacon, potatoes, onions and peppers. I’ve been eating like a king all weekend.

Hot and cold in Omaha

IMG_8190.JPGIt’s been another eventful weekend in Omaha. We started off on Friday night with an 80’s party put on by one of our many friends named Sarah. We had a great time. First off, they had a 80s trivia game, where we had to pick out different actors, musicians, and movies from the 1980’s based on pictures hanging up all over the house. I lost at that, but did pretty well afterwards at the air guitar competition. I started things off by banging away on a pink guitar to “Dancing With Myself” by Billy Idol. Thankfully, nobody got that on video. Other noteworthy performances included Ben doing Footloose by Kenny Loggins, Jon doing What I Like About You by The Romantics, and Chris with a hilarious performance as Weird Al Yankovich as “Fat.” Jenny took the cake, however, with an energetic rendition of You Spin Me Right Round by Dead Or Alive. After the contest, we did some group Karaoke to Love Shack by the B-52s. It was the easiest song I’ve ever done, since I only had to mimic Fred Schneider’s monotone singing voice, and I didn’t have to pretend to carry a tune.

IMG_8220.JPGOn Saturday, I went to hang out and play a few games with Eric, Ben, and a couple others at Troy’s house in Bellevue. One was a game I couldn’t remember: we came out with different “products” by shuffling random cards of adjectives and nouns together, and then we bid on them. We rolled dice to see which ones paid off, and I didn’t quite follow the logic behind the game. All I know is that I lost in the end. Afterwards, we played a very fun game called Cash and Guns, using foam pistol to shoot at each other and cards that said “bang, bang, bang.” It was as much as a boys game as I could possibly imagine (even though I played the girl).

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Afterwards, Vivian and I went to the 1314 building for the grand opening of their coffee bar. The votes were in, and they were going to call it Sozo, not the name I would have picked. It means “salvation” in Greek, but Hugh said that some people might be confused, thinking that they serve “so-so” coffee. It coffee itself was pretty good, though I’m definitely not a coffee drinker. We all got to have some of the black coffee samples, and I think Ben and I liked the Brazilian Nut flavor best.

After we were sufficiently caffeinated, we headed off for some ice skating. The group had reserved a rink at Hitchcock Park just for us that evening, so I joined everyone to risk injuring my knees, hips, and even worse, my dignity by slipping around on the ice once again. Rob Meyers was able to help me out a bunch by showing me to tighten my laces properly. Once I did that, I was almost able to skate like a normal person. It was definitely a workout, and I was sore the next day from falling down a couple of times. Fortunately this time, I didn’t bruise much more than my ego.

Toga! Toga! Toga!

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It was another crazy, fun-filled weekend up in Omaha over the weekend. On Friday night at JNO, I got to wear a toga for the first time. It was the Rite of Swing Toga Party Dance at the Eagle’s Lodge, and you got to save $3 if you showed up wearing a $3 bedsheet. I suppose it all evens out somehow in the end. I also got to put some plastic garland in my hair, which surprisingly completed the look when Vivian and I went out eat Caesar Salad before the dance. Doing the Lindy Hop in a bedsheet proved to be fairly difficult, however, especially when the sheet started coming undone and I began tripping over it. We finished off the night around 2 AM at Village Inn, where we ate Truffle Pie as Jessica showed us some more of her amazing talents.

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On Saturday, we celebrated “little” Debbie’s birthday at her house in West Omaha. We grilled hamburgers and had a couple “fuzzy navels” as Eric played swing music and Kevin brought out a couple Slinkies to send flopping down a small staircase. He gave up before too long and started trying to get it to break dance instead. We also grilled up some hamburgers and hot dogs with some delicious deep-fried french fries, courtesy of Vivian and a pot of boiling oil.

IMG_8056.JPGVivian and I had to leave the party fairly early, so we didn’t get a chance to enjoy playing with the electronic game of Catchphrase we gave to her. Instead, we had a double date with some of her old friends, Dennis and Kara, down at the Upstream in the Old Market. We all wound up ordering the same dish: Smoked Salmon with Cheese Tortellini. By some coincidence, the four of us also wound up getting the same beer: Honey Raspberry Ale. Either great minds think alike, or we were all so tired from a busy week that we didn’t feel up to making any more unnecessary decisions. After dinner, we walked down to take a look at a gallery of beautiful nature photographs by Thomas D. Mangelsen, and then stopped by Delice for hot drinks and chocolate mousse to finish off the night.

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Sunday afternoon, I and a couple guys from my small group at Great Adventures got to prepare a St. Patrick’s day dinner for Monday night. We’d settled on making Shepherd’s Pie, a fairly simple Irish-kind-of dish. My job was to bring twelve pounds of ground beef meat to cook. The rest of the guys—Luke, Jose, Jon, and Ben—were going to bring the instant potatoes, stewed tomatoes, and vegetables for the rest of the pies. The “other” Matt in our group was also making brownies at his place. It took us a couple hours, but we eventually came out with a bunch of Shepherd’s Pies that wound up feeding the whole group. We even made a “vegetarian pie” and also a “non-dairy” pie for the lactose intolerant in our group. It was loads of fun, particularly for a guy like me who never gets to cook for that many people at a time.

GAMe Guys’ recipe for Shepherd’s Pie
(feeds 50)

Ingredients

  • 12 pounds of ground beef
  • Several cans of mixed vegetables
  • Several cans of stewed tomatoes (if you have nothing else on hand, use those diced tomatoes with green chiles or garlic instead)
  • Four or five boxes of instant mashed potatoes
  • A couple sticks of butter
  • Salt

Directions

  1. Open a couple cans of mixed vegetables, drain and put into a big bowl. You’ll need the empty cans to drain off the grease from the ground beef.
  2. Brown up the ground beef and drain off the grease as carefully as you can into the empty cans.
  3. Boil some butter in water and mix with salt before stirring in the instant potatoes. Follow the directions on the box.
  4. Line the bottom of a pan with ground beef. Mix in some stewed tomatoes, then add a layer of vegetables on top.
  5. When done mixing up the instant potatoes, spread a bunch of it over the top. Add green food coloring if you want to be obnoxiously Irish.
  6. For lactose-intolerant Shepherd’s Pie, use instant potatoes (make sure the ingredients don’t include something funky like whey, first) made with olive oil instead of butter, and unsweeted soymilk instead of milk.
  7. Enjoy!

Football and Fat Tuesday

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I flew into Omaha from Las Vegas late Saturday night and headed straight on down to Lincoln with Vivian to have an after-midnight Mardi Gras party with Becky Moore and friends from the Jitterbugs. They had already found two out of the three “babies in the cake” that evening (both going to Ben), but I managed to find the third one. We were all just a bit sleepy-eyed and playing pranks on one another. Well, mostly Ben dripping water on Eric. I was going to try the bucket of warm water gag, myself. Good times.

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The next day was the Superbowl, so after going to church and out to lunch with friends in Lincoln, Vivian and I headed on up to have some more fun with our friends from GAMe. There was plenty of junk food to enjoy, a couple games of Volleyball and Basketball going on, and we also got to play my all-time favorite sport: dodgeball. I wasn’t very good—a big lumbering target running out in front of everybody is pretty hard to miss—but I did manage to catch a couple balls and get some of our captured teammates free. We had so much fun, that I almost forgot there was an actual football game going on upstairs.

Sadly enough, Vivian came down with a pretty back stomach flu that night and is still suffering from it today, so everybody keep her in your prayers and go give her a nice loving poke on Facebook for her to get well soon!

*throws a get-well sheep at Viv*

Welcome to 2008

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Welcome to 2008, everybody! Wow, I had no idea I could have so much fun with just one day off in a week. Vivian and I started off the evening by getting her hair done down at her parents’ house. Viv’s mom has been a hairdresser for decades, so she was able to pin up her bright red hair in style before we headed on to the formal dance at the Eagle’s Lodge.

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Viv and I stopped in downtown Omaha to watch the elaborate fireworks show around seven o’clock (midnight, GMT). Then we stopped at 13th street coffee to warm up with some caffeine before moving on to the Eagle’s Lodge. Most everyone was dressed up for the somewhat-formal swing dance, and we got to hear Takashi playing Bobby Darin as he sang Splish Splash.

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Before midnight, Vivian and I stole away to the Great Adventures 80s party down in the basement of the 1316 building on Jones street. It was much more fun to swing dance to some songs I knew by heart, and I was sure to request Hungry like the Wolf before the night was over. Vivian had some fun playing some mean tunes on guitar hero in the backroom before we broke out the sparkling apple juice and toasted the new year. By some amazing coincidence, the last song of the night was Something Beautiful by the Newsboys. It’s somehow become “our song.”

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After midnight, we headed on down to Troy and Merinda’s house for an extended New Year’s party with our friends. A couple of us managed to put together an ensemble band to play downstairs on the big screen, and I tried my best to sing along to a couple songs I may have heard just once in my entire life. Later upstairs we played a few rounds of Last Word, which Merinda and Becky found much more hilarious that they should have been, thanks to a little extra champagne.

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Vivian and I had the next day all to ourselves, waking up around noon and then going to get a late breakfast at Perkins. We dropped by HyVee and grabbed some toppings for a couple spicy tortilla-shell pizzas that we cooked and ate that evening. I can’t think of a better way to ring in the new year!

Thankful with friends at GAMe

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It was another pretty quiet weekend, as Vivian and some of her friends had a road trip up to O’Neill and Battle Creek to visit friends, leaving me in my apartment to update my good old portfolio for most of the day. I did get to spend some quality time with Viv on Sunday, getting pictures from her road trip uploaded to her Flickr account, and then taking a walk and playing on a see-saw for the first time since I was in elementary school. Viv always finds ways to make me feel like a kid again.

My friends and I are gearing up for a big, jam-packed Thanksgiving week, with something big happening pretty much every day all the way through Friday. On Monday night, we had a dinner and worship time with GAME on Jones Street, where we got to pig out on more turkey and mashed potatoes than anybody could eat, and then had worship and time for giving thanks afterward. Micah, Erin, and their little ensemble treated us to songs on their guitars as members of the group got up to light a candle for every thing they were thankful for this year.