Monthly Archives: August 2009

Townhalls and homemade sushi

Things were pretty hectic last week, without much time for a blog update. As an early birthday present, Jonathan came down to take me to an evening with the cast of Mystery Science Theater 3000, a la RiffTrax live. Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett got together for a live event broadcast to theaters around the country, ridiculing Plan 9 from Outer Space live from Nashville. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long, long time.

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August seems to be a popular month for Jitterbug birthdays, since we celebrated Ben Peet’s at JNO last Friday, and we still have three more to go before the end of the month (yours truly included). It was also a pretty popular weekend for swing dancing, as we had a swing dance at GAMe downtown on Saturday night as well as a spontaneous outdoor dance in Papillion Park. A couple of our jitterbug cohorts had the bright idea of having their own “Lindy in the Park” at different locations around Omaha, and the weather had certainly been just perfect for such an event.

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I got to keep busy this week as well. On Tuesday, our congressman Lee Terry hosted a “come yell at your elected representative event,” formerly called a Town Hall meeting. It was actually quite civil, without any of the Swastikas, rifle-toting militia types, or shouting matches that certain politicians seem to think come naturally people those who dare question their government. There were some amusing fringe types on both sides, however, including one guy babbling about the Illuminati and the New World Order, as well as several people who seemed to think a Single Payer Health Care system was a good idea. It was one of those moments you got to enjoy feeling like you had a voice, since people were all welcome to line up and give Rep. Terry their own unscripted, unplanted questions. Democracy as its best. I think.

On Thursday, Vivian decided to make sushi for the first time. Our mutual friend Onionboy inspired her with some photos on his blog, so we stopped by an Asian food store on Sunday to get the necessary ingredients. She turned out some very tasty maki rolls with tuna, cucumber, and avocado, and we got to eat them while watching Hayao Miyazaki’s “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.” It only seemed to fitting to watch one of my favorite anime films while eating homemade sushi.

Happy Birthday Dan!

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On Friday night last week, we celebrated the birthday of one of our most recognized jitterbug friends, Dan Wondra. He was an usher at our wedding and seems to be the one swing my dancer most of my family members remember on the dance floor. A bunch of our friends took him out to dinner at the Outback steakhouse on Cass street and then pushed him into a jam circle at JNO that night. In addition to being a celebrated swing dancer (and walking encyclopedia of swing music trivia), Dan’s also a recognized caricature artist. He gave me a caricature for my birthday two years ago, so I returned the favor by drawing a comic of him and his girlfriend Margaret in a card of my own. Happy birthday, Dan!

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Saturday night was the annual Nothnagel Barbecue, which has traditionally been a night of eating way too much food and drink that stretched well into the next morning. Vivian and I were able to drive ourselves home at the fairly respectable hour of two. The next day, Vivian’s co-workers Tamra and Andy had a co-ed wedding shower, and opened such gifts as a giant barbecue and movie theater style popcorn popper. I have a feeling their house in Benson is going become a popular place for movie nights after their honeymoon.

Return to Fremont Lakes

The “dog days” of summer are finally here. Although we’ve been blessed with an unusually cool summer so far, last weekend we were blasted with a warm front pushing a 100 degree sauna our way with thunderstorms close behind. So, what better way to celebrate than by spending the weekend outdoors at the Fremont Lakes?


Vivian and I went to Fremont Lakes last September, but we didn’t get to do much swimming (especially with the cold fall winds that came roaring through our campsite overnight). This year, however, a three-hour dip in the water was more than appropriate. The water in the lake seemed to be about forty degrees colder just a few feet below the surface, down where the gooey algae and tangling weeds like to live. We played some “Monkey in the Middle” and spent some quality time dunking each other in the water while keeping cool.

Back at the campsite, we put together some burgers, hot dogs, and baked potatoes for dinner over the campfire while others of us played Monkey Golf. We ate and told some more ridiculous progressive ghost stories (involving Michael Jackson, of all people) as the sun went down and the moon came up. We toasted some marshmallows and then wound up playing Catchphrase until nearly midnight, taking a sip of the World’s Worst Bottle of Rum before going to bed.

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We were in for a surprise the next morning: a series of scattered showers roared into our next to woods. The forecast called for a 30% chance of precipitation, so I suppose we can only blame ourselves of playing their odds. The rain let up long enough for us to have some yummy Jenny muffins for breakfast before heading back to Omaha.

Lindy in the Park was still on for the afternoon, of course, so Vivian and I went on down for some outdoor dancing. The rain had let up just a bit, but it started up again toward the end of our dance. It was the first time I’d seen rain at Lindy in the Park, and it was actually very cool to have thunder and lightning accompany our Lindy Hop.

A week with the family

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Last week, my parents and my brother Jonathan drove across the country to spend a week in Nebraska with me and Nathan. Since moving to North Carolina in 2003, my parents have come back to visit every summer (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, and for my wedding in 2008), but this was the first time they’ve visited me as an old married man. Of course, they also had to put up with our other “roommates,” but Dad seemed to take to Flappy and Babo without much trouble.

My mother-in-law is attending a high school reunion in California, so we kept my father-in-law company by taking him down to one of our favorite restaurants: El Chalateco. It’s a small Salvadorean restaurant in Bellevue, and they served us plantain, yucca, and other foods Jack enjoyed growing up in the Canal Zone of Panama.

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Much of my parents’ activties while in Nebraska revolved around visiting old friends such as the Lefebers or colleagues from the National Association of Scholars (which inevitably meant eating out and packing on a few extra pounds).

I also took them by the Lauritzen Gardens to enjoy the unseasonably pleasant weather. I’d been there only once before and hadn’t had as much time to explore the grounds. I saw a variety of interesting plant life, from Fiber Optic Grass to some globe amaranth that looked like little fireworks.

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Saturday was a big day for the family. Part of Jonathan’s trip to Omaha involved getting a new job interview in Wayne, so he and my mom drove up to look at some apartments. Dad, Vivian and I spent our afternoon in Wisner at the old firing range my dad had helped get started when he lived here several years ago. It was a gorgeous day with temperatures in the 70s most of the afternoon, and the once dirt-covered grounds were now lush and green with foliage (which included some interesting weeds that the Lauritzen Gardens didn’t seem to have on display.) We enjoyed some quality “dad time” trying out some pretty fancy firearms together (specifically an AR-15). It turns out Vivian’s a pretty good shot, so don’t mess with her.

That evening, the whole family had dinner with Nathan and his girlfriend Ranae, and then returned home to play a couple rounds of Apples to Apples and What’s Yours Like.

It was great to have the family back home again, and it’s going to be interesting having Jonathan back in the Cornhusker state once again. My dad had hinted pretty strongly that he and mom will be moving back here when the day finally comes for them to retire. Then maybe we won’t have to wait a whole year to have them back over again.