Liveblogging the Entire LOTR Trilogy III: The Return of the King.
June 24, 2010, 5:43 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Refresh your browser for periodic updates.  SPOILER ALERT!

6:42PM: Back again, this time with the last installment in our epic melodrama. Only 5-6 hours left!  Do you remember how psyched you were for these to come out?  I remember.  I was almost “dressed-up-like-Aragorn” excited.  Had it been like two degrees more socially acceptable, I probably would’ve done it.  Or I would have gone as Liv Tyler.

Continued after the jump…

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Liveblogging the Entire LOTR Trilogy II: The Two Towers.
June 24, 2010, 1:20 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Refresh your browser for periodic updates.  SPOILER ALERT!

2:19PM: And now we start again with the Two Towers and I’ve spilled water everywhere.  We are making good time here, people.  We can do this!  We are the US Men’s National Soccer Team of LOTR liveblogging!

Continued after the jump…

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Liveblogging the Entire LOTR Trilogy I: The Fellowship of the Ring.
June 24, 2010, 9:29 am
Filed under: Rants, Uncategorized | Tags: ,

Refresh your browser for periodic updates.  SPOILER ALERT!

10:22AM: It has begun.  This is the nerdiest/awesomest thing I have ever done.  I will liveblog the LOTR trilogy in its entirety.  I own the extended editions of each movie, so that means like 12 hours of swords, orcs, hobbit-on-hobbit love, and Liv Tyler.  Will I survive?  I would like to tell you that I am doing this without the aid of substances.  I would like to tell you that.  But it would be a lie.  I will do whatever it takes to enhance my endurance and, correspondingly, enhance your blog-reading pleasure.  Now, it has been brought to my attention that recently executed murderer Ronnie Gardner watched the entire trilogy before his death.  Don’t worry, I don’t plan to get shot by firing squad when this is all over.  Though maybe I will want that.

Continued after the jump…

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December 1, 2009, 4:49 pm
Filed under: SF, Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

The monotony is disgusting.  I wake up and check the weather.  I learned long ago, in Michigan, that a sensible person checks the weather before he dresses himself.  It has reached the level of reflex.  Other than a few spaced out incomprehensible grunts, the first sounds I make every morning are, “What is the weather like?”  But here it is useless.  A waste of precious energy.  I know that every day will be like the last.  A mind-numbing series of sameness.  Day after day, and nothing has changed.  It is 60 degrees and sunny.  Tomorrow will be 60 degrees and sunny.  The day after that?  60 degrees and fucking sun.  Every fucking day.

Some explanation:  San Francisco is constantly assaulted by something called the California Current.  Deeper cold water moves up to displace warm surface water at the coast.  This makes the famous fog and a mild climate.  Combine this with a hilly peninsula and you have microclimates.  In theory, one neighborhood can have completely different temperature from another.  This is bullshit though, because every neighborhood is 60 degrees and sunny, as far as I can tell.

The winter should be the rainy season.  San Francisco gets practically no rainfall between March and October, then gets dumped on for months.  I don’t believe that though.  It is 60 degrees and sunny.  It has been since October.  It rained maybe once.  I completely missed it and regretted it all day.

I always resisted the notion that Michiganders are obsessed with the weather.  But it is true.  The weather controls our lives.  How we dress and get to school or work, how we grow our crops or hunt for deer.  In Michigan, we treasure every nice day because they are so few.  The sun will emerge from the overcast sky and warm the earth.  A Michigander seizes that time and feels guilty if he or she lets it slip away.  The sun hides again, possibly forever.  Imagine a place where every day is a nice day.  How do you decide when to go outside?  How can you feel guilty about staying inside when tomorrow will be just as nice?  WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU CAN’T FEEL GUILTY ANYMORE?!

alleged "microclimates"

Sacramento – Entrance to California.
November 12, 2009, 5:28 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

When we awoke in Nevada, I was chastened, it is true, stripped of pride. “Turn around, you too are mortal.” We packed the Acura, and crossed the border.  As the sun hit the lake, it could not have been more beautiful.


You'd think Olivia would enjoy cold glacial lake water. You'd be wrong.

Sacramento suffers from ill placement.  Located anywhere else in the country, it would be celebrated as a hip and accessible city.  Instead, it is forgotten between Tahoe and San Francisco, or even degraded, by people who focus myopically on its more prominent bookends.

The Central Valley is very strange.  But for the titanic dam projects through which the U.S. Government tamed western rivers streaming down from the Rockies and Sierras, it would remain an arid desert.  Now it produces most of the fruits and vegetables that we eat.  Sacramento is green, unnaturally so.  Trees bearing plump oranges swell by the roadside.  Palm trees loom over the houses and surround the capitol building.  All of it is wrong.  It should not be.  It has no right to.  Yet irrigation and F.D.R. and the Bureau of Reclamation made it so.

We greeted our friends with the greatest of gifts – novelty t-shirts from Moab, Utah!  Shane’s bore a wolf, in native design, howling at a moon.  There was even an abstract cactus.  Colin’s depicted the excessively phallic Balanced Rock from Arches National Park.  Beneath the pink-colored erect stone monument bore the memorable slogan: “The Magic of Moab.”  Emily and I wore throwback 80s t-shirts, advertising the names of Moab and Canyonlands.


Colin decided to wear his to the bar.  He donned his tweed irish flat cap (we had purchased it in the old-west-style Old Sacramento tourist district on my last visit).  Feeling saucy, he approached the barkeep:  “I’ll have a pint of your finest ale!”

The bartender regarded him for a beat.  He glared at his hat.  “We have many fine ales.”  He looked at Shane.  “What are you doing with this crowd?”  (apparently we looked just as disreputable.)  “Is that a penis on your shirt?”


The Drive – Conquering Nevada.
November 12, 2009, 4:22 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

It was going to end tonight, I decided.*  We had only to cross over Utah and Nevada to reach California, a journey of 800 miles, 14 hours.  Tonight I would sleep in California. Even if it meant driving all night.

Emily demurred.  Why didn’t we just do the reasonable thing?  Why not stop somewhere in Nevada?  But even she knew that Nevada was a debased and befouled place.  It was unworthy of us.  I resolved, in secret, to take the initiative and soldier into California that very night, reason be damned.

We stopped in Provo, land of sporty Mormons in fleeces and ski jackets, for bad tex mex.  We passed SLC, with its smelly lake.  O’er the Great Salt Lake Desert — a vast and terrifying salt flat, west of the lake, that lasts until the Nevada border.

In the ancient Roman Republic, if a distinguished dictator defeated a foreign army and ended a war, he would be allowed to enter the great city as a vir triumphalis, so long as the Senate voted to accord him the honor.  It was the greatest of the military honors, one that linked the recipient with Hercules and Alexander and implied the immortality of his victory.  The General would enter the city gates, bereft of arms, at the end of a long and glorious parade.  Before him marched the Senate, carts filled with the spoils of his conquest, prisoners of war and kings of fallen barbarian hordes, bulls for sacrifice.  Trumpeters sang of the Conqueror’s glory.  The General followed the procession, with his face painted red.  He wore an ornate toga.  Behind him, a slave held a golden wreath above his head.  In the General’s ear, the slave would whisper a warning.  The exact words are a mystery, but some believe he said: “Look behind you, remember you too are mortal.”

That would be me.   I would march into California as conqueror of the known world.  Emily was growing weary.  But I was confident.  We had survived the Mormon stronghold!  Now we need only navigate the sinful Scilla and Charybdis (yes, I understand that is Greek not Roman) of Nevada and we would be at our new home.  I targeted Lake Tahoe for our triumphal entrance.

As we raced across the endless scrub desert of Nevada, the sun slowly descended.  Onward we drove.  Through Winnemucca and Battle Mountain.  Past Lovelock.  As we neared the border, Emily took the iPhone to make a hotel reservation in Lake Tahoe.  She had broken down, and knew we could not stop until we reached the Golden State.  She called the hotel, made the reservation.  She plugged in the address for the Lake Tahoe hotel.

She looked up from the phone.  Stuttered.  “I’ve made a mistake…”

“What kind of mistake,” I answered, still chipper driving through the dark.

“Um…I’m really really sorry…but…I booked the hotel room in South Lake Tahoe…NEVADA!”

I sat silently, staring at the road.  My dreams of triumph shattered.  I was not a victorious Roman general.  I had been vanquished by the barbarian hordes of Nevada.  I would sleep tonight in Nevada.

*Some Iron Maiden songs to listen to while you read this entry:  “Aces High,” “Flight of Icarus,” “To Tame a Land” (BONUS: It’s about DUNE!), “2 Minutes to Midnight,” “The Trooper.”

Camping – Thieves!
October 30, 2009, 5:19 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized
Olivia has looked mighty shifty lately.

Olivia has looked mighty shifty lately.

In the desert you need lots of water.  We had six jugs of it, three of which we stored under a bush near our campsite.  When you camp, you need wood.  Although our wood was pretty terrible for starting fires during wind storms, we rationed it out and had some left over for our second night in the camp.  We left it for the day next to the extra water under the brush.

O! How innocent we were!  Naïve Panglossian waifs, wandering the cruel and villainous world mercifully free from the hidden knowledge of human sin!  Traipsing about, as if our private property would be respected by the slithering bands of rapacious brigands that surrounded us.  Under our very noses they lurked, but we could not smell their porcine stench!  Near to our tent they sniffed and leered, coveting our water and shitty logs.  In our blind stupor of guilelessness, we left our things freely in the open, instead of securing them responsibly.

When we returned to the campsite, our wood and water was gone.  Someone had taken it.  Banditry!  Robbery!  We were enraged.  I was so filled with inflamed with boiling rage that I sat on the bench and sulked.  Emily, irrational with wrath, walked calmly to the camp host to inquire about the matter.  The host was confused, professed ignorance, and hypothesized that the fire pit cleaner had taken the stolen goods.  He was clearly a co-conspirator, receiving kickbacks for looking the other way!

We luckily had stashed some water in our car.  Though we were in danger of dying of thirst, we had about three jugs to get us through the night.  We had no wood to make a fire to eat food.  As I howled and stomped, uncomprehending the injustice that had befallen me, Emily walked over to a neighboring campsite and borrowed some wood.  I did not recognize the wood, so I approved its use.


God approved.  The wind went away.  And we ate Frito chili pie, greatest of the camping delicacies.


Tasting the delicious Frito Chili Pie.

Recipe for Frito Chili Pie

1 Can Chili – Spicy

1 bag of mexican blend shredded cheese

1 bag fritos

Cook the chili.  Place fritos in bowl.  Cover fritos with chili.  Sprinkle on cheese and stir.  Feast.