Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Forgive my absence, but sometimes I am absent.  It's not because my life has been boring so let me begin my back log now.

My friend Mike came in October/November and here's what we did:

1. Spurs game - Tottenham wins!

2. Time in London:

Sadly, I'm missing the best photo of the trip - Britain's Oldest Door.  But here's a blurry one of the London Eye and a hooka bar in Soho where we met 4 different drug addicts.  The best of the four said, "I'm not gonna lie.  I do do drugs, and I'd sure like to sprinkle some crack in there."  We gave her a pound.

3. We went to Dublin, but it was cold and rainy so if you want to see what we did just turn on MTV, watch it for a few hours, and then go to an alcohol manufacturer and buy a hat.

4. Belfast is awesome.  We took a black cab tour to see all the murals outlining the conflict of the city, and we signed the peace wall.  We also saw Oasis.

I'm realizing now that I didn't document that trip as well as I should have.  It's probably best summarized by this last photo which is Mike in a hostel holding 4 Liters of cheep cider, some salt and vinegar crisps, and a net bag of baby bells.  This could have been any night of the trip, but it really was the spirit of us in the UK.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires or Will You Marry Me, The Derek Till Story

Derek Till is engaged. Now I'm really lonely. But while I like to think that my perpetual loneliness is the sub theme of this blog, that is not what this is about. This is about my big brother, Derek.

So Derek got engaged, and despite his best efforts, did not burn down a forest in the process. A few weeks ago my big brother, Derek, asked his girlfriend, Aleks, to marry him, and what I imagine as the same tone as the Virgin Mary used with the angel Gabriel, she said yes. But unlike my visions of my own wedding - leap year, February 29, 2012 - Derek Till was romantic about it.

First, Derek contacted Aleks's favorite artist to paint her a picture asking, "Will you marry me?" Second, Derek met Aleks on a designers weekend festival thingy that Aleks was in charge of . . . an important weekend to her. Then he placed the original art on a conveniently (for purposes of proposals by original paintings) placed stone fireplace in the middle of the Minnesotan wilderness. Some other John-Cusiacian-Romantically-Minded individual had already arranged candles around said stone mantle, so Derek lit the candles and met Aleks for an autumn walk.

Now Derek is no fool, and he realized that leaving a load of lit candles in the middle of dry autumn wilderness surrounding an original piece of artwork that potentially defines the precise moment his future went from rolling 12-sided dies to rolling to Home Depot for domestic repairs, is a bad idea. So he b-lined it to the engagement site. And regardless of the awkwardness that followed, including pulling a ring out of his right hand coat pocket with his right arm was around his beloved - I'm still not sure how he did this - all is well that ends well, and my big brother is engaged.

Now comes the excitement of telling family and friends. My parents, who knew this was coming, gracefully overwhelmed the couple with a champagne toast. Then - I would assume - came telling Aleks's parents and sisters as well as Derek's two sisters and his only brother and future best man, me. Now, I'm aware of the day and age in which we live, but I am not apparently aware of the formalities of Facebook. And while I plan on getting married on leap year 2012 so that I only have to celebrate an anniversary once every four year, and as soon as I find a non-mingin' girl who's into getting married on this Wednesday, I will ask her to marry me, I will still let my immediate family know who said girl is by at least a phone call - I've already told them the date and they are not impressed, but my mom seems to like it a little more then when I was dead set on eloping. Anyway, back on subject, Smokey the Bear/my brother, chose to send me a beautifully worded, if misspelled, Facebook message about his engagement:

Subject: some big news
"Aleks and I got engaged on Saturday. Really don't haave much more info than that. Give me a call soon (612) 310 #### and we will talk. Love ya


I actually knew that this was coming because of the awkward goodbye my mother left on my message machine a few days eariler, "Hi B, it's Mom. I'm just calling to say hi. Give me a call if you want. Love you, bye . . . You might want to call your brother . . . ok, bye." But still. Come on. I'm the only brother involved here. And while 6 hours away, you could always call me in the middle of the night and plead ignorance to time zones. It's a good thing I'm never bitter.

But truth be told, in spite of his affinity for Facebook, everyone who knows Derek knows what an outstanding man he truly is. To me he's been the cool older brother who bought me Taco Bell when I was 12, the quirky dork whose been getting me hooked on nerdy sci-fi shows since I was 16, and the brother and friend I know at 26. More importantly, everyone who knows Aleks knows how good she is for, and with Derek. This engagement is a blessing for both of our families, and I'm honored to be able to expand my family with a cool new sister like Aleks, even if it does mean I will have to send one more Facebook message in 2012.

Fact about me #32
I want to have a baseball themed wedding where the bride wears a big white dress and looks like a baseball, I wear a tux that looks like a catchers mit, her father is a giant bat who hits her down the isle, and the priest is dressed as an umpire who has us say, "Strike!" insted of "I do." There will also be bunt cake.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Hey, Remember When You Were Run Over by That Bus?

Lame to post a link, but this is crazy. The good news is that this boy survived. The bad news is that he was run over by a bus.

I'm sure he's not thinking about this now, but this will be all that people ask him about for the rest of his life . . . probably. He now has two choices: 1.) Win nobel prize so he can talk about something else or 2.) spend the rest of his life explaining to people what it feels like to be run over by a bus. If I ever meet him I will probably call him Regina George and ask him if he remembers that time he was run over by a bus.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

My Job

If you want to know what I do all day just watch this video. Make sure you get to the part where Jesus "Zaps" people.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

If You're Happy and You Know It . . .

I drove into London today. No big deal. I've pirated a car journey to the centre of town dozen times or so, but every time it is its own adventure. I can guarantee you that I will get lost every time. If I have a SatNav, I will manage to make the SatNav get lost. I aggravate the other drivers on the road, scare the bejesus out of my passengers, and inevitably take a few years off my own life.

Other people only gain confidence in me when I utter such popular phrases as "This feels right" or "This just doesn't feel right" in the exact same tone that a blind man would say it if he were in a bisexual strip club. I don't know any street names in central London which is fine because it's near impossible to find where the streets are labeled when in a car. No matter. I don't need them. I feel my way around London like Jodi Foster in the end of Silence of the Lambs.

So, needless to say, today I was a little lost. I was also driving rampant enough to aggravate the Ferrari behind me. This Ferrari seemed to have a hard time finding second gear and his engine revved so loudly that it drown out the ABBA on my stereo, so I think my crazy driving was justified - like a Justin Timberlake album. Anyway, this Houdini managed to squeeze his £100,000 lifestyle around my £10,000 Vauxhall, and upon passing I realized that the man I was pissing off was Muhammad Al Fayed. This is the man who owns Herrods. For my US readers this is the man whose son was porking Princess Di before they both took a fatal drive through The City of Lights.

And as if this brush with (take your pick) fame/richness/don't-give-a-shit wasn't exciting enough, more excitement came when I drove past Hyde Park and was suddenly stuck in the middle of a street protest. According to their posters, these people were protesting Israel, but according to their chant, they were protesting - like all Europeans - Grorge W. Bush. Their chant was to the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It" but the words were: "If you hate George Bush, clap your hands" and the slightly more disturbing second verse "Burn in hell Mr. Bush, clap your hands."

The moral of my story? Nothing makes me feel more at home than people who hate G.W.

Monday, September 8, 2008

If it wasn't called "Snowdonia" more people would probably go there.

Hello friends, and yet again forgive my absence.  I assure you that I will get around to writing about all my misadventures, pointing out the ironic intracricies of both the English and my family from the week I spent back home - and yes it includes both photos of poo in the toilet and wild lizards - but I can't tonight.  Tonight I have to get ready to go to Snowdonia.

Now for most of us Snowdonia is that place that the ugly little kids from the Narnia movies go to eat Turkish Delight, but for the British it is an actual place.  Apparently there is a mountain in Wales called Mt. Snowdon and I'm going to climb it.  I'm not exactly sure what I'll need, but I'd imagine it includes all the arrows that my quiver can hold.  I leave at 6:00am tomorrow by a trusty mini-bus which I call Shadowfax, and shant return for 4 whole days.

In the meantime, perhaps you can research the question that has bewildered many a fine American: What the hell is Wales when not referring to a giant sea mammal?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

A Warm Welcome Home or Whose Been Shitting In My Bed?

I've spent the last 26 days trekking the urban jungle of Sydney, the extreme sport jungle of New Zealand, and the actual jungle of the Blue Mountains, and I'm sure, dear reader, that my future blogs will cover my adventures down under, but for now it's all about my homecoming.

I personally believe that trips are not about the destination but the journey, except when flying to opposite corners of this round planet. Then it is all about the destination. New Zealand is so far away from England that the plane could not hold enough fuel to make it in one jump. We stopped to refill in Hong Kong. This provided a good opportunity for me to not only reset the time on my watch, but the date as well. On my way home there were 53 films available on the flight, and I think I watched them all. That's how far away New Zealand is. So when I finally arrived home last night I was excited for many things, but none more than a night in my own bed.

I had a warm welcome home with a few surprise gifts from friends at work, but nothing was more surprising than finding out that I have a new roommate. Apparently, since I've been gone mice have infested my room.

I wandered into my room after two days of traveling to see my bathroom was not quite as I left it. On the floor are what look like two fist sized, perfectly square lumps of poo. "That fake poo doesn't look real," I think to myself. "It's too square. But not a bad prank." However upon closer inspection I see that the "poo" is actually the remains of a large chocolate bar that was once on my living room table. The chocolate had been dragged into the bathroom, divided into two equal shares, and gently gnawed on all edges making the square bar somewhat trapezoidal in shape. I find the outer wrapper of the chocolate partially gnawed through, and genitally placed in the shower, but the foil that once encased the chocolate seems to have disappeared completely.

"Swear word," I think, "I have mice. But if this is a mouse then there must be it's leavings somewhere."

And so my scavenger hunt begins. It didn't take me long to remove the duvet from my bed and discover where my new roommate has made himself - or to be more accurate herself (grammatically itself) - at home. My bed is a hole chewed through the sheets, a large collection of ovular pellet poo, and fur.

But how, you may ask, can you tell the sex of the rodent from it's leavings? Simple. If among the poo, fur, and teeth marks your guest leaves a large stain of afterbirth on your bed, then it is a fairly safe assumption that the rodent lacks a y-chromosome. The remains of this miracle of birth has stained through my bed sheet and deep into my mattress. So on my arrival home, nostalgic for my bed, I instead throw away my sheets and call an exterminator to come by on Monday. I guess I won't quite be getting to my own bed just yet. First, I'll have to buy a new one.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Gone Baby Gone

My sister Amanda had her baby! There is something funny about your siblings having babies, but I'm not exactly sure what it is. Somehow it seems like revenge for everything bad they ever did to you growing up. Anyway, I'm off for 20 some odd days in Australia and New Zealand. Wish me luck.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Independence . . . so how's that working out for you?

Wagwan and happy 4th of July everyone. For me, this year I will not be throwing together a last minute Bar-B-Que and shouting "kablamo" as I watch fireworks. For I am in England. The very land which my forefathers declared independence from, and there are a few things I find peculiar about America's Independence Day in Britain.

First, everyone knows about the Fourth of July and seems to enjoy it as a holiday. In the past week I've been in two different London pubs who are throwing a 4th of July celebration. Now I'm no history major (actually as a Classics major maybe I am) but I thought The 4th of July marks the start of a war that Britain lost. It's like bars in the US celebrating the start of the Vietnam War - still too soon. Or maybe it's just English irony that they like to celebrate the start of the fall of the British Empire.

Second, British people seem to know what we do on The 4th of July. This is a great thing for me because I'm not entirely sure what I American's are supposed to do on the Fourth and would have a hard time explaining it. According to the British, on the Fourth of July Americans: 1.) Eat burgers - True 2.) Watch fireworks - True 3.) Buy fireworks to blow stuff up - True 4.) Drink light beer - True 5.) Sing songs about America of which there are no shortage - True (for me at least). I think that's a pretty fair assessment of The 4th of July and would only add 6.) Partake in watersports where possible.

For me this year I will be celebrating my independence from England by wearing my Uncle Sam hat while working at the Brightlights Festival - the Christian music festival that takes place where I work - and hanging out with American artist Matt Maher (who is apparently famous) and Canadian founder of L'Arche Jean Vanier (who is apparently a modern day prophet).

This reminds me of Fact About Me #62:
I’m a Christian, but I don’t like the sound of that.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

About Me: Day 9

Fact #14

I think it would be weird to be famous. Especially the kind of famous where no one can place you, but everyone double takes. It’d seem like everyone was surprised to see you no matter where you were, and I’d always wonder if I am supposed to be there.

Monday, June 23, 2008

About Me: Day 8

Fact #55

When I dance to "I Want to Dance With Somebody" by Whitney Houston I am irresistible to women. This is the only time I'm irresistable to women, and they do start to question if you put it on a loop.

Friday, June 20, 2008

About Me: Day 8

Fact #4

I think when people sleep a lot it’s a sign of weakness. But I think when I sleep a lot it’s a sign of awesomeness.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

About Me: Day 7

Fact # 32

I’m not an asshole, but sometimes I choose not to care. That might make me an asshole.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

About Me: Day 6

Fact #76

I want to start handing out notes to people who wait on me explaining that I am def. But I’m not def, and I believe in Karma just enough to think that is a dangerous idea.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

About Me: Day 5

Fact #8:

When I think about my heroes, Pacman is relatively high on the list.

Monday, June 16, 2008

About Me: Day 4

Fact #14

I enjoy talking to relative strangers, and I enjoy getting my hair cut. But I hate talking to the relative stranger who cuts my hair. This makes me hard to work with.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

About me: Day 3 Father's Day Edition

Fact #24:

Patrick Swayze is like a father to me. But he’s like a negligent father that doesn’t know I exist. My father is a better father to me than Patrick Swayze will ever be, unless maybe dancing is involved.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

About Me: Day 2

Fact #42:

I really enjoy being a teacher and doing youth work. But if I see youth in public I can’t stand them. I wonder how people deal with them day in and day out until I remember that I deal with them day in and day out. Then it makes me wonder what type of person I am.

Friday, June 13, 2008

About Me: Day 1

For the next few weeks I will finally give the world what they've been waiting for. A real in depth analysis of myself.

Fact about me #3:

I like dance movies. I take them too seriously and am constantly disappointed, but at the same time I’m constantly thrilled.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Buen Camino

For the last 7 days I have been walking across Spain. Or perhaps it would be more accurate if I said that I have already walked across Spain, and, since I'm being truthful, you should know that to me 'across' is best described as 112 kilometers of Spain.

One week ago, at 4:30am I embarked on a holy mission to Spain to travel the Camino de Santiago de Campostella, a pilgrimage to the resting sight of St. James. I flew into Santiago and then took a 3+ hour bus journey deep into the heart of Galacia, traversing the land I would spend the next week crossing. I figure a picture is worth 1000 words, and I'm being lazy so here is my picture diary of the Camino de Santiago de Compostella

So many different ways to mark where I'm supposed to go . . . still I managed to get lost.

You have to stamp a pilgrims record as you go along to prove you did the pilgrimage. My question remains, why would you lie about a pilgrimage and who are you proving this to?

My group with only 100km to go.

A look at the trail.

Hey look! Orange things!

Spanish grave yards are nuts. Apparently there was a shortage of shovels at some point so they started stacking things up. On the plus side, this would be easy to recrate with Legos.

One reason why you don't drink too much the night before walking 25 kilometers.

Cafes are a must on any pilgrimage. I wasn't exactly roughing it.

Spanish jail?

This is how dapper I looked as a pilgrim. Notice how I switched the traditional hat with a big buckle for a much more Gilligan look.

My load . . . the smallest on the trip, but I did get tired of wearing the same thing every day for a week.

These Portugese guys (and a Brazilian) had each won a metal for how much wine they drank at lunch time. Needless to say, I enjoyed my few hours hearing their stores (in Potrugese so I didn't follow much) when I walked with them after lunch.

Oh come one now. That's not nice.

The End . . . Finally.

P.S. I will stop doing this week on/summary/week off blog thing cause it's lame. Sorry.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Eurovision: Spain, Latvia, and Bosnia

Unannounced to most Americans, every year Europeans get together for what is called the Eurovision Song Contest. This contest has been around for over 50 years and has sparked such famous bands as ABBA and, well, the only one I know of is ABBA. The contest is really clever and I'm not sure why the US hasn't ripped it off with "Statevision" yet, but the way it works is every country submits a song, performs it live with lots of dancing, and then the people have 15 minutes to call in and vote for their favorite song. You can't vote for your own country so it's funny to see how everyone votes for their "friend" countries eg: Sweden votes for Norway, Portugal votes for Spain, and no one votes for France .

Last night, after a long day at an amusement park which didn't measure up to US standards but had a good kiddie ride called Mrs. Hippo's Fungle Safari, I attended my first Eurovision Party. We watched as all the countries gave their best effort which too often resembled a Celine Dion ballad, or in the case of Finland, a heavy metal song, and three countries stood out to me.

Bill Trandon's top 3 Eurovision 2008 Songs!

#3 - Bosnia Herzegovina
I have absolutely no idea what this song is about, but I like to promote this type of behavior whenever I see it.

#2 - Latvia
I think if they submitted this a year earlier to ride the popularity of Pirates of the Caribbean they would have won. And in Latvia's defense, I think that those movies are just making it over there.

#1 - Spain
Hands down, Espana had the best song of the night. It made me want to dance "el roboco."

Russia was the actual winner with a boy band reject singing a power ballad as some Russian Michael Flatley of the ice skated circles around him. But I'm off to Spain, quite literally. Next week I'll walk across the entire top of Spain on the Camino de Santiago. Hopefully I'll meet some nice Spaniards and we can talk about Chiki Chiki and how they were robbed in Eurovision. Or the crusades. Both things that Spanish people like talking about.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The London Pub Crawl or Why I Hate Sarah Jessica Parker

Last Monday (not today but one week ago) my friend Simon took me on a pub crawl of London. Until now, every pub I've been in in London has been about the same. Dark Brown wood, luke-warm cask ale, an overuse of the words dog, duck, bull, lion, and the always funny cock in the title. But Simon used to be a manager of a pub in London and by doing so he became somewhat of an expert in every pub in the central downtown area. Here is how our evening went.

Stop 1: Waxy O'Connor's
The humble doorway of Waxy's didn't look like much, a cast iron arch lost on the foothills of Chinatown. But I'm surprised that the doorway wasn't a circle. Stepping into Waxy O'Connor's is like being invited into Bilbo Baggins's hobbit hole. The pub is three different floors, most of which are underground and appear to have been dug out with a garden trowel. The top floor is near enough to the ceiling that I had to duck to feel comfortable, but it did allow me to admire Bilbo's exquisite hand carved relief on the wooden ceiling while looking down onto the two floors below. The entire pub was situated around the smooth skeleton of an elaborate tree that reached through the different coves of the pub. It was a beautiful day outside so I drank a Kopperberg Pear Cider as I pondered how they got the tree through the doorway.

Stop 2: O'Neils on Warder Street
Out the back door of Waxy's is O'Neils. O'Neils is an chain Irish Pub ergo this was your average O'Neils. It's bonus feature, however, is that it's open till 3:00am (a rarity in downtown London I assure you) and the top floor has live music. Still on the edge of Chinatown, Simon and I sat by the second floor window drinking a Mexican Corona and Itialian Birra Moretti respectively, trying to guess what country all the school groups were from. Lesson learned, Austrians look like Germans, the Spanish look like Italians, and the French are French. Also, avoid the Tuborg, it tastes like plastic pipe.

Stop 3: De Hems Netherlands Cafe
I was quick to embrace this little Dutch pub in the middle of China town, perhaps too quick. I would have thought this was an English pub had I not noticed the overabundance of obnoxious orange decorating the abudwa. Orange flags, Holland soccer jerseys, and orange lights all reminded me I was not in England, but the Netherlands. Overcome by the ambiance I ordered an Ornjebloom, to later realize that this pub has the absolute best selection of Belgian trappist ales outside of Belgium. Live and learn.

Stop 4: The Walkabout (formerly the Limelight)
"Europes two great narcotics, religion and alocohol. I know which on I prefer" ~Mike Skinner, The Streets.
On the corner of Charing Cross and Shaftsbury, near Tottenham Court Road, lies a Chruch where people don't go to pray anymore, at least not in the traditional way. This old Church now houses The Walkabout pub. The sunlight pouring through stained glass, and covered by a huge domed ceiling made me want to genuflect to the overly friendly Aussie bartenders as they offered me Toohey's Australian beer for only £1.50, a steal for London town. I would not actually genuflect because the I'd be afraid my knee would get stuck to the floor much like the menu (which offers kangaroo burgers) was stuck to the table and stuck to it's self.

Stop 5: The Porcupine
Former home of David Hasslehoff Comedy Night, the Porcupine was the only traditional English pub on my tour. I was proud to demonstrate my Texas learned knowledge of Mexican beers as I sprayed a Carona all over myself trying to make the lemon drop to the bottom of the bottle. After leaving this traditional pub, it's worth noting that down the street was another pub, The Salsbury, right next to the Avenue Q entrance, that had the most ornate carved glass and mirrors that I've ever seen. But we couldn't stop there so onto . . .

Stop 6: O'Neils #2
Simon used to work at an O'Niels so they have a special place in his heart. This one is a half block from Covet Gardens and past some fancy restaurant called J. Shicks where a bloke stands outside in a top-hat and you have to book months in advance. Nothing notable at O'Niels, but my free copy of the free Metro newspaper told me that that the Sex and the City movie premier was tonight in London. I didn't think that London was "The City" that the show referred to, but what do I know. I hate that show. And I spent the next 30 minutes explaining to Simon's three female friends and a random stranger that I met at the bar why I hate that show.

Stop 7: The Porterhouse
I was surprised to find that I had already been to the Porterhouse once before. One night when I was looking for live music I stumbled across this gem. Actually just ok, it'd be better if it wasn't so popular. They have over hundreds of different types of bottled beer, and since Simon's Australian friend was coming we got Coopers Pale Ale, apparently popular in Austrailia. The excitement at this bar came when the Aussie arrived because Simon knowingly invited two friends of his that were former roommates but no longer speak to each other. Awkward turtle.

Stop 8: B@1
After the ice cycle filled greetings of the two former roommates, we stumbled to a cocktail bar called B@1's for the end of happy hour. This bar had a two for one special for an hour and apparently that meant we should all get two mango martinis. I started feeling bad about my rant against Sex and the City so I bought a round of Cosmopolitans as a peace offering. It was pointed out to me that three of the people I was drinking with had their pictures on the wall of this bar, and I began to wonder if I was outclassed. I decided all insecurities are null after a few white Russians and then the tour continued.

Stop 9: Belushi's
I know this pub had a stoplight inside it, but it wasn't a TGIFridays. Simon claims there were kebabs involved here. I beg to differ.

Stop 10: Harass the Sex and the City Premier
I know, I know, technically not a pub. Simon decided to take his beer on the road and use it as a microphone to interview the people coming out of the Sex and the City Premier. For some strange reason people seemed to like the movie, but they didn't look like the type of people I would like, and they were unable to iterate why. Maybe it was because Si was interviewing them with a half finished pint, or maybe because anyone who like that show lacks the ability to iterate anything. I don't know. But the police who took Simon's "microphone" away was pretty clear that we should go.

Stop 11: Back to O'Neils #1
Why? I don't know.

Stop 12: Rehab
So after this little excursion out in London I've decided it's best to go into personal rehab for a week. Try to make me go to rehab and I say, "Sure why not."

Wednesday, April 30, 2008


I wrote this on my birthday (4/30 - same as Willy Nelson and the day Hitler died) but didn't publish it because, well, it's dark as. But today I got a kick ass B-day package today from my American Chinese friends (thanks Kazanas/Miss B/wanderfulworlders/whatever other epithets you go by) which reminded me that I have been a poor blogger in my 26th year.

Today I am 26 years old. Time to plan my funeral.

Opening Hymn: SOS by ABBA
I think this would be a great song to open a funeral. I can just imagine everyone in unison singing, "When your gone, how can I even try to go on?"

Reading: Preferably something from the Bible or by Chuck Klosterman

Responsoral Psalm: Oh-La-La by the Faces
"I wish that I knew what I know now when I was younger."

2nd Reading: A Tony Hoagland poem, something like "What Narcissism Means to Me" or the Bible thing again.

Comunion Song: Don't Stop Believing by Journey
This song is perfect for every occasion involving me. Even if only in body. Plus everyone will sing along, and a few people will probably stand in the pews with uncontrolable Journey Rock Syndrome.

Closing Hymn: You Can't Always Get What You Want by the Rolling Stones
This definitely needs to be a live choir starting this out to remind us that we are in a Church. I also think this provides just the right ammount of irony and hope for a funeral.

Then, scatter my ashes in the woods. I've always liked the woods, and if where your ashes lay and where you haunt coincides, I'd like to haunt the woods. That'd be extra scary at night and extra pretty in the day.

And finally, I'd like David Schwimmer to be there but not allowed in. Hopefully he'd make a scene, and if I know him as well as I think I do, he definitely would. He would still be in the parking lot when everyone was leaving, and with hot, tear stained cheeks, endlessly singing the Friends theme song "I'll be there for you . . . etc." I'm not sure what I'll have to do in my future to make this happen, but I'm looking forward to finding out.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Mondag, a Good Day in Sweden

As a red, white, and blue blooded American I don't know much about other weirdo countries, like Sweden. My thoughts about Sweden involved Bjorn and Annika, two bikini models with blond hair and blue eyes, obviously - picking lingonberries, decorating a may pole, listening to ABBA, and then buying some disposable furniture at Ikea all the while trying to convince themselves that Ace of Base is about to make come back, and wondering why the model girls from other countries don't eat as many meatballs as they do. A familiar scene for any Yankee, I'm sure.

But last Monday (and by last I mean about a month ago) I celebrated Sweden day with my Swedish friend Emelie and found out that Sweden is much more than that. They also drink a pretty tasty pear cider.

On Monday, a rogue crew of immigrants and myself (also an immigrant) adorned the obnoxious royal blue and bright-ass yellow of the Swedish flag that made me feel like I was some kind of reject from a high school spirit parade, to celebrate Sweden Day. We traveled to Ikea - which is a ridiculous store, no explanation necessary if you've ever been there - ate 20 meatballs with lingonberry sauce, stopped by a Swedish pub (which is exactly like an English pub except for they serve more types of cider and have hockey on in the background), and then partook in Sweden's most sacred tradition of venerating ABBA by seeing the smash hit musical Mamma Mia.

My conclusion is that Sweden is awesome. Sure they're still holding on to that May Pole thing, and the kids don't go to school until they are 7-years-old but that's just because they are memorizing all the ABBA lyrics. And if you've seen Mamma Mia, you'll know that that is time well spent.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

If it Were 5 Degrees Warmer, There Still Would Be No Ice.

Dear reader,

Forgive my absence; I've been on vacation with my parents for the last 12 days. And amongst other things, this trip made me question what is the appropriate amount of time for a 25-year-old man to spend with his parents. Over/Under 12 day? You be the judge, let me take you though my week.

Saturday: My parents arrive in St. Albans
They seem happy, but are extremely jet lagged. They stay above a 600 year old pub, and seem to enjoy their hotel room as a novelty. The lack of seating and general "cozy" seems to amuse them at this point. When they later realize that all of the UK is more compact than the US, it becomes less amusing. This was the first day we muttered the mantra, "I wish it was 5 degrees warmer."

Sunday-Tuesday: Bath
Bath is a quaint town with Georgian architecture and is famous for the rumored healing powers of the hot springs that rise from the grounds. In my family, however, it's famous for it's lack of ice. The scarcity of ice in Europe is nothing that is kept hidden, and in a sly way Europeans are proud that they stomach their drinks at room temp. But my parents are not European, and over the last 12 days I spent more time thinking about ice, the melting time of ice, locations of ice, the transport of ice, storage of ice, and of course debate on how how the ice that we have should be used (the answer was usually whiskey and sometimes beer).

We stayed in a beautiful Georgian bed and breakfast although when we left my parents kept insisting that they didn't like B&B's, and I'm not exactly sure why. The best explanation I got had something to do with wanting the owners to give them wine and cheese. I always thought the food contract in a B&B was outlined fairly clearly by the second B but maybe not. Anyway, we stayed just off the "Royal Crescent" where tourists flocked to admire the famous limestone architecture. I'm sure people admired our room because it had the beer cans cooling on the historic window sill - "I wish it was 5 degrees warmer."

We caught all the Bath highlights including the ancient Roman bath house, two nights at a basement bar: (1) for stand up comedy and (2) where I somehow ended up on stage, the modern bath spa complete with 4 different scented steam rooms that look like Star Trek Stacies Fields and a rooftop pool fueled with natural hot spring water, and of course the coffee shop in the station that caused my mom to miss the train.

Tuesday-Friday: London Town
To prove to these Londoners that we were actually American, we went to see play called Jersey Boys about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. It kicked ass. And amidst the West End show, double decker bus tour, Princess Diana memorial, fish and chips, parliament, etc. I should have probably explained that London is actually an actual city where a few million people live and work, and not a branch of Club Med. I know that on vacation it's good to take your time, but my parents wanted to casually stroll the streets with a drink in hand. That's fine but it's the equivalent of driving down an interstate at 30mph - with a drink in hand. And it would have been nice if "it was 5 degrees warmer."

Friday-Monday: Ireland
I feel as if I've gone on for long enough, so here's the low down on Ireland: (1)They don't have ice either. (2)They do have plenty of cliffs which is great for me but not good for my father who is deathly afraid of heights. (3)They don't post very many road signs to tell you how far away you are from where you are going. I don't know why this is, stop asking. (4)Castles rock. (5)My parents are very interested in hotels that they saw on the internet, but are not staying in. (6)We wished it was 5 degrees warmer.

I love my parents, but thank God for brothers and sisters who make family get togethers a little less . . . potent.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Who you gonna call?

So I spent the lion's share of last week at a St. John's Ambulance first aid course, and I am now officially a first aider. After being trained on how to handle a plethora of injuries, I am possibly less helpful in a trauma situation than I would have been before. I now know what I am not supposed to do, and knowing what I can't do legally means that I probably won't help you, but I will call 999 so someone can (or 911 as I kept insisting in class).

The class was fun, and I'm grateful to know the official recovery position because it doubles as a comfortable position for TV watching, and I got to learn how to use a defibrillator which is pretty cool. I am less grateful to have learned that the face of "Annie" the resuscitation doll is actually molded off of a French girl who was found dead in a river.

I hope my British Red Cross certification translates to the US, but I'm guessing that it does not based on step six of the six steps to handling an emergency situation:

1. Assess the situation
2. Make the situation safe
3. Give emergency aid as needed
4. Get help
5. Report the injury and tidy any mess
6. - and I'm not joking - Have a cup of tea

This whole experience has made me realize that I like playing doctor and pretending to save lives, so I'm contemplating a career switch. I don't think I want to put forth the effort of becoming an actual doctor or surgeon, but I would like to wear scrubs all day, order a "ten blade" and say things like "We're going to have to open him up." So the career for me is Doctor Actor. If you have any open positions please let me know.

Clear . . .

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Awareness Test

A little lame to talk about British TV twice in a row, but this may be the best advertisement I've ever seen.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Passion

The BBC has put together a 4 part mini-series on The Passion of Christ. I've watched the first three and they are very, very well done. All 4 episodes are available online (the fourth not until Easter Sunday) and the whole series lasts about 3 hours. It's definitely worth your time this Easter.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Here and Now - How I came to live in the Time Square of England.

Being in England I like to do things that I otherwise couldn't do in the states. For example, today I went into Borders bookshop for some Starbucks coffee.

On my way though Borders, I was distracted by a new version of the classic board game Monopoly. It was called the Monopoly "Here and Now" edition and the entire game is updated. You can no longer buy any cheep purple property for $60, but £600,000. There is no top hat or iron, but a cell phone (mobile) and a laptop computer, and the train stations have been updated for the more popular and important airports.

The most interesting aspect of the Here and Now edition is that all the properties have been renamed using an online democratic system. Apparently over 1,000,000 votes were cast in the UK to determine what cities and landmarks a person would need to hold a true Monopoly on the UK. I would have assumed that London, being the capital of England, the capital of the entire United Kingdom of Great Britain, and the largest city by about 9,000,000 people would take the top square. But it did not. So then maybe the new Boardwalk would be a land mark like Stone Henge, Tower Bridge, Big Ben, one of the Museums, or even the confusing tourist attraction that is the London Eye. But no. They did not. After millions of votes were counted, the top square and pinnacle to a monopoly in the UK is the town of St. Albans.

Where? St. Albans. Formerly Veraluamium, and the small town where I live. This makes me think that I've been over looking my town. I mean, we have a Nandos and everything, but in about a day you can see all there is to see in St. Albans. It is a nice town, a really nice town, but more important than London? or Glasgow? or Edinburgh? or Leeds? Birmingham? Nottingham? Bath? Bristol? Cardiff? Dover? Manchester? For God's sake, even Liverpool had the Beatles!

But the people have spoken, and St. Albans is #1! People in the US chose Time Square as the new top, so I guess I live in the Time Square of England (although most people would consider that to be Piccadilly Circus).

This makes me wonder how skewed the new edition is from the old favourite. I wonder if Monopoly Here and Now still makes it possible for your big sister to cheat you as the banker, or for the game to carry on for hours beyond when anyone is still interested, and my personal favourite - the hidden ability Monopoly has to ruin friendships.

If it is Scottish . . . it's crrrap, too!!!

Being in England I like to do things that I otherwise couldn't do in the states. For example, today I was up north in Manchester, and I came across a drink that I'd never seen before. It was called IRN-BRU. IRN-BRU is a 100-year-old Scottish "fizzy drink" (soda or pop depending on your region of the US) which tastes like Red Bull if Red Bull was brewed in hell and poured through a bull dogs arse before canning. IRN-BRU contains 38% of your daily sugar intake in only 330ml, but don't let that fool you - it tastes far sweeter than that. After two sips of IRN-BRU I had a massive sugar headache, and after the can I was in some type of Scottish sugar zombie state.
I finished the can because, well, I'm American. And as an American I have a duty to eat or drink anything and everything in front of me to live up to our obese stereotype. Needless to say, I won't be drinking IRN-BRU again . . . at least not without vodka.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Save Ferris

I just watched Ferris Bueller's Day Off for the first time in many, many years, and I realized a few things. Ten things to be exact:

1. Ferris planned an excellent day out in Chicago.
I'm not sure if you could actually live Ferris's day off, but I'd like to think so. Assuming you had a Ferrari to get around in and a fiver to tip every door man, I think I could make it happen.

2. I waste most of my days off.
'nuf said.

3. Everyone thinks that they could be Ferris Bueller . . .
And to a lesser extent everyone thinks that they are Ferris Bueller regardless of the fact that they've never sang Twist and Shout in a parade celebrating German heritage in Chicago.

4. I am actually closer to Cameron as a character than I am a Ferris Bueller.
And if I'm honest with myself, I'm probably closer to Rooney than anyone else.

5. Nobody puts baby in the corner.
This was Jennifer Grey's first big movie, and I'm not sure how it made her a star. On second thought, I'm not sure many people who are not me still consider Jennifer Grey a star, but most people don't take Dirty Dancing as seriously as I do.

6. Cameron looks just like my friend Eric's younger brother Kevman (who also looks a little bit like Dave Collier when in a Red Wings Jersey).

7. If Ferris Bueller was real and he skipped a day of school, he probably would have spent more time making out with his girlfriend.
I work with high schoolers. This is how it goes.

8. There are not enough movies and TV shows where the main character speaks directly to the camera/audience.
Zach Morris and Ferris Bueller are the first two that pop into my head, and while publicly everyone says something like, "Talking into the camera is a cheep way to move the plot along and cover up for poor acting." Internally everyone thinks, "I like that."

9. Mathew Broderick's sarcophagus should be enshrined in the Smithsonian.
I know he's not dead yet - actually, I'm just assuming he's not dead yet - but he is Ferris Bueller. I mean come on! That should be enough . . . Election wasn't bad either.

10. "Ferris Bueller, you're my hero."
Leopard print just doesn't look as good on anyone else. And apparently Nike has made a shoe called the Ferris Bueller. If anyone wants to know what to get me for my birthday, I wouldn't hate these.