Thursday, July 3, 2008


I do not know what this young woman, who was lashed to the boards, did to upset my mother (who just so happens to be the dictator of a small country) so badly, but my mom handed me the riding crop and with a face contorted in wrath, she screamed at me, "BEND HER OVER!"

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

what does it mean?

Lizzy and I went for a run last night down by the Back Bay. We stopped and rested at a little wooden fence looking out at the marshlands and chatted. The view stretching out before us was beautiful. The sunlight glistening on the water and wildlife frolicking on the sand truly spoke to the magnificence of all of God's creations. As we talked I had this incredible urge to kiss her, but knew that I should not for some reason. I fought it the entire time and was proud of myself for not doing it, even though I had no idea why.

As we turn to leave that spectacular place, not more than fifteen feet from me, out of clear blue skies, a violence bolt of lightening strikes the ground. It was brilliant and bright! I felt the heat from this dazzling display of nature as it singed my hair. The sound was deafening and I could not believe what had just happened. No more than twenty seconds later, another bolt struck a little further off. For some reason I was not afraid, but stood as a storm of lightening struck repeatedly all around us. I was in complete awe and basked in the beauty of it all. I was really enjoying myself and smiled at this aweso experience. Truly something to behold, but why was it happening all around me?

street performers and construction in croatia

Kim and I spent what seemed like hours today looking for our hostel. We were wandering the streets of old town and could not seem to figure out where the place that we had reservations was (little did we know, it was actually outside of the walls of the city up the hill.) As we were wandering the streets, we came upon some street performers and among them was none other than Tyler Waldron. He was doing some incredibly lame magic tricks using playing cards and making no money whatsoever. As we walked by, he started begging us for a donation, but there was no way that I was going to pay for such a poor assortment of tricks.

I decided to take it upon myself to teach him a cool trick that he could use, so I asked for a card from his deck. I took it a flicked it sending it spinning it the air, only to have it turn and arc back to me like a boomerang, whereupon I threw it again to have it turn a little circle and come back. I explained that it was all in the wrist and the flick, and that he should use this trick to make money. I then showed him the advanced trick that I could do, making the card fly a figure 8 around us. Tyler tried, but every time he threw the card it would just sail away and hit some onlooker. After showing him repeatedly and he still could not get it, I told him to quit his day job and find something new.

Kim and I continued on our way and searched some more. No one spoke any English, so our search was that much harder. We managed to run into my home students who lived in Croatia and they offered to let us build our own dwelling because that would be easier, right? They had an empty lot next to their house, so we grabbed some wood and started building. There was a hardware store on that street, so I went looking for parts to a broken sander that I had, got it all fixed up, and came back to continue the building. Everything was going so smoothly and it seemed like we finished our four story house in record time. We forgot to add stairs, so every floor had a ladder and each floor was successively shorter than the one below it. It must have been because we got lazier and lazier as we built it up higher. I climbed the ladder to the fourth floor and realized the the door was too small to fit through. So much for my penthouse room with a view. I guess I'll just settle for the third floor.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Just wanted to relay a very awkward situation that I was in recently. I was guarding at the porch in Newport (21st street for those of you who do not know.) I had a note that I had written to Stephanie Leupold, the President of my company's wife, explaining my feelings about Guy Dickson. I had them in the pocket of some shorts I was holding while wading out in the water and I heard her call to me, so I decided to throw the shorts to her and let her get the note out. The shorts landed on the ground right by her, but some other man picked up the shorts. When I looked, I saw that it was Guy and he was dancing around not giving up the shorts. He pulled the note out and read it, then handed it to her looking dejected. I had gotten out of the water and was sitting at my "tower" again, when he came over to ask me if I wanted some ice cream and if he could have a hug. Can you say "awkward?"

adventures in croatia

For those of you who have never hot-air ballooned before, I highly recommend it. My best friend Jason took me on a hot-air balloon trip to Croatia and the views were spectacular. As we floated effortlessly over the national parks and lakes, we could see the sea in the distance. Upon seeing a busy little stretch of coast, we decided to land and check out the scene. I think Jason is much better at flying the hot-air balloon than landing it because we over shot our target and ran into a fence when landing. When we landed our balloon, we had to check into the country at the local government building that was no more than the back of a trailer. They told us that we had to catch a boat to the only island that had the authority to issue visa's, so out we header. We decided to swim to the island because it would be that much more adventurous and began the swim (it was only a couple miles anyway.) Halfway through the swim the boat drove by and we hitched a ride because we had already had our fill. Down the channel we speed, turning between tiny islands with the wind on our bare scalps, racing the other boats for fun, until we saw the island that we were headed to. There was a ramp in the water right before the island that water-skiers used to launch off of and we were headed right toward it!

We hit the jump at full speed and flew into the air. We had at least four seconds of hang-time and landed back in the water with a thud. I turned to give Jason a high-five, but he had gotten tossed out of the boat and the boat was not slowing. It pulled up to the island and I got off to get my visa, figuring that Jason would just swim in. There were all sorts of colorful characters there. There were African tribes people, a whole herd of elementary school kids, the circus act with all of their animals, and random people dressed up in Mardi Gras and Halloween attire. It was quite a scene. Deciding that this would be better to experience with Jason, I went to sit under the shade of a tree while waiting for him to swim in. The beaches and the water were lovely that day and I cannot wait to go back. I will probably make my way back there some day. Who knows, maybe I will go next week!


Yesterday I was surfing with Ber. We sat there as stared at the ocean as a 15 minute lull passed us by without a single wave. I turned and saw a lifeguard trunk parked at the 36th street tower, so I paddled in to say hello. I said hello and then we just stood there looking at Lake Newport.

I never said that my life wasn't boring at times.

back in the day of cdm polo

For those of you who played water polo, do you remember those 5.30am workouts? Pulling into the high school parking lot when it was still dark out. Seeing SAABs with "Fly Girls" stickers on them. Watching me pull up on my motorcycle with sidecar, oh so coolly? Going into the team room in our speedos and huddling on the floor to keep warm, while breathing in the mildewed, chlorinated carpet, just waiting for Vargas to come in and yell at us?

I remember it like it was this morning.

yellow tar ... is that contagious?

Driving in torrential downpour has never been my favorite. I just do not feel comfortable driving as fast as I see some when it is coming down really hard. The last time it rained that hard, I was driving away from work on MacArthur past the Bluffs. I was watching the rain dump on my windshield and saw it dancing with my wipers. Seeing the lights through the rain was very beautiful, but very dangerous. There was a motorcycle beside me and I thought that this guy must be crazy riding in the rain.

As we pulled onto the 73 on-ramp the water pooled and got very deep all of a sudden. The motorcyclist had pulled in front of me and laid down his bike right in front of me. I did not have room to swerve or time to react and I drove right over him! Luckily, his bike went to the side, so it did not scratch my Mini. I stopped and got out of the car right when another car crashed in front of me. There were hoards of people climbing up the bridge to see the accident in front of me, so I ran over to see what was happening there. A doctor had pulled the man out of his car and recoiled in horror shouting, "Get back! Get back! This man has a deadly strain of the Yellow Tar!" Now, I have no idea what that is, but I definitely do not want it.

landon outside work

I just found out that Landon has magical super powers! I called his house line in Utah from my office to chat yesterday, so I knew that he was in Utah. I was bummed that yet again he was down here and we did not get to go surfing or hang out this past weekend. Literally two minutes after we hung up, I walked downstairs to the street and as I walked past the driveway to my parking lot, I see Landon kicking it in his car. So, there is the proof. He can either fly REALLY fast or he has the power to teleport. Which one is it? I would really like to know and how can I get some of those powers? Seriously.

mirror fight with ashton kutcher over katie holms

I must have had a rough night last night, because it is all seeming very hazy and I am having trouble remembering exactly what happened. All I know is that I was eating at a Mexican restaurant with my mom enjoying dinner. The mariachi band was playing and we had the most delicious fajitas. We were just eating and talking, laughing and generally having a good time. The horchata tasted a little funny and when I got to the bottom of my drink there was a little raffle ticket saying that I had won a free dinner that night! This was great, as free food is almost always better than food that you pay for, but like they say, "there is no such thing as a free lunch."

We left the restaurant and I started feeling really sick. I think that whatever the raffle ticket was made of had dissolved into my drink and was making me a little delirious. I walked into some building and saw Katie Holmes sitting there and in my delirious state, went up to hit on her. I was making some great progress and had her eating out of the palm of my hands, laughing at all my jokes, when Ashton Kutcher came over and told me that was his girl. I told him to back off and he did not like that at all. He pushed me, so I pushed him back and he slammed against a mirror, shattering it to the floor. We both picked up shards of mirror and started slashing at each other. How barbaric! All this over stupid Katie Holmes. We slashed and punched, kicked and bit. This went on for so long that we were both exhausted, bloodied, sweaty, and breathing heavy. I still was not feeling up to par and was lucky to have held him off, even getting so good jabs of my mirror into his side. As we paused, we talked and decided that she was not worth it, so we shook hands and went home. I am not sure if I am still sick or if it is the stab wound, but I me stomach still hurts.

crystal orb

My friend Tyson and I were walking by a construction site when we saw some very shady characters discussing two crystal orbs that they were holding with shifty eyes. We decided that they must have stolen them, because what would construction workers be doing with ancient-looking crystal orbs that definitely have magical powers, anyway? So, we sneaked into the site and lifted those two orbs, high-tailing it out of there. One of the construction workers saw us on our way out and gave chase. I remember running so hard, but it did not seem like I was getting anywhere. I pushed it a little harder and broke away just enough as I turned down the street, losing both him and Tyson.

I was now in a neighborhood that looked really nice and had driveways that went up to each of the houses, but the next street was a long way up. I had a feeling that the construction worker would get in his car to catch us, so I ducked into one of the driveways to hide. I saw Tyson running up, so I called out to him to come hide with me. Not more than 10 seconds later, the worker drove by, pulled into a driveway down the street, turned around, and drove back. As he passed us for the second time, I felt relieved and for the first time, took a good look at my orb. It was elliptical and had little crosses etched on the inside. It really was a thing of beauty. A little cloudy, but it somehow reflected so much light that it seemed to glow.

We were getting ready to get up and run again, when the construction worker drives back up the street towards us in a van this time. He drops two people off at every driveway (don't ask me how he got all those people in that van), who would start looking for us. The van pulls into our driveway and when the sliding door opened, two girls jumped out and grabbed us. I was struggling and about to get away, when through the opened sliding door, I see Mikey sitting there. He was part of the search party and just knowing that he was one of them, the "bad guys," just broke my spirits. I gave up and let them take me. Mikey, your treachery has broken my heart.

back in high school

I always thought that it would be really cool to change high schools halfway through. New friends, new experiences, and a new image would be very exciting to create. I found myself experiencing just this when I transfered to Newport Harbor my Senior year. That first day at school I wandered the halls looking for my first period class, not realizing that they had a "home room." I eventually figured it out and found the Kim and Ber were in my home room, which was so choice! I walk up to them and sit down, happy to be among friends, when I hear Kim relating a story to Ber. She finishes by dropping an F-bomb and both Ber and I look at each other surprised, chuckling nervously. We were saved by the bell and just dropped it, leaving without a comment.

We went out into the parking lot by my car and I changed for swimming. I put on a black sheer Euro-thong because I thought it would make me swim faster. Berley walked by and stopped when she saw my new speedo, commenting that if I wanted to start out my year at a new school on a good note, I had better get changed out of this banana hammock. I think she is very wise.

foray into architectural art

I hate being late for class. I hate being late for anything. I always try to show up places early, but this particular day I just could not make it on time. I had an architectural art class that was located in the back "shop" area of an architectural firm. Usually, we walk through the front reception area to the back shop. I like to talk to the cute receptionists, but today there was just no time to do that. I went around the side of the building, to enter the back door, past all the heavy machinery and joined the group in looking at something our instructor was demonstrating. I took my place right next to Charity.

The instructor directed our attention to the ground, where he had a tiled layout. The tiles were all semi-wishbone shaped, but a little fatter. Then he showed us some mathematical formulas, with the tiles sketched out. There were fulcrums and degrees, with lengths and measurements. Then, as we watched the tiles, half began to rotate in unison, then they would stop and the other half would rotate. I could not understand how they all spun together because at no point in their rotation, was there any empty space between tiles. All the students were in awe and the instructor just stood there smiling. Charity, always having to be the smart one, started explaining how this was possible because of the alternating rotations and specific degrees, throwing in some Calculus jargon. I called her out on some of it that could not be true, citing the Pythagorean theorem. She countered by reciting pi to the 38th decimal and I shot back with Bayes theorem. Charity hit me with Markovitz, so I got her back with McCallum. The class and the instructor stood in complete wonderment at our sheer genius when we concluded that the debate had ended in a stalemate and that we were both right. We were much to smart for this class, so we left to start our own architectural art firm, but first went to discuss the details over some caramels.

swimming at the ool

Growing up with Brooke and Landon was a blast. I still remember bending hangers and using them to try to catch rabbits by their house. I had a blast from the past the other day, as I went and visited Landon at his house for a pool party. I walked in through the garage and every room in the house was exactly as I remembered. Even the pictures on the walls had not changed. It was nostalgic and comforting to be back in an old friends house. I walked up the steps to the pool and saw the party in full swing. There was a DJ and people running all over the place. It was really nice to hang out with Landon again because I hardly ever see him anymore. We reminisced about the last pool party when I cracked my head open on his water slide. Good times!

After all the catch up, I really had to pee. I stood at the edge of the pool and dropped my board shorts to pee. Only after did I notice the sign that said, "Welcome to our ool ... notice that there is no 'P' in it. Let's keep it that way!" Jessica came up to me to cover me up with a towel and gave me a big hug. Apparently, she did not think it was appropriate to be exposed in public, as I was, but then again, I do not think that she was wearing anything under her towel either. As the party wrapped up, we all went to Landon's pool house for "tree of life" showers. Ah, the misty, water-color memories.

where is ... the baby?

Time seriously flies. I cannot believe that all in the past year my good friend Sadie divorced, we dated, got married, AND had a baby. We have always been very close and even dated before our respective marriages. When she went through her divorce, I was there to console her and help her through it. I guess the spark was reignited because things happened very fast after that.

After work one day last week, I went to my parents house because Sadie was hanging out with my mom doing some art project. I walked in and said hello, kissing my wife, but noticed that our baby was not there. Inquiring, I asked, "Where is ... the baby?" For the life of me, I could not recall my child's name. I was searching and searching. I thought that I must be a terrible father if I cannot even remember my own child's name, but no matter how hard I tried, I could not come up with it. Oh, the look that Sadie gave me when I called it "the baby!"

I decided that I would rather go play with my friends instead of hanging around getting "the eye," so I drove down to see my friends at some random park. I noticed that there were a couple of yellow cars down the street and remembered this for later when we would leave, so that I could beat everybody at "Yellow car, I win" (the best game ever.) We all chatted for a while and when it was time to leave, the only person that jumped in my car was Galina. I drove away with her, called the yellow cars, and subsequently realized that the Russian did not play the greatest of all games, so I turned around a dropped her back off at the park. My friends all decided that they wanted to skate over to the Dover church building to play some basketball. President Slater was there leading the pack and I honestly just wanted to see him skate. I started bombing the hill by the park, picking up a lot of speed, when I realized that I did not have my sliding gloves on and I was fast approaching a four-way stop. The light turned red, so I went down and slid on my bare hands. When I stood, I was unscathed. Good thing too, because I am sure that I would have gotten an earful had I come home all cut up, still forgetting my baby's name.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


In case you do not already know, I have been studying for my CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) exam for the past six months. Basically, I get to the office at 8 in the morning, work until 5.30 in the evening, and then I bust out the books until 12.30 in the morning. Then I get to go home, sleep very briefly, and come back in to work to repeat it all over again.

Last night was no different. There I was studying in my office and JOLT! I totally twitched, waking myself up. I was still in my office when I woke up and I was still studying. It was then that I realized I was dreaming that I was studying in my office, when I actually was. How incredibly bizarre, I was thinking, until POOF! I woke up again, still in my office studying. No, no, no, no, no. This cannot possibly be. Was I just dreaming that I fell asleep while studying, only to have a dream about myself studying, then waking up to realize that it was a dream and not even know that I was still, in fact, dreaming; only to awake one more time, snapping back to reality, and discover that I was dreaming that I was dreaming? Man, this is really making my head hurt! TWITCH! OK, I know that you and I are both confused as it is and I know that I should not be adding another, but please keep in mind that this is not my intention. I cannot help it if my dream was recursed three layers deep, but that was indeed what happened. I was dreaming that I was dreaming that I was dreaming.

I need more sleep and need to study more. Too bad those two are mutually exclusive activities.

did you read my first post?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

i want my mexican baby back

Gas prices are ridiculously high right now. I cannot believe it; when I went to fill up my tank two weeks ago, it cost me over $4 / gallon! What is even worse is that someday I will be rereading this post and say to myself, "Wow! Only $4 / gallon; I wish that gas was that cheap now." All I can do now is to fill up at the cheapest station that I can find in order to save myself a quarter each time I fill up. That is exactly what my mom and I were trying to do yesterday as we wasted gas, driving around, looking for the cheapest station. We were in Costa Mesa and she promised me that there was a station by Fashion Island that was selling Premium for 30 cents. I told her that there was no possible way that a gas station would be selling gas for that cheap, but she would not have it. She basically forced me to drive around the bay to this gas station despite all protests on my part. I thought it ridiculous to drive that far for gas, especially when I knew it was not any cheaper over there, not to mention I would probably run out before we got there.

So, my mom and I drive around the bay and find this mystery gas station that she has been talking about and we are about a mile away when my car runs out of gas. So close that we could see the station up ahead, but I did not have enough momentum to roll up the hill to it. We walked the rest of the way to the station and when we got to it, low and behold, gas was over $4 just like everywhere else. There was a bus station next to the gas station, so we decided to ride the bus home and just leave the car. This way we would save money on gas. What a great plan.

There we were, riding the bus, which was crowded and stinky, just like every other bus that I have ever ridden (I have only ridden buses in Thailand.) As the bus attendant came around to collect the fair, he started spouting off, "Oh F*! I'm so freakin' sorry. We have to reroute through the transportation hub in Westminster and we just had a terrorist threat there, so you're looking at a freakin' four hour layover!" He continued, dropping expletives, so I turned to look out the window and tune him out.

We were driving down MacArthur passing Bonita Creek and as I was looking out the window, I noticed that we were driving up next to a convertible Mini Clubman and there was a rather large monkey tied up in the back seat. I thought this had to be the strangest sight that I have seen in Newport, until we pulled up a little bit further and I saw an entire family of four monkeys in the front seat. The papa monkey just looked at me and smiled and as the mama monkey on the far side turned toward me, I saw a human baby in her arms. Apparently, the other cars noticed this as well, because all the cars around us started to drive as close to the Mini as possible in order to take pictures. Everyone seemed to have a professional camera with great big, long zoom lenses.

The rest of the bus ride was uneventful, but when we got to the Westminster bus station I met up with two friends and started chatting. We did not want to wait for four more hours to get home, so one of them decided that he would just transport us home like Mike TV in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The next thing I knew, I felt myself hurling through the air, but could not see anything. I found myself in a huge room standing by the ankle of a sleeping giant. I was lucky that I was transported and reassembled in an open space. My other two friends, however, were not as lucky. They were now stuck inside the ankle of this slumbering giant and were yelling for help. I think the banging of my friends caused such intense pain that they woke this giant up. She started moaning and clutching her ankle, crying out with pain. The more she moved, the more my friends yelled and pounded from within her skin and it was not getting any better.

did you read my first post?

I just wanted to get out of there, so I ran out the door and found that I was next door to my own apartment. I walked in the front door to find that someone had been in there. My things had been overturned and for some reason someone had erected a Christmas tree, complete with lights and ornaments, in my backyard. I walked through my room and into my bathroom, where wooden cutting boards had been screwed into the counter tops, hanging over the edge. The water was running and there were bubbles in the bathtub. One of the boards supported a little TV set, which was turned on. I stood there long enough to watch a preview of a new movie coming out starring Rob Schneider. I was so discombobulated that I don't remember the preview, except for the end. I heard the narrator with the extremely deep voice say, "... starring Rob Schneider in ...," as Rob comes running around the corner and up to the front door of an apartment building in the slums of Queens and says, "I want my Mexican baby back!"

Thursday, May 15, 2008

why did you eat my dad?!?

The best decision that I made when I was in college, other than the obvious: changing my major to Information & Computer Science and deciding to actually learn during my last year, had to be the decision to become an RA. Being a resident adviser in the dorms was honestly the most chill job ever. Who can argue with free rent, my own room, own living room, own bathroom, and money for food every month? All I had to do was use the dorms money to throw a party once a month, making sure to invite a speaker of some sort. This is why it did not surprise me at all when I found out that my dad took a job as an RA at BYU-Hawaii. I did not know that they let people other than current students become resident advisers, but he got the job, so that is pretty sweet. However, another thing that I found odd was that they did not give my dad a room in the dorm because the old RA was living there and she refused to leave. My dad had to commute to the school every day and if he had to stay the night, he was made to sleep in the living room on the couch. How could he be a "resident" adviser when he was not even a resident? Maybe be was just there to advise the residents, not as an adviser who is a resident. Confused yet?

Either way, I went to visit him one day on my lunch break (yes, I have very long lunch breaks.) I walked into the dorm, but could not find my dad. I assumed that he was out planning a party or something, so I decided to wait in the old RA's room. She must have been some sort of Emo hippie because the bedsheets were tie-dyed and there were Weezer and My Chemical Romance posters on the wall. The room was a disheveled mess with clothes strewn about. I was getting tired of waiting and did not want the old RA to come back to find some stranger in her room, even though that room should have been my dad's, so I walked out and around the dorm to ask the residents if they had seen my dad.

I found that the entire dorm only had two rooms, but no one there had seen my dad, despite how small the place was. They began telling me a story about a dwarf that haunted this dorm and I laughed at them because I could not believe such ridiculousness. I left and went back to the living room to wait. I had not been there for more than a few minutes when a midget (not a dwarf because he was normally proportioned) came hopping into the room wearing a pair of bunny ears. Upon closer inspection, I discovered tufts of hair and little bits of my dad in his drool! I picked the "little person" up and shook him, yelling, "Why did you eat my DAD?!?"

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

three jobs keeping me busy

Back when I first started working in a real, grown-up job, I was also offered a job to coach University High School's girls water polo team. I would absolutely love to coach water polo, but found that it was very difficult to work out my schedule to allow me to do so. However, I decided that I would do it anyway without telling Green Street. This worked well for a while and I thought that if I can fit in one additional job, in the morning before work, I could fit two just as easily. So, I got a job cleaning the house of some very wealthy person living in Newport Coast. Sure, I was tired, but being busy is something that I love.

One morning, the water polo team that i coached had a game against some other high school and we were favored to win by a large margin. As the game progressed my girls forgot all the fundamentals and were just getting run over by the other team. I was getting so upset that they were doing so poorly that I started kicking chairs and yelling at the girls. Never in my semi-professional career had I ever seen anyone play so poorly. They were definitely swimming a mile butterfly after this game. After a disappointing performance and a terrible loss, the stands cleared out and I paced the pool deck while my girls swam. Every puddle that I stepped in, splashing up on my khakis made me even more upset with them. However, the softer side of me began to appeal and I started to feel sorry for my team and stopped their swim. I asked them to think about what had gone wrong and what we could do to play better next time. Everyone left that morning with a better feeling than we had previously and we all knew the action that needed to be taken.

I left the pool deck and headed over to my second secret housing-cleaning job. There was a sauna on the side of the house that I would use as my entrance. I would climb on the roof and enter the sauna; then from there, walk inside the house. I found the rich housewife drinking wine for breakfast and got to work. As I was cleaning the upstairs, people kept coming in and out of the house, tracking dirt around. I had to re-clean everything and when I finally got it all done, I was late for work. Not only was I late, but I also couldn't find my shoes. I remember taking them off when cleaning the upstairs bathroom, but no matter how I searched I just could not find them. After searching frantically, guess who was gnawing on my shoes, but the stupid, mangy dog. I left and showed up at Green Street late with Kao greeting me, saying, "Umm, where have you been and where are your shoes?" I guess I can't get away with secretly holding three jobs.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

intern at hatch

I am always so intrigued by Berley's work. She gets to design restaurants as her job and I never realized how much thought went into all the details. It is really very interesting to hear her talk about her work and I can tell that she really enjoys what she does. Now, I know that I have no artistic or creative ability in this area; even though you may think I should, given that my dad is an architect and my mom is the artsiest, craftiest person that I know. Regardless, I was very excited when Hatch, Kim's work, took me on as an intern. Despite the fact that I was just their little monkey-boy, who ran errands and acted like their little slave, I got to soak in all the creative juices that were flowing and learn more about the interior design world.

My first day there, they were in the middle of their own remodel. The office was gutted and there were make-shift cubicles around the perimeter. Mine was right next to the front door, so I got to see everyone coming and going. In the middle of the office there was a smoothie bar that sold delicious, fresh-fruit smoothies for $10, but curiously they only had guava and durian. Don't ask me why I tried the durian smoothie, because I basically think that it tastes more like meat than fruit, but I did and definitely did not enjoy it. As I was gagging down my smoothie, Kim brought an art piece over for me to look at. It was for an installation in one of the restaurants that she was working on. The piece was a glove that was hand painted and mounted on a stand, but the odd part about it was that each individual fiber was painted a different color and there were frayed threads all over it. As I leaned closer, I realized that a tug of one of the threads changed the color and overall look of the whole piece. It was enthralling and mesmerizing. I stared and played with this glove for a good ten minutes, getting sucked into to and played in the psychedelic world that it created around me. I was slapped back to reality when Kim, snatched the glove from me and told me to get to work.

After my shift had ended, I walked to a house in the Port streets. There was an outdoor shower with glass walls around it, so I proceeded to undress and take a shower. I saw people walking down the street as I showered, but it did not seem to phase them or me. Rich came running down the street full speed and then slid on his okole on the asphalt like some cartoon character. He would skip/jump off the curb that each driveway created (there were nine total, I counted) and when he got to the end of the block, he would jump up and flick the birds the were perched on the street sign, off the sign. Then he would run back up the street and come sliding down, doing it all over again. I saw CD Clayton come out of the fourth house down and watch Rich as well. He shrugged his shoulders and went back inside. I followed his cue and did the same, leaving Rich to his own merriment.

smorgishborg of sport and secret agents

It is always nice to visit your Alma Mater. Walking down those halls that you spent four years studying and stressing, remind you of everything that you have accomplished and how far you have come. As for me, returning to my university has always brought back memories of the wonderful friends and the experiences shared there. My last visit to the University of California, Irvine I did not expect to see anyone that I knew, but as I was walking down the zigzag hallways beneath the old student center, I crossed paths with Michael Knox. He was sitting on a bench with two of our old girlfriends and I contemplated stopping, but the crowd was so thick that it kept pushing me along. Finally, I broke free from the mob and felt bad for not saying hello, so I fought the crowd like a Salmon swimming upstream back to the bench where they were seated. We reminisced back to our freshman year and talked about what we were doing now. As it turns out, Mike was now a professional umpire for the major leagues and made bank. He said that it sort of fell into his lap and he was loving it. There was a game that night and he mentioned that he could get me in the dugout, so I jumped at the chance. Who wouldn’t want to watch a major league game from the dugout?

The game that night was great and it was really interesting seeing a friend be the umpire. However, in the last inning Mike was injured and had to stop. There was only one out left in the game and they didn’t know what to do. Mike suggested that I ump for the final out even though I had no idea what to do. Everyone loved the idea, so I got my gear on and went out there. I took my place behind home plate, but the game did not continue as normal. There was a new rule that I had never heard about. The pitcher was allowed one chance to lob the ball, softball style, and if he hit the plate, the game would be over and that team would win. The pitcher lobbed the ball up and it hit the plate, so I said, “Strike!” This, apparently, was the wrong thing to say because everyone looked at me and said that I did it wrong. I was supposed to put my finger in the air and twirl it (like you do when you say “Whoop-Dee-Doo!”) So, I did that and the pitcher got very upset with me. He said that I was making fun of the game because I did not twirl my finger correctly and then the whole team started yelling at me. They started acting like a mob, getting all riled up, and then started to chase me! I fled the stadium and down the street. I think that it was pure adrenaline that allowed me to outrun these professional athletes, but I finally lost them as I ducked into the gymnasium of some random high school.

As I entered the gym, I saw crowds of people that were watching two competitions going on at once. There was rhythmic gymnastics and a basketball spinning contest currently under way. Apparently I was a member of the cheerleading squad because they came up to me frantically asking me where was and had my uniform that I needed to change into right then. I changed and saw that Leland Brown was on my squad with me. When I was ready to cheer he jumped up very excitedly and was ready to go. I was the captain, so I lead our first cheer, but Leland kept trying to change the cheer and was off-beat. I was getting very frustrated that our cheers were not going as rehearsed and began looking for a way out of this. I heard over the PA announcing the next rhythmic gymnast would be Kyle Smigelski, but he was nowhere to be found. I was so fed up with my current situation that I decided to jump up and grab a basketball to spin in the contest, while doing rhythmic gymnastics, combining the two competitions in Kyle’s place. I got on the floor, still dressed as a cheerleader, and found that no matter how hard I tried, I could not get that basketball to spin on my finger for more than a tenth of a second. The fact that I was doing gymnastics at the same time was definitely not helping the situation. As I finished my routine, there were only one of two people clapping and I heard a couple of coughs, so I slunk slowly off the floor back to my place with the cheerleading squad. Upon discovering that I was not Kyle, the head judge came over to scold me and I could not help but laugh at him. He was getting nowhere with me, so he eventually left.

As I was sitting in the stands the competition area was rushed by my fraternity, Kappa Sigma, and another, Sigma Alpha Epsilon. They broke into a game of “Smear the Queer,” which got the crowd excited and everyone began cheering wildly. At times the football that they were using would get thrown into the stands and the crowd would throw it back down to the players or toss it around the stadium like a beach ball at a baseball game. Everyone was enjoying the good fun, when the floor of the gym opened up exposing a pool underneath that all the players fell into, just like in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Once the pool was revealed everyone decided that a good swim meet was in order. I walked down to where the starting blocks were and I ran into Ihab Iskandar from my fraternity. He was trying to tie a tie, but had it upside-down so I told him that he needed to flip it over if he wanted to tie it correctly. My dad was right there, so he offered to help and I walked outside of the gym.

Outside the gym, Sean Connery was waiting for me and began to explain a very secret mission that I was to help him with. Apparently, there was a bathroom underneath this gymnasium that was completely plated in gold. Back in ancient times, this bathroom was used by royalty and was run by one-thousand Singaporean geisha. It was hidden, but he had two of the four keys to a device that would open the secret stairwell to the bathroom. I suddenly remembered that I already knew all about this mission, but I was a double agent working for another country also. The Czech Republic had commissioned me to contact Sean Connery because they already had two of the keys and knew that he had the others. A man that I was working with from the Czech Republic came up to us and discretely handed me the keys. He asked me about the president and I was supposed to answer in code. If the mission was going as planned I would tell him that I liked the president, but instead I said, “George Bush is gay,” and he took this as a sign that my identity had been compromised, so he took off running. Now that we had all four keys, Sean Connery opened up the remote device, which had four slots filled with liquid nitrogen. He deposited his two keys and I dropped mine in there as well. As we did this, the outside corner of the gymnasium rotated, exposing a stairwell going below. I was supposed to wait for Sofia Milos, from CSI: Miami, before entering the golden bathroom, so I stayed at the entrance. Sean decided that he would go on ahead, and as he started down the stairwell, the entire structure collapsed in on top of him and the golden bathroom was sealed up forever.

Monday, May 5, 2008

from russia with love

It amazes me how fanatical the world outside of the US is about the sport of soccer. It has never really caught on here in the states, but go anywhere else in the world and it is one of the only sports that really matter. I realized this when I was on my mission in Thailand during the World Cup. When soccer is on, life stops. My own personal soccer experience consists of AYSO when I was five and two seasons playing for Green Street Advisors’ team. When I was little, soccer consisted of a huddle of kids buzzing around the ball like bees. When the ball escaped the huddle, the bees all looked around confused until the ball was spotted and the frantic buzzing migrated to the ball and continued. Now that I am older, the game is a lot different, but my skill has not improved much. At least I can say that I scored a goal during my last season and had about a dozen assists to one of my high school water polo teammates, Carter Grant. Despite my love for the game, I just really am not that good at it, so you can imagine my surprise when I was contacted by the Russian National soccer team and recruited to play for their team. I did not even have enough time for any practices with them, but they wanted me to come out and play for their first game that week. I flew out, got all my sweet soccer gear, and ran out to warm up with the team. After kicking the ball around a little bit the game was ready to begin.

They assigned me to play mid-center and I was pumped. All the screaming fans and athletes at the top of their game from all around the world; here with me. It was a rush to say the least. The pace of the game was faster than anything I had previously experienced and the ball flew past me multiple times making me a little dizzy. I was glad that I was in the middle so I had backup on every side. All I really remember was kicking at the ball and missing multiple times and just to practice, I decided to do a bicycle kick when the ball was not even near me. That half ended and the coach pulled me aside. He said that after my performance that half, he did not think that they had any more need for me. He had made a mistake and I was free to go, but could keep the swag. I walked out of the stadium thinking that I had a pretty good professional soccer career even though it was so short lived. The coach obviously didn’t see my bicycle kick.

I thought that was where my adventures in Russia would end, but that was not to be so. I checked into my hotel and passed out. Upon awaking, I found myself in the apartment of what was obviously the residence of the missionaries. I rubbed my eyes and my rather large, overweight companion tells me that it is time to get ready. I was a little confused, so he explained that his other companion needed a vacation and was in Jakarta for the next couple weeks. I was there to help him teach in the meantime and we had a full day planned, so we had better get going. I went into the bathroom to wash my face and turned on the faucet as I enjoyed the view of the city out of my window. It was hazy and grey, but they gorgeous cityscape stretched before me with the rays of the rising sun cutting through the morning mists. As I was pondering how I got there, I realized that the water in Russia was very, very thick. It gooped out of the faucet and onto my hands. It smelled and tasted just like regular water, but it was just extremely thick. It had the consistency of liquid soap, but did not stick to my hands. It just ran off almost like regular water would. How very interesting, indeed.

Well, I got ready and out the door we headed. I had my Mini with me, so we drove instead of riding our bikes. The back taillight was out, but we didn’t have any time to spare to fix it. So, I had my companion drive my car while I sat in the trunk with the tailgate slightly ajar, to fix it as we drove. Just my luck, as we were motoring down the highway a motorcycle cop pulls up right behind me as I am hanging out of the trunk. We pull off the road and into a Starbucks parking lot where he begins to scold me. As he is writing me a ticket, I start to pretend to cry and tell him about my perfect, flawless driving record. “Could you please just let me off this one time? I have a clean record and I promise never to do it again.” I think the Russian cop liked Americans or at least Hawaiians because he contemplated it and let me off. He slapped my okole and said, “Good Game!”

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

global warming? not my problem

I guess we should have all listened to Al Gore because he was right about global warming. The oceans have already risen one-hundred feet and are expected to rise an additional hundred feet within the next three years. Most of Orange County is underwater now and I think everyone was surprised at how quickly we have flooded. Once a Mecca of business, it now lies halfway submerged with buildings rotting in the saltwater. Newport Beach on the other hand continues life as usual, well almost.

Can I just start off by saying that I am very happy to live in a city as affluential and wealthy as Newport Beach? Not because I am rich, I am far from rich when measured according to the world, but because since the flooding, I have been able to remain residing in the area that I love. You see, as soon as it was apparent that the ocean was in fact going to rise up and swallow Southern California, our residents came together in order to save our beautiful city. They built a two-hundred foot seawall around the city along with walls where all the roads used to be. The roadways are no longer paved, but are water channels that use locks, ala Panama Canal, and boat lifts in order to connect the channels for traffic. The resulting landscape inside of our seawalls is a beautifully terraced city that looks like the rice paddies of the mountains. Boats motor along the waterways much like Venice and life continues seemingly uninterrupted. The residents homes are all well below sea level and most are even below the channels, so there are little boat elevators that bring people down into their homes and communities. The residents of Pelican Hill are level with the wall and can see the ocean straight outside of their homes and can look down to the bustling city, below the massive ocean held back by its money.

I went for a bike ride along the top of the walls, touring the city, and marveled at what we have accomplished. Here we are living in a bowl in the ocean and it really is a sight to be seen. Sure, we create a large amount of pollution, but in order to not live in a bubble of noxious gasses, we pump that out of our paradise, over the wall, into the neighboring cities and enjoy beautiful blue skies practically year round. I feel blessed to live in such a beautiful place as I ride my bike further up the walls in the city. I look out at sailboats on every terrace and it all seems so surreal. I begin to think, “what if the ocean rises even more or what if the wall breaks under the sheer weight of the ocean that it is holding back?” Then, I see the money of Newport Beach; I can smell it and can almost taste it. I feel secure in knowing that the money of this city will save us from anything. Maybe they will just build a glass dome to cover us with and we will turn into the lost city of Atlantis. Whatever happens, I hope they don’t figure out that I am not one of them and kick me out.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

and i ate

Don’t you love General Conference? It gives us the opportunity to listen to those called and inspired of God to direct us in our own lives. After last Saturday’s morning session ended I flipped the channel and found that “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” was on. As I was sitting watching the Grinch carve the roast beast near the end, Elder Russell M. Nelson walked into my house! Imagine that; an apostle of the Lord in my own home. As he walked toward me, “I am Ironman!” began filling the room as some sort of theme song. I was speechless, yet ready to be filled; and feed me he did.

Elder Nelson turned to the movie, reached into my television set, and pulled out a slice of roast beast that the Grinch was cutting. Good thing our television is not a flat screen, but rather one of the older tube TVs because otherwise there would not be enough room for all that roast beast. As he took out the slab of meat, Elder Nelson remarked how ham smells so much better than roast beast, so he waved his hand over the plate and the meat transformed to ham. He handed it to me and said, “Eat.”

And so, I did eat. With each slice that I cut for myself, Elder Nelson would recite a separate commandment and with each recitation, the words of that commandment were seared onto the slice of ham. As I ate each new piece of meat with the words seared upon it, those words became a part of me and I had a new found desire to live that part of the gospel. As I finished the final wedge and looked up, Elder Nelson smiled down at me and saying nothing, turned and walked out of my home, leaving me to ponder those strange events.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

rollercoasters, but not quite death

I absolutely love rollercoasters. Amusement parks like Magic Mountain are honestly my favorite places to go other than the beach. The thrill and the adrenaline that get me going help me to experience highs that I feed off of. Recently I was able to go to just an amusement park to get my fill of rollercoasters with Jessica Sorenson, but it wasn’t like any that I have ever been to. After waiting in line for Viper for what seemed like forever and a day, we finally got up to the front. It was a little odd that each rider had to check in at a front reception desk before allowed to go through the gate to the actual ride and even odder still that once we checked in, the receptionist told us that we needed to go downstairs to make our own parachutes before we were allowed on the ride. So, why is it that we need parachutes again? Jessica was a little reluctant to ride such a ride, but I assured her that they wouldn’t let us go on the ride with homemade parachutes unless it was safe. Um, right?

We went down the stairs and found ourselves in the basement of my fraternity house. I saw all of my brothers’ “decorations” strew about and we started sifting through their messy rooms looking for suitable, parachutable materials. Since there was a heaping pile of dirty laundry and blankets in the middle of the floor, this was the obvious choice in order to make safe parachutes. I had no idea what I was doing, so I shoved the entire pile toward Jess and got her some dental floss to stitch it all together. In a whirlwind of scissors cutting, scraps of shirts and blankets flying, and dental flossed, needle-threaded stitching, our parachutes started turning out pretty nice. Within minutes our parachutes were ready and I was feeling pretty confident about riding this new rollercoaster. Jessbugs on the other hand, was not. I kind of recall something about listening to women because they have better judgement, but can’t really remember the exact quote right now, so I will not relate it.

Either way, Bugs and I headed back upstairs to get on the ride. We were about to walk through the gate when the park manager stopped us. He told us that they had just closed the ride and were not going to be reopening it for a very long time. Something about having an “accident,” decapitation, broken bones, and death; I think. Jess let out a huge sigh of relief and I was totally bummed. She was glad that we were not on that last run and I was visibly upset that we didn’t make the last run. I mean, not everyone died on that last run, so we probably would have been fine and would have gotten to ride the rollercoaster before they closed it down for good. Besides, what better stories and bragging rights than to have ridden Viper on the very last run ever? She could tell that I wasn’t happy that we had to wait in line for so long without me getting my adrenaline kick and knew that the only thing to make me feel better, because it always does, was food. So Jess, being the kind and loving person that she is, took me to the snack bar to treat me to some of that delicious amusement park lemonade. It did make me feel a little better, but I sure wished I could have ridden Viper one last time.

Friday, April 18, 2008

parasites in the closet

So, my dad has a mild case of pack-ratitis. I don’t know where I got my genes from, but I like nothing better than throwing out old crap. In my home I love order and I am a fan of minimalistic style. Recently, I redid my parents’ living room in order to rid it of all the clutter and have been meaning to do the same to help my dad in his office and closet, and especially in the garage. So, you can imagine my surprise when I awoke yesterday morning and while walking bleary eyed into my dad’s closet, discovered that there was absolutely nothing inside. It was completely devoid of clothes, boxes, junk, hangers, shoes, models, and whatever else would normally be found in there. The shelves were all empty, all his things were missing, and oddly enough my clothes were gone from the single bar that I typically occupy. I was so happy that it was so barren and clean despite the fact that my clothes were missing. I simply thought, what a great way to start fresh and stay organized.

I was indeed happy for him, but as my brain slowly awoke, I realized that I would have to go to work naked that day. I walked upstairs to inquire of my dad as to the whereabouts of my personal effects and he was distraught that I had been in the closet. You see, they (and I don’t know who “they” are) discovered an incredibly dangerous parasite living in my dad’s closet and the only way to rid the closet of this deadly microorganism was to take everything out and burn it. We are not supposed to go back into the closet for a good deal of time for fear of this parasite latching on and literally sucking the life out of us.

I am not sure how much longer I must go without clothes, but I certainly hope that this parasite is not living inside of me right now. I wonder: how much longer I have to live?

Monday, April 14, 2008

dropping deuces and helping the homeless

I have recently been planning a trip to Europe this summer where I hope to be able to go on a cycling trek with my friend Kim, who works for Adidas. We will be cycling from Germany to Austria during the Eurocup 2008 and arrive in Austria in time for the quarter finals. So, I have thinking a lot as of late about purchasing a bike and finally did! I was going for a bike ride down PCH and was cruising along Mariner’s Mile when it hit. I had serious need of a restroom and I mean, soon! I had turtle heads poking and could not for the life of me hold it in. So what did I do? I dropped my sexy biking shorts, rotated backward on my seat like an awkward turtle, and dropped the kids off coating my bike seat all while maintaining my 26 mph pace. Luckily it was a flawless victory and once I sat back up discovered that I was as clean as a whistle.

I began peddling again, but was a little weary from the extra energy exerted in the previous three minutes. Dismounting my bike in front of one of the yacht lots, I decided that I was too far from home to return that day and began looking for a place to camp. Yes, I realize that my house is only three miles from there, but just could not find it in me to ride home, especially after the ordeal that I had just experience. I walked my bike past a few tents set up on the side walk and found an empty site right next to a homeless lady, who was lying in her own vomit. She looked quite sick and I was relieved when a female cop backed her squad car up to her and began to help get her out of there and take her to a hospital. However, the cop popped her back trunk, yanked this poor homeless women up, and was trying to shove her into the back trunk. I thought this was terribly inhumane, but then noticed that this trunk was at least three times deeper and longer than a typical car’s, so what did I do but help the nice lady cop to get the homeless person in there.

Feeling pretty good about myself and having done my good turn for the day, I began setting up my site. Now, even though I had just relieved myself a few minutes earlier, all of a sudden I felt like I was going to explode again. So, I sprinted up the hill to Newport Harbor High School’s stadium and ran into the locker room. This locker room was huge and it wrapped halfway around the stadium, underground. There was a set of thirty stalls at the south end and another set of thirty at the north. Having entered from the north, I ran past the close stalls to the south just because it seemed like a good idea. You see, I have been there before and it seems that all the stalls in the north wing are usually clogged and overflowing. As I open the first stall door in the south wing, I am hit with an unbearable stench and just as I feared, this stall was clogged and overflowing, even though it was at the south end! Not being daunted, I pressed on opening door after door after door, finding the same result in each pot. The walls around each stall were only half height, so I started peering over the wall to look. This way I didn’t have to endure the rank smell and I could still see if I could use that particular stall. After running through twenty-nine backed up stalls and a single occupied stall, I felt like I was busting at the seams and ready to pop.

I hustled back to the north end not knowing if I would make it, cursing those stupid, dirty sailors the entire way; and guess what I found? You would be correct that those stalls were just as dirty, rank, and disgusting as the others. As peered over wall after wall, I saw every color of chunky, greasy, runny, slimy brown that you could imagine. I even saw some very interesting greens, oranges, and reds with bits of corn and little green leaves stuck in there. I have no idea what the unicorn reading the paper was doing in one of the stalls, but I can only assume that it was dropping little Skittle flavored poops in the toilet, because that is what unicorns poop (kind of like the theory that dragon tears turn into jelly beans.) Either way, I darted between stalls through this maze of sewage and held my breath as I slowly opened the door to the last stall. As I inched this door ajar, what lay before me, but a golden throne, spotless and beautiful. I nestled in ever so gently with the biggest grin ever on my face, let out a huge sigh of relief from both ends and absolutely destroyed that stall. Apparently, I was number sixty to use that restroom that day. I feel sorry for whomever was to be number sixty-one.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

i love technology

I have moved to many different houses in Newport Beach growing up, but my parents and family made each one of those a home. Other than the home in Corona del Mar on Jasmine Avenue that I was born and raised in, my favorite home was the one on Vista Grande. I had so many memories there and spent much of high school, college, and the time before my mission in that home. So, as you may deduce, I was very excited to be able to go back and visit recently. The home is located on a hill, so you walk in the front door on the second floor and can walk downstairs to the first floor, which has a door to our backyard (wow; that was a mouthful.)

During my last visit, I walked in the front door and heard music coming from downstairs. I went down to the first floor and noticed that there had been some remodeling and the living room now extended to the left into Malia’s old room. There stood a beautiful grand piano where Malia was playing and my mom was singing. I sat listening, not realizing that Malia could play the piano and watched as my mom sang herself to sleep. I thought this was odd that one could actually sing themselves to sleep, not to mention the fact that Malia was playing piano beautifully, and was getting a little weirded-out, so I stepped into my own bedroom to the right.

As I walked into my room, I noticed that there were now mirrors on every wall and I could see forever in every direction, like a county fair’s funhouse. I also saw that there was a new side door leading out of the room. As this house shared a wall with the neighbor, I can only imagine that it lead into their house. I was greeted by Berley and Lauren Jarvie who were exercising. Kim was just sitting on the floor doing Yoga while checking herself out in the mirror and Lauren was standing by the other door in streamline position. Lauren started cavorting about in what looked like some sort of tribal dance. She started by jumping up and down whilst kicking her legs. Then the jumping stopped and she broke out into a river dance, all the while holding her streamline position. I watched, quite entertained, for a bit when all of a sudden, Lauren let out a gasp and ran out the side door saying that she needed desperately to change her outfit because it, "just wasn’t working."

did you read my first post?

Berley said she needed to leave and walked out of my room. I followed and stopped in the living room to wake my mom up and let her know that I’d be back soon. I tried to wake my mom, but she wouldn’t budge, so I left and went upstairs. I walked upstairs and out the front door, but could not find Berley to say goodbye, so I ambled across the street to where my car was parked in a carport. My Mini Cooper was parked next to my parents flame-painted minivan, both had their windows down. I grabbed my cell phone in its old school Nintendo controller case and my new iPhone. I wanted to send Berley a text goodbye, but as I stood there contemplating which one I should use to text her, I was distracted by an old Chinese man walking toward me yelling in Chinese. I placed the Nintendo phone in my Mini and the iPhone in the van and walked over to him. He started going off at me and I just stared at him with a blank look on my face. I had no idea what he was trying to communicate and was getting more confused by the second. It did not help any when his even older mother came out of the house behind him and joined in on the yelling. I thought a single person screaming at me in Chinese was hard to understand and bear, but the addition of a second had me thoroughly confused. In the confusion my dad slipped into my Mini and drove away. I saw him leave and was a bit distraught, never having let anyone drive my car before, so I left the yelling Chinese people and jumped into the van giving chase.

I never did catch up to him (obviously on account of the Mini Cooper S’ speed), so gave up and drove to my office instead. Gavan was waiting for me there and someone else that I didn’t recognize. I sat down on my couch and pulled out my iPhone to send Berley a text message, when I realized that I did not have her number on my new phone yet. In fact, I did not have anyone’s phone number on my phone. As I was messing around with the functionality of my new toy, I discovered that it had a preloaded flight simulator on it. I clicked on the icon to open the game up, the projector above my head turned on, and the wall lit up showing what was on the screen of my iPhone. It must have detected the signal from my gadget and started up automatically. Isn’t technology wonderful? As I scrolled on the touch screen of my phone, I shifted my gaze up to the screen and saw some of the most awesome graphics ever.

The opening screen of the flight simulator was a bird’s eye view of my plane sitting on the runway. There was a message on the screen that said "Refuel." I clicked the message and immediately, was zooming down to view my plane. It was a dog-fighting video game and as I got closer and closer I saw other planes flying past my view, leaving trails of smoke behind them. By the looks of the planes, this was obviously set in the future. As the view approached my plane, I saw myself accelerating down the runway, and the camera angle was directly behind my plane, getting closer. My cockpit looked like a fighter ship straight out of a Star Wars Movie, but the back portion was completely hinged and looked like the back half of an El Camino with mini wings. It was painted yellow and brown in a camouflaged pattern. As my plane hurled down the runway and lifted off, the camera angle entered into the cockpit and I found myself actually in the game, holding the stick in my own hands, looking around at the controls, climbing into the sky. The sky was darkened to a red, yellow, and brownish hue from the thick smoke and clouds surrounding me. As I followed what I think is my squadron up into the smoke and clouds, there are other jets darting in and out of the sky, passing within a couple of meters of my plane all leaving twisted smoky trails. There are thousands of them, like swarming bees and I cannot tell who is friendly and who is the enemy. We are climbing higher and higher into the darkened sky toward a ceiling of clouds and upon entering the cloud, I distinctly remember thinking that fly Mach Five with only a few meters visibility would be a wonderful way to die.

We break free of the clouds and I am temporarily blinded by the bright sun. I see those around me begin to slow and I likewise ease off the throttle. The camera angle changes again and I am outside of my plane watching as the squadron decelerates. As I get to the crest of my accent, I notice that my jet hinges and halfway doubles up on itself like an Olympic diver in the pike position. Apparently, my plane can do this in order to corner and turn tighter. After the turn, it stretches back out and begins to dive down through the clouds once again. I see my plane turn into an electric blue color and it hurtles faster and faster toward the surface and I reenter my cockpit. I see missiles whizzing past me as I expertly maneuver to avoid them and recognize the enemy because they are the ones trying to shoot me down. I engage, darting and weaving between jets and explosions. Taking many enemy fighters down, I feel like Maverick and invincible. Then I see a wall of what must be a dozen missiles headed straight at me. I weave through three or four of them, but the fifth clips my wing and time seemingly slows down as the sixth barrels directly into my nose. I manage to eject in time to see my plane explode beneath me and as I hurtle away, I pull my ripcord. The string breaks and my reserve shoot does not open. As I fall with my back toward the Earth, I see the fight above me getting further away. I see explosions all around me, then get smaller as I fall and fall. I take in all the red and brown smoke, the beautiful, bright, fiery blasts; floating in the beauty of it all and then, blackness.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

wanted dead or alive

During the months of January and February, my friends and I religiously held “band practice” for our band, the Homebodies. A couple of times a week, we would get together at Hotel Kettley, go into their theater, turn the volume up, strike our widest power stance, and jam out until nights end. Rich and Kim’s skills were obvious from the beginning. They, having previous experience with Guitar Hero and their natural musical talent and background, easily found their groove and were able to branch out to other instruments. Tyler Waldron and I had a late start in our music careers, so we were the ones holding the group back from “going big.” However, within a few short weeks of practice, with Tyler as lead vocals, myself playing lead guitar, Kim on drums, and Rich on bass guitar; we were ready for the big time. We were consistently hitting well over 90% of our notes on Hard, so you can imagine that we were feeling pretty confident.

We got a bus, a plane, completed our outfits, and hit the road. Even though we have only played a single concert, the entire experience was very euphoric. So much so, in fact, that I cannot even remember the venue in which we played, but I remember the experience. As we walked out onto the stage, the crowd started going wild. Screaming fans and fainting women jumped, cheered, and sighed. The colored lights flashed around the concert hall and I could feel the vibrations from the noise pulsing through my own body. Sure I was a little nervous, but this is what all of those long nights of band practice had been for. We were ready and we knew it.

Our opening song was to be a cover of Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive.” The lights went black and the entire venue fell silent, waiting in the darkness, for history to be written on this momentous maiden performance. You could hear the hum of the amps and then the hiss of the fog machines. Then, the spotlights slowly lit up and tracked over to Kim aka “Most Gutsy” Kettley at her place on the drum kit. As she started the beat in that song, the colored overhead lights began to flicker and pulse in time. Next, as the lights hit me, I come in, Kawika “Top Performer” Tarayao, with my opening riff. With this familiar progression, the crowd recognizes the song and goes wild, screaming with enthusiasm. They quiet down in time for Rich “Band Savior” Kettley to join in with his bass rhythm. Finally, Tyler aka “Authentic Strummer” Waldron steps out into the light with his shaved head, mustache, and Aviators and hits the first stanza, “It’s all the same, only the names will change …” as the crowd screams uncontrollably.

At our feet, we have little screens that show our Rock Band screens and behind us the screen is being projected for the fans to see. As we enter into the first chorus we all use our overdrive at the same time and hit a unison bonus. Soon thereafter, Rich gets into his Bass Groove and we are all seriously rocking out. This song goes just as rehearsed and at the end you could tell by the cheers of the crowd that we had definitely scored five stars (we had five stars a full minute before the end of the song.) As we finished our concert (yes, it was only a single song concert) and walked off the stage, our loyal fans start chanting for an encore, “Home Bodies! Home Bodies!” We listen to their chants, pumping us up even more and head back out onto the stage.

What better song to end to than an Iron Maiden cover of “Run To The Hills.” The song completely energizes the mass as we rock on. There is crowd surfing, head-banging, and rock-on signs being thrown up all over the pulsing multitude. As I am jumping, throwing scissor kicks, I see Rich shaking his guitar because the batteries must be low or loose and his guitar is not communicating with the game consol. The crowd just thinks he is getting into the song and get into it even more. Kim’s hair tosses as she feels the beat and she twirls her drum sticks in between riffs. Bras are being thrown up on stage and adrenaline courses through our bodies. As we end the song, chaos ensues. The four Homebodies members just stand there, taking it all in, knowing that tonight we made history. Tonight we were immortal. Tonight we were alive!