Monday, April 28, 2008

Eight Years Ago Today...

Here's some of the happenings from April 28, 2000:
  • It was the day before my younger brother Nathan's baptism
  • My older brother, Roy David, had brought his wife and infant daughter to PA
  • My grandfather and an aunt on my mom's side were visiting PA, too
  • I met my then future in-laws (ok, so I had actually met dad-in-law and brother-in-law & family the night before) as well as Stewart's mission buddy Eric
  • Standing outside the Washington DC temple, I listened to my mom tell me that I could still back out, but I didn't and
  • I married a great man who turned out to be absolutely perfect for me.
It's been wonderful ever since. For this anniversary I got Stewart something he probably never thought he'd get from me--me doing yardwork. I volunteered my efforts this past weekend and did it without complaining and together we ended up with eleven bags of lawn clippings. See, I must love him to do that.
We also got each other hydration packs for hiking and such and we're going to Montreal again in a few weeks. We learned that we need to wait until the foliage blooms up there before we vacation up north.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Peer Pressure and Spousal Heart Attacks

For most of my life I have been a wimp when it comes to peer pressure. I remember quite distinctly the time when I was in high school and my best friend dared me to do the "Moo Challenge". This consists of drinking a gallon of milk in an hour.

Given that the average human stomach holds two to four liters of food and that one gallon of liquid is roughly equivalent to four liters of food, you can imagine the difficult position I found myself in. If I was a morbidly obese individual (I'm close but not quite there despite my best efforts) I'd be maxing out my stomach capacity in this challenge. Now at the time I was still a lithe (yes that's right Waldo I was skinny once thank you very much) 130 lbs. Needless to say my body did not appreciate this challenge in the slightest, as demonstrated the fact that I didn't get off the porcelain thrown for several hours afterward..

As this example demonstrates food is for me the ultimate form of peer pressure. For some reason temptations like "The Moo Challenge", "The Pound Challenge", or "The Molleroff" always appeal to me and I'm always cave when faced with these temptations. Let me now talk a bit of the last of these temptations as the first I've explained and the second is self-explanatory.

My time in France was supposedly spent proselyting to spread the Good Word. That said as I was 19-21 during this sojourn I had plenty of time to be a complete moron, as are most 19-21 year old men. Perhaps because of our moronic nature, there's an inevitability when men of this age live together. That is the inevitability of hazing.

Fortunately this hazing is nothing like what college freshmen go through. We were missionaries after all. No, this hazing took a much more benign form. It was known as the Molleroff.

Where did the Molleroff began? None can now say. Its origins are shrouded in the type of mystery usually associated with the Illuminati and the Knights Templar. This probably means that Dan Brown knows the answer but I don't. I do know that the challenge consisted of eating 50 cookies which were coated with chocolate on one side (of course you had to eat them cookie side down, can't spare your tongue at all). As relief during this cookie eating ordeal you had to drink one liter of boxed UHT milk. For those of you unfamiliar with UHT milk, well consider yourselves lucky. It's among the grossest stuff on earth. Having grown up in dairy country I could never get over the fact that this milk could be kept on the counter, in the pantry, or anywhere else until you open it. Milk should be refrigerated, end of story.

In any case, this delectable combination of tongue shredding, stomach expanding cookies and barely palatable milk had to be consumed within one hour and held down for another in order to join the fraternity of Molleroff champions. Missionaries bragged of ridiculous times they achieved in completing the challenge. One told me of finishing it in 8 minutes. I highly doubt it somehow.

Personally, my stomach is not built for this sort of thing, the end result of my Molleroff attempt was not pretty. Oh and our mixing bowl was never quite the same...

Since this unfortunate incident I've vowed not to be swayed by the temptations of others, when it comes to food at least. I will make an exception for the gluttony relating to Chinese buffets (it's a waste of money to only eat one plate!) but by and large I've been good at resisting culinary peer pressure. Indeed, more recently I've found that it's quite enjoyable to exercise peer pressure on others. Especially those who live on that euphoric mixture of adrenaline and Mountain Dew.

It is for this reason that I love our friend John. He does the things that I'm too scared, chicken, or sane to do. I'd be willing to bet that nothing in his life has ever scared him. The fact that his wife hates these sort of things only adds to my joy. Of course him encouraging Wife to do things like skydiving is a drawback, but the reality is that she doesn't need much encouragement to do those sort of things. Something tells me she gets that from her father; I think it was his show of excitement when we told him about her skydiving that clued me in.

In any case our latest adventure with the Coopers wasn't the most dangerous ever, but we did enjoy a lovely picturesque day in Bryce Canyon National Park. That said John's broken hand left him slightly gimpy. So his wife was none to pleased when I pointed out this formation on a cliff face that looked just like the butt groove on a couch and suggested it would make for an outstanding picture. Her displeasure stemmed from the fact that to get to said butt groove, John had to cross about 100 yards of loose avalanche debris which lay at a 60 degree pitch. John of course seeing a great photo opportunity forged across the debris and gave us a wonderful constipated sneer that our children will treasure when they look at our early family vacation photos.

How it is nice to peer pressure someone else. Speaking of which check out this photo of Wife. It's one of my all time favorites (oh I should add that there should probably be a parental advisory notice at this point)

And of course here's the rest to peruse.
Bryce Canyon

Video of the Day: As it's primary season for those of us stateside I thought a little primer in American electoral politics would do us all good.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A Redneck in the Big Apple

I like to think of myself as well rounded. I enjoy multiple genres of music. I've read plays. I'll watch foreign films. I even enjoy playing soccer and watching rugby. I've traveled abroad and have sampled, relished, and gorged myself on multiple culinary experiences. For someone coming from backwoods NY, I consider myself very cosmopolitan, urbane, and well adjusted.

Now art and I go way back (and I'm not referring to the eccentric guy named Art in my church congregation when I was youth...that guy was just plain crazy). During my sojourn in Paris I spent many happy hours in the Musee d'Orsay, the Louvre, and the Rodin museum. That said all of those share the commonality of not having anything in their collection post-1900.

(Although the Musee D'Orsay did have a bit exhibit "The Last Portrait" last time I was back there that had some stuff from the 20th century. It was a fascinating study of death masks, death portraits and death photography. For more info check out their website.

Now wasn't that the longest parenthetical ever? Knowing me it probably wasn't.)

With this culturally whetted pallet, Wife and I were eager to make our trip to NYC to see our friend Julie's short film mocking documentaries. We were not disappointed. Using film archives of a plethora of documentaries she cut them to make it sound like the main historians were having a sordid love affair. It was highly entertaining and goes to prove that history is always relative. At least that's what I'm getting out of it, she can correct me if I'm wrong. Alternatively her lawyers can send me a cease and desist order telling me to remove all descriptions of her content, I'll put it next to the one from Major League Baseball (Express written consent indeed!).

Besides her film there were a number of other compelling pieces on display. There was a short film about a man nailed to the floor of a box that was obviously flipping over and over. It was quite entertaining. There was a film/photo project of a man that built his own island, and who says that no man is an island. I especially found the photo of the brothers in a trench in Iraq very compelling. There were some very cool mixed media pieces too.

That said there were others that appealed to me significantly less. The exhibit of the woman trapped in the box was disturbing in all the wrong sort of ways. Even worse than that was the live action version of Manet's (sorry for those who I told it was Courbet. In my defense they both did pretty explicit work) Dejeuner sur l'Herbe. I can honestly say I didn't think it possible to offended even sensibilities but I was proven quite wrong. Remember I'm the man who specializes in offending others and still has absolutely no inner monologue.

That said I did learn something though about that painting. Evidently Bow Wow Wow did a photographic reinterpretation using the band as the people in the painting for their 1981 album which gave us that all time classic I want Candy. This of course is scandalous because the lead singer was 15 at the time and nude in the photo. Her mother turned her in to Scotland Yard.

All in all though it was an enjoyable day spent in the city. After all where else in the world do you get to see a friend's juried film, eat a deep-fried candy bar, and watch your wife flirt her way out of a ticket? Maybe we'll update our next weekend's trip soon too.

Which leads us to the video of the day. I really don't want to subject any of you to a Bow Wow Wow song, so here's another great Muppet's music video.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Why expand the culinary palette

There are three main food groups in America. These groups go by the names of their originating locale:

1. Carny food.
Characterized by lots of oil, mostly boiled. This group produced corn dogs, curly fries and deep fried twinkies. Of course the king of this food group is the legendary hot dog. Deep fried if you can find it.

2. Convenience food. This is the sub-group made famous by the convenience store though it is equally at home in the freezer isle and check out line of most stores. The apogee of this food group is the frozen burrito. Though this is a dish best known for its tendency to be tasted twice. Of course if you can combine this group with group one as in the above picture you might achieve Nirvana.

3. Cafe Rio and Mountain Dew.
Okay this may not really be the 3rd food group, but it should be. What a wonderful place is Cafe Rio. It's just sad that I only ate there twice while in Utah last week. Oh how I pine for that place. That said the joy of Mountain Dew is ever present when traveling with Mr. John Ford Cooper. Ah what sweet wonder that stuff is. I think I should try to make Dew pops one of these days...

And now for one of the greatest songs ever: