Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Birthdays, Macbeth, and Baseball

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Vivian and I have been having more fun with our friends as we rounded out the month of June. On Friday, we had a surprise birthday party for our friend Kara. She and Dennis live in Blair but work in Omaha, and he was able to convince her that they needed to stick around to help someone with car trouble. We grilled up some steaks, Angie whipped up some potatoes, and after stuffing ourselves a bunch of us got to watch The Sandlot on a makeshift big screen at Chad's house next door.

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On Saturday, Vivian and I went to Elmwood Park to enjoy Shakespeare on the Green and their production of Macbeth with some of our friends. We arrived early enough to save a spot fairly close to the stage and killed the hours before the show playing Apples to Apples and trying on some renaissance outfits. I had the rare opportunity to put on a chain mail hood, fake a horrible Scottish accent, and be all Elizabethan with Lady Vivian. Forsooth.

The show itself was marvelous, with some fun lighting effects once the sun went down. I had never seen Macbeth performed before, and was only vaguely familiar with the story, but enjoyed it all nonetheless.

IMG_2472.JPGOn Monday night, Vivian and I went to see the Omaha Royals play the Albuquerque Isotopes at Rosenblatt Stadium. She's been wanting to go to a baseball game with me for as long as I've known her, and I was able to get some free tickets (and free hot dogs!) at work in honor of Disability Awareness Night. I'd never actually been to a baseball game before, so it was an especially memorable night for me. I even managed to win Vivian a promotional Kraft Cheese Towel that was tossed into the crowd. How very fitting. I also had a major "Dan Wondra Moment" before the night was over. When Isotopes player Chin-lung Hu hit the ball and ran to first base, I made sure to tell Vivian, "Hu's on first."

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Grand Marquis and Father's Day

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The Grand Marquis came to play at Jitterbugs Night Out over the weekend, and Vivian and I were happy to enjoy dancing to a live band at the Eagle's Lodge again (especially since we'd missed the Prairie Cats a few weeks earlier debuting with some songs from their new CD). We had a lively crowd as usual and made our trek out to Village Inn afterward for some much-needed skillets and pie. It's always fun to see what fun a little sugar and silly friends can provide at two in the morning.

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We had Vivian's parents over for a special Father's Day luncheon on Sunday afternoon. We decided to make an "Alaskan Salmon Bake" with a recipe taken posthumously from Vivian's paternal grandfather "Pops" via an old home movie. While on a fishing expedition in Alaska, one of Pops' friends baked wild-caught salmon with onions, lemon, ground pepper, and Parmesan cheese, so we decided to make some for Vivian's dad the same way. It came out quite well, and Vivian served it up with broccoli and some creamy mashed potatoes that left us stuffed for the rest of the day (or at least until going to Panera).

In other news, the air conditioning broke at work during our first week of temperatures pushing 100 degrees. Our CEO let us wear shorts and had her husband bring in a bunch of electric fans to keep the place cool. I took the weather in stride by going Hawaiian for a day, which made the sticky heat just a little more amusing in the end.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Back in the swing of things

After Vivian and I had a chance to recover from our trip to Nashville, we enjoyed catching up with some of our friends back in Omaha. On Friday night we went on a double date before JNO with Onion-Boy and Sarah. We went to McFoster's "Natural Kind Cafe," a vegetarian restaurant between Harney and Farnam on 38th street serving tiny sandwiches, pungent ginger smoothies, and the absolute worst chocolate cake in the world (non-dairy made with rice flour. Blech.) I found the history of the restaurant more interesting the food, since it was originally a service station along the old Lincoln Highway.

On Saturday, Vivian and I went to an evening church service and meet up with a couple friends at Village Inn afterward. Then we stopped by Hiro Sushi in West Omaha for some "happy hour" specials after 10.

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On Sunday, we headed downtown for another afternoon of Lindy in the Park. I have to admit that the turnout is much better now that our outdoor dance is held only once a month. The strange fountain bucket sculpture was running for the first time in years, giving us the same amusement as a large drinking bird throughout the afternoon. The weather was still downright pleasant, and a bunch of us decided to drop in at Ted & Wally's for our traditional after-dance ice cream binge before going home. Some of us definitely enjoyed the sugar rush.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Cookout in Nashville: Aftermath

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Early Sunday morning, Vivian and I said goodbye to a few comic friends and headed on back to Nebraska. We stopped for lunch at Midway airport in Chicago and got some Chicago-style hot dogs. I dressed mine up with a little ketchup just to annoy a certain someone back home. Seriously, what hot dog is complete without a little of the red stuff?

It was a great weekend in Music City, and I got plenty of photos and video to share when we returned home. Here's a ten-minute video montage from our trip:

It was great seeing some long-time friends from our online comic world, and I hope we get to see some of you all again soon. There seemed to be some doubt about there being a Comic Genesis cookout next year, but who knows? Maybe Mr. and Mrs. Cortland can bring it on up to Omaha.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Cookout in Nashville: Day 3

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Saturday was the big day, our last full day in Nashville and the "official" day of the comic cookout. Of course, we had to find time to stop by the Grand Ole Opry while we were in town. We hadn't planned on going to a show, so we just stopped by the gift shop for the obligatory hunt for souvineers to bring home. Vivian grabbed a harmonica and a guitar fridge magnet, and I snagged a Grand Ole Opry t-shirt. We also found a couple country-themed rubber duckies. Dotty apparently collects them.

I've never been a country music fan, but I have to admit that staying in Music City for a couple days started to affect me. The next time we're in town, I'm getting tickets to this place so I can see more than just the gift shop.

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We arrived back at the hotel in time for the official "cookout" portion of the cookout to begin. The food was catered by Neely's, a local barbecue restaurant that served up brisket, ribs, smoked chicken, and other savory items for the carnivores among us (Aggie had gotten some pita-based alternative for the vegans in our group). We ate and goofed off for most of the afternoon drawing in sketchbooks, playing Rock Band and batting around some strange latex bubbles that Ryan blew up with a straw (until they exploded).

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Later in the afternoon, a bunch of us decided to conduct an impromptu taste test between White Castle and its southern equivalent, Krystal, in downtown Nashville. Fading Aura and StrRedWolf used Google Maps to find two of the chain restaurants within a few blocks of each other so we could compare their burgers in a state of relative freshness. Vivian preferred the White Castle burger, mainly because Krystal seemed to gross her out. It was a fun experiment, even if only half of actually wound up eating any of the burgers, and it gave us a chance to try some digestion-challenged food with some goofy friends (and make Ryan ride in the boot of our car).

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Fading Aura, Vivian, and I decided to take a tour of downtown Nashville to check out the night life. Aggie had told us that there they closed off parts of second street so they could perform live music in the open air, but we didn't exactly see any. We did find some breakdancers performing for tips at the corner of 2nd and Commerce. We also took a stroll down Printer's Alley, where barkers for strip clubs along the street enticed us inside for "naked karaoke," among other things. It made me appreciate how much cleaner the Old Market in Omaha seems to be by comparison.

Vivian and I were ready to collapse when we returned to the hotel at the end of the night. Somehow, we stayed awake long enough for a couple rounds of UNO and then joined some of our comic friends for some after-midnight breakfast at the Waffle House. I'd seen the small breakfast diner around the corner when Vivian and I first arrived, and I wanted to take her to see the southern equivalent of Village Inn.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Cookout in Nashville: Day 2

I've been playing with Javascript while writing the last few updates to my blog. Click some of the linked words in the entry below to see extra photos in a neat little "lightbox."

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On Friday, Vivian and I got to have some more fun with our friends in Nashville. I have to commend the good people at the Opryland La Quinta for putting up with us, because we started the day off by testing our dart guns on each other in the fifth floor hallways.


We drove downtown for some sightseeing after a brief lunch at Sitar, a small Indian buffet. Our first stop was the Parthenon in Centennial park, a scale replica of the famous structure in Athens. It was originally constructed over 100 years ago for Tennessee's 1897 Centennial Exposition, but the citizens enjoyed it so much that they kept it around. Now it serves as a giant museum, complete with a giant statue of Athena on the second floor (along with plenty of naked frieze sculpture to snicker at).

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Our journey continued downtown afterward as we went exploring along the waterfront. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, and we had some fun posing with local statuary, standing Fading Aura beneath an amusing sign, playing with a rotating guitar at the Hard Rock cafe, and poking around an educational reconstruction of Fort Nashborough. We sat down on a couple benches facing the Cumberland River so Dave could climb a tree and Vivian and I could deface some public property.

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Our war games continued back at the local, and we also broke out the Comic Genesis Candy dish. There were several edible gummy things available inside, as well as some of Hogan's now infamous candy from across the pond. A couple of us were brave enough to try one the ammonium chloride tablets that tasted, according to Dave, like "dying children."

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Cookout in Nashville: Day 1

Vivian and I headed on down to Nashville last weekend to attend the annual Comic Genesis cookout. This has been an annual get-together for the comic geeks on Comic Genesis for the last six years, and I was able to attend in 2006 and 2007. Last year I was a little busy starting a new job, moving to Omaha, and getting married, so I wasn't able to attend. It felt good to catch up with my awesome web comic friends once again and introduce them to my new wife.

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We had a special new member at the cookout this year: Beth and Ryan Kolter's baby boy, Tristan. The Kolters have hosted the last five cookouts in St. Louis, Missouri, but their new baby has been keeping them busy, so they passed the mantle to "Aggie," artist for the comic American Gothia (above left, with Tristan). She lives in Nashville and coordinated much of the cookout and associated activities for us, including arranging the hotel rooms, catering, and activities for us while in town.

Tristan definitely stole the show while we were there.

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Most of the other attendees were still arriving on Thursday, but we still managed to find some time for some sightseeing. Several people suggested we check out the Opryland Hotel located next to the Grand Ole Opry, so we managed to stop by before dinner. The place was very impressive. We had just enough time to visit the lavish garden in the center of the hotel, which had a running waterfall had a rotating cafe.

We dropped by the Opry Mills mall afterward to have dinner in the food court and then go hunting for some toys. We wound up going by a local Wal-Mart to buy some dart guns to play with tomorrow. Vivian and Hogan also got the chance to try out a couple foam swords before we headed back to the hotel. We're like a bunch of big kids when we get together.

Monday, June 1, 2009


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It's been another fun, busy weekend for both Vivian and me. On Saturday, we went up to Benson to help paint a basement. Andy and Tamra, two of Vivian's co-workers, are getting married in the fall and needed some help putting some olive green on some walls, so Vivian and I and several of their family members came to help out.

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That evening, Vivian helped to host a luau party at Jenny's house up in Northwest Omaha. Several of our mutual friends from swing dancing came and joined us for some grilled shish-kabobs and a limbo contest. There were grass skirts and leis for just about everyone who came, and some of the girls demonstrated a hula dance for us. We also celebrated a couple of birthdays and danced into the night on a very crowded deck.

In other news, the pool at our apartment complex is now open, so Vivian and I were able to enjoy the still-pretty-frigid waters on Sunday. We are also the proud new owner of a 2002 Honda Civic! Some of know already that our dear Honda Accord recently got totaled (nobody was hurt, fortunately, but the car was considered a total loss by our insurance company). We found the new car on Craig's List for a reasonable price, and so now we own a slightly newer vehicle with fewer miles and a sunroof. Now all we have to do is think of a name. (Vivian has already ruled out Rex 2.0).

Video highlights from the party