Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Woogy and the Transformers

It's funny how things seem to repeat themselves in your life time. Earlier this summer, I took Woogy to go see the movie "Transformers." I know it was rated PG-13, but I really felt like I needed to see it. Years and years ago, I loved the Transformers when I was a kid. I remember I watched it every time it came on TV. I also had a number of the action figures and collected the comic book. My friends would spend hours playing Transformers together. I really wanted to see this updated version of the Transformers and see how they have changed for a new generation of kids.
Woogy absolutely loved the movie (what is there not to love? giant robots beating each other up). "Transformers" I think even topped Woogy's previous favorite movie "Star Wars." Since the movie has came out on DVD, he wants to watch it all the time. Even driving down the street, when he sees a truck go by he says "That's Optimus Prime!" Or when a yellow sports car comes down the road, he yells "That's Bumblebee!" We even started making this a game in the car of calling out Autobot names whenever a car goes by that resembles them.
Tonight, I started to read some of my old Transformer comic books to him, and he was completed entranced. I've given him what old figures I have left, after my mom got rid of them through garage sales. Not a lot of them have held up so well over the years.
For Christmas, all he wants are Transformers. Little does he know that I've already gotten him a couple of his favorites. The other night I spent almost $50 on a Optimus Prime figure. I remember how excited on X-mas I was when I opened my Optimus Prime figure several decades ago. It was one of the best X-mas gifts I got as a kid. I remember my mom thought it was outrageous that it was $30 back then.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Travis in Portland

To make up for the fact that I actually blew off a concert last week (Stars), I was sure to attend Travis in concert Sunday night at Portland's Crystal Ball room. If you aren't familiar with Travis, they get compared to Coldplay a lot, but with out the piano driving the songs. Travis are four guys from Scotland that have been around for almost a decade. You can tell that they are pretty good friends and it reflects in their performance and the way they play music together. Despite the seriousness and sophisticated themes in their music, they are all about having fun live. I can tell these guys are going to be playing together for a long time to come.
I first saw Travis in Lawerence with A Forest. Great show. They had a lot of great material to support them and as a extra treat, they even broke out into "Back In Black" for a laugh at the end of show.
This time around they had 5 albums worth of material and drew from some of their stronger songs. It's impossible to hear all the songs I want to hear at a Travis show (because their is so many) but I was pretty happy with the set list. For me, their high points in their performance were with "Side" and closing with "Battleship" and "Why Does it Always Rain On Me?"
First off, the band had one of the coolest openings ever. The lights went out, and the roadies came out and held spot lights at the back of the theater. Then the music of "Rocky" came on. Then the band walked up from the back to the stage in boxer's robes. It kind of reminded me of the opening to U2's Popmart.
Lead singer Fran Healy debuted his mustache for the first time tonight. He said he was inspired by Brandon Flowers (lead singer of the Killers who brought mustached front men into fashion again). He also joked about how different Portland is and how he hasn't seen a normal looking person all day. He called it a city of "Indie kids."
At one point in the show, Fran reached out to shake my hand, or so I thought. It turns out he was shaking the hand of a kid a little older than Woogy, who was standing on his big brother's shoulders behind me. Then at the end of the night, bass player Dougie, hands me the set list, and ask kindly for me to give it to the little boy behind me. I thought if only I had brought Woogy, I could shaken hands with a rock star and taken home the set list. I don't think he's ready yet for rock shows.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

November update

It's been a little while since I last blogged. My excuse is work. It's been rough these past couple of weeks. We've brought in some pretty tough kids in Trillium lately to help pay the agency's debt. These kids have serve problems and are damaged very badly. Most of them a very ill (mentally). We use to be able to turn them away or refer them to a different program, but these days money is tight so we are doing all we can to stabilize them and keep them in our program.
On Thursday, everyone went out to a pub for a few beers and conversation. Everyone needed to vent. It kind of reminded me of my college days with having a couple beers and discussing psychology and sociology all night. When you are sitting around a table with a bunch of therapists, nothing is taboo. I was having such a good time that I forgot I was suppose to go to a concert. The band-"Stars" was in town and I wanted to see them, but I was having such a good time in the pub, I missed the show.
On Friday, we started our kids at a new babysitter. As Wah-Wah mentioned, our old babysitter left and I can't say that I'll miss her that much. I'll give her the fact that she was very affordable and very close, but aside from that I sometimes found her judgement a little questionable. The kids kind of liked it there however. Our new babysitter seems nice. I sat with her for a hour to get to know her on Friday. She's lives a little far, and I have to run the kids out there a couple of times a day for several days a week (Woogy goes to school, then I drop of Nibbles, then I go to work then I pick up Woogy then I run him out to the babysitter and go back to work). When I finally left Nibbles there on Friday, she screamed for a few minutes, but the sitter said she was fine after that. There is another boy there that is Nibbles age, but poor Woogy has no one. I'm going to try to arrange some play dates for Woogy and some of his friends at school. I guess I'm lucky that I have a job that lets me come and go as I please.
Which brings up another big stress in my life. The other day, I got scheduled a interview at DHS with Child Protective Services. I can't believe how quickly it happened. I faxed my resume and then a hour later they called. My interview is next week, but I'm feeling a little guilty for wanting to "jump ship" at Trillium. I do really like my coworkers, but a state job would big a raise, not to mention a good pension plan. I don't know what will happen. After all, I'm not good at interviewing, so we'll see. Something else a little odd: Every job I've gotten since I've graduated college has always started around November-December. Maybe this will be no different this year.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Another Halloween

Another Halloween has come and gone and this was our first Halloween in years were we didn't spend it at Overland Park First Assembly Hallelujah House. It's hard to break traditions and start new ones. It's not that I hate trick or treating, but the Hallelujah House was always a great alternatives for the kids. Unfortunately Imago Dei has no Hallelujah House (they don't even have a building to put one in). Instead every year they have Imago night at a Pumpkin Patch in Suavie Island.
Suavie Island a little island out in the middle of the Columbia river. I had heard so much about Suavie Island, but never actually visited it until last Monday night. The pumpkin patch had a huge corn maze that we decided to do. Wah-Wah was pretty smart in buying plastic bags to go on feet when we went in the maze. The mud was incredibility thick. I couldn't figure out were all the mud had came from since it hasn't rained in weeks.
The maze was pretty challenging and it just got harder as it got darker in the evening. There were a few clues scattered throughout the maze that if you answered correctly, it would point you in the right direction, but you had to know your Portland history. For example: the name of Portland was decided on a coin flip--what would the name have been if the coin landed on the other side? Turns out the answer is Boston, but I got it wrong and ended up getting more lost. By the time we completed the first half of the maze, Woogy had had enough and decided he didn't want to go anymore. I decided to go it alone for the second half. But just as I was leaving, I saw Nibbles following me.
As Nibbles and I set out on the second half of the maze, we soon discovered the mud was actually getting worse. I gave Nibbles a piggy back ride by this point as we proceeded to get more lost. At one point, I got completely stuck in the mud. My feet wouldn't move in the mud and I was using my hands to hold on to Nibbles. I knew I couldn't set her down in the mud since I could imagine how upset Wah-Wah would be. I stood there for a few minutes and just called for help. Eventually someone came and held Nibbles. With one push, I managed to pull my shoe off and my foot landed in the mud and began to sink. I then pulled and my other shoe and it came off. I ended up taking my socks off and carrying Nibbles through the rest of the maze barefoot. When I finally came out, a friend pointed out that I looked like Frodo walking through the mud barefoot. I think I will avoid the corn maze next year.

Here I am holding my shoes. I wasn't about to leave a $100 pair of Doc Martins out in the field.
Here's Nibbles in her Halloween custom. It kept her pretty warm.
Here's Woogy in his Mr.Incredible custom. Nice pose.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

October's music

Radiohead In Rainbows Radiohead made history this month with a "pay what you want" download. Apparently they are between record labels and decided to release their new music through their website only. The kick is you pay what you want to (I paid about a pound which translates roughly to $1 in US dollars). I wasn't sure if the download would work, and at first it didn't since apparently the rest of the world was downloading the same time. But about an hour later, the download came through. Best pound I ever spent. I wouldn't say the new album breaks Radiohead into a new sound or musical direction, but any Radiohead album is going to be great. From what I hear, the gamble worked, and Radiohead is coming out ahead financially on this. Radiohead is one of the few bands on earth that has enough of a following to pull this off without a record label, but it does bring up the prospect of doing away with record labels sometime in the future.

Dashboard Confessional The Shade of Poison Trees My first impression of this album is that it is more of a return to what I used to like about Dashboard Confessional--a sensitive guy on a acoustic guitar singing bitter songs about failed relationships. The past couple of Dashboard albums has had Chris Carrabba (lead singer) with a back up band playing stadium type college rock. Here, Chris and his guitar are more the focus. Chris is a great song writer (I wish he was around when I was a teenager) and a singer who can mix angst and sensitivity well into the same song. Honestly, with all the new albums out there, I haven't listened to this one enough.
PJ Harvey White Chalk Another album I haven't listen to enough because of too many other albums coming in. White Chalk is a daring move for PJ. Usually her albums are pretty heavy on distortion and not very polished. This album radiates darkness. Years ago, she put out a great album called Stories of the City and Stories of the Sea. The album was fantastic and helped to land her a opening spot for U2. I think if she continued in that direction, she be selling a lot more albums, but she is a true artist and doesn't want to repeat herself.
Over the Rhine Snow Angels Usually I don't like a lot of seasonal albums. After all, you only listen to them a couple of times a year, but this isn't the case with Snow Angels. At it's heart, this is a album about X-mas and the redemption that it brings. During it's most enjoyable moments it paints the most beautiful X-mas I never had such as riding a brand new white horse in the snow with a loved one ("White Horse"). I don't feel the X-mas theme is over done on this album making it a strictly X-mas album. Redemption is what echos throughout the album. These songs can be enjoyed year round.
Vigilantes Of Love Blister Soul Probably my favorite VOL album forgotten by most. I've decided to buy at least one VOL or Bill Mallonee album a month. The catalog is so vast and rich with great songs. Most of the songs on Blister Soul I've heard before, but it's nice to have them all here on one disc as they were intended to be heard. My favorite VOL song "Skin" is on this album. It's a great song of Vincent Van Gogh's tragic love of a woman who rejected him. Vincent ended up cutting his ear off over a broken heart. Bill Mallonee captures the whole thing so well in song.
Dave Gahan Hourglass For over twenty years, Dave was the front man for Depeche Mode, and that is all he was. Never wrote any songs, but was a great performer. Then a few years ago, he takes a crack at writing songs on his first solo album Paper Monsters and to every one's surprise, he can write a good song. He even contributes songs on the last Depeche Mode album Playing the Angel. Dave's songs pretty dark and dirty. After all he writes a lot about his demons that drove him to try to commit suicide (he actually succeed and was dead for several minutes before being revived). Most of the music is in the same vain of Depeche Mode. Not a huge departure. But Dave needs Depeche Mode to make such classics as "Enjoy the Silence" or "Precious". No such classics are on Hourglass.