Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Pictures from Kickball

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, we had the annual Imago Dei Kickball. Here are the pictures:

We were the Super Mario team. As you can see, we had lots of props and even a ghost from Super Mario 3.

Here is me and Woogy holding a mushroom. They always have a snow cone machine on hand that is very refreshing after playing kickball all day.

Here we are playing against the Scots (or the Bravehearts). This was the team that sent us home finally after 6 games of kickball.

Woogy made a friend during the final game and started playing with my mustache. Can't wait till next year.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Weekend in Seattle

This weekend, we celebrated our 8th anniversary/ my birthday-- by spending the weekend in Seattle. My parents came up and watched the kids for the weekend (although I don't think they will do again. Our kids are pretty hard to manage if you don't have the energy) so Wah-Wah and I could visit a city we've been wanting to see since we moved to the northwest. So Wah-Wah and I left early Saturday morning and drove three north to the Emerald City.

This is Seattle's skyline as scene from a boat. I didn't realize that Seattle is actually about 80 miles from the ocean. According to Google, Seattle also gets more rain fall than Portland (only by a couple of inches). I didn't think that any place got more rain than Portland. We lucked out this weekend with not a cloud in the sky.

Our first stop was the Seattle Aquarium. Since my parents volunteer at the Oregon Coast Aquarium, we get in that one for free, but this one we had to actually pay for. It was nice for the diver to pose with Wah-Wah.
The highlight of the aquarium was this real life "Marlin and Dory" from Finding Nemo. It was just like watching the movie-- but in real life. I guess I just don't get that excited in aquariums anymore.

After spending a couple hours in the aquarium, we went on a harbor cruise on this delightful ship.

We got a pretty good view of the city from the boat. Here is of course, the Space Needle. Just to the left of the Space Needle, up on the hill side, Frasier Crane lives. Actually, I learned that only one episode of "Frasier" was filmed in Seattle.

After getting off the boat, Wah-Wah and I rushed over to the monorail and rode it to the Space Needle where we had a dinner reservations at 5:15. Eating in the Space Needle is an experience. The restaurant rotates once every 45 minutes. I took the picture above on our second time around. It's pretty cool that you can get up and go to the bathroom then come back and your table is gone to the other side of the restuarant.

Here we are at dinner. Unfortunately, due to a late lunch, I wasn't very hungry. However, they have very little on the menu for under $30, so I ended up eating an Alaskan Grilled Halibut. It was delicious. In 8 years of marriage, we have never had such an expensive meal. I think we ended up spending over $120. Can't afford to do that but once a decade.

On Sunday, we took the bus to Pike's Place Market. It is a pretty famous area in Seattle with about everything. Lots of fresh produce, ethnic food, arts and crafts, music, and Starbucks. Yes, this is hollowed ground. This is the first Starbucks--ever. Sadly, I already had my coffee at the motel, so I didn't need another.

Another great discovery down the corner was this bakery that sold gluten free muffins. We had to stop here twice for some treats for Wah-Wah.

Our last stop in Seattle was at the Science Fiction Museum/Experience Music museum. This was a pretty cool building next to the Space Needle where visitors paid one price and got into both museums. We went to the Sci Fi Museum first. We saw lots of replicas of from Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers, etc. I enjoyed this since it was a history of Science Fiction- from Jules Verne to George Lucas. Unfortunately, cameras were not permitted, but I still took the picture of Yoda with my flash turned off. I can be such a rebel sometimes.
You would think that a music buff like myself, would dig the Experience Music museum, but I didn't really find it that interesting. The first half was devoted all to Jimi Hendrix. I'm well aware of Jimi's status in music, but I never had to patience's for his 20 minute jams. Upstairs, was jam area where you got music instruction on being in a band. Finally, towards the end, they had a area devoted to the Seattle scene of the 1990's. I did enjoy this area with such displays from Nirvana and Pearl Jam. I would have preferred a U2 section.

Monday, July 14, 2008

McKinley Cup 08

" Imago Dei Community has a long and deep-seated history with kickball. We play to create unity and have fun, not to battle out grievances. Kickball is a complex game consisting of two teams, bases, and a big red ball. There is to be no bounces, bunts, tantrums, or hollering at the opposing team. This is a civilized game."
That was taken from the Imago Dei website signally the start of Imago's annual kickball tournament that was held last Saturday. This year, my Weds night home group got together and we decided to go this year as Team Mario (If you have never played "Super Mario" on the old Nintendo, you may not know who "Mario" is). Everyone (including yours truly) came dressed in overalls, with red hats and mustaches. We even made props such as mushrooms, stars, coins, and bricks. To top it off, someone downloaded the old Mario music and put it on repeated play. Sadly, I didn't have the camera this year (Wah-Wah was taking pictures on her hike), but I hope someone will send some that I could post.
I thought we all looked pretty good, and we won best custom beating out "The Scots" (they were dressed like Braveheart) and the "Spartans" (got their inspiration from "300"). This was our second year in a row of winning best custom. The prize is a pink bath robe with plastic flowers on it.
Unfortunately, we didn't when the prized McKinley Cup(which is pictured above on our pastor's head). We did make it pretty far by winning 4 out of 6 games. Why Imago chooses to play the annual tournament in the middle of July on a field with no shade is perplexing. After playing 6 games of kickball, by the afternoon, you are pretty tired and don't really care about winning. It is all pretty fun though and I look forward to playing again next year.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Oaks Park

My birthday turned out to be a beautiful day in Portland. To celebrate my birthday, we took the family to Portland's only amusement park--Oaks Park, because nothing helps you remember your age better than going to an amusement park.
Anyway, Oaks Park is no Disney World or Worlds Of Fun for that matter. It is however a great deal. For $11 to $14 dollars you get a bracelet to unlimited rides. No admission price, no parking price, and you can bring whatever food you want. For under $50, we entertained a family of 4 for the afternoon.

Here's Woogy on the kiddie coaster there. It was a pretty bumpy kiddie coaster and it scared the heck out of Nibbles. Woogy, however seemed to really enjoy it and must have rode in 6 times. I was pretty impressed with some of the rides he decided to go on. Who knows, when he's older maybe he will be one of those roller coaster enthusiast who travels the country for the ultimate thrill.

Nibbles doesn't like speed or bumps, but apparently doesn't mind altitude. Here's her and Wah-Wah getting on the Ferris wheel.

Here's Woogy and Nibbles in one of those kiddie rides. I would have gone with them, but I would need the "jaws of life" to get back out.

Here's Nibbles on the Merry Go Round.

Here's Wah-Wah in the Rock-o-plane. This is like a Ferris wheel only the cage you are in spins around. Much to my surprise, the kids went on this with us. It kind of freaked them out. I should have trusted my gut and not allowed them to go.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

June's Music

I got a little carried away, but there was so much good music I got this month. So much good stuff to listen to, so little time.

Coldplay Viva La Vida The big news this month was the long awaited release of the new Coldplay. Despite a few critics, I absolutely loved Coldplay's last album, 2005's X&Y and was wondering how they were going to top that. On this album, Coldplay enlisted the help of famed U2 producer Brian Eno and tried reinventing themselves and their sound. The results are definitely taking their sound somewhere different, much like U2 did back in the 90's. Where as X&Y has it's woolly imagery of planets and oceans, sounded like it was recorded in a immaculate space station, Viva La Vida sounds very terrestrial in it's origins. Splashes of middle eastern strings and Afro beats are more apparent on this album. Still, the songs have that Coldplay punch and are just as warm and uplifting as their previous works.

Sigur Ros Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust roughly translates to "With a Buzz In Our Ears We Play Endlessly" I always have a hard time describing a Sigur Ros album, probably because there are few words that can describe them. I guess the cover art could best describe this album as being summer with the coming to a new horizon. Like all their most recent work, this is so full of life and pushes you mind and soul and gently challenges your ears. No other band on the planet sounds like Sigur Ros. They will be here in Portland in October. One of the best live bands that I have ever seen.

Bon Voyage Lies Jason Martin creates genius again, this time with his side band fronted by his wife, Julie. The past couple of Bon Voyage albums were pretty heavy on guitars that mixed well with Julie's ethereal child like voice. Lies instead ditches the heavy guitars and relies on a lot of synth with 60's style motown hooks. The results are the best Bon Voyage album yet. I just picked up this one a few days ago and can't stop listening to it. Even a Smith's song "Girlfriend In a Coma" was given proper justice here. Jason is as good with synth as he is with guitars.

Joy Electric My Grandfather the Cubist The other side of the Martin family offered up this new one. Ronnie Martin usually releases an album a year, and this year's album is his finest in a long time. Ronnie loves to educate his listeners in history and what has been forgotten in recent years such as the telephone booth. Ronnie also performs songs about artist MC Escher, and Copernicus (two subjects that I have never heard covered in song before). Some of my favorite tracks here like "Whether By Horse or Horseless" recall the sound of his first album Melody.

The Radio Dept. Pet Grief
Another brilliant recommendation from itunes this month. Radio Dept is the perfect blend of post shoe gaze and with some electro glithces. This Swedish indie band can probably draw comparisons to M83's new album in my eyes. Another great album that brings to mind lazy days of summer. Breathy vocals with harder guitars and with enough sun drenched synth creates a sunny and bright atmosphere on this album.
Airiel The Battle of Sealand A pretty impressive debut full length album from these Chicago shoegazers. Airiel follows a lot of the shoegazer formula of loud guitars and vocals that cannot be understood. There intentions here are to create aural majesty that occasionally turns to industrial noise. Beautiful album if you love shoegazing.

Lassie Foundation Through and Through
Another one of my favorite "shoegazer" type bands released this album some time ago. Unfortunately, the first part of this album is all previously material, leaving around 7 songs on the second half that were all unreleased. Not too long ago, Through and Through appeared on itunes and I was able to buy the 7 songs I needed. The previously unreleased songs are pretty typical sounding Lassie Foundation songs that are a must for their fans (there aren't too many of us out there).

Pedro the Lion Tour EP '04 It seems like forever since we last heard anything new from David Bazan. Lately, I've been a little hungry for so new tunes. I found this disc in the budget rack for a nice $3. Worth owning for David's cover of Radiohead's "Let Down."