Friday, June 27, 2008

Mix it up

I am going to spend some time this weekend digging through the archives of my youth, looking for any evidence of my connection to the mix tape phenomenon. Thank you to wellthatwasfun (or whatever your real name is) for linking to the mixed tape blog from your very interesting page. I'll be back, no doubt.

In the meantime, however, I am inspired again by a bittersweet memory of my past: making mixed tapes for my ex-crushes. It appears that everyone and their mother used this medium in many ways, creating many varying versions of the same thing. For me, the music that I put on each tape spoke the words to my "special lady friends" that I was too shy to say, or to uncool to think of. Until I find a copy of one of these tapes (which I hope is still in existence...there's no way Babymama is going to want me to start calling ex's, even in the name of posterity), I'll just confess right here and right now that a few of the voices that wooed my women included: Soundgarden, The Doobie Brothers, Simon and Garfunkel, Pearl Jam, and yes even James Taylor. I'm not ashamed to admit it...that crazy motherfucker could pitch the woo.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ro & El


Ro & El
Originally uploaded by daddyisaninja.
So I wanted to do a post on the dinner we had @ Mark & Richelle's last night, but my cameraphone pictures came out all blurry and really killed my motivation. Instead, I thought I'd post this classic of my aunt Richelle and my mom enjoying the finer things in life...case in point: White wine (boxed? perhaps?) in the back seat of the infamous VW Bus.

I noticed last night that a few things have changed for these two, like 30+ years of age, 6 kids, some grand-kids and grand-nieces and nephews, and their taste in wine, no doubt. Some things, however, do not, and I can tell from the smile in this picture, and the smile on "Ro's" face that she is still one happy camper. The fact that she sent her daughter Chelsea back to Denver to continue her path on the way to becoming the first Doctor in the family may have added a little extra glow to that smile last night.

Cheers!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Cool

Watched Cool Hand Luke for about the 19th time last night. Newman owns it.


"He was smiling... That's right. You know, that, that Luke smile of his. He had it on his face right to the very end. Hell, if they didn't know it 'fore, they could tell right then that they weren't a-gonna beat him. That old Luke smile. Oh, Luke. He was some boy. Cool Hand Luke. Hell, he's a natural-born world-shaker. "

Monday, June 23, 2008

RIP G.C.

I never thought he was the "funniest man alive". I laughed at his comedy, but not the same way other comedians make burst out loud. He was some people's favorite, but never tops on my list. That being said, I think his Zappa-esque philosophy on the power that we give to "words" was balls fucking on. He was a proponent of Free Speech, and took his case to the top. He was no hypocrite, and couldn't stand the hypocrisy that exists in the way we regulate our speech here in America. He will always stick out in my mind as having made a good mark in that arena, and he will be missed.



Fuckin' A.

Summertime, and the livin' is easy



This weekend is going to be a hard one to top, and I'm proud to say that we took advantage of the longest day of the year by a a decidedly carpe diem-esque approach to it.

Thursday night was a great kick-off to it all, with a surprise visit by my good buddy Cashill. He was en route to a bachelor party that I couldn't attend, and wanted to do a little catch-up with me first, so I took him out to the Lincoln Lounge to grab a couple of cocktails and see some of the new stuff he's been missing since moving to Seattle many years ago. It was awesome to see him, and I feel lucky to have such a good friend in my life.

Sticking with the theme of great friends, Friday evening brought on the arrival of a much-anticipated visit from our friends Keith and Stacie Glynn. They drove up from the City to spend a fun filled weekend with the family, and we did a pretty good job of filling it up with the aforementioned fun. Waiting for them to show up, Sean and I took the opportunity to carve up some of the fresh butter that is the new asphalt in our neighborhood. We carved for a couple of hours, and along with my neighbor, decided that a block party with Brown Street time trials would be in order in the next few weeks. Stay tuned.


Keith and Stacie showed up late Friday night, bearing stuffed-monster gifts for the kids, and breaking the ice perfectly. We did a great breakfast on Saturday morning, and then worked it off with a OSW-'hood-to-downtown bike ride.
I was really trying to pour on the "you should move to Reno" vibe, and it was working. (If only Oracle and CBS would let them work remotely...or open up a Reno branch...but I digress). We cooled off in the pool and got ready for the highlight of their trip: the Wildest, Richest Rodeo in the West.

I invited my brother-in-law Chris and his girlfriend Susan, my sister-in-law Keri, and my good friends Brian Ligon and Jessica Wixom, over for a pre-party bbq at the house, and we fueled up and carpooled over to the Livestock Events Center. We had a great box and got up front and personal with the horses, bulls, cowgirls/boys and of course the inevitable dirt clods in the Coors Light! Keith & Stacie really enjoyed the Rodeo, and I've probably said it before: it's one of my all time favorite things to do.



Hopefully their trip up will become an annual tradition, but after the waffles I made on Sunday morning, they claimed they might be up even sooner just for breakfast ;-) Seriously, these two people are so very special to my family. They totally connected with Sean and Ireland, and they are about as down to earth and sweet as anyone I know. I can't really put into words how much I love them, and Babymama feels the same. I hope we see them again very soon.

I played in the weekly baseball game loss @ Moana, but managed not to hurt myself and still get a hit. By last night, another bbq with Dick & Sharon and Keri & Cori was in order. Kirsten and her boy Warren even popped in for a visit, but couldn't stay around for the whiskey-maple-brown-sugar-brined pork chops that I grilled up. Their loss.

I'm a big fan of Summertime in the Biggest Little City. Even though it has just begun, there's even a part of me that gets sad to know that the days will start getting shorter..like we have peaked. The only way to combat this thought is by soaking it up and enjoying every waking minute of it. I think we can handle it.

Monday, June 16, 2008

It's Not About The Mountain

As some readers already know, I've been alluding to my Mt. Whitney hike on this blog now for some time. Well, I've finally done the deed, and more importantly, gotten a hold of the pictures to prove it, so without further ado: here's how it went down.


In the weeks prior to the hike, I had made some feeble attempts at training for the climb, but let's be real: injuries and my penchant for the "sauce" had really hindered any worthwhile preparation for what I had in store for me this last weekend. In fact, my one and only training hike occurred the weekend prior, wherein I struggled to get to the top of the mighty Peavine Mountain...yeah, I knew I was in for a wake-up call with the tallest mountain in the Continental U.S. Sure enough, Friday the 13th rolled around the corner like a fucking Mack truck, and I was suddenly smack in the middle of a commitment I had made some months ago.

For me, a big part of this trip was hooking back up with some childhood friends that I don't get to see very much these days. When I put in for my permit to climb the mountain, I applied for a party of 4, and proceeded to fill the spaces with 3 dudes I went to elementary school with. I called the hike the "Roy Gomm Gopher Fun Day", and anyone who has a connection to that school will get the joke. It was well received by my 3 buddies: Pat Ormsby, Mike Austin and Cody Remaklus, and back in March the 4 of us decided we would take this mountain ON. Unfortunately, Cody had a conflict of life scheduling happen to him, and he had to bail out. Pat stepped up and invited the only non-gopher of the group, Jonny Neuhoff, an Ex-Marine and a quality individual. I was happy to get to know him as a friend over the course of the weekend. The company was really the key to the experience, and it was a special treat for me to re-connect with Pat and Mike. Growing up through elementary and middle school, I spent a ton of time with these two guys. We hung out every day after school, took occasional family trips with each other, and just always had fun. When I left the Swope crowd to attend Bishop Manogue, they went on to Reno High, and we sort of lost touch. I would see them here or there at parties, bars, random occurences...but it was a rare and often short exposure when we hung out. The weekend proved to be such a cool opportunity to remember and reacquaint myself with the deep, thoughtful and high quality of character that these guys are made of.






I picked up Mike first, and we swung out to Jonny's house where he and Pat were both checking out their new cameras. (Most of the pictures in this post are thanks to them, as my Canon decided to take a shit a few days before the trip!) I paid my most sincere respects to Jonny's Dodger memorabilia throughout the house, and knew right away that I wouldn't have a hard time getting to know this guy. Both he and Pat are big Dodger fans, so the 3 of us share the pain! We loaded up the car and headed South on 395 towards Lone Pine, CA.

























Just past Carson, we started talking about lunch, realizing from what we had read that this should be our last big meal, and full of the carbs that would fuel our bodies up and down the mountain. By the time we trickled into Minden, I had a flashback to an evening almost 20 years ago, when I ate dinner at the Overland Hotel and watched Kirk Gibson's walk-off home run that helped the Dodgers win the World Series. I told the crew about that last time I was in the Overland, and that I thought they might be serving lunch. Everyone was more than game, so we parked in back and mosey'd through the back door just in time for a great 5-course Basque meal that was topped off with some of the best lamb chops I've ever had.



We had no feelings of guilt about sharing the chilled bottle of Chianti that came with the lunch, and we toasted what would turn out to be a monumental journey.


The miles flew by all the way down to Lone Pine, and the combination of 2 Ipods and 4 perspectives on what's been going on for the last 20 years or so made for a great ride down. We got to the ranger station well before the 6pm cutoff time, and picked up our permits and our poop bags. That's right, I just said poop bags. You see, Mt. Whitney is one of the most popular American wilderness destinations for outdoor enthusiasts. Not only are the number of visitors to the "Mt. Whitney Zone" required to have a permit (given away in a lottery process every February) to be on the mountain, but some years ago the Agency started to require all hikers to pack out their own human waste. Think I'm kidding? Check out this video and you'll see for yourself. How humiliating and uncomfortable. (I'll save you the suspense right here and say that although we each packed the poobags up the mountain, none of us dropped the deuce until we were safely back down to the comforts of seat and walls.)

With permits and bags in hand, we decided to drive up to the Whitney Portal trail head to get our bearings and check out the conditions by talking to climbers in the Whitney Portal Store. The Mt. Whitney Trail starts at the Portal, and it's 8,360 foot elevation is just a little higher up than the lodge at Mt. Rose. As we made our way up the winding road to the trail head, the significance of the mountain really got our attention. Despite the fact that there were at least 2 hours of daylight left in the evening, the shadow of the mountain engulfed us as we pulled into the parking area. An 80-foot waterfall blasted down from the first ledge above us, feeding a lake that was sprinkled with fishermen and campers. The sound of the water was loud and created a white noise background for the spectacle of sun-kissed cliffs shooting straight up into the sky. We were in awe of what must lay behind these mountains, and we knew that in a few hours, it would be revealed.


Heading back down into Lone Pine, we decided to grab a quick snack and then hit the sack at the Dow Villa Motel, where we had a little 3-bed + roll-a-way room waiting for us. We were all tucked in before 9pm, knowing that we would have to wake up at 2am to get on the mountain in time to summit and make it back down before dark. Just as the much-needed sleep started to hit us, a motel employee started pounding on the door much the same way as I see the police do it on COPS. We were all startled into a sobering state of awakeness/fear, and I answered the door and dealt with a stupid young man who had made a mistake. I won't get into the story, but needless to say, it pissed me off in a Royal way, and we all tried to forget it and just get back to trying to sleep. It was probably about an hour later when a child in the room next door started screaming. There really aren't words to describe the type of scream that it was, either. I have 2 children, and have had many a sleepless night listening to crying, but never like this. The sound was a combination of fear and pain, and I could only imagine what must have been wrong with him/her. Although a woman was trying to console this poor child, the screaming went on for close to 45 minutes. After about 20 of those, I tried calling the front desk, but there was no answer. Fortunately, the parent or guardian next door made the right call and removed the child from the motel, which was extremely old and had amazingly thin walls. I think it was probably close to midnight when they returned, and although there was no more screaming, the shock factor was hard to overcome, and I don't think any of us even got a solid 30 minutes of sleep. At 1am my confused phone, roaming and forgetting which time zone we were in, woke us up with a pre-mature alarm. When 2am rolled around, we had to face the hard fact that it was time to go. Sleep or no sleep, we had come too far to back out now. We packed up and drove up the dark, winding road back to the Portal.

The foothills up to the trail are called the "Alabama Hills", and were made famous by many, many Western movies showcasing names like John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. Most recently, Russel Crowe was a Gladiator in these same hills, and Robert Downey Jr. escaped evil terrorist clutches in an iron suit. Lone Pine's claim to fame, other than being adjacent to Mt. Whitney, is their annual Film Festival which happens, I think, every October. I'm actually going to look into it, because the quaint cowboy town had just enough character to make me think about returning on a more relaxed pace to soak it up some more. For the time being, however, there was that ominous, giant of a mountain ahead.


The stars, even with a 3/4 full moon, blanketed the night sky above us in a spectacular display. The temperature was absolutely perfect, with a brisk chill that was just enough to keep us from overheating on the first leg of the hike. At about 3:15am we turned on our headlamps and took the first steps up the trail, enjoying a nice 3-4 mph pace that Pat started us off at.


The early hours were made up of relatively easy switchbacks, and a very gradual ascent that meandered across streams (with well-placed rocks to step across) and eventually up a very deep canyon that fed into the bottom of Lone Pine Lake.

We passed around the North side and continued up to Outpost Camp, which sits at 10,365 feet. There was another beautiful waterfall next to this camp, helping to mask our noise and keep us from waking the campers that were still catching z's in the comforts of their tents, which were dotted throughout the valley. We pushed on, not really stopping yet as we were full of piss and vinegar, and we cruised through a cool meadow and past Mirror Lake as the daylight really came on us. I remember thinking that this mountain was like a granite stairmaster as we pushed hard to get up to Trail Camp, the last staging area for all of those "2-to-4-day" summiters, sitting at 12,000 feet.


Trail camp was above the treeline and windy, and the fact that it was at that tricky altitude of about 12,000 feet got our attention when Mike (who had pushed ahead to get there) had to take a few minutes to get his bearings and his breath.



To be honest, we were all starting to feel a little fatigue, and whether it was sleep deprivation or just the first signs of altitude sickness, the tone was decidedly changed. We put down some cliff bars and water and got our shit together. Ahead of us, just up the hill a few clicks, were the "97 Switchbacks".



For me, this was absolutely the hardest part of the hike. A combination of snow and ice made these switchbacks pretty challenging, and coupled with my own minor delirium from not acclimating to the altitude that well, I ended up having to stop just short of a heart attack several times. In my head I kept track of the number that we were on, which is one of the things I like to do while on a long endurance-type of event. I do math, and usually sing songs to myself. Counting the switchbacks and attaching meaning to each number, I made my way up the mountain. Number 19 was a great Steely Dan Song, #32 was a great Chili Peppers song about Magic Johnson, #53 was how old my dad was when he reached the summit less than a year ago. I couldn't wait to tell him on Father's Day that I had done the same thing.


With some good pushing and patience from my friends, we made it up to #97, and took a look at what would be the most frightening part of the day: The snow-covered traverse leading up to the trail crest. Without crampons or ice axes, we all paid strict, close attention to the fact that this section was nothing if not Gnarly. Every step was important, and with the snow softening every second, the possibility of slipping down thousands of feet into the rocks was very fucking real. I said a prayer (or a few) and reminded everybody to keep their heads on straight. Pat Ormsby, with ice water running through his veins, snapped this picture while ON the snow.






We arrived at the trail crest at about 9:45 am and ate a quick lunch while enjoying the amazing views from 13,600 feet above the world.






We were making great time, but although there was less than 1,000 feet of climbing to go, the hardest part was just around the corner. I knew that the altitude was getting to everyone, so I popped a Ginko and a Tylenol, and encouraged everyone else to do the same. We moved on, first descending a bit along the back side of the mountain, and then making the final steep push for the summit. Despite hard pounding hearts, mental fatigue, and some physical struggle, Mike and I went on auto-pilot and tough-loved our way up to the top.

Pat and Jonny followed close behind, and joined us minutes later. Mike crashed on a rock and tried to get back to normal, but at 14,500 feet, it's not an easy task. I was so emotionally charged up about making it that I wanted to scream with joy, but the tone on this barren, windy tip was rather somber, and I thought that a bold yell might irritate the few hikers that were up there. Instead, we celebrated by pulling our ceremonial Guinness' out of our heavy packs and saying cheers, Gopher steeze. (Pictures to come.) It was 11:30 when we got up there, and by 12:30 we were signing the book at the top and heading back down the mountain.



The down is usually my favorite part of a hike, but some sports-related injuries managed to creep up on me before I even got back to the trail crest. Both my left knee and ankle started popping out and rolling, and were it not for the poles, I don't know how I would have made it back down. It was amazing to see how long it actually took to get off the mountain, passing through so much that we couldn't observe in the dark hours of our early ascent.

It turned out to be just as difficult to make it through the last 2 hours down the canyon, but when the Portal gates popped into view, my joy and energy was renewed. Mike and Pat had beat Jonny and I down by a good 15 minutes or so, and I found them in the store, eating burgers and drinking Gatorade. I opted for the first beer in sight, and put it down like it was my last supper.

We were all physically and emotionally drained, and it took a few pitchers of Coors back in Lone Pine to get us happy again, but we managed. I ended up losing 7 pounds that day, but since the actual "publishing" of this post, I have easily gained 2 or 3 of those back. It's amazing what the Wagon will do once you fall right back off!




The car ride home the next morning was full of stories, recanting the adventure that we had all just soaked up, remembering some of the challenges that we all overcame, and realizing that for each one of us this was without a doubt the most challenging task we have ever undertaken. We even got to planning what our next great experience might be. It's still being tossed around, but I for one don't want to let it stop at Whitney. I had an amazing time, magnified exponentially by the fact that Mike, Pat and Jonny were wonderful partners and trustworthy men to take to the top of a mountain. I hope that some day I can go back up there with Sean, who when I walked in the door Sunday afternoon, came flying through the air with a hug-tackle that lasted for 20 minutes. He had made a bunch of Father's Day drawings for me, including a couple of he and I and Bodie on a mountain. I think he gets it.


I have a new respect for Whitney, and I'll even say for life. It's not really that hard of a climb for most amateur hikers, and doing it in a day is very common, but for me the whole experience proved to be anything but.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The resemblence is uncanny

This is a picture Sean drew for me in school, but couldn't wait until father's day to give to me. What blows me away the most is how freaking much Sean looks like me in this picture. It's seriously frightening. I'm a little bummed that he didn't get my good side in the profile of my face, but my body looks really good, so it sort of makes up for that. I wish I could say that I'm not actually losing that much hair, too, but apparently Sean is from the realist school of artistic interpretation. Anyway, I'm pretty stoked on this brilliant work, and it's now up in my office totally forcing the rest of the artwork on the walls to step the fuck up.

I love that kid.

Friday, June 6, 2008

6

So I've been 'tagged' by Kj to participate in a 6 word memoir meme. The idea is this: I am to summarize my life, Hemmingway steeze, in 6 words or less. Hmmmmm...although I could get all cerebral about this thing, I prefer to fire off the first thing that comes to mind, so:

"I'm happy if I can help."

Yep, that just about sums it up. Sometimes my help is in the literal form. Sometimes it involves my truck or my muscles or my words or my speed-diaper-changing abilities. Sometimes it simply involves my ears. Sometimes it involes me doing what's right to bring new human beings into this world that will make it a better place. Of course, sometimes my help involves me splitting my head open in the name of comedy so funny that it makes people pee their pants before they call for the medic. The main thing is that I want to feel wanted, I guess. This blog and my sort of ego-fired desire to put my thoughts out to the world is but one little example.

Anyway, I didn't want to get all heady, and it's going that direction, so I'll finish up with a little thought about how this Kj person found me. Apparently, like her, I had "The Razors Edge" in my list of favorite movies. Well played.


"The Razors Edge" was made in 1984 and directed by John Byrum. It was written by John Byrum and Bill Murray, based upon the novel of the same name by W. Somerset Maugham. It stars Bill Murray (one of my favorite actors, if not THE one) as Larry, a man in search of himself. The story is about the journey Larry goes through, and some of the discoveries he makes along the way. One quote that has always stuck with me from the movie is the following:

"The path to enlightenment is as sharp and narrow as a razor's edge".

I find that there is so much truth in this statement, and that it serves as a reminder to me as I get older. It helps me think of the world in two different ways:

First, I know that deep inside, the difference between right and wrong is obvious. There is ultimately always only one choice to make. There is no grey area, and if I want to do the right thing, the way is narrow and unbending.

Secondly, there are people out there that may claim to be walking the righteous path at all times, and the louder they talk, the greater the chance is that they are compensating for their inability to walk on the edge of that razor. Straight edgers and religious zealots come instantly to mind. The truly righteous, on the other hand, won't usually be found preaching about the way because they are too busy trying to balance on the path to worry about what others are doing.

Anyway, thank you, Kj, for picking on me, and inspiring a post with actual content.

Missa Floppa


Missa Floppa
Originally uploaded by daddyisaninja.
This is just one of the reasons I love Jack. He will not be outdone in a belly-flop contest. He's my dad's age, but don't tell him that, because he won't believe you. I have a hard time believing it, myself.

He's a killer father, a great husband, a stud of a man and a perfect brother-in-law. Even though I do a better, face-planting version of the belly-flop, there is still so much I can learn from Missa Fisha.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Pretty Things

Here are a few of the pretty things that like to hang around my house in the twilight.

These flowers on the side of my driveway that just exploded into bloom:


This blonde chick in the front seat of my Jeep that constantly demands, "Daddy...New SONG!" on the Ipod while she "drives":


This blonde dude who likes to ham it up in the back seat.


This blonde Babymama who...


...Hey, we're taking pictures here, look pretty!


That's better.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Magna

There are a lot of special people in my life, and I am appreciative of each and every one. God smiled on me in a big way when I was welcomed into my wife's family, and so many additional people were added to that list of "specials". I was lucky enough to show one of them some love this weekend, and what better way for yours truly to do so, than to throw them a party?

I know, none. I love parties.

I met my niece Calli when she was still a little middle-schooler. She's always been bright, and it's been a treat to see her grow into such a smart, beautiful young woman. She is the kind of girl that makes everyone proud to be around her, and after 4 short years, she has done it again by graduating Magna Cum Laude from USC's Annenberg School of Journalism. She worked both behind the scenes as a producer and on camera as an anchor, and I feel confident saying that Reno be seeing more of her now that she's moved back.

On Saturday, Babymama and I volunteered our house and my very own blend of magnetic personality/breakdancing skills/bartending panache/belly-flopability to host a party in her honor. It kicked ass. Her parents, Jack and Keri, who I love so dearly, picked up the food and the booze, and we did the damn thing. The ladies looked fantastic.
The house was decorated nicely with help from everyone, especially Babymama's parents, who did some pre-game landscape touch-ups all week.
My man Jess hooked up the PA and we cranked the tunes through the neighborhood. Once it was too late to rock the hippedy-hoppidy on the back lawn, everyone moved downstairs to the bar to kill more shots of Patron than the Federales at a Baja check point on Spring Break weekend.
The little groms even got involved, and although it's tough to tell from the blurry nature of this shot, they showed off their dance moves for the crowd, too.


Anyway, it was yet another great party and it made for a very typically rough Sunday morning. The only difference is that Calli's boy Kyle and I had to sack up for a 9am woodbat baseball game, in which our team took the Bad News Bears concept to a more hungover, R-rated level. I took a sharp one-hopper at first with my kneecap, and still can't walk right. Hung or not, though, I DID go 2-for-3 with 2 singles off of last year's WAC pitcher of the year. Hard to brag on it, though, when my team is still winless, and got 10-run-ruled in the 7th. Will this pain and humiliation stop me from doing it again?
Come on, seriously?