Monday, May 30, 2005

Little Sister Anna Turns 6

Just want to wish a happy birthday to my little sister Anna, who turned 6 today. Although I sent a card, I'm holding off on her birthday gift until I see her in person in June (so I can see her reaction when she opens it).

My little sister Anna with little brother JP taken last Christmas. (12/24/04)

I'm also wishing happy birthday to Anna's mom, and my stepmom, Malena, whose birthday is one day prior. So happy birthday to Anna and Malena!

Santa Cruz Trip: Day Three

For our third and final full day in Santa Cruz, Doris and Jenn chartered a yacht for a two-hour private sailing excursion in the Monterey Bay. It was on a Catalina 42 (which, for you landlubbers, means it was 42 feet long). It was the perfect size boat for the number of people on board (Doris & Jenn’s newlywed friends Dustin and Jennifer also joined us for the ride).

Tim and James sailing in the Monterey Bay. (05/30/05)

The weather was picture perfect, with not a cloud in the sky. I was anticipating an overcast morning, since that’s how it was the day prior. We got there around 11 and motored out shortly afterward. Once we cleared the shore and got out to open winds, the captain cut the engine and let out the sails. I was really surprised at the speed we had.

Doris and Jenn brought along the lunch they had made: sandwiches made with either prosciutto or salami on toasted baguettes, various gourmet chips, and of course, a couple of bottles of wine. The food was almost incredible as the fantastic views of Santa Cruz.

Doris and Jenn sare a laugh with the captain. (05/30/05)

One highlight was the wildlife we saw, including sea lions and a pod of bottlenose dolphins that we saw near the Capitola wharf. We were right in the direction the dolphins were heading, and we saw their back fins surface about 30 feet away from us. I tried to get a picture, but wasn’t fast enough (although I got a lovely picture of the water).

After sailing, we went to downtown Santa Cruz, which I hadn’t seen in probably 10-12 years (and Tim had never seen). It was very nice. Of course the last time I had seen it, there was still considerable damage from the 1989 earthquake.

Some of the kooky characters in downtown Santa Cruz. (05/30/05)

Afterwards, we went back to Doris & Jenn’s house and rested up before going to dinner. We chose a place called Palapas in Aptos, since it promised a great view of the sunset. It’s a Mexican restaurant known for its mango margaritas, which we ordered. After splitting an order of ceviche, we ordered our dinners. Mine was a seafood pozole which was delicious.

The mango margaritas at Palapas in Aptos. (05/30/05)

The rest of the night, we just hung out, swapped some music and played with Jenn’s original Star Wars figures from her childhood (the old ones that came out after the original film release). It was a nice way to end the weekend.

May the force be with you. (05/30/05)

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Santa Cruz Trip: Day Two

Today we went somewhere where I hadn’t been in more than 20 years: The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. I think I was in junior high the last time I set foot there. It was the very first time for Tim — and one of those rare moments where I’ve actually been somewhere that Tim hasn’t (my parents weren’t RV enthusiasts).

A view of the boardwalk and the beach, from the sky tram. (05/29/05)

We had a great time going on many of the rides, and eating all sorts of junk food (garlic fries, cheese on a stick, English toffee, and cotton candy — freshly made, not that pre-bagged stuff). I also had much more appreciation for the Boardwalk’s history than I did as a kid.

Tim had them make cotton candy right before his very eyes (no pre-bagged cotton candy for him). (05/29/05)

It’s not only California’s oldest amusement park, it’s also a State Historic Landmark. At one point there were seven seaside amusement parks in California. Today the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is the last remaining one. It’s also home to two National Historic Landmarks: the Looff Carousel and the Giant Dipper roller coaster.

The Looff carousel, built in 1911, features one of the few remaining brass ring machines in the country (although these days the rings are made of steel), and if you grab outside horses (which we did), you can still grab a ring and attempt to throw it in the clown’s mouth. Meanwhile, the original 342-pipe band organ plays a delightful, early twentieth century musical accompaniment.

Tim, Jenn and Doris get ready to grab the rings on the historic 1911 Looff Carousel. (05/29/05)

The Giant Dipper roller coaster, built by Arthur Looff in 1924, is the 7th oldest operating roller coaster in the world, and hosted its 50 millionth rider in 2002. It was built in just 47 days at a cost of $50,000. Cost to ride on opening day was 15 cents (today it’s $3.60 for an individual ticket). And after years of roller coaster riding, this one still holds up.

In addition to the carousel and roller coaster, we also rode the caveman ride, bumper cars, the sky tram, the pirate ship, some skydiving ride, another smaller roller coaster and some ghost hunting ride where you shoot targets in a haunted house.

Jenn, Tim and Doris have a great time on the cliff hanger. (05/29/05)

We left around 2:30 to go back to Doris & Jenn’s home to rest up a little before dinner, which was at some kooky Italian restaurant called Ciao Bella in a zany little town in the mountains called Ben Lomond.

Tim and James having fun at Ciao Bella in Ben Lomond. (05/29/05)

The interior design is simply unbelievable: disco balls, street signs, black lights, old Barbra Streisand albums, feather boas, and in the ladies room an homage to certain body parts (Jenn took a picture for us, but it’s not really very suitable for this blog).

It was lots of fun, and chock full of entertainment, including karaoke, and a well choreographed dance by the proprietor and our waitress Tapper while wearing Bill and Hillary Clinton masks (sounds weird, I know … which is exactly what it was!).

"Bill and Hillary" do the funky chicken at Ciao Bella in Ben Lomond. (05/29/05)

It was a grand ole time, and a great closer to an adventurous day.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Santa Cruz Trip: Day One

We decided to spend Memorial Day weekend with our friends Doris & Jen in Santa Cruz. For years, we’ve been coming to the Bay Area and visiting friends and family members. Yet every time we never manage to see Doris and Jenn (since we’re always really limited on time and Santa Cruz really requires a full day commitment at minimum).

Tim, Jenn and Doris enjoy a taste of Bargetto Winery in the Santa Cruz mountains. (5/28/05)

So to make up for those years of neglect, we decided to spend the entire weekend with Doris and Jenn (my dad is out of town this weekend anyway). In fact, in the 16 years that I’ve been friends with Doris, this trip marks the very first time I’ve ever been to her home.

After a long night of driving, we finally arrived at about 2:30am this morning. After getting a few hours sleep, we were up by 9:30 am to enjoy a fantastic breakfast of toasted bagels, cream cheese and chives, smoked salmon, sliced cucumbers, sliced onions and capers.

After showering up, we headed out for a day of wine tasting. First stop: The Bargetto winery in Soquel, which is just minutes away from Doris & Jenn’s home. Of the wines we tried, only the cabernet sauvignon stood out. At the very least we had fun talking to the old guy who was pouring our samples.

Afterward we headed to a fancy cheese store, where we sampled (and subsequently purchased) some fantastic cheeses, olives and gourmet crackers.

Tim and James enjoying the wine at Hallcrest Vineyards in Felton. (05/28/05)

Next we headed to a quirky little winery in the hills: The Bonny Doon Vineyard in Bonny Doon, which was a blast. The wine labels on the bottles alone were worth the trip. We had some fantastic wines here, including my five-star favorites: Muscat Vin de Glaciere, Grenache Blanc and Angelica. Honorable mention goes to the Pacific Rim Chenin Blanc (of which we bought a chilled bottle for the picnic) and Bouteille Call (pronounced Booty Call).

Our third and final winery stop was the Hallcrest Vineyards in Felton, where we tried a number of their organic and conventional wines. While there we purchased a fantastic Pinot Noir from the Belle Farms Vineyard. Afterward, we took our wine and had a gorgeous summer picnic on their terrace overlooking an open field.

Doris samples some of the many delights we had at our picnic. (05/28/05)

We had mozzarella and tomato salad, prosciutto and cheese rolls, a variety of cheeses (including a fantastic lamb’s milk camembert) and crackers, an organic sunflower seed rye bread and our wine.

We headed back to their home, watched the Aviator on DVD, and then ate a fantastic dinner of barbecued chicken, fresh veggies, cheesy potatoes and cucumber salad. For dessert, we had a very refreshing dish of baked nectarines a la mode. It was the perfect ending for such a pleasant day.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Add Us to Your Netflix Friends List

After a four-year hiatus, we've decided to join Netflix again. We used to be members a while back (and loved it), but once we got TiVo, we just never had time to watch DVDs anymore. I think we had the same movies for three months or better before we decided to cancel. But now that a lot of our shows have ended (and now that we've pledged not to take on any new ones) I think we'll have a little more time.

Member of Netflix? Invite us to join your Netflix friends list! (05/25/05)

So if any of you reading this are members, please invite us to join your Netflix friends list so we can share movie reviews, recommendations, etc. (Incidentally, I highly recommend The Warriors, one of the first movies we got. I enjoyed it in my childhood and enjoyed it again as an adult). :)

Sunday, May 22, 2005

More Saturday Antics

We had a very pleasant Saturday. First, our friends Jon and Amy came by to go swimming in the afternoon. Then later in the evening, we were joined by our friends Jason, and later, Jolynn. It was great seeing Jolynn, whom we hadn't seen in person in probably a couple of years.

We decided to have dinner at Tan Hoang Huong, the Vietnamese restaurant nearby, which was a blast. It's always nice to take new people there, because somehow or another, somebody tries something new on the menu that we haven't tried before. The latest thing is a drink that Jason ordered caled So-da Chanh Muoi, which is soda with lime preserved in salt. I think I'm going to have to order one of those myself next time around.

Amy, Jolynn, Jon, Jason and Tim as we enjoy our dinner at our favorite Vietnamese restaurant. (05/21/05)

Afterward we came back to play games ane eat (of course) Krispy Kreme donuts. Creatures of habit we've become. Mad props go to Amy for winning the round of Clue after Tim and I were both so confident that we had correct accusations.

Amy and Jolynn eating spring rolls. Insert your own joke here. :) (05/21/05)

The night wasn't lost however, when Jolynn and I mopped the floor with our decisive victory in '90s Trivial Pursuit (actually we were getting so tired by that point, everyone was practically giving us the answers so we can call the game to a close).

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Closed, The Circle Is

After 28 years, we can finally say we've come full circle and seen all six Star Wars films. The day: Friday night. The place: Hollywood's ArcLight Cinemas on the corner of Sunset and Vine. We gathered an assortment of friends and purchased tickets in advance to share in this six-times in a lifetime experience.

The force was with Tim, Laura, James, Tom, Everett, Christine, Courtney and Justin outside of the ArcLight Cinemas. (05/20/05)

Getting to Hollywood on a Friday night from the OC was a huge pain in the butt, but I wasn't going to miss this for anything. At least Tim and Everett had already been at the LA Convention Center that day for E3.

With light sabers in hand, we made our way to the theater. The place was crazy! Lines of people everywhere ... some in costume. Fortunately this theater allows you to select your seats in advance, which was perfect since due to the crowds, we got in the theater in the nick of time.

The movie had some great moments (and some not so great moments), but is nonetheless a MUST SEE, especially if like me, you've been a Star Wars fan since you were eight years old.

"Professional" stuntmen re-enacted some of the movie's light saber battles outside the theater. (05/20/05)

Afterwards, we watched some guys re-enact some of the movie's light saber battles (it was just okay). Then they got members of the audience together to do a Chewbacca sound-alike contest, which was a hoot.

A C- list celebrity sighting: Fame's Harlemm Lee. (05/20/05)

While there, we had a celebrity sighting (albeit with a C- list celebrity): Harlemm Lee, winner of the 2003 reality show Fame, NBC's ratings-challenged answer to American Idol. And as you would expect, I watched every episode, so I knew Harlemm quite well. He had many memorable performances, including "Get Here," "Careless Whisper," "Lean on Me," and "Vogue." Unfortunately we haven't seen much of him since then, and I don't think anyone there (besides us reality TV geeks) even knew who he was.

Tim Spends the Day at E3

In one single day in the city of Los Angeles, I telekinetically lifted a cow, blew up a farmer’s barn with my space saucer’s death ray, had an aeronautic dog fight in 3D, captured an Oompa-Loompa with an Everlasting Gobstopper and used my electro-whip to throttle bad ghosts.

Now LA may be a large and interesting city, but this all happened at the LA Convention Center for E3, the Electronic Entertainment Expo.

Tim with one of the E3 booth babes. (05/20/05)

It was quite an amazing day. Normally, it would cost $400 per person to go. But a friend of mine was able to secure some extra passes so my friend Everett and I could go for free.

After a two-hour drive and a 30-minute search for parking, we entered the expo and saw huge banners advertising the large software developers — Atari, Lucas Arts Entertainment, Bandai and Blizzard to name a few.

One of the hundreds of cool booth exhibits at E3. (05/20/05)

We walked the two main floors, seeing all the plasma screens full of color, lights and sounds. It was an amazing sight to behold. Almost like a mini Vegas shoved into a convention center.

By the end of the day though, my voice was sore because you basically have to shout to each other to have any conversation. There were booth babes galore and even a couple of warrior types too — all the better for me. Sex even sells software!

Cool multimedia displays everywhere you looked. (05/20/05)

One of the strangest exhibits was for a software company, with a live hard rock band playing with a shirtless, body-glittered guy swirling a chrome hula-hoop around his body. Although mesmerizing, it begged to ask, “What does that have to do with software?”

We did get to see some demos of the new Xbox 360 system. Microsoft is really pushing hard to make this a multimedia system, centralizing your entertainment. It might be worth a second look once it’s more solid of a platform. Yes James, we’ll have two game systems! :)

My Christmas list will be filled with games this year…

[Written by Tim]

Friday, May 20, 2005

Remembering a Big Chum

A close family friend, Augie, passed away yesterday. My memories of Augie date back to 1976 when my family moved to San Jose. At the time, Augie and his wife Margaret were next-door neighbors and best friends with my Aunt Nicky (my mom's older sister) and her husband Uncle Sebas.

When Uncle Sebas passed away in 1978, my Aunt Nicky went to live with Margaret and Augie. She still lives in that house to this very day. So every time I've visited my aunt in the last 27 years, I've also visited Augie and Margaret.

I couldn't find any pictures of Augie, but I did find some of the cards that Margaret and Augie had given me over the years. (05/23/05)

Augie was a character! A good way to describe him would be a retired Teamster (although I don't know for certain if he was ever a Teamster). But you know the type. A man that has worked hard all his life and expects no less of anyone else.

Like Archie Bunker in All in the Family, he was one of those lovable curmudgeons that would always have some complaint or opinion about something or another. Yet the mood was always light, and you knew to take his comments with a grain of salt.

Despite his sometimes brusque demeanor, he has his soft spots. He loved dogs. And he has always welcomed our family into his home. Every time.

He also had a great sense of humor, even if it was a little ... bawdy. I particularly remember a period of time when my older brother had a girlfriend who was well gifted in the chest, shall we say. Needless to say Augie always had a couple of things to say on that topic. :)

I used to always get a kick out of the personalized license plate on his light blue Pinto. It said "BIG CHUM," which was also his CB radio handle (back when CB radio was the craze). Parked next to it was his wife Margaret's van with the license plate "LIL CHUM."

Another vivid memory was his membership in the Loyal Order of Moose, or "the Moose Lodge" as it was more commonly known. I guess it's kind of like the Elks, the Foreign Legion, or the Knights of Columbus. You know, those fraternal organizations made up of primarily senior citizens who are always organizing big dinners. Many times he would come back from those events with some sort of award.

In recent years, he's had some health issues and some symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease. Yet when I saw him last February, he knew exactly who I was. His body was frail, but his mind was still active the best to my knowledge.

In fact while I was chatting it up with Margaret and my aunt, Augie would interject a few comments here or there. At first glance his comments seemed disconnected from the conversation, but Tim — always the analytical one — could figure out exactly how his comments connected to the conversation. You just had to think about it a little more creatively.

Well here's to you, Big Chum. We'll miss ya!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Happiest Night on Earth

One of the things we missed when we spent the morning at Disneyland Sunday was the evening fireworks show. I had wanted to see it since they launched a completely new fireworks show in celebration of the 50th anniversary. But that issue was resolved Thursday night after work. (For us locals, weeknights are the best time to see the fireworks and avoid the crowds).

Walt would have been impressed by Disneyland's new fireworks show. (05/19/05)

And let me just say that the new fireworks show is awesome! Unlike previous fireworks shows, which were focused on a general Disney theme and were always very impressive, this one stands out in that it's very specific to Disneyland itself, with sights and sounds from the park's signature rides.

Besides Main Street and some other major landmarks, you would hardly recognize it as Disneyland. (05/19/05)

That night I also had the chance to snap some pictures of a scale replica of Disneyland as it looked on opening day in 1955. It was built specifically for the anniversary celebration using original blueprints and photos. While some of the landmarks were still in place, it was amazing to see how much Disneyland has changed since then. How I wish I could have seen it then in person.

Our Pals Chuck & Cammy

We got a letter from a couple of friends today. You might have heard of them. Charles, The Prince of Wales and Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall! :)

It's always nice to get a letter in the mail from friends. (05/22/05)

Actually it's a basic form letter in response to the wedding card I sent them last month. It says:

16th May, 2005

Dear James,

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall have asked me to thank you for your card of 9th April.

Their Royal Highnesses have been overwhelmed by the incredibly kind letters and cards they have received in connection with their marriage, and they were immensely touched that you should take the trouble to write as you did. Your words were greatly appreciated and they have asked me to send you their warmest thanks and best wishes.

Your sincerely,
Mrs. Claudia Holloway

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

A Picture's Incredible Journey

After we left Disneyland Park late Sunday morning, we headed to Disney's California Adventure across the way, where I had learned that my picture had been spotted in a pretty incredible place.

How? It all started with the picture you see below. It was taken while waiting in line for Mr. Toad's Wild Ride in Disneyland on May 7, 2000. We were there with our friend Steve, who was visiting from Washington DC. It was one of dozens of pictures we took that day, and I never gave it much thought.

Who would have guessed that this five-year-old picture with Mr. Toad would take such a wild ride? (05/07/00)

Fade out. Fade in. It's more than four years later when Disneyland announced its Happiest Faces on Earth program. The program asked Disneyland visitors to submit photos taken at Disneyland during the last 50 years. The photos, they explained, would be used to create mosaics that would be on display throughout Disneyland Park and Disney's California Adventure during the 50-year anniversary celebration.

Tim stands against a barricade to take a closer look. (05/15/05)

So we went through our digital photo archive, and Tim and I each submitted five photos each (the maximum they would accept). And guess who's photo got used on the Mr. Incredible mosaic?

Look a little closer .... (05/15/05)

That's right ... me and Mr. Toad. We were a little bummed that they didn't pick any of Tim's pictures, but we were kind of excited that they did pick one of mine. And coincidentally, our friend Everett's picture appears just four rows above mine, and over a couple. Everett's roommate Keith is also in this collage, but it's near the top (too far away for us to find).

Just a little bit closer ... (05/15/05)

In case you're wondering, the Mr. Incredible collage was created using 7,772 images (or so the plaque underneath it says ... we didn't actually count them). :)

Even closer ... (05/15/05)

So if you guys go to Disney's California Adventure anytime in the next year or so, be sure to look me up! ;)

Does that guy look familiar? (05/15/05)

Monday, May 16, 2005

The Happiest Morning on Earth

For years, I've been bugging Tim that I want to open Disneyland someday. As annual pass holders, we go there all the time. Most of the time, however, we don't actually drag our butts to the park until 11am or Noon — and we only live 7.5 miles away!

We had never seen Disneyland Park with so few people. (05/15/05)

So I've had this plan to open Disneyland. Tim didn't believe that I was serious, so he made a wager. Fifty bucks says I wouldn't go through with it. Most of the time, I stay clear of Tim's bets (since I usually lose). But this time I took him on.

So Sunday morning, with Ulysses S. Grant in my mind, I woke up at 6am, showered and then did my best to wake up Tim, which wasn't easy. I told him the other five dwarves were waiting for him (since he was both Sleepy and Grumpy at the moment).

Good thing we rode the rockets before breakfast. (05/15/05)

We were on the road by 7:30 ... just enough time to get to the parking lot by 7:45, on the tram at 7:50 and through the gates at 7:55. The only wrinkle in my plan were the THOUSANDS of people waiting in line in front of us. I had underestimated the power of the Disneyland 50th Anniversary celebration that kicked off earlier this month.

Needless to say, by the time we got in at quarter after 8, I had lost the bet. Damn you, other Disneyland fans!!!

Well, at the very least we had a good time. We got to ride the new Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, the newest ride at the park (it only had a five-minute wait, which is unheard of for a ride that new). While we were there we rode the Astro Orbitor, since I had never seen it where you can just walk on.

My River Belle Terrace breakfast ... so cute you didn't want to eat it. (05/15/05)

Afterward we did something we never had the opportunity to do in our lives: eat breakfast at Disneyland. So we headed over to the River Belle Terrace, which was reportedly Walt's favorite place to have breakfast Sunday mornings.

But I ate it anyway .... (05/15/05)

Afterward we walked around, saw the show at the Enchanted Tiki Room, saw the new film exhibit, Disneyland: The First 50 Magical Years which is where Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln used to be. By the time we were done, the place was too crowded, and we were on our merry way to Disney's California Adventure before Noon.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Me and Mr. Jones

Last night I had a life-changing experience. I attended my very first concert by one Mr. Tom Jones.

Mr. Tom Jones in a shot from his current tour. From

I know in the past I’ve said the same thing about concerts by other icons — like Wayne Newton, Charo, Dolly Parton, Liza Minnelli or other legends whose careers have been around so long and have almost become parodies of themselves that you almost forget the incredible raw talent underneath. But last night’s concert by “Jones the Voice,” as he’s known in his native Wales, was different.

He had the entire audience in the palm of his hand. From

But before I get into the concert, I thought I’d explain the background. I had wanted to see Tom Jones perform live for more than 12 years. It dates back to the two-year stint when I worked for The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, the organization behind the Grammy Awards.

The night it started was February 20, 1993. I was working the MusiCares gala honoring Natalie Cole at LA's Beverly Hilton hotel. As was typical at these types of things, the audience was filled with various celebrities, some of whom I got to meet. David Crosby is one example. I even got to meet Dr. Ruth Westheimer, if you can believe it.

But it was another guest that put me in total shock and awe: Mr. Tom Jones. I remember saying to my co-worker Heather, “Oh my God, that’s Tom Jones!” I remember her response vividly. She didn’t actually say these words, but she gave me a look that said, “Why on earth are you excited about some cheesy Las Vegas lounge lizard?”

Tom Jones straight killed it in Temecula. From

I was amazed that she couldn’t understand the significance of Tom Jones. It was almost as if it was 1967 and Elvis had walked into the room. Sure, at the time he would have seemed past his prime. A “has been.” But then came the 1968 comeback special that turned things around for Elvis and jump-started the next phase of his career.

The chance to shake hands with a legend was something I was not about to miss. So I shed any last bit of embarrassment and approached Mr. Jones, who was standing with some executives from the VH1 table.

I don’t know if it was because he’s tall, or if it’s because I’m short, but he seemed enormous to me. I caught his attention and said something lame like “Mr. Jones, I’m a big fan and I just wanted to have a chance to shake your hand.” His giant hand reached out and I grasped it. That’s when I heard a deep voice with a distinctly Welsh accent say to me, “Thank you very much.”

That was pretty much the end of our exchange, but at that moment I said I need to see this guy perform.

His show was definitely off the hook. From

Flash forward 12 years, and I finally had my chance. Every other time he was in town, it just never worked out. So when I saw last month that he was coming to the Pechanga Casino in May, I jumped at the chance. Tim wasn’t into it, so I went with our friends Shane and Rob, who are Tom Jones fanatics.

The first thing I noticed was the incredible enthusiasm in the audience. The show hadn’t even started yet when some of the women up front started waving the lacy underwear they were planning to throw on stage. Pretty soon women all over the audience were cheering them on and waving their underwear too.

And despite what I had anticipated, it wasn’t only older women. In fact, I’d say the majority were only in their 30s or 40s.

Then the lights dimmed and the crowd went wild. The 11-piece band came out and started playing, and the place got even crazier. Then when Mr. Tom Jones stepped out, clad in a simple navy shirt and black pants, the place went nuts … and pretty much stayed that way throughout the night.

Tom Jones seriously rocks. From

Deeply tanned and sporting a goatee and mustache, the guy looks easily 20 years younger than his actual age of 64. And that’s without that plastic surgery look that usually goes along with other people that have been performing for as long as he has.

I knew he would sing some of his classics, like “Help Yourself,” “What’s New Pussycat,” “Delilah,” “She’s a Lady,” Prince’s “Kiss” and “It’s Not Unusual.” I was also glad to hear him sing one of my favorites from his greatest hit catalog: “Green Grass of Home.” What I wasn’t anticipating was the number of soul and blues he would sing.

The thing I really got out of this concert is that he’s the real deal. His voice is so hella tight, it’s not even funny. And the way he charmed the audience was unreal. At age 64, this mack daddy’s got some serious game. In all, it was an experience I’ll never forget.

Kicking Off Pool Season ‘05

This weekend marks the official start of the Tim and James 2005 pool season. We heated that baby up to 84 degrees, which was a little cold when you first jump in, but becomes comfortable very quickly. Helping us kick the season in were our friends Jason and Everett. So if anyone reading this needs a good opportunity to cool off, come on over!

So hot out even Simon was looking for shade. (05/15/05)

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Friday the 13th

This was our plan for the day. I would go to work. Tim would work a half day, and then get a deep tissue massage at the Burke Williams spa. Then afterward our friends Tom & Christine and Justin & Courtney were going to come over, go to the Vietnamese restaurant near our house, and then hang out afterward where we would play games, drink and sinfully indulge ourselves in Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

From left, Christine, Tom, Courtney and Justin, ponder 1990s trivia. (05/13/05)

Well the day went pretty much according to schedule for me, but after getting back from his massage, Tim started feeling really nauseous. Apparently the deep tissue massage is supposed to release toxins, so that might be the reason he had such a strong reaction. He feels fine now, by the way.

But not wanting to spoil the rest of the night for all of us, he encouraged us to continue on. Which is exactly what we did.

After two rounds of Clue, we switched to 1990s Trivial Pursuit, which is surprisingly easy — except for the blue category since none of us knew a lick about sports.

Between the Vietnamese food, drinks and Krispy Kremes, we were all happy as clams.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Happy Mother's Day

Just wanted to take a moment to pay some respect to our moms.

First of all, I wanted to give a shout out to Tim's Mom. Tim's parents live out of state, so We didn't get a chance to spend time with her in person today. But Tim did send her a nice boquet of flowers and spoke to her on the phone today. We're looking forward to paying a visit sometime later this month. Happy Mother's Day Barb!

Tim with his Grandma Jean [left] and his mom [right]. (03/26/05)

I too have been reflecting about my own mom. Next month marks the 4-year anniversary since she passed on. I miss her a lot, but I know she's with me in my heart. And just thinking about her makes me smile. Happy Mother's Day Tina!

James and his Mom, taken on her 41st wedding anniversary. (02/10/01)

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Camping at El Capitan: Day Three

Typically, nothing major happens on the third day of our camping trips. We basically woke up, had breakfast (bagels and shmear) and then started packing up.

Usually we take a shower before heading on the road, but today we just decided to be slobs and simply clean up when we get home.

Bop-It Extreme champion Tim preparing for closing ceremonies. (05/01/05)

Of course we had to have our closing ceremonies: One final round of Bop-It Extreme. The way it works is that everyone gets in a big circle and passes the Bop-It, where, depending on what it says, you have to either bop it, pull it, twist it, flick it or spin it. If you screw up, you're outtt!

The circle gets smaller and smaller until you end up with two people (typically Tim and Lisa when we go camping with my cousins). But in a HUGE upset, Tim was the first one out. That's about as unexpected as the Yankees getting creamed by the Red Sox in the ALCS last year.

2nd runner up Everett (left), 1st runner up Amy (right) surround Bop-It Extreme champion James. (05/01/05)

Then Everett was out. Leaving Amy and I in the final two. It was in Amy's hands when instead of flicking it, she twisted it, and handed me my victory on a platter.

Bop-It Extreme Champion
El Capitan, April-May 2005