Lizzy Acker is my new favorite reporter for the Oregonian

I initially took this picture because I’m pretty sure when that couple on the right married 75 years ago, they had no idea that their long marriage would someday be featured in the newspaper next to a workout involving pole dancing.

The story about the married couple was great, and also so was the article about pole dancing as exercise. Check out Lizzy Acker’s first three paragraphs.

And also the last four paragraphs.

Aside from general reporting, which she also seems to do, Lizzy Acker does oddball series. This is part of her week of weird workouts series. She’s also done an extensive review of black leggings; seven days of living like a kid in Oregon; and going dancing every night for a week in Portland.

In all these articles she brings a fun zing and some thoughtful weight to her words. I look forward to reading more from her.

New game: The Fog of Love

Matt has purchased a new game in which a two people play a couple in love faced with challenges and difficulties. The goal is to navigate through the difficulties and win by finding true love.

Overall, I found this game fun, though I really hated the blue/pink color scheme. Any other two colors would have worked well. For the first game, I was Ken, a TV Star with a booming voice. Matt and I did not find true love and lost the game, but we are willing to try again. Though Matt will never repeat the mistake of giving me the Booming Voice card. My voice can be quite loud.

One of the best things about this game was that the tutorial was built into the first game. The game designers gave you enough information to understand the part that you were on, and then as game play progressed, another tutorial card would appear explaining what was going to happen next.

As someone who has sat through a lot of really bad explanations of how to play games, I found this to be one of the greatest board game developments since Lizzie Magie invented the game that would become Monopoly.

We watch the Oscars

Laurie, Kelly and I assembled at Laurie’s house to watch the Academy Awards. Kelly wrote up a BINGO game, which I won.

I created a new game called the Happiest Oscar Viewer wherein you pick all the people/movies you WANT to win. This is different from picking who you think will win. As the winners are called, you highlight any of your picks that the academy agreed with, and the person with the most highlights is the Happiest Oscar Viewer.

Laurie won that contest.

Overall, it was snoozer of a ceremony. And I have pretty high tolerance for Oscar ceremonies.

Spiraling is fun

I won a drawing and the prize was a $50 Visa gift card. I spent it on a spiralizer and my goodness, but that is a fun, superfluous kitchen item.

I’ve made pasta from scratch before, and it’s a so-so endeavor. The pasta wants to break a lot as you are rolling it out, and my memories of it are that it doesn’t taste as good as dried pasta.

But vegetables?  They don’t break!  If the surface being spiralized is big enough, the strands just keep getting longer. It’s very satisfying.

80’s Love Song Sing Along @the Hollywood Theatre

I found the promise of singing along to 80s music videos hard to resist and so Kelly and I headed over to the Hollwood Theatre. (Our group was supposed to be bigger. One person backed out due to illness and one person didn’t show up due to date confusion.)

We received our kazoos, so as to play along with the sexy saxophone solos, (!!!!!) and lustily sang along.

Some highlights:

  • Our host pointed out that he loved 80s videos because some of them are bat-shit crazy. Indeed.
  • The best sexy saxophone solo came with our first song, “Careless Whisper.” Let me say that the narrative established in the video leaves me not feeling sorry for two-timing George Michael.
  • The screams–actual screams–that came from the females of the audience with the opening chords of Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl.”  While I appreciate that song, it’s not on such a visceral level. “Oh my god, he had such good hair!” Kelly exclaimed breathlessly. I’ve concluded that when the song was released, I was still pre-pubescent, and did not have that potent cocktail of hormones coursing through my system that people slightly older than me experienced.
  • I did, however, scream at the first notes of “Never Tear us Apart” by INXS. Man, Michael Hutchence. And that band in general.
  • Some of the videos did not translate well to the current decade. “Tainted Love” was particularly icky, as the lead singer is singing to a young girl. We’re talking an eight year old young girl. Gross.
  • Some of those videos I had never seen because we didn’t have cable when they were originally in rotation and had fallen out of favor by the time we did have cable.
  • The host pointed out that people often ask him why there are not more videos of heavy metal bands. He then said that it was because metal sucks. That got a very loud “boo!” from me. He then played one (1) song: Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name” which was awesome for viewing the trappings of being a 1980s heavy metal band, but is one of two songs of Bon Jovi’s that are always played. A better choice would have been “Born to be my Baby.” (Released November 24, 1988 and peaked at #3 on Billboard’s Hot 100, yet I never hear it played on classic rock radio, but that’s a topic for another day.)
  • The host encouraged us to dance from the get-go, but it was Erasure’s “A Little Respect” that got people out of their seats and dancing.
  • The original video for Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away” is a hilarious unintentional (?) homoerotic love fest featuring Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer.
  • We got Rickrolled!  The host introduced the ultimate 80’s love song, we heard the first few bars, and then! Record scratch and a detour to Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.” That was one of the first 45s I bought as an adolescent.
  • The ultimate 80’s love song, “Total Eclipse of the Heart” has perhaps the craziest video ever. I had never seen it, and ho-boy. It has everything.

Tiny House Expo

For my birthday, Matt bought me a ticket to the Tiny House Expo.  This was a very good present, as I love tiny houses. At the expo, people had a chance to tour several tiny houses as well as visit vendors.

I went early, which was a very good move. Tiny houses don’t hold very many people, which meant even at 9:30 in the morning, there were lines to get into each tiny house.

I loved the curved roof on this model.

Apologies for the blurry picture.  This model had just sold.  It cost $150,000.  (Yeesh!)

This person apologized because he forgot to bring his step.  This was fine by me, as I could easily take the big step up into the house.

Inside the step-less house.  I loved how the kitchen was not skimpy.

I liked the shed roof design of this house.  Plus, this company, Tiny Smart House, has a very fun Build-it-Yourself Program where you can build your tiny house on-site and take advantage of workshops, discounted group material buying.  So smart!

Here’s a tiny house camp trailer, which you can follow on Instagram @tinyhousecamptrailer.  They had a lot packed into a small space.

Here is a tiny house made out of a shipping container. It was very sleek.

I really liked how open and airy these big windows made this house feel.

Here’s the floor plan

A lot of houses were using this water system.

The teardrop camper people were there too.  I love me a good teardrop camper, especially one as nice as this one.

Hiddenbed of Oregon had a very good design.  During the day: desk.
At night: bed.  Nicely done. The desk stays flat, so you don’t have to disassemble and reassemble every night. Cost for a double bed? $2100.

You could also have your own geodesic dome.  I have affection for domes, as they were not uncommon in the landscape of my 80s childhood.

Overall, I had a great time.  Thanks Matt.

Also! The square lights at the Convention Center! So fun!  And my mind boggles at how all those things got into this building.  Convention center logistics must be no joke.

John & Hank Green, on tour.

Thanks to Kelly, I got to experience John and Hank Green on John’s book tour for Turtles All the Way Down. (When you are a successful YouTuber with your brother, you BOTH go on book tour, even if only one of you wrote the book.)

Here’s John reading from the book.  When I read the book later, I realized he read from two different sections.
We had a visit from Hank disguised as Dr. Lawrence Turtleman. He taught us about tuataras, which are reptiles from New Zealand which are NOT lizards.  Unfortunately, Dr. Turtleman’s PowerPoint wasn’t working, so the good doctor did the PowerPoint from memory.  We had partially obstructed seats which gave us a view of the various people working backstage to try and get the PowerPoint to work.

Hank did some singing and we got our own personal Dear Hank and John Podcast (parts of which made it on the Dear Hank & John episode #114 that compiled this segment from several cities).  We finished the night with a lusty rendition of the Mountain Goats’ “This Year” as sung by the crowd, John, and played and sung by Hank.

Last time, when Matt and I saw John and Hank on book tour, they had a van.  Things have changed.

Here we are, fourth from the end.
It was a fun night. Thanks, Kelly.

Minnesota State Fair Day Two: Sunset, Amateur Talent Show, Fireworks

The sun was beginning to set which meant it was time for…

The Amateur Talent Contest Finals! (Sponsored by Jack’s Pizza.)

There were 26 individual entries into the contest. They had been winnowed from the daily talent contests held at the fair, after passing their audition in July.   There were seven preteen, nine teen and 10 open participants.  All of the talent on display was amazing. I was amazed that the judges could pick any winner.  (And then mostly annoyed at what they did pick.)

Some highlights for me were Gigi Bragg, who was a tiny little thing that killed it with “Don’t Rain on My Parade.”  After everyone had performed they had time-filling stuff while they tallied results.  The singer and the band did “Don’t Rain on my Parade” and I found it to not be as effective.

I also really loved Eden Nesburg & Page Mackendanz, who sang “River Deep, Mountain High.” Their music cut out early on–something the crowd only became gradually aware of. They got to come back later on to re-do their performance. Both performances were filled with joy and memorable.

I also enjoyed Amber Feind & Mikayla Meyers, another vocal performance but in the open division.  Aside from liking them, I also liked that they were two normal-looking women who were not as young as some of the people in the open division.  The Famrez Dance Team was really great to watch too.  I like when acts with multiple people advance.  Every person you add to your group makes it that much harder to schedule practice time.  The beatboxing guy, Cameron Latinen, was also quite good.

In the end, a lot of classical musicians won, which I find boring.  Though Gigi Bragg did win third place in the Preteen division.  I also shouldn’t be really grumpy about the Teen division because a band of middle school kids playing “The Thrill is Gone” won, but the other two winners were opera (the kind of flouncy opera that I do not like) and violin.

In the Open division, all three winners were men, which annoyed me, although my beatboxing guy came in third place and Rush Parrish, the overall winner seemed to have an enthusiastic following. He won $10,000 (and quantities of Jack’s Pizza) so this contest was no joke.

Just in case you might forget who the sponsor was.

Afterward, there were fireworks.

And with that, I attempted to buy olives on a stick, failed due to the late hour and settled for mini-donuts. I headed off to wait for the bus home. 

The Minnesota State Fair was a wonderful experience and I could have done an additional day to catch all the things I missed, even after spending more than 16 hours at the fair. I also learned too late that the fair opens at 6 am, and it would have been fun to start the day with the fair, to see the difference in crowds, activities, lines, etc.

For those of you who haven’t had enough of the Minnesota State Fair, please enjoy this documentary from the Twin Cities PBS station: State Fair Traditions

It’s got a lot of good stuff, both interesting vintage photos and interesting facts (The fair is 320 acres. Attendance numbers are triple what they were in the 1930s, but in the same amount of space.)  It’s also fun to see some of the work that goes into making the fair such a fun experience.

Minnesota State Fair Day Two: Skyride

I headed from one sky experience to the other one, with only a quick stop to collect my walking tour prize.

It was interesting to note that the USA representative for Von Roll Ltd. is located in Sun Valley, Idaho.

There was a long line for this, and as I got closer to the front there was a sign that said, “No single riders Friday, Saturday, Sunday.”  I didn’t want to ride with other people!  But I stayed the course and no one said anything as I stood by my lonesome waiting to get on.  It was fun watching the employees helping everyone get onto each gondola. These hold more people, than the chairlifts, so sometimes it would be parents, three little kids, and a stroller being packed in the car in the few seconds they had to load up.

Here I go:

There were not as many people here today as yesterday.  But not by much.  Yesterday the attendance was 254,431, today was 242,759, which was a new attendance record for this day at the fair.  Overall, nearly TWO MILLION people visited the fair this year, making a new record of 1,977,320

Sweet Martha’s cookies has three locations in the fair.  I only passed over this one from the air, but from walking by, I can guess that they all pretty much looked like this one. Shawn says the trick is to go in from the side.

Here’s the giant slide, yet another thing I didn’t get to.

A “backstage” look at some pretty intense cardboard recycling.

Where I ate my cheese curds and key lime pie on a stick

The agriculture building.

Did you want to go through a giant maze while at the fair? You are in luck!

Overall, I preferred the open air Sky Glider to the gondola-like Skyride, but the Skyride does hold more than two people, making it a better choice for families.

Minnesota State Fair: Sky Glider

Having taken the Fairlift at the Oregon State Fair, I was ready for the Sky Glider at this Fair.

The line was long, so I had time to take pictures of Sky Glider riders.

This was also next to one of three Giant Sing Alongs, where you could group karaoke.

The line I waited in. 

RVs and Fifth Wheels for sale, plus the Space Tower and Great Big Wheel in the background.

Various tractors for kids.

We passed over a few roofs, and I was surprised to see a number of discarded bras.

The Great Big Wheel.  Yet another thing I couldn’t quite fit in.

The “feet” picture.

Me with the Great Big Wheel

Maybe you’re in the market for a new riding mower?

There was a rental space, where Molly & Bob had chosen to celebrate their 50th anniversary.  The other half of the rental space was a wedding!

Looking to buy some kids’ play equipment?  Lowest prices of the year.

So many people.