A crackling campfire brings to mind crisp mountain air, smelly pines, and sizzling wieners. Yes, summer isn’t summer until you’ve spent some time burning marshmallows around a campfire. Sadly, Jason and I have not made it to the mountains for any camping or roasting yet this season. Although we plan on remedying that insufficiency soon, last week instead of going to the campfire we brought the campfire to us.
Jason’s family is peopled with July birthdayers, too many for individual recognition I’m afraid, so this year their specialness was celebrated in bulk. In way of birthday festivities we ate a yummy Dutch oven meal and then took the party to the pit.
Keith and Sue own a rather large plot of land and they’ve added a fire pit to its topography. While this pit doesn’t have the accompanying scenic splendor you’ll find when lighting a glow on any of Utah’s majestic peaks, it does provide more than enough smoke and flames to give you that signature mountaintop reek.
The best way to assure that a Sabin looks absurd for a picture is to tell them you are taking one. For some reason their kneejerk reaction to a camera is an expression that would make a baby cry.
That evening our group formed a large circle around those flaming logs and ineffectively played musical chairs with the blaze’s persistent billows until the scorched mallows and smoke inhalation left us a little buzzed. You always suspected that most of the Sabins were headed for a fiery inferno, right?
I have to admit that those suburban fire rings are pretty snazzy. You can just pop into the backyard with your bag of marshmallows, roasting stick, and camp chair and voila! You’ve got yourself an instant nearly-authentic campfire experience right down to the stinky hair.
It was a nice and odorous way to celebrate our bunch of July birthdays. Who says that pits have to be full of despair?
I love my husband, as well I should, and spoiling him excessively just goes with that territory. Therefore, never does his birthday pass without some exuberant celebrating. This year I decided that sushi and games were in order to put the “special” in his special day. For his grand wingding I rented the ultimate game room at Noah’s. This room is equipped with a ping pong table, shuffleboard, pool table, classic arcade machine, and giant screen. We brought our Xbox and projected Rabbids, the game so ridiculous it’s almost more fun to watch than play, on that huge display. Between competing in around the world matches, swimming with the pool sharks, and losing at Millipede there were plenty of options to keep the indecisive overloaded.
This arcade machine had 100 games on it. Not all of them worked because of a few faulty buttons but there were still plenty of choices.
I made cute signs for each of the sushi rolls so everyone's questions about their contents would be answered. But I wasn't fast enough to get a picture of the sushi before the devouring began.
One cannot live on games alone, Mountain Dew and games yes but not just games, so I made sure the food was as ample as the loud conversations. A pile of tempura veggies and twenty-six California, Buddha, Lush, San Diego, and Vegas rolls from Tsunami plus personal bundt cakes from Nothing Bundt Cakes insured our bellies were kept uncomfortably full.
Boy names that end with "m" for $400.
"Happy Birthday" was bellowed to Jason enthusiastically by our throaty group.
I wasn't lying when I said playing Rabbids makes you look ridiculous now was I?
With lots of refueling choices and a bountiful caffeine spread, we all maintained high-energy states as the tournaments continued for hours. The gaming lasted until midnight when the building closed and we were kicked out of our room but we still weren’t ready to call it a night. Part of our entourage remained in the parking lot chatting until after 1 AM proving that we’re not just an 8-bit pony.
Around the world is always popular with our friends whenever a ping pong table presents itself.
I had never played shuffleboard before and, hence, I was no good at it. I just lost to everyone repeatedly.
Cam ended up winning pretty much all of the around the world matches.
Many thanks to all of you that joined our little soiree. Practically everyone invited turned up to show their love for Jason…or sushi. But that’s not surprising considering Jason is a pretty fantastic man and sushi ain’t half bad either. I hope that hubby of mine felt as special as a kid in PE class with his name written on the bottom of his tube socks because he is that special indeed. Happy birthday Love!
Going to Comic-Con changes your perspective on life. You’ll never whine again about brief delays checking out at the grocery store when you’ve waited in line for hours and hours with literally thousands of people. Star sightings will seem mundane after you’ve been surrounded on all sides by celebrities. Sneaking ninjas and throngs of superheroes invading your personal space won’t even make you blink twice. Yes, once you have been to Comic-Con there is no going back to your pre-Con preconceptions.
The members of our large group went their separate ways for the most part during the day but we met up to share our daily tales over dinner.
I'm pretty sure that just being in Tim Burton's presence made my brother nervous. Watching Beetlejuice as a kid scarred him for life. I, however, enjoyed listening to crazy Tim.
Jason definitely belongs with these other scoundrels.
Last year Jason and I had our first stupefying Comic-Con experience. Our recount of its fabulousness must have bedazzled everyone because this year a group of friends joined us. My brother Drew, his wife Simone, Jeremy Rowley, his wife Amber, and Jason’s coworker Dan all decided to come and miraculously everyone managed to acquire those mythical tickets.
The streets outside the convention center were always congested with humanity.
All of the actual Batmobiles were on display at Comic-Con. Batastic! This is the 1966 version from the TV series.
This picture only represents about half of the Firefly panel members. I wouldn't want you to explode into fits of jealousy by showing you everyone that was there.
Comic-Con this time around felt very similar to last year. The eternal lines were everywhere, the elaborate costumes were as prolific as Mario’s mushrooms, and the smelly masses still hadn’t discovered deodorant. Once again we rose before the sun or the sane to claim our spots for the panels from our favorite shows. Yes, Comic-Con was the same mess of marketing and humanity but this time Jason and I had changed. We were no longer Padawans; we were the Comic-Con Masters. We weren’t awed and overwhelmed by the omnipresent famous. We knew better than to take volunteers’ conflicting directions as fact and we anticipated spending most of our time standing in line. With that said, it would be erroneous to assume that our Comic-Con familiarity led to letdowns. Just because we were Con veterans doesn’t mean we didn’t totally nerd-out from predawn to long after dusk. We expected chaotic awesomeness and that’s what we got.
Bumblebee and I were just little guys next to Optimus' massive trunks.
The most awesome of that awesomeness? Meeting Brent Spiner, AKA Mr. Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Lifetime dream fulfillment? Check. Brent was not disappointing in person; he was very witty and clever. Jason made me confess my teenage Data crush to him. (Thanks a lot for ratting me out Jason.) He took it quite well. My admission actually didn’t seem to surprise him one bit but he did appear a little stunned that I had followed up my taste for tasty androids with a marriage to a common earthman.
We traveled down 5th Avenue Flash style because we were just too fast to move any other way.
The exhibit floor at Comic-Con is full of surprises like meeting yourself.
The Bunker, South Park's art department, was full of friendly animators.
Our hotel room had a nice view of the bay. Not that we got to enjoy it much since we were never in our room.
Along with encountering celebrities up-close, we saw oodles of them on stage at the multitude of superb panels we attended: Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2, Frankenweenie, Oz, Wreck-it Ralph, Masquerade 101, History of the Modern Zombie, Legend of Korra, Spotlight on Ben Edlund, Designing for the Undead, and Minimates Turn 10. While I enjoyed learning about the psychology of the post-apocalyptic and hearing from Tim Burton, Sam Raimi, Mila Kunis, Sarah Silverman, and John C. Reilly, my favorite panel this time was Firefly: 10 Year Anniversary. Joss Whedon, Nathan Fillion, and a number of the other cast members were present. The audience was so appreciative and supportive of these stars that by the end our standing ovation had most, if not all, of them in tears. I was moved by them being moved so I ended up crying a bit myself. It was moving. What a fantastic panel! By the way, if you haven’t watched Firefly I would highly recommend it; then you will understand why the Fox network is run by morons.
Hasbro is launching a line of Star Trek toys soon. I'll be purchasing buckets of those no doubt.
A league of steam punkers? Now that's might misty.
While the panels were delightful, they didn’t monopolize our attention. We had to leave some time for the enormous and illustrious exhibit hall. The Comic-Con exhibit hall is as full of surprises as a Klingon in a barbershop. No matter how much time you spend wandering around the thousands of booths you’ll always discover more must-have geeky merchandise that you missed last time you wandered by. You’ll also stumble upon famous people left and right. That’s how we came across the members of The Bunker, which do animation work for South Park, and Max Brooks, the author of The Zombie Survival Guide. Needless to say, we purchased a lot of autographed wares on the exhibit floor. I even had an anime version of myself drawn by comic book artist Ashley Riot; I affectionately refer to it as “animeMe.”
Everyone needs a wooden moustache or two and the vendors at Comic-Con were happy to provide.
I never much cared for Sand People and their annoying vocals but I did appreciate this creative costuming.
Yes, our familiarity with Comic-Con led to less “wow” this year but not less enjoyment. We knew we were dumping ourselves into the stinky melting pot of nerd culture and that we might emerge with the white hand of Saruman painted across our chest but we wouldn’t regret it. And what about the noobs? They had a great time and are already plotting how to maximize their Comic-Con experience next year with less funds, less sleep, and less showering. Will Jason and I be there next year? If Picard’s crew can make it so we probably can too but I think we’ll stick with a Con plan that includes bathing.
I thought I was done writing and complaining about my warped ankle. My surgery was nearly 4 years ago and the condition of my tendon had stabilized. Leftie wasn’t 100% but it was doing well enough. I could handle its occasional crabbiness and I thought I knew what to expect from here on out. That was until a little rock changed everything.
We had 30 people in our group. That's plenty of targets.
Jason planned another fantastic laser tag party up Provo Canyon for my birthday this year. Thirty friends joined us for this event. You can’t get much better than a bunch of adults running willy-nilly through a dark park wearing bizarre headgear and brandishing plastic weapons like they were Rambo.
The guys from Frontline did a great job keeping our group engaged in the game.
The Timpsons tagged me more times than I care to mention.
About 30 minutes into our 3 hours of play my perfect party turned tender. I was sprinting across a field of grass when I hit a hidden rock just right and rolled my bad ankle. I knew the instant it happened that I had done some serious damage and that I wouldn’t be dashing around the rest of the night. Although it hurt to put any weight on it, I wasn’t going to sit in the pavilion with my foot up while my friends got to dodge each other in the bushes. No, I would enjoy my party if it killed me.
Each game we played had it's own objective and rules. The evening wasn't just a shooting free-for-all. Here we are listening to our next round of instructions.
Drew and I demonstrated the basics of a sibling vs. sibling battle for everyone.
Despite my perseverance, as gimpy as I was I was next to useless to my teammates. I moved as fast as my lopsided gait would carry me but it wasn’t fast enough to avoid being spotted and targeted over and over. Sorry Team Alpha, I wasn’t much of a leader; it’s hard to lead when you can’t even follow.
This is what my ankle looked like when I got home from the party. And yes, its pain matched its appearance.
By the time I got home my ankle was severely swollen and throbbing. It looked like I was smuggling a golf ball under my skin. The next morning I reluctantly pulled out my box of ankle gear and dusted off my crutches. Plenty of bad memories were resurrected by that lot.
Just another unpleasant view of my ankle following the festivities.
I’m not much of one for giving my body a rest but I have made some effort to at least put my ankle up and ice it once in a while during the last week. The swelling has gone down considerably but now the bruising makes it look like I was the victim of a Leprechaun assault.
Four days after my injury the swelling had receded but the bruising was just getting started. It actually looks much worse now.
I am no stranger to ankle pain. Over a decade of tendon trouble has made me as tough as it has made my ankle weak. So while a sprain is inconvenient, especially when it pretty much ruined my own birthday party, my chief worry in all of this is isn’t my current discomfort but the possibility that I might have re-torn my tendon. A peroneal tendon tear feels like a bad sprain, a bad sprain that never heals. I could have a severely sprained ankle or a slashed tendon, the symptoms are the same. In a few weeks if things aren’t feeling better then I guess I will be heading in for another MRI. I can’t tell you how much the prospect of having that awful surgery again makes me want to go hit my head repeatedly against a wall. It took me a couple years to fully recover last time and I’d like to repeat the experience about as much as I’d like to go bodysurfing on asphalt naked.
On a lighter note, a big thank you to all the friends and family that joined me for my birthday celebration gone awry. It was nice being shot by you as I hobbled around in misery. To the birthday girl go the foils!
My family has Scandinavian roots, specifically Norwegian and Danish, which explains why my inky dark eyebrows don’t match the shade of my hair. (Give me a break Denmark!) Because of this ancestry, and our close ties to some dear Norwegian friends, my family yearly celebrates Midsummer’s Eve: the biggest party this side of a smorgasbord.
Rum balls go fast. By the time I got my camera out they were almost gone.
Midsummer’s coincides with the summer solstice and is usually observed in Norway and Denmark on the 23rd of June. It’s honored more vigorously than any other holiday, except Christmas. It’s little wonder that a region that gets scant to no sunlight in the winter months celebrates a time of year when the sun hangs around 24/7 like that annoyingly cheery acquaintance you just can’t get rid of.
Miles properly enjoyed his rum ball as is apparent from the smears of cream all over his face.
While a bonfire is a customary accompaniment to Midsummer’s Eve, we skipped the roast and went straight for the food. My mom made traditional Norwegian mush for our festivities while I focused on preparing rum balls. Rum balls are pastries similar to éclairs filled with rum flavored whipped cream. I typically only make these for this particular occasion, which keeps them special and my butt skinnier.
The kids took turns zooming around the neighborhood with Grandpa. I think they would have kept this up all night if we had let them.
After our hardy meal we went Viking on the neighborhood. With the help of our stout vessels we wreaked havoc on the streets. Okay, we took turns riding my parents’ powder blue Vespa and dorky tandem bike around the block but we did so with fury I’m sure. The kids couldn’t get enough Vespa rides with Grandpa but only Jason dared scoot with me. I’m pretty talented on two wheels but not when they’re motorized. However, I think the tales of my poor steering skills have been unjustly inflated; so far I’ve only tipped the Vespa over not crashed it. And hey, that’s a better track record than half the celebrities out there.
Drew and Jason went on a little ride together. They make a cute couple, even the motorcyclist they ran into thought so.
It was a beautiful evening for a pagan rite and for filling our oddly-eyebrowed faces with fatty substances. Since I’m a fan of summer, sunlight, and cream you don’t really have to remind me of my Northern heritage to get me to live it up and stuff it down in honor of the season. Norwegian or not, I’m happy to shove rum balls in my tummy and sing halleluiahs to the sun anytime.