Thursday, May 31, 2007

Memorial Day

Mom's birthday party went off pretty well. Keeping it simple, we avoided some of the impediments that came with Dad's birthday bash last September.

We had a good crowd - over 30 people (family, old friends and some new ones) - and the food was good. Thank you Farmer John for the pork butt I smuggled through the airport in my luggage.

Everyone wants to see the pictures, especially of the baby. (Sorry Amy, but even people that don't know you only want to see the baby. From here on out your a second class citizen.)

This first picture is the baby, of course. Little Lilly is just a few weeks old but the center of attention.

Lilly isn't the only baby, which is probably lucky for all the grandmas wanting to put in baby time. Lilly's cousin Shayla was also running around. In this picture she was doing a little skirt lift (possibly to flag down a ride).

My brother has never been accused of being cute, but asleep with his daughter you might think otherwise.

Starting on the left we have Justin on his first trip to meet the family with his girlfriend and my cousin Kim. Misty is my cousin Trevor's girlfriend, then we have my aunt Karolyn, Grandma Jones and aunt Shirley.

In my only successful attempt at action photography we have cousin Trevor slinging horseshoes with his mom Nancy.

As the party started to wear down Grandma Hood relaxed in the recliner...

and my adopted niece Alexandria simply crashed.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Welcome to Pleasanton

I'm back in my parent's home town of Pleasanton (reported population near 350). The sign pictured below welcomes you to town and let's you know that the gas station is back up and functioning.

Today is Mom's birthday party. Friends and family with gather together for BBQ, beer, hot dogs, badminton, crochet, sitting in lawn chairs and making fun of each other. Oh, and holding babies (our new favorite past time).

Friday, May 25, 2007

Back to Nebraska

It's time to return to Nebraska for a long weekend. Last time I tried to get home someone shut down an entire airport and it took me a few extra days to get there so I haven't been back in awhile.

I stole this picture from the Visit Nebraska website. This is of the Middle Loup River, one of three Loups, the others being the North and South. I've paddle around in each of them.

For more pictures of the Sandhills and other places I might have walked, rode or paddled visit

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Then there were two...

Though hope has not been completely abandoned, it seems that my household is down one cat. Sometime Saturday night as I messed about the apartment Nermal disappeared. I've been letting the cats roam around on the roof (because they like it) and they usually stay near my deck, but chances are Nermal wandered out too far onto a ledge or slipped from the clay tiled roof structures sticking up here and there. Being one step removed from feral she's probably already taken up with an LA gang.

The funny thing I've learned about cats in all the years I've had them is that they tend to come and go rather quickly. Sure, Oreo, being deeply evil as she is, will never leave, but the rest suddenly pop into the world and then just as suddenly pop back out. It's like life in general, only faster.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Politics and Doctors

I'm an unabashed political junkie. I listen to the Democrats. I listen to the Republicans. I'm not sure I like either one, but I do like to watch what they are doing. As part of this I attend the Music Center's Speaker Series. I've gone to lectures by President George H.W. Bush, President Vicente Fox of Mexico, Maya Angelou and just last Monday, Dr. Fareed Zakaria.

Though I enjoyed Maya Angelou thoroughly and recommend the experience to anyone, she was the least political. The presidents were greeted with protesters and both read from texts I could have just as easily read at home. Dr. Zakaria was pleasantly different. He roamed the stage and began by telling us that at his age he wasn't sure whether he was even qualified to be talking to us. As he talked I realized that he was more than qualified and rarely have I ever listened to one person where my reactions were almost universally either "I'd never thought of it like that, but it is simply brilliant" or "I agree with this guy completely".

That experience was followed Tuesday night by the testy Republican debate. Dr. Ron Paul caused the biggest fracas of the night when Rudy Giuliani took offense at Dr. Paul's characterization of American foreign policy. Mr. Giuliani (and Wendell Goler doing the questioning) felt Dr. Paul accused America's foreign policy for the attacks on 9/11.

For the record, I agree with Dr. Paul. I agree with Dr. Paul's political philosophy and if I thought he had a chance I might even write him a check. Dr. Paul merely suggested that the interventionist and often disastrous choices of government to meddle in the operation of foreign governments fomented an environment perfect for growing terrorists. I agree. Rudy suggested that he'd never heard such a ridiculous idea. Rudy is a liar. The same stories were all over the place following the attacks including some far more ridiculous including that of the late Jerry Falwell who most of the 10 men in the Republican debate fall all over themselves to compliment. Dr. Falwell suggested that America's embrace of homosexuality, abortion and other immortality was to blame. Oh well, Rudy scored political points.

And I was entertained. And of course, it's all about me.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


Happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there (and I seem to know more and more of you each day). Fortunately, moms tend to like me...their daughters not always so much, but I remain mom friendly for whatever reason.

Pictures: Top - My Mom; Bottom - My Dad's Mom's Mom's Mom (I think I have enough Moms there)

Sunday, May 6, 2007

I was interviewed today. This wasn’t necessarily a first for me, but it was unexpected.

I saw the first camera crew shortly after taking my seat in the very first row of the theatre to watch Spider-Man 3. When the guy at the window, the one that hasn’t seen a gift certificate before, tells you that there is only one seat left pay heed to the inquisitive look he is giving you. There were actually dozens of seats left when I sat down, but other than the openings in the front three rows the pickings were thin.

It was roughly five minutes before the start of the movie when something new came on the screen in place of the static image of a sign kernel of popcorn. Simultaneously, two guys and camera set up shop in the left corner of the theatre, one glowing light peering back at the audience.

The cable news network MSNBC was trying something new and we were one of the lucky few chosen to give it a try, the lady on the screen said. This new thing was an audience participation game – a strange variation on the old video game with the blocks on the top and the little slider on the bottom wherein you keep a tiny ball in play by bouncing it off the slider and destroy all the blocks on top. The audience would control the slider by leaning to the left or right. Some of the blocks would break and reveal news headlines.

A camera (hidden right in front of me I guessed by my location and size on the movie theatre screen) tracked the audience’s movements. I had the distinct feeling that the system didn’t work entirely great as I watched the audience and the slider bar not moving in tandem. However, it was fun as the audience got more and more into the game. People were yelling “LEFT” and “RIGHT”. The slider bar would move slowly in response and the ball would sink off the screen to collective moans.

When it was over the camera crew shut off their light and disappeared. The lady on the screen encouraged us to play at home on I have. It was more fun in the theatre.

Between the game and my interview was a movie. It was good. I cried a little. The people behind me cried and sniffled. Spider-man won, of course, but people died and one of the people had just redeemed himself and helped save the world. The injustice of it all!

I was pondering that exact thought and wondering what gene was defective that could cause me to get weepy at an action movie when a short, well dressed and attractive woman singled me out of the crowd for a little chat. Just as I was thinking God had smiled down upon me I noticed the guy with the camera. Ah well, she still picked me out of the crowd even if for more nefarious reason than a guy might hope.

She asked me if I wouldn’t mind saying a few words about my movie experience. I said I wouldn’t mind. She asked if I remembered who sponsored the game at the beginning of the movie. I hesitated as I wound back through the three villains, crushed hearts, spider webs and revenge. I told her it had been MSNBC. We then discussed how I compared the third movie to the others (she had only seen the third).

I was handed a little script telling the world that I, Brent, was giving the production company full rights to my likeness and whatever words I chose to say. By this time I was awash in that pesky camera light and had gathered a small crowd of onlookers.

Before the first I question I was coached to be enthused about the Newsbreaker game. I did so. I swung around a few broad arm gestures while I explained the experience. I would recommend the game to others, I said. It was definitely more fun than staring at commercials or that idiot popcorn kernel on the screen for 10 or 15 minutes, I continued.
After 5 or 6 questions, I was told I did a good job by the attractive interviewer. The less attractive camera guy told me that there was plenty of good stuff there. We said goodbye, I parted the now thronging crowd of onlookers and made my way back out into the real world.

Some other more entertaining sort probably took my place in front of the camera as I headed back down the road to home. Such is the way with show business. It was still unexpected and fun. I’d been interviewed before. The first was about Bob Devaney’s death (or was it Charlie McBride’s retirement) one day at the Nebraska Bookstore by the Channel 11 news crew. They put Steve on the screen, but I got a few lines dubbed over on B roll. I also did a piece for the Lincoln Action Program after I was robbed at gunpoint, but that was to help fundraising and get juvenile delinquents off the street. This was more fun.

This was Hollywood! (Well, as close as I’ll get.)

Saturday, May 5, 2007

What else is the Internet for?

What else is the internet for if not dredging up embarrassing pictures from the past.

One of my roommates from college called me up this week with idea of moving back in for a summer. It could be like old times, except that we are older, fatter and balder (and hopefully wiser, but what are the chances).

Keeping in the baby making theme of this blog, it seems one of our other college roommates is taking the maternal path. When will the madness stop! Jill can't be having kids!

Anyway, all of this was just to introduce a grainy, old photo of the old gang. This was Jill, Steve and I posing for our Christmas 2000 picture. Gosh we look good!

Friday, May 4, 2007

Don't Forget Me

Lest I be accused of not giving equal time to my nieces, I have included a picture of Shayla (my brother Justin's daughter). This picture is from a couple month's ago, but it's a good one. It says: Take another picture of me and I'll mess you up!