Saturday, October 25, 2008

journey to the northwest

a couple of months ago aim and i headed up to seattle for the byu-university of washington game. the trip was amazing. neither of us had been up in that neck of the woods before and it had been quite some time since the mrs. and i had gotten away on our own sans children. to say it was euphoric for us would be an understatement.

i have seen some cool cities in my short years on this earth, but i would have to say that seattle is one of, if not the, coolest of them all. granted we had perfect sunny weather the entire time we were there, so maybe it's not a fair comparison for the other cities in the running, but it was surreal. unbelievable skyline. amazing old school and modern architecture. an uncanny mixture of form and function in the interplay of city and nature (mountains, water and cutting edge architecture). cleanest big town i have ever been to. fabulous seafood. absolutely beautiful.

and i haven't even gotten to victoria yet. for those who are unaware, which i was before i started planning the trip, victoria is an island of the coast of canada and part of british colombia. going to victoria was also a first as neither of us had ever been to canada. talk about a cool town. victoria has this quaint, hip little downtown area and a picturesque coastline. we cruised around town and the coast on these sweet little vespas to take in all the sites. it's a unique place, different from any place i have been to in the us because of its splash of european influence. i have always wanted to go to europe and this is the closest i have come yet. highly recommend both of these places.

oh, and byu won in dramatic fashion.

anyway, i'd love to tell more, but i am just going to post some pics and a slideshow and let you see for yourself.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

something funny happened on the way to the hospital some 12,045 days ago

first, i must apologize to all the dentists out there who may have been offended by the less than flattering treatment i gave dentists in my previous post. i admit that dentists are doctors and they have a piece of paper to prove it. no hard feelings my dentist friends? each of you who were offended can tell yourselves your lawyer joke of choice to get even with me. it wasn't meant to be personal for anyone besides bryson.

second, i would like to announce that i passed the bar examination. yes, i am relieved. yes, i am off suicide watch. yes, i can get on with my life as a working professional. it's about flippin' time. i'd love to share more since i nearly had three heart attacks the day the results came out, but that's a post for another day as well as my swearing in yesterday. it's official... which makes today a good day, but not because of anything i did, rather today marks the begining of my good friend johnny miller's 34th year.

it is late and i am tired, but i could not let today pass without sharing one of many favorite johnny miller moments in honor of his 33rd birthday. johnny is probably my oldest friend. i don't have any friends that are over 33. actually, i have known john since we were in diapers. we probably hung out with each other almost every day over a period spanning 1988 to 1995. so, as you can guess, i know a lot about johnny and he knows just as much about me. most of what we know about each other will never leave the walls of our immature minds, but that shouldn't worry anyone... we're good kids for the most part.

of the many light-hearted memories i could share of my good friend johnny miller, i have chosen a classic that will go down in annals of johnny j. miller's official anthology: the fat lip. thing is, i've got to type the account out before the clock strikes midnight so as to not miss his actual birthday and as most of you know, i am succinct challenged.

on with it then...

the fat lip took place some 20 years ago during the magical week of camp del webb. johnny and i were avid scouters who anxiously anticipated the advent of boy scout camp every year and by avid scouters and anxious anticipation i mean we weren't big fans of camping at all. but, we did it and we tried to make the best of it and as the old addage goes: misery loves company. to give you an idea, i would always get homesick and cry or ask to share a tent with the scout leaders during the trips and john would always brag about being able to leave early to go play on the little league all-star team just to make us all feel like we were going to be stuck in tent and outhouse land while he got to go be a superstar baseball player; thing is he never actually left early he just liked to make us think he might. most of us didn't want to be at scout camp and camp del webb was no exception.

a few days into camp del webb and all its glory things were shaping up nicely: one scout had managed to get a peanut stuck up his nose, another was threatening to go awol and leave, i was afraid of sleeping in my own tent, and an overall feeling of gloom and extreme boredom permeated the crisp mountain air. think the alamo the day before it was taken out except that we didn't have any cool knives, guns, or coon skin caps. morale was down but that didn't keep us from trying to find ways to entertain ourselves.

one particularly boring/depressing afternoon while we were sitting around looking for something to do, my friend johnny meandered off to an area were a bunch of fire wood had been gathered. i haven't a clue what he was doing since firewood is outside john's areas of general interest,those being: things with motors (ask him about the time he accidentally started a big old construction vehicle near my parent's place without having any idea how to turn it off), heights (ask him about the footsteps on the roof we'd regularly hear during early morning seminary back in ninth grade), and fire (maybe he thought the firewood would lead him to fire). anyway, john had left the rest of the group and was off quietly doing his own thing, forgotten by the rest of us widdling scouts until we heard some weeping coming from the general direction of the firewood area.

the weeping subsequently caught our attention and we all slowly gravitated towards johnny. the weeping quickly crescendoed into outright panic and audacious crying. we wondered what could possibly have happened to the boy who had lived through a black widow bite, appendicitis, a hernia, independence alternative high school and john muschong (alright, he'd only lived through two of those up to that point, but, seriously, what did fire wood have on him?), when all of a sudden a somewhat hysterical johnny miller emerged from the firewood area with gushing tears and the fattest top lip i have ever seen in my life. and i mean big, like polish sausage big.

apparently, a bee had tried to kiss john while he was rummaging around in the fire wood (or visa versa, point is the bee left in stinger in john's top lip). this bee must have been on steriods or dosed up on the same juice that the spider who bit peter parker was pounding because it had an extremely potent effect (something akin to a nuclear reaction). if i didn't know any better i would have thought that john had received a collagen injection gone bad from an overzealous physician. it was pretty swollen and judging by john's reaction, i don't think he though it was ever going away.

as for me, i wasn't sure how to react... before me stood my best friend who was obviously in pain, scared, sobbing, and requesting help. make no mistake, i felt sorry for him and wanted to help him, but i was a bit shell-shocked... the kid looked like a mutant. scarlett johanson, mick jagger and fat albert's lips had nothing on johnny... maybe all three of them together may have stood a chance, but that is debatbale since johnny's lip was FAT(with an "f", not a "ph"; and when was the last time i used caps?). think will smith in hitch when he had that bad allergic reaction and his face got all swollen. that was johnny except that all the swelling had taken place in his lip and it was exponentially worse.

john's lip was literally three to three and a half times its normal size. i was not only shocked to see this gross abnormality, but on the brink of bursting into uncontrollable laughter. but, i exercised an extreme amount of self control and refrained. it's unfortunate, though, that john was having such a tough time with it all, because a photo of john and his lip at that very moment would provide his, mine and your posterity with more laughter and joy than humans should be allowed to experience for generations to come. it would likely have solved the hostilities in the middle east, cured cancer and inspired all politicians to be honest. however, no one had the heart to bask in poor johnny's pain right in front of his face (which could barely be seen at this point what with the swollen lip covering it up), instead we laughed about it behind his back.

my dad, who was present at the time, actually wanted to and almost took a picture, but johnny was so distraught, he opted not to risk making the situation worse than it was by exploiting the poor kid's misery (i think he feared his lip may actually explode if johnny got anymore excitement). in hindsight, big jeff should have snapped a shot regardless of johnny's feelings at the time since the pic would be well worth any added pain lil' john might have experienced. believe me, he would have gotten over it, but now, like bigfoot, nessi and yetti, johnny's fat lip is a mere undocumented legend that will be tossed around campfires for generatios to come.

but i was there, i saw the thing, and i will never deny it nor cease to proclaim it so long as i have bones in my fingers to type. someday, with a long white beard and a bit of a limp in my walk, i will gather my grandchildren around the campfire in the thick of a full moon and recount the tale of how i personally witnessed johnny miller and his cursed lip. i expect that my grandkids will never play with fire wood again from that moment on.

i think even johnny wishes someone would have taken a picture since he never actually got to see the swollen mostrosity for himself as there were no immediately accessilbe mirrors. in fact, i have heard him say on more than one occassion that one of his first requests in heaven will be to see a flashback of fat lip johnny. i'm sure heaven has a 32 x 40 portrait of this instance right next to michael jackson in its hallway of "wow, can you believe what our creations have managed to do to themselves down there."

so, in closing, i would ask all of you on this the 33rd birthday of johnny miller to take a moment of silence and close your eyes to imagine him some 20 years younger, teeth a little bucker, voice a litlle higher and tears a'flowing down onto a fat lip the size of his dad's afro. pay the boy his due respect... he has earned it for pete's sake.

the fat lip is just one of the many images/memories of my friend john i currently feel compelled to share with the rest of you. this is the johnny i know... and should he live to see the grand old age of 34, i will share another similar, but equally embarassing (if not more) moment of my life with john j. miller.

done with one minute to spare. happy birthday, jonus!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

miss. kitty's ranch and the cackling dentist

my brother-in-law is a dentist. his name is dr. lemone and he has a very distinct laugh and by distinct i mean border-line annoying. to make matters worse, he laughs at his own jokes. to make matters worser, he repeats his jokes profusely and when i say he repeats his jokes i don't mean he tells the same joke twice over a six month or two year period, i mean he tells the same joke twice or even three times in a row within a matter of minutes (to the same person). but, to make things even worser, his jokes generally aren't funny; however, listening to him laugh is. to give you a visualization, he kind of looks and sounds like jerry seinfield except that he's not nearly as funny and he has blonde hair (once we were watching seinfield and jameson asked if that was uncle bryson on tv... i'm not sure he appreciates the comparison... seinfield that is). btw, i know "worser" isn't really a word.

dr. lemone is a great guy. we like to give each other a hard time. i think he understands his own goofiness and doesn't take himself too seriously, so i tend to capitalize on those traits when making fun of him. i would feel bad about this except that he brings it on himself by instigating the jokes about me being short and stuff like that. in response, i do what any self-respecting person would do and defend myself and my family's honor. i usually get the last word in though because i know the surefire a-bomb comment that always puts an end to our juvenile verbal spouts.

you see, dr. lemone is supersensitive about a certain physical feature which i at least will have the sensitivity not to mention publicly on the world wide web, but everyone nose that exploiting a physical feature someone is self-conscious about is like a charging rhino plastering that person's will to defend him/herself. as such, i am ashamed to admit that i have often had to resort to such seedy tactics in the fog of brotherly warfare. it's an ugly side of humanity that no one should have to see, but you are able to sleep in peace at night, free from the echoing cackles of a devious dentist because of it. no need to thank me... i am only doing what any decent person would do.

so, here's the rub: bryson has practically been begging me for a year or two now to come get some free dental work at his office. free dental work... how can a student turn that down? that's very kind of b, but i should have known better. no sooner had i allowed myself to be strapped down to a dental chair complete with gauze and all sorts of dental instruments stuffed in my paralyzed mouth than i realized that dr. lemone had me just where he wanted me.

he was in his element. he was poised for revenge. he could make all the bad jokes and sling all the hand-me-down insults he wanted with no fear of verbal retribution from me. believe me, i tried and i gagged. not pretty. i just looked and sounded dumb which only emboldened the doctor (if you can call a dentist that) giving him more reason to ridicule me. and the cackling began. a wicked sounding laughter only heard in the movies when the villain has triumphed and is monologue"ing" in the face of an apparent triumph. worse yet, i was helpless. have you ever tried to talk with all that stuff in your mouth and a numb tongue? rest assured, dr. lemone took advantage of my weakened state like lex luthor laying into a kryptonite debilitated superman.

and so there i lie, taking it like a man... suffering through the wicked cackle coming from the face behind the mask as i silently plotted my verbal retaliation. minute after minute, i was only getting stronger even though i suspect he increased the anesthetic dosage to over paralyze my tongue to the point that it would still be numb once the initial obstacles, the instruments and cotton candy, were out of my mouth. he would, too. but then it hit me, dr. lemone needed this. getting back at me for years of jokes about his self-conscious physical feature helped him feel better about himself and, so, in the spirit of brotherly love i was happy to oblige. i took one for my brother from another mother and let him bask in his personal punic victory... at least right up until he spoiled it for himself.

how is that you say? well, the cooper clan often tags along on the coat tails of big jeff to attend various charitable events throughout the valley. a couple of these events have become annual traditions for the cooper family. one of these events is the nevada cancer institute beach party. pretty splashy event. lots of money, lots of booze, lots of superficiality, lots cougars (not the byu type) that never got the memo that they're not in high school anymore which is a perfect lead-in for the next "lots of": and lots of plastic surgery (so i've heard, i haven't noticed myself). to add a little perspective, a very undeservingly famous socialite named after a place in france with the initials ph showed up at the last one. it's pretty big time. good food and lots of dancing (you should see my sisters... they're big eaters and surprisingly limber dancers). we have good old fashioned sober fun with all the hoopla and puffy pirate shirts, not to mention all the odd looks we get from the less than sober crowd although the odd looks might just be the excessive amounts of alcohol kicking in.

after the beach party there's the party at miss. kitty's ranch. hold on, let me explain. i understand full well that, generally, in nevada, when speaking of a ranch owned by a female named after a small furry animal, certain less than reputable suppositions start to flood one's mind. believe you me, this is not the case here. miss. kitty is not that kind of woman and her ranch is definitely not that type of "ranch." mrs. kitty's ranch party is an event held for the opportunity village which is a very noble organization pushing a very noble cause. but, if you were familiar with nevada's less than stellar reputation for the legalization of several vice attracting institutions and not as familiar with the opportunity village and its affiliation with the philanthropic miss. kitty and her ranch, then you may have assumed the worse...

well, such was the case the other day when dr. lemone had me in his grips and, as noted above, i was defenseless. and for that matter, so was his dental assistant who has to sit and listen to his jokes day in and day out (she's an employee). she can't say anything to dr. lemone for fear of losing her job. so, she, too, must sit and listen... and listen she did the other day when dr. lemone asked her, "you think jer's a good guy? you should ask him about miss. kitty's ranch..." he tried to act like he didn't mean what it sounded like he meant, but it was too late. she had likely come to her own conclusion as evidenced by her reaction and she conveniently all of sudden reached for an extra pair of latex gloves (just kidding about the gloves). it was a perfect recipe for disaster: me unable to defend myself, a dental assistant not from here but familiar with vegas' promiscuous proclivities, and bryson's window of opportunity to take a shot at the brother-in-law who has caused him to cower in self defeat so many times.

so, he did... and here's what i still haven't figured out? did he intentionally drop the miss. kitty's ranch bomb knowing his assistant would presume he meant one of the ranches in one of the lawless outer rim towns of nevada? or did he really innocently mention mrs. kitty's ranch not realizing the connotation it carried? if the former, then, i've got to say that b was in the zone that day and playing way above himself... that move was just short of genius. but, if the latter, then all i have to say is even a broken clock gives the right time twice a day. sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.

amazingly, i keep going back to possibility that his design was devious and i have to wonder, how long had he been planning this? how many nights had he sat up thinking of the perfect double entendre that he could drop on me in public, in a situation where i had no means of defending my good name? is there a secret room in his house filled with all sorts of clippings pinned to the wall and streams of thread connecting pictures of me to index cards with different insults and phrases all coming together in perfect maniacal mess? had he tested this one out on my other brothers/in-laws in an effort to perfect the insult? how he must have counted down the days for me, the last of the family, to enter his lair and submit myself to his mercy. i gotta hand it to him, he delivered on the miss. kitty's ranch card... sad thing is, now i'll have to hear about it at every sunday dinner for the next 18 months. the reverberating cackle is echoing in my mind already.

at least i've got the blog. i'm not sure bryson knows how to use blogs (it's an age thing). so, who's the defenseless one now?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

the keys, simple prayers, child-like faith and the maverick (no, this isn't a cs lewis novel although it may be as long as one)

aim told me a nice little story this week about caleb and keys. in our house, we have trouble keeping track of keys. one reason for this is that our boys love to go get our mail from our lock box mailbox. as a result, the keys don't always get put away after the mail has been retrieved and for all i know a few of our bills are out lying in the street somewhere. if you happen to see any of the bills in the street when you come to visit, feel free to pay them.

with missing keys comes bouts of frustration that unfortunately the little ones don't quite understand. have you ever wanted to open your mail box so badly to grab that stack of bills but you just can't because the keys are missing? it's an awful, awful feeling. it's also a feeling we experience around here all too often and each time the keys go missing we rhetorically ask the kids where the keys are knowing full well they haven't a clue... but we try.

the crux: i got a call the other day from aim explaining that the oft routine of attempting to go get the mail and not being able to get the mail due to missing keys had taken place that very day in the cooper household. the difference this time is that instead of asking the unanswerable question of "where, where, where are the keys?", caleb, whose sunday school teachers must have taught a lesson on prayer this past sunday, volunteered the idea of offering a prayer for some divine assistance in locating the missing keys. aimee, wanting to encourage simple acts of faith such as these within our children, agreed that this was a good idea and so it was done.

caleb offered the prayer because it was his turn (he usually insists that it is) and sure enough, not long after, the key was found behind our curtains. aim and cabes were surely pleased to have found the key and in effort to express their gratitude, aim suggested that they offer a prayer of thanks. thus, as already noted, caleb, with an "i got this, mom" type attitude offered the prayer, but instead of saying thank you the little guys exercised a little more faith and asked for some help in finding our second mail key. that's right, key #2. bet you didn't see that coming... bruce willis was dead the whole time and we have a second missing mail key. the difference is that caleb believed and asked for the ultimate helping hand.

before i continue, i need to provide some context and explain that it has been quite some time since i have seen two mail keys in the cooper household... in fact, i don't know if we've had two house keys since we first moved in. in the past, i would have thought it more likely to find my dad singing a solo while cleaning the toilets in an apron than finding our second mail key. i even think that aim thought lil' c was pushing his luck when he suggested prayer as the answer to our second missing key. but, like elijah, cabe's faith didn't waiver and, lo and behold, it was done thusly: the second key was found in the mailbox key hole.

having gone two for two, aim and caleb then felt it appropriate to offer up some thanks and so they sacrificed a couple of the pooping pigeons out back. just kidding. i apologize if any of you found that irreverant, i couldn't resist... i'm a maverick. seriously, cabes said one more prayer so as to not forget the source. turns out prayer was key in finding the keys (wasn't that cute?).

warning: aimee said this next part was pretty weak... you've been warned.

actually, i was also serious about being a maverick. i only bring this up because my last post elicited a comment from an old canadian friend of the family's. he's not old, but we've known this guy for a while now and the fact that he's canadian really has no bearing on this post i just like to country drop. so, our friend from the north posted a comment suggesting that guys maybe shouldn't blog. don't worry jentry, i've heard it all before, but i'm not ashamed of my blogging habits... i guess it's just because i'm a maverick.

i can't help it, it's in my maverick blood which i'm sure is not compatible with any other blood type except for maybe type m (i think jack bauer has type m blood and i am pretty sure he has a blog on 24's homepage). i sense that some of you aren't buying it... well, here's some evidence: i don't use proper capitalization when i post... how does that not scream rebel? plus, i went to unlv's law school whose mascot is the rebels. there you have it, i am a maverick.

i could go on, but i will spare ye. mavericks and childlike faith leading to keys. is there some hidden innuendo there? i'll let you decide. discuss.

iinitiate the blog

iinitiate the blog