Thursday, July 26, 2007

Palmyra Pilgrimage

I declare the Palmyra Pilgrimage a success. I’m not sure what would have constituted a failure, but I had fun so I’ll assume we didn’t fail.

Originally I had about a dozen friends from Columbus scheduled to attend. In the week beforehand that number plummeted to 6. This would rather discouraging, especially considering that some of the pioneer members of the trip decided against going. I considered calling the whole thing off, but learned that Stephanie was in fact bringing her contingent of friends from DC, so I needed to be in NY to greet them. So we took our 6, and pulled in a last-minute 7th ringer and got ready to go. Normally I leave people pretty confidential in my blogging, but today it’s full disclosure. The cast of our trip consisted of:

In Yoshi (my car)
Myself: I’m going to save you any description of myself.

Kate: Our resident redhead. She nearly missed the trip due to the release of Harry Potter. She also nearly missed it because of a test she had on Monday. She also considered missing it because she wouldn’t have a chance to meet my mother. It’s really quite amazing she came at all. She really wanted a Garbage Plate.

Lolly: Our DJ extraordinaire. Whereas most of my friends are students, he actually has a job (in business, DJing is a hobby.) Because of this I considered making him pay for all our trip expenses, but his magnanimity only goes so far.

Tiffany: Lolly’s girl, and the youngest member of our expedition. Her youthful zeal gave the rest of us fogies some added energy.

In the Pete-mobile
Pete: Owner of the mobile. He had to work so his car left several hours after ours. He was so excited to see Pageant that he left his girlfriend behind to join us in our quest.

Jaclyn: Accountant by day, conspiracy theorist by night. Apart from her gun advocacy, a very nice girl whose deadpan delivery rivals my own.

Matt: Not a close friend of mine, but a last-minute addition that greatly added to the trip. His waxes philosophic a bit too often, but is otherwise an upright human being.

Up from DC
Stephanie: My bishop’s daughter. She seceded from the ward during the year to start working in DC. But we’ll forgive her because she did bring her friends Kristi, Erika and Charlie to bring our group to the round number of 11.

Day 1:

The trip from Columbus was blessedly uneventful. I’ve been involved in a few too many accidents to be completely nonchalant about roadtrips, but this one was incident free. I’d put together a special playlist that we only made it partially through. Instead we opted for watching a couple Office episodes (we later discovered that the Pete-mobile used Arrested Development instead) and listening to several comedy albums. This meant that we spent the rest of the trip quoting Mike Birbiglia (who I met on Thursday, which was fun), Jim Gaffigan, Dimitri Martin and Celebrity Jeopardy. We also burst into a spontaneous sing-along of Blister in the Sun, which for better or worse was caught on tape.

We arrived in NY at 10:30. Kate made her participation in the trip conditional upon a trip to Borders to get the final Harry Potter, so we headed there to join in the wizardly festivities. Now I’ve been to anime conventions, Star Trek conventions and med school parties, but this was the biggest group of nerds I have ever seen. I suppose the fact that I loathe Harry contributes to my judgment of these people. But being stuck in a bookstore isn’t such a bad thing and it was soon midnight. Kate had insisted on coming to see “the fun” but due to our late reservation had a very poor spot in line to actually receive the book. So Lolly and I drove over to Wegmans and confirmed that there was in fact a pile of books there with no line. However she wouldn’t let us buy one, we had to go back and get her and bring her to Wegmans to buy it herself. To punish her for this delay we read the last couple pages of the book and threatened to reveal the ending to her throughout the weekend.

So we made it to my house around 1. The Pete-mobile showed up around 2 and we then cut the cake to celebrate Lolly’s birthday. By this point my dad had gone to bed (he did stay up to great us, which was commendable) so we whispered the birthday song and enjoyed our late night snack. Some people went to bed, but Kate was up reading for several hours and I stayed up to greet the DC crew, who showed up around 3:30. It was actually quite remarkable that we made it out of the house before noon the next morning. The 11 of us used up 8 beds and 1 couch, which due to our timing were all vacant from family members.

Day 2

This was a long day. We had a lot to do, but very few actual commitments, which is the way I like to vacation. We started off easy by going to PowderMills Park and looking at the Fish Hatchery. A couple people questioned this visit, but I wanted to progressively get better throughout the day. We then explored the Mushroom House, which I’d never actually visited. It’s a fun little bit of real estate, and we didn’t get shot at for snooping around so I was happy.

We made one of our many stops by the Erie Canal next. Since it was still morning we didn’t partake of any Abbot’s Frozen Custard, but we did take some pictures and scare some ducks. We then traveled down to the village of Pittsford to get a Garbage Plate at Village Hots. Unfortunately it has closed down since last I visited (these Hot shops seem to have a hard time staying in business.) So we explored the more scenic Pittsford Erie Canal before heading over to Fairport to their local Hots.

Reviews of the Garbage Plates were understandably mixed. The plate is far from high cuisine ( but I make a point of having one or two a year. It’s really the only Rochester food I could think of. Although most people split their plates, we did a pretty admirable job of making it through the colossal dishes. Although few people would qualify the meal as “good” they all agreed that it was a worthwhile experience.

After recovering a bit from our main meal of the day we headed to Palmyra. We started off with the Grandin Building, which was pushing visitors through at an amazing rate. But since we didn’t really follow our tour guide, I think everyone got to look at the printing equipment for as long as they wanted. We also enjoy some time in the antique bookstore next door, as well as talking with the Antimormons, which were out in force this year. Jaclyn even talked one into giving her a free t-shirt, which she put on later in the day, much to the dismay of some of our group. It understandably made her the center of attention as we continued to visit church sites and the missionaries would invariably descend upon her to make sure she wasn’t causing any problems. We didn’t get any actual grief until we reached the Hill Cumorah Pageant, where she was asked to cover the shirt (it read “We used to”) or leave. Oh that crazy Jaclyn.

We had to make it over to the Hill Cumorah in the afternoon to get our backstage tour. I’d seen most everything before, having been in Pageant a number of years ago, but I think it was pretty neat for everyone else. We went under the stage, to the prop shop, through the wigs and costumes and then finally to the top of the Hill. I came across a number of old ward members, half of whom didn’t remember me. I guess 7 years has that effect.

After our tour we backtracked to the Sacred Grove/Joseph Smith House/Temple area. Half of us did the actual tour, but having gone through it a number of times I just skipped the houses and went into the grove. I don’t know why, but neither house (Cabin and house) really does anything for me. But as always I had a good experience in the grove, with the added pleasure of seeing a vole and an offroad wheelchair.

I had been taping things throughout the day with my video camera, which didn’t get odd until the Pageant itself. I had no need or desire to tape the whole thing, but did capture a few choice scenes. My video was really less distracting than all the flash bulbs going off, but I still felt like Pageant security was going to come down on me. But that was probably because Jaclyn had so recently brought us to their attention. In addition to our full group we added a couple other friends from DC, as well as some friends of mine from Rochester. So we had quite the congregation to see the show. Getting away from the pageant seemed much harder than in years past. But we played some party music and rocked out in our borrowed mini-van and all was well.

Day 3

This was primarily a travel day, which was again uneventful. We did attend church in the morning, which was only noteworthy because a couple of the group hadn’t brought any dress clothes. There are worse things than going to church in jeans.

We said our goodbyes and took a couple group pictures. Lolly had seen our old canoe under the deck and decided we needed to take a picture in it. You can’t really see the cobwebs and heaps of dead leaves in the picture, but it wasn’t entirely pleasant.

On the way back to OH we stopped at Niagra Falls. It ended up being a bit farther out of the way than I remembered, but it was still worth the brief departure. It was a great day at the falls, which did mean that there were tons of other people there also. We did the American side because we were in a hurry, but I like alternating between them anyway. This stop was really the only event on the way home. Kate did finish Harry Potter about an hour from Columbus, which put her time at about 42 hours. Not amazing, but considering the amount of other things we’d done in those days it was surprising she managed it. We stopped in Kirtland to get gas, but didn’t actually do anything else there.

So as I finish writing this it occurs to me that blogging about interesting things doesn’t necessarily make for interesting blogging. Deep I know. But it was a fun trip and we’ve already started planning our next destination.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Wanna Be

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Did I just hear . . .

Bugsy Malone. A movie that evidently existed only within the Sorensen household has made it's rap debut. I was listening to the new Dizzee Rascal CD (British hiphop DJ, for those not in the know)and suddenly I hear Lily Allen singing "So you want to be a boxer" in the chorus. It's faster and the lyrics are altered, but the tune is there. It very nearly blew my mind.

Dizzee Rascal ft. Lily Allen: Wanna Be. Check it out.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Fifth time a charm?

I’m now using my 5th Chocolate phone. Ridiculous.

Phone 1: Stolen by a hobo. Obviously this wasn’t Verizon’s fault, other than having such an attractive phone.
Phone 2: Memory chip melted when a girl I didn’t like called me.
Phone 3: Sliding mechanism broke.
Phone 4: Vibration mechanism ceased functioning.

So now I’m on phone 5. It’s very possible that this is my typical bad luck, but seeing as they never seem surprised when I come in with a newly defective phone, I think it’s a less-than-stellar product. But as long as they keep replacing it free of charge I’ll keep using it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


This is the American Gladiators Event I threw a couple months ago.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Sharing the crazy

Most of the time my job is boring. Making copies, transposing files, hunting down test subjects, centrifuging blood. It’s not a glorious existence. But every once in a while I have an interview that raises the interest level several thousand percent. A lady I talked to recently said all of the following in a forty minute time period:

1. President Bush needed to be in God’s hands (ie dead.) This statement is a pretty low level of crazy.
2. She had mailed her artwork to Janet Jackson. Again, unusual, but not crazy.
3. Her ex had stolen 26,000 dollars from her. Unlikely considering I knew her exact employment history, or lack thereof.
4. This caused her to get in a car accident, which resulted in needing a hysterectomy, which resulted in the government implanting a device to read her thoughts.
5. The government taps her phone (odd considering they can already read her thoughts and see through her eyes.)
6. The government implants these implants during many people’s surgeries.
7. She has a frequent contact with the Holy Spirit (I could buy this.)
8. An early indication of this was a picture of the Last Supper appearing in her yard inside a metal box she saw in a dream.
9. Satan has visited her twice, once as a 3.5 foot tall cat in a suit, then again as a large pair of eyes that remained on her wall all night.
10. She’s been given numerous visions, including a very detailed visit to Saturn.
11. She’s also been given a spiritual companion. Her companion’s name is Tatiana and they engage in spiritual sex (the patient is spiritually a man.) She described spiritual sex in some detail, but I’ll just let you know that climax is “like a mushroom cloud.”

You may think it’s bad form to post the particular psychoses of a patient on my blog, and perhaps it is. But one thing I’ve noticed about psychiatrists is that they feel free to take a light-hearted view of their patients, and feel nearly compelled to share what they witness on any given day. I think you can’t just bottle up this craziness. As I sit and search through records in the central office I hear a constant string of absurd conversations. “So how’s so-and-so today? He’s the king of Greece today. Does Greece have a king? The country changes most days, but he always stays king.” You don’t hear this kind of casual banter about someone with pneumonia. But you don’t really need to. You can talk to the person with pneumonia about it. When someone’s delusional, you can only discuss that delusion in any real manner with a third party. And when the delusional patient is screaming and ordering and generally trying to make your life miserable, you need to vent. So psychiatrists cope, by sharing the crazy.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Reviews: Rollout!

Here are the answers to last week's quiz:

Who is the leader of the Decepticons?
Mumrah (Thundercats)
Skeletor (He-Man)
Starscream (2nd in Command)

The Constructicons combine to form what giant(er) robot?

Generally speaking, what can Decepticons do that Autobots can’t?

Which of the following are not one of Soundwave’s helpers?
Laserbeak (an eagle)
Ravage (a panther)
Rumble (a miniature robot)

Who doesn’t lend their voice to the Transformers movie?
Eric Idle
Mark Hamill (I hate Mark Hamill)
Leonard Nimoy
Orson Welles
Also Judd Nelson, the bully from the Breakfast Club, Casey Kasem and the Micromachines guy each do a voice. Little known facts.

Who is the leader of the Dinobots?

What was the American rip-off of Transformers?

What is Transformer food/fuel/currency/mammon?

What is the Transformers’ homeworld?

Who has the same voice as Starscream?
Cobra Commander (from GI Joe)
Hordack (from She-Ra)
Shredder (from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

I suppose I should also give my review for the new movie. As with my Spiderman review, this is extremely biased. Seeing as Transformers is my favorite cartoon of the 80s, any movie containing Optimus Prime will automatically be great, regardless of the actual quality. Luckily this movie was as “good” as a movie featuring giant robots could be. It won’t get any Oscars (except for effects, which it deserves), but it was thoroughly entertaining.

Michael Bay and Spielberg did a good job balancing the original show with a modern, streamlined revival. Lots of elements from the cartoon make no sense from an adult view, and they did a good job of removing these parts while maintaining the spirit of the original. Yes the fanboys would prefer it if Megatron still turned into a gun, but it makes more sense for him to be a jet. In return for changing things they threw in a lot of inside jokes for fans of the original. I could easily see the film failing by changing it too much or not changing it enough, and they did a good job.

Obviously this movie requires a large suspension of disbelief. But if you’re watching it in the right context, it delivers in spades. There was a certain level of gravitas about the whole war, which served the story well. There was also a surprising amount of humor. This certainly wasn’t Knocked Up, but I laughed out loud several times through the movie. A lot of the humor was aimed at the under-10 crowd (I can see no other reason to include a robot urination scene) but it was balanced overall. The acting was nothing remarkable, but everyone was serviceable. I’ve liked LeBouf since Constantine, and this and Disturbia look to push him onto the center stage for the next decade or so.

As a Michael Bay movie, we expect some great action, and he delivers. What I didn’t expect was the quality of the effects. There weren’t that many “that looks so awesome” moments, but what impressed me was that there wasn’t a single “oh, look at that CG” moments. The movie looked believable throughout, which really is the point of CG. It’s not about spectacle, it’s about making imaginative stories possible. And this movie did that better than any in recent memory.

I saw the movie with another guy and two girls. The males had both nostalgia and an affinity for action/sci-fi skewing our view, but liked it a great deal. The girls were basically humoring us by going, but both ended up having a lot of fun. And that’s probably the best descriptor of the movie: it was fun. Try not to smile.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

More than meets the eye

My Spiderman Quiz was rated far too difficult (the high score was a 60%) so I dumbed down this Transformers Quiz quite a bit.

The Transformers Challenge

Who is the leader of the Decepticons?

The Constructicons combine to form what giant(er) robot?
Jimmy Hoffa

Generally speaking, what can Decepticons do that Autobots can’t?
Speak French
Fire lasers from their eyes

Which of the following are not one of Soundwave’s helpers?

Who doesn’t lend their voice to the (original) Transformers movie?
Eric Idle
Mark Hamill
Leonard Nimoy
Orson Welles

Who is the leader of the Dinobots?

What was the American rip-off of Transformers?
My Little Pony

What is Transformer food/fuel/currency/mammon?
Human scalps

What is the Transformers’ homeworld?
Asteroid Belt

Who has the same voice as Starscream?
Cobra Commander
Sister Peterson