30 April 2009 — Songburst: Playing to Win (0)

While we were in Sunriver, the group played a marathon session of Songburst, the “name that tune” game. Steph read song titles and lyrics to us, and we tried to guess the next words. This was the “70s and 80s” edition, so it hit the sweetspot of our childhood years.

We were all surprised at how skilled Kristin was at Songburst. She nailed even the most obscure songs. It’s as if she’s spent her entire life curled up, listening to K103 on a transistor radio.

Part of the fun was singing the cheesy songs of our youth, and discovering who loves which artists. Kris stunned us all with her Stevie Wonder impersonation. Jenn is a big fan of Olivia Newton-John. Kristin can sing “Brand New Key”. And I like the Little River Band.

Because I was a little tipsy (though not nearly as tipsy as Jeff, who was very happy), I downloaded three albums during the game: Toto’s Greatest Hits, Paul Simon’s Greatest Hits, and Little River Band’s Greatest Hits.

This morning as I was working around the house (trying to recover from this damn cold), I was playing Little River Band at full blast, bellering, “Have you heard about the lonesome loser, beaten by the queen of hearts every time?” Then a song came on that I cannot recall having heard before. It was rocking. And then it wasn’t. And then it was.

“Oh my goodness,” I thought. “The video for this has got to be awesome.” I meant that ironically, of course. And yes, yes the video is awesome. Ironically.

My friends, I give you “Playing to Win” by the Little River Band, circa 1985. Enjoy.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go download Dan Fogelberg’s Greatest Hits…

Tags: Friends and Family · Music · YouTube  → No Comments

5 April 2009 — A Night on the Town (4)

I’ve been promising for months (years?) that foldedspace would come out of its shell. Perhaps I should stop promising that.

One way for me to get more material to write about is to actually do stuff…instead of writing. The truth is that most of my day (every day) is spent on the computer, writing for my many sites. This is profitable, no question, but it means I have little personal experience to share.

To remedy that, I’m going to make a point of going out and about, hanging out with friends. And, in fact, I did just that last Friday night.

I joined a bunch of old friends from high school (Dawne, Tom, Jonathan, Tami, Dagny, Cassie Castle, Dusty, Karin) to eat, bowl, and sing. Well, I didn’t sing, but I had a lot of fun listening to everyone else do so. I’d never experienced karaoke before, and I thought it was a lot of fun.

I had the foresight to bring my camera, so I can offer two videos for my fellow Canby alums. First up, here’s Jonathan McDowell singing George Michael’s “Faith”:

This was the first time I’d seen Jonathan since high school. It was great to chat with him and to hear his laugh. It was also great to see Tom Stewart again, who blessed with a performance of Neil Diamond’s “Forever in Blue Jeans”:

Great stuff, gents. Great stuff. Maybe I’ll polish up my Paul Simon or Johnny Cash so that next time I can join the fun…

Tags: Friends and Family · YouTube  → 4 Comments

27 January 2009 — Memorial Service for Paul (0)

This is just a quick note: a memorial service for Paul Carlile will be held Thursday, January 29th at 6:30pm at Ascension Catholic Church in southeast Portland. If you knew Paul, you are welcome to attend. (Hell, even if you didn’t know Paul, you are welcome to attend.) Trust me: the irony of the situation is not lost on me. Paul and I were both atheists. He committed suicide. The memorial service is in a Catholic church. But you know what? That’s cool. This is for his family, not for Paul. He surrendered any choice in the matter…

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25 January 2009 — 20-Year Anniversary (7)

Kris and I have been together for 20 years now! Though sometimes we bicker (as all couples do), mostly this has been a wonderful experience. I am overjoyed to be spending my life with a partner I love, trust, and respect.

I had promised Paul and Amy Jo that I would share the “application” I completed to become Kris’ boyfriend 20 years ago, but she’s asked me not to share it. I did find it, and it’s fun to read, but I’ll respect her wishes. I will, however, reveal that her number one concern at the time was that I wasn’t serious enough, that I was just too glib. Twenty years later, that’s still her top concern (well, that and cleanliness). Kris often says: “I’d laugh more if you weren’t so funny all the time.”

To celebrate our anniversary, we spent a day together on an extended date.

“You need new shoes,” Kris told me recently. “Especially if you’re going to be doing public speaking, you need a new pair of dress shoes. Quality, not something cheap.”

I am not a shopper. As has been established here and elsewhere, I buy most of my clothes at Costco, supplemented by an occasional trip to Goodwill. “I don’t know where to go to buy new shoes,” I said. “Nordstrom?”

“No,” she said. “Nordstrom is too expensive. Why don’t you call Chris Flick? He has nice shoes.” Chris Flick has nice shoes? How the hell does she know this stuff? I couldn’t tell you which of our friends wore what kind of footwear — nice or not! Shoes just aren’t on my radar.

I called Chris Flick. “This is kind of an awkward question,” I said, “but where do you get your shoes?” Chris laughed, but he didn’t hesitate. He told me that the best place to buy good shoes at great prices was Nordstrom Rack, Nordstrom’s outlet store.

Kris and I drove downtown to buy shoes at Nordstrom Rack. It was overwhelming. Their were aisles and aisles of shoes, most of which looked the same to me. “What kind of shoes do you want?” Kris asked. I didn’t have a good response. The shoes I want are my Timberland boots that I wear around all the time. (These boots are actually the root of the shoe dilemma — it’s my insistence that I can wear these for all occasions that led us to the point of shoe shopping.)

So Kris picked out several shoes for me to try on. We discussed color and fit and comfort. My eyes grew big at the prices. ($60 for a pair of shoes?!??! I’m accustomed to spending $20!) I was taken aback when Kris suggested we buy two or three pairs of shoes. “We’re not going to solve all of your shoe issues with one pair of shoes,” she said.

In the end, we bought four pairs of shoes. I can hardly believe it.

After shoe-shopping, we continued our 20th anniversary extravaganza by spending too much on popcorn and a movie. (Good grief, but I’ve become a skinflint in my old age!) We walked up to the Fox Tower 10 to catch a showing of Slumdog Millionaire. Slumdog Millionaire is about a young man from Mumbai whose own life provides him with the knowledge necessary to answer the questions on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

There is much to love about this film — the music, the actors (especially the children), the style — but I felt parts of the story were, well, formulaic. And if you know even the barest outline of the plot going in, then the climax is telegraphed from the very beginning of the film. Foreshadowing is too subtle a word for how clumsily this is handled.

Still, it was good. Best Picture good? Meh…

For dinner, we headed down to Dan & Louis Oyster Bar. The food was okay, but the atmosphere was ruined by the man urinating on the front steps as we entered the restaurant. (It’s located on the edge of a sketchy part of town.) I was bold and ordered the crab. I love crab meat, but I’ve never ordered a whole crab before, and I was lost. I was also messy, splattering butter all over myself. Kris just shook her head.

In the end, it was a fun day. Kris and I rarely do dates anymore. We should do them more often. Just not to buy shoes, and not to spend a small fortune on a movie, and not to eat crab. I think that cheap pizza and a discount theater are more our style!

Update: Yikes! A few hours later, there was a deadly shooting just around the corner from the restaurant. As most of you know, I’m not one who believes in the supernatural, but as we were walking to the restaurant last night, I had a terrible foreboding at this spot. I’m not kidding. But it was about bodily harm to me, not others. Just coincidence, I know, but still freaky.

Tags: Daily Life · Friends and Family  → 7 Comments

19 January 2009 — Bad (4)

One of Paul’s many virtues was that he pushed my comfort zone. Sometimes this was problematic, but mostly it was a good thing. In high school, I was very much a “play by the rules” kind of guy. (Mostly, I still am.) Paul sometimes liked to break the rules.

I did not skip a single class period up until my senior year, for example. But then Paul induced me to skip twice. On the first time, we joined a few other kids to watch music videos at somebody’s house. (Details are very hazy in my old-man brain: Tami and Kim J. perhaps? Amy F.? I’m not sure. All I remember is INXS.)

The second time, I remember clearly.

On the 09 March 1987, U2 released The Joshua Tree. When Paul and I entered high school, we were unfamiliar with the band. I heard them during the first week of my freshman year. I’m not sure if I introduced them to Paul, but I believe it’s likely. In any event, by the end of our senior year, he and I were both hooked on them. We owned all their LPs and many of their rare singles.

So when the new album came out, it only seemed natural to skip school to buy it. After lunch, we hopped into my dirty old Datsun 310gx and drove to Tower Records. We each bought a copy of the LP, and I picked up my first “cassingle” — “With or Without You” on cassette tape. We were back to school before the final bell.

I’ve always treasured the memory of that day. It seems to typify the Paul and J.D. relationship.

Here are two songs from my favorite U2 album, The Unforgettable Fire. Both have been in my mind lately. First up, the best U2 song ever: “Bad”. This is the amazing Live Aid performance that I’ve shared here before: “If I could, through myself, set your spirit free, I’d lead your heart away, see you break, break away, into the night and through the day.”

And then there’s this, which is doubly-apt since today is MLK day. I’ve been singing it to myself all morning: “Sleep, sleep tonight, and may your dreams be realized. If the thundercloud passes rain, so let it rain, let it rain, rain on me.”

I’ve held back the tears until now, but watching these videos…so cathartic.

There’s a memorial service for Paul in Eugene this Wednesday afternoon. If you’re interested in attending, please let me or Tom know. Paul’s parents are trying to pull something together for Portland this Saturday, too. I’ll post when I know more information.

Tags: Friends and Family · Music · Personal History · YouTube  → 4 Comments

15 January 2009 — Hurt (21)

At 3:09 pm last Friday, Paul Carlile texted me. “I’m in PDX,” he wrote. “Are you available before 7.”

“Sorry. No,” I replied at 5:14. I had plans. I was taking pizza to Andrew Cronk and the kids, and then driving to the airport to pick up Kris.

Had I known then what I know now, I would have changed my plans completely. I would have let the Cronks go hungry. I would have left Kris standing at the curb.

Susan, Paul’s long-time girlfriend, just called. Though they’d recently broken up, they were still close. “J.D., this is Susan,” she said, and my brain had to whir — Susan who? “I’m sorry to have to tell you this,” she said, and then I realized it was Susan S., of course, who else? “But Paul killed himself last night.

What?” I said. Was she joking? Through her tears, Susan told me what she knew. Paul had been depressed for a long time. A mutual friend had spent the weekend with him, trying to help him come to grips. When she left, she thought Paul was on stable ground. He wasn’t.

I feel hollow. I didn’t see Paul often anymore — just a few times each year — but he was an important piece of me, a piece that is now lost. I have several paragraphs of memories typed here in my text editor, but I’m not in the mood to share them. It’s as if I want to keep them to myself, to hoard them.

Suffice it to say that I would not be who I am today without Paul. I cannot believe he’s gone.

Here’s a song Paul introduced me to:

It seems painfully appropriate for this occasion.

Update: More memories of Paul.

Tags: Daily Life · Friends and Family  → 21 Comments

23 December 2008 — More Winter (3)

Are you tired of the winter photos yet? We Oregonians aren’t. Well, we’re tired of being house-bound, perhaps, but not tired of the snow. (According to today’s Oregonian, this is the most snow we’ve had in a winter since 1968-1969, which was just before I was born.)

First up, a comparison of a photo from Saturday night with a photo from Monday afternoon. The first photo was taken at about 7pm, in the dark. We had just a few inches of snow on the ground. The second photo was taken about 42 hours later, at 1pm in the afternoon. We had about fourteen inches of snow on the ground (with one-half inch of ice in the middle).

Snowy Birdbath Birdbath (with MORE Snow)

Winter doesn’t just bring snow — it brings icicles, too. Because our house exudes heat, the snow melts and icicles form on the gutters. (Unfortunately, our gutters have actually been damaged in spots.) Click through to see a larger version of this photo at Flickr, where you can see the giant icicle hanging over the dryer vent.

Icicles Hanging from Our Gutters

Winter also, apparently, brings Oliver, who still is not my cat.

Oliver is STILL Not My Cat

Actually, Maxwell likes to be outside in the the cold. He’s our snow bunny. He whines to be let outside the moment we get up, and then won’t come when called all day long. He only returns just before bed. And where does he go? He just sleeps in the bushes. Stupid cat.

Finally, here’s Kris’ first venture out into the white stuff. Mainly, she’s stayed inside, reading, drinking tea, and snuggling under blankets. But yesterday she ventured outside to experience winter:

Kris Throws a Snowball

Depending on which forecast you trust, we could see another 3-5 inches of snow tomorrow, as well as some freezing rain. Who knows? All I know is that Christmas has been delayed in the Roth family!

Tags: Cats · Friends and Family · Portland · Rosings Park  → 3 Comments

2 December 2008 — A Land Without Pleats or Cuffs (4)

Kris has been helping me pare my wardrobe from unwieldy to manageable. She’s not entirely pleased with some of the garments I’ve elected to keep, but she hasn’t been shy about voicing her opinion. Here’s an actual quote from a recent “discussion”:

What about these pants? These are heavily pleated. Why are we even keeping clothes that are ugly? They’re pleated and cuffed. They’re out of here!

I’m needling her, I know, but I really do appreciate the help. Though I once was keen to follow fashion, that is no longer the case. As most of my friends know, I dress for comfort and not for style. (Translation: sometimes I look like a slob.) Kris is helping me to find a happy middle ground — a middle ground without pleats or cuffs.

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12 October 2008 — What I Did on My Autumn Vacation (3)

Kris and I had a good trip to San Juan Island. We didn’t do much besides laze around. We chose to go in early October because peak season has ended and prices on most things (like our bed and breakfast) had dropped. We gambled on the weather, of course — if it were always nice in early October, it would still be peak season, after all. It ended up mostly misty and grey, but that’s okay. We are from Portland, after all.

On our first day, we drove around the circumference of the island. Just outside Friday Harbor (the only real town on San Juan Island), I fell in love with a house: a 1915 bungalow on a few acres of farmland. Love love love it. But I don’t have $726,000. Plus, I’m not sure how I’d do isolated on an island.

Lime Kiln Lighthouse
The Lime Kiln Lighthouse — not the farmhouse I covet.

After coveting this farmhouse, we drove down to see the lighthouse, visited American Camp, stopped at Lime Kiln Point, resisted the urge to spend money at an alpaca farm (I very much wanted a $99 “throw”), and then swung back toward Friday Harbor. We stopped to visit Mona, the local celebrity camel.

Mona the Camel
Mona, the camel of San Juan Island.

The second day was cold and rainy, and we didn’t do much but wander Friday Harbor (we visited the consignment store and the thrift shop — I bought books for the first time in ages). In the afternoon, we read and watched Heroes on the laptop.

On our third day, the sun was shining, so we hopped on the inter-island ferry and spent a couple hours seeing the sites. It was lovely.

Like I said: we didn’t do much. But it was a great vacation nonetheless. We enjoyed our time at The Kirk House, a Craftsman bed-and-breakfast just across from the high school. We fretted about the Focus and all of the nasty smells it threw off. And we planned for our future.

Good times.

Can you guess who’s most glad that Kris and I are home from vacation now? The cats, that’s who.

After a week penned inside the house, they finally have the freedom to go outside, which, as they’ll tell you, is their natual habitat. Inside is only for food and sleeping.

They’re especially happy to have us back in bed at night. Max takes the corner by my feet, Simon takes the corner by Kris’ feet, and Toto sleeps by our heads. (Nemo is too scared to sleep with us — he’s scared of everything.) Mom and Dad make for a warm bed.

Tags: Daily Life · Friends and Family  → 3 Comments

5 October 2008 — Half Full or Half Empty? (2)

Kris and I are taking a short vacation to Washington State’s San Juan Islands.

“What time does the ferry leave from Anacortes?” I asked last night before bed. We were planning our agenda.

“5:25,” Kris said. “And if we miss that, the last ferry is at 6:00. What time do you think we should leave?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “How about ten? Then I can go to the gym first.”

“How about nine?” Kris said.

I went to the gym when it opened this morning at eight. I lifted weights. I ran on the treadmill. When I got home at 9:15, Kris asked, “How long until you’re ready to leave?”

“About half an hour,” I said. “I still need to pack. What’s the rush?”

“I don’t want to miss the ferry,” she said.

In true J.D. fashion, I dragged my feet. I answered some e-mail. I made a post at Get Fit Slowly. I debated which sweater to bring. “Come on,” Kris said.

We finally left the house at around ten. On our drive north, we listened to This American Life. We listened to The Decemberists. We chatted. We made good time.

“We’re making good time,” I said. “But we still have to make it through Seattle.” Seattle’s traffic is a nightmare.

But this time, we only had a five-minute patch of stop-and-go in the city, and then it was smooth sailing. We left Seattle at about 1:30.

“Huh,” I said. “Is there a ferry before the 5:25?”

Kris checked. “There’s a 2:45,” she said. “Do you think we can make it?”

“It’s going to be very very close,” I said, and I stepped on the gas. We flew through Everett. We flew through Mount Vernon. We tried to fly to Anacortes, but our progress was slowed by a minivan from Pennsylvania and a pumpkin festival.

“I don’t think we’re going to make it,” I said, as we marched through the lights in downtown Anacortes. “I guess we’ll have to settle for being 2-1/2 hours early.”

As we crested a bluff, we saw the 2:45 ferry pulling away. Kris gave me a look.

The good news is:

  • We’re first in line for the 5:25 ferry to San Juan island.
  • There’s a picnic table we can sit at while we wait.
  • For $3.95, I was able to purchase two hours of wireless so that I could share this funny story with you.

As a footnote for the Ice Queens in the audience, Kris has decided it’s too cold at the picnic table, and she’s gone to sit in the car. I bet she’ll be back to join me sometime in the next two hours!

Tags: Daily Life · Friends and Family · Funny · Stories  → 2 Comments