Archive for April, 2007

Greg Hits Hollywood

I’ve never been to L.A. You’d think in my line of work, I would’ve made it out there, given that 99.9% of major commercials are shot there.

This weekend a couple of my cohorts were there with Greg from “Greg Hits Hollywood” to do a piece for us. You might have seen him on Leno:

Click here to view.

I can’t WAIT to see what ours is going to look like!

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Pondering vacations

Somehow I’ve managed to work four-day weeks for the past 5 weeks. In theory, at least. In reality, I’ve probably worked six-day weeks, but some of those days have been when I’m on weekend trips.

Nevertheless, you’d think that after a fun long weekend in Vegas, I’d be pumped and ready to take on any challenge at work. Instead, I’ve found myself dreading getting up in the morning, sleeping restlessly due to my “to do” list bouncing around in my head, and generally feeling so far behind that I’ll never dig out. (That’s what recovering from Pacific Time will do for you, I suppose.)

So tonight, I’m taking a spin back to the carefree days of childhood vacations!

Let’s talk about Branson.

branson

For whatever reason, Branson was the vacation mecca for central Kansans. I vaguely remember my first trip there — was it in the green Chevy pick-up, or the red? At any rate, I clearly recall using the tall stick-of-a-gearshift as my personal CB microphone to talk to everyone going by. (Ironic that as a child I liked playing “telephone”, but now really think twice about answering it.)

That trip was at age 3, with mom, dad and baby DIY. We were pulling my grandparents’ fifth-wheel trailer. The high points of the trip were swimming, and spotting my first silver Airstream camping trailer. I was fascinated.

Trip number two was a couple years later, at age 5. Grandma and grandpa were taking all the grandkids to Branson, and I apparently threw a fit when they tried to tell me I was too young to go. We stayed at a much cooler campground that time — it had a waterslide. I fell asleep during “Shepherd of the Hills,” but I do recall the scene of burning down the cabin. Most memorably, I was small enough that I’d come to a complete stop half-way down those big watersildes, and my cousin Nan would have to tail me to scoop me up.

I went on “Branson hiatus” for 7 years, as my next trip was in junior high with my church group. The only thing I remember was having some sort of “come to Jesus” experience (literally) in the Gaslight Theater at Silver Dollar City.

The next (and final) trip was probably 7 or 8 years ago, when I spent a rainy Thanksgiving weekend there with my parents, grandparents an aunts/uncle.

It had become the geriatric capital of the central U.S. There were tour buses everywhere, carting gray-hairs to hokey shows.

The first night we saw Dino, the “pianist extrodinaire”. I had always thought he was a little cheesy, but I was nevertheless interested in going. Disappointing, really. It was all badly-done pouffy glitz and no substance.

Dino

The next night we saw Shoji Tabuchi. He’s a Japanese violinist who really puts on a good show, dispite his fancy for bad hair.

Shoji

Finally, we hit Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede.

Dixie stampede

All in all, we had a nice but damp time, and we got some good deals at the outlet malls.

If there is a next time (which I’m sure there will be, considering my extended family’s fondness of the place), I vote for a houseboat on Table Rock. Or even better, a spa weekend at Lake of the Ozarks.

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(In)stalled

At 6:00 tonight, I should’ve been leaving work to get to my condo association meeting on time. After all, my future as the proud owner of a real washer and dryer was on the line! At 6:20 when I actually DID leave the office, I contemplated whether I should take a cab.

I decided to take a chance on the bus.

Bad choice.

The bus was packed. I was smashed up against the door. And after a mile, the bus stalled in the middle of Lake Shore Drive. The driver let the air out of the brakes about 10 times, fiddled with accelerator and then finally turned off and restarted the bus. Fortunately we were back underway in just a few minutes.

When we got near my exit, the bus stalled again, in even worse traffic. This time it took about five minutes for the driver to get the bus moving. Meanwhile a big gomer was hissing in the driver’s ear to let him off the bus, right there in the middle of speeding traffic. A petite girl chimed in to silence him, with the argument that it might cause the driver to lose his job. An argument ensued.

We moved about 40 feet onto the exit ramp and had to stop due to a traffic light. We once again stalled. Another bus pulled up and stopped next to us, and we were fully blocking traffic for a good five minutes.

The good news is that the next time we had to stop, it was at my corner.

I made it to the condo association meeting just in time.

There I managed to avoid being elected president. However, I did concede to being installed as the “at large” board member in hopes that my generosity would serve as a bribe to let me cut a hole in my wall for the dryer vent.

It worked.

Only two installations to go: washer, dryer.

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What Happens in Vegas…

I just returned from a glorious long (blog-free) weekend in Las Vegas, which consisted of one memorable event after another. Here are a few of the mildly-incriminating highlights.

1. Dinner at Mix atop The Hotel at Mandalay Bay overlooking the strip. Fantastic food, incredible atmosphere — as you would expect when you’re surrounded by a million-dollar cascade of clear blown glass bubbles hanging on strings from the ceiling as if “rain from heaven.” We were courted by the manager, assistant manager and sommelier throughout dinner while we feasted on foie gras. And our waiter brought us an extra round of madelines with Nutella to boot.

2. Walking by Pure nightclub in Caesar’s and being approached within a nanosecond by a bouncer to come in with a VIP pass. We watched the Pussycat Dolls (fun!) while short men hovered around us.

3. Trying on a $700 Just Cavalli dress and complaining to our sales guy that “it just doesn’t fit quite right” — all before buying an equally swanky yet less expensive (and better-fitting) one at D&G. The next day we hit Chanel and pretended that the stunning $700 strand of pearls was an option.

4.  Jenn getting a breast enlargement consultation from six Mormon girls (all C+ done by the same doctor) while standing in line for an hour and a half to get into Moon at The Palms.  (It was the after-party for the opening of the new Pearl Concert Theater, headlined by Gwen Stefani.) There we partied with (or near) Paris Hilton, her boyfriend (who plays Nicolette Sheridan’s nephew on Desperate Housewives) and the cast of Real World Las Vegas. Word has it that Tommy Lee and Luke Wilson were also in the room, but we didn’t see them in the flesh. Our picture is supposed to be appearing on www.hype1.com — but it hasn’t shown up yet. (The funny part is that we didn’t have one single drink.)

5. Walking through the conservatory/garden at the Bellagio, then seeing the Ansel Adams exhibit. The photos seem even more amazing once you see the camera he had to work with — it was huge!

6. Buying cute flats at Diesel — after traipsing around in heels all day/night. The weekend was fraught with sore feet.

7. Laying out poolside at the Mirage (our hotel). Word has it that K Fed was over at Bare(the neighboring “European-style-topless-optional” pool) the day prior.

8. A giant fortune cookie as dessert at Tao. It was the largest fortune cookie I’ve ever seen.

9. The fountains at the Bellagio (really impressive) and the waterfall at the Wynn. I could easily live in either hotel for a few months a year. But I suppose the Venetian would do, in a pinch.

10. Seeing Zumanity at New York, New York.  I’m still at a loss for words. Let’s just say the show was part spoof on a typical Vegas showgirl gig, part insane acrobatics, and a lot of audience participation. It ended with an 85-year old granny named Nanette being pulled from the audience to straddle a show character named Antonio on the “lazy susan of sex.” Highly recommended. (Grandpa would’ve loved it.)

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Randomness Follows Me, Part IV

While bopping out of Hudson News in O’Hare near gate F4 on our way to Vegas, someone bumped into me.

It was Phil.

Seriously?

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The Two Rules of Food Service

Tonight I was reminded of two rules Jenn and I have regarding food service:

1.  Everyone should have to work as a waiter at some point in life. It teaches you to be nice.

2.   Once you’re over 25, it’s a bad idea to date people who work in a restaurant or bar, unless they own the place. 

When I was in high school, Carlos O’Kelly’s was the hip place to dine. Unfortunately we didn’t have one in either of our nearby towns.

So when I read in the paper during the spring of my freshman year in college that one was opening in Hutchinson, I immediately submitted my application! It was April, and the restaurant building was still under construciton, so I interviewed with the new general manager in a camper out back.

(Little did I know that he and I would become friends and later take a class for our master’s degrees together in which we were both accused of cheating! We’ll save that story for another post.)

At the end of the interview, he gave me the line of, “We like you, but you don’t live here, so we can’t hire you right now.” But he told me to come back in May when the semester was over and see what was open.

So I trotted back in May, and he hired me on the spot. I became a red-shirt-wearing waitress.

It was a lot of work. I had to be nice. And on occasion, I was able to milk the situation for a good tip, despite the overall perception of Hutch being a “two-dollar tip town.”

The best tip came late one night during the big national softball tournament, when a table of umpires got seated in my section. I flirted. They laughed.

Following restaurant law, after they finished their main courses, I asked if they would be interested in a yummy fried ice cream. They said no.

I made a bet:
You order dessert, and I’ll tie a cherry stem in a knot with my tongue.

They bit.

So I promptly went back in the kitchen, prepared their fried ice cream, tied a cherry stem in a knot and stuck it in my cheek.

I headed back to the table. The guy on the end offered the cherry on top of the ice cream to me. I put it in my mouth, swished it around, and then produced the one I’d knotted back in the kitchen.

$20 tip for Nelly.

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What’s in a name?

Last night I went to my old stomping grounds for the weekly Sunday night dinner with the neighbors. When I got there, the place was at 99% humidity from all the cookin’, and  it smelled of divine hamburgers, compliments of Chris (this week’s chef).

As we were sitting around shooting the bull, I mentioned that I’d been on a date last week with a guy named Rhett. Everyone immediately started quoting Gone with the Wind with ridiculous southern accents and acted like they were fainting. (Fainting from massive jealousy, that is.)

Robyn said she was reading Gone with the Wind when she went into labor with her second child, so she named her Melanie.

And then we started talking about how we all got our monikers.

Amy was born in Spain (to a John Deere employee from Iowa), and to pay homage to the birth locale, her mother wanted to name her Maria. After someone kindly reminded her that “Maria” didn’t really go with her Midwest surname, they decided on Amy.

Vera was named after her great aunt.

Gretchen’s mom wanted to name her Miranda, but the nurse scoffed.

Tanya was named for Tanya Tucker — who she’d never heard of.

And Robyn was named after a character on a soap opera (who had an expedited childhood to become an adult before Robyn reached kindergarten).

So tonight I was talking to Dad, and I asked how I became Nelly. I knew my “near miss” name was Holly Christine — but given that another little girl born on the same day as me who lived a quarter mile down the road with the exact same last name was named Molly, it seemed they would have to find another name. (Even weirder — my parents not only had the same last name as these folks, but our moms had the same birthday, and my parents hosted them for spaghetti the night before we were born.)

Ever the procrastinators, my parents didn’t have a contingency plan. Dad claims I went nameless for a couple days while they deliberated. (Even worse with my brother, they picked up a baby name book on the way to the hospital.)

Indeed, my life was ultimately informed by the Young and the Restless. Mom took a liking to the name of one of the Brooks sisters, which she granted to me. But “C” wouldn’t do for a middle initial — so they opted for the spelling “Kristine”.

For what it’s worth, Dad’s vote for my first name was “Audra”, Linda Evans’ character in The Big Valley.

Holly? Audra? I think I like Nelly.

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