Saturday, March 28, 2009

Thoughts on Ireland

Tonight while Sarah was at work teaching a class, I spent some time reflecting on our recent trip to Ireland. Just me, my music, and a sink full of dirty coffee mugs. I asked myself what I learned during my time in The Emerald Isle and gave it some deep thought. Here are some of the answers I found:

I actually didn't even pick up on this until I got back home and BAM, they really stood out. Those things are all over the place here - Buy This! Call This! Sign Up For This! Eat This! This Is Bigger And Better! After being away from the barrage of colors and exclamation points for a week, it's almost a little overwhelming coming back to it. Stop yelling at me, already.

I'd heard Ireland was green. I'd seen photos and video. But I didn't realize just how green a landscape can be until I saw it first-hand. The green there is vibrant. It's beyond vibrant, it's Crayola green. You know the green green color in a box of crayons that kids color with? Grass can really be that Crayola green. As we rode back from the airport I couldn't help but notice that even grass that is green here looks kind of brown-ish in comparison.

We were staying in a small town called Adare while we were there and frequented a couple of pubs, each owned and operated by a pair of brothers. The Pat Collins Bar and Restaurant and the Sean Collins & Sons Bar. I got to talk to Sean Collins a few times and during our last night in Ireland I talked about how much we'd enjoyed getting to know the people and finding out about them. "That's just the thing," Sean told me, "People come here looking to be entertained. Talk to people. Just go up to someone and start a conversation, that's what it's really about." I know it sounds cliche to encounter the friendly bartender who sprinkles life lessons, but just because it's cliche doesn't mean it's not true.

The people we encountered there really had their priorities straight. Relationships took precedence over materialistic ideals. It's not about who has the most things, it's making the most of the relationships you already have. Who cares if there's a crack in the living room wall, how are things between you and the guy next door? It's easy to be happy on a sunny day; can you find a reason to share a smile when it's raining outside? Street signs are hard to find; house numbers are almost non-existent.  That's because people know who you are and, as a result, they don't need numbers on a mailbox to find you. I just couldn't help but get the feeling that people matter.

When we were hanging out in Dingle, a small seaside town, we started seeing a lot of people walking around enjoying ice cream cones and it made us crave them, too. We stopped in a small grocery store that was selling cones; a simple vanilla cone with a stick of chocolate stuck in the top. And it was delicious. Afterward, Ashlea pointed out that she'd forgotten how much she missed ice cream cones and I had to agree. Somehow society has managed to make something as simple as ice cream overly-complicated. Don't get me wrong, I love Maggie Moo's and their plethora of flavors to choose from and endless list of toppings, sauces, candies, nuts, and other goodies to mix in. But in the meantime I'd forgotten how good a simple plain ice cream cone can be.

So..there you go. Just a few thoughts I've taken away from our time in Ireland. I can probably be accused of over-romanticizing the whole thing and I'm probably guilty. What can I say? You can't travel to another country and not come away with an insight or two. And, from my brief experience, you can't travel to Ireland and not come away with a new outlook on life; One that looks for the upside of situations and puts up the "Lemonade for Sale" sign when life gives you lemons.

Ireland was good. Is good. I'd go back in a second. There's a familiar saying over there that's common to pubs: "The first time here you're a stranger. After that, you're family."

I like that.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ireland Recap Finale - March 25 2009

Sarah, Alyssa, Ashlea and I present the final recap of our 2009 Ireland trip and present you with a task.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Ireland Recap - March 23 2009

Sarah, Alyssa, Ashlea and I re-visit our day in Adare and on the grounds of the world-famous Adare Manor.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Ireland Recap - March 22 2009

Sarah, Alyssa, Ashlea and I talk about our day in Cobh, Cork, and speaking in accents.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Ireland Recap - March 21 2009

Sarah, Ashlea, Alyssa and I travel to Bunratty Castle and end the day at Collin's pub in Adare.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Welcome to Shamrock

Ashlea takes you on a tour of our villa at the Adare Manor Estate, which looks suspiciously like a Dharma Initiative village. With that in mind, welcome to the Shamrock Station #10.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Does Ireland Come With Sheets?

You know how you hang out with your friends and talk about all the cool places you want to visit together and how much fun it will be and "Oh man we so have to do that" and you all promise each other you'll do it "one day" and then nothing ever comes of it?

Well, Sarah and I are doing it and I'm crazy excited.

Tonight we leave for Ireland with our good friends, Alyssa and Ashlea, and we couldn't be more excited. We'll be staying in the city of Limerick and plan to spend most of the time exploring the southwestern part of the country while we're there. Our home base will be a villa at the Adare Manor Estate and Ashlea came into my office yesterday asking if they provided bed sheets.

It never occurred to me that they might not, and I almost laughed at the idea. But you know how it is once that seed of doubt gets planted.... You never know. It is another country and we shouldn't just assume they'll have the same amenities they have here in the States. And how bad would it be if we got there and it turned out they didn't.

Luckily, they have a US 800-number and I called and spoke to Mary. I didn't want to come out and just ask if they had bed sheets, so I tried to disguise it by making it seem like a ridiculous "for instance."

"I just wanted to make sure there wasn't something we should bring that we might not think of. You know, like bed sheets."

Mary the operator laughed at me. She didn't just chuckle or giggle or tee-hee. She full on laughed at me.

Next time, Ashlea calls.

'Twas the Night Before Ireland...

Actually, 'twas the night before the night we leave for Ireland, but that was way too confusing. And as you can see, we need things as simple as possible.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Adventures of the Luck Monkey

My old college buddy Ed and I have always found monkeys highly entertaining. While visiting a zoo one summer, Ed sent me a great souvenir: a brochure advertising their latest addition, Bruisa the Luck Monkey. It was accompanied by a photo of the most miserable looking little monkey ever in captivity. I did a Google search on Bruisa to include a picture in this blog, but it appears Bruisa the Luck Monkey was too miserable to ever have demanded any photographic evidence.

I told you that to tell you this...

In the summer of 1992 I was 21 years old and had packed up all of my belongings and was moving to California to be a movie star. On the way there I stopped in Oklahoma City to visit Ed for a few days. My first night there we stayed up really late making a bunch of ridiculous short films, most of which will never see the light of day (if Ed has anything to do with it). But some of them - the ones that don't have Ed in front of the camera - are now online and available for my friends to enjoy (?) for the first time.

One of them featured a parody of the then-popular Ziploc commercials featuring a stupid character, Fingerman. Our dreams of killing this annoying character over and over again finally came to fruition.

And then there's Bruisa the Luck Monkey. I can't honestly say how we came up with the idea of me fighting a number of Ed's stuffed animals or why I was going to be Bruisa the Luck Monkey. In fact, we blame the activities of that night on too much Pepsi and staying-up-too-late-ness.

But if the following trilogy brings you a smile, then it was all worth it.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Hiram Hits the Road

My buddy Hiram is out on the road on tour and he brought his new HD FlipCam with him. Relax, unwind, and tag along. So far, trips to DC, concert footage, and lots and lots of food. Sounds good to me.

Monday, March 09, 2009

"The Haunting of Molly Hartley": A Review by Sarah

Sarah and I just finished watching The Haunting of Molly Hartley. It was horrible, especially the ending, and I've never seen Sarah so angry at a movie before. So angry in fact, that she stood up and yelled at the TV,

"Who gave that douchebag a million dollars to make that movie?!"

Well said, baby.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

A Lost Conversation

An excerpt from a series of actual email exchanges:

Ashlea to Stacey, Eddie

did i tell you all my latest theory??

Ben is either:

A. Satan


B. The Anti-Christ


Eddie to Stacey, Ashlea
I propose that, due to excellent writing and storytelling, and the revealing of certain facts we don't know about just yet, by the end of the run of LOST, we will be made to love and empathize with Ben and understand why he does what he does.

Point in case: Juliet.


Stacey to Ashlea, Eddie
just felt like swearing


Ashlea to Stacey, Eddie

Fact: I've never hated anyone as much as I hate Ben.

Fact: By the end my loathing of him will increase to an all-time high when all is revealed that yes, he is the Anti-Christ.

Come on Eddie... be on Jesus' side.


Tuesday, March 03, 2009


10:37am. I don't really care what you're doing this very instant.

10:41am. Wow, you're going to the market? I still don't care.

10:44am. Seriously. Are you so egotistical that you think I care you just walked down the hall and saw a bird outside?

10:46am. MMmmmmmmm nope. You're broadcasting news of minutiae and I still don't need care.

10:47am. OK, seriously. Stop it.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

It Had To Do With a Car...

I was talking with my dad on the phone and is often the case, the topic turned to movies. Seeing how he thinks Steven Segal is the best actor in the world, I wasn't surprised at the turn our conversation took.

Dad: Dude, I just saw the best movie of the year.

Me: Oh yea? What was it?

Dad: Ford Fairlane.

Me: What?

Dad: Dude, it was awesome.

Me: Are you kidding me? The Adventures of Ford Fairlane?

Dad: Yea, man.

Me: Dude, that movie was horrible! And it's so old!

Dad: What do you mean? When did it come out?

Me: I don't know, 1986?

Dad: What? No. It's new.

Me: Ford Fairlane? With Andrew Dice Clay?

Dad: No....with Clint Eastwood.

I paused to figure out exactly what Dad was talking about. And then it hit me.

Me: Dude, you mean Gran Torino.

Dad: Oh yea, that's it.

My dad, ladies and gentlemen.