Archive for February, 2009
I was checking through the stats of the blog yesterday, and noticed that a significant amount of you read these words through your RSS thingies. So you might not know that for the last five months I’ve been Twittering on the side. And seeing as though the media seems to be discussing Twitter constantly these days, it makes sense to tell you where to find my nuggets of crap. Here: http://twitter.com/flipflopflying
After clicking Okay: no more pokes, no more crappy quizzes, no more dumb gifts like a picture of a pint of beer. Facebook account deleted. Hopefully that might trim a few cents off that odious young man’s net worth.
I’d forgotten all about this, but I found the photos when fiddling around. At the start of my travels in January 2008, I stayed with my friend Naomi in Mexico City. As a small thank you, I drew five pictures for her based on the idea that Jesus is not an uncommon name in Mexico. Dumb stuff, really, but content is content… I’ve decided to call them collectively Jesus doesn’t always love you.
Thanks to Derick for pointing me to this great quote from Kurt Vonnegut (link to a few more), regarding when Vonnegut tells his wife he’s going out to buy an envelope:
Oh, she says well, you’re not a poor man. You know, why don’t you go online and buy a hundred envelopes and put them in the closet? And so I pretend not to hear her. And go out to get an envelope because I’m going to have a hell of a good time in the process of buying one envelope. I meet a lot of people. And, see some great looking babes. And a fire engine goes by. And I give them the thumbs up. And, and ask a woman what kind of dog that is. And, and I don’t know. The moral of the story is, is we’re here on Earth to fart around. And, of course, the computers will do us out of that. And, what the computer people don’t realize, or they don’t care, is we’re dancing animals. You know, we love to move around. And, we’re not supposed to dance at all anymore.
It’s 15 years since Bill Hicks died. Time flies, it really does. If you don’t like hearing someone use the word “cunt,” don’t watch the clip.
Now begins the paperwork. After talking to a lawyer and getting a checklist of things that I need to apply for residency, we went to Kinko’s to print out all the government documents we need to fill in. Don’t it look like a whole ream of fun?
Love the juxtaposition of the facial expressions of Phil Brown and Harry Redknapp currently (but, one would assume, not for much longer) on the BBC Sport homepage.
Fred Meyer is a chain of supermarkets here in the Pacific Northwest. On Friday evening, I saw this guy wandering around the local Fred Meyer. Yellow, waterproof jacket like a fisherman. Baseball batting helmet. And one half of two different pairs of shoes on each foot. In my head, I like to think that this guy is the real Fred Meyer, dressing crazy so he can wander around his empire without being hassled. The Internet says he died in 1978, but that’s probably what he wants us to believe…
I think I’ll watch the Oscars® (never forget the ®) via Twitter this year, cos of all the major awards, I’ve only seen Richard Jenkins (Best Actor), Robert Downey Jr. and Heath Ledger (Best Supporting Actor), and WALL-E and In Bruges (Best Original Screenplay). Not enough to have much of a strong or informed opinion. Although, I do generally like Richard Jenkins a lot, so I hope he wins.
But anyway, this is the best way for me to do film criticism; I like to think of them as the Craigs:
After the last three posts, it’s about time things got back to normal here; and there’s no better way to do that than with a graph and a couple of pie charts. Whilst poking around on Wikipedia, I noticed that several of the hotels on the Las Vegas Strip were owned by the same company, so I poked around some more…
There you go, y’all, another thoroughly useless Flip Flop Flying display of information in graphic form.
On our wedding day, we woke up early to cloudless sky. The New York-New York hotel has two Starbuckses inside, which is rather convenient; but as Claire noted, they don’t have coffee makers in the hotel room, so it’s probably some big, evil, corporate conspiracy. We lazed around for a while with our sippy cups of coffee, flicking through the TV channels, and eventually roused ourselves to go and find a place to buy a shirt and tie. Took a while, actually. Who’d’ve thought it’d be so difficult to buy a white shirt, or a tie that didn’t cost an arm and a leg. But find them we did.
Some quesadillas and margaritas for brunch, and back to the hotel room with enough time to sit and watch the Alex Rodriguez news conference, before putting on our fancy clothes and taking a leisurely walk to the Little Chapel of the West. Even at that point – as we commented on the up escalator that it was the last up escalator we’d take as single people, and similarly on the down escalator’s that allowed pedestrians to cross the Strip – even at that point, it still felt quite abstract that we were about to get married. We smoked a couple of cigarettes, got some Tarantula Piss (that’s our new name for Gatorade which I’m very much hoping will catch on) from the gas station, and right on time, at the suggested fifteen minutes early, we arrived at the chapel. Into the office to complete the paperwork and pay the minister’s fee. We told the lady in the office that we didn’t have a witness, so she signed the marriage certificate there and then. We both forgot that everything had to be paid in cash, so to buy a postcard of the chapel, Claire had to root around in her handbag to find a dollar’s worth of coins.
We waited for the minister in the gazebo next to the chapel, did some kissing, took a few photos. Then the minister and some other dude with too much hair gel came along. The minister, Rev. Paul Graham, introduced himself in that warm tone that men of the cloth seem to have; and hair gel dude lead us into the chapel. It was a fairly small, simple place, but pretty nonetheless, especially as there seemed to be no Christian stuff on display, and, well, as an atheist, I would’ve felt a little weird getting married in front of a God I don’t believe exists.
The minister went up to the other end, and hair gel dude attached a radio mic to my jacket and put the transmitter thingy in my inside pocket. This was for the $75 DVD of the ceremony. I was beckoned to the front. The minister told me where to stand, and to turn so I could see Claire as she walked down the aisle. The recorded wedding music began, and that was the moment: for me, that was the moment when it all felt real. Seeing Claire looking beautiful, slightly self-consciously walking down the aisle, ending up stood next to me. I’m a lucky boy.
Rev. Graham started talking. My memory of what he said is very vague. I remember saying “I do” when the pause came. I remember Claire doing the same. The other words, though, I’m not sure if I remember the words we said, or just the words that you hear at most weddings. But what I do remember is looking into Claire’s eyes. I remember us putting rings on each other’s fingers, and I remember near the end, we crossed our eyes and belmed at each other. Then I kissed the bride. Woo hoo!
Hair gel dude came along and took a load of photos, telling us what to do: lean a bit closer, put your hand on her hip, kiss her cheek, close your eyes. All of which felt very unnatural. After we’d done that, Claire and I walked arm-in-arm back down the aisle and the minister rang the bell.
Don’t look at the next photo if you don’t wanna be sick in your mouth.
Some passers-by offered their congratulations, and we went around the corner to the vacant lot, and popped open the champagne. A blur of fun followed as we drank from the bottle, chuckled at how it was a bit wrong to be taking fun photos and spraying champagne while there was a homeless fellow sleeping next to an upturned shopping cart just a hundred feet away.
We went to the nearby Glass Pool motel, which we’d seen the day before, to ask if we could take some photos by the pool. A rather bemused Asian guy who didn’t seem to speak much English said we could, but seemed a bit pissy about, so we kept the pics to a minimum. We trundled along and joked about how white trash it would be for newlyweds to go into the McDonald’s we were passing by. So, we went into McDonald’s, giggled at the counter, taking slugs of champagne as we ordered two cheeseburgers.
After sitting outside and eating our wedding, err, burgers, we continued the giddiness walking back to the hotel, getting some congratulations from other tourists, and having our photo taken with a bunch of Japanese girls. Not sure why I have this particular expression on my face, but there you go…
Back at the hotel, we dropped off the marriage certificate and our passports, had some rum and Cokes, and got some cash so we could return to the chapel to pay for the CD-R of the photos that hair gel dude took. We took a taxi, and had our comedy and/or racist taxi driver moment. As the talk radio was talking about the death of a Wal-Mart employee during the post-Thanksgiving sales last year, the driver said, “You don’t wanna get between black people and their sales.” We waited until we were out of the cab before we burst out laughing. After picking up the CD-R, we nipped up the road and had our picture taken in front of the Welcome to Las Vegas sign.
Then, (and I’m sorry that this and the previous post have featured a lot of “and then”-type sentences, because it’s starting to sound like my teenage diary: and then I went up town and then I bought “New Gold Dream” and a quarter of strawberry bonbons and then I came home and played it three times cos it’s ace!), we got continued getting into our cups back at the Mandalay Bay bar, before heading back to New York-New York and heading towards the roller coaster. Oh yeh, that’s right, we went on the roller coaster on our wedding day. Frankly, I’m impressed with how cool that sounds…
What with its rolling and coastering, I took off my specs just to be safe, left them in one of the lockers, and away we went to get strapped into the yellow and black, New York cab-style cars. And a pretty sweet ride it is, too. There are two big, fast drops, a loop, and a bit where the track twists and you’re going forward upside down. (To get a feeling of what it was like, there’s this. Probably NSFW cos there’s a few swears.)
Ready for some more boozin’, we got one of those a-yard-of-margarita things – a big plastic pipe full of the stuff – and took a nice stroll along the Strip. Passed the bits that look like Paris, the bits that look like Monte Carlo, the bits that look like ancient Rome, the bits that look like Venice… My idea for a Las Vegas hotel/casi
no is one called Viva Las Vegas, where the building(s) looks like a scaled down model of all the other buildings on the Las Vegas Strip. And inside Viva Las Vegas I would do Flip Flop Flying: The Musical which would basically be me reciting blog entries (moaning about supermarkets, talking about how great hot dogs are, etc.) with lots of showgirls and tigers behind me. That would be sweet.
All the while, walking along, and seemingly oblivious to the fact that I was holding the hand of, ahem, my wife, dudes kept thrusting out their hands to try and give me the saucy cards with pictures of ladies and phone numbers on them. Apparently, I can get girls with names like Misty to come to my room for 35 dollars. They’d be “totally nude,” and I’d get a “full service.”
We stopped for a while to watch the corny pirate-themed show at Treasure Island, and wondered what the real Caesar would think of Caesars Palace and why there isn’t an apostrophe in the name. By this time, and after much stomping around, I was growing a nice squishy blister on one of my toes, so it was nice to pause for a while to watch the beautiful choreographed musical fountain thingy at the Bellagio.
All that walking made us hungry and we made ourselves feel ill with gluttony, eating really tasty food at P.F. Chang’s; swiftly followed by rolling into bed. Full, but very very happy to have been one half of a truly excellent wedding day.
Wednesday morning, we took it easy, checked out at the last possible moment, nipped over to the MGM Grand to check out the lions, and up to the Bellagio to have a mooch around their botanical gardens, all the time thinking that this very hotel is the place where George Brett – Hall of Fame third baseman for the Kansas City Royals – pooed his pants (if you’ve not heard the story, you should give it a listen; it’s the funniest thing you will hear today).
Soon enough, about 48 hours after arriving, we were back in the shuttle bus heading to the airport, having not gambled a single cent the whole time we were in Las Vegas. If, amongst the poker, black jack, and baccarat tables, they’d have had a snap table, we’d have been returning to Bellingham in a Learjet, suckers. This time we got seats next to each other, and flew back home, husband and wife.
Anyway, that’s waaaaaaaaay too many photos and words about Claire and I. There are, though, some bigger versions of some of these photos (and others not shown here) on my Flickr, should you want more Vegas-y stuff to look at.
Finally, thanks for all of your lovely comments. The missus and I greatly appreciate them.
One of the handy things about Bellingham is that, because of its proximity to Vancouver, there’s an airport that has some decent direct routes that one wouldn’t normally expect for a small town. I’m assuming this is because it’s easier for Vancouverites to cross the land border than make an international flight. Allegiant Air flies to San Francisco, San Diego, Reno, Phoenix, and – woo hoo! – Las Vegas.
Sadly, there weren’t two available seats next to each other on the flight, so Claire and I sat in window seats, one in front of the other, sharing a bag of Cheez-Its over the head rest. The flight to Las Vegas was about two and a half hours long, and soon enough, we were in a shuttle bus heading towards the Las Vegas Strip. We didn’t have hotel reservations, but looking at the amount of rooms that are on the Strip, we figured we’d be okay. Our first choice, decided upon on a whim more than anything, was New York-New York, and indeed, they had a room for us. As we took the elevator (oh yes, Britain, I’m starting to use scraps of American English), there’s that feeling of anticipation that one always has when heading for your hotel room: what will the view be like. Ordinarily, I’m not that lucky with such stuff, but this time was different. Couldn’t have asked for a better view, because when looking at Las Vegas Strip hotels on Wikipedia, my favourite – the MGM Grand, which I think is simply a stunningly beautiful thing at night – was right across the street. And room 3136 looked down on the fake Statue of Liberty and the real roller coaster that goes around the front of New York-New York.
We had a smoke (yep, quitting smoking didn’t last long, but I’ve switched from the chemically-enhanced Camel Lights to additive-free American Spirits, so that’s something, right?) and went for a walk in the drizzle. Not the sort of weather one thinks about Las Vegas having, really. Past the toy-town medieval Excalibur, past the Egyptian-themed Luxor, and into the golden, shiny (but not really on a dull drizzly day), Mandalay Bay.
Thousands of slot machines; thousands of lame joke opportunities playing on the similarities between the words “slots” and “sluts.” We had a cocktail at the bar as waitresses squeezed, scooped, and sprayed into short, low-cut red dresses ferried drinks to gamblers. I got my first compliment of the trip from a bar tender with a shaved head who was jealous of my thick head of hair. (Other compliments: that I looked like a rock star, and more specifically and fairly inaccurately, like John Lennon. Maybe they were both sarcastic, but I still lorded it over the compliment-free Claire, though.)
Being a tad more anal about things than Claire, I’d checked out where the wedding chapel was on Google Maps. It was really the only thing that I had an idea about the location of. And there it was, exactly where I was thinking it should be. We stood at a pedestrian crossing next to the Mandalay Bay car park, and looked over at the Little Church of the West where, the next day, we’d be getting married. When we decided to do it in Vegas, we checked out a few websites, and fairly quickly dismissed the idea of an Elvis wedding, but when we saw the Little Church, we immediately agreed that it was the one we wanted, and, as it turns out, in a small way, we would be getting an Elvis wedding, as it was the place where he and Ann Margaret got married in “Viva Las Vegas.” Plenty of famous people have got married there (list), including Bob Geldof and Paula Yates, Richard Gere and Cindy Crawford, and Billy Bob Thornton and Angelina Jolie. With a history like that, all signs point to a long, successful marriage for Claire and I, right?
The drizzle got a bit drizzlier, we larked around walking back towards the main part of the Strip; taking photos of the nice, decrepit-but-cool-looking motels dotted between the dirty, vacant lots that backed up against the runway side of the airport.
We hopped in a taxi to go downtown to the marriage bureau to get our licence. It’s funny how things that are really important in one’s own life mean nothing to others; when we told the cab driver where we wanted to go, he asked if he were getting married. We told him we were, and he just kinda went “huh.”
The marriage bureau looked very much like any other municipal building: double doors, a big desk with forms on it, and snaking metal barriers for the people to queue up within. Beyond them, behind glass were windows clerks dealt with the paperwork. We filled in the forms, and got in the queue behind two other couples, one of which were already wearing their wedding gear. A very friendly Hispanic woman went through the forms with us, and patiently smiled at the couple of silly errors we’d made. Fifty five dollars later, we had our marriage certificate. We were free to get married! The security guard offered his congratulations as we left, and we stood outside, having a cig and chatting to a woman from Phoenix who was worried that she wouldn’t be able to get a certificate that day as it was President’s Day, and a lot of government buildings are usually closed, but, this is Vegas!
Hopped up on the joy of having a piece of paper in our hands, we walked a couple of blocks to the downtown, old Vegas-y bit; on and around Fremont Street. It’s the bit of Vegas that’s in the video for “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” Funny, watching that video again, how that is exactly what my imagination of Las Vegas was formed by. I’ve seen the city in countless films and photographs, but in my head, when I thought of Las Vegas, it was half-remembered bits of that video. This downtown bit is the nicest bit, I think. Partly because there’s a pedestrianised area, and it’s a lot less stressful than dealing with the too-narrow-for-the-amount-of-people pavements on the Strip. And there’s lots of very cool neon.
Fremont Street itself is covered by a street-long canopy. At one point, all the neon was turned off and the canopy’s LED display lit up the whole street with graphics, animation and videos, all to the sound of George Thorogood’s “Bad to the Bone.” Virtually everyone on the street stood still and looked up. A perfect time to be a pickpocket, I’d imagine.
After a steak and lobster supper (yum! yum! yum!), we got a cab back to the hotel, and saw the Strip from a distance along the freeway, had a short wander around our end of the Strip, and capped off the night with a couple of caipirinhas in the casino bar, and enjoyed the novelty of being able to smoke indoors.
A bit tipsy, we went upstairs and slept as single people for the last time. This entry’s already getting a bit long, so I figure it might make sense to split it in two. Next up: the wedding day.
You might have noticed that I’ve not been as bloggy as usual over the past three weeks. You know what that means, right? I met a girl.
It was a Friday night, and Cameron and I went downtown to meet up with Lisa and her friend Camille. We had a couple of beers, and Camille’s friend Claire phoned and came along to meet us. We exchanged pleasantries, she told me her mother was also a Brit – from Coventry – and went on to tell me she was a little bit proud that Coventry City won the Premier League a few seasons back. Being a dick, I corrected her on this, and once we were in a bar that had Wi-Fi, whipped out my iPod, and pulled up the Wikipedia page that would prove that she was wronger than wrong.
A few more rum and Cokes, and we all moved on to Rumors, the town’s gay club. At this point, I’d like to point out that Bellingham has, as far as I can tell, two nightclubs: the gay one, and the shit-kickers one. The latter is where I’d get a black eye and/or an STD. Rumors is a nice place, though. Seems that many other non-gays like not getting black eyes or STDs, too. More rum and Cokes. After more chattering, Claire and I went to approximate what people call dancing. “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey. Sweet.
Fast forward through plenty of snogging, through three weeks of day trips – walking to Fairhaven; going to a batting cage; up to Vancouver, BC; to a cute town called Edison (where Edward R. Murrow went to high school); up for a walk on Mt. Baker; getting drunk and talking in Russian accents; on a little ferry to nearby Lummi Island; watching movies; playing cribbage; agreeing that Wendy’s burgers were best, and that Family Guy is shit; re-christening Gatorade as “Tarantula Piss”; plenty of belming; and a whole mountain of laughter.
Claire is a Bellingham resident, raised an hour or so south of here. She has two superb jobs: working with Down Syndrome adults, which sounds, from everything she’s told me, like the most fun in the world; and as an Amateur Softball Association umpire. Two jobs which seem like she’s perfectly placed to put up with me.
We fell in love, and, to almost quote Beyoncé: I like it, so I put a ring on it. I’m a lucky guy. Say hello to Mrs. Claire Robinson.
I proposed in the shower a week or so ago, we tossed the idea around for a couple of days, and even though we both knew it was a nuts idea, it never felt like a nuts idea. Sat in the Up & Up bar we decided that, yes! we really should do it, and that we really should do it as soon as possible. In Las Vegas.
We told our families and friends. We booked the flights and the chapel. And we got rings. Simple white gold bands. It may not be the right thing to do, but we were both a bit anxious about losing them, so we’ve been wearing them on the “wrong” hand since we got them. It’s our version of being engaged. I’ve never worn a ring before and – it’s probably dumb for someone who studied jewellery at university to say – I’ve never really liked wearing jewellery. It felt weird at first, like I had a metal sticking plaster on my finger, but when I catch a glimpse of my hand – grabbing a coffee cup, brushing my teeth, or sorting out my mop of hair in the mirror – and there’s a beautiful ring on my finger. Mostly because it means that I’m now Claire’s husband.
So now begins the process of the practicalities of this change in my life. We’ve decided that, even though Claire has dual-citizenship and a British passport, we’d like to live here in Bellingham, Washington. I’ve not lived in my home country since 2000, and I’ve been a bit of a nomad for the past 15 months; her life is very much in the Pacific Northwest. And I really like it here; it makes sense for me to move.
Lawyers, lots of paperwork, and visits to see immigration dudes are on the horizon. But that’s for another day. More about the trip to Vegas in the next post. Right now, though, we’re gonna look at each other, smile, use the words “husband” and “wife” a lot, and high five whenever “Don’t Stop Believing” comes on the radio in the car.
Update June 2009 I’m sad to say, we’ve split up. Picture removed for both of our sakes.
My wonderful friend Ian sent me one of those things that ordinarily I’d ignore through my soon-to-be-deleted-from-my-life Facebook page. I gave it a go, and rather than get sucked back into the Facebook world, I thought I’d chuck it up on the blog. If you feel like giving it a go and sharing, feel free to use the comments to do it, or link to your blog page.
1. Put your iPod or iTunes or other music player on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the NEXT button to get your answer.
3. Write down the title of the song under the subsequent question.
Some of them make no sense, but when they do make sense, there’s a frisson of joy in my belly. And, oddly, Ian and I both had the same Denim and Stan Getz songs in there.
IF SOMEONE SAYS “IS THIS OKAY” YOU SAY?
Madagascar – Guns N’ Roses
WHAT WOULD BEST DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONALITY?
The Legend Of John Henry’s Hammer – Johnny Cash
WHAT DO YOU LIKE IN A GUY/GIRL?
Nobody Home – Pink Floyd
WHAT IS YOUR LIFE’S PURPOSE?
I’ve Seen That Face Before (Libertango) – Grace Jones
WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO?
Magic Trick – M. Ward
WHAT DO YOUR FRIENDS THINK OF YOU?
Cigarettes & Chocolate Milk – Rufus Wainwright
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT OFTEN?
Killing Time – Metallica
WHAT IS 2+2?
Number One – Lightspeed Champion
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR BEST FRIEND?
The Diary of Horace Wimp – E.L.O.
WHAT IS YOUR LIFE STORY?
Fortunate Son – Cat Power
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP?
Yearning – Isobel Campbell
WHAT DO YOU THINK WHEN YOU SEE THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
Us Vs. Them – LCD Soundsystem
WHAT DO YOUR PARENTS THINK OF YOU?
Play the Game – Queen
WHAT WILL YOU DANCE TO AT YOUR WEDDING?
Kinky Afro – Happy Mondays
WHAT WILL THEY PLAY AT YOUR FUNERAL?
Heysátan – Sigur Rós
WHAT IS YOUR HOBBY/INTEREST?
Rock Me Baby – Otis Redding
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST SECRET?
Desafinado (Off Key) – Stan Getz & João Gilberto
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR FRIENDS?
The Joker – Steve Miller Band
WHAT’S THE WORST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN?
Unite – Beastie Boys
HOW WILL YOU DIE?
Denim on Ice – Denim
WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU REGRET?
Winter Wonderland – Darlene Love
WHAT MAKES YOU LAUGH?
Courtesy Laugh – Phoenix
WHAT MAKES YOU CRY?
Brilliant Disguise – Bruce Springsteen
WILL YOU EVER GET MARRIED?
Trouble – Coldplay
WHAT SCARES YOU MOST?
Transcendental Meditation – The Beach Boys
DOES ANYONE LIKE YOU?
Find the River – R.E.M
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?
The Blind Child’s Prayer – Hank Williams
WHAT HURTS RIGHT NOW?
Da Doo Ron Ron – The Crystals
Oh, how things can change in twelve years… For what it’s worth, while I’m saddened that Alex Rodriguez did what he did, and I very much hope that he’s been completely honest about the extent of steroid use, I felt his apology seemed genuine. Fingers crossed he’ll crush it this season and will have a nice World Series ring on his finger in October.
Anyway, I found this December 1996 issue of Beckett’s Baseball Card Monthly in the free magazines bins at Bellingham Central Library. Sur-weet!
is the 1,000th blog post. As you were.