Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Big Bald Nate and The Special Surprise

This entry was written by Nate for his own blog. I think he describes it the best. So without further adew, the article.

What happens when an ironing board, a Swiffer, four Americorps guys, Def Leopard, Bon Jovi, and Styx combine? If you guessed some crazy insane air band action, you were absolutely correct. This perfect combination happened on August 25, 2005, and will not soon be forgotten by the estimated 80 people who saw it. On this day, Big Bald Nate and the Special Surprise succeeded in their mission to rock the socks off of the Americorps talent show that took place at the Denver campus.

It all started out when Dave, Gabe, Elijah, and myself decided that we needed to be a part of last Thursday's talent show in some capacity. Next, we just had to decide which of our many talents were worth being shared with our peers. Dave is already a very accomplished ironing board juggler and Gabe has equal skills with a Swiffer. They both thought the talent show would be enhanced with an exhibition of these abilities. Still, Elijah and I did not know what to juggle, so the hunt for an idea continued. Than it dawned upon us that I have previous experience in lead air guitar and Elijah actually plays drums, combine this with the fact that an ironing board looks like a key board and a Swiffer a bass and one hell of an air band can be formed (and holy moly it was).

The name spawned from the fact that I had recently taken a razor to my head and, despite the bit of stubble growth on my head, am basically bald. The special surprise was the fact that a Swiffer and ironing board would in fact take flight at various points in the show.Next we took to finding the right music and practicing it. I am an accomplished air singer of the Styx song, Mr. Roboto, and that song was chosen pretty quickly. Shortly after, we settled on Pour Some Sugar on Me by Def leopard and You Give Love a Bad Name by Bon Jovi. All of these songs, we decided would get the crowd excited and had potential of blowing the roof off. Turns out our premenisions were correct, but I will get to that later. After finding the songs, we made out album and began to practice in the basement of the cafeteria. Here we began to choreograph some sweet jump kicks, guitar rifs, and other sexy moves that were sure to please. Elijah had to practice his one handed drumming since Def Leapord's drummer only had one arm. The seclusion down there was perfect and allowed us to practice for 1 1/2 - 2 solid hours before the campus police kicked us out. Apparently, we were not supposed to be there. I think the campus cops got a good laugh out of walking in on our practice session though, because they were pretty nice to us. Still run ins with the law definitely helps out the validity of a solid rock band.

Next, costumes had to be acquired. No reputable band goes on stage in regular clothing, they must look a little better than the average Joe to be good at all. Fortunately, my friend Jen is a rock star at heart and had some great clothes to lend me. Damn do I look good in women's red plaid pants. She also lent me a sweet red scarf to match, a tan pleather jacket, and a big hoop ear ring. Topped off with my steel toe boots, a bunch of wrist bands and some sweet shades, I looked like I was ready to take the world by storm. Dave also came up big by wearing a tight white T cut appropriately high at the midriff in order to show off hit amazing stomach. Gabe, not to be out done, dawned his favorite wife beater tank top and put on some sweet blind guy glasses. Elijah, since he was the too-cool-for-school drummer, kept it simple wearing a black T and some jeans. His hair was his biggest asset.All that was left, besides the show, was to get some roadies. Jena and Parker filled the roll perfectly.

Parker took charge of tuning the guitars and setting up the drums, while Jena was in charge of sound. Parker did an amazing job of introducing the band; both pumped up the crowd plenty. Jena really was huge when she was checking the microphone. The one provided on stage, simply would not work for out cause... too much sound was coming out of the damn thing. Luckily, she had a blow-up mike on her which worked to perfection. After they had everything set up, Parker was great at pushing play to get the music to start and Jena brought Elijah new air drum sticks when he broke his. They also served as great back-up dancers for Mr. Roboto.When the show time came, we were lucky enough to land one of the closing acts. I guess that those in charge of the show knew to save the best for last. As our turn came closer, Dave got extremely nervous. It ended up that he had to go outside and dry heave for a while to get a hold of himself. After some pep talks and a lot of jumping around, Dave was ready to go and so was the rest of the band.

We took to the stage and with a couple swift jump kicks we began to rock. Starting off with You Give Love a Bad Name, we really got the crowd into it. Women fainted and screamed while men wished they were us. Second, we played Pour Some Sugar on Me and everyone in the crowd was singing. The adrenaline rush was amazing, and only caused us to play harder and push the limits even further. That was out last song and we rushed off the stage only to hear chants of "ENCORE!!!". Luckily we anticipated this warm reception and had a song prepared. With that we went back out and performed Mr. Roboto to perfection. Styx would have been proud. After that song, the show was over and we hit the bars downtown to celebrate.My moment as a rock star was as wonderful as I ever dreamed. I hope to take this experience back to La Crosse where I can join my original air band 70sexy and make it even better. We all still receive compliments from our fellow corps members and get questions about an upcoming tour. Unfortunately, because of our commitment to community service a tour won't be possible and that wonderful Thursday night will most likely be the only time Big Bald Nate and the Special Surprise will ever play.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Drunk With Boredom

This has definitely been one of the most truly uneventful, boring, sheerly sloppy and pathetic weekends I’ve had in a long time. In comparison of course. In fact, just realizing how boring this all has been prompted me to cease all boring tasks at hand, like filling out Americorp paperwork, cleaning my bedroom space which surrounds my air mattress, taking out the recycling and actually inspired me to write this entry. Close to an hour ago, I went for a walk outside to talk to my friend Justin in Califor-nia. It was real nice. The air was cool, the sun just began to set, it was quiet. This was the first time I step foot outside all weekend. The rest of the day involved planning all the fun things I will do when my parents come to visit me back in Denver in 2.5 weeks, in addition to taking care of my fundamental needs like eating, pooping, watching Aladdin.

This isn’t completely by choice. Let me explain. Friday night I hurt my ankle during the Flogging Molly concert at the Irish Heritage Fest on Harriet Island. I was Irish gigging in this space a young lad made for me in the mosh pit. That’s until I messed up and did one of those moves where your foot misses the ground and you step on your ankle, creating a t-square of pain, ankle perpendicular to leg. The thing that is most stupid is no one even touched me at the time of injury. Surrounded by people who could have caused this accident, I have no one to blame. The same thing could have just as easily happened at home. All of this went down just shortly after I got there, during their third or forth song. I quickly realized I needed to get out of there and was lucky to be able to follow this group of people that were carrying this girl that was in much worse shape then me. So I sat in the back, next to people sitting in chairs, tending my injured foot contemplating if I should go to the first aid tent, which required locating the first aid tent, which required bypassing hundreds of drunk Irishmen that could easily step on my foot. I decided to say seated, until I got bored and hungry enough to get up and test out my foot. I spent 5 dollars on a chicken sandwich the size of a white castle hamburger and another 5 on a scone and an ice tea. I hate festivals, with their food tickets. The food didn’t make me feel any better. Neither did the three mile walk back to the car.

Regardless of the tone of the first and second paragraph, although boring, this weekend has been great! I did nothing but sleep, talk on the phone and read. I loved it. Sometimes when boredom is a rarity, it is also bliss. Holler.

Ah crap. What a perfect place to stop writing, why do I gotta screw everything up by remembering more things that I feel is necessary to write about. So in the process of walking back to the car after the show, Gabe and I completed the process of assigning street baller names to everyone on our team. The list as of now stands, no changes.

Team A
Gabe – Swiffer
Tay – Bibel
Katie – Hey Steve
Jeffrey – Shwibbey

Team B
Audrea – Holy Mackrel
Nate – Toodeli Doo
Dave – Hi Ho Cherrio
Trish – Fe Fe

Injured List
Michele – Crack Corn

Last week also marked the completion of one of the activities on my life list. I finished a Crave Case of White Castle with my friends. Although a small goal, a goal nonetheless, not to be belittled or dismissed. It was a glorious way to finish off our day of service. On the way home I proudly displayed the case to people on the road and at a red light I gave one of the tasty little burgers away to the guy driving next to us. Yum!

Monday, August 01, 2005

24 Sheets & The Shredder Went Out

I found out my next and last project. I laugh every time I think of it, it sounds like something I would make up. All kidding aside, my team is sponsored to be a “civic troop” that dresses up as different historical figures like George Washington and Martin Luther King and will go to schools in Colorado to educate kids about different historical leaders. I’m also going to be local in Denver, which I am also excited about. I think it will be a great way to finish off my Americorps term and I will have the opportunity to further explore Colorado.

Something strange happens whenever discover my next project. Being away from campus and my other Americorps friends I sometimes make the mistake of forgetting I’m part of this massive organization. I start to think that I work for the site sponsor, but whenever I learn of my next project it kind of sucks be back to reality in a way. All in all, even with the frustrations of this project, the traffic, the out of control kids, my initial disappointment, I have been enjoying this project and I will miss many things about it, especially the kids. They are good kids and I have a lot of fun with them. Last week we started making cards for some of the VISTA staff that are leaving. The kids did not seem to be to upset until they remembered that we would also be leaving at the end of the summer program. I guess we all have the ability to fall into routine and forget to stop and appreciate the things we enjoy. It is a lot easier to acknowledge the frustrations, then it is to appreciate the rewards.

What else can I share? On a less serious note last week was sprinkled with high jinks and highlights. I’ve heard some real interesting stories and had be given some really bizarre things during our Friday cleaning sessions, like the sweet lady who thought I looked like Jesus and the woman who sent us home with gigantic pine cones, but on Friday, we ran into what I’d say is the most interesting crew during our senior cleaning. There were four of us at that site and when we went down to eat there was an enormous amount of food. The seniors not only love to cook for us, but the ones that do take great pleasure in watching in the act of eating there food and ask us if we like it and if we want more, over and over again. There were also two boisterous Jewish residents, one man and one woman who put on a show for everyone. The man would say something outrageous and the lady would yell at him for all his nonsense. It was very charming. Peggy, the lady, was very nice and invited me to go to synagogue with her before I leave town. Before we left the building, we were forced to pack up all the leftovers, which where 2 shopping bags full to take back home. We didn’t have any complaints about this, actually it spurred a conversation of what else can we give them before we left, which ended up being a bread maker from the kitchen which they said they would never use and a kitchen juice dispenser that they were going to throw away. They even wanted to give us their organ. We definitely made out like bandits.

During the weekend, we went to the art car parade, a street parade of individually customized art cars. That was pretty redundant. Anyway, the event was really cool. My favorite cars were one that looked like a turtle and one that was a living room couch. Not kidding, the thing was a couch. On the way back to the van I spotted a jewel of a dumpster that was overflowing with goods. Since being in Minneapolis, we’ve heard a lot about dumpster diving, the act of taking things from someone’s dumpster for your own personal use. I don’t know what Minneapolis’ connection is with it, but everyone seems to talk about or on occasion partaken in dumpster diving. Not fully convinced I should be poking around it someone else’s trash I continued back to the van. Once there, my friend Gabe convinced me that we needed to go back. I’m glad we did. Seeing it for a second time, I realized the true magnitude of such a find. Somebody must have been evicted or something. It was like one day somebody decided to throw away all their possessions. Half archeologist, half garbage man I started to sift through some of the stuff on the top. Bags and bags of stuff. We found a CD burner in its box, a jump rope, a imitation swiffer the loveable broom slash mop like cleaning device, some interesting books and behold, a paper shredder. I can go on and on about the stuff we saw that we did and didn’t keep. We did make really good use of the lovable swiffer. It was amazing. We even had someone invade our turf, one guy walking down the street joined us in digging through the dumpster. Most of the time people would just walk by, smile, say something like “dumpster diving eh?” smile, and continue on their way. I was slightly weirder out by how socially acceptable this all felt. It was a lot of fun, until you work your way towards the bottom. The more we dug, the worse it smelled and the less cool stuff we found. We were lucky to find a can of Lysol in the dumpster that we used to extinguish some of the smell. We’ve made good use of the things we found. Gabe and I have been playing with the paper shredder, seeing how many sheets of paper it can take. Right now it max is 24 sheets, although that clogged it so I don’t know if it counts. There shredded that’s for sure.

Turtle, Turtle, Turtle

On Sunday, we volunteered at this 5K race sponsored by St. Paul Parks & Recreation. We helped set up and hand out water to the runners while discussing how much fun it would have been to dress up as a rabbit and turtle and run in the race or how we should of entered our van in the art car parade. After the race, while Gabe, myself and the folding table were waiting to get picked up, I held my umbrella over Gabe shielding him from the sun Michael Jackson style and asked random park goers if they would like to meet the Prince of Macedonia. Most of the people kept walking, although a couple wished him a nice stay in St. Paul. I think it worked quite nicely. The End.