3rd Annual Nick Voll Memorial Gym Jam

3rd annual nick voll memorial gym jam.  Saturday, April 27th. Noon to 4pm.  Trinity Lutheran School. $15 to play.

The 3rd Annual Nick Voll Memorial Gym Jam
A Charity Basketball Tournament and Birthday Celebration
Saturday, April 27th at 12 Noon – Trinity Lutheran School, Portland

Can you believe it? It’s finally time again for the 3rd Annual Nick Voll Memorial Gym Jam, my annual birthday tournament. Here are a few pictures from last year to refresh your memory:



Overview
This is a 4-on-4 fullcourt basketball tournament (the court at Trinity Lutheran is small). This year I’m ditching the 3 Point Shootout, because Eric got a concussion last year, and it was a bit of a mess. Instead, we’ll do a Shooting Stars competition, which you may have seen during NBA All-Star Weekend, and is a lot of fun.

Each team will get at least 3 12-minute games, plus a spot in the Shooting Stars competition. Depending on the number of players who sign up, it will likely be a round-robin, with the two winningest teams squaring off in a championship game.

We’ll have the scoreboard up and running this year, so long as Trinity fixed it in the last year (which I believe they have).

But Wait, There’s More!
We’ll be recording the tournament in stunning HD with our multi-camera setup. We’ll have an announcer of some sort as well. Like last year, you may be called on to run a camera or something when you’re not playing, but I’m trying to rustle up a crew. I won’t hand out DVDs this year, since everyone watched the games on YouTube anyway. Here’s my channel, with last year’s tournament: Click Here.

Rosters
Unlike last year, when I picked every team, this year you can sign up as an individual or in a group of no more than 3. That way you can control whom you play with a little more, and I can keep things as fair as possible. I have placed a form at the bottom for you to sign up.

Money
The cost this year is $15, and I can accept cash and checks.

IF YOU ARE WRITING A CHECK: write it out to “The Foundation for Vancouver Public Schools,” who will handle the donations.

Where the Money Goes
My charity of choice is Fort Sports, the sports broadcasting program at Fort Vancouver High School. The program is run by a teacher at Fort, and is staffed by volunteers and students. It broadcasts live football, volleyball, and basketball games to Comcast viewers in Clark County. They’re good people doing good work that benefits the community and gives kids real-life work opportunities.

Last year’s donations bought a device that allowed us to broadcast a live halftime report from the field level during high school football games.

Here are some links to learn more about Fort Sports:
Fort Sports News Story by Vancouver Public Schools
Fort Sports Documentary (15 minutes running time)
Fort Sports News Story by KATU

Who can play?
This is a competitive, invitation-only event. Nick is inviting guys with whom he plays basketball regularly, as well as some friends he’d like to have at the event. If you’ve been invited, and want to bring a friend, please contact Nick about it. Since he’s compiling the teams based on talent, height, etc., he’ll need to let you know whether there’s room for another person.

Where? When?

Trinity Lutheran School
5520 NE Killingsworth
Portland, Oregon, 97218

Saturday, April 27th
12 Noon


Chicago and Sioux Falls

Marisa and I took a fun week-long trip to the midwest, and I wanted to share some photos. First, we flew into Chicago for 2 1/2 days of fun, and then we drove 600 miles to Sioux Falls, SD to visit relatives.

These pictures are from the Chicago part of the trip, where we took all of the photos. We realized after the trip that we didn’t take many pictures with our relatives, which was the entire point of the trip. What are you going to do?

Help Me Decide

We’re just about to the deadline for Emmy nominations, and I’m having trouble deciding on which segment to nominate for the Health/Science segment category. I know I want to nominate one of the three Famous Scientist segments we produced, but I can’t decide which one. Can you help? It will only take a few minutes to decide.

As you may remember (or not), we were nominated for our show Science last year, and I want to see if we can get this segment from the show nominated, too. Watch the clips, then vote below.

Choice #1: Louie de Broglie

Choice #2: Philo Farnsworth

Choice #3: Leonardo daVinci

[poll id=”2″]

Chili Cookoff and Pumpkin Carving

Marisa and I threw our annual Chili Cookoff and Pumpkin Carving contest, and it was a lot of fun. I don’t want to brag, but I finished 2nd with my Green Pork Chili. Oh yeah, Marisa won with her Chicken Mole Chili. Here are our pumpkin and chili photos.

Mashup File – MOP vs. Metallica

I’m headed back into music just a little bit right now, and I’m working on a mashup collection. This one is a reworking of one I did a while back, but is better done. It’s “Ante Up” by M.O.P. mixed with “Sad But True” by Metallica.

High School Hoops

My friend Micah gave me a couple of DVDs recently with two of our high school basketball games on them. It was our two most memorable wins of my senior year, which was the 1995-96 season. We beat Corbett in their gym, which was the first time that had ever happened. They were also the 2-time defending state champs, although they had lost a lot of players from those teams.

The second game was against North Clackamas Christian, which would go on to win the 1A state championship that year. Their school was actually bigger than ours; we should have also been a 1A school, so it was kind of bittersweet that they won the title, and we just missed the 2A playoffs. We felt like that could have been us. Anyway, nostalgia, huh?

It’s funny to see myself from back then. Some things have changed, like my weight, but a lot of things remain the same, like my waddle of a run. I look like a baby duck chasing its mama.

Anyway, feel free to enjoy the games. They’re broken into 2 parts each.

Portland Lutheran vs. Corbett – Part 1

Portland Lutheran vs. Corbett – Part 2

Portland Lutheran vs. North Clackamas Christian – Part 1

Portland Lutheran vs. North Clackamas Christian – Part 2

Birthday Basketball Tournament

2nd Annual Nick Voll Memorial Gym Jam

The 2nd Annual Nick Voll Memorial Gym Jam
A Charity Basketball Tournament and Birthday Celebration
Saturday, April 28th at 12 Noon – Trinity Lutheran School, Portland

Why are we doing this?
Nick is turning 34, and what better way to celebrate the deterioration of the human body over time than a demonstration of physical incompetence? Nick, who likes to write in the 3rd person and ask rhetorical questions, thought last year’s tournament was awesome, so why not go even bigger this year? So this one’s for charity.

Charity? Wha…?
That’s right, buddy, charity. Nick’s charity of choice is Fort Sports, the sports broadcasting program at Fort Vancouver High School. The program is run by a teacher at Fort, and is staffed by volunteers and students. It broadcasts live football, volleyball, and basketball games to Comcast viewers in Clark County. They’re good people doing good work that benefits the community and gives kids real-life work opportunities. Here are some links to learn more:
Fort Sports News Story by Vancouver Public Schools
Fort Sports Documentary (15 minutes running time)
Fort Sports News Story by KATU

Okay, fine. How much?
To play in the tournament, our asking price is $10 per player. You can choose to donate more if you so desire. The donation is tax-deductible, so it’s up to you. The 3-Point Shootout is $3 to enter. The money will be routed through the Foundation for Vancouver Public Schools, so if you plan to write a check, write it to them.

What do I get for my money?
For your generous donation, you get a spot on one of four teams, to be assigned by the organizer. Each team will have 5-6 players, and Nick will try to make the teams as even as possible. The tournament will have a round-robin schedule, guaranteeing each team at least 3 games. Each game will be 12 minutes long. A win is worth 2 points, a tie is worth 1. The teams with the most points at the end of the round-robin schedule will play in a championship game. If a tie-breaker is needed, the first will be total points scored. If a second is needed, we will use point differential.

After the round-robin, and before the championship game, we will have a 3-point shootout. Anyone can enter, but ONLY ONE CAN WIN!

In addition, we will be recording the tournament in stunning HD. Nick will bring in a mobile production unit with 3 cameras and a live switcher, so we’ll capture all the action in its full glory. We will have a play-by-play announcer providing commentary for each game. We’ll also leave a microphone open for players to provide color commentary on other teams’ games. Each player will receive a DVD of the tournament for their personal collections. For a sizable donation to Fort Sports, Nick is also willing to destroy the DVDs so no one can ever see them.

The winning team members will receive terrible trophies. The 3-Point Shootout winner will get a trophy he can drink out of. Don’t ask.

Who can play?
This is a competitive, invitation-only event. Nick is inviting guys with whom he plays basketball regularly, as well as some friends he’d like to have at the event. If you’ve been invited, and want to bring a friend, please contact Nick about it. Since he’s compiling the teams based on talent, height, etc., he’ll need to let you know whether there’s room for another person.

Where? When?

Trinity Lutheran School
5520 NE Killingsworth
Portland, Oregon, 97218

Saturday, April 28th
12 Noon

Mel Brooks-uary – Part One: The Producers and The Twelve Chairs

For Christmas, my wife Marisa gave me The Mel Brooks Collection on BluRay, which contains nine of his films. Mel Brooks has always been one of my favorite comedic filmmakers, so to take advantage of the gift, we are engaging in Mel Brooks-uary: an attempt to watch every Mel Brooks film during the month of February. This is our chronicle.

The Producers
The producers
I’m sure it has something to do with which studio has the rights to the film, but The Mel Brooks Collection does not include The Producers, which is obviously a Mel Brooks must-see. Fortunately, it’s available to stream through Netflix, so we went for it. If you haven’t seen it (and how could that be possible?), the movie is about a Broadway producer and his accountant, who attempt to put on the worst show possible, in a scam to steal investors’ money.
Nick
I’ve seen The Producers probably about ten times, so it was surprising to me that I still laugh throughout. It’s a testament to Mel Brooks that the film is still provocative, even though it’s 40 years old. There are so many dark elements in play for a relatively light movie. I mean, the whole Nazi thing, obviously, is pretty tough to turn into comedy (unless you’re Mel Brooks). Plus, the idea that Zero Mostel’s character raises money by banging old ladies who are about to die could be really nasty in the wrong hands, but Brooks pulls it off in a way that makes it almost kind of sweet.

I also think it’s amazing that Brooks did most of the music for his earlier movies. “Springtime for Hitler” makes me laugh every time I hear it.

The old-fashioned film techniques still stand out to me when I see it. With its odd zooms and pans, its stage-iness, and its sort of hammy “look into the camera and mug” shots, it’s definitely of its time. I also noticed how grating the film can be at times, especially when Gene Wilder starts screaming. But those are minor distractions from an enjoyable movie.

Marisa
For Christmas I decided to get Nick a Mel Brooks BluRay collection, nine movies in all. I generally don’t like Mel Brooks and in giving Nick this gift I knew I would be watching all of these movies again so you know it’s true love. I’m looking forward to watching The Producers, Blazing Saddles, and Young Frankenstein. I’m least looking forward to Space Balls (insert collective boos) and History of the World Part 1.

I was looking forward to watching The Producers most because it seems the most approachable to me. I know that I have watched it before but I’m more familiar with the Nathan Lane/Matthew Broderick version and I was surprised how faithfully the newer version followed the original and how well both movies stand up. I liked much of this movie. I really enjoyed all the little old ladies. They reminded me of a conversation I recently had with my 87 year-old-grandmother. She made a joke about the last time she was in Las Vegas looking for a hot young guy to spend the weekend with; the old ladies remind me of her. Also, how great is Springtime for Hitler? I’ve been singing it since I watched it.

A few things I didn’t care for it the movie was 1) the mugging for the camera – those shots where one of the characters turns and makes an aside to the camera that the other characters don’t hear – not into that, and 2) Gene Wilder’s hysteria got a bit old. However, watching him really made me want to re-watch Willy Wonka.

The Twelve Chairs
the twelve chairs movie posterMel Brooks’s second film, The Twelve Chairs, takes place after the Russian Revolution. On her deathbed, a former noble confesses to her son-in-law and a priest that she hid her jewels in one of twelve dining chairs before the revolution. The priest breaks his vows to track them down, and the son also leaves home to find the chairs. Along the way, he’s blackmailed by a grifter, who forces him to team up as they cross the Russian countryside in search of the jewels.

Nick
This was the one Mel Brooks film I had never seen, so I was pretty anxious to give it a try. I can see now why it’s considered minor Brooks. Like The Producers, the movie suffers from its stage-iness. I read that the star, Frank Langella, had come directly from theater, and you can tell. He has that “thespian” voice, never speaking like a normal person. It’s also distracting that some of the characters speak in Russian accents, but our main character does not.

The main problem with the film is tone. The Twelve Chairs the closest that Brooks has ever come to making a drama, which, to me, makes its lack of subtlety less forgivable. I think that there were a number of themes running through the film that would make for an interesting story: the transition from Russia to the USSR, and the desperation of former nobles and peasants to gain security in the new country. But I think that the movie is too broad to really hit the emotional notes needed to tell those stories.

Marisa
I’m not totally sure what to think of this movie. I wasn’t sure if it was supposed to be a comedy or a drama – a dramedy? The movie never really struck the right tone for me; I felt like something was missing. Also, there were some plot points I didn’t like. Like, why didn’t the main character just go home at the end? He had some sort of government job. Couldn’t he pull some strings and head back to his home or, I don’t know, call his wife? And I got a little sick of following the Father around and all the chases scenes being in that Benny Hill fast-forward style.

As a final note, did anyone notice that the dude from The Producers that played the Director’s Assistant made an appearance in this movie too? I thought that he was just wearing make-up in The Producers but clearly this guy just looks like a human cat.

Up next: Blazing Saddles

Top Ten for 2011

It’s been a while since I posted anything, and I think part of that is because I’ve had such a good and busy fall. I thought I’d take some time to share some of my favorite things of the year. These are the things I experienced this year that made my year a good one.

10. Pizza Stone

pizza stoneMy in-laws got me a pizza stone for my grill last Christmas, and holy cow was it a great present. We made all kinds of fantastic pizza: pear and blue cheese, barbeque chicken, bacon and cheese, sausage and pepper, and more. Just put the stone on the grill when you fire it up, and when it’s hot, cover the stone with corn meal, roll out your dough, and top your pizza. The crust is crunchy, the cheese is gooey and smokey, and you can’t beat the flavor.

9. Captain America

Now, first off, I don’t think that Captain America is a perfect movie, but I sure enjoyed it. Part of it is sentimental. Captain America was my favorite comic book as a kid, so to see it on the bigscreen was awesome. I have some quibbles with it, most notably its lack of Nazis. The best part of the comic book as a kid was seeing Cap routinely defeat evil Nazi plans. In the movie, the Red Skull (the film’s villain) almost immediately breaks off from Germany to form his own evil organization. I think that was a big mistake, and a befuddling decision.

But that’s my only real complaint. I thought that there were so many awesome little touches, such as having Cap going around selling war bonds in that wool uniform. It just made me happy to see something I liked so much as a kid so brilliantly executed on the big screen.

8. Sushi Chiyo

I love the sushi train in all of its forms. However, Vancouver’s Sushi Chiyo takes the cake (of rice, topped with salmon) right now. Most sushi train places put only 2-3 pieces on each plate, with only simple items like California Rolls available. But Sushi Chiyo offers full plates, with 4-5 pieces, and it offers a wide variety of choices. I’ve had rainbow rolls, spider rolls, and the biggest pieces of salmon sashimi possible. Go during happy hour (2:30-4:30pm), and every plate is only $1.50, which is a steal.

Find it at: 13007 NE Highway 99 Vancouver, WA 98686

7. Four on the Floor Hamburger Challenge

I already blogged about this here, but the Four on the Floor Hamburger Challenge was awesome. It was my baby; I wanted to see if we could eat four hamburgers at four places in four hours. Turns out, almost all nine of us could. Read the blog for the details in all their gastronomic glory.

6. Los Gorditos Mexican Food

Los Gorditos is a taco cart on the corner of 50th and Division, and I think that their burritos are the greatest in all of Portland. The best part of Los Gorditos’s menu is free: their sauces. They have a great salsa bar. My favorites are their green sauce, their smoky chipotle, best of all, their peppery red sauce. The Stacy Burrito rolls up your choice of meat, rice, beans, cheese, sour cream, grilled onions, cilantro, and that red sauce in an enormous tortilla. I always end up dumping at least 4 containers of sauce on it, too, resulting in a delicious, sweaty experience. The red sauce has one of those flavors that makes the corners of my tongue, where the muscle meets my jaw, start to cringe and salivate. Mmmm….

5. The Stormy Weather Arts Festival at Cannon Beach

Marisa and I have been going to the beach every fall since we first started dating 13 years ago, so for this trip Marisa had the great idea to go during the Stormy Weather Arts Festival, a weekend of art and wine at the town’s galleries. She got a great deal on a hotel, so we were able to stay 3 nights.

We went out on Friday and Saturday night, drinking wine and enjoying some interesting (and not-so-interesting) art. It was fascinating to see the different approaches the galleries had to their inventory. Generally speaking, I don’t think highly of the kind of art available at the coast, but I was genuinely surprised to see some paintings and sculptures I found interesting. It was good to see young artists with edgier style, instead of just the dowdy middle-brow fare usually for sale. I’ve had enough of sad Native Americans and paintings of Haystack Rock, and this year’s festival delivered new choices (not that we could afford any of them).

4. Hoops Tournament

For my birthday this year, I decided to throw myself the birthday party I’ve always wanted: a basketball tournament. I invited 18-20 guys to a gym I rented out, split them up into 4 teams, and played a big tournament. We had a clock and a scoreboard, and we played a round-robin schedule.
hoops tournament
I picked the teams, and tried to keep them even. I won’t lie: I stacked my own team. But honestly, I only picked guys with whom I enjoy playing, not just good players. My squad managed to win the whole thing. Happy birthday to me!

3. Brandon Roy Leads Miracle Comeback

When Brandon Roy led the Blazers back against the Mavericks in Game 4 of the first round of the NBA playoffs, it was one of the sweetest things I’ve ever seen in sports. At the lowest point, the Blazers were down 23 points, and Roy single-handedly brought the team back and eventually ahead.

I was watching the game at home, and Marisa can tell you, I went from down in the dumps to screaming and standing by the end. Just thinking about the comeback gives me chills.

2. Neutral Milk Hotel – In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

Last year, it was Of Montreal. This year, it’s Neutral Milk Hotel.

I know, this album came out in 1998. But I only discovered it this year, so it counts, dammit! There are so many reasons that I shouldn’t like this album. The lyrics are reportedly based on the life story of Anne Frank, which sounds painfully pretentious. It’s sort of folky, and I generally don’t go for folk music. The singer, Jeff Mangum, has sort of a whiny, nasally voice.

And yet, I can’t stop listening to this album. The lyrics (about Anne Frank) are strange and beautiful. The melodies are gorgeous and catchy, and the raw-feeling production values are perfect. I think that the album makes you relate to something and someone in a situation seemingly impossible to really understand.

1. Paris and London

My wife would likely kill me if this wasn’t the number one thing on my list, but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t the best thing I did all year. Marisa and I took about two weeks during April to see Paris. The airfare was so much cheaper to go to London, so we decided to fly there and take the chunnel over to Paris.

I had never been to Paris, but Marisa had, and she was excited to show me the city. We rented an apartment for a week just half a mile from the Eiffel Tower, which was a great experience. We were able to take the Metro train wherever we needed, we ate cheese and drank wine everyday, and we saw a phenomenal amount of art and history.

I never thought I’d see Paris, and to actually get there was simply amazing.

There, that’s my list. What would be on yours?