Andrew Hamm: the Bipolar Express

Ruminations on theatre, music, and just about anything else that crosses my bipolar brain.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanksgiving Adventures!

Karen and I went up to Northern Virginia for most of Thanksgiving weekend. We visited family and had adventures!

There was essentially no traffic whatsoever on Thursday morning when we left. Dingdingding! It was a lovely day to drive while listening to music from my new Samsung Juke phone/MP3 player. I can rock with my Juke, I can move with my Juke!

We spent the day with the Michael and Paula Hamm family in Centreville. Michael is my brother, Paula his wife. Also there were my nephews Joe and Jake, my niece Rachel, Paula's parents Calvin and Janet, Jake's girlfriend Keri, three dogs names Patsy, Dodger, and Louie, and a gorgeous Maine Coon cat named Dude.

Jake is a college student at Rochester, where he's majoring in Guitar Herology. He introduced me to the wonders of Guitar Hero 2 and 3 for the XBox 360.

I was awesome at it.

We played "YYZ," "Carry On, Wayward Son," "The Seeker," "Cult of Personality," and lots of other great stuff. Guitar Hero is much easier if you know the songs you're playing. Jake is absurdly good at it. If he really was majoring in Guitar Herology, he would graduate summa cum laude tomorrow.

Before dinner, we chatted a lot with my family, whom I don't get to see very often because both of my jobs have me working weekends. Michael and I were looking at ads for the next day's ludicrous sales, and I saw an adventure canoe on sale at Dick's Sporting Goods. I pointed it out to Karen, and Mike asked, "You're looking to buy a canoe?" with interest.

He took us out into the garage, where an Old Town Discovery Sport canoe hung from the ceiling.

About 12 years ago, Calvin bought it, used it about a half dozen times, and then couldn't manage it any more. He was planning to sell it, and Paula wanted to keep her father's boat in the family, so she bought it. It has been hanging from the ceiling ever since. So Mike and I talked about money and I bought it. We would swing by their house on the way home Saturday morning to pick it up.

The spread was awesome. I particularly enjoyed the sweet potatoes. I love sweet potatoes more and more with every passing year. Karen made bread. It was delicious.

Here is a picture of the table!

We stayed the night at Phil and Rose's in Ashburn. Friday we slept in as long as Phil and Rose's dogs allowed us. Karen noticed that Newman says "Roo!" and Tucker says "Har!" Phil and Rose cooked us up a spectacular Friday brunch with awesome Mimosas, great coffee, a giant frittata, homemade waffles, and fruit. I had multigrain toast with Earth Balance spread. Earth Balance is awesome! It's so freaking delicious! I have seldom fallen so completely in love with a food product. I want to always have it in my house.

It was impossible to not shop on Friday afternoon, mainly because we needed to buy a car carrier for the canoe. Dick's Sporting Goods had a kit for $30 which did the job. World Market had the chai Paula hasn't been able to find, so we got some for her. Melodee Music had a djembe over two feet across that made the whole store vibrate at frequencies below my ability to hear. I have no idea how I would mike that, but I really want one. We also went to Best Buy, where Phil bought the new documentary Amazing Journey, which is about the Who. We watched a bunch of it later in the day. It is awesome! I need to get it!

Friday night, we went to see the Washington Wizards play the Golden State Warriors. It was Karen's and my first NBA game, though I have been to see the WNBA in New York. Basketball is much better live than on television, and I'm starting to really appreciate the game. We were literally in the back row of the upper deck, the highest seats in the entire arena.

The Wizards have the worst name and logo in all of American Sports.

"Bullets" was bad, but "Wizards" is just incredibly stupid. Is Dumbledore going to play point guard? You can't tell from the picture below, but we're all putting our arms in the same position as the stupid Wizard logo. That was the joke of the night. Did I mention that my family is a bunch of morons, and that under certain circumstances I can be viewed as one of the more normal ones of the bunch?

The view from the top of the arena was pretty good. The action was non-stop, and really clear. My only problem with the Verizon Center is that even though the place is only 10 years old it has 1970s-style vinyl seats, which creates some yucky sweat situations when you sit in them for any amount of time. This is compensated for by the excellent kosher hot dogs and the appearance of Dippin' Dots, though the Dippin' Dots stand right near our seats was closed and we had to walk all the way around to get some.

Here's the view from the top.

The 'Zards lost the game, though it was really tight until the last few seconds. Caron Butler had his first career triple-double. If he makes the Hall of Fame, I can say I was there!

Saturday morning, we packed up early and drove to Mike and Paula's to pick up the canoe. The Old Town Discovery Sport is a heavy canoe, so it was a struggle for Karen and I to get it on top of the CR-V without help. Mike gave us some advice and helped strap it down, even giving us some excellent ratchet straps to replace the fairly simple ones that came with the carrier kit, but we had to do it on our own to justify buying the darn thing. If it's 55 degrees or more on Saturday, we'll take it out on the James.

I have some fears about the canoe's weight, both in transporting it and maneuvering it. It has a flat back, which is a canoe design intended for optional outboard motor usage. I hope it's not too unwieldy to paddle. But it's strong and tough, rugged and well-built, with wooden seats. It's old school! I can't wait to take it out!
Come out boating with us!

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  • At 11/26/2007 2:26 PM , Anonymous philip hamm said...

    Nice summary. The Wizards game was fun, huh? My ears were ringing from all the yelling and clapping - what an exciting game! I personally think the name "Wizards" is stupid not because of the ridiculous thought of Dumbledore or Gandalf takin' it to the hoop but because "Wizard" is the word used to identify hirarchies in the KKK. Yech. Disgusting.

    Anyway, fun time - glad you had a good time! Look up Earth Balance on the web - it's one of the best food products ever, and it lasts forever because it's so rich. Use sparingly!

    That flat-back on the canoe is probably intended for nothing mode than a little electric trawling motor for fishing. Hope it works out for you, it looks like a cool boat, and canoing is fun!

  • At 11/27/2007 11:20 AM , Blogger Brad said...

    Andrew, I miss you and your very large family. Glad you have discovered the wonders of Guitar Hero. I need to play 3. "Cult of Personality"!

    Also, congrats on the canoe. I'm coming home for a week in December (Dec. 23 through 31). I'll get up to Richmond, I'm sure. If we have some time to hang out, let's go canoeing. (Yes! In Winter! It's great!) I love canoeing and kayaking and haven't been on the water in too long.

    Take care.

  • At 11/28/2007 9:37 AM , Blogger Andrew Hamm said...

    If you are in Richmond for Christmas and need a place to crash, to eat, to hang, or to worship, Karen and I would be happy to provide any of those.


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