30 June 2010

Enchanted Afternoon

Wednesday I took my two summer wards (boys, aged 6 and 8) to the Enchanted Forest. For those of you who grew up in Oregon, get ready to wax nostalgic. For those of you who are not, I shall attempt to explain.

The Enchanted Forest is a weird little amusement park, about 10 minutes south of Salem, OR. (And about 15 minutes south of the 45th Parallel. Have I ever blogged about the 45th Parallel? If I have not, I should at some point. I have a lot of thoughts about it.) Anyhoo. This means that it is about an hour by car from my childhood home. My parents probably took us once a year or so. In those days, there were really 3 main features to the park (unless you include snack bars, which in this case, you might. Then there were 4.). First, there is a path through the woods with little scenes from children's books and fairy tales. Some of them are somewhat interactive. For instance, there is a crooked house to walk through. And a rabbit hole to crawl through. Some of them are just scenes off the path--Jack and Jill falling down the hill, for instance. Some are made to walk through--like the mine of the seven dwarves. There are a couple of big slides along the path too. All of these attractions date back to the 1950s or 60s. Some of them are slightly animated, but not in a high tech kind of way.

After you make your way though this part of the park, you will find yourself in a fake western town. There are scenes and vingettes, a shooting games/galleries, super cheesy "gift shops", a fort and another slide (this one is the best in the park).

Right outside of the western time sits a small, outdoor theatre. When the park is open, the theatre features several daily showings of a short (25 minute) play. These plays belong to the genre of fractured fairy tales. This time, the play was Hansel and Gretel and it featured all of the expected conventions of an Enchanted Forest masterpiece: 1) outrageous costumes; 2) many gratutious cultural references (the Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber); 3) one female character played by a male; 4) college-aged theatre major actors; 5) a couple of musical numbers; 6) lots of physical humor; 7) audience participation. I remember seeing several of these plays as a child. Definitely a Princess and the Pea, and also Rumplestiltskin.*

At some point between my childhood visits and my senior skip day (Yes, my girlfriends and I went to the Enchanted Forest for senior skip day.) the park started adding attractions. First a European village. Then some amusement park rides. Now the park contains a decent log ride, haunted house, some kiddie rides, a small, alpine-themed roller coaster, and a ride called "Challenge of Mondor" which is described as a slow-moving, magically-themed ride that allows visitors to interact by shooting dangerous magical creatures. (?!?!) Unfortunately, I couldn't convince the boys to go on this ride with me. I am tempted to drive back down there at some point this summer just to check it out.

The boys DID, however, convince me to take them on the roller coaster and the log ride. As I was standing in line for the roller coaster, I realized that this was the first time in about 8 years that I had been on any kind of ride. As a kid, I was fearless when it came to thrill rides. Not so anymore. They terrify me now. The log ride has a 40 foot drop into the water below. Once we got to that point in the ride, I had to close my eyes and turn my head to the side as we started the descent. At the top of the ride, I thought, very distinctly, "I don't actually want to do this anymore."

But it was actually super fun. And I was surprised how familiar the whole experience was. And it made me think very fondly of my childhood. Enchanted Forest is a throwback. Not only to my personal past, but to a kind of kitchy mid-century Americana that really predates my childhood, but that I still find myself nostalgic for. It is sort of inspiring me to take some road trips to see some of the other destinations of my childhood. Stay tuned . . . In the meantime, I can recommend a really fine piece of outdoor theatre . . .

*This particular play became a part of Dorsey lore, because my youngest brother--hardly more than a babe-in-arms, was freaked the freak out by the creepy Rumplestiltskin theatre nerd. For years and years, all one would have to do to make him scream was to bend over, hobble around, wiggle fingers and say "Rumplestiltskin, Rumplestiltskin" in a meanacing voice.

26 June 2010

Gold Rush!

So, officially I don't think that I have blogged about my brother and his current Alaskan adventure.

I shall do so now.

My middle brother (the one you would EXPECT to have an Alaskan adventure, if'n you know us Dorseys at all) left for Alaska at the end of April. He is there with a group of guys that he met in his Christian-men-who-like-to-hunt-and-fish-and-do-outdoorsy-things organization. They are there to work a gold mine. Yes. A gold mine. No. He doesn't know anything about mining.

The mine is 3o miles from Haines. In the middle of nowhere. Well. In the middle of bear country. But nowhere by people standards.

My sister-in-law and my niece (5 years old) and my nephew (3 years old), joined my brother 2 weeks ago. This is what they have to say for themselves:

Joy is bored.

Ella is playing in the dirt a lot, and she reports that she cannot play in "the backyard" because of the bears.

Hank has a blue sleeping bag.

Ryan doesn't say much--to me.

Now. This might all sound sort of strange, but not maybe extraordinary to you. This is where you are wrong.

Because this whole experience is being taped for a reality show for the Discovery Channel (working title Gold Rush). Oh yes. My brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew, are poised to become darlings of the reality tv world--probably next year some time. This is completely surreal. Maybe even more surreal to those CLOSE to them. (Because, let's face it, this is sort of par for the course for Ryan and his brood.)

Here are some of the topics of conversation/worry/hope we entertain about the subject:

1. Lots of jokes (in bad taste, clearly) about the possibility of Ella and Hank being "Timothy Treadwell'd". (Yes. He has become a verb.)

2. Ryan or Joy or the kids showing up on The Soup. Or maybe Ryan getting to be a guest on Chelsea Lately. (This would rock my world, by the way.)

3. The potential need for me to change my last name.

4. Which of Henry's wives is married to one of the crew members. (The crew are all native English/Welsh/Irish/Scottish dudes. One of them is married to an actress who plays one of Henry the Eighth's wives on The Tudors. But I don't know which crew member. And I don't know which wife.)

5. Whether these guys are actually going to strike gold.

6. Whether Karen will end up on film. (Everyone agrees that she'd be a good tv character.)

You get the picture.

I'll keep you all posted.

14 June 2010

My Hiatus Hole

So, a few posts ago, OMD mentioned something about my "hiatus hole," by which he meant the hole that I appeared to have climbed into (fallen into?) that caused a protracted hiatus from this little labor of love.

What is funny about that turn of phrase is that I have a hiatus hole (literally, I'm not even kidding), which sort of caused me to fall into that other hiatus hole. I will explain:

About a year ago I contracted a pretty nasty stomach virus, thanks to my lovely, but continuously contagious, niece and nephew. (Who, by the way, are dodging grizzlies as we speak. But I'll save that for another post.) I never recovered fully from it. After a while, probably too long a while, I started looking for an explanation. For a long time I thought I had an ulcer. And I went around for several months treating myself for that. It went ok, except that occasionally I would have bouts of uncontrolled vomiting, which was not so ok. Then, over spring break, I had a really bad bout (no details--I know you don't want them) and I started going to doctors.

Sparing you all the doctors visits and tests, I will just fast forward to what I know now. I have a series of weird anatomical defects--one of them being a hole in my hiatus--that require very fancy and expensive surgery. (My nurse today told me that I'm receiving the "gold standard" treatment.) In short, I am going to have my stomach pulled down and into proper position (it has become a bit jostled). It is also going to get a little nip and tuck so that it will become sort of mini-stomach, which will serve me just fine. Although it is going to seem like I eat like a bird, only rather more often than I've been accustomed. THEN they will stitch up my hiatus hole, and attach some webbing--made of biological material, how cool and sci-fi does that sound?--over (around?) my diaphragm, in hopes that my diaphragm will get a little stronger and more resistant to tearing.

It all sounds worse, maybe, than it is. Because I have a super-star surgeon and he's going to do it all through a couple of tiny holes. And I have been promised that, although I will feel super, super crappy for a week, I will be able to work two weeks after the surgery. Amazing, huh? All of this will result in a much more structurally sound me! ('Though a me that has to give up beer and all carbonated bevies in the future. This is sad, certainly. But they aren't taking away my coffee and I get to live and stop vomiting all the time. One does not get something for nothing.)

The point of all this is: I have not felt well in a long, long time. I've managed to keep working, but it has been hard to keep up other things that take effort. Because I'm tired a lot. And a little undernourished a lot. And, more recently, I've been seeing doctors a lot. But it is all starting to calm down a little, and I've been feeling very good. And one of the first things that happened was that I got back to you all (however many of you there are), and that should make you feel good too.

Thanks for checking back and finding me again.

12 June 2010

Shout Outs

To my brother: I hear things have been a little rough in the great white north. Don't let the bastards get you down.

To Colorado: Way to be the first rats off the sinking ship, and welcome to the Pac 11.

To Baylor: Guess you guys are conference shopping. Good luck with that.

To Adam, with the adorable floppy hair: I would have been so super psyched if you and your drunk little friends had come to sit with me and my friends when I was your age. Want a piece of advice? Keep "You have to help me out here. I'm out of my element" in your pick up arsenal. You can get away with that for another few years. It's disarming. Have a good time drinking whiskey in Molalla tomorrow night. Happy 21st birthday.

To the Stray Cats: My apologies for butchering your song tonight. It was meant as an homage. Best intentions and all.

09 June 2010

Aw, Hell No!

Fair warning: this is going to be a post full of complaints.

1. In response to James's meditation on the remake of KK: I am totally with you. I have not blogged about this travesty for the very reason that I also have no intentions of seeing this. My issues, dear James, are slightly different from yours (although we do overlap on the red leather jacket). For one thing, why is the karate kid (oops! the Kung Fu Kid!) 12? I mean, the original film was a teen flick. Jaden Smith is not a teen. Ergo, this is not a teen flick. What's with that? If they had to have him, couldn't they have waited until he hit 16? It would have given Chan a few years to age too, and that couldn't hurt. I don't share your feelings about Jaden Smith though. I mean, he is the offspring of two of the most adorable people on Earth (even though I have a sneaking suspicion that Jada is not a very nice person). He is also adorable. But he's too young for this film. It is silly.

Also, I agree, Chan is no Miyagi. What is KK without Bonsai? Without catching flies with chopsticks? Without Southern California and a lot full of cars that may or may not run? Without a heart wrenching back story about a lost Japanese love? Without saki?

It's all crap. What's with Hollywood and remakes anyway? I know so many damn writers, some of them really talented, who could tell new stories, but we get this rehash. What's the point? It is so, so, so not interesting and not creative. Grrr.

2. The Pac 16? With Tejas and Oklahoma? Screw that. To quote my niece, "Are they even being serious right now?" Listen. I get the fact that it will bring better money, better television time, more prestige to the conference. I also get the fact that this could lay groundwork for several "superconferences" that could lead to some kind of actual playoff/national championship football situation. I also get that there would likely be two divisions that would return us to, for all intents and purposes, a Pac 8 situation. (Arizona and Arizona state would form the B division with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, A & M, Tech and, probably, Baylor.) Those are pluses. I can't deny it. But I cannot get behind anything that ties the Oregon schools to the Texas and Oklahoma schools. On principle. Is that narrow minded and regionalist of me? Hell, yes. But the truth is, I don't want Texas anywhere near my Pacific anything. (By the way, we are going to be screwed when the state of Texas secedes from the union. We'll end up the Pac-13. And that just doesn't make any sense.)

3. If Paul Allen is going to fire Kevin Pritchard, I wish he'd just do it. I'm tired of the speculation already. There's been too much upheaval in the Oregon sporting world already this year (by the way, thank the sports gods that Masoli was stupid enough to get busted for what was reported to be a tiny possession charge. He only would have proven a distraction this coming year.). Just get rid of K.P. (without the blessing of the majority of Blazer fans) and name his replacement so that we can all get on with our lives.

4. And I can't believe I am saying this, but PLEASE, PLEASE could we get some warmer and sunnier weather?! I mean, you all know that I love rain more than most, but I do recognize that Oregonians need a few good months of sun in the summer. And I am good with that. Besides, I can't get a damn thing done with sheets of rain coming down all the time. It has been a miserable couple of months, and even the heartiest of us are starting to get a little down.

That's about it. For today. Feel free to leave your personal bitchfest in my comments section. Lord knows I deserve to have to listen to them!

05 June 2010

A review (kinda) and a digression (really)

I have actually found a way to shoehorn in a little reading recently (although not much). I did pick up Chuck Palahniuk's 2008 novel Snuff, mostly because I knew that I could read it in a short one hour reading session at a coffeeshop. (Well, an hour 15, probably.)

I was right.

This novel takes place at the taping of a porno flick, and is organized in alternating chapters narrated by five different characters. This is a gimmick Palahniuk has used before--to much better effect in Rant (a book about which I have complicated feelings). The plot of the novel is thin--it doesn't take long to figure out what the relationship between the characters is likely to be. Nor is the expected "Palahniuk twist" all that unpredictable. The final scene of the book should only be described as gratuitous, disgusting and (maybe worst of all) highly improbable.

Wait. I just had to interrupt the writing of this because Criminal Intent is on, and I just got very distracted by wondering if Saffron Burrows spends all of her time trying to remember to suck in her cheeks while she is "acting," or if that is just a freak of facial anatomy. Either way, it stresses me out.

Ultimately, this is a disappointing book. I have read most of Palahniuk's books. I'm not sure why. Usually I am left with the feeling that he just didn't really give it much effort. He's a man with a lot of imagination. And he has a good ear for dialog. But he rarely comes up with much more than a sort of interesting, but underdeveloped, concept. I always read him thinking that maybe the novel in my hand will be the one in which he delivers what his potential promises. (Rant did come close. Just because it was, in its own way, a much more ambitious book than most of his others.) To make matters worse, Palahniuk takes sophomoric delight in creating the names of the fictional male porn stars and the films in which they star. It is humor hardly worthy of morning rock station shock jocks, let alone a darling of contemporary fiction.

So. Um. I'm not really recommending this book. Unless you read as quickly as I do, and you are just sort of curious, and you aren't someone who is overly worried with squandering your leisure time.

EXCEPT. The hardcover of this book sports really great thematic endpapers. If you pass the book in a bookstore, pick it up and look. And see if you don't agree that it would be great to have a roll of that in wrapping paper form.