Category Archives: Jen

Independence Day

It was a busy 4th of July.

I started the day at about 9 AM by moving mortars into place. Then at 10:30 I went over to Half Shell to help set up and serve beer until about 3 PM.

Check out some pictures from Half Shell.

July 4, 2008
Shannon and Matthew

July 4, 2008
Scott with the 1st Beer of Half Shell

July 4, 2008
Becky and Jenny

July 4, 2008
I switched from my “Beat Iowa” hat to a “Beer Nuts” hat for this Half Shell.*

July 4, 2008
Burnin’s Sensations

July 4, 2008
Sarah finishing off the pepperoni pizza that she didn’t want to be “too eager” for.

July 4, 2008
I don’t know what is going on in this picture.

At 3 I headed back to the fireworks area to set up sandbags. Fireworks was a very educational experience. For starters, fireworks don’t look anything like I thought they would look like. I thought they would look like giant bottle rockets or like the big red rockets that Wile E. Coyote shoots at the Road Runner. Instead, they look like this:

July 4, 2008

The main thing I learned though was that being in the pit or ground zero of a fireworks display is about a million times more entertaining and fun than watching a fireworks display.

To let off fireworks there is a dress code. You are required to wear boots, long pants, a cotton long sleeve shirt (polyester will catch on fire), a hard hat, safety glasses and ear protection. Even with all of that clothing and protective gear it is hard to put into words how powerful and loud the fireworks are in the pit. It is an intense experience.

I was really down in the pit to take some pictures. However, I was ordered to set off a couple of fireworks. So I set off three.

After we finished some clean up I went over to Jen and Derrick’s traditional 4th of July barbecue. I was asked the same question a few different times while I was there:

“Which fireworks did you light off?”

Shannon would usually answer the question: “The good ones.”

Although I enjoy her vote of confidence, that answer has no basis in fact. The truth is that you never get to see the fireworks that you light off. In fact, you barely ever see any fireworks at all. You feel them. You hear them. You never see them.

The steps to setting off the fireworks prevent you from ever seeing them. When you go to light off the fireworks you are handed a 5 or 6 foot pole with a road flare taped to the end. You approach the mortars with the flare pointed away from the fireworks. When you get near the fireworks you remove the protective sleeve that covers the fuse. Then you take a few steps back and light the fuse with the flare. As soon as the fuse starts to light, you turn your back to the fireworks, get low and move away from the mortars.

While you are moving away from the fireworks, there is another person acting as a spotter. The spotter tells you when it is okay to go light another fuse or to get down. Trust me, you definitely know when the shell has shot into the sky. You feel it. However, there are a couple of things that could go wrong. The shell could blow up in the mortar or the shell can come a few feet out of the mortar and then blow up. If these things don’t happen, you get to go back and light off more fireworks. But you never really get to see the fireworks that you light.

Here are a few pictures from the pit:

July 4, 2008
Joe packing mortars.

July 4, 2008
Charby moving boxes of fireworks.

July 4, 2008
Shannon putting foil on the Grand Finale mortars.

July 4, 2008
The line moving away from the explosion is the flare.

July 4, 2008

July 4, 2008
More fireworks.

July 4, 2008
Peggy setting off fireworks.

July 4, 2008
Shannon watching.

July 4, 2008
Grand finale aftermath.

Of course there are about 80 more pictures in the Snapshot Gallery in an album named “Jaycees – Independence Day – 2008”.

Jaycees – Independence Day – 2008

When I concluded my evening at Jen and Derrick’s barbecue I found out that something pretty major had happened in my absence. However, that is not my tale. All I can tell you is that congratulations are in order next time you see them.

One last story.

While I was walking around Half Shell taking pictures two girls came up to me.

“Do you want to take our picture?” they asked.

“Why would I want to take your picture?”

“Because we are so cute.”

“Are you serious?”


“I can take your picture.”

I’ll leave it to you to make your own assessments about the level of cuteness these girls possess.

July 4, 2008

I have a feeling this is how the Girls Gone Wild guy got started.

*I bought a new hat for this coming Half Shell on Saturday. I think it is perfect.

Memorial Day and the Crystal Skull

Memorial Day wasn’t really meant to be a good-time-feel-good holiday. It was established to honor Union Soldiers that died in the Civil War and was first known as Decoration Day.

Regardless of its original intentions, this solemn holiday has become a chance for most Americans to barbecue and enjoy a 3 Day weekend. I’m not different than most Americans. I just wanted to have a good time on Memorial Day.

My day started out good enough. I watched 4 straight hours of Animal Planet with Alexis in the morning. Jay came over and we had tacos and nachos for lunch. Then we headed over to the Cinemark to catch a matinée of Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull with Derrick.


Usually I’m not the type of person that gives away spoilers about movies. I want people to see movies on their own, but this is one movie that I don’t feel the need to protect any of its secrets. This movies is a piece of garbage.

I’ve alway been a big fan of the Indiana Jones movies. Sure Temple of Doom blows a little bit, but the other 2 are excellent. Crystal Skull is an insult to all 3 of those movies.

I didn’t understand why so many Star Wars fans were upset with the prequels that came out a few years back. True, they weren’t very good, but the first 3 Star Wars movies stunk as well. What was the big deal? Instead of 3 movies with terrible acting and writing now you had 6 of them. Star Wars fans should have been elated.

I still don’t understand Star Wars fans, (there are certainly much, much better science fiction movies out there, I refer you to the two that Stanley Kubrick made 2001: A Space Odyssey and A Clockwork Orange just for starters) but now I can relate to them a bit. I’ve seen a movie franchise that I love torn to shreds before my very eyes.

On Sunday when we were driving down to The House of Bricks Willy told me that Crystal Skull was not very good. I told him that I could handle it if it wasn’t very good, but I would not be able to handle one thing. If they tried to set up a series of sequels starring Even Stevens, I would be angry. I would leave the theater in a rage.

I should have seen the warning signs. Even Willy would be the first to admit that I have much higher standards for movies than he does. The dude loves Van Damme movies!

Despite my bold proclamations, I left the theater angry. In fact, I haven’t been this angry leaving the theater since I sat through the misogynistic propaganda piece masquerading as entertainment known as Sin City. I was madder than when I left the theater after Transformers. Another example of taking something I loved from my childhood and making it suck. Incidentally also starring Even Stevens.

The one good thing I can say about Crystal Skull is that they didn’t end the movie by setting up sequels for Even Stevens. They came close. They made you think that is what they were going to do. At the end of the movie Indy’s hat blows off a hat rack and rolls to a stop at Even Stevens’ feet. As he bends over to pick up the hat, Indy picks it up before him and puts it on his head. Me physically vomiting in the aisles was averted.

I suppose that I don’t have time to write on all the things I hated about this movie, because there are so many of them. I’ll try to keep it to just two.


Are you kidding me? Could Lucas and Spielberg not turn the last Indiana Jones movie into a science fiction movie? I now fully expect that the next Spielberg WWII movie to involve aliens in some way, shape or form.


CGI has already, for the most part, ruined most summer movies. It was as if they had missed the point of the first three movies. They were an homage to old time serial movies and they were done with trick photography and stuntmen. Crystal Skull is an homage to the other 3 movies basically, only with way too much CGI. I should have known it was coming when the first shot of the movie features a CGI prairie dog.

My day was ruined from that point on and I don’t think that there was much that could have happened to turn my day around.


My day did turn around though. I headed out to Roland for Monica’s barbecue. The only low point of the barbecue was having Happy Birthday sang to me for the third time in 8 days. I’m glad I won’t have to hear that again for some time. Although Monica did make me a sweet Jello birthday cake.

I don’t really like getting presents all that much. Unless it is something the person has made, like a sweet painting or piece of stained glass or cake or rhubarb pie or a card.

Teresa sent me this birthday card.

There is the occasional exception. Sara got me this sweet gift:

The camera is 30 years old and still is in its original box. This will look great on my shelf of old cameras.

Bad Photos

I got all of the old pictures off of my phone. There aren’t a terribly large amount of pictures on there because the old phone is about 4 years old and didn’t have much memory on it.

It turns out almost every picture on that phone ranges from bad to horrible. Although some are amusing.

One major plus of the new phone is the memory card. I can use pictures taken by a real camera for the Caller ID Photo. As you can tell by these images, that will make a big difference.

Oscar Pictures from Jen

I was sitting at work today minding my own business when an e-mail fluttered across cyberspace and into my inbox. Technically it was two e-mails. I now share with you what was contained in those e-mails, namely pictures from Jen’s camera of the Oscar Party.

Oscar Party - 2008
Jen in her Fur Coat

Oscar Party - 2008

Oscar Party - 2008
I am Mine

Oscar Party - 2008
With the Guitar God

Oscar Party - 2008
Jen and Derrick

Oscar Party - 2008
Sans Beanie

Oscar Party - 2008
That Tie Deserves Better

I think for the 2009 Oscar Party I might switch to a fedora and bring a cane. Although with the beanie Jen says I look “very Mohammad”. I dig that.

I might as well throw up a few pictures I took on that night. I didn’t take a camera to the party. I’ve been considering buying a small camera that I can fit in a pocket for this type of event, but I haven’t done it as of yet.

Derrick Waiting


I know it is derivative, but everybody loves the bass picture so why not post this one?



If you are wondering, I will be buying a Sony. Carl Zeiss Lens! That is all I need to say!

Oscar Party Pictures

I got some pictures e-mailed to me from Brenda of the 2008 Oscar Party. These are a little bit small, but I think you will get an idea of the glamor of the event. This event is also doubles as a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society.

Oscar Party - 2008

Oscar Party - 2008
Jen & Derrick

Oscar Party - 2008
Brenda with her Beau

Oscar Party - 2008
Jen in her Fur Coat

Oscar Party - 2008
With Jen and Derrick

I’m still waiting to get some more pictures from Jen, so there may be more pictures posted in the future.

Selling Out

I’m not what you would call a commercial photographer. However, recently I have gotten some commercial photography gigs.

The first gig was (and is ongoing) to do some of the photography for the website of a local soap company. However, I don’t want to delve too deeply into that because I will go into much greater depth about that when the website makes its World Wide Web Debut.

The second and third gig are kind of similar and somewhat related. Look at the picture below.

UnHingd Publicity Still

Some of my best friends were in a now defunct local band known as UnHingd. The members of this band have pretty much gone their separate ways, but they have stayed musical.

Not pictured is Dennis. He has moved on to become the lead singer of 35 South.

Mike has formed a new band with the old drummer from Obsidian’s Dream and some dude named Adam. His new band is called Inebriated Saints. Mike contacted me about taking some pictures of them during their upcoming show.

Mike Practicing
Mike in the UnHingd Practice Lair

Let me tell you what all the cool kids are going to be doing this Friday night. I can hardly believe I’m about to write this: (Grit your teeth you can get through it.) The cool kids are going to be going to The Venue to watch Inebriated Saints win the Battle of the Bands. The winner gets to open for Firehouse. Yeah, that might be one of those win/lose things. It will also mark my first appearance at a Boone Bar since June of 2006. I think it was the Southside if you are wondering.

No really. It should be a great time and Mike is the self proclaimed “Best Bass Player in Ames”. Who am I to argue with that? I will post some of those pictures in the near future.

Then earlier this week I was contacted by Shawn, the former drummer of UnHingd.

Shawn - Homecoming Concert
Shawn-Homecoming Concert

Shawn booked me to take pictures of his new band Act of Gravity for their website. I’m pretty excited about this opportunity and will certainly post those pictures when they get taken.

You can check out Act of Gravity’s website by following this link:

Act of Gravity – Dead Link

One other small tidbit of news. On Monday I had a check pass through my account that made it official: I’m debt free. Not for very long hopefully, but it feels good to breathe the sweet air of freedom

Perhaps you are wondering what happened to Guitar God Derrick Gorshe.

Outburst of the Soul – Portrait of Guitar God Derrick Gorshe

He is also still active musically. Besides being the sound guy for 35 South and being the store manager of Rieman’s Music, he might also be putting the pit orchestra for one of the Ames community theater groups next productions. Look for updates about that as they become available.

Journal Entry No. 200

This is the 200th post on this online journal. I’m kind of surprised it took me this long to get to 200. It has been well over a year since I started this online journal. I’m finally starting to get into a groove with entering things daily and keeping things nice and short.

Tonight I went to Willy’s home bar, Club Element. I didn’t go there with Willy because he would never lower himself to go with one of his friends. I’ve heard the legend of how Club Element is a little kids’ bar, but I didn’t see any evidence. There was no ball pit or water slide. My main impressions of Club Element were that it was ridiculously small and surprisingly well lit. It also had one of the ugliest interior designs of a bar I’ve ever seen. The pool table looked to be in pretty sad shape as well.

On the other hand, the seats were comfortable and the company was great. I went with Derrick and Jen to see a band called Inebriated Saints. The Inebriated Saints is fronted by the old lead singer of UnHingd Mike DiMarco. When we got to Club Element we met up with Shannon and Becky.

It was interesting hearing Mike’s latest incarnation. They played many of the old songs from UnHingd, but the sound was definitely louder and more distorted. It wasn’t as distorted as Against the Grain, but much more distorted than the dulcet guitar tone that Derrick Gorshe laid down when he was in UnHingd.

This marked my 2nd trip to a bar this year. There is a chance that I might make a third trip this Saturday to see 35 South. That is Dennis’ band. They are a southern rock cover band. Derrick is their official sound guy. I only went to a bar 3 or 4 times all of last year. I think I will have to take a few months off if I go on Saturday.

I’m not a fan of bar photography, but I have been considering purchasing a small camera that would be easier to take into places where I can’t lug in my big expensive cameras. Last night would have been a good night to have such a camera. I would have enjoyed documenting the Club Element experience. I could have proven to Willy that I was there.