Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Here I am in the Twenty-Seventh City, St. Louis, Mo. I came here to get acquainted with my new sponsor, Charter Communications. When I arrived yesterday afternoon, they took me to a photo shoot to get some head shots done. The photographer's studio was in a really cool old building downtown called the City Museum, and the photographer was this recently divorced middle-aged guy who lives in his studio and knows lots of dirty jokes. I liked him a lot.

Last night a couple of Charter people took me out to dinner (at a steak restaurant, unfortunately), and today I went to the corporate HQ to meet Jeff, the VP who's organizing this whole sponsorship deal here. This afternoon we went over to their local office and I gave a sort of motivational talk to some of their call center employees. I'm not much of a public speaker, but I think it went pretty well, and people asked a lot of questions. I'm going to be doing a bunch more of these things over the coming year. Tomorrow I fly back to Colorado and resume skiing.

Monday, November 21, 2005

with apologies to Leno...

So you know those lists of unintentionally funny headlines that people periodically forward you? I definitely just stumbled upon a new one.


The most popular posts on this blog generally seem to be the ones where I tell about some misadventure I've gotten myself into. With that in mind, here's what happened to me when I was skiing on Saturday.

We spent the morning doing lots of boring technique drills. After lunch, a small group of us went out free-skiing. The other guys still had their race skis on but I had on my big fat powder skis, so I decided to go ski some bump runs by myself. There was still quite a bit of soft, fresh snow everywhere from the storms last week, and I was having a blast. I'm not much of a mogul skier, but I was really getting into it. On my third run, I was skiing a steep, narrow run called Outrigger when I misjudged a bump and landed pretty far forward on the tip of my ski. As I landed, the rear screws holding the heelpiece of my binding onto my ski ripped out, my ski fell off and tumbled down the hill, and the heelpiece landed a few feet away from me. I bounced upright almost immediately and sat there with no ski, looking around the vacant run and surveying the situation. I was more annoyed than distraught — I would probably have to get a ride down in a ski patrol sled instead of getting to finish my run.

A few people soon skied by me, and one woman skied right by my heelpiece. "Is this yours?" she asked. Meanwhile, a guy on a snowboard rode by my ski. Putting together what had happened, he took off his board and began hiking back up the hill to bring me my ski. Strangers are really nice to people they perceive as being in trouble, so I didn't bother telling either one of them that it would do me no good to have my ski and binding back, since I wouldn't be able to use them unless I had a couple Helicoils and a drill to fix the binding with. I thanked the guy and asked him if he would go tell ski patrol to come and help me out. He said he would, and took off.

For the next twenty or thirty minutes, I sat there in the middle of the run holding my ski and broken binding, admiring the mountain panorama, blue skies, and the towns of Winter Park, Fraser, and Tabernash stretched out in front of me along U.S. Route 40. People skied by occasionally, and some of them stopped to ask if I was OK. I smiled and said yes, explaining that I was just waiting for a ride down from ski patrol. Eventually the guy who had originally alerted ski patrol for me rode by again

At last a ski patroller in his fifties, with a white beard, picked his way down through the bumps to where I was sitting. He wasn't a great skier. I told him I was glad to see him and tried to explain what had happened. By then I had realized that I wouldn't need a sled ride down if I could get him to ski down to the locker room, find another one of my skis, and bring it up to me. I managed to convince him to do this after he had radioed his supervisor for permission, and he took off down the run with my ski and broken binding.

Two more ski patrollers soon approached, and I started explaining that I was all set, or at least would be as soon as the first guy got back. They seemed confused. "Or did you not hear about this on your radio?" I asked. They shook their heads; I guess they hadn't been paying attention. They continued on their way. I went back to admiring the view and started trying to think about how I could use this misadventure in one of the speeches I'm going to have to give in front of the employees of my new sponsor. If there were any didactic life lessons to be gleaned here, they were escaping me at the moment. It grew colder, and eventually the sun had moved enough that it left the trail cast in shade. I shivered a little.

Twenty minutes went by, then thirty. Going inside to get a ski should take at the most three minutes, and the lift ride up only takes about twelve, so I was starting to wonder. After thirty-five minutes he finally showed up — with the same ski, the original binding reattached. He explained that he hadn't been able to find my other skis, so he had the comp center ski shop fix the broken one; that's what had taken so long. The issue now was whether the repair would hold long enough for me to make it down the rest of the mogul field. I picked my way down with the ski patroller following me, and eventually made it to the safety of a groomed run. I thanked him while internally feeling annoyed at his incompetence; I probably should have been more grateful. After all, he saved my ass.

brokeback mountain

In case you hadn't heard, the Ang Lee-directed film adaptation of Annie Proulx's gay cowboy short story Brokeback Mountain will be released Dec. 9, starring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhall. Which logically leads to two questions:

1. Did Ang Lee take on the project before or after the publication of this Onion column?

2. Will Ledger and Gyllenhall be eating pudding?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

B & S

If you have RealPlayer and happen to be a fan of the Scottish band Belle & Sebastian, click here to watch them performing a new song for BBC TV.

Monday, November 14, 2005


The resort has some nice photos of today's snowstorm.

the frolic architecture of the snow, pt. 2

Last year I wrote a post by this title (I think), in which I linked to its source, this poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson. I was reminded of it again today in one of the nastiest blizzards I've seen in quite a while. It's been snowing for the better part of two days, and it hasn't let up yet. On the contrary, at one point today it was probably accumulating at about two inches an hour, and blowing like hell to boot. I was up at the ski area unloading skis and gear from my car into the locker room, and each trip I made outside was nastier than the one before. One time when I opened the trunk of my van, it only took a minute for the interior to be covered by a half-inch thick carpet of blowing snow. By the time I left the ski area, the wind was so strong that it was difficult to walk in a northerly direction without goggles on.

After the snow off the side of my car, I got in and tried to wipe the accumulated snow off the windshield with my wipers — big mistake. The wind had packed the snow much denser than the usual Colorado powder, and my wipers struggled to push the snow once, then gave up. No amount of finagling would get my wipers to move, so I cleared the rest of the windshield off with a brush and started to drive away. I only drove a few meters before realizing that I would never be able to get home this way; I'd have to stop every thirty seconds to brush the snow off the windshield. As I came to terms with this while stopped on the resort access road in a near-whiteout, a guy driving in a van behind me got out and asked if I needed any help. Not to get all Blanche DuBois, but thank goodness for the kindness of strangers. He followed me as I turned around and drove back to the parking lot, and then gave me a ride home from there. I guess I'll get a ride back there tomorrow once it's stopped snowing and see if I can get someone to fix the windshield wipers...

Now Ted Leo is on the stereo and I'm in front of the fireplace with pizza and Seinfeld reruns. Things could be a lot worse.

As a side note, you don't have to be a rock geek to appreciate Pitchfork's latest feature, "The Worst Record Covers of All Time."

Thursday, November 10, 2005

caught on camera

Abby, her friends, and I were snapped by a Time Out Chicago photographer at the wine tasting we went to last week. We are in the second photo down on the right; too bad it's so small.

Monday, November 07, 2005

kearney, nebraska

Stopping in central Nebraska for the night after driving from Chicago today. In three eventful days there with Abby and Shifra, I: went to a wine tasting, a Ben Lee concert, and a sketch comedy show; drank at four bars and ate at three restaurants; bought a business suit; and tagged along with Abby to a breast cancer support group of middle-aged evangelical African-American women in a megachurch on the South Side. That last one was a highlight — I don't think I've ever been more out of my element before, at least not in this country.

When I pulled off I-80 in Kearney this evening, I gassed up, got some food, and drove down the main drag to see what there was to the town. Like many western towns, you get the sense that there's not much left of this place other than a five-lane concrete road lined with fast food franchises, motels, and gas stations. But it turns out that not only does Kearney still have a downtown, it still has businesses in many of its storefronts even as so many other downtowns out here sit vacant as the local Wal-Mart Supercenter's parking lots overflow. Of course everything except the bars was closed when I drove through at 7:30 p.m., but the town is obviously still proud of its old bank buildings, five-and-dimes, and especially a big white-columned building that houses MONA, the Museum of Nebraska Art.

I guess Kearney is still thriving in comparison to some other towns because of the steady stream of road-tripping families who stop off here to check out the historical monuments — in particular the ridiculous Archway Monument they built across I-80 in 1999. Build a big pedestrian bridge, add a gift shop, and call it a tourist attraction? Hey, whatever works.

(Researching links for this post, I learned a great little tidbit about Kearney's name. It was built on the site of Fort Kearny, and the city of Kearney derives its name from the original fort, but due to a postal error an "e" was inadvertently added and then never changed." —