Sunday, January 29, 2012

Vlogbrothers! On Tour!

The Vlogbrothers came to Portland as a part of John Green's The Fault in Our Stars tour. Matt and I got tickets and arrived at the Baghdad about an hour before the show. The doors were open and the line was moving, but we still walked to the back of the line which stretched around the corner...

..and down the block. Nerdfighters being Nerdfighters though, everyone was very patient, even though they were excited.

The tour van was parked on the side of the venue and was a great place for pictures.

My favorite part of the van? The not-so-subtle message of: "JOHN GREEN!!!! Oh, and that other guy Hank Green. He's here too." In the Vlogbrother's world both brothers are equal, but when the book publishing company is funding your tour, clearly the author is more important.

Because we were at the end of the tour, I knew that the brothers spent a lot of time signing. But this sign made me laugh. Who uses the word "ephemera" on an instructional sign? Nerdfighers, that's who.

We found a seat in the balcony and took a very dark picture of the Baghdad. For some reason the lighting was incredibly low and never changed levels. It was fine during the show itself, but squint-inducing when trying to read our very informative program.

Speaking of the program, it was delightful. There was a nice note about how much both brothers like Portland that also encouraged us to donate to This Star Won't Go Out, which is an organization founded by the family of a Nerdfighter to help kids with cancer and their families. There were bios of John and Hank Green. There was a full page of signing guidelines which were quite funny and because they were written in part to "make the experience as pleasant and nonawkward as possible given the inherent awkwardness." There was also a Nerdfigher Lexicon and a crossword puzzle with such clues as "John's lawn has lots of them." (Weeds)

A pre-show shot. The puppet stage was for Hank Sock who is popular enough to have facebook fans.

John Green read from his book and talked a bit out how the book came about. The fun of nerds is that sometimes they are highly quotable and John Green had me reaching for my pen several times:
  • So much of adulthood is about disguising your intellectual interests and paying the mortgage
  • We'd like to live here, but instead we are going to visit for three hours and drive to Seattle
  • On old people (meaning anyone out of college, a minority in this audience): We don't "woo!" we raise our hands.
It was also interesting to hear the thought that went into choosing the names of his characters. I figured that authors just went with what sounded good. But John Green explained that he named his character Hazel because hazel is an in between color and Hazel the character is in between so many things.

Hank Green played some songs, which were sung along with lustily. His most popular to sing along with is of course: Strange Charm which is a song about quarks and whose chorus is as follows: Up down, strange, charm, top, bottom, if you don't know what a quark is it don't matter you still got 'em. The writing of this song (and its very fun video) has made the lives of physics teachers much easier. But if quarks are not your cup of tea, there is always the song about Anglerfish.
There was also a Q&A session. Both Matt and I submitted questions on cards before the show started, which John Green told us was a much better way for questions as it prevented people from asking questions that spoiled plots as apparently happened previously in San Francisco. While asking questions there was a timer counting down and whichever brother was talking when the timer went off got shocked by an electric shocker. This was strangely medieval and also very funny. Matt and I both wrote questions and both our questions were read. My question, "Who does the driving?" elicited the information that Julie did the driving and that Julie was an amazing driver. Apparently, you don't know how good some people are at driving until you are in the vehicle with them. They likened her to the knight bus driver, able to drive through cars in some situations.

Matt's question: ‎"Describe the process of coming up with the rule about signing: 'Other ephemera: No." The answer? Apparently, this came about because John Green, who last autumn signed all 150,000 copies of The Fault in Our Stars and suffered some ill effects, has had some carpel tunnel problems as the tour has progressed. So the signing has been curtailed a bit. Hank started talking in answer to Matt's question and the timer went off. Matt was very excited that his question caused the shocking of Hank. Due to the magic of everyone in the theater having recording devices, you too can enjoy Hank getting shocked as we did.

After the shocking we got a great finale of both brothers singing the Proclaimer's song "I would walk 500 miles." This too you can see as we saw it. I know! It's almost like you were there!

And with the confetti cannon exploding around us we said goodbye to TFIOS tour, bypassing the signing line (which sounded like it was quite organized. There were tickets with numbers on them and they called people in blocks) opting instead for a good dinner at the Bread and Ink cafe.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Cookbooks winnowed

My "just one thing" this week was to make sure the cookbooks on the shelf were also the cookbooks I wanted and used. Here is before:

And here is after. I have been meaning for years to do reviews of my most-used cookbooks for a blog post but alas, I just haven't gotten around to it.
My next task is to go through those two very large three-ring binders and get that to one binder.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Back in October, when I was talking about John Green's soon-to-be-released book, The Fault in Our Stars, Matt suddenly blurted out, "Maybe I should get that for you for your birthday!" I said that it would have been good if he had that thought and then didn't say it aloud. He decided he would get me the book, but then when he went to order it, found out that it wouldn't be released until January 10 he told me he had bagged the whole idea. That was fine by me and I moved on. On January 12, I logged on to the library web site and put the book on hold. It was a bit of a wait, but not horrible. I then came home and brought in the mail, which included a package from addressed to Matt. I idly wondered what he had ordered.

When I came home from the gym, he had arrived home from work. We greeted each other and chatted and then I remembered to ask him what he got from He just gestured to the table, where the package was. I opened it and to my surprise...

He bought it for me after all!

Note that it's a signed copy (as are all the books in the first printing)!

I got green sharpie!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


I started a second round of calendula seed later in the summer and then scurried around the yard trying to find somewhere to put them. A few of them are still blooming, even in January!