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Category Archives: Everyday Life

Atheist mourns loss of Jesus statue

You may have heard of the “Touchdown Jesus,” or perhaps you know it as “Big Butter Jesus.”  If not, here’s a visual:

One look and it’s obvious why the nicknames came about.  Even a song was written solely about this larger-than-life image.  Heywood Banks’ Big Butter Jesus was featured on the Bob and Tom radio show.  The refrain goes like this:

Big butter Jesus
Sweet cream Jesus
Oh country fresh Jesus
Unsalted Jesus
Oh promise Jesus
Imperial Jesus
Can’t believe it’s not Jesus
Oleo Lord

Last night during a thunderstorm, the graven image was struck by lightning and burned (melted) to the ground, despite resting on the surface of a lake.

I mourn its loss not because I am religious but because it was a great roadside attraction and, like all things American, was big and gaudy.  We will miss you, Big Butter Jesus.  May your legend spread* far and wide.

*As a writer, I’m obligated to tell bad puns.

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Posted by on June 15, 2010 in Everyday Life

 

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For the win

I love playing the license plate game, especially on long car rides. When we were younger, Jess and I played when the family went on trips. When we moved her from Denver, Colorado to Rochester, New York years ago, it was a four-day cavalcade of spotting license plates. Jess drew a crude map of the United States and we colored in the states that we saw.  Total we found 46 states (those not found: Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, and Delaware). Not too shabby.

My boyfriend Fred and I enjoy playing as well but we make it a competition, something Jess and I rarely did. Our first long trip together (we went to the Ikea in Cincinnati) we kept a running total. Even though I was driving, I pulled ahead quickly. On our return trip I wasn’t feeling well so Fred drove while I slept. Every once in a while he would wake me up to call out a state. When we got home, the game was over and I was the clear winner, despite being asleep for the last hour and a half.

On another trip to Cincinnati, I was driving again but this time Fred was way ahead. This trip we decided to count western states worth two points and Hawaii and Alaska worth five. At one point I had a golden opportunity to close the gap. Fred took off his glasses to clean them and his head was bent down. I spotted a van in the lane next to us and it had a yellow plate. I couldn’t read what state it was but I knew it was one we hadn’t gotten yet. I stepped on the gas to try to get closer before Fred noticed. Unfortunately, he looked up just as I was nearing the van and, with his glasses still off, yelled out, “Alaska!” for five points.

The license plate game has since evolved into a continual competition for us. There is no beginning or end, just call ’em when you see ’em. We’ll be in mid-conversation and one of us will slip in a state and then continue on with the original topic, like, “I was at work and – Virginia – this guy asked me the weirdest question.”  Sometimes if Fred is the first one to spot an out-of-state plate, I’ll hum and look away, pretending he didn’t just score.

The game goes on even if we’re not together. If one of us sees a rare plate, like Idaho or even Ontario, the other receives a notification text. Today, however, I spotted a plate so rarely seen in the Midwest that I had to call Fred right away. He answered his phone and I immediately said, “Hawaii.”. Knowing full well what I was talking about, he replied, “For the win!”

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2010 in About me, Everyday Life

 

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Sitting with the bathtub

Dad never wanted to learn how to play euchre.  Whenever my sister, mom, and I wanted to play and needed a fourth partner, we’d ask him.  But his answer was always the same, “I think I’ll watch the game instead.”  I can’t say I blame him, or anyone else who doesn’t want to learn.  It’s a confusing game.  Sometimes a jack has more value than an ace and sometimes it’s just a jack.  Sometimes the jack of another suit that isn’t even trump has a high rank.  Sometimes dealers get screwed, sometimes players get dealt a farmer’s hand.  Reneging is the greatest disgrace but cloud nine is a good place to be.

Euchre is a Midwestern game but I never thought of it like that.  Grandma and Grandpa K. (Mom’s parents) taught me how to play and they lived in Florida so I didn’t associate the game with the Midwest.  When I started college it was the first time I heard euchre referred to in that way.  It clicked, though, because Grandma and Grandpa K. lived in Indiana and Ohio before retiring to Florida so of course they would know the game.

Grandma K. not only taught my sister and I how to play, but also all the “unwritten rules” of the game.  Really, they were just superstitions she had and I don’t know where they originated, but to this day, the family still lives by them.  For instance, the team that “sat with the bathtub” (was parallel to) would win.  Of course, I don’t know how that works if there is more than one bathtub in the house, or none.  The scoring cards always consist of a six and a four of the same suit.  Often, Grandma would “sprout” points by having the tips of the hearts (or spades or whatever) show.  She was also adamant about the four holding down the six.  “You don’t want anything big to hold down something small, Liz,” she would tell me.  Also, we were never, never to turn down a bower should it present itself when we dealt.  It was ingrained so much in me that now, if I do turn one down, I feel guilty.

Usually, Grandma and Grandpa K. were around when I played euchre, because my friends didn’t know how and I didn’t know how to explain it (it still baffles me a bit to this day when trying to teach someone else).  So, about twice a year, either when Grandma and Grandpa came up to Illinois to see us in the summer or when we went down to Florida for Christmas, I got to play euchre.  I was impatient about it, too.  Six months between game sessions was too long to wait!  So, when dinner was done and the table was cleared, I would be back in my seat, cards shuffled and ready to be dealt.  Impatiently, I would wait while Mom and Grandma did the dishes (“Why can’t they just leave them?” I thought to myself over and over).  When it was finally time to play, we had to figure out who was going to sit out.  Only four players are needed but there were five of us.  Mostly, we rotated or there was someone who was too tired to play or had something else to do so it all worked out.

In 1998, Grandma and Grandpa K. celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.  They rented a house in the hills of Maggie Valley, North Carolina.  My family and my cousins’ family were invited to come celebrate with them in the early days of August.  It was a euchre-fest.  There were 11 of us but since Dad never played, only 10 were in the tournament (there was no actual tournament; it was just game after game after game).  We baffled at the bravado that Missy, the youngest at 11, showed when she made trump with only two cards of that suit in her hand.  More often than not, and to the delight of her partner, she would win the hand.

Now Grandma is gone and Missy’s a year out of college.  The family still plays when we get together but it’s not as often as I would like, as we’re spread across the country from the East to the Midwest to the South.  But when one or more of us makes it to someone’s house, the cards are taken from their storage space, the deck separated then shuffled, and we sit down at the table to play a game.  Every time I take my place at the start of the game, I mentally picture which way the bathtub lies to see if I’m sitting with it, and then I think of Grandma and how much I wish she were there.

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2010 in About me, Everyday Life

 

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I went to Virginia and all I got was this red neck.

I am officially on vacation for the next seven days.  Yesterday I flew out to Virginia to visit my sister for the first half of my vacation.  The day began stressful because I had no assigned seat on my first flight.  Upon Dad’s recommendation, I got to the airport an hour and a half early and went straight for the United counter where I stood in line for 10 minutes only to be told that I would get my seat at the gate.  However, there was no gate listed for my flight, just a concourse.  So I went to the only United gate that was open only to wait another 30 minutes while the sole worker checked in a flight to Chicago.  When he was finally done and I could ask my simple question, he informed me that seats would be assigned 30 minutes before the flight.  Already I’d wasted a lot of time, not to mention sleep I’d lost the night before worrying about getting on my flight.  I was mad and geared up for a fight if they were going to charge me for the “economy plus” seat or if they didn’t have a seat for me at all.  When they finally called up people waiting for assigned seats to the counter, I stood in yet another line and started bitching to the guy behind me.  He’d gotten to the airport 4 hours early, though, and had much more to be upset about.  Still, I thought that the customer service could have been a lot better.

Everything was fine, though.  I got a seat and was able to get my connecting flight.  The short but bumpy flight left me feeling a little sick.  It wasn’t until my sister, Jess, picked me up and drove away that I realized I’d left my iPod on the plane (my very expensive, I-couldn’t-afford-to-replace-it iPod).  We immediately turned around and thankfully someone had turned it in so I was able to get it back.

We then headed to a small putt-putt course in Charlottesville.  I consistently got holes-in-six while Jess had three holes-in-one and many more holes-in-two.  It was while we were sweating on the course that I realized I had no suntan lotion.  The last time I was out for an extended amount in a blazing sun, I’d been burnt to a crisp.  It didn’t happen this time, although my freckles popped out on my face and arms (that’s what I get for having fair skin and red hair!).  No, I did not get a red neck but I was worried there for a little bit.

After refueling with some cold water, Jess and I went to a vegan potluck, which she found on meetup.com.  It was great to sit and chat with like-minded people.  There was a wide variety of food and no one had to worry about the ingredients.  We stuffed ourselves full of veggie calzones, baked ziti, guacamole, chocolate chip cookies, potato salad, and “Hostess” cupcakes, among other things.  We had lots of laughs and good conversations.  I just hope that the next time I come to see Jess that there is another potluck!

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2010 in Everyday Life

 

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