Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Lowlights of 2008

¶ Every year at this time I compile the Lowlights of 2008, a list of the staggeringly stupid things that people in our state do. Here is the latest. Also, the photo is not one of the Lowlights. I just needed something to break up all the words.

¶ By Nicholas K. Geranios
¶ Associated Press Writer
¶ SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) _ When Shakespeare wrote "what fools these mortals be," he obviously wasn't thinking about residents of Washington state. But fools we often be.
¶ The Lowlights of 2008 include college football, election mudslinging and a song about a sinister Santa.
¶ Below is a survey of some of the lowest acts of the year in the Evergreen State. As usual, this is only a random sample, as it would be impossible to chronicle all the stupid and heinous acts that occur in the state each year.
¶ BAD SANTA: An already bizarre battle over which holiday displays would be allowed at the state capitol veered into a true lowlight when the gay-hating Westboro Baptist Church entered the fray. The group wrote a charming holiday ditty called "Santa Claus Will Take You To Hell," which claimed the jolly old elf was a false idol who brought child sexual abuse, economic disaster and eternal damnation. The group demanded the song be placed next to existing decorations that included an atheist message, prompting the state to ban all requests for additional displays.
¶ HUSKY BAILOUT: In the midst of a massive budget shortfall, University of Washington boosters pushed for taxpayers to contribute $150 million toward a $300 million overhaul of Husky Stadium, which is in even worse shape than the football team. When some Washington State fans objected at a hearing, UW uber-booster Ron Crockett called them "fools," proving that losing the Apple Cup went pretty deep with some people.
¶ STICK A FORKS IN IT: The Olympic Peninsula town of Forks, best known for a stupefying amount of rainfall each year, is enjoying a tourist boom thanks to the "Twilight" books and movie. "Twilight" is about hot-looking teenage vampires who live in Forks, and fans have been visiting the community to revel in the setting. Marcia Bingham of the Forks Chamber of Commerce said the town's rain and gloom are just perfect for this crowd. "We all know vampires can't be out if it's bright."
¶ MONORAIL BLUES: When the aging Seattle monorail broke down in mid-December, the 15 stranded passengers included an 86-year-old man who said he was a monorail driver back when it was first built for the 1962 World's Fair.
¶ OUCH: In March, the state paid $15,000 to a Kelso man who was forcibly catheterized after an arrest for investigation of drunken driving. Matthew Clifford Arthur had refused to provide urine and blood samples after a traffic stop, so officers got them the hard way.
¶ BLOWING COOKIES: In September, a man who ate moldy cookies in the King County Jail sued the county for pain, suffering and emotional distress. Moses Wiggins, 41, says he didn't notice the mold until he had eaten half the bag, and that it caused vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps.
¶ BADA BING!: In the hotly contested governor's race, supporters of Republican Dino Rossi put up billboards in Eastern Washington exhorting residents not to let Seattle "steal" this election, implying that's what happened in the 2004 race when Christine Gregoire won. Meanwhile, the state Democratic Party was forced to change an ad that showed Rossi, accompanied by the theme song from "The Sopranos," a television show about homicidal mobsters.
¶ WHO'S THE IDIOT?: In October, a Seattle man was accused of a hate crime for allegedly threatening his neighbor's autistic son. Mark J. Levison was arrested after yelling that he, "did not want to see that idiot staring at my house." Levison was already under a court order to stay away from the family after he threatened to burn down their house in July if they didn't keep the 13-year-old boy out of his sight.
¶ THE YAKIMA OF CALIFORNIA: For two decades, a sign proclaiming, "Welcome to Yakima: The Palm Springs of Washington" greeted motorists on Interstate 82 in the city. The sign came down for about a year because of construction, but was put up again in February. "I've heard people say, 'Who was the idiot who put that up?' but that doesn't bother me," sign owner Gary Lukehart said.
¶ THIRD DEGREE: In December, the Washington State Patrol said nine troopers allegedly bought fake college degrees from a Spokane diploma mill to boost their pay. The Thurston County prosecutor will decide if the troopers, on paid leave, will face charges. Troopers get a 4 percent raise for a four-year degree and 2 percent more for a master's.
¶ HOMELAND INSECURITY: A federal building security guard in Spokane who used high-tech cameras to watch women undress in nearby buildings pleaded guilty to felony voyeurism. Darin Earl Wanless used rooftop camera equipment in the post office to ogle women on two dozen occasions. He was fired and must register as a sex offender for the next decade.< ^___= ^SPECIAL SPORTS LOWLIGHTS= ¶ COLLEGE FOOTBALL: The University of Washington was the only winless team in the country, going 0-12 and firing its coach. Washington State went 2-11 and gave up more points than any team in college football history. Both were national laughingstocks. The Huskies hired a new coach, Steve Sarkisian, who shares the same last name as Cher. That raises the possibility of a "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves" slogan for UW next season. ¶ SUBSONIC: The Seattle SuperSonics of the NBA were stolen away to Oklahoma City, where they sank to new lows of basketball futility. ¶ SEAHAWKS: The Seattle Seahawks made some fans wish they'd move to Oklahoma City. ¶ MARINERS: The Seattle Mariners last season became the first team with a $100 million payroll to lose 100 games in a season. ¶

One more movie

Just watched ``The Foot Fist Way'' last night and it was the most cringe-inducing indictment of the typical American doofus that I have ever seen. The main character's stunning vapidity and lack of self-awareness was heart-breaking and hilarious. I highly recommend.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Thank God for movies

Spokane has received a record of more than 59 inches of snow in December (that's nearly 5 feet in the metric system). A more adventuresome type (like Ann) might have taken the opportunity to go sledding, skiing or snowshoeing. Instead, I've been plowing through a backlog of cigars and movies.
Here are capsule reviews of the movies that have kept me entertained this month, both in theaters and on video:
1, Milk: went to the theater with Miranda to see this movie. I really liked it and was moved by the struggle for gay rights in the 1970s. I could have stood for a little less kissing among the men, and Miranda warned that if I did not stop groaning each time Sean Penn put a lip lock on someone she was moving to another seat.
2, You Don't Mess with the Zohan: fairly watchable Adam Sandler comedy, especially when he catches a fish in his rectum.
3, Four Christmases: Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon. What's not to like? Love the extreme fighter brothers.
4, Fred Claus: Despite Vince Vaughn and Paul Giamatti, this one took me two nights to get through, as I fell asleep on night one.
5, Bucket List: I intended to absolutely hate this feel-good affirmation of life and friendship, but found it surprisingly palatable. Is there anything Nicholson and Freeman can't do?
6, The Women: Very easy on the eyes, especially Eva Mendes. I thought the male-bashing could have been toned down a bit, but I always think that.
7, Quantam of Solace: I still haven't seen it. What is Christmas without a homicidal superspy saving the world?
8, The Dark Knight: Really liked it, especially the Joker, but it was too long. And the Harvey Dent stuff at the end seemed really tacked on.
9, The Cable Guy: I had never actually seen this all the way through, so when it showed up on HBO I watched and was stunned by the brilliance. I want to go to Medieval Times and have a serving wench.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Jimmy Buffett story

I've been working for months on a story about singer Jimmy Buffett. I'm a big fan. The story finally moved to the national wires on Monday. Here it is for those dont see it elsewhere

¶ Associated Press Writer
¶ LAS VEGAS (AP) _ It's like the world's biggest beach party, hosted by the world's richest beach bum.
¶ The 15,000 fans packing the sold-out MGM Grand arena were enjoying the final concert of the season by Jimmy Buffett, the singer whose popularity and fortune grow greater even as his hair grows grayer.
¶ Buffett, who turned 62 on Christmas Day, long ago became an icon of certain baby boomers _ perhaps the least-hip demographic in the country _ by offering the dream of throwing off their responsibilities for his tropical party vibe.
¶ But in the past decade, this chronicler of Margaritaville has really cashed in on his image.
¶ How big is Buffett?
¶ With an estimated annual income of more than $40 million, you might mistake his portfolio for that of Warren Buffett (not a relative). And he's done it by sailing beyond most musicians' ticket, T-shirt and poster revenue stream.
¶ The title of his most popular song is showing up on restaurants, clothing, booze and casinos. Among the products he's involved with are Landshark Lager, the Margaritaville and Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurant chains, clothing and footwear, household items and drink blenders. The Margaritaville cafe on the Las Vegas strip is said to be the top grossing restaurant in the nation.
¶ Buffett writes best-selling novels. There's Radio Margaritaville on Sirius. Even his recording career is booming as the music industry tanks: His recent album, "License to Chill," was the first No. 1 album of his career.
¶ In October, Buffett was chosen by Vanity Fair as No. 97 on a list of the 100 most influential people. In the world. He's nestled between Universal Music Group CEO Doug Morris and anti-poverty crusader Jeffrey Sachs.
¶ But the exact scope of the Parrot Head empire is secret. Buffett's privately held Margaritaville Holdings LLC does not publicly disclose its finances, and his publicists declined numerous requests for interviews with the singer or anyone connected with Miami-based Margaritaville Holdings.
¶ "He wants to be known as an artist and musician, but he's an extremely savvy businessman," said Brian Hiatt, an associate editor for Rolling Stone who covers the concert industry.
¶ Buffett is somewhat unique among aging crooners in that his fan base is broad, and is not tied solely to a string of past hit songs. For most of his career, Buffett had only one Billboard Top 10 hit, "Margaritaville," in 1977.
¶ What he offers his fans is an accessible fantasy.
¶ "Anyone of any age could imagine retiring to a tropical paradise and drinking margaritas," Haitt said. "There is something extra-musical about the whole thing."
¶ You don't have to go to a concert to buy his stuff. Margaritaville boat shoes and flip flops are found in shopping malls. Margaritaville Foods sells salsa, hummus, tortillas and dips in Wal-Mart and other stores. Landshark is sold in grocery stores, and Margaritaville tequila is in liquor stores.
¶ And concert tickets sell out in short order, despite prices that run well over $100. The Buffett brand is on a growth spurt, usually as a result of marketing deals.
¶ The Cheeseburger in Paradise chain was founded in 2002 and owned by OSI Restaurant Partners, owners of Outback Steakhouse, among others, under a license from Buffett. Landshark Lager, made by Anheuser-Busch, and Margaritaville Tequila, made by Seagram, are sponsors of his concerts.
¶ Last May, the Trump Marina Hotel Casino in Atlantic City was purchased by Coastal Marina, LLC, which will convert it into a destination resort under the "Margaritaville" label.
¶ "Jimmy Buffett and his team at Margaritaville have created an extraordinary brand that is instantly recognizable to an enormously large and dedicated fan base," said Richard Fields, CEO of Coastal Development. "The brand implies quality, value and good times."
¶ Meanwhile, Harrah's Entertainment, Inc., has teamed up with Buffett to develop the $700 million Margaritaville Casino & Resort in Biloxi, Miss., near where Buffett was raised. That project has been delayed by the downturn in the nation's economy. But Harrah's and Buffett already have a profitable relationship.
¶ According to Buffett's Web site, the first Margaritaville opened in Key West, Fla., in 1987. The chain has since grown to 16 outlets, including a new one at the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut.
¶ Margaritaville at the Flamingo Las Vegas takes in more than $43 million a year, said casino president Don Marrandino.
¶ "It's been pretty consistent for five years," Marrandino said. "It speaks to the Buffett lifestyle."
¶ ___
¶ On the Net:

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Heeeeeeeere's Nicky!

Remember that scene at the end of Million Dollar Baby where the manager suffocates the paralyzed boxer because the boxer does not want to live as a quadriplegic? It's getting to the point where that sounds pretty good as we are going on a week of being housebound by a record snowstorm in Spokane. ``Please, Boss, do it now, and then have Morgan Freeman narrate a nice elegy for me.''

We are not exactly trapped in the house, but the streets are so miserable that mail and newspapers are not being delivered, and it's nerve-wracking to go anywhere.

The holidays have been a decidedly low-key affair in what I am calling a George Bush Christmas (it's similar to a Charles Dickens Christmas, except the rich do even better and don't have any pesky ghosts trying to change their ways). I was actually pleased to get some new socks and underwear.

Everyone has been very accepting of the hard economic times except my 14-year-old, Tom, who is upset because he did not get a ``pimp cane'' to keep ``his 'ho's in line.'' This is apparently a cane that has a secret compartment for a knife or something. We made like the Shackleton expedition and got out to the Valley Mall yesterday to return some clothes that didn't fit, and Tom wanted to wander from store to store asking for a pimp cane. I considered allowing this in Macy's and JC Penney's, but was worried he might actually find one at Spencer's so I said no. Can't have sharp pointy weapons in the house at Christmas.

Last night, I watched ``Hamlet 2,'' since there is little else to do but watch the tube. I found it very funny, especially the ``Rock Me Sexy Jesus'' part and any scene involving the drama teacher's wife. I highly recommend this movie, although if it were up to me it would have been called ``Hamlet 2, More Death!'' or ``Hamlet 2, Dane to Watch It!"" or ``Hamlet 2, Hamlet Harder.''

I was so stir-crazy yesterday that I actually went to the gym with Miranda and Tom to work out. For me, this involves riding an exercise bike at the lowest setting while watching CNN on the bike's TV. Then I sit on one of those huge exercise balls while reading the newspaper (this is great for your core). Miranda and Tom made fun of me.
The photo shows Ice Station Spokane, aka the scene on the side of my house, where giant icicles have formed entire new rooms.

Friday, December 26, 2008

snow at night

here is a view of my house in the snow at night

Fortress of Solitude

Greetings from the Frozen North, where there is so much snow and ice on the ground that we have been barely able to move for the past week. Spokane has already set a record snowfall for December, with more coming. The ice is growing so thick off my roof that it actually formed a room on the side of the house. Here are Tom and Eli playing in front of the ice after I managed to knock off some of the thinner pieces.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Beth's new book

My friend Beth Harpaz, an AP writer in New York, has a new book out all about the
horrors of raising adolescents (you know who u are). Here's a link to a website for her book, which includes some research findings on uber-adolescents Tom and Eli.

Got Greeks?

The Census Bureau put out new estimates about the U.S. population recently, and the number of people of Greek ancestry remains catastrophically low.

In Washington state, there are only 26,022 Greeks among a population of more than 6 million people! How pathetic is this? Consider that there are 76,000 Danes, 251,865 French and 405,942 Norwegians. But the biggest ethnic group is Germans, totaling 1.3 million. Idaho should be nervous.

Nationally, the situation is just as dismal. There are only 1.3 million Americans of Greek ancestry. Now I know what The 300 felt like.
The photo shows me in Greek revolutionary military garb during a Greek Independence Day ceremony at our church in Montana in the 1960s. Formidable, don't you think?

More snow

Spent this morning digging a Suburban out of the barrow pit it had slid into near my house last night. The Suburban was driven by a friend of my daughter. It was tilted at a ridiculous 45 degree angle, but some people with chains stopped and we were able to get it out.
Then I drove through the snow to work. Went for a coffee at Nordstrom, where I discovered the giant sized version is called an Enorme. This is a fabulous name, and I'm thinking of introducing myself as Enorme, Norm for short.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


The spokane area was pummeled by 20 inches of snow in the past 24 hours, and everyone is trapped at home. Here are some pictures of the snow outside my house

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


I've been watching the Showtime series ``Californication,'' on DVD recently, and decided it is primarily intended to reinforce conservatives' stereotypes about California (drugs, sex, permissiveness). However, the show has produced a great new band name: ``The Irritating Smugness of David Duchovny.'' As usual, if you use this name, you owe me money. At right, Duchovny reads a script.
p.s. Vomit update. The stomach flu has ``passed'' completely, so to speak, and our family is back to normal.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Vomitorium Thanksgiving

We had Ann's mom and oldest brother and his two sons over for Thanksgiving yesterday. Unbeknownst to us, we were also harboring a nasty strain of stomach flu.

Shortly after we finished dinner, I had to retire to the bedroom because I felt terrible. even watching the Zags crush Oklahoma State on television didnt perk me up.

Later that night, Eli blew chunks all over the upstairs bathroom, which necessitated a major haz mat cleanup. A few hours after that, I rushed to the bathroom and threw up my entire undigested Thanksgiving dinner. Actually, it looked interesting floating in the toilet, the brown of the meat and gravy infused with red diamonds from the cranberry sauce. I cleaned up after myself and went back to bed.

Ann was next, about 4 a.m.

At breakfast, our guests said they were heading back to Butte ASAP. I dont blame them.

tennis star

Another tennis tournament, another trophy for me. My partner Joy and I won the the 3.0 mixed doubles portion of a tournament at our club last week. There actually isn't a trophy. The prize is a jacket with a champion monogram on it. I plan to wear it everywhere for the next year.

My son Tom, who is 14, played doubles with me at the 3.5 level, which is a little above my ability, and we lost two matches to be eliminated. Tom knows it was my fault.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Survive the Crapple Cup

The Crapple Cup is going to be so execrable this Saturday that only a true diehard would watch. Here's some suggestions on how to better spend your time:

1, Dress your spouse in a tight purple halter and a short crimson skirt and spend the afternoon penalizing her for illegal use of hands.
2, Seek a quantum of solace by attending new James Bond film "Quantum of Solace."
3, Replay tape of WSU's Sept. 20 win over Portland State, the only victory either team has this season.
4, Celebrate WSU basketball team's expected win over Sacramento State so heartily on Friday night that you sleep well into Saturday afternoon.
5, Attend a sing-along showing of "Mamma Mia!" at your local cineplex with your wife and three of her girlfriends, and never worry about football again.
6, Send a letter to President-elect Obama demanding that some of that "change" and "audacity of hope" he promised be spread on the gridirons of the Northwest ASAP.
7, Get a copy of the official report of the testosterone-laden altercation between former WSU Provost Steve Hoch and another administrator that cost Hoch his job. Then wonder why Hoch isn't playing for the Cougs.

Friday, November 14, 2008

At Garland Street Geranios Did Surrender

My manhood received a tough test last night and I passed with flying colors: I attended a sing-along version of ``Mamma Mia'' with four women (plus Steve) and walked out with all my testosterone intact.

Long-time readers of this blog know that I am a big fan of Abba (an Abban?) and I have been dying to see ``Mamma Mia.'' The Garland Theater in Spokane is one of those $3 second-run movie houses, and they have been playing a version of the movie that includes the lyrics of the songs printed on the bottom of the screen.

This was all great fun, especially as we smuggled rum in and mixed it with Cokes to enhance our singing.

No everyone is comfortable letting their softer side show. When Bill at work found out where I was going, he suggested I stand up before the movie and demand that all ``the real men'' in the audience follow me across the street to a bar. Bill obviously has deeper issues than Benny-and-Bjorn-phobia.

Ann had an excellent time with her friends Min, Cathy and (uber-cook) Marcy. Afterwards we went to dinner at the appropriately named Mamma Mia restaurant.
The photo at right shows me in a manlier moment from last summer.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Fistful of Nicks

I was cleaning out some files recently and came upon some pictures that were taken for an article the Yakima Herald wrote about me when I worked in that city for AP. I decided to mount these pix in a frame and hang it in my office, part of a general shrine to myself that I maintain.

You might notice I looked younger and a little more put together 17 years ago. I even wore a tie to work!

I definitely was a bit smarter. Here's an example: Ann and I were out to dinner with some friends on Sunday night. When the waitress was bringing us our wine, the bottle started to tip over on the tray. With reflexes honed by years of tennis playing, I managed to grab the bottle and save it, to the cheers of the crowd.

Being a funny guy, I joked to the waitress that I hoped she didn't think I was trying to cop a feel when I reached for the tottering bottle.

That stopped all conversation, and I spent the rest of the evening staring down at the table top in shame every time the waitress came back.

The old Nick would have never made such a blunder.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

My first grandchild

Even though I am only 49, Miranda presented me with my first grandchild when she bought this little dog recently. She named him Cappy. Ann, who has never had a dog, has renamed him Crappy.
Miranda says Cappy is not a ``little purse dog,'' but I think the evidence of this photo shows that's exactly what he is. She is flying home from Maine for Christmas, and Cappy will sit on her lap, additional proof that this dog would be at home on ``Sex In the City.''
The boys are very excited to meet Cappy, as they have never had a dog.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Come on Eileen!

Last night was a historic election for more than one reason. Ann's younger sister Eileen was elected prosecutor of Butte-Silver Bow County in Montana. Congratulations, Eileen, and here's hoping you throw many a scumbag in jail.
Eileen is a single mom with four fine children and we are all proud of her. But not too proud to publish this photo from this summer's Joyce family reunion on Deer Lake.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Where are the Chippendales?

Ann had her election buddies Albuquerque Kathy and
Kansas City Peg over to the house recently. They cooked a
spectacular meal and pounded some Three Buck Chuck.
They have strong opinions about many things, and I was smart enough to keep my mouth shut.

Zion or Bust

My recent trip to see Jimmy Buffett in Las Vegas was not all spent in casinos.
Earlier in the trip, my brothers Jim and George and i took our mother to Zion National Park near St. George, Utah. Mom lives with Jim (left) in St. George, which is a lovely place to visit.
Zion is small but has spectacular scenery, and would be a blast to hike through on another visit.

Monday, November 3, 2008

I see dead football teams

One of my jobs is to cover the Washington State football team, which is in the midst of the worst season in program history. So I've covered games where WSU lost by 66-3, 63-14 and 69-0. I've also watched on TV as they lost 66-13, 45-17 and 39-13.

The season doesn't get any easier. This weekend Arizona is coming to town and the outcome is not likely to be pretty. The following weekend I get to cover No. 9 Boise State vs. woeful Idaho. Then it's winless Washington at Washington State in the Puke Cup.
Fortunately, I also get to watch my son Tom (No. 46) play for Ferris High

Friday, October 31, 2008


A few people got into the spirit of Halloween at the office today. In this pix we have Puff the Communist Dragon (Carey); unredeemed Jimmy Buffet fan Parrot Head (yours truly); and nun-in-training Fifi (Marial). Most of the others are too busy preparing for the Nov. 4 election to waste time with costumes

Monday, October 27, 2008

Report from Vegas

I spent last weekend in Las Vegas with my two brothers for a boys weekend that celebrated Jim's 47th birthday, the midway point to my 50th birthday, George's escape from a houseful of sick daughters, and, of course, MY FIRST JIMMY BUFFETT CONCERT IN 15 YEARS!

Huge it was. Here is the report.

After spending a few days visiting with Mom in St. George, Utah, we arrived in Vegas shortly before noon on Saturday. By previous arrangement, we headed first to Fremont Street, in dumpy old downtown Vegas, in search of cheap gaming tables. The photo shows Jim (black shirt with words) and George (silent black shirt) upon our arrival.

We walked through venerable casinos like the Golden Nugget, Binion's and Fitz's, and found exactly what we were looking for: $3 blackjack tables. Despite the fact that the tables had cigarette burns in the fabric _ and most of the other players looked like the casino might be their only home _ we had a blast. We settled into a table at Fitz' and played for quite a while before losing our stakes.

From there it was up to the Nugget for a modest lunch. We ate light (I had a chef salad, a meal I first enjoyed in the deli at Buttrey Foods more than 3 decades ago) to maintain our energy for what would be a long day. We passed through Binion's for a bit of slot machine losing. Then came a key decision point.

We had originally planned to go to the Strip, check into the Tropicana and lounge poolside for a bit to soak up some rays and gaze at silicone. But Jim and George were lured to the roulette table as we passed through Fitz's again and there we stayed. I had never played before, but put $20 down and ran into a mountain of beginner's luck. Soon I had towers of lime green chips in front of me. Then I started losing, which got me to looking a my watch. 5 p.m., and we were no where near the Strip! We hustled out of there, battled heavy traffic down Las Vegas Blvd, and finally got to the Tropicana about 6.

As we rushed toward the front door, we were stopped in our tracks by a couple of Folies Bergere dancers who were handing out discount coupons to the show. They were at least 6-foot-4, with towering heels and even taller head feathers, but little clothing. George thought they might be creatures from another planet.

We got a room on the top floor, with a stunning view, but had little time to enjoy it as we had to clean up and get into our carefully selected concert ensembles. George, as expected, went with a light colored suit and striped shirt. I did a basic black, topped by the Vegas Jacket. Jim, who is a country-western musician and thus has no sense of fashion, wore jeans and a jacket.

All of us were wrongly dressed.

It turned out that the vast majority of the crowd at a Jimmy Buffett concert dresses in grass skirts, hats with fruit on it, Hawaiian shirts and the like. What losers.

I of course was in the Vegas Jacket, which never fails to draw stares and comments from pimps, priests and everything in between. The best occurred while I was in the bathroom at the MGM Grand, where a young fellow told me that he flew jets for the military, but nothing in his life was cooler than my Jacket. I had to agree. George and Jim like to walk behind me through crowds so they can enjoy the amazed looks from passersby.
The MGM Grand was overwhelmed with Parrotheads, many enjoying the $6 margarita specials. The bar we went into was so packed that we couldn't get any attention from the bartender. So I caught the eye of a waitress (the magic of the Jacket again) and quickly ordered three margaritas as we grabbed an empty table. We guzzled them down and then joined a river of Parrotheads heading to the MGM's arena.
The concert was completely sold out to approximately 15,000 of the geekiest, most middle-aged, white bread, cubicle-dwelling drones this nation has ever produced. I refer to them as my people. The douchebag in this picture was actually on the town in Vegas with a fake parrot on his shoulder (and some people make fun of my Jacket).

Anyway, we paid $8 each for some Land Shark Beer, and listened to nearly 3 hours of Jimmy's brand of Gulf and Western music. The audience knew every song and we all sang as if someone had paid $100 to hear us croon. I paid $30 for a t-shirt.

Unfortunately, we had to leave before the second encore because I really had to pee and all the bathrooms in the arena were closed from some plumbing problem.

At this point we made another key mistake. Our Buffet tickets guaranteed us free entry to Studio 54 at the MGM Grand. But Jim insisted on going outside to get some fresh air (the Buffett crowd had been engaged in some agricultural burning). Once outside, we decided to head to the Paris casino to get a light dinner to keep our energy level up. We made a brief detour at Planet Hollywood for some gambling, but were horrified at the $20 minimum stakes at the tables there. Unable to afford that, we spent a few disconsolate minutes staring at the go-go dancers working in the gaming area, then headed back to the nickel slots. These demon machines emptied our pockets the way the lady that's known as Lou pinched the poke of the half-crazed miner in ``The Killing of Dan McGrew.''

If we'd been thinking clearly, we'd have returned immediately to Studio 54 and spent a few hours on the dance floor, where the Vegas Jacket would no doubt that drawn the spotlight often. Instead, we headed on to Paris, where we found all the cafes closed for the night even though it was only about 12:30 a.m. (and they say Spokane is a hick town).

It seemed like a bright idea to take a $20 cab ride back down to Fremont Street, where we could play some cheap table games. The cabbie insisted on giving us a long discourse on O.J. Simpson's recent trial, saying it was all over when the Juice got a lady judge who was going to make him pay for killing his wife. We also discussed Mike Tyson, and the length of these conversations got me thinking that we might be taking a long and expensive route to the cheap tables.

Back at Fitz's, we found that our luck had run out and quickly lost our money. I headed over to a penny slot machine, which is generally the last stop before a guy enters a life of male prostitution or journalism. But my $2 stake quickly grew to about $40 and I cashed out. Then, while waiting for Jim to go to the bathroom, I threw a quarter into a slot and 90 quarters spurted out the bottom. George, who'd been losing like a Chicago Cub the entire trip, unleashed a string of expletives entirely unsuited to his profession as a high school guidance counselor. I gave him one of the quarters, which he stuck in a machine and lost.

Exhausted, we took a cab back to the Trop. The other two went to the room while I threw a $20 bill into a slot machine and lost it all in about 10 pulls (insert joke here). We were all in bed by 3 a.m.

He Went to Vegas, Looking for Buffett ...

Just returned from the Jimmy Buffett show in Las Vegas and my head is swimming from the experience. I'll sort it all out in a major post later, but wanted to share the news that it was a life changing experience.
Of course, I wore the Vegas Jacket to the show (or more precisely the Jacket wore me). There was the the usual pandemonium at the appearance of the garment. Some men might be upset that a few patches of funny-looking cotton gets so much attention, but I am not one of them.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Go Saxons

My middle son Tom is playing on the Ferris High freshman football team this season. Here he is carrying the ball in a recent game. Tom just got braces and ordered them in his favorite color, orange, so he now sports a grill.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ann for President

I found out last night that Ann is apparently running for president of the United States. This came in the form of emails from people. Have a look:
Ann would run on a platform of fiscal conservatism (which I oppose), clean living (which I oppose) , truth (which I oppose) and respect for others (which I oppose).
I'm Nick Geranios, and I disapprove of this message.
In the photo, Ann contemplates the draperies in the Oval Office.
Actually, Ann is already president. Of her new company. Check out the web site at

Well Hung

I was looking through some old pictures at work and found this nice shot from another routine day at the office. I believe I am rappeling into northern Idaho in search of a lost tribe of Democrats reported living in a lost valley near Garwood. If memory serves, I did not find these elusive Donkey worshippers, but I did come back with a new appreciation for longer shorts.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Pumpkin at work

Here's a picture of Pumpkin working at her summer job as a waitress in Seattle this past summer. She's back at college now back east, and called this week to tell us she had bought a dog, but not a yippy purse dog. Her brothers are very excited to see this dog during Christmas break, as we have never had a pet before.

Garage Sale of Doom

After a decade of failure, we finally got out act together enough to have a massive garage sale last weekend.

Naturally there were torrential downpours both days, which depressed attendance.

We still managed to sell some $250 worth of old clothes, books, furniture, tools and other amazing items.

I was surprised by some things that did not sell, including a kitchen table, bedroom furniture and a kneeboard. Make me an offer

Greek fest

I recently worked the annual Greek dinner festival at my church, and once again had a blast serving about 1,200 takeout meals from a tent in the parking lot. Had lots of good help from Ann and my sons and other parishioners. I dusted off my old jokes about the revenues being split among the three members of the Holy Trinity, and about how any bounced checks would see the writer go to Hell. As usual, we drank a lot of wine out of paper cups while we worked, and i did some Zorba dancing behind the counter. Chicks dig Zorba.

Here is a picture of us preparing to open the tent for lunch. That's Ann on the left, wondering if all Greek people are as strange as her husband.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Appointment TV

You can tell a lot about a guy by the television shows he regularly watches. My list of appointment TV is pretty long, reflecting I have no actual life. Shows I make an effort to watch are The Office, Battlestar Galactica, TruBlood, Entourage, Burn Notice and Desperate Housewives. I watch Weeds when it comes out on video. This is in addition to a full slate of sports, History Channel and other random shows that pop up during channel surfing expeditions.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Very special shorts

We are one month out from the Jimmy Buffett concert in Vegas and some people have questioned whether I am a true Parrothead or not. To that I have only one answer: Feast your eyes on these Margaritaville boxer shorts, know I have worn them, and be assured I will wear them again! If that's not true devotion, I don't know what is.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Nickfest, continues

For those keeping score, I'm about five weeks out from the Jimmy Buffett concert in Las Vegas. This is the key event in the first six months of Nickfest, which is the yearlong celebration leading to my 50th birthday next March.
To prepare, I've been drinking Land Shark beer and Margaritaville tequila, reading Buffett novels, listening to his dozens of albums and to Radio Margaritaville, wearing Buffett boxer shorts with a big parrot on them (I'll try to post a pix asap) ; planning to eat at Margaritaville on the Las Vegas Strip, and trying to decide how many official prefunctions I should attend down there.

Battle in Seattle

Publicity for the new movie ``Battle in Seattle'' has given me a chance to reminisce on going there to cover the original street demonstrations. It was a wild couple of nights, and perhaps my best chance to experience what the street demonstrations of the 1960s were like. One strong memory is the strong smell of vinegar emanating from many people. They dipped their bandanas in vinegar to cut the sting from tear gas.
For those wondering, other big stories I covered over the years include the last bombing by Unibomber Ted Kaczynski in Sacramento, followed by his capture in Montana; the 1989 earthquake in San Francisco; the 1985 Super Bowl season of the Chicago Bears; three executions, several serial killers and the opening of Al Capone's vault by Geraldo Rivera. I'm not making that up.

Monday, September 1, 2008


went to see lucinda williams last night with some friends at Riverfront Park. She was one of the free acts at Pig Out In the Park, spokane's annual outdoor food fest in which local restaurants charge $8 for a sandwich that normally sells for $5.

Lucinda was good and the food, of course, was huge.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Pleasant pasttimes

Sigh. i do suffer during the summer months. On Friday, I played the new golf course at Washington State University for a feature story on the spread. That's me admiring one of the few drives that I didn't shank into the wheat fields that serve as the rough. Note the amazing shirt.
On Saturday, Ann and I and some friends rode the Trail of the Hiawatha, a 13-mile rail-trail that passes through numerous Rocky Mountain tunnels and over trestles near Lookout Pass on the Idaho-Montana border. Ann and the Lemckes (both in black) rode both ways. I (red shirt with beer gut) and the Johnsons (lighter clothes, goofy looking guy) rode the 13-mile downhill portion, then rode the shuttle bus back up to our waiting beers. A guy from Logan, Utah, offered us money for a beer, but Bruce gave him a free Kokanee. Dude was very grateful.
Afterward we ate buffalo burgers at the Snakepit in Enaville, an ancient and colorful restaurant where the owner gave us free huckleberry ice cream. The end of a perfect day.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Halfway to Nickfest

This morning, I followed a flatbed truck containing one of those concrete grave liners during my commute to work on I-90.

That reminded that we are nearly halfway through Nickfest, the year-long celebration leading to my 50th birthday that will climax next March 9. I got to thinking about progress on my list of tasks to complete for this momentous event. Here are the findings:

1, Hot trophy wife: check
2, Cute kids: check
3, Lose 20 pounds: Still working on that.
4, Career fulfillment: I cry with happiness each day.
5, Nickfest location: Still debating over Cancun, Vegas or my house.
6, Sports car: My Durango is looking more sporty.
7, Jimmy Buffett concert: Upcoming in late October.
8, Regular receipt of presents: A dismal failure.

Photo: Still searching for the prefect Nickfest location.

Karaoke King of Spokane, Part II

Many of you know that my wife Ann has left Mother AP after 14 years of service to launch her own business, known as Preps2Go.

Many of you may also suspect that her going-away party was another golden opportunity for the Karaoke King of Spokane to unleash a custom-written and performed tribute song.

However, enormous technical difficulties (I forgot to bring speakers) prevented this song from being properly heard at Annfest because the throngs were busy stuffing their faces with the delicious smoked and BBQ foods created by John and Brian. Also, the batteries on my digital camera were dead, preventing a recording that captured the manic energy of a live Nick performance.

Because of that, I was forced to record a version of the song in my office, with only Cameraman Carey as an audience. (If Carey were more successful with the ladies, the audience might have been bigger). The video was rushed onto youtube, and below is a link.

You have been warned.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

My Little Pretty One

We were out to dinner last night and the issue of musical taste came up. Specifically, it was my lack of taste for insisting that ``My Sharona'' is the greatest pop song of all time. Can there be any serious disagreement over this? If anyone can nominate a greater song, I'd like to see it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Farewell to the Toby Keith

Here's a recent picture of Eli and I lounging at the marina where I keep my boat. That spectacular black cowboy hat I'm wearing _ a Toby Keith _ is no more. The hat flew off my head when I was pulling a water skier during Joycefest and by the time we returned to the area it could no longer be found. Fortunately, I have a large collection of hats.

Images of Joycefest

Here are some stunning images from our vacation with Ann's family:
1, Brad Pitt
2, Young ladies lounging in the hot tub
3, waiting for dinner
4, The Next Generation

Ann on Vaca

Here's Ann looking relaxed during our week vacation at a place on Deer Lake. We had friends up with us during the first part of the week, and then more than 30 members of Ann's family for our annual Joycefest extended weekend. As usual, it was huge

Monday, July 21, 2008

fire close call

We walked on the trails in my neighborhood over the weekend, where we could clearly see the damage done by the wildfire that burned 11 homes a few days ago. Below are some pictures of the burned forest, showing a house that was spared thanks to firefighters. our house is about a mile from this area.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


A wildfire forced us to evacuate our house on Thursday evening, and we were not allowed back in until Friday afternoon. Fortunately, we did not suffer any damage. But 13 houses over the hill were destroyed. I worked from home covering the story until we had to evacuate (a newsman is always on the job).

The fire occurred the same day that Ann quit her job at the AP to start her own business. I see it as a good omen, proving she has a hot concept.


Finding time to go on the boat is always a challenge, but we got out for a few hours on Lake Coeur d'Alene on Sunday. Here's me and Eli at the wheel. Unfortunately, the boat battery was dead, so we spent most of the time recharging it.

That's Ann on the left enjoying watching we work to get the boat going.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Cousins

Had a little Geranios family reunion in Seattle last weekend, which allowed some of the far-flung cousins to spend quality time together. Since this bunch is scattered among Alabama, Portland, Seattle and Spokane, they don't see each other often. That's Dora (left) and Zoe in the front. In back, from left, that's Jennifer, Korina, Eli, Shawn and Tom. We're just walking back from Discovery Park in Seattle, an excellent place.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Hoopfest 2008

The annual Hoopfest 3-on-3 basketball tournament has come and gone, and as usual I had several children and numerous nieces and nephews playing on the streets of Spokane. Here are some action photos from the weekend. The picture on the left is Tom and his cousins and a friend. In the center I am coaching during one tight game. I had a poor 1-5 record coaching this season, a new low. At right is a picture of Eli and two other players. It was about 99 degrees all weekend, but we all came out OK.

The One that almost got me

Here's the pine tree that ate my chain saw and then ended up falling on the neighbor's power lines. Doesn't look so tough now, does it?
I've got to stop this Paul Bunyan act