Friday, May 30, 2008


Winter is gone in the Faroes, and now residents are enjoying the long days of summer. The really long days of summer. According to Jenny's Year Abroad, the sun will set on the Faroes at 10:55 tonight and rise again at 3:55. Twilight starts at 1:30 AM. Indeed the photo you see above was taken by Jenny at midnight a few days ago.

From what I gather, this is the time of year where the Faroese enjoy the outdoors. Hiking is popular and some brave souls even try swimming in the cold water of the fjords. It's good that there are a lot of good outdoors things to do in the Faroes, because I just checked the movie listings for the only theaters on the islands, and it's all crap like "Made of Honor." I'd rather participate in a death march than see that film.

Sorry, I lost my train of thought there for a moment. So where was I? Oh yes, the great outdoors. Folks on the Faroes have more time to get outside because their calendar is clogged with holidays between late April and July. Most are religious holidays of one kind or another, but Flag Day (April 25) and Constitution Day (June 5) are the good old fashioned patriotic kind.
This week's Faroe photos (in addition to Jenny's) come from this guy's Flickr Photostream. I don't know anything about him, but he's an excellent photographer and you should all study his work and shower him with praise and money.

The photo above is from a village called Gjógv. Gjógv means "ravine" in Faroese and the village is centered around a natural harbor in (you guessed it) a ravine. Boats have to sail into the ravine and then be dragged up a steep hill by hand. There are some great pictures of the harbor here.

This second photo is of the village of Klaksvik at night. It doesn't get that dark this time of year, but it's still a nice looking photo.

That's all for now. More next week.


Thursday, May 29, 2008


Several months ago, I posted about Elna Baker, the performer and author of the soon-to-be-published memoir "The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance." I had heard a piece of hers on "This American Life" and thought it was amazing.

So I wrote a little post on her and it is now the most popular search term that leads to this site (even more than Thomas Storesund). I was amazed to find an example of someone who is both Mormon and funny and wholesome and even a bit edgy. There's not a lot of that going on.

In keeping with my role as a taste maker, some friends of mine read the post and decided to convince Ms. Baker (based in NYC) to perform a show in LA. Tonight, that show happened. Of course, I wasn't there. A plane ticket from here to LA currently runs somewhere in the neighborhood of $600. I'm not made of money, you now.

But by all accounts, the show was a big success. I'm told there were some agents and casting types in the audience. It's obvious the woman is heading places, so allow me to take credit for the success of the show and any future successes Ms. Baker may have in the future.

You're welcome.

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Sunday, May 25, 2008


The year was 1997. Electronica was the hot new musical genre, the Internet was spawning all sorts of wacky companies, and the Lewinsky scandal was just a twinkle in Kenneth Starr's eye.

Into this whirlwind of optimism and opulence stepped three young men, specifically me, Thomas Storesund, and our friend Kevin Monk. We were tasked with producing a short film to show at an Oscar party. (Trivia: did you know that "Thomas Storesund" is one of the most popular search terms leading to this site? The man must be in demand.)

What we came up with was a mock documentary about shopping carts. It became a minor sensation in the rarefied world of Los Angeles Mormon singles. Various tapes of it are floating all over the place, and I ran across my copy a few weeks ago. So I thought I would dump it on YouTube and allow the world to see what all the fuss was about. Unfortunately, it's a dub off an 11 year old VHS tape, so sound and picture quality aren't all that great, and you really need higher resolution to grasp the full grace and majesty of my comic performance. But this is what we've got, so enjoy... (the video runs about 6 1/2 minutes)

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Friday, May 23, 2008


I was excited to learn that British culture magazine Monocle was doing a feature on the Faroe Islands. The magazine doesn't post their stories online, so I actually had to leave my house and plunk down the $10 to buy the thing. I took it home and read it and... well... I didn't like it all that much.

It's not that the article was bad, but there just wasn't any flavor to it. After reading it, I didn't feel transported to the place. Instead, I felt like I had read a marketing company's analysis of the opportunities and problems in the Faroes. To be fair, the story was about how the country intends to market itself to the rest of the world. But still, it was an international dispatch, give it a little more color. The photos were mostly of people, but you really didn't get to meet any of those people.

If you're looking for a great piece of travel journalism on the Faroe Islands, might I direct you to a fantastic piece that appeared in the New York Times last year. It sums up everything I find beguiling and wonderful about the Faroes. It's an article I can point to when I'm not articulate enough to answer the question, "so why are you so obsessed with the Faroe Islands?"

And if you're looking for good, first person, accounts of everyday life in the Faroes, you're in luck: Jenny is back!

Last year, I wrote about Jennifer Henke. She's an American, but spends a fair amount of time on the Faroe Islands. She shares her observations about life in the small village where she stays and posts quite a few pictures as well. (All photos in this post are lovingly stolen from her site... she said it was OK.) She's been back in the states for several months, but she landed in the Faroes again a few weeks ago.

Jenny has a knack for catching the small details that bring the Faroes to life, from choior practice at the church... (love the stained glass there)

To life on the waterfront...And even little scenes from the local grocery store...She even took some nifty photos from the plane during her arrival this time... (that's Torshavn down there)It's a fascinating read, and there are lots of great pictures to be had. So if you wish you could spend some of this beautiful spring in the Faroes (I know I do), a stop at Jenny's Year Abroad is the next best thing.



Thursday, May 22, 2008


Some weeks ago, I promised photos documenting the aftermath of the little guy's haircuts. Photos of the actual haircuts as they happened aren't available. The event was far too traumatic for both children or parents. But now it's over, and let's see what we've got. Here's Nate...

And here's Will...These are not the straightest haircuts in the world, but they're amazing when you realize that they wiggled and screamed through the whole thing. They're happier now.The little guys will turn two in about 8 weeks, but they're not really talking yet. Will can mumble nonsense words to himself and make lots of animal sounds.Just this week he spent several minutes earnestly trying to carry on a conversation with a duck. He would walk up to one and yell, "quack!" Then he'd look at the duck and wait for a reply. He's still waiting.But it's Nate that we really have to watch out for. He can say "cracker" and a few other words, and now he's picked up a real doozy.Julie often sings to the little guys and "I know an old lady" is in heavy rotation right now. For those of you who don't remember, the song goes a little like this:

I know an old lady who swallowed a fly
I don't know why she swallowed the fly
I guess she'll die.

The old lady goes on to swallow all manner of items to catch the items previously swallowed. For instance, she swallows a spider to catch the fly. I'm still not aware why.

In each verse (there are about 800) the swallowed items are recounted and then followed up with, "I don't know why she swallowed the fly. I guess she'll die."

Recently, Nate has been accompanying Julie on this song. At first, we couldn't tell what he was saying. But today, it was crystal clear:

Julie: I don't know why she swallowed the fly. I guess she'll die.

Nate: DIE!!! DIE!!!!!

Matt: (Sound of grown adult falling off chair while choking down laughter.)

Attempts will be made to videotape this phenomenon. If we catch it, I'll post it.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008


During the waining hours of a long workday covering the Oregon primary elections, a friend of mine handed me a sheet of paper with what was purported to be the lyrics to a song called "Matthew Workman" written by Wesley Willis. It went a little something like this...

"Right on brother
You are the reporter king
You really whoop a snow leopard's ass
Matthew Workman really whoops a camel's ass"

I laughed so hard I almost fell over. But I'm getting ahead of myself here.

I first learned about Wesley Willis when I wrote for the sadly departed music magazine "grid." There was Wesley Willis CD in the office and it was everybody's favorite listen for a while. Somehow I got the assignment to write the review (I stole, the CD from the office... that's how I got the assignment) and actually had to listen to the entire album.

Wesley Willis released countless albums during his career (really, it's almost impossible to figure out just how many albums he's released), but every song is essentially the same. He chooses a subject (usually a band, but sometimes an actor or business or type of food), shouts the name four times, shouts some facts about the subject, declares the subject kicks some animal's ass then ends with the famous tag: "Rock over London/Rock on Chicago/Budweiser are proud to be your bud."

The advertisement at the end would change, but the structures of the songs wouldn't, nor would the backing track, which was a Casio keyboard playing pre-programmed chords.

I wrote the review of the album, then wrote a Gwar concert review in the Wesley Willis style. Eventually I interviewed Willis for a feature article that I'm more proud of than anything I've ever written. (Sadly, the last known copy of that story was left in the trailer of "Skippy" from "Family Ties." The story behind this fact is long and surprisingly boring.)

Willis died in 2003, but he has remained a cult figure online and in certain musical circles. Some enterprising young man has even developed a Wesley Willis song generator (you have to scroll to the bottom of the page to find the song generator). All you have to do is enter some information in a few fields and the program will crank out a Wesley Willis-style song just for you.

And that's what my buddy Chris did late Tuesday to lift my sagging spirits. Ironically, Wesley Willis actually did write a song about me. It went a little like this...

"You are my friend on Los Angeles
I love you like Purina Dog Chow."

That's about as far as he got, but I was flattered just to have that.

And now that I've been shown the song generator, it's kind of like we've always got Wesley with us. So I'll end by posting a song I had generated for my friend, Scott. I haven't seen him in years, but I believe this song communicates everything I would want to say to him.

Scott Whitmore
by Wesley Willis

I like you well.
You can really rock your ass off.
You make the joyride music.
I like you a lot in the long run.


You are a database administrator star.
Scott Whitmore is the best.
I like you well.
You are my special database administrator.


I like you well.
Scott Whitmore is very special to me.
Scott Whitmore really whoops a camel's ass.
I love you a lot in the long run.

Rock over London,Rock on Chicago.
Be a Pepper - drink Dr. Pepper.


Monday, May 19, 2008


An extremely long day at work yesterday will be followed by a 14 hour work day tomorrow (people actually care about the Oregon primaries, who knew?).

So the point is I have to get some rest. But in the meantime, please enjoy a little silliness from the Flight of the Conchords. Even though I'm dead tired, it made me laugh hard.

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Friday, May 16, 2008


Russia's news agency reports this week that two Russian fishing trawlers were detained in the Faroese capitol of Torshavn on suspicion of poaching.

Apparently this is part of a long running dispute over where international boundaries begin and end. Norway has also been detaining Russian fishing boats for poaching in its waters.

The dispute could start heating up soon, as the Russians said they're sending ships to the region to protect its trawlers. Now, it's not the navy that's sending these boats, it's the fisheries committee. I don't know how well armed they are.

I've gotten off the subject a little bit. The point is the captains of these ships are protesting the action, but have agreed to stay in Torshavn while the investigation takes place.

I've been looking for a way to get an all-expenses paid trip to the Faroes, perhaps getting work on a Russian fishing boat is just the ticket. It certainly sounds better than my plan to get a free trip to Istanbul.

This week's Faroe photo comes from Vestmanna. It's a relatively large village of about 1,200 people. It's name means "men from the west," because it's believed to be settled by the Irish. Or was that the Norwegians (which wouldn't make sense because they're east of the Faroes)? The village is the departure point for several popular boat tours of the islands and the famous bird cliffs.

According to the village's tourist website, the location's only restaurant serves up Faroese specialities like whale meat and dried fish. But "do not worry, there is also plenty of "normal" food so you will not leave hungry."

I like these people already.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008


God bless Dana Milbank.

He's just posted a campaign story about what surely are the last days of the Hillary Clinton campaign. He used one of the funniest Monty Python sketches ever to frame the story of Ms. Clinton's imminent demise.

One of the funniest pieces of political journalism I've read in years.

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What is a U.A.S., you ask? Why, it's the acronym all the cool kids use for "Ubiquitous Ataturk Statue." The UAS is, well, ubiquitous in Istanbul. I can be found in parks...

In government buildings...And most other public places.I'm told Ataturk is Turkey's George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Thomas Jefferson wrapped up into one. He created the modern Turkish state and kept the place from being carved up after World War I. So naturally, the man merits a statue that looks vaguely Soviet.(This picture was taken from a moving bus, so pardon the framing.)

Sometimes the UAS must be accompanied by another feature of Istanbul, the Ubiquitous Ataturk Picture...

Sometimes hey come with profound sayings...This one is from the Istanbul train station and I believe it says something like, "How joyful it is to be a Turk." (I'm sure Christina will correct me if I'm wrong.)

You'll notice that I'm not making a lot of pithy comments about the statue or much else in Turkey. You see, it's illegal to publicly denigrate Turkishness. A Nobel Prize winning Turkish author was arrested on an Article 301 charge a few years ago. So if this guy can't avoid prosecution, what chance do I have. But I have been looking for a way to get back to Turkey in the near future... perhaps this would be the way to go about it. Hmmmmm...

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008


It has been much too long since I've posted photos of the little guys, so allow me to remedy this tonight. Here were some pictures snapped in advance of Nate and Will's 2nd haircut. First up is Nate, showing lot of energy, and wild hair.

And also becoming the subject of the "what does this macro lens do?" experiment.Will turned out to be a somewhat more difficult subject...For whatever reason, Will was less willing to play ball. Perhaps he was self-conscious about his longer hair.But with a little convincing...And a pair of finger cymbals...Everything turned out ok.

So what of the haircuts? Tune in next week for the dramatic pictures. (Or pictures, anyway, they may not actually be all that dramatic.)

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Monday, May 12, 2008


A friend showed me this the other day. Quite funny. Very well made.

(With apologies to thirdworst who can't get video at work... that should be a basic human right.)

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Saturday, May 10, 2008


In my first ever post on the Faroe Islands last year, I remarked that the islands hosted the G! Festival each summer and that the festival was starting to gain an international reputation. I may have also mentioned that I wanted to attend the festival one day.

Alas, that may have to wait a while. I've read on various bulletin boards that the company that runs the festival has gone bankrupt. There is word, however, that plans are being drawn up for a G! Festival in 2009. At least that's what I gather from the postings on their website. They're in Faroese, and I don't understand much of that.

But all is not doom and gloom on the Faroese music scene. Boys in a Band are continuing to get good press around the world. And a Faroese singer/songwriter named Teitur is touring the east coast of the U.S. and getting good notices. The New York Daily News called Teitur "the Norse whisperer."

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: considering there are only 48,000 people on the islands, they have an amazing number of bands that tour internationally. A Faroese jazz band is even scheduled to play in my hometown of Rochester this summer.
This week's Faroe photos come from the village of Gøta. Gøta plays(ed) host to the G! Festival and is a pretty spectacular setting for a music festival. Only 500 people live in the village, but they have their own football team. The area also figures prominently in an Icelandic saga.

As always, I hope I get to see it firsthand. (I'm looking at you, Faroese Tourist Board... whose site appears to be down for maintenance.)

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Friday, May 09, 2008


With the results of the Indiana and North Carolina primaries making Clinton's nomination all but impossible, I predicted Hillary would cancel her southern Oregon appearance. Once I learned she would be showing up, I knew I had to go.

(I'm not in that picture. I'm quite far away actually.)

I went because I was interested to see the end of something. I wanted to see what Hillary would say in the face of overwhelming evidence that her campaign was over. What do you tell a room full of supporters who know deep down inside that it's over? I decided I would find out.

The day started off grim for Hillary... in Oregon, anyway. She showed up to a VIP fundraiser 3 hours late. People payed $2,300 to attend the 30 minute event and they reportedly spent most of the time hanging around a sub-standard plate of snack food waiting for the terminally late candidate. Our coverage of the event included a Clinton campaign volunteer who had been given a comp ticket to the event. That's not a good sign.

Meanwhile, back at the venue of her evening rally, volunteers were busy removing chairs from the hall to make the room look more full.

Staffers also spent a lot of time shifting people around the room trying to make the room look better. It didn't really work. In the end, only about 500 people ambled into the venue that could hold about 1,100 people. There were even rumors floating around the room that Clinton would actually suspend her campaign at tonight's rally.

Then Clinton took the stage. The governor gave an almost manic introduction, then Clinton gave a loud and enthusiastic (and short) speech that essentially ignored the grim electoral math that faced her. She worked the crowd of hard working white Americans and vowed to keep fighting all the way to the White House.

As campaign rallies go, it was standard fare, and the crowd seemed pumped up and excited most of the time. But when Clinton hit the last note of her speech, people began heading towards the exits. Such events usually end with a Q & A session, but a large portion of the audience was already gone before it could happen.

The rally wasn't quite the swan song I thought it might be. But it was still a rare opportunity to see a candidate that probably doesn't have too many campaign stops before she hangs it up for the season.


Thursday, May 08, 2008


Politics in Turkey is a strange animal. It's a Muslim nation, with a secular democracy, that is routinely overthrown by the military. The current party in power nationally and in Istanbul is "AK" Party. I understand people pronounce the party's name "ack," I prefer to call it "A-K" because I think it would be really cool if they had a campaign song that went, "It was a good day today. You voted AK today."

I could go on about how AK is a slightly religious party and how the country may undergo a judicial coup by the end of the summer, but I doubt you're interested in that.

What's interesting about the current ruling party is the non-stop self promotion campaign they've launched. They've sent glossy mailers to citizens (they weigh about a pound) touting their accomplishments.

From what I can figure out, the party has taken credit for everything from the construction of new sports stadiums to the invention of bread.But the biggest feature of the self promotion campaign involves hundreds of billboards displayed all across town. So one sunny Saturday, Christina, Julie, and I decided to go find some.Unfortunately, most of the billboards are located on freeways, and that's not a good location to get out of the car and snap pictures (although some people in Turkey clearly wouldn't have any problems doing that... more on that subject in a week or so). But we did find a billboard near an easily accessible pedestrian area...But what does it say? For that, let's turn to the U.S. State Department's Media Liaison...

Sounds good to me.

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008


So last March Hillary Clinton's campaign said the senator would be visiting Medford. But the days and weeks passed by and her campaign flacks insisted that she was coming, while refusing to give any details.

Then Hillary announced an Oregon visit, and Medford wasn't on the schedule. We'd been had.

But then on Saturday we received a press release that Hillary would be in Oregon on May 8th and 9th. Then a phone call confirmed she would be in our neck of the woods on Thursday night. Unlike the false start in March, Clinton's people actually offered up details of the visit. We knew the when, the where, and how.

Then came Tuesday's primaries in Indiana and North Carolina. By the end of the night, most commentators were writing Hillary's political obit. She's cancelled all her public appearances on Wednesday, and there's a decent chance her presidential campaign is through. No word on her Thursday appearances, but I'd say there's a good chance we'll be stood up again.

Oh, why can't the primary process last just a few weeks longer? We've waited our turn, and now they might call off the game before we get to play ball. Dang.

Well, once the general election starts, we should see some political action. We are the very hinge on what will likely be a swing state this year. That's a pretty good place to be if you're a reporter.


Monday, May 05, 2008


This is the time of year when TV networks are sorting through pilots and deciding what to put on the fall schedule. Most years, this process would be well underway, but this isn't most years. The writer's strike delayed most TV development for the coming season. In some cases, networks are having to make decisions based on a script or a short video presentation (as opposed to a full pilot episode). Rumor has it everyone is desperate for ideas.

With that in mind, I thought I'd drop this little gem. You see, I was given a series idea in a dream last week (I'm not making this up), and it might actually be worth producing (I'm probably making that up). Alas, I no longer live in Hollywood, and my access to entertainment decision makers is non-existent. So instead of pitching it over lunch at The Ivy, I'll just post it here. Anyone interested can take the idea and run with it. All I ask for is Executive Producer credit.

Without further ado, I give you: "10-4, Good Lewis... Featuring Buddy Lewis." In this show, Buddy Lewis is a former cop who becomes disillusioned with law enforcement and decides to become a long-haul trucker instead. I see Bronson Pinchot in this role. It may be a bit of a stretch, but I think he could pull it off.

Buddy drives a truck to get away from all the crime and lowlifes he dealt with as a cop. But no matter what he does, he always finds himself in situations where he has to put his law enforcement experience to work. Crimes are solved, punks are put town, and women are loved and left. And his deliveries always make it to their destination on time.

To keep things from getting too heavy, Buddy Lewis peppers his language with the kind of CB talk that was briefly popular in the 1970s. Thus a cop is a "bear", the highway is called "the super slab," and his rig is an "18-legged pogo stick." (Writers can just use this guide to CB slang to fill out more dialogue.)

Each episode would end with Buddy leaving the town where he solved some crime (kind of like those old episodes of The Incredible Hulk). Some grateful townsfolk would stop buddy and say (trying to mimic Buddy's CB talk), "10-4, good Buddy." And he'd reply, "Make that '10-4, good Lewis.'") Several episodes in, it will be revealed why he doesn't like to be called buddy, but we'll save that detail for now.
So there you go, that's my plan to save network television. Anyone else pitching any shows?

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Friday, May 02, 2008


This week the French wire service, AFP, recently ran a profile of every resident of the Faroese island of Koltur... both of them. Koltur is occupied by a husband and wife, and a few hundred sheep, and about a half dozen cattle.

Bjoern and Lukka Patursson moved to the island about ten years ago. The island once had a population of about 40 in the 1800s. Two families lived on Koltur and, according to several accounts, would never communicate with each other due to a long forgotten feud.The population of the island dwindled as the fishing industry took off on other islands. The last residents moved off the islands around 1990. The Paturssons learned the island was abandoned a few years later, and asked the government if they could move into the derelict homes. They now spend their time ranching and hosting tourists who come to see the ancient stone houses on the island. They also maintain a website.

The island is connected to the rest of the Faroes (and the world) by wireless phones, and thrice weekly helicopter service. Due to he remoteness of the island, it's unlikely I'd make it to Koltur even if I do embark on my fantasy trip to the Faroes. But in the event they ever stumble upon this site, allow me to say, "hi" to Bjoern and Lukka. Hope you are enjoying your beautiful island.


Thursday, May 01, 2008


Say what you will about the Turks, they have a cool looking flag, and they're not afraid to show it. During our stay in Istanbul, we were in town for National Sovereignty and Children's Day. Honestly, I don't quite know what the connection is between children and sovereignty. To be honest, I feel like Julie and I have lost a great deal of sovereignty since having children, but we were not consulted before Turkey began naming their holidays. We also weren't consulted before they created this vaguely Soviet looking poster advertising the April 23rd holiday.

And while National Sovereignty and Children's Day is meant to honor the opening of the Turkish National Assembly, it might be better called "Giant-Ass Flag Day." Because, when the Turks have a holiday, they get out some giant-ass flags.Some will spruce up the giant-ass display with an Ataturk picture.Indeed, even the television stations feature a waving Turkish flag during their programming on the holiday. Some also include an Ataturk photo. The fanciest one actually had Ataturk's image waving on a separate flag. Very impressive. Also impressive are the number of buildings they can put giant-ass flags on.But some take the art to a whole new level...This was the flag hanging from a mall close to where we were staying. And that's not even the biggest one. There were several 40 story buildings that had flags that easily covered 20 floors. Alas, I didn't have my camera around when we drove past those.

Even more impressive: on April 24th, all the flags were gone.

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