A Final Post – The Tale Of The Three Andrews, Part III: Andy

OK, so – it’s been dead around here. Real dead. It turns out that planning a wedding in the final months AND maintaining a blog is a Herculean task (did you guys know Hercules had a wedding blog?), and those of you that are pulling it off, my hat’s off to you. I’m not really sure how you do it.

Our wedding is the day after tomorrow. We’re excited. We’re ready. We’re tired. We feel good. We’re sleeping fitfully. Our car broke the other day and we had to send it to the shop for a couple days, which was annoying, and then it turned out that the back wheel was holding on by a thread. We only just finalized our flowers TODAY. We spend our days running around doing errands, our evenings watching mindless action movies and courtroom dramas while we craft. We’ve done so much crafting that may never craft another craft as long as I live. Except I’m about to become an elementary school teacher. Whoops!

Anyway, to all of you who’ve read this blog, I sincerely thank you. You’re great, you’re loyal, and you say nice things to me. After the wedding I’ll post a final FINAL post, with photos, and then I’m outta here for reals.

Thank you, everyone. Thank you sincerely. Sorry for the lack of posts during the home stretch. I hope you’ll forgive me.

Love,

Bret

PS – I can’t end the blog without finally posting this:


It’s finally here, everybody – so throw your hands in the ayer, and wave ‘em like you absolutely cay-er, because you totally do. The most-anticipated installment of a series since The Twilight Saga: The Deathly Hallows hit theaters worldwide, we arrive upon Part III of III of my Tri-Andrewlar Friendship: Andy.

Here is Andy, my Third Groomsman, old college chum, reputed lover, and tree-mocker:

Andy and I have a friendship that is largely defined by competition, jointly-endeavored creative projects, our shared college experience, traveling together, and a blood pact we made late one night in the pit of an active Hawaiian volcano. These five things, more than any other, form the bedrock of our man-love, and are the foundation upon we built the third-most solid of all Andy-Bret Friendships in the Northern Hemisphere. We fully intend to overtake the other two by 2020.

Together we have ventured to Maui, Paris, Mexico (on a cruise), Utah (for skiing), Chicago, Solvang and San Diego (with Josh), and, in an alternate universe, Australia. Andy’s dad worked for years as a pilot, and I was frequent recipient of his coveted “Very Special Guest Passes For Super Cool People Only,” which allowed me to fly standby alongside Andy for very, very cheap, but always with the possibility we wouldn’t make it on the flight. In fact, on our Spring Break trip to Paris, we were told that there was no room on the flight – and we were seconds away from heading over to a flight for Plan B: Australia. But at the very last second, we were called back to the gate and given a couple of tickets to Gay Paree. And what’s Paris if not “The French Australia?”

Andy and I compete, really the old friend I have that I am so often engaged in battle with. It’s awesome. Here are all the things I can think of that we have competed against each other in (minimum one occurrence), though I may be missing a few: Scrabble, racquetball, chess, basketball, checkers, tennis, ghost, superghost, bowling, croquet, shufflepuck, ping pong, caps (a drinking game), beer die (another drinking game), miniature golf, six degrees of separation, Boticelli, and of course, extreme ironing. Special bonus: we’ll often throw down a couple of dollars to make things a little more interesting. When Andy loses, he offers me the chance to double down, and then when I lose, we’re even, and then usually someone cries, and then we go out and get ice cream sodas!

Andy, Josh and I enjoying a nice wine in Solvang, CA

Andy and I met freshman year at Pomona but have slightly divergent accounts of how it all went down. The controversy involved two films, one he’d made earlier in the year on campus and one I’d made while still in high school, both of which were screened at a Pomona film festival. His was a sort of spy/mystery/action thriller (starring Mary of Fishers Island fame), and mine was a film called Chickenbread that was a mock documentary that told the tale of the two clumsy, oafish, but ultimately lovable saps who developed and created Chickenbread. Both films were pretty popular at the festival, but Andy recalls me meeting him and being immediately smug and condescending about the obvious superiority of Chickenbread; the way I remember it, I approached him holding forth an actual olive branch, atop which perched a dove, and immediately suggested we become best friends. I’m sure the truth lies in between the two.

There are lots of great things about Andy and our friendship, and I’ll recount just a choice few for you here.

- In college, we used to order pizza from Round Table with some regularity. They had these amazingly cheap deals for college students, and, well, we were powerless against them. Our fabulous friend Josh joined us on many of these occasions. We developed a system wherein I would call to place the order, and while I was wrapping up the call, Andy would whisper in my ear a challenge. A few I remember were: To sing I’d like to leave a two dollar tip to the driver; to end the call by saying “I love you;” to tell the operator “You pizza with the best of them!”; when I told Andy that the man had introduced himself as “James,” he had me end the call with “Thank you, Top Jimmy!”

You get the idea. Ah, we were such crazy kids back then. I feel a mixture of college-type pride, fondness, nostalgia, and embarrassment when reflecting upon those memories.

- A few years back, Andy and Josh and I planned a short trip to San Diego around New Year’s – we rented a house, grilled some steaks, played nerdy games, survived a crazy rainstorm that blew a large umbrella off the deck, and slept in rotating beds. Well, the beds themselves did not rotate. But forever in search of the fairest way to go about things, we rotated our way through the two beds and futon, since they were different degrees of comfortable. Two days before the trip, I got a call from Andy’s dad, which was unusual in that I knew him pretty well by that point but he’d never called me before. “Hey Bret,” he said, “Um… when is your tip to San Diego?”
“Not for another two days,” I replied.
“Oh, well,” he answered, “Andy’s on a plane there right now.”
“Oh geez.”
To be fair to Andy, he was already planning on going a day early. But not two. He landed, I called and made fun of him, his faced got super red, and he spent an extra day kicking it solo in San Diego. I suppose there are worse mistakes to make.

- We take lots of photos on our travels. During our Paris trip, we went to the Louvre, and there was a shopping cart in the giant courtyard for some reason, which of course led to the photo “Shopping At The Louvre.” Also, since the Louvre just happened to be closed on the one day we chose to visit it (we’re still pretty sure that someone tipped them off we were coming), we took another photo called “Flipping Off The Louvre.”

We do photo essays, too, like this one from somewhere in Mexico, presenting contrasting reactions to a bunch of 2-dimensional frogs:

- We once did a multimedia art performance together. I performed my original tune (co-written by Groomsman Drew) “The Loneliness of the Semi-Colon” at an open mic while Andy silently showed the audience little drawings he’d done to accompany the lyrics. It was the best music-drawing combination since, well, since ever!

So, that’s just a little slice of Andy. He’s a cool guy. Great, even. Magnificent? You could argue that, but watch out, because Andy loves to argue. But anyway, yeah. Andy. What a guy. He’s one of the very best dudes I know, a great friend, and I’m pleased as punch he’ll be up at the “altar” with me.

Chairmen and Women of the Wedding

So one of the things about throwing a budget wedding, as many of you fine folks know, is that sometimes you have to do little things that maybe you didn’t plan on doing. Like serving pizza, for instance. Or getting married on a Thursday. Or asking friends to make appetizers. Or asking guests to please wash, rinse, and dry their plastic utensils so we can re-use them.*

*Still debating that one.

Anyway, this right here is a chair:

Ring a bell? It should. Odds are you’ve either sat in one today, are sitting in one right now, or have designs to sit in one later today – or all three. Last year, Americans sat in an estimated 900 million chairs. OK, that’s not a real statistic, but it sort of sounded like one, right? Am I right? I think I’m right.

The Point, though, besides being an awesomely odd animated movie from 1971, is that one of the odd little budget-y things we’re going to do is to ask all of our guests to move their chairs indoors from the patio when the ceremony is over. Of course, if anyone is unable to move their own chair, or opposed to it for religious or ethical reasons, we’ll have waivers available on every chair prior to the ceremony so people can opt out. It’s only fair, after all.

As with many of these types of logistical/budgetary issues, a simple Pro & Con list reveals what we suspected all along: it just makes sense.

The Great Guestular Chair Relocation of 2011 | Pros & Cons

Cons

  • Unusual.
  • Tacky? Is it tacky?
  • Potential logjam of 150 confused guests, running wildly, heads jammed inside half-folded chairs, screaming and gesticulating, sobbing into their suits, bawling into their shawls, ensuring a visit from the Park Rangers summoned to shut the party down and revoke our right to ever set foot in an East bay Regional Park ever again.
Pros
  • It’s kind of fun, right? Right?
  • Excellent opportunity for excellent photos.
  • Group spirit; camaraderie.
  • The reception is being held mere yards from the ceremony patio.
  • Good blog fodder.
  • It’s kind of fun, right?
  • Opportunity for exercise before guests gorge on pizza and beer.
As you can see, the Pros list emerges the clear winner, and plus, if item #3 on the Cons list ends up taking place, well… I can think of worse wedding stories than that.
I really do think it’ll be fun. I’m not just saying that.
Right guys?

The Italian Dish Of Crisped Flatbread?

I’m just going to go ahead and say it: we’re having pizza at our wedding.

This is a homemade sourdough pizza I made one time with an egg on it. We will not be serving this at our wedding so don't even ask.

“Surely you jest,” you say with a doff of your hand and a knowing grin.

“Surely I just what?” I reply.

“No, I’m mean…” you say, flustered at my poor vocabulary skills. “I mean, surely you jest, j-e-s-t, like surely you’re joking.”

“Ah,” I say, “yes. But no. I’m not jesting. We’re serving pizza. At our wedding.”

“You’re pulling my leg,” you say, incredulous. “Pizza? The Italian dish of crisped flatbread topped with tomato juice and curdled milk?”

“That’s right,” I say, nodding, “that’s 100% right. Well, it’s tomato sauce, not juice, and cheese isn’t exactly curdled milk, so maybe it’s more like 50% right.”

A faint smile of understanding teases your lips. “I get it,” you say, index finger aloft in a gesture of Aha-ery, “I get it now, you magnificent bastard. You’re serving artisanal pizzetas! Broasted Swiss chard and nettle pizzeta with julienned yogurt and Bald Eagle cheese, and caramelized pancetta and biscotti pizzeta with a wine-glazed radicchio reduction, that kind of thing!”

I sigh, grab you by the lapels, hoist you off the ground and stare deep into your scarlet orbs.

“No,” I say very calmly, “not pizzeta. PIZZA. Bread and cheese and tomato sauce slash pesto, with toppings like sausage and mushrooms and pineapple and extra cheese.”

It finally dawns on you. Pizza.

Not pulled pork sandwiches, not barbecue.

Pizza!

The story of how we arrived at that decision will be for another post, but the general gist of the decision had to do with (1) budget and (2) logistics. First it was “can we really serve pizza at our wedding?”, then we moved on to “well, everyone likes pizza, right?” and then finally we graduated to “Hey everyone! We’re serving pizza at our wedding!”

We’re pretty stoked about it. Pizza’s not the only thing we’ll be serving, but it’s the main dish – for now I’ll keep the other stuff a secret for our guests. You know, to keep ‘em honest. If I tell you everything now, someone’ll show up at the wedding, elbow everyone out of the way, and demand to know where we’re hiding the churros.

Note: to my knowledge, we will not be serving churros. I’m sorry. I’m really, really sorry.

So, yeah. Pizza. We love pizza. One time I ate so much pizza in college with Andy that I broke my stomach and couldn’t eat for a week. One time I made 24 pizzas all by myself for a fundraiser, which actually wasn’t very much fun at all, but the point remains: pizza.

So if you’re coming to my wedding, be sure to wear your pizza shoes.

Love,

Bret

Thumbs Up Everybody For Rock And Roll!

It is imperative that everyone watch this video of a little boy’s message of inspiration following his first bike ride.

He’s kind of like a mini Harry Caray.

Happy Friday, everyone. Rock And Roll.

It’s Recess(ional) Time, Children!

Recess. To cess again. Creator of the Peanut Butter Cup. Magic words to children and congressmen alike.

Recess.

It’s a kind of interesting word:

1530s, “act of receding,” from L. recessus “a going back, retreat,” from recessum, pp. of recedere “to recede.” Meaning “hidden or remote part” first recorded 1610s; that of “period of stopping from usual work” is from 1620s, probably from parliamentary notion of “recessing” into private chambers.

It also happens to be the word that Jessica and I decided to use with Wynette to indicate that she’s free to go. On walks with her, for instance, she has to sit and hear us say “recess!” before she can go explore and sniff a patch of grass. Similarly, when we arrive home from a walk, she has to sit while we take off her leash, and then she can’t go off into the house to chew on our socks until we say the magic word. Early on in our training I wanted to use the word break! but Jessica liked recess, and she won somehow. I’m pretty sure that was the first and only time she’s ever won an argument or disagreement of any kind. Yeah.

Anyway, it’s related to the word recession, possibly related to cesspool (through a linguistic process called aphesis), and is most certainly related to recessional. Look at that, we got to my point! Welcome to my point. I hope you enjoy your stay.

On Sunday, I spent the day at my good pal John’s place, recording music for the recessional at my wedding.

It certainly comes in handy having a great friend who (1) is extremely generous, (2) has a magical basement filled with wonder, delight, and unicorn puppies (and a giant movie screen and recording studio), (3) wants to help with music for my wedding, and I should also mention (4) is extremely generous. I know that (4) was a repeat, but look,  he shared one of these bad boys with me:

That right there is a barrel-aged version of what is already perhaps my favorite beer, Old Stock Ale, from North Coast Brewery in Fort Bragg (near Mendocino). It’s fairly hard to fin, tastes like a crazy combination of bourbon and beer and moonbeams, and it’s 13% alcohol and just forget about it. If you ever see one of these bottles, grab hold of it and don’t let it go. Don’t let go.

So, we spent the day recording an original tune of mine for the recessional at my wedding. It’s a jaunty, happy little folksy number, with a strummy rhythm guitar played on a steelstring and a fingerpicky lead guitar played on a classical, with occasional little banjo accents. When we were satisfied with those tracks, John laid down a nice little baseline whilst I manned the controls:

Then we decided to get a little crazy and call up John’s friend John, still known in some circles as Big John because of a time when we were younger when there were more Johns than we knew what to do with, and he came over to lay down a rippin’ solo on the end of the tune:

The thinking was, by the end of the tune, we’d want to inject some energy into the wedding as a means of indicating “Ceremony Over, Reception Beginning,” which we all know is best accomplished with some hott guitar licks.

It was a great time, and it felt especially great to be doing something creative and personal for the ceremony. My original plan of writing pieces for every conceivable moment of the wedding may have been a bit ambitious, but a little of that will still survive, and I’m extremely grateful to have all the help I’m getting for it.

A huge thanks to John (and also John) for always being so generous with his time, talent, and friendship. I owe him a lot.

The Coordinator

If I think about the word Coordinator, it starts to sound like a Superhero name. Or perhaps rather, like the fearless protagonist of an action movie franchise. The Coordinator. The Coordinator Strikes Again. And of course, Coordinator 3: The Return To Coordinator Island. If I start to think about it TOO much, then I succumb to semantic satiation, and I’m toast.

The reason I’m even thinking of the word in the first place, other than the fact that I’m a word nerd, is that Jessica and I have hired ourself a day-of wedding coordinator. Her name is Holly, she’s a friend and coworker, and this is her:

She’s smiling so big because she’s at the merchandise table for an event at our workplace, doing one of the things she does best: raising money for preschoolers. Seriously, that’s her job. She raises money for adorable little children so that they can play and grow and laugh and nap and snack, sometimes all at once. Every time Holly smiles, a preschooler, somewhere on Earth, learns to tie his or her own shoes.

Holly’s actually been mentioned on this blog before, mostly in the context of her dogs. Jessica and I have taken care of her two adorable mutts, Dumpy and Ziggy, a couple of times; you may recall this shot of Jessica and Dumpy, among my favorite photos of Jessica ever:

Jessica and I are seriously thrilled to have Holly on board. She’s already gone above and beyond by meeting with us a couple times and grilling us on all kinds of details, including many we’d never thought of. Holly (a) planned and essentially coordinated her own wedding recently (with a much, much shorter engagement than ours) and (b) is extremely organized, so she’s basically an ideal wedding day coordinator. If she ever decides to change careers, I don’t see why she couldn’t be a wedding planner. I would totally write her a 4-star Yelp review.

Hiring her coincided, and not unrelatedly, with Jessica and I turning a bit of a corner in how we felt about our wedding. A couple months ago, we were both beginning to feel more and more unsteady about certain aspects of the wedding, and our planning was sort of fumbling along for a bit. But we made a couple of major decisions about the wedding – I’ll totally blog about them, I swear – and also hired Holly.

Since then, she’s stepped in and really helped anchor us. She’s respectful of our choices and our sometimes ridiculous ideas, while at the same time she asks the types of questions we really need to be asking ourselves, and lays bare some basic truths about our wedding day. She provides us with some Real Talk, which we’ve sorely needed.

I swear it's the same person despite the differently-colored hair.

So let’s give a warm, All-Things-Zilla welcome to Holly!

Gotta Get Down On Friday

Photo by Drew Beck

Happy Friday, everyone. Have a great weekend and I’ll see you next week.

Love,

Bret