Monday, December 31, 2012

10 Most Popular Posts of 2012

Note:  Photos and blog links will be added to this post tomorrow evening, January 1 [Update: photos added, with links in blue].  Tonight we're heading downtown to get our New Year’s Eve on!

All good things must come to an end.  Parting with 2012 is such sweet sorrow.  A bird in hand… well, enough of the clich├ęs.  2012 was our best year so far!

The overseas journeys (some of which were not even mentioned here on Garth’s Blog), the growth and development of Baby Lena, the unforgettable time spent with God, family, ministry partners, and amazing friends… 2012 has been a banner year.  Thus, I’m taking a different approach to choosing the year’s highlights.

It has been humbling to see the readership (aka, page hits) of “Garth’s Blog” grow exponentially this past year.  In honor of both our loyal and newly discovered BlogSpot audience, it seemed best to let you, the readers, pick the highlights of 2012.  In order of page rankings, here are the most popular “Garth’s Blog” posts of 2012 (links are in blue): 

Runner-up:  Twitterfied

A reluctant blogger’s leap aboard the Twitter bandwagon

10.  The Face of Fear

AER03006_edited-1.jpg  A silly throwaway teaser for my upcoming skydiving post, which has yet to see the light of day.  Early 2013, anyone?

9.  (TIE) Tokyo Drifting, Part 1

This post from Japan fared slightly better than my sequels:  Tokyo Drifting 2: Senso-Ji Temple, Tokyo Drifting 3: Fleeing Sumida, and an educational encounter with a Japanese toilet.

This was just one of my many brief overseas trips to sample the Japanese (and many other countries') nightlife in 2012.  In early 2013, I'll try to blog about some of my other previously unmentioned 2012 international trips.

9.  (TIE) Thankful for Lena

CameraZOOM-20120825182638905  A Thanksgiving-themed update on Baby Lena, brimming with photos

8.  Tomato Battle: Portland


Portland’s biggest, rowdiest, messiest food fight

7.  Happy Halloween from Delta Airlines

Absurd, nonpartisan nonsense from failed VP nominee Paul Ryan and the A-Team

6.  Coldplay Put a Smile Upon My Face

IMAG2262.jpg   A taste of Para...Para...Paradise from Coldplay’s final Portland show before announcing their three year hiatus

5.  Belgium- Spring Break in 

the Low Countries, Day 3

IMG_4041.JPG   The most popular of my Benelux countries travel series with my dad, which also included stops in Amsterdam, Luxembourg, and EuroRail purgatory

4.  Backpacking Elk Meadows

An example of the many types of outdoor adventures that we provide for our students


Before we reveal the top 3 “Garth’s Blog” posts of 2012, here are the two other most highly read E.P.I.C. student ministry updates from this past year:

International Youth Convention: Denver

DSC_0657_edited-1.JPG  A rare appearance by guest blogger Kathy, who puts to shame my earlier post about this year’s IYC trip with high schoolers

E.P.I.C. Student Ministry Update- Feb 2012

IMAG0109.jpg  Serving the homeless, worshiping God, boating, camping, and shaving cream fights

And now,

the Top 3 most popular posts of 2012:

3.  Intermission: Banks Lake Wakeboarding

 This was the Hamilton family's annual Banks Lake camping trip in eastern Washington, a.k.a. an excuse for a week of wakeboarding, waterskiing, kneeboarding, and white-knuckled tube riding.  Lots of great action photos in this post!

2.  Behind the Scenes in L.A., Pt. 2

IMG_5569_edited-2  Decisively trumping March’s blog post about Lena’s first ever plane ride to Los Angeles, this 2nd chapter of the making of our “Delta Wanderland” holiday video focused on the music video shoot itself.  Part 1, technically #8 on this 10 Most Popular countdown, shared the blood, sweat, and tears (okay, maybe just the sweat) that we dancers shed at the International Dance Academy on Hollywood Boulevard.

I milked the video shoot’s ridiculously lax policy (compared to the countless other film sets where I've been shot) on cell phone cameras for all it’s worth, and these posts are the result.  A brief, professionally made behind the scenes video was also added here last week, including some all-too-brief clips of our Soul Train dance-off.

1.  Lena’s First Christmas

DSC_0808_edited-1.JPG  Was there ever any doubt?  Lena starred in the first “Garth’s Blog” post of 2012 and also tops your year-end Top 10 list!

Sadly, that cute little 15 ½ month old is currently ill for the first time in her life.  The promised Christmas 2012 update will be rolled into a Lena retrospective, and it’s coming in early 2013.

So there you have it.  Some of my personal favorites didn’t come close to making the Top 10, but that’s life.  Note that this list excludes those oft-viewed posts from years past which refuse to die:  Touring London, Kathy’s baby announcement, Banks Lake, randomly popular ministry updates, the Black Crowes, and boogie boarding.

Addio, 2012!  It’s been another riveting year!!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Bonus Documentary: "Delta Wanderland- Behind the Scenes!"

Our new “Delta Wanderland- Behind the Scenes” video is here!  A brief clip of my Soul Train dance moves is buried at 1:15.

Before watching the short documentary video above, I would recommend first checking out the finalized version of our “Delta Wanderland” holiday music video. My two previous posts highlighted our choreography rehearsals at the International Dance Academy in L.A. and the all-night filming of the video at LAX airport (links).

The all-new behind the scenes video above finally dropped last weekend!  This short, fun documentary features never before seen footage of us creating “Delta Wanderland.”

A deleted “Soul Train” dance scene from the “Delta Wanderland” script was rehearsed but never filmed.  Most of raw footage will probably remain private, but we’re all ecstatic to see a few clips surface here.  Check out a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot of my contribution to our dance-off at 1:15!

Thanks for reliving the magic with us!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Behind the Scenes in L.A. Pt 2- On Set: Delta Wanderland

As seen in our “Delta Wanderland” holiday video above, our hard work at the International Dance Academy paid off!  Check out my last BlogSpot post for what went down during our choreography rehearsals earlier that week in L.A.

We dancers relished the 24 hour rest period between the final dance studio rehearsal and the all-night video shoot the following evening. Visiting friends, hanging out together at the Hilton pool, light choreography practicing, working out at the gym, jogging, relaxing… we all had different methods of recovery and preparation for the video shoot.

Tuesday night at LAX airport, a special security line at CTX was set up for the production crew, actors, dancers, and anyone else displaying a “Shilo, Inc.” security badge.  Inside the concourse, the documentary crew and hair & makeup station worked in the background as principal filming began.

The director watched the monitor intently as the interior scenes were shot.

The production crew set up the lighting and camera cranes on the airport ramp outside…


…While choreographers Tamarra and Nick fine-tuned and finalized our various dance setups inside a cramped rehearsal room.

IMG_5543 2
The Delta ramp dancers found our marks on the ground outside for glow wand lighting tests.  (“Delta Wanderland.” See what we did there?)

The camera cranes were adjusted to keep us in frame as we performed our core dance routine.  When everything was lighted and framed just right, the whole dance crew joined us in front of the cameras to get their groove on.

We danced through the night, leaping, marching, spinning, running, and even dodging a speeding camera during the “The Wave” setup.  Thanks to our dance choreographer Nick Drago for these photos!

A mishmash of dancing styles was shoehorned into the various setups, including the Busby Berkeley-style aerial shot and closing Delta widget formation (both included in the final cut).

As with any film or TV shoot, the takes were repeated over and over again from different angles.  At 5 a.m. Wednesday morning, we wrapped for the night and said our goodbyes.

But filming continued on Wednesday night.

IMG_5602IMG_5626 Roberto, a Delta employee AND dance instructor, shot some additional footage with Tamarra and Nick on Wednesday night for the “dance generator” bonus feature.

Click on this link and “Make Your Own Dance” with Roberto!

As for myself, I followed up our all-night video shoot with a short nap at the LAX Hilton and a couple of connecting flights back home to Portland.  I arrived in PDX with just enough time to catch our Wednesday night youth meeting and afterwards make a cameo in a "Star Trek" parody film at church.

 “Brace for impact!”

Those four days in L.A. were more than just a welcome change of pace for me.  Making new friends, learning from motivational dance choreographers, and working with a fantastic production crew made this an unforgettable experience for all of us.  

We all are grateful to work for Delta Airlines, appreciate our customers, and are thrilled to have been part of this video project.

Merry Christmas, and have a “wanderful” (cringe) holiday season!!

Coming next week on BlogSpot…

A Hamilton family Christmas

Followed by… 

A high flying weekend of adventure for all of you adrenaline junkies out there!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Behind the Scenes in L.A. Pt 1- Dancing Near the Stars

Delta music video shoot in L.A.:  Day 2 of choreography rehearsals at the International Dance Academy on Hollywood Blvd

Holiday E-Card Video Shoot in L.A.… Nationwide Casting Call for Delta Employees... Send in your video auditions by 5 p.m. EST...

I hastily responded to this notice by emailing my most recent Fred Meyer commercial (with on-camera acting and narrating credit) to the Digitas producer before leaving work for the weekend.  It came in handy that my smartphone was already stocked with a variety of samples from my acting/stunt work/modeling portfolio.

Congratulations on joining us for the shoot!  I am so glad you will be joining us in Los Angeles!

After reading this, I expected to receive a script containing my lines of dialog, I instead got an email on Saturday afternoon explaining that the role would “require a good amount of dancing." That seems random, I thought.  Indeed, the first day of choreography rehearsals would begin the next morning in Los Angeles, leading up to our Christmas-themed all-night video shoot on Tuesday evening.

At 3 a.m. on Sunday, I began my eight hour travel marathon from Portland consisting of Jeep driving, airport hopping, and taxis. The earliest connecting flight from Salt Lake City into L.A. forced me to miss the first two hours of dance choreography.  As a result, I had plenty of catching up to do after schlepping four days’ worth of luggage into the street level door of the L.A. International Dance Academy.

CameraZOOM-20121015131951380_edited-1The Hollywood Boulevard "Walk of Fame" was right outside of our L.A. dance studio at the International Dance Academy.

Tamarra and Nick, our enthusiastic dance choreographers, explained that I was flown in to L.A. a day early because the Delta ramp dancers had more dance steps to learn than the rest of the performers.  They quickly caught me up to speed as they taught everyone the remaining dance setups.

The ramp dancers hit Hollywood Boulevard after we wrapped the first day of rehearsals at the International Dance Academy.

On Monday morning, Delta flew in the remaining dancers: pilots, flight attendants, and passenger service agents.  CameraZOOM-20121015145525682_edited-1
We added dance solos and blended together the various routines.  It got sweaty and crowded inside our dance studio, especially later in the day when the production crew arrived.

Amidst the chaos, Tamarra and Nick (standing over Tamarra, who is laughing on the floor in the photo below) kept us riff raff under cool control.


By the time the director and co. showed up to observe our collective dance routines that afternoon, we had put together a show that everyone could be proud of!

The video shoot was only one day away.  Would sore, rarely used muscles recover in time?  Would everyone remember their dance moves after taking the morning and afternoon off?  Could the entire cast and crew even stay awake all night on Tuesday?

Check back here on BlogSpot in two days for the answers to these pressing questions, and more!

In the meantime, here are a few bonus freebies from the first two days of our L.A. dance rehearsals:

Choreographer Tamarra gets intense with the in-flight dancers on Day 2 of rehearsals at the International Dance Academy.

No known photos exist of the crazy night at Champions after Day 1 of rehearsals.  However, here is a photo from the following evening’s visit to the Hollywood Hills house of one of my favorite college buddies Joseph and his family, Candace and Liam.
While I was in town for the dance rehearsals, I dropped in on old friends Joseph, Candace, Liam, Angus, Liz, and Jacob.  The highlight of making the rounds was catching up with Joseph over dinner at Alcove.

And finally…our choreography rehearsals start to gel.

Click “Play” on the video above for a couple of rough run-throughs of one of our dance setups. I start out center frame wearing a striped v-neck, and then move to the right and back to center.  This was the second day of rehearsals at the International Dance Academy in L.A.

Coming Thursday on BlogSpot…

A peek behind the scenes of our all-night video shoot at the LAX airport!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Tragedy in Newtown, CT

26 innocent victims killed in an elementary school shooting in Connecticut on Friday. 20 of them children. One unspeakable horror.

My earlier thoughts on this tragedy have already been published on one of the other blogs that I contribute to. I don't dare repeat them here, as my initial reaction did not strike me as particularly Christlike. Or who is to say that Jesus wouldn't have reacted even more strongly or "inappropriately" than I did?

Our President's moving eulogy and reading aloud of the 26 victims' names after the Dallas Cowboys game today was both heartfelt and heartbreaking.  It brought back to mind the devastation which many of us felt when we first heard the horrific news. Yet I doubt that our greatest bewilderment, weeping, anger, and profound sorrow could begin to compare to the affected families' grief during this time.

No amount of sympathetic words or acts of kindness will bring those families back together again. Not in this life.  But to everyone involved: You will remain in my thoughts and my prayers this Christmas season.  I believe there is hope for a brighter day.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Matthew 5:4

Note to my readers:  Tonight's "Behind the Scenes: Delta Wanderland" blog will be posted Tuesday evening, with additional photos.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Video Premiere: "Delta Wanderland"

Happy 12-12-12 12:12:12 from Delta Airlines!

We're burying the memory of last year's timely but humble Happy 11-11-11 11:11:11 From Delta Airlines blog (link) with something truly special:

Our Delta holiday e-card music video, "Delta Wanderland"!

A screen shot from our "Delta Wanderland" music video, featuring a dancing cast of all-Delta employees, including myself

Until our video hits You Tube and Facebook, there is currently no way to embed it here yet. For now, here's the link:

The dancers in this video, including me, are actual Delta employees who flew down to L.A. in October to learn the choreography. In the final edit that I've linked to above, my opening mark is on the right side of the frame.


Coming this weekend on BlogSpot...

A behind the scenes look at our dance choreography rehearsals at the International Dance Academy in L.A!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Dylan or Dermot?

Don't ask why I couldn't stop laughing through the entire Saturday Night Live skit that I've embedded below (no relation to my previous "Dylan in Charge" BlogSpot post).

There's just something side-splittingly funny about contestants not being able to tell these two actors apart during the game show, "Dylan McDermott or Dermot Mulroney?"  I honestly never realized that these guys were two different people!

Unless you're unfortunate enough to be browsing with Internet Explorer, here's the video:

That skit is just begging for a follow-up.  How about a round of "Matthew McConaughey or Josh Lucas?"  I was certain that they were the same person until they co-starred as unacknowledged twins in "The Lincoln Lawyer."

I'm still a little skeptical... movie digital effects are pretty convincing nowadays.  Thanks to for that mini-photo montage!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Thankful for Lena

DSC_0272 by gkhamilton
DSC_0272, a photo by gkhamilton on Flickr.
Above:  Baby Lena’s television debut! Following in Daddy’s footsteps, Lena kickstarts her modest acting and modeling career by gracing the small screen. This is an actual screen shot from FOX12's Good Day Oregon show, the day after I sent it in for Lena's 1st birthday.

Note: This is the “edited for television” version of this photo, cropping out Kathy and me as we hiked the Paradise Hills trail with Lena in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Stay tuned for the full, uncensored picture in an upcoming hiking blog post.

Thanksgiving Day was last week, but why stop giving thanks? We have a long list of blessings to be thankful for this year. Yet it’s all too easy to pick a #1: Lena!

Lena may be a TV star now, but her fame hasn’t been limited to TV appearances. We’ve been showing off our 14 ½ month old daughter everywhere:

DSC_0146_edited-1DSC_0178_edited-2Sitting on the beach with Mommy while watching Daddy goof off while surfing at Short Sands last month

CameraZOOM-20121005190337998And then seeing Haystack Rock for her first time

CameraZOOM-2012082518263890520120825_211518_edited-2Discovering her love of soccer at the Portland Timbers game; We hosted Warner Pacific Alumni Night at the Portland Timbers game in Jen-Weld Stadium. The Timbers ended an 8 game losing streak to beat the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1!

20120817_192839_edited-2Paying a visit to Daddy’s Delta Airlines workplace at PDX airport

20120729_184640DSC_0871_edited-1Her first visit to the Washington County Fair... What a Daddy’s girl!

CameraZOOM-20121011191825460Heading out regularly with both sets of loving grandparents

And the list goes on and on.  I have many more pictures and memories to share.  We are truly blessed!

Coming in two weeks on BlogSpot…

Last month, I flew to L.A. to film and dance in a Christmas-themed video for Delta Airlines. As soon as it gets released to the public, I’ll post the music video here!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Backpacking Elk Meadows- High School Guys

Claude, Brandon, Garth, and Mike backpacked 13 miles through the Mt Hood Wilderness Area in September to kick off the fall season of student ministry at Aloha ChoG.

Sure, we've organized lots of hiking, trail running (here is a pic of Aloha High grad Derek and me running on some urban trails earlier this year), CameraZOOM-20120626151659596.jpgcamping, swimming, and gaming during the summer months.  However, nothing could prepare us for the up-close views of Mt Hood's east face during our final fall backpacking trip into Elk Meadows.

On the first day, we jumped off from the Sno-Park trailhead into the Mount Hood Wildernesses Area and attacked the first 6-7 miles (including excursions) with all the speed we could muster.  This crew was hardcore!

CameraZOOM-20120903140902499_edited-1Switchbacks and glacial stream crossings posed no problems for us, but a couple things eventually slowed us to a temporary halt: the two biggest blisters I've every observed on the same person's feet (mine). And I've dressed PLENTY of fellow hikers' blisters in my travels.

Brandon's photos of my feet have been mercifully censored from this blog, but the outcome was unexpectedly gruesome.

Pro Tip:  Double checking your backpack for extra moleskin is NOT optional.  Mooching moleskin from random wilderness dwellers can be humiliating.

Hiking through the pain, we pushed forward with an aggressive pace to reach the Elk Meadows Perimeter Trail.  Camping on the meadows is prohibited, so we picked a campsite on the edge of the surrounding forest.


With plenty of daylight to spare, we took our time exploring Elk Meadows before setting up camp.

IMAG2277_edited-1  The tree islands scattered throughout Elk Meadows provided non-marshy resting spots to stare at the formidable face of Mt Hood. The rocky east slope of the mountain loomed right in front of us.

An evening hike up to Gnarl Ridge worked up our appetites enough to gorge on dinner at the campsite.

Stargazing, storytelling, and discussion of a particularly appropriate passage of Scripture preceded a night trek back into the meadows.  We were awed by the image of an Illuminated Mt Hood that reflected moonlight across the darkened meadow.

Being woken up during the pitch black night by an intensely focused, blinding ray of moonlight that shone through the dense forest canopy onto our isolated tent was nearly as memorable.

On the second day, morning devotions together at breakfast were eventually split off into solo encounters of reading, reflection, prayer, and meditation.
CameraZOOM-20120904123753499_edited-1 SST grad Brandon (sitting left in frame) soaks in Scripture on the edge of the meadow.

CameraZOOM-20120903181036419_edited-1After breaking camp, we stopped by the old wooden Elk Meadows Shelter on the edge of the meadows to secure our backpacks.

CameraZOOM-20120904144524801_edited-1aCutting through the grassy expanse one final time, we forged our own variation of the hiking loop that gradually leads back to the Sno-Park trailhead.

This may have been our last student backpacking trip of the fall, but the story doesn't have to end there.  Snow camping, anyone?

Coming this weekend on BlogSpot...

We'll be keeping the spirit of Thanksgiving alive with a collection of recent baby Lena outings that we are particularly thankful for.