I am going to Peru and Equador for seventeen days at the end of this week so there will be no blogging while I am seeing ancient ruins and bonding with tiny crablets. Please make good choices in my absence and I will blog again when I return, probably with a thousand amazeballs pictures. Get excited now.
Archive for July, 2015
1. A molecule bedspread. Specifically the theobromide molecule, the one in chocolate that makes everything feel sunshiny. I don’t have a nice bedspread so I figured this was a good way to go and I supported an artist in the process! Bonus. Thanks for bringing this guy to my attention, Bex.
2. This vitally important t-shirt because I’m down to only seventy or eighty black t-shirts and I feel like I’m running out.
3. Things-could-be-worse mugs. There’s a kickstarter to produce them. I don’t need another damn mug but how can you resist this tagline?
Lost your keys? Lost your job? Look at the bright side. At least you’re not plagued by pterodactyls, pursued by giant robots, or pestered by zombie poodles. Life is good!
4. A ticket to see Weird Al Yankovic at The Capitol Theater in Port Chester. When I was twelve my friend Jem introduced me to Weird Al’s work (she’s still my friend, hi Jem!) and I’ve loved him ever since. This polka mix in particular has made it impossible to hear these songs correctly ever ever again.
A masterpiece. He also writes his own music that is oft overlooked for his parodies but his original stuff is great. Have you heard “Hardware Store”? It’s a pipe dream of mine to be able to do the fast part in the middle, at about 2:30 on the video below. Never gonna happen but a girl can dream.
His live show is supposed to be a hoot with multiple costume changes and special effects and I’ve wanted to see him for so many years now, this is a real dream come true.
I saved my favorite tourist activity from New Orleans for last, and that was Mardi Gras World. Mardi Gras World is a studio that builds and designs all the floats for the parades. I figured they would have a few on display but happily I was incorrect. You could actually tour the workstations where pieces were being created and I totally freaked out. Cricket stopped me from quitting my N.Y. job and applying right then and there. I know all the techniques Mardi Gras World is using! I could have started working immediately! Gimme a tub of glue and I’ll paper-mache that giant raccoon! Cricket, stop dragging me away, it is my destineeeeeeeeeee!
We walked to the studio from the hotel which was not the best decision because we misread the map and it was a million miles away (about three miles really, but it was very hot so it felt longer). As we approached (on foot, in the heat, did I mention that?) you could see the size of the warehouse and appreciate the scale of it. When we walked around the interior the tour guide told us that elsewhere in the state there have fourteen more warehouses full of float-parts and scenery.
This was the permanent installment of the jester pointing to the door. As you can sew, the threat level is Marsec 1. Since this building is on the banks of the Mississippi I assume the threat is the water level rising and not an imminent alien attack or spores that take over your brain and make you punch your neighbor.
You then walk in the front door and are greeted by a cavalcade of nuttiness. Can you think of a thing? Chances are it’s there, next to another random thing. Some of my top collections – the Hieronymus Bosch fish chillin’ behind the vino bottle:
The chili pepper hangin’ with The Cat in the Hat and an ornate column:
Two wee demons looking in a mirror, a big fluorescent fish and a snow monster with stars in its fur:
Really angry anglerfish (an anglyfish), a clock with jewels and a sparkly poison-dart frog on a sparkly mushroom:
Napoleon, a carp bench and a pelican:
And a nightmare spider from a 1950s movie.
In the gift shop there was a scary chef with the ingredients of gumbo bursting forth from his cooking pot. A bit macabre for my taste, the food items popping out and smiling but to each their own.
Off to one side was a costume that would be worn at Mardi Gras of a Crayfish Queen. I tried to convince Börkke to wear it as a wedding dress (she was getting married in Maine, I tried to convince her that they were lobsters) but she declined. Sigh.
I went on the tour to get a better idea of the work they do at Mardi Gras World. I found out they also make props for places like Universal as shown by this dinosaur we passed. On a related note, has everyone seen the latest Jurassic World? I saw it in 3D and I would recommend that. The raptors come snappy-snappy right at your face. The new big bad dinosaur is creepy and awesome. It’s a jaunty summer film, all fluff but a good time. I’m a bit obsessed with with the giant water demon shown in the trailer, Bitey McChompersons. The one that eats the shark. I would watch a movie with only that guy in it.
Anyway, back to awesome props. Since it was a Sunday no one was at the workstations but they had left the pieces they were constructing out so I could behave creepily and gently caress them like a lunatic. Here’s the general way this works – there are krewes, like clubs, that decide they’re going to have a Mardi Gras parade. A parade must have a theme and consist of no less than fourteen floats. The krewe then collects money throughout the year from various krewe members and then they decide on the theme. “Characters from Books.” “Important Americans Through History.” “Oceans of the World.” That kind of theme. Then they meet with a designer who lays out how the floats will look. They can reuse the substructure of previous floats which is why they are kept in giant warehouses. Did you know there’s no entrance onto the float? You need to climb on or in via a platform and you stay there all day. Therefore many floats have a restroom built into it. When the work by the designer is approved, construction begins. These float items need to be large but also very lightweight so they are made a few different ways. Mostly a welder makes the skeleton which is covered with industrial styrofoam and carved with a hot knife into the rough shape. Then it is sanded and covered with brown kraft paper paper-mache which makes the surface even and receptive to painting (exactly how I made my crab for my ocean costume!). There were some structures that were welded together and only covered with thick pieces of cardboard to give them a light, airy feel. It appears that one of next year’s themes is Chinese in nature.
They will also pull older pieces, cut them up, remodel them, paint them and send them back out. For example, this hourglass.
In the back area they have the full floats parked. They’re really big. None of these parades go through the French Quarter because the streets aren’t wide enough and the wires would get in the way. These all go down the main thoroughfares.
And here’s a finished piece sitting in a workstation. I started drooling when I saw all those paints and brushes.
And here are some photos that were left behind but are no less important.
Crab escargot. Look, it resembles a demon emerging from the bowels of hell! Dig in, kids! (It was actually delicious.)
Cricket and my boat trip down the Ole Mississip. It was RAINING. Not raining, RAINING. All the rains. I insisted that we sit outside so we got soaked. It was cool nonetheless.
On the boat there was a women’s restroom and it reinforced my comments on how important typeface choices are. I swore it said “Loadies” which is a terrible name for a women’s restroom. Bad. Bad designer. No biscuit.
I would totally go back. I would like to go for Mardi Gras and watch all the parades. Maybe someday I will have that opportunity.
Sorry for the super-long delay between posts – much has been happening here at Casa Rothmanpants and I was forced to take my first break ever from blogging in seven years. All good things occurring, but extremely time-consuming. Work is being extra-worky, I’m attempting to finish my backsplash by Thanksgiving and Børrke got married so I went up to Maine for five days. I found Maine to be delightful. I went down to the beach and swam in the Atlantic Ocean which Canada had graciously made a crisp 43 degrees. In addition there was no breaker of rocks so the water came in, slapped you on the rump with extreme vigor and then attempted to suck you out to the briny deep with the same vigor. As I said to many people, I felt like I was getting a rectal scouring from Neptune himself, trident and all*. I might have yelled at the moon at one point for all the gravity. But it ended up being wonderful because when you returned to the beach you were tingly all over. It was like a marvelous massage. I then attempted to be a normal person and sit on the beach quietly and sunbathe but I failed at that. This is an actual photo Cricket took of me “tanning”:
Yep. That’s the real deal right there. The benefit of this technique is you can eavesdrop on everyone else’s conversation all around you. This area is a primo destination for Bostonians so I felt like I was plopped in the middle of The Town and The Fighter. Everyone was named Sean, or Brian, or Doug. The two kids behind me were Margaret and Quinn. The “a”s were flat as pancakes and there were no “r”s to be had. It was great. I ended up having a much-needed relaxing experience in Maine, the fireworks on the 4th were some of the best I’ve ever seen and the wedding was a dream. Only two complaints:
1. Why no pizza slices? Why only whole pies? I feel like this is a weird thing that only New York has. Do people not want to eat pizza the way that they eat hot dogs? And wouldn’t one end up making more money selling per-slice than the whole pie? Maine, get it together (pizza-wise).
2. Okay, those sea roses are beautiful but they are wall-to-wall thorns. They’re not like the roses you can purchase in the store. These are, like, specially bred for maximum thornitude. Stabby stabby stabby. Taking this flaw into account, is it necessary to plant them RIGHT next to walkways that lead to the beach so they curl over the handrail and plunge their owchies right into my palm? Or tug at my pants and shred my calf? Please look into this for the future. Thanks, Maine. Aside from that, great job. Very proud.
Okay back to New Orleans (remember when I went to New Orleans a thousand years ago in May?). Before we get into The French Quarter here are some unrelated images that fit into no category. Wild cards, if you will
Beads in trees left over from Mardi Gras. I took it through a bus window but you still get the idea. It’s festive all year ’round.
The cornstalk fence. Apparently the woman who lived in that house was from Iowa and when she married and moved there, she missed home. So her husband commissioned an ironworks factory in Philadelphia to make a fence with a cornstalk theme. One of her friends liked the pattern so much she had the same fence made for herself and it is somewhere on the other side of town. But this is the famous first fence.
Our hotel was in the French Quarter which is most likely the most famous of the areas. It about four streets by four streets, so not very big. And because the whole area is comprised of original old buildings, living there is a hassle. There’s a homeowner’s group that tells you what you can and cannot alter on the front of your house, what flowers you can display, what color you may paint your door, etc. The benefit of all that is the houses are delicious.
It’s not all peaches and cream. Due to the economy lots of houses have been uninhabited for a long time and it shows.
But I feel like even in its decrepitude it adds character. One of the things I found so charming about New Orleans is how it embraces its flaws, its cracks and wrinkles. Most places would not advertise spirits taking up residence in an apartment, but N’Awlins does. It’s a selling point.
And even though the governor said that gays were not welcome in Louisiana, New Orleans has a great gay community. This is one of the houses in that area. Not surprisingly, it is awesome. According to our tour guide, the gentlemen that live there changes their decorations seasonally. I reiterate: awesome.
On one end of the French Quarter is the St. Louis Cathedral (named after the King of France that was ruling at the time – the state is named after him too). It’s the oldest cathedral in America, originally built as a church in 1718 and made a cathedral in 1793. The building that stands there now is predominantly from the 1850s. It’s big and white and pointy and very elegant.
The inside was also beautiful and white and also painted with bible characters. I figured out who Moses was quickly from his halo which looked like horns. That’s actually how the whole “Jews have horns” story began: Someone mistranslated Moses’ “halo” into “horns” when taking the Old Testament from one language to another and there you have it.
There were also beautiful stained glass windows using an old technique which is really really hard. This woman makes it look crazy easy. Trust me, it is not. You’re basically painting with dust and if you screw up you have to start all over.
The windows feature bible scenes but I of course was fascinated by the frames around the scenes.
Next entry: my favorite thing in New Orleans, Mardi Gras World.
* You like that mental image? That is my gift to you.