Archive for the ‘Stuff’ Category

Things I got myself for my birthday.

Thursday, July 30th, 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.

http://home.theodoregray.com/moleculequilts

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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.

http://www.lookhuman.com/

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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!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/159974695/things-could-be-worse-mugs

 

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0g_LYOFJ1I

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9m7SldTq8CY

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.

New Orleans Part 5 and done.

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

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.

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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.

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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:

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The chili pepper hangin’ with The Cat in the Hat and an ornate column:

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Two wee demons looking in a mirror, a big fluorescent fish and a snow monster with stars in its fur:

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Really angry anglerfish (an anglyfish), a clock with jewels and a sparkly poison-dart frog on a sparkly mushroom:

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Napoleon, a carp bench and a pelican:

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And a nightmare spider from a 1950s movie.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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They will also pull older pieces, cut them up, remodel them, paint them and send them back out. For example, this hourglass.

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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.

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And here’s a finished piece sitting in a workstation. I started drooling when I saw all those paints and brushes.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

New Orleans, Part 4.

Monday, July 20th, 2015

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”:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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It’s not all peaches and cream. Due to the economy lots of houses have been uninhabited for a long time and it shows.

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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.

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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.

happy-house

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.

cathedral-in-sunset

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.

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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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iweJkugpLE4&feature=share

The windows feature bible scenes but I of course was fascinated by the frames around the scenes.

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Next entry: my favorite thing in New Orleans, Mardi Gras World.

* You like that mental image? That is my gift to you.

New Orleans 2015, Part 2.

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

Before we delve into cemetery-chat, some random photos I took.

You can walk around with an open container so alcohol can be procured just about anywhere. I went into PJ’s (a local coffee chain) and they had a beer tap situation next to the blenders. Because they can.

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I really liked these alligator lights on the side of this building.

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The day before the day before the wedding the Warriors were playing. They are some sort of basketball team and Candy, Nessa’s aunt, is OBSESSED with them. She has a tattoo of their logo on her butt. She brought down all her Warrior gear and we all met up at a sports bar to watch the game. (I went to eat appetizers but let’s pretend it was for sports.) Nessa knows of my complete disinterest in all things athletic so she insisted on decking me out in some of the accessories and taking my picture. I hope you can appreciate how excited I am from this photo. Hooooooray sports. Cricket is equally excited.

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Cemeteries! Cemeteries are a big part of New Orleans. I cannot name the last time I was in New York City and said, “Hey everyone, let’s go spend an afternoon hanging with really quiet people and their identifying rocks!” But in New Orleans it’s a major tourist destination, so much so that only tour groups are allowed in the primary cemetery (lone people were desecrating the graves and generally being a nuisance). We visited two cemeteries but the important one, St Louis No. 1, is the one I’m going to focus on.

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Because the earth is so saturated with water (New Orleans gets between 70 to 100 inches of rain a year) you cannot bury bodies, therefore the graves are above ground and usually contain the remains of an entire family. Every time someone new is added they carve new info on the door plaque.

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The body must lay untouched for a year and a day. The reason for that is very smart: the tomb are built of brick, stone or stucco and therefore get very hot, especially in the summer when it can be 90 degrees or above. The bodies dry out and bake until they crumble. After a year and a day all that’s left is bone and dust. The door is pulled off, the remains collected into a satin bag and then placed under the tomb in a substantially smaller area with the other powdery relatives and the tomb is then freed up for new deceased people. It’s a good way to save space.

There are a bunch of famous people buried in St. Louis. First one we encountered is Paul Morphy. Paul Morphy was a brilliant chess player.

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Supposedly he was blindfolded and had twelve chessboards set up in front of him with master players on the other side. So phenomenal was his ability to visualize the board, Morphy would walk past each board blindfolded, have someone describe the layout of the pieces and then make the next move. He won all twelve games. Like a BAWSS.

The most famous person entombed there is Marie Laveau. She is considered the Queen of Voodoo, a religion or belief-system brought from West Africa by both slaves and free people of color. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about her:

Among the fifteen “voodoo queens” in neighborhoods scattered around 19th-century New Orleans, Marie Laveau was known as “the” Voodoo Queen, the most eminent and powerful of them all. Her religious rite on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain on St. John’s Eve in 1874 attracted some 12,000 black and white New Orleanians.It was said that politicians, lawyers, businessman, wealthy planters – all came to her to consult before making an important financial or business-related decision. She also saw the poor and enslaved. Although her help seemed non-discriminatory, she may have favored the enslaved servants of her “influential, affluent customers”, as many “runaway slaves…credited their successful escapes to Laveaux’s powerful charms.”Once the news of her powers spread, she dominated the other Voodoo leaders of New Orleans. Also a Catholic, Laveau encouraged her followers to attend Catholic Mass as a strategic way to protect their true beliefs. Her influence contributed to the adoption of Catholic practices into the Voodoo belief system.Marie Laveau is remembered for her skill and compassion for the less fortunate.

Laveau also gained influence over her clientele by her work as a hairdresser, which gave her intimate knowledge of the gossip in town. Her customers also came to her to buy voodoo dolls, potions, gris-gris bags, and the like.Her influence continues in the city. In the 21st century, her gravesite in the oldest cemetery is a major tourist attraction; believers of Voodoo offer gifts here and pray to her spirit. Across the street from the cemetery where Laveau is buried, offerings of pound cake are left to the statue of Saint Expedite; these offerings are believed to expedite the favors asked of the Voodoo queen. Saint Expedite represents the spirit standing between life and death. The chapel where the statue stands was once used only for holding funerals.Marie Laveau continues to be a central figure of Louisiana Voodoo and of New Orleans culture. Gamblers shout her name when throwing dice, and multiple tales of sightings of the Voodoo queen have been told.

Here is the outside of her family tomb.

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You will notice it is clean and white and that is because there is a not-for-proft group in New Orleans called Save Our Cemeteries that takes care of as many tombs as they can. When this cemetery was open to whomever wanted to wander in people would write XXX all over Marie Laveau’s tomb and chip bits off as souvenirs, it was a mess. That’s one of the reasons only tours are allowed in. This one of the nearby tombs still covered with graffiti and chipped to all hell.

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I asked what the significance of the XXX was, and the thing is to draw the Xs. knock three times on the tomb and then ask Marie Laveau to grant you a wish, often pertaining to love.

Right behind Miss Laveau’s tomb is a pyramid. No one is in it. Yet. Because it is Nicholas Cage’s forever home. It’s sitting there uninhabited until Cage bites it. Good idea, always plan ahead. Nicholas Cage is a character, I wouldn’t be surprised if he insisted on being embalmed and having his cats join him in the afterlife. Wouldn’t surprise me one bit.

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There are also group tombs (called “condominios” in Spain, that never stops being funny to me) for various groups. For example there was a massive nunnery and the nuns are laid to rest in one of those. In this picture the one on the left is for Portuguese people and the one on the right is for the Italians.

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The round mass tomb on the right is famous because of the movie Easy Rider. There’s a scene where Dennis Hopper, Peter Fonda and two lovely young ladies come to this cemetery, take LSD and go on a mental journey. Fun Fact: the actors really did take LSD. It’s (not surprisingly) a very trippy scene in the film. They’re climbing all over the sculptures, the lovely young ladies are naked and frolicking, copious amounts of alcohol are being consumed. Apparently after the mayor of New Orleans saw the movie he decided no one could film movies any more in the cemetery, booooo. But the damage was already done. The main sculpture (I think it’s Athena) nestled in an alcove on the tomb has no head and no hands because bikers came for years to sit in her lap and have their picture taken a là Peter Fonda’s character. So her head fell off. Here’s the shot from the film:

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Here’s some jackhole doing the pose:

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This condominio is for war heroes. Note the bombs as corner pieces for the decorative chain. That’s baller, having explosive devices flanking your tomb.

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Another famous person who is laid to rest there is Bernard deMarigny. He’s got a hell of a tale. He was born with not a silver spoon in his mouth, but a gold one. Legend has it that when the King of France and his two brothers came to visit, the deMarignys served them on specially-made gold plates. After the meal all the plates were thrown in the river because no one would be worthy of using them again. Yeah. Gold plates. Here’s what Wikipedia says about him:

The visit of the French royals apparently had a big impact on Marigny, as it is reported as an example of the spoiled life in which he was reared. When he was 15 years old, his father died and Bernard inherited his father’s plantation just outside the city gates, east of New Orleans’ Vieux Carré. According to historians, “His every whim [was] indulged while his father was alive, he became as wild and headstrong after his death as an unbacked [wild] mustang, and his guardian, abandoning all idea of control, finally shipped him to England, hoping that life abroad might mend his manners; but in London Bernard’s dissipations became only more pyrotechnic, and he spent most of his time at Almack’s and other famous gambling places.” One of the things Marigny brought back to New Orleans from England was the dice game Hazardwhich became popular in a simplified form, known in local dialect as “Crapaud”.

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This guy and his family owned so much land that when it was developed and turned into city streets, he got to name them. There was Love Street, Poets Street, Music Street, Abundance Street, Treasure Street and even Craps Street until the three churches that sprouted up on that street petitioned to have the name changed. Marigny eventually gambled his fortune away and died relatively penniless but he left an impression on the city.

The entire cemetery is Catholic but there’s a small section off in the back where Protestants can be buried. Note I used the word “buried.” Big mistake, Protestants. In this photo you’ll see several level-with-the-ground graves. They have recently been surrounded with cement. What you can’t see under all that grass are all the other graves that sunk into the earth because no cement. This area was wall-to-wall graves. You can really stub your toe on a corner of tombstone pokin’ out of the loam.

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That’s it for cemeteries. Coming up: alligators.

New Orleans 2015, Part 1.

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

N’Awlins! As a person who really is not into drinking, one might think I would haaaaaaate New Orleans but much to my delight I had a terrific time. If I could no longer live in New York for whatever reason I would seriously consider moving to New Orleans. A few reasons:

1. No snow. Yeah, rain all the damn time but no snow. I hate the snow. The ice, specifically. Ain’t no one slippin’ and fallin’ in the rain, and it washes away the sins of the previous night on Bourbon Street.

2. The cuisine is super-yummy. I like spicy food and rice is my favorite carb, so I was totally on board. I went through beignet-withdrawal when I came back.

3. A thriving creative community. A ton of artists, good one too, and musicians. Since the tourist industry is their biggest source of income tons of people visit the galleries so the art actually sells which is great.

4. People are ugly and weird and it’s okay. Let me clarify. In New York, being a major fashion capital people are extremely concerned with physical appearances. In New Orleans they seem to get a kick out of people who are odd and off-center far more. While I saw plenty of pretty people it seems it’s okay if you’re missing a tooth, or have odd fashion choices, or are shaped like a cube. There are people who dig that as long as you’re interesting or smart. I’m a good fit in those circles.

I went on a three-hour tour (sing the Gilligan’s Island theme if you must) around the town and got a great overview of the city. Our tour guide was amazing / a nightmare. He was 75 and had the exact same speaking style as Cleveland from Family Guy. Here is a sample of Cleveland:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4hSf50Ye0o

Imagine an older gentleman talking nonstop like that for three hours. And repeating himself several times. I loved it (“No, Grandpa, tell the story again!”) but Cricket was ready to shoot himself in the face. Here are some cool things I learned on my tour.

  •  Acadians were the first European settlers. Acadians are French Canadians. And the Native Americans already living there could not say “Acadian,” they called them “Cajun.”
  • Only five buildings from the original French rule remain (the area was French, then Spanish, then French again) due to two massive fires during the Spanish rule.
  • 64 different nationalities came to New Orleans to make their fortune with sugar cane or oil or cotton nearby. For example the Croatians are predominantly in charge of the oyster business. Who knew, Croatians? And oysters?
  • When buildings were built there were weird rules in place. You were charged a tax for each closet, so very few houses have closets. Everyone uses bureaus and armoires. And you were charged a tax for each window which is why the windows look like doors.

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First, we’ll cover the wedding since that was the point of the trip. Nessa, my former co-worker who left the East Coast to fulfill herself (whatevs) by becoming a police officer in San Francisco decided to have a destination wedding in her favorite party city. I hadn’t seen her family since Nessa’s graduation from police academy so it was delightful to catch up with them again. The guests were instructed to meet in front of one of the hotels at 4:00 and we would be bussed to a plantation about a half-hour outside of town, the Tchoupitoulas Plantation. Nessa had decided on a purple and burgundy-themed wedding (I chose those colors, you’re welcome). That’s how I knew what color to make my nutria hat, more on that in a moment. First we were seated in a very elegant room. What you can’t see off to the side are fish bowls filled with treats for later – single packs of Advil, Tums, Pepto, earplugs, etc. Smart girl, Nessa is.

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Then the ceremony started and I couldn’t believe how good Nessa looked. The girl sitting next to me said, “Holy crap, she looks just like Beyoncé.” These pictures taken with my iPhone do not do her justice. She glowed.

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I think they hired a justice of the peace because at no point did he mention God or any specific religion, just love and family and togetherness. It took ten minutes. “You take her? And she takes you? Great, we’re done here.” Then we moved out of this room into the actual main building and I sat myself where I always seat myself at weddings – as close to the kitchen door as possible. That way you get first crack at the hors d’oeuvres. My other former co-worker Esteban and his girlfriend were there as well so we had a great time chattin’ it up and snorfing down treats on sticks. Yes, I would love a fried oyster and a crab cake and a jalapeño popper, thank you. They had a buffet set up in the other room with gumbo (which I now need at every meal seriously omg where has gumbo been all my life) and Nessa hooked up her iPod to the speakers and that was it. We danced and ate and there was open bar for hours, it was a blast. On the invitation you could put a song request. I put a favorite of mine, “Poison” by Bel Biv DeVoe, a masterpiece. The second it came on I was out there and this other guest took an opportunity to dance WAY TOO CLOSE to me but I let it slide because ain’t no one harshing my vibe during “Poison.” One of the best dances ever to that song is Turk from Scrubs in case you need a reminder of the dopeness both of Turk and the song.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crITXzMW0do

And here is a picture Esteban took of me gettin’ humped on the dance floor.

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The men at the wedding took the dancing incredibly seriously. There were numerous moments when men were booty-popping on the dance floor. Booty-popping, in case you don’t know, is very similar to twerking but you make each gluteus maximus move individually. If done correctly it looks like your butt is possessed. The gentlemen-folk were throwing hinder-cheek action down with total disregard to accepted social rules and it was delightful. Here is the groom and the best man giving it their best shot.

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I was the only one wearing a hat / fascinator and I think that was an egregious error on the part of everyone else. Dude, we’re in the South. At a wedding. With fun people. Let loose a little bit. Maybe not to the point where you’re wearing a hat with a felted rodent on it, you don’t have to go that far, but a bit. I looked awesome in my hat I must say.

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Cricket wanted to explore the grounds around the main house so before the sun set we went for a walk. The trees were beautiful, very old and very large.

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And we realized we were right up against the Mississippi River.

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Check this picture out: I’m standing on a levee next to the Mississippi River adjacent to a plantation wearing a church hat with a nutria on it. It’s the ultimate Lousiana selfie.

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Remember the parasol I made for Nessa to carry during her street parade? This one? She used it as a display item behind her cake along with the parasol she made for her fiance. It framed the space beautifully.

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After much delicious food and drink was consumed (I love you jambalaya and bread pudding, never leave my side) we all boarded the buses again and headed to the center of town for the Second Line (what the New Orleaners call a spontaneous-style parade with a band). I had heard the comedian Hannibal Buress talk about being part of a Second Line and he was spot-on. It starts about two minutes in.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXvJqiyiMqQ

We got off the buses and there was the band waiting. And two cops on motorcycles. And a cop in a car. It was nuts. We destroyed traffic going in both directions on a major thoroughfare for a solid ten minutes. We all sang and yelled and cheered, strangers joined in, it was fantastic.

second-line1 second-line2 parade-1 parade-2 parade-3

After that everyone went to Bourbon Street to drink and dance some more. Cricket and I decided that eight hours of revelry was all we could manage at our ripe old age of almost forty so we went back to the room and retired for the evening. The next day we met up with other members of the bridal party and learned they had stayed out until about 4:00am so I think we made the right choice.

It was one of the funnest weddings I’ve ever been to. Nessa said we’re going to have a reunion next year back in NOLA and I’m all for it.

wedding6

Next post: cemeteries.

Addendum: I forgot two pictures I wanted to include:

I loved that because Nessa and her man were walking around the room talking to everyone they didn’t get a chance to sample all the deliciousness being passed around so someone very kindly gave them one of everything. This was their table.

wedding-3

And I thought it was cute that the bouquets were repurposed as decorations in the bar area. Waste not want not.

bouquet

Music.

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

I work on some complicated documents at work. When I’m simply aligning text or doing an image search I can listen to podcasts or stand-up comedians, but when I need to concentrate and words are involved I need to listen to music. One of my favorite types of music is the mashup. A mashup, in case you don’t know, is when one song from one genre of music is magically smooshed together with music from another genre of music. If you know both songs it feels really cool to hear them come together and evoke a totally different set of emotions. A perfect example is this one, the theme song to Ghostbusters and AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck.”

https://youtu.be/jiH1wNmZTII

Or Boston’s “More Than A Feeling” paired with House of Pain’s “On Point.”

https://youtu.be/AW9BRFnAIZs

See? Like brie cheese and warm figs, two flavors coming together to form a new flavor profile. The one I’m listening to on a loop right now is Taylor Swift and Korn. Excellent work putting those two in the same room.

https://youtu.be/bNmWt91n-QM

Everyone always harps on about a DJ named Girl Talk and his mashups but I myself am partial to Go Home Productions (a man named Mark Vidler). Really cool choices. Like Missy Elliot protege Tweet and XTC.

https://youtu.be/FUp9AD2pLvI

Or Peggy Lee and Iggy Pop.

https://youtu.be/APT5Allol04

Madonna and The Verve.

https://youtu.be/zgjRNpie9y0

Oasis and Marvin Gaye.

https://youtu.be/KH77HKvuKms

Go discover mashups that you are into. It’s a big world out there and lots of people are exploring this art form.
To hold you over, I leave you with “Big Booty Bitches in Miami:”

https://youtu.be/M8RDcIrkIxE

And Tom Petty with Biggie/Puffy/Mace.

https://youtu.be/yOo4xYWwiHc

Pertinent! Since I will be in New Orleans for most of next week for Nessa’s wedding, here’s a mashup of Louis Armstrong and Method Man from Wu Tang Clan.

https://youtu.be/Lqcy2-K7y-4

Learning!

Sunday, May 24th, 2015

My friend Børrke, who is getting married in a little over a month, had a bachelorette party. Normally bachelorette parties involve strippers and penii-shaped straws and hats and I dislike these festivities intensely. Luckily Børrke’s sister Blürrr made way better plans. The day started with a private tour of the Museum of Natural History. Something called MuseumHack, created to encourage people to visit museums and see all the awesome stuff housed inside without being a tourist or feeling obligated because they have kids. It’s a great idea. I highly recommend it if you live in or are visiting New York. Our guide was a lovely young man named Jared who works during the week teaching children at the Bronx Zoo (swoon). He knew we were a classy bunch from the second we arrived with Børrke. She was sporting a tiara, a pink sash that said “Bachelorette,” a t-shirt that said “Feyoncé” and a pimp cup emblazoned with “Ho Fo Sho” that she was required to carry around.

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Yeah. A group of non-drunk (yet), well-educated, mouthy dames. Good luck Jared. He did a stellar job I must say. Jared took us from interesting exhibit to interesting exhibit telling us all kinds of things we would not have known from reading the little placards. One of the things we learned:

Right after the ticket counter, everyone always goes right into the African Mammals Room so it’s always packed, but the Asian Mammals Room is right off to the side and it’s never packed, so go into there. The taxidermied mammals in the Asia Hall are equally awesome and in surprisingly good condition considering that they were mounted in the early 1900s. The primary animal collector/taxidermist for the museum was a man named Carl Akeley and he’s a swell guy and all, but his back-up guy was a SUPER-special fella named Walter Potter who, in his free time, would make anthropomorphic tableaus featuring kittens and bunnies. Like this:

Rabbits’ Village School, Circa 1888

And this:

Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 8.00.33 PM.

Now the reason many taxidermied things previous to Carl Akeley were absolutely terrible was that the industry used pre-built stands for each beast and it was irrelevant whether the animal skin fit over the mount, they would tug it and yank it and make it fit. That’s fine and all that but the problem with that is that you end up with pieces like this:

bad_taxidermy2

Which are not great, Bob. What Carl Akeley did was immediately after he shot an animal he took extremely detailed measurements and mailed those back to the museum so a form could be created. The smaller forms could be made from clay and paste, but the larger ones like the elephants were hollow iron covered in papier-mache. When the animal’s skin got home it could be stretched over a form made especially for it, a one-of-a-kind. They also created the diorama around the animals so it appeared like they were in their natural habitat. Jared said that due to the curved walls and ceilings of the diorama rooms, Renaissance painting techniques were implemented. All of this combined helped to make the animals in the dioramas extra-realistic and they have totally stood the test of time. Jared then had us pretend to be water buffalo and tigers and elephants in the middle of the Asian Mammals section. I was a water buffalo and I was promptly eaten by a tiger so I had to lay on the floor and be dead while another member of the bachelorette party pretended to be an enormous feline consuming me. Way better than a male stripper.

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Other things we learned from Jared:

  • The gigantor boat that is hanging from the ceiling in one of the halls? It used to sit on the floor and it was filled with sand. At that time there were also cats that patrolled the museum taking care of the mice. You may not know this but cats use sand for their litter box so one of the tasks of the museum workers was to clean the kitty poop out of the boat every day.
  • The big blue whale that the museum is famous for was incorrectly rendered until fairly recently. It was based on a big ole dead whale that had washed up on the shore and was in the process of decomposing. In the last few years the scientists decided, hey, maybe we should paint it, you know, BLUE and not gray since blue is the color it’s supposed to be and maybe throw a bellybutton on up there so it’s vaguely accurate? Yeah, let’s do that.
  • Sea otters are not cute and delightful all the time. Yes, they hold hands so they do not float away from their beloveds (squee) and they have a pocket in their fur for their favorite rock (additional squee) but sometimes darkness befalls the sea otter. Otters used to be all the way up and down the Pacific Coast but due to that horrible time when they were almost hunted to extinction they are now only in pockets. When the teenage males come of age and there are no females available, the males get ornery and horny (hornery?). Aaaaaaaand then they rape baby seals.

pinkie_sad_face_vector_by_termi92-d4q5ksi

  • In the oldest room in the museum (museums are very expensive and are often built over many years) the Pacific Northwest Collection is housed. It smells really good in there because of all the giant cedar sculptures. There are also murals on the walls depicting Native American village life. Recently there was a bit of a flood on an upper floor and some of the collection was destroyed which is terrible but also a blessing in disguise. Jared showed us one mural that had been damaged in the flood, and a good thing it was. It was called “The Dog-Eating Ceremony” and it was so very clearly painted by some white guy in 1860 who had no idea what these “savages” were doing. On the outer edges are various tribesmen carving something into stone tablets a là Moses on Mount Sinai and in the middle is a woman about to start chewing on the back end of a still-alive poodle. I mean, really. White people, this is ridiculous. The ignorance, it is palpable.
  • Why are there only skyscrapers in the Financial District and Midtown in Manhattan? Well, it’s because the bedrock in both those places is 30 feet below the surface. Elsewhere on the island it is 100 feet below the surface. No one wants to dig that deep so areas like the Upper West Side and Chelsea get normal-heighted buildings.
  • Speaking of bedrock, you know the humongous iron meteorite that is in the middle of the museum? It’s not sitting on the floor. The meteorite is so heavy if it was sitting on the floor it would smash through all the levels of the building. It’s sitting on a giant pillar that goes directly into the bedrock under the museum. If you were granted permission to go into the floors beneath the museum you would see the pillar. Apparently it’s painted red.

Jared took through many other sections. He had us pretend to worship a giant stone in the gem section and then since we were in the minerals and metals section he gave us all Hershey’s nuggets because we were all his little “golden nuggets.” He had us take the best picture of diorama testicles in the primates section and the winner got astronaut ice cream from the planetarium gift shop. This was so damn fun. If you have someone coming in from out of town or you need to come up with a cool gift for that hard-to-shop person, definitely consider Museum Hack. It’s a jolly good time had by all.

Bonus: a picture of Børrke sharing some imaginary liquor from her “Ho Fo Sho” goblet with the gorilla bust. That one is going in the album.

1908216_10100646959330462_5927128594323422503_n

Cleansing breath.

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

Wow, the last two weeks have been rough, work-wise. First a big client said they wouldn’t need a Keynote, then they said they totally did, then naw never mind, then eighteen hours before the global meeting HOLY CRAP WE NEED FIVE KEYNOTES SRSLY. Five decks in eighteen hours. The best part is they insisted I click through one of the five decks so the A/V techs set me up on a laptop in the far back corner of the room. The room was filled with giant display boards and my clicking was supposed to correlate with what the creative director was pointing to on the boards. Only one problem with that: I was stationed in the corner so unless I had a periscope perched on the top of my head I couldn’t see nuthin’. I could hear him point to something and say, “This campaign is something I’m very proud of, ” and I had to guess… uhhh, maybe in-store? Or digital? Or something entirely different? It was stressful. But now that is done and according to people who could see both the boards and the TV I kept in pretty good sync which means I have the lamest X-Men superpower ever in the history of things.

More importantly, I went to birthing class! No, not for me, I’m just rockin’ my regular pooch. No, my friend Neenernator who I went with to Germany is expecting in mid-June and since she and I have seen each other all kinds of naked (refer back to when I went with her family to the spa) I asked her if she would be okay with me being at the birth of her child. I want to see what it’s like. Neenernator said yes! Really! I can go! However it’s not all sunshine and placentas, if I’m going to be in the birthin’ suite I need to bring some skills so as not to be completely useless. So I went to a first-time parents class at Neenernator’s local hospital. I learned for five hours. I learned A LOT. I learned that however gross you think birth is, it can get so much grosser. For example, when your amniotic fluid breaks you have to remember the acronym c.o.a.t. – color, odor, amount and time. Odor, people. And bonus horror, after the baby is born the woman may spot and have cramps for six weeks as her uterus shrinks back down. This bringing-life-into-the-world-thing may be miraculous but it is just the worst. If I didn’t want to have kids already this just about sealed the deal. If they want teens to abstain from pre-marital sex they should have to take this five-hour class because dear Lord. Guess who has two thumbs and watched a c-section? This guy. I made a-cow-mooing-in-distress noises the whole time I watched, but I watched. I would have to say the best part of the class was observing the dads-to-be. It’s a class for first-time parents, remember, so these guys have no idea what’s in store for them. They were terrified – of the information presented, of what was required of them, of their partners, everything. They kept treating their ladies like beautiful delicate flowers wrapped around a hand grenade that could go off at any time. Meanwhile I’m calling Neenernator “Chubby” and making fun of her when she’d drop her bottle cap and could not retrieve it due to her swollen limbs and giant parasitic midsection-dweller. The other attendees were all in shock that I could do that and I wanted to say, “See, you should have found a girl with a sense of humor before you filled her with your genetic pollen.” Luckily Neenernator has an excellent sense of humor, plus she knew I would help her as soon as I was done mocking her. And I did, I picked up that bottle cap and carried her comfy folding chair and rubbed her back and counted through her practice contractions (I am terrible at it, I cannot math which clearly means I cannot count, thank God for iPhones). Since I am such a diligent friend I can get away with being a sassy one. It’s an excellent trade-off. I will, of course, blog in great but vague detail how the birth goes come June 13th (or thereabouts). Get emotionally prepared.

A melange of things.

Monday, April 13th, 2015

1. I love flowing lava footage. It’s gooey, it’s glowing, I never get tired of it. I remembered watching a program on Hawaii and they showed lava flowing into the ocean, the only thing in lava’s path that can stop it. Watching them fight it out made me want to go back to believing in the old Gods, Pele and Heimdallr and Neptune and all them guys. I recently saw a perfectly-looping animated gif of the lava / ocean battle and I watched it for far too long. It draws you in, I tell you.

http://i.imgur.com/1BliSYw.gif

 

2. Shoulder chickens. They’re apparently a thing right now. I approve.

http://catsbeaversandducks.tumblr.com/post/116155567796/shoulder-chickens-possibly-the-best-thing-on-the

 

3. Another animated gif, this time of kitties moving with the sunbeams. Awwww.

tumblr_nk3u5qnCo01s02vreo1_400

 

4. This teacher bringing his A+ Halloween game.

a2e7a7b2f453142e7c25979c09131935

 

Random things n’ stuff.

Monday, April 6th, 2015

1. This man put his own labels at the wine shop and the results are glorious.

http://obviousplant.tumblr.com/post/112604964273/here-are-some-of-my-top-wine-picks

 

2. Ever wonder what the people on vintage sewing patterns are thinking? Well, wonder no more.

http://mccallspatternbehavior.tumblr.com/

 

3. This chessboard is great. The pawns are snails! I don’t play chess but I want it nonetheless.

http://www.blankwilliam.com/kngdom-chess/ts2lq71753jlchqnhwag8egaa050oi