Archive for the ‘Stuff’ Category

Rhinebeck Sheep ‘n’ Wool Festival 2014.

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

I went this year! It was great. I drove up with my sister K. because she is a super-talented knitress and as opposed to me who goes for the sheep-petting, she actually goes to buy yarn like a normal person. This is some of her work:

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Yeah. She’s amazing. Anyway, we went up and I saw some excellent work. I considered walking up to several people wearing beautiful handmade sweaters/shawls/gloves/etc. and thanking them for making and sharing these wonderful pieces with the world, but then I decided that that would be way too weird even for me, even for the RSnWF. And let me tell you the RSnWF can get mighty weird. One example that immediately comes to mind is when I walked up to a woman, a professional woman, a woman manning a booth filled with wooly products for sale. She had a two-year-old child sitting on the counter in front of her and while this woman was talking to a client the child pulled up her shirt and was nursing from one of her breasts while finger-playing with the other nipple. All of her goods and services were hanging out into the great wide open and I mentally shut down. It was like seeing a griffin*. I’m all for breastfeeding but this was waaaaaaay too much. I think I got boobPTSD from that experience. My point is that one could walk up to a stranger at the festival and compliment their knittery without being the oddest thing that happens to them that day. BY A LOT.

We hit up a couple of specific shops K. wanted to purchase products from, one of which was Fiber Optic. They sell yarn groupings that gradually change from one color to another so you can make ombre-type scarfs. I LURVE me some ombre so I loitered outside their booth staring at the examples they had pinned up. So good.


Other neat things I saw at the RSnWF: this sweater.


This shorn roving with pictures of the sheepies that it was shorned from which makes me want to buy this fleece even though it’s probably greasy (lanolin) and I have zero use for it.


The truth was I did end up buying some roving because I have a very special project in mind. Let’s start at the beginning. When my friend Ness turned 30 she and a bunch of her chums went to New Orleans to celebrate what she called her Dirty Thirty. At this exact time a hurricane had passed through the delta and drowned thousands of nutria (a giant South-American rat) and these nutria corpses were washing up on the beaches. I could not stop talking about it. So, in order to make Ness’ trip even more memorable, every time she would post something on Facebook I would comment with something about nutria. No context, no explanation. Every time.

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Then I started photoshopping her pictures.


I was shocked she didn’t come back and stab me in the face with a collectible plastic margarita glass shaped like a fleur de lis. I honestly expected the stabbing but I still couldn’t stop myself. Now Ness is getting married in May and the wedding is going to be in New Orleans, her reasoning being “it’s equally inconvenient from people on both the East and West Coast.” I cannot let this opportunity pass. I am making myself a Southern church-going hat to wear to the wedding and on top (you guessed it) will be a six-inch nutria doll made of felt. In order to make this felted nutria I bought some brown roving from a llama (no lanolin so naturally dry and clean) with tiny sparkly threads woven in. It’s going to be glorious. Get ready.

*”Is that half eagle, half lion? What’s going on with its front legs? I have so many questions and I cannot physically stare hard enough at this.”

A small medium at large. And all the dog memes today.

Monday, October 20th, 2014

Sorry for the long delay between posts. There just wasn’t a whole lot of anything going on. I was working, and then I was working some more, and then for a change, work.

The joke I am referring to in the title is this one:


My sister K. is a producer and she asked me two weeks ago if I would be available to be filmed having a reading done by a medium. I said I had ebolaAIDSpinkeye and wouldn’t be able to go because I do not believe in hocus-pocus, but she needed bodies to populate this video so finally I acquiesced and said yessssssssss fine. On Sunday morning I woke up at 7:30 (before the sun which is the Lord’s way of saying don’t wake up yet), put on an appropriate outfit (no black, no logos), painted my face, brushed my hair and went to Manhattan where the filming was happening. I filled out paperwork allowing them to use my face and any corresponding footage for this video and possibly as filler in porn movies (I didn’t read the document) and then waited for the medium to arrive. The other producers asked me whom of my dead relatives I wanted to speak to, and I answered honestly. “Well, I would really like to talk to my paternal grandmother because she died when my father was nine and all accounts describe her as a very nice woman, but she only spoke Yiddish and chances are we might not be able to communicate. Most likely my maternal grandmother will come through who helped raise me and was a ‘strong woman.’ That’s a nice way to say it. I’ve heard her referred to as ‘soul-crushing’ and ‘emasculating’ but ‘strong woman’ is probably the best way to put it.” The first thing the medium, who was a nice tiny woman of about thirty years old, di when she arrived was burn sage and clear the room of negative energy (actual result: the whole space smelled somewhere between a Catholic mass and a 4/20 rally) and then she called the four people who were going to be read into filming area (me and three freshly-graduated NYU students). We did some meditation, clearing our minds and readying ourselves to contact the deceased. And then she began. I would LOVE to say she changed my mind and I got to chat with family members and I’m a total believer now, but alas, she did not. She asked incredibly vague questions until she narrowed it down to something tangible in your life and then she honed in on that. My favorite example was, “I’m feeling a twisting sensation in my belly area. Did you know someone who had gastrointestinal troubles or someone who internalized their feelings?” Why, yes, yes I do, because you’ve just described everyone who’s ever lived on this planet, ever. Thanks for that. She could have said, “I’m feeling a tender sensation in my earlobes. Do you have a relative who was able to hear in both ears?” Wow! As a matter of fact I did.


In my follow-up interview I was very diplomatic. I said while I didn’t feel convinced that this was not an advanced parlor trick, if someone had lost a person close to them and was suffering and this medium brought them some peace, then I was totally okay with it. Placebos work too. I don’t think that’s what the people recording the TV show wanted to hear but I wasn’t going to lie, especially for what they were paying me (a fat hairy ball of nuthin’).

In a thoroughly unrelated note my friend Gem was in town for the Annual Gathering of the Nerds Otherwise Known as Comic-Con (did everyone see this amazing costume? It’s all the roles Johnny Depp has played on one person, that is GENIUS):


And every time Gem comes to town she takes me to a different bar or eatery which is good because I am totally inclined to staying in my apartment and crafting while watching copious amounts of Nat Geo Wild and Investigation Discovery. This time she took us to The Dead Rabbit which is a bar in the financial district. It was extremely cool. I know exactly zero things about the original gangs that ran in New York during the 1850s and one of them was called The Dead Rabbits. I believe the movie Gangs of New York was based on them. We got to sit at the bar in the parlor which normally would bother me (I’m sad when my feet don’t touch the ground) but this particular time it was awesome because I could watch the bartendress. Her name was Jillian Vose and she blew my mind. First of all, there are seventy-two cocktails on the menu. Seventy-two. Twelve of them are seasonal and change regularly. Sixty-four are separated into groups based on different sections of the Dead Rabbit gang leader’s life, John Morrissey. Here’s a sample page from their menu.


When an order comes up there’s a small screen under the bar that lists the ingredients but Jillian still had to figure out which bottles to use to make it. There were like fifty bottles with various concoctions in them, syrups and whatnot, all the same size, all unlabeled. You can see them in this picture from their website.

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She was amazing to watch. And then she would take large chunks of ice, put it in the palm of her hand and whack at it with an ice pick. I kept waiting for Jillian to give herself stigmata and a strong metallic taste to the subsequent drinks but it never happened. That woman’s a pro. In addition to there being a gazillion festive drinks and British foods (I tried a scotch egg for the first time, they’re pretty darn good, like a breakfast food orb) when you order your drink, in order to hold you over until your drink arrives, you get some house punch in a porcelain tea cup. How freakin’ cute is that?


I would go back if it was on the grid, or near the grid, or literally not at the bottom of the island in what I consider a no-man’s-land of New York. Perhaps if someone else goes with me I will return. If left to my own devices I would get lost.

I left no things, in San Francisco (because I packed carefully the night before).

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

My friend and former co-worker Ness moved back to her homeland of California to become a police officer and after seven months of grueling training (seriously, she got pepper-sprayed and tear-gassed on the same day which is insane) she graduated and I decided to go and show support because I’m proud of her and hey, free cake. So off I went to the San Francisco Police Academy Graduation.


I arrived the night before the graduation so I had plenty of time to pet Ness’ cat, Gizzy. If we’re telling truths here, I may miss Gizzy more than Ness. I wore a nightgown given to me by my neighbor that had a Gizzy-like cat on it and posed for several pictures while hoisting her in the air like a prize-winning ham. Gizzbeast was pretty okay with it (because she’s AWESOME). She clearly wasn’t too put out because she spent the rest of the evening punching me in the face with her face and purring.


Before we get into the graduation itself, let us discuss the flight to California. Fellow travelers: we are, for all intents and purposes, trapped in an airless tube for which there is no escape but death. Can you pretend to be a person for, like, five hours? Five hours, that’s all I’m asking. On my flight there was a man, a morbidly obese extremely hairy man who was wearing a muscle shirt where the sleeves were so stretched out his hirsute nips were hanging out said sleeve-holes. THIS WAS HIS IDEA OF PUBLIC ATTIRE. In addition a woman brought a hot fresh full-size pizza on the flight for her family to enjoy which made the entire plane smell like pepperoni. I know I use the wise teachings of Patton Oswalt often on this blog, but he has the insights we often look for in a prophet or guru and this is no exception. Listen to this link and feel my pain.

The next morning when I got up Ness was already gone and her aunt (also a cop) was going to come by and pick me up later and take me where the graduation was being held. We swung by a Krispie Kreme to get doughnuts (the appropriate food for a police academy event)(Ness’ aunt the cop bought them so it’s not offensive) and stood in line outside the Scottish Rite Masonic Center. Hoo boy. Do you look for Illuminati symbols in things? Well, look no further because here they all are, designed in a lovely 1960s style with mosaics.

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Finally we got into the main hall and settled ourselves down in the third row which gave me a chance to be confused about the murals. From what I can gather they are important figures to the Masons, all I know is on my left was a figure labeled “Venerable Master” next to “Zarathustra.” I found this page trying to gather more information. It’s not really helping to clarify anything.

So… they build houses but they’re also secretive and community-oriented? I don’t get clubs.

While everyone was getting seated the loudspeakers was playing patriotic music, which is fine except that the only place I’ve ever heard the songs they were playing is in Assassins, a musical about all the failed and successful attempts to assassinate various American presidents. I realized I was singing out loud along with all of the tunes about how I prevented Roosevelt’s murder and creeping everyone around me out. I should not be allowed to leave the house sometimes. Listen to this chunk of song:

and this chunk:

to hear what I probably should not have been gleefully crooning so close to the San Francisco Chief of Police.

There were a ton of seats set up on the stage and off to the side was a plaque with glittery things all around it. When I got up closer I could see that it was a carpeted display with the graduates’ shields on it.


Ness’ was at the bottom, number 844.


The important people went up on the stage and it began with color guard coming in. Another reason to add to the enormous pile of why I can’t be a cop: all the pomp. It took forever for the color guardians to put their flags in the damn stand. They had to march and bark instructions and I have zero patience for that. PUT THE FLAG IN THE STAND. TODAY. I’M GETTIN’ OLD OVER HERE.

After that the graduates came in and the clergyman was invited to say a prayer. I want everyone to know how well-behaved I was at this point. He was an elderly Asian man and he spoke extemporaneously which may have not been the best choice for him. He rambled so damn bad, it was all over the place and it was long. I started getting the giggles in the middle part (about four years into his prayer). He totally reminded me of Oogway from Kung Fu Panda but with less of a cohesive thought flow.

Then various politicians and police-people gave speeches, including the city supervisor for District 8 (Harvey Milk’s original district) a 6’7″ man named Scott Weiner who I renamed The Jewish Jack Skellington:

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Finally the class president got up to speak. A tall woman named Mikayla Connell got up and as soon as she opened her mouth to speak I realized that she was MtoF transgender. And then she told her story. She was 45. She tried to join the police force right after college 23 years ago and was rejected. She joined the military (wow) and then became a lawyer (damn). About ten years ago she transitioned to female and after sitting behind a desk Mikayla realized she still really wanted to be a cop so she applied again and not only did she make it in this time, she was class president, the oldest person in her class and the first MtoF transgender person the San Francisco Police has ever had. Not enough? There were five awards given that night and Mikayla won two of them. Two. Out of five. This woman is my hero. She let nothing get in the way of her dreams. Ever. I wish I had one half of the strength of spirit Mikayla has. (And her speech was terrific, I wish I could get a copy of it.)


The shields were given, closing statements were made and we were done! Ness is now a cop! I took an atrocious selfie of us but you can appreciate how happy both of us are.

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There was a reception in an adjacent hall and I’m sure most people were excited to see their friends and family members but I was totally focused on the 1960s murals of trees on the wall. I was wandering around taking closeups for research purposes; I definitely asked a police academy student who was serving cake to move out of the way so I could take a better photo. In my defense, the paintings were awesome. Very “It’s A Small World After All” ish.

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Her family and I went out for a celebratory dinner which included a cake specially made for Ness decorated with icing versions of a gun, handcuffs, a baton and a radio.


Luckily Ness got Saturday and Sunday off (some of the graduates had to show up for duty the next morning at 6:00 a.m. which is awful) so we could travel around San Francisco. Saturday we went down to Fisherman’s Wharf and walked around there in matching t-shirts because even though Ness lives in San Fran, if you’re going to be a tourist do it right or don’t do it at all.

She drove into the city and we were led into the city proper by a tour of people on Segways, which was adorable and dorky.


Ness took me through the Tenderloin area which is famous for being a bit rough-and-tumble and sho’ nuff as we were passing through a 20-something man was peeing into the street. Not like, behind a car or anything. No, he was doing his best impression of the Manneken Pis into the street, arc of pee glinting in the sunlight. It made the experience very authentic for me. Thank you, Peeing Man. I hope whatever drug you enjoy gives you much pleasure, as much pleasure as watching you urinate gave me.

We went to Lombard Street which in case you don’t know is the super-wiggly street. It allowed us some beautiful views of the city.


Everyone else was looking at the view but I kept getting distracted by the stunning flowers and plants. Ness could not have cared less if she tried. I think I yelled at her at one point. “YOU DO NOT APPRECIATE YOUR FOLIAGE!”

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We ended up down at the edge of the water where we saw the sea lions basking.


We saw that there were antique fire trucks that had been turned into tour buses and I decided that when I came back I would ride on one.

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I took pictures of the phenomenal flower baskets on the street corners while Ness rolled her eyes. “YOU DO NOT APPRECIATE YOUR FOLIAGE!”


And we posed in front of a big metal crab structure that had succulents planted in its body area. I love how it looks like the crab is attacking us. Also note the matching shirts.


My favorite thing that day was the aquarium. It’s a small aquarium but it’s a not-for-profit that helps maintain the health of the bay area so I was delighted to support them and see some fishies in the process. I got to pet some rays (yay!) and a sea cucumber which I had never touched (slimy! squishy! yay!):


but the coolest part was by far the shark tank. You walked through a tunnel in the middle of the tank and it had some really cool sea creatures in it. In addition to having rays (I love rays) it had a shark that looked like a leopard and a shark with barbs down its back. I called that the toothback shark. I don’t know what its real name is, but toothback shark is perfectly descriptive. The toothback shark looked like it was swimming around 400 million years ago and decided, “Yeah, I think I got this exactly how I want this. I’m done with evolving. I’m good.” And that’s how he’s been, completely unchanged since forever.

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I made a little animated gif so you can appreciate the awesomeness in motion. I could have stayed in that tunnel all day.


The next day Ness took me sight-seeing to places of interest in her life. We went to the Police Academy where she trained:


And the top of the hill they would make her run where people were taking pictures of the view. I found that extremely funny due to the fact that we were surrounded by cloud and you couldn’t see anything but people were taking pictures regardless.


I guess I drank the tourist Kool-Aid because shortly after I had to take a picture myself. Damn you, FOMO! Damn you straight to hell!


We drove past her high school where I found mirth in this sign:


And we spent the afternoon at a Zucchini Festival.


It was only vaguely related to zucchinis in any way. It was predominantly the fried-bad-things-for-you festival.

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If it could be fried, chances are it was there.


There was also a booth entirely comprised of inflatable aliens:


Some kind of hamster-ball-in-water thing that the kids were loving:


And a person selling spinny rainbow garden decorations. I couldn’t stop looking at them. So many colors… and spinning… I was mesmerized.



On a stage off to the side were various acts performing throughout the day and when we got there it was a pretty damn good Elvis impersonator. He was great. Many women thought so as well. I am not joking, they were lined up at the stage swooning. It was intense.

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There were people selling all manner of items – jewelry and useful home appliances, all kinds of things. I bought The Moomins some local honey made with bee pollen. One of the booths was to help shelter animals so I totally donated to that. There was a dog at that booth and people were putting dollar bills in its collar like it was a stripper, which I found amusing. I put it in the jar myself. Keeping it classy here, people.

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Of course I spent most of my time in the petting zoo hanging with the goats. There was an enormous paddock with dwarf goats hanging out and you could feed them. I took a photo of this couple who were just sitting with a stranger goat. It was looking at the woman’s iPhone like it was helping her pick out photos. I loved it.

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There was a super-pregnant little lady goat. I made sure she got most of my food.

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And in one corner of the giant park was… a small table with zucchinis on them. There are the zucchinis for the Zucchini Festival. Look at them. There they are.


Shortly after that I got on a plane and took the red-eye back to work. I will go back at some point and hang out with Ness again. (And Gizzy. Who are we kidding, almost entirely to see Gizzy.)

I went to a cat fashion show. Yes, you heard me correctly.

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Every so often I would see that there had been a cat fashion show in New York where cats were in costumes and looked peeved. Despite my love of kitties I had little or no interest in seeing felines dressed in festive ensembles traipsing down a runway. However, recently I “liked” the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals Facebook feed and therefore I see their posts. One of their posts was this:


Now this is different. My entry fee goes to support beasties in need, I get to go inside the Algonquin Hotel, a national treasure of a building, AND I get to see haute couture kittehs? Well, now I’m totally in. I bought myself a ticket and when I told The Moomins I was going she said, “You got me a ticket too, right?” I was like, “No, do you want to go?” and she was all, “HELL YES I want to go” so off we went. Shortly after we got to the hotel we were greeted by Matilda, the house cat of the Algonquin.

People went CRAZY. They all ran up to her, begging her to face this way, banging the concierge phone on the counter to get her attention. Here’s a shocker: she would have none of it.

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I love how in this picture where The Moomins is talking to her, Matilda looks all, “Do I know you?”


There were a ton of professional photographers there. I just brought my cellphone so all my pictures look like they were taken with a potato. If any of the pictures I show here look good it’s because they were taken by someone with a real camera and I wrote their names in the corners so they would get credit.

The cat show was upstairs and didn’t start for another fifteen or twenty minutes so in the meantime The Moomins and I wandered around the ground floor. Set up were gift bags for the raffle, various foodstuffs like crudites and fancy cheeses and an enormous cake with (I’m sad to say, extremely poor) renditions of Matilda and Tara, the cat that rescued that little boy a few months ago. The LEDs in the base were a nice touch, though.


We eventually worked our way upstairs to the actual fashion show. I don’t know what I expected. Maybe a runway or something. It turned out to be various cats perched on pillows wearing costumes inspired by Broadway shows. Their emotions ranged from, “Eh, it could be worse” to “This is WAAAAAAY too many people” to “Please, if you have any compassion in your heart kill me now and end this living nightmare.” First you encountered Vito who was sleeping for most of the time he was on display. He was the chillest cat ever.


Behind him was a cat dressed as the lead from Legally Blonde. The owner informed me that this was totally appropriate because this cat was raised by a chihuahua who adopted him as a kitten when she lost all her pups (Elle, the main character of Legally Blonde has her chihuahua with her all the time). He was also calm, but I think he would have preferred to have slightly less people flashing lightbulbs in his face.

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There was the Persian representing Wicked.

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There was a black cat who was Roxy Hart from Chicago and he wanted to leave so badly his owner had to keep her hand under the skirt area to keep the little guy from fleeing.

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Off to the side was the Rock of Ages cats, Tigger and Cody:

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And off in the far corner was two cats representing… something with turquoise and argyle. One was a Savannah and he was sleeping and the other was a wee kitten with yellow eyes and he was full of the frisky.

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In the library was Tara, the cat that rescued the little boy from the attacking dog. This cat. As I entered the room Tara stalked across the carpet and hid under the tablecloth.

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But he best part for me, without a doubt, was when a woman showed up late all flustered and I realized she was wearing two cats, one on her shoulder and one in a baby sling.


I have a weak spot for gray cats so I immediately fell in love with sling-cat whose name, I found out later, is R2D2 because of the wee beeping noises he makes. In addition both these cats are ancient and really shouldn’t have to go through this stupid and humiliating endeavor. Wearing costumes is a young kitty’s game. These elderly fellas should be playing shuffleboard in Florida. But here they were and it was about to get real rough for them.


R2D2 was then dressed as The Phantom of the Opera and Orange Cat Who’s Name I Never Caught was the Phantom’s Angel of Music. Orange Cat seemed moderately tolerant of this but R2D2 immediately went into some kind of sadness trance and stared at, nay, through, the carpet for the next hour. I think he was willing himself to die. People petted him, cameras went off in his face, he didn’t care. He was convincing the Grim Reaper to drop on by and help him shuffle off this mortal coil. I’m a bad person because I may or may not have laughed until tears rolled down my face at the utter pitifulness of R2D2. I’m not proud of that, but it’s the truth.

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I didn’t purchase any raffle tickets so The Moomins and I split after we petted all the cats that would let us and munched some cheese. It was a nice experience and I would go again to give funds to a worthy cause but once you’ve seen a bunch of cats in costumes you’re kind of good with that for a long time.


Saw two shows, read a book.

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

1. Shows! I saw Breaking the Code and Violet. I went to the Barrington Stage Company in Massachusetts to see Breaking the Code. It’s the story of Alan Turing, the British genius who broke the German enigma code during WWII and pretty much invented the computer as we know it. That’s all I knew when I bought the ticket. Interestingly enough, that’s not really what the show was about. You would think that would be enough plot, but there’s so much more to this man’s life. Turing was a homosexual when it was illegal to be one. When he went to the police after he was robbed Turing let it slip that the man who robbed him had slept with him the night before. Turing was accused of “gross indecency” even though the dalliance happened between two consenting adults behind closed doors (this makes me SO ANGEEE) and the court gave Turing one year of probation and estrogen to render him impotent. It also made him grow breasts. The whole thing is messed up. At 41 Turing was found dead from cyanide poisoning. It is assumed that it was suicide, but there is another theory, From Wikipedia:

Philosophy professor Jack Copeland has questioned various aspects of the coroner’s historical verdict, suggesting the alternative explanation of the accidental inhalation of cyanide fumes from an apparatus for gold electroplating spoons, using potassium cyanide to dissolve the gold, which Turing had set up in his tiny spare room.

Breaking the Code was really engrossing. I wouldn’t call it “fun” but it was definitely informative.

The other show I saw was Violet. I had no interest in checking it out until I saw their performance at the Tony Awards. I am a sucker for good gospel.

Violet, when she was about thirteen, was whacked in the face with an axe blade while chopping wood and her father was scared she was going to bleed out from the wound so he went to the nearest place and had it stitched up quickly and not very well, so she has a big ole lumpy scar across her nose-bridge and cheek, not unlike Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones.


(Interesting directing choice: the actress doesn’t have anything on her face. You have to imagine it. It makes the third act better.) Violet is about this young woman’s journey via Greyhound bus to a faith healer who she is convinced will fix her scar and make her beautiful. It takes place in the 1960s so there’s some race stuff in there as well. It’s a good show with good music, but the talent of the stars is what makes it great. I would recommend Violet except it’s closing in four days, so chances are you will not have a chance to check it out. If by some strange fluke of nature you are in the city before August 10th and you are going to see a Broadway show, this is a good one to see.

2. Book! I read Gone Girl and THAT BOOK CAN SUCK IT. It is the worst because it started so well! I loved the writing at the beginning, it was engrossing and the adjectives were well-chosen, I was hooked. I stayed up until 1:30 on a work-night because I couldn’t put it down. So thrilling! So many twists and turns! And then… garbagepants. It goes right off the edge of anything reasonable and straight into Housewives-of-New-Jersey-throwing-wine-in-each-other’s-faces level stupidity. And the ending BLOWS. It just ends. Crappily. You hate every single character and your face is in a permanent grimace for two days after. I hear they’re making it into a movie. A MOVIE I WILL NOT BE SEEING.


Addendum 8/12/14: I forgot to mention that one of the people starring in Violet is the silent character Norma on Orange is the New Black, Annie Golden. She plays a bunch of different people in the show Violet and while I was waiting outside for the will-call counter to open, who should show up but Lea Delaria, another actress from Orange is the New Black! Lea plays Big Boo. People were asking her for photos and telling her how much they loved her and I didn’t want to bother her, but it was so nice to see fellow actors supporting each other in different performance mediums. lea-640x362



Friday, July 25th, 2014

1. There’s a trend right now to have multicolored polygons in advertising and I just want to put it out there that I like it. Every time I see a Samsung Galaxy or pass a Starbucks it brightens my day a little bit. It’s so cheerful and festive. Keep it up, everyone. I WANT HAPPY RAINBOW TRIANGLES EVERYWHERE. IT’S FRIKKIN’ JOYOUS, Y’ALL.

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2. For the last three weeks I’ve been avoiding sugar and packaged foods, really just eating fresh vegetables and meat for protein. My body is running like a beautifully oiled machine. My entrails aren’t fighting with me like they usually do, my skin is clear, I lost some weight, all good stuff. And then the universe decided things were going too smoothly and I needed to struggle more, using 7-11 as a conduit for this temptation.


Oh my gosh, that looks delicious. And like it would hurt me from the minute I put it in my mouth until it left my body angrily twenty minutes later. I still want it though. It’s so… orange. There’s crunchy crumbles! And runny cheesy goo! I must have it. Lord, give me strength to avoid the siren call of the loaded Dorito. It’s the work of the devil, I know, but I am weak. I’m only a person!*

3. Occasionally I walk on Broadway to get to and from work. There’s a building that is covered in scaffolding and the scaffolding has different artists’ interpretations of eyes over it. Fine, good, whatever. It’s better than raw nakey scaffolding. However, one of the eyes is clearly that of Michelangelo’s David. I never realized that Michelangelo left a small point of stone in the pupil to give the impression of light hitting the surface of the eye. When seen in situ it’s a brilliant move, but when the eye is seen all on its lonesome it looks like a goat eyeball.

david-eye goatface

4. Also on Broadway, a pop-up shoe store. It’s selling the usual high heels and boots and the like, so the first few times I walked by I didn’t even notice the freaky shoes.


You see the iridescent and checkerboard shoes? I thought those were sandals on a plastic foot form, but look closer: the laces are on the plastic part. It’s a combination house shoe and clear plastic men’s shoe. Why? Why is this a thing? I can’t imagine your foot would look good in there, all your toes mooshed together and sweaty. Have we run out of ideas for footwear? Has it come to this? I want to speak to the person in charge.


5. Unrelated to my walks around town: this is a phenomenal costume I saw on the internet and I love it. In case you don’t recognize it, it’s Statler and Waldorf from The Muppet Show.

*BTW, I figured out a solution: I take a different route to work so I don’t see the storefront. Problem solved.

Addendum 9/15/14: Cheer is on the rainbow polygon bandwagon and I could not be happier about it.


Looking a gift horse DIRECTLY in the mouth.

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

The Moomins recently returned from a trip to Africa where she spent a month hanging out with relatives and friends. One of those relatives, my Auntie Bo, works for WIZO, the Women’s International Zionist Organization. It was created mainly to help women in Israel and according to the WIZO Wikipedia page:

Today, WIZO runs 180 day care centers in Israel, caring for 14,000 children of working mothers, new immigrants and needy families. The organization also runs summer camps, courses for single-parent families and therapeutic frameworks for children removed from their homes by court order.

That’s nice. Anyway, my aunt runs a chapter in Johannesburg and they have auctions to raise money. A woman in Africa passed away and left the contents of her home for WIZO to auction off. The Moomins was assisting Auntie Bo, organizing the stuff into piles when another lady came over with a puzzled expression on her face. “What are these?” she asked. The Moomins said, “Oh, those are penis shields.” Indigenous men in Africa would wear penis shields to prevent irritation from the rough animal skin pelt skirts. You don’t want to chafe. Now that Western clothing with underpants is more common penis shields have fallen out of popularity, but these were vintage ones from the 60s. “Who would want them?” the woman asked. “You know, my daughter would*,” The Moomins responded. So, when she came back and I said, “Hey, didja bring me anything cool?” thinking I would get something made out of wire or a piece of pottery, she presented me with not one, but two penis shields. A plethora of penis shields! Hooray! You can’t have just one! I didn’t know what to do. Despite what you may think my entire apartment is tastefully appointed, no art with any sexuality of any kind. I do not want these in my home. I cannot decide which drawer I will shove them in to try to forget about them. I insisted my father hold a shield in each hand so I could take a photo. He’s trying to smile but he’s actually saying, “What am I holding right now and why?”


In keeping with this vaguely sub-gartelian theme, I was asked by a gay co-worker for some signs to hold when he walked in the Gay Pride Parade. He is part of a gay outdoor adventure group. He gave me some witty and naughty catchphrases that he wrote (puns abound, y’all) and I designed a variety of posters based on them. I went to their Facebook page and researched all the places the group had traveled to (one was called Gaylordsville which is ridiculous, c’mon now) and used them as background images for the signs. I think they turned out great. Head’s up: some of these are a bit rough-and-tumble so don’t look at them if your workplace is uncool.

carter-gay-pride-2014-signs-6 carter-gay-pride-2014-signs-3 carter-gay-pride-2014-signs-7 carter-gay-pride-2014-signs-2 carter-gay-pride-2014-signs-1 carter-gay-pride-2014-signs-5 carter-gay-pride-2014-signs-4


Empire State Tattoo Expo.

Monday, June 30th, 2014

A weekend ago there was a tattoo expo a block from my house. Now, I don’t have any tattoos but I love every kind of art and did I mention it was a block from my house? I called up Snorth and off we went to the tattoo expo.


I didn’t take any pictures while I was there because I really wanted to focus on looking at all the displays and I took the risk that everything I saw would be on the internet. Luckily I was right, so all the pictures you see here were pulled off of the artist’s/company’s Facebook pages. We’ve all seen a great many tattoos in our lives and I was bracing myself for some unfortunate artwork. This guy I saw once comes to mind. I don’t think I saw any sub-par work. Every single artist I saw was above-average to out-of-this-world amazing. I could not believe the level of skill I was witnessing. I’m going to talk about three artists in particular, but here’s a quick glance at some of the other artists.

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The talent, it was awe-inspiring. The first artist I walked past that knocked me out of my socks was Nathan Mould. He hails from Pittsburgh and his work is mostly black and white geometric using pointillism to create gradations.

nathan mould 1625597_503451586442543_1790553805_n 1174877_522251134562588_324633065_n 10294347_546320115489023_7154979655685657544_n 10155501_530248547096180_4884797846923950179_n 10330419_549182365202798_5192036825946569774_n 10289897_547749565346078_7214477944633046952_n 1-1YGhXs6Z 1185166_520080604779641_1477773417_n 586779670c2d29d08e8741ba4ade28d5 1979553_527900617330973_1763943770_n 1982082_523696617751373_1903998195_n

He was selling a t-shirt and he could have charged fifty bucks for it, I would have bought it anyway.


Then the next two artists were focusing mainly on the vibrantly colored watercolor technique incorporating a computerized collage feel. I saw Ivana Belakova, originally from Slovakia, now working in L.A. She’s on the right.


I loved that she could tattoo any subject, but always in her very distinct style. You want a car? She does a car.


You want a portrait of your dog? You got it.


Or your kid? No problem.


How about a beet? Now everyone will want a beet. I sure do.


I loved her bird and animal work most, though.

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And the last artist I encountered was Justin Nordine (on the left). His studio is presently in Massachusetts. Snorth and I ended up talking to him while he prepared to tattoo a rainbow chameleon on a man’s thigh.

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Later when I went to his Facebook page, I saw the drawing of the rainbow chameleon and the finished piece! (No surprise, it came out brilliantly.)

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Here are the websites of all these artists. If you want to get something done by them, be prepared to wait several months. They have a long list.

While weaving up and down the aisles, I noticed an enormous inflatable something-or-other in the middle area. When we circled back around I realized it was a booth with giant jelly jar of moonshine on top from the Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine Company. I found a picture of the booth elsewhere, you’ll need to imagine it in a big open convention hall.


I asked if I could buy a jar and they said no, the law prohibits them from selling the jar. What I could have was a shot. A shot of moonshine. I don’t really drink ever and it was 11:30 in the morning, but when an opportunity presents itself you take it. I was given the choice of original, lemon drop, cherry or charred.


I voted for cherry, hoping that the fruit would mellow the inevitable burn of the 100-proof moonshine.


I said I just wanted a taste, but the nice man poured me about two shots worth and then threw four cherries in. Hoo boy. I sniffed it. It smelled like something you would clean a hospital with.

I took a sip. Have you ever drank poison? I imagine what happened is what would happen if you drank poison. First, my chest got all warm on the inside and my left eyelid decided to close. It was done for the day. Then I ate a cherry. My nose-bridge began sweating and my tongue went numb. All I could taste was metal. I am not exaggerating. Snorth was watching me, she can attest to all of this. I politely handed my still-full cup back to the nice man, said thank you as best as I could with my tongue (“thakkoo”) and tried to continue on my way. I turned to talk to Snorth and she said, “Yeah, you reek of rubbing alcohol.” Fumes were coming off of me. But now I can say I’ve tried moonshine. Another thing on my list of things to impress youngsters. “Gather ’round children, lemme tell you about the time I tried NyQuil-flavored-propane.”

I went to Disney’s Realm of Thaumaturgy! Part 1 of 2.

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

Oh lordy, my last few weeks of work was the complete absence of awesome. I didn’t walk into my apartment before 12:05 at night any night this past week, Saturday and Sunday included. I was miserable and exhausted. Then I was told I would have to fly to Florida with the team to build the pitch deck for them. The meeting would be in Orlando. Now, a bunch of years back I had to fly to a conference in Orlando that I was told was on or adjacent to the Disney property and I got to see not a damn thing while I was there. I blogged about my regret. I would not allow this to occur again. So when it was brought to my attention that I had to go on this epic journey, I quietly informed my boss that I had never been to Disney World and gosh, the meeting ends at 11:00 a.m. and did I have to fly back immediately or could I maybe perhaps kinda sorta stick around all day and then fly home on the red-eye? And I made this face. My boss, who is a lovely and kind mistress, not only agreed to let me stay, she got me an additional night in the hotel so I could fly back Tuesday morning. Seriously, she’s a good woman. Then I had a meeting with my co-workers to discuss which theme park I should go to. It was agreed that I would be best-suited for Epcot (SCIENCE!), but since it was my first time there I insisted that I go to Disney’s original creation. I promptly got a ticket for one day of revelry at the Magic Kingdom ($105.00) and suddenly I wasn’t so sad about my poopy work schedule. The meeting happened, it went great, everyone else got on their planes and I went back to the room to change from tasteful meeting garb into the only white t-shirt I own and get my camera. First, let me start with the fact that we stayed in a hotel that was part of the airport. You might think that would be awful. You would be wrong. The airport/hotel was a beautiful atrium with palm trees and fountains.

airport1 airport3

Allow me to introduce you to the joy of staying in an airport hotel. When I was leaving I had a morning flight. I am not a morning person. I woke up an hour and a half before my flight was scheduled to leave, got dressed, collected my bags, went downstairs and checked into Delta because the Delta counter was across from the elevators. That’s it. There’s no “We gotta leave early because what if there’s an accident on the highway and traffic and etc.” It simplifies the whole process. I am a convert now. Back to Magic Kingdom. I changed my shirt, got my camera and happily went over to the concierge’s desk. “I want to go to the Magic Kingdom now please,” I said. “Great,” the concierge said. “Where did you park your car?” “I flew here. I don’t have a car,” I responded. “Well,” he said, “You can take mass transit which will cost about $75 each way (!) or you can rent a car for about $40.” I have never rented a car. I have stood next to Cricket while he has rented cars and ridden in said cars, but I have never done it on my own. I’m an adult, I can handle this, I thought to myself. I shall rent a car and drive to Disney World. So I did. I rented a jaunty red compact Toyota with absolutely no pick-up which made me the least-favorite driver every time I merged onto a highway. I got to Disney World and then once I was on the property I drove and drove and drove until I got to the Magic Kingdom parking lot. I was then presented with the choice of parking in Heroes or Villains. I was like are you kidding me? I’m parking in Hades or Ursula, no discussion. I got there and was directed to park in… Zurg. Who the eff is Zurg? I want to park in not-Zurg! But Jafar was full and there was no Hades or Ursula options, so Zurg it was.

parking-lot1 parking-lot2

I took the tram from the parking lot to what I thought was the gate. I was incorrect. I now had to take a monorail to get to the actual park. I felt like this was my Waiting for Godot. I would travel trying to get to the Magic Kingdom and never arrive. But eventually I did arrive, got off the monorail and was immediately hit in the face with the smell of jalapeños. Which seemed profoundly odd to me. That seems like a weird choice of odor to greet your visitors with. In front of me was Main Street and “When You Wish Upon A Star” was playing which caused me to feel feelings and I’m not gonna lie, I got choked up. Caught a little childhood memory in my throat there.

entrance1 entrance2 castle1

I’m not a big amusement park ride aficionado, so I planned to walk around the sections of the kingdom (Main Street, Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland and Adventureland) and see the architecture and the surrounding design elements. I loved the attention to detail. Not only was the exterior of Main Street well-done, a great amount of care was put into the interior elements of all the buildings.

main-street  main-street-interior

There was a brass band playing in the middle of the road and their jazzy rendition of “Under the Sea” is fantastic.

I realized shortly after arrival I did not have sunblock and I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but Orlando is located directly under the surface of the sun. It’s a hot swampland and I was going to roast if I didn’t do something soon. I zipped into a gift shop (one of several thousand billion I saw on the premises that day) and purchased the hat with the biggest brim. Then I wore it all day. If you happened to see me at any point, this is what I looked like.


Here’s the best part: anywhere else in the world I would be mocked for sporting such an idiotic headwear, but I was by far one of the least-silly-looking people walking around. There were people wearing the pointy wizard’s hat that Mickey rocks in Fantasia, for crying out loud. I was at the mild end of the spectrum. After I examined all the buildings on Main Street I found myself in Frontierland which is a hodge-podge of the Wild West and a bit of N’Awlins and some other stuff, it’s definitely America in the 1800s, but the precise location is vague. There’s a fully functional Louisiana steam paddleboat on a river, people. But if you know anything about me you will not be surprised to find out that my favorite thing in Frontierland was… an egret trying to mooch food from visitors. This guy was fearless. I walked right up to him. He did not care.

egret1 egret2

After I sauntered through Frontierland I entered Tomorrowland. I think this is my favorite of the kingdoms because it featured several of my most cherished Disney/Pixar characters.


And all the windows were hexagons. My favorite polygon. If the future is all about hexagonal windows, I’m in.


And is that a Shakespeare pun? Delightful.


I was starving by this point so I decided to get some lunch. That was a mistake. In Tomorrowland was a hot dog stand and I got the special. It seemed harmless enough and the girl who worked behind the counter could not have been nicer (from Rochester, NY, just moved there, fresh out of college). I got a hot dog with bacon, lettuce, tomato and a splash of ranch dressing on it. For like seven bucks. And it was… not great. Not bad, but elementary-school cafeteria-level cuisine. About an hour after that I walked past a stand selling chocolate-covered frozen bananas and as an homage to the show Arrested Development I got a banana. That, too, was expensive and sucky. I spoke to people when I got back and it was the consensus that the fancy restaurants where it costs about forty dollars per person and you need a reservation to get in are good, but the street vendors leave much to be desired. I had no intention of waiting for a fancy meal, but I saw families bringing in their own food and drink and I think that was a smart way to go. If they let you bring in sandwiches and juice, you should do that. Spend your money on a handheld fan that squirts water simultaneously, or a lighty-uppy spinny pointless thing for night-time (I wanted one but I restrained myself).

Since I’m not a big fan of rides (I tend to get motion-sickness and no one enjoys that) I was told to go on “It’s A Small World” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” and to visit Belle’s castle. I walked past “Pirates” and saw this:


And proceeded to keep right on walking. Did I mention it was a 90-degree muggy sunny pit of despair that day? I was not going to stand in line for over an hour for a ride that was two minutes long. That’s the benefit of not being a fan of any of this – if there was a line for something, I just shrugged and went to something else. It’s all the same to me. Luckily it was only a 35-minute wait to get onto a boat for “Small World” and a large portion of the waiting was done in an air-conditioned area. If you were worried that “Small World” had changed in any way since the last time you rode on it, rest assured it has not.

its-a-small-world1 its-a-small-world2

I got my own row in the the boat and watched the animatronic ethnically-one-note children sing the song and shimmy and wiggle and while the PC part of me was like, “I’m a wee bit uncomfortable,” the theater-tech part of me was enjoying the hell out of it. If I hadn’t had to wait thirty-five minutes I would have gone on it again. Disney is known for being not particularly sensitive to the many cultures of people of this world, and the best part of the park to truly appreciate this complete disregard is in Adventureland. Or, as I liked to call it, “Ehhhh, just put all the brown people over here. African, Indigenous Australian, Native Alaskan – who cares. And throw some themes of cannibalism in there too, it’s not quite offensive enough.”


Now I’m at a bit of an disadvantage here because I grew up with an art historian mother who collects sub-Saharan African art. That means I know exactly what it looks like, which meant I knew exactly when the Disney people screwed it up. For example there was a store called “Zanzibar” (an island off of the coast of Tanzania) where they were selling items from South Africa (nope, look at a map), including ostrich eggs that had Costa-Rican frogs painted on them (really?) and what appeared to be Guatemalan bracelets (I give up). It was here in Adventureland that I figured out why every so often I would get a massive whiff of jalepeño. There are phenomenal plants and gardens all over the park:

jalapeno-foliage foliage

And one of the plants decided it was mating season. In the process it got all musky and libidinous and the scent it was putting out was very green-peppery and chlorophilly. If anyone hears about a creepy woman walking completely alone through the park sniffing various plants while wearing a Goofy hat, that’s me.

Next: the rest of my day-long excursion.


Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

Around Halloween a couple years back I went to something called The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze at the Van Cortlandt Manor. I blogged about it. I guess it was a big moneymaker so they decided to have a summer version using a garden theme. They used recyclables and it’s lit predominantly by LEDs so it doesn’t use a great deal of electricity and isn’t too taxing on the environment. It was like a fairyland. I went with Cricket and I loved it. I imagine one might love it even more on LSD or peyote or ketamine, but that’s not how I roll so I enjoyed it unaffected by mind-altering substances.

At the entrance, there’s a blinking swirling rainbow arch.


And then you walk past a giant field of tulips made from old milk jugs. It was immense.

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Followed by an explanation of how trash was used to make almost everything there.


There was a corridor of chest-high mushrooms:

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A trail of ants, trees full of ladybugs:

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And a grove of butterflies.


Butterflies was a big theme. This was a large butterfly made from bubble wrap.


There was a maze with projections of butterflies on the ceiling and Christmas lights with butterflies on them lining the route.

butterfly-maze butterfly-maze-butterfly-green

Some of the things I felt could be worked on for the future. Like this bug kinda all by himself in a corner looking all weird:


And this rabbit that looks substantially more like a viscacha than a lagomorph. Plus they were playing trippy Indian sitar music near it. What that has to do with this bunny, I do not know.


There was a caterpillar cave to walk through:

caterpillar caterpillar-inside

There was a turtle made from a jungle gym:


A ten-foot-tall mushroom that if I had tall enough ceilings I would want at my apartment:


And a kaleidoscope pattern being projected on a wall of a side building. I only took one picture, but it kept morphing, you know, how kaleidoscopes do.


But most would agree the piece-de-resistance (aside from the gigantor field of tulips) would be the praying mantis watching over everything. He guarded a variety of plants like lilies and what I think are dandelions.

mantis-and-hill lillies hillside-lilies

As you near the end, you walk past the main house that had music playing. There were giant flowers on the house that changed colors and blinked in time with the music and vines that “grew”.


The whole thing was awesome and I highly recommend it. If you live in or around Westchester you should make an effort to go. And as with the Jack O’Lantern Blaze, my college classmate Jay Woods was in charge of lighting and once again he did a stellar job. Here’s the website: