Iceland, Part 3.

January 3rd, 2017

Some fun facts about Iceland – the countryside has many one-lane bridges you have to drive over. I thought was insane the first time I saw it but after a while it made sense. One, twelve people live in the whole damn country and two, you can see forever so if another car is coming towards you you both have miles to somehow figure out who’s going to cross the bridge first. We drove for hours and it mostly looked like this:

countryside

BTW, that bluish thing in front of us embracing the mountain is the glacier. The big one that takes up a massive portion of the island. Here, a map for help.

We got closer to it at one point. I thought it was stunningly beautiful.

glacier1

Another fun fact – this is an extremely elf-conscious country. Lemme pull a sentence out of this recent article in The Atlantic. You don’t need context. Just read.

If a road is completely necessary, the elves will generally move out of the way, but if it is deemed superfluous, a possibility at Gálgahraun, “very bad things” might happen. “This elf church is connected by light energy to other churches, other places,” Jónsdóttir said. “So, if one of them is destroyed, it’s, uh, well, it’s not a good thing.”

There’s also the article reported by AP News.

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So, as you can guess, lots of elf stuff everywhere. You need to respect the elves.

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Y’ALL RESPECT THE ELVES NOW.

Okay, the geothermal bakery and spa. Now, I don’t know about you but when I hear “bakery” I think of at least one oven, usually multiple oven. Based on what I saw I think maybe the name “bakery” is a bit of a misnomer. I will show you.

On arrival to the bakery and spa we got to see an authentic building with grass / moss growing on the roof.

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We asked to see the bakery and the kid behind the counter said, “Sure, let me grab the shovel.” None of us understood why he would need that, maybe to prop up the door? We had clearly seen the bakery from the parking lot.

geothermal-bakery1

Here’s the thing: that’s not the bakery. That’s a building that takes the boiling water out of the earth and makes electricity. The bakery was a pile of dirt on the edge of that lake back there. That’s it. Here’s how the “bakery” works – you put the ingredients in a big pot, the main ingredient being rye, one of the only two grains that grows in Iceland, wrap it up tight in plastic, bury it a foot or two into the lava sand where the water is boiling, come back in 24 hours and unbury your bread. Hence the need for the shovel.

geothermal-bakery2

The bread was delicious. They served us slices of the hot bread (really cake, the dough had two cups of sugar in it, let’s call it what it really was) and cold salted butter and we snarfed it down like we had never had food before.

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I’m not even remotely kidding about the water being boiling two feet down. Standing on the edge of the lake you could see the hotness trying to escape like little teeny tiny geysers.

geothermal-bakery-lake

Mishi and I decided to try out the spa. The gentlemen opted out of this and on the website it said something about their roof deck being the ideal place for making memories. Here is the place for the making of memories.

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Mishi and I left the menfolk there to spoon or whatever their memory-making required, I don’t presume to know their business, and we tried all the pools. First we tried the room with the boiling springs directly under the floor that was cool because you could hear and feel the boiling under your feet but profoundly uncool because you were engulfed in a mist of egg farts. We then progressed from pool to pool, increasing in heat with each one. It was pretty great.

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The view of the lake was stark and lovely.

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And everything was going great until the maintenance guy who was patrolling the area doing something with a leaf-blower/pool cleaning device and OH MY GOD HE’S PULLING THE ELECTRICAL CORD INTO THE POOL WE ARE IN WE’RE GONNA DIE AND LEAVE BACHELORS ON THE ROOF TO MAKE MEMORIES ALONE FOR THE REST OF THIS TRIP. Luckily a second after I noticed and braced for a tingly demise, the pool guy signaled for Mishi to put the cord further away, saving us from a tragic passing. Cricket caught the epic save on film.

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There was one other hot tub place we visited while in Iceland. It was literally in the middle of nowhere. A bunch of pools next to some mountainous rocks with a piece of plumbing that you could shove some money into for the upkeep of these pools. And a great view of the glacier in the background. I was transfixed by the craggy rock directly behind us.

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We saw reindeer on the way out to the hot pots! I would have been far more excited if we hadn’t been a million feet away from them but if African safaris have taught me anything you see what you see and that’s how it is.

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To close this entry let’s talk Icelandic horses. Sweet, small, hairy, furry horses. I saw a few outside of a gas station and I had to get up close and make friends.

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Next, possibly the best thing I saw on this trip, the glacier beach.

Iceland, Part 2.

December 30th, 2016

Every day we headed out in an attempt to see as much as possible in the few short hours of daylight (and I use the word “daylight” real loosely, more like “dim light” because SO DARK). One of the things we saw was waterfalls. Really beautiful waterfalls. The Icelandic word for waterfall is foss, so if you see names that end in foss, it’s a waterfall.

First, this one.

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Very big. Very powerful. The other three members of our group went behind it and said it was thunderous and strong.

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I don’t climb or hike so I went to the gift shop and bought ethically-harvested Iceland salt for forty dollars. Before you sass me for how freakin’ much it cost, one: everything, EVERYTHING in Iceland is expensive and two: in my defense it’s really yummy salt. It’s two bottles, one was flaky and mixed with charcoal so it looks like lava and one was flaky and smoked with birch wood which is one of two trees that grows in Iceland (the other being some Christmas-tree-looking pine). I do not regret my salty purchases.

http://www.saltverk.com/products-test/

No joke, best salt I’ve ever tasted. If you know someone going to Iceland, make them get it for you. It’s sold everywhere.

Returning to waterfalls: remember that movie that had so much potential, Prometheus? According to Snorth the opening sequence was filmed in front of one of Iceland’s waterfalls, Dettifoss I think it was. Makes total sense.

dettifossprometheus

Later that day we checked out another waterfall. It was pushing 2:30 in the afternoon so we had to get our shots in quick because it was getting dark.

waterfall1

D. took a photo of me with the flash but because of the mist on the lens it looks like I am anointed by God. BEHOLD MY GLORY.

waterfall2

Now, let’s move away from waterfalls for a minute. We went to visit a beach. A beach? Who cares about a beach? Oh, this was a fancy beach. This beach had basalt columns. An explanation:

It is the nature of basaltic lava cooling that allows this to happen: this lava is hotter and moves faster than other kinds. As it cools from the bottom up and from the center outward, long fractures form columns that at times take on astoundingly clear-cut hexagons. The whole process is called columnar jointing.

I have mentioned my love of basalt columns previously. The previous basalt columns were in Japan and they were small and very few. Iceland brought the basalt like never before. When we arrived at the beach we were informed of how desperately the ocean wanted to consume us and force us to live in the bosom of Neptune for all time.

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Death. Instant death if you touch the ocean. Got it.

There was a huge cliff directly in front of us. We walked around the corner and… there they were.

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And I promptly freaked out. Have you ever seen anyone shriek with glee at tubular rocks? Travel with me and you will get that opportunity.

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And next to that was a basalt column cave! All hexagons all the time!

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At the very end of this beach (which was covered with beautifully round stones) there were craggy rocks in the water being pelted by unnecessarily aggressive waves while tons of seabirds circled above. SUPER-nature-y and photogenic.

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And the ocean was no joke. Those signs were absolutely right.

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I deviated from waterfalls to tell you about the basalt columns because we went to a waterfall WITH basalt columns! Sad news: I felt ill so I stayed in the car but the others went and it looked like this:

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Not is all lost, however. I plan to go back to Iceland in the summer at some point to see the fields of wildflowers and neither stone no water is seasonal so I’ll maybe get to see this waterfall for myself. Because BASALT COLUMNS.

 

Aaaaaaand I’m back from Iceland. Part 1.

December 26th, 2016

I’ve actually been back for two weeks but work happened in that way it always does (dramatically and oppressively) so I haven’t had a chance to sort through my pics. But now that Christmas break has started I got a chance to sift through my pictures of moss (get ready to see, like, twenty pictures of moss) (I am not kidding) and y’all gonna get a chance to live my trip to Iceland with me. So, Iceland. First, let me say I understand Björk sooooooo much better now. Her weird, odd, sometimes beautiful and otherworldly music makes much more sense. When I came back I watched a documentary on her and she talks about how being Icelandic influenced her in the first five minutes.

Iceland is unique. Based on what was told to me by several locals, Iceland is most like the big island of Hawaii in that it popped up out of the ocean from volcanoes. The two islands have the same black sand beaches and a very similar pH in the earth. Because Iceland was not part of Pangaea (the giant supercontinent that splintered into our separate continents) and no rafts of leaves floated over, Iceland has no native animals. None. Some seabirds come over and nest there in the summer but until some guy from Norway (let’s call him Sven) came over in 800 A.D. with his sheep and horses and cows, there were no beasties. According to my Icelandic source (the young man who worked at the geothermal bakery), Sven had to return to Norway after some time because all his animals died and he was starving. This sounds pretty correct to me. Everything about Iceland’s landscape said, “Thank you for visiting but if you stay here you will eventually die of malnutrition and exposure.” There are no trees. I’m exaggerating. There are a few short trees. A few. But no situation where you couldn’t see something because it was blocked by trees. No forests. So you can’t build your shelter out of anything but pumice which is sharp and porous. Fissures are open in the ground and sizzling water mixed with poisonous gases come out. There’s no grass for your animals to eat. The ocean is perpetually trying to kill you so it’s hard to fish. The wind wants to rip the flesh from your bones. But, you know people, they can’t take no for an answer. People eventually settled and the hardy short hairy horses and hardy short hairy sheep did well and became indigenous. Humans also brought mice and rabbits and reindeer and they’re considered Icelandic now too even though they’ve only been on the island for 1,000 years.

We* arrived at about 8:30 in the morning and the first thing one would notice is that it was pitch-black outside. I soon found out that the sun didn’t rise until 10:51 in the morning, hung out in the sky for about four hours and then peaced out, leaving you in blackness again. Once we rented our vehicle from the car rental station (where I saw this sign):

arrival

We headed out to get some breakfast. As we were driving away from the airport, there was a sculpture that set the tone perfectly. It was a big pile of rocks with an enormous egg on top and a tail breaking out of the top. This was lit with red lights from the bottom for maximum spookiness. It said, “Hey, you didn’t know we filmed Game of Thrones here? Well, now you know! GIANT DRAGON EGG!” I was too busy going, “Whuuuuuuu…?” as we were passing it to get a picture of it, but here’s a shot I took as we were leaving. It’s during the day so it doesn’t have the same impact as it did with the red lights but you get the idea.

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Post-breakfast we started off to our first destination: the Blue Lagoon. The Blue Lagoon is mostly for tourists – the natives tend to go to small hot pots in YMCA-like facilities in their towns. The four of us got to the place in pouring icy rain, changed into our bathing suits, grabbed some towels and quickly lowered ourselves into the warm, sulfur-smelling water. Important note: if you do not like the smell of sulfur maybe don’t visit Iceland. It’s a very common odor to come across. Some of the hot water pumped into the houses comes directly from the earth and it is infused with the pungent, egg-y smell. On the way to the lagoon we passed a cemetery. Much to our surprise and for reasons we couldn’t really fathom, the Icelandic people put colorful lit crosses near the graves. It’s a strange place to make so festive. Everywhere else the houses which are small and quaint have one tasteful strand of lights strung above the door, but if you come to visit the graves of Nana and PopPop, hey! A rainbow light-up cross shows you the way!

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I thought it was only that cemetery but no, I saw it several more times. Come celebrate Brazilian Carnival at the cemetery! Woot woot!

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Back to the lagoon. It was 9:45 in the morning. It was pitch-black. There was freezing cold rain periodically falling. There was also a thick fog that prevented you from seeing ten feet in front of your face. To complete the weirdness, there’s a hotel being build off to one side of the lagoon so you can hear some construction sounds and see the lights of the crane through the fog. I felt exactly like I was a wealthy person enjoying life after the fall of society in some dystopian future. Very Mad Max: Fury Road. “I’ll just sit in this warm, eerily bright blue water filled with powdered silica in this perpetual night consumed by fog while buildings are built nearby. All is as it should be.” I didn’t take my phone out because I was concerned it would get wet but someone else took some pictures that were very similar to what I saw. Thank you, internet, for providing me with visual reference of my experience.

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We took some photos as we were leaving.

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This was taken around 11:30 in the morning. This was as bright at it got during the day. Epic gloominess.

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Next, we look at waterfalls. In the dark. Because Iceland.

*”We” is Cricket, Cricket’s sister Mishi, Mishi’s husband D and me.

Iceland. Land of surprisingly little ice.

December 2nd, 2016

Well, I’m off. I’m going to Iceland tomorrow and I’ll be back in a little over a week. Be strong in my absence and I’ll see you when I return. Enjoy this video of what I will be expecting.

Some artists I am feeling right now.

November 18th, 2016

I’ve inherited an glorious amount of roving from my sister (thank you and I love you, K) and therefore I’ve been looking at different needle-felted artists. One who I thought had the sweetest cutest work was Hanna Dovhan. I mean, seriously.

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I wasn’t quite sure how I was going to make what I had in my head with the roving I had received, but looking at Hanna’s work answered my question and now I know how I’m make what I’m thinking of. Here’s her Etsy store.

https://www.etsy.com/people/gannadovgan

Another wonderful non-traditional artist is Eleanor Pigman. I can’t quite figure out what she uses as a substrate, I’m guessing hand-painted felt, and then she beads on top of that. Eleanor layers her beads using different sizes and depths and her main subjects are birds and sea creatures.

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Eleanor Pigman’s Etsy store is this: https://www.etsy.com/shop/Epigman

Dr. Strange, MD.

November 13th, 2016

Warning: Vaguely spoilery about Doctor Strange below. I mean, it won’t ruin the movie but it’s maybe more information than you want so be cautious.

Hey! So, that election, huh? As an intellectual Jew from New York (I’m “elite”!) you can probably guess how I’m feeling so let’s skip all that, shall we? Skip right over all that. Plenty of other people to talk to about all that.

I saw Doctor Strange with Bendybloo Cobblehobble. I knew precisely nothing when I walked into the theater and I think that worked to my benefit. I looked back at the original drawings of Doctor Strange and he looked like the drag-queeniest Vincent Price ever conjured in the mind of man (not that there’s anything wrong with that, stay strong fellow brothers and sisters) so I think that had I known that I would have expected it to have more musical numbers. There were no musical numbers. It was, however, my favorite of the superhero movies, DC or Marvel, for one specific reason. I did not enjoy it the most. It wasn’t the most quotable or the quippiest or the most nail-bite-y. My reason is that in almost every superhero movie everything gets destroyed, whether by the good guy or the bad guy. Whole cities are demolished and that’s just how it is. I’m still mad about The Avengers. Hey, Loki, remember when you destroyed Grand Central Terminal and your punishment was to go home with a fancy metal ball gag? Remember that? Neither you nor your brother GoodGuy McBlondHammer stuck around to, I don’t know, hoist a girder with your crazy strength to rebuild after you done broke all the everything. In Doctor Strange the lead learns to harness the universe’s energy and in the climactic scene (here comes the sorta-kinda-spoiler) he not only doesn’t destroy a city, he UN-destroys a city. Like, it was being destroyed and he puts it back together all neat and tidy. THAT is what a superhero is supposed to do in my opinion. After he or she vanquishes evil, people will be grateful but they will also need places to live and rubble doesn’t keep out the cold. Seriously. Look at, like, every superhero movie that’s been released in the last ten years. There’s a lot, I’ll wait. See what I mean? This is great. Other things about this movie that are awesome and should encourage you to see it:

  • There’s a diamond effect that was used by January Jones in X-Men: First Class. It’s back. Glad to see it.
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  • Buildings are bending and folding over each other like in Inception but even more bendy and foldy. Glad that’s back too.
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  • Hannibal with super eye makeup. In the movie the purple part glows like embers!
    mads-mikkelsen-doctor-strange-benedict-cumberbatch 04-mads-mikkelsen-dr-strange-love-w529-h529
  • The evil dark realm looks like it was designed by Lisa Frank. No complaints about that.
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Things that are not awesome about this film:

  • Benedict’s American accent. It sounds like he’s writing with his non-dominant hand. It’s not a bad accent, it’s just not… quite… right.
  • The plot moves too fast. I had no time to process. It felt crammed in for time. I feel like this is an engaging and exciting story and I would have preferred to see it on Netflix as a series so each emotion gets a chance to sink in.
  • That’s it.

I would recommend seeing this film, especially in the movie theater. Not necessarily in 3D. I saw it in 3D and it was a bit much. But definitely in the theater. I think I’ll see it again.

What did you do for Halloween?

November 3rd, 2016

I HAD FREAKIN’ SURGERY. ON MY PARTS. There was no joyous candy retrieval or dispersal, only a saline drip. That was my “treat.” Here’s the succinct version – after postponing every possible wellness check-up I possibly could, some for many years, I finally went for an exam. When the doctor pressed on my stomach I made a sad gurgling noise (because it hurt) and she said, “Yeah, you’re not supposed to do that. I’m writing a prescription for an ultrasound.” A week later I went for my ultrasound and after being pressed and probed for what I consider an excessive amount of time (about twenty minutes) the fancy radiologist came in to give her opinion. All those screengrabs the technician took look like Loch Ness monster pics to me, all blurry and grainy and cryptic. Is that my kidney? Or Sasquatch? Who knows? The radiologist got all serious which I was not prepared for (did they find Jimmy Hoffa in my colon?) and said that there was an 8cm cyst sitting on top of my uterus. Because I’m a damn AMURICAN I have no idea how big that was so I was pleasantly chill about it. Then I got home and got out a ruler. Uhhhhh, guys, that’s a little over three inches. The radiologist said it wasn’t solid, it was filled with fluid. I responded by saying, “So you mean I made a crappy snowglobe?” and the radiologist said, “…Yes, actually, that’s exactly what you made.” The cyst and its contents weren’t of great concern but because it was so large the MDs were concerned it would twist, the blood flow to it would stop, it would become necrotic, rip open, fill me with septic goodness and then I would die. You know, bad things. And that’s how I got scheduled for surgery on Halloween. I couldn’t stop thinking about my cyst like a water globule on the head of a salticid jumping spider, the spider playing the role of my uterus.

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This made it difficult to take the situation seriously. But I went in at 10:00am, I was asked a barrage of questions about my life and my parent’s lives and my siblings’ lives and everyone I’ve ever met’s lives, had a needle stuck in my hand with the aforementioned saline drip (trick or treat!) and then eventually passed out where things happened laproscopically to me. I woke up sore and with cling film covering my bellybutton and what appeared to be hot glue on either side of my hips. I now know how one of my art projects feels. They left everything that was supposed to be there in there (no hysterectomy for me! I can still get authentic hysterics) (Authentic Hysterics is a great band name). I went to work today three days after and can I say modern medicine is kind of amazing? I had SURGERY, guys. One my abdomen, where many important things reside. And I walked out of the hospital that night and into a car, like a person. I didn’t take any fun drugs, only Tylenol. AMAZING. The only thing that bums me out is I wanted my cyst in its entirety given to me for further study, but I couldn’t have it because they drained it and then removed the sac so I got no parting gift. I was sad about that. I, and this is true, brought a freshly washed Ragu jar to the surgery to take my friend home in. I went home with my empty, unfulfilled jar. But, you know, not getting torsion and biting it whilst writhing in pain is nice too. Happy Halloween.

Things I have noticed. All SUUUPER very important.*

October 27th, 2016

1. Y’all need to see this amazing sculpture being made. Whoo, skills. So many skills.

https://vimeo.com/131811521

 

2. I use WeTransfer for work and sometimes they have ads. I saw this ad and I was like, “Where do I know that old guy from?”

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I could not for the life of me figure it out. Finally, FINALLY, I got it. He’s a perfect doppelganger for the librarian in Monsters University.

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Glad that’s all sorted out.

 

3. I happened to turn on Nickelodeon today and I found my life theme song.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uI-44FAvv5c

 

4. While perusing Tumblr I learned what angels are supposed to look like. I am fond of the first one which appears to be a spinning gyroscope covered in eyes with a black hole of a fetus in the middle shooting tribal tattoos in all directions. I don’t know about you but if that popped up in my backyard in 1153 AD and all I’d ever seen was corn fields and maybe a creek I would not have held it together with grace and decorum.

http://pyrrhiccomedy.tumblr.com/post/142646579807/what-do-angels-actually-look-like-per-the-bible

 

5. I was looking at kawaii softie patterns on Pinterest for work (that is true, my job is awesome) and one in particular caught my eye. They were all very sweet but some real extra-sweet ones were this:

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or this:

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or this:

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All so cuddly. And then in the middle of that was this:

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It’s not bad, far from it, it’s just… what’s the word? Off-putting. I think it’s how far the eyes are, those intense dark circles, the angle of the head and the Mona Lisa smile. I would not be comfortable as a small child sleeping in a room with that there stuffed animal. I’m not comfortable looking at a picture of it on my computer in a well-lit room right now.

 

*Totally not really at all even in the slightest.

Some charts to help you through the day.

October 23rd, 2016

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Cricket helped me and now he can’t run for office.

October 16th, 2016

Publicis is having their holiday party and the executives wanted me to create a save-the-date (or, sadly, an STD as it is sometimes called). I made a very clean version that we could send out and would offend no one.

holiday-pre-invite

The lead exec who is from England and does not understand our Puritanical ways said, “This is boring! I want a man’s balls in hot pants! Shiny! Bulging! Make it happen!” I was like, “Yeahhhh, we’re not gonna do that. I will find an alternative design for you.” I sat and I thought and it occurred to me, the place the party is gonna be at is called Flash Factory, why not a jaunty flasher? I needed someone with a smooth, relatively hairless chest and a willingness to help me, so I called Cricket and said, “Do you have a trench coat and are you available tonight?” He said no and yes. I called my dad and he had a trench coat. Here we go. When I got home I borrowed my dad’s coat and took Cricket downstairs. I had him take his shirt and pants off and pull his nethergarments as low down as he could before elements were revealed. Then I said, “Look down, open the coat and convey joy and delight at sharing your components with the world.” It several pictures before I got what I wanted. In most of them Cricket looked like he was a demented Joker in 18th-century long johns. Not what I was going for.

When I had something I could work with I cropped it so you didn’t see the underwears or most of his face and put the text over it.

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And the execs loved it. They wanted it far far simpler so I took out anything that wasn’t critical information and converted all the text to Helvetica and there you have it.

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Now Cricket’s treasure trail is going to be sent to 1,200 employees. And I have the best, most amenable boyfriend ever.

UPDATE: Hoo boy. This was a real agency-splitter. Lots of people thought it was fun. They asked if Cricket could come to the party in a trench coat and a flesh-colored Speedo and pose for pictures. The other half of the agency were less loving. At least 32 people wrote “How could you and I’m offended and I want to speak to the manager” emails to the top execs. Whatever, I don’t care. I did what I was told and all of Publicis America had to look at my man’s treasure trail and that delights me.