Archive for the ‘Activitays’ Category

The Orchid Show at the Botanical Gardens.

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Cricket and I decided to check out the orchid show on its last weekend at the Botanical Gardens in the Bronx last weekend, and it was the bomb diggety. I was expecting a smattering of orchids here and there but they had actual walls full of orchids growing. I looked up the definition of orchid but I got a long convoluted description that talked about types of pods and seeds and had many science-y terms, so I will give you my definition. It’s a tropical plant that doesn’t grow in soil, has leathery leaves and flowers that either resemble dragon faces or ladies’ genitals. There ya go.

First, here’s a picture of the Botanical Gardens:

It was built in the late 1800s and both the building and the surrounding grounds are beautifully organized and maintained. The orchid show was predominantly in two major halls, but there were touches of orchid-ness throughout the whole building. When you first came in, there was a giant orchid wall. Remember, orchids don’t grow in the dirt, they use little “fingers” to attach to the bark of trees, so they can be vertical with no problem.

Near the end there was an gorgeous orchid corridor that you could walk down. I was blown away.

And then there were orchids all over the place hiding in pre-existing floral situations. I said hello to all of them.

There was a case of teeny-tiny orchids being all wee and precious.

And there was an orchid tower.

It was amazing. I’m going to go again next year. And I got to walk through all these non-orchid exhibition halls that had great plants in them as well. My favorite, as always, was the cactii room.

One of the coolest plants we saw was the wax rose. It was a large, exceptionally spiky plant with things that looked like triangular pieces of cheddar cheese on top. I was very intrigued.

There were also carnivorous plants, which I find charming for some reason. It’s a plant! That eats meat! Wacky! What will they think of next?

The water pond section was stunning, with the overhanging arches of some kind of creeper.

And there were various other awesome plants doing their plant thing.

After we had done a full circuit of the inside of the buildings, we went outside and saw the outdoor exhibits. The azalea and rhododendron field was just starting to bloom…

… and the crabapple trees was in the middle of its blooming season and were fluffy and fairy-like.

There were different varieties of pansies in pots scattered around, which delighted me because I love pansies.

It was a lovely experience, very scenic and zen. I’m already looking forward to next year.

Pumpkin Fest.

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Welcome to 2012! We’re all gonna die in either May or December, so that’s a fun thing to look forward to. Two things I want to cover. One, Snorth and I went to the local cat show and it was the same old same old of insanely beautiful cats and their super-odd owners. I didn’t take any pictures (you can go here and see previous cat show pics if you are so inclined) but I did have to take one specific shot. This one.

Okay. You don’t just put that sign in the water fountain, right? This implies that one, or possibly more than one, persons or peoples have attempted to cleanse their yewling felines in the water fountain. Right? I won’t lie, it made me want to wash a cat right then and there. Just grab any random one hanging around and SOAK IT ON UP, YEAH, SOGGY CAT TIME! Cats don’t like that though, so I didn’t. But I thought about it.

Two, I’ve been meaning to talk about this pumpkin festival I went to back in October. It was called the Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze and there were a whole lotta pumpkins (not surprisingly). It covered the grounds of a fancy country home on the banks of the Hudson River. Seriously, illuminated pumpkins everywhere. My college classmate Jay Woods did the lighting design, so mad props to him – some of the pumpkins had candles in them, but many of the pumpkins had electrical lights because, hey, keeping 4,000+ candles lit is a hellish task meant for no man. It was indeed great, mainly because it felt like something one would go to in ye olden tymes. “Oh yes, Edward, let us venture into the countryside via carriage to look at the carved pumpkins strewn all over the estate. They have been lit with candles, it’s all very festive. We’ll drink mulled wine and then die of typhoid, etc.” Here’s the entrance.

I think there were professional carvers working for a month beforehand, but to create the full effect of OMGGOURDSALLOVER they had girl scouts and various other children’s groups carve other pumpkins that were on the lawn as you walked up. It was impressive to say the least.

There was an abstract snake shape over the entire left section that was guarded by ghosts.

The jack o’lanterns weren’t all on the ground. Whoever designed this came up with some really cool ways to use the pumpkins to their full potential. Like the corn and sunflower stalks.

And the beehive.

And the spiderweb.

And King Kong on top of a side building.

And these warrior-type figures. I don’t know if they symbolized anything, but they were neat nonetheless.

I had a couple favorite things. One was the sheep skeletons.

Another was the dinosaurs. Specifically the baby hatching out of the egg. I took a picture with flash and one without to show the full awesomeness of the egg idea. I suspect after seeing this you will make one for your front porch next year.

But my favorite thing was the intricately carved pumpkins, most likely using drills with different-sized drill bits as an integral part of the carving. They remind me of those Ukrainian painted eggs.

I recommend that if you’re in the New York area around Halloween next year, you give this a look-see.

Maker Faire.

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Cricket and I went to Queens to the New York Hall of SCIENCE! (emphasis mine, not theirs) to go to Maker Faire. Maker Faire, from what I understand, is kind of a positive backlash to how industrialized our world has become. People make stuff. It’s that simple. Now, unfortunately for me, people predominantly make things that do something (math, science, computers. engineering, etc.), and I only make things that already exist look better. I had no idea what was going on most of the time. For example, I saw signs like this:

What the huh? And this one:

But what I read was this:

I was truly out of my milieu. But I had a jolly good time anyway. First of all, as you come in there is a giant dinosaur made from car and truck parts with a couch in it that children were sitting on. And fire was coming out of its nose. I want one for my living room.

Then there are a variety of white tents set up all over the grounds. The first one I hit was the Craftacular sponsored by Bust Magazine (motto: “getting it off our chests”). I was familiar with everything going on there. In fact, I bought myself some steampunk items from a lovely woman who came all the way from Columbus, Ohio. I got a necklace made for a watch exterior with a morpho butterfly wing in it, and I also got a pendant made from the watch’s interior components.

Then Cricket and I headed over to the Maker Pavilion:

Where the big thing this year is 3D printers. What is a 3D printer, you ask? Good question. You make an object in a 3D program, then you send the file to the nice printing machine. On top of the printer is a spool of plastic, and what happens is the plastic string is drawn down to a heated little element which lays it out in rows over and over itself, not unlike how one makes a coiled clay pot. It can make just about any shape. It totally blew my mind. Here’s what the big industrial machine looks like (note the spool of plastic):

They were also selling an Ikea version that came flat-packed that you assembled yourself, which was adorable:

And here are some the crazy-awesome things the 3D printer could make:

Apparently it can also do it in metal and glass, but I couldn’t figure out how.

Anyway, instead of buying one of these machines, you can also just send some of the companies your designs and they will print it for you (which is what I would do if I was making something). Here’s one company’s information:

Another big tent that was there was the Arduino Pavilion.

When I asked Cricket what an Arduino was, he sighed heavily and told me it was a small computer. I waited outside this pavilion while Cricket pottered around inside looking at…Arduinos.

There were a variety of littler tents scattered all around the grounds showing other people’s cool ideas. For example, there was the lock picker tent.

Another tent had a rather genius idea in it based on Archimedes’ mirror death ray.

You, a doctor in a rural area without an effective way to keep your tools disease-free, receive this box with angled bits of wood in it and a pile of 3″ x 3″ mirrors. You place the mirrors on the angled bits of wood and when the sun hits it, it focuses the sun’s rays on one very hot spot. You put your surgical knives or clampers or whatever in that beam, and it’s so hot it burns away all the evil bacteria and/or viruses. It never goes bad or loses its potency and is relatively easy to transport and/or repair. I think it’s brilliant.

Outside the tents was a solar carousel.

And a fish bike which I believe I saw at the Mermaid Parade.

And this guy eating chinese food.

By then, Cricket and I were peckish, so we stood in line for paella, which was cooked in giant paella pans. And the paella was mad good too.

I felt bad for the fresh fruit vendor next door because he had a bit of a honeybee situation. The honeybees were lovin’ it, though.

But my favorite thing was definitely the Sashimi Tabernacle Choir. I heard about it a few years ago, but I never thought I would see it in person. And lemme tell you, it is magical. I’m not even being obnoxious. It’s magical. Cricket and I stood in front of this thing for at least three songs.

Here’s a video someone took of the Sashimi Tabernacle Choir performing Bohemian Rhapsody. I don’t know what’s up the the filmer’s camera, but the clicking noise is NOWHERE that loud in real life. You can totally hear the music all the time.

And this video’s pretty great too. Note the conducting lobster near the top.

And this one. Because I love this car.

West Indian Day Parade.

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Cricket and I went against everyone’s better judgement and toddled off to the West Indian Day Parade in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. And guess what? Nothing happened. I didn’t get shot. Cricket didn’t get shot. Frankly, it was a little boring. I imagine it’s more exciting if you feel some attachment to the islands represented. But I captured a few cool moments on my camera which I will share with you now.

The most important thing there, in my opinion, was this chihuahua who was sitting on this woman’s shoulder right in front of me. Totally underwhelmed by the proceedings going on around him.

There didn’t seem to be much structure to the parade. There were giant trucks with massive generators on them that would roll on by and music would be blasting out of the speakers. People were standing on or around the trucks, but they didn’t do specific choreographed moves or anything. They just walked alongside it. The weirdest one were these two people on the first truck to pass us by. The guy was yelling into a microphone, but the woman was in this backwards crouched pose. She wasn’t dancing or even moving. She looked like she thought the truck was excessively dirty and she didn’t want her pristine white costumed butt touching it. Or perhaps someone told her they would kill her whole family if she didn’t stay in that position for the whole parade. It looked uncomfortable, being frozen like that.

The one thing that was amazing was the costumes. There were all kinds, but the uniting thread between all of them was bright colors and feathers. Many birds are now bald and have to wear sweaters because of this parade. Sometimes feathers were all the ladies were wearing. This was probably the smallest costume I saw. Ribbons, feathers and glitter. That’s it.

It seemed like there could be any theme to the costumes. There was Mardi Gras (or Venice, depending on who you’re talking to):

Native Americans:

Greek motifs like the helmets and shields from “300”:

This woman’s headdress has an Thai feel to it:

And there were a bunch of people dressed like British colonists, with the white wigs and the triangle hats, but I was eating curried chicken and rice at that time and was unable to get a shot.

There were also quite a few people who looked like they made their own costumes, and some of them were fantastic. I can’t imagine how much time and work went into those. The best was the man with the gold carousel-type costume with the life-size dolls hanging off the four corners. That costume had wheels, it was so big (and probably heavy).

There was the one that looked like an African shield with peacock feathers around the perimeter:

There was the unfortunate person dressed as a giant red flower who needed someone to walk in front of them and guide them down the street:

But my favorite was this guy. I cannot for the life of me figure out what’s going on here. I feel like he’s going to rob me with the bandanna over his face, but then he looks like a bat…with hearts all over his wings? Is this a thug homage to Alice in Wonderland? Cricket had no idea either.

A group of men walked by celebrating what I can only construe is the Ripped Ab and Pectoral Society of Gentlemen.

Chihuahua is unimpressed.

Oh, and there were stilt kids.

The one thing at the parade that really took me by surprise was the dancing. I’ve seen a lot of dancing in my day, but nothing like this. Women would stand in the middle of the street, bend over at the waist until their fingertips were touching the ground, and any random guy would come up behind them and grind up on them something fierce. Maybe he would call his friend in and his friend would start humping on her facial area, thereby creating a “train”. In the middle of the street, people. In full view of everybody. At one point I turned to Cricket, and without a shred of humor said, “Is no one thinking of the children?!?!!” And then I clutched my pearls and fainted. Here’s a picture of the “dancing” happening on the sidelines.

Now that I’ve gone, I don’t think I need to go again. It was hella-crowded and it took forever to get there from the suburbs where I’m at, so perhaps if it was broadcast on TV I would watch it, but otherwise I’ll just stay home and craft like I normally do.

Burlesque Activitay.

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

Cricket and I went on another activitay. This time we went to the Upper West Side to watch some burlesque.

Burlesque, in case you don’t know, is when lovely ladies take off their clothes for you. However, do not confuse this with stripping. With stripping, it’s about taking your clothes off and getting the customer hot and bothered so he gives you money. With burlesque, the titillation is nowhere near as important as the entertainment value. Some of these girls looked real regular, with no fake parts and large hips, etc. Also, they wear g-strings and pasties, so you never see the, ahem, primary and secondary sexual characteristics, if you will. And sometimes the nice ladies do comedy or sing as well, it’s a full-service show. The particular show we saw was hosted by a  great woman named (I’m not making this up) World Famous *BOB*. Here is a picture of World Famous *BOB* and her giant gazongas, Snookie and Pookie. They were additional characters in her show, like enormous fleshy puppets. We got to know them very well. She was wearing the pink evening ensemble you see in that first picture.

And here’s a picture of World Famous *BOB* with her pink-tinted toy poodle, Movie Star. She spoke at great length about Movie Star. I feel like I know this dog now.

There were a whole bunch of acts, and they did two numbers each. One woman, Minnie Tonka, did a number to “You Spin Me Right Round (Like A Record)”, she had pasties that she attached records to and they spun! That got a lot of cheers. One girl, Tansy, did a lovely striptease as Snow White from Disney, with a little birdie on her finger, so now I can’t imagine it without copious amounts of nudity and tassel-twirling. The headliner, Nasty Canasta, did a classic fan dance, but using a box fan (clever), and another woman, Darlinda Just Darlinda did a great number where (this is going to sound demented) she kept acting like she was smelling her pits to a classic French song. But, you know, like a lady. It was a hoot. In October there’s going to be The Golden Pastie Awards at the Highline Ballroom, and I may go to that.

Museums. (Musea? Museii? Whatever.)

Monday, July 11th, 2011

This past weekend I went to two museums. One was the Museum of Sex and the other was The Metropolitan Museum of Art, specifically to see the Alexander McQueen “Savage Beauty” exhibit. First, the Museum of Sex. It was okay. I’m going to make an analogy: Often places that specialize in sexual material are skeezy, like a middle-aged man with scruffy gray five-o’clock shadow and a dirty trenchcoat that doesn’t cover his knobby knees rubbing his hands together and chuckling softly to himself. That kind of gross. The Museum of Sex, however, more resembled a New York lady with oddly-shaped glasses who goes to gallery openings and gives lectures on women discovering their sexual selves in front of a giant painting of rockets. It was a lovely museum, although quite small. There were three exhibitions: Sex in Cartoons (lots of R. Crumb and Tom of Finland), Sex in Film (lots of…sex in film), and The Sexual Lives of Animals. Cricket and I saw an exhibit in London called Sexual Nature which was all about the sex lives of animals, so we thought that this would be the same. We were wrong. The one in London was all tongue-in-cheek, charming and naughty. This one was more ANIMALS BE DOING DURTY THANGS. There were life-size paper-mache sculptures of the animals doing the no-no acts, but in the interest of good taste I only took pictures of the placards near the art. There was this one:

This one:

And my personal favorite:

I’m surprised Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum haven’t outlawed Mallard ducks. If I were them, I would.

By the way, the funniest thing I saw there was a security guard who was clearly hired from some big agency and was profoundly displeased about working at MoSex (as the kids call it) with a black and shiny gold tie that read “I LOVE JESUS” over and over and over. It was his tiny little protest. Cricket and I were like, oooh honey, you need to find another line of work.

In somewhat keeping with the sensual theme, I went with Neenernator to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the Alexander McQueen exhibition. Alexander McQueen was a brilliant fashion designer who recently died, and this was a big retrospective of his work. I was vaguely familiar with this clothing and accessories, but now I think he might be my favorite designer. He was extremely concerned with taking the normal lines of the body and reshaping it – making different parts look longer or shorter or thinner or fatter, putting things in the incorrect place. Artists like Lady Gaga and Bjork really liked his work. McQueen stated that some of his influences were Tim Burton, The Brothers Grimm and Edgar Allen Poe. You’ll notice there’s a lot of references to death in his work, as well as S&M. At best, his clothes were uncomfortable to wear, and at worst they were probably a bit painful. I’m going to show you some of the more impacting pieces.

At the end of most fashion shows, they finish with the wedding dress. I love the fact that McQueen used antlers in one of his. I was told by my mother that under no circumstances was I allowed to ever get married with antlers on. She never lets me do anything.

One of the things McQueen was most well-known for was the lobster shoe. It is a ballet-shoe with a crazy-tall heel and the front bit protrudes out, making it look like a lobster claw.

Here’s a tattoo someone got of the lobster shoe. Hardcore, dude, hardcore.

My favorite dress that changed the perceived silhouette of the body was a dress I called the Christina Hendricks dress, because, well, it puts padding where one would have it if one was Christina Hendricks. Here two pictures of Christina Hendricks:

And here’s the Christina Hendricks dress:

My favorite dress was the horse dress. It’s molded to look like a nude woman on top, and then the bottom flares out and has horsehair hanging below. What makes this dress so great is the bottom flounces like the ponytail of the snottiest cheerleader in your high school.

And if you watch this video from 2:59 to 3:09, you can see the skirt-flouncing in action.

My second-favorite item was the jacket made from the skin of a Thompson’s Gazelle with gazelle horns coming out of the shoulders. You don’t need to wear makeup or earrings or anything with that, the horns do all the work for you.

There were also some stellar accessories on display. Like the face disc:

And the metal jaw:

And let’s not forget the external metal skeleton corset or the feathered ear things:

But, not surprisingly, I was drawn, once again, to wearing dead things as ornament. Specifically McQueen’s dead bird phase. At one point I turned to Neenernator and said, “IMMA GO KILL A DUCK.”

So, today I went on the internet and looked up dead birds I could purchase. It turns out that whole dead bird skins are kind of expensive. I wanted to buy this Grey Peacock Pheasant skin, but it was $300.

And since I have less than no idea what I’m doing, I decided to go with some starling skins that are a mere $7.00 each.

We’ll see what I make of this. I have been inspired. I may very well go and see the exhibit again. I recommend you see it too. It closes August 7th.

Activitays with Cricket.

Monday, July 4th, 2011

Cricket and I tend to stay indoors and be little homebodies, so lately he has been insisting we get out of the house and do things. “Activitays”, he calls them. I send him emails of goings-on with titles like, “Possible activitay?” (or, if I’m sure he’ll be into it, “ACTIVITAY!”). So this past weekend, we made a day in the big city. In early afternoon we went to the Pompeii exhibit that’s on right now in Times Square. Even though it’s expensive ($25) and it’s got unnecessary cheesy special effects (Really? Do I need a constant rumbling soundtrack blasting out of speakers everywhere? Really? I get it. Volcano. Everyone died. Ominous. Oogy-boogy. I get it.), I recommend it. The thing I found most astonishing about the large quantity of artifacts was how similar they are to the things we have today. The anchors looked the same. They had loaded die for cheating and games. They had scales with weights for measuring and plumbing with valves. It’s amazing how advanced civilization was so early on. That was all in the pre-Vesuvius-erupting section. Then they let us into the post-Vesuvius erupting section, where all the casts of the bodies were. The most crisp and realistic-looking one was definitely the dog.

For anyone who doesn’t understand what we’re looking at, here’s what happened: Pompeii was blanketed in a thick layer of suffocating ash and toxic gases from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. This ash lay twelve feet thick over all the bodies of the deseased. Eventually, the ash hardened and the bodies decomposed, leaving body-shaped cavities in the now-hardened ash. These cast were all made of the negative space left behind, which apparently looked like this.

It was definitely worth going.

After that, Cricket and I headed over to the Highline. It’s been open for a while now, but I haven’t had a chance to walk it. The Highline was an elevated train track that had been sitting abandoned above the avenues on the west side of New York. Instead of tearing it down, they turned it into a park. Yay! Recycling in a positive way! It goes from 30th Street to 14th Street, and we walked the whole thing. Aside from having lovely plants all along the edge, there was also some art. At the base of the northern part was a small amusement park installation by Friends With You, and art group that I like a great deal.

Then, as you progress downtown, there’s a series of birdhouses which are, much to my dismay, kind of dumb. How did I come to this conclusion? Well, even though there was copious amounts of food and water and shelter, there was, in fact, no birds. Perhaps because it was mere inches from the walkway where thousands of people are traipsing by, I don’t know. I do know that if I was a bird and massive hoardes of giant loud monsters were thumping by on their giant feet all damn day, I wouldn’t set up residence there. I’m just sayin’.

Further down the Highline widens out and there’s an awesome piece of art there. There’s an overhang with a long strip of those small-paned windows that were so popular in industrial buildings back in the day. Now, according to the placard nearby, the artist went on an 11-hour boat trip on the Hudson and took a picture of the water every minute or so. I’m not sure if the artist took the dominant color or the color of the pixel in the center, but he did one of those two things and each pane of glass is assigned a color in the order they were taken, left to right, top to down, in rows. It’s so beautiful. Here’s a small piece of it.

Right across from the windows was a man selling homemade popsicles, and in front of him was a big block of ice. I said to Cricket, “I must have whatever that block of ice is associated with,” so when we got up to the front of the line, we just gesticulated towards the block, as if to say, “Please, do…whatever it is you do with that and give it to us, thank you.” The popsicle man then took a planing device with a cup at the end, like a diesel cheese grater, and he went skkkskskkhhsksshhh across the surface and filled the cup with shaved ice, and then he poured homemade rhubarb sweetened juice over the whole thing. Fabulous. If I ever have a fancypants backyard party, I will have a shaved-ice guy because it looks cool and it is delicious, which is a great pair.

Cricket and I purchased a Time Out magazine and looked through it, so hopefully there will be more exciting activitays to come.

Birds of Prey Day.

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

For weeks now I’ve been looking forward to going to Birds of Prey Day in Brewster, NY. It’s on a farm and the poster said there would be 100 birds of prey there! You know what that means: OWLS. I was so excited I didn’t know what to do with myself. Cricket and I drove up to Brewster (a 45-minute drive) and OMG I’M GONNA SEE A MILLION OWLS!!

Okay, so it was a bit of a letdown. There were indeed about 100 birds of prey, but they were mostly eagles and hawks and falcons. In fact, this was predominantly run by a falconer’s association, so people were walking around with scary killer birds on their arms like it was no big deal. There was this bird:

And this one:

And this and this and this and also this:

And this adorable baby goshawk who was soft and warm and precious:

And they’re beautiful, but I really dig owls. Owls are my bag, man. What I learned there is owls are not for having. If you’re a member of the falconer’s association (which I could never be because I live in an apartment and you need to have a falconer’s outdoor area which must be approved by the association) you can slowly (over seven years) work up the falconry ladder getting to bigger and more dangerous birds, but at no point can you have an owl. You cannot buy an owl. You cannot acquire an owl. There are no owls to be had. I was very forlorn. It seems my dream of owl ownership is slowly fading away.

But not all was lost! There was a wildlife rehabilitation group there and they had some owls! Granted, they didn’t have the ones I really wanted to see (Eastern Screech or Saw-Whet) but they had this lovely one that was trying to catch a bit of a snooze, I think it’s a Barred Owl:

And a grumpy-pants horned one who gave me some serious stink-eye.

I love how because their eyes work independently in a lot of ways (pupils dilate and contract, eyelids blink) it looks like there are two separate expressions on their faces.

The best owl experience of the day was a with a wee tiny fellow. He was a short-eared owl, and he was a seething tiny puffball of rage in a wooden holding thing. I asked the nice rehabilitator man if he could pull out the little guy for me so I could get a shot of him and he said, “No, and I’ll tell you why. That bird is new, he’s wild and he’s feisty. But I’ll take a picture of him if you’d like.” I handed him my camera, and the man walked up slowly to the box, snapped a photo as quickly as he could and pulled his hand out of there. I found it great that this large, six-foot-one man was wary of this itty-bitty tiny smootchie demon-beast. Here’s the photo.

Evil Death-Bird…of DEATH! And Cuteness! But mainly DEATH!

There was also a wolf at the Birds of Prey Day, and that was kind of exciting. The wolf handlers were really nervous about having the wolf be around so many kids, but I was psyched. “Wha…? There might be a mauling? I don’t want to miss that! Lemme get my funnel cake and I’ll be right there!” However, this was the most mellow wild animal I have ever seen in my life.

The wolf handler asked the audience if anyone had a really fragrant perfume or lotion and someone did, so she poured it on the ground, and the wolf rolled around in it. He does that to mask his scent from his prey. So now, before his prey is taken down, it will be wondering why the forest smells like Bath and Body Works.

Chris Hardwick.

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

I am a big fan of a standup comedian named Chris Hardwick. Chris, in addition to being a delightful standup arteeste, hosts a variety of shows on G4 and has a website ( and has a podcast that I listen to and apparently has written a book and talks at comic-cons, etc. I found out that he was performing on Friday (yay!) in Brooklyn (boo!), so I bought tickets for Cricket and m’self and we trundled off to deep dark Hipsterville to enjoy comedy. I wanted a good seat, so I got there at 5:39 p.m. (doors opened at 6:30). Aaaaaand I was the only person there. Like, the only person on the whole block. In fact, since this was in the heart of Hipsterville (everyone, and I mean EVERYONE I passed had one or some of these: a fedora; a beard; tight pants that ended way too high on the leg; a bicycle; argyle; dorky glasses; a guitar; stupid hair; a sullen expression) I could not find the theater because there was no sign or indication of its location. When I eventually found the damn place, I parked myself outside and immediately regretted getting there so early since the building next door was a seafood supply warehouse and, every time the wind shifted, an odor of “rotting clams in the sun” wafted past me. Eventually other Hardwick fans showed up and I was pleased that they were total stereotypes of the gamer/computer nerds: pudgy, dorky people who were somewhat uncomfortable in their skin and therefore stood around poking their fingers at their iPhones/Droids. Even though I would classify myself as an art/animal nerd, I felt like these were “my people”.

I don’t know if everybody does this, but if I like a product that someone is making that they spend their own money on and give away for free (like podcasts) I often send them something. You know, a “thanks for making this, please continue to do so” kind of thing. So I brought a card with some money in it and a print of my pirate tugboat drawing. The show was terrific, and except for the girl sitting next to me who smelled like she had rolled around in dry cat food, it was a great experience. Afterwards, you could go and meet Chris, so a big ole line formed and I waited my turn to say hello and give him my baggie with the stuff in it. Now, I don’t know if this happens to anyone else, but I hate being in this situation. I call it the 100% situation. The person you want to meet, the person you admire, he or she has 100% control of the situation. You already know how cool or interesting they are. They need to prove nothing. YOU, on the other hand, have exactly two seconds to not appear boring or crazy or weird. You have zero percent control. And no matter what I do in this moment, I give the impression of being “off”. Always. ALWAYS.* When I got to the front of the line, I just tried to be gracious. I think I gave the impression of being soft in the head, which is better than being a stalker or whatever (“I need a snippet of your hair to finish my doll!!!”). Chris gave me a hug and thanked me for being there, he could not have been sweeter. I actually felt a little odd hugging him because…you know when you watch men on TV, you assume they’re about six feet tall. And then you see them in person and you’re like, whoa, not what I expected. Chris is about 5′ 7″, but he has the proportions of a much taller man, which means he has a small head and a thin frame and itty-bitty hands. He is what my mother would call “fine-boned”. When I hugged him, I was scared I would crush him like a wee robin in my hand. But no one was smothered, he got my package, all was well. Here’s a picture of him all normal-like:

And here’s a picture of him dressed as Princess Leia.

*An example of me meeting important people and failing: At my old company, there were two elevator bays – one that went to all the floors, and one for the executives to go straight to their floor. I, being a peasant, rode on the all-floors elevator. One day, the CEO of all of North America gets on with me. Just him and me, all alone in that tiny enclosed space. I was so nervous I would say something stupid to him (“Ha ha! Your skin has some damage, I see. Is that from teenage acne, or smallpox, perhaps?”) that I turned around and shoved my face into the corner, Blair Witch-style. No joke. I have no idea what he thought I was doing. I must have looked insane. Not good with the first impressions, I am.


Sunday, December 26th, 2010

Cricket, being German, wanted to go see Rammstein in concert. Rammstein, for those of you who do not know, is a German industrial band. All their songs deal with death, misery, sadness, rage and sex. No rainbows, no flowers, no koalas. They had one big hit in the US with “Du Hast” (“You Have”). Rammstein doesn’t like the U.S. at all, so this is their first tour here in about 11 years. Cricket was super-excited. So I bought him tickets (Madison Square Garden sold out in under two minutes!) and we went. We were seated about two rows from the ceiling, so all my pictures are not-so-great. Luckily, other people with better cameras took pictures as well, and I found them on the internet to sprinkle amongst my crappy shots. Here’s a picture of the band for you.

First of all, there were the fans. Almost all white people, mostly dudes. A great deal of black garments, especially those oversized black canvas pants with tons of zippers and latches. A lot of t-shirts featuring Slayer, Lamb of God, Metallica, etc. An ABUNDANCE of piercings. One guy had multiple piercings on his hat. (I wanted to ask him if it hurt, but I didn’t feel like getting killed.) Cricket, in his tasteful zip-up jacket, and me, in my dorky puffy coat, were not the ideal audience. We sat quietly during the opening act, CombiChrist, while people around us drank copious amounts of beer and yelled stuff. And then Rammstein came on (and immediately Cricket and I were in the center of a swirl of pot smoke). Has everyone seen “This is Spinal Tap”? Spinal Tap, the fictional band in the film, was famous for having elaborate, ridiculous set pieces, and Rammstein does the same. They need twenty trucks to go on tour with them to hold all their stuff. And pyrotechnics. Hoo boy. If you type “Rammstein Live” in Google Images, this is what it looks like. FLAMEY.

So, there was steam…

And crazy lights…

And insane amounts of fire.

It’s important to know that I’m not making up anything I say from this point on. Till, the lead singer, comes out on stage for the first song wearing a red leather apron, a hairnet, a red feathered neckpiece, and an apparatus that wraps around his cheek and lights up the inside of his mouth. For the tour, he wears the metal thing that goes into his mouth and lights up, but to film their latest video Till actually pierced his cheek, put a grommet there and wired the light into his mouth that way.

Then, in one of their later songs, the keyboardist, who goes by the name of Flake, comes down and knocks Till over. Till picks up Flake and tosses him into a large metal bathtub. Till then picks up a really weird-looking arm gun and fills the bathtub with sparks. Shortly after, Flake comes out in a sequin-covered suit and goes back to the keyboards, were he walks on a treadmill while he’s playing. None of this has anything to do with the song they’re playing, or any song they’ve ever played, or anything that’s ever happened anywhere, ever.

Then, for the song “Engel” (“Angel”), Till comes out wearing a giant pair of metal wings, which slowly open. Then fire shoots out of the tips of them and sparks fly out of the middle bits.

But, by far, the piece de resistance is during the encore, when they play the song which, for reasons of tastefulness, I will call “Kitty”. During “Kitty”, Till gets on a giant, pink cannon that shoots foam all over the general seating area. Still not making stuff up.

It was a hell of an experience. Aside from the fact that I had to stand the whole time, it was delightful. For pretty much the whole show the guy in front of me was rockin’ the devil-hands, so that was nice.

And the sea of camera-phone lights were beautiful.

The best part was that earlier that day, something called SantaCon had taken place, so many audience members were still dressed as Santa. Very trippy. Here are some pictures of SantaCon.

Here’s a link to their latest video. They filmed it on their travel set, so you can see the light in Till’s cheek, the pyrotechnics, the sequined suit and the treadmill. Also, one of the lines in the song is “barbed wire in your urethra.” Magical, I tell you.