I realize that I haven’t really posted in quite a while (well, to be honest, I’ve posted more recently than between other posts in the past). So, I’ve been hunting around for something to talk about. I recently completed Lynne Truss’s book, Talk to the Hand: The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today, or Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door. It was exactly what was to be expected. I find her writing engaging, inspiring, and refreshing. She writes (generally) how I strive to write: in a carefree, laid back, yet sometimes pedantic manner, but never losing sight of the fact that pop culture references are OK. Sadly, while I found myself at times laughing out loud and at others nodding my head emphatically in agreement, I found the book to be rather disappointing. Where Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation was educational and fun, Talk to the Hand was more of general ranting with little scholarship behind it (not that her intention was to be scholarly in any way—in fact she says in the beginning that it won’t be). In general, I find that comediennes tend to focus their humor on a) men/relationships, 2) being fat, and III) periods. While she didn’t really talk about any of these, there was still, at times, that feel of the safe fallback routines for women, if that makes any kind of sense.
Or, if I didn’t want to talk about that, I could discuss either or both of the other books I’m reading, Spunk & Bite, a book that I hope will help me to write in the aforementioned style, and Cursing in America: A Psycholinguistic Study of Dirty Language in the Courts, in the Movies, in the Schoolyards and on the Streets, which the title pretty much says it all. The former is really little more than bathroom reading at this point, and the latter is actually more engaging than I expected. The author’s not much of a writer, but the topic is interesting. I’m sure he picked it for no other reason than to be able to say such words as fuck, motherfucker, cocksucker, and cunt at academic conferences…but that’s just my guess. In case you are wondering, I just finished Bill Bryson’s book, Made in America: An Informal History of the English Language in the United States, and in there he mentioned Cursing in America as one of the only books on the history of cursing, so I thought I’d pick it up. (Also, in case you’re wondering, I really didn’t like Made in America. I found the title misleading; it was more a brief history of America than anything to do with language. True, he did mention at the end of each section or chapter that words came out of whatever specific moment in time he was discussing, but it really wasn’t about the words as much as it was about the history of the United States.)
Then I thought about the book I’ve been neglecting. I started reading Gabriel García Márquez’ semi-fictional Love in the Time of Cholera, but I have to be honest, it’s not terribly exciting, and I’ve been reading other stuff in between pages. The Little Sabra bought me One Hundred Years of Solitude for my birthday, but I haven’t started it yet. I will, though, I promise.
Speaking of the Little Sabra, I could talk about her, but we haven’t done anything too terribly exciting since we got back from Boston. I think the most interesting thing we've done recently was go to Baltimore to meet my folks for snow balls.
There’s stuff going on in the news, but it who really cares that Paris Hilton got out of jail?
LtL and I are embarking on a new website, so that’s sort of got me jazzed, but as neither of us know anything about Drupal, the site is rather slow going. I don’t think I want to talk about it here, though.
What else? I joined the Smithsonian Institution a few weeks ago and just got my first issue of thier magazine. I started reading that, and there are some very interesting articles about very interesting people.
Finally, I should wrap this up with a general bitch about how there are so many people out there doing amazing and interesting things, and here I am sitting on my ass fantasizing about doing amazing things. How do they do it? Some kid (well, 23—gee, I’m feeling old calling a 23-year old a kid) just flew around the world in a plane he built, someone else is feeding the hungry, and still another citizen of the world is building mud huts in the middle of Africa, and here I sit on the 9th floor of NASA HQ, cooled by the A/C, typing away at my computer with little actual work to do, fantasizing about articles I could write, TV shows I could produce, non-profits I could start, websites I could develop, and still I sit while others do.
I just noticed that it's been ages since I've posted anything. This is really even more inexcusable when you realize that I've been doing fuckall at work for months now.
Anyway, things that have happened since last I posted:
- I took my buddy out for his bachelor party. I actually started to write this up, but when I got to the part where we went to the tittie bar, I decided that maybe I shouldn't actually post it. Needless to say, we had a great time looking at naked women! We headed over to the Block (Baltimore's Red Light District) for old time's sake. We went to some dive and this 40something-year old skanky crack-whore slides up to me and asks me to buy her a drink. I play along and say, "sure." Fucking twenty fucking five fucking dollars for a fucking drink! I was pissed! That pretty much ended the evening. We headed back to my buddy's house and smoked cigars.
- The aforementioned buddy's wedding. RC came in on Friday, and we headed over to the rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner...that was good times. We had chinese food, and I haven't had chinese food (except for the fast food joint near Chez Jo Cose). Saturday we got up and headed to the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian, and walked around that, then we did some other stuff I can't remember just now, and in the evening, we met the 'rents, headed into Old Town, VA, met my sister, and had dinner at Landini Brothers (an awesome northern Italian restaurant). After dinner my sister split and the four of us went to a paino bar where we met up with another friend of mine and his partner. Fun was had by all.
- Sunday was the wedding. It was a very nice affair. It was the 3rd wedding I've been a part of in the past 15 months, and it was the first that was fully Jewish, so that was nice. My speech went off without a hitch for the most part. I offended one person, but I suppose that that is life, you can't win them all. The Bride and Groom were happy and entertained, and that really is all that matters. I drank way too much gin. After the wedding, the Bride, Groom, RC, and I went back to the hotel, cracked open some brew, and continued to celebrate.
- Monday morning we headed over to the brunch and had bagels, eggs, and blintzes. I got beat up by the kids...all seemed normal.
That's pretty much it. Now you know the rest of the story.
We flew out of BWI Sunday (June 5) morning on Southwest Airlines and landed at Manchester Airport in New Hampshire around noon. We went to the Enterprise counter and picked up our rental, a Mazda 3. It’s not the most expensive car they make, but it was really nice, and I got to drive most of the time (OK, so the one time I navigated, I missed a step and we passed the turn. RC decided that we should more properly use our skills and I got to drive). Anyway, we picked up the car and drove about 5 hours north to Bar Harbor, ME (although it’s pronounced “Bah Ha-bah,” we never actually heard anyone say it that way). We stopped along the way so we could see the ocean. The tide must have been about to come in because it seemed like we could walk a mile out before we touched the water…not that we did since the water temp was in the high 50s. We ate lunch at McDonald’s. As we drove to Bar Harbor, ME, we got hit by torrential rains; it was not fun. Fortunately, we made it to the hotel without any problems.
We stayed at the Acadia Inn, which wasn’t too bad. The folks were somewhat friendly, the room was a pretty good size, and the bathroom was huge. We had a free continental breakfast both mornings, so that was very nice—I had blueberry muffins and Froot Loops both mornings. Unfortunately, things turned ugly the second morning: no hot water … but, I’m getting ahead of myself. We went out to dinner the first night at a lovely little place downtown called Galyn’s Restaurant. A little, hunch-backed man who definitely blipped my radar as being a member of the Tribe seated us in the back, away from the door and windows as it was rainy, damp, and cold. As RC has lived a very deprived life and never had lobster before (OK, so she is from a landlocked state, but still…), we ordered the Lobster Cocktail for an appetizer. It was quite yummy, but a little over-priced (but she enjoyed it, so it was worth it). I got the Tarragon Chicken, and RC got Garlic Shrimp Linguini. We skipped dessert.
The next morning (June 6), we were up bright and early. She went to read the paper and drink feculent coffee while I showered and watched TV. Then we were off to Acadia National Park. I am not normally an outdoorsy person, but it was very pretty. We went to Thunder Hole, but it wasn’t very thunderie (we were going to go back the next day, but we didn’t). We drove through the park, over mountains and ponds and to the ocean. We also did a little hiking. We walked all the way round Jordan Pond, and then we went to Jordan Pond House where RC had blueberry tea, I had chai, and we both had popovers. They were friggin’ awesome! Then we drove all round the island (well, our part of the island anyway). That night we dined at the West Street Café. They had specials like clam chowder or mussels for appetizer, whole lobster with 2 sides, and blueberry pie for dessert…mmm blueberry pie. I got the mussels and RC got the clam chowder. She also had a blueberry beer (it just tasted like beer to me).
Tuesday (June 7) began with the aforementioned anecdote of no hot water. The cold water wasn’t just cold, if was friggin’ frigid. I washed my hair and the important bits (arm pits and crotch). It wasn’t the cleanest day, but what can you do? RC did pretty much the same. We originally planned to go to Isle au Haut but instead decided just to eat at a small cafe on Main Street in Stonington. RC had grilled cheese and soup, and I had a burger. Both our meals cost less than the lobster cocktail two days before. Then we went to Rockland where we checked in at the LimeRock Inn (LimeRock is correct, BTW, it’s not Lime Rock). We stayed in the Petit Manan, which was a nice enough room, but rather odd. The toliet was in a little vestibule between the door to our room and a pocket door that didn’t actually work. The oddest part was that the shower was in the closet (I guess that is what the Brits mean by Water Closet). Other than that, it was fine. After checking in, RC took a shower and I sat out on the porch swing reading a Bed & Breakfast trade magazine. I found what I thought were good deals on buying a B&B, but RC overruled it. Next, we walked into downtown, and before I knew it, something came over me like a fast moving dark cloud on a sunny day. I think I was just dehydrated, but I really have no idea. We went to a Mediterranean restaurant called Amalfi, and once I had some food in me, I began to feel much better. We had mussels for appetizers, then RC got a spinach manicotti like dish, and I got the House Paella (chorizo, chicken, shrimp and mussels). We rounded dinner off with a very enjoyable crème brulée. We walked around town a little more and went back to the LimeRock Inn and sat on the porch swing before going to bed.
Wednessday (June 8) found us eating waffles for breakfast. It was sort of weird eating breakfast with the other guests, but RC assured me that that is all part of the B&B experience. I guess…
We drove back to Camden to go to the Camden Hills State Park. The view was truly spectacular! We saw the ocean on one side (Camden was far, far below us). You could also see the harbor and Penobscot Bay. On the opposite side was Cadillac Mountain. I wanted to have our picture taken with the Bay in the background. A random woman was kind enough to offer, but sadly, a photographer she was not. She managed to get a lovely picture of her thumb rather than of RC and me. Also, frighteningly, I somehow got a big ole tick on me. He was on my head and I picked him off. I tried to throw him out the window, but the bugger managed to get back in the car. On our way out of town, we stopped at some random hobby shop on the side of the road. I was hoping that they would have a cool ship model, but they were more geared to radio-controlled airplanes. Oh, well. We pointed Camden to our stern and headed down the sea of concrete to our next destination: Bath, ME. In Bath we went to the Maine Maritime Museum. It was pretty cool. We had a nice demonstration of how a ship is launched off the ways by some old geezer who seemed very excited to have someone to talk to—but, he was very monotone, and I had a hard time paying attention…and there was a big ole spider crawling around. We had a snack out of the candy machine, and I bought a CD of sea shanties at the Museum’s shop (it wasn’t very good).
After the Maine Maritime Museum, we headed out to lunch. We went downtown, and after giving up on a restaurant RC wanted to find, we settled on a BBQ joint that smelled a whole lot better than it tasted. It wasn’t bad, though, and we had a nice lunch.
We ended the day by driving into Portland, ME. We thought we were lost, but as we turned the corner, there was The Inn at St. John where we stayed. After checking in, we walked around downtown and had dinner at Soffritto Creative Italian. We started the dining experience outside, but as the sun went down, it got very cold. By the time our food came, RC and I were freezing, and we asked the waitress if we could move inside. After that, the rest of the dinner was fine.
Thursday (June 9) we woke up and headed downtown again. We found a great parking space in a parking garage that was about an hour’s walk from the water. But it was a great location for when we finally came back. On our walk downtown we stopped at a coffee shop and I got mad because it appeared that no one was working on my order. Fortunately, our next adventure was good and that made up for the lousy service at the coffee shop.
We went on a boat cruise around the harbor and got up close to many of the lighthouses that dot the harbor. After taking almost an entire roll of film on lighthouses and islands, we retired to a great little restaurant called Duck Fat. Everything that they deep fry, they deep fry in, obviously, duck fat. I had the Wolfe's Neck Farm Maine Meatloaf Panini. RC had the Ham & Cheese Panini. We also got some fries and for dessert, we had Beignet, which was, of course, fried in duck fat. It was so very yummy.
After lunch we walked over to the Portland Art Museum. It was a pretty neat museum; they had all kinds of exhibits: paintings, sculptures, statues, and a house museum. RC particularly liked the impressionist paintings. After the museum, we went back to the hotel to freshen up a bit before going to dinner. We rounded out the great eating day with dinner at Street and Company. After dinner we walked around town and browsed a bookstore around the corner from the restaurant.
On Friday (June 10), we went to the famous Becky’s Diner for obvious reasons. We bought the tee shirt. We took the ferry over to Peaks Island and walked around the island, but it was very hot and after a short time and an ice cone, we headed back to Portland and once again got on the road…this time heading to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. We checked into the hotel, the Anchorage Inn, and then headed down to Hampton Beach. We walked along the boardwalk (well it wasn’t a true boardwalk in that it was cement and not wood, but you get the idea) and we ate great beachy junk food like saltwater taffy. I also had the privilege of ogling hot underage girls in skimpy bathing suits. We ate at some not very good restaurant on the beach. It wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t great either. After dinner we headed back to the hotel and went swimming is the very small swimming pool. After swimming a bit and freezing, we headed back to the room and watched the Food Network.
On Saturday (June 11), we woke up and headed into Portsmouth, where we discovered that there was a really cool street festival going on. Almost the entire downtown was blocked off and there were booths lining the streets. RC thought the festival was put on just for us! We walked all around and got free hats from the Portsmouth Regional Hospital, looked at cool paintings with maritime themes painted (supposedly) by local artists, and ate some Indian food from a street vendor (although the food stalls were run by restaurateurs). RC had a virgin piña colada, which made her very happy. Sadly, she also got sunburnt. After walking around the town and watching a really cool lift bridge in action, we decided it was time to move on to our next destination. We got back in the car, got back on the road, and drove to Manchester, NH. we got severely lost trying to find the hotel, and then all of a sudden, it was right there in front of us…it was most amazing. After we checked into the Comfort Inn, I wanted to head back up the road a piece to the porn shop we passed, but RC nixed it. Instead, we went out for pizza (it was sit-down pizza, not carry-out). We had a calamari appetizer first. It wasn’t too bad. Then we went back to the hotel and went to sleep.
Sunday (June 12) was the worst day of our trip by far. We woke up and headed back to Manchester Airport to return the Mazda 3 to Enterprise. RC was worried that we would be charged for the big dent in the license plate that we noticed back at the LimeRock Inn. I was, of course, right, and they didn’t even notice it. After returning the car, we headed into the terminal and waited for our flight back to BWI.
We are already planning the next trip; probably for New Year’s. When I say “we,” I really mean “me”—RC did all the planning for this trip, so I get to plan the next one. I can only wonder at this point where we will go next…
Hmm, I just noticed that every time I have one of these long, crazy weekends, it seems that Shining Starr9 is involved somehow.
Anyway, today started out OK; I got a late start but who cares. I went over to the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland to use the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library. I was looking for an article that Bobzilla suggested I look at. Wouldn’t you know, there was a football game going on. Now, as all of you know, in an ironic twist, I am not a sports fan, least of all college sports since they always come before academics, and I think that this country just doesn’t have its priorities right when it comes to education. So, I had to park a freaking mile away and walk and walk. Fortunately, it was a beautiful day, so it wasn’t all that bad in the end.
I finally made it to the Library, got the journal I was looking for with no hassle, and read the whole article without falling asleep, which was no easy feat. This last bit is actually unfortunate; it was really an interesting article demonstrating how British music halls moved from sometime performers running the theatres and circuits to professional businessmen running the corporate business. He, the author, argued that this shift was simultaneously occurring in British big business and that the parallels are indicative of trends in late nineteenth and early twentieth century business practices. Sadly, he writes like an academic and it was just very boring to read.
As I was leaving the Library, SugarDaddy called me and said that he was interested in going out later in the evening. I told him my plans and he said that he would definitely be interested.
I met him at the Freer Gallery of Art, a Smithsonian Institution museum, to see an independent film called The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam. He was a Chinese magician, juggler, acrobat, who played in vaudeville houses around the world. It was really good and quite interesting. I think that a lot could be done on him if he really is as important as the filmmaker (his great grand-daughter) says. I think I need to look more into him!
The film was preceded by two shorts, the first of which made absolutely no sense whatsoever. There is some guy preparing a dead woman for her viewing (I’m assuming) and a young boy is watching (I presume that he is the son). The mortician finishes clipping the corpse’s nails and washing the body. Then the boy asks to be alone, and when the mortician leaves, the boy picks up all the nail clippings. The scene cuts: it’s dark, so I assume it’s later, perhaps that night and the funeral is completed. We see in the darkness that we are in a kitchen and the boy comes in and opens the refrigerator. He is clad in sweats and tee shirt; I guess I’m meant to believe that he is ready for bed. He digs through the fridge, finds something wrapped in foil. He fixates for a moment on the aluminum-covered package, and just as he begins to open it, he scratches his head. (I wonder if this was planned or if he really had to scratch his head and the filmmaker just liked it.) He finally gets the foil off and it turns out to be a huge turkey leg. He begins to eat it slowly, then a little quicker. After another scratch on his noggin, he starts attacking the turkey leg, biting off pieces quicker and quicker. He never swallows or chews any of it. When his mouth is completely full he stops, leans his head back on the open refrigerator door, breathing heavily and wheezing. The credits roll.
The second short is actually by the same woman who wrote The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam (she is in the audience this evening incidentally). Before the films began, the filmmaker gave us a little background on this particular piece. She said that it was written and filmed shortly after the events of September 11, 2001. Because she was still working on The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam, this piece is heavily informed by that research, and it is a sister piece, so she is grateful that they are being shown together. The short is called Blue Skies, after the Irving Berlin song of the same title (from the play Betsy in 1926). This piece begins with a close of up of someone’s eye as tears pour out. The sound track is nothing more than this person sniffling, whimpering, and, making all those other irritating noises. Then the view cuts to a close-up on the person’s mouth. Then, to break the monotony, there is a knock at the door, and a white woman enters, goes to the crying person who we discover is Asian. The white woman pours water into a basin, and soaks some cloth. She wraps the crying person’s hair up, and begins to pull out clothing from drawers. She then helps dress the crying person, who is no longer crying, and finally pours a drink, the Asian person doesn’t drink until the white woman first sips it. There are scenes of the Asian person donning make-up: eyeliner, lip-gloss, and paint for eyebrows. The screen goes black, and with the sound of an old-time spotlight turning on, we see bright blue skies. Our Asian person, who turns out to be what I can only assume is an onnagata, appears and begins singing (well, lip-synching actually) Blue Skies as the credits roll.
After the movie, SugarDaddy and I decided to head out to Cleveland Park and have dinner at Ireland’s Four Provinces, or the 4-P’s as us yokels call it. I’m really not a big fan of the 4-P’s, but I haven’t been there in ages, so that’s where we go. Well, as is usually the case with Irish bars, there was a live band playing (The Sean Fleming Band to be exact). They were mediocre, but we stayed very late, and I consumed lots of beer. All in all it was a fun time.
Anyway, it’s almost 4 am and I need to go to sleep…peace out y’all.