I feel like I need to recount our whole Vancouver trip here in order to save it for posterity. Right? Here goes.|
FRIDAY OCTOBER 4
The day’s travel went like this: Drive 1 hour 45 minutes to Cold Spring, my favorite Metro North station. Ride the train for 1 hour 20 minutes to Grand Central Station. Walk 8 blocks to the E train at 51st and Lexington, and take that express to JFK Airport, which takes about 40 minutes, but only includes about 6 stops. Take awesome AirTrain monorail to JFK in 10 minutes. At this point in the day (7PM) security was a breeze, which meant spending about 2 hours waiting for the plane to board.
A note on the subway ride: The worst mother in existence was on our train. I didn’t think people like this really existed, but there she was, by turns screaming at/scaring her kids and ignoring them by listening to an iPod. When one finished a water bottle, she threw it out the subway door. It’s like she was literally daring someone to say something to her. “Yeah, I’m the worst mother. What’chu gonna do about it??”
We flew Cathay Pacific, the great economy flight (you’ll see later why I qualify here it with “economy”) I’ve ever flown. Direct flight from JFK to YVR in just over 5 hours. This was the first time I’ve ever been on a flight with televisions in the seat, and I can see the appeal. I didn’t know if I’d use it, but boy did I use it. I watched Michael Palin’s Brazil (a travel doc), Super Trio Maximus (a Chinese game show I didn’t strictly understand but still watched to the end), Laugh India Laugh (an Indian stand-up comic cavalcade I also couldn’t understand, and that had the worst laugh track ever), another Chinese game show with celebrity impersonators that I had to turn off almost immediately once they started with a child in brownface doing a Michael Jackson impression, and Fake Or Fortune, a BBC show that tries to determine the authenticity of a painting in each episode, which I slept through. I also listened to the Kyary Pamyu Pamyu album Nanda which I currently am loving.
And the food? Come on. It was good! Kudos to Cathay Pacific. After landing at 1 AM Pacific time, we took a cab to the nearby Hampton Inn and slept.
SATURDAY OCTOBER 4
Enjoyed the free breakfast, and took the SkyTrain to our downtown Vancouver hotel, the Hyatt Regency. Had to wait a bit to check in, so we walked around Gastown and Chinatown and had Japadogs at a park (I guess you’d call it) by Canada Place. The Japadogs were creative and good, but salty. The Regency room was fine, and thanks again to Frequent Flyer miles and points, I am a Hyatt Diamond member or something, which means I get free wi-fi. The thrill of cable television and big well-made beds always results in much napping. I think later we ate at a Ukranian restaurant on Denman Street.
From the ground in Vancouver, it’s not an especially beautiful city. The buildings seem to date to the mid-20th century at the latest, so there are a lot of tall, glass office and apartment buildings and not much in the way of architectural splendor, if you will. But the programming, as they say, was great. Interesting stores and restaurants all over, not an empty storefront in sight. Even the ever-present homeless people are nice by Canadian standards. One even pointed out the correct door to use as I tried to apparently break into a Tim Hortons one morning.
SUNDAY OCTOBER 5
Visited the UBC Museum of Anthrolpolgy this afternoon. It took a subway and a bus to get there, but whatever. This was my first encounter with the lack of fare collection on Vancouver buses. I knew about the subway honor system, but didn’t expect it to go for the buses, too. Some people pay, some people just hop through the back door. For what its worth, I did try to pay every time on the bus, but the lack of change and being unable to accept bills actually made it hard to pay at all sometimes.
The UBC campus is where I started to see the beauty that everyone talks about Vancouver possessing. It’s not the buildings, it’s the backdrop. The mountains, the water, the sailboats in the harbors, the parks. Ah, I get it.
The museum is top-notch, and contains so much you would not see on the east coast. Namely, those totem poles.
The real focus should be on the collections rooms which contain items and clothing from around the world, but mostly Native People from the northwest. Drawer after drawer after huge drawer full of fascinating stuff.
Situated next to a model of the Last Supper is The Last Supper of Lucifer.
On the way back, we walked through Granville Island, a neighborhood and accompanying island near downtown which seems to be a perfect example of urban revitalization. It’s all old corrugated iron encased buildings turned into markets, restaurants, art shops and galleries. Basically there is enough for drive a huge amount of tourist dollars, but also places for local people to give it a day-to-day liveliness. I felt the money being ripped from my hands as I walked around the public market. Smoked fish mongers, fudge shoppes, bakers, Italian deli setups. I was helpless against it. That was supper that night.
MONDAY OCTOBER 6
Started with a winding walk around Stanley Park to get to the Vancouver Aquarium. Stanley Park definitely deserves more exploring, but at 1,000 acres, it would take more than an afternoon to really see it all. As a New Englander used to Olmstead parks in most major cities, Stanley Park was fascinating to me because it’s basically wilderness. Outside of the few buildings like the aquarium, it’s just running wild out there, which is amazing considering its proximity to downtown.
You remember the famous hands-holding otters from the video. Well, I think one of them is no longer with us, but the other one is still there in Vancouver, floating around his tank with his ball and Shamwow rag thing. The holding hands thing is not uncommon, since aside from holding them, we learned a mother will tie a child otter to itself using seaweed, ingeniously.
Two other young otters playing:
Also, dolphins jumped.
TUESDAY OCTOBER 7
Another long travel day that started with a convenient express bus from downtown 40 minutes to the Horseshoe Bay ferry. Decent ferry ride for a little over an hour to Nanaimo, home of the bar. We walked the 1.5 miles to get our rental car, on a waterfront walkway that seemed to start and stop at will until you got closer to downtown. Finish that walkway, Nanaimo! Don’t you want ferry-goers to walk downtown?
We rented a Jetta, which was fine. The girl at Budget asked me if I was an artist because I have a very angular signature with lots of straight lines. Well, no, but thank you for noticing! I haven’t been able to write cursive for years, so instead of actually writing my name out legibly, I’ve tried to make my signature unique, but also easy for me to scribble.
Then it was a drive to Tofino, three hours away, which after getting off the main route 19, was one of most beautiful drives I’ve ever done. There are mountain peaks that rival the Rocky Mountains. Eventually a nice spot for a photo came up at Kennedy Lake so I stopped for a minute.
We also stopped at Little Qualicum Falls, which is hard to get a good photo of because it's straight down.
Tofino is at the very end of Route 4, through Pacific Rim Provincial Park. Our sleeping place was Pacific Sands Resort, a nice place that has its own beach. We had a suite with a kitchen, a balcony and all that. It was NICE. Like, complimentary wine bottle nice. So we played on the beach, which by the way was the first time in my life I’ve seen the Pacific Ocean. This here is a real west coast sunset, not that bullshit you see on the east coast.
Oh yeah, supposedly you’ll read that Vancouver sits on the Pacific Ocean, but I don’t think so. I didn’t count that as the Pacific Ocean. Vancouver Island shuts that whole thing down by sitting out there and blocking everything. As far as I’m concerned, Vancouver sits on an inlet or some shit. An ocean is endless, not some fucking bullshit that extends a couple miles and then ends at an island.
Crazy driftwood like I've never seen before.
Tofino has a real hippie surfer vibe, which, having never been to the west coast, I’ve never really experienced before. Tuesday night we ate at a sushi bar and there was a cannabis leaf decorating the rolls. Especially in this shoulder season, the town seems mostly occupied by tan, bodacious dudes and chicks who spend most of their days hanging ten (surfing), chilling out (chilling out), and drinking coffee (tending to their dreadlocks). Ah, but there I go exaggerating again! I love Tofino. And I envy those people who can make a living out there. Here's the view from downtown Tofino.
WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 8
Spent all day hitting all of the spots in the Pacific Rim’s Long Beach unit, exploring the beaches, hiking through rainforests, spotting lighthouses, always keeping an eye out for whales and their sea brethren. Since this was probably the best day of the trip, it made me realize I must be one of these “eco-tourists” they keep talking about.
Dinner was a simple take-out pizza from Red Can Gourmet. Nice!
THURSDAY OCTOBER 9
I wish I could’ve stayed in the Tofino area longer, but now was the time to return the rental car to Nanaimo. Leftover pizza for breakfast. We stopped at another park on the way back because there were petroglyphs. They were carved into the rock face, strangely right above the water line of the lake. So someone had to sit in a canoe and carve it, I guess.
Remember that last part.
Got back to Nanaimo, and grabbed a quick lunch of tomato soup at 2 Chefs Café before bringing the car back. I have to remember what a good deal soup is at restaurants. It’s cheap and usually pretty good. The Budget shuttle driver JB took us to the ferry terminal so we could pick up the… wait for it… bus. You thought it was going to be a ferry, didn’t you? We waited for the ferry passengers to deboard, then took our shuttle bus to Victoria.
It was getting dark when we got there. So we checked into our hotel, the Empress. If you know anything about Victoria, you probably know this hotel. It’s world-famous, historic, huge, and notoriously expensive, but I picked up a very good deal on some no-name travel website.
Play with us, Danny.
Victoria was a magic place. Canada’s senior citizens were proudly sharing sidewalk space with gutter punks. In a café, a couple played dark synthpop for a crowd consisting of one old guy smiling and bobbing his head to the music. On the street, a dude played a banjo and a couple danced a jig. I insisted on eating at The Guild because their specials board listed sweetbreads. It’s rare I find sweetbreads anywhere, so I have to take advantage of it when I see it. They were delicious, but so fried as to be unrecognizable. I want to taste those glands!
FRIDAY OCTOBER 10
Early morning breakfast from Tom’s Deli. Then it was off to Fisherman’s Wharf to pick up a whale-watching tour. I was hoping to see killer whales, but wasn’t betting on it. Orcas leave the north side of the island by early September and only show up sporadically in the Salish Sea in October before heading out into warmer water until next season. We did not see any orcas, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. Our tour operator, Eagle Wing, had an incredibly fast boat:
Wherever a report came in of whales, we sped right over. So we ended up seeing several humpback whales, many sea lions, some of which chased and played in the water, though most sat their lazy fat asses on Race Rock.
Somebody needs a bigger camera.
It wasn’t a cold day, but after traveling at such a speed, it really gets to you, and you see how those gigantic jackets come in useful. Also, the boat house village was neat.
SATURDAY OCTOBER 11
Another early morning breakfast of croissants. There were tons of people coming to Victoria today, surprisingly not to celebrate Alice Munro, but for the marathon, or the 5k, or whatever road race they were doing. There was a huge gathering in front of the parliament, with a speaker yelling stuff through the PA, but it was all so noisy and I honestly couldn’t tell if it was a protest rally or just people getting pumped up for the marathon. “No more pipelines!!! Y’all ready to run??”
We had a late night flight this day but had enough time to spend most of the day in Victoria. We went to the renowned Royal BC Museum, which was truly great. Many more totem poles and lots of artifacts from Native Peoples. And just like the Museum of Civilization in Ottawa, one floor contains a Canada Land, full of reconstructed buildings you can explore.
They also had a awfully interesting current exhibit on the Race to the End of the Earth, the race to the south bole between two teams from England and Norway. You get to track their progress, see their real tools and clothing, read about their setbacks and basically pick a team to root for. As soon as I read that Norway took dozens of sled dogs while England decided to take ten horses, well, I was Team Norway. Not only did England lose, but the last dudes coming back actually died. Yay Norway! It was a incredibly well done exhibit.
We headed back to the Empress (next door the museum) got our stuff and headed off to the bus depot (also next door!). So began the trek home. The Pacific Coach bus luckily drives you to Saanich, drives directly on the ferry, departs from the ferry, then you transfer to a new bus that brings you to the airport. Otherwise, getting from Victoria to the airport is a whole thing, but this made it much easier.
This ferry ride was much more scenic than the one to Nanaimo. I was stunned that more people weren’t sitting outside, but then if you live around here, you see this scenery all the time. We saw more humpback whales, which the captain pointed out on the PA. Once those inside folks got outside though, those whales were long gone. That’s why you sit outside, people!
It's views like that that could've inspired the Canadian Group of Seven painters.
After arriving at the airport, we were able to hang out in the First Class lounge.
Wait, what? That’s right. Through some stealthy use of frequent flyer miles, I was able to get us business class seats on Cathay Pacific back to JFK as part of a ticket to Switzerland for next May. This was my first time flying anything other than coach.
The first benefit upon checking in is that lounge. Away from all the riff-raff, it was nice and quiet, full of free food, wine, and, it being a Canadian airport, Molsons. This was all luxurious enough, but it kicked up a notch once the flight was called. We waltzed down the elevator, down the concourse to our gate to see the legions of economy passengers waiting in line. They were waiting for us in business class to board first. Yes, excuse me, but I was halfway into a Molsons, you know. You’re just going to have to wait to board, filthy animals.
It was then that I got a jolt of what it must feel like to be rich. “I’m better than these people. Why else would they be treating me so royally?” It was a feeling that would repeat many times over the course of the flight. Why did I deserve such special attention and a seat that reclines fully into a bed? I must be special.
Upon sitting down, you are immediately offered champagne. Like, the guy is blocking the aisle of coach passengers while he offers you champagne. Then comes the hot towels. Then more refreshments, and a table cloth for your little slide out table. Then come the tiny bowls of warmed almonds, and the food and wine menus. I had the salmon and the German Riesling. Cheese and fruit for dessert. Everyone addresses you by name. And the purser (a new term I’ve learned) brings around a box of Godiva chocolates and asks if you want one. “Have as many as you like,” she says. Meanwhile, I’ve got my legs propped up, watching another episode of Michael Palin’s Brazil.
What the fuck is going on? I mean, this is no joke. It really was like what I imagined, and this was only Business Blass. Caitlin figured that ahead of us in First Class, they must put the food directly in your mouth.
You’ve heard of First World problems? How about First Class problems? When were landing, I had not stowed away my food and wine menu. When they put the breaks on, my menu slid forward, I put up my hand to stop it and it gave me a papercut! Owie! Wine menu hurt me! I should write them a letter. Maybe they’ll give me more frequent flyer miles!
EBags Weekender - I bought a brand new, super-nice backpack for this trip and future trips, and I highly recommend it. It is ingeniously designed, with easy- and hard-to-access pockets for everything from passports to laptops to dirty clothes. It can hold a LOT, and still go in as overhead baggage. And despite the weight, it was comfortable to wear. I could probably use this as my solo luggage for up to a week.
Granville Island - Get your eat on, skip the ferry downtown, and instead walk the very busy bridge over the top of the island for the best views.
Pacific Sand Resort - I'd go back there in a second.
Royal BC Museum – Probably better than the Museum of Anthropology by a hair, plus it’s easier to get to.
BC Ferry from Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen – Preferably at sunset for the best lighting. At $15, I would recommend this as a sightseeing cruise, with transportation being a side benefit.
Cathay Pacific - Coach was pretty great on this airline and leaves the American domestic airlines in the dust. A recommendation of Business Class is also a no-brainer.
Every once in a while I get to thinking about those bands from the 90s that seemed to have disappeared, and I look them up. Maybe they’re still making music today, and maybe it’s still good, or maybe not, or maybe they broke up. Who knows? This is actually how I found out about Edwyn Collins, previously known to me only as the guy behind “A Girl Like You” and “Magic Piper Of Love,” but now known to me as the man behind the incredible Gorgeous George, the 80s post-punk band Orange Juice, and a present day brain hemorrhage survivor. |
White Town had one of those perfect alternative rock hits from the era, so I looked them up. Or “him” I should say, since I think it’s always been just the one guy, Jyoti Prakash Mishra.“Your Woman” was the CASIO blah blah sampling song with the funny bassline. That song was so good, there had to be other hits, right? Well, I skipped right ahead to his newest release Monopole.
Monopole isn’t a perfect album. It’s not chock-a-block with “Your Women," but it is a stand-up respectable synthpop album. In particular I like “Missing Her Again” and “Cut Out My Heart.”
Mishra filmed a bunch of videos for the album, all of them pretty simple. Here’s the video for “Missing Her Again.” I don’t know if Mishra intended it this way or not, but I think this video is some kind of masterpiece.
From what I can tell, the boy and the girl, or girls, have some kind of relationship. But it’s hard to tell just what their relationship is like because they spend the entire video texting to each other. Heck, he might be courting her. They might be breaking up. You don’t know. They make for an incredibly dull video. But such is the state of modern relationships, which is the point, I think. It's a modern day love story, or something. I love to contrast this with the “Your Woman” video, which I’ve always loved. The difference is stark. “Your Woman” is supposed to look like an old silent German expressionist film with the theme of women choosing paths. This is highly staged drama. But "Missing Her Again" is reality.
It's just a fact of life now. I will slowly be taking over people's accounts at various websites as they sign up using my email address. I have a Pandora account, but it must be with my "spam" email address. I've been moving all accounts over to my main account now that GMail has that nice new inbox system, but I must not have done Pandora. Someone tried to reset their password using my email address, of course, so I signed in and changed the password to see what stations they had. They have a ton of stations, including...|
The Black Keys Radio
Al Green Radio
Flo Rida Radio
Of Monsters & Men Radio
The Police Radio
Bon Iver Radio
Broken Social Scene Radio
Celtic Woman Radio
Imogen Heap Radio
Johan Johannsson Radio
It's kind of all over the place. Some of those sound terrible, but some I would actually add to my own Pandora, like Telepopmusik or Broken Social Scene.
Two emails I received today. One I really wish was intended for me.|
Ia Orana from Bora Bora,
Dear Mr Hennessy,
We thank for having chosen the Intercontinental Bora Bora Le Moana Resort.
We confirm your booking from July 06th to July 10th, 2013 for 4 nights on beach bungalow.
I just want to remind you that the boat transfer from the airport to the resort is mandatory for all hotel guests, who cost 5466 cfp per person per way, and in the order to well organised th boat pick, we 'll need your arrival flight details landing to Bora Bora.
Please, do not hesitate to come back to us should need a further assistance.
We look forward to welcome you in our small paradise.
Assistant Chef de Réception
Assistant Front Office Manager
Again, can I just show up in Bora Bora expecting to have a room?
The other email I got was a confirmation for my child's WebKinz account that gave me his user name and password and asked me to create a Parents Account. So, of course, I did and tried to imagine what I could do to mess with the account. I don't know anything about Webkinz, but I think I can adopt a bunch of digital puppies for little Sean. You will never be able to handle all these puppies, Sean! You're screwed!
How long has it been since I’ve posted about Lending Club? A long time. Actually, like a year and a half ago.|
Despite dropping off from that earlier 11.7% return, my returns are going pretty well. It had dropped to ~6.5% after those defaults, but after discovering the site Nickel Steamroller and their gargantuan data dump of Lending Club lending history, I was able to fine-tune my filter for who I was going to lend money to. Basically, I’ve learned to never loan money to anyone for a wedding or a car or other big purchases, in addition to small business and green energy loans I was already excluding. That pretty much leaves debt and credit card consolidation loans. These are the people most likely to pay back their loans, which makes sense, since consolidating credit cards at a lower rate is smart.
Another interesting finding was that in terms of paying back loans, after narrowing it down to debt consolidation, a person’s credit score doesn’t matter. Neither does the loan amount or the percent of credit being used. What does matter is a person’s employment length, length of credit history, and delinquencies, so I’ve factored those in. Basically what I have now is a filter that, according to the Lending Club history, has returnedlike 15%. After the inevitable charge offs (there’s always a few!) I hope to make between 10-14%.
I’ve also taken to affectionately referring to my lendees as my “debt slaves.” Work hard, little debt slaves! Ryan needs his money! I’m looking at you, hospital employee from Michigan! You need to make enough money to pay me that 20%! Hey, better me than having that money go to Wall Street, right?
Also, Lending Club sent me a nice glass water bottle recently. I'm not sure why. Maybe for linking to them on Facebook. So in the interest of full disclosure, I guess I'm Lending Club's bitch now.
|» Oh how weak your controls are, vacation property|
I received another email that was intended for Richard. This one actually asked for my “signature” on documents related to a vacation property rental in Palm Springs. This dude is paying roughly $3,000 for three nights. Although the house looks really cool and mod from the outside (I StreetViewed it) I can’t get behind paying that much money. But I guess I’ll sign them anyway, ha ha. I’m probably doing Richard a solid since he didn’t get the email and won’t be able to sign for it, right? They've already sent me a second "reminder" email. Maybe I’ll just show up for the vacation, too. Palm Springs in February sounds nice.|
Did I also mention I’ve been copied on an email list for a group of ladies looking to rent a cabin in New Hampshire this summer? I’ve been copied on New Hampshire related email lists before, so this must be the same person. A few of the ladies decided on a cabin, and were trying to get the others to agree. Maybe I’ll show up for this vacation rental, too.
|» John Wizards|
Frankly I was getting a little sick of listening to this amazing mixtape by Cape Town band John Wizards, attempting to find more information on him/them online, and coming up empty-handed. There is, like, zero information, and barely even any blog buzz about them. There's a couple comments on their Soundcloud page, a few tweets, a photo or two on their Facebook page, one sub-par concert review, and that's it. So I'll add my little blog to the mix for what it's worth. I hope this band breaks through one day, because I want to hear more.|
0:00 Lusaka by night
2:57 Jacobs Ladder/Freakness
9:17 MV Liemba
12:40 Jabu Ley/Jamie
14:50 I'm still a serious guy
17:24 Clear proof that I'm still a serious guy
18:13 Tet lek Schrempf
EDIT: This entry is the 6th Google result for “john wizards cape town” and the first result under the blog search function.
|» 40 things about 2012|
What did you do in 2012 that you'd never done before?|
Euthanized a pet. There's a fun one!
I went farther south than I ever have before. That is not a euphemism. I went to Aruba.
Bought plane tickets using only frequent flyer miles.
Went a cheese tour of dairy farms.
Went to a location just to see a series of filmstrips. (Brian Dewan's)
Grew a beard.
Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Last year I made a quantifiable resolution instead of an aimless one, and it worked well! I said "I will exercise for one hour on 200 days next year." After keeping track on my iPod, I exercised on 128 days this year, far more than if my resolution had just been "Exercise more." My resolution is the same for next year. I will hit that 200.
Last year I also had a resolution to read 12 books in 2012. I exceeded that. I have the same goal again this year.
Also, I want to read fewer articles about politics because all they do is make me angry. Seeing as how this is not an election year, this should be easier.
Where did you go on vacation?
Went to Cape Cod over Memorial Day weekend with Spaniel & David.
Cape Cod again over a weekend in July.
A week at Kring Point in the middle of August with Faye & Melissa & Jake.
Went to Spaniel and David's wedding in Philadelphia in September.
Visited Boston in October.
Aruba the week after Thanksgiving with Spaniel & David.
Did you do your patriotic duty on the second Tuesday in November?
Did anyone close to you give birth?
Did anyone close to you die?
What countries did you visit?
Aruba. I visited Canada for a few minutes on an aborted trip to go bicycling on Wolfe Island. We took the ferry over, a horrible rainstorm started, and we promptly took the ferry back.
What sporting events did you go to?
A roller derby bout.
What concerts did you go to?
Zammuto at Mass MoCA in February.
Max Raabe and The Palast Orchester in NYC in March.
The Magnetic Fields at Helsinki Hudson in March.
Brian Dewan at the Restoration Festival in September.
Ben Folds Five at the Boston House of Blues in October.
What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
Last year, I wanted a layoff-proof job. Well, no, I have the same job.
Next year, I hope to finally be rid of a certain co-worker. We've trying for so long, yet he keeps coming back and so remains. That's the state for you. Also, I hope to have more frequent flyer miles. I've been playing that game so well, I hope to have a million miles by the summer. So by the end of the year, I hope to be closing in on 1.5 million.
What date from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why:
November 26 - The day of our flight to Aruba.
What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Taking over a program at work. That was more someone else's failing rather than my achievement, to be honest.
What was your biggest failure?
Working too hard.
Did you suffer illness or injury?
I had a cold for a few days in November.
What was the best thing you bought?
Plane tickets to Aruba, obviously. Then snowshoes? I guess I haven't bought much this year.
Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Members of the Grand Old Party, emphasis on the old.
Where did most of your money go?
Mortgage Payments - Hard to know exactly how much since we re-financed again this year, but around $8,000. Here are my top ten expenses:
Mortgage Payments - $8,000
Groceries - $6,882 (almost exactly the same as last year, $6,869)
College Tuition - $2,590
Student Loans - $2,511
Pet Food, Boarding, Medical - $2,478 (again, almost exactly the same as last year, $2,467)
Gas (for cars) - $2,379 (down from $2,740)
Auto Service/Repair - $2,232
Clothing - $2,094
Gas & Electric - $2,030
Travel - $2,000
Dining - $1,946 (up slightly from $1,710)
Insurance - $1,758
Entertainment (Movies, books, music, concerts) - $1,604
Also, our telephone and cell phone bills total were $289 for the year. Just bragging.
What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The trip to Aruba, and camping with friends at Kring Point.
What song will always remind you of 2012?
S*A*M's "Strawberry Loverr." I went to camp at Kring Point a few days earlier than everyone else, so I spent those days by myself. I would drive around listening to a mix CD from Spencer, and when that song came on, it was something special.
Or maybe the whole album Leaving Atlanta, which I cleverly cued up as my plane left Atlanta airport.
What was your favorite TV program?
Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Community, Peep Show, Walking Dead.
What was the best book you read?
Also: A Confederacy of Dunces, Super Sad True Love Story, The American Way of Eating, and Murder of the Century.
What was your greatest musical discovery?
Either Gentleman Jesse or my re-discovery of Brian Dewan.
What was your favorite cultural moment of 2012?
There was a moment when Rick Santorum was the front-runner in the Republican presidential nominee race, which was amazing. Specifically, there was a moment when Santorum was giving a speech to a bunch of college kids., and something he did not intend on becoming an applause line becomes an applause line, around 6:50, and he looks stunned.
Contrast that with Joe Biden letting the door wide open for gay marriage by stumbling ass-backward through it. Joe Biden opens his mouth, which leads to the president having to admit that he endorses gay marriage, which leads to a couple states legalizing gay marriage by referendum for the first time ever.
Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? This is such a dumb question. Year to year, I always answer Happier, but am I really so much happier than the first year I did this survey?
ii. thinner or fatter? Thinner. I weighed 169 at this time last year. Right now, I'm 166.
iii. richer or poorer? Richer.
What do you wish you'd done more of?
What do you wish you'd done less of?
Reading articles about politics. It was hard to avoid, it being an election year, but I found that after the election was over, and I ignored all news for a week while in Aruba, I felt much better. Do I need to know about Todd Akin? What's the use in me being outraged about Richard Murdock? It's not worth the mental energy to ponder over and have an opinion on a lot of this stuff, so I'm going to try to avoid most political news this year. Even those John Dickerson and David Weigl articles on Slate.
How will you be spending Christmas?
In Fredonia with the in-laws.
Did you fall in love in 2012?
Come on, now.
Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
What did you want and get?
What was your favorite film of this year?
Tough one. Either Lincoln, Bernie or Moonrise Kingdom. If we're including Netflix movies though, Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles might have been my favorite.
What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I took the day off from work. I remember that. Also in the week leading up to my birthday I saw Max Raabe in concert in NYC and The Magnetic Fields in Hudson.
What kept you sane?
Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Carrie Brownstein, Portlandia version.
What political issue stirred you the most?
Who was the best new person you met?
Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
"Keep your juices in the chops, keep your juices in the brats
Serve 'em on paper plates, 'tato salad and grape pop"
Best line from a Scharpling & Wurster bit:
"I'm sorry if I don't want to take a job in one of the Great Ayatollah B. Hussein Obama's death squads."
Meal/restaurant of the year?
My favorite new recipe this year was the reuben fish taco from Food & Wine. This is fried fish with a mock Russian dressing and sauerkraft in a soft tortilla. Like Aesop Rock says, "Om nom nom."
My favorite new restaurant is The Flying Chicken in Troy. I would say fried chicken is poised to be the next food trend, but fried chicken is probably too classic and delicious to fit into that category.
Most memorable meal? A Greek restaurant called Kefi on the upper west side of Manhattan, before the Max Raabe show around my birthday. The food was amazing, but what made the place so memorable was how incredibly packed it was, despite the size of the place. Tables had to be moved like puzzle pieces just to let a person sit down. I think we can partially, if not wholly, blame Yelp for this. The reviews on that site were outstanding. I've always believed that more information is better in places like restaurants and hotels, but with so many more people now heading to the top-rated places, maybe I was wrong.
|» For most of my life, I've had a song I've never heard stuck in my head.|
Have I told you that, occasionally, for the past 20 years, I’ve gotten a song I’d never heard stuck in my head? |
In sixth grade, my friend Joe, a class clown-type, would come into school singing the oddest songs. He listened to a lot of classic rock radio. “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” was a perennial favorite of his. But one day he started impulsively singing “Gargoyles… dah-dat-dah dat-dat-dat-dat-dat-dah…” Just one word, followed by a simple tune, accompanied by a strange little dance. He obviously had it stuck in his head for a while, because he kept doing that for a week or two. I distinctly remember him telling me that it came from the Addams Family cartoon, and not a cartoon called Gargoyles, which was also airing back in those days.
Well, that song stuck with me, for whatever reason. And not the song, mind you, but Joe’s singing of it. I never heard the real song or saw the cartoon. But from that day in sixth grade, that tune got stuck in my head. And for the past 20 years, it would pop up randomly and fill the blank space in my head. “Gaaar-goyyyles… dah-dat-dah dat-dat-dat-dat-dat-dah… Gaaar-goyyyles… dah-dat-dah dat-dat-dat-dat-dat-dah…”
Strange how that can happen. After we entered the Age of YouTube, I held out on looking up this song, thinking it might ruin or somehow sully this rather pointless memory. Well, eventually I just gave in. After 20 years, here’s the origin:
No embedding allowed!
|» Pope not home|
Only two and a half months since my last post! I'm a regularl Governor Blog-goyovich!|
I got an email today sent to the wrong address, which as you know, happens often. I thought this one was clever enough to post. It came with a photo of St. Peters Basilica attached.
Pope not home.
At his summer home for vacation.
***** Family pissed.
Thinking of converting to Scientology.
Drinking heavily to dull the pain.
Thomas J. *****
***** Associates, Inc.
Sent from my iPhone
|» May 5th, a great weekend!|
Remember those days when I used to write about things I was doing? This is going to be like one of those entries, like the olden days!|
Last Friday I went to see Brian Dewan presenting filmstrips in a classroom. I know him from him as a bit player in the history of They Might Be Giants, with those Hello CDs, his electric zither, and “shrines” that he built. He always seemed like an interesting guy. Lately it seems like what he’s mostly been doing is creating these filmstrips. Filmstrips in the old *boop* change the slide sense. Each slide is a handpainted picture, and the strips cover topics from the ostensibly educational (“Civic Pride,” “Innovation”) to folk stories ("The Death of the Little Hen") to weirdly poetic fiction masquerading as fact (“When The White Man Came” and one about the sea). Those last two might have been my favorites. As Brian flips through the slides, a soundtrack with narration plays. If you’re familiar with the Dewanatrons, you’ll know how the soundtrack sounded mechanic and funny, like Raymond Scott.
And how about those slides? They were pretty amazing on their own. I wouldn’t be ashamed to hang any of them in my house. They seemed like they were done mostly in watercolors or markers, and there had to be at least a hundred per filmstrip, so I can only imagine the work that went into it. At first it seemed like the dozen or so attendees didn’t know the proper way to react to the filmstrips. Applause? When was the last time anyone ever watched an honest-to-god filmstrip? But after the first one, it seemed like everyone really got into it, sticking around for the whole show, and laughing at the funny bits. To give you an idea of the type of humor throughout, the biggest laugh probably came at the end of the The Death of the Little Hen with the line, “So then they were all dead.”
Brian Dewan Filmstrips – A+ WOULD ENJOY AGAIN
Saturday we went to Woodford State Park near Bennington. Since it’s still early in the season and the gates were closed, Caitlin, myself and Maeby pretty much had the place to ourselves. It was very peaceful. In fact it was so quiet that we let Maeby go off-leash, and she promptly ran up the hill and disappeared into the woods. She does this every time, but it never fails to be scary. She will always turn around, come back and look at you like she’s wondering why you can’t run 40 miles per hour. We leashed her and walked the 2 mile trail around the reservoir. I was surprised at how quiet it was, being so close to Bennington and being such an obvious pick for a sunny Saturday hike.
Woodford State Park – A+ WOULD ENJOY AGAIN
Inspired by an old entry on All Over Albany, I wanted to visit an old cemetery in Bennington. It’s by the classic white church as you drive into town. Robert Frost is buried there, and aside from him, there were some of the oldest, most well-preserved gravestones I’ve seen. Many from the 1700’s, with those bug-eyed winged skulls on them. Also, they had a guy who died on the Titanic, whose grave had new flowers around it because of the anniversary. And there was the odd stone that described how the guy died (by being dragged into a thresher by the foot).
Bennington Cemetery – A+ WOULD ENJOY AGAIN