On Holiday: Food Tourism and the Movies

One of the best parts of any vacation is the fact that you can eat anything and it doesn’t count. Here are some of the things I ate:

What I did not eat was okonomiyaki, which I really wanted to eat, but sadly we drove all over Austin and weren’t able to locate the truck. After a lot of wandering around and finding ourselves across the street from a store called New Brohemia whose stock you can probably guess from the name.

We ended up at New Brohemia after the first GPS mishap, wandering around a number of other food trucks that did not strike our fancy. Not to be deterred, RJ tried Foursquare, which sent us to another location entirely that did not have any food trucks to speak of. After the second round of wandering in the dark, we gave up and went to Aster’s to have delicious Ethiopian food and lots of injeera. When a door closes and all that.

Another disappointment occurred in our attempt to see Django Unchained at the Drafthouse. We checked the time and dutifully showed up at the theatre only to find out that it was sold out. This after we had a long discussion about my wanting to go see it with Mister E because he loves Tarantino movies so much. Instead we went on an adventure and found a regular movie theatre after a lot of searching.

After carefully weighing our options, we decided on Mama.

In case you haven’t heard of it, Mama is about two little girls who get taken out into the snowy woods by their father, who has just killed their mother and his business partners. He plans to shoot the girls and then himself, but before he can pull the trigger something drags him away and dispatches him. The same presence – Mama – then raises the little girls until they’re found five years later. They’re taken back to civilization and terror ensues.

This movie scared the piss out of me. Not literally, of course, but regularly and with feeling. There were a lot of those corner-of-the-eye glimpses of Mama, feral children scuttling around on all fours like crabs (shudder shudder), and a lot of jump scares that were terrifying even when you knew they were coming. There was also some of that horrible jerky contortionist-like movement that makes me cringe every time I see it. So yeah, it was good. The ending was bittersweet and unexpected, even to RJ who always figures out the ending of movies, so I can honestly say I recommend it.

We made it back home with much less incident than it had taken us to get to the theatre but without anything to eat because by that point it was so late that nothing was open and RJ had to get to bed to go to work in the morning. I must have been tired as well because I wasn’t even worried about the closet door being partway open. This time.

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On Holiday: Shoe Shopping

The day after the concert, RJ was off work and just as excited as I was to be loose in the Capitol. There were hundreds of things to do, sights to see, things to eat. So we went shoe shopping.

I dislike shopping for clothes, and shoes are in the same boat. I have a pair of brown loafers I’ve been wearing since I bought them in Chicago and if it wasn’t for the fact that the insoles are starting to come apart I would keep wearing them until they died. RJ rejected my reality and substituted one of his own making in which we went to several stores in search of new shoes for me.

We started our journey at Lakeline Mall, which he and I hadn’t been to since I was in college, and looked at various shoe specialty stores. I rejected everything we saw except one cute pair of shoes that they didn’t have in my size. I also tried to talk him into some moccasins, which he informed me he would not be subsidizing. So we continued on, leaving the mall with its food court and smooth jazz music.

On our way out we saw a photo booth that looked fun, so we popped inside and paid $5 for the privilege of taking goofy pictures from terrible angles. We were looking forward to seeing how the obnoxious colored frame we chose looked in person, but the photo booth decided that it disliked our pictures so much that its programming crashed and sent the interface to blue screen heaven. Needless to say, we did not get our $5 back.

Our next stop was DSW, where there were rows upon rows of shoes for sale and RJ was ready to make me try on every one. I held up a couple I liked from the Clearance rack that he immediately vetoed because he thought they were ugly. We moved on to the running shoes because he knew I was looking for a new pair. I told him I only wanted New Balance shoes because I know what size, last, and style I want, and he assured me they carried them there. And so they did.

The Ugliest Shoe in the World

This was my winner for Ugliest Shoes of 2013. I know it’s a little early in the year for such a thing and running shoe manufacturers have plenty of time to come up with new and terrible color combinations, but this really does look like someone melted down a box of crayons and dropped them in a shoe mold. Even the laces are atrocious.

We moved away from the running shoes and to the flats where I finally found a cute pair of black ones with a little buckle on them that RJ proclaimed made my legs look longer. Even though this is physically impossible, I liked the shoes and we took them along with us. He refused to buy me any argyle socks, though.

So now I have a new pair of fancy shoes! While he was at work, I also cut all the loose strings off the brown loafers I’ve been wearing for four years so they look almost like they’re new as well. Double win! Now I just have to make sure I don’t wear the brown ones around him too often. Shouldn’t be too hard, since I only see him every six months or so.

I miss him already.

On Holiday: The Concert

So for those of you who don’t know, I spent some time away from Lamesville last week. It was beautiful. So beautiful that it can only be expressed through several blog posts. I’ll start with the concert, which was the reason I was to go to Austin in the first place.

The show in question was the Ra Ra Riot show I’ve been looking forward to since they announced it a couple of months ago. I mentioned my desire to see it and RJ said he’d get us tickets for my birthday. Since I still don’t have a job for various reasons, I decided to make a holiday out of it and stay for several days.

After arriving in the midst of rush hour traffic and (my first instance of) getting lost, I was whisked away for a quick dinner before the doors to the Belmont opened up. It was a really nice little venue, with an upper outdoor balcony, a lower teensy part-indoor balcony and a decent outdoor area where the stage was set up. Last time I saw Ra Ra Riot was at Emo’s and let me just say that the Belmont was moving up in the world.

The opening band was one called Pacific Air, and the singer’s voice reminded me of someone else but I can’t place who. The were pretty darn good, which is always a good thing for an opening band because it means you’re not continually looking at your watch wondering when their set is up. I’m actually listening to them on Spotify as I type this. I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing them again. Here’s a bit of their music for you to enjoy while you read.

Then they left and everyone who had been milling around the bar taking selfies with their iPhones started pushing toward the stage in preparation for Ra Ra Riot’s set to start. The crowd in the “pit” seemed very young, as evidenced by their little unlined faces, twig-like legs, and the big black X on their hands.

Because we are old, RJ and I stood on the little balcony where it was pleasant and we didn’t have to fight with people to see the stage. There was also a handy rail just beside us where I was able to place the empty glasses from the (several) vodka and Sprites I had. They were just so smooth, you see. Also, RJ was picking up the tab. And if there’s one thing my mother taught me it’s that if someone else is paying for the booze, you should soak it up.

Anyway, I got some great pictures. I can’t remember if this was “Oh, La” or “Is It Too Much.”

The show was awesome, to say the least. I was a little worried that they wouldn’t play much of their old stuff or have rearranged it to not have the cellist, but in a rare moment of the universe smiling on me they seem to have acquired a new cellist. This meant I got to hear pretty much all my favorite songs from all three albums, with the exception of “Kansai.” They never play “Kansai.”

SAMSUNGMy favorite parts were everyone singing and dancing to “Dance With Me” and their encore of “Dying is Fine.” When they played “Ghost Under Rocks” I actually cried because I couldn’t help thinking about my little Bucky. I think that song will forever be linked with him in my mind.

This was the first concert I’ve been to in over a year, and I missed it so much. Someone once told me I wasn’t allowed to say I have social anxiety issues because I love going to concerts, which is really missing the whole point. Live music is an amazing thing because you can be the most awkward, nervous person on the planet, but once the music starts to play you’re not just one person anymore. You’re part of this amazing group who has gathered from all over to dance, sing, laugh and share this vibe between the audience and the band. You’re not alone. And if you dance like an idiot, or spill your drink, or accidentally grab someone’s ass, it’s cool because you probably won’t see them again. It’s better than therapy.

After the encore, we made it back to my car in the spritzing rain and RJ drove because I’d been drinking. We got back to the house at a reasonable time and flopped into bed, where we watched Fawlty Towers until we passed out. It was a great start to my little holiday.

Where I’m At

So I know I haven’t been writing much (or at all) recently, and there’s a darn good reason for it. And no, that reason is not “because I’m lazy” for once.

You may or may not remember that I volunteer with Band Back Together, a group blog that is dedicated to busting stigma and letting peoples’ voices be heard. We deal with dark stuff like rape and child abuse, but we also post light-hearted stories and inspirational photos. It’s a pretty great place to hang out, you should go over there.

Anyway, I recently was asked if I’d like to be on the Editing team which made me extremely happy for two reasons. One, it gives me something to do besides inventory management in Persona 4 (should I sell that Skill Spanner? I might need it. No, I’ll never need that. Will I? Possibly? I’m not gonna sell it. Yet.) or Kingdom of Loathing. I also loved the idea of doing more for the site than I had been.

And then it all went sideways. In a good sort of way.

After a couple of weeks of Editing, I was approached by our fearless leader about becoming the Editing Team Lead. This involves quite a bit more work and I was a little hesitant at first but I’ve since thrown myself into it and – after a few minor hiccups last week – am getting my sea legs. This also explains why I haven’t been around much lately.

I still plan on updating this whenever I can (and whenever I have something to say) but it probably won’t be as much of a regular basis as it used to be. After all, I only have two hands and one brain, none of which can be counted on to work as well as I’d like.

As for you, why don’t you go on over to Band Back Together and see what we do? We’re always looking for more stories; they can even be ones that have been posted on your personal blog before! Let’s do this!

Beta Love

rrrbetalovecoverSo now that it’s been out a little while and I’ve had a chance to listen to it on repeat for a while, add it to every running mix I’ve created, and pick out my favorite songs, I suppose I should tell you how I feel about Ra Ra Riot’s new album, Beta Love. It might come as a shock to you, but I love it.

I wasn’t sure I’d like it, though.

As we have previously established through an exhaustive inspection of my music collection, I tend to go for bands and singers whose music feature strings, such as Blue October and Andrew Bird. When I first heard Ra Ra Riot, it was the string section in their song “Dying is Fine” that caught my attention. So when I heard that Alexandra, their cellist, was leaving the band I was heartbroken and concerned.

However, we have also previously established that I love Ra Ra Riot. Hell, part of my beloved Bucky tattoo are the words “Skin and Claw,” a reference to their song “Ghost Under Rocks.” So even though the article said that their new album was going to be more synth-based, I resolved to give them the benefit of the doubt because they’re one of my all-time favorites. When “Beta Love” was released as a single in November, I gritted my teeth and pressed play.

It was wonderful.

I was immediately hooked and ended up listening to it so many times that I think Mister E even knows the lyrics. Every new single that they released on Spotify was on perma-play. As soon as they put the entire album up on Youtube, I started listening to all of the songs in the same way. I just could not (and cannot) get enough of this album.

The synths and violin work beautifully together, and the frantic beats that populate the majority of the album get into your head and make you want to dance, no matter where you are. I have to remind myself that I’m not allowed to have a dance party on the treadmill when “Dance With Me” comes on. Every. Single. Time. The lyrics are a little different than previous albums; science fiction inspired with a lot of emphasis on artificial intelligence and the capability of machines to feel, but I still get that straight-to-the-heart feeling that gives me goosebumps from them.

Beta Love is an awesome album. Why haven’t you stopped reading yet to go listen to it?

Since I already posted “Dance With Me” yesterday, I’ll put up “Beta Love” so you can get hooked too. Then go buy their album or go to a show, like I will be next week. Trust me, they’re awesome.