Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Mountains, militias & mirth, oh my!

Hills south of Helena, 10.2001.
(Hills south of Helena, October '01.)

"I am in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection, but with Montana it is love."
(John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley)

And I'm off (as of after work today)! Not sure how much interweb time I'll have (I'll be back on 12/5), but expect an update or two, at the very least.

Catch you on the flip-side!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

New York, Pt. 13 - - Sorry, we have no Conan/Rockettes/King Kong today.

(Mostly pictures this time.)

Regina and I continued with the tourist-trapping. Next stop--Rockefeller Center.
Rockefeller Center 1.
Rockefeller Center 2.
Rockefeller Center 5.
Rockefeller Center 3.

Sure, the mosaics around the concourse are pretty, but seeing Conan would've been prettier. (Well, maybe not literally.)
Alas, no Conan.
NBC awning.

Radio City Music Hall's right there, too. No Rockette sightings.
Radio City.

So's St. Patrick's Cathedral. Which, to me, will always be most famous for being the place a winged Gremlin landed on in Gremlins 2.
St. Patrick's Cathedral.
Interior 1.

With that, we started walking toward the Empire State Building. (Note the sailor--it was Fleet Week, which I learned has nothing to do with Farm & Fleet.)
Empire State Building.
Interior sign.

They've got a neat little display case in the elevator lobby about King Kong & Fay Wray.
Fay Wray signs.
More Fay Wray signs.

Some views from the lower observation deck (we were too El Cheapo to pay the extra $18 to go up to the higher one).
Downtown 1.
Downtown 2.
Downtown 5.
Mary on deck.
Photos by Battman.
Okay, the "Battman" sign just about killed us for so many reasons, but especially because when Regina worked out in Billings, she totally worked with a guy named Batman. Seriously. That was his legal name. Batman. (We're pretty sure this wasn't the same Batman, though, since Billings Batman died. Or...did he?)

That was more than enough human contact for one day, so after that we headed back to Brooklyn for the night.

Monday, November 27, 2006

With great power comes great pajamas.

Tell me this isn't the cutest damn thing you've ever seen.


(aka Emily & Kevin's son Owen & daughter Aine, out in Helena)

Hang in there until Wednesday, kids, Aunt Mary's psyched for some fresh Bat-mischief.

*Not to be confused with Bat Boy from the Weekly World News.

Why he weighs twenty-five pounds.

He's hungry.

Monday, November 20, 2006

All dressed up in snow & mistletoe...

Christmas city, wonderful city!

Friday was the annual Christmas City of the North Parade in Duluth...a much-beloved annual tradition since, well, like most beloved annual traditions, god knows when. Truly, it is a spectacle without comparison. I mean, honestly, do you know of any other parades that feature a theme song sung by the one and only MERV GRIFFIN? No, I bet you don't.

The Asbach family have been faithful viewers of the parade on television since at least the very early 1980s, if not sooner, but I'd only been to it in person once before--in college, on a night when it was about -3,000° outside and we lasted maybe twenty minutes before we ran screaming back up the hill to the car, each breath like the frosty hand of death reaching down into our lungs, wresting the very warmth of life from our cores. (If you are unfamiliar with Duluth winters you may think I'm exaggerating, but oh, I'm not. God, I wish I was. ) Since the weather forecast looked good and I was ready for a night out of Ashland, this year I headed up there to experience the glory firsthand.

Joe graciously offered us use of the bookshop he manages downtown (Robin Goodfellow's on Lake Ave.) as our own personal warming shack, because he is nice and because he had to work until 9:00 PM anyway and I imagine we're entertaining enough for a while, at least.
Warming shack.
Hanging out.
Eric at the store.
The Quintessential Gnome.
(I am careful not to mock the comic shop patrons, because I'm a reformed addict myself, but really, c'mon, I'd have to be made of stone to not laugh at this.)

Behold the magic!
We mostly watched the parade from the front of the store, since nowadays it comes up Lake Avenue and turns onto Superior Street (it used to just go west-east on Superior, which frankly probably made a lot more sense), so from there we had a birdseye view of goings-on without having to be in a thick crowd of people.

And we were also able to enjoy our thermos of "soup" far away from the prying eyes of law enforcement officials.
Mmm, that's good
Mmm, that's good "soup." haha

Fire twirler!
Fire twirler!

Local PBS station mascots.
Local PBS mascots!

Don't they look like they're doing the
Don't they look like they're doing the "tomahawk chop"?

Loose & lively band.
Toy soldiers.
Bad girls.

Commercial break.
The parade halted every few minutes to accommodate the commercial breaks the local TV stations pop gets really old after a while, especially when you're standing out in the cold and you've run out of "soup." So we were glad to have someplace to loiter while we waited.

I love the way Joe says stuff.
I love the way Joe says stuff.

Shannon does some light reading.

It was during one such break that the following walked past the store's front windows.
Maybe he's late for a very important date?
Yes, it's a guy in a bunny costume, wearing a backpack, strutting down to the parade. (???) (Perhaps he was late for a very important date?)

As we ran outside to verify that yes, we'd actually just seen that happen and we weren't experiencing a Harvey moment or something, I said, "Hey, wouldn't it be something if he showed up in the parade later?"

And then, holy crap!
And then, holy crap! There he was! In the freakin' parade! Everything I say comes true! I'm psychic!!!

(He's hard to make out in that picture, I know, but see that white blob in front of the semi's grill? THAT'S HIM!)

Truly, this was almost more magic than I could handle.
All dressed up in snow & mistletoe.

Right about then, even though it was all obviously extremely magical & whatnot, we were getting a little sick & tired of running in & out every time a commercial break came up. And that's when I remembered something: they stream the parade online.
Yay for computers.
Virtual(ish) marching band.
Parade watching from the (relative) comfort of the Robin Goodfellow counter.
Problem solved! haha

The next day, Shannon and I bummed around running errands.
Somewhere, Sasquatch is missing a foot.
Somewhere, Sasquatch is missing a foot.

They should just put a big ol' band of yellow police tape around the exterior of the Miller Hill Mall that reads "CAUTION--CRIME (AGAINST FASHION) SCENE."

This kills me.
The work of an unstimulated English major?

The most nutritious snack at Robin Goodfellow gets some much-needed publicity.

And last but certainly not least:
Spotted in Superior.
Was Kevin Smith in town doing a Clerks 2 promo, or what??

My mother's latest acquisition.

My mother's latest acquisition.
Because we hadn't already gotten enough bizarre stuff from the basement of J.C. Penney's over the course of the last thirty-plus years.

Friday, November 17, 2006

New York, Pt. 12 - Country Mouse Meets City Mice

Have I told you my mice-in-Regina's-apartment stories yet? Ooh, you'll like these.

Let me preface the following by saying that long before I got there, I knew Regina & John had a mouse or two in their apartment. After being reassured that it's quite common for people to have a mouse or two in apartments where they live, and that their mice were your garden-variety teensy mice, not giant sewer rats or anything, I was fine with it. Really. I'm not scared of mice, I've dealt with them before and while they can certainly surprise me when they pop out of nowhere, I'm not scared of them.

Anyway....late one night, after we'd finished watching Whose Line Is It Anyway? and were trundling off to bed, I went into the kitchen to pour out my glass of water and leave it in the sink. Not bothering to turn the light on, I walked up to the sink, absentmindedly splashed the water out of the glass...and instantly a SCRITCHY- SCRATCHY- SCRITCH- SCRATCH- OF-TERROR exploded from underneath one of the plates in the basin.

I take some comfort in knowing that the mouse was probably more scared of me--wait, I mean, surprised by me--than I was of him. I picture him there, underneath a bowl or something, his little legs whirling around on the stainless steel looking like the Roadrunner thinking, "Oh my god, what is that, oh my god RUN RUN RUN!"

Which was pretty much the same reaction I was having as I leapt for the hallway.

I stood in the doorway, hyperventilated for a second (again, I'm not scared of mice, just of random things scritchy-scratching in sinks in unfamiliar darkened kitchens when I'm not expecting it), quickly recovered and flicked the light on. The room was silent. There was no movement by the sink.

I had a decision to make. I could turn off the light, go back into the living room, and go to sleep...or, I could go over to the sink and poke at the assorted bowls & plates with a fork to see if the coast was clear. The first option was the most sensible, so obviously I went with the second.

Tiptoeing across the room, I brandished the first piece of silverware I saw and looked down into the sink basin. Nothing was moving. Timidly, I prodded one of the plates on the top with the fork, tapping it at first, then slowly sliding it down by the drain. Nothing moved. Silence. I nudged a bowl off the top of the pile, and nothing happened. Slowly my pokes & proddings of the kitchenware grew bolder, more brash, until finally after I'd moved every item in the sink it became clear that the mouse had, somehow, escaped without me hearing or seeing him do so.

Cringing, wondering where he'd gone off to, or if he was still there somewhere in the kitchen at that very moment, glaring at me from some unseen corner, licking his feral little mouse chops at the sight of my chubby little toes...I scurried back into the living room and did my best to fall asleep.

Fast-forward to two days later: Regina and I are sitting in the living room, watching Twin Peaks or something, when John gets home from a hot day out doing carpentry work and decides he's going to take a shower. He goes into the bathroom, turns on the water, and is about to climb into the tub when he looks down and sees...this.

Awww, cute!
Yes, sir, that's a mouse taking a shower.


Tell me that's not the most adorably pathetic thing you've ever seen. He wooks wike he's taking a widdle-biddy bath, doesn't he? Just like people do, yes he does, isn't he just an iddy-biddy widdle cutie-pie, yes he is!

Could this be the same mouse that had startled me in the sink the other night? It seems possible--since we know Mousey liked to bathe, it stands to reason that he'd be drawn to any faucet he could find, right? Mousey was a dapper mouse, like Brooklyn's mouse community's answer to Andre 3000. So fresh & so clean, indeed.