Halloween Treat for the Truly Twisted

(Confidential to OrangeGirl: This is one of those "spike" blogging days I was referring to.)

I've been listening to Pseudopod podcasts since late September, and as soon as I finish with this batch (through Friday's episode #62) I'll stop listening to them. I will, however, continue to download them from now until next year's Hallowe'en season (OrangeMoJoJo celebrates Halloween from late September - early November. Hey, some people put up Christmas decorations in July, I start planning for Hallowe'en in December.)

My commute will suck until then. I can't think of anything that can effectively replace my Pseudopod addiction!

Episode 57, "Tenant's Rights" by Sean Logan, was not so much "scary" as "hilarious." Sure, it's got some elements of horror, I mean, there's a bit of gore involved, including one character's hacking off a body part, and be warned: there is some strong language; but the character of the nerdy tenant who is doing his bit to keep the 2,100 square foot 2-flat he lives in with the building's owner, Lance - he's just priceless. He listens in on Lance's phone conversations not with wire taps or electronic devices that would make the X-Files' Lone Gunmen geeks envious, but with holes cut through the floor of his room above Lance's phones downstairs. He has a Batman-like grappling hook attached to his belt, but it doesn't so much extricate him from dangerous situations by smoothly drawing him up the side of a tall building as drop to the floor five feet away with a "thunk." The one time he did manage to get it attached to something, it gave him one killer of a wedgie. The line "He checked the place for terrorists and spiders. Clear." Seriously, in context, it made me nearly cry with laughter. Maybe it's a good thing I won't be listening to Sean Logan's work while I'm driving over the next year after all...

I forced Shannon to listen to "Tenant's Rights" on Sunday ("House rules, Sammy: Driver picks the music and shotgun shuts their cakehole." - Dean, Supernatural) and was delighted when he, though not a horror fan, was kept thoroughly entertained by the tale all along Montrose Ave. from the lake.

This episode is about 30 minutes long. It's read by Pseudopod editor Alasdair Stewart who does a beautiful job. Alasdair introduces about half the Pseudopod episodes. His intros and outros are pretty hilarious, too. He's been a great addition to Pseudopod's nest of staff members.

Okay, I'm feeling generous today and we had very few trick-or-treaters last year, so here's a bonus treat. If you grew up with Kolchak: The Night Stalker, loved the creepier X-Files episodes where they hunted vampire pizza delivery boys and leech-monsters far more than you did the episodes fulla government conspiracy stuff, and got a stake through the heart from Buffy the Vampire Slayer - check out Supernatural. Two brothers, Sam and Dream, I mean, Dean! Sorry! hunt down and destroy monsters from urban legends Bloody Mary and Resurrection Mary (what do they have against people named Mary, anyway??) to American Indian legends to the restless spirits of the murdered. These episodes are CREE-PY. With a capital EEP! Seasons 1 and 2 are available on DVD (we rent 'em through Netflix), and season 3 is still airing, with the next episode airing tomorrow night.

Red ORANGE!!! Yellow Green Blue Indigo Violet

Here are some pics I took of rainbows and Ben Bulbin in Sligo, Ireland last month. I sent them around my office and was told "That's just what I needed today." (The Boss of Me received a small pot full of gold-foiled Hershey's "Nuggets" as well - she's been having a crappy week.). I figured if 80% of my office needed a bit of a pick-me-up, maybe it was one of those days for more of you out there as well, though I hope that's not the case! Enjoy!

Carve Your Own Punkin'

Without all that mess!


Happy Halloween, Boils and Ghouls!

Halloween is my favorite day of the year. Today I'm dressed in an orange velvet jacket, black shirt, and rubber skull tie. I'll upload a pic later on today or tomorrow. I had to forgo the makeup - this is a professional office after all....

Professional office...How did I get this job again...?

Here's my final Halloween Reading List:

They Thirst, by Robert McCammon - Shannon
Battle Royale, by Koushun Takami - Peepster
Shadowlands, by Peter Straub - Paul
The Exorcist, by William Peter Blatty - Papa Schuetter
Dracula, by Bram Stoker - Nancy W.
Salem's Lot, by Stephen King - sonotstraight and Eevam
The Shining, also by Stephen King - Marc
Weiland, by Charles Brockdem Brown - Brittany Sonotspears
The Trial by Franz Kafka - Dieter
The Ruins, by Scott Smith - The Boss of Me
"My blog. It's really scahahahary!" - My Brother the Wolfman
"Miriam," by Truman Capote - Chuffed
"The Monkey's Paw," by W.W. Jacobs - M
Seven Gothic Tales, "...or something like that" by Isak Dinesen - Neil
Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume - Shecky
"Anything by Poe" - Mu (I've chosen "The Fall of the House of Usher")
"The Mist" by Stephen King - two clerks at the Northbrook Borders who have formed kind of a twisted horror reading club with a few other employees.

So far I've read The Ruins and They Thirst. I gave my review of The Ruins in an earlier post, and despite it's losing steam about halfway through (the author decided to get "clever" and in doing so effectively killed the creepiness of the tale), The Boss of Me is in the lead ahead of Shannon.

They Thirst also started off creepy, but lost steam about a third of the way through with the introduction of the Vampire King Vulkan and his plan of taking over the world starting with Los Angeles. He even had a Renfield-like servant named Benefield.

Benefield. Seriously. We woulda figured it out without the similar name, McCammon!

A note to horror authors out there: there's a reason the horror section is so tiny - you're trying to hard. Our brains are amazing, and our imaginations are vivid enough without your "helpful" details. Let them do the work, and rake in the cash!

I'm now reading Shadowlands and Battle Royale....

"If there isn't something wrong with him, then there's something wrong with us."

I couldn't agree more, Mr. Kucinich.

Bush is still president! BOO! I can't think of anything scarier than that for you this Halloween.


The Dresden Dolls

They played this song before The Magnificents last Saturday and it's been in my head ever since. I'm okay with that, actually - it's a very fun song. I just wish my head wouldn't follow along to the beat whenever I'm not paying attention (left..up. right..up..left..up., etc.). I mean, it would be one thing if it were out loud.

I think this is a House favorite - they played it before The Sparrow, too.

England Adds Another Item To The List Of Reasons I'm an Anglophile

They realize that "vaccination against HPV" does NOT mean "encouragement to be promiscuous."

As of next autumn, all girls aged 12-13 years old girls will be required to be vaccinated against HPV in England. This vaccine will protect them against the common STD human papilloma virus (HPV) with Merck's vaccine Gardisil. HPV, if left untreated (and there are usually no signs or symptoms) can lead to cervical cancer. There are 100 strains of HPV, 30 of which are spread by sexual contact. Gardasil provides 100% protection against only 4 of the 100 strains of HPV, but these 4 strains account for 70% of cervical cancers and 90% of genital warts.

I've had some reservations about mandatory vaccination with Gardasil, but those stemmed from my inherent mistrust of drug companies. Merck has been pushing awfully hard to push legislation to mandate vaccination with it's vaccine, and I'm pretty sure they stand to make a boatload of cash if they succeed. However, as long as it's been found safe and effective, which it has, and there are no long-term side effects (it's too soon to know), by all means stab 'em!

For more information on Gardasil, check out the CDC's Website.


Happy St. Crispin's Day!

Sir Laurence Olivier as Henry V posing with the Templar flag

Shannon and I saw Elizabeth - The Golden Age on October 13th - opening weekend. We were SO excited! We had been waiting for months for it's release....and it turned out to be crap. What a letdown!

The costumes were beautiful, the sets were stunning, and Cate Blanchett was amazing (I want to make it clear Cate was not to blame. Her acting was amazing, but her director and the writer really let her down), but as soon as Clive Owen's character entered the film as Elizabeth's love interest, it all went to pot. Why, in God's name, does everyone think Elizabeth needs a love interest in order to be interesting?? She was an amazing woman surrounded by espionage, divisive religious beliefs, intrigue, and political posturing that would make Clinton's (pick one) jaw drop.

I was disappointed in the film and Hollywood's lack of faith in Elizabeth's story, but I was downright angry when they changed her speech. Her original speech, delivered in full armor to her frightened men in the face of the arrival of the Spanish armada was breathtaking.

Here are her words. I will not deign to reproduce Hollywood's pathetic attempt to "improve" on them.

"My loving people, we have been persuaded by some, that are careful of our safety, to take heed how we commit ourselves to armed multitudes, for fear of treachery; but I assure you, I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people. Let tyrants fear; I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good will of my subjects. And therefore I am come amongst you at this time, not as for my recreation or sport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live or die amongst you all; to lay down, for my God, and for my kingdom, and for my people, my honor and my blood, even the dust. I know I have but the body of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart of a king, and of a king of England, too; and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realms: to which, rather than any dishonor should grow by me, I myself will take up arms; I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field. I know already, by your forwardness, that you have deserved rewards and crowns; and we do assure you, on the word of a prince, they shall be duly paid you. In the mean my lieutenant general shall be in my stead, than whom never prince commanded a more noble and worthy subject; not doubting by your obedience to my general, by your concord in the camp, and by your valor in the field, we shall shortly have a famous victory over the enemies of my God, of my kingdom, and of my people."

"I know I have but the body of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart of a king, and of a king of England, too..." *shudder!* Awesome. Yet Hollywood removed this line, and made some other stupid changes. Why? Not PC enough to include? Are you kidding me??? But it was PC enough to make Elizabeth come across as an unstable, simpering, weak, and terrified woman, falling into piles of blue-silk-clad grief all over the place because of a man she couldn't have? I can understand trying to humanize her, don't get me wrong, but this film did a really crappy job of doing it. They focused too much on "hmmm...what makes a woman feminine...I know! Let's have her sob all over the place! That's what women do when they're stressed out over...oh, war's not feminine at all! I know! A guy! Let's add ...Sir Walter Raleigh! Brilliant!" No. Not brilliant. Pathetic. Maybe you could have, I don't know, had her agonizing over decisions of state? Her country was being threatened! She was a protestant queen in an-until-very-recently Catholic country! There was very little chance she would prevail against the armada, much less the tries on her life for being the protestant "bastard" daughter of Henry VIII - but she DID! She DID prevail! She had to preserve herself, and an entire country, many of whose subjects weren't too sure about her as Queen. That, sirs, is far more interesting than a made up romance. Far more interesting.

One playwrite did do a fine job of scripting an English king's speech once. Below you'll find Shakespeare's St Crispins Day speech from Henry V, Scene III.

If we are mark'd to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires:
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England:
God's peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more, methinks, would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made
And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian:'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispin's day.'
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names.
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

Happy St. Crispin's Day!


Plotting My Moves

I'm traveling to Kansas City next month for work. Um,... yay? Yeah, hard to get all that excited about. Anyway, I heard my coworker making dinner reservations the other day for her and a couple of the docs, so I decided I'd better get a move on or all the good seats would be taken. I was surprised, actually, by how many restaurants really tempted me.

I'll arrive on Thursday, so I think I'll head to this place. If all goes well, I'll be there Sunday night, too.

And here's where I'll head on Saturday night. Why the porqois l'enfer pas, no? That frog is way cute! The food must be good.

Seriously, though. Cheesehead Cafe. Gourmet grilled cheese sammiches. Oh. My. God! Why don't we have one or these in Chicago?? Answer: OrangeMoJoJo would weigh twice what she does now, and she's already a slacker about going to the gym.

Come on. It's Kansas City. I have to get excited about something! Actually, I am excited about getting to use my iPod Touch from every WiFi hotspot I come across. Sooooooooooooo awesome!!!

Go See The Magnificents!

I made a New Year's resolution to take Shannon to a show every month. I think he's beginning to suspect a theme: each of the live productions I've brought him to over the last 6 months have had Molly Brennan involved.

I think he's also beginning to suspect that when Molly Brennan is involved, it's seriously worth seeing. Not only does she have one of the most expressive faces on the planet, but, man, does she know how to make a show fascinating.

In June it was The Sparrow.

Molly was Assistant Director of The Sparrow.


In July it was a double feature of 500 Clown! MacBeth and 500 Clown! Frankenstein

Molly is Kevin in 500 Clown!

I believe Paul Kalina (Shank of 500 Clown (far left), and the physical improv instructor who's been breaking us out of our molds the last 3 weeks) is Assistant Director of The Magnificents. He also clowns around with Molly in the production. In the middle is Adrian Danzig (aka Bruce) who had the pleasure of substitute teaching us for Paul 2 weeks ago.

It's amazing how different their teaching styles are - we wish we could take a full 6-week course with each of these three Clowns!

500 Clown! is taking 500 Clown! Frankenstein and 500 Clown! Christmas to New York in December, so if you know anybody living in The Big Apple, send them to the East Village December 12-19 (Frankenstein) or December 21-30 (Christmas). We don't intend to let them leave Chicago again.

To continue the Molly Brennan theme, this past Saturday we went to see the House Theatre of Chicago's production of The Magnificents! at the Viaduct theater.

The "It's tea time! It's tea time!" waltz

Molly directs The Magnificents! She's also assumed the role of the clown in the hoop "skirt" who, ironically, was called back to star in The Sparrow's return.

This play is amazing - for serious. It's a great story, and it's really interesting. During our walk back to Lincoln Square we speculated on the use of magic, the role of the clowns, what restaurant would still be open at 11PM on Western Ave., and the imagery of the cage all the way home. I was thrilled to see Molly as a clown. When I'd heard she was in the production as well as directing it, I had a hard time picturing her in a straight acting role. I was delighted to see her, Chase and Shank handing out tootsie rolls and clowning it up with the audience before the show. The clowns interacted with the audience and the cast of the play throughout the production, and far from being confusing - it really worked. The play has a very interesting commedia d'el arte feel to it. I'm not telling you any more. You'll have to see it yourself, and I can't recommend doing so enough.

Also, again, go see The Sparrow at The Apollo Theater. It's wonderful. And I think the same person does the animation in both plays....See them both for yourself and let me know what you think. (o;

Molly, as well as Adrian Danzig and Paul Kalina of 500 Clown!, are really succeeding in putting me off non-"fringe" theater. It's hard to get myself to buy tickets to see a straight play (I KNOW we should see The Crucible at The Steppenwolf, but how many clowns are in it? That's right! None!) after seeing these imaginative, fresh productions. And on another level, as an improviser, every time I see them I realize how much I have yet to learn...

...and how much I WANT to! They're having so much fun!

Not All CobWebs Are Spun By Spiders

I can say that now because now I've posted later than Mu! THREE TIMES, no less!

Shannon's in the Lead!

So far I've read The Ruins and am more than halfway through They Thirst. The Ruins was creepy at the beginning, but it lost steam when the maneating vines, located in the heart of the Mayan jungle, began emitting smells of, get this: strawberry pie and birthday cake to torment the starving tourists. Now, sure these vines are clever, but come ON! Birthday cake??!? In the Mayan jungle??!? Where'd it learn that scent? Scott Smith should have stuck to the more believable scent of, say, roasting meat, or omitted the tormenting smells of food altogether. Being stuck on a hill with maneating vines, surrounded by armed Mayans, with no hope of rescue was a creepy enough story to sustain itself, but by being clever, you let the air out of your own balloon.

So now I'm reading They Thirst, by Robert McCammon.

This is a book that knows it's creepy, and takes it's time developing it's creepiness. A bonus is that the monsters are vampires, and I've always been creeped out by vampires. I know this book is getting to me because, not only have I been having nightmares the past 3 nights, but after Shannon left for work yesterday, I got in the shower and after a couple of minutes heard a noise outside the bathroom door. It was, of course, Aethelred, but for an instant I thought, "....or IS it Aethelred?" and watched the shower curtain half expecting clawed, bony fingers to start scratching at it. Took me half the time it normally does to wash my face. You don't want soap in your eyes when the vampires strike!

Definitely NOT Aethelred. Note the lack of "cute."

I wonder if Merz carries garlic soap?


Once Again, It's Not the Terrorists Who Scare Me...

...it's the most powerful man in the free world.

“So I’ve told people that, if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing [Iran] from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.”

-Shrubbie, Wednesday, October 17

In the words of Richard Belzer - who needs terrorists?

I'm not scared of terrorists. For serious. If they want to get me, there's not a damned thing I can do about it, so why worry? I'll worry more about the North Shore SUV-driving bimbos who plow through the PetSmart parking lot on the wrong side of the road while babbling on their cell phones, only avoiding 20 accidents apiece because everyone in a car smaller than a Navigator has been pushed onto the sidewalk, thank you very much.

Come to think of it, I have no idea where the pedestrians are... Probably using the sewers.

I also worry about our most opinionated ass of a mouthpiece spewing shit like "a new crusade" and now "world war III." I think a little less ignorant, idiotic spew and a little more open conversation would be a damned good thing.

The USA lives IN the world, not despite it.


Keep Those Suggestions Coming!

I promise not all my posts from now on will be morbid and disturbing, but dang if I ain't having fun with this contest!

I've received a number of frightfully good suggestions for the Second Annual "Scare the Living Daylights Outta OrangeMoJoJo!" contest. To those of you who've sent them in - thanks! For those of you who are still thinking - you've got until next Friday to send 'em in. If I get any after that, I'll hold on to them until next year. You can never hoard enough, you know - you never know when the zombies will strike!

Here are the books I'll be reading so far. I've read a couple before (noted in a well-earned dried blood red), but it's been years and they're worth coming back to to see, as sonotstraight said, if they're as good as the memory of them is.

I'm not too worried that they'll be "shoe-ins" to win seeing as I'm familiar with them and probably won't be as terrified the second time around, but Salem's Lot gave me nightmares, literally (pun intended), for months.

Danny Glick.


Here's the list so far:

They Thirst, by Robert McCammon - Shannon
Battle Royale, by Koushun Takami - Peepster
Shadowland, by Peter Straub - Paul
The Exorcist, by William Peter Blatty - Papa Schuetter
Dracula, by Bram Stoker - Nancy W.
Salem's Lot, by Stephen King - This one got TWO recommendations: sonotstraight and Eevam
Weiland, by Charles Brockdem Brown - Brittany sonotspears
"Anything by Kafka" - Dieter (I've read "The Hunger Artist" and The Metamorphosis - do any of you have any suggestions to help narrow this down from there? Maybe The Castle or The Trial?)
The Ruins, by Scott Smith - The Boss of Me
"Miriam," by Truman Capote - Chuffed
"The Monkey's Paw," by W.W. Jacobs - M
Seven Gothic Tales, "...or something like that" by Isak Dinesen - Neil


The Second Annual "Scare The Living Bejeebus Outta OrangeMoJoJo!!" Contest

I hate to disturb you like this, but I need your help.

Today is October 9th - the first day of All-Hallow'n, which lasts through November 11. Seems appropriate to me that there should be a month long Halloween season!

I do so love October. The weather's getting cooler, the leaves are turning, the color ORANGE!!!! is everywhere...

But I digress. Let me come right to the point.

To celebrate Halloween I like to scare myself silly by reading really frightening books or watching truly scary movies.

Here's my dilemma. I've read literally hundreds of scary novels (not to mention horrific true crime!) through the years, and it's getting harder and harder to find really well written horror novels.

Well, now that I think of it, they don't have to be novels...

I need your help.

Let me know the scariest books you've ever read, and I'll read them. I'll even choose one randomly to read by candlelight.

If yours manages to scare me more than any of the others suggested, I'll send you a treat.

I've got three good suggestions already, though those of you who have suggested them are free to change them.

The suggestions I have so far are:

They Thirst, by Robert R. McCammon (Shannon),
Battle Royale, by Koushun Takami (Peepster), and
Shadowlands, by Peter Straub (Paul).

Last year Chuffed won with her suggestion of The House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, followed by Kelly's suggestion of In Cold Blood by Truman Capote.

I've read books on possession,


and psychos,

but I'll accept any entry - as long as you attest it's terrifying.

I used to choose a book every Halloween and read it overnight by candlelight. The two that creeped me out the most were The Amityville Horror and It by Stephen King. The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty, Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin, The Omen by David Seltzer, and the "short" story (at over 300 pages) "The Mist" by Stephen King each caused me a few sleepless nights nights, too.

I'll also take any really good scary movie suggestions.

If your book manages to freak me out enough to leave the lights on or cause me a good nightmare, I'll throw in an extra prezzie.

"Around Here I'M the Decider!"

This one's for my brudder, Supreme WebMaster of The Werewolf Cafe.

I was driving to work this morning - for over an hour and a freaking half (for some reason I thought they were going to adjust the timing of the lights on alternate routes like Waukegan Rd to alleviate travel times messed up by the construction on the Edens - WRONG!!!), but I had my iPod loaded with podcasts so I was kept entertained door to door.

This week, in honor of it being October and thus Halloween Month, I'm listening to Pseudopod - "the world's premiere horror fiction podcast." Though I can't recommend it to everyone (some of the stories are more gross and disgusting than truly scary) I really enjoy good horror fiction, and some of the stories are pretty well written. There's some good scary sci-fi peppered in there, too.

This morning I listened to episodes #42, Full Moon Over 1600, which is about 40 minutes long. It wasn't so much scary as darkly humorous and satirical. The story features the President, a thinly veiled Shrubbie, who's been bitten by a werewolf baby at a publicity event and thus becomes a werewolf himself. Apparentely this is what it takes to get him to stand up to his wicked-evil VP, you guessed it, a thinly veiled Cheney. The support of the religious right after he eats a child molester and the President's encounter with a scantily clad runner in the park who sets him straight about economic feasibility concerning tax breaks are truly hilarious.


Project Du Jour

Tomorrow I will announce the Second Annual "Scare the Living Bejeebus Outta OrangeMoJoJo!!" contest, so get your thinking caps on! I need scary stuff to read over the Halloween holiday (for me that lasts from mid-September through the first week of November). I'd have announced it today, but that I forgot a few titles that were suggested to me last year (Paul, Peepster) at home.

Last years winner was Chuffed, and I totally still owe you cookies!!

My important project of the day has been changing the color scheme on my desktop to black and orange with white highlights. This is a tricky business. I've done it before and let me tell you it is scary when you need to find a document NOW!!! only to find that you've changed the preferences on your pull-down menu to orange on orange.

Scaaaaaaaaaaaaary stuff!!

I'm more than a little bit annoyed to find that this version of Windows doesn't offer "Creepy," "Spooky," or "Horror" fonts - any suggestions for a respectable substitute??

I Should Go Out Of Town More Often!

The Shadow of da Billy Goat Still Follows da Cubs

I leave and come back to find the Cubs are swept by the Diamondbacks (that is one powerful billy goat curse!), the Red Sox swept the Angels (GO RED SOX!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), and Shannon bought me an IPod Touch!!!

AAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!! IT IS SO AWESOME!!!! I'd have a pic of my new touch - (I've named her TouchaTouchaToucha Touch Me or 'Lil Nell for short) - up on my blog, but Bu decided to break my camera last week. (Good.....Kitty.....Must....Not....Kill....Kitty....)

The screen - so clear!!! The internet - so fast!!! The design - so sleek!!! The resolution - so crisp!!! The interface - so easy to use!!!

Life will never be the same again.

I just wish I'd stayed away long enough* for the Indians to sweep the Yankees. Damned Yankees.

*Shannon knows this isn't true. When I travel I'm good for two days, then I turn into a depressed ball of mope.


OrangeMoJoJo Will Be Outta The Office, Y'all.

I'll be at a conference in Houston. More blogging to come next week!

I! AM! MIGHTY!!!!!!!

Adrian Danzig, Paul Kalina, and Molly Brennan in 500 Clown MacBeth

Shannon and I took our first 500 Clown class last night taught by Paul Kalina through the Actors' Gymnasium. Despite being physically active for at least two of the two and a half hours of class (as opposed to my usual two to two-and-a-half hours per week), I feel surpisingly good today, and Shannon reports feeling pretty darned good himself.

It's unlike any other improv class I've ever taken, though it started like one. The first game we played was a name game where, while standing in a circle, one person started by saying another person's name (preferably someone actually in the class). That person, without speaking, then touched the person to the left or right on the shoulder. The person who was touched said someone else's name, and that person then touched the person to his or her left or right....and so on. Easy enough, but it was the first day of class, we didn't know more than a few names (though now I know 10 of the 12!), and we were a bit nervous so mistakes were invariably made. The faster we played, the more mistakes. Each time a player made a mistake, he or she had to die a convincingly horrible death based on how s/he felt about making the mistake.

It was hilarious.

That is where any similarity to any improv class I've taken ended - about 14 minutes into the first day of class.

The next exercise....well, talk about getting you out of your head. We each had to carry and be carried by every. Other. Member. Of the class.

And you couldn't carry two people the same way, ie: piggy back.

Oh! And you couldn't gesture to indicate how you intended to carry or be carried by anyone. In fact, there was no actual speaking allowed, but you could make sounds to show how you were feeling while carrying or being carried. You had to organically, I really don't know how to explain it, allow the carrying to happen.

I thought I'd start easy by carrying the tiniest girl in class across the stage. WRONG!!! SHE ended up carrying ME confidently across on her back. I later carried her across on my hip. Feeling her lift me and make her way across the stage made me realize just how many levels of preconception I was going to be wading through, slashing and burning, during the exercise. If she could carry me, I would be able to carry people larger than me, too. When Paul was explaining the rules of the exercise, I was thinking, "No way in HELL can I carry that guy alone." Turns out there was only one guy I didn't carry across alone.

If you saw a person struggling trying to carry someone across, you could help them carry their player. One girl was trying to carry a guy backwards on her back on all fours (he was also facing backwards, the same direction as she was). It looked like they were having a hard time getting balanced, so I faced forwards on all fours, scootched back so my feet were between her legs, he then lay back over the two of us and we slowly made our way over - her moving backwards while I moved forwards - to the other side of the stage.

Let's just say any boundary issues were pretty much eliminated within the first 15 minutes of class. It was pretty incredible how intimate (I don't really know what other word to use for it, really) we each got with eachother during this exercise. And yet nobody seemed to feel embarrassed or shy or uncomfortable. There was an immediate sense of trust. Though we were allowed to yell "BAIL!" if someone felt uncomfortable or thought they were going to fall or be dropped, this was only called once, and that was during a really precarious, oddly-executed carry, and the three of us were very close to the other side of the stage.

I was very pleased to find that Shannon really enjoyed the class and is looking forward to next week! THANK YOU SHANNON!!! for taking this class with me! I've wanted to do so for years, and it's so much more fun with you in it, beloved husband/best friend/classmate! Plus I don't have to try to explain what happened in class. Don't know if I can now!


Rare Metra Ride

I really do like taking the train in to work, though it really doesn't save me any time. It's about an hour in, an hour and a half back whether I train it or drive, but when I drive I get to hear podcasts, and when I train it, I get to read. Win-Win, though the train is much more relaxing!

When I do take the train, I usually take the first one out. Today, I missed that one and had to take the second, which was far more full. Still, there were several women sitting in two-seaters with their crap on the second seat (there was one guy on the second level with his feet up on the chair in front of him, but it seems that, in this particular car on this particular day, anyway, this "my crap has the same rights to a chair of its own as a paying customer, and it was here FIRST!" phenomena seemed to be exclusive to the female gender).

For some reason, this really didn't bother me too much today. I know, right?!? Me! I didn't care! Not fussed. Two of the women appeared to be snoozing, and after trying quietly to wake one of them up, I decided to just stand. I wasn't being shy or subservient or anything, I just really didn't mind standing.

The woman whose chair I was holding onto lightly for stability seemed to be really annoyed at my presence. She had her laptop open in a "don't bother me, I'm REALLY important!" manner, and had crap on the chair next to her, but I didn't single her out or anything (there were at least 4 others) - she, rather, the seat she happened to be sitting in, just happened to be far enough along in the car where I would be out of the way of traffic if more people got on board. After, like, 5 seconds, she exhaled loudly and looked over her shoulder towards me (not AT me, just at the floor in my direction), and asked, in a really snotty voice, "Um, would you like me to MOVE or something?" I smiled and answered, "No, that's okay! I'm just reading your email." She started to close her laptop (I really couldn't tell you what she was looking at, I was really looking at a cool ORANGE!!! mountain bike at the front of the car), when I heard a snicker behind me. It was one of the of the women whom I had thought was snoozing. She waved me over to sit next to her, and we rode in companionable silence the rest of the way.


Ireland Teaser Post

What they did NOT have to drink in Ireland

Yes, I'll admit, I looked for one in every town we drove through.
The Pavlovian response I have to that green mermaid is almost obscene.

What they DID have:

Yes, I'll admit I looked for one in every town we drove through...

I was surprised the Guinness was always served cold. I prefer it room temperature, and thought that was how it was SUPPOSED to be drunk...? (drunk? drank? drinked? That doesn't sound right...)

Drummin. Home of the best pint in the WORLD.
No, I'm not drinked in that picture! I was holding up the sign!

The best pint to be had was in the town we stayed in in Ireland, south of Westport by about 7 miles, or 178 minutes by car.

We stayed in Drummin (more pics to be released this week!) and were told upon arriving that there was a pub about 10 minutes away next door to the post office. That was, incidentally, the entirety of the town. Those two establishments and a church. We didn't see either the pub or the post office until the Friday night before we left, but I'm glad we found the pub because it had, honest to God, have the best pint of Guinness I've ever had. We saw the church several times because we walked past it again and again trying to find the pub. Turns out we had to turn up the lane the church was on to get to the pub, so it made a fabulous landmark.

That beautiful second pic was taken on September 17th - OUR SECOND ANNIVERSARY!!! - at Sheedy's Country House Hotel in Lisdoonvarna. My parents took us out to dinner to celebrate (hence the three pints - Shannon was drinking Bailey's on the rocks! (o:).

Happy 2nd Anniversary + 2 weeks + 1 day, Shannon!