27 June 2008

Insert random New York quote here.

I've just returned from my annual trek to NYC. As usual, my daily routine was something like this: eat, museum, eat, shop, eat. This year, my friend and I hit a lot of our favorite spots and found some new and awesome things.

But first, let me mention that, on the train up, a 62 year-old women WHO WE HAD NEVER MET BEFORE started telling us about her mastectomy and was so proud of the reconstruction that she pulled up her shirt and bra and showed us her rebuilt tit.



We hit the MOMA the afternoon we arrived, but decided not to go in because there were no exhibits we were interested in. Instead, we went to the MOMA design store so I could get a sweet kitty totebag from their new Japanese collection. Alas, the kitty totebags were all sold out (SOLD OUT, ERIN!! *sniff*) and I was sadface. However, I bought a t-shirt with well-known MOMA paintings converted to stick figures.

So that cheered me up quite a bit.

The next day, we spent 4 hours in the Met, which is just the best American museum ever. You could go to the Met an hour a day for two weeks and see something different each time. This year there were several exhibitions that we were interested in, and one that made me squeal like a 6 year-old.

Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy

OHMYGOD IT WAS SO GOOD. The Costume Institute set up an amazing exhibition of haute couture, athletic wear, and movie costumes divided by types of superhero costumes.

(Make sure you click the "View Images" link on each page linked below so you can see some of the clothes that were featured.)

The Graphic Body
This section focused on Superman and Batman. Lots of fun couture and athletic wear, and also the costume that Christopher Reeve wore in Superman and the regular and black costumes that Tobey Maguire wore in Spiderman.

The Patriotic Body
Mainly Wonder Woman styles. They had the original costume worn by Lynda Carter in the 70s TV show. I used to idolize Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman when I was little, so seeing this was a big deal to me. The blue on the costume has faded to purple, I wish someone had taken better care of it.

The Virile Body
No superhero costumes here, alas, but some pretty badass menswear by Galliano.

The Paradoxical Body
One of my favorite sections. The fashion was fine, whatever, but what I really was excited to see (to the point where I kinda embarrassed my friend who does not share my love of comic book movies) was Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman costume from Batman Returns. I have no idea how they got her into it - they must have sewed it on her. The workmanship was just incredible.

PS - Michelle Pfeiffer was really, really tiny in 1992. Like, really.

The Armored Body
Who gives a crap about the clothes in this part, because OMG IRON MAN!!! They had the second, all silver Iron Man costume on display and the chest light and eyes were all lit up and it was so freaking cool that I almost wet myself. Also, they had the Christian Bale's batsuit from The Dark Knight, and the thing actually looked like it was breathable. Not one big nippletastic piece of rubber like George Clooney's.

The Aerodynamic Body
No movie costumes here, but a lot of athletic wear like speed skating suits.

The Mutant Body
Mystique from The X-Men's costume, if you can call it a costume. Rebecca Romijn has teeny calves. Also, a dress and headpiece from Thierry Mugler '97 couture collection that has to be see in person to be believed.

The Postmodern Body
Lots of references to Ghost Rider, but thankfully, no Nic Cage costumes. Another rocking Thierry Mugler, this time a motorcycle-inspired bustier that I remember from when it walked the runway in 1992. It was cool to see it for real.

I wish that The Met site had pictures from the actual exhibit - like, how it was set up. That's part of what made the exhibit so great. The backdrops and lighting and positioning of the figures, all of it.

If you're going to be in NY before Sept 1, go, you'll love it. You don't even need to be a big geek like me.

Other exhibits we enjoyed this go-round:
Framing a Century: Masterworks Photographers, 1840-1940
New Galleries for 19th- and Early 20th-Century European Paintings and Sculpture, including the Henry J. Heinz II Galleries (This is a perennial favorite of mine, but the gallery space was new, so it was like seeing a new exhibit.)
Tara Donovan at the Met
Pop Art: Works on Paper

Also, The Met Store was having a good sale, so I got a Steinlen cat print because it was cheapie cheap.

So, confession time. Despite 3 years of living in New York and countless trips since then, I had never been to the American Museum of Natural History. I don't know why. But yesterday I did, and it blew me away.

We spent most of our time in the fossil halls, but we also visited the meteorites and gems, the biodiversity exhibit, the hall of human origins, the hall of ocean life, and the hall of Asian peoples. There were many other halls of people we could have visited, but by then my feet hurt sooooo much. Oh, we also ran through the American mammals, African mammals, etc, but I was really skeeved out by all the taxidermy, so when I say "ran", it was just about that. A fast trot.


For a change of pace, we stayed on the Upper West Side (henceforth known as the UWS). We were going to stay in the west Village, but I got cold feet and moved us uptown. I think we're going to stay here from now on. I can't tell you how happy I was not to experience even a glimpse of Times Square this trip, and my friend felt the same. We agreed that this was the most relaxing visit we'd ever had.

Most of that comes from the UWS neighborhood. It gets kind of a bad rap from the hipster crowd as being boring and slow. And it is, a little. It's mostly families, and not very touristy at all. And it's a bit quieter, I think. But staying on the UWS felt like I was living there again, not just visiting. We stayed at Jack and Judy's Bed & Breakfast, but it wasn't really a B&B at all - it was a brownstone, and we rented an apartment for a few days.

Another reason we liked the UWS was that it was super-close to the museums. The NH museum was only two blocks away.


The restaurants in the area were good, too. Our favorite was Celeste, one of those little Italian places that makes fresh pasta and doesn't take credit cards. You're sitting so close to the neighboring tables that you would barely have to reach more than a few inches to grab a bite from another diner's plate. The food is heavenly. I had homemade spinach and ricotta ravioli in a butter sage sauce. Mmm.

Also good were two places we went for breakfast. First, Sarabeth's, which is a local chain but they make perfect eggs. They also have nummy chicken sausage over applesauce. The next day we went to the Popover Cafe, which is infested with teddy bears but has very tasty food. Their claim to fame are popovers as big as a baby's head. Unfortunately, I didn't get to try one, as I had the Coconut-Almond Crusted Challah French Toast.

Last night, we had Indian, but it was a slightly bizarre experience. All I will say about it is that it involved naan and canned fruit cocktail.

Oh, we also tried one of the many, many burger places that have sprung up all over Manhattan in the last year. Burgers are way trendy right now. We lunched at BLT Burgers yesterday. It was pretty good. In my opinion, the burgers weren't any more tasty than 5 Guys' burgers. Their sweet potato fries were yum, though.

I took a spare duffel bag with me so I could bring home lots of food. Yes, I'm one of those people. I don't care, though. I can't get this stuff normally unless I want to pay a fortune in mail order, so don't judge me.

H&H Bagels. The best bagel ever. * Located about 4 blocks from our apartment, yet another reason for staying on the UWS.

* Mmmm, Montreal bagels probably are tied for best bagel ever, but it's like comparing a hedgehog to a sparrow.

Zabar's chocolate babka and rugelach. Nom nom nom. Located across the street from H&H.

Rocco's Pastry Shop on Bleeker Street in the Village. I get something different every time I go there. This year was little almond cookies, chocolate shortbread, and macaroons. And a few biscotti. I'm a little regretful that I passed up the almond horseshoes this year.

Murray's Cheese Shop Just down the street from Rocco's is a lovely cheese shop called Murray's. I got a few raw milk cheeses to share with some friends here.

Crumbs Bake Shop Cupcakes as big as a large man's fist. I got a black and white cupcake but I ate it immediately. They had the cutest little sampler of 16 different mini cupcakes but I knew they would never make the trip home without being squashed. Or eaten.


Honestly, between museums, eating, and buying food, there wasn't a lot of time for non-food shopping, and what we did do was kinda boring. However, we did make time to go to Lush on 76th and Broadway (yay, UWS!) where we both spent too much money. I did get a great deal, though - one of the items I wanted to purchase was a biofresh mask, because Lush doesn't do them mail order (very perishable). They were running a special where if you spent $40, you got a free mask! My friend didn't want hers, so I got two!! One smells like chocolate and I want to eat it. :)

Boy, this was long and rambly. And I talked about food way too much.

Oh, one more thing. Please wear your helmet when you ride your bike. We witnessed a terrible accident in Central Park where one cyclist had to stop short and another cyclist plowed right into him. The bike lanes in the park allow the cyclists to go very fast, and the impact of the collision drove the 2nd cyclist, an older man, right into the pavement, face and head first. He wasn't wearing a helmet, and if his skull didn't crack somewhere it's a miracle. So wear your helmets, kids.

19 June 2008

"i require 1.21 gigawatts of electricity to party."

I've been really super busy (as usual) lately, both with work and with pursuits outside of work, so I haven't had a chance to talk about the International House of Amandas' housewarming party that was held this weekend. But now I can!

This is Amanda. And Amanda.

Okay, so the Amanda in the girl apron goes by Mandy, whose face as you may know is a regular feature on this here blog. Her roommate, Amanda C, is just as awesome as the Mandy I've known and loved for ten years (jesus, we're old).

Because their new duplex was constructed in the 50s, they thought it only right to warm the house in the same style. So we all put on our very best pearl necklaces and took a good handful of qualuudes and proceeded to twist the night away.

Well, first, we had to do a little 50s recreation. Here are Matt and Mere - Mere is doing her job as a woman and keeping the house clean (and her parched throat satisfied with booze), while Matt makes sure she stays in line with a little bit of casual domestic violence. Gender oppression is fun!

(Also, while I have taken or seen tons of photos of Uncy Matt over the ten years I've known him - UGH! OLD! - I think this is the very best. He looks so cartoon-y!)

But 50s women didn't just make sure their floors were as sparkling as their reputations, they also prepared food for their hungry husbands to consume after coming home from a long day's work at the Savings and Loan. Here Anji demonstrates the appropriate way to prepare meals while also looking perfectly put together:

I can't wait for her pot roast! And that's not a vaguely inappropriate joke about sex! I just really like pot roast!

Everyone looked freaking amazing, and very authentic (down to the valium I took just to get through the day). Even Mister Rupert Fantastico got in the spirit:

Hey, hound dog!

But the best part of all was that the party was truly a family affair. Dig Amanda's awesome parents (to the left in both photos)!

And look at Mere and Miss Pretty Lady (aka Kasey, her sister), all decked out in pearls and polka-dots:

Hey, guess what? I got adopted and am now an honorary Borders! I was telling Kasey how sad I was not to have a sister (well, Aly's my sister, but, like, a genetically related one) and she agreed that she already has about 12 siblings, what's one more? So now I'm a Borders girl! yay!

I've saved the best guests for last! First, there was a TINY LITTLE BABY (eight weeks) named Beckett who was there, with his awesome Flo's Diner-waitress mama and his Tall Drink of Water daddy. Baby Beckett was a greaser, and he was Fully Committed to the cause. Look at his manly bicep!

Sarah, I can hear you squeeing from here.

Also, there was Mia Belle, aka The Lemur, who added frivolty and fun and gorgeousness to the party. I adore her! She's my favorite kid who isn't m'elle or Sophia!

That's an IBC root beer, by the way, for authenticity that's still legal.

Plus, she's sort of a tough cookie:

Trust me, you don't want to mess with Mia Belle when she's on a bender. Kid is fierce.

Thanks for hosting us, International House of Amandas! I look forward to many more evenings of keeping my mouth shut and not interfering in man's business!

In conclusion, here is a picture of TC, because I always love taking pictures of him (plus you can see Amanda and her awesome outfit in the background):

16 June 2008

"gosh golly-day, Cathy, I'm super-sorry for raping you just then."

One of the dumbest things about me is that sometimes I do something I know I won't like, but continue to do it, just to punish myself for being so stupid as to have had the bad idea in the first place. Not huge things; I don't stay with my abuser, or anything After-School Special like that. It's the little things; like ordering double-shot macchiatos when I don't even like coffee, and then forcing myself to drink the entire thing as a reminder not to be so fucking stupid in the future.

I've spent the last week doing one of these things.

See, it all started with that guy in Austria who locked up his daughter for 24 years and fathered seven kids by her. After picking my jaw up off the floor, I proceeded to tell anyone who'd listen about how much it reminded me of that V.C. Andrews book, Flowers in the Attic. The guys all went, "wha?" and all the girls went, "Oh my god, I know EXACTLY what you mean!"

It turns out there's sort of a secret society among girls my age; it seems like almost all of us spent our formative years reading V.C. Andrews books and have very fond memories associated with those books. And that's a truly terrible idea; not just because no 11-year old should be reading about rape and incest (and incestuous rape!), but also because the incestuous rape is poorly written.

Seriously. They are really fucking terribly written books. I sort of forgot how bad they actually are (also, I was a precocious 8 when I read Flowers in the Attic, so I wasn't exactly a literary critic just yet). But because I am stupid, and make mistakes and then persist on seeing them through to the bitter end, I recently purchased a copy of FITA and re-read it.

Oh boy. Ohhhh boy. Suffice it to say, its overly-florid prose, terrible characterization and numerous plot holes left me rolling my eyes and begging, pleading, with ol' Freaky Andrews to just get to the incest already. And when the INCEST is the high point of a book, you know you've got problems.

Another major flaw of mine is that I'm incapable of just letting things go and not worrying about their conclusions. I'm a freak; I have to read/watch the sequels to every book or movie, even when those sequels will surely suck, even when those sequels are not even written by the same author who wrote the original book. Y'all, I've read Scarlett, okay? And watched the miniseries. NUMEROUS TIMES.

So I already know that I'm going to have to follow up on this misadventure in terribly-crafted incest with the rest of the Flowers in the Attic series, which, strangely enough, I can still remember the major plot points of, nearly 20 years after reading them. (Incest, incest, incest, Bart's fine mustache, fire, fire, fire, Chris is in love with Cathy, Cathy does it with lots of boys, her kids are crazy, the end.) But I just don't feel like squandering my time and my reputation at my local Half-Price Books for absolutely no gain. And so, I present to you, A New Blog.

Don't worry; it's not taking the place of this one, or anything. There will still be plenty of my inane ramblings about cheese and revelry right here, and maybe even sometimes less-inane ramblings by my blog cohorts (that's a giant hint, guys). But I'm determined to share with the world (or, like, five people, whatevs) the true horror of V.C.Andrews, through reviews and general wtfery posts about these strange worlds she's crafted, where everyone - EVERYONE - does it with their brother eventually (sometimes their uncle - I remember the Cutlers!). Be afraid. Be VERY afraid. I certainly am.

(But while you're being very afraid, definitely drop by and say hi.)

10 June 2008

I am not a monkey cause I don't eat bananas.

The other day, Courtney sent me this link to hilarious science fair experiments. There's some quality stuff in there; I especially love "Crystal Meth: Friend or Foe?" I think I've discussed this on here before, but meth is just the one drug I cannot wrap my head around. Pretty much every other drug I've heard of has at least some good points to it. Heroin makes you completely useless in life, but I'm pretty sure it feels good at the time. Cocaine has a tendency to turn otherwise mild-mannered people into obnoxious, aggressive assholes, but on the upside, the kitchen counters are sparkling by the end of the high.

But meth is just the one drug I do not get. What is its upside? I suppose it does make you lose weight, but even I think that most guys would hesitate on banging some size 0 chick if she's covered in OPEN SORES. Not to mention that the jacked-up meth teeth add an unhealthy dose of danger to Ol' Faithful, the beej. And it tastes (I hear) and smells like slightly warmed over ass. Seriously, meth heads! What is the point?

However, that link led me to another link, which is sadder and scarier than the idea of our children schlubbing their way through the public school system. And that's the idea of children not setting one foot in a public school. And by "public school," I mean "school outside of the confines of one's own home."

Behold, The Creationists' Science Fair.

See, the name in itself is ridiculous, because Creationists cannot be scientists. I'm sorry, they can't. Science is anathema to the very idea of Creation, and vice versa. One cannot claim to legitimately believe that all of life was created within six days (and don't trot out that tired, "well, we didn't say how long a day WAS" argument that they tried to use on me in grade school) and also that life, the existence and maintenance of, is a mystery only to be explained through dedicated study, the answers to which we may never know, which is science in a nutshell. You can't do it! It's impossible! Or it is until someone can come up with a theory which argues that such impossibility is not truly impossible, backed up with reams of data and maybe some theoretical math thrown in!

And see, despite being a scientist, and an anthropologist at that, I take no issue with Creationists. Really. Believe what you want to believe, I say. However, THAT SAID, if you are a Creationist, quit calling yourself a scientist. You're not one! And that's okay! That's fine! But stop borrowing our language in an attempt to make your beliefs come across as less crazy!

The point of science fairs, besides the embarrassment and run on posterboard, which are merely bonuses, is to teach children the Scientific Method. That's it; nothing more, nothing less. Science fairs aren't meant to change the world or discover the cure for the common cold; their entire purpose is to teach children the difference between a Hypothesis and a Theory, studies and data. The goal is merely to make the student understand the process by which scientists study the world around them. So, "my uncle is not a monkey because he declined to eat a banana" is not actually a scientific statement. Hell, remove science altoghether, the entire idea is a fallacy. Is this what we want to teach kids? That just by saying something, it makes it so?

All that said, I find "Rocks can't evolve, Where did they come from, Mr. Darwin?" to be just shirty enough to warrent further investigation.

08 June 2008

miz curtis will read from a prepared statement. no questions plz.

hey, did you know that I'm sort of a big deal?

Well, no, that's not true, but my friend Sarah (aka miz poshdeluxe), with the help of Merelicious, interviewed me for her blog. You can read all about me here. I know, you're WAY excited.

06 June 2008

I enjoy pomp AND circumstance.

Hey, my grandpa's in town!

This is pretty awesome, since I don't get to see him too often. He lives in Mississippi where the rest of my family resides, plus he's, like, a month shy of 90, so it's not like he can just zip over any old time. Hi, PaTom! Give me like twenty minutes and I'll be saying hi to you in person!

He flew in today cause tomorrow's my little cousin Thomas's birthday. Here is a photo of my cousin Thomas:

No, okay, that's actually a picture of Napoleon Dynamite. But when that movie came out, everyone in my family had a good laugh, cause that's basically exactly how Thomas looks/sounds. We like to watch the movie when we all get together and then make fun of him. Um, in a loving way.

I actually know three people who are graduating high school tomorrow - my cousin Thomas, my family's friend Andreea and my brother's girlfriend, Staci. Yeah, my brother's dating someone in high school. And yes, she out-matures him.

I kind of love high school graduations, despite the hours-long ceremonies and the fact that I almost always run into people I don't like, if they're anywhere near Houston. Kind of like a wedding, there's just this overwhelming feeling of promise and hope, people standing poised to reach out and make their future their own. Or at least that's what we tell them, and then quietly chuckle to ourselves when they graduate and realize that college is just more of the same thing. Ha ha, grads, joke's on you!

My own high school graduation was AMAZING. I mean, I already knew it would be, because it meant that I got to say goodbye to all the people I knew in high school. And since I didn't like most of the people I knew in high school, this seemed like a grand prospect. But it actually turned out to be amazing in other ways; the transformer blew on the football field (where we had our graduation cause apparently our class was broke) so we did half of the ceremony in the dark over a megaphone. Someone smuggled in beach balls and silly string (and considering they did actually frisk us to make sure we weren't concealing weaponry under our robes, I have to marvel at where they might have stored this stuff) and the whole ceremony turned into a giant beach party. My mom told me once that while she expected to cry buckets, she couldn't do anything but laugh at my graduation ceremony, as groups of kids tried to spell out "Terry '98" in shaving cream on the football field. (I didn't tell my mom but they tried to spell out several naughty words as well, only they ran out of shaving cream.) And as I stood there laughing at it all with my little circle of friends, something really strange happened - all those people I couldn't stand came over and were friendly to me. I mean, for the past 6 years, they did nothing but torment me, and now all of a sudden, they wanted to be my BFF? I realized that they, like me, were just a little unsure of their place in the great big world that was about to greet them, and they wanted to latch on to someone familiar.

I smiled very nicely and then walked away. I'm sentimental, not stupid.

But it's a great feeling to graduate high school, to feel like finally your life is your own to mold and shape how you will. I think that quiet hope we have then is gift we give to ourselves, and I can trace the best moments of my life to when that feeling comes over me once again. When I can step back and look at my friends or my family or my job and think, "yep, this is the life I've made myself, and just look at where I can take it."

So congrats, Thomas and Andreea and Staci! I hope you all fulfill the promises you make to yourself this weekend! And if your promises lead you to a job which earns you a lot of money and/or free stuff, I expect that you will keep me in mind.