Girl Scouts, School Daze and Charming Columbus.

I went to the Girl Scouts convention last weekend.  I went as an exhibitor, I’ve never been a Girl Scout, and now I’m kind of thinking I missed out – those girls are having a good time everywhere they go. This is actually a bit of a sore point, I never got to be a Brownie, Girl Guide, Scout or any of those things where you wear neckerchiefs and have secret handshakes.. and yet I distinctly remember my older siblings getting to do all of that stuff.  What was wrong with me hey?  Why didn’t the brownies want ME?

To be fair, I was cripplingly shy at the time.  I was less likely to be practicing my slip shank monkey knots, and more likely to be cowering under the bed hoping I didn’t have to go any place where I would be forced to talk to people.

Anyhoo, the convention is amazing.  Ten thousand girls scouts descended on Columbus, Ohio, trying out everything from scuba diving to one of those spinny gravity things. Wow that’s a terrible description of it, I mean one of those things that you sit in the middle of it and it’s made of a bunch of steels circles and then it spins around and you’re upside down, turned around and all over the place… it’s a big gyroscope.

Wherever there was an open space you’d find scouts lounging around clad in quilts of patches they’d earned, singing songs (okay, so that sounds just a teeny bit culty, but every large body of people from schools, to churches, to sports fans, to a group of Wall Street suits, is a cult in sheep’s clothing).  My favorite thing about the Girl Scout conventions is always the feeling of camaraderie, girls bonded by a quest for adventure and chasing after every opportunity they can.

I went to an all girls school, and it was a very different experience.  Cooped up in walls of rules; itching to be anywhere else but there; an air of wild eyed craziness; unspoken fierce competitiveness; and far more outspoken gang warfare amongst the different cliques.  Each of us steeped in a sullen hostility to pretty much everyone apart from the members of your own clique… and even then it wasn’t all roses.

School is an odd place, I mean it seems like a logical thing for kids: here, go to this place where you can learn useful things and be with others like you.  But it seems all wrong for the brain at that age – you should be out, roaming free, and coming home with scratches, bruises, odd trinkets, an eclectic circle of acquaintances that make your parents panic, and vast tracts of knowledge on whatever you’re interested in that day.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all bad.  My best friend and I will laugh for hooooouuuurs reminiscing about school, and bore everyone else rigid (what’s wrong with them, are they not paying attention to how hilarious we are?), and I did seem to pick up some really useful skills along the way – my camouflage and blending into a crowd techniques are superb, and to this day I’m surprisingly agile at climbing over walls and fences should the need arise.  Oh and I can change an entire set of clothes without revealing even a sliver of skin…. no shocking flash of an ankle here, thank you very much.

Back to Columbus – gosh it’s charming!  I’d never been before, and I’ve still only seen a small square around the convention centre, but there were loads of cool little places to hang out.  The North Market has live bands, and many, many opportunities to get really fat.  We found a great sushi restaurant tucked away on a side street, which doesn’t make sense at all because, well, Ohio – inland.

Hands down my favourite though was The Char Bar, which screams no nonsense, get the job done, dive bar.  Actually it wouldn’t do anything so melodramatic as screaming, it gruffly barks at you instead. The only food they serve is peanuts, pretzels, and if they’re feeling fancy, beef jerky.  There is no drinks menu – you look at the bottles behind the bar and in the fridge, and you order what you can see.  We posted up at the bar on those stools that won’t let you sit in any other position than a comfortable sprawl, and sank thirst quenching pints gabbing away with the very laid back I-spend-more-time-here-than-I-do-at-home-in-fact-I-get-all-my-mail-sent-here-and-this-is-listed-as-my-address-on-my-driving-license style of bar tender.

The toilets were in the basement of the bar.  To get to them you descended stone steps (which smell dank and musty, like the old Victorian townhouse I lived in when I was in college where we threw mammoth parties, and set up decks in the cellar so that outside the house you could feel the music, but not actually hear it until the noise exploded at you when the door opened) and passed through an arctic-chilly faded room, empty save for an upright piano stripped of all its keys and strings, looking slightly menacing as if it can see inside your soul and judges your life by playing an appropriate theme tune for you as you make your way to and fro emptying your bladder. What would your song be?  “Oops I did it again”,  “That’s not my name”, “I Wanna Do Bad Things with You,” “I Don’t Like Mondays,” “Creep”?????

I want a piano that does that for real.  No one steal that idea, I came up with it first!!



Geeking out, and the Sale of Thrones.

I went to the National Air & Space Museum in Virginia for work this week. I geeked out in a big way. I suspect I should have been putting on a slightly more professional face but instead I was sprinting around taking blurry photos of aeroplanes and the Discovery Space Shuttle, and astronaut suits that STILL HAVE MOONDUST FROM THE MOON ON THEM!!! (And for good measure, when introduced to some folks from NASA, started up a conversation on Vegas and Magic Mike. Making a good first impression is so very important.. I’ve heard.)  Really though it was superb, the museum is basically an air hangar (a super swanky, glam air hangar.  Hangar designed by Giorgio Armani.) filled to the rafters with slices of aviation history that simultaneously give you an insight into American pop culture over the last 150 years. From the early Pepsi Cola advertising on an aircraft to the capsule that carried Felix Baumgartner to the edge of the atmosphere before  he took a step into the history books.  The capsule’s sleek and shiny, screaming expensive sponsors and super high tech, impressive especially when you consider that it is essentially a basket for a hot air balloon, which makes it all the more endearing that the handles are wrapped in gaffer tape.

In other news, there’s Kim Jong Un and the Orange Molestor McFascist about to start a war.. nope can’t even go there.  Too scary and too real.

In other other news, Barney Smith a nonagenarian artist is looking for a new home for the unique collection of artwork he has created and exhibits at his home. For 50 years Barney has been decorating toilet seats.

The Lord of the Lids has over 1300 seats that he has lovingly turned into masterpieces that commemorate events from history, his own life, and pop culture. He housed them all in a shed at his home in Texas, and now they are up for sale. Why? I don’t know for sure, but I’d take a stab that him being in his 90s might have something to do with it.

Barney has said he’s hoping for something in the region of 15-20K for the collection, which is an outright bargain – a mere 12 or 13 dollars for a toilet seat is a rare price these days… a cheap loop of plastic in Bed, Bath and Beyond  starts at $29.99!

‘Tis the Season to be Spooky

Halloween season has kicked off in LA, and I LOVE IT.

The hype about the new film adaptation of It has been steadily building for months, finally culminating with the film’s release this week.  you may have heard about it, it’s not doing too shabbily at the box office.  On the corner of Hollywood and Vine stands a full size replica of the creepy house from the film, Angelenos line up on the street night and day to be terrified in this hyper haunted house, where a small actor child-sized actor (although not a real child because they’re really expensive)  stands on the porch, face and body hidden in a yellow hooded rain coat clutching a red balloon.  Somewhat forlornly another actor, one of the ones who dresses up in character and stands out in the heat all day in front of Graumann’s theater to have their picture taken with the tourists, traipses up and down Hollywood Blvd in a clown costume, with a stuffed doll of the yellow jacketed child attached to his back.  Apparently the people at the haunted house are ignoring his pleas to be let in for free.

Across the street is the Beetle House, a Tim Burton themed bar and restaurant that will only be open for a few months.  Inside is a treasure trove of kitsch artwork inspired by Burton’s films, and distinctly less forlorn actors dressed as Betelgeuse and Edward Scissorhands, posing for group selfies (groupies?  grelfies? groulfies???).  Obviously when I went I wore my best Tim Burtonesque dress.  No, not stitches and worms wriggling out of it, but you know… whimsical, slightly cartoony.

The Halloween stores are fully stocked.  People are beginning to throw around costume ideas, we’re expecting a plethora of Pennywises, Wonder Women, Riverdale teens, red cloaked and white bonneted handmaids, a myriad of Taylor Swift incarnations, and I’m most looking forward to seeing the bold and creative men who will nurture and honour their beer bellies in the style of Beyonce’s pregnancy picture.

I’ve no idea what I’m going to go as.  I keep getting Brianne of Tarth comparisons so I toyed with that for a bit, but I’m about 10 inches too short, and actually I don’t want to wearing a suit of armour for the month of October – they don’t look like comfortable leisure wear.  There is also the sword thing… intrinsically appealing and yet something I feel could go horribly wrong in my hands.

We eagerly anticipate October’s TV schedule with the return of beloved slightly spooky TV shows: Stranger Things, Gotham, The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, and yet another season of Supernatural (never end Winchester brothers, you’re truly loved, you plaid-clad fictional characters you). Not to mention all the classic films, here’s looking at you Charlie Brown and the Great Punpkin Patch. The DVR works overtime in this household at Halloween.

The theme parks are revving up for October, Knotts Berry Farm will transform in to Knott’s Scary Farm; Magic Mountain will be taken over by maniacal chainsaw wielding psychos wandering through dry ice mist after dark (really very, very scary); Universal Studios will let visitors and ghouls alike run amok amongst the sound stages and sets in their Halloween mazes; and Jack Skellington will rule over the land of Disney.

And then there’s all the fleeting phenomena that exist only for Halloween, the parties the shows, the spectacles, the ghost trains, the hay rides, the whimsical midnight gardens…

I  will go to them all! Mwah hah hah hah hah

And the scariest thing by far, will be my credit card bill in November.

The Infamous PCW in PJs

It’s been a busy week.  There’s been work, there’s been wine, there’s been the biggest fire in LA history on my doorstep.

Well… not quite on my doorstep, but I could see the flames, smell the smoke, and see the houses from which people had been evacuated.  Close enough, thank you.  It was definitely a change from my usual reaction to wildfires, “Oh no, how awful for the people living there.  That’s very big isn’t, it.  Gosh those poor fire fighters..

This time it was more, “Shit, that’s getting really close! Where have I put my passport?  Is the insurance up to date?

By Monday we were all feeling pretty safe again (it makes such a difference to your psyche when you can’t actually see the flames), and by Tuesday there were 1 hour wait lines for every car wash this side of town.  Doesn’t matter what color your car was when you bought it, after the weekend fires and falling ash, it was a light charcoal grey.

Yesterday I woke unable to move my arm above my head.  Foolishly I decided to do some yoga the day before, which somehow rendered me immobile.  Although if we’re being very honest it probably has something to do with me trying to watch cartoons at the same time.  Anyway, after trying various cures from inverted shoulder stands, to enough Deep Heat to melt a glacier, to trying to lever the corner of a wall under my shoulder blade, to persuading a medium sized child to stand on my back (which did nothing apart from giving me foot shaped bruises), I decided I’d give the old roll-around-on-a-tennis ball method a go.

Do you think we had a tennis ball in the house?

No of course.  Not a tennis ball, not a golf ball, not even one of spiky balls that you throw in the dryer to fluff up your laundry.  One half deflated soccer ball, and a filthy dirty frisbee, but nothing of any use.

Being resourceful, I tried substituting a tennis ball with various things: rolled up yoga mat, tin can (NOT FOR THE PAIN INTOLERANT), and eventually a potato.  The potato came close to working, but it lacks the smoothness needed for rolling. I gave in after that and purchased a specific massage ball doohickey.  I had visions of someone walking in, phone at the ready, and a video of me surfacing on youtube doing the Potato Carpet Wriggle in my PJs.

The Far Reaching Effects of Game of Thrones

The effects of Game of Thrones are so far reaching that I, a non-follower of the show who has seen a mere two full episodes in the last 7 years, has read and followed all the theories and reviews popping up on my facebook feed.  There are stacks of them by the way, and they all say pretty much the same thing, “Jon Snow blah blah blah, Mother of Dragons, blah blah blah, true name, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, consequences, blah blah blah, white walkers.”  This morning on live radio, there was a physical tussle between the hosts because one of them was attempting to play the full five minutes of the  GoT theme tune.

Basically it’s having a significant impact for a TV show.  This makes me happy because it contradicts one of the things that most people would agree is happening to society: namely that we are less and less interested in things that don’t give us instant gratification.  We binge watch TV, we can enjoy a complex plot but we like it delivered simply and quickly in bite size chunks.  Preferably in picture form, and if not that, then certainly in no more than 140 characters. and our box office sales show that we veer towards formulaic, predictable entertainment.

But then along comes this show that has entranced the English speaking world, which is only around for a handful of long episodes a year.  It has densely layered plots upon plots, and tangled, sprawling relationships that wouldn’t be out of home in a Dickens novel.  The books themselves are massive tomes of lore akin to Tolkien’s depictions of Middle Earth, which honestly, was really fucking hard to get through.  I love Lord of the Rings, but it takes months to wade through it, and there’s a lot of places where you’re gritting you teeth, thinking if you just skipped a few pages no one would ever know, apart from you of course, YOU would know.  Fraud.

Perhaps I am giving us too much credit, though. Maybe we’re not enjoying the poetry and the richly detailed tapestry of a story, maybe its all the sex that’s raking in the viewers.

Drunk, joy-riding, frat boy.

Last night myself and a friend were enjoying a beer before a late night movie, in Noho.  There’s a particular spot we like to go to where the drinks cost $2 (!!!!!!!!!!!!), you can sit outside but still be sheltered from the elements, and watch the world go by.  More specifically ogle the super fit people sprinting into the gym next door, whilst sipping on that ice cold beer.

Anyhoo last night there was some sort of small crane/lift on the side street.  It’s not really a crane, it’s one of those pieces of machinery that has a driver’s cabin, and extendable arm and a bucket on the end of it for a person, similar to the ones they use for trimming palm trees.


Aha!  The miracle of the internet brought me a picture of the machinery.  Apparently it’s called an AWP – an Aerial Work Platform, or a MEWP – Mobile Elevating Work Platform.

Whatever.  Tuesday night there was a lad in shorts and a T-shirt, no hint of a safety vest nor hard hat, leaping into the bucket and playing about it with it.  Up, down, side to side, back, forward, odd looping curve, plummet, etc..  Clearly he did not know what he was doing.  Add to that he was dressed as if he’d come from a couple of afternoon drinks with the boys led me to conclude that he was a Happy Hour Hero who had happened to chance upon keys left in the cabin ignition, and now he and his very merry friends were living out the fantasy they’d been harbouring since they were two years old.

Oh my god I was jealous.  I was theeeeeees close to sauntering over and asking if I could have a go.

Lucky for me though, I have a paralyzing fear of heights.  Otherwise I would have faced some stony stares because it turned out that they were not Happy Hour Heroes, but a very serious bunch of mural artists.  Ahhhhhhhhhhh.  Yes that does make more sense now.  My companion and I continued to be massively fascinated watching them project and trace 40 ft high Picasso style lips and eyes, for the duration of a second beer.

As we left we passed by the shorts clad leader of the group and thanked him for entertaining us, we tactfully did not mention the time he let the bucket kind of crash onto the ground, nor the big loud CRUNCH sounds it made as it was scraped along the tarmac.  Somewhat less tactfully we did admit that we originally thought he was a drunk frat boy pissing about… his face did that funny freezy thing then.

Eclipse day!

I saw the eclipse.  I am quite proud of this, normally I have a knack for missing big once-in-a-life-time (or a handful of times in this case) natural phenomena events.  But not this time!  My other big claim to fame is that I saw Halley’s comet when I was 10 – that only happens once every 75 years so I feel really good and smug about that.

Being down South in LA I didn’t actually see a full eclipse, just the partial one, so I missed out on the sky going dark, the halo of solar flares and all that other apocalyptic stuff.  But still – I saw it, I went outside and looked through pinhole cameras and paper glasses which I’m not convinced protect you from anything.

It looked like a startlingly bright orange, crescent moon to me.  Well actually what it first looked like was just a regular big bright light in the sky.  Because of course I thought to myself, “Everyone looks at the sun occasionally, just for a second and then they look away again.  Surely just a quick peek…”

(Disturbingly, there is photographic evidence to show that the Molester McFascist shared the same thought process today.  Normally it’s reassuring to know you’re not alone in your stupidity, but this time….)

But the thing about a partial eclipse is that the piece of the sun that isn’t covered by the moon is still bloody bright, so you still see the light from the sun pushing aside the shadow of the moon.  If you didn’t have some sort of a viewer, there really would be no way  to tell that a partial eclipse was occurring.  No one mentions that.

Really  I was expecting it to look like some invisible beastie was nibbling away at the the sun until there was a big chunk missing.  Through the special camera and glasses, it looked exactly like that! But using the old sneak peek method it looked like a regular white light in the daytime sky.  I guess a partial eclipse serves to remind us that the Sun has not fallen on our heads….yet.