Tuesday, April 28, 2009

You Might Have Heard I Run With a Dangerous Crowd. We Ain't Too Pretty, We Ain't Too Proud.

This weekend I went to New York for Dubsgiving 3: The Baker Gets Married. 'Twas a brief trip, full of fun, excitement, more than a little inebriation, and the titular wedding of my high school friend, the Baker. A brief chronicle ensues.


Eagerly anticipating my sojourn to the City that Never Sleeps, I ended both of my sections early, after collecting papers, juggling for my students, and explaining the concepts of synchronicity and diachronicity to them, just to make myself look smart. The plane rides from Madison to Chicago to New York were uneventful, luring me into a false belief that there would be no travel-related incidents, unlike the last five times I've flown through Chicago. Ah, naivete.

Arriving in the early evening, I met up with Quantum at his office in Hell's Kitchen, where we ditched my bags and went to a bar. He had a show going up at 8:00, for which he graciously procured me tickets, so we had a little under two hours to get drunk enough to enjoy it. It was a quick "two beers and out" scenario that turned into a "three beers and out" fiesta, due to the presence of the Guinness Girl. The Guinness Girl, for those of you playing along at home, was an attractive woman in a Guinness shirt, giving out Guinness quizzes and keychains, and promoting the new, 250 year anniversary edition of Guinness, which they had on tap at the bar. Apparently it uses carbonization instead of nitrogen, or some crazy thing like that, has a slightly sweeter, more mellow taste, and doesn't feel like you've eaten a loaf of bread afterwards. As it was free and she was attractive, we each had one, and would proceed to push them on all our friends over the next few days. It was tasty, but not quite Guinness. But since I don't particularly like Guinness, that worked for me. And I got a keychain out of it, and learned that the Guinness founder took out a 9,000 year lease on the land where the brewery now resides. God bless the Irish for their forward-thinking ways.

Quantum had to leave after an hour to help get the show ready, but Hubris and his girl showed up to keep me company and in my cups. After what was possibly the world's fastest consumption of a plate of wings, we went to see the play, which was a 90 minute musical, basically a one-woman show (though it did have three supporting singers) about the life of this woman, an actress that I knew primarily from my copy of The Last Five Years soundtrack. The show was basically a cabaret about her life, growing up Mennonite and moving to New York. While I was distracted by 1. The fact that I actually owned a soundtrack this woman was on and therefore was kinda geeking out, and 2. The myriad issues involved in drinking three beers in a short amount of time, I enjoyed the show, though it isn't anything I'd particularly call noteworthy. It was an amusing 90 minute diversion, and as it was free, I bear it no ill will. Plus, she really is a good singer and enjoyable performer to watch, so take that for what it's worth.

Afterwards, Quantum, Hubris, his girl (whose blog name I don't know), and I went to yet another bar for dinner and more drinks. Whilst there, we fairly predictably alienated the bar and possibly Hubris' girl through our very drunken and dorky behavior. High points included the owner of the bar admonishing us for playing quarters with our very heavy Guinness keychains, the repeated discussions of the tv show "Gargoyles" (followed by the repeated bursting into the humming of the theme music), our geektackular discussion of Wolverine fighting Batman, and a breakdown of the "Battlestar" finale. We stayed there from around 10:00 to 3:15, and I consumed another 5 beers and 4 shots of Ketel One. (Though I'm man enough to admit that Quantum and Hubris had at least two more beers than I did. They're still young.)

Spent the night at Quantum's parents' place on the upper East Side, which is what I believe where Fitzgerald had in mind when he talked about "wherever people played polo and were rich together." It's a 10th floor apartment with a spectacular view of the East River, and I felt like a dirty interloper just stepping through the door. I'm fairly certain the doorman was judging me every time I walked in the lobby. But I had a bed and my own private bathroom, which were awesome, though I'm fairly certain I got Quantum into hot water with his sister, whose room I was crashing.


Following morning/noon led to a slightly painful wakeup, and another trip into the city. Quantum had to put in an hour at the office, so I got a bagel and wandered down to the Hudson. It was about 85 degrees and gorgeous, which was a wonderful hangover cure, though the constant noise of the city is something I think I'd never entirely get used to. After completing his work, Quantum and I met up with Bourbon Samurai and his girl (whose blog name I don't know), and were later joined by Teach. Lunch and more beers were consumed (by them, at least--I wasn't drinking lest I be drunk or sick for the wedding that eve), followed by a return to Quantum's to get ready for the wedding. We cabbed downtown together, where he had to go back for another show, and I continued on to Chelsea.

Now, right here seems like a good place for a brief aside. There are many things that make New York different from places where real people live. But the one that always strikes me the most is the fact that there don't seem to be any traffic laws in that city. Lane markings seem more like suggestions than rules, stop lights are brief reminders that, hey, someone else may be coming, so you might want to slow down. And the laws of physics? Don't get me started on those. I'm fairly certain those cab drivers can bend reality with their minds. Otherwise, I just can't explain how they can fit between two cars in a place where there is no lane, doing roughly 60 mph. It just isn't possible. I've heard horror stories about muggings, murders, coke fiends, Giuliani killing the homeless, and all sorts of other crazy stuff in the city (dogs and cats, living together). But those cab drivers...man, those fuckers are scary.

Ok, the wedding. The wedding was at a place called the Chelsea Pier Lighthouse, which was a wonderful venue. The ceremony was performed in front of a windowed wall looking out over the Hudson, at sunset. String quartet, open bars, men walking around with trays of food (crab cakes! miniature burgers! ). Roses everywhere, open seating for dinner, watching boats go by, and a pretty spectacular band. All in all, the wedding seemed about as wonderful as it could get.

For the bride and groom, at least.

I, on the other hand, didn't know a soul there (with the exception of one fellow high school friend that I could talk with, but was never really all that close with), and I'm craptacular at mingling with new people. So I wandered from bar to bar, basically, drinking until I either worked up the courage to talk to strangers, or blacked out. Luckily dinner intervened before either of those things happened, and I sat with the high school friend and his mother and her friends, and got to talk about St. Louis. Baker, if you're reading this, know that I thought it was a beautiful wedding, and that you seemed ecstatic to be getting married, and your bride looked lovely, and everything seemed perfect, and fun was had by pretty much all. If I weren't so cripplingly socially awkward, I'm sure it would have been great all around. But congratulations nonetheless, and I'm glad I could be there for it.

Afterwards, met up with Quantum, Arsenal, and Kodez at a nearby bar, where, on top of a myriad of open bar drinks at the wedding, I added another beer and two shots of Jameson. Just, you know, to end things in style. We sang along with the 80s music playing, and impressed women with our knowledge of the A-Team and Mr. Belvedere (I kid you not).


That's pretty much it for the New York trip. Other than that, I got to LaGuardia at 9:30 the following morning for an 11:00 flight. We boarded the plane, and of course we sat there for roughly four hours because of thunderstorms in Chicago. Of course, they didn't let us off the plane at all during that time, but they did manage to tease us several times by telling us we had gotten clearance to leave, only to take it back. We did actually go to the gate once, but that was just to refuel, not to, you know, let us do anything. Got back to Chicago after a two hour flight, and then sat at that airport for 45 minutes while we waited for a gate. Got put on standby for the last flight back to Madison, which I didn't get (my actual connecting flight had left two hours earlier), but the airline was kind enough to comp my bus ticket home. So in travel time, figure a half hour cab ride, an hour in the airport, six and a half hours on a plane, and two and a half hours on a bus. Yeah, I fucking hate flying through Chicago.

And that's the end of Dubsgiving 3. A brief, whirlwind tour of the Big Apple, that reminded me yet again why my friends are awesome, and why my liver would mutiny if I ever tried to live there.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Chin Up, Hamlet

I know, I know, I haven't posted in a long time. I'm lazy. You all knew that already.

Let's see, lots of stuff happened since my last post. I went to ACLA at Harvard, which was pretty sweet. Got to see t and Brownsox and various others I haven't seen in forever. Drank the special Harvard ale they brew there, and got nice and drunk at John Harvard's Beer Hall. My paper didn't get laughed at (at least not to my face), so I've got that going for me.

Did a workshop on my dissertation chapter that I'm currently writing, which wasn't the train wreck I anticipated (given that half of it was a conference paper and the other half was ten pages I wrote in under a day's time). Went out for drinks afterwards with my advisor, TGD, the Dissertator, and Captain A, which was nice. My advisor let slip there that he can't watch women's figure skating, because he finds it too distracting. "Like porno on ice" were his exact words, I believe. Because he's awesome.

Saw Adventureland, but I was fairly drunk throughout, so no idea whether I liked it or not. It seemed ok.

Went to a talk this past week by one of the more famous Americanist scholars in the country, and my body conspired against me in practically every possible way. Roughly five minutes in, I got an eyelash under my contact lens. Then, after dealing with that, I started to nod off, even though I'd slept plenty the night before. Then, when I conquered my body's need to sleep, I started sneezing, and couldn't stop for about five minutes, which left me continuously blowing my nose throughout the rest of the talk. So I slunk out of the room with my tail between my legs right as the Q&A started, having no idea whatsoever what the actual talk was about. Cause that's how I roll.

Other than that, not too much going on. There's a general buildup of hatred and rage and weariness pervading the department at the moment, which is about normal for the end of spring semester. When all is said and done, the drunken revels to end the term should prove to be epic in proportion.

And if you're looking for some fun stuff to watch on tv to while away the hours of pain and misery, a few suggestions from what I've been doing these past weeks. First, "Better off Ted" is perhaps the funniest show I've seen in a long time (while I like "Chuck" more, I think "Ted" makes me laugh more consistently). It's from the same guys who brought us "Andy Richter Controls the Universe," if you watched that, and it's another corporate comedy. Last week's episode was probably the best thing I've seen this season. In it, the company replaced all motion detectors (that activated lights, elevators, water fountains, etc.) with a new system that worked by recognizing light bouncing off people's skin. Unfortunately, it couldn't detect black people (but it does recognize whites, Hispanics, Asians, Pacific Islanders, and Jews). Thus, they had to hire white people to follow all the black people around, mirroring their movements to set off the sensors. But then, via affirmative action, they'd have to hire an equal number of black people, and then hire more white people to follow them around. And so on. Seriously, if you get a chance, you should check it out online. The pilot is good but not great, but it gets much better as the weeks go on.

Secondly, I just burned my way through "Slings and Arrows," which is a Canadian show about a Shakespeare troupe. (I know, right? Who knew Canada had tv?) It ran for three seasons in the early '00s, and is available via netflix. Each season is six 45 minute episodes long, and each one deals with their attempts to put on a new play. It's both wonderfully funny and dramatically well-acted, and should be seen by anyone with aspirations to either English Literature or the theatre. I could describe it more, but it'd be far too complicated. It'd be easier to just accept that I'm right, and rent it yourselves.

Ok, that's all for me for now. I'd like to promise regular updates again, but I'm not willing to commit to that right now. So at best, I'll promise to try.