Austin in Autumn

The weather in Ohio has been in a constant state of flux of late, which is nothing unusual around here. What’s the old joke? If you don’t like the weather, wait a few minutes. I don’t think it was originally said about Ohio, but it applies equally as well. As a result, my body can’t decide if it’s catching a cold or just in the throes of normal seasonal allergies. It’s given my voice a neat extra-nasally quality. Hurrah, autumn.

I went to Austin a week and a half ago for a brief holiday. Used Airbnb for the first time, and stayed at a tiny house. This tiny house.


It was as cozy inside as the exterior would suggest, but it was nice and mostly comfortable. It was also cheaper than a hotel would have cost, and close to a lot of places we wanted to go. I’d definitely use Airbnb again for a quick trip like this.

Austin is an interesting city. It’s hip, which is what you’d expect from a city that hosts SXSW, but you never forget you’re in Texas. So think trendy cafés and bars, long beards and tattoos, interspersed with cowboy hats and openly carried handguns.

While there, among other things, I did the usual: ate a ton of delicious food, took in a Halloween-themed burlesque show called Tits-or-Treats, played at Peter Pan Mini Golf, which is BYOB and populated with giant statues of things like Peter Pan, a T-Rex, and a demented yellow rabbit. We also visited the Museum of the Weird, which was charming and not as cheesy as I feared it might be. They possess the Minnesota Iceman and a bunch of horror movie props — including a Krite! — and a bunch of other dime store oddities. They also put on an entertaining show to demonstrate how electrical immunity works, which my travel companion got volunteered to be a part of.

Really, though, it would’ve been worth the price of admission alone just for this photo op.


This was my last bit of travel for the year. Before too long it’ll be time to start planning next year’s adventures.

Austin in Autumn

Down but Not Out in Baltimore

I’m writing this missive from downtown Baltimore, where I’m staying for a few days for a work-related conference. It’s been warm and sunny, but the temperature inside the hotel’s ballroom is just barely above “Winter is coming Jon Snow” levels. On breaks I go outside with the smokers to warm up. I have a rental car, but I’m not sure how much I’m going to use it. Parking downtown is at a premium, and driving is typical big city aggravating. Also, the hotel where the conference is being held charges $32/day to park. So it’s looking like Uber is the way to go. 

The past couple of weeks have been quiet. I’ve been feeling vaguely meh, probably thanks to my delightfully wonky sinuses, so many of my evenings have been spent hermit-style, watching ORPHAN BLACK and IZOMBIE (both of which have been amazing, by the way). I did have some friends stay with me over the Labor Day weekend, which was lovely, and then also made a quick sojourn to Columbus last weekend to hit up Dirty Frank’s and 16 Bit. Okay, so maybe it hasn’t been that quiet. It just feels that way.

I completed my first 5K on Saturday, but it was no ordinary 5K, because those are boring and also running is terrible. This was the Insane Inflatable 5K: a course of huge, inflated obstacles spread over five kilometers, give or take. Technically it should have been called the Insane Inflatable Almost-but-Not-Quite-5K. But it was challenging as hell.

Look, here I am afterwards, sweaty and tired, before being rejuvenated by a shower and a stack of buckwheat pancakes.


I woke up feeling pretty good yesterday, but as the day wore on, the aches and sore muscles made themselves known. If I do this 5K thing again next year, I guess I should condition a little more (or any at all, if I’m being honest). Today is at least a little bit better.

I started writing this yesterday during a layover in Detroit, which is becoming one of my more favorite airports. Free wifi and a decent selection of food options. Plus, it’s quirky, in a good way. Passing through the lengthy corridor that connects terminals A to B is like walking inside the Aurora Borealis. The walls pulse and shift with a panoply of color. A kind of trance music reverberating throughout.

More airports should adopt psychedelic design elements. It would make layovers more entertaining.

Down but Not Out in Baltimore

The Fête Life

Apologies for the title. I couldn’t help myself.

It’s been a busy, fun weekend, one made even better because I took off work on Friday. I went kayaking Friday morning, then in the evening traveled to Columbus to attend the Fête en Blanc.

Loosely translated from French, it means “party in white.” And it’s exactly what it sounds like. A mass picnic, attended by several hundred people, all dressed in white. The atmosphere is relaxed but elegant. Fête-goers supply their own food and picnic paraphernalia. The event organizer, Fête Columbus, provides the venue and the entertainment. The actual location changes each year, and isn’t revealed until the morning of. The story behind the tradition is that, thirty-odd years ago, some friends in Paris decided to throw a picnic in the Bois de Boulogne. Since the park is rather large, they all wore white so as to find each other. This then became an annual tradition, which has since spread all over the world. This was, I believe, the sixth year of Fête Columbus (checked their website; it is).

I had never heard of it until a few weeks ago, when I received the invitation. I wore my finest and only white outfit, sweated under the glare of the sun until it finally set, ate delicious food, managed to not get a single damn thing on me, made the acquaintance of some new friends, and had a ball. I really hope to go again next year.

No one caught on fire for the making of this photo.

Photo by the always talented Bill C.

The Fête Life

EuroTrip, 2016

I’ve been back from London/Paris for a little over two weeks now, so I need to get this down while it’s still somewhat fresh in my head. My memory is shit, so this recap is more for Future Josh than anything.

Lindsey and I have talked about going to England for a couple of years now. We have a great uncle who lives there that we wanted to visit, I really wanted to see London, and England, because of the lack of a language barrier, seemed like a good training run, if you will, for eventually traveling to the rest of Europe. So last year we decided that this year would be the time to finally pull the trigger and just go.

Because I know fuck-all about England, and because this year has been stupid busy — and let’s be honest, I’m also kind of lazy — we booked the trip through a travel agency. Having someone else coordinate the logistics removed a lot of the stress and anxiety — and knowing myself, probably anger and shouting — out of planning. Through a quirk of the travel package we went with, we ended up tacking a couple of days in Paris onto the end of the trip. I’m reasonably certain that whatever the fee that Rose claimed was completely worth it.

London was brilliant. I loved being there, exploring the nooks and crannies of the city, feeling the pulse of thing, and the omnipresent blend of modern and ancient architecture. Think we spent six days there in total, but I could easily have stayed there another couple of weeks. The other bit of England we saw was a town an hour northeast of London, where our uncle Charlie lives. It was nice to also experience something smaller and slower than London, and of course see family.

Paris was… okay. I feel like I’ve been harder on Paris than it deserves, since it was at the end of the trip and I was getting tired. Also because our hotel was a half-mile hike, uphill, from the nearest Metro stop, whereas in London it was a pleasant two minute walk from the hotel to Gloucester Station. The language barrier probably didn’t help, since I speak three languages: English, bad English, and high school Spanish. To Paris’s credit, though, the people we encountered were all pleasant, the food was surprisingly tasty, and the city itself, while littered with trash and covered in a charming veneer of grime, was gorgeous.

In no particular order, here are some of the highlights, as I remember them, and one lowlight (i.e., fuck you Charles de Gaulle airport). There are also pictures at the bottom of this post, so if you just want to see those and don’t give a fig about my recollections, feel free to scroll and skip.

Touring the Sherlock Holmes museum at 221B Baker Street. Very much a tourist trap, but still entertaining. Lots of Holmesian artifacts and apocrypha, set up in such a way so as to encourage photo opportunities. If nothing else, you get to see how a well-to-do Londoner may have lived in Queen Victoria’s time.

Indian food. It is much more prevalent in England than it is in the U.S. (or at least than in my region), owing to England’s sizeable Indian population. Being able to get tikka-masala at a corner pub was so nice.

The heat. I packed expecting to maybe wear shorts and a t-shirt during the day, and jeans and long sleeves at night. The first two days lived up to that notion, and then a summer heatwave surged in. Heat doesn’t typically bother me, but I am also used to being able to escape indoors to sweet, sweet air conditioning. Many of the buildings and homes there don’t have central air, so that wasn’t really possible.

Seeing Charlie and our aunt Pat, and meeting their kids and their families. I say “meeting” like it was for the first time, but I had met Kirsten and Fletcher before, however, it’s when I was, oh, one or two, which doesn’t really counts. They were all lovely, and they plied us with fancy Indian food, a barbecue featuring eight different kinds of meat, and, of course, beer. Can’t wait to see them all again.

First and only full day in Paris. We had the one day to really explore Paris, but between the Metro and walking 25,000 steps, we saw an awful lot of it. Had noodles at a bizarre little place where you build your order on a tablet. Saw the Eiffel Tower, from a distance. It was cool, but I didn’t feel the need to ascend it since I’ve been to the top of the one at King’s Island before. Hiked a couple of kilometers to get beignets. Perused the bookshelves inside Shakespeare and Company. Had dinner at an American sports bar-themed place. Got lost, a lot.

Taking the Eurostar from King’s Cross Station to Paris by way of the Chunnel. We splurged a few extra pounds for the slightly better seats, which was one of our best decisions the entire trip. We got roomier seats that faced each other in a half-filled car, a cold lunch, and the satisfaction of being high-falutin’, even if only for a couple of hours. If we had the EuroStar in the States I may never fly again.

Wandering the expanse of retail and bohemia that is the Camden markets. Camden is like a much, much nicer flea market, but with shops and stalls from where you actually want to buy things. We picked up most of the souvenirs here. I could have easily dropped a lot of money on various art and other things. Thankfully, I knew I didn’t have a lot of suitcase room. There was also Cereal Killer, which is sadly not a HACKERS-themed shop, but is instead a café that sells breakfast cereal. I only peeked in, because we’d already eaten, and also because milk and cereal in the steamy heat just didn’t sound appealing.

Charles de Gaulle, to which I would like to give a shout-out for being the most stressful and disorganized airport in the history of the world. We arrived a little over three hours early by way of a pulse-pounding taxi ride. It took two hours of fighting our way through the thick crowds, scuttling from this confused attendant to that one, propelled by misinformation, just to acquire boarding passes and check our luggage. One minor bomb threat later, which no one seemed terrible concerned about, and we eventually made it to our gate with a few minutes to spare. Never again.

The final night in London, seeing WICKED at the Apollo Victoria in the West End. The Apollo Victoria is absolutely gorgeous, and, on a balmy summer night with no air conditioning, absolutely sweltering. The production was fantastic (my first time seeing it), which made sweating next to another 2300 people tolerable. Props to the bar at our hotel for having glass bottles of ice water available, as regular bottles of cold water are largely unavailable in England. I also had “Defying Gravity” in my head for the next several days, so thanks for that, WICKED.

Well, that’s my longwinded way of saying I had a ton of fun on what will hopefully be the first of many jaunts overseas. England, you were lovely.

And now for the pictures (with bonus! captions).



Ghostbusters: The Remakening

I finally got around to seeing the new GHOSTBUSTERS the other day. Several weeks of travel this past month, while quite fun, kept me from seeing a few movies that recently came out that I really wanted to. So I was really happy to be able to catch this one.

So how was it?

Really, really entertaining. Easily my favorite film so far this year.

Other than keeping to the same general premise — three nutty scientists and a black civilian prosper off the extrajudicial imprisonment of the spirits of the dead — the movie charts its own course plot- and tone-wise. These are all good things for this film, which helped to keep the pacing brisk and the jokes funny. Highlights include a bit of role reversal with Chris Hemsworth as the team’s beefcakey secretary, several amusing sequences of the team testing out new ghostbusting implements, and Kate McKinnon’s Dr. Jillian Holtzmann, who is brilliantly quirky and hilarious. I hope to see a lot of kids cosplaying her for many years to come. Hell, I would go as her for Halloween.

I’ve seen this movie take a lot of shit online, largely because it stars a cast of — gasp — all women. Women who are smart, capable, and funny in a film that pretty much passes the Bechdel Test with flying colors. Apparently there exists a certain class of dude who felt that remaking GHOSTBUSTERS with an all-female cast was so terrible that it was going to ruin their childhoods. Well, good. If the adventures of lady ghostbusters is the sort of thing that is the Ruiner of Childhood to you, then you’re probably an entitled manchild with a chip on your shoulder, and not meriting of much sympathy. Get over it.

Anyways, to sum up: GHOSTBUSTERS is a ton of fun. You should go see it, if for nothing else that to become acquainted with Jillian Holtzmann.


Ghostbusters: The Remakening

Onward and Upward

Took this photo a couple of hours ago, somewhere over North Carolina. The sky seemed particularly clear, blue.

We’ve been planning this trip for over a year, talking about it longer; it seems vaguely surreal that the time has actually arrived. The next ten days should be quite entertaining.

But first we have to get there. Currently we’re sitting on the tarmac in Atlanta, in seats that are slightly more comfortable than on a normal flight. No free wifi, but the on demand movie selection is surprisingly good. I expect in an hour or two there will be nothing but ocean below, and I’ll be watching DEADPOOL.

Onward and Upward

Annnd Scene

An hour ago. I am at a red light, window down, enjoying the weather. Traffic is congested both ways. A truck hauling a trailer in the other direction slows to a stop next to me. I don’t pay attention to what’s in the trailer. I am lost in thought, getting kind of sleepy actually. Then a car backfires, sounding like a gunshot. Immediately the dozen or so horses six feet away from my open window begin to LOSE THEIR FUCKING SHIT.

I am no longer sleepy.

Annnd Scene

The Unobtainable Cinnamon Roll

I carried a cinnamon roll in a paper bag around for nearly four hours today.

It was to be my afternoon snack, but I never quite found the five minutes necessary to run downstairs and microwave it (because everyone who’s anyone knows cinnamon rolls are best eaten when warm). I bounced from meeting, to someone’s desk, to meeting, to impromptu huddle, etc, bag in hand. The grease from the pastry slowly eating through the paper bag like lye on skin.

So yes: work, while awesome, has been crazy-go-nuts busy lately. It makes me really empathize with this dog:

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At least in 20 days I too will be airlifted away, to England.

In unrelated GPOY news, here’s a picture of me taken after the Rubi Girls performance several weeks back.


The photo, a rarity in that it’s one of me I really like, is courtesy of my talented photographer friend Bill. Or as I like to call him, “Photo Willy.” Though I will never call him that to his face.

The Unobtainable Cinnamon Roll

Thoughts and Prayers

I could write a whole thing about the terrible, despicable events that took place in Orlando this morning, but many others have already done so, and far more eloquently than I could. One of those persons is John Scalzi, whose piece “Thoughts and Prayers” reflects most of my thoughts on the subject.

Here’s the instructions on how you can find and contact your Congressperson, and insist he or she do more than just offer their thoughts and prayers.

Thoughts and Prayers

Random Bits: Travel, Raptors as Mascots, and Ewok Victory

Just booked a flight to Kansas City for the Fourth of July weekend, so I guess I have crossed the threshold from “probably going, yeah” to “flying again on one of the busiest travel days of the year, hurrah.” Dayton won’t be bad, but I am already looking forward to spending three hours waiting for TSA’s gentle caress when I fly home on July 4. But visiting friends is worth it (you bastards). And so continues the Year of Travel.


At my parents’ house last weekend, I was rooting around in a cabinet and found a can of Clabber Girl brand baking powder, and of course took a picture.


Seriously: how has some savvy Millennial descendant not yet inherited the family business and replaced the Clabber Girl mascot with a picture of a velociraptor? I don’t use baking powder, but I’d buy a can with a terrifying raptor on label.


I was not feeling well the other day, so I spent waaaay too long creating a ringtone from the celebration song at the end of RETURN OF THE JEDI. The original one, with vocals from the saviors of the Rebellion, the Ewoks, not the one pan flute trash from the Special Edition version. You know; this one:

For several years my morning alarm was the A-Team theme song. It was great, effectively woke me up. After a while, though, I got tired of being jolted awake, adrenaline pumping, ready to cut someone. I’ve tried various alarms since, none terribly satisfying, then one day the Ewok celebration song — or “Yub Nub,” if you prefer — came to mind.

In the spirit of sharing, I was going to upload it to a ringtone site, until I realized someone had already beaten me to it — and did a better job at it — and posted it to Zedge.

Since changing alarms to the Ewok celebration, I wake up happier and with less heart pounding. Besides, who wouldn’t be cheerful waking up to the sweet sounds of victory!

Random Bits: Travel, Raptors as Mascots, and Ewok Victory