Just hum the words to “Beauty and the Beast” to yourself while you watch this gif of a Russian hockey player and a figure skater together at Russian hockey league all-star game a couple of years ago.
I did the No-Shave November thing this year, mostly by accident. I didn’t shave for the first week of November, not because of the event, but because by nature I am a lazy man. Then someone asked if I was doing the event, so, at that point, I figured: why not? I convinced a work friend to join me, also badgering him into agreeing to shave off our beards at the end of the month, so that on the last day of November we’d go into work with only our moustaches. I’ve never had just a moustache before, but again I figured: why not? I’d either end up looking like Burt Reynolds or Kip Dynamite. I was willing to roll the dice.
former work friend was unable to complete the journey with me, but I made it to the end. Off went the beard on 11/29, and on 11/30 I swaggered into work, thoroughly moustachioed.
I don’t know about you, but I think I’d call that an unqualified success.
For a day that started out fairly unpleasantly (hurrah, migraines), this one turned out to be pretty good.
My ACLU membership card came!
You too can be cool and support the ACLU, if you’re interested. But you don’t just have to take my word for it.
Then tonight I went with friends to see the Rubi Girls present The Show Must Go On! It was funny and risque, and wasn’t at all outside like I had originally feared. The photo below is from the finale of their “year in review” number, which, while very entertaining, reinforced just how many crappy things 2016 has bestowed upon us.
Still, it’s day three of what’s been an excellent four-day holiday weekend, and tomorrow I get to eat delicious pizza and breadsticks, so for now all is right in my little slice of the world.
Over on Facebook, the “On This Day” thing did its job and reminded me of one of my favorite photos.
It was taken by the inestimable Bill Cunningham a couple of years ago at a lavishly decorated post-Apocalyptic-themed party. I love everything about this photo: from the atmospheric setting and the costumes, to the composition of the photo; as well as the fact that my sister and I are, amazingly enough, not making stupid faces. This photo actually hung in my parents’ living room for a long while.
Then, once we sold the script for our pilot — a show about a brother-sister team of demon slayers, which in no way bears any resemblance to SUPERNATURAL — to the WB, Bill turned the photo into the slick-looking piece of concept art you see below.
BALEFUL has been in development hell for a while now, but I still hold out hope that one day it will finally air, so people can illegally download it, and it gets canceled after the first 13 episodes, FIREFLY-style.
It’s been a long, anxious week. Wednesday was almost palpably surreal. Listening to NPR’s new coverage during my drive into work; quiet conversations with friends and colleagues; scrolling through the posts of nonwhite, LGBT, and Muslim friends and acquaintances worried for their future. As the week has worn on that surreality has abated somewhat, wibbly-wobblying its way into a kind of grim acceptance.
Obviously, I have many thoughts about what happened Tuesday night, and a whole lot of feelings, but I’ve been struggling to put them down in a cogent manner. Others have written far more eloquently about the election’s outcome than I could. John Scalzi. Laurie Penny. And many more.
Instead, I’ll just share something I wrote on Twitter the other day, and note that the election may be over, but this isn’t the end. Not by a long shot.
— Josh Bales (@JoshBales) November 10, 2016
I went as a poor man’s Batman for Halloween at work this year. The mask hurt my face, a lot. But the cape? I liked it. I would like to wear a cape more often. Maybe I could start a new fashion trend, introduce the cape into the business casual look.
“Haven’t you heard?” I’d say. “The cape is the new tie.” Then I’d strut off to my next meeting, cape flowing rakishly behind me.
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.
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.
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.
Photo by the always talented Bill C.
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).