Sunday, November 20, 2005

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things

It goes without saying that I am not the funniest person who ever lived. In fact, there are people out there who are professionally funny. So I thought I'd take a moment and defer to these geniuses, or just people that I enjoy reading, and give you a few of my favorite sites to check out when you're bored. I'll also keep updating this one as I run across something funny.


This is the funniest website of all time. Whenever I am approaching mental breakdown, I run straight for this:
Weight Watchers recipe cards from 1974

Brandon Bird is just plain greatness. Greatness I tell you. Christopher Walken, Law and Order, Magnum P.I. oh my!

If you've ever wondered where bad movies come from: Query Letters I Love

Irony and the fact that it's lost on some people: Black People Love Us

I really enjoy the Episode IV with alternate dialogue: Pointless Waste of Time

I enjoyed the bit about dangerous toys: Planet Moron

This one goes without saying: The Onion

And of course, it subsidiary, Savage Love.


Over Heard In New York

Stef's Mystery

Slack Jaw

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I see London, I see France, the guy from Uganda wants in my pants.

As someone wiser and more clever than I once said, "If I didn't have bad luck, I'd have no luck at all." Although I think in my case we should replace "luck" with "game" because kudos to me, I have managed to attract yet another skeezy guy. I think if I were a superhero this would be my power. Or better yet, a Care Bear.

When I was in high school this kid Daniel would, without fail, ask me to every dance. Daniel was a kid you might call a "nerd". Or perhaps a "geek". Maybe "geeky-nerd." Whatever. But he was a genuinely nice fellow, and in retrospect I probably should have gone out with him as he would no doubt have shown me a nice time. These are the things maturity teaches you. Anyway, I always turned Daniel down holding out hope that the dipshit I actually wanted to ask me to the dance (I don't even know who this would be now) would call. But every year when Daniel would call my mom would answer and make me talk to him. I remember she once said after Daniel made one of his calls, "Poor Texas, it's never the one you want, is it?". Little did I know what a prophetic statement that would be.

For a couple of weeks now D has been telling me about this guy in her immigration class -- how he has "lunged" over her to touch her book or collect a paper and in doing so "accidentally" rubbed up against her boob. He has done this with another girl, and she decided that he was skeezy. D and I, being open minded, realize that this guy is from a different culture and think that he might have different definitions of personal space. Plus my assessment was colored by the fact that I thought I sort of knew the guy she was describing.

Cut to last Thursday night: I am studying in the library, as always. I'm in the library a lot, because gee, I'm a goddamn law student. I pretty much just eat breath and shit the law. I generally study with my headphones on because I like for my life to have a soundtrack and I have a regular carrol on the 5th floor I go to, and my friends know that I sit there so they'll drop by and say "hi" or leave me notes, or whatever. Anyway, the carrols here have lockers at the top and people can get keys to them. I have one on the 6th floor, but I never sit there. So anyway, turns out one of our finest LLMs (foreign master student) has the locker in the carrol next to me. He comes and goes and as I was raised to be polite I'll nod in acknowledgement that there is another human being in the immediate vicinity. Little did I know, that that is a declaration of love. At least in Uganda.

So one evening the guy next to me is on his way out and taps me on the shoulder. He says "Hello, my name is Rodger"
"I'm Texas" I say "nice to meet you."

I am thinking this is the end of the conversation, but no. Rodger then says,
"I notice you are here a lot; maybe it is coincidence, but I am thinking it has something to do with me."

Now mind you we are in the library, Rodger is whispering and has a thick accent so my brain needs about 5 extra seconds to decode and process what he's saying. Rodger continues, "I would like to talk to you some time. I think that we could...."

Rodger then gives me the once over. Think the Wolf looking over little red riding hood. Think a fat man with a steak. Think a crack ho with crack. Whatever you picture, picture a look of greasy salaciousness that made me want to rush home and take a shower. I was stunned and I am pretty sure I didn't say anything, and then fortunately he left.

The next day I tell D before class what happened and she drags me over to this board that has all the LLMs pictured on it. She has me point out Rodger and she says "That's the guy from my immigration class!" So see, he was not the nice guy that I sort of thought I knew. We have to go to class but D says "You have to tell me this whole story again after class now that I know who you're talking about."

After class, we talk about skeezy guy some more and then I wander off in the direction of the library. It's a dead time because people are either in class or studying and sweet Jebus if I don't run into Rodger. He sees me and gets all excited and rushes up to me saying "Can we talk now?"

I am happy to say that it may have taken me all of Italy to prepare for this moment, but it has paid off. I cut right to the chase and say "I'm sorry but I can tell you right now that I'm not interested."
"Oh you're going to do me like that" he says and takes my hand -- which I of course jerk back.
"Yes, I'm afraid so" I say.
"I've been watching you you know and I've been wanting to talk to you, but you make me nervous."
In my head I'm thinking "Yes, you've been pining for me so much you've been reduced to copping a cheap feel of my roommate et al. in class. Yes Rodger, man of my dreams, take me!" Out loud I say, "I'm sorry, but I'm just not interested," and then I walk back to the library.
Fortunately, Robert has not returned to the library when I've been here. However, I have changed carrols since he saw such significance in my choice of seat. Now mind you, I hate to let him "win" like that, but I finally decided that if I sat in the same seat he might take it as a sign of encouragement. But still...

The 5th floor is MINE! MINE I TELL YOU!

Recent update: word on the street is that Rodger is in fact married. That makes him double the catch I think.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

More Fun in Austin: Demon Children and Their Ilk

The weekend before last, D and I went to go see the movie "Stay". Since nothing in life is simple anymore, we of course went to the wrong theater. The theater we should have been at was across the street, hidden in a shopping center under the hill. This being the night before Halloween, Mother Nature had obliged us with sufficiently scary setting: it was dark and misty with a sort of low lying fog. When we got to the correct theater we noticed that there were very few cars in the parking lot and we were able to park right in front. We purchased tickets and went inside and there was not one single person walking around – only the two teenagers behind the concession stand. And it was at that point that I should have realized that D and I were clearly dead, and we had found ourselves in some sort of afterlife limbo.

We went into the theater and found that that too was completely empty. There is something very liberating about a completely empty theater. D and I sat in the back, dead center, in the comfy and spacious handicapped seats as they were clearly not going to be needed. We were sitting there for a bit when a guy came in, leaned over to us and said "excuse me, but is this the theater for 'Stay'," which of course seemed odd as it says it is on the marquis above the door. But perhaps when you're dead you have trouble with these things, I'm simply not sure. Just before the movie was to begin a few more people trickled in, so there were about 7 people in the theater total, but since it was dark when they came in I am not entirely convinced they were real.

The movie was pretty good; about a young man who is in a terrible car accident and is living inside an incredible world in his head. When the movie ended, D and I both headed to the bathroom. When I came out of the stall there was a child standing outside the door fiddling with her pants. She looked normal enough, but her continuous fiddling was strange and as there were about 10 other stalls open there was no need to stand directly in front of mine.

"Hello" said the child in a scary demon child voice. "Hello" I said, because the last thing you want to do is antagonize a demon child. As I edged around the child, I decided that I really didn't need to wash my hands all that badly as we were going straight home. I was afraid to turn my back on the child as I thought she might stab me in the kidneys or bite me so I booked it out of the bathroom -- leaving D in their alone.

Yes, I am a bad friend.

When I came out of bathroom there was only one person in the lobby, an older crone-ish looking woman who I decided must be the child's handler. When D emerged from the bathroom, she looked a little wide-eyed and fearful as well and we ran off to the car. She had also been greeted by the demon child after leaving her stall, but she had stayed to wash her hands, which I guess makes her braver than me, but we were both glad to leave the scary theater behind.

I had had a little headache when we began our evening, but by the time we were leaving I had achieved a full-on migraine which required drugs and sleep, and it is true that the next morning the entire incident felt rather like a dream, or merely a bad student film.

Of course, I perhaps judge too harshly, speaking as a formerly orange child. No doubt, you are perplexed by that statement, and rightfully so, but I can assure you that when I was young my skin took on an orange color due to all the yellow vegetables I ate. I mentioned this in passing while at lunch with the girls a week or so ago and they all thought that I was full of shit, but I assure it is quite a real phenomenon. Everyone was in such disbelief that I emailed my mother to elicit proof that I wasn't exaggerating. The following is her email:


This is just the daily diet that the doctor outlined for me. I didn't have any experience with babies so I followed it exactly.

Breakfast--cereal, fruit.

Lunch--green veg., yellow veg.

Dinner--meat, green veg., yellow veg.

This may not be exact but pretty close. So never having had kids and very eager to do it just right, I fed you just what he said--day in and day out--followed the specs--no creative variation.

When we returned for a check up he said you had turned yellow from too much carotene. I had fed you too many yellow vegs. I think the sweet potatoes, carrots and squash were all more tasty than the greens and you just probably ate more. But here again I fed you a jar of each--just as he said. It's a wonder you survived.

Give us a call when and if you have time. Is the exam this week?

Love, MOM

Still don't believe me?,,3q49,00.html

So I supposed at one time I was an orange demon child myself and probably scared the crap out of some lady in the bathroom. Too bad I was too young to remember.

Review: "The Care Bears Movie"

There I was, taking a study break, and I was all set to write my review of "The Care Bears Movie," which had been a favorite film of my little sister, and as with anything that was a favorite of my sister, I have been forced to endure it ad nauseaum, so I felt well up to the task. I particularly enjoy this genre of 80's film -- it's the sort of thing that writes itself; make up something cute and squishy, dream up some evil they must fight, and then defeat evil via squishy cuteness. Brilliant!

But then, someone beat me to the punch. And I thought that I really couldn't top what he/she wrote, so I'm just going to quote this person:

A dark vision of the American fantasy scape, 30 March 2005Author:
The_Enigmatic_Cryptopig from United Kingdom

The 'Care' Bear movie. A dangerous plethora of twisted images from the American psyche are explored in this woodland repression vehicle. A dark dream of the degree to which writers in a modern society are prepared to disrupt reality in a bid to blindfold the new generation into the shooting gallery of puberty. Does the carebear have an armpit? The sanitation of children's programming has led to a generation befouled by mishap, angst and Celine Dion. The carebare is a eunuch, there is no personality, no real love or care. They simply serve as a scattered kaleidescope from which to view a one dimensional form of an emotion that short sighted writers have tried to simplify and compress to a generation of consequentially disenfranchised infants. Too much sugar leads to rot and as the Care Bears use their plateau to infect the 'savage' woodland creatures with their semi psychotic care ideology, the creatures lose all hope of developing any sense of identity. They find themselves crushed by the oppressive force of the 'care' and soon they too are carrying the Fascistic emblems, branded, on their bodies. All in all a terrifyingly shortsighted catapult into the ideological catacombs of children's broadgramming. Both chilling and powerful.
I thought nothing could top that entry...until I found this one....

A true children's film., 2 July 2001Author: Chris Ushko from Alberta, Canada

I saw this as a kid. This is a Care Bears movie. There are no Power Rangers battling space monsters. There are no grade schoolers fighting ninjas. There are no Pokemon around to traumatize the children for life. This is what a child's movie is all about: moral issues. Teaching our children to grow and learn. I don't recommendthis movie for preteens and up, but trust me, younger children should see these kind of movies BEFORE you go exposing them to the moronic Teletubbies. In this film, the Care Bears are sent to help two orphan children on the lam. In the meantime, Tenderheart gets caught up in a plot to eliminate all caring in the world when a young carnival magician's apprentice discovers a talking book of the occult. Now the Care Bears must stop this plan before it comes to fruition. The story is filled with happy songs and meaningful life lessons; the kinds of lessons that children should best learn directly from their parents--but from what I've seeing lately, most haven't.. It's not about spoiled kids rebelling against authority (i.e. Rugrats, Recess, Pepper Ann), it's about teaching kids; remember that. I'm sure as heck going to make sure my children see this film when they come around. It's a true children's film. Don't blow it off because "it'll make your kids go fruity." It won't. Trust me.
Wow, so who here thinks Chris from Canada has issues?

I especially like how his second sentence states "this is a care bears movie." Just in case you were confused. It is also informative the way Chris tells us there are no Power Rangers, ninjas, or pokemon to be found in the Care Bears movie. Chris is very helpful. I also am intrigued by Chris' notion that Pokemon traumatize Children, and Care Bears teach them lessons. Just how old is Chris? Is Chris "special"?

I can assure you, I didn't learn shit from the Care Bears, unless it's that fact that if you have something tatooed on your stomach you can then emanate magical powers from your midsection tattoo to defeat evil. Right now I bet there's a biker out there defeating evil with the power of a naked lady tattooed on his chest. If I had to chose my evil-fighting chest-tatoo I would chose pancakes. Pancakes to fight evil. According to Chris, this is a lesson I should have learned from my parents.

I also like how Chris talks about Orphan children "on the lam". Who here thinks Chris has no idea what "on the lam" means? Wow, and that Tenderheart getting all caught up with that talking book of the occult. I hope he makes it!

I am also glad that Chris follows up his observation that this movie is about "teaching kids" with the admonition "remember that". Because I had already forgotton from paragraph one that this movie was a) about the care bears and b) about teaching kids. Sometime between paragraph one and three I thought the movie involved the Power Rangers, Pokemon, ninjas and I was pretty sure there was a scene in there somewhere where the devil rapes a woman and she has his baby.

I am also curious about Chris' personal assurances that watching this movie won't "make your kids go fruity." Just how does he know?! Is he speaking from personal experience? Has Chris been forced to hours and hours (a la A Clockwork Orange style) of Care Bears viewing and has come out unscathed and "unfruity"? He says "trust me" on this.

How can I trust you, Chris? How? I need to know why I can trust you!

I will concede to Chris that Teletubbies are moronic. Chris has promised to show this movie to his kids when he has them and no doubt impart all the lessons that the Care Bears teach us; I hope Chris doesn't breed.

Maybe I should email Chris and pose my questions to him directly?

Man, I just can't even make that shit up.

Found my purpose

So there I was, reading the The Onion's AV CLUB and then it hit me -- my purpose. I, of course, realize that this is not when and where one generally finds their "purpose". In fact, asking if one even has a purpose is generally a rather existential question that is often followed by other

Dracula 2000's Gerard Butler saying "more with facial
expressions than some people do with words."

existential questions like "What is the nature of God?" and "Is there such a thing as true love?" These questions in turn are also generally inspired by or quickly followed by large quantities of alcohol -and then drunkenly telling your friends that you love them all. (We're not just talking me here people. I remember Mardi Gras quite clearly -- everyone is implicated, and then some).

So maybe what I'm saying is not that I've found my Purpose with a capital "P", but my little "p" purpose. So as I said, there I was reading the AV club and this week's feature called "The Underrated List"
discusses the best underrated guilty pleasure -- the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) message and comment board. The author says:

The Internet Movie Database's user comments and message boards represent the apogee of the Internet's democratic possibilities, offering a public forum for everyone with a computer and an irresistible need to express themselves on why Father Of The Bride Part II is the finest film ever made, and/or why it demands a sequel. With their tortured logic, horrific abuse of the English language and rampant misspellings, the site's interactive areas are like the entertainment section of the world's biggest, sloppiest college newspaper.

For those of you unfamiliar with IMDB, I pity you. Any movie bet can instantly be settled: was John Leguizamo in Baz Luhrman's "Romeo + Juliet"? I've actually had this argument – yes he's in it – thank god for IMDB or I would have had to rent this movie to prove it. And as addicted to IMDB as I am, I had never bothered with the user comments or the message board, until this article prompted me to check it out for myself. And good god, the author was right! Check out this gem of a posting under Father of the Bride (please note that I have not edited spelling, grammar, or punctuation):

I'm curious if there ever would be another sequel to this movie?I had an idea of a plot.Okay both of their anniversarys are coming up Annie 10 and her father and monther 30.And right before there anniversary they both get into fights with there spouses and they both might get divorce. So they bond extremely and try to find a way to get back with there spouses?

BRILLIANT! Why hasn't this sequel been made?

But is there more? Is this a fluke? So I rushed to the worst movies I could think of….how about "Dracula 2000"?

Just saw this last night and I agree that Gerry Butler's "walk" through the music store was simply "smoldering". No man should be allowed to be that handsome. It's been hard to concentrate on work today - I keep thinking about this movie and how Gerry saved it with his incredible acting. He can say more with a facial expression than some people can with words.

I had no idea that actors can say more with his facial expressions than some people can with words!

Smoldering? Seriously? This movie is filmed almost entirely in a Virgin Megastore – in New Orleans. The stupid heroine even sleeps in a Virgin t-shirt for God's sake. I think we know who paid for this movie. The fact that someone could actually be impressed by a vampire hunting down the heroine in the Virgin megastore where she spends 60 minutes of the 90 minute movie is really quite depressing. These are the people who think Jerry Bruckheimer is an auteur. Oh hell, they don't know what the word auteur even means. You know what would be awesome though? "Dracula 2005"

Did we even have a Virgin Megastore in New Orleans?

How about this beaut, taken from a 7 paragraph review of "The Notebook" (and a male reviewer might I add):

Meanwhile, in the story, Noah and Allie meet in one of the cutest scenes of the movie. He sees her at a carnival, and knows right away that he wants to be with her. He does not know quite why at first, and all he can say is that something inside of him is drawing him to her. He convinces her to give him a chance, and she eventually agrees to give him the date that he seeks. What progresses from there is a Summer romance that goes through all of the emotions that we all have experienced before. What makes it even more real, is that it is not played off as if every single moment is perfect between the two of them. It depicts that they do have fights, that they do have disagreements, but that they do have a love that is stronger than any of that. This is what made the romance real for me. Everyone knows, that in real life we can't have a relationship where everything works out perfectly, or where everyone agrees on everything.

So true! You tell 'em "Gamble1". You and your eighteen years.

So why should these dime store critics have all the fun? And that's when it came to me – they absolutely shouldn't. Someone needs to write about the post-apocalyptic symbolism to be found in "The Baby Sitter's Club: The Movie". Or how about the metaphysical imagery of "The Garbage Pail Kids Movie"? Or how about any movie that has "movie" in the title.

I think we all know who that someone is.

This then is my purpose: to give a person slumming on the internet a little extra guilty pleasure. That is a noble small "p" purpose if ever there were one.

And so, this shall be my very first posting for, "Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em: The Movie"

This movie is clearly about the epic, nay, cosmic struggle of good and evil, that films like "Full Metal Jacket" or "Apocalypse Now" can\'t even begin to address. Even though Hammer is a rapper, and generally that would be a bad thing, this film depicts him as the sword of justice fighting the evil drug dealers of Oakland with his "posse". Hammer plays dual roles in this film: one as himself (i.e. MC Hammer) and another as the Reverend Pressure who is known for his jaw dropping performances. This leitmotif is similar to the star turns of Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall in films like "Coming to America" where they play multiple characters – except that Hammer is clearly better. This film also has a really important message: say yes to Jesus and Hammer, no to drugs and violence. I cannot imagine a film that does a better job of capturing the essence of the nineties, except perhaps "Cool as Ice". Sadly, however, this film was overlooked by the Academy.

If you all would be so good as to help me think of other movies to review, especially movies that end with "the movie" that would be great.

For the record: I have seen The Babysitter's Club Movie, The Garbage Pail Kids Movie, Full Metal Jacket, Apocalypse Now, and Dracula 2000.
I have not seen The Notebook or Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em.
I would rather see Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em than The Notebook – John Cassavetes is probably turning over in his grave over that one.

Fun in Austin

See, this post was actually supposed to be the conclusion of my travels in Europe. The London program, traveling to Edinburgh and Barcelona. But I had been in America for a mere week and a half. And then Hurrican Katrina hit, so I had to temporarily relocate to Austin. At some point I'll write about my hurrican experiences, but right now it's still too fresh. But I will share all the joys of my new home.

Weekend 1: Austin – it's not just for hippies anymore

There's this chain of theaters in Austin called the Alamo Drafthouses. They're neat: they show arty movies, not so arty movies, plus serve food and booze, which is a winning combination as far as I'm concerned. As D and I were approaching a mental breakdown, we decide to go see "The 40 year old Virgin" for a laugh. Since we are living like Mongolian camel herders, i.e. we have no internet and don't know the local moviefone number, we decided to just roll up to the theater.

As it turns out, we have about an hour to kill before movie time so we stroll around this little shopping center, and windowshop for all the hippie goodies. There's an antique store full of 60's kitsch and even though it is closed, I swear I can smell the mustiness and mildew through the locked door. Then there's the vintage clothing store complete with garishly dressed mannequins, the alternative granola no-cell-phone-book store filled with self-help/actualization books, crystals, and a bunch of shit that looks like it was stolen from an Indiana Jones movie. There's also the "Alien" scooter store (that's its actual name) that has blow-up aliens posed on scooters, and last but not least, the yoga center.

And surprise surprise, even though it's like 9pm on a Friday night there's a huge line in front of the Yoga center. D and I walk by, and I'm thinking some yogi has been gunned down or something, but no --people are just inexplicably milling about with pillows. Then one hippie guy smiles at D and says "Would you like to join us?". He hands her a leaflet that says "good for one free hour of chanting and meditation." That's right, these guys are here on a Friday night, of their own free will mind you, to chant. FOR AN HOUR.

Half of me wants to see this in action, or better yet to film it in action so that I can watch it later for my own amusement or put it on the tv for background at parties, but the other half of me realizes how painful this would be to actually sit there for an hour in the flesh surrounded by chanting hippies. And in a moment that will make me love her forever, D says "Oh thank you, but we can't – we don't have our own chanting pillows" and hands the man back the leaflet. I was so impressed that she could politely decline the invitation "on his level."

It later occurs to me that we might have missed the boat. Aren't the guys chanting on a Friday night the guys who have tantric sex and have 8 hour orgasms like Sting? Don't play like you don't know what I'm talking about: .We discuss the merits of an 8 hour orgasm, but finally conclude that it's just not worth it – because that would mean actually sleeping with those guys who I didn't want to even chant with, much less touch. Ick. And really, if there was to be chanting accompanying the sex, I really think that would be such a turn-off.

And yet hippies are drawn to us, or at least to D, like Italians were to me this summer. On another evening, we go to this bookstore called "Bookpeople" – again without constant media in our lives, D and I are having to resort to books for relaxation therapy. We make our selections and head to pay out and D slaps down her credit card before this balding hippie dude with a ponytail. He reads the name on her credit card and says "Oh wow, what does your name mean?" D explains that her name means "Mother Earth", and then he starts in about his Buddhist temple has some ritual about earth mother and it sounds like her name…and at this point all I can hear is white noise in my head -- it sounds a little like someone eating a bowl of grape nuts – and I look at them, and have an almost out of body experience as I realize I am completely unable to process their words.

After a bit I finally say "Wow, well my name means petrified tree sap, so do you think I can get this book or what?"

Weekend 2: Who cares about the Carries of the world? I ain't sayin she a gold digger…

So D and I bought a TV – my friends floated me some emergency replace-your-stuff-cash complete with Target gift certificates, which makes them excellent friends indeed. We have been intending to get cable so that we know what the hell is going on in the world, or really just NOLA, but life keeps gets getting in the way. So we have been forced to view the remnants of Pant's hope chest – that's right, season 4 through 6 of Sex and the City.

And you know what? Carrie is a bitch! I'm sorry, but she so is. She totally fucks over that guy from Northern Exposure with the uglier guy from Law and Order. She so doesn't deserve Northern Exposure guy! There is this episode where she goes to the country… oh never mind. Long story short, these bitches are invading my life. D and I talk about them like real people, because none of you guys are around for us to talk about it. These are our substitute friends -- we have been reduced to a sad, sad state of affairs.

Case in point, D and I went out on Saturday night to this great place called The Red Fez. And we got pretty tanked, and it felt good. And the music was really good. So much so that D convinced me, aka "the whiteness," to dance. So we danced. Also, a dude slapped me on the ass while we were dancing, but I digress. So we're dancing, and it's crowded and somebody shoves into me and APPARENTLY I stepped on this blond girl behind me (which I didn't feel) 'cause the next thing I know I\'m being shoved forward. I turn around and this girl is looking so pissed and then she stalks off the dance floor, sits at a booth like 2 feet from me, glares and cries. She totally ruined a perfectly good buzz.

Meanwhile, D is shakin' like she just don't care and wondering what I have against that new Kanye West "Golddigger" song.", But there is nothing wrong with the song, and I point out killjoy to my right and explain the scenario, gesturing with gin and tonic in hand. She nods knowingly and says "What is it with these Carries?"

And she's right. I mean, come on! Haven't we all suffered a dance floor casualty or two? I have been burned with cigarettes, stepped on, clawed, spilled on, walked in on the bathroom by drag queens, and been the victim of a drunken grind on more than one occasion (by far the most offensive contact of all), but this is the sort of risk you assume when you go out -- this is all part of the adventure. But this girl actually had to go pout! I hope her boyfriend breaks up with her. Honestly, if she'd been more normal, I'd have bought her a drink in apology. But I refuse to reward such childish behavior. In retrospect, it would have been really funny if I'd gone over to the booth, pretended I didn't see the girl, and then sat on her.

Gay Paris (The Europe Saga, Part VI)

So after paying my 80 euros in overweight baggage, we get to Paris. For those of you who don't know, my last trip to Paris was awful. I was there for 4 days, during a heatwave (100 degree temp) in a hotel with only a fan for ventilation. It was miserable.

Other than sweating alot and watching a Dexter's laboratory marathon (which was on for god knows what reason -- maybe because Dexter speaks english with a French accent?) I have only one other distinct memory of Paris: the fruit seller yelling at me. See, they're all tricky -- they put the squishy side down so you can't see it, but won't let you pick up the fruit to examine it. I think that's cheating. Maybe they are supposed to pick the fruit for you, but the claim you touching it makes it squishy, which is true to a certain extent, but if they weren't trying to pawn off a bunch of half squishy fruit in the first place, touching would be unnecessary. You see the chicken and the egg argument here? While I'm sure at least half the faux pas is mine, it was hot and the fruit man yelled at me, and dammit if I'm going to pay $3 for a peach, it should damn well be as perfectly round and firm as a baby's bottom. And perhaps as delicious.

So Tiny and I discussed our priorities in terms of sight seeing. And we decided really that shopping topped the list so we went to that Galleries du Lafayette that Laureen raved about. It was pretty awesome, and I found exactly where my sister has been buying me presents (e.g. Satellite and Les Nereids). We also went to some stores on the street, but honestly they were so crowded with crazy women and whatnot that Tiny and I didn't find too much that we enjoyed.

Now generally, I make art a priority. But I've been to the Louvre* (see excerpted Lovre Story at the end), and I refuse to go to the Musee D'Orsay -- enforcing my own personal ban on Impressionism. Honestly people, Monet had cataracts, and I think the whole movement grew out of one near sighted man. I've personally seen so many shows of this crap, and then while I was at the DMA we had so many shows of the crap...and if one more little old lady came to see the damn blurry water lilly painting the DMA owned (honestly ladies, he made a jillion of them) I was going to scream. So no Musee D'Orsay. So where did we go instead? Surprisingly, the Rodin museum.

Many of you probably know that I am not a big Rodin fan. There is a shitload of his stuff running around too, but at least half of the people on this email list fucking raved about the museum, so I thought we should check it out. Now let me ruin it for you: in case you bitches didn't know, all the statues in the gardens are reproductions. Before you credit my AMAZING art skills giving me the ability to spot a Rodin fake, just realize that on the backside of each statute it says something like "Recreated for the Rodin Museum in 1984". P.S. Rodin was way dead by 1984, and "recreated" means "reproduced". These are copies people. If you don't believe me, ask Tiny. So while the garden is lovely, it's fakery. They should call themselves the Rodin reproduction museum.

Also, I just saw "The Kiss," which is at the Rodin Museum, also at the Tate modern the other day -- so I'm not sure how many of those he made either. I thought that the works in marble were one-of-a-kind, but clearly that's not the case. Basically I feel like Rodin was the Thomas Kincaid of his time, churning out shit left and right.

Ok, but that aside, I did enjoy the musuem. I liked some of the sculptures of hands and stuff and all said and done, I do like "the Kiss" and took a really great detail picture of it. Also, I am totally amuzed by his statute of Balzac. Don't know what I'm talking about? Check it out here).

Anyway, there is a great story on this one.Balzac is a famous French writer and when this stute was made he was actually in a wheelchair, and some people were pissed that Rodin chose to depict him more or less able bodied. But the real outrage is the, ahem, hand positions. Notice where they are under his coat?

To promote the work, this famous photographer, Edward Steichen, took photos of the statue by moonlight. In the photos it appears, for all intents and purposes, that Balzac is spanking the monkey in the moonlight. Beautiful. I didn't come up with this interpretation, this is popular belief at the time, I shit you not. Anyway, copies of the photos are in the museum, check it out next time you visit. You cannot look at this statute now without thinking about him spanking it can you? No, you can't.

I honestly think I could be the next dirtier, sluttier, Sister Wendy. Not sure what to call my show, but it would have great themes like "Spankin' it" and "Coppin' a Feel"* (again see Louvre story at end for reference).

Anyway, so Rodin museum, not bad. So then we check our email and I look up this stuff that EZ had suggested we go see, including his favorite place of places, Place de Voges, which I shall call PDV henceforth. So we go shop earlier in the day, then take the metro to this place which is way the hellfire far away from where we were staying (which was by the Louvre) and as we get off the metro, I got totally Shanghai-ed by the damn metro police.

Where does it say in the metro to retain your ticket stub once you pass through the gate? Answer: it doesn't. In fact, on our way to PDV I noticed that there were tickets all over the ground directly on the other side of the gate and I remember thinking "that's such a shame to trash the lovely metro" and then I tossed my ticket into the waste basket right there. I'm sure you see where this is going. When we got to the stop for PDV there were cops there demanding to see our used tickets with this scanner thing. This was CLEARLY a tourist trap as any real criminal would simply pick up one of the millions of dropped tickets on the way in. The only people "caught" were me and another american woman and I was fined 25 euros. I almost cried they were so mean. They said they would bring the police down and it would be a bigger fine if I didn't cooperate, so I just paid it.

Someone at the train station overheard me telling this to Tom (my sister's boyfriend in London) and said that it was a scam, but they had machines and badges and there were like 15 of them, so if it was a scam, then it was a really damn official one. All this and then, I must say, I was a bit disappointed in the PDV. Partially this may be due to my misunderstanding that it was a garden. I *love* flowers, but EZ pointed out that this is a plaza, not a garden, but whatever.

We stayed near the Louvre and there was a beautiful garden there, not crowded, with chairs you could pull up to the fountain. now that's MY idea of a plaza, garden, or whatever. At PDV, the only flora and fauna really were a couple making out on the "grass" which had largely died. Now I realize that my description of this is not very amsuing. However, what *is* amusing is EZ's spirited defense of the PDV (which he is probably going to *kill* me for sharing -- so EZ, I apologize in advance):

"Maybe one of the other reasons I love it so much is how perfectly balanced it is, the harmony of the red brick and limestone and the graceful arcades (I really have a thing for arcades). Plus it's the oldest square in Paris, the city's first stab at modern urban planning in a then decaying mess of winding streets and medieval houses. The fact that such a thoroughly 'modern' square is still the heart of the only surviving section of the old medieval city makes the place more beautiful to me somewhow. It's just such a perfect city square! Four squares of grass, four fountains, four perfectly trimmed rows of hedges, the contrast of the red brick against the limestone and slate, and did I mention the arcades? And that's not even considering the square's contribution to French lit (Mme de Sévigné was born there in the 17th century and Victor Hugo lived there in the 19th century). Cardinal Richelieu even lived there."I swear to God, like reading a tour brochure, no? If that doesn't win you over to PDV, I'm sure nothing will.

Ok, so EZ is probably mad right now(and rightfully so), but let me point out that I have been consistently humiliating myself for everyone's amusement. Also, I forgot to mention that I have fallen everywhere we've been. I bought these shoes before I left which are just leather bottoms with no grippy things and everytime I wear them, I fall down. Embarassingly so. I don't mean a little stumble, I mean full on flat-on-my-face/ass humiliation. I fell down outside Vatican City. I totally fell down these crazy steep steps in a restaurant in Siena. I fell in Il Campo. I fell in France. I have fallen all cross Europe. I have now retired these shoes.

My favorite fall was the restaurant in Siena with these crazy practically verticle steps. The owner was really worried I had hurt myself. I responded I'd just hurt my pride, but I did have this perfect line bruise across my butt where I fell on the step. I tried to take a pic with my digital camera, but it didn't come out (so sadly, no neat butt bruise picture to share). To sum up --I have endured a LOT of humiliation. I'm sorry I haven't worked that into previous stories, but I promise that should I revise this into a coherent travel memoir (as several of you have requested) I'll make sure to include this theme. Anyway, I have hopefully made up for humiliating EZ a tiny bit. Moving on.

So after visiting EZ's beloved PDV, we tried to visit this other park he suggested and then this place he recommended for dinner, but it just didn't pan out. Tiny and I both thought it was like an hour earlier than it was, but alas it was like 11pm, so we figured we'd best head back to our part of town to find food and whatnot before the metro shut down. So we head back to the stop by the Louvre and there is really only one place open for dinner, it's called Cab. This place is muy swank, but we walk in anyway to try to get seated. There is a nice fat lady who is clearly the proprietor and she looks us over (I'm thinking we'll get the boot) and Tiny whips out some French, but the lady smiles and responds in English and seats us. And is super nice about it.

In fact, everybody in France was extremely nice the whole trip, like nicer than the Italians. I was completely bewildered. So the waiter brings us menus, which are entirely in French and he realizes we aren't french and then asks if we'd like them in English. I just smiled embarassed and he brings us English menus very politely.Were seated outside Cab, with a lovely view of the little plaza on the backside of the Louvre, and I swear we are only there for like 15 minutes when they snap up a velvet rope and beatiful people start rolling up in Ferraris and what not and are standing in their nice clothes on the other side of the rope! It was nuts.

Apparently inside becomes a fancy schmancy club in the evenings. I am still amazed we are allowed to stay. So we have a nice dinner, in the lap of luxury, surrounded by the beautiful people, in Paris. And I'm sure it's the only time I'll ever be on that side of the velvet rope.

Post dinner, we were going to go to the Eiffel Tour, but the metro had clearly stopped running by this time, and as Tiny pointed out, it's just big scaffolding (which she is surely sick of at this point) so we were contented to view it from a distance.

The next morning we leave -- me for London, Tiny for Amsterdam -- which also, coincidentally happens to be my 28th birthday (which is frightening, enough said). As the date approached, old-age panic increased and I had plan to forgo any form of self celebration, but my law school homies had had Tiny bring some presents with her drug-mule style for me, which was really awesome. I got all teary eyed and what-not. Thanks guys!

So then to the train station to depart. I didn't realize it, but checking into the Eurostar for the Chunnel is more rigorous than checking in at the airport (especially with recent bombings). They made me show proof of going to school and everything. I thought that checking in was merely a formality, which it wasn't, and once I began, I couldn't go back and tell Shirley goodbye. In this glass holding tank, I finally saw her walk away to catch her own train and I felt terrible about the lack of goodbye.The train trip however was...amusing. Seated next to me was one Willy Karim, aka Rewind, the human beatbox of the up-and-coming French rap group Eska Crew.

Willy's "crew" had just been signed by Virgin records and Willy was on his way to a see a beat box competition in England. Willy was very cute, but, alas, also only 21. He also explained he was half Arab and half French but he looked French and could get in the clubs while his other friends couldn't. Willy's English was not so good, and my French is non-existant, although he tried to help me with some phrases. At the end of our train ride Willy offered to "help me with my luggage," which, though touched by the offer, I politely declined.

Oh for god's sake people, he was 21. I'm not going to get "help with my luggage" from a 21 year old, even if it was my birthday.Anyway, I passed safely into England where sister's 21 year old boyfriend Tom was waiting to literally, rather than metaphorically, help me with my luggage and to find my dorm. Tom later took me out for Indian food, then to a pub where I had a drink appropriately entitled a "strawberry fool" and then he kindly walked me back to my dorm, as I was rather tipsy. Bienvenue year 28!___________________________________________________

*Louvre Story*

When I went to the Lovre I was with Rave who was probably 15 or so at the time. So we are walking around together, clearly conoisseurs of art, and there is this statute of this little cherub grabbing this lady's boob. Rave and I had had a discussion earlier in the week about "copping a feel" (I do not remember why or what exactly we discussed, just that it happened) so referencing our discussion, I point out the statue and giggling whispered to her "Check it out...he's copin a feel." Raven squints and says "What?" So I repeat it, "he's copping a feel.""What?""He's COPPIN a FEEL.""What?""Oh never mind.""NO come on, really, what did you say?""I said, he's *copping* a *feel*.""WHAT?""I SAID HE'S COPPING A FEEL!!!"At which point the guard turned and glared at us, understanding perfectly well what I had just yelled across the museum, while my sister laughed like an evil villain having enticed me to shout out that absurd statement. Beeyatch.

Siena Ends (The Europe Saga, Part V)

In some senses, Siena ended with a bang, not a whimper. Our final ended up being take home (because so many ADD kids they didn't feel like dealing with extra time issues), but that does not mean easy. As Irish said "I was hopin' to get my credit, not that I'd have to earn it." Well, I assure you I had to earn it. What I got, I don't know. I do know that I went and slept for 3 hours while D and Tiny stayed up all night at which point I *know* they were hallucinating.

At any rate, we turned in our papers and then Tiny and I said 'bye to D's cute roomate, Dana (who may come to NOLA to visit) and then went to finish our Siena shopping while D passed out. It was hellaciously hot, and we looked pretty damn terrible (me more than Tiny b/c she showered) and then we came back and collapsed, for a bunch of hours. Tiny and I had executively decided that we would spend our last night eating at this place called Osteria del Cice (pronounced Chee-Chay). We ate at this place about 3 times a week and was our absolute favorite. The last week we were there I discovered the most wonderful appetizer, pecorino cheese and honey. Ok, sounds nasty, I know -- but honestly, so damn good. I am going to make you all try it at a party when you've had a few drinks and don't object to the idea. SO GOOD!

Anyway, we love the Cice. Everyone at the Cice knows us. When I run into the Cice-man on the street one night, he gives me a smile and a waives knowing full well that I am feeding his children via my love of his cheese and honey. Hello Cice man! I also have a crush on a waiter there, but he wears a wedding ring :(. So we go there our last night, and a woman I've never seen says that they are all full! No! But then Cice man sees us, he knows he cannot turn us away! He says, "10 minutes" -- which is probably the only english he knows. Meanwhile Cice lady is turning away people right and left, Cice is full bitches, and we will get the last table! So we wait 10 minutes for a group to pay and leave and then sit down for our last meal.

Now as you know Italians always drink wine with dinner, which due to studying we have not done, but tonight we decide we will have the Cice wine, and so we got a little tipsy. Feeling all warm and toasty, we want to tell the Cice-man that it is our last night. He is the only one in Siena who will miss us, but we lack the Italian skills to do so. Goodbye Cice! As it is our last night, we have laundry in the wash which we decide we should go hang up so that a) it can dry so we can leave tomorrow and b) the Italian dorm bitches will jack up our stuff if we don't get it in time.

I realize that I have not mentioned the great laundry wars we have waged with our Italian dorm mates. Let me summarize to say that these bitches have stolen our detergent, started our laundry prematurely (i.e. while I went back to my room for the rest of my items which is 20 steps away), thrown our stuff out of the washers, and stolen our plastic laundry bag. By the end I was ready to fuck those bitches up! Jack with my laundry and I'll jack with you. In addition they stole D's mortadella (don't jack with D's luncheon meats) and ate another girl's pizza, leaving the empty box in the fridge with a fork in it. Brazen hussies!

Also, there are no clothes dryers in the dorm, there are just these wire racks contraptions lining the hallways. They look like rectnagular butterflies with wings that fold out for more clothes. While it seems they are communal, people have CLEARLY staked their territory as one night one of our friends washed his clothes and put them on a rack contraption and he came the next day to find they had stacked them in a wet soggy mess. Let the boy's clothes dry for god's sake! He tried to re-dry them, but his friend insisted they smelled (the detergent is citronella scent which is fairly pungent anyway--perhaps this serves the dual purpose of cleaning and keeping away bugs) so he had to rewash all his clothes. Poor kid.

Tiny and I being crafty bitches, we went on a hunt and found a folded up dryer and hid it in our room so we could dry our clothes at our whim. We ended up sharing this with our neighbors/fellow students so that they too did not get jacked with. But I have degressed into the Great Laundry War of '05, and I apologize, back to the last night....

So we are all very tired, but we decide, dammit it's our last night and we're going to go out, even if it's just for a drink. So we go to Cafe del Corso, which is the F&M's of Siena as I've mentioned before. Tiny had not been before as the only other time D and I went was after the Contrada dinner. So we take Tiny to the 3rd floor so she can see the dance floor, all american music btw, and this guy walks buy and kind of feels D's hair. She is not too upset by this as this has happened to her at parties before. The man leaves, but comes back after a bit and tries to talk to us. He asks Tiny's name and kisses her hand, does the same to D, but then gets to me, asks my name, and leans over to kiss my boob! I quickly turn away but kind of hit the wall and D starts shouting at him (thankfully) to stop and calls him names of some variety.

She looks at me and says "man, what is it with you?". I want to say "clearly, it's a D-cup," but this is not the time for witty reparte. We decide to exit and as we come down the treacherous stairs, the disgusting man pops out again at the second floor landing. D, who as she likes to put it "is in touch with her anger" shouts at him again to stop as he is trying to come talk to us, and then calls him a pig. In French. She thinks. The man backs off, and we go careening out onto the street talking of the vileness of these men.

I decide that I don't think D called him a pig, I think she called him a ham, but that it's notreally the words that matter but the tone: in my slightly drunken state I decide that I will start calling these leches a pompeloumousse (grapefruit) or a grabadora (stapler) if I feel like it, but with a haughty and imperiously bitchy tone. I believe D's philosophy is correct: we are women first, tourists second, and shouldn't hesitate to cause a scene if someone is getting fresh. Especially if we can use ridiculous terminology to make the men feel inadequate.

While we are having this discussion, we realize that we have gone completely the wrong direction in the Siena maze, so we go down several side streets, and end up popping up on the main street right back in front of Cafe de Corso. But by this time all the remaining students have gathered -- so do we leave? No, we go back for more drinks! At this point the main topic of conversation is this one kid, or more specifically, his pants.

This kid, although sheltered, is a decent enough fellow, although apparently he says strange things in the law and sexuality class like "I think sex should be cherished" which is fine, to cherish it and all, but if you want to advertise to the class that you are a virgin I think a t-shirt would be easier, and perhaps lead to less uncomfortable pauses in class. So at any rate, this kid has left behind an entire suitcase when he fled Siena immediately after exams. A whole suitcase! In the suitcase, or garmet bag as he has referred to it in London, were his suits and formal dresspants. Irish, being a stand up guy along with his new pal Jeff call the kid's dad to find out what to do. It turns out the bag is his dad's army bag (he is some army dude still) and he bought these suits for the kid especially for the trip (awwww) .

Anyway, the Dad says something crazy like "Don't split up the clothes!" which I guess being in the army he feels he can order everyone to do. But Irish informs us a bit drunkenly that he's made an executive decision and that he is in fact going to divide up the clothes, mostly pants, amongst the people going to London and that the suitcase/garmet bag which is really quite worthless (I think Irish valued it at 25 cents but has sentimental value to the kid) will go back to America with Jeff where it can be cheaply shipped to the dad. I really had this great vision of Irish dividing the pants amongst the Londoners; much like Jesus with the loaves and the fishes. The kid will probably get some sort of army punishment for this like laps or pushups or something, but hey, he has all his pants.

D feels that this entire scenario has very freudian implications. Dad's bag, suits bought by his Dad just for this trip...I had to admit there was a ring of truth to it. Also, the kid told us that he just wants to go home and buy the house where his parents live and then build a smaller house behind it for them. So his Mom can do his laundry. Ok, so the last part about laundry I just added, but honestly the rest of that is word for word. It will take a special woman to marry into that situation.

The next day, Tiny, D and I all take the train to Pisa as that has the dual benefit of having the leaning tower and an airport. We go to the leaning tower and take the obligatory holding-up-the-tower picture. And it was pretty cool. Except there were lots of tourists and shit, which is never fun, and lots and lots of tards just like us pretending to hold up the tower. Yeah, disgusting. As we didn't have much time, we didn't climb the tower or go inside, but honestly it was so hot and stuff I didn't feel like doing more than saying yeah, saw it and got the t-shirt, so let's roll. So we go to the airport for D to take Easy Jet to Berlin, and Tiny and I to go to Paris. Although Easy Jet should really be called Difficult Jet. Perhaps even Fuck You Jet.

I'm standing in this hellacious Italian line to check in and then my bag is over the weight limit. Shit. So can I pay? Yes but no. I can pay, but not in THAT line. I have to go stand in another hellacious Italian line, with one person, and I stand there for 20 minutes and ther is NO movement. None. Zero! D and Tiny keep circling the airport. So finally I get up to the window to pay. How much?!?! 78 euros?!?!?! that's like a $100! Also, even though Tiny and I booked our tickets at exactly the same time, it charged me 48 euros more for my ticket. Total ticket cost: 248 euros. I could have bought a real goddamn plane ticket for that amount!!!

But it gets better, once I paid for the baggage, I have to get back in line to get my boarding pass -- but D says fuck that and convinces me to cut in line Italian-style as I just have to grab the ticket and head to the gate. So finally ticket in hand, and with sadness, Tiny and I part ways with D for Paris.

Florence (The Europe Saga, Part IV)

Weekend 2: Florence

I Just got back from Florence, and let's just say my the trip kinda sucked (for me at least). The first day was just fine, we went to the Academia where Michelangelo's David is located. D and I had seen it before, but Tiny had not. I couldn't resist pointing out the Michelangelo purposefully made David's head and hands overly large, the net result being that David's pinky is larger than his penis. While there is no good explanation for this artistic choice, it is rather amusing. And before you think that I have some strange genetalia fixation, let me point out that the Italians are genetalia obsessed and that if the subject creeps into conversation, it is merely the natural result of continued exposure. As evidence, let me point to a strange fashion found in the crap kiosks all over Rome and Florence: bike shorts decorated solely with David's genetalia. David's genetalia being strategically placed on the shorts to line up with the wearer's genetalia. Sexy, yes? No! I defy anyone to find me a situation for which these shorts are appropriate.

Gentleman, I assure you that your girlfriend or boyfriend never, ever wants to see you in these shorts. They are as un-sexy a getup as I can imagine, and if anyone I know were to ever wear them, that would be, what I like to call, a "deal breaker". (NB: after hearing about these, my sister insisted that I buy her a pair. I was embarassed, but I obliged and the little shopman chuckled at my purchase.)

As further evidence of the pervasiveness of genetalia, I point to other works now on display at the Academia. With some foolish notion of artistic progress, the Academia is now exhibiting modern art in addition to the David and their other traditional works. My advice for them is to stop this practice immediately. Currently hanging directly across from the David is a large banner which depicts the back wall of the Sistine Chapel that shows the risen Christ with an upheld arm (here's a link if you can't picture what I'm talking about check this out).

There is one minor alteration however. Instead of Jesus, there is is an old man raising his arm. Who is naked. With an erect penis. You may not think this is traumatic, but I assure you it is. I couldn't find any info. on the piece, but I can only imagine that the naked man is the artist himself (who else could be the model?) and that he is very proud of his, ahem, piece. Er... work. Although he really shouldn't be.

Bad taste in art didn't disrupt the trip, what did jack it up is the fact that on my second day in Florence my bank had an internation meltdown and I could no longer get money out of the ATM. And then my credit card got declined -- i.e. it was all f*ed up too -- so there I was in Florence with no money. None. And when even water costs money this is DISASTROUS! I had to depend on D and Tiny, and they were very cool about the whole situation, but it sucked nonetheless. Tons of time was spent trying to get this situation straightened out, and as of yet I still don't have any money. My bank sucks so much that I am having to get my own money wired to me via western union.

Aside from being flat broke, I am also apparently give off the "whore of babylon" pheremones or equivalent thereof to Italian men. We went shopping in this giant market the other day and split up and this guy swooped in on me while I was shopping and grabbed my hand and told me I was beautiful blah blah blah. Here is the gist of our conversation:

Him: Are you here alone?

Me: No, with friends...

Him: Men friends or women friends?

Me: Women friends...

Him: Where are you staying?

Me: With friends (trying to wrench hand free now)

Him: You come back here with me, we go out tonight. (he touches my cheek) You think about this.

And then I ran away and felt bad in my squishy places.Of course I would have thought more about "it" if: a) he wasn't creepy b) he was good looking c) he was a purveyor of fine leather goods, instead of a purveyor of knock-off D&G belts. We all gotta have standards.

Market man's ickiness was surpased only by a an older, nastier man who I had the pleasure or riding with on a very crowded bus to the train station on the following day. We were smashed in and then I feel this someone pressed up behind me a little too close, but it's really crowded and I am thinking that I am paranoid because this is a very crowded bus. The bus gets less crowded and he is STILL on me like white on rice and begins rubbing his groinal area on my butt so I turn and give him my hip bone and am honestly ready to burst into tears because I am not sure if what I think is happening is happening (but it is) and I am so frazzled with my money situation and hotel problems that I am starting to get really upset.

But then more people get off and he walks away. I figure he must have got off, so I resume a more relaxed position waiting for our stop, and damn if he didn't somehow sneak back around behind me and is rubbing up against me again! And it takes me a second to realize it's the same fucking guy, but it is, and I am about to flip out...and then he gets off. And really, after that, I just wanted to sit in the train station, make a fort out of my baggage, and keep everyone away from me.Obviosly I am an easy target, but holy hell. I am about to get medieval on people. D thinks I give off a "nice" vibe which results in icky man situations, but she thinks I will channel all this rage into some new power.

I hope so, because there is still the train trip back to Siena. Half way there, we pick up this family with a special child. And by special I mean Corky, and by child I mean 30. His name is Giorgio. Giorgio likes to run up and down the train and yell things. Giorgio also likes to lift up his shirt so he can pull up his pants, as their current resting place at nipple height is apparently not high enough for Giorgio! Once his pants are sufficiently hiked up, the running and yelling begins again. Yay yelling! Yay Giorgio!

Then Giorgio will look at his train ticket and shout something at his mom (who has some hellified underarm hair). His mom in turn yells "Basta! Giorgio!" "Stop Giorgio!" I am kind of in-and-out awake wise while this is happening, and doing my best to block it all out as I have no nerves left. However, at one point I wake up and Giorgio's face is literally 2 inches from mine. I almost, in Candy Girl's words, "professionally flip my shit". Giorgio is about to bear the brunt of no money and two bad man encounters. But I check myself, hold it all inside like a champ, and cry on the inside. But you better damn well believe I don't go back to sleep.

So let's recap the weekend, shall we?

1) no money

2) molested

3) molested

4) Giorgio

5) still no money

Awesome. So we get back to Siena, and the girls and I go to dinner. I have retrieved my Amex from my dorm room where I left it and try to find a restaurant where I can pay with said credit card. After a few places are not fruitful, I remember a nice reastaurant and we walk there and for some strange reason I decided to be experimental in my dinner selection. I get something that sounds interesting -- cold basmati rice on carrots and cuccumber with sliced quail in a mustard sauce. It sounded delicious on the menu, but what I received was a nightmare. Sliced carrots and cuccumbers (so far so good), layered with cold rice (still ok) but then covered with avocado puree and diced radishes and then stuck in this circle of green goo is this tiny weird looking quail leg (not sliced!) and then the whole thing is covered with some clear gelatinous layer. It was, in a word, disgusting.

D made it all the better for feeling bad for the dismembered quail with its lone leg stuck crazily in the goo on my plate. damn bitch, you are not helping! But she bought me gelatto so it's all good.

Il Palio (The Europe Saga, Part III)

Weekend 1: Il Palio, Siena

So my first weekend in Siena they have this crazy race called il Palio, which is to Siena what Mardi Gras is to New Orleans. Siena is generally a sleepy little medieval town that though charming doesn't have too much happening. But leading up to the race and then following the race, this town goes bat shit crazy.

The race itself only lasts about 2 minutes as the jockeys ride the horses four laps around the main piazza, il campo. Which they do bareback,and it's incredibly dangerous. But really, it's not about the race. It's about all the crap around the race, which boils town to two components: taunting and man-pride. The race has been around since the medieval period and is taken very very seriously.

The way it works is this:
The city is divided into districts called contradas. I'm not sure how you join a contrada, there seems to have been discussion about being born/baptised into one as well as marrying -- I'm not quite clear on the rules -- but I am not doubt that there is some arcane business to it. These contradas are a BIG DEAL. Each one has specific colors, mascot, a flag, a song, etc. We were drafted into the contrada Onda (wave) because one of our visiting professors actually belongs to this contrada. So as I mentioned each contrada has a song, a mascot, etc. and in the week leading up to the race the men of these contradas will don traditional garb -- tights, wigs, velvet doublets, etc. -- and go marching through the streets with drums just representin'.

That's right, dressing like a 13th century courtier and beating on a drum is the ultimate in man pride, and marching through another contradas territory is the ultimate taunt. In this heat and with these crazy hills, that is commitment people! Anyway, ever since we got here all your here are damn drums beating all the time and with these stone corridors, you can never tell where they're coming from. You can be walking along all normally and the next thing you know you round the corner smack into a crazy ass man parade. I think probably the closest thing it resembles is being in the French Quarter during Southern Decadence -- small streets, odd music, and a shitload of men in strange outfits.

Contrada Dinner:
The night before the race, each contrada has a big outdoor dinner in its section of town. Not wanting to miss this experience, D, Tiny and I all bought tickets and attended with a large groups of students. I also purchased an Onda scarf, as did D's roommate Dana. I tied it to my purse to show my contrada support and we walked to the Il Casato where the other kids are staying to head out to the dinner. Out rolls this kid we call Pink Shirt, who is a complete dipshit, and he is wearing the scarf around his neck boyscout style and looks like an utter fool. And then Tiny delivers the most cutting insult of all time: she makes eye contact at me, looks at my scarf, and then looks at Pink Shirt with complete distain and loathing. Ouch! It was so damn funny I coudn't stop laughing and the fucktards were perplexed as to what had me so amused. After that I shoved the scarf in my purse. Can't align oneself with the tards now can we?

So we go to the dinner, and Tiny winds up sitting across from this person called "old lady" on the trip who is rather annoying. She is an old lady, and not much more need be said about her. At any rate, Tiny is apparently completely annoyed by this lady and hits the wine like it's mardi gras. Halfway through the meal her eyes are flying half mast and she has a goofy grin on her face (no worries, I walked her home and then finished my dinner). I on the other hand was seated across from Miss H -- you may remember her from such classes as Torts or Contracts II. Anyway, she is really cool. And the president of BALSA (the african american law student society). And she totally invited me to join, which is awesome, since I'm a cracker.

I apparently impressed her by drunkenly insulting other contradas--there is one that is a snail and I was like "what's their story? Oh, we're snail, watch out or we'll roll up with our house on our back! Snap!" Also since northern italy eats more pork products than I have ever encountered in my entire life, I thought there should be, in all fairness, a salami contrada. Anyway, Ms. H was in the army and can kill people. I told her she should mention that when a professor gives her the smack down, or at the very least should have a t-shirt made. She has taken these thoughts under advisement.

Most of dinner proceeded without incident, except that there were some speeches made very far away over a PA and our table kept talking, as did others. A certain student flipped and claimed she saw people glaring at us and made a big deal about how uncultured we were. Meanwhile that same person had quite earlier flipped out on her hotel personnel because she did not get a clean towel every single day. uh... The next day my friend said no one paid us any attention, and our visiting prof. was at the table with us and would surely have told us to shut up if we were bad, so I tend to believe that things were col pasetic. It was a lovely time :).

the blessing of the horse:
So to continue with an institution of bad ideas, these jokers also apparently bless these damn race horses before the race, actually dragging them into churches in the various districts-contradas. These horses are like supermodels -- bitchy and hungry, and don't you know they just *love* being dragged into a church. I didn't get to see this part, sadly, but I am sure it was utterly delightful and filled with hilarity. And horsie poop.

The actual race:
We were advised to get to the square at 1pm to get a good seat, but the race isn't until 7 and you know that's not how we roll. Instead we showed up at 4:45 right before the square was closed (it goes on lock down at 5pm) and joined up the the people who had gotten there much earler. Yeah, it's ghetto, but I don't give a rat's ass. We rocked it just like mardi gras, roll up late and bring lots of wine. Tiny and I fouind a place that sold wine in a box the day before (because no glass is allowed on a plaza) and we were pleasantly surprised by its tastiness. Go Italian box wine! To transport said wine, I found the perfect bag in the market that I can sling over my shoulder onto my hip -- I can carry like 50 pounds in this sucker. I have decided that if I have a kid, I am simply going to cut feet holes and stick him/her in this sack. No over priced worthless baby crap for me. This thing was made in India, it'll totally hold a baby!

So we have some drinks because honestly, these people are annoying. The other Americans have put their wine in waterbottles, lacking the party savy that Tiny, D, and I so clearly possess with our box wine. But I'm not talking the little water bottles, I'm talking the 1.5 litre bottles, oh yeah. So as you all know, in accordance with the law of conservation of matter, what goes in must come out. Now most boys were able to hold it, but there's one guy, who I like to call Beerstein, whose blatter can't take it. So he retrieves his water-wine bottle and sticks it indiscreetly under his shorts and relives himself. For a long time. 1.5 litres worth. He then proudly held aloft his full bottle of man-urine, and it was, clearly, an equally proud day a day for America. Nothing says "screw your culture" like a bottle of pee proudly displayed at a public event. American, fuck yeah!

Meanwhile, the race is still trying to get underway. There is no gate like there is at american horse races to line up the horses to get them to start, so literally hours are spent trying to get these bitchy horses in a line. They paw and prance and have false starts, and all the while you can't see a damn thing. And it goes on -- for hours (like I said). This seems like a good time to point out that the race is also fixed. Fixed in the Italian sense, which just means more of a clusterfuck. Apparently the jockeys make all kinds of deals during the week, as in "you block so and so" or "you help push so and so" but half the time these deals are not kept, so fixing doesn't really fix anything, it just complicates things in an ever so Italian way. The only result of the fixing is that the winning jockey has to pay out money to the other jockeys who may or may not have helped him.

Why not just run the damn race then you may ask? Good question. I suspect the answer has to do with the fact that this whole enterprise would not be nearly as much fun if there were less subterfuge and man b.s. A bit later I look over and Beerstein is sitting on Bigman's shoulders waving out contrada's flag (I can prove this happened as I have pictures). Onda, fuck yeah!

Finally, it's like 8:30 ish, my feet hurt, I have to pea, I hate people and FINALLY the horses run! Yay horsies! Run! Going around one of the corners, one jockey totally wipes out, his horse falls him and this in turn causes about 3 other horses and jockeys to go down. The guy looks totally dead and the medics come and rush him off the course, but the race continues. And then next thing you know, it's over. Do I know who won? No clue! Does it matter? Not in the least! As I mentioned before, the race is really just a formality. However, in keeping with the theme of this trip I am delighted to report that Tiny saw none of the race, the crowd being too tall. I suggested at one point that maybe she should ride on Bigman's shoulder like Beerstein did, but she just gave me a look that communiqued "No" quite clearly. Personally, I would have killed someone if I'd stood there for 4 hours for nothing, but then I am not as patient as Tiny.

As the race finishes, a tiny riot of the winning contrada breaks out and then this huge plaza starts to empty of people. Fortunately it emptied pretty quickly so I could find potty. I found out a couple of days later that the turtle contrada won the race, but I don't know what they're called in Italian. But the best part? They do this entire race again in August. I'm not sure how this fits into the year long scheme of taunting. Is one race more superior to the other race? Is there some secret third race which is winner take all, year-long bragging rights included? Who knows! It's like trying to explain American football to aliens. Just drink and enjoy and try not to think about it too hard.

Yay culture!