Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Main Event

That's right, I was in Kansas City for a wedding, wasn't I? A wedding which I, coincidentally, attended, which was handy, because I already had the dress. And the purse. And, most critically, the shoes.

The wedding in question was that of my friend Lisa (she of the apartment of the actual-Empire-State-building view) to her boyfriend Ryan, also known as "New York boy" or "Disco," depending on which side of the aisle you were sitting on. So it was that a passel* of Techers put on their nice clothes and descended on a charming, if ever so slightly under-air conditioned suburban church to cheer them on. The ceremony was lovely, (which I would say even if it wasn't, of course, but it was), with the traditional and personal mixed well and uncheesily. Lisa, being one of the approximately three people in the world who can actually pull off the long-grand-strapless wedding gown look was likewise (there's that word again) lovely. Even the bridesmaids looked nice, and I do believe a fine time was had by all.
(I will say, though, if you are really that offended by the presence of religious content in a religious ceremony, performed in a church, then perhaps you would be better to just skip straight to the reception.)

Speaking of which, the reception was held in the main branch of the Kansas City Public Library. No, really, the actual library, with all the books and everything. But it's also a big, grand, neo-classical (I think) building, with a main open area big enough for about a hundred and fifty people to eat dinner, dance and drink slightly too much. (I think I set a personal best for champagne consumption.) (Speaking of, I'm really sorry about that glass-- I swear, I barely brushed it.) What's more, it's very well air-conditioned, which was good because, as I discovered after the ceremony that my lovely, shoe-and-purse-matching dress had developed mysterious dark patches in the armpitular region. Not lovely. But they went away, not that I would have really minded by the end of the evening, what with all the champagne.

As for the rest, I will say only that there was dancing, there was eighties music and there were photographers, and I am somewhat concerned. I will keep you updated on further developments.


*Yes, passel.

Friday, August 22, 2008

What I Dream of Seeing, Someday, In the Course of an Olympics

A diver step to the edge of the ten-meter platform, position his feet, raise his arms, and scream, "Cannonball!"


I only had one clear plan on coming to Kansas City (aside from attending the weddings, which was kind of assumed) and that was to have some barbecue. I even brought my copy of Roadfood, but I didn't end up needing it. Because Lisa informed me that the place to go was Gates, and the thing to order was "barbecue beef in a bun." She also warned me to be ready when I got there, because they ask you right away for your order. She wasn't kidding.

I went to dinner with Ben and Beverly, who got in this afternoon and were the only other people I know here who aren't at the rehersal. Also they had a rental car and enjoy barbecue, so that worked out well.

We found the place thanks to Ben's fancy talking gps phone and sure enough, as soon as we were through the door the woman behind the counter called, demanded, really, "Hi, can I HELP you?" She said the same thing, the same way, to everyone who came in, a kind of combination of service and bullying. Thoroughly intimidated, I stammered out my beef/bun order, which she turned around and dreamed to at the kitchen. Somehow I also managed to acquire a root beer and pay. Ben and Beverly got a large plate of meat with a side of beans. I would estimate that, between us we had approximately eight and a half million calories. Good thing I worked out today.

If you're interested (and I know you are) Kansas City barbecue seems to be a beef-heavy affair, with a sauce that is thinner and less sweet than your standard potato chip flavor, with a distinct spiciness and a tendency to get all over your hands. It was, in your high-class foodie parlance, tasty.

After dinner we went to get frozen custards.

Kansas City State of Mind

What does a Californian do with a spare day in a Midwestern city? Answer: Anything she wants, provided all she wants is to wander around an outdoor mall until the heat and humidity get to be too much for her and she has to retreat to her hotel. Fortunately, that did happen to be what I wanted, so it worked out.

I'm rooming with Laura and Jora who are both bridesmaids and were therefore required to spend the day in their bridesmaidly duties, such as getting manicures, having brunch and sacrificing a goat to Impedimentia, goddess of large weddings. So I was on my own, at least until I remembered that David and Chiros were similarly unoccupied, so we went to lunch together, at a restaurant I chose because it looked popular. Unfortunately, what I didn't realize was that all those people weren't there because they liked it so much, they were everyone who had ordered food there since Tuesday.

After we ate (eventually), we went to find David a shirt to wear in his role as an usher tomorrow (sadly, sans hat) we split off, them to seek out a PA system and me to go shopping in exactly the same stores I shop in at home. (What? They have different stuff in their sale sections, ok?) That lasted until the atmospheric conditions finally got the best of me and, sweaty and frizzy-haired, I admitted defeat and took it inside. Then I changed into my workout gear and spent an hour on the hotel's stationary bike, because if you're going to be sweating that much, you might as well get some good out of it.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Midwestern Idyll

Yes, I'm travelling again, this time to Kansas City, cosmopolitan heart of the greater Kansas City area. I'm here for Lisa's wedding (you remember Lisa, right? The one with the apartment in New York), here on Saturday. It's a little different from my last travel experience; in terms of both neon sign and humidity levels. Flying in, it was like you just took off red glasses, everything looked so green.


Who I am Cheering For in the Olympics And How I Chose Them

Geographical Proximity:
2. Canada: USA! US-- OK, no. But close enough.
3. Mexico: North America! North America!

Personal Heritage:
4. Lithuania: Two great-grandparents. Not a huge contender, though surprisingly strong in, of all things, basketball.
5. Switzerland: One great-grandfather, distant relatives still living there. Seem to turn up in rowing and equestrian events.
6. Ireland: One great-great grandmother, but it's a dominant gene. Possibly moot, because I don't think I've seen them in any finals yet.
7. Britain: Pretty much all the rest of my ancestors. Still, hard for me to really get behind.

8. Any African or Caribbean team in a non-running event.
9. Any non-African or Caribbean team in a running event.
10. Any country that has never gotten a medal in an event before.
11. Japan: They seem nice.

And a few countries I am, unfairly or not, consistently rooting against:
1. Russia: Because I was a kid in the eighties and, even though they have faded as an Olympic power to something around the level of Austria, I still get a little thrill when they lose. Ungenerous? Maybe. But hey, guess who lost the Cold War? Suckers!
2. China: I feel a little bad about this one, because I'm pretty sure it's partially driven by NBC's desire to set up a rivalry at these games, because anger=ratings. But I still can't get behind them. Partly because of their almost Yankees-like determination to purchase as many gold medals as possible, and partly because I kind of suspect that if they thought they could find a way to attach a rocket pack to a three-year-old, the hundred meter dash would never be the same.
3. Germany: I just don't seem to like Germany.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Shiny Little Gymnast Butts

Lately, in what appears to be an unanticipated side-effect of watching way too much Olympics, I have been having a small problem with the random appearance of gymnast butts. Not that they're stalking me or something; I don't go through the day fearful that any moment a spandex-clad and unnervingly firm hind end will jump out at me from behind a cubicle. It's more like, you know when you played too much Tetris and every time you closed your eyes, you could still see the pieces falling? It's like that, only rounder.

I guess it could be worse. I could be haunted by the oddly (one might even say suspiciously) broad and manly shoulders on these little girls, or the deranged-stewardess smiles they paste on for the events, because it's not athletic if you're not smiling*.

But what I really want to know is, why doesn't this work with swimmer abs?

*Female athletes only.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Olympic Beavers

Today's Olympian Of The Day: Keith Beavers.

He is, of course, from Canada.

It's not that I'm here to take cheap shots at someone's name, I just wonder, what if that isn't a name so much as a descriptor? What if Canada, having run out of actual people to enter in the Olympic games, dressed a bunch of beavers up in a person suit and sent them? I'm sure the IOC would be fine with it, as long as they had convincing passports.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bo Burnham

We saw this guy open for Joel McHale in Vegas and his set was really funny, made more so by the appalled reactions of the nice ladies seated to either side of us, who just wanted to come and see that cute guy from The Soup. Let's just say he works kind of blue, and also very nerdy. (Sample joke, which is appropriate for the blog and which I believe I was one of three people in the audience to laugh at: "Whats the opposite of ln(x)? Duraflame, the unnatural log.")*

Anyway, here's the number he opened with, "My Whole Family Thinks I'm Gay":

My Whole Family Thinks I'm Gay - Hollywood Improv

*That one's from his song "New Math," which is so very NSFW. Just warning you here.

Monday, August 11, 2008

World's Worst Advertising Slogans: Bad Timing Division

Greyhound: "There's a reason you've never heard of 'bus rage'."

Olympics '08

Of course, it would happen that my (highly enjoyable) trip would coincide with the beginning of one of my other favorite things, the Summer Olympics. And since it didn't seem quite right to spend my vacation holed up in the room watching fencing, I put my faith in my Tivo and headed out. Which is why, apart from a few minutes seen in the lobby and the airport, I am only now starting to watch (so far: equestrian cross country eventing) and, considering that I have about fifty hours saved up, I have a feeling I'm going to miss a bit.

Of sleep, I mean.

Bullets From Vegas

Went to Las Vegas last weekend, where there was lots of sun but no free wireless. I'll try to do some in-depth posts covering as much as I can remember, but in the meantime, here are some bulleted highlights of the trip.

-A six am flight doesn't sound that early when you are booking it.
-Southwest ticketed check-in: not nearly as efficient as one would hope.
-Ghost towns aren't necessarily all that ghosty. But they can still be kind of cool.
-"Cool" is not a word that can otherwise be used to describe the Nevada desert in August.
-For the first time in recorded history, the sentence "Wow, we saved a lot of money by shopping at Whole Foods" was deployed with a total lack of irony.
-People who are playing the slot machines don't really look like they're having that much fun.
-If you spend enough time immersed in a world of tacky, a thirty-foot fake waterfall surrounded by desert-inappropriate plants can look positively restrained.
-It may give you comfort to know that there exists, in this great wide world of ours, a store devoted to Cher. Or it may not.
-Wolfgang Puck has a lot of restaurants in Las Vegas. And some of them are a leeetle bit more expensive than others.
-I bet thirty dollars on a UFC fight, won, and blew all my winnings on coffee and donuts. This would be the sum total of my vacation gambling experience.
-There doesn't seem to be a clear consensus as to what constitutes appropriate night out attire in Las Vegas.
-It is possible to construct an entertaining Magic-type game out of the cards distributed on the strip advertising the services of obliging young ladies. Rules to follow.
-Sometimes, fabulousness in shoes is more important than little details like being able to actually walk in them. And there is no shame in taking them off and coming back into your hotel barefoot.
-Okay, maybe there's a little bit of shame.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Ol' Man River

Saw the 1936 version of Show Boat last night, at the classics theater in Palo Alto. (I thought it was going to be the 1951 MGM version, because I'm not that careful about reading listings, but that's neither here nor there.) It was fun, if a bit inclined to melodrama and seriously cringe-inducing in places, but by far the showstopper was Paul Robeson singing Ol' Man River in the first act:

So good I could just listen to it all day. In fact, I think I might.