Posts Tagged ‘Superbuddies

12
Jul
11

A wonderful week with a wonderful girl

Erin and I have been together for quite some time now… since before the days when Facebook and Twitter (and now, I suppose, Google+) were hard at work keeping everybody appraised of what everybody else was doing at any given moment of the day. As a result, I sometimes worry that my compositions telling the world how we enjoy our adventures together have become redundant. But I enjoy telling and sharing, and I know Erin enjoys it as well. So while you may well know an awful lot of what I’m about to say if you follow us on those aforementioned social networking sites, that’s okay. It was worth living all over again.

  • Erin arrived on Sunday, July 3. This wasn’t a trip that was planned months in advance — just a few weeks ago, Erin realized she could sneak in a visit with me and my family in time for our annual Fourth of July extravaganza. Being an extravaganza on the Fourth, though, that meant there was an awful lot of work to do on the Third. After I picked Erin up from the airport and got us lunch, she was sweet enough to help my mother watch my niece, Maggie, while I joined my father, brother, and brother-in-law in assembling the tents for the barbecue and taking care of other such preparations. After it was all done, we went out for dinner and then headed our to the St. Charles Parish Independence Day Fireworks, held (as always) on July 3. We got there a little later than expected, however, and Erin and I joined my sister Heather, her husband Will, and little Maggie on the side of the interstate watching the fireworks from a distance. And despite some mosquito invasions, it was still great.
  • Monday was the bash. My family has had these barbecues for as long as I can remember, and once again Ama was flooded with Petits, Faucheuxs, and numerous other families that have married into or befriended ours over the years. There was — as always — way too much food, but there was an unexpected surprise this year. My family has done this for over 30 years, and on all but a handful of occasions, the event has been soaked by rain. This year: not a drop. So we all got to swim, there was a marathon Pictionary session, we ate several herds of grilled animals and several vats of homemade ice cream, and everybody went home happy.
  • On Tuesday, the excitement calmed down, Erin and I got down to a more conventional visit for us — beginning with helping to babysit Maggie while my sister was at work. Maggie was little more than a month old the last time Erin saw her, and now she’s close to nine months, so she was looking forward to playing with her again. She also introduced Maggie to her friend Wash T. Dynosaur, the traveling Apatosaurus. After Maggie settled down we headed out — I got Erin (and Wash) a snowball that matched the pendant I gave her for her birthday, we did a little shopping, and went to see what has become my favorite movie of the year so far — Super 8. I’ve seen it before, but Erin hadn’t, and she was very satisfied in her choice of film. (She also got some Raising Cane’s chicken, something she can’t yet get in her home state of Pennsylvania.)
  • Wednesday was the day we began to get adventurous. Erin, being more of a traveler than I am, was looking to do things we’d never done before. We decided on a tour of Destrehan Plantation, one of the many gorgeous old plantation houses that line the Mississippi River here in Louisiana. I’ve been to the Plantation many times for various events, but I don’t think I’d ever taken the tour before, so we both got an education before heading out for some more shopping (it was Wednesday, new comics had come out), then meeting up with my family for dinner at the Quarter View restaurant in Metairie.
  • Our adventures continued on Thursday as we traveled to Baton Rouge, a place Erin has wanted to go for some time. We realized early that we would have to do this again, as there were just too many things to do in that lovely city than we could accomplish in one day. We did manage to get lunch at Cheeburger Cheeburger, found a used bookstore Erin located online, and hit the Mall of Louisiana. Later, we met up with my brother Chip and his wife Kayla, who live in nearby Gonzales, and they took us to a great Mexican place for dinner. It was a great little visit, especially since (living in Gonzales as they do) they don’t get to join us as often as the rest of my family.
  • On Friday we headed into the French Quarter in New Orleans, something we’ve done many times before, but always enjoy. But my friends, I’ve got to tell you something. Friday… was… hot. I’m talking about “gallons of sweat cascading down your face” hot. After a few hours walking around and talking pictures of Wash at local landmarks, we headed off to the New Orleans Area for our next “new thing.” Will — an athletic trainer whose job happens to include working the New Orleans Voodoo arena football games — got us tickets to the team’s final home game of the season. We met up with Heather there, bought some dry Voodoo shirts to change into (we’d sweat through our other ones) and enjoyed the festivities. The Voodoo didn’t have a great season, but we had fun.
  • Saturday was the day we got together with my friends, something we try to do at least once each time she’s in town. We met up at Izzo’s Illegal Burrito (it’s as good as it sounds) before heading back down into the French Quarter. After a few hours of wandering around, we decided to find some place a little cooler and went into Harrah’s Casino in New Orleans. With our semi-regular Vegas trips, Erin and I are old hands at casinos, and we find we really do enjoy doing them together, especially when we come out ahead. The rest of our group didn’t fare as well as we did (sorry about losing that parking garage ticket, Mike), but we put in $20 and came out up $139. Not too bad. Afterwards, we all had dinner at a new TGI Friday’s that opened in Metairie — good food, but you could tell it was a new restaurant. The servers were overwhelmed. I’ll go back to the restaurant, but not for a few months.
  • Sunday was the day Erin went home, which is always sad, but was made worse in that she had an early flight. We managed to have lunch before I had to take her off to the airport and fare her well, but it wasn’t as bad as it sometimes is. We’re going to see each other again in just a couple of weeks, when we travel to Maine together for a friend’s wedding.

It was a great time, and as always, I’m left more in love with her than ever. If you spent a few minutes with her like I have, I know you’d feel the same.

Here are some photographic highlights of the trip. If you want, you can see more in my Flickr album: Family Summer 2011.

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15
Mar
11

Erin, Vegas, Love

Every time Erin and I have a trip together, be it in Louisiana, Pittsburgh, or someone else entirely, I’ve taken the time to write a detailed yarn about it afterwards. That’s gotten a bit harder to do as time goes by, not because my love for Erin has abated in the slightest (quite the opposite), but because it’s getting harder to think of new things to say. Also, thanks to Twitter and Facebook, I often feel like I’ve already covered everything that happened, such as on our trip to Las Vegas last week:

  • Sunday: Erin’s flight is delayed. As this happens on roughly 80 percent of the trips in which she flies, neither of us are surprised. It is a bit inconvenient, however, as we are supposed to be checked in to our hotel — the Stratosphere — by 11 p.m. and now we don’t have a chance to get there until 2 a.m.
  • Monday: We’re supposed to borrow a car from Erin’s dad for the trip, but he’s not feeling well and is unable to meet up with us. Instead, we take the ride to the top of the Stratosphere and take in the best view of Vegas, provided you aren’t afraid of heights, which I am. (I was actually okay up there for the most part, because it was enclosed. But I wasn’t getting too close to the glass…) Erin also succeeded here in getting shirts for both of her nieces, one of whom had put in an order for a purple shirt, the other for pink. That night, we caught a cab to the Strip where we met up with my friends Jason and Andrea, who also happened to be in Vegas that week. We walked the strip for a while, topping things off with a wonderful dinner in an Italian place in the Miracle Mile. It’s the only place in Vegas where you can have a classy Italian feast sitting “outside” of the restaurant, and look across the plaza to see a 20-foot fiberglass stripper.
  • Tuesday: Again, Erin’s dad was unavailable. We decided to rent a car, picked up Jason and Andrea, and went down to Fremont Street. This is “old” Vegas, with some of the classic casinos and joints, live musicians and street performers, and the world’s largest LCD screen overhead, flashing a musical show every hour on the hour. We went there last year and did it again this time, stopping in for a prime rib dinner at a place Jason found, and Erin found a stuffed puppy dog that we decided would be a perfect present for my niece, Maggie.
  • Wednesday: I’m a geek, which means that on Wednesdays I need to go to a comic shop, even in Las Vegas. After finally meeting up with her dad at the Stratosphere brunch buffet, Erin and I sought out a place we’d been to before called Maximum Comics, a very nice (and female-friendly) shop that’s a lot of fun to visit. It also helps that it’s only a couple of stores down from a place called Rocket Fizz, which is full of sodas and candies from all over the country, many I’d never heard of before and others I didn’t think were still in production. We also walked the Strip a bit more, with visits to two of my favorite shops, the Coca-Cola store and M&M’s World, where I picked up another Maggie present.
  • Thursday: We indulged Erin’s love of nature (which, I confess, is greater than mine) with a drive up to Red Rock Canyon. While I’ll never be a nature boy, this is a really lovely national park, with a fantastic visitor’s center well worth the trip before you begin the 13-mile drive through some of the most gorgeous mountains in the world. I’m led to believe that these mountains are also the 5th most popular destination for serious rock climbers. I’ll take their word for that. We made it back to the city in time for dinner with Erin’s dad, his wife, and Erin’s aunt and uncle. We capped off the night with a visit to the Rio hotel and casino, where we saw their “show in the sky” — a Mardi Gras-style parade with floats running along a track in the ceiling. As a New Orleans native, I was very impressed with the look of the floats, less impressed with the bead-throwing prowess of the performers.
  • Friday: Jason and Andrea were flying out Friday afternoon, so we met up that morning to catch a movie (Battle: Los Angeles, which actually wasn’t that bad) and have lunch at the Orleans casino. We then bid them farewell and went on for our longest day on the strip — and also our most profitable. We won small amounts of money at the Imperial Palace and Paris Casinos, the latter of which included me showing Erin how to play roulette. We only won $10 at the roulette table, but it was a lot of fun regardless. We began a system of playing the same $20, cashing out any time we went over $30, pocketing the difference and continuing on with just the original $20. By the end of the night, we were up about $70, which we decided to put towards dinner at the strip’s newest restaurant, the Sugar Factory. After putting in our orders, we were told that there was a “wrinkle” in the kitchen and the restaurant couldn’t serve any hot food. It’s a good thing this place also has a candy store, because a restaurant that can’t cook won’t last long. Erin, whose heart had been set on the chocolate fondue dessert, was understandably disappointed, but cheered up when we got to Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, which featured great food, strong drinks, the best waiter we’d had on our whole trip, and a great live band performing.
  • Saturday: On our last day in Vegas, we checked out of the Stratosphere and then took our our still-viable $20 from the night before, playing a bit more. Erin wound up closing the trip winning $42 on a “Deal or No Deal” machine and we decided to quit while we were ahead. Our flights weren’t until that evening, so we had time to do a lot of things we still wanted — lunch at The Egg and I (our favorite breakfast/brunch place in Vegas), a search for a second comic shop (which was a little disappointing), one last trip to the Coke Store and M&M’s World (where I finally got to see the free 3-D movie, something that had evaded me in the last three visits), and a bit of cruising which brought us to a Disney Character Store, where remainders from Disneyland were sent and sold at a discount. We’re going to have to go there again. Finally, we made it to the airport where — fortunately — we were both flying out of the same concourse. For the first time, we got to go to the gate together and I kissed her goodbye before going back my own flight, a red eye about two hours later.

This is the short version of the story, of course. It was a wonderful trip, and I’ve got a ton of pictures to share. I’ll include a slideshow here and send you on to my Flickr album as well. But I’m not quite done yet. Erin and I have one more tradition that we’ve done on every visit we’ve ever had: we write each other notes. It started on our first trip, where I wrote her a little letter and left it for her to read, and she did the same for me. Since then it’s become a tradition. The problem with having all day together on the last day of the trip is that neither of us remembered to do it in secret until we realized we’d have no other time to do anything in secret. So I promised her I’d send her one later.

I started to write it here, to let the world to see, because I thought that would be a romantic gesture. Halfway through it, I stopped because I realized it’s too personal. It’s just for us. But here’s the gist of it:

I love Erin more than anything or anyone I’ve ever known, I’m thankful every day that she’s a part of my life, and everything in my world is better because she’s in it.

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Even more pictures available in my Flickr album.

30
Nov
10

Thanksgiving Week With Erin

IMG_0396It’s incredible, really, how much things can change in a short period of time. When Erin and I first got together, I began the tradition of marking each of our visits with one another with a photoblog, first on my old LiveJournal, and now here. But thanks to Twitter, Facebook, and FourSquare, it seems likely that most of you actually followed along with us as the events happened. But Erin and I love having this sort of record of our time together, so I hope you’ll all indulge me as I talk about how we spent last week, the week of Thanksgiving, together.

IMG_0083Erin came in on Sunday and, as you may imagine, immediately wanted to see my sister Heather and her new baby, Maggie. Erin has of course been following the Keller family online, but she was anxious to see the baby in person. And really, who can blame her? The kid is damned cute. She’s already mastered the art of picking up her head and looking at you. She has not, however, gotten the hang of putting her head back down again. Fortunately, neither Erin nor I, nor Maggie’s parents, typically wear sharp objects, so there’s little danger of her hurting herself when her little head invariably flops down on whoever is lucky enough to be holding her at the moment. We went out for dinner with the family Sunday night, where Heather and Will joined Erin and I, plus my parents, as we sat down for a meal at a restaurant and proved that we were all perfectly damn happy watching the baby sleep in her car seat at the end of the table.

The next day, Erin and I went out for lunch at Izzo’s Illegal Burrito, a delicious little place I’ve been telling her about for some months, then caught a screening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. Erin was seeing the movie for the second time, but I was going in fresh. We both enjoyed the movie quite a bit. Afterwards, we did a little shopping and headed home. We weren’t looking for a busy night, since the next day was supposed to be packed. On Tuesday, we loaded up and drove across Lake Pontchartrain so Erin and I could do something we’ve been planning for quite some time — a tour of the Abita Brewing Company in Abita Springs, Louisiana. Erin loves this Louisiana-based beer, and in fact the only commercially-available beer I’ve ever found that I actually like is an Abita product (their seasonal Strawberry Harvest blend, which typically means I can only drink beer for a brief window between March and June). We had a great lunch at the Abita Brew Pub (their original facility, now a restaurant) before going to the factory, where we made a startling discovery. Erin claims that I didn’t read the website properly before we left home that morning, but my version of the story is a little different. I believe that we suffered a sudden, spontaneous power surge which briefly allowed our wireless router to actually pierce the internet veil of a parallel universe — one almost identical to our own but with one crucial difference: in this parallel universe, unlike our own, the Abita Brewing Company offers tours of its facility on Tuesdays. In our dimension, however, it does not. We decided to return on Friday.

Wednesday was a big day for us, thanks to some smart thinking by my buddy Jason. He and his wife Andrea asked us to accompany them on the New Orleans Cocktail Tour, a great afternoon featured by Gray Line tours. This is a walking tour of the French Quarter, where the guide takes you to several notable bars and restaurants and tells you the history of the building and the company, as well as some of their signature drinks. He also stops at various places along the way, giving you more great information. What makes the tour even better is the fact that there are so many places in New Orleans that are a part of it — the tour is pretty much never the same four stops twice, making it the sort of thing you can do over and over again and not get bored. Our little group visited the following spots:

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Muriel’s French Quarter, a lovely restaurant that we’ve sworn to come to some time for lunch. The place is gorgeous and has a really interesting history, including one of New Orleans’ legendary ghosts. It also has two really good drinks, the Pimm’s Cup and the Fleur De Lis:

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Next was the Court of Two Sisters…

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…another fantastic establishment which supposedly features a famous brunch buffet that Erin and I, again, have sworn to partake of in the future. Here, I tasted a traditional Mint Julep, while Erin got (what I think we both agreed was) the best drink on the tour, the Bayou Blast:

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Next was Arnaud’s, the sort of restaurant I’d love to visit, but I wouldn’t want to spend the money on. It’s a bit more highbrow than my usual fare. It does, however, have a more reasonably-priced adjoining restaurant, Remoulade’s, which is where the four of his had dinner after the tour ended. And the food was great.

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We had drinks at their bar, the French 75. Our drinks included, appropriately, the French 75 and the New Orleans standard Sazerac:

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I was still feeling the Sazerac when we made our last stop at the Bombay Club, a great Martini Bar that featured a live jazz band and an array of dessert-based martinis.

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I didn’t want to drink anymore, but I tasted both of Erin’s Martinis, and I approved of both the German Chocolate and the Mistress (a non-cream based sweet with a Hershey’s Kiss at the bottom):

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With the tour over, we walked back to Remoulade’s for dinner then continued walking New Orleans for a while, Jason showing Erin places she missed and eventually taking us back to a place he’d gone to on a previous tour, Tony Seville’s Pirate Alley Cafe:

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This quaint little place was right next door to St. Louis Cathedral and embraced its Pirate theme wholeheartedly. I got Erin the book our tour guide had written about New Orleans bars, History With a Twist, Lemon and Lime, and Jason treated her to her first drink of real (and, may I add, totally legal in Louisiana) Absinthe:

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I tasted this one too, and may I say, Oh my GOD, what the HELL are you people thinking sweet mother of God I understand now why this drink was illegal until three years ago! In other words, it was kind of strong.

Thursday, of course, was Thanksgiving. We watched the parade together, while Erin sweetly allowed me to catch up on the NaNoWriMo writing I didn’t get to do the previous day, and then it was off to spend the day with family. As always, we spent the afternoon with the Petit clan, including my father’s brothers and sisters and their children, then in the evening we went on to my mother’s family, the Faucheux clan. In both cases, most of the photo opportunities mainly involved passing around my niece like a hot potato nobody wanted to get rid of…

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Perhaps the crowning achievement of the night, photographically, was getting my grandmother, mother, sister and niece together for a picture of four generations of Faucheux women:

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IMG_0316Friday was take two on our effort to visit the Abita Brewery. This time, my internet browser was functioning properly and we got there on a day which actually did feature a tour. Or, as my cousin Jennifer remarked, “an excuse to drink free beer.” When you arrive for the tour, which is free, you’re escorted to the bar, where you can taste Abita’s regular brews for free. Again, not being much of a beer drinker, I opted for their fantastic root beer.

Once everybody was checked in — and I do mean everbody, this tour was packed — we were shown an informative video about how beer is made before the tour began. Now I want to reiterate, I really did have fun, so the snarkiness inherent in my description of the tour should not be misinterpreted as a warning not to attend. Basically, all that happens on the tour is that you’re taken into a room full of vats of various liquids that are on their way to turning into beer. Then, the guide tells you how beer is made, which of course was also explained to you in the video you just watched. You then return to the bar for more samples. Fun? Yes. But in terms of expediency, the guide could simply have said, “Remember that video you just watched? This is where we do that stuff.”

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The tour over, we returned to New Orleans for dinner at Star Steak and Lobster house, a fantastic little place Erin found on Restaurants.com, and a little more shopping, before heading home. Saturday again featured family/Maggie time, as we watched the little one while Heather and Will had lunch. It was during this time that I took the greatest photograph I, or anybody else, has ever taken:

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It’s the face Maggie is making, I think. I mean, look at that face. Every time I see this picture I start giggling. Is it just because I’m a new uncle? Because if that’s the case, I’m okay with that. Seriously, guys, I totally recommend becoming an uncle, provided that your niece is as cute as mine, which I’m sorry to tell you probably isn’t possible.

Oh, and just in case you think Uncle Blake didn’t sneak in some time holding Maggie…

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After lunch, we met up again with Jason and Andrea, as well as Mike and Nicole, Daniel and Lauren, and a last-minute addition (as he just got in from working offshore that afternoon) Kenny for a screening of Disney’s Tangled. The general consensus was that the movie was pretty good. If you want more details, may I recommend that you check out the review we recorded of this film and Harry Potter for the 2 in 1 Showcase Podcast?

After the film, we all headed out to Christmas in the Oaks at New Orleans City Park. You may recall that Erin and I went there back in January, shortly after New Year’s, which gives us the distinct pleasure of having attended the event twice in 2010, neither of which was in December. If you don’t know what this event is, it’s the NOLA version of the grand outdoor Christmas Lighting display. The lights take up a large section of the park, although sadly, still not as large a section as it did before Hurricane Katrina. Still, we all had a great time, especially Kenny, who in this photograph looks like he’s standing in the front because he’s hired all of us to be his top-secret squad of Ninja Assassins. This is silly, of course, as I am the only certified Ninja in the group.

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From left: Andrea, Jason, Me, Erin, Kenny, Mike, Nicole, Lauren, and Daniel. That big red thing in the background is a tree made of Poinsetta flowers. Not pictured: a large mound of stray cats who nibbled on the tree and had to be carted off with a rake.

 

IMG_0444On Sunday, as sadly happens, Erin went home and I went back to missing her. I think sometimes that the rarity of our time together makes it more precious, and I think that’s fair. But I’m still looking forward to the day (the approaching day, I should add) where our time together isn’t limited to short trips, and instead becomes a way of life. I love you, sweetheart.

Kenny, I just think you’re nice.

These are, of course, only a few of the pictures we took last week. If you want to see the rest of them, they’re all uploaded to my Flickr album: Thanksgiving Week 2010.

09
Nov
10

Time Travel Tuesdays: How the Men Recharge

Back in the dark days before Erin, a frequent topic of conversation in my Think About It column was my utterly inadequate performance with women. It was therapy in the worst way. Another topic which has stayed with me over the years are the various ways I find to relax on those rare occasions I find an opportunity to relax. This classic column, from May 21, 2003, combines both of those topics in one dandy package.

How the Men Recharge

I don’t know how you women out there do it, but when the time comes for men to recharge their power cells, there’s one thing that works better than everything else — time with the guys.

Every so often we need a male bonding, testosterone-inducing, estrogen-free atmosphere in which we can kick back, relax, and spend a preposterous amount of time talking about women. I did such a thing last weekend when I joined two of my best friends, James and Jason, for a weekend in Biloxi, Miss.

Jason is a member of some long organization with lots of initials that was having its convention this week, so he conjured up the plan to go a couple of days early and have James and I hang out with him. I’ve been to Biloxi many times in my life, but this is the first time I’ve ever driven there myself, and consequently, the first time I’ve ever really been able to take in the scenery. I’m not talking here about the blue, cresting ocean or the white, sandy beaches or even the scantily-clad women prowling the two. No, I was amazed by the number of giant fiberglass animals that adorn storefronts there. You want to buy beachwear? Take a walk through the enormous shark’s mouth! Need a Biloxi snowglobe or painted pet rock? Right under the giant alligator, my friend. Want the best Italian food on the beach? It’s right under the sign with the gorilla on it!

After driving past this menagerie and approximately 17 billion Waffle Houses (the good people of Biloxi evidently really like their waffles), we arrived at the hotel. After recuperating from the drive, which wouldn’t have been so bad except that it was somewhere around 105 degrees outside (rough estimate), Jason suggested we hit the casinos, which I knew had secretly been his plan all along.

I’m not a gambler, my friends. I am cursed with a strange affliction, a combination of horrible luck and incredible timing. This means that bad things happen to me, but only at the funniest possible moment. I could walk underneath a ladder with a paint can 13 times holding a black cat and nothing would happen, but the instant a brown-eyed lass I’d been flirting with walks by, the paint will fall and I would match the side of the building. Games of chance are not for me.

But we went into the casino anyway and, not wanting to look like a dork while my friends played, I relented and slipped a ten into one of the slot machines. I pushed the button a few times, a little disappointed that the lever is apparently obsolete, then the machine started making weird noises. “What happened?” I asked Jason.

He leaned over and looked. “You just won $75,” he said.

I got worried immediately. There are things going on in my life right now that will require a certain degree of luck, and I’d hate to think I blew my allotment on a slot machine.

Fortunately, none of us felt like gambling for long and we retreated to the restaurant in the casino for dinner. I’m not a beer drinker, but Jason is constantly giving me advice as to which ones I would like. Thus far, he has always been incorrect. I tasted one such beverage that I hated, so he told me to try something called a “Biloxi Blonde.”

“That’s one of my favorites,” said our waitress, a redhead named Cassie. Trusting Cassie’s judgment more than Jason’s, I ordered one. I took a sip, looked at her and said, “Yeah, this is better.”

She smiled and left, at which point I turned to my friends and said, “This tastes terrible.”

“Then why did you say you liked it?” James asked.

“Well, I didn’t want to hurt her feelings…”

The bill arrived, and for all three of us, the size of the tip is directly proportionate to how cute the waitress is. I don’t know what we think is going to happen — no waitress has ever chased Jason down in a parking lot and screamed, “You gave me a $5 tip on an $11 tab — I must bear your children!” Still, we do it anyway.

James gave up trying to calculate an appropriate tip first and just announced he was giving her $7. Jason, who is afraid of math even when the credit card company has to do it, rounded the tip so he’d have an even number, which resulted in him giving her $7.02.

I would not be defeated by those two.

“Gimme that check,” I said, grabbing my own bill and, under gratuity, proudly scribbling, “$7.03.”

I won,” I said to the others.

I wish I could have been there when Cassie saw her tip. “Look at this, this guy left me $7.03. No, the chubby guy, the one who lied about liking the beer. You think I could still catch him in the parking lot?”

So in all, she made $21.05 off three guys who were out for a weekend to hang with the boys, which somehow seems like it bears a degree of cosmic justice. Overall, though, it was fun. We should do it again sometime.

But I’m only going to the slot machines again if my life, at the moment, happens to suck.

Blake M. Petit was fully recharged until he got into his car to drive home and realized it was hot enough to bake bread in there. So he got a wad of banana nut dough for the ride home. Contact him with comments, suggestions or the number of that gambling help-line just in case at BlakeMPetit@gmail.com

05
Oct
10

Halloween Party: Bumpy Things in the Night or Something

Time Travel Tuesdays are not immune to the Think About It Central Halloween Party, friends! Back in the bygone days of my newspaper career, I would have to write my columns somewhat ahead of time to have them appear in Saturday’s paper — no later than Thursday morning, in most cases. This made it difficult to discuss what I did on Halloween when it occurred on a Friday. So let’s head back to November 1, 2003, the dark days B.E. (before Erin) when I pre-capped my Halloween for the readers of Everything But Imaginary…

Nov. 1, 2003

Bumpy things in the night or something

Well friends, another Halloween has come and gone. You adults out there are all tired and recovering from last night’s festivities. You kids are gathering up all the teeth that fell out of your mouth after eating your entire haul of Halloween candy 12 minutes after you got home last night. Everyone had a good time.
I’ve always loved Halloween, myself. The chance to cast yourself in a role utterly unlike yourself for a few hours, to take on an entirely different persona, to mold and transform into a ghoul or a beast, a phantasm or a wailing banshee — it’s simply too great to resist!

This year, of course, I was Fred Flintstone.

I’d love to tell you how great my Halloween was, folks, but it’s a sad fact of the publishing world that I had to write this column long before any of the actual Halloween festivities, by which I mean the party thrown by my friend Jenny and her sister Katie, had taken place. I’m certain I had a good time, though. In fact, if the party was as good as one would expect, knowing Jenny’s fiance Chase as I do, I’m probably still sleeping under a pile of carpet remnants somewhere as you read this. Nevertheless, I know Chase and Jenny well enough to explain to you how I fully expect the party will go. So here, for your reading edification, is Blake’s Halloween 2003: The Pre-cap.

• 4 p.m. I meet up with my buddy Chase at BSI Comics in Metairie. Chase attempts to convince me to change into our Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble costumes right there in the parking lot. I decline.

• 5 p.m. After purchasing this week’s comics (and getting into a brief spat with the manager after I explain to him I’m buying less because, now that I’m writing reviews at Comixtreme.com, I’m getting a lot of these comics free now), I follow Chase to Jenny and Katie’s apartment.

• 6 p.m. Chase and I change into our costumes. Jenny and Katie are already in their “Pirates of the Carribean” outfits. I say a brief word of thanks that Jenny managed to talk Chase out of his original costume choice: pirate wench. Halloween is supposed to be scary, sure, but not that scary.

• 6:30 p.m. Jenny suggests we take a trip through a nearby Haunted House before the party really gets into gear. She and Katie come out giggling and commenting on the cheesy effects, I come out trembling like Jell-O in a hurricane and Chase comes out swearing he’ll never drink again.

• 6:45 p.m. Chase opens his first beer.

• 7 p.m. A group of Trick-or-Treaters come to the door. Chase, enjoying his Barney Rubble costume, makes a joke about attempting to “steal their Pebbles.”

• 7:30 p.m. Jenny and I, having pooled all available cash, bail Chase out of jail and swear to appear before the judge next week to testify that he was just acting out a part and should certainly not be added to yet another federal database.

• 8 p.m. The other guests begin arriving at the party. Many of them, I notice, are attractive, single-type females. I decide I will use this evening to charm them with my rapier wit, my sly, confident demeanor, and my undeniably appealing presence.

• 8:01 p.m. I trip over the hem of my Fred Flintstone costume and fall face-first into the bean dip.

• 9 p.m. Someone shows up in what we all declare is the most original costume of the night: the Cubs fan that snagged that fly ball and screwed up the game against the Marlins.

• 9:15 p.m. Katie figures out that person is, in fact, the Cubs fan that screwed up the game and has been fleeing ever since from a pack of rabid baseball-lovers, players and Fox Sports executives, and is actually only passing through New Orleans in an effort to make it to Miami and claim political asylum.

• 10 p.m. Chase, on his third beer by now, grabs someone in a green ogre costume, starts calling him “The Great Gazoo” and demands that he grant his wish to create a giant chocolate pudding wrestling ring in the middle of the living room.

• 11 p.m. Someone reaches the precise point of inebriation where it becomes funny to start shouting, “Cheese it! It’s the cops!” every 15 seconds. Chase challenges him to a pudding wrestling match.

• 12 a.m. Determined to redeem myself, I begin attempting to prove to all present that Fred Flintstone is, in fact, a dancing machine. I get my tie caught in the CD player.

• 1 a.m. Having abandoned all pretense of dignity, I begin speaking to random women and make jokes like, “So Wilma’s out of town tonight, heh-heh…”

• 1:01 a.m. I begin looking for a pile of carpet remnants to hide under.

Blake M. Petit thinks, next year, he’ll wear a dog costume. Women love dogs, right? Contact him with comments, suggestions or some of those new Stainmaster swatches at BlakeMPetit@gmail.com

11
Sep
10

When Geek Worlds Collide

Submitted without comment.

11
May
10

Time Travel Tuesday: The Three Geeks Go to Chicago

Hello, friends, and welcome to Time Travel Tuesday, a new feature here at Evertime Realms. Last weekend I was talking to my buddy Mike “Technodunce” Bellamy, who was fondly reminiscing about a series of columns I wrote several years ago about a trip he and I took with my old roommate, James, to the Wizard World Chicago comic convention in 2002. The conversation (as most things should) made me think of Thom Zahler, creator of the exquisite comic book series Love and Capes. On his own blog, Zahler hosts “Wayback Wednesdays,” a feature where he presents vintage artwork from his files, and I thought I might try something like that here. I’ve got tons of old Think About It and Everything But Imaginary columns sitting here on the old hard drive, plus other short stories, articles, and pieces that haven’t seen the light of day in many a year. So I’ve decided to begin spending most Tuesdays giving you guys a blast from the past. These will include various internet pieces and my former newspaper column. I’ve got most of my columns from my professional paper days saved, but sadly, I don’t have a lot of the columns I wrote for my old college paper, The Nicholls Worth. (If anyone out there happens to have some old papers and would be willing to scan those in and send ‘em to me, I would be greatly appreciative.) Also, since I was much younger when I wrote many of these, I reserve the right to tweak wording, add contemporary comments, or polish things up to make them funnier. (I will not, however, polish things to make myself seem less of a dork. I do have standards.)

And since it was Mike who got me thinking about this, I decided to start with the three-part column that he was remembering. So here we go, friends, all three classic Think About It pieces that chronicled my first-ever trip to a major comic convention.

The Three Geeks go to Chicago (Part One)

Published on July 13, 2002

It never takes as long as they claim.

That’s the first thing I want you Highly Educated Readers to remember as I embark upon the epic tale of my journey to Chicago – along with my Squires Sir James the Geek and Sir Mike the Bald, we rode with the desert wind on what we expected to be a 19-hour drive to the annual Wizard World comic convention.

Of course, things never go as they plan.

JULY 4, 2002

• 12:42 p.m. The three of us finally assembled, we leave. We then stop because Mike forgot to close the trunk, and leave again 30 seconds later. We ride with the desert wind.

• 1:29 p.m. While riding with the desert wind, we realize we missed the exit onto I-55, meaning we’re going to have to detour through Baton Rouge and add probably an hour of drive-time. Good for us.

• 4:20 p.m. While reading the map, I notice many icons that resemble a question mark. My confidence in our navigational document is immediately shaken.

• 7:11 p.m. A particularly poorly designed intersection in Arkansas nearly destroys us. I feel slightly better about the state of roads in Louisiana.

• 8:31 p.m. Mike announces that being bitter makes him happy. I examine the atlas to see where the nearest convenient mental ward may be, but we’re still 250 miles from St. Louis. [2010 note: this is still Mike’s default emotional setting.]

• 8:57 p.m. We begin seeing Independence Day fireworks in the distance. A tear comes to my eye, not unlike the way I feel about that episode of The Simpsons where the American Embassy in Australia has a device to make the toilet water spin in the proper, American counter-clockwise direction.

• 11:21 p.m. In Festus, Missouri, we realize we are far closer to our goal of Chicago than we expected. James observes that maybe the reason comic book and sci-fi fans have a reputation as being the great unwashed is just because they get to the convention before they can check into their hotels and take showers.

JULY 5 , 2002

• 12:20 a.m. Realizing we have a mere 273 miles to go and yet about 15 hours until our hotel check-in time, we stop at a Super 8 motel in Troy, Illinois to snag a few hours of sleep. Upon inspecting the room carefully, I am satisfied both that it is Super and that chances are there are eight of something in there.

• 12:45 a.m. James lies down in the hotel bed and makes a complaint about the fluffiness factor of the pillow. Seconds later he is comatose.

• 5:36 a.m. We get our wake-up call. My opinion of the “Super” factor in the Super 8 motel is greatly diminished when I realize they have provided us with no shampoo, let alone a little octet of the said bottles.

• 6:25 a.m. We avail ourselves of the continental breakfast. My bowl of Star Wars Episode II: The Cereal and cup of apple juice satisfy me in that it is, indeed, a breakfast, and that we were on a continent the last time I checked.

• 6:40 a.m. We ride. We ride with the desert wind.

• 8:50 a.m. We stop at a Cracker Barrel for a breakfast which contains far more measurable quantities of actual food than we obtained at the Super 8. I am overwhelmed by the sheer down-home country atmosphere. Damn them for having so many delectable choices. Damn them for making my mouth water so.

• 10:53 a.m. We find ourselves behind a red Caravan proudly displaying a license plate that reads “Fun Fo 2.” As James observes: I suppose it is.

• 10:56 a.m. Billy Joel appears on the CD player performing the theme to Bosom Buddies. We all enjoy this more than is probably healthy.

• 11:24 a.m. We have officially driven 1,000 miles, the majority of them in the right direction. The peasants rejoice.

• 11:40 a.m. We arrive at the first of a billion tollbooths in the Chicago area. I advise James, who is driving, to hurl the coins into the slot without slowing down. The pansy refuses.

• 12:05 p.m. Due to utter incompetence on behalf of certain drivers in the state of Illinois, proving Louisiana does not have a monopoly, we miss our exit. I have the atlas in my hands. “We are now outside the scope of our directions with Blake as navigator,” James says. “We’re doomed.”

• 12:23 p.m. We correct our earlier error. Everybody is stunned that I seem to have charted an alternate course that worked.

• 12:34 p.m. Having made a loop of O’Hare airport, we determine I should have sent James east on 190 instead of west. The cosmic balance is restored.

• 12:36 p.m. We finally spot our hotel. You’ve never before heard three grown men scream “Hyatt!” in voices only audible to dogs and Superman. The convention, for us, begins…

Blake M. Petit made it back alive, but in order to find out how, you’ll have to come back next week. Contact him with comments, suggestions or fresh tires at BlakeMPetit@gmail.com.

Part Two: Synthetic Kryptonite and duck comics

Published on July 20, 2002

Last week in this column I brought you the epic tale of three intrepid young men daring the terrors of the open road and the goodness of Cracker Barrel to journey to the annual Wizard World comic book convention. This week, we continue that journey. If you missed last week, shame on you.

JULY 5, 2002 (Continued)

• 1:20 p.m. We three enter the convention, a sheer geek’s Heaven, each with a specific goal. James is intent on winning the Lord of the Rings card game tournament, as well as procuring a souvenir from the CrossGen Comics booth for the cute checkout girl at his local comic shop. Mike is seeking a Superman poster by artist Alex Ross and I’m trying to find the nine Don Rosa Uncle Scrooge comics I need to complete my collection. That’s how we roll.

• 1:59 p.m. I find my first Don Rosa comic. Nirvana achieved.

• 3:30 p.m. My cell phone rings. It’s my buddy Kalon. “Hey,” he says, “I was calling to see if you felt like getting together tonight. Where are you?”

“Chicago,” I say, “But let me see if Mike thinks we can make it…”

• 4:43 p.m. James materializes behind Mike and I at the Dreamwave Studios booth. He lost Round 3 of the tournament, but can still take second place overall if he wins Round 4. Displaying the courage of the lion and the reflexes of a skinny guy who’s just plain good at cards, he battles on, eventually winning.

• 5:03 p.m. Mike and I attend a panel discussion with DC comics editor Eddie Berganza, writer Geoff Johns and artist Leonard Kirk. I realize how much Louisiana is in my blood when I am the only person to “woo-hoo” during the introductions.

• 5:41 p.m. Mike tries to take Johns to task for the accents he writes in the Louisiana-based Hawkman comic. Johns reveals that his fiancé is from Baton Rouge and she’s been coaching him. Mike sits down.

• 6:31 p.m. We go to the information booth to ask recommendations about somewhere to go for dinner. “I realize this isn’t technically your job,” I say to the girl, “but we’re from New Orleans and we’re totally lost.” The girl nods. “We’re from New York,” she replies.

• 7:50 p.m. We have eaten a satisfying meal at the hotel restaurant. While leaving I hear a father tell his small child, “Anakin, calm down.” Truly, we are in a geek’s Mecca.

• 8:00 p.m. Mike and I attend the Wizard Fan Awards. It begins with five people dressed like superheroes entering the hall and dancing to “Whoop, There It Is.” The Hulk moons the audience. The green body paint, I reluctantly notice, does not go all the way down.

JULY 6, 2002

• 9:24 a.m. We try to convince James to take a picture of the CrossGen comics guys eating breakfast in the hotel restaurant. “Tell them it’s for the cute checkout girl!” I exclaim. “They’re all geeks at heart! They’ll understand!” James, the pansy, declines.

• 11:20 a.m. After talking to artist Leonard Kirk for a few minutes, Mike and I each purchase a piece of original art from the Supergirl comic. It’s considerably more than I’d intended to spend on any one item, but it’s a beautiful page, Kirk is a heck of a nice guy and we want to help him pay the rent this month.

• 12:23 p.m. I introduce myself to Maggie Thompson, editor-in-chief of the Comics Buyer’s Guide, and give her a copy of my novel (Other People’s Heroes, [then] available for $13.95 on Amazon.com) in the hopes of getting a review. Now I’ll be sitting on edge for months waiting to see if one actually materializes. [2010 note: it did, and it was highly complementary.]

• 1:25 p.m. Wandering the dealer area I encounter a sight that leaves me in absolute awe. We drove 1,000 miles through hardship and toil and where do I find myself? At the booth for Crescent City Comics on Elysian Fields in New Orleans. There is some major irony at work here.

• 2:30 p.m. The first of three panels I want to attend begins – “The 10 Worst Mistakes a Writer Can Make” with Mark Waid. There is literally nowhere to sit. Waid walks into the room, looks at the crowd and says, “Is there nothing else going on at 2:30?”

• 5:05 p.m. I meet Mike at the DC Comics slideshow panel. James, he informs me, is running around trying to get every CrossGen Comics creator to sign a T-shirt for the cute checkout girl. We may never see him again. [2010 Note: The irony is, while we did see James again, CrossGen Comics would soon collapse under its own weight.]

• 5:20 p.m. The slideshow comes around to action figures based on the Smallville TV show. The announcer says the Lana Lang figure will come with a synthetic Kryptonite necklace. The fact that she stresses “synthetic” gives me a great amount of relief.

• 6:00 p.m. Day two ends. The adventure continues…

Blake M. Petit will conclude this legendary tale next week. So wake up. Contact him with comments, suggestions or a neuralizer to wipe the image of the Hulk from his mind at BlakeMPetit@gmail.com

Part Three: Raiders of the Lost Art

Published on July 27, 2002

It may have taken three weeks, friends, but it was a story worth telling. It is the story of three adventurous geek spirits on a quest for comics, autographs, artwork and a great pizza. It’s the three geeks at the Wizard World Chicago comic convention, and it ends today. You can read part one by clicking here and part two by clicking here.

JULY 7, 2002

• 8:06 a.m. While I have not exactly been hesitant in my purchases thus far, I intend to make out like a bandit on this last day of the con. The dealers will be slashing their prices so they won’t have to lug as much merchandise home. I am happy to oblige.

• 12:32 p.m. A guy working for Marvel Comics starts handing out free Snapple and Mountain Dew to the people waiting for Editor-In-Chief Joe Quesada’s autograph. It’s good to know someone cares.

• 12:55 p.m. I decide I’d like to get a nice shirt – a Superman baseball or hockey jersey, maybe. I am saddened to learn there is absolutely nothing in my size. Every comic fan on TV is portrayed as the fattest slob possible! They’re missing an enormous customer base.

• 1:00 p.m. I give up. My Uncle Joe gave me a box of comics to get autographed for him, including about a dozen books by Joe Michael Linsner. I’ve procured many autographs for him, but after three days of searching I still can’t find Linsner’s booth. I know he’s at the convention because I’ve heard them make announcements about him appearing on panels, but his booth is never there when I look for it. It’s like Brigadoon.

• 5:22 p.m. The convention is over. Back in our room we discover that is has not been cleaned yet. When housekeeping finally shows up we just ask her to empty the trash and leave fresh towels. Anything further would require us to move and, frankly, that’s not an option we are prepared to take at this point.

JULY 8, 2002

• 7:20 a.m. We begin the arduous process of packing. The only thing I hate more than packing, I determine, is attempting to pack more than I brought with me into the same amount of space.

• 9:28 a.m. We’re finally back on the road, but nobody is willing to wager on whether we’re going in the right direction. Demonstrating how bad the signs are, we finally determine that we need to take the 290 East exit with signs indicating the west suburbs in order to go south.

• 10:25 a.m. We stop for breakfast. Mike, in a fit of extreme paranoia, checks the trunk to make sure he put the pieces of original art we bought in there. It turns out he is not that paranoid after all. The last anyone remembers seeing the art was on top of the car in the garage. Mike stops breathing and I grab my cell phone and call the hotel.

• 10:35 a.m. The garage manager is going to look for the art and call me back. We sit down and order. Mike is turning purple.

• 10:40 a.m. My orange juice is too warm. Mike’s brains are leaking from his ears.

• 10:44 a.m. The Hyatt calls me back. They’ve found the art and they’re going to UPS it to me. Mike begins higher respiratory function again and suddenly the orange juice is all the sweeter.

• 3:20 p.m. In St. Louis we hit the third construction site of the day. We’re never going to get home at this rate. I unbutton my shirt, revealing the Superman T-shirt beneath.

• 4:19 p.m. Superman didn’t help. We’re finally out of the traffic.

• 6:00 p.m. We’ve run into two more construction sites. The entire state of Missouri is under construction today.

• 2:00 a.m. We finally arrive home, wiped out, exhausted… and overall, pretty satisfied.

BY THE NUMBERS:

• Comics Mike bought: 23

• Trade paperbacks Mike bought: 0

• Comics James bought: 1

• Trade paperbacks James bought: 1

• Comics Blake bought: 68

• Trade paperbacks Blake bought: 5

• Approximate dimensions of the statue Mike bought: 2 feet by 1½ feet by 1½ feet

• Approximate dimensions of the uncut card sheet Mike bought: 2½ feet by 3½ feet

• Times Blake threatened to strap Mike to the roof so they can fit everything in the car: 2

• Times Blake said “We ride with the desert wind” or some variation thereof: 117

• Times Mike threatened to kill him afterwards: 116

• Times James and Blake had to say, “Dude, calm down” after Mike thought he lost the Supergirl artwork: 17

• Miles driven: 2049.6.

• Geeks ready to do the whole thing again next summer: 3

Blake M. Petit got the artwork in the mail a few days later. It’s still pretty. Contact him with comments, suggestions or a good framing company at BlakeMPetit@gmail.com. Back to normal wackiness next week.




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