26 March 2010

Is he cute or is he British?

I make no claims on writing this myself.  In fact, this was written by  Sarah Hepola at the Morning News.  If you like to click, here's the original article.  I may have doubled over with laughter reading this ("It's funny because it's true!" - Homer Simpson) though the pain of doubling over is better than peeing in the bed.   You'll get that joke when you're done reading this.

Question: I recently started dating a British guy. I think he’s cute, but maybe it’s just that he has an English accent. How can I tell the difference? —Carrie F.

Answer: Like many romantic dilemmas—“Your place or mine?,” “Is it warm in here, or am I just drunk?”—this is a question that has long plagued American women. The British accent is Kryptonite to the female resolve, and though the evening may start with him innocently “chatting you up,” it ends with your knickers draped on a lamp in his sketchy midtown apartment. Would this happen if he didn’t have that damn British accent? Yes, because you’re a slut. But it wouldn’t have happened twice. And not while his mum was visiting.

When it comes to the attractiveness of British men, American women are simply incapable of rendering a proper judgment. Bad teeth, the unibrow, Guinness bloat, doesn’t matter; hell, we think Tony Blair is hot. Studies have proven that British accents are, in fact, the number one cause of hot women dating nerdy men. (Number two cause? Woody Allen.) There’s nothing wrong with dating men who have British accents; Madonna liked her husband’s so much she got one of her own. But there are scoundrels out there—those who use their cute British accents to lure innocent birds to their flat for a friendly game of hide the blood sausage. Sorry.

The following prompts will help as you try to decipher whether your new bloke is a winner or a wanker. Beware the British accent, ladies, and remember: The country that gave us Shakespeare also gave us Simply Red.

What kind of accent does he have?

Even more than in America, British regional accents are the key to deciphering class and social stature. Does he speak with a crisp London clip? A slurry cockney? Does it matter? No, because they all sound freaking adorable. What do you care?

What’s his education like?

Decades of BBC and English Lit classes have genetically programmed the American female to believe the British are culturally superior beings, skipping around Oxford making puns with their Byron under one arm and a pot of marmalade under the other. This isn’t always true, of course—at least according to The Full Monty. Apparently England is also full of working-class people who watch telly and prevail against overwhelming odds. But talking about books and stuff makes you look smart. The other day I told a British guy I read Irvine Welsh, and he was so impressed he called me “brilliant.”

Does he have a nanny?

This could be trouble. On the other hand, if he is currently dating a supermodel or a foxy but curiously cold English actress, he is so yours.

How does he dress?

The archetypal British chap wears tweed jackets, a fine cashmere sweater vest, and a dashing Burberry coat. (Well, that’s what they wore in Closer. Hell if I’ve ever been to London.) But most British blokes I know are less formal, prone to wearing World Cup-sponsored clothing and jeans. This is fine. It’s to be expected. With one caveat: If there is any chance of a gold chain and a yellow tracksuit in his closet, I say run.

Beware cultural nuance.

Though we speak the same language, Americans and Brits have famously different words to describe the same thing. Everyone knows what we call “fries,” they call “chips.” But there are subtle phrases which, if you’re not careful, can cause grievous misunderstanding. For instance: When he says, “Can I bum a fag?” he’s not trying to expand your relationship—he is simply asking for a cigarette. When he says, “I could murder a taxi right now” he means only that he wants a taxi very badly. When he says, “I’m off to the pub with me mates for some tipple,” it means he’s going to pee the bed. Watch out.

Does he ever drag you to a soccer match at 9 a.m., and get you drunk on Irish whiskey, and then tell you he’d fancy you if you just beat up those two bloody Welshmen in the corner?

No? Crap. I am such a sucker.

OK, pretend he did do that. So, in that case, do you think when you asked him about it later, bringing up fairly legitimate concerns about health and legal matters, he would respond to you with phrases like “what a bunch of bollocks,” “stop yer whingeing,” and “for fuck’s sake?”

Because that would be rude.

And then what are the chances that, in the middle of what you would consider an innocent fight, he might shock everyone in the subway by suddenly calling you “a bloody cunt?”

Because when it happens, it’s not pretty.

But wait a minute: Does he say those things in British accent?

Cause that’s cute.

And does he spell “labor” like “labour?” And “theater” like “theatre?”

I know! CUTE!

And does he measure things in metres and talk about weight in stone? And reference the Queen? And when he speaks in that British accent do you forget all about how he called you a cunt and pissed in your bed and wears the tracksuit and made you beat up that poor Welshman?

I say go for it. Cheers, mate.

25 March 2010

Mr. Posh

My husband is so posh he whispers polo scores in his sleep.

22 March 2010

Of course it should come with a pickle!

So with a little urging from the Usual Suspects, here is my post on the lustrous Bloody Mary. Actually, this post is actually inspired from the simple fact that in the last two weeks every time I had a Bloody Mary, somebody invariably exclaimed, “are those pickles?!” Similar to having an unexplained badger sized lump growing on my back, I had to explain a little bit about what it means to be from the Midwest and what we expect from a Bloody Mary.

I am not a Bloody Mary enthusiast. I like Bloody Marys, I really do, but I don’t do weekend 50 mile radius searches for the best Bloody Mary in my area. I don’t have the time, the money, or even the care to bother. I maybe have a Bloody Mary once or twice a month (I’ve had more recently, funny enough, hence this post). All I ask from my Bloody Marys is that they are done properly. Of course, this is all a matter of perspective (“Too much fucking perspective” – Spinal Tap) – everyone wants something different from their Bloodies.

What can easily ruin a Bloody Mary for me is it being too sweet, too spicy, or too strong. Too much Worcestershire sauce will be the too sweet, the horseradish (which I wish would be banned from existence, not just in Bloody Marys) will be the too spicy, and the too strong…well, let’s just say I like booze as much as the next person but if I can see through my Bloody Mary, something is seriously amiss. And then there’s the matter of the ‘extras’.

In California, if you order a Bloody Mary you will get a lemon, a lime, and MAYBE a pathetic looking olive or wilting celery stick. Very rarely I’ve seen the dreaded pickled asparagus or (GAG!) the pickled onion. California always has the lemon and lime though – if nothing else. I contribute this to the amount of citrus in this State; they have to use it up somehow.

A "fancy" California Bloody Mary.  Pathetic.  At least there is an olive.

In the Midwest*, it’s a bit different. And when I say different, I’m talking about the Bloody Mary extras. The potential for having a good or bad Bloody Mary Basic is the same everywhere but it’s the extras that really make a difference. In the Midwest when you order a Bloody Mary, you don’t just order a drink - you order a drink and a snack. No, you actually get TWO drinks and a snack. The Bloody Mary extras vary from place to place in the Midwest but 90% of the time when you order a Bloody Mary you will get AT LEAST the Bloody Mary Basic with AT LEAST two olives, a pickle spear and a side car of the tap beer of your choice. Yes, a small side of beer. It’s to sip on if the Bloody is too spicy or to just pour in your Bloody if you so choose (and I do occasionally). In Wisconsin, where they are known for their cheese and also for having the Usinger sausage factory in town, it’s not uncommon to also get a piece of cheese and a beef stick. Talk about Bloody Mary heaven.

A Bloody Mary from Comet Cafe in Milwaukee.  Yes, that is bacon. Sadly, I did not take this picture or have this Bloody though I'll be back in July.

I can’t be that picky living in California. I certainly can’t expect the cheese and the beef stick. I really can’t ask for a pickle unless they have a kitchen onsite. I’m not going to get a side of beer unless I order (and pay for) one. But I do expect olives. It’s a little thing, olives; all bars have a jar or two. I get annoyed when I order a Bloody Mary here and all that comes with it are those pathetic lemon and lime wedges – which I don’t even like and take out the minute the bartender is out of sight. Kristie, my friend and all around best bartender, knows this about me. When I order a Bloody Mary at the Harp I get a stick full of those green orbs of salty olive goodness and two spears of pickles from the Harp kitchen. Sure, I still have to order my beer on the side and run the risk of looking really really thirsty, but it’s worth it. Of course the minute I walk out onto the patio with my Kristie inspired Blood Mary, I will invariably hear, “are those pickles?!”

Bloody Mary from the Garage, East Side Milwaukee.  It was more impressive before I ate bits out of it then decided to take the picture.   You can also easily make this Bloody Mary vegetarian by giving me your beef stick.

If you are interested in learning more about Midwest Bloody Marys from a more professional source, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a great article on the subject. You should check it out just so you know I’m not making this shit up.

*I’m bunching the Midwest up in here as part of an assumption. What I’m about to say applies to Milwaukee, where I’m from, and to places in Chicago, where I’ve been, but I can’t say for sure this applies to places like Minneapolis or Detroit.

16 March 2010

Addicted to Picasa

So recently I’ve been incredibly addicted to Picasa, an online photo storage program offered by Google. I pay $5.00 a year for 20 gigs of storage which is incredibly cheap considering the benefit of having an online backup so you don’t have to make hard copies of your photos (or CDs). Not only that but once the photos are uploaded, you can send them directly to Snapfish or Shutterfly to order prints. And no, as a matter of fact, I don’t work for Google - though I certainly wouldn’t turn them down for a job if they asked (not that I could pass their interview process).

One of the reasons why I’m incredibly addicted to Picasa is the face recognition feature. After you tag a few people, it gets really good of guessing for you and all you have to do is confirm that it guessed right. I have literally spent hours tagging people and doing confirmations on Picasa’s guesses. I might be obsessive compulsive but there’s something really satisfying tagging a bunch of albums then using the “Show All Pictures with Mr. So-n-So”. Yes, I am that big of a dork.

To add another level to my twisted sense of humor, I try to pick really funny profile pictures for all my friends. It makes me giggle.

13 March 2010

Saturday Supplement Special: Week One

Welcome to the Saturday Supplement Special where we track the success or failure of Billy Tomato who lives in the Topsy Turvy Tomato Planter.

So recently I was at Ace Hardware during one of my lunch breaks. I get an hour for lunch and even after getting something to eat and getting the mandatory decaf iced coffee from the Coffee Bean, I tend to have 10-15 minutes left to spare on my lunch hour. Sometimes I go back early (dork!), but sometimes I wander through the stores “looking at stuff”. Seeing as there’s a Walgreen’s, Ace Hardware, and Office Depot there, I tend not to buy anything except pens and lip balm. However, it’s spring (or near enough) and Ace Hardware has all its plants out on display now.

At first I just stood outside looking at all the cute little plants. There were bell peppers and cucumbers and strawberries. Then the tomatoes caught my eye. I might have gotten a bit wistful. I love tomatoes and have tried on more than one occasion to grow them. The first try I not only didn’t cage them properly, but I was also bad on watering. The last time I tried, it was going really well until my poor plant got attacked by Tomato Hornworm caterpillars. I really do love gardening but I’m really crap at it. I haven’t bothered trying growing anything in the last two years and had no intention of trying this year until I wandered in the bowels of Ace Hardware and found the Topsy Turvy Tomato Grower (on sale!). I realized then and there that the Topsy Turvy Tomato Grower was a Must Have.

I purchased the Topsy Turvy Tomato Grower, a bag of Miracle Grow soil, gardening gloves and the cutest tomato plant whose variety I have already forgotten. I then got back to work and looked up the best way to plant the Topsy Turvy Tomato Grower.

Those not familiar with the Topsy Turvy Tomato Grower please go here and watch their infomercial so I don’t have to explain that it’s a planter that you hang from a hook and that your plant grows upside down to avoid the possible pests and that the planter acts like a greenhouse on the soil helping it grow better. Oh wait, I just saved you 10 minutes.

The first thing you learn about the planter is that once it’s filled with dirt and water, the planter becomes incredibly heavy. Every review I read started with “it’s really heavy”. Thankfully one of the reviewers mentioned that using moss layered with the dirt helps reduce the weight. While a great suggestion, my first thought was, “great, now I have to go back to Ace to get moss.”

The second thing you learn is that because the plant is hanging upside down, it loses a lot of water – therefore, you have to water it at least once a day if not twice a day if it’s really hot.

On Wednesday, Andy helped put up the hook in the backyard and I fumbled with assembling the planter. This little video makes the process look easy. I’m clumsy and typically use the force method for all assembly related things and managed to tear off 3 arms of leaves on the tomato plant and tore the spongy bit that goes around the plant in half. I can pour in dirt properly and within 15 minutes, Billy the Tomato Plant was up.

Yes, its name is Billy and for once, I wasn’t responsible for the name. When I first came home with the little tomato plant, Andy looked up from his spot on the couch and said, “I see you have Billy.” “Billy?” “Yeah, Billy Tomato” Billy it is.

 Billy begins his life by chilling upside down. 

10 March 2010

Great Design Change Folly 2010

So, I don’t know if any of you checked in earlier today but I was in the midst of The Great Design Change Folly of 2010 and you may have caught the blog mid-change. What you see here now is – I think – what I’m sticking with until The Great Design Change Folly of 2011. My frustration and rage level with the whole thing is quite high – think Hera finding Zeus in bed with a mortal high and I just can’t be bothered to tweak it any further. I realize that the font is ENORMOUS. After struggling with removing the RSS Feed links (which I have no problem admitting that I have no idea what the hell is even AFTER looking it up), I spent quite a while looking for the great big Font Adjuster button with no avail. I’m tired people. I guess to put a great big American bright side spin on it, a least those near blind people can comfortably read my blog sitting across the room without having to have their Seeing Eye dog bark out the words for them.

Andy and I were watching ‘House’ last night and it happened to be the episode where the fabulous Donna Pinciotti, er, Laura Prepon played a woman who had some disease that definitely wasn’t lupus, but also was a blogger who blogged about every single detail of her life. At some point during the show Andy asked me to pause the show to ask me if I read any blogs like that. I had to admit that I have and do read blogs like that (I would link to these blogs but I’m honestly terrified that it will somehow come back to haunt me). I think Andy might have also asked why it was that I blogged, but that might be a figment of my imagination. I do remember telling him, though poorly, as it was later on in the evening and my brain had shut off and I was really interested in seeing what disease Donna, er, Laura had that definitely wasn’t lupus. Or cancer.

Why do I blog? That’s a fine question really. So fine of a question that I’ve just sat here for 5 minutes looking at that question. Why do I blog? I’ve been writing in journals and diaries and such since I was 8 years old. I’ve been writing short stories since before that. I really enjoy writing. That isn’t to say that I’m any good at it, in fact I’m rather crap (a creative writing class in my short stint in college was proof to that statement), I just enjoy it.

Blogging is such a natural step in the journal writing process. It benefits me two-fold. One, I get to catalog my life so I don’t have to physically remember it (everyone who knows me knows how bad my memory is). Two, because a blog’s natural existence is PUBLIC, I benefit from laying down my personal thoughts in an edit mode. Stay with me here – when I still wrote in paper journals, you wouldn’t believe the shit I was putting down to record. The whole “I feel ugly today” or “I don’t think he loves me anymore” and “I think so-in-so is a fat, back stabbing bitch!” While it might be what I was feeling on that particular day, there would always be an entry two pages away with a “I feel fantastically pretty today” and “He DOES love me!” and “So-n-so apologized, she’s such a good friend!”. When I go through those old journals I just roll my eyes and cringe.

You could argue and say that writing is therapeutic. If you did, then I agree with you. Nowadays I tend to write out my frustrations in a Word document, save it to my hard drive, and when if in 3 days later I think its emotional crap, I delete it. All the benefits without the wasted trees and the possibility of some curious 10 year old child stumbling upon my anxieties 100 years from now thinking that people from the 20th Century were crazy whiney.

The last thing I want to mention is the audience aspect. Bloggers would be damn liars if they told you that they didn’t enjoy the audience aspect. We like to know people are reading what we’re writing just like you enjoy knowing that people listen when you talk. We’re addicted to stats logs. We’re addicted to comments. We don’t expect millions of readers, we don’t expect book deals (though, c’mon, how cool would that be?), we just want to know people are reading.

I just realized I’m getting too serious. Here’s a picture of a hermit crab wearing a hat that I got off the internet. FACT: I wrote ‘hermit crab wearing a hat’ BEFORE I looked to see if such a thing existed. Because I know the internet has everything, I wasn’t too worried.

I seriously cannot believe how easy that was.

09 March 2010

It's come to that I'm afraid.


Best comment wins...well, I have no idea what you would win.  I guess nothing.  I'm just interested to see what my fine readers can come up with.

Speaking of which, Ed told me that I need to pimp my blog because everyone else does it.  While I don't like to think that I'm of the herded cow variety, I know that I am so here I go.  If you are here and you check in more than once, how about be a Facebook Follower?  That's right, that little annoying box on the right that says "Follow Badgers with Knives on Facebook", click 'Follow This Blog' please.  It really doesn't do anything besides put your little pretty profile picture in that box making me look more popular than I already am.   Go on, you know you want to.  Because you know, having our cat as one of my Facebook followers is a bit sad.

I will completely ignore the sadness of having a Facebook page for the cat by the way.

05 March 2010

Honeymoon in New Orleans: All the Rest

So Andy finally got around to reading my most recent blog posts. When I asked him what he thought he replied, “They were really long and you talked about food…A LOT.” I was a little put off by his comments (I may have “hrumphed”) but vowed not to talk about food once in this final wrap up post. I’m afraid the length of it all will be about the same – some things, like my rambling nature, never change – but at least the honeymoon will be properly documented and put to bed. Oh hey, semi-pun. Look at me go.

On Thursday, the day after Official Eating and Dive Bar Day, Andy and I woke up early to get ready for an 8 AM pick-up from the Louisiana Tour Company. As mentioned in my last post, neither of us likes being a tourist and neither of us enjoy tours but I had wanted to see one of Louisiana’s many plantations and we were both very interested in taking a ride on the air boat through the swampy Bayou. While we could have rented a car and taken ourselves, it was cheaper and what we thought would be more convenient to do a combined tour package. If we knew then what we know now, I think both of us would be very happy paying the extra $50 to never have to go through that pain again.

We happened to be the first people to get on the bus that was first headed out to the Laura Plantation in Vacherie, about an hour away from New Orleans. This would have been fine, but before we took that hour drive, we had to sit on the bus for over an hour while it went around to all the hotels in the French Quarter picking up passengers. By the time we got to the Laura Plantation it was nearing 10:30 AM and both Andy and I were very cranky sitting on a small hot bus with a bunch of old ladies and French tourists. Because of this, neither of us enjoyed the plantation tour that much. It was interesting enough, but drawn out and the tour guide (who also happened to be the owner) had to mention at every opportunity that 1. He owned the place. 2. He wrote a book about it. 3. The book was available for sale in the gift shop and he’d be more than happy to sign said book for us. It was nearing 11:30 AM when we finally boarded the bus again, exhausted, hungry, and ready to shove a signed autographed copy of the History of the Laura Plantation book up the owner’s tight backside.

Can't you just see the happiness on Andy's face after being on a bus for two hours?

We had hopes that the bus would take us directly from the plantation to the air boats. Jaysus, if I had known what was ahead of us before we got to the air boats, I would have gotten off the bus and walked back to New Orleans. First there was the 40 minutes at the 2nd plantation while we waited for the other group to join us. Then 20 minutes pulled to the side of the road so the tourists could take pictures of trees (TREES! C’MON PEOPLE!). Then the hour ride back to some dinky town to wait for the 2nd tour bus to transfer the swamp tour tourists away. Then the 40 minutes on the bus before we got to the air boats. Then the 30 minute wait before we actually boarded the air boats.


The only redeeming point in the entire day was the air boat ride itself. We opted for the slightly more expensive 6 seater air boat (opposed to 12). It was more personal and the tour guide, Ragin’ Cajun Captain Ernie, was eager to answer our questions and made sure we got a bit of a speed thrill when we weren’t cruising slowly looking for gators. Besides the huge tool of a man who sat in front of me who had to ask the cringe worthy Hurricane Katrina question, it was loads of fun.

Cute, sleeping little baby gator.  Man, I wish I could sleep with my eyes open, it would be really useful in meetings.

Which I guess is a good time as any to go into the Katrina Thing. I don’t mean to belittle hurricane Katrina by calling it a ‘thing’ by the way. I don’t know how else to describe it. Hurricane Katrina happened 4 ½ years ago. It was horrible and awful and the City of New Orleans went through some horrors that I don’t think the rest of us could even imagine. BUT, that was 4 ½ years ago. New Orleans took a hard hit and it’s working to come back. It’s going to take a long time to get New Orleans back to what it was before but that city has so much heart, it will come back. With that said, we didn’t witness much damage, or that we noticed. On our air boat tour we saw the effects of the hurricane on the native cypress trees, which are fresh water trees but are dying as there is so much salt water left in the soil that the trees have barnacles on them. But that’s about it. (You can take a Hurricane Katrina damage tour, btw, but personally I think that does more harm than good). The people that you talk to in New Orleans don’t like to talk about Katrina; they’re tired of talking about Katrina. What they do want to talk about is how the city is coming back, slowly but surely. They want to talk about the hope and the determination of the people left there. Most of all, they want to talk about how the Saints won this year’s Super Bowl. If you go to New Orleans, please keep that with you. I know you’re curious, we all are – but that’s what the books written about the subject are for. Respect the people and keep your curiosities to yourself.

So yes! The air boat! Even though it was winter time and alligators hibernate when it’s cold, we managed to see a bunch of baby gators. Sadly, the Ragin’ Cajun wasn’t able to grab the baby 1 footer for us to hold. That was probably the only bummer of the afternoon. Oh wait, yes…the hour and half it took us to get back to the French Quarter after the tour was a huge bummer. Never have I loathed a form of transportation as much as I loathed that damn 16 seat tour bus. Even though Andy and I were both absolutely exhausted after 9 hours of busses and tours, we bee lined to the next dive bar in our Quarter Rat book in an effort to erase the memory of the day.

On Friday, our last full day in New Orleans, while we were walking around looking for somewhere to eat we happened to run into a place that rented 3-wheeled motorcycle type buggies. I could tell from the start that Andy wasn’t interested (i.e. being a wet blanket) but because Andy loves me and sometimes lets me get what I want (operative word there being “sometimes”) he agreed – as long as we only did the hour rental instead of the special priced 2 hour rental. Andy drove as he has a motorcycle license (not required, but definitely helpful for operation) and I sat as a passenger with a shit eating grin on my face, giggling and taking pictures. We basically cruised around the French Quarter and pissed off delivery trucks (the 3 wheeler just didn’t go that fast) while people took our picture and asked where they could rent one for themselves. The hour went way too quickly and as you can see in the picture, we looked like dorks, but it was well worth the $55.

For Beth, who loves pictures of me looking like a dork.

Afterwards we walked around some more, did a few more dive bar locations, and as night fell, headed over to Frenchman Street to catch some live music. There are places in the Quarter that have live music, Preservation Hall being the main one, but having now been, I would hands down recommend Frenchman Street for live music, especially after 8 PM on a Friday night. Every place had music and all the music was good. I was absolutely chuffed (English slang, I’m sorry, means “thrilled”) that we managed to catch both a man who played two guitars at one time while playing the bass guitar with his feet, and Chaz, the washboard man, and his band. It was a perfect end to a near perfect honeymoon (tour bus, I’m looking at you!) and I was a bit sad Saturday morning having to say good-bye to it all.


The only other thing to note is that I was an absolute pill (how old am I, seriously?) on the plane ride back home. I was tired and cranky and quite a bit sad to be leaving New Orleans and irritated that we had two toddlers sitting next to us that wouldn’t shut up and a friendly but creepy born again Christian in our row with us and we were at the very last row on the plane and we didn’t have time to have a cigarette on our layover in Houston. Once we landed I may have (can’t say for sure, my mind had gone into Crazy Lady mode) grabbed my bags and pushed ahead 3 rows in an effort to avoid having to wait for the toddler family. I also may have sighed loudly and then exclaimed loudly, “What is your problem people? MOVE” and “Anyone from Irvine, please step aside and let the normal speed people go.” I was obnoxious and once I was outside smoking, I refused to go back inside for the baggage as I was quite embarrassed about my actions. Nicotine addiction isn’t pretty. I’m not proud.

The happy couple still happy in New Orleans.  We tend to frown when not on vacation.

NEXT…my normal mundane blog!

04 March 2010

Honeymoon in New Orleans: Fat Wednesday

So the day after Fat Tuesday in New Orleans was in my head, the official Eating Day. Call it Fat Wednesday if you will. You can’t go to New Orleans and not try their well known dishes. On my list for the trip was gumbo, jambalaya, red beans and rice, muffaletta, po’boy and a beignet. Thankfully I don’t eat fish\seafood or that list would be even longer. The first time I was in New Orleans in 2002, I did not have one bad meal. I think I tried to have a bad meal just to see if it was possible, but it never happened. I was truly convinced that New Orleans simply didn’t know how to make bad food. Sadly, I have come to find out that during my 2002 trip, I happened to be extremely lucky. It’s not to say everything we had this time around was bad, but quite a bit was.

We started out at the Gumbo Shop on St. Peter Street in the French Quarter. I specifically choose this place because they served vegetarian gumbo and I wanted to make sure that Andy got a taste of some Cajun food. While we had to wait 15 minutes for them to open at 11 AM, the wait was well worth it. The food was fantastic. My only regret is that we didn’t go back here again.

Waiting outside of the Gumbo Shop.  Hurry up Gumbo Shop!

After lunch, we spent some time wandering around the Quarter. After a spell (how old am I?), we found ourselves at Molly’s at the Market on Decatur Street for an afternoon cocktail. I had been to Molly’s in 2002 and it was hands down my favorite bar during that trip. When we wandered in, the place was pretty dead and we ended up striking up a conversation with the bartender. His name was Louie Crowder and he told us about his play, ‘The Disaster 1604 Series’ that he wrote and that was starting to show in England. I’m being specific about this information as I’m urging all those in the UK to see it. Sadly I failed to remember if it was being shown on television (which I’m thinking is the case) or it was being put on the stage, but please, check it out. It’s all about the Hurricane Katrina Disaster and it was written by a very nice albeit cool about collar fellow (how old am I?) from N’awlins.

Two other very important things occurred at Molly’s that afternoon. The first being that I feel in love – with the Molly’s bar cat. According to Louie, his name was Mr. Woo and he wandered in Molly’s during Katrina and never left. He was big and grey and he liked sleeping on the bench near the door soaking in the fresh air and sunshine. Since the bench also held all the local newspapers, I went over there frequently to “get another paper” which really meant, “to stroke Mr. Woo some more.” I didn’t get a picture of Mr. Woo as much as I wanted to as I was trying to hold up my aura of “yes, I’m a tourist, but I’m a cool tourist” in front of Louie. I’m so lame just for admitting that.

The 2nd important thing that happened at Molly’s was that Andy and I picked up this very small unassuming local magazine called the Quarter Rat. The Quarter Rat is written for the locals, by the locals, mostly bartenders. It has articles such as “Drinking in the French Quarter – It’s Not a Sport, it’s a Deathmatch” and “Le Route de Pussois! Where to find some late night random hook-ups!” The article we found most useful for the entirety of the trip was, “Off the Beaten Path – Dive Bars of the French Quarter” which not only listed said bars, but also contained a map and a short warning, “All locations are approximate. I did this by memory, and I was really drunk when I did it…REALLY drunk.” Without ever verbalizing it (which is why Andy and I are really good together) we both silently decided to challenge ourselves to hit as many dive bars on the list as we could. Everyone loves a challenge after all. Official Eating Day quickly turned into Official Eating and Dive Bar Searching Day. And it was a blast.

Get your "prescriptions" here folks!

I can’t possibly get into all the places that we went that day. I can tell you that having the Quarter Rat magazine is a quick way for your bartender to take notice of you and start a conversation. If I was feeling a bit outgoing at a particular spot, I’d open up the magazine and say to the bartender, “It says here that I’m suppose to ask you if you have beer and how much are your $3 shots” (Taken from the article, ‘Questions That Drive Your Bartender Crazy’). If I wasn’t feeling outgoing, I’d simply open the magazine up, turn to the Dive Bar page and start writing notes. If not the bartender, then someone sitting near us would mention the Quarter Rat and blam!- conversation with another local.

Our challenge for the week.  No, we didn't hit all of these in one day - we're not that good.

Andy and I thankfully have a similar mind set when traveling. While sometimes we want to see things that are considered ‘touristy’, most of the time, we want to experience a place like a local would. Neither one of us likes being a ‘tourist’; we don’t like hanging out with other tourists, we don’t like tours that tourists do, places that tourists go, food that tourists eat. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, but we do try to stay clear of it as much as possible. We have also found that the easiest way to do as the locals do is to drink where the locals drink. A lubricated local is more wealth of useful information than what TripAdvisor or Lonely Planet can ever offer. A local at Boondock Saints (a cop bar – which we wouldn’t have known if it wasn’t for a local) will let us know that Coop’s is the best place for jambalaya (though I disagreed once I had it), or that the best place for live music is on Frenchman Street off of the Quarter (absolutely true), or who has the best breakfast if you are up early enough to get there (we never were). The locals we talked to gave us their thoughts on how they think tourists should behave (always take note of this, it will go far!), their love lives, how New Orleans is still so far behind after Katrina (I’ll get into this more later), what it’s like working there, living there, partying there. Talking to locals while traveling reveals a bit of a place’s soul that you’d never get to see sitting on a tour bus or marveling at a statue.

By the way, to the bartender from Wisconsin working at Ruby Fruit Jungle – thank you for telling me to give Coop’s another try but have the fried chicken, it was absolutely fantastic. As well, I still haven’t seen the ‘Land of the Lost’ remake and I’m still a bit weary, but I trust you and will put it on my Netflix list since you were so right about that chicken. Oh hey! Also totally didn't notice that this was a gay bar by the way.

Andy loves $2.00 beers so much he tries to eat it.

Oh yes! It was also Official Food Day, wasn’t it? In between all our dive bar hopping, we had plenty of food. We had muffaletta and po’boys at Frank’s Restaurant on Decatur which I am ashamed to admit I preferred over the muffaletta at Central Grocery, jambalaya at Coop’s (mushy rice, hardly any meat), coffee and beignets at CafĂ© Du Monde (classic), and I think some sort of burger from the very last dive bar -can’t be too sure on that, it was a very long dive bar day.

The beignets make Andy a bit wonky.

I'm so hungry right now.

NEXT…Andy and I become the thing we hate the most just to see some gators.

(I didn’t intend this honeymoon post to be stretched out into so many parts, but apparently I have a lot to say)

03 March 2010

Honeymoon in New Orleans: Mardi Gras

So, after an exhausting 7 hours in the car, a manic rush to pack, a half assed chat with my dad who was staying at our house while we were away, and a horrible night’s sleep, we jumped on the plane to New Orleans. We managed to get into New Orleans by 2:30 PM on Tuesday, FAT Tuesday, but because it was the last day of Mardi Gras, it took us a little over an hour to get from the airport to our hotel in the French Quarter. The French Quarter was jumping. People were everywhere. Everyone was wearing beads, everyone had a cocktail (or two) in their paws, and almost everyone was in costume. It’s so hard to describe the vibe of Mardi Gras in the French Quarter. All I can say is that if doesn’t put a smile on your face at first sight, something is seriously wrong with you.

We checked into our hotel on Canal, dropped off our bags, and set off immediately. At 4 PM, it was incredibly hard to find a sober person (even behind the bar) and I set off on a mission to get us some beads. Most people I talk to about this trip always ask if I had to show my girls to get some beads. Nope, not once. How it works is that you walk along the street and on the balconies above if you see someone giving out beads you hold up your hand and say, “Hey! Beads please!” If they give them to you, you say thanks. That’s the entire effort taken to get a string of colored plastic balls. Of course, some people make it a bit harder. One balcony of people were tossing out Superballs. If you were able to bounce the Superball from the ground into their cup on the balcony, you got beads. Sure, it was a lot of work, but they had really decent beads and it was fun. The ONLY time I was asked to show my girls was to a lone guy who had a balcony of feather boas. If the guy wasn’t so creepy and if I wasn’t as sober as I was at the time, I may have done it. But at the time, it didn’t seem worth it to me.

Mardi Gras in the French Quarter

The majority of our Mardi Gras was spent like that. Walking around, seeing the costumes, listening to the music, taking pictures, getting beads, and drinking. I made sure Andy got the world’s biggest hurricane and a cute hand grenade with a smiley face on the glass. I think we were in need of a short rest when we pulled up at stool at Sneaky Pete’s by our hotel. I had to use the bathroom there but found that the Women’s room was closed. I dragged Andy over to watch the door to the Men’s as it didn’t have a lock. It also didn’t have toilet paper or a toilet seat which is really where I draw the line when it comes to peeing – or not peeing as was the case. I persuaded Andy to take me somewhere else with a toilet but not before turning around and asking this guy in costume if I could take his picture. He agreed and afterward, he and his girlfriend struck up a conversation with us. His name was TJ from Portland, hers Debra from Shreveport, Louisiana, and this was their annual outing to Mardi Gras. I don’t think we could have been any luckier running into these two as they knew exactly where to go and who to talk to once we got there. The first stop on our TJ and Debra tour was to the absinthe bar. I had never had absinthe and was curious about the Green Fairy. All I can say is that the Green Fairy tastes like Grandpa’s old jar of hard black licorice and that any affects that it might have had went down the drain as that where I poured this vial drink when no one was looking. The 2nd stop on the TJ\Debra tour was to the tequila bar. TJ found that we were on our honeymoon and told us to get the $25 shot of tequila. We gently pointed out that we couldn’t afford $25 a shot and since TJ was drunk and obviously wealthy enough to afford it, bought us the shots instead. Again, it was nasty – though I reckon if you like cognac, then this is the tequila for you. Being a little put out that we didn’t like the drinks they were suggesting so far, they dragged us on to yet another place that required that we walk through Bourbon Street.

Andy with hand grenade and an awesome hat that I wish hadn't been so expensive to buy.

TJ, Debra and myself at the tequila bar.

I really haven’t touched on Bourbon Street thus far and I think it’s about time that I did. Bourbon Street is like Fort Lauderdale on Spring Break compressed to a single street. The bars are of the open, no seat variety, with hip-hop music blaring and flashing neon lights. The street itself is packed – and is ALWAYS packed (not just on Mardi Gras, but ALWAYS) – and typically the average age is around 22 years old. Bourbon Street might as well be called Young Drunk Tourist Street for all intensive purposes. Even when it’s not Fat Tuesday, you run the risk of stepping into beer, pee, puke or worse when you walk Bourbon Street. We tended to avoid Bourbon at all costs, except to do a quick cross over to another street. Which is a smart move, really, considering when TJ and Debra took us down Bourbon, we had to all hold hands Ferris Bueller in the Chicago Art Museum style, and I managed to step in a foot deep puddle of beer. A foot! Of beer! With both feet! Ugh! Thankfully I wasn’t sober enough to realize my folly of this until the next morning.

At the next bar, and also our last of the evening, there was a man with a blue face dressed up as George Washington. We never got his real name but instead called him George the entire time. George was great. George was also really kissy. And every time George kissed he left a lovely blue kissy mark on our cheeks.

Kissy George

I don’t know what time it was when Andy and I finally decided to throw in the Mardi Gras towel. It was pretty early by New Orleans standards, which I’m a bit embarrassed about. All I know is that we grabbed some sort of food substance and went back to the hotel to sleep. The next morning I woke up and wondered what the hell happened to my pants. Seeing as the dirt and grime went up to the knees and they could practically stand on their own the leg bottoms were so stiff, I reckon that they had a pretty good time.

Next….Honeymoon in New Orleans (part three)