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Josceline's · Bower


An Electronic Hermitage

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I saw this today, in connection with all the silly May 21 end-times hoopla.  I think this is one of the better uses for our tax dollars:

Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse

Assistant Surgeon General Ali Khan (not to be confused with the late Prince Aly Khan, who was once married to Rita Hayworth), has laid out a brief history of zombies, as well as a list of supplies that should be stocked in an emergency kit. He assures the public that, in the event of a zombie outbreak, CDC would conduct an investigation.  It would probably look a lot like the pictures that eithni  recently posted.
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During our last vacation, we attended the 14th annual Viva Las Vegas rockabilly convention.  I had not encountered that particular subculture before (although I knew of its existence), but I noticed some similarities to other hotel-based fan conventions that I've attended in the past (most recently Teslacon).  There were vendors, costume contests, panel discussions (including one on hair and make-up), and a fashion show, as well as musical acts. This convention was much more heavy on musical acts (as one would expect, by its very nature).  It also had a large car show on Saturday. The car show was an event unto itself, with more vendors and a live music stage (where Jerry Lee Lewis, who looked every one of his 75 years but sounded surprisingly good considering the years and mileage, performed a set in the afternoon.

There were some excellent costumes.  A lot of the attendees put a lot into their outfits, and many couples danced in period style to the various bands.  I do not pick up new dance styles quickly (it's an abnormally long and laborious process for me to wrap my brain around anything involving physical coordination and spatial relationships), so I sat on the sidelines and watched.  However, photos taken at the Viva Las Vegas convention, even in black-and-white, are unlikely to be mistaken for actual 1950s photographs, because modern rockabilly women tend to have a lot more tattoos than women in the 1950s did.

The only classic car show I have ever attended in the past was the one associated with the Taste of Monroe festival, where the Barony used to do a demo.  This one was larger, and just about everyone was dressed to match the cars, which was very cool.  Richard Cheese had a merchandise booth at the show, and we stopped by to meet him (we didn't buy any CDs, since we already own them all, but we did score an autographed picture.  Elderly burlesque icon Dixie Evans was also there, hawking autographed photos, as was Elvira (whose booth was swamped) and actress Candy Clark from American Graffiti (whose booth was deserted).

There were a lot of sweet cars, some of them lovingly-maintained antiques, others modern-built roadsters in a vintage style.  I got a kick out of this one, because it appears to be the same color as Eithni's kitchen.

The other big event associated with the convention was the burlesque show.  This is such a popular happening that they present the same show three different times during the convention and still cannot accommodate all of the convention-goers that wish to attend.  We stood in a line that snaked from the showroom box office all the way through the casino to the hotel gift shop in order to secure our (free with our convention wrist-band) tickets.  I was glad we did.  We have seen a number of burlesque shows over the years, including the very entertaining local Cherry Pop Burlesque shows, and a professional show at a club in New Orleans back before Katrina reduced the variety of entertainment offerings available in the French Quarter.  This was the best burlesque show we have ever seen (I do not count Absinthe as a burlesque show, even though it had some burlesque elements).  The costumes, props, choreography and talent were all first-rate.

The MC for the show, "Miss Astrid," bore a strong resemblance to Admiral Von Grelle from Teslacon, right down to the German accent and (leopard-print) eye patch.  She also made some inside-sounding jokes about folks who pretend it's the 1950s, saying at least they're not as silly as the folks who pretend it's the middle ages, that made me think she's probably in the SCA.

All in all, it was an interesting experience, and there was some good entertainment to be had, but it's really not my flavor of geek.
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I'm not talking about the distilled spirit.  I'm talking about one of the shows we saw in Las Vegas.  I read a review of the show shortly after its Caesar's Palace debut in February. It sounded intriguing -- the Times said of its New York incarnation: "Imagine Cirque du Soleil as channeled through "Rocky Horror Picture Show".  We've seen a couple of Cirque shows, as well as other types of shows in Las Vegas, so we decided to go.

It turned out to be the best show I've ever seen in Las Vegas.  It's hard to describe, but here is a local morning show interview with the show's MCs that also shows some clips of the show.  The claim that the audience sits so close to the stage that they can smell the performers' sweat is absolutely true.  It was somewhat like sitting up against the list ropes during Crown Tourney, with the combatants' open armor bags nearby.

Non-flash photography was permitted.  My husband started out taking photos, but the bright light above the stage was problematic, and after a while, he just sat back and enjoyed watching it without trying to take pictures.

Seating is general admission, and we bought VIP tickets, so we were admitted earlier than most.  We sat right in the front row.  I questioned the wisdom of that decision during the roller-skating act (a bit of which can be seen on the morning show clip).

A London-born Huffington Post blogger is currently spending a month staying in every hotel on the Strip, chronicling his experiences. His companion's review of the show was rather amusing. "No one does it like the yanks and their taut, toned Eurotrash circus acts."  He later interviewed the same couple who appeared on KTNV, but in a very different venue.  We did not realize who Angel Porrino was, but she was indeed a crowd pleaser (she got a loud cheer when she was introduced).  It turns out that we were there on her debut night, and David Hasselhoff was also in the audience (we never noticed him).  As we were leaving the show, my husband picked up a piece of the balloon she used in her act as a souvenir.

The Huffington Post interview confirmed that I was right to be nervous during the roller-skating act.  If you go to Las Vegas, see this show, but I don't recommend sitting in the front row. 
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May the candles on your cake burn like cities in your wake.  Happy Birthday!
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A distillery in Scotland is producing replica whisky based on an analysis of bottles deep-frozen in 1907 during Ernest Shackleton's unsuccessful Antarctic expedition.  Surprisingly, it did not have the heavy, peaty flavor that was fashionable at the time, but rather "a Scotch with delicate aromas of crushed apple, pear and fresh pineapple. It has a whisper of marmalade, cinnamon and a tease of smoke, ginger and muscovado sugar.”

It also has a high alcohol content (almost 95 proof), possibly to help prevent freezing during the expedition.

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A Victorian stage costume made with 1,000 irridescent beetle wings has been restored and returned to display:
http://www.pasthorizons.com/index.php/archives/03/2011/the-archaeology-of-a-dress
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It's a good thing I'm not giving up anything for Lent this year, because I would have fallen off the wagon this week for sure. On Tuesday, we were both tired for work, so we got take-out from Smoky Jon's (mmm, BBQ beef brisquet sammich). It's dangerous living just around the corner from a fabulous BBQ joint.

On Wednesday, we got invited to a birthday dinner at Samba. Mmmm, plentiful stream of rodizio meats flowing by our table. Also, Moodles was there, being adorable stuffing her face with grilled pineapple then walking all around the private dining room while carrying her shoes.

Friday night, we tried to go to the Villa Tap for their fish fry, but it was standing room only, so we went to Smoky Jon's instead. We did, however, get fish fry (they have a beer-battered cod dinner, and we both picked french fries and coleslaw for our sides). It was not all-you-can eat, but I couldn't finish mine, and Chris had no room for my untouched last piece of fish. Best of all, it was uncrowded (imagine, not a lot of people going for BBQ on a Friday night in Lent).

Today, we went to visit my mother-in-law. We stopped at the Kalahari for breakfast at their buffet. It's a pretty decent breakfast spread. Plus, on the way out, we got to see a Jaguar cub that they brought in for photo ops. It was romping in an enclosure full of stuffed animals while its cohort was being photographed. We watched it tear into one stuffed toy for a while, then it spotted us and came up to the plexiglass to check us out. Cute! Just a bit smaller than our chubby housecat, but with bigger paws.

On the way home, we again stopped in the Dells to eat. It was a little before 4 p.m., so many of the restaurants were not yet open for dinner (or, in some cases, for the season). We stumbled on a new place downtown called Taste of New Orleans. The decor was kind of kitschy -- it made me think of a community theater production of A Streetcar Named Desire. But we enjoy kitsch, and the food was really yummy and rich. Also, the waitress (who looked a bit older than my mom), kept calling me "Baby" so it really felt a bit like being in New Orleans. The platters are served with garlic bread rather than corn bread on the side, which is a little weird, though. The only corn bread I had was in the order of "Cajun Swamp Balls" I ordered (like I said, I enjoy kitsch). They are kind of like a cross between hush puppies and crab cakes. Not bad. We'll definitely be back when we are in the Dells.
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I've spent the last four Saturdays on the Capitol square, attending rallies. Last Saturday, we enjoyed musical sets by Michelle Shocked and Ryan Bingham (the latter was my favorite) and caught the tail end of Michael Moore's speech. Today I heard a pep talk from Susan Sarandon (who was this week's surprise celebrity guest), helped welcome my State Senator back home, and prayed with the Reverend Jesse Jackson for the people of Japan.

It's been both exhausting and exhiliarating. I'm woefully behind on household chores, and I'm never quite catching up on sleep, but I feel like a part of something important and wonderful, even when I'm walking alone (which has only been for a short period before connecting with friends or meeting up with my husband). In addition to members of my regular social circle, I got to spend some time today with an old friend I haven't seen much of for several years (since he lives in Milwaukee and doesn't play much in the SCA anymore). I also spotted a couple of SCA acquaintances who now live out of town that I haven't seen in several years and never would have expected to see demonstrating.

Tomorrow, instead of catching up on laundry, we will go back for a big union demonstration (tomorrow is the day that many public employees' contracts expire).

For those from out of state who do not understand why we've made such a big deal about this, this bill isn't just about reining in public employees' benefits. It is also a war on local control which will result in severe hardship for many cities and villages. Complying with some provisions will prove extremely difficult and costly for many communities, and sorting out new work rules will likely result in a number of lawsuits. While talking with my boss and a colleague at work yesterday, I suggested that this was the Republicans' stimulus package for trial lawyers, which got a big laugh out of my politically-connected audience (one of whom is a lawyer). They joked that this is how Walker is making it up to them for the tort reform bill.

The bill will also severely cut health care for low-income and disabled individuals, as well as the farmland preservation program. That is why there was a demonstration by farmers today. They had a tractorcade around the Capitol square, with some classic old tractors (some looking like they only appear at tractor shows, and at least one 1970s-vintage International Harvester that looked like it still sees regular use).

I don't have any pictures of the tractors, unfortunately, because my camera battery died before they arrived.
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We hit the Capitol Square again yesterday. No tea party rally, and a bigger total crowd, even with the cold, snowy weather.  We sang "Blowin' in the Wind" along with Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul & Mary).  It brought back memories of elementary school music class -- Miss Schulte was a big PPM fan, and we sang all of their hits (yes, I know that Bob Dylan wrote "Blowin' in the Wind" but PPM had a hit with their cover of the song).

After that, the firefighters marched out from the Capitol, led by their bagpipes. We were standing on the terrace above the stage, so we had a front row view of the procession and got to shake hands with the firefighters.  Then the crowd sang the national anthem.  It was very moving, and I took off my hat (although most didn't, due to the cold and snow). Here is someone else's video of that moment:



There were an interesting collection of unions present yesterday. In addition to the blue-collar and public sector unions, we saw the Screen Actors Guild represented, as well as some airline pilots.
There were solidarity rallies organized by MoveOn in a number of cities around the country.  A good overview can be seen on this blog:
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/02/26/live-updates-americans-answer-call-to-protest-for-workers-rights/?utm_source=Raw+Story+Daily+Update&utm_campaign=f07cbd82d1-2_26_112_26_2011&utm_medium=email

I got a kick out of this sign, from a Packers stockholder. The Packers flag is fluttering in the wind, so you can't see it very well.
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Yesterday, I went to the Capitol Square a little before Noon to show solidarity with the unions and see what kind of competing "rally" the pro-Walker folks managed to put together. They had their own little Tea Party reservation on the lawn by the King Street entrance. There were speakers with microphones, but the union marchers making the circuit mostly drowned them out. It was all very peaceful. There was some shouting of slogans, but very little direct debate. Some right-wingers with signs (some quite over the top) walked among the union people and were mostly ignored.

I caught up with several friends, including arebekah , reardp  and ladycianna , and we made several circuits, enjoying the clever signs and costumes (there was a Sarah Palin impersonator, a "People's Champ" with a wrestling belt, and a guy in a grass skirt made of candy necklaces). Eventually, we went for a late lunch at the Come Back Inn (the restaurants that were closer to the square were swamped).

After lunch, some of us headed back to the square, where the President of the Wisconsin Education Association Council was speaking. I decided it was a good time to redeem my car from the parking ramp and head home.

It was a very powerful experience. Also, I learned that it is possible to get a sunburn in Wisconsin in February.
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