Sunday, June 26, 2005

Welcome to the Looney Bin
Originally uploaded by me.
Enter, If You Dare...

House on the Rock Photos are up. Just click on the photo of Hobart the Happy Wizard, and it'll take you to my Flikr account. Then you can click "next" to go through the pics in chronological order, if you so desire.

I was going to say something about Wiscon first, but Sarah already did it so well. She conveys nicely the joy of waking up to Jeremy shouting "WAKEY WAKEY!" at 7 am after being up til 2... but I don't really have a problem with this. It's a con, I don't expect to sleep fully or wake refreshed--I can do that when I get home. The con was as I remembered it, many sci-fi fans and/or feminists, milling around and discussing the finer points of literature--or, sometimes, not. Jeremy and Erin and I made a point of attending panels where it sounded like there might be a fight between panellists and audience, and the closest we came was one that followed up on some unfriendliness last year between Republican attendees, and everyone else. The thing is, the minority voices have an excellent point in that Wiscon attendees do make certain assumptions about their fellow Wisconers' social and political beliefs. I've been going there 10 years now, and I've often heard the word "republican" being used as a euphemism for "pond scum" in any panel that's vaguely political. It annoys me, but my fellow republicans annoy me far more, so I'm not really prepared to complain. But there's an assumption that if you like sci-fi with a feminist bent, you must be politically liberal, and that's not necessarily so. (there's also an assumption that if you go to a feminist science fiction convention you must be a feminist, and I'd differ with that as well. If anyone wants a long digression on "why I don't consider myself a feminist" I'll be happy to oblige them elsewhere...) So it's a good point that was made about sci-fi cons being a place where outsiders come to feel part of the group; but the group sometimes includes people who don't share all your beliefs, but like the same books you do. There still wasn't an actual fight at that panel, but there was almost some shouting, which was close! The con suite hot dogs were still awful (but they're free,) the Madison farmer's market was still fabulous, and the Guests of Honor were great to listen to. I got to see Heather and Ted and Jen for the first time in three years (I'd link to all their livejournals, but typing in the Flickr blog box is starting to get to me) and Sarah and Wendy, and of course the redoubtable Jeremy. It was a good time. And then Erin and Jake and I sat down with her laptop and plotted a course for Camelot, by way of hell....

I'd type more, but I'm exhausted. I've semi-adopted a stray cat who's been hanging around, and tonight while I was feeding him on the back patio another cat showed up who was almost his identical twin, and they proceeded to have a chase/fight while I ran after them, trying to figure out which one was "my" cat so I could put him on the porch and let things calm down. It was just like one of those Star Trek episodes where Captain Kirk gets duplicated, and Spock doesn't know which one to shoot while they're rolling around on the floor to the combat music: "da-da DAH DAH DAH DAH dada da dah..." I finally got them sorted out, I think. Now I'm just waiting until the other one goes away so I can let "mine" back out; he's getting tamer, but I don't think he wants to spend the night on my porch. At least not without a spare litterbox...

Saturday, June 25, 2005

It's a Wet Heat

Ah, Indiana in the summertime! How I love it. It was 93 degrees yesterday, it'll be 95 today, and the humidity is probably around 80%. Only 80%! (Sometimes it hits 100%.) My house doesn't have air conditioning, as I may have mentioned before, and so weeks like this tend to be just a tad uncomfortable at Casa de Me.

This bothers me less than it would a lot of people. First off, I'm one who tends to get cold before everyone else; if I had my druthers, and infinite cash reserves, I'd keep the house at 75 all winter. I wear jeans until it gets to be about 80 out. Second, I spent the last two summers working outdoors doing physical labor. 95 degree days were the days you took a water break every 20 minutes or so--but you still had to be out in it doing stuff. So the body adjusts. But I still worry a little bit about the cats and the fishtank getting overheated, so today I'm putting in the window A/C unit I use, with Jason's help. (Usually my dad is the one who has the joy of helping me haul this monster up the canal bank and into the house, but he conveniently is on a "Fishing Trip" in "Canada" this week and is unavailable.)

So the photos of the Dells really did crash iPhoto 1.0, and so I had to download 2.1, and now I have the unenviable task of culling the herd and editing the photos down to be of a managable upload size on my dialup. I'm planning to do some of this later today, after I clean the house so that Jason doesn't trip on all my crap while installing my A/C, and after I finish painting the latest from my German Army customer (the entire east front is on my coffee table, it seems) and after I finish posting some of the aforementioned crap on ebay--somebody's bound to want it, right?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Yeah Yeah, Whatevah

Yes, I've not posted in a week. Yes, I have a CD full of fantabulous photos from the Great and Powerful Erin just waiting to be uploaded for your kitchy viewing pleasure. Yes, global warming is melting our ice caps and the sun is growing cold--yes, yes, I know. But patience. I've been working (yes! working! on a job, with money and stuff! Of course, it's over NOW) and haven't had time to do editing and uploading. Plus the photos were so wonderful that they actually crashed my old version of iPhoto beyond repair when I was trying to edit them, and I had to go find New and Shiny iPhoto to replace it. But fear not! In my absence, there is, as always, FAFBLOG. If you're not into random weird, scroll down to the post titled "AMERICA: BETTER THAN GULAGS." It's brilliant. I love Fafblog. If I could marry Fafblog, I would.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

me with friend

Originally uploaded by erink.
Gives New Meaning to Fossil Fuels

This is my new all-time favorite picture of me! It's taken at a Sinclair gas station on Highway 12, just south of the Dells. Our hotel, the "Camelot", was right across the street. If there is anything better than a gas station with a giant fiberglass dinosaur straddling the entrance to the quickiemart, I don't know what it is.

Yes, so, the Dells! The Dells were a magical place, a fitting followup to Niagara Falls on Erin's and my eternal KitchQuest. We picked the Camelot from a wide selection of cheesy theme hotels pulled up on Erin's laptop on the last night of Wiscon, and if you haven't already clicked the link above, you really should. The music makes the website--and be sure to mouse over the menu at the top for more entertaining sound effects. The thing to be aware of is that EVERY motel in the Dells is like this to some extent. I saw one pool where kids could climb up inside a killer whale and slide out its mouth, so it looked like the whale was vomiting an endless stream of children in bathing suits. (That's what I imagine the busy season would be like, anyway. Right now, it was just like an occasional child getting urped out.)

Our actual purpose in going to the Dells was to visit the circus museum in Baraboo, since Erin and I have a fascination with circus history; we've been planning this trip, quite literally, for years. Ringling Brothers had its winter quarters in Baraboo Wisconsin in the late 19th and early 20th century, and Circus World uses many of those original buildings as well as maintaining an archive of circus material and a phenominal collection of circus wagons. We spent the better part of a day there and in downtown Baraboo. Rat Girl, whose family hails from these parts, was pretty derisive about the cultural potential of a trip to Baraboo, but I figure that's because she hasn't been to the Al Ringling Theatre. Of course, neither have we--they had one showing of "Madagascar" on Memorial Day, and we missed it. Then they were closed til the following Friday. But the outside was cool! Other highlights of the Wisconsin Dells: the beer sampler and the homemade potato chips at Moose Jaw Brewpub on the Dells highway (both were fantastic, and I had a good sandwich too); breakfast at Mr. Pancake, which is across from Noah's Ark (we discovered that everything in the Dells is defined in relation to Noah's Ark--either across from it, or next to it. If Mt. Ararat were in Wisconsin, its brochure would say "visit beautiful Mt. Ararat, conveniently located below Noah's Ark!"); and piratey good fun at Pirate's Cove Adventure Golf! It even had signs with interesting pirate facts near every other hole. The Dells were everything I hoped they would be, and so much more! Hopefully photos to follow. Erin! Send me a disk!!

Friday, June 03, 2005


I'd fully planned for my first post after this weekend to discuss my trip to Wiscon, the sci-fi convention I go to in Madison WI; I'd expected to talk about Robin McKinley, and the joys of Madison in the springtime, and the fun of seeing old friends I've missed in my last two years of non-attendence. All memory of this event, however, was completely erased by my post-Wiscon visit to The House on the Rock.

The House may not look like much on its website. Even if you click the "photos" link, you cannot fully conceive of the horror of actually being there; it was positively Lovecraftian. When HPL described things that were "non-Euclidian," "cyclopean," and "unwholesome," he was describing this house. (Yes, I know he died before it was built. No, I don't care.) Before we'd even paid our admission, when all we'd seen were the lobby and the restrooms, Erin and I had devised a code to simplify communication during our visit:
1 = "What the hell IS that?"
2 = "Holy crap!"
3 = "What in God's name were they thinking?"
4 = "What is it FOR?"
We came up with this code after entering the bathroom and being confronted with a large, glassed-in diorama of dolls in a winter/Christmas venue built into the wall of the ladies' loo. Sound nice? It wasn't. Every doll, every carousel animal, every figurine in this place has a vague aura of "evil toy" surrounding it. They could film a Stephen King movie here and not have to buy set dressing. This effect is enhanced by the fact that the light levels are kept intentionally, spookily dim, and the whole place has the quality of a nightmare landscape. Within the first half hour of being there, Jake said quite matter of factly, "We should keep an eye on the clock. Because we do NOT want to be trapped in this place overnight..." Oh god. The first part, the actual house, is just kind of weird--every surface is either raw stone slabs or shag carpet, and instead of rooms, there are sort of nooks and pits and benches covered in carpet (because everything's better with carpet) and open fireplaces in the middle of the floor, and then occasionally something that actually would look like a normal room if it didn't contain a trundle bed full of animatronic teddy bears. Or something. But THEN comes true horror--the other buildings housing the House's collection of collections. Arms and armor. A case full of spitoons. Circus paraphenalia. Any of this would be fine by itself, but it's all crammed together in this massive sensory overload of junk, and still with the dim lighting and the creepy figurines the whole place works together to create a sense of unease. The band organ rooms were the worst; automated instruments occupying empty chairs in a tableau of roccocco furnishings and red velvet, surrounded by statues of saints and apostles, strings of pearls, and a coach pulled by two of the evilest carousel animals I've ever seen. It was like being trapped inside a hideous Christmas ornament. I reached a point where the only thing I could say was "" And Erin and Jake just nodded in agreement.

I won't even talk about the whale. It's beyond description.

Anyway, after escaping The House, we went on to spend a day in the Wisconsin Dells, and everything we did or saw there was tasteful and understated by comparison. I'll write about that and Wiscon later, and maybe have some of Erin's pictures to illustrate the indescribable horror I've just described. In the meantime, I'll be drinking heavily in an attempt to block it out. If you need me, I'll be under the bed.