Friday, September 29, 2006


Originally uploaded by blackbear88.
See the Elephant...

NOW don't you wish you were me? Coz I got to meet the baby elephant at the zoo last weekend! She is more than cute as hell, as you can plainly see. I took some little movies of her too.

While we're on the topic, check out my new favorite YouTube video, Peanut's Great Escape! Peanut is my new personal hero; her trip down the stairs is a metaphor for life. Or something. And the title of this post comes from a James McMurtry song I'm rather fond of, from his latest album. I can't figure out if the whole song is a metaphor about going to war; but even if it's not (or especially if it's not) I like it just the same.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Days of Wine and Monkey Crap

Never has an 11 hour drive each way been less onerous than on this past weekend, when I dragged my lazy self to Ithaca, NY for a wedding of one of my college buddies. It was splendid.

I enjoy living in Indiana (a fact many of my out-of-state friends find hard to comprehend.) I don't long for the mountains or ocean beaches per se. But I did go to college near the Catskills, and I haven't been back in that direction very often in the intervening years; so the Finger Lakes region had a pleasant, familiar autumn groove going on that awakened all sorts of college nostalgia in me. Got to spend the weekend with nearly all my buddies, including (but not limited to) Upyernoz and Mrs. Noz, Dr. Pretentious and her husband, Cthulhia, and of course the Groom Himself. The drive turned out to be 11 hours long; when I got to Erie PA, I thought, "hmm, according to mapquest it's only 2 more hours! yet when I examine the road atlas it looks more like FOUR hours...sonofabitch...." The experience was enhanced by the fact that it started to rain, was pitch dark, and the route from the big highway up to Ithaca was missing its center line and shoulder lines due to repaving. So I ticked along at about 35 mph for a good long way, no doubt infuriating the driver behind me... But he didn't hit me, and I made it there in plenty of time to refuse to play Ticket to Ride with jeremy. We hit the Ithaca farmer's market both mornings, and I must say it's a fabulous market. Plenty of excellent food, including blueberry wine, lemon turnovers, and apple cider doughnuts (which I liked so much I might actually try making them at home.) Saturday afternoon there was a catered BBQ at Taughannock State Park, where we ate, drank, played frisbee and hiked up a shale-y path to see an amazing waterfall. Saturday night we managed to steal the groom away from his groomly duties to spend quality time and play board games, about 10 of us crammed into Dr. P's room. Sunday we drove out to a winery for some tasting, and I bought a bottle for my parents. So it was a winey weekend... The wedding itself was lovely, a combination of traditional Jewish matrimony and new age commitment ceremony. I can't express how happy I am for Josh and his new wife; they seem to fit together like two pieces of a puzzle. After coffee with the remaining 4 of the gang in the morning, I hit the road for a beautiful drive home. (Well, beautiful until I got to western Ohio... but we won't talk about that.) It was a glorious weekend.

Then I got home to a maelstrom of student questions, papers to grade, and my new volunteer assignment at the zoo, which involves baboons. LOTS of baboons. (And wild dogs, and lions. But mostly baboons.) I now spend 4 hours every other thursday morning becoming intimately familiar with several different kinds of poop, and the vast number of locations a troop of monkeys can put said poop in their enclosures. Don't you wish you were me?

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Cold Showers

They say cold showers are good for you, on a number of different levels. I beg to differ; when my water heater died over the weekend, having cold showers did not in fact improve my health in any discernable way. I'd go so far as to say they had the opposite effect. I'd planned to call in a plumber on Monday, but my father in his infinite wisdom pointed out that after the plumber showed up, moved my refrigerator to get at the water heater, and charged me for the visit, he'd just tell me to get a new one anyway. So I skipped the middle man and headed out to Lowe's instead to order up a 30 gallon gas heater from Whirlpool. They promised delivery the next day (good, as they charged me through the nose for it--I have an uneasy suspicion that they offer free delivery if you're willing to wait a few days, but they didn't specifically mention it. They probably saw that look of cold-shower desperation in my eye.) Unfortunately, I was scheduled to spend the next day shooting the sequel to my much aclaimed turn on the parody soap opera "MD Hearts." (The ANC Movies news page has a nice still of me looking all evil for the new one.) Fortunately my mom kindly offered to babysit the arrival of the new appliance, and hot showers are once again mine! So is a badly scraped kitchen floor--the fridge didn't move without a fight, apparently--but it's a small price to pay.

I'm about to embark on a lengthy weekend road trip to Ithaca, NY. Here's hoping that all my breakdown karma got used up on the water heater, and that my elderly Saturn will survive the drive.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

I Already Miss Steve Irwin

I think this easily qualifies as the most depressing celebrity death since Jim Henson.

Nearly everyone who knows me knows that I have had an abiding crush on Steve Irwin for about a decade--since he first started showing up on Animal Planet with his enthusiastic love for every living thing no matter how crawly or bitey. That passion for wildlife is something I completely identify with. When I was 10, I wanted to be a Greenpeace warrior. I wanted to chain myself to redwoods, drive my boat between the whale and the harpoons, do whatever it took to champion the cause of the voiceless masses. (And somehow, I ended up with a liberal arts degree instead. Ah well. These things happen.) But Steve realized that the key to environmetalism is education; all the Zephyr boats and tree spikings in the world won't make ordinary people give a crap about saving spotted owl habitats, or saltwater crocodiles, or whales, or whathaveyou. The only thing that will do that is education, and Steve Irwin was first and foremost a fantastically talented educator. I know others will take up the torch behind him... but it'll never be quite the same.

He was also cute as hell. Think I'll go buy some Foster's and watch the Croc Hunter movie again. Sniff.