Wednesday, October 31, 2012

How Old is Too Old?

I have been asking myself this question for a number of years. Several Halloweens have come and gone since I last donned a costume with the intention of collecting a pillow case full of candy. This year however, I was given the opportunity to come out of trick-or-treating retirement. My friend and I made the brave venture to trick-or-treat with the eight and nine-year-old girls that I babysit. We spent less than twenty dollars decorating two t-shirts to each resemble half of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. When we hug, the sandwich becomes whole. It's a makeshift costume, perfect for a college student's budget.

For the first few houses we went to, my friend and I were rather timid, feeling very out of place. As the evening progressed, we realized we could be doing much worse. At least we were wearing costumes. The same could not be said for the pair of boys wearing plain hooded sweatshirts and carrying garbage bags over their shoulders. What was the deal with the boy wearing a red Teletubbie costume, riding his bike up the street while his two un-costumed friends trailed behind. Were they even trick-or-treating?

I felt bad for the woman who's dog ran out of the house as she hurriedly stuffed Fun Dips into our bags yelling, "Buster, I got turkey!!!" Her words combined with a hoarse, smokes a pack a day voice lent incredible irony to the situation as she stepped out of her oversized McMansion. We watched from the next house over as she drove down the road with the window down, screeching her dog's name.

Realizing the woman's reaction to her dog running away was as funny as it was sad made me question if I should be trick-or-treating. These feelings were brought up again when I had to stop myself from complimenting the woman who opened her door sporting an Ommegang Brewery t-shirt. The icing on the cake, however, was a clever neon sign in a window that read "Bates Motel." And I got the reference. Maybe the real hint should have been when I got home, with a few more pounds of candy than when I started, and all I could think was, "Who's gonna eat this?"

The other part of the sandwich (jelly) wore her half home
The best decoration of the night

Aftermath of Sandy

Students traversing the sidewalks along Euclid Avenue, BEWARE. Treacherous leaf sludge threatens to throw off even the surest of foot. This slimy layer of disintegrating leaf litter has caked itself onto the asphalt and cement, where it sits until an unsuspecting passerby unknowingly steps into the trap. In an instant, a helpless pedestrian can find themselves performing an impromptu split while attempting to cross the street.

The leaf sludge pervades this street corner

Slippery stuff

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Trader Joke's

I think I've found a new career path. Well, I'm still a college kid so I haven't had any career opportunities yet. But I'm about to! Any of you folks who shop at Trader Joe's have probably noticed that many of their products display labels with witty comments and quips. When I shop there, I often find myself browsing the product labels more than the products themselves. I've always been partial to that sneaky brand of humor.

What I can't help from thinking is that it is actually someone's job to make those labels and constantly come up with funny ways to say how their product is delicious and you should buy it. What do you think the creative writers for the Trader Joe's labels do all day? I just picture them locked in an office room, MadMen style, spewing out possible funny label ideas, only reserving a small percentage of their  brainstorms as fit for printing.

The cows don't just say no...

These aren't just any old frozen burritos. They were handmade
by Mexican burrito experts and shipped many miles to a store near you

Googly Eyes Gardener

My family and I have been longtime fans of Saturday Night Live, and we have shared countless comedic references to SNL skits over the years. This particular video has been popping up in my thoughts a lot recently, so I'd like to share it. I hope it makes you giggle.

Cactus Costume

Even my cactus wanted to get dressed up for Halloween this year.
She decided to be a jalapeno.

Let's Breed a Giant

There are plenty of us science fiction and fantasy nerds out there who wonder every now and then: what would the world be like if giants roamed the Earth? You know what I say? Let's put our crazy modern day medical technology to the test and try to breed ourselves a giant.

I think the process should be fairly straightforward. We already know how to breed animals for specific traits, all we need to do is apply this technology to humans. The scientists in charge would most likely select breeding individuals that carry the gene for gigantism. This breeding process will probably be a slow one, taking many generations to properly monitor the growth of the human subjects. I think a good starting height for our gigantic friend would be somewhere around one-hundred feet tall. That's just a couple dozen feet taller than the christmas tree at Rockefeller Center every holiday season. We can always make a taller giant if the current giant isn't cool enough or can't reach enough also tall things without a ladder.

So I guess another important thing to consider is where this giant will sleep. Anyone interested in offering their house? The giant will probably have a pretty hefty appetite as well, so a place where whole pigs and cows are plentiful is a bonus.

Tricky Halloween Gnomes

Sometimes roommates leave nicely carved pumpkins sitting on the back porch. On occasion, the tricky Halloween gnomes will stop over for a visit and lend their artistic expertise to embellish the decorative squash.

The gnomes were hard at work this Halloween season

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Rushification Initiation

There's a first time for everything.

It's pretty surreal to see a band you really like perform live, right in front of you. It brings the power of awesome to a whole new level.  Last night I saw RUSH perform as part of their Clockwork Angels tour at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, New York. It was nothing short of epic.

Travelling from Syracuse to Buffalo, with a short stop in Rochester to pick up two fellow RUSH fans, the car was saturated with excitement. In preparation for the performance, the entire Clockwork Angels album circulated through the sound system twice. Once in Buffalo, a quick pitstop at the Anchor Bar to devour some wings revealed that we were in fact not the only RUSH fans who also have a taste for chicken wings.

Once we got to the entertainment facility, it became more apparent than ever how male-dominated the RUSH fan base truly is. Middle-aged men donning black t-shirts and leather jackets had arrived in droves. Many of the women who were in attendance matched their male counterparts in both age and grunginess. As one of the members of our crew remarked, there were "a lot of dudes, and a lot of ladies from the eighties." The high male to female ratio would later translate to an almost zero wait time for the women's bathroom, which was thoroughly enjoyable.

As expected, the show was incredible. A combination of  spectacular musicality and visually stunning video segments made it a treat for both the ears and the eyes. During some of the videos, which were projected on an enormous screen behind the band, the lights surrounding the stage were coordinated with the video, enhancing the viewing experience. Neil Peart's drum solos were awe inspiring and massively intimidating all in one fell swoop. The flames spewing from the stage always seemed to catch me a litte off guard, and made my face feel dangerously warm.

After a fantastic show like this what is, a car full of RUSH fans to do? Listen to the entire Clockwork Angels album AGAIN on the way home, of course.

A collection of smaller screens oscillated up and down
in front of the main screen
Don't look directly into the light...
The carnival tent pictured on the big screen during "Carnies" was
reproduced with the red and white light beams emitted above the crowd
A RUSH concert wouldn't be complete without FIRE!
Crazy cool colors

Thursday, October 18, 2012

My Genius Plan

I am a schemer. Always scheming, trying to trick people into being friends with me. Well this time I have a master plan, and I'm spreading the word.

There is this man that I want to meet in person more than any other person in the world, and his name is Dave Grohl. You may recognize the name. He's kind of a legend.

We don't exactly fall into the same circles. He's a rock star and I'm an aspiring writer. Okay so he writes lyrics and I write blog posts, so I guess we both write and can share that common interest.

We also both like the same music.

I want to learn to play the drums, and he could probably teach me a thing or two about tapping a beat.

He's a liberal kind of guy, I'm a liberal kind of girl.

He has long hair, I have long hair.

I guess we have more in common than I realized, but he doesn't know me or know that I exist. This needs to change.

So here's the skinny:

Dave Grohl is a father. He has two little girls ages six and three. My dream job is to write children's books that educate young audiences on the importance of environmental conservation and awareness. The idea here is to write books that are geared toward the age range I want to write for, and have it also be the same age range that Dave Grohl's children fall into. Somehow my books will make it into their hands, they will read the books, and fall in love with the stories.

Now I haven't worked this next part out exactly, but I'm thinking that either via a book signing or some other public event, Dave Grohl will realize his daughters' interest in the books, and want to get signed copies to give them. He will approach me, ask for signatures, and then I will freeze up and not know what to say next. But it won't matter because that is how I will meet Dave Grohl and nothing else is important.

Look at that hair action

Great facial hair

Yeah, he used to wear a bra sometimes. I'd love to ask him about it when I meet him

Sweet Eats

This small ceramic bowl may not look that exciting, but just wait until I tell you what's in it.

Are you ready?

... are ya sure?

Okay, okay! Yeesh. In this bowl is a warm slice of Pupmkin Nut Bread, handmade by the Amish at Hershberger Farm. It is topped with a scoop of Tahitian vanilla gelato. I can't say for sure if the vanilla beans are really from Tahiti, but it sure tastes like they could be! Both of these items were purchased at the Syracuse Real Food Co-op on Kensington Road, a convient three minute walk from my house.

It can be decidedly inconvenient when I'm craving a sweet treat and a store full of goodies is just a hop, skip and a jump down the road.


Too good to share

Home Cookin' Away from Home

In these past few weeks, it's been hard to find time to relax. The stresses of junior year seem to be at full tilt. Luckily one of my roommates is also fond of cooking, so last night we set aside some time to do something for ourselves. A hardy and filling meal can go a long way during a long week of classes riddled with exams and other stressors.

Last week we bought carnival squash at the market. The man at the vegetable stand told us that carnival squash is an even sweeter variety than acorn squash, so we were eager to try it. My mom always bakes acorn squash with butter and brown sugar, and it's one of my favorite winter veggies. This time, however, I decided that wasn't enough. I searched the internet for a carnival squash recipe, and found something better than I could have ever hoped for. Instead of having squash as a side dish, we turned it into an entire meal by making chicken stuffed carnival squash.

The entire cooking process turned out to be a bit lengthier than anticipated. This was mainly because the squash took twice as long to cook than expected. We also needed to poach the chicken for this recipe, which is a new culinary skill I can now add to my cooking resume. The dinner was a true labor of love, and it all became worth it when we each had that first bite of chicken stuffed deliciousness. Even after having seconds, we still had leftovers, which is one of the best things a college kid could ask for.

Disclaimer: For this recipe, we baked three carnival squash, and tripled the amount of chicken. That's how we got those tasty left overs

Plenty to go around

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Central in the City

It is tricky to balance school work with recreational writing, and I apologize for the extended gaps between posts.

This past weekend I traveled to New York City, and attended what I would consider my first actual concert, with big name bands and an intense stage set up. I am referring to the Global Citizen Festival, held in Central Park on October 29th. The line up included performances by K'naan, Band of Horses, the Black Keys, Foo Fighters, and Neil Young and Crazy Horse. Oh, and a surprise performance by John Legend. The stage was steaming with talent.
Literally- steaming with talent!
The concert was designed to raise awareness and bring a call to action for such issues as poverty and disease. In between musical acts, a variety of speakers came to the stage to share their ideas and ways we can work together to solve these global issues. While their messages were well intentioned, many individuals in the crowd seemed to have little interest in the real issues, yelling obscene jokes and directing rude comments towards the speakers on stage. I suppose that is to be expected when 60,000 people attend a high caliber event such as this, free of charge. While it was clear that some only attended to get their fill of free music, the speeches made were powerful and though provoking. It was clear that a lot of thought had been put into this event, and brought speakers from all around the world to share some very personal stories.

The event evoked an interesting mix of somber self reflection and high energy excitement between the scientists, social change makers, and grammy winning rock artists. I am thrilled that I got to be a part of it.