Monday, November 24, 2008

Relative Remarks


The Thanksgiving holiday brings with it my fledgling, second annual contest. I'm altering the competition this season, so please reacquaint yourself:


Document the most offensive or ignorant comment spoken by a relative during your holiday interactions.


The categories are wide open. While "Offensive" is generally meant to describe racist comments, it is open to interpretation, and may skew based on your politics. "Ignorant" is also purposefully ambiguous.

If your uncle calls the president-elect the N-word, the comment unequivocally qualifies as "Offensive".

If your uncle calls the president-elect a muslim, the comment is "Ignorant", but may qualify for "Offensive" bonus points.

If your mom asks "what's a 'Mad Men'?", the comment is unequivocally "Ignorant".


1.> The comment(s) must originate from a relative or family friend old enough to know better.

2.> Baiting your relatives is encouraged. Tornado Slide recommends breaching the topic of universal health care.

3.> To participate, please post the qualifying comment(s) in the comment section below, or email the comment to me. Please include a brief background (my grandfather fought in WWII, my family is from Oklahoma, etc.)

4.> Submissions will be accepted through Friday, December 5.

5.> Awards will be given for both the "Offensive" and "Ignorant" category.

6.> I am the boss.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

This Vampire Love Story Lacks Credibility

I tried to read "The Hobbit" in the fifth grade, but abandoned it. I've never seen "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. My only Harry Potter exposure has been brief, despite strong interest from friends and more than friends.

Despite this indifference to fantasy, I try to keep abreast of characters and plotlines. (Except for "Lost", because fuck "Lost". Who gives a shit. I hope J.J. Abrams gets eaten by Cloverfield or gets bitten by a Cloverfield parasite and Cloversplodes.) While this kind of dubious knowledge doesn't exactly make you the cocktail party's charming renaissance man, it is required information for those who want to get the Voldemort jokes in "The Office" and Ian McKellen's "Extras" cameo.

In that spirit of quasi-self-improvement, I decided to spoil the "Twilight" series for myself today, reading the Wikipedia plot summaries of the four books.

I couldn't help myself! The movie trailer is so absurd, I had to try and see why this book-turned-film has so captivated our struggling nation's female citizens.

Twilight Trailer in HD

I hoped Wikipedia could answer the following questions:

*Why were those high schoolers wearing old-timey baseball jerseys in the woods?

*Why would an attractive girl be attracted to a boy whose "skin is pale white and ice cold coolcooled." (At 59 seconds into the trailer, you can hear those words, and she definitely doesn't quite say "cold" or "cool".)

*Why is it so hard for this other vampire guy to kill a teenage girl? Willowy sixteen year-olds don't really strike me as the Most Dangerous Game, you know?

*When a vampire is really old, but he looks 17, why does he enroll in high school? "I'm a hundred years old, but I really wanted to brush up on my knowledge of rudimentary algebra and American civics, plus maybe try to score some sweet 'tang." And how does he enroll? What feeder school did he come from? Did he just claim to be home schooled? And why aren't kids constantly beating his ass for looking like an emo douchebag?

Wikipedia didn't explain these plot holes, but the plot summaries were absurdly entertaining. When vampire goings-on are described in an objective, matter-of-fact manner, it's comedy gold. I've pasted the Wikipedia summaries below, and highlighted my favorite knee-slapping (not literally) moments...

Oh, and SPOILER ALERT. But if you don't want this series spoiled, you're a female high school freshman and you shouldn't be reading Tornado Slide in the first place.


Isabella "Bella" Swan moves from sunny Phoenix, Arizona, to rainy Forks, Washington, to live with her father, Charlie. She chooses to do this so that her mother, Renée, can travel with her new husband, Phil Dwyer, who is a minor league baseball player. In Phoenix she was a bit of an outcast, so it surprises her that she attracts much attention at her new school, and is quickly befriended by several students. Much to her dismay, several boys in the school compete for shy Bella's attention.

When Bella sits next to Edward Cullen in class on her first day of school, Edward seems utterly repulsed by her. He even attempts to change his schedule to avoid her, leaving Bella completely puzzled about his attitude towards her. After tricking a family friend, Jacob Black, into telling her the local tribal legends, Bella concludes that Edward and his family are vampires. Although she was inexplicably attracted to him even when she thought Edward drank human blood, she is much relieved to learn that the Cullens choose to abstain from drinking human blood, and drink animal blood instead. Over time, Edward and Bella fall in love.

The seemingly perfect state of their relationship is thrown into chaos when another vampire coven sweeps into Forks, and James, a tracker vampire, decides that he wants to hunt Bella for sport. The Cullens plan to distract the tracker by splitting up Bella and Edward, and Bella is sent to hide in a hotel in Phoenix. Bella then gets a phone call from James in which he says that he has her mother, and Bella must give herself up to James at her old dance studio, to save her. She does so, and while at the dance studio, James attacks her. Edward, along with the rest of the Cullen family, rescue Bella before James can kill her. Once they realize that James has bitten Bella's hand, Edward sucks the venom out of her system before it can spread and change her into a vampire. Upon returning to Forks, Bella and Edward attend their prom and Bella expresses her desire to become a vampire, which Edward refuses to let happen.


Isabella "Bella" Swan is thrown an eighteenth birthday party by Edward Cullen, the vampire she loves, and his vampire family. While unwrapping a gift, she receives a paper cut. Jasper, although attempting a non-human diet, is overwhelmed by the scent of blood and tries to attack Bella. In an attempt to keep Bella safe from the world of vampires, Edward leaves the town of Forks. Bella becomes depressed and seeks comfort with Jacob Black, an old family friend who eases her pain over losing Edward.

Bella and Jacob begin spending a lot of time together, and Bella soon discovers that the rush of adrenaline present when she places herself in dangerous situations stimulates a hallucination of Edward's voice. Bella begins seeking out dangerous behavior, such as motorcycle riding, to keep Edward's voice with her. Meanwhile, Jacob finds out that he is a werewolf. Initially, he tries to keep this secret from Bella, but he eventually reveals as much as he can without betraying his pack. After Bella attempts cliff-diving, she gets caught in a riptide and is rescued by Jacob.

At the same time, Alice Cullen, Edward's vampire sister who has visions of the future, has a vision of Bella jumping off the cliff. Presuming Bella is dead, Alice rushes to Forks to check on Charlie, Bella's father, while Edward calls Bella's home. Jacob answers and informs Edward that Charlie is "at the funeral", referring to that of a man in town who had a heart attack, but Edward draws the conclusion that he means Bella's funeral. Desperate after Bella's supposed death, Edward flees to Italy to see the Volturi, peace-keeping vampires who would be able to kill Edward, granting him leave of a world without Bella.

Bella and Alice rush to Italy to stop Edward, and save him before it is too late. Before they leave Italy, the Volturi tell them that Bella, a human who knows of the existence of vampires, must either be killed or changed into a vampire herself. After they return to Forks, Edward explains to Bella that he only left in order to protect her, and she forgives him. The book ends with the Cullens voting in favor of Bella being changed into a vampire, much to Edward's dismay.


The story begins with the revelation that Seattle is being plagued by a string of unsolved murders, which Edward suspects are being caused by a newborn vampire that is unable to control its thirst. Edward and Bella fill out college applications, while Bella explains to Edward her desire to see Jacob, her werewolf friend, again. Meanwhile, Alice Cullen has a vision that Victoria, a vampire who is hunting Bella, is back in town. Although Edward fears for her safety, Bella insists that Jacob and the rest of the werewolf pack would never harm her, and he eventually allows her to visit Jacob once in a while.

A few days later, Bella expresses her desire to have Edward make love to her before turning her into a vampire. Edward initially refuses, explaining to Bella that he could very easily kill her. Eventually, upon realizing how much it means to Bella, he agrees to try in the future as long as they are married first. Despite having an aversion to marriage, Bella realizes that spending eternity with Edward is more important to her than anything else and accepts his proposal.

Bella and the Cullens realize that the murders in Seattle are being committed by Victoria and an "army" of newborn vampires. The Cullen family joins forces with the werewolf pack in order to combat this threat. As everyone else prepares for battle, Edward and Bella camp up in the mountains, where they are later joined by Jacob and Seth Clearwater, a young member of the werewolf pack, to wait out the fight.

In the morning, Jacob overhears Edward and Bella discussing their engagement and becomes very upset. He threatens to join the fight and get himself killed because Bella doesn't love him. To stop him, Bella kisses Jacob and realizes that she loves him, too. After Victoria and her army are successfully destroyed, Bella explains to Jacob that while she loves him, her love for Edward is greater and she cannot live without him. Jacob, angry at Bella's decision to become a vampire, runs away in his wolf form to escape the pain he feels.


Breaking Dawn is split into three separate "books", or parts. The first part details Bella's marriage and honeymoon with Edward, which they spend on a private island off the coast of Brazil. Edward grants Bella's wish and makes love to her. Soon after, Bella finds a box of unused tampons and realizes that she is pregnant. After contacting Carlisle, who confirms her belief, she and Edward plan to return home. Edward, concerned for her wellbeing, urges her to get an abortion. However, Bella wants to keep the child and decides to contact Rosalie for support, knowing that Rosalie has always wanted children.

The second part of the novel is written from Jacob Black's point of view, and lasts throughout Bella's pregnancy and childbirth. The pack of werewolves, not knowing what danger the unborn child may pose, make plans to destroy it, even though they must kill Bella to do so. Jacob, however, disagrees and revolts, leaving the pack and creating his own with Seth and Leah Clearwater. Bella soon gives birth, approximately a month after becoming pregnant. The birth breaks many of her bones and she loses massive amounts of blood, and in order to save her life, Edward changes her into a vampire. Jacob, who was present for the birth, immediately finds his soul mate in Bella's newborn daughter, Renesmee.

The final section of Breaking Dawn shifts back to Bella's perspective, who has been changed into a vampire and is enjoying her new life. However, the vampire Irina misidentifies Renesmee as an "immortal child", a child who has been turned into a vampire before it is old enough to be responsible for its actions. The creation and protection of "immortal children" was previously outlawed by the Volturi. After Irina presents her allegation to the Volturi, they plan to destroy Renesmee. In an attempt to save her, the Cullens gather vampires from around the world to stand as witnesses and prove to the Volturi that Renesmee is not an immortal child. Upon confronting the gathered Cullen allies and witnesses, the Volturi discover that they have been misinformed and immediately execute Irina for her mistake. However, they remain undecided on whether Renesmee should be viewed as a threat to the secret existence of vampires. At that time, Alice and Jasper, who had left prior to the confrontation, return with Nahuel, a 150-year-old vampire-human crossbreed like Renesmee. He demonstrates that the crossbreeds pose no threat and the Volturi leave, knowing that they no longer have just reason to destroy Renesmee. Bella, Edward, and Renesmee return to their home, free to live their lives in peace.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Punctuation Names For Girls


PROS: Urban. Progressive.

CONS: Other kids would call her "Hymen".

Em Dash

PROS: "Em" is like "Emma", which is currently popular.

CONS: Other kids would call her "Mrs. Dash", if that condiment still exists, and if kids are exposed to those advertisements.

En Dash

PROS: None.

CONS: Everything. The very concept is absurd.


PROS: Sexy. Sounds European, or possibly African. (Senegal, probably.)

CONS: Long. Sounds like "A Pa's Trophy".


PROS: Classic.

CONS: It's a boy's name.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The South American Experience: Valparaiso, Chile

[NOTE: Prior episodes covered Montevideo, Buenos Aires, and Iguazu Falls.]


Puerto Iguazu, Argentina

We woke up.

We ate the breakfast buffet in the large hotel dining room.

We packed.

We took a taxi to the small airport.

We waited.

We flew to Buenos Aires.

We hired a car to transfer us to the international airport across town.

I fell asleep for 30 seconds.

We passed through security and customs, and were back in the terminal where we first arrived on the continent, where we had waited for our flight to Uruguay.

We killed time.

I paid $8 for a salami sandwich. "It's good, but it's not $8 good," I told Matt. Its quality was well beneath the salami sandwich we purchased within Iguazu National Park. And my can of Pepsi cost $2.

We finally boarded the flight to Santiago. Three babies took turns screaming during the flight, defeating any small chance I had of napping while en route. In four separate attempts, an English-speaking man across the isle begged the Spanish-speaking gentlemen in front of him not to lean his seat all the way back. The leaner shrugged, seemingly sympathetic yet stubborn. I had a leaner in front of me, but didn't complain. Because, you know, I'd flown on a goddamn plane before, and knew that such annoyances came with the territory.

We landed, and managed to be first in line at customs. Customs said we needed to pay the entry tax, which was handled in a different line.

The entry tax was $131. "It's good for the life of your passport," the agent informed me, which did little to reassure me of my new passport stamp's value.

Back at customs, now at the end of the line, the customs agent stamped my passport. Rather than turning to one of the many empty pages, the woman chose place the Chile stamp on the same page as my recently acquired Uruguay stamp -- overlapping its logo, in fact.

We hired official airport transportation, another car, for the hour's drive west to Valparaiso. Before stepping into the vehicle, Matt and I decided to grab some Chilean Pesos from the airport ATMs. Without knowing the exchange rate, I decided to rely on the ATM's default amounts for withdrawl. The maximum default amount was 90,000 pesos. I pushed the button. Glancing at the reciept, I saw that my account was at approximately 3,400 -- much lower than it should have been. How much money did I just withdraw? What the hell is the exchange rate here? What kind of ATM suggests you remove thousands of dollars with one push of a button? What happened to my checking account? Was my identity stolen in Uruguay or Argentina? Fuck!

Utilizing text messages to Googlers back in the states, Matt determined that we were not carrying gigantic sums of money. The exchange rate was around 450 pesos to every one dollar, meaning that the missing amount of my checking account balance was not located in my pocket. Where is my money? Did some Uruguayan streetrat hack my account? Fuck!

The scene from the car was Californian: mountains and vineyards through a haze. The land was rural, with only a few groups of houses within view of the highway. "Houses" may be a stretch, as most were tiny, with tin roofs. Most of the billboards advertised processed meat, but I also saw one for rebar. No shit, rebar. Steel bars with which to reinforce concrete. Rebar. As if to say, "Hey, poor Chilean grape-picker! Why not upgrade from that shack to a large, reinforced concrete dwelling?" Or, "Hey, trucker! Yeah, you! The one headed for the coast! You know what you're missing? Rebar. Think about it."

Within the city limits, our driver rolled down his window at a stoplight and spoke with one of the many pedestrians, getting directions to our hotel, the Robinson Crusoe Inn. A few blocks later, we had left the flat streets of the coast. Ferrari avenue rose before us like a mountain. The drive pushed ahead in low gear, inclined near 45 degrees, and stopped in an s-curve to again ask for directions. Reoriented, he thanked the passerby and released the clutch. The tires squealed as he pressed the gas, coaxing the car up the remainder of the incline, now even steeper than before. No dice. He backed up to gain momentum.

I should have mentioned this before: the street was lined with interconnected buildings, wide enough for only two-way traffic. It was anyone's guess if it was a one-way or two-way street. Also, the corners were blind. Is there any way to convey that the corners were extremely blind? Like, blind from birth? The point I'm trying to make is, even without the steep incline that made it feel like the car was ready to tumble backward hood-over-trunk, Ferrari avenue felt dangerous.

Ferrari avenue the next morning, looking less dangerous but just as steep.

The tires caught, and the car successfully passed through the s-curve. We turned right, then right again, went a few yards downhill, and stopped. We'd arrived at the inn, situated near the top of a hill on another narrow street.

The inside of the inn was a contrast to the city we'd driven through. The lobby was full of furniture and wall hangings, like an upscale Applebee's.

Photo via Tripadvisor.

Each room was named in the spirit of the inn's namesake novel -- we were placed in "Selkirk's Courtyard", on the ground floor. The window was large, but almost completely, tastefully blocked off. Just how bad was this neighborhood?

The maid asked if we'd like to see the terrace. The three of us climbed the wooden stairs to the top floor. (I think it was the 2nd floor, but it was more like a 3rd story, given the high ceilings and open plan.) The terrace was one wide, split-level room with windows on all sides. Outside, it was dusk, and the low, brightly painted buildings covered every inch of the hills that rose above the ocean. It was like San Fransisco, built with tin, compressed around one small bay. I exhaled the nerves I'd accumulated on the drive to the inn. Despite the terror of the drive, the city's questionable character, and my missing checking account balance, I started to relax.

Matt and I quickly unpacked and went back to the living-room-like lobby, where we met the inn's owner, George. Born in Santiago and raised in Phoenix, he started his life in Valpariaso several years back, after "falling in love with the city." He asked his maid to make sure Cafe Turri was open late on Sundays (it was), and recommended we dine there. He handed us a map, explained how to ring the bell by the front door to be let in after business hours, and gave a final word of advice to Matt. "Watch your backpack," he said. Matt latched the clip that connected the pack's shoulder straps.

We walked down the dimly lit street, wondering how much we'd curse its incline on the journey back. After 100 yards, the street became a steep staircase. Fifty steps later, the stairway became a landing. Another stairway led to the left, and one continued straight ahead. Matt stopped just before reaching the landing.

"There's like 5 cats down there and it's freaking me out."

The landing, sans cats. Found via Flickr.

We eventually reached sea level. Never truly understanding the directions George gave us for Cafe Turri, we abandoned hope of finding it. Walking through a plaza bordered by small cafes, Matt led us to a small place called Cinzano. Matt had the balls to order a sandwich containing green beans, and that gamble paid off big. My pork sandwich was far inferior. Pictures of maritime disasters hung on the walls. Electrical wiring hung exposed, as if some recent disaster forced a sloppy renovation.

When we failed on our first attempt to navigate back to the inn, I executed my first and only freakout of the vacation. I was tired from the day of traveling, I was missing a significant amount of my liquid assests, and I was confused in a strange new city of questionable repute. I felt that Matt wasn't displaying an adequate level of concern for the situation. He felt that being lost for 5 minutes was not an emergency. Indeed, we were back on track after our successful second try, and I calmed as we hiked back to our room.

I think it took another 24 or 36 hours to figure out my checking account problem -- hours during which I constantly considered asking George to let me use his office computer to access online banking.

"Check your ATM reciept to see if the balance is in dollars or Chilean pesos," Matt suggested.

I looked. I didn't have 3,400 dollars in the account, I had 3,400,000 pesos. I relaxed.

Valparaiso, Chile

I woke to a the sound of percussion from outside. I later learned the source -- a truck selling canisters of natural gas. It was a two man job. The driver drove slowly through the neighborhood, and his partner stood in the truck's bed, banging the canisters like drums. The ice cream truck method.

Breakfast was cooked by George in the kitchen, and served to the few groups of guests upstairs in the terrace. We enjoyed our eggs and grapefruit while looking out toward the port, toward the tin roof next door, where a cat explored.

"This city is like a cat's wet dream," Matt said. "Do you think there are cats here that have never walked on the ground?" (And later, "Jesus Christ, I'm 30 years old and I'm saying shit like 'a cat's wet dream'? What the hell is wrong with me?")

George suggested we head to Pablo Neruda's former home, now a museum. We walked a few steps out of the inn, where a neighbor's dog startled us by charging its fence. Matt and I continued to move up the hill. The city was far less menacing than the day before, but no less disorganized. The sloppy wiring at Bar Cinzano was merely a microcosm of the area's philosophy on electrical cables.

We found Pablo Neruda's house, and tried unsuccessfully to slide in with a touring group. The guide stopped us, explaining we needed to buy tickets. Of course, Matt and I hold a strict "don't pay for anything that involves poetry" philosophy, so we split and enjoyed the free architecture view.

Navigating toward sea level, we saw the Heroes monument, a tribute to some sailors that died in the Battle of Iquique, which you'll remember was a small but significant conflict in the 1879's War of the Pacific. Passing the port and its small shops, Matt and I utlized one of Valpo's signature turn-of-the-century funiculars to reach the naval museum.

Since it was light outside and I wasn't terrified, finding Cafe Turri was a far simpler task than it was the night before. We dined outside, overlooking the port, again, because that's how you dine in Valparaiso. Dining any other way is just silly. Matt had swordfish, and I had sea bass. Chilean sea bass in Chile -- just another feather in the hat of my long tradition that started with Boston cream pie in Boston.

It was late afternoon, so tradition called for us to return to our rented room to shower and watch reruns of "Gilmore Girls" and "The O.C.". I should have mentioned that our room -- excuse me, "Selkirk's Courtyard" -- featured only one bed. Matt was uncomfortable with the idea of sleeping beside me in that bed, so he spent the previous night in his sleeping bag on the floor. I suppose that would make our room seem pretty not gay. But if you stepped in after the maids cleaned it on Tuesday, the room would seem pretty not not gay.

I believe our late lunch allowed us to skip dinner that night and head straight to Bar La Playa, which Matt's Lonely Planet guidebook touted for its cheap beer and long bar. We navigated the long, steep stairway down to the landing. There were many fewer cats compared to the previous night, but one stood out. Matt noticed a ragged black cat that appeared to be a body double for Special Agent Jack Bauer, the "junkyard cat" featured in my favorite episode of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia", "Bums: Making a Mess All Over the City".

The bar was located in the financial district of the city, a locale that would have terrified me 24 hours earlier. The city charmed me since then, however, so I was in good spirits as we made our way down a dark street fit for a Jack the Ripper film. A low entrance opened into a standard pub, with wooden furnishings and a long bar. Posters of Hollywood icons spotted the walls, lending the place an inviting charm, with the exception of the poster of a "Pretty Woman" era Julia Roberts, which stuck out like a Julia Roberts on wall of attractive Hollywood icons. Also charmingly standard: a small TV showing a South American soccer match (tied zero-zero? Weird!) and an English-speaking douchebag with a shaved head hitting on an English-speaking woman way out of his league.

Not only was the guidebook was right for once about the long bar, it also nailed its prediction of cheap beer. I recall calculating a $.30 peso per liter rate on the way home, with a margin of error at +/- "kind of drunk". (We drank 3 or 4 liters of Escudo and paid 3300 pesos, about $7. I think.)

The city was quiet as we stumbled home, save for two young gentlemen pissing along one wall of the long, steep stairway that led back to the inn. Valparaiso was kind of awesome.

The stairway in daylight, as seen from the cat landing. Photo found via Tripadvisor.

Valparaiso, Chile

I woke in my soft bed, and Matt in his hobo nest on the floor. Matt especially enjoyed the final egg breakfast George prepared for us, but I remained partial to the previous day's omelette.

We were excited for another day of exploring the city's hidden passageways and absurd stairways. As we walked a few steps out of the inn, the neighbor dog charged its fence, barking, and startled the shit out of us. Again. The city was full of stray dogs and cats -- most were lazy or undernourished enough to spend their days lying around, but we were adjacent to the lone awake, mean animal in Valpo. That dog was the worst.

Later that afternoon - note a dog under every bench shadow.

Deciding to walk away from the hills, toward the flat area of town, was a bad move. Sure, that area of the map was littered with the word "plaza", but Plaza Italia and Plaza O'Higgins were generally lousy, consisting of standard statues. Many were garnished with graffiti (a South American standard, but Valparaiso's art scene took graffiti to new heights. The kids seemed to love it, and I'll admit it was the first place I'd ever visited where the graffiti seemed to add to the ambiance rather than detract from it.), and some bore the evidence of the town's substantial pigeon population. Chile's congress was modern and forgettable, and the university buildings we similarly uninspiring. On the plus side, Matt and I were able to buy bus tickets for the next day's trip to Santiago, and I saved approximately $.10 by slipping in an out of a park's pay toilet undetected.

Walking all the way back to the port rather than attempting to board the light rail, we looked through the tiny port shops for souvenirs. When Matt found a nice looking T-shirt, I followed suit to buy my own. The saleswoman pointed to the shirts' tags, which indicated they were made in Chile, several times. Why she thought that Chilean craftsmanship was a selling point, I can't guess. Maybe she assumed her peoples' great work on the loom was the stuff of legends back in the states, but I didn't know and didn't care about the brand. I picked up a shirt and an adoreable stone penguin carved from lapis luzuli.

I realized our pledge to explore the city's hills was ambitious as we climbed to the cemetery, which stood atop one large plateau. A sign banned pictures, and though no one was around save for two gentlemen performing much-needed renovations, I heeded the request, photographing no sepulturas, only vistas.

The morning's hike had generated a powerful hunger, so we trekked back down to the plaza that held Bar Cinzano. Regretting our missed opportunity to eat at a German restaurant near our hotel in Buenos Aires, we chose to dine at a place called Hamburg. Matt and I agreed to share a liter of beer with our lunch; however, the dark German beer we ordered was on tap, not served by the bottle. That, plus the language barrier, resulted in one gigantic mug of beer for each of us. My sausages were bad and hot-dog-like. The beer was good. Too good.

Despite Matt's appearance, this photo was taken prior to downing our beers.

Any hope of continuing our assault on the city's slopes were drowned by those dark, heavy, delicious liters of beer. Instead, it was back to the inn for rest, a shower, and Harrison Ford vehicle "Random Hearts". It was a bad movie with a worse title, but it met our veiwing requirement: English with Spanish subtitles.

The night was again spent at Bar La Playa, where we drank more Escudo while sitting at the long wooden bar. It was much more crowded than the previous evening, because there was a special event. We spoke with the event organizer, a short, pleasant, bilingual man who had spent several years in California, where he "fell in love with a Mexican girl". Our converstaion was cut short, as he had to head to the microphone across the room to MC poetry night. The verse was not the night's highlight. That's not a knock against the amateurs in the room, obviously, because I couldn't say what any of the works were about (though I did detect that rhyming wasn't requisite). The ghost of Emily Dickinson could have freestyled and it wouldn't have been the highlight, because nothing could beat casually turning on my stool, glancing around the room, only to whir back to Matt in a restrained shout: "Holy shit there's a fucking cat in here!".

Valparaiso's day belongs to the canines, Valparaiso's night belongs to the felines, and awesome belongs to Valparaiso.


*Be prepared to walk a lot of steps.

*Don't be intimidated by the city's appearance, stray animals, or dangerous cab rides.

*Get a good map that shows stairways and funicular elevators.

*Budget 2 or 3 days here, concentrating on wandering the hilly neighborhoods.

*The Robinson Crusoe Inn is a bit pricey, but safe and cozy.

The inn. Photo via Tripadvisor.

Red State

Matt works with very conservative people of varying ignorance in a conservative city in a strongly Republican state. I texted Matt this morning to gauge the post-election situation:

DN: What's the mood at [redacted]?

MATT: Pretty grim. Or funny. Depends on how you look at it.

(Five hours later...)

MATT: Let me put it to you this way. The assassination jokes are getting old and they were not that funny to begin with.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Halloween Weekend Roundup

UPDATE 11/5: I did it! My paper bag did it!


* * *

Halloween. I dressed up. I was a ghost.

The costume limited my vision, but from what I gathered, there weren't a lot of good costumes about town this year. It was like the election sucked out everyone's imagination and replaced it with a brain that thinks Sarah Palin costumes are actually worthwhile.

The next day, I watched old alma mater get bitchslapped by our in-state rivals. I unleashed the paper bag I designed the evening prior.

Now, this was not a Halloween costume. Once All Saints Day rolls around, dress up time is over. But the time for serious social action is not. It's always time to speak your mind, even if the fans around you treat you like an animal, calling, "Hey, Baghead! Turn around!" so they can take a photo they'll never look at again with their shitphone's 1.2 megapixel camera. But whatever. Statement made. And it was easier to see out of than the ghost getup.