Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wedding Retrospective, Part II

The Rehearsal and Rehearsal Dinner are events that I don't have enough photos of. I guess I didn't put anyone in charge of taking any, so aside from some that were sent to me and a few JB took, we don't have a lot. Should you happen to have some, I'm always collecting more (Heather found a good 50 photos a year after the wedding that captured some of the great moments you'll see in Part III).
We had a fantastic Italian buffet, and a wonderful dessert spread (featured above)Jonathan and my Uncle Carl (it was his birthday!) talk while Bryan and Joe are eatingBK (my favorite groomsman) and I
Heather, BK, and Tori (we have no pics of the bridal party at the rehearsal dinner with more than three people, LoL)

After the Rehearsal Dinner, all the bridesmaids and groomsmen came with us to the Draft House, where some pool was played and I kinda made people get to know eachother a little better. We have no pictures of this at all. Then we went back to Jonathan's parents' house for a bit to play Apples to Apples.
Jonathan and KylaJonathan and IKristina and Bryan

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wedding Retrospective, Part I

yeah, yeah. Me and my multiple-part-postings. But I adored my wedding and so I will spend as much time as I want remembering it. :-p Good news for you, though: I decided to do mostly photos and captions, instead of stories. So they will be short reads.

It's hard to figure out where to start when I remember the wedding. I'm inclined to think back to the engagement and the planning... but we were engaged for over two years, so that's a lot of ground to cover. Then I think, "maybe I'll start with the dress shopping," but that's mostly boring, as there weren't any "maybe" dresses in my experience. Plus, the day I bought my gown was kinda a fluke... I was at a warehouse in Tampa with my camp friends. So, I guess I'll start with the celebrations... they began about two months before the wedding, with the Bridal Shower (they actually began in November, but I only have one picture from the Engagement Party and it's not very good).

Tori hosted the bridal shower, and it had an Aladdin theme and a moons-and-stars cake. From Left: Nana, Kyla, my mom, me, Aunt Sue, Jennopening giftsI love my bake-and-fill. It works out awesome for ice cream cakes. :)

Then, in early April, I had my bachelorette party. We all met up in Orlando on a Friday night to go to Tony and Tina's Wedding in Orlando. It's a dinner show that ran off-Broadway for YEARS. I had a delightful time, and was really, REALLY excited about it. Plus, Tori had let them know we were a bachelorette party, so I got to dance with the groom and stuff. And the bride asked my opinion on what to do about a maid-of-honor situation, and it was a lot of fun. From there, we played some games in the suite we had across the street, then headed into Old Town for a bit of dancing.

Caroline, Ashley, and Megan watching the show.

The next day I did my Bridesmaid Luncheon at the White Wolf Cafe in Orlando. It was a nice place, and everyone enjoyed their gifts.

this was before Heather was a bridesmaid (if that doesn't make sense to you, don't worry about it), so she took the photo. the best group shot we have, even though my eyes are closed. And just pretend Megan is Kyla, LoL. From Left: Kristina, Amy, me, Megan, Tori, Heather

Sunday, April 26, 2009


My best friend Tori and I have a long history of going to concerts together. Long as in we've been doing it since like 1996. And we've seen a TON of groups (over fifty, I just tried to count and stopped there) perform in several different venues. We've had amazing tickets to just about every single one (but not Pennywise, we hated them after that, but that's another story), she's just talented at snatching up great seats.

We went to West Palm to see Nickelback (and Saving Abel and Seether) on Saturday night, and actually probably had the worst seats we've ever had, even though they were still pretty good (they're a little farther away than where we sat when we saw Kid Rock, for anyone who was with us that time). Getting the tickets was a bit crazy, but I'll spare you the story other than mentioning that we were lucky to pay what we did when you consider how much 'above face' they were going for elsewhere. (we also witnessed two people being told to leave the seating area, since their tickets they bought were fakes! they did let them go to the lawn though, instead of escorting them off grounds like usual)

The adventure began for me at like 4pm, as I headed down to Fort Pierce, blasting the Buzz on the radio. The DJs were making reference to the idea that Black Label Society would be playing that night as well. Not sure where that came from, and there was no mention of them at the actual concert, so nothing lost. Traffic into West Palm wasn't too bad, but we needed dinner when we got off, and of course both Southern and Okeechobee Blvd aren't the best for finding a quick bite. We ended up at a Subway near Okeechobee & Royal Palm, ate quickly, and headed down through the traffic toward Sansbury's Way. We parked and started making our way in.

The concert began at 7pm with Saving Abel, a band whom we saw perform in December at the Buzz Bake Sale. They only got about 30 minutes, which was kinda sad. More importantly, we didn't get to our seats until about 7:10, since security made boys and girls wait in different lines (for the pat-down), and people are idiots and got in the wrong line until they got to the front, then tried to cut over and merge. We also got to see my friend Michelle (whom I mentioned in the previous post) who was there with another group of people. Glad we saw her then, trying to catch up later woulda been difficult!Then, about 7:50, Seether went on. They were okay, "not very chatty," to quote the girls behind us. They also did a couple covers, which was intriguing. They played for about 45 minutes, and during the set-up for Nickelback, Tori and I headed over to see the merchandise. We were rather appalled that t-shirts were $35 (babydoll tees were $45!) and hoodies were $80. There's no need for the prices to be this extreme, and all three bands were charging similar prices, so it's not like Nickelback was trying to play off their "big-nameness." We scooted away.About 9:05pm, Nickelback took the stage, and did a good job of pumping up the crowd. They mentioned that they only had one more show in this tour, so they were ready to tear the roof off and yada yada. They talked about playing until midnight. That was crap, they stopped at 10:46. This was AFTER they fake-stopped at 10:31, only to come on again three minutes later. Whatever. Their set was great, and I appreciated their choices. It was strange that they played a good deal of songs from their first couple albums, since this was technically a tour for their third album. No complaints from me, tho! They had some awesome pyrotechnics and visual effects, including a giant screen and lots of lights. They do a good job live, and record well (took six videos, one of which is below). The only strange thing was that they did two covers... one of "Friends in Low Places," and one of some country song that I had never heard, but apparently "all the ladies here are going crazy over this song!" Tori knew it, so at least it wasn't a crap song.

They did an amazing thing with "If Everyone Cared," and had this great montage displaying on the screen, of everything that musicians have done to make big differences in the world (like Bono and AIDS), and about others who have taken strides to make a difference (like Nelson Mandela). It was a very inspiring political agenda (which is rare for me to say since I am usually against such things).After the concert, we got out of the traffic nightmare that is Coral Sky (and I'll forever call it that, regardless of how many name-changes it will go through) after nearly an hour, and got some gas. After that, we hit the turnpike, and were lucky that all the traffic was going south. I got back to Melbourne a few minutes before 2am, which was earlier than I had anticipated when the concert started, so that worked out pretty well.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Olive Garden & Sun Shoppe

I believe this is the longest that this blog has gone without an update, my apologies. To make up for it, two food reviews.

So the new Olive Garden commercials have been calling my name, and since BK, Tori, and I are all fans of the place, we met at the one in Vero on Wednesday night for dinner. Followed by a rousing game of Phase 10, of course.

We actually all arrived within five minutes, which is pretty good. We spent rather an obscene amount of time deciding what to order (and by 'we' I mean them, since I was ordering the commercial's entree, LoL). The wine that they offer you to try was actually decent (I usually dislike their choices). I should have paid more attention, but I know it was a Zinfandel of some sort, and that Tori did not care for it.

They had the salad, but as I had salad for the bulk of last week, I opted for the chicken and gnocchi soup, which I've been meaning to try. I enjoyed it quite a bit, and would recommend it. The breadsticks were about par, and the entrees took a fair bit of time to arrive. However, when they came out, the server mentioned that BK's chicken was too small and that the chef was preparing another piece (he had ordered the stuffed chicken marsala with mashed potatoes). Tori got the chicken parmigiana, which came with the least amount of sauce ever, so she had to ask for more. She enjoyed the chicken quite a bit, tho. My lasagna rollatini with chicken was excellent. I was a bit hungry so I wanted to dive into it too fast, and of course burned by tongue in the process. But I enjoyed it and took home some. However, I don't understand the pricing. It was about $14, but to get it with sausage instead of chicken, it would have been $10. I'm not sure why chicken is so much more than sausage these days, but it's not the biggest deal. Olive Garden has raised their prices in general over the past year, which is kinda sad, since it makes Carraba's much more appealing, LoL.

While we were finishing up nibbling on our dinners, the server came out with an entire new entree for BK. So apparently it ended up being a BOGO situation, and he would have dinner for the next night as well, LoL. But he almost didn't. We left the restaurant in our respective vehicles, and BK forgot his to-go box on the table. So Tori and I drove ahead toward his apartment while he had to turn around and head back to get his box, haha.

Friday lunch, I joined the boys. For probably close to three years now, Friday lunches at various places in Melbourne have been a "thing" which started off mainly focused around Mustard's Last Stand (yes, I LOVE the pun!). They've expanded, and I've been many times. This week, the fare was The Sun Shoppe Cafe, which has a false reputation as being a coffee shop, even though they have breakfast-all-day and lunch menus as well. They're in downtown, across the street from Salsas (which sucks). There were seven of us, and at least three or four ordered the spicy tuna melt (myself included). It's a good sandwich, although I sub out the grilled rye for grilled pumpernickel and skip the sprouts (I'll never understand why people think they go with tuna!). The interesting things about the meals are that a) they serve you a sliver of pickle instead of a spear, so you get something similar to a Vlasic Stacker (LoL), and you get tortilla chips instead of potato chips (which are awkward to eat by themselves). Everyone enjoyed their meals, and we all tried a piece of Bryan's blueberry scone, which is one of the best I've had (too bad they don't have more flavors!).

Monday, April 20, 2009

Weekend in Orlando

So, as you might have figured out, I'm in Florida for a few weeks while Jonathan is still in California. We're not new to spending weeks apart, and many of you know we lived 330 miles apart for six years, including the first year we were married. We've both been busy this week, as I'm sure will continue for the remainder of the month!

Joe surprised everyone by DRIVING out to California last week, arriving Thursday, and staying until he feels like making the cross-country trip back. (For those who don't know our dear friend Joe, he's the most spontaneous person I've ever met, and goes full-speed ahead whenever he has a new idea.) I, on the other hand, have been busy catching up with friends and family. I spent Easter morning with Jonathan's parents, then headed down to PSL to see my friend Michelle, whom I had not seen since the wedding. After spending a few hours with her (by the way, if you know her, congratulate her on finishing her law degree this month and then heading to SPAIN for a year!), I headed over to see some family at my grandparents' house. We had a lovely cookout, and a few pictures were taken. Below you can see me with my brother and sister.The following weekend was a bit hectic. On Friday evening, Tori, BK, and I went to Kissimmee to see Al Capone's Dinner & Show. We were originally planning to see something different, but with 50% off coupons, this show won out. It wasn't ideally managed, but it was a darn good time. When you purchase your tickets, you're told that when you go to enter, you need to knock three times and give a password (which actually varies slightly from group to group, since I'm an eavesdropper...). After doing so, a little window in the door was slid open, and a woman peeked through (we're set in Prohibition-era Chicago, by the way), taking our ticket. The door opened, and mug shots were taken (however, if we knew they were mug shots, we wouldn't have smiled, LoL) before we were led to our table (from which we had an excellent view of the stage). Weasel, our server, took our drink orders (soft drinks, coffee, wine, beer, and several cocktails are included in ticket price) and let us know about the buffet set-up. The buffet was vast, and I'd recommend the lasagna and the breadsticks. Steer clear of the pasta salad and the fettuccine, as I didn't like the alfredo and Tori didn't like the marinara. The ham was sweet, the turkey was dry, the pot roast was good with the mashed potatoes, and the macaroni and cheese was decent. The lemon cake that was served later was average. The show itself was pretty entertaining. The cast was four females and two males, and the first act was far more humorous than the second. The jokes are pretty much your standard for dinner theatre, although there is a good bit of improv in the second act. I won't spoil the plot for you, but I will say that the resolution is a bit cheesy. After the show we had our photo taken with the cast.We randomly saw a mini-golf place, and turned in. Luckily, they were open until 11:30pm, so we enjoyed 16 holes of golf (Tori and I vetoed holes 16 & 17, as the greens weren't that exciting and we were short on time), taking a bunch of photos in between. It was pretty fun, but we're all lovers of mini-golf, so we may be biased. ;)

The next morning, Tori and I set off for a (very overplanned) day in Orlando. We started at the Orange County Regional History Center, since they have a special exhibit entitled, "Jim Henson's Fantastic World," and I've been dying to go since I found out it was there. (I've been an admirer of Henson's work as long as I can remember. Seriously, I vividly remember being upset at his death when I was six years old.) I wasn't that upset about the "no photography" rule until I found out that there was very very little for sale in the gift shop. I was prepared to drop some dough on a book or postcards or models, but instead I was only offered a t-shirt, a few Muppet figurines, and three or four stuffed toys. Needless to say, I purchased nothing. The exhibit itself was both enlightening and disappointing. I was amazed at the sketches and recordings of Jim Henson's earliest works, including a ton of commercials and specials which were sometimes never realized. They had encased puppets, including Rowlf the Dog, King Goshposh and his aide Featherstone, Sir Linit, Bert and Ernie, and Gobo and Cantus. I probably spent close to five minutes admiring the marvelous Gobo and Cantus, whom are very close to my heart (being Fraggles). There were tons of sketches from The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, The Dark Crystal, and tons of projects which were never finished. I'm not sure why there was a lack of attention paid to Labyrinth, although there was a book dedicated to the Goblins in the film (there was also NO MENTION of Dinosaurs, the 90s sitcom which was, in may ways, a Fraggle Rock for teenagers). Henson's Oscar-nominated short film, Time Piece, was also showing, along with a twenty-minute review and interview with Henson. While I'm glad that I went, I feel that there are SO MANY MORE THINGS that could have been displayed, I must get to the Smithsonian (tentatively scheduled for July) and the Center for Puppetry Arts (which is in Atlanta) to learn more.

Tori and I browsed the rest of the museum, although we were not impressed with it as a whole. We then headed out (I baffled her with the concept of parking validation), grabbed lunch, and headed to The Florida Mall. Both of us have been there (together and separately) many times before, but never once did we spend seven hours scouring that mall. We were ultimately unsuccessful in our major goal (new jeans), but we both picked up various new articles of clothing, and tried out the newest thing at Auntie Anne's. In case you haven't been lately, they now have a Pepperoni Pretzel, which is a typical pretzel covered in cheese and pepperoni slices. It's a hair more expensive than the other varieties ($3.09 before tax), but worth it. It tastes just like you'd imagine, LoL.

Oh, and the overplanned part? We had figured we'd make it to three malls in the eight hours we allotted... guess that just means we'll have to head back there soon!

More pics of these events: Dinner and Mini-Golf Museum

Saturday, April 18, 2009

PCA/ACA, Part IV: Saturday

So, I originally planned the conference to take three posts. And it ended up being five. But it did allow me to do some extra processing, so it wasn't all bad. Anyway, on with the show!

There were no sessions at 8am that interested me, so I slept a little extra, then packed up and checked out about 9am. It's a good thing, too, since the Crescent City Classic was taking place that morning, and caused many road closures. I still saw some people taking part as I walked to the conference hotel, lugging my bags behind me. I checked them once more, and made my way to the session of my choice. However, the chair didn't show up, and since her paper was one of the ones that I wanted to see, I left to head to my second choice, 4054: "Television XIV: Storytelling, Religion, and Science Fiction." The first paper was on Pushing Daisies, but the presenter went over the allotted time, and hardly attempted to wrap it up. The second was on House, MD and atheism, but it wasn't that clear, and I didn't really care for the fact that nothing substantial was really said. Then there was a thing about Battlestar Galactica and atheism, which was decent. It ended with some auteur theory and I had a difficult time paying attention. I left during the Q&A, since the panel wasn't what I had hoped.

I headed toward Arnaud's Remoulade for lunch (recommended by two sources for lunch) but ran into the person I sat next to in the panel that I abandoned. Turns out that the chair did show up during the second paper, so I could have stayed. She was presenting at the next session, so wanted to eat at a nearby place for lunch (Palace Cafe), and was enjoying a pecan-crusted fish. I joined her, and ordered the Pasta St. Charles, which was shrimp and andouille sausage with penne, Creole-mustard cream sauce, with a crawfish and cheeses on top. It was a little heavy, but since I was flying later I decided to go ahead with it. It was fantastic, and I couldn't finish it.

For my final session, I chose 4076: "Fat Studies IV: Tight Fit: The Mental and Physical Experiences of Being Fat." It was the most well-attended panel I went to, and there were over 25 people in the audience (intriguingly, only 2 were men). The first paper was by a geographer who looks at where plus-size retail stores are, and where plus-size sections are located within large department stores. Fantastically interesting, but if I started I'd go on and on. The second paper was a project talking with larger university students (at two different schools) and their experiences in the classroom, the residence hall, and athletic centers. Interesting findings. Finally, there was a woman from Finland (whom I met just before the reception on Thursday night) who presented on fatness as a liminal experience. Lots of Foucault. She took narratives from women aged 31-65, about their lives and experiences as fat women. All three of these papers were great, and there were a lot of interesting questions as well. I was a little disappointed when I overheard one of the panelists later, mentioning that she thought there were too many questions. But, maybe I'm jealous since I didn't get any, LoL.

I picked up a few calls for papers and bought a few papers from the paper table, then called it a day and got my bags, waiting for the shuttle. The trip home wasn't too exciting, but I made it, and slept well before a day full of Easter festivities.

Friday, April 17, 2009

PCA/ACA, Part III: Friday

Friday morning I was TIRED. But, one of the panels I was most interested in was at 8am, and I made it by 8:06, so it wasn't the end of the world. It was 3010: "Children's Literature & Culture V: Disney." The first paper was entitled, "Stars versus Rainbows: Walt Disney's and Jim Henson's Philosophies of Childhood." Disney is very mainstream, and focuses on the way to do things in a normative manner. In the opposite, Jim Henson's Muppets instead act in a completely anti-norm manner, and the presenter showed clips from a Wonderful World of Disney Special where the Muppets go to Magic Kingdom. It was very fascinating, and I immediately requested that Jonathan find it for me, as I cannot wait to see it in its entirety. I LOVED the idea of the paper. The next paper was about Disney's misrepresentation of gender and nature through film and song, which looked at the Disney Princess line and all it has done to create a monopoly on toys. Next, The Hannah Montana phenomenon and the idea of performing. It was rather enlightening for me, since you can look at the Miley/Miley/Hannah thing as self, other, and neither. The final paper dealt with Brother Bear, which I didn't want to think about, since I'm not the biggest fan.

After that, I decided to head over for a session in my real focus: Theatre. 3071: "Theatre & Drama III: The Lighter Side," was an excellent session. No media failures, which was a (sadly) very high point. The first presenter showed how he uses pop songs to perform the chorus in Ancient Greek plays. A marvelous idea, with great video examples. Then there was a paper read by a girl whose friends came for this session (and apparently no other ones, since they thought everything else at this conference was boring), dealing with the fact that there are very few "new" things on Broadway, since there are a lot of revivals and adaptations currently. Then an interesting presentation on radio theatre, which I am rather ashamed to say I didn't know anything about. He gave us each CDs of examples, and I plan to pop it in my car next time I drive someplace. Last, a rushed presentation on doing Carroll and Twain for children's theatre.

I went to Felix's Restaurant and Oyster Bar for lunch, which was recommended in the paper I got from the last session on Wednesday night. I felt bad taking a 4-person table, but all the 2-person tables were full, and I didn't want to sit at the counter. The server was friendly and prompt. I ordered a half shrimp po'boy and jambalaya. The jambalaya was about average, nothing too special. The po'boy was fairly standard as well. Problematically, the tartar was clumpy in a container on the table, so I didn't use any. This left my sandwich rather dry (since I got it "no-mayo"), but still good. It was a hair expensive for lunch (it ran $14 with tip), but it's a famous place that I hadn't been to, so I deemed it worth it.

I then went on to 3078: "Animation I: Animation and Gender." At this point in my review of the conference, you should be able to see that I love children's entertainment and I love gender issues. I don't know that I really love the latter, but I do enjoy seeing what people have to say on these matters. The first paper focused on Walt Disney's early Alice cartoons, and by early I mean like 1910-1935. It was amusing to see early attempts at combining live-action and cartoons. Then there was a paper given on Disney's boys and men and their interactions with girls and women, given by a woman from the UK who has books published on female Disney characters. She had extraordinarily interesting things to say, and I had never drawn the parallels that are common with such characters. Last, there was a paper on Dora the Explorer, where I focused on the idea that children are NOT learning from that show, and don't participate in the interaction which I thought the show thrived upon.

From there I headed over to a more failed panel. I should have gone elsewhere (and had originally planned to go elsewhere but changed my mind), but I sat through 3123: "Adolescence in Film & Television V: Feminism, Misogyny, & Trauma in Adolescent Television." The first paper was on Veronica Mars, a show I know very little about. Then was an interesting read on the misogyny in The Secret Life of the American Teenager. Here was when I made my only dumb comment [which is pretty good, considering a) I feel too uninformed to comment much at all at ATHE, and b) I commented or questioned on more than half the panels I attended, so one dumb comment isn't that bad]. Then was a hard-to-follow paper on the role of parents in Smallville.

I then made another choice that wasn't the greatest: 3167: "Film XVIII: Playing Against (Genre) Type: Macabre Musicals, Working Girl, Thai Pastiche, & Wall-E." The first paper's title intrigued me, but I couldn't follow it. I went to purchase it from the table, thinking it would help, but it wasn't available. The second had major A/V issues, but would have been more interesting if I was familiar with the film (Working Girl)... I think I'll rent it, though. The final paper was looking at how Wall-E exploits 20th century sci-fi traditions... which I thought would be really interesting. Instead, some comments made in the paper were quite offensive to me, and the "review" factor was a little heavy... plus it didn't really give strong points throughout.

Then it was time for my own presentation. And, as par for the course, chaos once again ensued. My panel was at 6:30pm, and I arrived at like 6:05. The door was shut and locked, so I waited 5 minuted, in case the previous session was running over. I knocked, no answer. I wandered the hall, saw nobody helpful. 6:15, I pounded on the door. 6:18, I decided to head down two floors and across to the other tower in case there had been an update at the registration booth. I'm holding back tears as I rush over, only to find no updates on the board, and nobody at the booth. I decide to head back over, and get there at 6:22. At this point there's another presenter there, who mentions that she found somebody to unlock the door. I then was so relieved that I burst into tears, so I had to explain my panic. I dried my face, but now was sweaty and red as I went into the room. And it begins. First, a paper on the John Adams mini-series. Then, a Mad Men thing on women. Then, something about True Blood. Then, my paper. It was nearing 7:30 by then, so our audience of 8 shrunk to 5. Nobody really seemed interested, and I received no questions or comments, but I didn't really mind.

I was tired and still kinda shook up, so I grabbed Arby's and headed to the hotel. I did stray from my usual, and went with the roasted chicken club (pretty good, needs honey mustard tho) and the mandarin peach tea (which was too sweet, I nursed it for about four hours and never finished it).

Thursday, April 16, 2009

PCA/ACA, Part II: Thursday

The next morning, there was a 7am graduate student get-together, but I was too tired to go.

I did make it to the 8am 2038: "Toys & Culture," which was a 3/4 win. The first paper used a hermeneutical approach to examining toy advertising. Interesting idea, and I especially enjoyed looking at comparison advertisements from 1993 and 2008. Then an idea about the Teddy Bear and how it is used, which was fairly interesting. A Barbie vs. Bratz presentation reaffirmed my hatred for Bratz, but was overall interesting, especially that Barbie launched a Tattoo Barbie to be a Bratz competitor. Last was a paper on Barbie and Dexter, which only entertained me for ten minutes or so, mostly because I don't care for Dexter.

I then planned to go to a Children's Lit session, but changed my mind and went to 2076: "Gender & Media Studies III: Makeovers, Beauty and Popular Culture." The first paper blew me away, but not in the way it should have. I knew more about the subjects that the presenter seemed to, and I was really looking forward to insight into the mother figures of Kate Gosselin, Michelle Duggar, and Amy Roloff, all characters which I enjoy. Then there was a paper on Chinese Beauty Pageants that may have gone on a little long, but was a trend which I previously knew nothing about. Then, looking at The Swan and Extreme Makeover and how women are affected by these programs. I had never seen either of them, and was pretty shocked to learn about their practices. Finally, a look at Sex and the City which pointed out triads in the show, which I have no comment on as I don't care for the program.

I then went for lunch at Cafe Beignet on Bourbon. I'd been there before (for breakfast) during one of my previous trips to the Quarter. This time, I ordered the Bourbon Croissant, which was tuna, bacon, and white cheddar on a croissant with tomatoes and pickles. It came fairly quickly, and as I enjoyed the courtyard and took a few pics (but not many, since we already have pics of the jazz figures and fountain), I enjoyed the meal. There were a few pieces of hard-boiled egg in the tuna, but they were large enough to pick out without a problem.
After lunch, I headed to the Sesame Street Seminar. It featured the executive producer of the show, an executive editor, an assistant VP, and Fran Brill, one of the puppeteers. The session had amazing montages and stories from this beloved children's show. They discussed the costs of the show, Jim Henson's puppet designs, the casting, the characters through the years, and the extreme research that goes into the program. I learned SO MUCH. And if I wasn't living in California, trying to finish a thesis, and married, I would totally apply right now for a job working for Sesame Street. Exec Prod started in a PBS internship in talent royalties payment, then did every production job there was. And she had great stories, too. But the best part? Fran Brill (the first full-time female puppeteer hired by Jim Henson) pulled out both Prairie Dawn and Zoe, and I witnessed part of the magic that is Sesame Street puppeteering.

I really, really, REALLY wanted to head to the book room next, to get Fran Brill's autograph. But I needed to help out a colleague and read a paper in her place, so I was stuck in 2145: "African-American Culture II: The Struggle for the Souls of Black Folks." I don't have much to say about the panel, mostly because I was angry with the lack of attention to time and pacing by the chair. And I'll leave it at that.

On to 2162: "Adolescence in Film & Television IV: Interrogating Degrassi: The Next Generation." I was initially excited about this session, since I am a big Degrassi fan (in all of its carnations). The first paper was entirely too scientific for my tastes, but it was meant to be, so I'll let that go. Then, the sexuality of Emma, Many, and Paige on the show, which gave a pretty good look at how they fit the "have-it-alls" and "at-risks." Last, a look at the nostalgia factors in Degrassi and the new 90210. There were some interesting points, and a late comparison to The Secret Life of the American Teenager and how, although it boasts the nostalgia factor of Molly Ringwald, it still suffers because the actions in it would never happen.

The conference reception was Thursday evening, and after enjoying some fruit and cheese, I delighted in a few beignets from Cafe du Monde.

Then it was back to the hotel.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

PCA/ACA, Part I: Wednesday

Wednesday, after I checked out of Parc St. Charles and checked my luggage at the Marriott, I went to pick up my conference materials. And, of course, there was a problem. Let me fill you in on the problems this conference had caused to this point...

While I submitted my proposal just fine, and it was accepted rather quickly, communication lagged for a long while after that. As in, October became January and I still hadn't received a letter of acceptance (which never actually came), nor any information about when I would present or something similar. I emailed the person in charge of the area in which I was presenting, and was assured that stuff was still coming. Then it was March, and the program came out... and my name and paper were nowhere to be found. I emailed again, and it turns out that the area was absorbed into another, so I needed to contact someone else. I did, and was forwarded to a third person. Third person was very apologetic and helpful, and I was added in before long. Unfortunately, I didn't necessarily fit that well into the panel in which I was placed, but more on that later.

Anyway, so when I checked in, they were missing one of my payments, so I needed to switch to another line to fix the problem. When I reached the front of that line, I was told to go to another line. When I got to the front of that line, person #3 from above was the person handling the line, and recognized my name. That made things go super-quick, and I was good to go. But it was only fitting that I'd end up waiting for twenty minutes for no reason at the conference, LoL.

The first session started at 12:30, so I went into the Quarter to grab lunch. Now, there's this amazing little po'boy place near the Mariott. A couple colleagues and I went there several times when we were in New Orleans for ATHE, but I couldn't find it for the life of me this time. I think it might have closed, since I walked a good deal of the area in which it should have been. Anyways, I ended up at Cafe Fleur de Lis on Chartres, which ended up being a great find. I ordered a ham-egg-cheese bagel, since breakfast is what they were known for, and it was only $6. It was quite good, although the bagel was a little dry and the sandwich as a whole was a bit greasy. I also met another conference attendee and made small talk. He is currently adjuncting at four different schools in Boston. This frightens me a bit, since I was really giving thought to adjuncting while we continue to move around. But no biggie.

The first session I went to was actually one of the best. I headed to 1010: "Mythology in Contemporary Culture I: Men and Mythology: Thieves, Tricksters, and (of course) Beer." The first paper had just started when I entered the room, which was about Batman's Joke and the Trickster Archetype. There were some interesting points, but a good use of Jung. Then I learned about mythstory, which is the idea that myths become understood as fact over time, through an interesting paper on Saint Patrick. Then was one of the best papers of the whole conference, Mattel's Commission of the He-Man Bible. While I knew that Strawberry Shortcake was a product before it was a cartoon, and that Rainbow Brite was similar, I didn't know that He-Man kinda perfected this idea, and I'd spend a whole paragraph talking about it, so I won't. But I will say that it was a fascinating paper from a gentleman who usually studies Vampires, not toy culture. The last paper was about the Lure of the Numinous, which offered some very fascinating information on Hitler's obsession with artifacts.

Session 2, I hit up 1038: "Music II: Visual Counterpoints." The first paper was on Gwen Stefani's Harajuku Girls, which I previously knew nothing about. Such an interesting phenomena. Then there was a Smashing Pumpkins paper that did nothing for me, mostly because this was the start of technology failure, which would continue throughout the conference. Then there was a Matchbox 20 paper, focusing on 3AM and how it deconstructed stereotypes while using cultivation theory to show the skewing of reality because of chemotherapy. Finally, comments on music in American Graffiti, both diegetic (really being used) and non-diegetic (just a soundtrack playing).

Then it was on to 1060: "Adolescence in Film & Television II: Adolescents and Contemporary Cinema." First was an interesting look at how students understand representations of HS students, specifically in High School Musical and Mean Girls. I liked the idea quite a bit, and wonder how the previously proclaimed 5 archetypes (Princess, Jock, Nerd, Rebel, Delinquent) have changed over time. Then there was a paper on Julie Taymor's Titus which sadly disappointed me. Not in that it was bad, but in that it didn't necessarily cover aspects which usually fascinate me. Last was a look at Bisexuality in Film, and its fluidity. The first half was pretty intriguing, but as it went on, it seemed to become a list of movies and the characters in them, so I ended up leaving early.

And it's a good thing I did! I headed down to the book room to drop off my Fraggle papers for sale (I think about 8 were sold, which is fairly decent), and ended up winning the Sesame Street raffle for a t-shirt! I also got a furry cookie monster bookmark, and a book promoting the new 40th anniversary book.

The last panel I went to was 1095: "Travel & Tourism I: Local Cuisine for the Tourist." The first paper was very uninteresting to me. The second dealt with the ways in which Forks, Washington has capitalized on Twilight and made meals and tours out of nothing. Then there was an autobiographical bit about a man who moved from South Dakota to New Orleans for college. The final panelist wasn't able to be there, but did send the presentation, which offered a long list of restaurants and reviews for the area. Excellent.

I got Subway for dinner, since I just wanted to get to the hotel and relax.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Amy Heads to New Orleans

So I love Fraggle Rock. And I've had a few paper ideas that I've mentioned to some FSU colleagues about the show. And last fall, a call for papers came out in search of new ways to look at children's television as being educational. This was a perfect fit for something I had envisioned, and so I submitted an abstract. It was accepted in the fall for the 2009 PCA/ACA (Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association) Conference.

Fast-forward to last week. The conference runs from noon Wednesday until Saturday evening, so it's long. And the panels go from 8am-10pm each day, with board meetings and get-togethers often taking place in the early-morning hours. Still, it won my heart pretty easily. If this makes sense to you, this is my new hierarchy: LMDA>PCA/ACA>ATHE. <3>

Long story short, this trip was overly stressful for no reason. Nothing actually went wrong, but I was more paranoid on this trip than I have ever been before. And for decent reason, which I'll write about in another post. Anyway, the panic vegan as soon as Jonathan dropped me off at SJC. I was afraid that my baggage would be too heavy, or that it would get lost (it was 1 pound over but they didn't make me take anything out, and it arrived just fine). I was afraid I'd miss my connection, but that was fine. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to find the shuttle booth, and that they wouldn't take credit, and that I'd never find the shuttle station (found it, they took credit, and I was directed to the proper station). The shuttle was 45 minutes late, which was the only real problem. I was worried about getting lost in the Quarter (I know that area a lot better than I thought, apparently). I worried about staying in one hotel while checking my bags during the day at the conference hotel (no problem, and I pulled it off Wednesday and Saturday). I worried about check-in since I wasn't the primary guest on the reservation (no questions). I worried about my laptop getting stolen from my suitcase because it wouldn't fit in the safe (laptop was fine). I worried about the shuttle to the airport being late (only by 5 min, so no big deal), and then worried about baggage being too heavy (ironically, it weighed 51 pounds again, after I shifted things around, haha), and about baggage getting lost (MCO was overwhelmed with travelers so although it took longer than usual, my bag appeared with no problem. I also worried about finding a place for my carry-on in the overhead, since Southwest is apparently infamous for not having room for everyone's (not only was there space, my bag was the only one in the compartment I stuck it in). And I was worried that DJ wouldn't be able to find me, and he did.

Hopefully my subconscious learned that it was being ridiculous and will not cause me such distress in future trips.
A word about the hotels before I stop for the day. I stayed for one night at Parc St. Charles, which wasn't much to look at downstairs, but had a lovely room. I was only there from like 6pm until check-out the following morning, but I got a lot done working on my conference plans.
The other nights, I stayed at a Holiday Inn that was about eight blocks from the conference. It was neat, and they had a player piano going in the lobby. I wanted to take a picture, but I didn't get a chance since I didn't realize it is only on at night and I planned to photograph it the morning that I checked out. The view from the balcony was nice, and there was a violin lamp in the hallway near the elevator on my floor.
The actual conference was at the Marriott at Canal & Camp. It was a neat hotel for a conference (although I think I preferred the Sheraton across the street, where I was for the 2007 ATHE). There were two towers to the hotel, and only the first three floors spanned both, if you wanted to go higher than that you needed to make sure you were using the proper elevators. this was problematic since the maps weren't very clear about which rooms were in which towers. The other flaw was the elevator system... there were no "up" and "down" buttons, but instead a keypad where you actually enter the floor number you want to go to, then the screen directs you to a lettered elevator, which only stops at the floors chosen by those sent to it. It's kinda difficult to explain further without going into examples and such, which drone on and on, so here I stop.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Napa Valley, Part III

I'm lumping the food from Napa into one post. We went two different places, one spur-of-the-moment, and one from Frommer's. :)

We had an afternoon snack at Taylor's Refresher. The place had a really local feel to it, and although it was early for a Friday dinner, the place was rather packed with families (at backyard picnic tables on lush grass). Families all in polos or nicer, which was amusing. We shared a cheeseburger (toasted egg bun!), garlic-butter fries, and spicy tomato soup. Well, the burger was good. Tasty. Fresh. The fries were decent, had a good flavor and texture. The soup failed a little bit... it was very thick, almost like a spaghetti sauce. The spice was there, but not too apparent. We ended up taking it home and eating it the next day as a snack, with matza (which I've been snacking on a lot lately, since it's "season" for it, LoL) and crackers.

Taylor's was across the street from an interesting building with moss or something on it.

A bit later, we headed into downtown Napa for tapas. Intriguingly, Zuzu was set-up like a Spanish place, had Spanish decorations and Spanish words, but the food was Mediterranean. And overpriced. And not that great. We got three dishes and called it a day. Jonathan ordered an olive plate (which had like six types of olives), and I ordered an onion soup with goat cheese. We shared queso frito, which is pan-fried manchego cheese with poblano chiles (which was the horribly overpriced item when you only get two pieces). We also shared a glass of a dessert wine, which was even too sweet for me, so it was disappointing. Our overall impression was that we should have just had full meals at Taylor's, since it was delicious.

Zuzu was across the street from a park in downtown Napa, so I took a few pictures before we left for home.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Napa Valley, Part II

We had originally thought we might try out another winery after Sterling. But then we decided we'd save that for another day and do something else. So, after the vineyard, we drove the last four miles to California's Old Faithful Geyser.It's kinda the worst tourist trap that I've ever been to. As in, there's a hokey sign for the place, and the directive signs are really old and faded out pain on planks of wood. As you walk up to the building, there are other advertisements. The gift shop has a lot of unrelated crap, especially for kids. There is a seismograph machine, though. And a guestbook, which we signed.
You pay $8, then walk through into the "backyard." There are exhibits of goats, llamas, and sheep. And quarter machines in case you want to feed them.The geyser is a mini lake with some rocks. Surrounding it on one half are picnic tables and benches.
There's a "well" off to the other side. I put it in quotes because it's non-functioning, as they've covered up the hole long ago.There's a small building with a tv going inside. It talks about the geyser, and there are pictures, drawings, paintings, and newspaper clippings posted on the walls. There are similar paintings on the shed that houses the restroom.
On average, the geyser goes off for a few minutes every forty minutes. However, it's affected by a lot of different variables, like the weather, the time of year, and whether an earthquake is coming soon. When we were there, however, it was going off like every 8-10 minutes, lasting maybe a minute. So we watched it three or four times, from various angles. Kinda neat. It was the first time I had every seen a geyser like this, and we both learned quite a bit about geysers. I won't bore you to tears, but I will add that there are only three "faithful" geysers... this one, the one in Wyoming, and one in New Zealand.So yeah... lots of pics. I took a video, but I took it upright. AKA, I need to rotate it 90 degrees, but my Windows Movie Maker is repeatedly failing, and since Jonathan isn't right next to me to fix it, that'll have to come later. :-\ You can see in the bottom pic that the sun makes a rainbow off the geyser. :)Next time we're up this way, we may do a vineyard and then the Petrified Forest, since that's only another three miles from the Geyser. :)