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Experiences in Baltimore, MD

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Halloweekend, part 2

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Delays delays, where were we now? Oh right, Halloween, supposedly the one day a year when girls can wear pretty much nothing in public and not catch any flak for it. Plus, for once we actually had the entire collection of roommates gathered for the night out (first time since I moved in, to be honest). Sara and I stumbled upon a treasure trove of Renn Faire outfits that a previous inhabitant had left in the basement, so it was exceedingly simple to turn her into a gypsy. With the previous owner being of the female persuasion pickings were a bit slimmer for me, but I did find a couple of cloaks to replace the bedsheet-cape I’d planned on making. Greg went with the ever reliable $5 toga, while Trevor turned some old clothes into a Ponyboy outfit. George, lover of all things glowy, went all out with a purchased Tron outfit that he pimped out with superbright 12V LED strips.

Pony boy, the gypsy, Toga dude, Tron and… what are you supposed to be?

So what exactly was I doing? Essentially what I’d planned to do in New Orleans two years earlier, though at that time it fell through. Though costumes of specific characters can certainly be cool, I rather enjoy the challenge of throwing something less obvious together from a bunch of random items. The idea had been to do some kind of hoodoo-ish skull facepaint and then some skirts and tingle-tangle for a shamanistic look of sorts. Back then I couldn’t get what I needed at Walmart and ended up as a kickass ‘The Grand Prize’ instead; but thanks to the cache in the basement and some necklaces I’d gotten in Hong Kong, this time Walmart only needed to sell me a 97 cent tube of facepaint.

It thus appeared that I was all set for the shaman, but at the cusp I was overtaken by an ensconced urge to instead replicate the tiger pattern of Gully Foyle in one of my favorite books. In retrospect there was no way to avoid this, but it was one of those things that you never notice until it’s already happening. In any case Sara did an absolutely bang up job of replicating the picture on the cover of the book, and I was pleased indeed.

Oh right, Gully Foyle of course.

Unfortunately (though expectedly) it would appear that this excellent book is on few curricula in American schools, as not a single person recognized the reference even when I told them. Of course I fed inquirers some malarkey or other (I am the ‘who’ in the cry ‘who’s there?’), in protest of the urge to dress up as something recognizable. So Mr. Tron stole the limelight, but I was feeling pretty darn good in my orange hair and dashing cape. And thus I frolicked around, talking and joking with anyone who happened to be near me, asking any- and everyone whether they were supposed to be that guy that Johnny Depp played in that pirate movie, and overall had a splendid night. And if there’s a lesson to this post, it is that good times happen when everyone is in a good mood, pretenses are crushed by fantastic outfits and the quipping flows freely. Halloween makes this a lot more likely, and I love it for that.


Written by Martin

2012/11/02 at 15:50

Posted in Events

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Halloweekend, part 1

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In my last post I predicted an upswing to follow the woeful day I’d had, and how very right I turned out to be. Days packed full of successful experiments, with the adrenaline of finishing everything on time rolling seamlessly into evenings of radiance and revelry. It’s amazing how much your attitude changes situations (or at the very least perceptions).

First happening Friday was the previously mentioned deep frying party, intermittently attended (with partial overlaps) by myself, Sara and her bride+bridesmaids-to-be friends, and George + date. In the end George never had time to get his pierogis and fried ready, and the bachelorette party had to bail early to attend a bike party (more on that later).

Good luck trolls on the prowl

So instead we ended up cooking a miscellany of items at hand, including shrimp, scallops, squid, sweet potatoes, banana, pickles, girl scout cookies and ice cream.  I thoroughly enjoyed learning how to deep fry properly, having only made a single semi-successful attempt at samosas previously. I found that keeping the temperature stable within a pretty narrow range was both critical and challenging, since dumping in too many things at once dropped the temperature a good deal. I also found that it required a lot more attention than I’d have expected to cook things for just the right amount of time, watching their bubbling decrease to monitor when they would start absorbing the frying oil. I had added beer to the batter, which I think probably helped getting the bitelets nicely puffy (but who’s to say based on a single event).

Sure, it does kind of look like an alien spawning pool from that angle.

Anyway, a big success. With an experiment planned for 07:00 the next morning I had definitely not planned to join the trolls at the brewery that hosted the final stint of the bike party. But when the time came I found that I had a quite irresistible craving for a party, so off to join them we went. They had spent ~3 hours biking around Baltimore (with a few beer stops) alongside hundreds of revelers, many in costumes, and even as we neared the site there were noticeable good vibes in the air. The event was mostly in the courtyard of the brewery, though the building was open for gawking at the giant tanks and for endless refills of their draft creations. The DJs were pretty good, people looked swell and there was MoonBounce; in other words, anyone of sound mind was bound to have a blast. Whether I fall into that category or not, I danced, bounced and pratted my ass off, and didn’t regret going even when I had to get up Saturday morning.

And when I got back from the lab on Saturday, it was of course time to get ready for the great hallowed gathering in Fell’s Point, something I’d barely missed in both 2010 and 2011 and was rather looking forward to. But more on that in part 2.

Transformations in action

Written by Martin

2012/10/30 at 01:24

Posted in Events, Food

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Blue Moon

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This image is totally photoshopped.

Yesterday I discovered the etymology of the term ‘blue moon’, on account of it being just that (for the last time before 2015). For those who share my previous ignorance, it’s when you have two full moons in a single month. A big deal! So despite having made no effort to watch the first full moon in August, nor any other for that matter, I decided that this called for a celebration. More specifically, it called for drinking Blue Moons on the roof while watching the blue moon, and then sometime during the night (when my fasting was over) heading to the Blue Moon Cafe. In the end we never did that last part, on account of not wanting to go and pay for food we didn’t actually want; but then some might argue that whole affair was something of a put-on to begin with.

Written by Martin

2012/09/01 at 12:23

Posted in Events

Circus of the Sun

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Last night I finally got to see a Cirque du Soleil show, something that had been on my mind for something like a year. Dralion is supposed to be a harmonious meeting of Eastern and Western circus traditions, but for a first-timer this theme was insignificant compared to the overall style of performance. I only had a vague idea of what to expect: some extravagant blend of theatrics, visual effects and evocative music, with a theme most harmonious with my predilections. Fate, the elemental domains, eternity, all personified in a circus setting with some Asian flavor? Why yes, that would be something I might be interested in.

So I tried to keep an open mind, avoid raising my expectations and completely ignore the price of the ticket. This was probably a terrific idea, for I would (with some hesitation) call it the best show I’ve ever seen. Of course it’s pretty much impossible to compare this to various other contenders, but I can certainly say that I was drawn into the performance to such a degree that the so-called real world ceased to exist. The acrobatics were truly astounding, easily as convincing as the Olympics as a display of the limits of human performance. But even more so was I enraptured by the way the performers’ bodies seemed to be simple tools, moving and bending in whatever way their imagination dictated. Even the clowns that reared their absurd heads in between the acrobatic acts ended up growing on me (despite the annoying interruption of grandeur), for they served as a reminder of the tragicomedy of the play we call life.

Gravity has no dominion in the realm of Oceane

I won’t attempt to cover all the magnificent acts, but a single example might be in order: the image above is a ~15m wall footed by massive trampolines, receiving and re-launching the garishly clad minions of Water in their joyful dynamics. Up and down they’d go, with flips and spins taking them between the trampolines, little ledges on the wall and even to the top of the wall itself. It was amazing that they were able to arrest their horizontal motion after leaping off the top or from one trampoline to another, but the truly impressive part was the visual effect  that came when they started using the wall as footing. Watching them running, stopping and posing up the height of the wall one began to forget about the the floor and trampolines, and even though one’s seat served as a reminder that space itself hadn’t just shifted 90 degrees, you could almost convince yourself that at least the stage had undergone such a transmutation.

The Warrior (or, in the creators’ interpretation, the force behind the wheels of eternity)

All in all it was entirely “wow”, although it probably needs the right frame of mind to fully enjoy. And a craving for adventure, for ‘elsewhere’, for magic, lights and shadows certainly wouldn’t be out of place either.

Written by Martin

2012/08/25 at 20:56

Posted in Events

Electric Zoo

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This past weekend I spent at Electric Zoo in NYC. It’s an electronic music festival on Randall’s Island that was featuring some quite impressive names this year. The location was pretty great for me, as I could do a nice forty five minute walk in the sun while everyone else was crowding into event buses. Plus, walking to an event and observing the gradually increasing density of people who are obviously going to the same place you are is lots of fun (though nothing beats SENSATION in this regard).

Because we - are - your friends...

It was set up as four tents and a big stage scattered around a grassy lawn, with plenty of food vendors and miscellaneous around the site.  This had the distinct advantage that you could easily move from one show to the other if a given DJ turned out to be less smoking than expected, and simultaneous catch a nice breeze to contrast the ‘2000 dancing people in a tent’ climate that otherwise dominated. And, indeed, there were several surprises in the quality of performances, especially on the first day. Axwell rocked the house as expected, and The Chemical Brothers were nothing but pro. But aside from the latter, the main stage was pretty disappointing on Saturday. Major Lazer and Benny Benassi weren’t very interesting, and ATB was downright crappy. On the other hand, this just meant that I got introduced to a bunch of DJs I hadn’t heard before, of which Fake Blood and Rusko were particularly good (although the latter was mostly dubstep).'ll - never be alone again,

Sunday was a lot better musically (which is saying something!). Dancing around for like 11 hours the day before meant that I skipped some of the early artists, arriving just as the big shots started taking the main stage. I caught the end of Laidback Luke’s set, which was good, and was then very pleasantly surprised by Moby. His own music is pretty mellow, and I can’t say that I’m a huge fan. But here he was totally in tune with the crowd, and going nuts all over the stage to boot. Kudos! After that Boys Noize literally blasted my mind right out of my body, figuratively speaking. Extremely well-mixed set of his own excellent music, and extremely loud; the bass made my clothes continuously vibrate against my body and after a while I didn’t bother trying to think at all. Fedde le Grand was next, and although his set was totally tight, it didn’t quite draw you in as much as the previous ones. I took the chance to check out a couple of good DJs in the other tents, on Sunday at least, the main stage was where it was at, so it wasn’t long before I returned there.

so come on! come on!

Armin van Buuren finished things off Sunday, and his performance was… epic. Not really my favorite style, but it was a pretty suitable way to end things. Not bad though, and I bet it would have been better if you were high. Which I guess bears mentioning, at least: partying with people on ecstasy isn’t half bad actually, simply because they’re all having a fantastic time and are excessively friendly. On Saturday I’d gone with a friend, but when she’d left for Connecticut on Sunday I didn’t have any problems making new ones (of which only half were on drugs). Would get old quick I suppose, when you don’t partake, but for now it was fun. My only regret is that I postponed getting a rhino t-shirt because I didn’t want to carry it around, and when I finally went they were sold out (no, I would not like an antelope instead, wtf?).

Written by Martin

2010/09/07 at 20:58

Posted in Events