Monthly Archives: April 2008

Happy Earth Day from Epcot!

Sorry for not writing in a while, but Christine and I were in Tampa last week for her work and are just now getting back to normal. Had an awesome time in Florida, got to visit with my Mom and Courtney and ate some rocking-good food — which I will totally tell you about later — but perhaps our coolest adventure was visiting Disney’s epically-nerdy Epcot theme park in Orlando.

I’m not kidding, man, Epcot was just as geeky and cool as I remember it: educational “message” rides about the environment and science, that gigantic geodesic dome at the front gate, and that whole international pavillion thingy…wow…amazing! We were in nerd heaven…

And while we have plenty of other Epcot stories to share with you, in honor of Earth day, I wanted to start with one of favorite rides: Living with the Land. As you may or may not know, Christine has totally “gone green” over the last decade — seriously, you’d think she’s the one who grew up in Santa Cruz! — so when she heard about this ride, it was literally the first thing on her Epcot to-do list.

And after getting on that little boat and floating through the various climates on our planet, I gotta agree with her. Living with the Land is a seriously cool ride! After a quick “history of agriculture” intro, the 14-minute ride glides into the first of four “experimental growing areas”.

First up is the “Tropics Greenhouse” which is housed in a massive 60-foot dome. Here you will find bananas, cacao, peanuts, sugar cane, etc. You’d think it would be all tropical hot in that place, but it’s really nice and warm and the bananas smelled awesome! We kind of loved it there.

Next up is the “Aquacell” which is home to dozens of exotic fish, alligators and American Eels. This place was kind of spooky and didn’t smell nearly as good as the banana room, but the fish tanks were pretty impressive..so, rock on.

But the best two areas were saved for last: The “Production Greenhouse”, where USDA scientists are exploring new ways to grow fruits and vegetables without soil and the need for toxic pesticides; and the “Creative Greenhouse” where this same group of greenies is working hard to perfect cheap and innovative hanging growth techniques for use in gardens around the globe and even in space! Rad!

Our favorite things here were the hanging tomatoes and pumpkins. We tried growing some pumpkins a couple years back and they were literally devoured by bugs before they could grow but man, if we had some of that hanging pipe action in our back yard, well…wow, bet we’d have a hell of a better crop!

Oh yeah, and the coolest thing of all is that almost all of the food grown on this ride is used at Restaurants around the park…awesome! And while we didn’t get to sample the baby green salad at the Land’s Garden Grill Restuarant, it did look pretty damn fresh, so, yum.

Anyway, happy Earth Day everyone and if you happen to have any Mickey Mouse ear-shaped pumpkin molds gathering dust in your garages, break that shit out and grow a pumpkin!

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I hate Ticketmaster!

Just spent more than half an hour trying to score Radiohead tickets on Ticketmaster.com and, man alive, what a nightmare!

Aside from the ticking clock at the top of every new window: “You have two minutes to complete this page before your tickets are released”, I guess I took too long on the last window — yes, the LAST WINDOW — and just as I was hitting the “Order Tickets Now” button, my time expired and I had to start all over again from the beginning. Ahh!

Then, after speedily completing each window on my new order, I was informed that all the tickets in my price range were sold out. Oh, no you didn’t, Ticketmaster! So, after changing up my order and opting for the $49 tickets instead — I was hoping to get the cheaper $39 tickets — I found out that those too were all snapped up for Sunday, August 24th at the Hollywood Bowl.

That left one other option…Monday night, August 25th. So, one nervous breakdown and two shit fits later, I finally managed to score tickets for that show. But then the real shit storm came my way in the form of service and handling fees totalling $24, almost half the price of the original tickets! Ahh!

At the end of the day, I guess it’s worth it, because Radiohead is totally on my list of bands I need to see live before I die, but wow, Ticketmaster, I kinda hate you right now, baby.

And best of all is that the tickets aren’t even that great…our seats are in section U1! That’s that tiny orange sliver way in the back on the seating chart above. If we’re lucky, with those new big-ass video screens, we might just be able to make out the band. But hey, as long as we can hear Thom York and company rocking down the Bowl, I’m cool…

But seriously, wow…I still totally hate you, Ticketmaster.

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“Project Runway” struts to Lifetime

In a shocking turn of events, it was announced this week that Bravo TV’s Peabody Award-winning reality series “Project Runway” is catwalking down the cable dial to Lifetime. Yep, Lifetime: Television for Women. I know…talk about a “hot trannie mess!”

Even weirder still is that NBC Universal (Bravo’s parent company) just sat by and let this happen. I mean, come on…”Runway” isn’t just the top-rated show on basic cable, but it’s a pop culture juggernaut that is well worth any price that savvy shyster Harvey Weinstein asked for it. To let an iconic show like that slip away, to Lifetime of all places, is just plain stupid.

Of course NBC was quick to sue the Weinstein Company for breach of contract, but with the ink already dry on the Lifetime deal, it all sounds like too little too late to me. And the fact that Lifetime has already announced that Season 6 will premiere on their network this November — Season 5, which is currently casting, will air on Bravo — pretty much seals NBC’s fate.

So, like many “Runway” fans, I guess we’re gonna have to follow Tim and Heidi over to Lifetime. There is still no word on whether regular “Runway” judges Michael Kors and Nina Garcia will be making the move as well, but barring any last-minute courtroom theatrics, the deal is done.

Basically, it sounds like the greedy bastards at NBC Universal (yeah, you heard me, Ben Silverman!) gambled that they could renew “Runway” on the cheap and lost…big time. Ha ha…suck it, NBC! Sorry, guess I still have a little residual strike rage going on…

In any case, I salute you, Harvey Weinstein! You stuck to your guns and got a way better deal — rumored to be somewhere in the range of $150 million for five years — with a network that aside from desperately needing a hit show, just might actually appreciate the goldmine that is “Project Runway”.

So, this November, you can bet your ass we’ll be enjoying some rocking new episodes of “Runway” on Lifetime…um, you know, right after we finish watching that baby-switching movie with Emily Watson and Dermot Mulroney.

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The Oldest House in the U.S.

Located at 215 East De Vargas street, half a block off Old Santa Fe Trail is a beautiful little building that “supposedly” is the Oldest House in the United States. I say supposedly for two reasons. One is that the houses’ official title is: “The Oldest House in the United States…built by a European”. And two, because the house was allegedly built sometime between 1200 and 1646.

Yes, you read that correctly…1200-1646. So this place was either built in 1200 or four-hundred and forty-six years later. You know, give or take a century.

In any case, the house — which currently is home to a crafts store that was NEVER opened when I was awake — is still really cool looking. And unlike the “miraculous” staircase at the Loretto Chapel, you can touch this adobe building all you want…so, touch we did!

Although I must say that all the adobe fondling in the world could not help us pinpoint the exact date the house was built…and even though I was tempted to break a piece of the wall off for some carbon dating of my own, Ginger wisely persuaded me not to. But if you ask me, this is one title just waiting to be scooped up by someone else.

Speaking of…apparently there is another Oldest House in the United States (also built by Europeans, the Spanish) in St. Augustine, Florida. Located on St. Francis street, the Gonzalez-Alvarez House was supposedly built in 1564 and then rebuilt after the English burnt it down in 1702.

Having spent many a summer in beautiful St. Augustine as a kid visiting my Mom and Courtney, I imagine we probably saw that house at some point too. But after visiting the website to refresh my memory of what it looked like, I gotta say that even their claim on the Oldest House title seems a bit shady to me. I mean, that place looks new as shit…

So, until further evidence presents itself to the contrary…I’m gonna stick with the Oldest House in Santa Fe. It didn’t feel like it could topple over at any minute or anything, but at least it looked the part.

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Thanks for reading!

Seven months ago Christine and I started our blog with the hope that maybe, if we were lucky, our very close friends and family would read our nerdtastic ramblings…and seeing as we just passed the 15,000 hit mark, well, I guess they kind of did.

So, although we are still constantly amazed that anyone reads us at all…we gotta give y’all a huge shout out for your support. Thank you for not just reading our posts, but also for your rocking-good comments. You guys have made this whole process way more fun and rewarding than we would have ever expected…so muchas gracias for everything!

Aside from our crazy-loyal daily readers (you guys seriously rule!), we also know that there is no way in hell we would have gotten nearly as many hits as we have without kick-ass link-meisters like James & Tim, Nina, Will, Dan, Tevana, Natalie, and our newest hit-maker, becauseweloveit. You guys have sent some awesome cyber traffic our way and it is greatly appreciated, so, thanks!

And finally, thanks to those original close friends (especially that fervid blog pusher, Ginger) and family we started this blog for to begin with. You guys are way too numerous to name individually, but, wow…just wow. Without your eyeballs, “make. see. eat. do.” is nothing, baby! So, thanks again and here’s to the next 15,000 hits…whenever they may come.

In the meantime, enjoy these screen caps I found online of some strange Google Language Tools translations of our blog posts from days gone by.

We knew that Italians had kind of an Elvis Presley thing going on, but wow…who knew that the French had such mad love for the Chenbot? Mon dieu!

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The Loretto Chapel

There are many beautiful, historic churches in Santa Fe, but our favorite was the amazing Loretto Chapel on Old Santa Fe Trail.

Though not nearly as old as the Mission of San Miguel (which happens to be the oldest church in the U.S.) or as imposing as the Saint Francis Cathedral downtown, the Loretto Chapel and its “miraculous” staircase is really something to behold. And the history behind it, wow…

Responding to a plea from Bishop Jean Baptiste Lamy to start a school, the Sisters of Loretto sent seven nuns to Santa Fe in 1852. The trip west was brutal and almost immediately, the sisters were beset with a cholera epidemic. Their Mother Superior succumbed to the illness and another sister became too ill to continue the trip and turned back.

The remaining sisters arrived sometime in the fall of 1852 and in 1853 opened the Academy of Our Lady of Light not far from the site of the present day Loretto Chapel. Over time, their school grew and using the tuitions from their students, donations and even money from their own family inheritances, the sisters funded construction of the Loretto Chapel.

Modeled after King Louis IX’s Sainte Chapelle in Paris, the Gothic-revival chapel took ten years to build and was finished — complete with stained glass windows imported from France! — sometime in 1878. The only problem was reaching the choir loft in the back of the chapel.

In similar chapels elsewhere, the choir loft was easily accessed by male clergy and a ladder. But the sisters were hoping for something a little less dangerous, so, they consulted a carpenter. He too told them that a ladder was the best way to go as a traditional staircase wouldn’t fit in the tiny chapel.

Now, here is where the story gets really interesting. Legend has it that the frustrated sisters made a novena (which, for you non-Catholics is sort of a specialized prayer) to Saint Joseph, the Patron Saint of Carpenters. They prayed hard for nine days, and on the ninth and final day of the novena, a man appeared at their door looking for work.

Armed with only a donkey and a toolbox, the man set about building the sisters an elaborate circular staircase with no visible signs of support. Even more impressive is the fact that he built the stairs without nails, using only wooden pegs to hold everything in place.

It took the carpenter six months to fashion the winding staircase and immediately after he’d finished, the man — who never requested or received any payment for his labor — vanished, never to be seen or heard from again. The sisters tried to find him for years, but no trace of the man was ever found. And soon, many locals began to suspect that the mysterious carpenter might be Saint Joseph himself, come to answer the sisters prayers.

Adding credence to that claim is the still-unidentified wood used in several portions of the stairs, not to mention the innovative way the carpenter molded the wood using only the tools he brought with him on his donkey. Now, I don’t know is that dude was really Saint Joseph or not, but trust me, that staircase has some kind of mystical aura.

I was feeling some seriously serene vibes in that place and Ginger was so moved by the whole experience that she actually started crying. Of course, it doesn’t take much to turn on those waterworks (just kidding, Ginger!) but, whoa…even though you can’t walk on them or touch them, there was something really amazing going on with those crazy stairs.

I don’t know why I hadn’t heard of this place before, but apparently the Loretto staircase is so famous that it’s been featured on “Unsolved Mysteries” and was even the subject of a TV movie, “The Staircase”, starring Barbara Hershey, Diane Ladd and CSI’s William Peterson. Who knew?

Anyway, if you get a chance to visit only one church in Santa Fe, I say check this joint out. If the miraculous story behind the stairs doesn’t move you, the super cool 3-D prayer cards in the gift shop surely will!

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Martin Luther King (1929-1968)

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee. And oddly enough, it was just last week when I received an e-mail (via Flickr) from a Memphis author requesting permission to use the photo below in her latest book.

Lorraine Motel balcony where Dr. King was shot (August 2008)

Longtime blog readers will recognize the pic as a B&W version of the one I took outside the National Civil Rights Museum last August in Memphis, but even if you don’t recognize the pic, you’ll have another chance to check it out (in book form!) when it appears in Teresa R. Simpson’s forthcoming History Press release: “Memphis Murder & Mayhem”.

I won’t get paid or anything, but I will get a photo credit and Simpson has promised to send me a copy of the book after it is published, so, that’s payment enough to me. And wow, Dr. King’s tragic assassination aside, the title sounds kind of juicy, so, I’m sure it’ll be a pretty good read.

Anyway, I know it’s not much of a tribute to Dr. King’s mighty legacy, but I did find it kind of strange that all this activity centering around a picture of the site where he breathed his last went down in the week leading up to the 40th anniversary of his death. Kind of strange timing…

So, even though he’s sadly not around to appreciate the tribute, this one’s for you, Dr. King…

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