Date Archives August 2007

Welcome to Nerdvana

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This weekend was the Penny Arcade Expo, spanning from Friday through Sunday. I didn’t manage to get my hands on a flask beforehand, which was unfortunate, but given all the extra space in the convention center, I didn’t feel overwhelmed by people more than a couple of times throughout the course of the weekend. At one point, the gauntlet was thrown that “the next nerd who touches my boobs will be a dead nerd,” and luckily, said nerds stopped attempting to give me free mammograms, so my criminal record stayed clean.

The first thing I attended was the keynote speech given by Wil Wheaton, which, if you could not attend and would like to hear, is available here.

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Toward the end of his speech, I ended up knocking my swag bag off the chair next to me, and the bottle of Bawls inside EXPLODED which would have been a bit more impressive had I not wanted to keep an item or two inside. Somehow, the program and the Darkstalkers comic emerged relatively unscathed, but everything else was now caffeinated, sticky toast. In retrospect, it was probably good that it happened, because otherwise I always end up picking up a bunch of crap at booths that I absolutely must have and then they end up sitting unused, taking up space, until I finally decide to throw them away. No, I don’t want your crummy free t-shirt with a video card logo on it. I will never, ever wear it. No, I don’t want a poster for your game that will never, ever be hung on a wall in my home. Let some other nerds fight over these prizes (and, believe me, they do. If you want to see some deplorable human behavior, set up a raffle or only have a limited amount of something to give away; people will shove and yell and fight to get some crappy item, simply because it’s free. Sort of like watching people stampede at the post-Thanksgiving sales at Wal-Mart.)

Immediately after Wheaton’s keynote was the Penny Arcade Q&A Panel with the creators. I honestly couldn’t tell you a whole lot of what was asked and answered, as my brain is fairly well trained to filter out ‘boring’. I couldn’t even tell you what I was thinking about instead of the panel. I imagine I was off gallivanting with sparkle unicorns somewhere in a magic field with grass that tasted like bubblegum. That’s my best guess, anyway. The one moment that grabbed my attention fully was when someone got on the mic and announced that he ‘knew what you did’. There was a terrible silence, and while Jerry and Mike were scratching their heads, this guy announced ‘I’m not going to save you’ and it was at THAT moment that I started plotting the fastest way to the exit because I did NOT want to be there when Senor Batshitcrazy started shooting up the place. Luckily, my fears proved unfounded, which was extra good because the nearest exit was a long sprint away from where I was.

Also, there was a guy sitting nearby whom I’m fairly certain has a learning disability of some sort, or just some general craziness; I’m not a professional and couldn’t tell you for sure. All I know is that when he wasn’t picking his nose and hooting, he turned around and excitedly asked the girl sitting behind him if she was on 4chan. The logical conclusion to be drawn from the available information is that 4chan participants actually are retarded.

Not long after Senor Batshitcrazy took the mic, the panel was over, and it was time for the super-secret guest. Jack Thompson (wisely) turned down the invitation to appear, but in the world of videogames, there are many enemies, of which Jack Thompson is only one. So who rose to the challenge to be greeted with an overwhelming chorus of boos?

One Uwe Boll.

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Now, I don’t hate on the man as much as most other game nerds do, if only because I can appreciate things on an ‘awful yet hilarious’ level of entertainment. You can tell me that I have bad taste in movies; you won’t hurt my feelings. I’m judging them on an entirely different point scale than 99% of the movie-going population. Can you see a zipper running up the back of the monster costume? Add a point. Was there a moment of ‘WTF just happened, SERIOUSLY, WTF?’, potentially involving pancakes and a backflip? Add a point. Blood that moves around on an actor from scene to scene? Add a point. Liberal use of creative obscenities? Add a point. And so on and so forth–you get the idea. I don’t think Boll has been involved in an ACTUALLY good movie, and I don’t think any of the movies he’s made based off a games are faithful adaptations, but he’s hardly the devil incarnate.

Regardless, people started storming out of the room. Boll showed the trailer for ‘Postal’, which, while mostly confusing, had some entertaining bits.

Then the Q&A started. Oh god, the Q&A. One girl got on the mic and started screaming about how he should get off the stage because he was a racist (pigfucker?), and I started wondering if Boll would get assaulted on stage like Inman–after all, both incidents started with ‘you’re racist’, and, hell, Boll is infamous for punching out his critics…However, to the shock of all, Boll actually handled it with class and suggested she do some research on satire before she starts flinging the word racist around, and no punches were thrown on either side.

Toward the end of the panel, I started feeling very sorry for him; everyone who got in line to ‘ask a question’ instead engaged in an impromptu game of ‘who can be the con’s biggest asshole?’, playing like the winner’s testicles would finally descend and he’d officially be a MAN.

It really took balls of steel for him to show up at a place where he’s fairly universally reviled, to speak civilly to people, and try to explain that the majority of the movies people hate him for, he didn’t write. Even though it was likely a giant publicity stunt (I and 30,000 other PAX goers are writing/talking about it, aren’t we?), I still can’t help but respect him a bit for making the attempt. I couldn’t walk out in front of an audience that hates me already. Could you?

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After his panel, I met up with gehn and a few of his friends to grab some dinner. We ended up at some mexican restaurant at Pacific Place, where I was presented with the most delicious hibiscus margarita ever known to man. Perhaps a challenge was issued for me to eat the flower garnish, and perhaps that challenge was met. I’m not much of one to back down from foolish or silly dares. The lovely lady seated to my right, whose name was Ariel, turned out to be an Omeganaut, competing to win a trip to the Tokyo game show, and had shown an impressive amount of calm and steady hands to best the Jenga challenge earlier in the day. Unfortunately, the next day, she was knocked out in the Quake portion of the competition, as were all of the other female participants, which was very disappointing.

Shortly after dinner, it was time to get back to the convention center for the concert lineup: The Oneups, Optimus Rhyme, Freezepop, and Neskimos. The Oneups absolutely stole the show with their funk-based renditions of game music. Optimus Rhyme has never really done anything for me, so I scooted out halfway through his set to renew the parking on my car, and made it back just in time for Freezepop to start, which was the part of the lineup that I was most excited to see. Even with bonus points for Liz being adorable in a goomba dress, keytars, and belting out ‘the final countdown’ as their closer, they couldn’t rise above the level of FULL OF SUCK. What studio stuff of theirs I have I really like, but some bands just can’t pull it off live. This is one of those bands. The music was muddy, Liz was off-key the majority of the time, and even when she was ON-key, her voice was nothing to write home about. I suddenly understand why they run her through synths in studio, because holy CRAP it was awful. Neskimos? Meh.

I ended up running into crazyfaeriegirl in the ladies’ powdering facilities, and found out that the party at Sealab was THAT NIGHT and not on Saturday as I’d previously assumed, and that Wil Wheaton was also apparently making an appearance, which I would have thought unlikely at best, but never got the opportunity to find out as by the time Tim and I walked there, the hotel had already complained twice and informed them that the third complaint would be to the police, so they’d shut down and weren’t letting anyone else in the room. It’s just as well, I’m sure with enough tequila in me, I’d do or say the final thing that caused the cops to be called, including but not limited to throwing chairs out of 11th floor windows. That’s just on tequila, mind, but since I’d already gotten a start on tequila earlier in the evening, I wouldn’t have switched it up. Danger, danger!

It was extraordinarily difficult to drag myself out of bed Saturday morning, but I had to do it, for I could not miss the Aqua Teen Hunger Force Wendy’s Challenge 2007! Tim and I booked it to the convention center, I paid by phone to park my car because it’s faster and cheaper than trying to finagle with the stupid non-card-reading-no-change-giving machine, Tim dashed off to the Red Vs Blue panel, and I wandered around the meeting spot, looking for likely competitors. Let me tell you, a lot of people looked like likely competitors, however, it quickly became evident that no one was showing for the event. You pretty much could have taken my eight year old self and told her that the Kentucky Derby was cancelled because each lovely pony was systematically shot beforehand and I would not have been MORE disappointed than I was to find out that I wasn’t going to be able to watch nerds vomit.

Still, I tried to make the best of things, and made my way into the exhibition hall, where I got to play some Eye of Judgement. I’ve never played a collectible card game before. I don’t own a PS3. Nevertheless, I want this game. Wants it, precious. I’m seriously considering buying it and sitting on it until the day it makes sense to own a PS3.

To distract you from my insanity, have a picture:

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Yeah, back to Eye of Judgement–while I was playing, I lost my concentration and therefore almost lost the game when I heard someone exclaim ‘SO AMAZING!’–this means nothing to you now, but will mean something in a second! I’ve only known one person to tack on ‘SO AMAZING!’ in just that manner on the end of his sentences, and it was a particularly deplorable person I’d met in college in San Diego, who misconstrued my general niceness (shut UP, I’m nice! Sometimes.) as an indication that he was owed some sexual favors from me, and was very vocal about it. He was lucky I didn’t destroy him. So when I heard ‘SO AMAZING!’, I looked up, found the source…and it was him. I was a little thrown by it, somehow managed to win my game, and then disappeared into the crowd, which is one of the sole advantages to being below-average height–you can slip into a group of people and easily avoid someone who might shout that you owe him a blowjob. Don’t bother trying to understand why–I’ve never understood it myself.

Have another picture:

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I saw a few mediocre panels with gehn, one of which was supposed to be ‘game design in an hour’ but which turned out to be ‘can this guy program a game in an hour, and when we’re at 55 minutes and he still hasn’t, can he copy and paste a working version over from a folder in the remaining five, and when he can’t, marvel at just how much of your time you’ve wasted!’

I was also repaid in full for all of my unkind thoughts about 4chan boy above, as he was sitting next to me at this godawful panel, fondling my leg with his foot in a particularly obscene manner. I bet you didn’t even think that action could BE obscene; if you lived my life for even five minutes, you would begin to understand that some people are destined to live lives wherein other people laugh at them on the internet, and I live one of those lives.

I ended up skipping the concerts in favor of going back to gehn‘s place to play some Battlefront. I’ve really never been good with shooters on a controller, preferring the mouse/keyboard setup, and although there was never a moment where I played fantastically well, I didn’t embarrass myself too badly!

On the walk back to the convention center to meet back up with ph34rtimmybunny, I ended up walking by my car, and saw something tucked under the wiper blade. Sure enough, it was a parking ticket, for failure to pre-pay. Oh HELL NO. I paid. I was paid through SIX AM for Cthulhu’s sake! Three words were pounding in my brain: CAMPAIGN OF TERROR. I would not pay this ticket, and I would make the ticket-giver sorry he or she was born. CAMPAIGN OF TERROR. CAMPAIGN OF TERROR. CAMPAIGN OF TERROR. I called the phone number; no one answers. CAMPAIGN OF TERROR.

The Minibosses were still playing. Who gives a shit? CAMPAIGN OF TERROR.

I got home. The dog had pooped on the carpet. CAMPAIGN OF TERROR. AND vomited on the carpet. CAMPAIGN OF TERROR. I cleaned and then sent out a furious email. CAMPAIGN OF TERROR. Then bedtime.

By Sunday, I was really ready to call it done. There wasn’t anything else I wanted to see or do, because I really don’t care if the Frag Dolls hold the beauty contest before or after they find out if the hopeful girl can play games, the girl I was rooting for was out of the Omegathon, and I was sick and tired of smelly nerds. While Tim was doing his thing, I wandered around aimlessly, eventually stopping at some sort of singing game at the Playstation booth. And there was a singing contest. And I was pretty damn confident about my chances–what have three years of karaoke prepared me for, if not this moment? I went up there and rocked the shit out of my song, but didn’t beat the high score, which was obtained by HUMMING the song. What a goddamn cheater. I don’t care if I sound like a sore loser–if you can’t sing, maybe you don’t deserve to win a PS3 in that particular contest. That’s the judgment of both myself and my sour grapes.

Soon after, PAX was over, and it was time to go home–along the way, I noticed the tag on the horses’ forehead; I wonder if something similar would be appropriate to hang on my bosom for PAX 2008?

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PAX

Sad to say, but I think I’ve lost my game mojo–with my DS stolen and long gone, and everything in my house obsolete and/or breaking down (goddamn you, xbox!), I’m way, way out of the loop. I have no idea what’s shiny and new and revolutionary. I didn’t understand why half my friends were practically creaming their jockeys with the release of Bioshock. Big Game Release season is right around the corner, and I’m clueless.

So having said that, I had absolutely no intention of going to the Penny Arcade Expo; if I wasn’t hosting ph34rtimmybunny, I wouldn’t be going at all. I just fear that they won’t have much there that will hold my interest. Hell, I’ve had a gamestop gift card since April, and even though I’ve gone in the store countless times since then, I haven’t seen a single thing that I want enough to even spend someone elses’ money on.

This attitude about PAX changed when I perused the PAX forum and saw the formation of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force Wendy’s Challenge 2007:

Buy one of everything on the dollar menu at Wendy’s and eat it all in one sitting! It’s a total of 15 items! Winner gets a trophy, $45, and earns the street credit of being the “King/Queen of Wendy’s”! And to be perfectly clear, you must be able to eat one of everything, toppings you dislike and all, not just 15 of one thing.

Rules:

1.) No potty breaks

2.) No help from chemicals (Pepto Bismol, Tums…ect.)

3.) No Hiding food under the table or in your lap/backpack/purse…ect.

4.) No puking

5.) No leaving your post unless accompanied by a judge

There is no way in hell that I’m participating, but hell or high water could not keep me from witnessing this event in all its…glory. Oh, pictures will be taken. It looks like they’ve got a grand total of 15 contenders going for the…glory. You know, the glory of being a clown?

If these gluttons for punishment plan events like this all weekend long, I will not be left wanting for entertainment.

And who knows, maybe I’ll get my game mojo back!

Plane Jane

Friday was all about large buildings and planes; on Friday morning, I drove the family to Everett to visit Boeing’s Future of Flight facilities, which is located in the largest building in the world, by volume, at 472,000,000 cubic feet. It’s the only public tour of a commercial jet assembly plant in North America, and it is, in a word, awesome. It’s a little difficult to wrap my brain around the fact that just this plant alone employs over twenty-seven THOUSAND people, even when you’re looking at the scale of this building, even when you can see an assembly line of full-size planes inside. This building is so large that Boeing keeps over 1,300 bicycles on the factory floor for employees to get around. This building is so large that it has its own fire department, hospital, water treatment plant, electrical substations, and FOUR telephone prefixes. This building is so large that it created its own weather–warm air and moisture accumulated near the ceiling, forming clouds. That is a one DAMN BIG BUILDING.

Boeing has a moving assembly line, though it moves too slowly for the naked eye to discern. A plane moves through this assembly line from start to finish in about four months, so if I were to visit again three months from now, the model 777 number 666 (devil plane! devil plane!) that was in its earliest stages of construction on Friday would nearly be ready to roll off the line.

We also got to see the very first 787 Dreamliner, which is awesome beyond belief. My friend Banjo works for Boeing, and she was telling me how incredible this plane was when it was still a hush-hush secret; now that I’ve actually seen and touched one, I am convinced it will change the way we fly, because, of course, my opinion about these sorts of things matters. First off, it’s constructed of nearly 50% composite materials, which makes it about 40,000 pounds lighter than airplanes constructed of conventional materials–this makes it much more fuel efficient, so…yay environment! Equally as important to passengers is the fact that the composites are stronger, which enables it to have much larger windows and a cabin pressure of lower altitude, which increases comfort/reduces jetlag.

787 INTERIOR MOCKUP

 

 

They’ve also increased the size of the cabin, which is an incredible boon for claustrophobics. Seriously. That picture makes me excited to fly again, and I have been a VERY surly flyer lately, angrily defending my personal space bubble. I fit within the confines of my seat, and I expect that anyone sitting next to me does the same. If I wanted to be touched by strangers, I’d go to Neighbors.

Last but not least, I designed my own super-sweet airplane. Come fly the Mellzah skies!

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After we left the Boeing plant, we went back to Seattle where the ever-lovely Carrie escorted us to the viewing deck of the Columbia Center building, which was at one point the tallest building west of the Mississippi. As we got to the top, it turned out our timing was perfect as the Blue Angels were just starting their show over Lake Washington, which my grandparents were very, very excited about.

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I only ended up getting one picture, as a certain roommate was using my camera to take pictures of herself for her Internet Boyfriend, and failed to tell me that she’d killed the (proprietary) battery. And lo, there was much gnashing of teeth. Still, even from this one picture you can get a decent idea of just how much this jet black building looms over everything else.

Afterward, keeping to the trend of going somewhere and immediately turning around and going back, I took everyone to Pike Place Market, finally found/paid for a parking spot, the grandparents took a quick peek and were ready to go back. GAH.

There is such a thing as too much family togetherness.

Last weekend, I drove my grandparents to Vancouver. Since they first started talking about flying out to visit me, going to Vancouver has been high on their list of priorities. They’d excitedly called me when they finally received their passports in the mail. They’d talk about it every single time they called me on the phone.

For my part, I’d flat-out told them several times that I don’t know my way around Vancouver; that two of the three times I’d been there, smacksaw had been there to show me around, and the third time, I managed to drive myself and my father into Gastown and then promptly got lost for a few hours, so I am not high on the list in terms of being an excellent tour guide. Still, they were very excited to go, so I got behind the wheel and drove north.

What none of us counted on was the two hour wait at the border to cross customs, at the end of which, all of us were very testy. After we crossed the border, I asked them if they wanted to visit Point Roberts, and my grandma said she did, while my grandpa grunted non-commitally. I had driven approximately 90% of the way there when grandma changed her mind and said she’d rather just see Vancouver. So I sighed, turned around, and headed back toward the city. Vancouver isn’t smack on the border, and you have to drive through a decent bit of suburbia to get there. Twenty minutes later, we had not yet arrived in the city proper when my grandpa piped up and said “You can turn around and start heading home anytime.” I clenched my jaw and kept driving.

We finally got into the city, and when we found someplace to park, the grandparents couldn’t believe that the meter wouldn’t take US coins. Why wouldn’t they do this? Oh gee, I don’t know, maybe because we are in another country? And not like Tijuana, where the US dollar is way cooler than the peso by an order of magnitude.

We stopped, got some coffee, glared at each other, drove around Granville Island, and left. Pretty much a full day’s driving for approximately twenty minutes of activities.

The very next day, grandma decided she wanted to visit ‘the wine country’ which meant another day trip to Yakima. Unfortunately, she didn’t tell me about this desire until about 1pm, which is a very late start if you intend to drive halfway across the state on a Sunday.

Still, we got in the car, and I started driving east. Since Snoqualmie Falls was also on their list of places to visit, I stopped there along the way since it would presumably be too dark to see by the time we got back from Yakima.

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After a few minutes, we got back into the car, and this is when the neverending loop of commentary started. Over and over again, grandma would exclaim “Look at all those trees!” “I can sure see why they call this the Evergreen state” “Looking at this, I can’t imagine how we’d ever run out of trees” over and over and over again. Sometimes, I would tell her a factoid like “most rest stops in Washington provide free coffee” and she would repeat what I’d just said, but more loudly, presumably for my grandpa. Sometimes she would repeat these factoids to me. They say that grandpa is losing his hearing. Frankly, I think he’s just ignoring grandma, which only makes her repeat everything AGAIN, which only serves to make him tune her out MORE, and so on and so forth. That has to be it.

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We crossed the mountains and into the more deserty area of Washington, and while grandma was going on and on about how this place is supposedly the fruit bowl of the nation, that’s what she read, the fruit bowl of the nation, the grousing started up from the backseat. “Jesus Christ. JESUS CHRIST. I can’t see where they’d grow any goddamn grapes around here.” Every time he saw one of those places where cops sit to trap speeders, he’d suggest we could turn around and go back, and between those points, the ‘Jesus-Christ’ing continued, while upfront, the fruitbowl broken record was still going full-force. In what can only be described as a moment of temporary, parental-like insanity, I whipped around and told my grandpa to shut up, we weren’t going home before we even got to the goddamn place, and if he didn’t like it, that was too damn bad. I am the bad granddaughter. In my defense, you would have done it, too.

We stopped at some fruit stand on the outskirts of Yakima, and I have to admit that part of me was really hoping that both mouths in the car would be too crammed full of fruit to continue motormouthing the rest of the way. When we FINALLY got into Yakima, the handy-dandy tourist pamphlet my grandma had picked up suggested we go to the information center that is open ‘seven days a week’. While it may indeed be open seven days a week, in order to really be useful, they should strive to have it open more than a couple of hours per day, as it was long closed by four pm.

I’ve never been to Yakima before. I don’t know where the wineries are. Yet I struck out on the highway again, trying to make my grandma’s wine-country-wishes come true. Grandpa started up again with “Jesus CHRIST we drove all this way to buy some goddamn fruit?”. Clearly we had not bought enough fruit.

By the time I found the first winery, it was four thirty. It had closed at four. Grandma started in on ‘Look at all those fruit trees, it IS the fruitbowl of the nation, I wonder if they sell to Dole’ section of the day’s all-repeats-program, and I started looking for a winery AND a happy place to go to in my mind. I found another winery at five. They closed, no shit, at four thirty. The third and final winery I found, at around five thirty, had closed at five.

This is a very typical family experience–always a day late and a dollar short.

All of this was nothing compared to yesterday.

Yesterday afternoon, my dad called and said the family wanted to go to Leavenworth, which is a Bavarian-style town (keeping with the trend) Far Far Away. We all got into the car, Dad driving this time, and the grandma tree broken record started up again, this time for the benefit of my father. You think that shit gets old on the first day? Try two Sundays in a row, with the same visual cues inspiring the exact same remarks. It’s like some horrible deja vu land where not only do you know what’s coming because it has happened before, but you also sort of wish you were dead.

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Now THAT is a happy, shining face.

After a while on I-90, we all decided we were hungry, and stopped at some roadside diner that billed itself ‘home of the turtle’. This was not just any turtle, but some sort of Super Fireplace Turtle wearing a hat of a type which I was unable to determine. Cowboy hat? Sombrero? Cowboy hat? Sombrero? Cow..brero.

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After lunch, it was back on the highway.

Soon, green trees and tree comments gave way to desert scrub and the beginnings of the fruit bowl conversation AGAIN.

At some point along the way, we were supposed to turn onto I-97 north, and so, when we saw the exit marked ‘I-97’, we took it. The road it led us to didn’t quite feel right. The speed limit was too low, there were roads intersecting with it, there was NO TRAFFIC WHATSOEVER, but like brave Lewis-and-Clark adventurers, only more stupid, we forged ahead, because surely, SURELY, this was the right road. I-97 is supposed to run into 2, and from there it’s a short drive to Leavenworth. We saw a highway intersection up ahead. Yay! This validates we were going the correct direction! Yay! Wait…is that the Columbia River? Is that…I-90 again? No fucking way.

Oh yes. We took a frontage road for forty-five minutes, putting us in the crappy little town of Vantage and very, very, VERY far out of our way.

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How would you like to cross the Columbia River? Ford it, caulk your wagon and float across, take a ferry, or hire an Indian guide?

By this point in time, my dad was really, really mad that we’d driven so far out of our way, my grandpa was starting up with his ‘Jesus-Christ’ing again, my brother was rolling his eyes and trying to melt through the passenger door, and my grandma needed some water so she could continue to drive us all batshit insane.

We now were all treated to an extra hour and a half of the repeated comments, including but not limited to wondering exactly what sort of fruit was in every single orchard we passed, reading every sign we passed aloud and then repeating it in case someone in the car hadn’t heard her the first time, and asking if the orchards all had contracts with Dole. Once, we passed a nursery filled with young trees, and my grandparents started debating what they thought the trees were. Grandma informed us that she calls them ‘silver maples, even though they probably aren’t, because they sort of look like silver maples, even though they probably aren’t’. If you’ve seen the movie ‘Sling Blade’ and have ever been really overtired, you will completely understand why I started giggling hysterically, and between fits of giggles quoted “Some folks call it a sling blade, I call it a kaiser blade, because it’s shaped like a bananer.” My dad, who was also incredibly overtired, started cracking up as well. We are terrible people, but that sort of goes along with being a member of my family.

My brother was still ambivalent.

Half an hour later, we FINALLY rolled into Leavenworth, where, per family tradition, everything was closed. Everything except for Ye Olde Gas Stattione and Ye Olde Starbucks.

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signs

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At the point where we were driving through and I requested my dad stop so I could take this picture, we realized just how overtired Grandma was when she spilled the beans and revealed just how filthy a sweet old lady could be. She suggested we go purchase a large Bavarian sausage and attach it to the knight, hanging out from the bottom of his metal top, with a red apple along either side. I was simultaneously horrified and delighted, and if there has ever been a moment in my life when I felt I might die of laughter, that was it.

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I have nothing to say about this picture except holy HELL that is a lot of crap in that store. Who buys crap like that? I’m pretty sure it’s the same people who collect Precious Moments figurines and pictures on plates.

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I find nutcrackers to be terrifying in a combination clown/molestor-uncle sort of way. I’m glad this part of town was closed, because otherwise I am certain my family would have dragged me into it, kicking and screaming.

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flowers

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masons

As we were sitting and drinking coffee (my brother elected to wait in the car the whole time we were there), I noticed that one of the buildings, although otherwise decorated in a very standard Leavenworth way, had the big Masonic Eye painted near the top. Conspiracy! Conspiracy!

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I don’t know why, but I find this sign to be very, very funny.

After we were done drinking our coffee, it was time to turn around and go home–look how excited my dad is to be leaving!

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road

dusk

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On the way home, everyone was loopy enough to the point where I heard that once, my dad took my brother and I out trick or treating while he had the worst hangover of his life, my mom smoked while she was pregnant with me, and my grandpa gave my grandma a dutch oven on their wedding night.

Oh yes, I have a special family.

What was supposed to be a short afternoon trip turned into a twelve hour ordeal. It was an interesting sort of family vacation. Now let us never speak of it again.

Ripping it out by the roots

Note to self: Even though the box of the hair removal wax kit claims that it is ‘Easy!’ and ‘Painless!’ with exclamation points, it is, in fact, neither easy NOR painless. Additionally, exclamation points, once regarded as a sign of exuberant veracity, may now have to be regarded with suspicion as telltale beacons of a greater web of lies.