Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Weirdest Irish Fair there ever was...

Last weekend I went to Allentown to visit my dear friend Beth. And at this point I'd like to congratulate her - every single time I go up there she finds something for us to do that's out of the ordinary, amusing, wacky, and totally blogworthy. And with that, I give you the latest post on Beth and my Saturday evening in Allentown.

This weekend Beth found out that there was an Irish fair happening at a building in the Allentown fairgrounds. But it's not just any Irish festival. This one is called Finnegan's Wake. For those of you who don't know the story - it's a book buy James Joyce, but the story is actually inspired by this song:

Tim Finnegan lived in Walkin' Street
A gentleman, Irish, mighty odd;
He had a brogue both rich and sweet
And to rise in the world he carried a hod.
Now Tim had a sort of the tipplin' way
With a love of the whiskey he was born
And to help him on with his work each day
He'd a "drop of the cray-thur" every morn.
Whack fol the darn O, dance to your partner
Whirl the floor, your trotters shake;
Wasn't it the truth I told you
Lots of fun at Finnegan's wake!

2. One mornin' Tim was feelin' full
His head was heavy which made him shake;
He fell from the ladder and broke his skull
And they carried him home his corpse to wake.
They rolled him up in a nice clean sheet
And laid him out upon the bed,
A gallon of whiskey at his feet
And a barrel of porter at his head.

3. His friends assembled at the wake
And Mrs. Finnegan called for lunch,
First they brought in tay and cake
Then pipes, tobacco and whiskey punch.
Biddy O'Brien began to bawl
"Such a nice clean corpse, did you ever see?
"O Tim, mavourneen, why did you die?"
"Arragh, hold your gob" said Paddy McGhee!

4. Then Maggie O'Connor took up the job
"O Biddy," says she, "You're wrong, I'm sure"
Biddy she gave her a belt in the gob
And left her sprawlin' on the floor.
And then the war did soon engage
'Twas woman to woman and man to man,
Shillelagh law was all the rage
And a row and a ruction soon began.

5. Then Mickey Maloney ducked his head
When a noggin of whiskey flew at him,
It missed, and falling on the bed
The liquor scattered over Tim!
The corpse revives! See how he raises!
Timothy rising from the bed,
Says,"Whirl your whiskey around like blazes
Thanum an Dhul! Do you thunk I'm dead?"

(Chuck, I know you're loving this right now).

Anyway, so there's supposedly some renactment of the song, and Beth says it sounds interesting. So we go. Pay admission, buy food and drink tickets. There's mostly just tables and chairs in this auditorium. the band is playing in one of those stage trailers. There's a few tables with food, a place to buy beer, and tables selling Irish t-shirts and sweaters and Claddaugh rings and Irish silver. Beth and I go for food. I had a very Irish meal of a hot dog, Lays potato chips and a soda, while Beth opted for fish and chips. Isn't that English?

The band is playing an Irish song and we sway our heads back and forth. But the next song ends up being being "Margaritaville". Okay....and then the next ends up being "Dayo" by Harry Belafonte. Isn't this an Irish fair? After that the band plays something Irish again, and all is right with the world.

Soon it's time for Finnegan's Wake. A bagpipe band appears, and they are wailing a sad sounding song as a band of mourners wheel a wooden coffin into the room. Now in the coffin lays a white haired man who is wearing black sunglasses, has a beer wedged between his arm and his chest, and holds a bunch of white flowers in his hands. The mourners are a tall man in black with a serious experssion and then a bunch of Irish "women" with black veils over their faces wailing loudly. These women are actually a bunch of men dressed in drag, dramatically playing the neighborhood women. The man playing Finnegan's widow is especially mannish and dramatic as he plays up his grief.

The band sings Finnegan's wake and in between each verse stops to talk to Mrs. Finnegan - who never breaks character. At the cheerful sounding chorus, they all dance around arm in arm, and it's pretty funny. The man who led the processional never moves - just stands there stone-faced during the dancing, and that's funny too. At the end, someone spills whisky on Finnegan, and he sits up, and everyone cheers. Beth and I are laughing and looking at each other like, "Yup, another weird Saturday night for us". Once the performance is over, Finnegan lays down again and closes his eyes. They wheel him off to the side, and then there's a contest of sorts. Everyone lines up by the coffin, and each person has a chance to whisper a joke in Finnegan's ear. Whoever makes him laugh, blink or flinch wins, and gets free beer tickets or something. Pretty funny.

Thanks Beth for another completely funny and blogworthy evening. Looking forward to the next one!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Noelle's Wedding

As many of you know, this past Friday my dear friend Noelle got married to her fiance Chris, and I was a bridesmaid in the wedding. Friday was a busy but a fun day. The girls and I were at the salon early in the morning, manicures, pedicures and up-dos for the hair. Back at Noelle's we ate sandwiches and killed time until the make-up lady showed up, then sat one by one as she brushed us with powder and glosses. Chris was calling Noelle and trying to get her to go to the bank for money to pay the DJ - she adamantly refused, as she was legitimately busy, and had her hair already in the veil. We thought it would be pretty funny if she wandered into the bank like that though. We also thought it was pretty funny when she was trying to get Chris to go and pick up Sarah's missing shawl and said "We're in crisis here!"

Needless to say, we got our ducks in a row and got dressed. A bunch of pictures in the living room and on the front walk. A cute one of Noelle's flower girl Maria holding up her train. Soon, into the limos in our lilac beaded gowns, carrying round bouquets of pink and purple flowers. So pretty. In the vestibule we giggled for the last moments together before lining up to walk down the aisle.

The ceremony was really nice. Chris was choking up as he said his vows and that was sweet. He and Noelle make a cute couple, and I think that everyone was happy to see them tie the knot after dating for seven years.

Off to Chateau Briand for the party. The bridal party got our own private cocktail hour in a room where we also took pictures, and we got to chill out in the bridal suite and relax a bit before the reception, and have an attendent bring us drinks and food. The reception went by fast, lots of music, faces, fun and food. Everybody had a great time, but I was mostly enjoying just seeing Noelle so happy.

Thanks Diane for being such a great date - and to Noelle and Chris, congratulations again!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

So freakin' excited

You guys, I am so freakin' excited. I just booked my trip - this year it's a Contiki tour to Berlin, Prague (pictured above) and Vienna. I leave Sept 15th for a nine day trip! yay!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Hershey's says: We'd Rather See You Skinny Than Us Rich

So as I mentioned before, last night we were in Bryant Park picnicing and Patty had a few choclate bars. One was Hersey's Extra Dark, and we were pretty amused to find the following warning on the back:

"The natural antitoxidants found in tea and certain fruits like berries and grapes can also be found in Hershey's Extra Dark. This is good news; however, like most indulgent treats, Hershey's Extra Dark should be enjoyed in moderation. A serving of Hershey's Extra Dark Macadamia Nut & Cranberry is 3 blocks (37 g)and has 210 calories and 13 g of fat."

Can you freaking believe that this is on the wrapper? Hershey's is actually telling you that you'd better not get fat eating their chocolate. God forbid you actually eat an entire bar! Gluttonous!

So of course, for the rest of the evening, whenever anyone went for the chocolate we shook our heads and clucked our tongues and said "No, no, calories, calories."

Bryant Park Summer Film Festival

One of my favorite parts about summer in New York City is the HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival. It kicked off last night, and Karen and I (and some of her pals) were there to see the first movie of the season, "The Birds".

We arrived by six, just in time to get one of the last spots of grass left in the back - and still we only had room to roll out half the blanket. But no worries. We had wine, cheese and crackers, veggies and hummus, and chocolate - one bar of which displayed an unbelievable disclaimer which I will elaborate upon in another post. Anyway, so we were there by six and settled in for a long picnic - the movie doesn't start until it's dark - 9:00 or so, so you have to get there early to save your spot, then ride it out for hours on a picnic blanket while you wait. The trick is to spend a good part of the picnic time laying down, that way when the movie starts you'll be able to sit up for the two hours without too much cramping.

As predicted, around nine the festivities started. First they show a Merrie Melodies cartoon - in this case Tweety and Sylvester -which was fun. Remember when it was okay to have violence in kids programming??? Then the old old HBO intro, the one with them music that a bunch of people get up and dance to. Don't ask me why. Then the movie.

"The Birds" was a cool movie to see in Bryant Park. Even though there's hundreds of people on the lawn, all is quiet as we watch the film - everyone is engaged. We oohed when Tippi Hedren turned around and there were birds everywhere and laughed at the pretty bad special effects when people got attacked by them. And everybody whoo-hooed loudly when Tippi and Rod Taylor kissed - I love the interactive spirit of movies at Bryant Park.

Karen, I'm glad I always have you to go to these movies with - let's try to do another soon! And Eric, now that you'll be living in the city, I expect you to go to one before you leave!

Monday, June 12, 2006

A Trip to the Spa

Saturday was Noelle's bachelorette party - in less than two weeks she is going to be a married lady. So to properly send her off - we had a great day on Saturday. The first part of it included a trip to the spa.

We chose the Juvenex Spa in NYC - mostly because it looked good n the website and it was the most affordable one we could find. There were five of us at the spa, and for those of you who have never been, here's what happens when you go to a spa:

They give you a robe, a towel and a little wraparound white thing that always feels like it's falling off. You get a key to a locker, and say good-bye to everything you are wearing. You get naked, and put on the robe or the wraparound thingy.

At this place, first you take a shower. They make it sound really fancy on the site - like "a rainforest shower" or some crap, but it's really just like being in a locker room in high school with your friends.

Then you go into the steam room. That's the igloo you see to your right. This is pretty cool - I'd be in in one like this before at the Blue Lagoon in Iceland and loved it. It opens up your skin, you feel good in the heat and it's just enjoyable. They served us ice water on a try inside the igloo, and we stayed in there until we couldn't take the heat anymore.

Then you go into a small cool pool that's got about fifty lemons floating in it. Spas always have fruit everywhere. It's in the pitchers of water you drink, in the water you soak in, in the oils and scrubs they use. Everywhere. So we all got in one pool and of course were being silly and chucking the lemons at each other and making small splashes. Other women were elegantly sitting in other pools, talking about their New York lives and not throwing lemons. I enjoyed the fact that we were the least refined people in there.

Massage time! Diane and I were shown to the same room, and two masseuses gave us hour long full body massages. This is something I've done before and always enjoy. No matter what it costs, it's usually worth every penny.

Lastly, snack time. We're shown to a small bar and they serve us slices of pineapple and green melon. (What did I tell you? Fruit!" It's a nice way to relax before you have to put your clothes on and go back out into the world.

Noey, Diane, Emma, and Lavina - had a great time with you guys, hope we can do it again sometime!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

T.S. Eliot

Today we are going to read some poetry guys. I've never mentioned how much I love this poem - "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock". Read it and tell me that there isn't something in this poem that you can relate to on every day of your life:

1. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse
A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,
Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.
Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo
Non torno vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero,
Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.

LET us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question …
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—
[They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”]
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
[They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”]
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:—
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
[But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!]
It is perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
And should I then presume?
And how should I begin?
. . . . .
Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?…

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
. . . . .
And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head [grown slightly bald] brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.
That is not it, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
“That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all.”
. . . . .
No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Mike Tyson's Punch Out

I've never really been a fan of boxing, so I'm not really sure why this is my favorite classic Nintendo game. But it is. Mike Tyson's Punch Out was awesome. I used to love sitting down, starting with Glass Joe, and pounding my way through these strange bunch of fighters, all the way up to the big man himself.

So how excited was I when I found a website where you could play it online? Check it out:

Just register - it's free, and you can play! It is harder to play on a keyboard (especially doing uppercuts) than it was with the good old controller - but still, it's great to be able to play this game again. Surprisingly, it's still pretty good. Yesterday I made it up to Soda Popinski - a guy I've always enjoyed beating since he always laughed when Mac first steps up to fight. I'll have to kick his ass later.