Goodbye Wellington (saddest of sadfaces) and Palmerston North

•August 23, 2013 • Leave a Comment

ImageHey guys! So, I’m still backtracking with some blog posts – obviously Grant and I had to say goodbye to Wellington two months ago, but here’s some writing on that situation.

It made us sad!

So many great people, such a cute little city, lots to say goodbye to.  Wellington, for example, is a place where, when buying a birthday gift for one’s husband, you can run into pet pigeons and their owners:

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ImageApparently the pigeon was sickly and getting beat up by other pigeons, so this lady took him in.  These photos don’t show it well, but it was the most beautiful pigeon I’ve ever seen – apparently he takes showers with her? Also he wore a diaper and a harness. It was pretty adorable. Even the shopkeeper wanted in on the cute pigeon action.

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During our last few days in Wellington Grant and I hit up Six Barrel Soda Co.  They make their own soda syrups – I had hibiscus:

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If you’re in Wellington you have to go and try out their ice cream floats – definitely the best I’ve ever had.  Also they had scrabble, and an interesting view:

ImageIn case you can’t tell, that is one of Wellington’s (many) strip clubs/brothels that was across from the shop.  Dinner *and* a show! (well, not much of a show, those windows are pretty much closed folks, no such thing as a free lunch and all that…. now this getting awkward and I’ll just stop. Mmm ice cream floats!)

RIght before we left Grant had to go to Palmerston North to teach a contact course.  (Basically, Massey has some graduate level courses that are taken online, and then at the end of the semester everyone travels to the Palmerston North campus to cram a whole semester’s worth of face-to-face learning into three days of all day classes.)  Only one student ended up attending the class, and he was from Wellington – so great planning Massey! Nevertheless it was fun to see another part of New Zealand before leaving, although there wasn’t much to see and do in Palmy, there were beautiful skies and cows:

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Impressive, no?  We also found an odd area that had an empty pool, a seemingly abandoned bird sanctuary (full of birds we now see everywhere in Sydney – have I told you about the weird drowning feral cat/baby crying but louder birds?  They sound like those things, we call them baby birds, and I cannot believe that I’m already beginning to not notice their COMPLETELY BIZARRE cawing) , and mysterious forest train tracks.Image

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After that, our house looked like this for awhile:

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Now, hello Sydney!

Underbelly

•August 6, 2013 • 1 Comment


Hi guys! So I have a lot of back up posts to get to, but for now, I’m just going to tell you about my weekend.

It was good! There was this:

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Bye!

 

Well….. I guess I should expand a bit.  (Although I was very tempted to just let you fill in the blanks as to why we were out at an industrial complex with pajama-ed flag holders).

So, Grant and I went to an art festival called Underbelly Arts that was held on Cockatoo Island (which I think used to be a prison, a working camp, a girls reformatory, and a naval ship facility (amongst other things) and is now mainly used for camping and historical trips).  The artwork was all pretty fun and silly – but the amazing abandoned industrial buildings and  whole idea behind the festival called for a fairly high level of experimental silliness.

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Like life-sized rock ’em sock ’em robots for example.  Apparently the artists’ arms were hooked up to electric shocks that let them know how they should move. The kids there LOVED it – but it was sort of scary to see them completely forget that real people were hitting each other right in front of them (because of them) and just get into playing a ‘game’.  #kidsareintense,yo (that’s for you, Bollmers! I would never *really* use hashtags). (#comeonyouguys!)

So the set up was that over 80 artists spent a week on the island workshopping and creating new works, which were then shown over two days.  To get to the island we got to take the ferry for the first time.  Sometimes I forget that I live in Sydney, and then this guy pops up into view:

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Oh hai, Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House! As seen in undegrad architecture books and America’s Next Top Model!

It is supposedly winter here, but the ferry ride was warm and sunny.

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There was a food truck called the Veggie Patch that Grant and I had been meaning to try there, and it was the best veggie burger I’ve had. ever. I’m trying to take less pictures of food (I know) so I won’t bother you with the visual, but very tasty folks, very tasty indeed.

Oh…… ok:

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Lets look at some art:

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There was a building where two guys were doing a sort of DJ set / local access cable-esque show/ video art camping (?) project. They had several rooms in which their ‘show’ was being projected and manipulated, and then the room in which they were filming that anyone could walk into and interact with.  It was fun to keep checking in on them throughout the day and night as they became tired and started running out of things to say.  The set up also looked like what I (for some bizarre reason with no actual backing, sorry Daniel!) imagine is pretty much every Saturday night of my brother’s life in art school:

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There was also a building dedicated to the idea of a city in decline – you walked through some video projections, and some of the abandoned building (the inner 12 year old in Grant thought it was funny to take this architectural detail:

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Once you got to the ‘city’ itself, you could choose a role to play.  These included rioter, rebuilder, historian, and …. I forget the rest.  Grant and I chose to be rebuilders, but all we got was some tape, and guess what? A LOT of people chose to be rioters.  It was frustrating, we were undersupplied, I think we learned something? Also we got hats:

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Grant’s favorite pieces was called Tableau Vivant, and it consisted of lots of candy (shaped into large horses, domes, etc) and costumed characters sitting at a table.  There were rumors that they were going to destroy and eat everything at the end, but Grant and I are old now, and left way before that could happen.

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Lets look at the island!

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We ended the night with a flag ceremony from a work called 110% – they had been marching around the festival all day.  Very fun, very silly in the best of ways.

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Oh, we actually ended the night with a performance art / alternative comedy show called Cab Sav.  I can’t remember or find this guys name, but he was the best.  Although it seemed Grant and I were the only ones laughing audibly. I mean who doesn’t like a good Death of a Salesman joke?

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Hello Sydney!

•July 6, 2013 • Leave a Comment

So, Grant and I have made it to Sydney, got our health insurance, got some jobs (I’m tutoring two architecture classes this semester at the University of New South Wales, and maybe another class at the University of Sydney), and a house!

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We got pretty lucky on the housing front as we were able to dedicate just one day last weekend to house hunting.  Each showing was only 15 minutes, and it was pouring rain, and we were looking at a bunch of different neighborhoods, and a few houses had lines out the door to see them, and did I mention the rain?  All in all it was seven very long, very wet hours of work, but it paid off.  We got our second choice house (our application was rejected by the first choice, boo!) but this house is cuter, has a better backyard, and is cheaper – so not a bad deal.  (Don’t worry, I’ll be back with plenty of photos of the house later on).

Because we found a house so quickly, we let ourselves have a fun day off today and explored the CBD.  First we grabbed some breakfast from a department store called David Jones – Grant’s great-uncle recommended it and it did not disappoint.  The pistachio yogurt from the yogurt bar was pretty awesome.

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Then we headed off to the Museum of Contemporary Art (after some mandatory ibis watching, of course).

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 The main exhibition was by a Kenyan artist named Wangechi Mutu.  I hadn’t heard of her, and some of her work was really amazing (namely her table pieces).  Like this one:

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It was hard to get a photo of this piece, as it was in a dark room (and I am still programmed to think taking photos in a museum is a no-no), but basically it was a giant banquet table, over which bottles of wine hung and dripped, a bunch of fur pelts, hair all over the floor, and a billowy curtain with a photo of a tumor on it. Fun! I feel that I tend to be very critical of new mixed-media works (it’s as if along with the piece of paper declaring me a doctor of Art History I received a new bit of brain growth that exudes skepticism and snarkiness at any work not by Rosemarie Trockel) (oh, who I am kidding, that was ALWAYS there).  Anyway, skepticism and ready disappointment tend to be my baseline when walking into a gallery, but YOU GUYS – I didn’t want to leave this room.  In fact, I only left it because I was about to flat out start crying.  So, for the first and (maybe) only time, I’m going to use the word ‘powerful’ to describe a work.  So good you guys, so good. (but then I read the gallery text and sort of hated that – I guess that’s why there can be art historians, because I call hooey on what the artist and gallery said about the work). Here is another detail from a different table piece (this one was Grant’s favorite):

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She had some other pieces, like these chair works that screamed “louise bourgeois spiders” to me.

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and then this piece just made me laugh embarrassingly loud:

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Here is a view of her show from a floor up (the wooden box is where my favorite table piece was)

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What else? Well, there was a pretty great video work (that I can’t remember the artist of) which showed eight children reacting to hearing their mother’s personal prayers, and then this fun piece called “mansters” (once again laughed too loud at that title) – basically they looked different depending on where you stood:

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HAHAHAHAHA! YOU GUYS! MAN-STERS DO YOU GET IT?! HA!

Some other highlights:

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that cute little girl later had a full on roll-about in front of a video work:

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Other stuff:

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There was big Jeff Wall show (I sort of feel like seeing a Jeff Wall show today is like a kid watching a Woody Allen movie for the first time, it’s been ripped off so much they can’t appreciate the originality it presented in its day)

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And then the book store sent me mixed-messages about my field of study:

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It was a great museum! YAY! Next up we went to the small French cafe we visited last time we were in Sydney.  We got pies (beef bourguignon for Grant, ratatouille for me)
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“oh pies, you are SO. DREAMY.” says Grant’s face. We also had macarons of course:
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After that we stopped by a show that one of Grant’s colleagues at Sydney was having – it was video work displayed on hacked Kinects, so that they responded to where the viewer was located.  That’s a huge oversimplification, but it was really fun. And finally, some Sydney at night:
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Week of Wrap-Ups (or, why a 6 month late post isn’t *so* bad)

•June 17, 2013 • Leave a Comment

So, now that I no longer have the excuse of becoming a doctor to keep me from writing, and since Grant and I are moving to Sydney *very, very* soon, I better catch up with this here blog so that it can get back to what it was intended for: letting friends, family, random internet creepers know what we’re up to! When last I left you I had just left NZ for the US via AU (phew!) Christmas break was lovely, and it was so great to see the whole family.  Some highlights:

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the in-laws (I get a kick out of saying that) received a personally signed card from their nearby Kroger on account of being such big spenders. We all thought it was quite amusing.
 
Some of that spending was on DELICIOUS STEAK.  Steak as big as a big plate.  Bloody yummy steak. (sorry, I haven’t made dinner yet, and am starving, but I mean, look at this STEAK!):
 
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Nephew!
 
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Thats better.
 
Then we drove from Ohio to Pennsylvania, where we got to go on a private tour of the Gettysburg cyclorama courtesy of my Aunt Kay.
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Answer: a very large, circular painting that involves very clever optical illusions, architecture, etc to make you feel like you are IN THE BATTLE!
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(the lighting made it a little tricky to take photos at times)
 
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The family is rapt with attention (well, Kendra’s just rapt with photo-bombing).
 
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Since we were special, we got to climb underneath the cyclorama and see it up close. 
 

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Then there were baby-showers! (Well one, for Sarah and Jaan, and I’m writing this so late that their gorgeous baby Pearl Pony has already been born.)
 
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What else? A cat as big as a fancy monopoly board:
 
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AND I got to go see the big Rosemarie Trockel retrospective at the New Museum in New York – it was AMAZING, and inspiring, and basically proved my dissertation right in a lot of ways/really helped me finish all of my writing up – so perfect. The show was perfect. 
 
Grant and I got to experience Jungle Jim’s, which was full of price-magic(!) and ostrich eggs and cheese (large cheese): 
 
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For New Year’s we were back in Ohio, and took part in a progressive dinner (not, as in, a dinner that is very left leaning politically, but rather a dinner in which each course takes place at a different house.) And even though we were very, very far from New Zealand we still saw:
 
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There was some great beer from Sweden
 
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and Sausages was *very* happy to see Grant again
 
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Also, we played an amazing, crazy board game called quelf – anyone out there played this? It was weird, but very fun. I fully recommend it. (And need to get a copy for myself)
 
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More art! (I love the sculptor Judy Fox)
 
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and we drank this wine, it was good: 
 
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More to come – Manchester, visitors, stuff! 
 

Christmas Break Recap, Part 1: The Cat’s Out of the Bag Now, So……

•April 9, 2013 • 3 Comments

 

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Yep, as I’m sure most of you know by now, come this July Grant and I will be living in Sydney, Australia.  Wellington was an excellent home, but brilliant husband got a very impressive job at the University of Sydney.  While I’m excited to live in a bigger city again, be close to SO MANY beaches, and have slightly better odds at getting a job, I’m going to miss all the amazing people we’ve met here – like, a lot. More than a lot, actually, but I don’t want to talk about it right now.  Happy blog thoughts! SO, with this news it seems appropriate to begin my Christmas holiday recapping with our first travel stop on the way back to America: Sydney!  (we had a long layover and decided to explore).

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True story: I was so enamored with Sydney that I told Grant I could live there pretty happily, and he said “oh there is a job posting here I could apply to” and then he applied to it on a (my) whim.  And now we’re moving to Australia.

But first, this was the sight we were greeted by very (so. very.) early in the morning on the first day of our trip (at the Wellington airport):

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My sleep deprived mind was frightened, then confused, then Hobbit-fatigued, then scared and confused again.  I got some coffee, I thought of fish in the percolator.  (I also, while blogging on the floor of the airport had a strange premonition that I should email all of my dissertation stuff to myself….. which I ignored …. but we all know what happened there).

Anyway, Sydney! First of all, the Opera House (which, having been an American art history student, was VERY built up in my mind) was sort of …… meh in person.

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But the harbor around it was lovely. Grant has the great instinct to always want to go see the botanical garden of whatever city he visits, so thats where we went.  The gardens were lovely, but my main takeaway was an obsession with these birds:
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The white australian Ibis – I am going to catch one for a pet when I move to Sydney.
Here are some pictures:
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Lovely garden steps.
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Statues. 
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Some historical lessons.
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Some botanical/ pun lessons.
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(The contemporary art museum seems awesome)
Oh, and while we were there Grant tried macorons for the first time:
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Cool birds, beaches, baguettes, macarons, wine – a girl could get used to this city.

Howzat!

•March 25, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Hey guys! While my hometown of Elsberry, Missouri is going through yet another snowstorm (slash pink bunny attack):

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I have been spending a sunny week in New Zealand celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, having picnics, and going to cricket matches.  (I do miss snow a lot, just not……. the cold.)

For St. Patrick’s day I did not wear green or drink in excess, (although Grant had three Guinness’s):

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Ha. Ha. Ha.

I did, however do something much more meaningful – I mastered my Aunt Ginny’s Irish soda bread. I did not, however, master the corned beef and cabbage (mainly because I see that meal as nothing more than a delivery device for horseradish, and the horseradish I bought had NO BITE AT ALL! It was beyond tragic – I need a horseradish that burns my nostrils, NZ!)

Anyway, this week was the last cricket match for awhile, so I made some sandwiches and forced Grant to go watch it with me:

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Grant approved of the sandwich:

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But was not super into the cricket itself

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There were even some non-threatening school kids (I definitely don’t miss the horrifying intimidating school children that roamed Manchester) – they always made me feel like this:

Anyway, plus of NZ: school children aren’t terrifying! (I think the shorts have something to do with it)

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The match was great fun, the only downside being I came very close to being conked in the head by a cricket ball.  Also we went to trivia at Mighty Mighty, which is tied for the absolute best trivia nights I’ve been to (well, maybe placed 1.5 – Hell trivia is very hard to beat, even if it no longer exists).

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Someone near us won some glasses:

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I believe the exact words muttered before this picture was taken were “oh, gonna end up on facebook (grumble, eyeroll)” Sorry, Geoff:

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Have a nice week snowy Midwesterners, maybe someday it will be Spring, because then……..

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Birthday, Birthday

•March 14, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Quite a lot of things were born around this time of year (or, more specifically, March 11th).  Things like…….

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My brother Benton …….

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My thesis (!) …. (thanks midwife Wendy) … and

Me! (Benton and I were born on the same day, a fact I was not too happy about at first – note the forced smirk and “I want to be far away from him” body language – DO NOT note the fading perm and ….. whatever in the world that is I’m wearing).

Benton did point out that, by moving to New Zealand, I technically now get part of the day all to myself (as does he) (I whine about it, but at least I had a good eight years to myself, he’s been sharing his whole life).

He DID always blow out the candles first though…………

Oh! and my adorable nephew Elliot is celebrating six months of being alive – I still cannot believe how fast babies grow!

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So, I had a good birthday – one of the first in a long time I got to spend with Grant, he started it off right by baking (for the very first time ever! I had to explain what a pastry cutter was, and that one cannot cream cream cheese with a whisk) a very complicated recipe necessitating two days worth of prep of lemon cream cheese swirly buns! (not sure what really to call them? citrus cinnamon buns with no cinnamon? Citrus cinnamon buns with cream cheese? Whatever, I just refer to them henceforth as “katherine crack” – I couldn’t stop eating them, and Grant made a whole extra batch which are sitting in the freezer – I hear them calling to me at night: “coook us, eaaaaat us” – I’m getting pretty concerned that Grant is going to walk into the kitchen one morning with me rolling around on the floor chomping on frozen buns and covered head to toe in powdered sugar glaze – just cackling and crying and ashamed, yet victorious.

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So. Good.

Then we wandered Wellington (because we’re cool and into alliteration like that) I shared a b-day beer with some seagulls

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And then we went to a very good Mexican restaurant and Grant took my picture without me realizing it a lot

 

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The best part of the meal was the tequila flights

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The food was great too (grant had some sort of thing with goat and excellent mole, and I had carnitas tacos)

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And then, I somehow got grant to go see this with me:

Don’t Judge! I did just turn in a dissertation after all, and who can pass up Jeremy Irons rocking one amazing silk paisley outfit after another?  He even rocks male housecoats! MOUSECOATS!   Anyway, Grant deemed it ‘not as bad as I thought it would be’, and for inexplicable reasons it will be added to my list of movies I can watch infinitely (also included: Party Monster, the Holiday, and Frida).  (Hey, not saying they’re “good” movies, just movies, that for whatever reason, I will never tire of watching.)

Then we went home and watched the cartoon show “Adventure Time” – I had never seen it, and there is a guy at my gym with a full leg of adventure time tattoos, so I was intrigued.  Verdict: I like it!