The Hellhole

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

We sometimes go literally years without going out to hear live music, but starting with X last Monday (the 18th) at Center Stage, we have one concert a month until November - even longer if you count going to the Atlanta Symphony with my mom (I have season tickets).  We hadn't seen X since 2008 at House of Blues in Las Vegas so it was great to hear them again.  They were in great form and did many of my favorites.

There was an opening act of which I'd not previously heard, Not In The Face out of Austin, TX.  Many times at concerts, I'm just sitting there waiting for the opening band to STFU so I can hear the band I paid for, but these guys were great - straightforward rock and roll.  We enjoyed their set immensely and stopped by the swag table after the show to buy their CDs.  They have two and we purchased both.  I was listening to the latest one on my morning commute, in fact.

This weekend is DragonCon but it looks like we won't be attending any Con events.  I still get to see my brother and his wife, though - they're staying an extra day and everyone is hanging out at my mom's house on Tuesday.  I have that day off in addition to Labor Day (and 14 more vacation days I have to use before year-end - where did the summer go???) so that will be fun.

The other upcoming shows:

Jeff Tweedy, Georgia Theatre, 09/19/14 - I'm a little disappointed by this one - not the concert, I'm sure that will be great and I'm excited to hear Jeff's new material.  But I'd wanted to stay in Athens overnight, at this nice hotel downtown within walking distance, have a nice breakfast, hit Wuxtry and maybe a couple of other stores, then meet up with Mark and Nancy for lunch.  UGA Football had other ideas, however, and there are no hotel vacancies anywhere for miles.  The concert will still be fun, though.

Gaslight Anthem, Buckhead Theatre, 10/07/14 - Really looking forward to hearing them live for the first time.

The New Pornographers, Buckhead Theatre, 11/06/14 - I need to familiarize myself with their stuff.  Alan is a fan of Nico Case, who plays with The New Pornographers when she's not busy with solo material, so we want to check them out.

I really need to find something awesome to attend in December, so we can have a concert a month until year-end...not a Christmas concert, though - not a big fan of Christmas music. 

It's not a concert, but I'm also looking forward to the Atlanta Cheese Festival on October 3, 2014.  I love me some cheese!  In addition to samples, they sell the products (over 100 vendors!) so I'm gonna need a bigger backpack - a much bigger backpack.  I paid extra for VIP tickets so I could attend a wine tasting/cheese pairing event during the show.  Drooling on keyboard...

So, lots of fun things coming up!

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Thank all the gods there was a Wilco disc in the CD player.  Alt Nation was playing Coldplay, there was Linkin Park on Octane and Boneyard was playing W.A.S.P.  It was a veritable trifecta of suck.

Monday, August 04, 2014

The second half of our weekend trip to Greenville:  it was raining when Alan got up Sunday morning, but by the time I got up a couple of hours later, it had stopped, the clouds were breaking up and it was promising to be a lovely summer day: sunny and warm, but not humid.  As windy, chilly and rainy as Saturday night had been, Sunday was picture perfect.

I was also pleased to debut a new outfit featuring a white cotton top with lace and my new turquoise-and-white skorts.

They are Jones of New York, $54 retail but I got them on clearance for $12!!!  First score!  Also, they were a size smaller than anything I've been able to wear in quite some time.  Of course, stretchy material and drawstring waist, but still! Second score!  Lastly, as I mentioned it was a new outfit and, while intellectually I know that I look exactly the same as I did yesterday, and exactly the same as I will tomorrow, still, I am certain that I'm very cute when wearing a new outfit.  Third score!

We had a wonderful time roaming around downtown Greenville.  We stopped at House of Jerky to buy some treats for the doggies, then went to The Spice & Tea Exchange for teas for Alan, and several rubs to use when grilling or roasting meat.  We've had the Tuscany rub on grilled chicken so far, and it is exceedingly yummy.  We walked around for a while, then decided to stop at Port City Java.  Alan got a hot Earl Grey, I had a caramel latte and we split an asiago cheese bagel - it was SO good.

We had such a pleasant time sitting at a little sidewalk bistro table having our bagel and drinks, chatting and people-watching. The weather was lovely, lots of people were out walking their pooches and (unlike Atlanta) not a single person came up to attempt to panhandle us, no one was passed out/sleeping/living on the benches scattered around the area, no one was rummaging through garbage - it was utterly idyllic.

After a while, Bo and Sarah were finished at the con at which they were appearing, so we met for lunch at Carolina Ale House.  Upstairs, the pub has a retractable roof which they open in nice weather, so that was gorgeous and it's always such fun to hang out with Bo and Sarah.  We had a leisurely lunch, some good conversation and because it's an ale house, we all had beers, except Alan.  Eventually nature took her course and because I'd been drinking beer, I had to use the restroom.

Are you familiar with those pieces of clear plastic tape that stores put on garments, about half an inch wide and 6 to 8 inches long, with the size repeating downward?  Mainly I see them on jeans but I've also seen them on mens' polo shirts and tee shirts.  So a piece of clear tape stuck somewhere on the garment with the size in black, like:

M          or         34

M                      34

M                      34

M                      34

M                      34

M                      34 that?  Well, I had walked ALL OVER downtown Greenville, in and out of shops, up and down streets, secure in and certain of my new-outfit cuteness, and the WHOLE TIME I'd been sporting a piece of tape with







running down the front center of my skorts, a series of 10s right on my crotch!  AAAAAAAAGH!  I don't know why I didn't notice when I got dressed, or when I used the bathroom right before leaving the hotel.  Still, as Nancy pointed out when I told her this story, "At least it was a good number; your crotch was a ten!" and Mark added, "Wait until you go back to Greenville and see everyone doing it.  It'll be the new hipster thing."

Yep - I'm a trendsetter, me.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Behind on blogging yet again.  It's been a couple of busy weekends in a row.  The weekend before last, I had to go to a funeral.  The deceased was the sister of one of my closest friends and even though I'd met her only a handful of times (the sister, not the closest friend), I needed to be there for my bud, so that Saturday we were road-tripping to Pendleton, South Carolina.  I hope this doesn't sound ghoulish, but I see my brother and his wife so seldom, we were already of necessity going to be about 18 minutes away from them, so we decided that instead of going home after the funeral, we would instead head up to Greenville, SC, spend the night at a hotel and spend time with Bo and Sarah.

The hotel we'd stayed at when last in Greenville, the Poinsett, was full this time so we were at the Marriott.  A junior suite was only $10 more than a room, so you can guess what I did.  The suite turned out to be quite spacious and the hotel itself was quiet and spotlessly clean, so high marks in my books.  I think the next time we go, we'll stay at the other hotel downtown, a Hyatt, and decide which of the three will be our regular hangout.

I seem to have a weather curse when it comes to Greenville.  Last time we went was in November so I took sweaters and jeans, and the day dawned so sunny and perfect that a sweater was far too hot for a walk in the park and I wound up going out in my pajama shirt.  It wasn't obviously pajamas, though; it was not a striped, double-lapel oversized shirt but looked more like a t-shirt, pale purple soft cotton with an artistically rendered dove on the front.  Still, I knew I'd been out in public in my pajamas, even if no one else did.  Don't tell my Gramma Helen.  Yes, yes, she is dead, but don't tell her or she'll rise up righteous and the knowledge of my transgression will kill us both.

This time, I took skorts, capri pants and t-shirts in addition to the longish skirt and top I wore to the funeral.  Well, it rained all through the funeral and they nevertheless had part of the ceremony outside, on sodden ground.  Between checking in, unloading bags and then walking everywhere once in downtown Greenville, to dinner and exploring afterward, my flats and skirt got soaked.  The only other shoes I had were sandals, which would be worse.  Great - overheated in November and now I didn't even want to go back out to enjoy Saturday night in Greenville unless we could find a sweater for me.

Luckily, we could!  Downtown Greenville has the wonderful Mast General Store!  And their website says they sell outerwear and there are sweaters!  We headed back out to Mast but on the way there, the wind kicked up and the rain blew under the umbrella all over me, so by the time we went into the store, my feet, pants and legs were soaking wet.  I'd wanted this to be a pleasant end to an unhappy occasion, but I was beginning to get miserable.  At the store, it turned out that they were serious about their clothing:  the sweaters and jackets were Gore-Tex, North Face and Patagonia.  I paid over $100 for a hot pink fuzzy Patagonia sweater; I'd have been okay with a $10 sweatshirt from Target, but that wasn't among my choices and there was no way even the allure of a snack with Bo and Sarah could have lured me back outside without obtaining warmer clothing.  So I bought it.  Then I discovered their Candy Barrel!  I bought lots of candy buttons and Teaberry gum and giant Smarties and all sorts of things!
Serious sugar high.  "Cheerwine" is not wine at all but cherry cola, sooo much better than cherry Coke.  And I can write that; I live in Atlanta, the city that Coke built.

Once Bo and Sarah were done with their gig, we met at Barley's for snacks and drinks.  This was most important as the secondary purpose of the trip was to present Bo with a little giftie we'd picked up for him in our travels.  Not really, we got it from ThinkGeek, but doesn't "in our travels" sound more glamourous?  Maybe not, since the only place we'd traveled lately was to a funeral, but never mind that.  I give you (drum roll)............


Picture is out of focus, sorry, but I loved his expression too much not to use it.

RAAAAR, and stuff!

He explained to our server that he'd been gifted this marvelous drinking horn of uber capacity (seriously, it says that on the box) and asked if they'd help him christen it.

It holds rather more than a pint, but the dude said, "Hell yeah we will!" and then he and Bo busied themselves searching the beer selection for something worthy of


They chose Victory Storm King Imperial Stout.

Which is as it should be.

Bo haz a smug.

People kept stopping by to ask him about it, compliment him on it and express their admiration.

They all wish they had a sister who would buy them


But they don't.

It comes with a stand and a neck strap (not pictured) for when, you know, you need both hands free for smiting and pillaging, but you still might get thirsty.

You may not know this, but smiting is a thirsty business.

Bo is prepared.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

We went on a shopping spree today!!! That's very unusual for us because we are not very fashion-concsious, neither of us like spending "we don't have to" money, we aren't exactly trendy.  But thanks to several christening, baptism, graduation and milestone gifts we had to buy, we had well over $100 in "rewards cash" from a store at the mall, and I wanted to use it before expiry.

Alan got a spiffy black pocket watch.

With his initials engraved on!

I got a pink leather bracelet with a diamond heart that had an "H" on!

The best part was, all of it was FREE!!!

Alan bought some black-on-black low-top Chucks.  And some standard low-top Chucks, not pictured.

Walking through the mall, waiting for our stuff to be engraved, I saw the greatest pair of Doc Martens EVAH.  I mean, how could one resist?  

Of course one couldn't.  


I'm just sayin'.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

You guys know I love me some candles.  A few months back,  I bought a beeswax candle which came with its own bee.

It was a very lovely, blown-glass bee, and even though the candle was a disappointment (wouldn't stay lit, no scent, made a big mess etc.) I loved the bee and I decided to keep him.

He is very pretty.

His name is Eric.  Obvious-leee.

I've put the bee in a few candles, but removed him before burning each one.

Then a couple of months ago, I signed up for Flicker Club.  It's basically a candle-of-the-month club, though you get more than one at a time.  The first box disappointed me, because it had tons of vanilla candles; that's not a favorite scent of mine.

I spend a lot of time and money trying NOT to smell like food.

But anyway, the second box was lovely:  Carolina sweetgrass, ming fern, lavender/sage, lilac - oh, so yummy!!!

But best of all was a Dahlia candle (from Armadilla Wax Works out of Prescott, Arizona) which is shaped like it smells, floats in water and is just lovely.  I put Eric the bee in there.

He liked it.


Half a bee, philosophically
Must, ipso facto, half not be
But half the bee has got to be
Vis-a-vis its entity -
D'you see?
But can a bee be said to be
Or not to be an entire bee
When half the bee is not a bee
Due to some ancient injury?

Laa dee dee, a one two three
Eric, the half a bee
A, B, C, D, E, F, G
Eric, the half a bee!

Is this wretched demi-bee
Half asleep upon my knee
Some freak from a menagerie?
No! It's Eric, the half a bee
Fiddle de dum, a fiddle de dee
Eric, the half a bee
Hoh hoh hoh, tee hee hee
Eric, the half a bee
I love this hive, employee-ee-
Bisected accidentally
One summer afternoon, by me
I love him carnally
He loves him carnally
The end
Cyril Connelly?
No, semi-carnally
Oh, Cyril Connelly.

Friday, June 06, 2014

What a horrible adventure with that compressor demon...

Title comes from Invader Zim.  At the start of one episode, he says to his minion, Gir, "[exhausted sigh] What a horrible adventure with that ham demon!" and it's never explained or elaborated upon, which I think makes it even funnier.  We use it a lot: what a horrible adventure with that traffic demon, what a horrible adventure with that appendix demon, etc.

On Friday, May 16, Mom and I went to the ASO (Beethoven's Eroica, among other pieces, simply lovely) and I noticed my car making a barely discernable whump-whump-whump sound.  It worried me, but in a vague sort of way because it was happening only intermittently, when the car was idling, and the actual performance of the car didn't seem to be affected in any way at all.  We got there safely and once the symphony finished, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the sound had completely ceased, my car was operating at his high-performance-sports-car best and all was well. Until we got onto I-20 from the Downtown Connector and Baby Benz went totally freaking berserk!

The dashboard computer went red with warnings:  battery has failed! contact service shop immediately!  alternator has failed! contact service shop immediately!  traction control has been disabled!  contact service shop immediately!  power steering has failed! contact service shop immediately!  I was obviously alarmed and upset, but the weird thing was, the car was still operating normally.  The headlights weren't dimming, the radio was still playing, acceleration worked - none of that adds up to failed battery or alternator (and they had just replaced my battery at a scheduled service on 02/15).  We were in a horrible, horrible neighborhood, so since I still had momentum, I decided to keep driving, hoping to make it closer to home and to a place where we'd be less likely to be robbed, raped or killed.  Or all three.

I made it several more miles when the Benz registered a new complaint:  a little red thermometer appeared on the screen and the computer said, "Coolant Warning! Stop engine immediately!"  Well, that could do disastrous things to the engine so I pulled right over and stopped.  Oh, great.  Stranded in a high-dollar sports car in absolute Thugville Central (seriously, it's a notorious, bad, crime-ridden neighborhood) at 11:30 on a Friday night with my mother. I was so scared.

Of course I couldn't stop thinking of a recent news story about two people killed on I-20 trying to help stranded friends change a tire - a drunk driver plowed into the disabled car.  Then I got even more upset:  I have free roadside assistance, but the stupid effing autobot phone system would not recognize number selections input from my iPhone - she just kept listing more options like I hadn't hit any buttons, so I started trying to speak the numbers but the speech recognition worked sometimes and not others.  As more and more time passed as I tried to call for assistance and the autobot kept not functioning, I got more and more and more upset, exacerbated every time a larger car or truck sped by fast enough to rock my car, which happened regularly.  I was SO frightened!

At one point Mom (and I don't fault her for this at all), grabbed my phone, disconnected the call, got me in a headlock and made me breathe into a big wad of tissues, b/c I was so upset I'd started hyperventilating and she was afraid I'd trigger an asthma attack.  Writing it out, I sound quite stupid, but I was seriously so frightened - my mind teemed with awful scenarios (what if someone tried to hurt my mother???  I mean, OMG, my mother?!?).

I had of course called Alan first, to rescue us, and I knew he'd have to go one exit above and turn around because we were coming from different directions.  But thanks to major highway construction, the next exit up was closed, and Alan had to drive all the way to the second one up - much further - to turn around.  So the fact that he hadn't arrived when he said he would only added to my distress.  Eventually he arrived and he'd brought my Glock, which I hadn't asked for but oh, I was so glad!!!  At least no one could hurt Mom; now I was armed.  And I'm a good shot.  At one point while we waited, I turned the ignition on without cranking the engine, which enabled me to page through the computer screen without the Catastrophic Red Warnings Of Doomâ„¢ and I saw that the coolant temperature was completely normal.  At that point I wondered if it was the car's computer system rather than a catastrophic engine failure, but wasn't sure what would be wor$e.  Finally the tow truck arrived, we got my car loaded and he took it to my dealership.

I had a bad night b/c I was so upset and adrenaline and such...drank 2 glasses of Cabernet while surfing the intarwebs, trying to calm down enough to sleep (still not making much progress on the cutting down of wine consumption) and obviously I was worried about the cost of repairs.  I checked one of my Visa cards and found I had like $9,200.00 room on it, and I was praying that would be enough.  Mom kept saying she'd help, but I didn't want to ask (or take) her help; she's a widow on a pension after all.  The next afternoon, I got the call from my service advisor and it was far, FAR less than I'd feared. Bad enough, well over a grand, but I can pay it out of cash flow and not credit cards, heavy relieved sigh.

Backing up to a couple of weeks ago, once it started getting really hot I'd noticed that my AC wasn't cooling at its usual sub-zero level, but figured it probably just needed a jolt of coolant.  I wasn't too fussed as it wasn't bothering me, b/c I'm always freezing anyway, so I thought I'd deal with it when convenient, both time- and money-wise.  But as it turns out, it wasn't low on coolant; the AC compressor had locked and so the AC clutch and pulley weren't working.  So the serpentine belt that powers everything in the whole freakin' motor couldn't turn around the AC assembly and was just dragging across, and eventually heat and friction frayed the serpentine belt (that was replaced in February).  They needed to replace the AC compressor, AC pulley, serpentine belt and all the O rings associated with the AC system.

My car was to be ready on the Tuesday, but that didn't happen.  In performing the repairs they'd quoted, even MORE things were discovered that the initial problem had destroyed:  one of the belt tensioners, a belt shock sensor, an upper idler pulley and a...something else.  Four more parts ordered and another day of labor!  My heart sank.   My car was ready on the Wednesday at 3PM but Alan had a meeting at 3:30 (so had to be in front of a computer) and by the time it was over, we'd have been in the middle of rush hour traffic (and you non-Atlantans can't imagine the extent of that horror) - SO not happening.  Especially not how we were spending our wedding anniversary, which Wednesday was.

Alan asked me after I hung up what the final tally was and I said, "I don't know. I didn't ask. I want us to have a nice evening for our anniversary, a pleasant dinner - and if I know how much it is, I'll be upset, I won't enjoy dinner, I'll fret about spending money, and I'm just not going to spend our special day that way."  He said okay and we wound up spending a whopping $50 on dinner at Whistle Post, but it was fun and relaxing, and I wasn't stressing to eleven.

Now for the jaw-droppingly great news:  after working for a while and a couple of meetings, on Thursday we went to pick up Baby Benz.  The cashier handed me my paperwork and said, "That's $[original quote]."  Hmm?  Then she paged the service department manager, who came up to give me my keys.

"You know we had to replace four more parts yesterday," he said.  I nodded.  "So that was the parts plus another 7 hours labor [gulp!] which is all detailed on your paperwork so you'll have an accurate service record [I nod], but the thing is, I told you $[original quote] so I discounted everything from yesterday off.  I mean, I'd given you my word and doing otherwise [shakes his head] that's just not the way we do business."

OMGOMGOMGOMG!  Do you believe there are still people/businesses like that in this day and age?!?  I was very nearly moved to tears.