Farfle Falafel Fat Pillow

Well, that’s a bit of a ridiculous title, isn’t it? And yet it fits perfectly with the ridiculously lovely little dog to which it once belonged.

Meet Fahrvergnügen:

Yes, that’s correct, her real name was Fahrvergnügen. My cousin named her that. Truthfully, though, we don’t know what her real name might have been, since my cousin brought her home after finding her at the local dump. We also never really knew what kind of dog she was, with her Blue Tick Coonhound markings, her Beagle baying, and her stumpy Basset Hound legs (and trademark Basset Hound stubborn streak). She was skinny and mangy and riddled with fleas, a bit surly and confrontational with the other dogs. But she was also loyal to every member of our familial “pack.” So we accepted her, although we all mutually agreed that “Farf” was a far easier name to yell from the back porch than “Fahrvergnügen.”

So Farf it became. For a summer, I called her “Hava Hava,” because of the strange predilection she had developed for wandering around my grandparents’ living room, entreating people to play with her by making a guttural, growly noise that sounded like her saying “Hava Hava Hava” over and over. Then, when she started to get to be a little chubby in her later years, I crowned her with this post’s title: “Farfle Falafel Fat Pillow.” Alliterative and silly, but meant lovingly.

My grandmother adored Farf, and the feeling was most assuredly mutual. Farf would sit quietly next to my grandmother on the couch, letting her stroke her long, silky ears. One of the last things my grandmother held onto from her North Carolina days was the memory of her “puppy.” That was how my parents ended up inheriting Farf; they were closest to where my grandmother was, so that she could still visit with her puppy until even that memory faded from grasp.

Farf returned to North Carolina when my parents relocated. She loved both my parents and trained them both well when it came to giving her treats. When my mother became bed-ridden, Farf stayed close, sleeping by her bedside, keeping watch. After my mother died, Farf became my father’s shadow. Even though she was getting up there in age and her joints protested the effort, she would follow him wherever he went in the house, upstairs, downstairs…didn’t matter. He was her duty and devotion.

The photo with this post? It’s a shot of her watching my father moving around the living room, waiting to see if she could stay where she was or if she’d need to get up to follow after him to another room.

By the end, Farf had gone completely deaf (but definitely never lost her ability to bark), nearly blind, and it had gotten to the point where my dad needed to help her get up and down even the few stairs on the back deck. Kidney failure, however, was something that none of us could help her overcome, and so my dad had to have Farf put to sleep last week.

We’ll never know how old she really was since she, like so many others from the cadre of amazing canines who have padded their way across our hearts, was a random rescue. Whatever her age, she was a part of our family for nearly 15 years. She made us her pack, she gave her devotion to us, and we did what we could to give her the best home and plenty of love.

I hope it was enough.

Good girl, Farf. Good girl.

Photo Fun Friday: Community Coffee House

Other than being re-sized for posting, this photo is completely unaltered in any way:

A rarity, indeed, denizens. Typically, I always do something to my photos before posting them, whether it be something simple like cropping it in a certain way or tweaking the color levels, or something…a bit more dramatic.

I can’t help myself. I am a PhotoShop devotee, to the very depth of my CMYK/RGB soul.

That being said, the moment I saw this photo, I loved it just as it was, without one plea. We’d gone out walking early on Sunday morning, our last full day in New Orleans (in case you were wondering, that’s part of the reason I barely made it to the lair in April…prep work followed by onsite support for a conference in the Big Easy, after which I played tourist for a few days).

It was already in the mid-70s and the sun was just reaching the point where it could cast its light down into the magnificent maze of the French Quarter. We were already heading to a place for breakfast, but I couldn’t resist stopping and filling my lungs with the scent of coffee wafting from this corner Community Coffee House.

As I stood, watching the light cast shadows of street lamps and signage against the wall, I was struck by how so many of the aspects of New Orleans that I love were right there in front of me: the cast-iron quaintness of the lamp posts; the bilingual street signs, each pointing us deeper into the tangle of delights that the Quarter willingly offers up to everyone who wanders through; the local brew house, churning out yet another delicious aroma to cancel out Bourbon Street’s unseemlier smells; the strong glow of sunlight, pouring down on it all, bright and bounteous.

The entire tableau made me so happy that I couldn’t resist snapping a shot before moving along to our breakfast destination. I didn’t even review the shot after taking it…simply slung the camera back over my shoulder and ambled on down the Rue Royale, thoughts of coffee and fried green tomatoes and biscuits and gravy taking precedence once more.

Imagine my surprise when I finally saw the shot.

True, the longer I look at it, the more ideas flood my mind regarding what I could do with it in PhotoShop…age it, fade it, bolster the color, crack it, rip it…the temptation is engulfing. However, for this post, I give it to you in its simplest, truest form.

Welcome Home, Discovery

Something extraordinary just happened, denizens. I’ve been driving people crazy all morning about it. The Space Shuttle Discovery has come to her new home.

She left Kennedy Space Center early this morning; I heard her departure during my commute into work. I had wanted to take the morning off, join the rest of my geek peepz down at the Udvar-Hazy to watch her arrival, but I’ve got too much going on at work right now for that to be feasible.

Welcome to the Digital Age.

I still got to watch her arrival, thanks to a streaming video provided by NASA. Here are some screen captures, in case you missed the video:

Even better? My cousin was able to snap this shot of Discovery on her fly-by up the Potomac River:

Want better still? I got to see her on her fly-by. Totally unexpected. I didn’t think that my office would be anywhere near her flight plan. As I was waiting for the coverage video to start back up, I heard a group of my coworkers running around the corner toward our conference room. I swiveled around in my chair…and there she was, gliding across the cloud-dappled sky on the back of her chaperone.


I have no photo of this moment…she was there for but a moment before streaking off into the ether…but I can still see it, replaying in my mind.

Silly as it might sound, this has made my morning.

Such bittersweet emotions right now. She shouldn’t be moth-balled for museum fodder, but I’m so thankful that I live in an area lucky enough to have been selected to give one of these beautiful shuttles a new home. I can’t wait for Udvar-Hazy to reveal her glorious debut. I’ll miss the Enterprise, but now it’s time for others to enjoy her.

Welcome home, Discovery.

Commemorative poster designed for Smithsonion National Air & Space Museum

I Don’t Give a Damn ‘Bout My Bad Doppelgängin’

I warned you, denizens. There was a reason for my last Flashback Friday choice.

Truth be told, Joan Jett’s 1988 release Up Your Alley is my favorite album, holistically speaking. This probably stems from the fact that this was my first taste. However, I can find something enjoyable from all of her Blackhearts releases. I can even dip back into her Runaways years and find stuff to make those long commutes at least audibly enjoyable. All I have to do, though, is just see the cover art for Up Your Alley, and the Loba Happy-O-Meter is cranked to 11.

None more black, indeed.

This was quintessential Jett in many ways, especially in visual style: teased black rocker hair, black leather all around, kohled eyes, “come here if you dare” stare. However, I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for the cover of her 1983 release, Album. Atrocious jaundiced background aside, this has always struck me as one of her most “fun” covers:

Nothing better than a Jett in flight, eh? I’ve always loved this pose…so much so that I’ve considered getting the silhouette on a T-shirt. Plus, she’s decked in her trademark black, including the leather pants, but she’s still holding onto her punkier Runaways style with her red Chucks, that bandanna thing she kept going for quite a while, and some badass black leather-studded accoutrements.

I love this version of Jett so much that this is the photo I chose as the inspiration for my own Joan Jett costume for a rock-themed party this weekend:

Close enough for government work, right? I was pretty pleased with the overall look (although I’m sure there was more makeup on my pasty face that night than on an episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race). I thought about taking my Guitar Hero controller with me for effect (after covering the Aerosmith logo, of course), but decided that I didn’t want to run the risk of spilling anything on it. And there was much to be spilled. Open bars make awesome parties.

Most people immediately twigged to who I was supposed to be. One couple, however, did ask if I was Jack White.

Damn young people. Learn your rock history!

Of course, I did have a disturbing epiphany when I finally stumbled back home that night and caught a quick glimpse of myself in the foyer mirror. With my mullety hair and my thickly lined blue eyes? I looked a little less like an 80s rock star and more like a motorcycle-riding graduate of Eastland Prep…

Loba as Joan Jett Totally Looks Like Nancy McKeon as Jo Polniaczek

Take the good. Take the bad. Take ’em both and there you have just a part of Mi Vida Loba…

Reflections on a Golden Gate

As touristy and predictable as it is, whenever I go to San Francisco, I always end up taking an excessive number of photos of the Golden Gate Bridge. I simply can’t help myself. It’s stunning, no matter what time of day or what type of weather surrounds it. I’ve seen it damasked by fog, gilded by moon glow, and shimmering in the brilliant sunlight, and I’ve yet to tire of its beauty.

This past trip, I decided that I needed to mix it up a little bit…get a different perspective. I also wanted to visit yet another filming location from Vertigo, one of my favorite Hitchcock films. I ended up at Fort Point, right beneath the bridge and just as the sun was reaching a prime position in the sky for some gorgeous Golden Gate glow.

I would have liked to have gotten even further under the bridge or closer to the water’s edge for some of these shots. Unfortunately, the fort was closed and surrounded by a pesky security fence. Oh well. Perhaps next time.

Here, then, are my favorite shots, including one of a drippy-billed seagull who seemed quite amused by my impromptu photo shoot…

And, finally, here’s my favorite shot, which I took specifically as an homage to Vertigo. It came out so exactly as I had hoped it would that I couldn’t resist taking it into PhotoShop and turning it into my own “poster” for this movie:

Penning the End and Beginning the New

Happy New Year, denizens!

There. I was remiss before. Now, I’m…unremiss.

I wandered away from the lair for some end-of-season celebrating. Penn’s sylvan city of brotherly love played surprise host to the festivities. I haven’t been to Philadelphia since a high school field trip my Senior year, so it was interesting to see it from an adult perspective…and for more than a quick day trip.

Plus, they do seem to enjoy the New Year party mentality. There were fireworks twice: once at 6 p.m. Saturday evening and again at the midnight hour. There was also a dazzling number of people roaming the streets, adorned with all variety of flashing and flickering gaudiness, enjoying the various vice-fueled buzzes that would carry them into the new year. I was disappointed, however, that, yet again, no one tried to ring that big famous bell, giant crack be damned. Honestly, why no one’s tried to patch that thing up yet eludes me.

Let me in there…I’ll have her good as new in no time.

Actually, we didn’t engage in any Americana worship at all this trip (although we did walk past the Liberty Bell twice). This was more of a food extravaganza journey. The prime destination on New Year’s Eve was a tapas restaurant, Amada. They offered a special New Year’s Eve menu, which consisted of what seemed like a never-ending arrival of little plates containing all manner of decadence. It was an experience that shames any previous concept of the phrase “food coma.” The rest of the evening is honestly a bit of a glorious blur. All I know is that fireworks occurred again. Indeed.

Did you know that Philly holds a pretty much all-day parade on New Year’s Day? It’s called the Mummers Parade and it’s this insane blending of all sorts of traditions from all sorts of ethnic influences. Basically, it’s a day-long party parade that represents the blended ethnic motif of the city itself.

Not really being parade people, we avoided most of the Mummers festivities…although at some point we did get to witness drunken douchebaggery dressed in flamboyant Mardi Gras jester attire. Apparently, drinking starts early at the Mummers Parade and doesn’t stop until well after dark. Neither, unfortunately, does the douchebaggery. Needless to say, I was not expecting to encounter the aforementioned merry band of miscreants who, for several uncomfortable blocks, serenaded any woman within their visual range with the visceral chant for them to “reveal their endowments.” Oh, the shear poetry of it all.

However, inebriated revelry was nowhere to be found at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. There was, however, an abundance of lovely art…and a lot of furniture. There was also an entire section devoted to armor and weaponry, which I found surprisingly fascinating. I think it was the horse armor. How do you not love horse armor?

Afterward, we roamed the city, allowing its culinary redolence to lead us through its grid of diverse neighborhoods. Unfortunately, it being New Year’s Day and all, a lot of places were closed, including the place we wanted to go for what many have rated one of Philly’s best cheese steaks. The more touristy places, Pat’s and Geno’s, were both open, with lines that curled in on themselves like ravenous Möbius strips. I’m sorry, denizens, I’m not going to believe that either place makes a sandwich that good.

The place on South Street that we finally found, Steve’s Steaks, provided a more than satisfactory fill-in for these far more kitschy destinations. The clientele all seemed to be locals, which I always prefer to the boisterous banality of tourist traps like the aforementioned stands. The cheese steaks were huge, slathered in onions and Cheese Whiz (as God and Benjamin Franklin meant them to be), and perfectly hot and juicy.

And now that I have probably stirred up some strange cheese steak rivalry and possibly offended half of Philadelphia, I shall bid you adieu. Oh, but not before mentioning that there’s a lovely place inside the Reading Terminal Market, Hershel’s East Side Deli, that serves absolutely amazing Reuben sandwiches. Plus, they sell Dr. Brown’s cream soda (“Run, Marty!”), which I have on good authority is a must for a real deli.

See? I told you it wasn’t about the Americana. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some working out to do. Oh, and yes, I did walk up the Rocky Steps at the museum. No, I didn’t do it intentionally. No, I didn’t lift my arms over my head when I reached the top. Yes, I did roll my eyes at the people who did. I also took this photo, which is a lovely view of the city. Enjoy…and once again, Happy 2012, denizens. Let’s hope it’s a good one.

Walken In A Winter Wonderland

Not a lot of time for my typical prolixity, but I wanted to celebrate the auspicious occasion of yet another Über Geek Holiday Door.

You may recall that last year’s door was decidedly dorky (in a delicious way). This year’s theme was “Winter Wonderland.” The decree was issued not long before I was introduced to the wonderful meme “Walken in a Winter Wonderland,” one of the most wonderful memes I’ve seen in a very long time.

Obviously, I knew what I needed to do…

It’s not quite what I originally envisioned, but I not only ran out of time but also inspiration. I wanted to create a giant poster to advertise this as a new Rankin/Bass cartoon. That’s kind of what it is now…in a somewhat in-the-rough way.

I did, however, see fit to give myself my own award (since I failed to meet the deadline for door judging):

Here are better views of the primary characters. Jack Frost was going to be the focus of the cartoon (since he is the one with the fever, after all) so I made his the largest picture:

I think it’s funny how Christopher Walken as Hermey the Dentist Elf from Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer looks a little bit like Steve Buscemi:

And Christopher Walken as the Heat Miser from The Year Without Santa Claus looks kind of like U.S. Senator John Kerry:

Maybe that’s just my interpretation though.

Anyway, this is what’s going to be on my door for the rest of December. I hope someone out there enjoys it. Or at least gets it. And if you’d like to see some of the clips that inspired my Walken insanity, including his role as “The Continental,” one of my favorite of his SNL characters and the screen cap I used for Jack Frost’s face, here you go. Merry whatever, denizens.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6tJ_ayFZto&w=640&h=480]

Stop Lion…

Some of you might remember that the last time I visited San Francisco, I made a pilgrimage to that greatest of live animal tourist traps, Pier 39, to commune with the bellicose residents there.

As I have previously mentioned, I returned recently to Frisco…and subsequently returned to those beautiful, belligerent beasts. I can’t help myself sometimes.

Here, then, are the latest favorites to make the cut from Sea-Lion-a-Looza 2011…

Don’t Bogart That Roach

She might not have come from the awesome Silver Snail, but Debbie Stevens is finally a part of my collection. Along with all the Freddy K. movies and the awesome Never Sleep Again documentary that Heather Langenkamp did on the Nightmare on Elm Street series.

Can you tell that I’m getting ready for my most favorite holiday of them all? Winter may be coming for some, but Halloween is coming for Loba…