It’s been eighty-four years since the last post. (Just kidding, it’s been two months.)

Today is Pepper Day!   While Nano Poblano is only in November, Pepper Day is the 22nd day of every month, so it's extra Peppery!  Post something today.  A blog, a photo, a poem- anything at all! Tag it PepperDay!  Enjoy, and Happy Peppering!

I didn’t intend to take a two-month break between the last post and this one, I just didn’t have anything I really felt like writing about. It’s not for lack of content though- I was fairly busy through March and April.

First of all, there was so much movie and tv action. Shows I love like The Flash came back, Marvel’s Falcon and the Snowman started up, and we got movies like Godzilla vs Kong, the four-hour Snyder cut of Justice League, Raya and he Last Dragon, and Coming 2 America. All in all, it’s been a good few months to be stuck without a lot to do. Speaking of which…

I attended a bunch of virtual lectures. Profs & Pints is an organization that gets professorial types to lecture about various topics in bars, hence the name. Most lectures are 60-90 minutes and conclude with a question and answer period. Since lockdown began, they’ve moved online, which allows you to watch interesting lectures about fascinating topics from home. There was a really neat one about Krampus back in December. I’ve attended lectures about Persephone, about social media, about sexual deviancy, about introductory Irish, about the history of pinball, and more. Each lecture is $12, with forever-replay. That link again: https://www.profsandpints.com/online-talks, and there’s one tonight about the 1814 Burning of Washington, which promises to be super neat.

I went through a bunch of dentistry. I don’t think anyone cares about the details. Let’s just say that the whole process was stressful and expensive, but that’s dentistry for you.

I flew again! Specifically, I went down to South Florida for just a few days. Flying was different now, but also reassuringly the same as always. Delta has been blocking off their middle seats, which made for a less crowded flight, but my return was on Jetblue and that plane didn’t have middle seats. The Florida visit gave me a chance to see my mom and my siblings, and I spent some time with my best friend. There was even a hockey game (Panthers beat the Redwings handily.) The trip was also supposed to be timed for the unveiling of my dad’s headstone, but those plans didn’t pan out so I’m going back for a lightning-fast weekend toward the end of May. There was even the briefest of visits to the beach, which is now required since I don’t live in Florida anymore:

I visited the Silverball Museum. On the Florida trip, I ticked another box off on my long-standing list of places I wanted to check out. The Silverball Museum is a pinball and vintage game museum in Delray Beach, Florida, but this museum takes the form of a playable arcade. All the machines are set to free play, and admission to the museum allows you to play anything you like. They have all kinds of amazing vintage pinball games from the 1950s to the present. They also have game cabinets with MAME setups that include all kinds of early 1980s arcade games. I played much pinball, some skeeball, and enough Joust to prove that I remembered how.

I ran a 5k. DC Fitness did the “HerStory 5K” on March 20th, and I ran it. It was a virtual 5k so everyone ran their own path and then submitted the results later; I was something like 144th. And by “ran a 5k,” what I really mean is that I ran>fastwalked>ran>gasped>wheezed>ran some more>gasp-wheeze-grunt>fastwalked>ran a bit… and so on. My endurance has suffered from being inside for most of the last year. I want to enjoy running, but honestly, I don’t enjoy it at all.

I finally saw the Cherry Blossoms in peak bloom. I’ve been trying to see the cherry blossoms in peak bloom for years. Either I’ve missed them by a few weeks, or I’ve been unable to travel to them like in 2020. I even missed the cherry blossoms in Tokyo by just a few weeks. After years of just missing them, I finally managed to see these things in person. All it took was living less than three miles from the Tidal Basin.

I got the Covid-19 vaccine. My state has been trucking along, and as of this writing, 40% of the adult population of Virginia has had at least one dose of vaccine. I was given the one-and-done Janssen vaccine on a Saturday, and I spent the following two days recovering. About twelve hours after the shot, I had chills and body aches like crazy. The next day I was burrito-wrapped in a blanket on and off for the entire day, just super tired and cold. I slept a lot. Each successive day after that I was much better than the previous day, and by midweek everything was completely normal again. I never measured a fever of more than about one degree over my normal temperature, but I was still sweating like crazy while I slept. The weirdest side effect was a problem with escalation changes- I didn’t go out much during the few days post-vaccine, but I did take the elevator down to the lobby to pick up food at one point, and going down my head felt like it was going to explode. All the side effects are behind me now, and now I’m just waiting for my inevitable superpowers to form. [/obligatory vaccine/X-Men joke.]

I amused myself with Photoshop. I bought some corn starch so I could try a new recipe, and the brand name of the corn starch suggested a joke that made me giggle. I Photoshopped it into reality so that I could share the laugh with everyone else. (You can see what it looked like originally over here on Amazon.)

I celebrated Rex Manning Day. It’s every year on April 8th, and you mustn’t dwell. National Egg Cream Day was also March 15th, if you’re tracking that sort of thing.

I am absolutely certain that I missed something else from the last two months, but this seems like a good place to pause.

What have you been up to for the last two months?

9/52

Orlando Airport’s Hidden B-52 Memorial Park

Nestled on the outskirts of Orlando International Airport is a tiny little park, with a great big retired B-52 Stratofortress bomber in it.  This particular B-52 flew missions with the 306th Bomb Wing of what used to be McCoy Air Force Base from 1963 to 1974.  It was retired and set up at this park, the B-52 Memorial Park, which was dedicated in 1985.

Here’s a fun factoid – Did you ever wonder why Orlando’s airport code is MCO instead of ORL or OIA?  It’s because the airport is still using the original FAA airport code from when it was McCoy.

The B-52 Memorial Park is located on Bear Road, just past the North Economy Parking Lot, and if you didn’t know it was there, you might miss it-  it’s set back a little bit from the road.  Once you’re there, it’s pretty hard to miss though, because a B-52 Stratofortress is HUGE.

I had been meaning to check out this park for a while after I learned about it, and I finally managed to stop by to take some pictures last October, after I came back from a quick trip to DC.  I had parked in the North Economy Lot, so this was just around the corner from my car.

I couldn’t resist getting a shot for scale-  even the tires on this plane are huge.  Please ignore the stupid facial expression in this photo.

There are several sidewalks and benches around the plane, as well as an elevated viewing stand that looks directly at the nose of the aircraft.  At the base of the viewing stand, there’s a sign about the park itself.

It’s possible to walk up close to and underneath the aircraft, which is fascinating to me.   I’m still a ten year old boy at heart, and I love airplanes and trains and the like.

There’s also a tiny memorial to the faithful K-9 contingent of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, but it’s also easy to miss if you’re not reading all the signs.  It just looks like a fenced off patch of gravel.

The B-52 Memorial Park is open 7:00 AM  to sunset, and is easily found with the help of Google Maps. It’s also close to the ride-share waiting lot, so you will pass a lot of loitering Uber and Lyft drivers on your way there.

Are there any hidden historical gems close to where you live?

 

Two They Might Be Giants Shows, Twenty Years Apart

I went downtown to see They Might Be Giants this week.  The show was at a venue called The Beacham, which is a large and venerable concert space right on Orange Avenue.

TMBG did a rollicking two-set show, where they served as their own opening act.  They made jokes about Clippy the paperclip and Phil Collins, and kept their audience thoroughly entertained while doing a combination of their classic hits and their new stuff.

While I was listening to “Whistling In The Dark,” I was thinking about the last time I saw this band- twenty years ago, at another show in Orlando.  They Might Be Giants played at the Embassy Music Hall in 1998.

When I lived in Orlando twenty years ago, the Embassy Music Hall was part of my regular rotation of clubs to go dancing; they had a Wednesday night (as far as I can recall) with lots of 80s and new wave music. I have loads of great memories of dancing there with friends.

The Embassy was a nondescript looking place, situated on the side of a big shopping plaza off Lee Road.  It was kind of nondescript, even when it was open.  This picture is long after the Embassy closed, but it didn’t look much different than this:

The Embassy had a regular rotation of amazing concerts.  While I was looking up details about the club for this post, I found information about shows by Love and Rockets, KMFDM, Green Day, Primus, The Damned, Collective Soul, The Lemonheads, Snoop Dogg, Marilyn Manson, Anthrax, and Iron Maiden, all from the late 1990s.  I got to see TMBG there in ’98, and I also saw Project Pitchfork and Front 242 there.   The Embassy Music Hall was awesome.

Sometime in 1999, Embassy shut its doors and was re-imagined as a sort of after-hours raver club called Cyberzone.  Cyberzone had problems right away, including multiple drug arrests and the deaths of two people.  I never went during the Cyberzone era, and the club closed in early 2001.

I hadn’t heard much about the place in a really long time, so while I was getting ready to see They Might Be Giants for the first time in two decades, I checked in on the old place with some Google Map action.

It’s a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Grocery now.

Yup, that sounds about right*.

*There’s a song on TMBG’s 1992 album Flood called “Minimum Wage.”  It uses a whip-crack to hilarious effect.   Seems about right.

What happened to your favorite places from years ago?

[Ancient Repost] It’s bloody Brigadoon!

I’ve been clearing out an ancient LiveJournal in preparation for deleting the account. While most of the stuff there is utter fluff, a tiny portion of the posts are worth preserving. What follows is one such post.  Although I have updated this post with new material, some sections were originally written in May of 2005.

In the late 1990s,  I took a trip to Orlando with a friend to see another friend. I grabbed a hotel out of some guidebook or other, and based on the fact that it was listed as being “near Disney,” I just made a reservation blindly. I was at a place called the Sheraton Lakeside Inn, and it was on Highway 192 not far from I-4. The aforementioned friend and I stayed in that hotel for a few days, and when the trip was done, I mostly forgot about it all.

Flash forward to May of 2005.  I was traveling to Orlando again, this time for an Erasure concert, and I realized that I had forgotten to make a reservation for a hotel.  The place that I normally used for Orlando visits was booked solid, so I turned to Priceline.com. I told it to find me something near Disney, since the concert was at House of Blues.

Can you see where this is going? I didn’t. At least not right away.

I got a result at a La Quinta Lakeside, for $25 a night. Fine. Drove up, pulled in, got my room. Thought to myself, this looks a little familiar. Wonder why.

Drove around to my room after checking in, and found even more familiar looking stuff. The stairs looked familiar. The doors looked familiar.

Then I wandered around the hotel and really looked. At the restaurant, the general store, the pool, the mini-golf, the lake…

It was the same fucking hotel. The exact same one. I was even in the same building I stayed in when it was still a Sheraton. For all I know, it might have been the same room.  Crazy, right?

I was amazed and confused. It’s a little creepy to wander around and see the exact same things more than a decade later. The same, yet different. Wild.

Then it happened again.

Another ten years later, in September of 2015, Amelie and I were going to Orlando for some theme park time.   Once again, I used Priceline.com to nab a room, and once more, I got a place for $25 a night.   This time, it was called the Maingate Lakeside Resort, but I still didn’t catch the “Lakeside” part of the name.

This time, I realized what had happened as soon as we arrived-  the hotel still looks exactly the same, despite changing from a Sheraton to a La Quinta to a no-brand hotel over the span of more than twenty years.  They even still had the little mini-golf course.

I guess I’ll be back in 2025.

Ever have a day when you feel like you got hit by a truck?

There is a moment, just a fraction of a millisecond, before you get hit by a truck, where you realize that it’s going to happen. You know with complete inexorable certainty that this hit is about to occur, and there’s nothing you can do to avoid it.

I was hit by a truck today, crossing the street in downtown Orlando. (Spoiler alert: I’m OK, just a little sore on the side where I was hit.)

I was leaving a job interview in downtown Orlando, wearing a suit and tie. I was walking with the crosswalk, and a work truck with two men in the cab was turning left onto the street. Even though it’s a clear and sunny day, he somehow did not see me.

I saw him before I started walking, but I had the crosswalk and the walk signal, and I thought that he would let me pass since I had right of way. I thought he saw me, too. I was wrong.

In that fraction of a millisecond when I saw that he wasn’t stopping, I did three things by instinct: The first was to try to cross faster so that I wouldn’t be in front of him. The second was to reflexively put my hands on the hood, as if that would stop the truck. The third, hilariously, was to hop up, so that if I was hit I wouldn’t go underneath the vehicle.

In my moviebrain, I totally saw myself jumping onto the hood like Robin Williams in Jumanji. What actually happened was that the main part of the impact was to my thigh, and the rest was transferred to my hands on the hood of the truck, which jolted my shoulder.

“OH MY GOD, are you OK?” It was the truck driver. Followed immediately after, I heard similar questions from a woman on the corner I was crossing to, as well as some people at the opposite corner.

I hadn’t been knocked down, my clothing wasn’t marked or torn, and for one completely ridiculous second, my biggest worry was that the phone in my front pocket had been damaged. A few timid test-steps right after the impact told me that I wasn’t terribly injured, so I said I was OK, and let the driver go on with his day. We both got good stories out of this one.

I hope he pays more attention to where he’s going though.

Have you ever been hit by a car?