Category: Fun

Venezuela By Way of Shoreditch

“Part of growing up is not waiting in line at a hipster breakfast restaurant. The eggs taste the same across the street. I promise.”
– Jason Segel

It’s a cliche but somewhat earned: Shoreditch is unspeakably hipster, there are more skinny jeans and slouchy hats in this area than you can shake a stick at. It’s another one of those historically rough areas of London that’s become much more gentrified lately. Particularly hated by the Puritans for being a major theatre district, with all the usual attendant vices, by the 19th century it had become a center of crime and prostitution as well as entertainment. (Honestly, you’d be hard pressed to find an area of London that hasn’t been a hub of crime and prostitution at some point…)


Regardless of its past seediness or present hispter-ness, there is good food to be had and plenty of wandering to do along the streets and canals. A while back when Katie and I visited the Geffrye Museum, we decided to go on a small adventure to find something to eat. At one point a sign caught my eye, because to be honest even in Shoreditch it’s not everyday you see hammocks swinging in place of window seating. And not ironically!

Welcome to Arepa and Co., an award winning Venezuelan deli, specializing in two types of traditional Andean corn breads and cakes, and other South American ingredients. I pride myself in my ability to go native, kittens, but I have missed black beans and Southern spices!

Katie and I parked ourselves at the bar, ordered tea, and enjoyed!

2014-01-18 14.38.42

The menu is delightfully customizable with a respectable drinks menus (hot and cold) and a scrumptious brunch – my new favorite meal.

2014-01-18 14.38.58
Pardon the mobile quality photos but I am not, and have never claimed to be a photographer. After stuff ourselves, we explored more of the canal, watched the houseboats sail by (one with a row of motorcycles running down it’s center) and chatting. Sadly Katie’s back in the States now, but we’ve made plans to meet up with her and Adam in Paris next month and I’m already getting excited for it!



“Puritanism.  The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”
– H.L. Mencken

Recently, for reasons far too ridiculous and complicated to explain, Scarlett and I have a bit of an inside joke ending emails and phone calls with some sort of admonition followed by, “or God will smite thee.”  Have a good day, or God will smite thee, etc.  It’s silly and stems from a midnight conversation when her flatmates were getting drunk and crowding up her New York flat so she hung out in the hallway and called me up to chat until they descended on Greenwich Village.   Many an inside joke has found it’s birth in such events.

Anyway, it put me in a sacrilegious frame of mind, so these Puritan baby names made for a good Friday afternoon read.  Let’s have a look at some of these poor parenting choices and make a few guesses on how the Early Modern era panned out for them, based on their unfortunate epithets:

I disapprove strongly of this frivolity.

Wrestling Brewster, I can only surmise, turned out to be the dame school class bully.

Kill-sin Pimple, to no one’s surprise, ran off to live in the woods and found happiness among the Iroquois.

Continent Walker, a great colonial explorer.  Annoyed his relatives by insisting on dressing “in the manner of the heathens” in the privacy of his own home.

Preserved Fish refused all pickled food for the entirety of her life.

Anger Bull was unfortunately prone to fits of rage at the sight of red flags.  Laudanum helped.

Magnyfye Beard was appropriately enough, one of history’s earliest hipsters.  His whiskers were the pride of the early cavaliers.

Hope-still Peedle.  Pessimist.

Weakly Ekins: picked on in school.  Probably by Wrestling Brewster.

If-Christ-had-not-died-for-thee-thou-hadst-been-damned (known familiarly as “Dr. Damned”) Barebone, never really understood why his medical practice never did very well.  Scraped by as a body snatcher for the burgeoning field of anatomy and made many, sadly unrecognized, contributions to science.

Let’s play a game: pick a name, submit their life story in three sentences or less.  Winner get applause and acclaim from the minion coterie.  Off you go.  (Or God will smite thee!)

Bonnie (and Margot) and Clyde. Guns and a Roadtrip. Unrelated.

“Do we need to stop at a grocery store and pick up anything for the weekend?”
“I’ll ask Margot.”
“And dinner tonight?  Have we any plans or are we just going to stop somewhere on the way.”
“J…look.  We’re going to have an adventure, ok?  Just got with it!
“I was going to ask you these questions yesterday but you weren’t feeling well and then you were sleepy.  Food is very important!”
“I promise I will feed you, ‘k?”
– J. and C. email chain

Yesterday some of the officers took Hennessy, Susie, Wise and I to the shooting range just for fun.  I got to shoot an AK47, an M4, and an Uzi.  Also, there were flash grenades!  We were out in the desert sun for nearly 4 hours and I got heatstroke afterward, but it was worth it.  Pictures forthcoming.

And today we are going to head to Cedar City, Utah for the weekend for their annual Shakespeare Festival!  Margot’s grandparents have a home in the area where we are crashing for the night, meeting up with her non-boyfriend-significant-other-gentleman-caller Wrench and frolicking for the weekend.  J. loves Southern Utah, his family are all hikers, rock climbers, and campers and have spent many a holiday in the area.

I for one am glad to be doing something.  I’ve turned into a housecat recently, and like spending weekends at home doing the mundane things I never seem to manage during the week.  And yet…I’ve had a hankering to go and do!  Explosions and Shakespeare rose nicely to the occasion.  What are your weekend plans, kittens?  Staying home with family or friends?  Summer fests?  Water parks?  Barbeques?  Sound off!

Tea. Party. (No, not that kind!)

“There is no Latin word for tea?  Upon my soul, if I had known that I would have let the vulgar stuff alone.”
– Hilaire Belloc

Remember when Marie got engaged the Great Bridesmaid Dress Affair that followed?  Well the dresses have been chosen and they are to die for (check them out here).  And then think of that metallic green monstrosity with the horrid bow on the bum that your sister/university roommate/friend/sister-in-law made you don and weep.  Having friends with excellent taste is a great comfort.

Now, with dates set, gown ordered, and food presumably taken care of, it falls on us, the bridesmaids, to throw the most fabulous fête ever conceived by man.  This is going to be so grand and event that it’s taking three of us, coordinating from three separate states to get it going.

And what else would it be, than a traditional English Tea Party, dragged into the 21st century?  I’m in charge of food and sundry other tasks (as I’m currently the only one in the same state as the bride).

And, as Marie reads this blog, the following information will be have to be somewhat censored.  The menu will include (nothing to see here) and (move along) and of course (nuh-uh).  The decorations will be done all in (bleep) and (sound effect from Deadliest Catch), isn’t that gorgeous?  The girls and I have come up with a fantastic (lalalalala!) so we can (ahem) and Marie can enjoy the (sshhnnkk!  Message for you, sir!).

Aren't we informative?

Doesn’t it sound fabulous?

Coming and Going

“Oh dear.  Hennessy and Vodka?  What sort of operation are we running here?”
“Clearly a P.A.R.T.Y.”
– C. and Sav

From "The Capital L" - see Read Me for more details. She's cute, nyet?

The ever fabulous Savvy alerted me to the fact that I too have neglected to mention Daae’s replacement!  (Click link to meet our new friend)  Sav christened her Vodka, which is perfectly appropriate.  Although how so many liquor nicknames are sneaking into our lives is a bit beyond me…ahem…

In happier news, it would seem my Lord and Lady Stompington may have moved out!  Building gossip suggests it, and the unnatural quiet we’ve been enjoying seconds the idea, but it has not been positively confirmed yet.  Fingers crossed, all.  Good fortune and goodbye!

Also, Sav and her husband CK may be moving into our building.  Which would be lovely!  When Venice basely abandons me, it would be nice to have someone I know and like in easy cup-of-sugar borrowing distance.

Come Together

“Video games are bad for you?  That’s what they said about Rock’n’Roll.”
– Shigeru Miyamoto

Last Friday, J. and I headed north to the city to play with Angel and her husband Hotty.  Both of the men lived/worked in Korea at some point and converted their respective wives to the cuisine so we went to Angel’s favorite restaurant, got ice cream, and retired to their basement flat to play Rock Band.

In retrospect, I think I liked him because he was (also) touchy about his height.

Growing up we didn’t have gaming systems and to this day they remain verboten at Chez Parents, so I have never developed the necessary finger-eye coordination and thumb dexterity required by video games.  My gaming experience was limited to watching Peregrine playing Final Fantasy back in the day, and trying Spyro The Dragon (exactly two times) while babysitting.  And since I didn’t know what the point of the game was or how to achieve it, I mostly just scampered around whatever level I was on blowing fire and falling off things into oblivion while evil signs flashed “GAME OVER,” or something of the sort.

Pictured: Angel, Hotty, C. (with mustache), and J.

So, Beatles Rock Band went about as I expected.  They started me on the drums which was manageable on the easiest level, but still confusing as I couldn’t get the timing of my whacks on the drum set vs. the scrolling instructions right until J. told me to ignore it and go along with the beat instead (oOOOoohhhh.  Rhythm.  Right). 

At some point I graduated to guitar and luckily we set it to “impossible to fail” because I proceeded to slaughter the music.  Then I got really ambitious and went from “Easy” to “Medium” and discovered my lack of hand-eye coordination is not just limited to sports.  And I must be mildly dyslexic because for the life of me I couldn’t manage to match my fingers with their assigned keys, much less with the dots of color that wouldn’t stop rolling towards me.  And chords!  Impossible!

I think I’ll be settling back into video game retirement now, thanks.

Creative. Writing (Pt. II)

“All writers are copycats, unless they’re bad writers.  Then they’re plagiarists.”
– My writing professor
 A sample of my writing classes offerings from last night. 
You called?

1) The Unintended Romance:  one person turned in a piece that had a paragraph including the words “the sun delicately kissing her skin,” “white teeth flashed in his olive-skinned face,” and “thick muscles and strong torso flexed as he picked her up.” 

The teacher asked us all to review it and determine what was wrong with the paragraph.  Some people said that some alliteration threw them off, other said it was an imagery technique.  I said it sounded more like ripped-bodices-and-heaving-bosoms writing than what she was going for (a murder mystery).  It’s good she and I get along because half of the class gasped/blushed and murmured things like, “Oh dear!” while she burst out laughing.

This seems...oddly familiar...?

2)  Teen Angst:  Another girl (a rather rude one who has to have the last word in every group review we do, and likes to toss her editing experience in people’s teeth) turned in a piece that took place in a high school science class between a completely uninteresting girl and a boy acting strangely and awkwardly, seeming tormented by a secret pain.  My pal (the bodice ripper) piped up immediately and said one word: Twilight?”

The whole room dissolved into hysterics and debate.  Some people tittered quietly to themselves while one or two started roaring about how amazing the Twilight series was and everyone else wouldn’t know great literature if it smacked them in the face!  Others countered that it was adolescent fiction and no more, while some snapped that young adult writers have produced some first-rate literature, though not Twilight they hurried to say.  The writer was mortified, while our teacher seemed secretly delighted.

Freudian Slip

“Demosthenes overcame and rendered more distinct his inarticulate and stammering pronunciation by speaking with pebbles in his mouth.”
– Plutarch

Our supplier’s secretary would have done well to copy the ancient orator.  Quoth her voicemail message: 

Pictured: a testicle handcuff key


“Hey this is [name] with [supplier], just calling to let you know your testicle handcuff keys are ready to ship, please let me know when you’d like me to proceed.” 

Susie called Wise, Hennessy, and I all in to consult and figure out what on earth she was talking about (amidst some mock horror, “Susie!  What did you order?”) but we finally managed to deduce she meant tactical handcuffs.  Which isn’t nearly as intriguing.

A Day In The Life (or, Retreat! Retreat!)

“To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy not respectable, and wealthy not rich…this is my symphony.”
-William Ellery Channing

A worthy, worthy goal, my loves, but how is a girl supposed to resist the allure of the fabulousness we endured during our secretaries retreat today?

How can a secretaries retreat be fabulous you ask?  I shall tell you.

Well, if we MUST...

First of all we went to the local ski town/get-a-way for many of the rich and famous.  We were treated to an incredible suite in an amazing five-diamond winning lodge-style hotel, because the guy who is head of security there used to work for our police department and likes us.  We were given the works!  Valet parking, personally escorted to our rooms, a charming young man sent up to light a fire for us, lunch at the five-star restaurant on the house, and the grand tour of the premises.  He pointed out the various celebrities homes on the neighboring mountain (many of which he’s run security on), walked us through where a certain un-named actress was recently married, took us through the rooms where a past president stayed, gave us several un-repeatable bits of gossip into the lives of some celebrities and dignitaries as he led us through the rooms they occupied, and also told us stories about the incredible lengths they go to in this place to preserve privacy

Sidenote – why oh WHY am I a secretary?!  Why didn’t I go into protocol, start in the government and military circles that revolve around themselves in England and work my way up through the fabulous hotels of London, doing the obligatory stint in the Queen’s service of course, and finishing up in a place where interesting people whirl in and out and ask you for nothing but to keep their secrets?  Whilst leaving five hundred dollar tips!  My only recourse at the point is to somehow break into the world of writing and become one of those interesting people with secrets, I suppose.

Back to our tale!  After being wined and dined, we spent two glorious hours attacking the local outlet stores that include everything from GAP to Coach!  I justified buying myself a few things by buying even more things for other people, knocking a solid three family members off my Christmas-shopping list in an hour.  Completely disregarding the fact that we are still paying off the four new tires currently cushioning my car.  Christmas is coming, and there will be no goose to get fat because C. will have pawned it in desperation.

Small Dog lives it up.

And believe it or not, we managed to have a lovely meeting in which frustrations were discussed, problems were solved, training was accomplished, and much needed venting got done.  It was glorious.

“Why don’t the guys ever go on retreats like this?” asked Wise as we pulled out our folders, took notes, and stretched our feet luxuriously towards the fire.
“Because they don’t know how to do things properly,” I retorted.  “Peasants.”

Of Vampires

“Children of the night, SHUT UP!”
-Love at First Bite

This is for Small Dog's friends on "Team Jacob." He's still NOT REAL, but from my limited knowledge he's a little less whiny.

I cannot escape them!  They’re every, everywhere!  Cute campus couples as Bella and Edward (my opinion of the literary drivel that is Twilight can be found here) and teachers/staff dressing the part.  The new stupid looking vampire kids movie the name of which I can’t recall, The Vampire Diaries on TV…even my weekly dose of Sherlock Holmes on PBS was a mystery about a supposed vampire this week!  Yes, I get that crushing on the undead is trendy, but honestly!  Way to beat a dead horse.

Now, I liked the Interview With the Vampire movie when I saw it, I was delightfully creeped out by Bram Stoker’s Dracula (I borrowed it from the library and it had such a chilling cover that I had to turn it face down and shove it under my bureau at night), and I am going to see Nosferatu with Margot tonight…but the obsession some people feel for vampires is bizarre.

How ''bout a date, baby?  'No?'  But...Edward's a, uh, cousin of mine!
Hey, baby, how 'bout a date? No?! But...Edward's my, uh, cousin! Yeah, that's it!

Mostly I find it funny (from a historian’s viewpoint) that the sex-crazed, hauntingly beautiful, interestingly pale and tragic, romantic figures that most people associate with the term are only a product of the Victorians (actually…the above description fits those Victorians themselves pretty well too…).  Originally vampires were the spirits of suicide victims, witches, heretics, etc. and resembled blood drenched bloated corpses.  Sexy!