Sometimes I Go To Extremes

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I went to work yesterday morning at 7:10am, left at 3:45, went home and slept for two and a half hours, then worked from 11pm last night to 6pm tonight. I feel oddly fine, but that could just be the psychosis setting in. After all, on the walk home tonight, singing along to Billy Joel’s 11th album (which I just discovered, since I am nothing if not a super-duper late bloomer in all things…and the reason I’m not including the album title is because Googling it brings up a white supremacist group, which I just do not have the mental capacity to handle at this precise second), I spent at least 30 seconds marveling that I’ve been too tired to feel anxious or depressed for the last two weeks. (Did anyone else get the joke-not-joke here?)

Anyway, this lack of life outside of work and sleep is a drag, but I’m resolved to see it through as I pay off my credit card debt once and for all, opening up a world of possibility. You know, possibilities like owning more than one pair of work pants, or maybe affording to go to a proper laundromat instead of washing my towels by hand in a large stewpot in my bathtub. I’m actually not sure what the possibilities are, because I just don’t have any of those particular brain cells – the ones that fly me into flights of fancy – available right now. I think they’ve all been sleeping out of self defense since around noon today.

Anyway, today’s Daily Post prompt is “natty,” and I figured it would be fun to explore word associations using this thoroughly work-pickled brain. What was the first thing you thought when you read “natty”? I thought about Daniel Day Lewis as Natty Bumppo, and how the actor is actually quite the natty dresser in real life. Did you know he’s a cobbler? Like, he has the ability to craft shoes of fine Italian leather. I’m very picky about needing comfortable shoes, but I don’t think I’d say no to a pair of sensible heels made by President Lincoln.

Talking about shoes, the second I think of a handsome hunk of man holding a gorgeous chocolate leather spectator pump in his strong, yet elegant, hands, I head straight off to a scene in one of my all-time favorite movies, Only You, staring Robert Downey, Jr. and Marisa Tomei (and of course we can’t forget the inimitable Bonnie Hunt, or Billy Zane playing at playing the best douche-nozzle west of the Apennines). Downey plays a shoe salesman on holiday in Italy, and Tomei is the high school teacher/dreamer he runs into by accident, in a great scene that involves him running after her, holding a shoe, shouting “Signora, la tua scarpa!” There’s a great scene later in the film that apparently doesn’t exist on YouTube (bet you’re breathing a sigh of relief, but you won’t be for long, HAHA!) where Marisa Tomei is getting dressed in this bone-colored jumpsuit thing that only she could ever have worn, and she’s looking all dreamy and 90’s and European, and she’s heading out to FINALLY meet the man of her destiny. Or so she thinks.

only you

But anyway, there’s Robert Downey, Jr., in love with her and still helping her get ready for her date, doing that nonchalant kicked puppy thing he does so well. She’s in the bathroom getting changed, so you don’t see her. You’re watching him talk to her through the closed door, idly walking around the room and picking out the things that she’ll need to complete the ensemble – scarf, shoes, jewelry – so she can go out on a date with this other man. And it’s so intimate, the way he’s casually thumbing through her jewelry pile to find the right earrings. Of course, there’s a duplicitousness to the scene and the emotions he’s giving off, but but that little, stupid task he’s completing is one of the most romantic motions I’ve ever seen. Anyway, I bet now you wish I could have found the stupid clip, but whatever you do, don’t watch the movie trailer. It’s a terrible, terrible trailer. Just the worst. It’s almost as jarring as the first notes of Andrew Powell/Alan Parsons score for Ladyhawke, but nowhere near as satisfying. It’s just a silly romantic comedy, but the trailer makes it look even dumber than it is. You lose sight of all the tender moments that make it great. Plus, there’s Italy. Just – Italy.

And talking about Italy, you know what I just thought of? This mummy I ran across by accident at that little church in Murano a few years back. By now y’all have to know that I love saints and religious relics/reliquaries, but I don’t always search them out when I’m traveling. Most of the time, they find me. I suppose I should be thinking about that next time I’m pondering big, blinking signs from the cosmos. But as cool as this particular preserved dude was, I didn’t catch his name and have had no luck finding him online. I remember feeling sorry for him, because he was German, and stuck on a tiny island in Italy, so far from home. On the other hand, I did have luck finding another pair of dressed martyr skeletons whom I’ve visited a few times now, at Peterskirche in Vienna, Austria. Talk about natty dressers! They’re just loaded with jewelry and perfectly tailored gold duds. Here’s a great Smithsonian article about similarly dressed holy skeletons across Europe.

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Click here to find Horny Goat Brewing Co.’s fine beverages at a shop near you!

Back when one of my best friends lived in Vienna, also when we were young and had strong constitutions, we spent a fair amount of time there drinking beer (mostly Stiegl, as it was local and cheap). A few months back, I tried Stiegl again for old time’s sake, and though it’s not the worst thing ever, I just can’t get excited about anything lighter than a porter these days. My taste buds always insist that anything lighter tastes about as delicious as that gold standard of swill, Natty Light. Every time someone tells me that I just need to try this IPA/APA/Cream Ale/Fruit Beer/Wheat Beer/insert beer type here, I give it a go and end up sad that now I’ve got to finish this thing before I can go back to a drink that I enjoy. It turns out that I prefer malty or nutty flavors, and can’t stand hoppy beers. I’m not one of those snobs who’s going to insist that there’s not a single hoppy beer that would suit me, and I’m not going to turn down a free beer if someone’s been nice enough to invest in changing my mind, but I’m never going to waste my money trying to find the one magical beer out there that will get hoppy beer pushers to lay off and let me enjoy my own damn drink. My latest favorite find is the Peanut Butter Chocolate Porter, by Horny Goat Brewery.

If goats attract gnats, does that make them gnatty?

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Guys. Guys. GUYS! This goat got arrested, y’all. This is a picture of a goat in a cop car. Holy crap, this might be the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in the last five minutes as I’ve struggled to finish this blog post and just go to bed, already. Also, “therapy goats in cruisers” – I think I love this cop just a little bit more than is wise at this junction.

Also, I just got curious about Daniel Day Lewis maybe owning goats and making goat cheese, since that would obviously push him firmly into the “sexiest man alive” category for me (nope, not stopping to explain this, you’re just gonna have to go with whatever’s happening in the old brainpan) and found out that GOAT is an acronym meaning Greatest Of All Time. Who knew? Apparently lots of people, but let’s just ignore that for a minute. Those people clearly aren’t fantasizing about men who know their way around a foot massage AND can whip up a mean goat milk ricotta, but do think that no one can beat Daniel Day Lewis. You know, except for Amsterdam Vallon.

Sidenote: I’m sure if I scrolled down, I’d found out that GOAT is also an acronym for other, less savory things, as that’s the way of the interwebz. Thus, I will not. I will stay safely in my snug cocoon of film references and cute goat memes, oh, and cats, of course. Interwebz made me think of Ceiling Cat and Basement Kitty. Still the best interpretation of the bible, IMO.

Who are you guys, really? Why is it so weird up in this joint? Where’s the DJ, and why does he keep playing the Eric Prydz “Call On Me” remix on repeat? Wait, does this one have slightly more bass? I’m not saying this is the worst dance party I’ve ever been to, but I certainly am not a fan of the lighting in here. I think I’ll just close my eyes for a bit…

 

A Visit to the Abita Brewery

Abita Flagship Brews

My friends and I took a trip out to Abita Springs, Louisiana this past weekend for a tour of the Abita Brewery. Abita Springs is only about an hour’s drive from New Orleans, crossing over the massive Lake Pontchartrain by way of one of the world’s longest bridges, the Causeway. The town is built on the site of a Choctaw Indian settlement, and takes its name from the nearby medicinal springs. The town’s water source was once known for its healing properties and is still known for its great taste, so I guess it makes sense they’d want to use the spring water to create beer!

A group of five of us drove out to the brewery for an hour-long tour of the facility and the chance to try a selection of their beers. In New Orleans, Abita Amber is a staple at pretty much every bar. The brewery’s website describes Amber as a Munich-style lager with a smooth, malty, caramel flavor and a rich amber coloring. Along with Newcastle, Abita Amber tends to be my go-to beer choice when I’m out on the town. The brewery makes seven so-called “flagship” beers that they brew year-round, as well as a number of seasonal and varietal beers and their own root beer, made with Louisiana cane sugar.

The tour was pretty good, definitely enhanced by being free. When we arrived, we were given a plastic Abita cup. Those of us with open-toed shoes were handed plastic booties to don before entering the working brewery. The group was then shepherded into The Tasting Room, a large, bland bar room setting with lots of tables and chairs and a huge bar with only Abita beers on tap. We formed a line to go behind the bar and choose any beer that we liked to fill our cup, entering the bar area from one set of hip-high swinging doors, and exiting on the other side through another set of swinging doors. There were probably around 100 people getting beers, and the tour guide made announcements on a microphone during this time. We were shown a couple of short videos (click through to watch) about Abita Brewery’s history and how they’re going green by using recycled glass, etc.

After everyone had gotten a beer and had a minute to see the videos, we were led into The Cellar, the larger part of the brewery that had all of the equipment. It was much more industrial than I had thought it would be, with these incredible metal aging tanks that hold 600 kegs of beer. The tour was interesting, but the best part for me was getting to drink an incredibly fresh Abita Amber. The flavor of this beer was noticeably different at the source than when you order it at a bar. Part of that might have been that their lines were crystal clear, or maybe it was due to being a much younger batch than what makes it out to other places in the region. All I know is that it was definitely worth the drive to have a sip of a proper Abita Amber.

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We were allowed to choose whatever beer we liked, and there were multiple returns to the bar for those who drank fast enough.

A lovely cup of Abita Amber.

Plastic booties

The incredibly dashing plastic booties! I felt like I was in a forensics show…

Abita Brewery Cellar

Entering the working brewery. Those tanks are massive!

Abita Brewery Tour

The tour guide explains the brewing process from her perch on the stairs.

Tanks

A better view of some of the fermenting tanks at the brewery. Each of these holds up to 600 kegs-worth of beer at a time.

Really Lame Update

I had big plans for this post, but they’re obviously not going to work out. I’m a little tipsy and very tired, so just a basic update, and I’ll post photos and more tomorrow or the next day. Today was a really fun day. I missed my 8am yoga class, then got up around 9:45, got ready, and drove an hour to Abita, Louisiana with friends to visit the Abita Brewery. It’s a local brewery of considerable renown, and I pretty much live on Abita Amber as my drink of choice when going out. My friend Katy had a couple of friends in from Austin and El Paso, and this was one of the things they decided to do to find out more about New Orleans flavor. Even though I’ve been here since 1999, I’ve never managed to make out to the Abita Brewery, so today seemed like the perfect time to tag along.

We did an hour long brewery tour (mixed feelings about the actual “tour” part of the tour, but drinking makes up for boredom, I find), then went to this incredibly awesome little roadside museum called the Abita Mystery House and UCM Museum. We saw lots of weird shit, with the #1 “exhibit” being this alligator snapping turtle named Tina (my friend Alex fed her a hot dog, and I’ll be posting pictures soon). Then we went to the local Goodwill store, where I lucked into picking up a copy of Escape from Warsaw, a favorite book as a child, as well as a copy of Better Homes and Garden’s 1963 edition of Snacks and Refreshments. I was mystified by how many recipes involved braunschweiger. Weird, right?

After our eventful day in the ‘burbs, my friends and I made it back to the city. I napped until 7:30pm, and then got ready to meet an extended group at this cute little restaurant called Boucherie. After a lovely dinner (duck confit to start, followed by applewood smoked sea scallops), the group drove to a different part of town to see two drastically different bands play. After the initial band, The Lost Bayou Ramblers, made its moves with a sweet Zydeco-meets-Led-Zeppelin sound, Quintron & Ms. Pussycat took the stage.

I had seen Quintron years ago, and that particular show wasn’t at all my cup of tea. However, I thought maybe my tastes had changed. After the first few songs, I realized I wasn’t all that different and that the sound still wasn’t my deal, so I went outside to hang out with some of the other people from my group, a police woman and her husband who were in town from Bristol, England and weren’t really feeling the band, either. We had talked a bit at dinner, and got into conversation again now outside of the bar. It was awesome! I didn’t want to be a complete dork, but as a huge fan of British cop shows, I was having a “moment” – especially as we spoke for longer and realized our outlooks on the basic human condition were similar. We talked a bit about the police system over there, which I’d like to talk about more tomorrow, since I’m really too tired to go into it tonight. In short, it was awesome getting to talk to her and hear a bit more about how very different it is to be a cop in Great Britain than it is to be one here in New Orleans.

Tomorrow the entire group is going on a swamp tour, so I’ll get to hang out with the couple again, as well as the people from Austin, and others.

Right now I’ve got to go, though – time to catch some shut-eye and then drive across the lake to Slidell tomorrow to hang out with The Man’s parents before heading out to the swamp. I’ll catch up with you guys soon!

XO,

A