I can smell her chemicals

So last night was Thomas Dolby. Not sure what to say about most the performance, since we couldn’t even begin to pretend that hearing “She Blinded Me With Science” wasn’t our only reason for being there. Some of his other songs were decent, some were terrible, only two others in his set we had ever heard of from our Sirius 1st Wave station.

There was indeed a steampunk time capsule waiting outside the venue, as promised, but we didn’t leave a message. I kind of forgot to, but we sat inside for awhile. I was delighted at how reminiscent the time capsule was to H.G. Wells’s time machine.

Time machine 2

Time Machine1

Thomas Dolby was entertaining enough and we had a good time, but we had to stand there through a crummy opening act. Such is life. It was a steampunk act. I was reminded of our time at Dragon*Con when we went to a few steampunk-themed events, particularly the Steampunk Ball. I agree that steampunk is really a beautiful aesthetic, I love how it comes with its own set of colorful vocabulary terms, I love Jules Verne, HG Wells and appreciate Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (though a steampunk I once talked to scoffed that I only liked the old stuff, but he was more into ‘modern steampunk literature’. Did Jules Verne know he was steampunk when he wrote “Journey to the Center of the Earth?”). I also love the idea of clunky and aerodynamically unsound flying machines, and calling them “flying machines.” And clothes are far more attractive that what anyone wears today.

But steampunk music is really godawful. Like grinding gears mixed with vitriol and um, gears. And I thought the full hipster beard had come and gone about nine years ago, but apparently it’s now steampunk-not hipster- to have a gigantic bushy beard. I guess Jules Verne had one, right? Except I don’t think of Jules Verne when I see a huge bushy beard. I think of Rutherford B. Hayes, the nation’s beardiest president of all time. Rutherford was also hugely un-fun. He was a strict Presbyterian who forbade alcohol of any kind in the White House. His wife thought that billiards were a gateway drug to gambling so she converted the White House Billiard room into a room for her plants. The Hayes family spent every evening (yes,¬†every¬†evening) reading the Bible and singing hymns. He was also a crummy president to boot. I call that kind of beard a Rutherford. And all this was meandering through my mind throughout that entire crummy steampunk set we stood through while we waited for Thomas Dolby.


When Thomas Dolby finished the set with “She Blinded Me With Science”, I yelled out “Science!” one time at one of the appropriate points in the song, as did Jon once or twice. Nobody else in the audience seemed to be doing this, and I got a stinkeye from a member of the crowd when I did it. Really? We don’t yell “Science!” during this song? How is that possible? I was fully expecting the entire crowd to yell it every time, that what’s you do at a Thomas Dolby concert, right? Maybe this was just an anemic audience or something.

Still a good show though, and I’m glad we went.

House of Mounts

We’re seeing Thomas Dolby tomorrow! I hear that he’s bringing a peculiar motor car with him that he calls a time capsule that he parks outside the venue, then he encourages the fans to go on inside it and record a video in there for the future. The time capsule looks really steampunk to me, but he calls it “retrofuturism.” I can’t wait.

But with this whole life thing continually moving forward, sometimes things I wanted to tell everybody about get buried under all that time. I wanted to write about what I did while Jon was away in New Jersey. Well, I wanted to surprise him and also wanted to reward myself for having such a shitty week at work. Usually when it’s time to reward myself that means permission to gorge freely on Cadbury eggs or possibly an oversized box of Nerds, but it’s still Lent and I’m really stubborn about sticking to that. It was more difficult to come up with a non-sugar-based treat.

What about a large piece of taxidermy in a prominent location in the living room? That seemed about right, and other than having a live capybara awaiting for Jon at home, I couldn’t think of too many affordable pieces of home decor that would suffice for a dramatic surprise upon his return.

So I looked on craigslist to see if I could find the least sketchy listing for taxidermy. After clicking on several posts, I started to catch on that the majority of listings seemed to be coming from the same individual, although he was listing several different items. He wasn’t terribly far away and he seemed to have plenty to choose from, so I asked if I could stop by and pick something out. I wanted a raccoon especially, and I asked for that in my e-mail. He evaded my raccoon question, which seemed odd, but he seemed harmless enough and his spelling and grammar were sound, so I decided to head on over.

Nothing could have prepared me for the cornucopia laid before me in that house. The first room I entered was filled with so many African hoofed mammals that there seemed little else to do in that room except look at taxidermy. You don’t realize how many gaps you have in your knowledge of African ungulates until you have a guy point to each one in turn and tell you what it is- springbok, bontebok, wildebok, reebok, bokabok, dik-dik, dik-bok, hard-tak, tak-bak, dik-dik-dik to the bik-bok to the bokkety. So many antelope. Also a water buffalo, a giraffe skull, a baboon head, vervet monkeys, zebra, warthog…and other things I can’t remember. There was more African taxidermy in that room than at the Harvard Museum, and possibly the AMNH. I was sure I was going to be shy and on guard meeting some stranger at his house for taxidermy, but once I was in that room I started talking excitedly and repeating myself and trying really hard not to squeal. The photo I took of the room of course doesn’t do it justice. I actually once felt helpful when he showed me this giraffe bone. I immediately recognized it as a metatarsal or metacarpal (either a bone in the hand or the foot) because it was identical in shape to the cow metacarpals I’d seen in my animal anatomy class. It was just that this one was as long as my arm. He was impressed and said thanks, he didn’t know what kind of bone it was.

African Room

Then it was on to the rest of the house. Wait, there’s more?

Heck yes. Every single room, including the bathroom, the basement and the garage, was full of taxidermy. I spotted several raccoons and while I could hardly concentrate on making a purchase with all this taxidermy everywhere, I kept the raccoons in mind. He had a “Dinner for Schmucks” cabinet as he called it, which contained taxidermed mice wearing little clothes and acting out scenes in dioramas. He had a freeze-dried stillborn deer, and two North American species I’d never heard of. And here I was thinking there wasn’t any mammal I couldn’t identify. Well, other than this one:


Finally when I’d seen it all and caught my breath, I talked about picking out a new pet. I asked about the raccoons and he said they weren’t for sale. Why would that be? Because while it is legal to hunt them and legal to get them stuffed, it was illegal in Georgia to sell raccoon taxidermy. Hmm.

So after that grand tour, it felt almost like a letdown to pick the plainest, most common taxidermy he had available: a deer.
Then again, he had about 50 deer mounts to choose from. He cheerfully obliged when I asked if he could take a recreation picture of me carefully and thoughtfully choosing my deer from the dozens. I wanted him to think I was choosing my deer based on merit, but I was actually scanning the prices and picking the least expensive deer I could find.

In the picture below, take a look at the deer in the lower left, the one next to the snapping turtle shell. That’s the surliest-looking deer mount I’ve seen in awhile.


Well I finally chose one and was a bit sorry to leave. Before hanging up my deer head, I put it to good use by teasing the dog with it. It took him a few days to stop eyeing the deer suspiciously at all times.

Teasing the Dog

Der Waffle Haus

We recently learned that the first Waffle House is in Decatur, GA, and that it’s open during limited hours during the week by appointment only for groups of 10 or more. Yet on a handful of a days a year, it’s open to the public on a Saturday. Yesterday was one of those special days and so after lunch we decided to stop by.

They passed out paper wedge hats and reproductions of the menu from 1955. You go behind the counter and pretend to work the stove, or you could sit at the counter and pretend to eat the food they had spread out there. The food was made of rubber to keep people from actually eating anything.

Waffle House1 Waffle House2

We were in there for a total of six minutes. There really isn’t enough there to see to last much longer than that. But I can’t think of a better way to spend six minutes on a warm and sunny Saturday afternoon.
Waffle House3 Waffle House4
Now all we have to do is to actually eat at a Waffle House one of these days. We haven’t yet done so.

Krko’s Sick Friend

Remember Krtko? I wrote an e-mail to my dad telling him how much I was enjoying my weekly Krtko calendar. He said that “Krt” is the Slovak word for mole, and “-ko” is a diminutive suffix, so “Krtko” just means “Little Mole.”

If you scroll back a ways, you might find my posts about how every week I get to see what new adventures Krtko and his friend Buckethead are up to, including Buckethead feeding on icicles, Krtko spying on a hibernating rabbit, and Krtko gleefully being carried away by a predatory hawk. These past two weeks have been the most exciting weeks so far in my calendar, though. Look at last week- It shows Krtko and Buckethead riding up a mountain in cable car. If you look close, there’s something odd about the picture. Jon interpreted the droplet as a bit of snot dripping from Krtko’s nose, while I thought that Buckethead was crying. What was wrong with Buckethead? Is he afraid of heights? Since I don’t look ahead on my calendar, I had to wait a week to find out.

This week I got answer. As you can see below, the cable car has reached the top of the mountain and the climate must be inexplicably warmer at the higher elevation because Buckethead has been reduced to only a head, his bucket now serving to collect his melting remains. Krtko is unconcerned, though. They’re going sledding!


Poor Buckethead. I fear what I might find when I turn the calendar next week. I guess Baba Marta is too much for Buckethead’s kind.


Mr. and Mrs. Carter Paper Doll Set

What’s the point of moving to Georgia if you can’t hang out with Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, right? If the real Carters aren’t available on a given day, they have some life-sized cardboard cutouts you can meet. I forget which picture is which, though.

Carters 1 Carters 2


The best part? Look close. President Carter is wearing his Habitat for Humanity jacket! So incredibly awesome.