Something Spooky 3, Or: BRAAAAIIIINS

Part three of my self-imposed challenge to do something spooky every day of October.

Day 10: Listened to This American Life’s episode “The Call Was Coming From The Basement”

My two favorite reasons for October collided as I drove 90 miles to surprise my mother for her birthday while fitting in my Spooky activity: listening to a Halloween-themed episode of “This American Life.” That was pretty great, but not as great as surprising my ma. She is the best.

Day 11: The Haunted Basement at The Soap Factory

The Soap Factory in Minneapolis has gotten pretty infamous for its Haunted Basement, and with good reason. Sabrina and I went together for the first time three years ago, and it remains the best “haunted house”-type experience of my life.
This year’s was a close second. I screamed like a little girl and clutched strangers’ arms and at one point told a ghoulish man “You have lovely hair.” He didn’t. That was my actual knee-jerk response in a moment of panic.

Haunted Basement Entrance

Side note: Last year, I was actually part of the Haunted Basement for a night. I spent about eight hours dressed as a goblin, hopping in and out of coffins with terrified/confused strangers and growling things like “Come here often?”

So basically an average Saturday night for me.

Day 12: Saint Paul Art Crawl and “Toto Destruction”

I went to the St. Paul Art Crawl with one goal in mind: to pick up a “Brain Belt” print from the official Zombie Pub Crawl artist DWITT.

Brain Belt print by DWITT

I love his work in general, but add in zombies and beer and I can’t resist. Zombies and beer add value to everything.

Anyway, I got my Brain Belt print (and a few others), and really enjoyed being a dork around one of my favorite local artists and his wife. They are super nice, they gave me a beer and they think my name is Leslie. Overall a win!

Then Leslie went home and put the finishing touches on some zombie props…

Day 13-14: Zombie Pub Crawl

…because what’s Zombie Dorothy without her basket of munchkin heads?

zombie munchkin heads

They…represented…the Lollipop Guild.

And her companion, Zombie Toto!

Zombie Toto

I love “The Wizard of Oz,” so logically I did this to it:

This munchkin crossed me.

This was my fourth Zombie Pub Crawl (previous antics recorded here), because ZPC is basically the best event of the year. This might explain why I went nuts, starting at 6 and going from Minneapolis to St. Paul to Minneapolis to St. Paul, and was still not ready for it to be done 8 hours later (which is why I’m giving myself 2 days of Something Spooky from this one event). Highlights included:

– getting ready with Sabrina/Little Red Riding Hood
– seeing the Gin Blossoms at the Cabooze
– meeting a Zombie Fezzik (from The Princess Bride) at Zombie Island
– coming up with insults about DMX during the 1.5 hour wait for him to show up. You’re not Kanye, we’re not honored by your lateness. We’re getting on the bus to go back to Minneapolis and thinking nice thoughts about the Gin Blossoms.
– enjoying some Brain Belt
– this text message exchange

Alex Text

Alex!

– this photo with a Care Bear

Care Bear Zombie

Care Bear Stare indeed.

– and just general running around. Literally. Zombies aren’t supposed to run, but when I’m excited and have more than one beer in me I’m always about one second away from taking off in a sprint.  As in, “all of my friends are here I WONDER WHAT’S OVER THERE.” Like a dog.

Maybe I should have just gone as Toto.

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Best Things of 2011

Another year, another Nuns Having Fun calendar, and another chance to look back and ask, “What was I thinking?”  Welcome to 2011: The Year That Was.

January: Best Month I Forgot About Entirely

Seriously, I had to turn to the new-fangled Facebook Timeline to help me remember January 2011.  And here’s what I found out:

1. I made these cookies with Manolo.

Cookies, Kind of

On the left, either me or Velma from Scooby Doo; on the right, Manolo with a tan or Medusa.

2. We also ate them.

3. I finished what wound up being the best book I read all year: The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop by Dan Charnas. I could tell you how well-written, informative, and crazy-interesting it is, but if you’re not already on board from the title, this might not be the book for you.

4. And I found out my name would be featured on “millions of cups” at Caribou Coffees everywhere. This would be the peak of my fame in 2011.

February: Best Second Month of the Year

Another one I don’t remember! Apparently: I went to a couple of concerts (favorite: Pete Yorn at First Ave), and I continued one of my favorite traditions of watching the Oscars with my bro.

In my defense there was a lot of snow on the ground last year. I didn’t get out that much.

March: Best Month To Start New Friendships

At some point in March, Lacy invited me out for brunch with one of her old friends who had just moved down the road from me.  Going against my usual winter attitude of “people are the worst,” I agreed to go.

That friend was the Ginger.

Also joining us that day was the Ginger’s roommate, another guy I vaguely knew years ago. And because I feel confident he will never read this, I don’t mind telling you he totally ignored my presence for the first half hour or so of our brunch and I wasn’t thinking we’d ever hang out again. Then I mentioned Battlestar Galactica. And now I can’t get rid of him.

****JOKE! THAT PART IS A JOKE.****

But really, our friendship formed because of BSG, found its footing in football, further developed over beer, and continues despite the amount of hell I give him.  He would probably like to make some jokes about getting rid of me, too, but is too nice to do so.

Easily the best brunch of my life.

April: Best Month to Get Older

I turned 26 by being sick on my couch and having a Die Hard marathon.  Later I convinced some coworkers to buy me an ice cream cake if I picked it up; this is what I chose to put on it.

Die Hard Cake

"Live Free or Die Hard" PG-13 version; the DQ employee had no idea who John McClane was. KIDS TODAY.

April was also when I saw Chuck Klosterman at the Fitzgerald, and went to my first of several Twins games of the year.  Spring is better than winter, you guys.

May: Best Month To Be Named Daughter of the Year

I took my mom to see Paul Simon at First Ave.

Paul Simon at First Ave

Therefore, I win.

And I took Lacy to see Donald Glover/Childish Gambino at The Varsity.

Donald Glover

Therefore, I need a new camera.

I also got a tan-line from a candy necklace while at the Lyn-Lake Festival. I regret nothing.

June: Best Month To Start A Blog

I started this blog in June for a class, but at first I tried to keep it homework-centric. Some adventures that happened in that time that haven’t yet been shared with the internet:

1. I took a tour of the Liberty Belle, a WWII bomber like the one my grandfather was in as a gunner.

Inside the Liberty Belle

How happy do I look to be holding that gun?

2. I rode a mechanical bull at Grand Old Day.

Rachel and the Bull

And you thought I looked happy with the gun.

3. I broke my bowling record (133 and it still stands! I’m not very good at bowling!).

4. And I officially became an Irish citizen (oh, have I mentioned that a time or two before?).

July – December: Best Things I’ve Already Written About So Just Read the Archives, Particularly Anything About Traveling With The Ginger, Visiting Virginia in July, Screaming at The New Kids On The Block, Being Thankful For Things, And Being Disappointed By The Vikings Live and In Person.

(We may be on memory lane here, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take shortcuts.)

So that was 2011: New friendships, new adventures, and a new passion for volunteering. Things were constantly ridiculous. Some ideas were bad. Mistakes were made on a daily basis. But overall, I think I nailed it in one take.

Bring it, 2012.

Best Things of the Week!

Today started with a trip to the dentist and concluded with a visit to the eye doctor because apparently it’s Rachel Maintenance Day.  There’s just about nothing I hate more than going to the dentist, except possibly someone poking me in the eye while talking about my “unusually large optic nerves.”  So let’s bring on some Best Things, I need cheering up.

1. Back to the basics: Dinner, Movie, Shoes

My Favorite Guy: Ginger Division took me out for a date with the mall on Thursday.  We enjoyed 1/2 price bottle of wine night and then went shoe shopping, which is the preferred order of things.  Then we went to see Contagion.

Contagion Poster

A.K.A. that movie where Gwyneth dies horribly and immediately. Fun for the whole family!

We didn’t love it: me, because I’m not really a fan of end-of-times movies that are in any way realistic (throw a Terminator in the mix, though, and I’m there). Him, because it doesn’t really have an ending.

Part of the movie takes place in Minneapolis, which was jarring.  Not so much because having the end of the world start in my backyard is scary, but because it was Movie Minnesota, which is: suburban Illinois with a thin, even layer of snow on it.  I found this…distracting, and it made me glad more movies aren’t based in Minnesota.

After all, this is the only movie we need to represent us accurately:

2. RENAISSANCE FESTIVAL!

I went to my first ever Ren Fest on Saturday!  I rode an elephant in a circle; I went to a Guinness tasting (I enjoy my Irish roots very much); I posed for a courtly photograph and looked ridiculous; and I paid an old Irish man a dollar to play “Ashoken Farewell” on the violin.  That was probably the highlight for me, though it made me a little weepy.

You’d think riding an elephant would be the highlight, wouldn’t you?  No, later Manolo gave me a piggy back ride across the parking lot, and she moves a lot faster than elephants and I do not have concerns about whether or not she is treated humanely.  So that was the other highlight.

There was then an unfortunate run-in between a head (mine) and an elbow (not mine) that wasn’t fun, but didn’t leave any lasting damage.  If the elbow reads this blog, the elbow should understand that all is well.  And I think it might have been my fault, anyway.

3. Love is in the Arb

Yesterday, I went back to the Arboretum for an event called Collegeville Colors.  I visited with my old Arb pals and wound up taking a walk with two environmental education enthusiasts.  You would think I’d be able to identify trees after working at an Arboretum for a year, but I really can’t.  Correction: I can identify when something IS a tree.  But beyond that I’m kind of lost.

Well!  Three years and one personalized walking tour later, I can now almost definitely tell you if the leaf you are holding is from a Red Oak, a White Oak, or Other.

tree at arboretum

Nature is a beautiful and confusing thing to some of us.

Best Things of the Week: Packed summer weekend edition

1. Old friends, interesting decisions

On Monday, one of my oldest friends popped into the Cities for a surprise visit.  I hadn’t seen him in three years, putting him in the “long-lost” category, plus he was the victim of my first crush (he came to my fifth birthday party and gave me a My Little Pony, how could I resist?).  So when he and another friend showed up on my doorstep, good sense went out the window.  A bar was visited.

Gypsy dog

And that's all Gypsy has to say about that.

I also played a round of Star Trek Scene-It with the guys because I am a patient and understanding lady.

2. “When I was your age, television was called books.”

The Princess Bride is my favorite book in the world, and I’ve read it at least twenty times.  I once wrote a ten-page essay about the movie adaptation (for a class, not just for fun, but don’t tempt me).  So when I heard it would be playing for free at Lake Harriet, I planned to go.  Then when Vita.mn had a contest on Facebook calling for the best line from the movie, I went with my favorite (above) as delivered by the wonderful Peter Falk.  And surprise! I won a DVD and a poster. Obviously I already owned the DVD (my love for all things Princess Bride cannot be overstated), but it came in handy when the outdoor showing was rained out and my friends and I needed to finish the movie somewhere else.  And the poster (by Landland) is really cool and makes me feel far hipper than I actually am.

This is such a silly joke, but it makes me legit snort-laugh every time (and there went all my hipness):

3. I ain’t never had a friend like Manolo

There were so many awesome activities this past weekend, and Manolo was there with me for just about all of them, so here’s the condensed version of How We Roll:

– 1/2 movie in the park, 1/2 movie in an apartment (Friday)
–  Teaching Manolo About the Vikings lesson two: It’s more fun when we win!  And it’s even better when we’re with friends at a bar and later a dance party and scroll up for the dog-of-censorship again! (Saturday)
–  Volunteering at Feed My Starving Children – special session for the Horn of Africa (Sunday)
– Discovering we know all the words to “Friend Like Me” from Aladdin while in my let’s-pretend-it’s-soundproof car (Sunday)
–  Obon: Japanese lantern lighting festival at Como Park.  Manolo won a girly pink purse for betting on what I can only describe as chicken-fighting ninjas.  Way to step up your game, universe.  I truly did not see that one coming. (Sunday)
– Laughing obnoxiously (Every day)

Best Things of the Week: A Day Late Edition

I meant to write this yesterday, but a surprise visit from an old friend and an innate ability to procrastinate everything means it’s here today instead!

1. Wedding Bells

Remember when I went to a bachelorette party last week? Unsurprisingly, it meant I got to go to a wedding this week!  And because it’s my life, I got to go to it with a bunch of nuns!  Right after work on Friday, my coworkers and I dressed up and went to our friend and former coworker’s wedding.  The ceremony was lovely, the reception was a great party, and the cupcakes were delicious. Congratulations, friends!

2. Uptownin’ Around

On Saturday, I dropped in to the Pizza Luce Block Party in Uptown with my friend Manolo.

Luce Block  Party Image

 We stuck around for Communist Daughter, then realized we could hear the concert almost as well from Manolo’s porch, which is kind of a perfect way to spend an afternoon.  Things got even better in the evening when I convinced Manolo to watch the Vikings’ preseason opener.  I’m not going to say it was a good game, but I had a great time trying to teach Manolo about the football.

Vikings Vs Packers

Manolo, lesson one: Your roommate the Packers fan is wrong, and I am right.

Lesson two: Our current starting quarterback’s name is Donavan McNabb.  Not, as you guessed, “Don Juan Diablo.”

3. Irish Fest!

I went to my first ever Irish Fest in St. Paul on Sunday! I ate O’Brien Potatoes, drank a Guinness, accidentally bought a loaf of soda bread (I thought I was just buying one piece and yes, I am the kind of person who accidentally buys a loaf of bread), and got my name written in Gaelic.  It is, disappointingly, “Raicheal.” I managed not to tell too many complete strangers about my citizenship — but I let my redheaded Irish buddy, known as “Saibher” for the day, tell them for me.  I absolutely recommend bringing your own ginger wherever you go.

Patrick Renna

If you learn nothing else from me, learn that.