Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Play Doe

Here is a gratuitously cute picture of a doe with her two fawns, to help set the tone.

Three deer just off Main Street in Ouray.

I previously blogged about American Halloween traditions, such as Trick or Treat, pumpkin pie, Easter egg hunts, shoe trading, rabbit rodeos, and Kiss the Neuroscientist. I never covered Jack-O-Lanterns. Americans like to buy pumpkins and carve them up so they look like Jack Nicholson's head. Then, they put lanterns inside, because bright lights attract deer and moths. Deer cannot see orange, so they think the pumpkin is actually a real head, and we all know that deer love to eat human brains. But when they get too close to the light, they of course are stunned, and then Americans like to put costumes on them and take pictures. Fat children sometimes ride the deer when trick-or-treating. It is legal to kill and eat a stunned deer if it tried to eat from the pumpkin, since this proves it is dangerous to humans. It gets more vulgar in very rural areas, but that's illegal.

Two real pictures of a doe eating from a Jack-O-Lantern, one house north of the first picture.

Austrian pumpkins are small and green, and unappealing to deer. Pigs, however, love the Austrian k├╝rbis, and so Austrians carve them to look like their most famous and talented composer, Falco. And they sometimes dress up pigs like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Otherwise the same.

How do Austrians kill deer, then? They put these unsportsmanlike hunter-huts out in the mountains.

A jagerstand I saw while hiking Graukogel near Bad Gastein, an hour from Salzburg.

Hunters will just hang out there all day and drink heavily and blow away passing deer. This seems too easy. American hunters have to cover themselves in deer urine and hike and hide and drink cheap beer all day to try to get off one shot with a bow and arrow. Sometimes they confuse the deer urine and beer, or just use that as an excuse to indulge their addiction. Meanwhile, deer are sneaking around, covered in human urine, trying to gore the hunters and eat their brains. Now that's a good sport. And very fair. Except the deer are not allowed to drink beer because they aren't 21.

Salzburg is the land of the second most famous and talented composer in Austria: Roger San Hammerstein, who is actually American. He wrote The Sound of Music, set in Salzburg, which Austrians really appreciate for its accuracy. They like him so much that most Austrians cannot name any Austrian composer from Salzburg, and sometimes argue that Roger is one of them. In appreciation, I rewrote the most famous song:

(Original Version)
Doe- a deer, a female deer
Ray- a drop of golden sun
Me- a name i call myself
Far- a long long way to run
Sew- a needle pulling thread
La- a note to follow so
Tea- a drink with jam and bread
That will bring us back to do oh oh oh

(New official version)
Doe, a deer, a tasty deer
Ray - my laser scope on gun!
Me, eat game, eat all myself
Fawn - you better start to run!
So - the baby deer is red!
Law: I'm glad that they don't know!
Tea - a drink for throbbing head
That will bring us back to so-o-ober.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Beale House Rock

I just enjoyed couple days in Memphis, a city I never visited. This is too bad, since it was fun and lively and reminded me of living in Atlanta. I lived there less than two years, but that was enough to make me the ambassador of the South to other conference attendees, mostly Europeans, some of whom never even saw America before. It was fun taking them out for Southern food and explaining grits, corn bread, green beans with bacon and sugar, fried green tomatoes, fried okra, fried catfish, fried fritters, and even fried fries. I warned them about sweet tea, the table wine of the South. They all listened to me, which wasn’t part of my plan. I was hoping one of them would be adventurous and try it, providing cheap amusement and credibility.

Of course, I told them all about Elvis, and tried to convince them that Elvis was not only alive, but looked about the same as he did 50 years ago. Despite countless signs to the contrary, they didn’t believe me.

This was really close to my hotel. Either it is unique, or they have several hundred such plazas all over Memphis.

This is at Graceland. They would know, don't you think?

I also forgot about the itinerant and elusive southern belles, two of whom I met on my first night. I was talking to a cop who I had bribed with a Mozartkugel in exchange for information. Molly and Anna materialized and said they were celebrating their birthday. Two gorgeous and flighty blondes and one neuroscientist. I knew this wouldn’t last, so I managed to get the picture below before they disappeared as quickly as they emerged.

Right shirt choice?

Continuing my MO to ingratiate locals, I managed to get out the next night to a club in midtown with good live music. This was all thanks to a helpful tip from a thoroughly more impressive woman who lived in Memphis. Unfortunately, our clubbing adventure ended early when she lost her cell phone and one of her friends got sick. She later cut her finger while talking to me. I doubt I'll see her again, and can't really blame her.

On Sunday, I went back to Beale Street with my conference buddies. Sunday was much, much quieter than the last two nights, made all the more eerie by the tininess of the Beale Street drinking area. They basically cordoned off about three blocks of one street, flooded it with cops, and called that downtown Memphis party central. They make up for it by legalizing beer on streets and allowing alcohol sales until 3 AM, which is generous in America but still makes Europeans shake their heads sadly.

Like previous trips to Colorado, I had over 100 pounds of luggage, mostly consumables. Unlike before, very little was pumpkinseed oil. So, I went back to my room and created the picture below. Note I already gave away two bottles of schnapps and a lot of chocolate. Also, the five Chinese silk paintings from Suzhou aren’t shown because there wasn’t room. I need some of it for my conference and workshops in DC next month, but most of it will be distributed among friends and family in CO and CA, often with me present to play Indian giver.

Loot, mostly chocolate and bottles of schnapps. Amazing what you can do with Photoshop, eh, US Customs Agents?

Sign at a gift shop in Denver airport.