The soil of a man’s heart is stonier

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Happy Valentine’s Day! I have the best husband in the world n’ all. It’s hard to come up with ways to make Valentine’s Day extra over-the-top special year after year, but we try to accomplish that is to make a point to do something interesting together that day. So today we decided to celebrate by visiting the Pet Cemetery!

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Look close- can you see who we brought with us? We considered bringing Giles to visit with us, but he’s hanging out with his dog-cousin today. Then I wondered if we could bring our new bearded dragon, Clementine with us, but seeing as it was fairly cold out today, Clementine said she’d rather hang out under her basking lamp today.

So who better to bring along on a trip to the pet cemetery than my favorite dead pet? Yes, I brought The Lizard along to pay her respects to her fellow dead pets.

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This was a pretty cool cemetery, creepy and quasi-abandoned, yet still in use in some sections. We visited the old section first, trying to find the oldest grave we could.

Brownie here is a possible contender-
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Not sure what to make of this one. It’s possible that Sgt. and Mrs. Pridgen didn’t intend to give their pet a baldly racist name. I don’t think that anyone who loves their pet enough to buy an extravagant memorial stone would intentionally give their animal an offensive name. Maybe “Chink” met “cute puppy dog” in the back in the ’40s.

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Old Bo was the earliest birth date we could find. The older part of the cemetery showed evidence that it may once have been located too close to the nearby creek, which eroded and caused massive shifts and sinkholes in the softy clayey soil. At some point it appears that all the older graves were moved and deposited in a pile. Also, there were a lot of graves that had sunken into the ground.

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Also, how did Snitz end up here?
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We allowed The Lizard to salute all the dead pets. Farewell, Prissy.

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Goodnight, lost Hanson brother.
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Sunny trails, Sunnea.
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Rest in peace, Freckles, Doodle and Blackie…
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Sweet dreams, Princess Spooky. Buenas noches querita Mimi.
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This was the only verifiable non-dog/non-cat we found.

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There was also the newer section, which was a little more well-maintained. The oldest graves we could find were from 1942 or so, when the cemetery opened, but we were curious as to how recent these graves could be. I think this one’s the winner, the dirt is still fresh on this one.

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Wow, just three months ago.

I kinda liked the new section as well as the older part. This one was one of my favorites.

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And this one made me choke up a little.

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Also this one. His name-o appeared to be Bingo.
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This place made me very, very happy. One might think that the heartfelt epitaphs would be sad to see, but I didn’t think of it that way. I just think that these pets were some of the luckiest dogs and cats an occasional bird that ever lived. I mean, think of all the dogs in shelters that never get adopted, all the starving and cold stray dogs and cats of the world that were never loved. These animals were clearly loved the most. Most of them lived long and presumably happy lives. It made me hope that The Lizard lived a reasonably happy Lizard-life when she was alive.

The other thought I had after we had left was that perhaps I should have buried The Lizard while we were there. Given what I know of pet semetaries, sometimes they come back.

The heat was hot and the ground was dry

You know how sometimes you can like a song without really paying attention to the lyrics? And then one day you finally notice the words in the song and realize that the song is a lot darker or dumber than it ever sounded? “A Horse with No Name” by America falls into the “dumber” category. The bit where they say “the heat was hot…” is an especial clunker, don’t you think? Plus I never really liked the song that much even before I noticed how silly the lyrics were.

And yet every time I play with my new taxidermy that song runs through my head, which is profoundly stupid because my new taxidermy set is a pair of camels, not a horse. And each of my camels had a name- they came with names. I found them on eBay, listed as “Pair of Vintage Dopey Creepy Bizarre Taxidermy Mini Camels that Freak my Dog Out”. I e-mailed back and forth with the seller a bit, he told me he’d bought them at an estate sale of an eccentric old man who had bizarre crappy taxidermy all over the house, and his best guess was that these camels were from the 70s or so, and probably made from deer fur. He also said he’d named these camels Stinkeye and Punk Face.

This one is Stinkeye:
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And this is Punk Face:
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Aren’t they rather hideous? In the listing, the seller’s description was as follows:

“What can I say about these two awful little piles of fur that would make anyone want to buy them? They are creepy, evil and dopey looking. Just look at them. The bigger one gives me the chills as it stares at the smaller one with the biggest look of confusion on its goofy face while the smaller one looks like it’s plotting to kill me in my sleep. They are hand made furry monsters that nightmares are made of and even my dog thinks so as he never stops barking at them. Who can blame him though, he’s scared.”

Funny enough, I was the only bidder. And despite the reported reaction of the seller’s dog, Giles was indifferent to them. He’s used to taxidermy by now and he’s not interested because they don’t seem to involve walks or cookies. Therefore taxidermy is of no use to him.

Jimmy, on the other hand, found them interesting.

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He examined them from every angle, finally offering an uncharacteristically gentle kiss to Stinkeye’s face.

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So I guess he likes them. The whole time I took these pictures, “A Horse with no Name” kept running through my head, because camels remind me of hoofed mammals in the desert, named or otherwise. Pretty annoying.

The Desert Queen Meets the Jungle Princess

I usually don’t taxiderm pets- actually, not even “not usually”- I’ve never done it before because there’s just something creepy about the finished product. A pet has a personality and a unique facial expression and a bit of a soul. A taxidermed animal that you never knew in life doesn’t carry an uncanny valley effect when the taxidermist can’t get the face and expression and spirit quite right. I didn’t think it was possible to capture the psyche of the pet.

I don’t know what convinced me to give it a try, but when The Lizard died, I felt like I didn’t quite want to let her go completely. Or I guess I felt like she was so pretty in life that it seemed a waste to just toss out her body. Or maybe I was just feeling ambitious and wanted to give it a try.

I couldn’t help but try to identify her cause of death upon necropsy. I learned that lizard lungs are weird compared to mammal lungs- they’re like two giant membranous air bags, rather than millions of tiny, spongy air sacs. I learned that she was indeed female (I’d just guessed in life). I learned that she did not die of any sort of bowel blockage, a common cause of death in captive reptiles. Nothing looked glaringly wrong on the inside. All I can say is that she was just old.

So here’s how she looked when I was finished with the taxidermy:
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Yeah, I know the eyes aren’t right, but ordering custom-made bearded dragon authentic taxidermy eyes are prohibitively expensive. I had to make do with something more economical- some creepy doll eyes from Michael’s. But what I’m really pleased about is that I believe I have accomplished the impossible in pet taxidermy- capturing an accurate facial expression. The Lizard perpetually looked pissed off in life. I even manipulated the flesh above her eyes to enhance the pissed-off look. I think I succeeded, and that made me happy. So I decided to see if the other animals in house approved of my work.

Jimmy was fully convinced, and excited to play with The Lizard, since he was never allowed to before.

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Then there was little Jub-Jub, who was never allowed to meet the Lizard when she was alive. That’s because The Lizard hated other reptiles and was several times larger than baby Jub-Jub. It wasn’t worth the photo op to risk Jub-Jub’s life, but they were finally in a photoshoot together now.

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As you can see, Jub-Jub was initially perplexed, but then proceeded to ham it up. Jub-Jub has a fun trick- she will assume just about any reclining pose you put her into. Eventually she stole the show.

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Look at her long, spidery toes! Isn’t she just the cutest thing? If all goes well, Jub-Jub could grow to be bigger than The Lizard in a few years.

Despite little Jub-Jub being intensely pretty and cute, the photoshoot really just made me realize that I miss The Lizard. I loved her more than any other reptile. I really did like her better when she was alive. I won’t forgot you, The Lizard.

Happy Flag Day!

Deep in the muddy swamps of Bayou-Lafayette Parish, there is the small town of Crayville, LA. Everyone in town showed up for this historic, happy celebration- he always shows up blurry and nondescript in pictures, but I think the legendary monster VertebrateFoot is lurking around in the background. He does exist! And he’s very happy that the town of Crayville is changing flags today! I think Mayor Crabcake is there, too- he’s the one in the top hat. And perhaps it won’t be long before South Carolina will be as classy as these crustaceans.

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Space People Only

This past weekend we took a trip out to Charleston, SC- mostly because Jon had a free room from Hotels.com that was about to expire. Of course we made sure to stop at any points of interest along the way, and the highlight to me was the UFO Welcome Center.

According to Wikipedia, the UFO Welcome Center was constructed by local man Jody Pendarvis in 1994. Its purpose is to offer a rest stop for any visiting UFOs, in a comfortable and familiar-looking environment.

We found it in the tiny town of Bowman, SC, next to a gas station, a trailer, and a man on the corner sitting on a box. We originally thought he was waiting for a bus, but we later understood that sitting at the corner was his To-Do for the day. The Welcome Center had a junkyard-like exterior, but it was clear we’d come to the right place.
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Jon Outside

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We worked our way around the exterior, happy to simply take a few pictures and be on our way.

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But it was then that we came to an entrance we hadn’t seen from where we’d parked.

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Now here we were greeted by mixed messages. It says DANGER, NO EARTH PEOPLE, UNSAFE, and SPACE PEOPLE ONLY. But it also says ENTER AT OWN RISK and PUSH, which suggests that perhaps the daring are allowed to come inside and look around. We took turns peeking in the crack by the gate and considering our next move. At that point I heard something, a sound like a person inside moving around. I also heard some cheesy 70s sci-fi music coming from inside.

I quickly moved from the gate and whispered “We can’t go in! This is somebody’s house and he’s in there! I heard him! He’s watching tv or something (I assumed he was watching a 70s sci-fi movie)! Besides, the gate says that we’re not supposed to go in!”

We moved further away from the gate and Jon helped me deliberate. He said that the sci-fi music coming from inside was probably part of the “exhibit”, plus there was a wooden box inside that was spray-painted with the word TIPS, which suggested he was in there to give tours. To earth people or space aliens?

We continued to hem and haw when another car pulled up. A woman came out with her teenaged daughter, and clearly they were here to see the UFO Welcome Center, since the only other things around for miles were a gas station and a man on a box sitting at the corner. This woman’s arrival seemed to trigger something in Jon and me simultaneously, and we both purposefully about-faced and headed right to the gate, where we boldly entered at our own risk. I guess we both wanted to beat the other lady to it.

An old man came over immediately and greeted us. I went back to being timid and smiled, saying “hi” softly. He asked if we would like a tour of the Welcome Center, and I, still feeling timid, said “Oh, I would love to…um, I mean, if we’re not bothering you or anything…”

By this time the lady and her daughter had caught up and she was much louder and friendlier than I was. The old man, who was indeed Jody Pendarvis, asked if the four of us were together and the lady yelled “No, we came separate! You just caught the lunch rush! Haw haw haw! We’re from FLORIDA driving to CONNECTICUT and we’re making a SPECIAL TRIP to see the UFO WELCOME CENTER!”

Jody didn’t seem to acknowledge her more than a nod. He said to me “You want me to open it?” I didn’t quite know what he was talking about, but I said yes. He moved to the other side of the space pod, pressed a button, and the bay door of the saucer cranked into life. The door to the craft was motorized and dropped to the ground (like a ramp) very, very slowly-
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Agonizingly slowly, actually. I later asked Jon how long he thought it took for the door to drop and he said probably four minutes. During that time we all stood around awkwardly. Well, some of us felt awkward. Florida Lady acted like she’s never felt awkward for one minute of her life. While we were waiting, she yelled “CUTE BOOTS!”, meaning my boots. I smiled and whispered “thank you” and wished she would go away. Then, while the door continued to drop, she told Jody the UFO Man that she’s seen REAL UFOs before, in FLORIDA. Of course you have…, I thought to myself, guessing Jon was thinking the same. “This wasn’t a SATELLITE- it was STATIONARY! That’s how you knew it was a REAL UFO! It had red lights trailing off it!”

Jody continued to pay very little attention to Florida Lady and her daughter. When the door was finally open completely, he motioned for me to come on in! I took a tentative step inside, Jon right behind me, the Florida Lady and her daughter presumably trailing behind.
Enter

Wow, how to describe the interior. The word ramshackle comes to mind.
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We didn’t get a picture of it, but there was a toilet on a high platform, without a curtain or anything. Wikipedia claims it’s a functioning toilet. It reminded me of these dreams I get sometimes where I have to go to the bathroom really badly and the only toilet around is in the middle of a crowded room.

He led us to the two sets of ladders that led to the upper flying saucers, encouraging Jon and me to follow. “Tell your boyfriend to watch his head!” There was low ceiling clearance in the saucer, for sure.

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Yes, I always do everything that crazy old men in junkyards tell me to.

The two saucers had numerous hatches in them, where Jon and I took whac-a-mole-like pictures.

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The purpose of the hatches were twofold- one, it was supposed to be the entrance for the aliens, who would feel more comfortable entering the Welcome Center from above; and two, the hatches served as a lookout point for the UFO Man to watch for aliens on clear nights.The view was definitely spectacular.

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See the car at the end of the intersection there? That was Florida Lady. Apparently she and her daughter had given up and left while Jon and I were climbing all over the saucer. Jon pointed out later that her car had Tennessee plates.

Jody was happy to take my picture, but he insisted I make the Vulcan salute. Again I complied.
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On the way down from the ladder, I noticed this sign on the first floor that I missed on the way up.

Major of Bowman

Heh. We did leave a tip for him, and he asked where we were from. Jon described our intended trip to Charleston, then Savannah.

“And where are you from?”
“Atlanta.”
“Wow, Atlanta!” He said this as if he were very impressed to meet someone from such an exotic place, as if I’d said we were from Moldova or The Comoros or Vanuatu. “You LOOK like you’re from Atlanta!”

This made me so happy! Nobody has ever said that I look like I’m from Atlanta before. It doesn’t matter what he might mean by that- I look like I’m from Atlanta!

We said thank you and good-bye, and were back on our way. I admitted to Jon later of feeling a little guilty that Jody welcomed us warmly while being dismissive of the Florida Lady and her daughter. Maybe Jon and I resemble aliens and the sign clearly stated no earth people allowed. Jon said that the daughter seemed to be getting the creeps and didn’t want to climb the ladder. Or maybe Jody liked my Van Gogh tardis space dress. I hear that’s what people from Atlanta wear. Still, the lady was loud and overbearing upon entering while I was meek and mild. Being meek and mild have rarely done me any good in my life, so I feel pleased that it benefitted me just this once. Usually it’s something I try to work past.

By the way, I looked up the UFO Welcome Center in more detail after we got home. Stephen Colbert apparently visited this center in a 4th season Daily Show episode. I also found that two people have written Yelp reviews for the UFO Welcome Center. They both gave it one star. Some choice quotes from the highly critical Yelpers:

“ I almost feel bad for the guy. He really thinks that aliens are going to visit or have visited his place, but in truth is is the laughing stock of the town. Please do not encourage people to mock him, but at the same time..do not waste you time by visiting!”

“Does driving to it and seeing that it’s a complete heap, count? Basically, it’s a run down trailer with a large UFO on top, surrounded by a huge fence. Too creepy to go in thank you.”

Did you really need me to know that Yelpers are the dumbest people on earth? Both of those people have a hopeless case of Not Getting It Remotely and Completely Missing the Point.

I think if the aliens do come and visit, they would be lucky to have an ambassador like Jody.

Never roped a bug ’cause I don’t know how

I wasn’t gone forever, I was busy in my workshop, ie, the basement, taxi-ing away. I learned some new techniques, and here’s what I been working on.

Fish taxidermy was something new to me. There’s no fur to hide any major errors, and I wasn’t sure what the skin would do exactly once it dried. After consulting my odd “Fish Taxidermy Step-by-Step” brochure from the 80s, I gave it a whirl on a perch.

Lord Gillingsworth

Not bad for my first attempt, but I thought that he needed…something. So I fashioned him a top hat and gave him a dignified name. Say hello to the dapper Lord Gillingsworth.

So now that I’d had a little practice with fish taxidermy, I was ready to move on to the next obvious step- mermaids!

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Mermaid quad

That third pretty mermaid there was constructed somewhat by accident- that is, it was a salvage project for a rat whose butt had some baldness issues. It was either sew on a fish tail or make him skin grafts, so I did the best I could. I’m not sure the hind legs qualify him as a mermaid anymore, but he’s still pretty enough to lure some Greek sailors to a rocky shore, I’m sure.

Another aspect I’m working on is costumes. I’m not that great at making little clothes for rats, and finding rat-sized clothes at the thrift store is just luck. I got lucky with a music box doll one day though, and made the most of it- both with the doll’s outfit and the music. This was my first taxidermy in which a video was necessary to show it off in full:

And finally this one I’m pretty proud of. I haven’t named him yet, but obviously it needs to be something “western.” I’m proud because I made his outfit, simple as it was. I also ended up sculpting a little tiny cowboy hat, since that item is harder to find than you think. They don’t usually come in mouse sizes.

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I think this is the best facial expression I have ever managed on a taxidermy piece before. And yet even with his little hat, his trusty steed, and his lasso, he still needed one final touch. What was old cowhand going after with that lasso, after all?

Of course!

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It’s a female stag beetle, one I just happened to have sitting around in my collection.

Yee haw!

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Roses are red, violets are blue, I love Spectre

Despite the fact that the movie invariably brings me to tears at the end, as the main character looks and acts disturbingly like my grandfather (and the movie came out the same year that he died), I’m a big fan of Tim Burton’s Big Fish. Other than the scenes that take place at the carnival with a werewolf Danny Devito and a midget clown attorney, I think a particularly memorable part is when Edward Blum first arrives in the town of Spectre. It’s a green, soft-focus paradise, where the water is sweet and the ground is so soft that you can abandon your shoes forever upon arrival.

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The townspeople there have festivals every night and write poetry:

Festival

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Well, this past week we were on our way to New Orleans, and we poked around trying to find any points of interest along the way. And we sure did find one. It turns out that Spectre, in some sense, actually exists. Sort of.

Instead of finding just the perfect small southern town location, Tim Burton and his crew found a small island along the Alabama river and created a town from scratch on that island just for the movie. They built a skeleton town with some styrofoam trees and building facades and a skeleton church at the center of it all. Once filming was done, they left the fictional town behind and it’s been there ever since, about ten years.

We arrived at the entrance to the town of Spectre, only to find an obstacle.

Flooded

No worries, though- we’ve had to bypass harder obstacles than this one on past trips. We thought it was best to heed the sign and not attempt to drive the ~1 mile road leading to the film site. Maybe if we were in a pickup truck we could have given it a shot, but it’s not a great idea to try that in a Prius and get stuck indefinitely in a swamp. So we walked. And that worked out just fine, as it was a beautiful late-December afternoon.

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Some ominous-looking birds greeted us upon arrival- I believe they were anhingas, the south’s answer to cormorants.

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And sure enough, among some styrofoam rocks and trees at the entrance near where the shoes-line used to be, the scene opened and the Town of Spectre lay before us.

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We entered most of the houses and it was interesting that almost none of them, including the church, had any walls or floors to speak of. It wasn’t that the walls had come down or the floors had been removed- it was more that these were just outlines of buildings, meant only to be filmed from the outside. That is, they were set pieces and not actual houses. An entire pretend-town. Funny enough, there was only one house in town that had an actual interior and it was this one:
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You can kind of peer in at that picture and see that there’s at least something in there. It was a fireplace and a mantle.
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Unsurprisingly, the fireplace was fake along with everything else. If you knocked on it, you would discover that it was made of some kind of plastic. So were the bricks in the church. It was still an adequate home for the organ pipe paper wasps, though.

Wasps

I wondered why Tim Burton’s crew had bothered to make a fireplace in this house, but later when we were home we rewatched the Spectre scenes in Big Fish. It turns out that there’s one single scene that takes place indoors in Spectre- the one where Jenny steals Edward’s shoes. The fireplace is visible in the movie.

Remember how later in the movie the town of Spectre falls into ruin and disrepair? Jenny grows up to be a witch and her house has crooked columns, later straightened out by the giant.

Jenny's House

Unfortunately, the columns took a tumble again since then, and I ended up sitting on them. They were also made of plaster/plastic/etc.

Columns

And naturally, there was nothing inside the church, either. Just a dirt floor.
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We walked back through the gauntlet of anhingas glaring at us once again, found our way back to the car and moved on to New Orleans. But that sure was a treat to have the side diversion. An imaginary town that never was, but still exists today.

Twigg’s Giraffe and Banana’s Monkey

Ahhh, is there anything more delightful yet running with a persistent undercurrent of gloom and sub-par treatment of animals than the fair? This was our first trip to the Georgia State Fair, which honestly wasn’t much different than any other fair I’ve ever been to- not that that’s necessarily a bad thing. I like cotton candy, feeding farm animals, and grammatically distressing signs posted everywhere. All of our points of interest at the fair this year involved animals. First there was the petting zoo full of farm animal’s.

We have our goat s and alpacs s:
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We have an unusually aggressive pair of dentures:
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Unsolicited dietary advice:
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And the star of the show, Twigg’s giraffe. Twiggs himself, however, was nowhere to be found.

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Our next animal stop was a Flock of Seagulls. Hey, the fair’s admission was ten bucks and we got front row seats. I wish I had a photograph of them. I got one during sound check, but forgot to take pictures during the actual show. It was fun to pretend that Mike Score was actually Hank from Breaking Bad. I hope he hadn’t like, stored all his superpower in his hair in a Samsonite fashion during the 80s.

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And finally the Banana Derby. What’s the banana derby? Well, it’s monkeys riding dogs. That’s it. But I was so excited for the show that I got there early to get a spot in front.
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It didn’t promise much- just monkeys riding dogs, but it delivered exactly what was promised.

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So that’s the Georgia State Fair. I don’t understand how they didn’t serve alcohol at this event- how else can you watch monkeys riding dogs? Still, they had a time machine.

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The catch is that while the Gravitron is indeed a time machine, it can only go to 1987. At least that’s what Jon tells me.

Curious Encounters 2

Last week at 7 Stages there was an Art. We went along because unlike a lot of Arts I see in Creative Loafing or what have you, this one wasn’t $80 per ticket. Actually, Creative Loafing is where I’d heard about it. It was called Curious Encounters 2 and one of the artists in the article explained that it was a show especially for today’s for young people. “Young people live in an interactive world these days…”, she said, “…and they’re not satisfied sitting still and passively being entertained. They want their shows to be interactive, their world is very different from what we remember…”- good God, why do all Serious Artists sound like this? Funny ol’ thing- just the previous night Jon and I had gone to see The Giver at Regal Hollywood with some free passes we’d had lying around for awhile. The showing was loaded with teenagers and I noticed that all of them managed to sit still and quietly for the entirety of the film, being passively entertained in a non-interactive way. Guess they hadn’t read last week’s Creative Loafing.

We had dinner at the nearby Elmyr and headed to Curious Encounters 2 right after that. The first thing I needed to take care of was a restroom. I went to the nearest one, but it was locked and some attendant told me to use the other bathroom, the “interactive” bathroom. So I did. I found in our program that the bathroom was indeed part of the show, and I wasn’t ready yet. The bathroom interactive event was called “Drop a Load.”

Drop A load

I entered and a girl wearing all white encouraged me to write on the wall of my stall, do my business, wash my hands, then write on her. All this was under a black light and strobe light, of course. Sometimes I communicate on bathroom walls with pictures better than words, so I drew a Permian period diplocaulus, the beloved boomerang-headed amphibian.

Diplocaulus

When I returned to the bathroom attendant, she invited me to write on her next. I was out of ideas so I went with a crayfish, taking care to draw the correct number of legs. I wanted to make up by my previous timidity by being extra-bold, so I drew it straight across her chest, which made her croon. When I was all done she shrieked that the next step was for me to wash it off in the men’s room, and she grabbed me by the hand and led me there. Upon entering, the male bathroom attendants howled and cheered while I washed off that nice crayfish. Finished, I met back with Jon who was waiting at the bar and told him he ought to try the bathrooms.

Our next stop was through a corridor, where a bouncer wearing a large, heavy papier mache monster mask moved the velvet rope aside and let us in. This exhibit was called Club MSIF.
We were greeted by a curtained-off, extremely humid and pungent corridor and a 30-degree jump in ambient temperature. Several dancers were in there, sweating and partying and all wearing large papier mache monster masks. It wasn’t the sort of environment where taking pictures would have worked, but I have some stock footage in my flickr collection that should give you a basic idea of what it looked like:

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Lemongrab 1

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Jon told me that he could empathize deeply with the dancers, having once danced for hours at a club wearing a heavy papier mache head. He reports that it’s excruciatingly hot inside that head and that he sweat so profusely that the papier mache inside the head was beginning to melt by the end of the night.

After that we visited the Dirty Peepshow room. Except it was called “I Said I Was Sorry”. The room was walled off, but numerous peepholes were drilled into the walls so you could interact. It was two or three different couple in succession, throwing rose petals on one another, making art-love in a passionate and arty way, and usually ending up getting into passionate, silent arguments expressed through body language.

Spying

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What I liked about this one was that even though this was an Art and not real, being forced to spy through the peepholes made me feel like an unforgivable creep. It was kind of neat how they manipulated the viewer like that.

Next was upstairs, to a piece called “Spoons.” I was skeptical about this one after reading its description in the program.

Spoons

When Jon and I approached the attendant, he said in a dripping, sensual voice “Hello. Welcome to Spoons.” I realized quickly that I wasn’t really in the mood for spooning with performance artists and tried to come up with an excuse for turning and running in the opposite direction. I said lamely, “Oh well…I think we’re going to grab a few more drinks before we’re ready to spoon…”

We ended up backtracking through the spyhole room and down the papier mache dance party corridor. Jon and I indeed each got another drink and then waited for the big finale, scheduled to occur in a few minutes.

I guess I didn’t note the name of this performance in program, but it was most likely called “Big Hippie Finale Featuring Mostly-Naked Deer Priestess, Incense, a Tambourine and a Couple of Rainsticks.”

Tree Circle

Each and every visitor was lead by the hand to the stage within the auditorium, where everybody was intentionally separated from whomever they’d entered with and was made to sit as far away from as possible. I believe it was to shake down our previously-held beliefs and assumptions about togetherness and to experience bonding within the entire circle. Or something.

It got…ambient in there. Several people were greeted wordlessly by the spirit priests and enticed to interact with them. Some were led out of the circle and never returned. Maybe they were chopped up and served to the Guest Spoons. I was worried about what I would be roped into doing, but I got off pretty easily- a dark grey lord wrote some mysterious runes on a scroll and slowly extended his skeletal hand to turn them over to me. I took a picture later.

Mysterious Runes

I guess it’s hard to write with skeleton hands on.

Jon said later to me that he too, was relieved that he got off the hook easily as well. A hippie priest dripped some flower petals on his head and moved on. Right around this time, I snapped this picture:

Reluctant Husbands

It’s my favorite picture of the night. I don’t know who that is on the right, but the picture shows two miserable-looking young men clearly dragged here by their wives or girlfriends, both wondering if their beers will hold out for the entire performance. *note: Jon wasn’t actually miserable that night and had agreeably taken up my offer to treat him to this event, but I still like that picture a lot.

The two reluctant husbands weren’t the only ones having an awkward and terrifying time. Somebody decided it would be enriching to bring their kid along, that the kid would find this mind-blowing and mind-expanding, but the kid’s posture made it clear that he was angry that his artsy parents dragged him along to this shit instead of getting him Burger King takeout and getting a babysitter that would let him eat Oreos and watch Phineas and Ferb all night. Poor kid.

Bored Kid

He appeared bored for most of the performance, but as soon as a hippie priest hunkered down to interact with him, he became alarmed and asked his dad for guidance.

Creeped Out Kid

After all the hippies had interacted with everybody in the circle at least once, we were slowly led in a parade to the seats within the theater, where we all sat and regarded the now-empty stage in silence. Then we got up and went home.

Yes, I know if I constantly make fun of performance art, then why do I keep going? Aw, come on- you know it’s because I secretly love it. I figure if an Art makes me laugh and snigger and write funny posts about it later, then the Art was successful. I hope that’s how the artists see it, too.

Freezer Burn

Our six-year wedding anniversary, and it fell on a Saturday this year. What should we do with ourselves? Well obviously we ought to take a piece of taxidermy with us and head on up to the Ice Box Cemetery in Northern GA. It was a beautiful day to take a mini-roadtrip anyway, get some bagels, load up a Nerdist podcast guest starring Alex Trebek and spending some quality time with our pig.

The abandoned ice box cemetery didn’t offer much in the way of bathrooms, however, and shortly after the turn off the highway, we found a place that might offer…

Goat Sign

Well, it didn’t mention anything about bathroom, but this place seemed to stress an abundance of goats. On the roof.

Goats on the roof 1

Goats on the roof 2

Indeed, this place did not have much- a candy and fudge shop, a gift shop selling Olde Country Tyme jars of apple butter, and a bathroom cottage.

Baaad gas

Oh, there were also some of these.

Goats on the roof

Goats on the roof 4

So yes, for the low low price of absolutely free, Goats on the Roof delivers exactly what it promised. Five stars.

Next we were off to the Icebox Cememtery, located on a rarely-used, nauseatingly winding road up a steep hill. At least it was empty and rarely-used up until the instant that we found the cemetery and got out of the car, pig taxidermy in tow and a tripod for our annual anniversary picture.

Anniversary

Yes, there was not a soul in sight until we appeared. Then the Truman show suddenly showed up. Know that movie the Truman show? I’m referring to that scene where everything is calm, empty and serene, but the minute Truman tries to drive out of his dome-city, suddenly every car in town is on the road and on Truman’s street. That’s called the Truman Show effect. Six muddy Jeeps in a row rushed by, followed by a pickup truck that slowed to a crawl, and I could see through their windows that both the driver and passenger were gaping at us. It must be because I’m just so pretty. It got to be comically annoying, where we had to hide the pig behind the ice box every time we heard a car coming, then shouting “Game on!” once the car had passed. Jon snapped some pictures of the area, an abandoned bait shop.

Icebox 1

Icebox 2

Icebox 3

Icebox 4

Atlas Obscura has steered us to many a magical place in the past, but I gotta be honest- the Icebox Cemetery was a bit underwhelming, mostly because there were only one or two iceboxes laid to rest here. The other must have been resurrected during a Last Judgment.

Fortunately, we didn’t come all this way just to see an underwhelming icebox cemetery and lofty goats- we were just a skip away from Brasstown Bald, the Highest Point in Georgia. We’ve never been seriously into that whole high-pointer gig, but I wouldn’t rule out giving it a whirl someday. Sometimes there are bear sightings.

Scary bears

And sometimes there are bare butts.
bear butt

I am so sorry…