May 8th, 2005

Prof. Ned Brainard

OPERATION: IMPENDING BARBECUE

Where was I? Oh, yes: Friday. The first order of business was picking up the tuxes, so then I guess the zeroth order was getting breakfast. We went to the Blue Dolphin, which was a brief 15 second drive (would've been a thirty second walk, but Joe was concerned about his Uncle's legs/back) from their apartment. I had something called a 2+2+2, which appealed to the math nerd deep within me, and was priced at only $2.95 (would cost three times that here). It was two pancakes of decent size, with two eggs (scrambled) and two slices of bacon. Never one to underdo things, I ordered two sausage patties and two biscuits slathered in gravy, making mine a 2×5. The biscuits and gravy were lacking; poor sausage gravy would plague my trip until the very last day. But everything else was fantastic, and economical (even though Joe's dad picked up the check, I would have felt guilty if I had eaten expensively).

Then we were off to get our tuxes, and to make sure they fit. I'm sure someone has already observed thusly, but tuxedoes were designed & made to force us to appreciate the normal geek outfit of t-shirt and jeans. Clasps and such are best left to women folk; I assure you. We were able to enrobe and disrobe with ample time left to enable Joe and I to jet off to the airport in Panama City (quaint and charming, it could fit in a single departure gate at Newark) and to shoot the breeze a while whilst awaiting the arrival of my beloved. Once we had her, we met up again with Joe's family at his apartment, then disbanded to find our hotel with Joe as our guide. When he saw the view from our room, his jaw dropped. We had quite a nice view over the bay. I do recommend the Days Inn Bayside to anyone visiting Joe & Katy (I also recommend visiting Joe and Katy); they wrote us notes each day, wishing us some novel form of happiness. And it worked! Sometimes it's the little things.

Next was the rehearsal, which was fun, because the Maid of Honor was in absentia and so Becca had to act en loco bridesmaidus, which meant I got to steal smootches from the (acting) Maid of Honor when no-one was looking. Katy's family showed up (at least, in part) midway through, so we got to meet them (Becca and myself; Joe and Katy had already met Katy's family, I assure you). We did the rehearsal with the bravest of faces, even though the weather for the following day forecast IMPENDING DOOM. After the rehearsal, we went for fricking amazing barbecue and Becca almost wet herself at her first taste of actual barbequed food. She was asking everyone in Katy's family for recipes, which I hope means some IMPENDING BBQ for you-know-who, wink wink.

Then we went outside to take pictures, but since we were on a bayou at sunset, the mosquitoes were rife (they followed me from the swamps of New Jersey to the swamps of the Florida panhandle). So we went back to the hotel where we and Joe's family were staying. We took some candid pictures out by the beach, where the breeze was ample enough to keep the mosquitoes away (it was rather like Aruba in that regard). Katy's two brothers hoisted her in the air, which was a really great shot. Too bad I am lousy at sharing my pictures. I do plan to get them to the bride and groom, sooner than later.

Later, we piled into Denzel (Joe's car) to pick up Katie (tarnishedfaith) at the airport, so that she could be the Maid of Honor and stuff. I don't really remember what we did that night, if anything. If anyone remembers Friday night's activities, feel free to remind me. This is what happens when I don't make entries in a timely manner because I am worried about finals and free comic books and stupid stuff like that. Oh, well.
  • Current Music
    Sponge - Neenah Menasha
Roland, The Gunslinger

"Thanksh for your patronage, ma'am." -Black Angus

By Saturday, I had come to understand that a large part of the best man's duties involved keeping the groom sane as he struggled to keep the bride from kerploding. Outdoor wedding + now certain rain = unstable bride/groom confluence. Joe and Katy both seemed fairly worried that nothing was going to work out (except for their love for each other; let me clearly state that was never in doubt). So my phrase of the day was: "Everything is fine. Nothing is ruined." My other phrase of the day was: "Stand back, best man duties." (and permutations thereof, usually said while insisting on holding doors open for people and things like that). My last other phrase of the day was: "Trust me, I know what I'm doing." Joe commended me on my job as Best Man, saying that he knew I was the man for the job. It was just like being a Professional Asshole, but nicer. It was an honor to be recognized as a man who can get shit done. Decisive (but not unilateral) action was the order of the day. And you know what? It felt so adult to be able to intelligently talk about problems with other people and quickly and effectively come up with solutions. So yay for being growned up!

The day of the actual wedding is pretty much a blur, and I'm sure not just for me. We woke up kinda late-ish from whatever we did the night before, couldn't find an open Waffle House with available parking or seats (I did not get to eat at Awffle House the WHOLE TRIP, boo) and so finally settled on Popeye's, as it was already lunchtime. It was fun having lunch with Joe's brothers, Joe, and Becca. What's fun about these types of affairs is the permutations that they generate; not in a few thousand years could I imagine the five of us eating together. Katy and Katie were off getting girled up, and so it came to be. We were driving home when the heavens opened up. I dropped everyone off in front of Joe's apartment and by the time Becca closed the doors the passenger seat was soaked. Since we'd had five people in the cab when I left, I'd thoughtlessly put my jacket in the back with the chairs (when did we get the chairs? Must've been the day before... I saw a sick 'Busa parked across the street). I parked the truck around back, psyched myself, and then calmly and deliberately jumped out of the cab, stalked to the back of the truck, unlocked and opened the bed in one motion, reached in and threw my jacket on, screaming like John Goodman in similar rain in Raising Arizona. I then walked to the glass door at the back of Joe's, which was fogged from the sudden change in temperature. Once inside, I dripped like a wet dog. It was fun. Fortunately, I'd had the foresight to bring the towels in earlier (I always have huge towels with me on long trips) and so was able to get reasonably dry.

Once the rain slowed, Joe called his Uncle Don, who surveilled the gazebo where the wedding was to have been held. Joe then called Katy, and somewhere along the line, the decision was made to have the ceremony at the site of the reception, which was a restaurant called the Black An[g]us (the G is silent). Joe and I went there and spoke with the owner/manager who was very nice and accomodating and agreed to help us out. We went back, and then went back to the hotel briefly to get ready to get ready. On the way back to Joe's, we spied a man in the gazeebo, setting up someting that looked like a wedding decoration. We then proceeded to have the most obtuse and circular conversation in the history of man, reaffirming in my mind that though the panhandle is in the north of Florida, it's in the south of the United States. Getting any information out of this man was excruciating, and all we were trying to do was help him not waste time setting things up for the wedding that was no longer going to be outdoors. It turned out he was not with the wedding, but knew about it from talking to Joe's dad and uncle earlier. So when he asked if I was with the wedding, it was not because he was with the wedding either, but because he had already spoken to someone who told him there was to be a wedding there later that day earlier. Confused? So were we.

Back at Joe's, we got dressed. I couldn't find my white t-shirt (it was on my bed when I got home), so Joe lent me his "Know Your Roots" t-shirt. Choice. We then returned to the Black Anus. Everyone started arriving and I barely had time to pin on my boutiniere or whatever when they came out of the back of the place to tell us we could use the banquet hall for the ceremony as long as we were out by six. I headed for the back of the restaurant, but not before being asked by one of the other patrons if they had high-chairs. I was too busy to feign being Black Angus (with my Sean Connery accent and tux), alas. I had important best man duties to attend to! Since Katy was in the back near the banquet hall, he couldn't go back there (since seeing her before the wedding would make them not love one another and the marriage catastropically fall apart even though legally they were already married... it's a very complex tapestry, this marriage thing), so I was left to check it out and make the decision. Best man takes decisive action, film at eleven. I grabbed some chairs and started putting them on the dance floor since that was the best location for the ceremony. So we went from having a procession for the bride to having no procession to having a procession again; very exciting. I think Katie was glad I was there because she'd missed the rehearsal which had been scrapped anyway and so had no clue how we were to walk in. Neither did I, but we winged it alright. Most everyone helped set up and again the folks from the Angus were supernice, and even agreed to handle the music for us, which was a significant cause for concern for a disproportionately large number of people. It was such a flurry of last minute activity, I barely had time to compliment the bride and maid of honor, who I must tastefully say both looked slammin. I think I'd just caught my breath when the procession music started and Katie and I trotted out to meet Joe at the front and take our places. Then Katy walked in and everybody went nuts, as is appropriate in such an occasion. She was certainly worth going nuts over! She and Joe did a good job of making it through the ceremony and then like everybody was crying.

Then we walked across the restaurant and had the reception dinner. I proceeded to make a total ass out of myself with a completely extemporaneous (read: off-the-cuff) and heartfelt speech which everyone complimented me on later. Joe and Katy did something awesome with their vows. Since they were technically already married, rather than ask if anyone had a problem with the union they instead asked if everyone agreed to support them, so my speech made this a central theme. I'd come to understand that weekend that keeping the marriage together was not only the function of the bride and the groom but also a strong network of friends and family. Joe and Katy have both.

Oh, gosh. Don't start crying on me now.

The food was awesome (grouper imperial = fish + crab, a winning combination, oh and their garlicky-buttery sourdough bread). The cake was awesomer, and probably a big factor in my bringing seven extra pounds home. Becca and Katie were getting along, while I, as usual, completely refused to know how to get along in a strange social situation. Having dispatched my duties as Best Man, I was somewhat out of steam. I had to actual interact with people on a non-problem-solving level, which we all know I am not good at. I think I faked it ok.

Afters, we all got changed (at long last) and then decided to go to see the Hitchhiker's movie as planned earlier. Except Becca and Katie, who were both too tired to join us. Well, we went, and I proceeded to fall asleep midway through. I woke up a bit later, and I think I could visibly see the tension lift from Katy, who herself proceeded to fall asleep. Joe was the only one who managed to see the whole film, but I think the relaxation was more the point of the evening. Then we went back home.

This next bit is likely to get me killed, but that just means you know it's good. Read on only if you are brave; it's not for the faint of butt.

We came back to Joe's to find Adam (Joe's middle brother) asleep on the couch we'd left Becca asleep on. It's very lucky I didn't leap upon him. Joe and I sort of exchanged glances, wondering where Becca could be, and more to the point, where she could be with reference to Katie. We'd joked about finding them in bed together, but... did we dare hope? We headed upstairs, only to find Joe and Katy's bed empty. Joe: "It looks like... maybe...." I sprinted downstairs to get my camera, and I now have several pictures of my girlfriend in bed sleeping with another woman. Of course, there was plenty of space between them. Not sure of what to do, I asked Joe for advice, which led to me crawling in bed with them, which promptly ruined everything. Aww, too bad. Turns out it was completely platonic co-tiredness. A boy can dream. Eventually, we went back to the hotel.
  • Current Music
    Sponge - Plowed
Starless

Miles to go before I sleep

Sunday saw me waking up obscenely early to drop Becca at the airport. I was very tired and only capable of communicating in short grunts. This only served to prove that I have the world's greatest combination of poor judgement and bad luck, as I should have stayed home from the movie the night previous and slept with my girlfriend and the Maid of Honor, like a proper Best Man. I came back to the hotel, pooped a mighty poop (even for me), and then tried to fall back asleep. I only got another hour or so before I declared myself terminal. I couldn't get Joe's cell phone, and I didn't think to try Katy's till later. I wasn't sure what to do. I didn't want to go to breakfast alone, missing my last meal with the crew, nor did I want to check out of the hotel only to leave me with nowhere to go until the happy couple woke up. So I sat and watched Escape from L.A. on the Sci-Fi Channel. Once I established contact with Katy and Joe, I packed my stuff up sluggishly and checked out. I went to their apartment and waited for them to get ready. They were concerned with Joe's parents coming over so I suggested that we just hit the Blue Dolphin again since it was right next door and leave a note. As it happens, while we were at the Dolphin, Joe saw his parents' rented van pull around the corner. His youngest brother, Matt, offered to let them in with his key (hoping, no doubt, to use the PS2). And so the day was saved and breakfast had. 2+2+2 again, you know it, son.

Afters, we opened the bountiful gifts and had some leftover cake. I left at 1400 their time, 1500 Atlanta time. The drive was all the longer for being tired. When I got to my Aunt's in Stone Mountain, I was ready for bed. She did the driving as we headed up to Woodstock to pick up my youngest brother, Austin, for (a late) dinner. We went to Longhorn Steakhouse, and I had a steak wrapped in Bacon. Goodness, I love the South. Then, it was back to my Aunt's, where I was finally able to sleep off the past week of exams, wedding, and driving.

Monday was a late morning, and I didn't leave the house till after 1400. I got some lunch in town, then followed a path which ended up taking me up the actual Stone Mountain (albeit off the actual path. While hiking, I set some plans with Jason (baka) and Amanda (smandas), as well as touching base with Joe re: my safe arrival. I took lots of pictures, which again are not yet out of my camera. The hike up Stone Mountain was just what I needed after a week of minimal exercise. I was tired, yet refreshed.

I just got in the door at my Aunt's when Jason called. I think my aunt wanted to talk to me a bit, though mostly about her Multi-level Marketing enterprise. But I had to get directions printed and be gone, because I had ½ hr. to get to the comedy club which was half an hour away in Sandy Springs (?). We went to see Frank Caliendo of Mad TV (he plays John Madden). Even the other acts were good. I think the problem with NYC comedy clubs is that New York is so choked with comedians that you are bound to get bad ones in with every performance. That, or the club in Atlanta actually only allows funny people on stage. Afterwards, we went to IHoP, where we called Alison (wimpdork) to taunt her about our copious Pfannkuchen consumption, to which she was not a party (more's the pity, but don't tell her I said that). I depsise the passive voice, but fun was had. Afterwards, we went to Jason's and watched TiVo, including the new Family Guy. Then, I went back to my aunt's late; she was already asleep.
  • Current Music
    Sponge - Miles
The view from up here

Oh god, there's MORE?

Tuesday, I woke up after my aunt had gone to work, feeling guilty because I think she'd hoped to spend more time together. She left me a lovely note, though, and we talked on the phone before we left. I had to walk her dog, but not until after I'd played some No One Lives Forever and Splinter Cell on her PS2. By now, I was into the "relax" groove of vacation, which was lucky, because that was exactly what I did with Smanda and Piehead when I arrived in Chapel Hill. Maybe it was all the sweeter because I realized my vacation was ending, but I really enjoyed hanging out with both of them. We went out for some Southern cookin, and then wandered about Chapel Hill. We checked out some used record stores, then a comic book store. In the comic book store, I decided to give in to pressure from both Joe and Kermix and indulge myself with a few graphic novels. I figure I can justify the expense as creative input necessary to fuel my output on roman_a_clef (which is forthcoming, I promise). I decided I could get one each of a few titles each month (something I ruined yesterday, but I'll tell that later): Sandman, Scud, The Invisibles, and Transmetropolitan. I also found a Hsu and Chan collection, and as an early fan of them felt obligated to pick that up.

Afte that, we went for Ben & Jerry's, which was great because I had been hankering (something you can only do in the South, apparently) for some ice cream. Then we had a sleepover at piehead's. We talked about geek stuff like pens and notebooks and games and stuff. We played more Katamari. We explored the secrets of the conversatron. It was a good time. Then, we slept (well, I read vol. I of Transmetropolitan first). Then, we woke up and it was Wednesday. We hit their local "diner" for breakfast, where I finally got biscuits with some good sausage gravy, though not without an ordeal.
Me: Can I get biscuits and gravy as a side with my breakfast, or only as an entree?
Waitron: Only as an entree. Though... I suppose you could get a side of biscuits for a buck fifty, and we could put gravy on them for sixty-five cents [note: the entree was 5.95]. But it won't be as much gravy.
Me: Sounds fine. I'll take that, along with the cornflake french toast.

I am the most horrible restaurant patron. I'm not sure I've ever eaten food that wasn't spitten in. You get to like the taste, after a while.

After this comes the sad part. I had to go home. But not before giving both Piehead and Smanda huge hugs.

T E H   E N D.
  • Current Music
    Sponge - Candy Corn
Youngblood

FCBD

Yesterday was Free Comic Book Day. After work, I went to the comic shop on Cedar Lane in Teaneck and got some Invisibles marked down 33% and a Dr. Doom graphic novel as well as Grant Morrison(author of teh Invisibles)'s Arkham Asylum Batman graphic novel. I also got some free comic books (duh). Then I went to Collector's Comics at the Bergen Mall, but they didn't have anything I wanted. I picked up some more free comics.

I'd been invited to an art gallery opening by one of the ladies in my Ed. Psych. class (Tina). This knowledge, combined with my lust for free comic books, led me to look up comic book stores in the vicinity of the art gallery for later patronage. I went to the gallery before practically anyone else had showed up, so I got to talk to Tina about art and stuff for almost an hour. Take that, social anxiety! So I didn't spend the day at home alone, which is good. And after I bid Tina farewell, I headed out to some comic book shops, by crackey. Only, the first one on my list was missing a street number! Pooh. Fortunately, I was able to pull that info up on my PDA with the help of the FCBD website, and once I had the street number, I knew just where to go. Which is fortunate, because that shop to which I almost did not go ended up being the day's jackpot. I got four volumes of Transmet, and the first two vols of Invisibles. Score! Sure, I spent $100, but now I don't have to exercise any lame "restraint" and order a book a month. Plus, it is totally the spirit of free comic book day to spend tons of money at your local comic shops to keep them from folding. Ordering online is for suckers.

The next shop I went to didn't have anything else (indeed, I'd bought most everything I'd planned to for the next three months) comic book-wise (other than more free comics), but they did have a small selection of choice vinyl. I asked the owner how much, and he confessed no one had ever asked about them. He suggested four, and rather than be a jerk and offer 2, I settled on $3/disc. I think (hope) that's a fair price to keep him from losing money on their sale but low enough to encourage future buyers. I set the market price; indeed, for years now he will probably tell the tale of the lone dude who once actually bought one of the LPs. I picked up the 2 volume Soundtrack to the Song Remains the Same (that's Led Zeppelin, kids), George Carlin, Steve Martin, and the Blue Öyster Cult album that has Godzilla on it (Spectres).

The last shop was closed when I got there, so I took Rte. 17 about as far south as it goes (I think) before finding 280 to the turnpike. I think I've now been almost the entire length of 17 up to Binghamton, which is cool when you are a road geek. I definitely had a fun day and when I got home, I fell asleep reading Hsu and Chan.

Today, I did absolutely nothing, which is great. I have no more exams to study for, hooray. I should be getting ready for Cornell, but I think I am allowed a little rest. I did some excellent culinary experimentation, which involves getting a vidalia onion (which Becca tells me is the right type of onion, even though I had no clue at the supermarket; I just closed my eyes and picked one) and slicing it to fry up with my Steak-umms, which I then topped with sliced pickles. I even had one of those bags-o-salad I detest (albeit with freshly-shaved carrot on top), so it was like a balanced and nutritious meal in addition to being uniquely flavorful. I've always said I'd love to learn to cook; anyone who is as deliberate and intentional about eating as I am is no doubt very attuned to food preparation. I have very few things I eat without some sort of OCD-esque ritual. You think those Reese's cups commercials are fucked up, you should see me eat a Little Debbie. But as far as food preparation goes... well, let's just say I've always been a little unorthodox. I was the kid who started the whole putting ketchup IN the sweet and sour sauce thing at McDonald's. I think I'm somewhere between Alton Brown and Bender in the kitchen. Ph3ar.

I have to go talk to my girlfriend. I think you've had enough entries from me for today already!
  • Current Music
    S.C.o.t.S. - Camel Walk