August 2008

Labor Day is my favorite holiday.  I don’t have to give gifts or travel, and it kicks off my favorite month.  My best Labor Day was back when my constant chum Susan and I made tuna steaks, macaroni and cheese, and cornbread and watched “Gone With the Wind.”  I hope to do something equally excessive and leisurely, like watch “Mamma Mia!”  Alone, most likely.   

Gentle readers, any tips for what to do with the leftover boxes from the Ten Dollar Store (Costo)?  I like to put my cat Milhouse in the Frosted Mini Wheats box and shake it.  She, however, does not like it.

A year ago I was in Greece for a good pal’s wedding, travelling with AMV, who would become a good pal. It was an easy vacation that took place in the center of wildfires. It was devastating to the countryside, and I didn’t find out what actually caused the fire. Our cab driver who wouldn’t let us out of the cab because of all the prostitutes in front of our cheap hostel thought maybe the government started it.  We knew that there were fires because we could see them, but all of the news was in Greek, and the TV broadcasts of people shouting and running from firey houses still didn’t clue us in.  It wasn’t until our last day when we tried to leave Sparta for Athens that we caught on to how terrible things were.

I give all credit to CK and her family for making the trip so fun and affordable for the rest of us. I loved every second of the trip and want to talk about it all the time, though I tend to not mention it. Or maybe I talk about it all the time by prefacing it with “I know I never talk about my trip to Greece, but . . . ”

top: AMV/KG on the Acropolis/smoke in Sparta town center/bust in Athens with fake mustache; center: Acropolis/Athens/Hot Dog flavored Cheetos; bottom: carnival in Mystras/beach cafe in Gythio/square in Athens

Nothing turns my “everything’s horrible at work” frown upside down like going to the Bartender’s Olympics. My brother has performed in this annual event at his job for a few years, and he tends to be the most awesome. Bartenders at his place will perform and make a few drinks and the winner gets to go to another set of finals, and so it goes on to an international competition. The drinks made during the competition are then auctioned off, this year benefiting breast cancer research.

It’s at TGI Fridays, and every time I go there and see everyone have a boozy, good time I think “why aren’t we here ALL THE TIME?” Also it’s on Southside, and although my chances of seeing someone from high school are high, everyone is having more fun than we are in our dark basement bars listening to the Hold Steady. It was even endearing how everyone cheered and sang along to that “I Kissed a Girl” song. But also on Southside I am the best dressed and Richard kept getting compliments on his sideburns.

There is something satisfying about hearing a crowd of strangers chant my brother’s name (they call him “Chuck”). He won the most popular bartender, and was a huge favorite and raised the most money with his drinks. One drink went for $450! Suck it, everyone! Take that, cancer research! He placed second, though he gave a first place performance. Plus he gave us giant, free beers.

The first year I went to watch my brother compete, I came right after work by myself. I knew that there was an auction involved, and I mentally prepared my insufficiently- funded self that I would maybe bid $30 to him just so he would get a bid. But by the time finished (in a cow suit, which made the White Russian routine very amusing) I realized that my brother is basically the most beloved person on earth, and after every other bartender auctioned off their $50 to $100 drinks, my brother raised almost $3000, including a $1500 from a Chesterfieldian Nascar champ (whose name I am withholding for privacy and also because I don’t remember it). I mean, if I could rest a martini glass on my head while making said martini, I expect everyone to throw $500 at me, too.

So, kudos, big brother.

In other news, Richard and I are opening the bar TGI Mondays with fancy drinks with names such as: Taxes in the Office, Balancing the Checkbook in a Bathrobe, and Donating to NPR.

Best moment of the Olympics so far:

After the taped footage of the US Women’s Volleyball team justifying their competitiveness (“we want to kill them, but with respect,” something like that), cut to Bob Costas saying, “They want to kill you.”

Ah!  They might!

My interview with Chris from AdHouse books came out today on rvanews.  Richard and I interviewed him about publishing comics (he’s local, the artists are not).  I don’t do the writey thing too often these days, but it was a fun conversation and I liked having an interviewing partner.  It helped fill the gaps while I finished writing my notes.  Plus Chris gave us a stack of free comic  books.   I am most excited about the “Project: Romantic” anthology.

I got a free copy of the Richmond Times-Dispatch at the grocery store the other Sunday and it didn’t have comics in it.  While “Garfield Minus Garfield” and “Marmaduke Explained” are amazing, I miss the real thing these days.

This weekend kicked off what I assume will be months and months of showers, gifts, parties, parades, and general celebrations dedicated to me and my roommate. Our pals hosted a party for us and I became useless within the first ten minutes, however I had a ton of fun and I’m pretty sure Richard did, too.

So my gift to you in return, everyone, is this awesome bacon cooking style I picked up at the gym (which is true):

Preheat over to 400, put bacon on a cookie sheet (line it with foil — I thought that the bacon grease would be enough to keep it from sticking to the pan, but I was terribly wrong) and sprinkle with brown sugar. Cook for ten to twelve minutes and then cry at how delicious bacon is.

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