Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I went to England. And it was pretty cool.

So here we begin our wild and occasionally mixed up adventure. If I were smart, I would have buckled down and written this way earlier, fresh from the journey with every detail still lingering hard in my mind. But, no. Took me two weeks to finally upload some photos, assess the situation and force myself to recall things that happened fourteen days ago.

Now, shockingly, for a guy who likes to travel, blog about nearly anything and show off everything he owns, I took a drastic turn for idiocy and just barely took photos while abroad. At some point, I realized the opportunity was rare and important, but to hell with it. Somehow it was just too much to reach for the camera and to care, so from here on out, you won't be seeing too much. I went to a different and wild country, saw countless local landmarks and saw dozens and dozens of amazing bands. What, you wanted more than four photos?

Oh, maybe the crippling diarrhea had a hand in my newfound apathy.

Read on, yo.

So this is where we begin -- the airport. No accompanying photos (sorry!) but while reading along, occasionally close your eyes and imagine the atmosphere and background I'm about to describe. I'm in a Starbucks, luggage crowding my feet, bitter coffee pissing me off. Already, I'm off to a bad start when my coffee tastes sour and weak. I hate to be "that guy," but c'mon. Don't fuck with my coffee.

I went with a few friends and the woman. We all huddled around waiting for the flight, desperate to get to the main destination without totally curdling our spines in the fourteen hour flights.

Well, we finally boarded the plane and made it to Philadelphia, halfway to the Promise Land. Layover time, baby. Of course, while cruising the airport's luxurious stores and snack shops, I did the worst thing I could do by eating the worst thing I could eat.

My initial intent was to eat something fresh and light, a complete contradiction to any and all food in airports across the US, but I still gave it a shot. Maybe I could have eaten an apple, or a few lightly toasted bagels. Looking back, eating Goddamn fast food would have been a better choice.

I ate warm, pre-packaged sushi. YES I KNOW THIS WAS STUPID. But I swore it looked like a vegetable roll, and where's the harm in that? Well, the harm hit nine hours later and it hit hard.

We got there. I made it. Semi-alive. You can't tell, but I really felt like ass. It was as if someone had socked me in the stomach and decided to put laxatives in all the food I was about to eat. I don't know how it's possible...but I think I came down with a solid helping of Beaver Fever. Did you hear me, world?


Let that sink in, dear readers.

The human body demands a cycle of "what goes in must come out," but not in a matter of a few seconds. I'll tell you, after four days, though, I've never felt lighter. Thanks, weird food poisoning thing.

Behind me, though, was a local pub across the street from the hotel. Two things:

1. The hotel room was the size of a closet. I know I over exaggerate a lot, but literally...a closet. Also, the shower doubled as the entire bathroom, meaning you did everything in the shower. It was cramped, confusing and yes, wonderfully cheap but so not worth the extra pounds saved. The entire stupid thing was always covered in water and to brush your teeth meant you had to know four different types of yoga. Fail.

2. I quickly learned that beer cured all ailments. Jet lag and stomach-death were swiftly alleviated by pint after pint of anything I could get my hands on. That bar served as my immediate trek into feeling semi-normal, and I took advantage any chance I could get. When on vacation, it is absolutely and perfectly acceptable to drink at breakfast. Especially if you have gut-rot.

Saw that thing, pictured above. Kinda looks like honeycombs and I swear I completed a puzzle of it once, too. Very important stuff. I think.

Big Ben! I couldn't muster up any real excitement since my insides were crumbling, but looking back, it was pretty cool. It's a clock. A really big clock!

Thank God I went with responsible, sober friends, because if it wasn't for them, I'd be drunk in a gutter crying myself to sleep every afternoon. So, with the help of these friends, they at least guided me into museums when I was guiding myself into pubs. Truth be told, I was getting sick of sitting in a bar watching soccer and weird British sitcoms, so it was a nice change of pace. Yeah, I rocked the British Museum.

Not a lot of photographic evidence to back that up, but hey, there's a mummy! There was a dozen mummy hands, heads and other various body parts littering the museum, but none could compare to the real deal. Full body, fully dead and extra crispy. I thought I took a photo of Creepy Mummy, but I did not. This one looks pretty badass, but Creepy Mummy had gross brown skin and a completely viewable, shriveled up ballbag. Creepy Mummy was my favorite.

Our second stop was in Blackpool, the Wildwood, New Jersey of England. I must be living in such a bubble because I had no idea Blackpool looked like this. Ferris wheels, giant boardwalks, arcades, etc.

In all fairness, I also have a tendency to research nothing on where I'm going to, so my surprise isn't that shocking. In time, you will learn that it's more fun in life to be painfully oblivious.

Also, fish and chips. Lots and lots of fish and chips. I tried a batch a few times, a bold move for a dude who had crippling case of the bubble-guts, but it was worth it. Delicious stuff, sure, but I kind of set up home base at an Italian joint across the way. It had non threatening pizza and other food items that weren't fried.

Obviously, one of the reasons I hit the road to Blackpool was to see Rebellion Fest, a four-day punk rock festival of some of the coolest bands alive. And as mentioned before, is an incredible feat because some of these bands are ancient. Like, mummy-picture-above ancient. Luckily, everyone I saw (The Boys, Anti Nowhere League, Slaughter and the Dogs) were all really good, so I didn't feel ripped off and cheated because I flew from fucking Arizona. And since there were so many bands, I didn't bother taking too many photos. On one hand, I was into the moment and the rock and roll and having a hell of a time. On the other hand, my leather jacket is so stiff and tight I can barely lift my hands above my head to even take a photo.

But I did get a shot of Dave Vanian as Timmy Lee Jones in the "Men in Black."

Right after the fourth night of ringing ears and sticky clothes, we quickly hit the trail to Manchester. By this time, I was so bloated and out of focus with the real world I could barely stand. I wish I wanted to do more than be horizontal, because I heard there are some great comic shops, watering holes and restaurants to be seen in Manchester.

The shitty thing was that since we were all hungover and feeling like death, the hotel wouldn't let us in until two in the afternoon. It was seven in the morning. Completely dropped the ball on that one. Luckily, there was a coffee shop in town that didn't mind me sucking on a cappuccino for five and a half hours. I then ate a full English breakfast. Then I really felt like death.

Took a nap, woke up and hit the streets. I ended up eating Chinese food 'til I was in a coma, so going back to the hotel who I hated so very much for not letting me in early didn't seem like such a bad idea. Took a shower to wash away a full week's worth of sin and debauchery and went to bed.

Hey, I found a cure for Davey and Jimmy!

Went home the next day, safe and sound. Overall, it was a great trip. I learned a lot about myself, too, and how I should, as a responsible adult, control my dumb and ignorant eating habits.

Naw, fuck it. We all gotta poop sometime.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Before I start uploading photos of boring landmarks and funny looking mummies in British museums, I gotta get this out of the way before my head explodes. The jet lag may be to blame for my finger-flopping sloppiness, and the subsequent gushing over such idiocy, but I love Squinkies. And before I'm done, you will love them, too.

I was introduced to these when one of my nieces received a batch for her birthday a few months ago. My gift was easily and embarrassingly upped, because my gift wasn't a grip of tiny plastic balls filled with tiny plastic toys.

When I saw what she got, it was whatever. No big whoop. Until I pulled it away from her like any butthole uncle would do, I actually kinda liked it. Albeit a treasure trove of trinkets for young girls, it was charming and unbelievably addicting. Are these the new hit toy making waves through schoolyards across the states? Is Zu Zu out, Squinkies in? What the hell are Squinkies anyway? Quick summary:

Overpriced vending machine toys, sans vending machine. Although you might argue the money wasted on vending machines, it's my true belief that everyone loves vending machines. You might have felt disappointment in your shitty rub on tattoo, even downright angered over a weak offering in your Homies Mania phase, but you're never really that bummed. You put in money, you get something tangible and entertaining. It's a slot machine for people who hate losing. And slot machines. But more importantly, it's for people who like fun.

Hell, there's even some mild fun to be had in the see-through bubble container. Ugly coin purse or worlds smallest aquarium, your pick. The world is yours, people.

Squinkies, I thought, were solely girly based. From what I saw, the pink packaging and shiny dazzle shit was a dead giveaway, but have faith, true believers. There is, in fact, a whole line for boys wanting in on the action, too. The usual lineup of standard puppies and goldfish are replaced with manly men and dinosaurs, a surefire way into any young lad's heart. Out of loyalty, I opted for the special Marvel version, but now that I'm at home and ten dollars in the hole...and I'm not entirely sure why...but I think I shoulda passed on mini-Magneto for the T-Rex the size of my thumbnail. It's an odd feeling of regret, but then again, I'm an odd man. In time, you learn to accept these things.

Not shabby. Cutesy, fat-faced versions off various hard hitting characters in the Marvel Universe makes any Sunday a little less Sunday-y. These will look great next to my laptop, helping me write, socialize online and curve my spine into a giant boomerang. God, I hate Sundays.

Mentioned before, these are damn expensive for what they are. You already lose the thrill of the V-machine gamble, and the plastic pod isn't even standard regulation size. You get the three mystery marbles, which heightens the experience, but yeah. You really are paying ten bucks for this. Worth it? Perhaps. But there better be a genuine moon rock in one of those secret eggs or I quit.

I wanted to get a full shot of the main haul, but it was way too hard to capture a handful of ant sized jellybeans without it looking like a handful of ant sized jellybeans. So I took a special shot of our more mysterious friends. Looks better than what I initially wanted. Trust me.

So, these are the Secret Three. To the left, Captain America has a jellyfish-ish, see through hue, and in the middle, Thor looks like he stole Mickey Mouse's shoes. On the right? Spider-Man's just Spider-Man, but that's still cool. And since all three are made of a squishy plastic, all three are completely chewable. So it's all very cool.

Also, the first two look like the exact same guy. Same pouty face, same squishy chub body. I ain't complainin', just observin'.

I wish I could go on, but at this point, it would just be pandering. Just know there are a bunch of little toys in little balls invading the aisles of your Target/Toys R Us near you. All is right in the world.