Gotta Get Back in the Groove …

Bah! It seems I am posting more infrequently now. Is it my mood? Probably. Is it also that nothing super exciting is going on since we are still not really able to go about as freely and hang out with friends like the old days. Yep. And, it’s sad to think that the “old days” of normal life were just six months ago. It feels like 60 years ago.

Events of the past few weeks:
– Have gotten totally obsessed with collecting all the official recordings of Sunset Boulevard.
– Finally got a copy of Cocteau Twins’ Four Calendar Cafe on vinyl.
– Been crushing hard on the new Róisín Murphy album, Róisín Machine.
– Helped Michelle (no longer a refugee) set up various items for her new house here.
– Ate too much pizza.
– Binge watched The Haunting of Bly Manor and didn’t really like it.
– Got shat on by a pigeon.
– Turned 49.

I stopped trimming my beard quite a few months ago. So, now it’s the longest it has ever been … and it’s so unruly. I really need a professional trim/shaping but I am too paranoid to go to a barber and sit there unmasked while doing their work. I have been thinking about trimming it back down to a reasonable length but just haven’t worked up the nerve.

Here’s a Then (July) and Now (October) …
Beardy Super Beardy

I *might* also have been on a jockstrap kick for the past few days. They are just so damn wonderful. So, now I am toying with the idea of making the jockstrap my daily underwear of choice. In aid of this, I might have purchased a cheap-ish 3-pack (in grey and black because those are the best colors). It would be nice to be able to afford a full complement of PUMP, Diesel, or Cellblock 13 (of which I want all the colors!) jocks. I guess I will see how this works out. Ha, ha.

Papi Jockstraps 3-Pack

And what would be an update without talking about an expensive movie purchase? I am super excited that Haunt (a great little horror movie from last year) is FINALLY getting a Blu-ray release from Ronin Flix. And, of course, I ordered the stupidly expensive Collector’s Edition. Just look at all the cool features and swag!

Haunt Collector's Edition

Includes the Original CD Soundtrack by tomandandy, four 16” x 20” movie poster reproductions, a 16” x 20” reproduction of the haunt map, six enamel pins featuring costume masks featured in the film, four 2” x 3 ½” replica VHS box-style magnets, and over 5 hours of special features.

DISC 1 – Haunt (2019) Feature Presentation
– NEW To Escape the Haunt: The Making of HAUNT featurette including interviews with writers/directors Scott Beck and Bryan Woods, actors Katie Stevens, Will Brittain, Andrew Lewis Caldwell, Lauryn Alisa McClain, Schuyler Helford, Justin Marxen, Chaney Morrow, Special Makeup Effects artist Chris Bridges and co-composer Andy Milburn (tomandandy)
– NEW Audio Commentary with actors Justin Marxen (Clown), Chaney Morrow (Ghost), and Damian Maffei (Devil)
– Audio Commentary with writers/directors Scott Beck and Bryan Woods
– Behind the Haunt
– The Sound of Haunt
– Deleted Scenes with an introduction by Scott and Bryan
– Popcorn Frights Q & A with Scott, Bryan, and some of the cast
– Egyptian Theatre Premiere Q & A with Scott and Bryan, moderated by Eli Roth
– Short Film: The Sleepover – Scott and Bryan’s first film
– Director’s Diary
– Theatrical Trailer

DISC 2: Haunt (2019) Soundtrack

GIMMIE!!! GIMMIE!!! GIMMIE!!!

Gotta Get Back in the Groove …

Associations

Every time I go to the Biltmore Estate I absolutely have to listen to Cocteau Twins when driving onto the estate. I think it’s because I was listening to them when I first visited the place back in 1989. Something about the Cocteau Twins’ sound just seems to fit the place … especially their albums Treasure and Victorialand.

This past Sunday, I visited and just walked around the grounds and gardens as all the time slots for admittance into the house were full. It was a lovely day but the reminders of COVID-19 were everywhere with socially distanced lines, mandatory mask usage, and reduced capacity. That was a bit of a bummer since it’s one of my favorite places to go to try and relax and reset my brain.

Biltmore Estate
Biltmore Estate
Biltmore Estate
Biltmore Estate
Biltmore Estate Gardens

Associations

Adventure Time [Caldwell Fork Edition]

So, yeah! A few weekends ago (July 11-12 to be exact), JR and I took off and hiked into the Cataloochee Valley of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. On the first day, we hiked up the road to Purchase Knob and then took the Cataloochee Divide Trail past The Swag to Double Gap. From there we went down the Hemphill Bald Trail to Caldwell Fork and Campsite 41. The next day we hiked down the Caldwell Fork Trail and back to JR’s truck. I am estimating that we did about 7 miles the first day and about 5 miles the second day.

This was a really awesome trip! We had perfect weather/temps and Campsite 41 was amazing. I really want to go camp there again. I have apparently become quite the master as getting damp wood to make a cheery campfire. Go figure. The only downside was the numerous water crossings on Caldwell Fork the second day. Thankfully, only one was challenging as there was a bit of guesswork to figure out where the trail was on the other side. All the others were pretty calm as far as rushing water and slick rocks are concerned … though I don’t think I would do this section of trail after a lot of rain since most of the crossing were already at least knee deep (and that was in good weather conditions). We didn’t see any wildlife in person but saw a lot of tracks in the trail. Oh well.

Here’s random assortment of pictures from the trip. Enjoy!

And now … the obligatory collection of trail signs. Double enjoy!

 

Adventure Time [Caldwell Fork Edition]

Adventure Time [Deep Creek Edition]

JR and I tackled the Deep Creek Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park this past weekend. We camped one night and did 14.3 miles of hiking over two days.

All packed up and ready to hit the trail!
Packed and Ready

The view from the trailhead on 441 …
Trailhead View

And … we’re off! Even just doing an overnight, my pack was damn heavy.
Trailhead Portrait

The upper end of the Deep Creek trail is pretty remote and we had lots of solitude. We encountered a ton of blowdowns and deadfalls that we had to climb over, under, and around.
Blow Downs!

At one point, Deep Creek was spilling over its banks and actually took over the tail. It was nothing but rushing water.

The trail guide lied to us about a few creek crossings that could be rock-hopped. The water was too deep and we had to take off our boots and wade. I was a bit annoyed by this and attempted crossing a tributary with my boots on. Needless to say, I fell and ended up with a couple of trail trophies and totally soaked boots. Hiking in wet boots and socks is not fun.
Trail Trophy

Further down the trail, we encountered an area where deadfalls and the creek had obliterated the trail completely. Can you find your way through?
Missing Trail

We ended up wading through a pool of water on the left (just out of frame in the above photo) and along the left side of the creek until we climbed over the root ball of a blowdown.

Here’s JR making it across …

Once we got past this, it was smooth hiking down to Campsite 59. We even found a footbridge … though this crossing was shallow enough to walk through. Go figure.

We also ran into a trail friend sunning himself. Actually, I almost stepped on him. Ha, ha. But no worries because it’s a harmless brown snake.

After nine miles, We got into camp early enough to have the pick of the best spot, get set up, and even take an afternoon nap. Heavenly! I always set my tent up close to JR’s so he can rescue me if there are any bear attacks in the middle of the night.Campsite 59

We had a relaxing, uneventful night and were up on the trail early the next morning. Five miles later we arrived at the lower trailhead outside of Bryson City.

All-in-all, it was a great trip!
Done and Done

And for no real reason, here’s a collection of trail signs along the Deep Creek Trail.

 

Adventure Time [Deep Creek Edition]

A Wee Hike

Kiki and I took a hike on Saturday to soak in the views from the rocky outcroppings near the summit of Chestnut Bald. I also showed her one of my most favorite places on the planet.

ViewsChestnut Bald Views

Solitude
A Place of Solitude

If the weather cooperates, JR and I will be off this coming weekend for an overnight backpacking trip on the Deep Creek Trail. Please be sweet to us, Mother Nature!

A Wee Hike

Week … Whatever

Here we are on week “whatever” of our “stay at home” adventures. North Carolina has extended our stay at home orders until May 8th. After that we will begin a slow 3-phase reopening plan. Hopefully, this is the smart way to make things happen. It’s going to be interesting to see if Georgia, Tennessee, and South Carolina get spanked with a lot of new infections because of their sudden re-openings. Time will tell.

Meanwhile, these Cheese Sticks from Sauced were one of the major highlight of the weekend. Ha, ha.
Cheese Sticks from Sauced

We *might* have disobeyed those stay at home orders and tripped to Gatlinburg on Sunday to pick up some moonshine from the two distilleries that were open. It was a bit weird to see NOBODY out and about on streets that are normally teaming with tourists. We saw maybe 10 other people and about as many businesses open. Craziness.

Of course, the Mysterious Mansion is closed and we are seriously sad about that!
Mysterious Mansion ... CLOSED!

Back at home, we tried out some new things with the moonshine that was purchased. Needless to say, Moonshine-Laced Mini Milkshakes are gonna be my new lover. SugarlandsDark Chocolate Coffee Sippin’ Creme is perfect for this task. Yum!
Moonshine-Laced Milkshakes

Week … Whatever

NYC [Pandemic Edition]

After a week and half of me stressing out totally over going to New York City in the current world situation … we went to New York. The idea of loosing the money on the theater tickets and hotel was just too much to bear. So we headed out last Thursday.

The nearly empty plane should have been a sign. Seriously. There were ten people on this 70 seat plane.
Empty Plane

We arrived in New York City to the news that Broadway had closed down and we were not going to get to see any theater. Well, shit. We Uber-ed into the city, checked in the hotel and got settled.

You gotta love this beautiful view from our room. Ha, ha.
Hotel View

We decided to walk around some before dinner. The city seemed busy, but not overly so. Here are the ice skaters at Rockefeller Center. Not nearly as many as there usually are.
Rockefeller Center

I love this They Live themed billboard at the corner of 7th and 48th in Times Square.
Awesome Billboard

We had an incredible dinner a OBAO on 9th in Hell’s Kitchen. Yum.
Pho Bo at OBAO

After dinner we walked around the Theater District and I tortured myself by going by the now darkened theaters of the shows we were supposed to see. Seriously crushed to not be able to see Hangmen.
Hangmen at The Golden
Book of Mormon at the O'Neill

We went back to the hotel, but I was craving donuts. So, I went back out and got some at the Dunkin’ across 8th. Jelly Filled and Chocolate Covered with Sprinkles!

We also found out on Thursday that all the museums had shut down as well. There went our backup plan. Dammit. So, we Uber-ed into Brooklyn and had an early lunch at Junior’s. It’s my kind of place!
Junior's in Booklyn

We caught a movie at the Alamo Drafthouse. I now know I would give my left nut to have an Alamo Drafthouse close by. Such a cool movie theater chain.
Alamon Drafthouse in Brooklyn

Since we were close to the Brooklyn Bridge, we decided to walk that way back into Manhattan. It was a really beautiful day to be out and about!
Brooklyn Bridge
Pandemic Tourists
Brooklyn Bridge

And then we just kept on walking. We navigated up into the West Village and had drinks at The Stonewall Inn. Then we went around the corner and found my old friend, Ian. I hadn’t seen him in years, so it was great to show up unannounced and surprise him. For the record, this picture is not a good example of social distancing.
Old Friends

Then we continued our walk up to 44th and had pizza at John’s Pizzaria. I guess that was the one good thing about Broadway being shut down. We were actually able to get a table there with no wait. Once back at the hotel, I decided to go out one last time to see Time Square. I might have stopped at the Junior’s Bakery on 45th and gotten a slice of Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake. Yum (again)!

We were supposed to be in the city until Sunday but had decided to change our flight to Saturday just to get out of the city early (and away from any carriers). Delta let us switch with no added fees and we were able to upgrade to first class for cheap. So fancy!
First Class Drinks!

We did end up loosing to money on the hotel for Saturday night. Oh well. We made the best of it but the trip was a bit of a bust. Had we know one day earlier that Broadway was going to go dark, we would have cancelled the trip. Double oh well.

We were very proactive in regards to our safety with lots of hand washing and sanitizing and touching as little as possible … especially our faces. As a precaution, we are self-quarantining for the next 14 days since we were out and about in (what I suspect is) a fairly active contagion zone.

Hopefully, this mess will pass through quickly and with as little death and disruption as possible. Everyone stay safe (and stay socially distant)!

NYC [Pandemic Edition]

Human Again

A couple of weeks ago, the boyfriend got diagnosed with Strep (and the Flu). Fun. I felt fatigued and not great all that week but managed not to get fully sick. Everyone was better for one day and then I came down with a cold. Ugh.

Thankfully, the one good day for me was the day we had long standing plans to go drink moonshine in Gatlinburg with A&A. We might have even thrown some cider from the Tennessee Cider Company in there.

Ole Smoky Moonshine

Of course, we might have had to romp through the Mysterious Mansion. Spooky!
Mysterious Mansion!

Michelle is unexpectedly back in town … now a refugee from China due to the Coronavirus outbreak. Even with me not at 100% (yay, cold), we went for burgers, beer, green bean fries and karaoke. Michelle seriously is the best.
Best. Human. Ever.

And, on Saturday, we tripped down to Anderson, SC for a super tasty dinner at Reed’s. The Mac ‘N Cheese he made was off the chain!

The work week is now underway. Ugh. But, the big excitement for the week will be going to see The Lodge tomorrow night. Whoo!

Human Again

Updating Randomness

Yeah. Things have been going. Last week was stressful as one one my bosses ended up in the hospital and I had to cover all her work (on top of mine) for three days. Ugh. Thankfully, things are looking up and she was back at work today.

Meanwhile …

I got started on and finished the Stranger Things: The Upside Down LEGO set that I got for our anniversary in December. It was fun to make … but, I really do hope Will Byers survives. Plus … how cute is that Demogorgon minifig? Very!
Lego Stanger Things The Upside Down
Run, Will! Run!

I took my sister to Biltmore. I love this picture I took (near the grand staircase) with lots of overlapping archways.

We went bowling with our friend, Chris, at Sky Lanes. My highest score was 86 which confirms that I suck as bowling. Here’s David getting ready to gutter-ball it. 😛
Sky Lanes Fun

On the vinyl collecting front, I have FINALLY managed to acquire a first pressing of X‘s debut album, Los Angles. Score!
X: Los Angeles

Meanwhile, meanwhile …

I watched two more of the Best Picture nominees.
1917 (Technically impressive but DOA as far as tension and emotional engagement.)
Joker (It’s Taxi Driver-Lite. Just watch Taxi Driver. It’s sooooooooo much better!)

So, yeah. Totally bumfuzzled as to how Joker scored the most Oscar nominations this year. Parasite is still the movie to beat. Seriously. Go see Parasite!

Updating Randomness

Welcome to 2020

So … a new year. Hopefully it will be better than 2019.

2019 vs 2020

Yeah. I am really living for these horror-themed memes about what a shit year 2019 was.

Meanwhile … we might have been spotted out and about on New Year’s Eve.NYE 2020

Meanwhile, meanwhile … Pet Shop Boys have dropped a new single. Delicious!

Welcome to 2020

Survivin’ It

So, yeah … the first Christmas after Dad died. Survived it. My step-mother decided to still have the annual Christmas Eve Breakfast for Dinner Gathering. The familiarity of it was nice but sad at the same time without Dad running around handing out presents to everyone. Nobody got weepy which was good. I saved that for a few of days later.

I was in Walmart on Friday evening and walked past a guy who was wearing a uniform from the place my dad managed right up until he got too sick to work. Dad generally wasn’t seen out of his work shirt the last few years. The loss and sadness really hit me. I managed to make it out of the store and back to the car before breaking down and creating a scene.

Saturday we tripped over the Gatlinburg with Graham and Kristen for moonshine and an escape room adventure. The usual places were visited … Ole Smoky, Sugarlands, and Doc Collier.

Big Maw Bertha’s Fussin’ & A’ Feudin’ Moonshine Hill Hootenanny
Graham and Kristen are big into escape rooms and wanted to check out MOONSHINE HILL HOOTENANNY at Gatlin’s Escape Games. The room was fun and way more high tech than I thought it would be. I felt like we overthought some of the puzzles and that got us behind time with only one hour to break into Maw’s shack, sabotage her moonshine recipe, and blow her ‘shine still to smithereens. SPOILERS: We failed (and found out that Kristen’s desire to win is both awesome and a little scary). But it was fun and I am looking forward to trying another escape room sometime soon.

And yesterday, I was bummed to read about the passing of Vaughan Oliver, mastermind designer of some the most iconic album sleeves of the 80’s and 90’s. He provided the visuals that went right along side of some of my favorite albums of the era (most notably for me are Cocteau Twins’ Treasure, The Pixies’ Surfer Rosa and Doolittle, and The Breeders’ Last Splash).

Vaughan Oliver

Survivin’ It

Pluggin’ Away At It

Yeesh. December has been too busy. When did I become such a social butterfly?

Friday: Shortlegs and Tom came over with pizza and we watched Midsommar.
Saturday: We went to the annual G&S Christmas Party. I got very drunk.
Sunday: We went to a WNCAP fundraiser at a bar. I didn’t get very drunk.
Monday: Ev & Em came over for egg nog and we had pizza and watched The Long Kiss Goodnight.

Here’s my spectacular holiday attire for the Christmas party. Yay, selfies.
Holiday Cheer

I might have also been photographed looking like a dough boy at the local rec center. Yeah. We are thinking about joining for fitness and stuff.
Dough Boy

And, I couldn’t resist buying this shirt. In reality, I have lots of bothers to give.
No Bothers Given T-Shirt

Pluggin’ Away At It