Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   lovely malignant lumps
Sunday, September 7 2008

setting: Room 126, Deer Haven Inn, Pacific Grove, California

Between me and Gretchen, our morning conversations can often be wide-ranging and full of scatalogical and other profane humor. They also frequently take magical realist tangents that eventually double back to aspects of pop culture. We could have a crazy podcast if I set up a voice-activated MP3 player in our bedroom.
At some point this morning I was talking about the days when people used to pronounced the now-silent "gh" that peppers many English words. "Penny for your thoghghghghghts," I said, nearly hawking up a long-lost loogie. "Back then you could spread blood born diseases just by talking," I added.
Somehow we got to talking about oral sex in the gay male population and I proposed a conceit for a cult gross-out movie, one where a man carries a baby to term in his throat. I proposed a scene where he goes to a doctor to find out about his steadily-growing goiter and ends up sitting for an ultrasound (perhaps while a soothing arrangement featuring a female singer/songwriter plays on the soundtrack). Gretchen proposed a montage of him shopping for baby clothes and equipment. You know you want to see that movie.
Somehow conversation turned to the song "My Humps" by the Black Eyed Peas. I started rapping its absurd lyrics, stopping here and there to pick at them. "'Lumps' is not a sexy word at all," I observed. "Neither is 'lady'," Gretchen agreed. At some point I envisioned a cancer patient in a video singing about her lumps her lumps her lovely malignant lumps. And then Gretchen proposed a scene featuring the Hunchback of Notre Dame high on its roof singing about his hump his hump his hump. I said something about the song that indicated my knowledge that it's only been around for a few years. "No!!!" Gretchen disagreed, "It's at least ten years old!" This sent me to Wikipedia, where I learned the song dates to 2005. While over at my computer, I found the lyrics and cold-rapped them to Gretchen's amusement. Then I found the YouTube video, as well as the one for Tone Loc's "Wild Thing" (which "My Humps" supposedly samples).
The Deer Haven Inn provides a buffet breakfast in its small lobby area. The buffet includes bagels (the kind one can buy at any supermarket), and even if you didn't know a large Jewish wedding party was staying here, the fact that the only bagels left were cinnamon and raisin might have tipped you off. There were also donuts, and these took me back to the days of bagel-and-donut Fridays back when I worked for Back then I could eat four donuts and several bagels with no problem, although that was also the time that I briefly developed love handles.
Gretchen's parents were already there, at one of the two patio tables outside the lobby, so we joined them. Later some dude left his absurd SUV idling while he picked up his coffee and breakfast. "Could you turn off your truck," Gretchen's father politely asked, "the fumes are bothering us." "I'll be gone in five minutes," said the dude. I looked down and saw he had an unusually flashy pair of tennis shoes and I decided that, even if he hadn't been snippy I would have recognized him as a douchebag. "Five minutes of fumes is a lot," Gretchen's father said. So he turned off his truck. But then, as he was leaving, he revved it like a sixteen year old meathead, like some sort of walking stereotype. Gretchen scowled at him and he flipped her off.
After breakfast, Gretchen and I went on a not-especially-long walk on the beach, specifically Asilomar State Beach. Unlike on most beaches, the sand here is largely protected from humans and is home to a great many weird (and, for me, unidentifiable) plants. Near the shoreline, it's strewn with the strange plumbing and foliage of various species of seaweed. They resemble the entrails of space aliens.
Asilomar is an unofficial offleash dog beach, and many dogs could be seen frolicking in the surf. We have a preference for crazy-looking mutts, and Asilomar did not disappoint. A woman walking her little guy told us about a "spare parts" dog further up the beach that we just had to see.
She was some sort of Pit Bull-small breed hybrid, and (unusual for terriers) all she wanted to do was fetch. I suspect the fuss Gretchen made over her was unusual among the upscale beach walkers of Pacific Grove.

As we prepared for today's wedding, I discovered that the both nice shirts I'd brought smelled like stale body odor. It's a dry, penetrating fragrance, and not the sort you want to have in the back (or front) of your mind when socializing with strangers. So I did some spot cleaning and dried the shirt with a hairdryer. This wasn't the only expedient laundry service I'd provided myself on this trip. I'd forgotten about conditions in California, where you can air-dry clothes indoors and the result is something perfectly wearable. Try that back east in the summer, and they wind up smelling like a very expensive cheese.
The wedding was at an art museum in Monterey (one of several Monterey Museums of Art). Carpooling there with Gretchen's parents, we took the scenic route along the coast, stopping occasionally at photographic opportunities. Gretchen didn't believe me when I said a crazy dome-shaped bush the size of a Volkswagen was probably a type of aloe, but when we passed one close by she was astounded to see that I'd been correct.
The wedding started as a fairly traditional Jewish ceremony (which was a little surprising given that the groom was from a non-Jewish family based in Kansas). The rabbi kept things light and informative. When mentioning the music nerd context of the couples' meeting, mentioning the goofy names of various rock bands including Mötley Crüe. He also explained that the ancient Jews had once had separate betrothal and wedding rituals (often separated by many years) that were now combined into a single seemingly-seamless ceremony.
After the glass had been stomped and the bride and groom gone off "to reflect" (as the rabbi put it), I found myself sipping white wine beside the groom's grandmother, who had flown in with the rest of the family from Kansas. Gretchen asked the granny what people in Kansas thought about the fact that half of Barack Obama's parentage was from Kansas. It turned out that she was something of a low-knowledge voter; she hadn't known that fact. Being low-knowledge indicated low-interest, and this came out when she said she didn't know who she would vote for (a sentiment that made me want to pummel her). She didn't like Obama (but didn't say why; this led me to suspect his color had something to do with it), but she didn't like McCain either, and she thought that Palin girl was an ill-considered choice.
The spread of food provided for the post-wedding meal was delicious and, for Gretchen, mercifully low on the food chain. The only meat was salmon and fishy sushi, the one non-vegan thing I can eat in front of Gretchen reasonably guilt-free. The freshness and overall quality of the food was unusual for a wedding and reminded me of the one I'd attended in Isræl. California and Isræl actually have a lot in common when it comes to agriculture and the short distances traveled by food as it goes to market.
Eventually Gretchen and I went with her parents for a walk around the adjacent neighborhood, but before that we struck up a conversation with one of the groom's buddies in the bathroom line. He was talking about how, back when he was fourteen or so, he used to hang out with OneOfTheGuysAtTheWedding, who taught him all these cool thrash metal riffs. For accessibility sake, it seemed, the only band he mentioned was Metallica (which anyone less than sixty should have heard of by now). He also said his interests had transitioned more recently to 80s New Wave pop (as an example he mentioned Duran Duran). Having lived through the 1980s, that struck us as an odd choice. But then we realized he was in his early 30s, meaning that back in 1980 he was three or four years old. I turned the subject back to the subject of thrash metal by asking if he thought the DJ would be playing Slayer's "Raining Blood." This was my way of saying that I knew a thing or two about thrash metal and didn't need Metallica as a cultural milepost, thank you very much. Suffice it to say, the wedding DJ played plenty of pop music from the 1980s. As for Slayer? Not so much. Hell, he didn't even play Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters."

Spare parts dog on Asilomar Beach.

Asilomar Beach.

Seaweed resembling alien entrails on Asilomar Beach.

Boardwalk on Asilomar Beach.

Mountain Lion warning at Asilomar Beach.

Pelicans at Asilomar Beach.

A car belonging to the dykiest woman in today's wedding party.


Pelicans and a bike south of Monterey.

Gretchen and me in the backseat of her parents' rental car, going to the wedding.

Gretchen and her photography-obsessed father, on the way to the wedding.

Gretchen cracks up about something at the wedding. The official wedding photographer is in the background.

The actual wedding, worm's eye view.

Massive aloe bushes south of Monterey.

Pretty people dancing to 80s pop music just before we left today's wedding.

Cormorants on a concrete sea structure near Cannery Row.

Cannery Row in Monterey. Those bridges across the road were once essential to the canning process.

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