Risking it All (or Not) for My Youth Back

I was at a sort-of networking/motivational speaker-type event recently, the kind of event where you have to wear nametags, but since this was an event for creative folks, they’re not just straight-forward, run-of-the-mill nametags…they’re free-expression, icebreaker-type nametags.

“Hello. I’m ­______________. I would RISK it all for ­­­­­­­_______________.”

I stood hunched over the registration table, Sharpie hanging in the air, totally stumped.

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That’s a throw back to my stumped face circa 1998, I think. And some brown lipstick/brown lipliner. RISKY. 

It was, after all, pre-coffee for me, and this was, after all, my first time attending the event, which was positively brimming with bright, shiny, young, creative faces—all of whom seemed to know each other and were totally comfortable in their own individual creative-y-ness. I was already questioning my decision to come.

With perspiration beading on my upper lip and after what seemed like an eternity–but was probably more like 45 seconds–I scribbled “more sleep” into that gaping, second blank spot, ripped the sticker off its backing, and slapped it on my blazer just below my shoulder. And thus began my morning-long fight against the insufficiently sticky nametag as each of the four edges took turns curling inwards and obscuring my most creative thought/answer.

I immediately regretted not writing “world peace” or, even better: “whirled peas.”

I walked around the pre-event, networking breakfast, reading other people’s name tags. And I was blown away by the responses some of these kids (well, yeah, mostly) had written on their name tags. Apparently, young, creative people will risk it all for just about anything, including coffee, breakfast, really good vegan cupcakes, and Cheetos.

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Now this girl is a serious risk taker. Riding a scooter with mules? Dangergirl!

It seemed like a pretty weighty question and yet all the answers I saw were pretty frivolous, in my mind. I mean, not that mine was much better. Come on. “More sleep?” What’s up with that, old timer? Prostate acting up or something?

Then I remembered when I was young and embraced risk, and yes, all those frivolous answers reminded me of those days. Hell, I was not just a risk taker, I was downright reckless.

  • I thought nothing of accepting an internship and packing up my crappy car to move across country without a dime to my name. I ate trail mix three times a day for two weeks until my first paycheck because of that stupid move.
  • I sold all my furniture and most of my worldly goods for a short-term move to London, convinced that I would figure something out and never have to come back to the U.S. I had no plan beyond that first six months, nor any idea what I was thinking was going to happen. But it didn’t and I did come back to the U.S., now broke and with not a stick of furniture.
  • I accepted a job here in D.C. that I knew I was vastly underqualified for, sold my car for cash, and rented an apartment (sight unseen) before driving a U-Haul 24 hours straight to get to said apartment two days before starting that nightmare of a job. All of which was extremely risky. (The apartment turned out alright, though).

And that’s just the stuff I feel comfortable talking about on a public forum.

Risk taker
I guess we won’t talk about this questionable decision. 

Back then, I would have said, “I would RISK it all for a good time and a better story.” I was young, hungry (both literally and figuratively), and my hustle was impressive, to say the least.

But as I stood hunched over that nametag, I realized how much times have changed. I’ve settled down quite a bit and my hustle has, too. I’m way more risk-adverse in my mid-40s than I was in my 20s or even my early 30s. Gone are the days of Bill Roulette–that’s where you take all your bills, put them in a bag and pull one out, and that’s the one that gets paid that month. I pay my bills early. I put money into retirement. I keep my insurance up to date. I get regular dental cleanings. I try to not get involved and clear up every misunderstanding I see taking place on the DC metro system (I’m still working on that one, actually).

Angry risk taker
Riled up and giving ’em hell, even on Halloween, circa 1995 (?maybe?)

What would I risk it all for today? Nothing. There’s almost nothing worth risking it all for.

There’s a good reason for all this change of heart: I just have way more to lose. I’m no longer jumping at every perceived experience or opportunity, hoping that things work out. I don’t “fly by the seat of my pants” anymore. Now I like security: having a plan and a nest egg to fall back on.

Sometimes I miss that devil-may-care girl I used to be, the one with more guts than sense. But then I look at the really good life I’ve managed to build, and all the people that are in it, and I can’t imagine taking any risks that would jeopardize any of that. Not even for whirled peas.

 

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Hotel Crashing: Westin Playa Conchal, Costa Rica

I’ve got an impressive assortment of bug bites on my legs (and, probably zika), a bruise from ramming right into a concrete stool at the swim-up bar, and a right ear that’s still ringing after a scuba dive.

I have survived another beach resort vacation.

(Actually, we got back from Costa Rica a week ago and luckily, all of those vacation-related injuries have subsided. Especially the ringing right ear, which went on for several days and had me all sorts of freaked out.)

We spent six glorious days at the Westin Golf Resort & Spa, (also known as the Westin Playa Conchal), Starwood’s first Costa Rica all-inclusive property. It’s on the Pacific side of Costa Rica, up north in an area known as Guanacaste. We flew into the Liberia airport, which is about an hour’s drive from the resort.

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Yep, it really does look like that (Image courtesy of Visual Itineraries)

This was actually our third time at this particular property. We first went in 2012 (when I also sustained a few vacation-related injuries) and in 2014, where I don’t remember if I sustained any injuries, so that probably means I absolutely did.

Our first trip, in 2012, we stayed at one of the regular rooms/bungalows (“Deluxe Junior Suite”), which was located on the far northern end of the property (near the beach access).

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Like one of these (Image via Starwood)

It was fine, but when we went back in 2014, we upgraded to the adults-only section known as the Royal Beach Club, which was fabulous! It has its own designated check-in area/lounge, adults-only pool and restaurant with no kids, other than the numerous, painfully young honeymooners we met over the six days.

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RBC area (Image via WestJet.com)

(I will say, the rest of the property is very family-friendly and I highly recommend this place for families).

The rooms at the RBC, as us hipsters call it, were pretty nice in 2014 (I think we stayed in a “Royal Beach Suite,” from what I can remember. We had a balcony with a Jacuzzi tub on it, which seemed a bit odd in a hot, humid, jungle/beach setting.

I’d show you photos except ALL of my previous Costa Rica photos were part of the Great Laptop Meltdown of 2014 and I, quite literally, have no Costa Rica photos…..not from 2012 and not from 2014. It’s all very odd. (And yes, I am currently backing up my photo folders onto an external hard drive as we speak. Thanks for the reminder, Costa Rica)

But, right after our 2014 visit, the property owners closed down both RBC towers and completely renovated the rooms. And they did an amazing job, incorporating lots of really nice (presumably local?) wood, updating the floors and furniture, and replacing the Jacuzzis with cool, modern bathtubs (I still think it’s weird to have an outdoor bathtub on your patio, but XFE used it and was happy).

A lot of the staff at the Westin Playa Conchal and at the Royal Beach Club specifically, remembered us from our previous visits and treated us like total VIPs. We felt really well taken care of.

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Our favorite vacation game at our favorite spot: dominoes at the main lobby bar. 

We chose to return to this property because it’s just an easy fly-and-flop option for us. We know exactly what to expect. We don’t have to make a whole bunch of plans and reservations, which suited us fine since we’re belly-deep in planning our next big trip….to South Africa/Tanzania/Zanzibar.

We did go scuba diving again one morning, mostly as a refresher since we plan to dive in Zanzibar. We went with Pacific Coast Diving, which we used in 2014. Still a good outfit that’s responsive over email, is located close to the hotel, and picks you up and drops you off in a nice, air-conditioned van. Anyone who’s done a bit of scuba diving knows how rare an air-conditioned dive van is! The diving, however, was a bit meh, and the snorkelers said similar.

And there was the whole ear-ringing thing, which I could have done without. I noticed it after our second dive and it got a bit louder over the course of the evening. By the next morning, it had lowered to a semi-tolerable, steady, annoying pitch that could be drowned out in areas with ambient noise in the background (talking, music, dishes clattering). But at night, when things were quiet? Really, really distracting and disturbing. That lasted about a week or so.

We spent most of our time by the RBC pool, reading books, drinking frosty drinks (like the popular Dirty Monkey – a sort of banana/coffee/chocolate/rum smoothie) and avoiding direct sunlight so I wouldn’t spontaneously combust (ie: burn to a crisp).

We did, however, go to the beautiful Playa Conchal beach early one morning so I could try jet skiing for the first time. I’ve got to say: I’m not really a fan. I guess I just don’t feel the need for speed. Any activity where the instructions start with, “It’s much easier/better if you go faster,” isn’t likely to win me over. I prefer life in the slow-to-medium lane. Adventure-man and James Bond-look-a-like XFE, however, took off like a madman and was killing it all over the ocean waves. He’s clearly not afraid of the throttle (seriously, my hands and arms were so sore from squeezing so tightly in the slow, mid-throttle position).

So that’s it. A brief recap of our brief visit to the Westin Playa Conchal. Now the compulsive obsessing about South Africa/Tanzania/Zanzibar can truly begin (and has).

GGGOOOAAALLL!!! Football in Spain: La Liga in Bilboa

Editor’s note: We’re going to do something a little different on ThePoeLog and declare this “Soccer Week.” Guest editor and soccer expert XFE has kindly written up a series of posts on the soccer games we went to in Spain. Part 1: UEFA in Bilbao is here and Part 2: Copa del Rey in San Sebastian is here.  

Our third and final game of our trip to northern Spain would take us back to Bilbao and a La Liga game between Athletic Bilbao and Levante.

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One would think a game scheduled for an early Sunday evening in the top league in Spain would not be expected to be heavily attended, especially as the opponents are one of the country’s smaller football clubs.

But, surprisingly, navigating the process of acquiring tickets proved to be harder than usual. In the end, the concierge at our hotel in San Sebastian was able to arrange for us to have VIP tickets in Bilboa, which as explained to us, “included a welcome reception, refreshments and free WI-FI.”

Neither Poe nor I were particularly excited by this description of the “VIP experience,” or the uptick in ticket prices, but in the end we consoled ourselves with the fact that we definitely had tickets and we were excited for the game. We did do a little additional Internet research to understand that the “VIP experience” was something that the club had added as part of the new stadium the team moved into in 2014.

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San Mames Stadium

As usual, football Sunday arrived and we headed out to the pintxos bars with the masses for snacks and cocktails in the streets before heading for the stadium. This process always requires a delicate balance as a few too many drinks during pregame may result in having to sit through a 90-minute match buzzed and without more drinks available, as most European stadiums do not serve alcohol inside during the game. So we did our best, with Poe testing the limits of her tolerance, and we eventually headed to the stadium well-lubricated to cheer on our adopted Spanish team.

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After a trek to the Will Call window and VIP entrance, an elevator dropped us on the level of our “VIP” experience. Here we were met with a large room lined by a bar, soft comfortable seating and high top tables for mingling and snacking. We quickly approached the bar to find complimentary beer/wine and even gin and tonics, and made ourselves at home at a high top table. The room was enclosed by glass on one side and looked into the stadium over six rows of seats separated from the other sections of the stadium.

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What we learned during our visit was that the team built a section/level of six rows of seats around the entire perimeter of the stadium–all backed with the VIP areas, including bars, restrooms and catering facilities. It was like a group private box where you could sit in the seats outside or stand behind the glass and enjoy the game from general warmth and comfort. The VIP tickets also entitled you to an assigned outdoor seat, and refreshments and drinks before, during and after the game.

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As we sat enjoying our VIP beverages, it became clear that Poe was in need of a snack to soak up her wine from the pre-game pub crawl. A steady stream of servers carrying trays of food towards various areas of the VIP section kept walking by, but none of them were near us.

But when in a foreign country, the next embarrassing cultural incident is just around the corner, so we waited patiently for some snacks to be dropped off near us. As time passed, trips to the bathroom were made, a small bowl of mix nuts was discreetly devoured, and I started in on another cocktail.

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After what seemed like ages, a server carrying a nice tray of meats, cheeses and other snacks appeared and was walking toward us.  As she approached with a friendly smile, she raised the tray towards Poe–who delirious from hunger and too much wine–reached out her hands to take the entire tray of snacks from the server, only to be met with a disapproving head shake and a vanishing smile. Poe quickly changed course, swiping three or four of the snacks to a napkin as she turned away from the server and what she thought was her loot of snacks for the taking. After a few sheepish minutes of snacking, a new strategy was devised–move tables in hopes that a new server could be lured into the trap being laid by Poe.

While no entire trays were captured, a few more satisfying snacks were had and we moved outside to our seats for the first half. Despite several chances to score, neither team was able to convert in the first half and time expired with the score tied at zero.

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During halftime, we again headed inside to warm up a little and grab another cocktail and snack. While neither Poe nor I were particularly excited about the VIP experience initially, it really turned out to be quite nice. Plenty of food and drink was available, no lines to the bathroom, and overall, it added a pleasant little way to pass the half.

I will acknowledge that, right now at least, it seems like only a few people have begun to embrace the idea of the VIP experience. I would suspect that at a sold out game or as popularity grows that the experience may become a little more hurried and not seem quite as exclusive.

Before long the second half kicked off and we returned to our seats. Athletic Bilbao started the second half strong and it was not long until the team scored their first goal and really looked to be cruising towards a victory. A second goal late in the second half sealed the deal and Athletic Club went on to win 2-to-0.

La Liga

As we left our seats and headed back into the inside VIP area, racks of chocolate treats and small deserts had been set up and the bar was again open for patrons to sit and enjoy one last drink before leaving the stadium. While our ticket entitled us to stay for up to an hour, we decided to head back into the city center and grab one last cocktail among the fans.

Quite honestly, leaving San Mames stadium is a great experience as roughly 40,000 people all depart on foot into the streets of the city. Celebrating the win, the crowd is happy and boisterous, chants still emanating as families quickly stop to pose for pictures, and the diehard fans head back to the bars for more pintxos and vino.

Poe and I made our way to a local waterhole focused on gin, where we sat trying new gins among the local fans as they enjoyed the rest of their evening.

Bilbao - Alternatif

After our drinks, Poe and I made one more stop before the hotel for donner kebab. Yep, that’s right kebab–the trusted food of the partier everywhere. Greasy mystery meat, ranch dressing and spicy sauce all on a flat bread. Yes, there are better things to eat in Spain and most of the world, but sometimes a kebab is just what the doctor ordered. I would be lying if I claimed the doctor had prescribed me donner kebabs only once on this trip, but hey, I love them.

As I wiped sauce from my chin, I smiled and reflected on having just enjoyed another great night of the world’s sport in Spain. And just in case Poe somehow decided to keep the party going, I grabbed a couple of extra Radlers to take back with us on the walk back to the hotel.

In the end, three more European football games seen in person and a multitude of new experiences had. Poe and I had an amazing soccer experience the first time we saw a game in Bilbao. We were always worried that that experience could never be recreated, and while great experiences are hard to duplicate, our games in Spain this trip were all equally great and created a new set of memories that we will be talking about in the future. So next time you are on the road, pick a new experience, cheer yourself on with a “gumbate,”  and enjoy.

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Maybe I Should Warm Up Before Jumping Back Into This Blogging Business

Seeing as how I hurt myself at the gym yesterday, I am super pumped that today is Friday.

Get it? That's Beyonce, getting pumped? Get it?
Get it? That’s Beyonce, getting pumped? Get it?

I was at the hideously misnamed Club Strength. Our also hideously misnamed instructor, Meaghan* had set up various torture stations around the perimeter of the class workout room. We were to go around the room in groups of two and do whatever “exercise” was assigned at each torture station for 1.30 minutes and then move on to the next one.

(*I say misnamed because  all the Meaghans or Megans or Schmegans or whatevers I know have been really pleasant and this one was a group class instructor; ie: Meaghan McMeanies)

Here’s the main issue: I don’t want to work out with a buddy. Sure, Meaghan assured us that we weren’t competing with each other, we were “just suffering through this together,” but still. I don’t want to work out with another solitary person doing the same thing next to me. I don’t like to grunt and struggle next to another person. That’s why I don’t invite XFE to sit on the edge of the tub while I take a crap. “It’s ok. We’re not competing here or anything, we’re just suffering through this together.”

Also, that’s why I’m in a class, see? Trying to blend in inconspicuously in the back of a room filled with a bunch of other people. I do not want any one-on-one attention while I’m sweating and grunting and generally failing at basic body skills such as lifting something and then putting it down, or raising my head off the floor and then putting it down.

But no. Meaghan had her plan. It was going to be fun. We were “mixing it up.”

The real reason they're extinct. They couldn't get through Club Strength.
The real reason they’re extinct. They couldn’t get through Club Strength.

To make matters worse, but only marginally, I was paired with an octogenarian who wanted to regale me with tales of missing vertebra. I assured her I didn’t care how many reps she could do and was only focusing on my own pain, and then we got to our lopsided workout. Oh, and when I say lopsided, I mean my old work out buddy basically kicked my ass and was able to complete more reps than me on all but one torture station (a sit up station. Guess you need vertebra for those. Suck it, octogenarian.)

We were two stations away from completing our second rotation of torture when I injured myself. It was an alternating-elbow-plank-with-side-shoulder-rotations move. I was huffing along, sucking in my gut (also known as “engaging your core”) when I over rotated while alternating elbows and fell full on my left shoulder. I thought I heard a pop.

The move. Pardon the selfie, I just couldn't find a good image to use.
The move. Pardon the selfie, I just couldn’t find a good image to use.

I crawled to a corner and gathered up my pride so I could complete the last two torture stations (with modified moves, of course). I think my octogenarian workout buddy was secretly relieved.

The whole episode was painful and very embarrassing and really makes me want to swear off all group classes forever. I didn’t dislocate my shoulder or anything like that, but it’s still pretty tender a day later. I think my career as a professional plank artist is over. Apparently, my wimpy useless pasta arms are incapable of holding up my body weight for approximately 1.30 minutes. Awesome.

So in the spirit of failing at fitness, I bring you this video, which I stole from this funny girl. It made me laugh and feel slightly better.

A Plea to Old People at the Gym

Due to a variety of reasons (upcoming beach vacation, an uptick in free time, wishing to not be winded just by watering the garden, giving up on folding laundry because my arms got tired), my training-partner-for-eternity, XFE and I have been working on our fitness. Like, really working on it. Like, ordering overpriced paleo food from a food delivery service and giving up alcohol during the week. We’re talking a serious amount of dedication from two (ok, one) major couch potato. (Mmmmm, potatoes…..)

Prior to this latest round of fitness fanaticism, I had been going to yoga, albeit, pretty intermittently. Or, as XFE describes it: “napping with old people,” which is a completely accurate description.

And in the middle.

We do live in an area called “Old Town,” by the way, so yes, I am usually one of the younger folks at the 9:30 a.m. or 1 p.m. yoga classes at the Old Town Sport & Health Club down the street from my house. Not a lot of hip, urban professionals around during those times of the day. Just me and the old folks crew, many of whom use that time in yoga class to do whatever the hell stretches or poses they want to do. I’m pretty sure the instructor is just there to make sure no one seriously injures themselves.

In fact, many of my fellow old stogey yogis stick around for the class that follows, which is called “Fusion Stretch.” I have not taken this class (one one-hour stretch-and-nap session per day generally does me in), but the class description promises a “fusion of stretching and stability work….for a relaxing, yet invigorating experience.”

No, with XFE at the helm, we’ve been pushing our out-of-shape (unless you count round as a shape) bodies to their brink. XFE’s favorite form of torture is the innocently sounding, “Club Strength,” which we go to on Saturdays. Because, who doesn’t want to almost throw up without drinking before weekend brunch?

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The name is mostly deceptive. As at a normal club, they do play loud, thumping, repetitive EDM music, but mostly I think it’s to drown out the moans of the victims, erehm, I mean, participants. And, as at a normal club, there is a lot of sweating in skintight neon and black lycra as people kick and thrash to the incessant beat of the music, but that’s pretty much where the comparisons end. Continue reading A Plea to Old People at the Gym

Checking in with an Ang Moh

I had a big jump in my blog stats yesterday, which was quite surprising considering how much I’ve been slacking on the blogging. Turns out, starting your own business is really time consuming! I’ve been pretty dang busy lining up new clients, keeping existing ones happy, invoicing, paying taxes, etc., etc. I also have a major project/contract that is due in a couple of weeks, so it’s definitely been crunch time here at Poe Communications and Landscape Design Consultants (we don’t actually do any landscape or design consulting, fyi. But I do take care of our tiny little garden every day, thus, I am a gardening expert. And, I’m pretty opinionated, so if you really wanted a consultant, I could probably be down for that).

Also, I have something very weird and annoying going on with WordPress where my text box is short and squatty and it’s really annoying. It used to be a normal full size text box and now it’s all abbreviated unless I make it a full screen which I LITERALLY just figured out that I could do by hitting the square with the little x-arrow in it. 

I did recently redesign the blog. Now that I’m a proper freelancer/small business owner, I thought it was time to transition the site to a business website, with the blog as an added feature instead of the primary one. You can still reach thePoeLog, but we’re also Poe Communications (www.poecommunications.com). Like, properly. Meeting all your writing/editing/content marketing/brand journalism/social media management needs since late 2014.

So I thought that maybe the uptick in page views had something to do with that. But it turns out, folks were coming directly in to this post I did on Singapore. Turns out, someone posted it on a forum called Singapore Hardware Zone, which seems odd, but o.k. The title of the forum post was “THIS ANG MOH BU makes INTELLIGENT sentences about SINGAPORE!!!!??I AGREE WITH HER!!!!!MUST SEEEEE.” 

Sorry about the bold and all caps and exclamation points. But I do appreciate the sentiment. It actually perked me up and had me convinced that vVovoVersace was a genius. Clearly.

Of course, I had to look up what a Ang Moh Bu was. Thanks to Wikipedia, I now know:

Ang mo is a racial epithet describing white people, mainly in Malaysia, Riau Islands and Singapore, and sometimes in Taiwan and Thailand. It literally means “red-haired” and originates from Hokkien (Min Nan).

Hilarious. And true. I am “red-haired.” Never figured out the Bu part, (probably means “girl,” or maybe like, “my boo?”) but Wikipedia did add another word to my vocabulary:

In Singapore and Malaysia, the term ang mo sai  (literally: “red-haired shit”) is a derogatory term used within the Chinese community for mocking other Chinese who are not able to read Chinese.

Don’t you just love languages?

The Unlikely Entrepreneur of Reality TV: Big Giant Swords

I’ve been neglecting someone on my little blog here. A group of people really, near and dear and close to my heart.

My reality TV friends.

Don’t worry. My non-husband-for-life XFE and I have been watching tons of crap on television. I mean, it’s winter, after all. And both “Vanderpump Rules” and “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” are on right now. What else would we be doing?

One of our current favorites is “Big Giant Swords” on the Discovery Channel.

When XFE first told me about it, he said it was called “Big Ass Swords,” which would have been a way more awesome title, if any executives from Discovery are reading this. No? Ok, then.

But, where “Big Giant Swords” falls short on naming-bad-assery, it is not short on entertainingly weird charm.

Irish Mike of Big Giant Swords
This, by the way, is your lead character in the show. Irish Mike.

Here’s the description, in case you couldn’t tell what it was about by the name:

“Big Giant Swords” is an American television series that premiered on January 13, 2015 on the Discovery Channel, The program follows sword maker Michael “Irish Mike” Craughwell as he and his associates create custom over-sized swords from scratch for his clients. Episodes focus on the creation process of one or two commissioned weapons as the team attempts to complete them to the customer’s satisfaction in a set time period.

Craughwell first began making giant swords in 2003 as a hobby and models many of his works after swords found in video games and other fictional media. Craughwell first garnered attention for his creations after posting videos of himself wielding the weapons on YouTube. He is based out of West Tisbury, MA on the island of Martha’s Vineyard.

Suffice it to say, this Irish Mike guy is quite the character. I am DYING to know what other folks around Martha’s Vineyard think when they see this guy rolling past the boutiques in Vineyard Haven in his tattered black t-shirt and his leather apron.

(While doing a bit of research, I came across this Yelp review for a shop in Tisbury. Apparently, the Poe-llows line of ridiculously priced pillows needs to be stocked at this store. Clear some shelf space, Midnight Farm).

Irish Mike is very socially awkward and yet, somehow, he’s able to get his crew of varying skill and talent abilities (ranging from the very talented, and maybe bald –well, we never see her without the headscarf—blacksmith Jamie to the practically useless cameraman Ameri-Mike – who really should consider wearing a headscarf. And investing in some hair product. His frizz has got me all worked up.)

AmeriMike from Big Giant Swords
Photos from YouTube and Discovery Channel.

Wait. What was I saying? Oh yeah, he’s got all of these not-so-charismatic guys to work for him basically for free. Or for the love of the craft. Or because there’s nothing else going on in Tisbury, and this shit is entertaining. Whatever.

But it all works. Mostly because, they, like him, are a bit of a group of social misfits, so you can tell they just get each other. Even as they avoid eye contact and mumble to each other.

And, well, the swords are really, really cool. I’m not really into swords, or LARPing or fantasy stuff, but these things are pretty amazing works of art in their own barely-functioning right.

One of the things we really like about the show is that it feels like Irish Mike is kinda in on the whole joke of the situation. He realizes this is a ridiculous way to make a living. His FaceTime discussions with his potential clients range from awkward to slightly derisive to totally jiving together on fantasy nerd stuff. Perhaps more than anything though, he just wants to get off the computer and get to work on his latest grande scheme.

But where Irish Mike’s personality really shines when it comes time to test the swords. Because he actually cares whether or not they could–ostensibly, if the client were a giant and incredibly strong–work. It’s during these bits that his desire to be in the spotlight and flair for flamboyance really comes out. So far, we’re about three episodes in and he’s already set himself on fire while slicing through gasoline-filled coconuts being hurled at him through the air. He’s also dressed up like Zeus and another time like swamp monster that rises out of a lake to demolish a row boat. And, when making videos he doesn’t have to interact with anyone, which you can tell suits him just fine.

So, check out the show (full episodes are online), watch some of his YouTube videos (the one of him lifting a 106 pound axe is pretty funny), or read his thoroughly charming yet very, very nerdy Reddit AMA.

I’m rooting for the guy. I hope Irish Mike can continue to exploit the ridiculousness of his current situation and make a great, sustainable business out of his hobby. It gives me hope for my Poe-llows.

Friday Links: Dolly Parton, Sloths, and Love Edition

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Dolly Parton is my spiritual guru. I love her. In difficult situations here at Poe Communications and Industrial Services (for all your writing/editing/industrial needs, just Gmail me at thepoelog), I often ask myself: “What would Dolly do?”

Then I give myself a little Dolly pep talk along the lines of pulling myself up by my bootstraps and going harder, and/or putting on some lipstick and rhinestones to make myself feel better. Those are the two WWDD answers I usually come up with.

So, of course, I’m digging this Mentalfloss list of 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Dolly Parton. My favorite? She entered a Dolly Parton Look-a-Like Contest. And lost. You can’t make that stuff up. Priceless.

Here’s some other stuff I’m digging this week:

I Bet Princess Kate Doesn’t Have to Deal With Dirty Gutters

I got back from Naples, Italy very late last Wednesday and I’m suffering from carb withdrawals. A pasta depression, if you will.

For example, when I walk downstairs for breakfast in the mornings now, there is no artful display of delicious Italian pastries and nobody brings me a frothy cappuccino. There are no royal apartments to tour and gawk at. No afternoon arancini or cone of misto mare eaten while strolling the quaint little streets and washed down with a Nastro Azzurro. It’s all very, very sad.

My re-introduction into American-style domestic responsibility was a bit bumpy. I had to get up very early on Thursday morning to meet the gutters guy from We Get High Roofing and Gutters. Yes, that’s the company’s name. Which made it an easy name to remember, even though I had gotten the recommendation during a very drinky Thanksgiving event.

Anyway, last Thursday’s meeting was early and it was freezing and I felt bad sending Martin up his ladder to our roof, but our gutters and downspout needed cleaning. And I wasn’t about to do it.

Plus we were particularly interested in getting some of those screens put on the gutters to keep the leaves out so we wouldn’t have to get the gutters cleaned out every fall. Martin quickly burst my bubble.

“You have janky gutters,” he informed me.

“Yes, I know, they’re very dirty. Lot’s of leaves. But if we can put those screens on, I think it will help,” I countered.

“Sure, I can clean them, but you have janky gutters,” he replied.

“OK, I get it. The gutters are janky. That’s why you’re here. So just clean them and install the screens and that will be great,” I reiterate. My man-boss, XFE (who was still in Italy for work) had been pretty adamant about getting the screens installed. I really didn’t want to mess this directive up.

Also, as this point I’m thinking, “dude, you’re being awfully judgmental about my gutters. I mean, I’m sure you’ve seen worse.”

“I cannot put the screens on because you have janky gutters,” Martin informed me.

What the hell? I’m thinking, is this guy trying to upsell me into installing totally new gutters or something? What’s his game?

“Janky gutters are very nice, very authentic, very popular in this area, all the houses have them. They’re historic,” Martin tries to reassure me. “But you can’t put the screens on them because they lay flat. That’s why you can’t see them at the roofline. See?” Martin shows me pictures of our roof that he took on his phone.

Finally, it occurs to me: Martin is explaining that we have YANKEE gutters. Yankee. Not janky. I mean, they were janky, as in dirty and filled with leaves, but they didn’t need to be replaced. And you couldn’t put screens on them.

Martin’s accent and my still-on-Italian-focused ear were not getting along that morning. So, I let Martin get on with his excellent work (I really do recommend them. He did a great job for a reasonable price and provided lots of before and after pictures.)

Meanwhile, I slunk inside, made some non-frothy, non-cappuccino coffee, and wondered if the Royal Palace in Naples had Yankee or janky gutters.

Princess Poe reflecting on chores

Friday Links: Sassy Cats See Buildings Shaped Like Food and/or Brains Edition

I’m frolicking in Naples, Italy right now, eating all of the thin crust pizza, and pasta, and creamy pastries, and just fried everything I can get my sticky little fingers on while my travel-buddy-for-life XFE actually works. Maybe the guys who make the expandable suitcase below could branch out into some expandable pants in time for my return.

This is the proper way to eat Italian cheese. I learned that from a Euro of Hollywood, so it’s a FAKT.

In the meantime: