Oysters, Pistols and Tipsy Walking in New Orleans

October is a very big month for me, both personally and professionally, and we celebrated some seriously huge milestones this past month. In fact, we were so busy celebrating them, that I didn’t even have time to write about them! So just consider this the first in a three-part series. Or something.

First up was the birthday of my manpanion-for-life, XFE. We don’t usually travel for XFE’s birthday, what with Porktober® and all that being right around the corner. BUT, we decided to jump on some low fares and cash in some Starwood points for a quick weekend trip.

So, we went to New Orleans and acted like we were about 15 years younger than either of us are. We stayed up late, drank too much, ate too much, talked to random strangers, bought expensive artwork.

It's entirely appropriate to make finger pistols when buying artwork.
It’s entirely appropriate to make finger pistols when buying artwork.

Yeah, a little souvenir for my new office and to commemorate my first year of self-employment.

We saw this subtle little work of art while walking by the Hall Barnett Gallery on Chartres Street. They’re an LED reproduction of a neon piece called “Guns.” Supposedly, there were only three produced—one owned by the gallery owner, Holly, another owned by a couple in New York and then us.

They were absolutely unnecessary, but we just couldn’t walk away from them. I mean…neon guns? Hello? And they change colors! There’s even a remote control. We negotiated them down a teeny bit, but the final number still made me need a stiff drink afterwards.

(Update: They were damaged during shipping, so now we’re waiting for a new set. Or is it pair? Fingers crossed. Or is it guns crossed?)

Boo. Hiss.
Boo. Hiss.

Luckily, we were staying right across the street from the gallery at the W French Quarter. This is the infamous hotel where I cracked my head open five years ago. Actually, almost five years to the day. I know this because that super helpful Memories feature on Facebook popped up with that FrankenPoe picture right before we left.

Honestly, none of this is cute. The pout, the bags under the eyes, the airport bathroom stall. Oh, or the stitches.
Honestly, none of this is cute. The pout, the bags under the eyes, the airport bathroom stall. Oh, or the stitches.

Besides slippery dangerous showers, the W French Quarter is also home to SoBou, which is a Brennan’s establishment and therefore means: 25 cent martinis at lunch. (Note: if you ever do go this option—and you absolutely should—do not get one of the Kool-Aid colored/flavored pre-mixed martinis like a Cosmo. Get a classic, dirty martini).

I will say, we had a few issues with the W Hotel this time out. We were using points, cash and upgrades to cover our three-night stay, and they basically wanted us to move rooms each night. There was much finagling until they finally upgraded us to a carriage house studio type room that had definitely seen better days and had a non-working hot tub surrounded by cigarette butts on the patio.

W New Orleans Collage

The concierge also dropped the ball on the champagne I had ordered, despite the fact that I had filled out all the paperwork and called twice to order it and confirm that it would be in our room. There’s a whole litany of other annoyances (including XFE’s pet peeve: old, snagged towels with threads hanging everywhere), but, at least no one ended up in the emergency room, so that’s a half-hearted win. Sorry, W French Quarter.

We fared better in the eating category. On our first day we did a very scientific comparison/survey of two famous oyster places: Felix and Acme. We ate approximately four dozen oysters between the two places—raw, grilled and Bienville. XFE joked that we should have been pooping pearls after all that. Final consensus: Acme won by a shell sliver and honestly, it was their boo fries that had us coming back again the two days later (French fries covered with roast beef gravy and cheese).

Let's see, from left to right: oysters, oyster place, oysters, and oyster place.
Let’s see, from left to right: oysters, oyster place, oysters, and oyster place.

When we returned to Acme, we were not alone. We dragged along a couple of new friends we met during what was perhaps our very favorite tourist activity ever: the Drink and Learn Tour. We’ve been on a lot of tours in a lot of places, but this particular tour was hands down the best tour we’ve ever been on (and….didn’t take any pictures of. What can I say? I was too busy enjoying it).

The owner/tour guide, Elizabeth Pearce is a drink historian, fantastic historian, and an all-around hoot. You meet up (at a bar, naturally) and you receive a small, crossbody cooler containing four color-coded drinks. Then you take a short walk, stop, take a sip of your drink, and learn about the colorful history of New Orleans through adult beverages. Everything from how and why rum punch represents the early melting-pot days of the Crescent City to how praline liquor helped female slaves buy their freedom. It was so entertaining and we both learned a ton.

Then we went and got oysters and beer because that’s what you do in New Orleans. Or at least, that’s what we do there.*

(*We did a bunch of other galivanting and tomfoolery, but this is a family blog, so better left unsaid.)

New Orleans Collage

It’s Beginning to Smell a Lot Like Porktober

October is a very special month around thePoeLog household. It’s the birthday month of XFE, aka my boyfriend-for-life. It’s also the month we met. Yep, seven glorious years ago this month he wore me down and convinced me to go out with him. A couple of weeks later, on Halloween, he tricked me into our first smooch.

October is also when we usually celebrate Fall Fun Day. This year, Fall Fun Day has been postponed till November and extended into a weeklong event to be celebrated in the Basque region. Speaking of travel, October is usually a pretty big month for that. In October 2009, we did an amazing driving tour of Ireland and XFE bought me my first pair of Louboutins.

Kissing the Blarney
Pretending to kiss the Blarney Stone so I could get the hell off that freezing rampart. No injuries sustained, surprisingly.

In October 2010, we went to New Orleans with our friends Matt and Melissa, and Troy and Eddie. I slipped in the shower at the W hotel and had to get seven stitches in my forehead.

Not at all glamorous shot in an airport bathroom stall. Seemed fitting at the time. The grumpy expression is quite real.

Last year was a big improvement over the previous year. In 2011, we went to Paris and XFE bought me my second pair of Louboutins.

Paris gift

By my count, that means that this year, I might be do for stitches again.

And, if I do require stitches, it will most likely be related to the main reason why October is so special to us: Porktober. Porktober is a fairly new addition to our repertoire of made-up celebrations and traditions.

Porktober logo. Notice the tiny TM for trademark pending.

Porktober started last year, and arose because XFE read about pig roasting in Men’s Health or some other nonsensical place. I was, quite naturally, reluctant about the whole thing. But, using the whole birthday argument, XFE swayed me into agreeing to allow him to roast a small (ish. 56 pounds or so) pig on our back patio.

It was a mixed success. First off, the pig had to sleep overnight on ice and there was only one tub in the house – mine. We started the process ridiculously early in the morning – not a way to get my buy-in on a project.

Porktober pig
2011 pig. We’ll do about the same size this year, I suppose.

The weather was a bit uncooperative and as a result, the coals died down a number of times, which meant it took longer to cook the pig than we had planned. A mistake in the early mounting of the pig on the skewers meant it was not securely fastened and slid around during the whole turning and cooking process, a situation that compounded as the pig cooked and shrunk down.

We had made a whole host of other food products, including two briskets, which was a good thing since the pig was taking so long, but also turned out to be a bad thing since people were already pretty stuffed (and tipsy from hours of mint juleps) by the time the pig came off the fire. The result was a TON of leftover pig. More than the two of us could eat, that’s for sure.

Porktober pig
Tasty pig.

Then there was the subsequent cleanup the day after, which was completed by me and XFE on a very cold and drizzly wet Sunday, and required removing and storing the pop-up canopy, bleaching the fire marks off the patio, cleaning the spit and loading and returning it to the rental place, along with all the other dishes and recycling and trash gathering and floor mopping. And, of course, scrubbing the bath tub multiple times. Not a fun way to spend a Sunday after a party.

So while everyone had a good time at the party (how could you not when the juleps were flowing?), in my opinion, it had been a bit of a logistical mess. To me, the whole exercise had seemed like an awful lot of trouble for very little return. Sure, the wow factor of having a pig roasting on your patio is pretty fun, but overall, it just didn’t seem worth it to me.

So I was very surprised, gob-smacked even, when immediately after moving into our beautiful, completely renovated, and thus-far, pristine house, that XFE started mumbling about another Porktober. An even bigger and more grandiose affair. With a logo. And Porktober-branded paraphernalia. And, a trademark on the term, Porktober.

Porktober koozies
The logo, designed by my friend Brian, who only charged us a “friend” fee on his services. Fun fact: Brian is vegetarian, so he will not be partaking in the eating portion of Porktober. Also: he has two small daughters who will probably be traumatized by the sight of the piggie-on-a-spit.

XFE’s reasoning was that there had been lessons learned during the previous year’s event, and we could not let those lessons go to waste. We would build a better Porktober, complete with more coals (we’ve already procured seven bags of coals) and a sturdier (aka: proper) mounting process for the pig. The cooking will start later and the coals will be hotter so the pig is done sooner. There will be no brisket, only other snackie-ish items (don’t worry, I’ve preserved the pigs in a blanket).

One thing that has not changed – Monsieur Piggie will again have to sleep overnight in the only bathtub in the house – mine. So this Friday, I open my bathroom door again to a pink snout peeking out of my shower curtain. We’ll see if this year’s event sways me over permanently to the Porktober bandwagon. At least I know I’m getting a cute t-shirt out of it, and, hopefully, no stitches. I’ll be staying away from the mint juleps, just in case.

Porktober logo
Oh, did you want to see that logo again against a white backdrop? Because, we have that as well.

Lies I’m Not Believing: Lil Wayne’s “How to Love”

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a little while, but my bodyguard-for-life XFE questioned the wisdom of antagonizing a rapper with a penchant for firearms. His concerns caused me to pause. But then last night, I was watching this well-done HBO documentary called Superheroes, and well, I was inspired (spoiler alert: the superheroes are crazy and only mildly less creepy than the criminals they are supposedly protecting the citizenship from).

Plus, the rapper I’m poking fun at fell off a skateboard today, so I’m a bit less concerned about my safety.

Listen, Lil Wayne. No offense, but I don’t want to hear you telling me “How to Love.”

Have y’all heard this song? In it, our erstwhile Weezy sings repeatedly about a young lady who has “had a lot of crooks trying to steal your heart,” and she is unlucky in love.

“See you had a lot of crooks trying ta steal your heart
Never really had luck, couldn’t never figure out
How to love
How to love

See you had a lot of moments that didn’t last forever
Now you in the corner trying ta put it together
How to love
How to love”

By the way, these eight lines are repeated about 200 times.

But I digress. Lil Wayne, through the fine instrument of autotune, speculates on the many reasons our lovely heroine might not have been able to find love. Apparently, she’s insecure and quite untrusting.

“When you was just a young’un your looks was so precious
But now your grown up
So fly it’s like a blessing but you can’t have a man look at you for 5 seconds
Without you being insecure
You never credit yourself so when you got older
It’s seems like you came back 10 times over
Now you’re sitting here in this damn corner
Looking through all your thoughts and looking over your shoulder”

And, a bit world-weary, according to Lil.

“The fact that you saw the world affected all your decisions
But it wasn’t your fault
Wasn’t in your intentions”

So, our hero, Lil Wayne, tries to offer magic words of praise intended to set the object of his affection right.

See I just want you to know
That you deserve the best
You’re beautiful
You’re beautiful

And I want you to know, you’re far from the usual
Far from the usual”

Alright Lil Wayne, I appreciate that you aren’t talking about drugs and hos. But I do not want to hear from you about “How to Love.” Especially you singing about it, which, even with the help of autotune, is atrocious. As in, not melodic. Not appealing. In fact, horrible, even.

But more than that, frankly, I question your qualifications on the subject of love.

No doubt you have a ton of experience in making babies. According to your Wikipedia page, you had your first one at 15 years old. This was one year after you, (an honors student?), dropped out of high school to focus on your musical career.

Making babies.

You also (almost) successfully fathered three children with three different women in one single year (OK, 13 months. So close!). Your second child, a son, was born in Cincinnati on October 22, 2008; your third, also a son, was born on September 9, 2009; and your fourth, another son, was born on November 30, 2009.

Not exactly the picture of fidelity, correct? Do these multiple and overlapping lady-loving episodes make you qualified to tell us “How to Love?”

Perhaps you were talking about how to love firearms? Because you have quite the colorful history when it comes to the guns! Starting at age 13, when you accidentally shot yourself with a 9 mm handgun (again, an honors student?). Luckily, an off-duty police officer was around to drive you to the hospital.

Then, of course, there’s the 8 months you spent on Rikers (of a year-long sentence) on charges of criminal possession of a .40 caliber pistol in 2010. Rikers. Yikes. That’s pretty hard core, all right. Not a lot of opportunities to discuss deep philosophical issues such as the proper way to show and receive affection.

Interesting belt buckle. Really says "love" to me.

Perhaps in “How to Love” you are talking about your love of certain illegal drugs? Or, your love of sports which has been well documented through your blogging for ESPN? On these things, I do feel that perhaps you are an expert. I cannot speak as eloquently to the appeal of purple drank. I have never been stopped at the border with 105 grams (3.7 oz) of marijuana, almost 29 grams (1.0 oz) of cocaine, 41 grams (1.4 oz) of ecstasy, and $22,000 in cash.

You said of “How to Love”—“When I listen to it I get goose bumps. And I feel like the song is gonna take me somewhere that I’ve never been musically.”

Well, I sir, do not get goose bumps listening to this song.

And as for taking you “somewhere that I’ve never been musically,” would that perhaps be to court for copyright infringement? Because apparently, you are facing a lawsuit from another MC over ownership of the beat to “How to Love.”

Reading the story on TMZ, it does appear to be an issue of your producer buying said “beat” for quite the bargain price and now the original MC feels he was ripped off. Which just makes you a good businessman, actually.

Perhaps “the place you’ve never been musically” is the hospital? Today, it was reported that you were injured in a skateboarding accident and had to have nine stitches. According to the report, you had a large entourage with you. Hopefully that included some fine young lady with low self-esteem and a jaded view of the world. I wouldn’t want you to go through such an event alone.

I look forward to your next song, “How to Stitch.” Maybe something along the lines of:

“See you had a lot of doctors trying ta close you up
Never really had luck, cause they kept crackin’ up
How to stitch
How to stitch

See you had a lot of nurses that didn’t finish the endeavor
Now you in the corner trying ta put my head together
How to stitch
How to stitch”