Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Moose's Tooth

We discovered about a week into our move here to Alaska (and yes, this should have been posted a long time ago, but hey--I just barely blogged about our trip to Venice back in June. Don't judge.) the most delicious local place to eat in Anchorage: The Moose's Tooth. The name piqued our interest so we decided to give it a try. I had the most tasty sandwich I've EVER tasted before...not even kidding. See for yourself:
It's pizza crust for bread, baked with lots of cheese, turkey, and bacon. Add ranch, guacamole, lettuce, and tomato, and that's one fiiiine sandwich! It's the kind of place that I know we're going to miss when we leave. It's also the place we'll take you if you ever come to visit! We liked it so much we took our friends, the Skinners, as a thank you for letting us stay at their house until we found a place to rent. Mostly we just wanted an excuse to go again.
These are our friends with their two adorable boys (please note the delicious pizza on the table...it's delightful):

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Venice

Everyone should make their best effort to see Venice before they die. This is only my humble opinion, but seriously...as one of Matthias's friends put it, "Venice is Disneyland for adults." It's true. I'd also like to say that, just like Disneyland (and maybe you Disney fans will disagree), once you've seen Venice once, you don't really need to see it again. It's an absolute blast but we both felt completely satistfied after 2 days of canals as streets. I was so giddy the first night we were there. The first thing we did was take a "vaperetto" (their boat form of taxis) from the train station to St. Mark's Square. This is my giddy self on the ride:


Here's the Bridge of Sighs, often seen on post cards. It connects two important government buildings. Don't judge the farmer's tan.
St. Marks' Square was absolutely phenomenal at night. The lights, the music, the magnitude of St. Mark's basilica. Amaaazing. We had a blast dancing to the music and roaming between the different performances. I wish I had the time and know-how to attach a clip of video I got of Matthias's dancing. We really created a scene--him with his dancing, and me with my laughing at his hilarious moves. You maybe had to be there, but if you've ever seen how Matthias can do his goofy dance, you'll know what I mean.

Below is St. Mark's Basilica and the campanile. We were able to go to the top of the campanile (the large tower behind us) to get a fantastic view of Venice. I'd definitely recommend it.

As Venice was our last stop in Italy, we just had to document the oh-so-obnoxious "siesta" that put any kind of convenient purchase or sight-seeing to a halt for 3 and 1/2 hours. (They kept some things open but inevitably we would want groceries or to go inside a place we'd read about in our travel book and it would be closed due to siesta...)
Here are some cool shots of some of the narrow canals.


These pictures are taken of/on the Rialto Bridge, the most famous bridge in Venice and one with shops on it with really tacky souveniers. I look very small in the first picture, but look closely.



Here's an example of one such tacky souvenier that costs around $50:


Paolin's was the best place we went to in all of Italy to get gelatto. They gave giant-sized scoops and the flavors were mind-boggling. We're not ashamed to say we went there 3 times in 2 days. We might have been even 4 but I can't remember. It was just that good. Plus, we knew it would be our last chance to get authentic gelatto in a very long time. We went "hog wild", as they say. We did a TON of walking so maybe that makes up for it? One of my favorite things to do in Venice was just walk around and look at everything. I hope I don't sound too snobby when I say that one of the best parts was walking around where the tourists were not--the "backstreets" as it were.

This last picture shows how this underpass sort of tunnel opens up to the Canale della Giudecca. I've included a map so you can see what I mean. The Grand Canal winds through the inside of Venice and dumps into a larger canal along the bottom of Venice, with an island directly south of it. It's really cool because you can walk along the sidewalk that's right up against the canal and look across to the island of Giudecca way across the canal. Talk about an amazing afternoon stroll.


Saturday, September 6, 2008

Verbatim Transcript of McCain's Speech

You knew this was coming; once again, this is as close to a verbatim transcript as I could come up with based on my own shorthand notes:

"My fellow Americans, I am honored to accept the nomination as the Vice Presidential candidate, running with my good friend and Senate colleague, John Kerr… Oh, sorry…”

(Laughs nervously while trying to remember his place)

“I uh, I like to practice a lot of different speeches…You just never know...”

(Horrified silence from the crowd)

“Well, I guess I’ll stick to the teleprompter. My friends, you have always known me as a straight talker. I’m going to tell you the truth right now. Because of my tendency to eschew the beaten path, my advisors have implanted an electrical…”

(Suddenly a ZAP! of electricity surges through McCain’s body)

“Well let’s just say that if this speech seems uneven in its delivery, I apologize. Before I get into the substance of my speech, I want to salute my running mate, Governor Sarah Palin!”

(Ear-splitting shouts of joy from the crowd)

“Now I want to…”

(A protestor interrupts the speech by running toward the stage, revealing a pink camisole)

“Who is that?”

(Security is unable to stop the woman, who keeps screaming “It should have been me! It should have been me!” Sarah Palin calmly pulls a shotgun out of her purse [right next to her mascara] and subdues the protestor by shooting her in the leg. She then walks over to the protestor and calmly says, “Maybe next time, Hillary.”)

“My friends, I want to begin by discussing economic issues. Well, I don’t really want to discuss them at all, but…”

(ZAP! McCain is noticeably irritated.)

“Well, let me just say that many of you think that I don’t know or care about economic issues. I’m not quite sure why that is. Perhaps it’s because I never in my whole adult life have worked in the private sector. Maybe it’s because I said proudly during the primaries that ‘I led for patriotism, not for profit’, as though succeeding in some business other than politics is un-American. Maybe it’s because I opposed President Bush’s tax cuts that helped bring us out of the 9/11 recession. It could be due to my ‘cap-and-trade’ proposal for greenhouse emissions, which would destroy the American industrial economy overnight and hand the 21st Century to the Chinese on a silver platter. Maybe it’s just that I never, ever, ever, talk about the economy.

“It could be any of those things. Or it could be the simple fact that I actually said during the primaries that I don’t ‘know much about economics.’ Whatever the reason, you should know that I have an economic plan. My first economic reform will be to allow married men to have complete economic freedom.”

(Confused looks from the crowd.)

“Well, don’t you see why this is important? Men should be able to put their name on a checking account as well. They should be able to go into a store and buy anything they want. They should be allowed to cash their own paychecks. As it is, the laws of our country permit men who are married to do none of these things.”

(More confused looks. Palin walks up to the podium and whispers in McCain’s ear. McCain then looks a very worried Cindy McCain straight in the eyes and says…)

“You LIED to me!”

(McCain, fuming, starts to look a bit discolored. His skin takes on a very light shade of…green.)

“Alright, so maybe I don’t know squat about the economy. But I do care about peoples’ economic problems. I’ll show you by pointing at people in the crowd that I’ve never met in my life who just happen to live in swing states.

“People like John and Sandy Grayson from Lewistown, Ohio, a city that has voted Republican in the last six elections, but has shown an alarming Democratic trend in the last three. John and Sandy are struggling, just like all the other fine Americans who bought seven Las Vegas condos sight-unseen with interest-only mortgages, wondering just two years later how things could have possibly gone so wrong.

“Or people like Dave and Claire Collins from LaCrosse, Wisconsin, who don’t know how they’ll pay Dave’s $2.5 Million student loan debt. They’re just not hiring guys with a Ph.D. in ethnographic musicology like they used to.

“But enough about the economy. I want to talk about legalization of the hard-working Mexican illegal immigrants who…”

(ZAP!)

“OK, but what about restrictions on campaign spending…”

(ZAP! McCain’s skin starts to change color to an even deeper shade of green, and his collar starts to tighten.)

“You’re making me very angry, and you won’t like me when I’m…”

(ZAP!)

“THAT”S IT!!”

(McCain’s skin turns completely green, and his muscles expand to the point that his shirtsleeves and pant legs tear apart. You can see the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TujifzRVETA)

“MCCAIN SMASH!!!!”

(While the audience watches in shock and awe, McCain brings both fists down on the podium, shattering it to pieces. He then grabs both teleprompter stands and snaps them with a flick of his fingers.)

“ALRIGHT! Now that my true identity has been revealed to you, it’s time to engage in some real straight talk! My fellow Americans, when it comes right down to it, there are two and only two issues that I truly care about: Cutting spending and, more importantly, defeating America’s enemies. I don’t care about the economy, health care, taxes, abortion, gay marriage, or any of those other issues that they make people talk about at debates. Oh, I suppose if you pressed me on it, I could express an opinion about all those things, but do you ever hear me talk about them on my own? Have I ever stuck my neck out on any of these issues?

“But I’ve stuck my neck out on the two issues I care about, even when they were supposedly political suicide. Look at government spending; I was just about the only important person in Washington who opposed the Medicare prescription benefit. I opposed meds for old people because it was too expensive and we’re already in debt!! Can you think of any other politician who would have had the guts to do that?”

(Applause, although the Florida delegation storms out in anger.)

“When every other Republican candidate was in Iowa campaigning in the caucus, I didn’t even bother. You know why? I told the Iowans that I wasn’t going to promise them billions of dollars of pork barrel spending on farm subsidies, just so that I could get the endorsement of some weekly newspaper in western Iowa with a circulation of 1500.”

(Raucous applause; Iowa delegation walks out in protest.)

“Mitt Romney won Michigan because he promised $20 Billion in bogus ‘research’ spending to fix the car industry. I told them they had to get trained for new jobs because their old ones weren’t coming back. But here I am anyway.”

(Thunderous applause; Michigan delegation storms out of the building to their “Ford XXXXL Hybrid” pickups, which get 9 miles to the gallon instead of the 3 mpg that the standard XXXXL pickup gets.)

“I hate wasteful spending so much! GRRRROOOWWWLLLL!!! I don’t care who you are, Republican or Democrat, if you are a lobbyist or you are a politician who sells out to lobbyists, so help me I will personally beat you senseless until your face is unrecognizable to even your closest friends.”

(Uncomfortable silence; the DC, Virginia and Maryland delegates' faces turn completely white.)

“As I mentioned, the other issue I care about, the most important issue, is protecting America from its enemies. I spent 5 ½ years in a North Vietnamese POW camp. Perhaps you’ve heard.

“Senator Obama wants you to think he knows about sacrifice because he turned down a Wall Street job to become a community organizer. Sacrifice! He doesn’t know the first thing about it! If becoming a “community organizer” involves having bamboo shoved up your fingernails, having your arms broken and permanently disabled, or being torn from your family and country for years at a time, I’d love to hear about it.

“The point is, I WILL NOT be lectured about how horrible war is from a man who learned all he knows about war by watching 'Saving Private Ryan'. Oh, but Mr. Obama says that it isn’t about experience, it’s about judgment. Well fine, let’s talk about judgment. Why wasn’t it just today that you said that the troop surge had ‘succeeded beyond our wildest dreams’? Whose wildest dreams?! The surge was my own *@#($& idea!!!!! How can you say with a straight face that ‘The surge has succeeded in ways that nobody anticipated.’ Oh, you insolent little punk!!! I anticipated that the surge would work when you were preaching that we needed to get out. I said it out loud when you and the media and EVERYONE thought I was crazy. I was the only one who knew what it would take to win this war!!! How’s that for JUDGMENT?!?!.”

(Thunderous cheering. The crowd wonders where Incredible Hulk McCain has been the whole time.)

"Iran is going to have nukes if we don't stop them soon. You think being a law professor will prepare you for that?! If elected, I will drive the Persian hordes as did the Spartans of old!!!!"

(Chants of USA! USA!)

“Fight with me, America. FIGHT WITH ME!!!!”

“FIGHT WITH ME!!!!! GRRROOOWWWWLLLL!!!!!”

(Ed. note- If you can’t tell, I would much rather vote for Incredible Hulk McCain than regular McCain- although I’m pretty sure that IHM is always just under the surface.)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

You can't spell Palin without P-A-I-N

And pain is what she just rained down on Barack Obama. Hoooollllyyyy Mackerel! She brought an M16 to a knife fight. She gave Obama about 25 atomic wedgies in a row (rhetorically speaking). Needless to say, I loved it, and so did Michelle. (I actually like Obama, but I obviously have my problems with him: http://matthiasandmichellecicotte.blogspot.com/2008/08/baracks-real-convention-speech.html)

This is the first time I've been excited about politics in at least 3 years.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Cinque Terre

I am jealous of my June self for being in the coolest place to ever exist. And I mean ever. We visited the Cinque Terre (cheen-qway tehray) in Italy and I have to say I liked it even more than Venice. This is saying a lot, since I've wanted to see Venice since I was 2. The Cinque Terre is a string of 5 towns right along the coast line of the Italian Riviera. It has everything you could ever want in a place: beaches, hiking, beauty, charm, the best gelatto ever tasted (our favorite was berries and cream), and just plain uniqueness. Above and below this paragraph shows the same town--Vernazza--from different sides. You can see how the houses are right on top of eachother and almost carved into the rocky cliffs.
The Italians who originally moved here had to maximize their space as well as provide a living for themselves so you can see in some of the pictures the layers of vineyards they made almost in the form of stairs. The picture above is taken from a path that goes in between one such vineyard.
Below is a street in Vernazza that I thought was pretty classic of Italy, although many of their streets are what we might call alleys because they're so narrow two people can barely walk side by side.

I felt like I should add a picture in that just had Matthias in it to be fair...it's just that he wasn't in very many of the cool ones. I think I was being a camera hog because everywhere we went here I was saying, "Oooh--Matthias will you take my picture here, too? It's so pretty!"
The next four pictures show different shots of our favorite town: Manarola. This just so happens to also be the home of the best gelatto to ever be made. From the pictures you wouldn't think this would top the others but when you're there, it offers the best views and just grew on us.

I wrote earlier that the Cinque Terre offers hiking...this picture shows just one of many views you might have during the hike. The town closest to us in the photo below (Corniglia) is the only one that doesn't have access to the water from the town.
We chose a very hot day to hike, as shown by the sweaty husband:

This is the northern most town called Monterosso and is the most touristy of the five because of its sandy beach. Doesn't that big rock behind me in the picture remind you of the Little Mermaid? Anyone? I think I was trying to hide my pudgy stomach with that back pack but I want to take that decision back. Focus on the view.
Just outside Monterosso there were a couple of "pill boxes" that were used during WWII by the Nazis. Yep, they're the originals. Matthias tried to go into this one but the floor was covered in broken beer bottles and all sorts of yuck so we settled for an outside pose. You can kind of see the ocean on the right of the pill box, showing how close it is to the shore. It kind of makes me worry about big waves...what if someone were inside there during a storm? There's no way to keep the water out. It's kind of stressing me out.


Overall, this place was tied with seeing Wimbledon as far as pure enjoyment goes. It's one of the few places that I would actually spend the money to go back to because once was just not enough. You absolutely HAVE to put this place in your plans if you're ever making plans to see Italy...or even any surrounding countries. Or any place in Europe. If you're not convinced, here's one more picture:Does this one look familiar? It was taken with our very own camera but if you google Cinque Terre you'll find that many of ours might look familiar with the professional ones. You have to go see it for yourself!