Germany – Back Again, Drinking All Their Beer – Part 1 – Hamburg

FYI:  I’m not still in Europe… but just getting to finishing posts from that time…

Arriving in Hamburg, Germany and getting picked up in a mini-van felt a lot like climbing out of a Wonderland rabbit hole compared to the wild weekend in London I’d just left.  I went from drinking at all hours with near strangers and seldom sleeping, to regular meals, hanging out with a 3-year-old and getting re-acquainted with a real bed!  Disorienting to say the least.  And wonderful!

My dear friend and former (6 years prior!) co-worker when I worked near Stuttgart invited me to his beautiful home to stay with his even more beautiful (and new-to-me) family.  He now lives in Hamburg, which I never visited before.  That made this stop on my itinerary the only new place I would see during my 12 days bouncing around Europe! As a result, my buddy insisted on some tourist-like sight-seeing…

After I awoke from my (probably London-roofie-induced) coma the next morning (afternoon), my friend drove me and his young daughter to the city part of Hamburg.   Oooo!  As we walked over a bridge, he informed me that Hamburg has more bridges, than, say, anywhere, more than even Venice!  Woah!  So either that’s true or my friend is full of shit.  I’m not a reporter; you can fact-check yourself.  Here’s the view from that bridge:

Hamburg, Germany.  Bridges.
Hamburg, Germany. Bridges. Oooo!

There were lakes or rivers that look like lakes with sailboats and stuff, too (far, far in the distance, but I swear, they’re there).  I approved.  It reminded me of Chicago for being a rare place where you can sail while still being butt-up-against the heart of a huge city and its big buildings.  If it only had a beach, too, with beautiful, half-naked people playing volleyball in the sand…. AHEM.  Hint, hint, Hamburg, hint, hint.

Hamburg, Germany, Some Lake
See?  These people wish they were in bikinis and Speedos in the sand.  Hamburg, Germany, Some Lake/River/Inlet Whatever I’m Jetlagged and Unsure Which Language To Speak

We all had dinner at a nice restaurant/beer garden.   This is where I learned that Germany is now picking up the American trend of craft beer brewing!  “Wunderschoen!” I exclaimed within my own mind.  “This can only be amazing!”  We ordered a flight of the establishment’s own craft beers:

Hamburg, Germany's Craft Brews
Hamburg, Germany’s “Craft” Brews

Never has my thumb been so inappropriately placed.  Never.  (Hey, c’mon now, get your mind out of the gutter.)  These were the worst craft beers I’ve had aside from Chicago’s own finish-less Goose Island swill.  Fuck, Germany, really?  Don’t… ugh.. don’t copy us, especially in beer.  I mean, you remember how horrible that mandatory Budweiser tasted at your World Cup games in 2006, right?  YOU’RE BETTER THAN THIS.  THIS IS YOUR THING.

The next selection made up for that, however, when I went back to an ever-faithfully lip-smacking Schneider Weisse, FTW.  Oh, yeah!  Yes.  Mm-hmm.  When given the choice, do yourself a favor, and go for what Germany truly excels at:

An Ever-delicious Schneider Weisse In Its Element and Also In Mah Belly
An Ever-delicious Schneider Weisse In Its Element and Also In Mah Belly

At least I remembered the best version of one of the most important German things I needed to indulge in: it’s what I call fat-licious yogurt.

Fat-licious German Yogurt
Fat-licious German Yogurt

My thumb is pointing towards “10%” which, translated into English, means, “10%”.  That’s 10 PERCENT FAT.  Mmmmm.  If you ever tried this stuff, you would take all your low-fat, no-fat, froyo horseshit -gurt and THROW IT AWAY.   This stuff will forever ruin you for yogurt.  And you won’t mind.

As far as sights to see, there was just one thing I had on my list for Hamburg.  This is where the Beatles started, you remember.  (I actually didn’t remember, my Welsh buddy’s wonderful sister reminded me.   Ahhh, serendipity.)  Lucky for me, my optical engineer friend, who is also a creative musician, knew exactly how to get me to their musical birthplace.  There’s kind of a square down the alley from where they used to play with these metal figures below, as some sort of…memorial, I guess:

Beatles Tourist Thing, Hamburg, Germany
Beatles Tourist Thing, Hamburg, Germany

Hey Germany, remember what we said about not copying ‘Murican trends?  Well, you’re pretty shit at public art memorial marker things, too. That’s ok, though, because, as I told myself, I didn’t come to see the reclaimed steel crap art in the street, I came to see the establishment they used to rock!

Beatles' Old Haunt, Hamburg, Germany
Beatles’ Old Haunt, Hamburg, Germany

That thing on the right.  That was it.  We stood for a minute staring, and my friend let me soak in the moment best I could.  It was hard to imagine what it would have been like in those days, though.   For one thing, the bar wasn’t even open.  For a second thing, the place to the left of this picture had an 8-foot-tall German version of a sequin-ey RuPaul noisily hustling people into the gay club there.   In hindsight, I guess that would have made a more interesting picture.

Aside from the old Beatles haunt, it was actually pretty damn busy out — especially considering it was a Tuesday night!  Hamburg is definitely a city full of life.  Here’s a pic to illustrate — please pardon the blur:

Just Cuz It's Tuesday Don't Mean the Partying Stops in Hamburg!
Just Cuz It’s Tuesday Don’t Mean the Partying Stops in Hamburg!

There were amazingly cool buildings along the river — the likes of which I’ve never seen.  Here are some prime examples of the more wild ones:

Weird-ass Casino Joker Thing!
Weird-ass Casino Joker Thing!

And then there’s this vertigo-inducing marvel.  The arches in front of it lead to an underground bar/concert venue!

Leaning Tower of Holy Shit Apartments!
Leaning Tower of Holy Shit, Don’t Look Down Apartments!

The river itself was also a spectacular spectacle with this old navy ship all aglow:

Massive Ship in the Elbe at Night
Massive Ship in the Elbe at Night

The one thing I regret not having photos of is the graffiti found everywhere.   They would have been very difficult to obtain, though, because either I or the graffiti was always moving very fast.  You can see it on the typical locations – buildings, tunnels, bridges, but you also find it frequently on train cars!  And it was all beautiful.  It was all art.  Hamburg is an artist’s city and you can even feel it in the defacement of public property!  These weren’t just tags put up by hoodlums to advertise their ego.  It was All Art.

From the Internets, I bring you:

Check out this Facebook page for more:

At the end of the night, we gnoshed on some Currywurst.  This time, we got the thumbs right:  an in the middle, “meh” sign.  It wasn’t bad for Currywurst; it was just that it was Currywurst… and we weren’t at the intoxication level needed to enjoy it to its fullest.

Currywurst — not the worst, but, a solid “meh”


So how was my German holding up after all these years, I hear you asking?  Well, I thought it was comparably crap, and I was timid about speaking it again — most especially when in front of the 3-year-old.  I was so afraid my beschissene Deutsch would rub off on her!  It turns out, I should have been more afraid of her.  “Why?  Were her German language skills terrible?”  No, of course not, she’s 3, so that means I was envious of her skills.  The thing was… well, let me just tell the story.

One morning, while still 3/4 asleep (because I’d only just had the first real nights’ sleep in probably a good 6 days), her and I were speaking alone.  Everything was going great until a massive brain fart exploded in my head.  I was trying to come up with the past tense infinitive version of the word “essen”, to eat.   Out loud, I wondered if I meant to say, “gegessen?  Gegisst?  Ge—-isst?”, trying out to words on my ears since my brain was apparently not going to do me any favors that day.  She cocked her head up halfway from the book she was showing me, glanced at me from the corner of her eye, and lazily concealed a smirk on one side of her sweet little face while slowly saying, “ja, ge-isst”.  I tried that one aloud again and realized she had picked the most ridiculous sounding thing I’d thrown out there.   You little stinker!  Yeah, my fear was definitely ill-placed, although justified overall.

I leave you with another blessed gift as I sign off this post…  One morning, I spotted the back of this trashy Enquirer-type Hamburg magazine and it reminded me of a game the radio station 98 PXY in Rochester, N.Y. used to play in the mornings — “Florida or Germany” — or something like that.  They would read a news story synopsis and callers had to guess whether the crazy, sick, unbelievably messed-up thing happened in Florida or Germany.  It was a lot harder than you imagine…  Anyways, this paper I noticed (how could you not?) made me believe that maybe all those Germany-tagged stories happened right there in Hamburg:

"Morgen Post" Clipping, Hamburg, Germany.  I...I don't know either. Don't ask me.
“Morgen Post” Clipping, Hamburg, Germany. I…I don’t know either. Don’t ask me.

You’re welcome.

Day 3: Surviving London and the Welsh

I didn’t think I could feel what I did, being back in England.  It’s been over half a lifetime ago that I was here last, but when the Tube doors opened above ground, the air rushed in, and some subtle smell in it, plus something distinctive in the way the breezes push around the leafy branches here brought it all back for a second.  It was a heady rush of primal feeling.  A dizzying spell as all history between those two times dropped out and brought me face-to-face with my 18-year-old self.  Then, I exhaled, and forgot it.

My schedule was already full-up with survival.  Ain’t Got Time For That!!  Indeed, I was off to celebrate the 40th birthday of a crazy Welshman…for 2 days straight.

On my way there, it turned out maybe my jetlag wasn’t totally conquered, as I’d wrote I hoped in my last post, because I remember taxiing to the runway, but it seemed a take-off never occurred.  Or, maybe I was inoluntarily passed out cold.  Maybe.  In any case, I wasn’t too sure how I was going to hold up.

A large group of us hopped from venue to venue and people swirled in and out who were (mostly 😉 )kind, wonderful, witty, and interesting characters above all else. Here is one of the few shots I feel I can show without anyone going to prison:


There was also a kind of music fesival at Tobacco Dock we attended – a bit of a cross between a tame rave and human circus act.  When we walked in, my eyes rose up and up through all the layers of industrial-framed craziness.  Masses of steel, bodies and the invasive buzz of bass pulsed from every music tent.  All I could think was, “WELCOME TO THUNDERDOME”.


Half-naked, beautiful people in their 20’s and 30’s pressed against each other.  A smile was plastered on my face constantly watching all the wonderously weird displays of humans at their best — aside from when some little punk grabbed my hair, and I restrained myself from giving him the verbal beating of his life… but, I digress.  It was definitely a spectacle to behold.  Groove Armada was going to be at one of the tents.  It was a gorgeous day.  Naturally, immediately after entering, we said “fuck this”, walked out and found a chill pub to relax at.

Again, I have a much prettier pic of our alternate venue, but this is the only one that protects the innocent…and the others.  Mostly the others.


Both nights, I imbibed things with these most interesting groups until some point when I would see the first rays of the sun.  Then I would collapse on the cot in the midst of them I’d previously claimed, and contently snore loudly away as the partying continued around me.  It’s amazing I was able to fall asleep, but I guess that may just be a solitary good side effect of jetlag — at least if you handle it like I did.  Hell, I bet they could and did step on me without me waking up.  And… possibly other things.  I can’t wait to get back to the States and order up a battery of medical tests!  😀

In any case, I got the food pretty damn right, with help from my new and old friends!  Well, my single Day 1 Meal was a kebap, which is a lot better in Germany, but was still good considering I was starving and had been drinking for half a day.  Single Day 2 meal was fish ‘n chips.  Of course.  Did you know that despite American food’s reputation, the amount of deliciously fatty, dripping fatness in our copycat fish and chips cannot compare with that of the oily, heart attack enducing English version?  I’ve been craving the real thing for sooo long.  This was almost worth the trip in itself:



And my final meal with my dear buddies was this morning — it was a treat capable of completely ruining me in one go.  One of these dears just happened to be a fantastic chef.  And we were hungry.  Bleary-eyed and dying of hunger, we managed to come up with an idea to use these two facts to our benefit.  I am such a lucky girl.  So lucky.  Traditional UK breakfast — BOOM:


One more fun thing before I dig into YET ANOTHER ROUND OF FISH AND CHIPS at the airport…My host this weekend is a property guardian.  This means he resides in and maintains buildings landlords would otherwise want to abandon because they’re just not financially worth the bother.  It also costs money to demolish a building, and if you don’t, you get all sorts freaks moving in and squatting and shooting heroine all over the place, wiping their own poo on the walls, starting cults, etc.  So, my friend fights bums off.  He’s like Batman.  Or something.  Hopefully, that’s enough to explain this note I spotted on a neighboring door as I left today.  I was told by my friends they don’t believe their own kind to be genuine typically.  I think we can all agree, however, the Brits are polite.



Fleeing the Country — Day 1: Shannon, Ireland

I’ve escaped!  Yesterday, before my flight and after waking up around 2 a.m. and not being able to get back to sleep, I got a head start on my jetlag battle.  It lead to a full day of pain upon think attempts, but I think I’ve beaten this time zone war in a single day!  It’s noon in Ireland, 6 a.m. in Chitown and my body is not in a cold, lifeless heap on the tile.  Winning!

But…you know… it may be too early to tell.  Let’s go with I’m winning for now, though!

I’m on a long layover in Shannon, Ireland on my way to London, where I will celebrate the birthday of a wild Welsh gent, in what I can only assume will leave me and parts of the world scarred and broken forever, but in the best ways… yeah.

Btw, if I forget to mention, Jesus fucking Christ, these Irish women are making Me blush with their torrents of profanity.  I love Ireland.

One thing I didn’t love, and which you didn’t love either (because I’m pretending you are here, of course) is when we witnessed one of the cruelest, vilest offenses the world has ever known.  I’d heard a rumor of it, but could barely believe it was true…  Baggy, multi-colored pajama pants are now in style in Ireland for women… to wear In Public.

Exhibit A:



Exhibit B:



“What the fuck.”

That’s what I said to you when we saw it.  Then you gave me a look back that just silently said, “what the fuuuuuck?”  And then I made this face as a way to purge myself of the horror and confusion within me:



Mostly the confusion.

Ireland, we all know you are home to the most beautiful women in the world.  Got it.  Check.  But you really don’t need to be so kind to give every other population the upper hand.  You’ve gone too far.

On the upside, your Guinness, chowder and soda bread are still “grand”!


And, bonus: your cider taps have friggen videos on them.




I’m about to board for London.  I will see you on the flip side of this trip, Ireland, in a couple weeks.  I expect to see some wardrobe improvements.  But, please don’t run out of beer.


Why Do We Dream? NSFW

Why do we sleep?  More interestingly, why do we dream?  If fortunate, we spend 1/3 of our lives captive in a state in which we are unable to purposefully interact with our tangible surroundings!  One Third!

Or maybe that’s not true at all.  Maybe when we sleep it’s like coming up for air after being submerged for a long time deep in the ocean, and dreams happen when we open our eyes above the surface.   Maybe we sleep and dream because otherwise, we would drown in the fantasy of day-to-day life…

Researchers, biologists, military Q’s and the like have many of their own theories on the purpose behind why we all turn to useless slabs of drooling meat each day.  Of course, there are the known side effects from sleep deprivation which range from irritability to inability to concentrate, right up to hallucinations and Bat Shit Craziness as in this The Atlantic article by Seth Maxon.  Yet, that still doesn’t explain why sleeping and dreaming is needed to keep your marbles all in the same place.   Recently, it was also discovered that toxins Occupying your brain are flushed while you snooze as your brain cells shrink to make way for the biological fire hoses.  I’m no neuroscientist, but I would imagine it would be difficult to think with shrunken brain cells if that process happened during waking hours.  This starts to approach a reason behind why we psychologically need sleep, but still doesn’t explain all of the weird surrounding sleep and dreaming.

Like, for example, did you know you can problem-solve in your sleep?!  In this Livescience article, studies are highlighted in which students solved math problems in their dreams.  It goes on to submit that problem solving while asleep is a rather common occurrence documented throughout history and it can sometimes solve problems our awoken mind cannot.   Psychologist Deirdre Barrett’s hypothesis boils down to dream as a thinking tool which takes advantage of looser, sometimes less logical connections of dots …because sometimes our brains work best when we are not in full, conscious control of how we use them… because sometimes they work best when we are not behind the wheel…  But then, who or what is behind the wheel?

My imagination conjures a strange answer to all these questions and the seed of it lies in the Christian lens through which I perceive all things.  There are over 100 instances of variants of the word “dream” in the bible, and God uses dreams to: convey information — “But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man’s wife,” –Genesis 20:3  (“she already got a man!”); to piss other people off — “And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more,” –Genesis 37:5; to freak people out — “Then thou scarest me with dreams, and terrifiest me through visions,” –Job 7:14; to speak directly to prophets — “…if there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream,” –Numbers 12:6, and a bunch of other stuff.  Mix that with: “…the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters,” –Genesis 1:2, and “And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters,” –Genesis 1:6 and we get to the point where my brain starts coming up with weird shit.

So, God uses dreams for a variety of communications with man, and the Spirit of God dwelled on the surface of the waters in the beginning.  That water was separated between aboveness and belowness by a gigundous gap.  We live in the below part separated from the water above.  Does the part of God’s spirit in the above part perhaps meet us halfway when he wants to drive an idea home?  Do our spirits get pulled into that limbo while we sleep by His messengers who have the ability to traverse that separation?  Do we get a chance for part of our daily life to press our hands up to the glass of that divide as if a prison visitation to find our bearings again?  Does God sometimes or always reach out to touch the other side of that divide?  …much like Michelangelo’s famous painting on the Sistine Chapel?


I don’t know.  But it’s kind of a neat idea, don’t you think?  I picture it with God’s messengers, naked and pure as children, hauling the man they’ve been given charge of into that meeting place… whether we sleep peacefully or whether we are towed into that limbo still bound by despair, our spirits guarded carefully while allowed a time-out from the most exhausting of races.  I picture it just like this, the “Firmament”:

"Firmament" - mixed traditional media by Erin McDermott


Prints of this piece can be ordered here: The Untapped Source  Matting and framing options can be set to “No” to reduce cost substantially.

Special thanks goes out to one little girl’s parental unit who gave me permission to use her as the perfect model I’ve been lacking for the 14 friggin years since I started this composition!

Surface Pro 3: I Can Haz Digital Art?

This week, I had the privilege of dining with some tech celebs in Chicago (no really, they were stopped on the way out by a fan), and afterward, we walked by a billboard for the Surface Pro 3 — “The tablet that can replace your laptop”.  They mocked the Microsoft product for its ability to run horrible Microsoft Office programs, and perhaps their tech snob tastes were as refined as their excellent tastes in beer, but I had to defend the 3.  Secretly, I’ve been lusting over that little machine since it was unveiled, and on June 20th, when it was first available to purchase in stores, I even went to drool over it in person.

Surface Pro 3 at the Microsoft Store
Surface Pro 3 at the Microsoft Store in Chitown


I’d been searching for a lightweight laptop that could also create digital art well.  Like a cat to its first cheezburger, I was (and am) a total newb in the digital art arena, so I first turned to my friend Marc Grunert for some expert advice.  Marc is not only someone I’ve known for many years to be a talented artist, he also makes his dough that way!  You can check out some of his amazing illustrations here:  Marc directed me to Wacom’s Cintiq Companion which soon became my first digital art hardware crush:

Wacom’s Cintiq Companion


Wacom’s products are widely known to be in the Cadillac class of digital art hardware and reviewers commonly remark on the realistic feel and responsiveness of the drawing tools.  I knew if I were aiming for the best product for creating art, Marc had steered me straight. Unfortunately, along with being crazy-expensive (over $2k for the higher memory version + keyboard accessory), it was also a bit heavy and bulky for lugging on the trains and buses during my 3+ hour daily commute.  I needed something powerful but lighter and smaller, and I’d be willing to sacrifice a bit on drawing performance to get there…

And then the Surface Pro 3 was announced, and I dropped my Cintiq Companion crush faster than Romeo dropped his obsession with that Rosaline bitch.

However, it became clear before it even was available, the Surface Pro 3 had its own flaws.  There was the immediate concern that the drawing capabilities would be a little more than a little shittier than that of Wacom’s Companion or even that of its own earlier version.   The previous Surface Pro actually used Wacom technology in its pen and it came with 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity.  The Surface Pro 3 moves to N-Trig technology with only 256 levels of sensitivity.  I was largely skeptical that a human needed over 1,000 levels of pressure measurement.  As an engineer with a bunch of experience under her belt in several industries, I thought it all smelled like a lot of marketing B.S..  And based on this lengthy explanation from a Microsoft scientist, that assumption was probably correct:

The other big concerns came from this awesomely candid review by Gabe, artist from Penny Arcade:

I was most alarmed by the lag Gabe noticed while drawing and the fact that the HOME BUTTON was PERFECTLY LOCATED to KICK THE ARTIST BACK to the HOME SCREEN.  REPEATEDLY.  That’s just aces, Microsoft.

Luckily and surprisingly, Microsoft brought the gemba to them by inviting Gabe over to observe him (trying to) draw:   After a couple rounds, the engineers had a fix for the home button problem — it would be disabled while the pen was in contact with the screen.   Unfortunately, the drawing lag issue appears to remain unsolved for the moment.

Here’s what I found from my personal observation of the Surface Pro 3 in downtown Chicago:

1. After a week of being on display for the public’s grubby fingers, there was some significant wear.  The type cover was already approaching filthy, and take a look at the pen’s already worn nib (pardon my shitty phone pics, I was feeling too self-conscious to pull out my camera under the watch of an already raised MS employee’s eyebrow):

Surface Pro 3 Worn Pen Nib


2.  I love mechanical keyboards.  I have these awesome fingernails that I can use for peeling oranges, opening packages and attacking assailants like the mutherfucking Wolverine.  They’re not going anywhere just so I can use a shitty touch keypad.  Nope, screw you, Apple.  I’m really happy the Surface Pro line is continuing with physically moving keys!

Even Clawed Animals Can Use Surface Pro 3's Keyboard
Even Clawed Animals Can Use Surface Pro 3’s Keyboard


3.  The FreshPaint app is stupid-addictive.  I read this warning in other reviews, but I Had No Idea How Bad it really was.  I kept telling the MS salespeople, “yeah, yeah…uhh…I’ll be right off of this…thing…ooohh, wow…”.   Check out my modern art!

Surface Pro 3 FreshPaint App
Yeah, I Made This. Hard to believe, I know.


4.  See that screen?  It’s pretty shiny.  Not sure how much of an issue the veiling glare would be in different ambient light conditions.

5.  The software fix for the home button location issue seemed to be already in place!  It still kicked me back to the home screen once though, when one of my drawing strokes continued a tick after the pen left the surface.  It was an extremely irritating moment.  Grrr.  I feel you, Gabe.

So for now, I’m holding off on purchasing anything to see if Microsoft finds a good fix for the drawing lag and also to see what the competition might have to add to the better-than-decent-drawing-plus-better-than-decent-computing arena.  I hope my tech pro friends and art pro friends will forgive me, whatever choice I ultimately make.

I don’t want to disappoint anyone who may have been expecting a cat pic in this post based on the title — even though cats really, really aren’t my thing.  So, here.  I present to you, The Ranger, my roommate’s saber-toothed mountain lion of a cat who is:

The Ranger



Scoring Affections at the World Cup

Whenever people heard that a couple of my 24-year-old male friends were going to Brazil for the World Cup, they said, “they’ll never make it back alive,” or, “well, say, ‘goodbye’ while you can”.  I’d retort with a “don’t be silly, they’ll be fine!” or a, “Brazil is not that scary, stop it!”.

While I didn’t worry about their safety, I did worry about them failing to capitalize on their greatest asset: they were about to become exotic foreigners in a world full of hot, Brazilian women.  Before you say, “what the hell are you talking about, Erin, Americans are totally lame everywhere they go, except for maybe Canada,” hear me out.  (Apologies in advance to my Canadian buddies.)  When I studied in Germany, I carefully observed one American exchange student in particular: a dorky, annoying, narcissistic dweeb-weezle of a specimen.  When he displayed himself in public, many of us were ashamed to be associated.  One afternoon, while he was surrounded by gorgeous German babes who seemed somehow interested in his terrible German grammar, I remarked to my German friend who’d previously studied in the U.S., “what the hell is that?!”  My friend scolded me and said, “don’t you realize you’re the same?  You’re special just because you are different.  It’s the same for you and it was the same for me when I was in the U.S. — you get attention only because you are foreign.”  Although it was saddening at the time, if true, this factoid could hold the key to unlocking the potential of one of the most amaziballs times in my young friends’ lives.

But how would the Brazilian babes know they were exotic ‘Mericans?  I mean, aside from their dashing, ‘Merican good looks?  They would need to be told.  On a t-shirt.  In Portuguese.

I enlisted the help of my expert friend, Jessica, who speaks a bit of Portuguese, and who, moreover, hosted Brazilian exchange students and visited Brazil.  She was quick to reply with a suggestion for what to write on the t-shirts and also turned to her Brazilian “sisters” for their expert opinions.  After much deliberation, a phrase was arrived at they were sure was, “going to work”: Gringo na área! Quer me beijar?  Then I spent a lot of time creating t-shirt art in Photoshop and going back and forth with the astoundingly fantastic Rachel of Barrel Maker Printing to perfect it.  All of our efforts resulted in this masterpiece:

"Gringo in the House! Who wants tah kiss me?"
Translation: “‘Merican in the House! Who wants tah kiss me?” Or something like that.


As the boys prepare to ship-out, we wish them good luck!  Make ‘Merica proud!  It was nice knowing you…  You will be missed.

The Untapped, Tapping, Double Tapping

Hi!  My name is Erin, and for those of you who don’t know me, student loan debt rules my life!  For some people it’s heroin, for others, Becherovka, for yet others, poo tang.  I propose that Sallie Mae is actually a noxious, whorey combination of them all: a heroin-Becherovka-poo-tang bullet in a bloody, survivor-less game of Russian roulette.   Mmmm.  Just.  Just take that in.

I think back now to all the well-meaning adults who tried to allay my paralyzing fears about student loan debt when I was trying to figure out how the hell to get through the private university obstacle course completely on my own.  I remember them saying, “but you’re gonna be an engineer.  You’re gonna be rich and these loans won’t matter at all.  You’re making too big of a deal out of this.”  And then, as I think back, I try to stifle my gag reflexes and keep myself from shouting out loud, on the public bus, “don’t listen, little Erin!  It’s all a bunch of LIES”.  (If you ever wondered why the crazies be talking to themselves on CTA, now you know: it’s ’cause of Sallie.)  There is a serious misconception about what each rung of society “should” and does earn — especially in comparison to the costs of higher education, and that misconception is fucking with our nation’s youth, but this is a rant for another post.  I digress.

Anyways, I’ve been playing around for a few years now with creative projects on the side to see if I could monetize any of it and speed up my K.O. of this Sallie bitch…


…and I’ve decided to just put all my shit out there, throw it on the wall, see what sticks, what doesn’t, and what sells to some lunatic for thousands of dollars as modern art.  Luckily, I found an excellent way to do this — at least for my artwork.

Print On Demand (POD) art prints.  This is a thing!  I’ve been reading forums about all the different sites that offer this service and testing them out.  Oh wait, “what the hell is that, exactly?” I heard you ask.  Oh, sorry.  Yeah, so just like with POD publishing, where a printer prints and ships individual copies of your book as they are ordered, people can order individual prints of your artwork in a variety of formats from a high resolution digital image you upload.  You just upload a pic of your painting, choose how you’d like it to be offered, and in some cases, how much you’d like to offer it for, and then you sit back and wait!  Of course, it would help if you actually sent traffic to those sites, but that’s not a prerequisite.

For right now, I uploaded some old pieces to test the sites out and learn how it all works.  I really don’t expect any of the current ones I have up to sell, but, then again, I’ve seen some of my competition which does get sales, and………….   …….it wouldn’t be an entirely nuts possibility either.  If nothing else, I’ve found it can be an excellent way to gauge interest in pieces based on view count.  I read good things about The Untapped Source, and so far in the past week of playing with it, I’ve definitely been able to see what The People like.  I’ve had issues with getting images in the right category (e.g. Photography or Traditional), but I’m gonna give this small company the benefit and assume they’re on vacation and will soon reply to my message(s).

I first started posting paintings up there, which kept being listed as “Photography” despite my efforts to fix them.  After several days of getting lots of views in spite of the category error, I thought, might as well throw some actual photographs up there for giggles.  After that, well, every time I log on, I can’t stop myself from muttering, “holy fucking shit”.

Holy Fucking Shit

So, if you couldn’t guess, the correctly categorized photos are the ones with 400+ views: “Chicago Sunset from Lake Michigan” and “Montrose Harbor in Winter”.   You can check ’em out too, here:

I have no idea if any of the paintings I’ll be producing in the future with commercial intent will sell, but it’s one of the things I’ve got to throw on the wall.  And I plan on tapping into all the resources at my disposal, double-tapping Sallie like the rabid zombie she-beast she is, and tapping out.  If you’re one of those artsy types, I strongly encourage you to do the same, if only for that public interest thermometer feature.  Would you tap that?  Cuz I’d tap that.  Let’s tap that, together.  If you got art online, include links in a comment on this post!

Tell It To The Man

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Annabel Lee’s Cynical Makeover

I wrote this while wondering: what if Edgar Allen Poe, so enraptured with his love in his poem, “Annabel Lee”, grew older, wiser and disillusioned?  What would his sorrow sound like in that case?  Below is how I envision that possibility.  Click here to view the original version: Edgar’s Annabel Lee


But that was many and many a year ago, 
   In a kingdom by the sea. 
When there lived a maiden whom you may know 
   By the name of Annabel Lee. 

Yes, back then, I was a child and she was a child, 
   In that kingdom by the sea; 
And we loved with a love that when push came to shove, 
   Buried the child in me. 

Our love was weaker by far than the doubt 
   Of our older versions, we’d see- 
   Of the wiser versions we’d be- 
And neither do seraphs in heaven shout 
   Nor demons down under the sea, 
That ever an ember of envy ignited, 
   From the love of that Annabel Lee. 

Moonlight’s false beams do bring no more dreams, 
   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee; 
And only stars rise through expanses of skies, 
   Once framing idle reverie; 
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down on my side 
   With no lover, no darling; a monk has no bride, 
   In the sepulchre there by the sea, 
   In the quiet of the sounding sea.