Tag: Animals

Off to the races!

Off to the races!

I’m going to try keeping this brief because I have a new game to return to.

Today was racetrack day in Florida.

The idea that we would be watching horse races was interesting for me to prepare for. It’s been a long time since I’ve personally gone to any kind of races, and in the time since there have been controversies at the track I’m most familiar with in Del Mar due to a series of horse deaths.

Obviously Florida is a whole world away, but I was curious to see whether any hint of animal rights backlash would reach across the country.

I didn’t see anything of the like.

What I did see is one of the coolest god damn landmarks ever built:

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Shutterstock photo from The Miami New Times

Look at this. A Pegasus stomping on a dragon? How could you not be excited to go to Gulfstream Park?

I wanted to get a photo of the statue myself… But naturally heavy weather picked up the moment I separated from my grandparents to get a nice angle on foot.

Here’s the best I got:

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Not quite as majestic.

That said, I did get some nice photos of the area in-and-around the track. The whole place is like a Las Vegas gambler’s dream.

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So how about the races themselves?

I had a good time looking through the schedule when we first arrived. There were an obscene amount of horses named after Marvel Comics characters (though no Thanos), and one named after that spelling mistake the President made some years back.

I had to bet on Cofveve for the memes. Especially with my Dad’s justification that “losers are winners in this country.”

But in the end, memes and a slight sunburn were the best I got.

Cofveve disappointed by being in the very back for the entire race.

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Look at this loser horse. SAD!

Yet… The story doesn’t end there.

While I was wasting my money, Grandpa put a bet on a box of three horses and Grandma copied his bet.

They managed to win ~$1,300.

The nuttiest thing is that it was apparently a complete accident? Grandpa intended to bet on one horse but wrote the wrong number down.

And then crazily enough, two races later they managed to win another $75 or so!

Lesson learned: Always copy off of Grandpa’s notes.

Because I bet on three races and managed to walk out with nothing but a hot dog…

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And this neat horse-racing gif.

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Then, you know, I got soaking wet trying to take a picture of that statue.

In the end, it was all worthwhile. We had a great time, my grandparents won a lot of money…

And they bought me Fire Emblem: Three Houses with some of that money.

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I’ll admit, I may have been dropping hints throughout this vacation about wanting the new Fire Emblem game. Usually I never know what gift to request when they ask, so it was a rare opportunity.

But I didn’t expect to actually get anything until Grandpa was in a celebratory mood.

Now I no longer have to avoid spoilers at all costs, and so far I’ve adored the little bit of time I’ve been able to sink into Three Houses.

In fact, I’ll likely be posting some takes like this about the game on Twitter:

So follow me if you’re into that sort of thing.

More Fire Emblem takes will have to wait, however. Because we went out to dinner at one of the grandparents’ favorite Chinese restaurants:

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Let me tell you. They had some stellar short ribs.

I’m still licking sauce off my fingers as I write this.

Unfortunately, this is the penultimate Florida vacation blog post. As of tomorrow night I’ll be back on a plane to LAX, landing at 12:30 a.m.

It’s a shame because I’ve genuinely been having a great time. But all good things must come to an end.

So come on by tomorrow to see whatever we wind up doing as a big send-off!

Three bug bites in

Ooh boy, time to write about my day as Democrats yell at each other in the background again.

Last night I mentioned going to swim in the pool today.

I made good on that promise, because how could I not?

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It’s a beaut.

The water was also perfect today. Just cool enough to counteract the heat without freezing my toes off.

Fun fact, while I was getting that picture of the pool I noticed all of these cute old pictures of my grandparents that made me smile:

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Also there’s a terrifying cat statue.

It’s fine. Don’t worry about it.

A return to the pool also meant a return to one of my favorite pastimes: Watching geckos climb all over the mesh fencing.

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Look at this little guy, he’s so sweet.

Yet in a jarring turn of events, I found it was easier to watch the geckos than ever because I’m officially too damn big for the pool.

The deep end is 6 feet. I’m 6’2 or so.

Last time I came to Florida I was definitely not tall enough to stand in the deep end with my head above the water, which means it has been longer since I’ve been here than I thought. That blew my mind.

But before going for a swim, wading in the existential dread of time and noticing my growing collection of bug bites, I helped Grandma throw together french toast.

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More vacation food photos. Sorry.

A nice, hearty breakfast. The kind of breakfast that I needed because part of my day was spent working out computer issues for both grandparents.

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Here’s Grandma being cute at the computer, though. Before I make you cringe.

For Grandpa I simply helped update their computer software and readjust his settings back to normal.

But for Grandma… Poor girl… I had to show her that she could scroll further down the website she was on to get to a link.

I finally understand what it’s like for my Dad to be technical support.

Luckily, after that technical supporting and writing the next portion of my Pokémon fanfiction (because that’s still a thing and you can read the first six chapters here), I reaped the reward of some BBQ from Lucille’s.

But if you’re like me and thinking about this Lucille’s, you’d be wrong.

We went to THIS Lucille’s, which also happens to be a BBQ restaurant chain.

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Except this Lucille’s is better because the staff wore shirts that said, “The Biggest Rack in the Business.”

It was a hilarious joke on the female employees, but even more hilarious on the male employees. Equal opportunity racks.

During the time in-between these events, today was a good day for video games.

Fire Emblem Heroes dropped a banner for the newest game’s loli dragon prophet:

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My only real issue is that her dragon form is just… Herself?

It’s very bizarre.

Also I spent some orbs and just got my fourth Legendary Lyn, so I’m salty and moving on.

Moving on to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, which dropped its newest DLC fighter just last night!

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Hero is one of four protagonists from different games in the Dragon Quest series.

My personal favorite of the four choices is Eight from… Dragon Quest VIII, appropriately enough. He’s got a sweet bandana and a little mouse friend.

Plus he’s very photogenic. Check this out:

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I actually like the Dragon Quest additions a lot. The stage based on the tree of life Yggdrasil is cool, the music additions are solid and the character is fun to play as.

He’s got a mix of Link’s swordplay and Robin’s charging magic attacks. But then he also has a Metronome-style RNG wheel of magical spells that are insane.

Just look at this thread:

How Sakurai allowed this character to exist is beyond me.

Then again he also has the option to literally kamikaze himself, so 10/10 amazing character.

Now we wait for Banjo to show up. In the meantime, I’ll be in Florida for a bit longer.

Supposedly we’re hitting up a museum tomorrow. So stay tuned for that!

The dungeons saga: Bedknobs and sheep schticks

The dungeons saga: Bedknobs and sheep schticks

After a week of unbridled anticipation, today was finally Dungeons and Dragons day.

Since the beginning of the semester, we were promised a three-hour class period of just playing the fantasy tabletop role-playing game in my Gaming in American Culture class.

Finally the day has arrived, and it was glorious.

Though it did begin with a bit of a time crunch.

I gathered with my friend Mimi in the Honors Center before class, as she is far more of an expert than I. Was looking to get her opinion on which pre-made character I should play for our campaign.

Instead we wound up making a brand new character in the hour. An experience I’m fairly new at, which combined wonderfully with computer troubles.

But we persevered, and on the other end came up with my amazing boy: Thokk.

Thokk is a half-orc war cleric. He wears scale armor, carries a warhammer and a light crossbow, is generally uncharismatic and speaks four languages: Common, Orc and… Two I totally decided on.

He is chaotic good with an acolyte background and serves as a member of the Eye of Justice, a religious sect following a deity named Torm who were considered heretics.

So he’s adventuring to stop evil as his divine righteousness demands, but he ain’t above causing some havoc to get the job done.

Also he’s a very good boy and I love him. Might even drop him into my novel.

However, today he was played by the denizen of death and mayhem:

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Fear the cloth.

Yeah, I used Mimikyu as my character’s stand-in miniature.

He stood alongside the other six members of my party quite well:

There was Teflonto, a wood elf ranger; Celia, a wood elf monk; Jeff, a half-orc fighter; Phil, a gnome bard; Rein, a half-elf cleric; and Silver, a human paladin.

Our Dungeon Master was the Professor, wielding an unending spring of knowledge, a set of golden dice and a lot of monsters.

Thus the adventure began.

We started in a tavern, where Jeff nearly got beheaded trying to steal from the bartender and Phil spat Mario-style fireballs from a potent whiskey.

The quest kicked off when a sheep arrived. But he was not a sheep, he was a wizard transformed by a dastardly ex-assistant with a grudge.

Mr. Evil Wizard’s mercenaries arrived in search of the former mentor-turned-livestock, and our first battle began.

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An eight-foot bear in a robe mauled Jeff as the animal-loving Teflonto was horrified by Thokk nailing a wolf to a barrel using a crossbow bolt.

That is, until he learned the animals were humanoids turned beast.

After a handy beating, the mercenary leader gave in and conferred his great sword to Silver. He escaped with a lie that the remaining wolf was his unfortunate wife.

A night’s rest later, the party made their way to the hollowed-tree tower where Mr. Evil Wizard hid.

Celia was able to use a mass sneaking fog to get the party past a gang of dice game-playing wolves, then get inside by climbing the bark and hanging a rope out.

Suspicious at the sudden fog filling his tower, Mr. Evil Wizard used his transmogrifying wand to turn his bed into a bed dragon that absolutely exists.

While hiding in the fog, Phil cast blindness on the wizard before running out, climbing the dragon, stealing the wand, climbing down and THEN escaping out the rope-strung window.

You should have seen the DM’s face when he kept failing rolls to prevent all of that.

After getting back to the ground, Silver attempted to use the wand to turn our sheep companion back into a man. Yet, even Thokk’s guidance spell could not help his luck as the poor NPC turned into a Cronenberg monster before exploding.

That drew the attention of Mr. Evil Wizard, who approached riding his bed dragon with an army of wolves and a bear.

The final battle for our lives began:

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We were fucked.

But… We were fucked with 10 minutes left. Because three hours goes by fast when you have to account for seven players.

Rein and Thokk conjured magic, ethereal weapons to strike Mr. Evil Wizard as the rest of the party threw darts and shot crossbows.

Teflonto was mauled by a pack of wolves. Silver attempted to persuade the wolves to play a dice game with him, but to no avail. The wolves kept at it and Silver just watched.

Luckily, the almighty power of Deus Ex Machina was applied by the DM — who wanted the bell to end our one-shot campaign.

The wolves and bear turned against their master with the promise of being turned back to humanoid form. As Celia, Phil (now changed into a sheep) and Rein suffered splinters from the dragon’s breath, Teflonto stood up and shot an arrow into Mr. Evil Wizard’s face.

Once he and his dragon fell, we gained access to a convenient number of transmogrifying spells. Everyone was turned back to normal.

The end.

It may have been “cheap” that we were helped out of a bottomless hole by the DM because of time constraints, but it was justified by the journey.

All of our luck from the initial tavern fight and stealth mission came crashing down in the most spectacular of ways, and we undoubtedly would have all died without the handicap.

So in my personal headcanon, I like to imagine our party fell in the search for treasure and conquering evil.

However… In reality, none of our party fell.

Which means that Thokk lives to one day return, perhaps enlightened by his experience fighting the tyrannical Mr. Evil Wizard man.

All-and-all, I would say it was a very successful class.

Definitely worth a semester’s worth of anticipation, and definitely more than encouraging for me to go back and play more D&D in the future.

Reusing and Recycling

Reusing and Recycling

Last year I didn’t really have a proper Halloween. All of the oxygen was sucked out of that particular room by Milo Yiannopolous visiting Cal State Fullerton, which wound up being a massive, exhausting reporting project that I was the lead on.

Nobody around campus got to have a real Halloween that year. As great as it was getting lost in that world, it was a shame that I didn’t get to dress up or do any of that fun, traditional spooky stuff.

As a result I’m a bit out-of-practice when it comes to doing things like pulling together costumes.

So when my friend Mimi invited me to come to a Halloween party tonight, I panicked over how to dress.

And by panicked I mean I got really busy with school and didn’t bother pulling anything new together. Instead I just reused my costume from two years ago and came as the esteemed Willy Wonka.

Here I am with Mimi, also apparently reusing an old costume. Also, please note the god of partying noshing on some meatballs in the background. Because he was awesome.

Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka of course. I put this thing together two years ago after he passed away, and I’m impressed I still somewhat fit into the women’s size pimp-purple coat that I dug out of a thrift store.

Guess there’s something to this whole exercising regularly thing after all.

I’m kind of writing this in the corner of the party while waiting for my turn at Mario Kart, so I won’t be too verbose. But I figure I should highlight some of the fun things here because it’s a cool little shindig.

For instance, the aforementioned drunk Mario Kart.

I’m not personally drunk because I have a long drive home after this, but basically everyone else is fucked up on every kind of alcohol under the sun.

And we’re playing Mario Kart.

For some reason a decision was made to start the game at the hardest difficulty while playing a Rainbow Road race.

First off, I have to say, it’s incredible that that’s the decision everyone collectively came to. But also it was just plain hilarious watching everyone struggle through it while inebriated.

(I personally got fourth place as my girl Rosalina while everyone else was 10-12, so I got to flex my sober video game muscles a little)

Jackbox came in later, but for me Mario Kart at a massive party full of people who aren’t purely nerds was way more surprising.

Also on the list of party attractions was the food, of course. Mimi put together a lovely spread of chips, candy and cheeses for people to soak up that alcohol with.

Plus there were these lovely cupcakes:

Note the meatballs in the background, also prepared by Mimi and made famous by our God friend.

Very Halloween-y.

Naturally the costumes are also very important to discuss. Someone is wearing a dragon made out of a cardboard box, and her boyfriend is dressed as Daenerys from Game of Thrones.

There are at least two one-pieces in the room, a cheetah and a Stormtrooper.

Two girls came dressed as an angel and a devil.

We’ve got Miguel from Coco, Lucas from Earthbound, a Slytherin student with the dark mark tattooed on…

It’s a very interesting, eclectic mix that I don’t exactly feel comfortable taking a larger photo of. So maybe check my social media stuff in case I like some pictures Mimi puts out or whatever.

Oh yeah, also there’s a cat. A very sweet cat with big ol’ eyes. Animals are always welcome at a party.

Even though I’m basically meeting everyone at this place tonight, I’d say it’s been a great time! Certainly a wonderful distraction from my Mass Media Ethics assignment and preparing for class registration.

But that said, I’m going to get back to the festivities. I’d wish everyone a happy Halloween, but we’re still a bit early for that.

So happy pre-Halloween?

Happy Saturday night?

I don’t know, I’ll figure it out later. It’s party time right now.

Music, Muppets and Menorahs

Music, Muppets and Menorahs

Today the Rochlin clan made its way up into the Santa Monica hills for a day trip to the Skirball Cultural Center.

For those of you who aren’t aware (as I wasn’t before our trip today), the Skirball is a Jewish institution opened in 1996 that, frankly, is quite beautiful. Right next to Mulholland Drive and… Well…

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Just look at this patio. There’s plenty of fancy little resting places like this all over the museum.

It’s also, to their credit, very handicap accessible. Which is quite important for us since my dad had foot surgery a while back.

But that’s another story, because I’m clearly not here to talk about my family medical history. I’m here to show off all the cool pictures I got walking around a bunch of different exhibits!

I’m splitting up my slideshows in order of the exhibits we looked at this time around, so that said I hope you enjoy this little look into a place you might not have heard about.


Leonard Bernstein at 100

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I’ll be blunt, I’m not great with names that aren’t in constant circulation through the circles I follow. So off-hand I couldn’t have told you who Leonard Bernstein was despite the apparent long legacy there.

Of course you bring up West Side Story and the New York Philharmonic and it all essentially slides into place. Especially since our family has apparently been on a WSS kick after that play we attended a while back.

Still, Aly would be most disappointed that I don’t know music people super well.

But that’s okay because she’s never beaten a single Pokémon game. #ShadeThrown

Again, besides the point. We’ve got pictures to look at.

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The Jim Henson Exhibition

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Or, as an alternative introductory picture:

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Alright here’s the part we were all here for. Mr. Bernstein was a nice appetizer, but if there was anything that was going to get me out of bed early this morning, it would be Jim Henson.

We all love Jim right? I mean how could we not.

The Muppet Show.

Sesame Street.

The Dark Crystal.

Labyrinth.

Need I say more?

Though it might be partially attributed to all the build-up that led into it, the Henson portion of our day at the museum was definitely the coolest. Not only were there actual puppets (Muppets? Though more than just them) all over the place, there were also behind-the-scenes paraphernalia like scripts and storyboards for different projects.

Those were particularly cool in my opinion.

But don’t just take my word for it, check some of it out for yourself:

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Visions and Values

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Now we move into the Judaism portion of our tour. Over on your left you’ll see a brief history of the experience of my ancestors from ancient times to their transition into America.

This area was the most fleshed out portion of the museum for… Well, obvious reasons.

As a Jewish Cultural Center, this exhibit was the one thing at the Skirball that’s always available to the public while the other pieces rotate out.

Anyone with an eye on history would enjoy walking through the different descriptors of timelines, holidays and culture. However, the thing that stood out most for me was all the artifacts.

I don’t think I’ve seen a larger collection of Torah, Menorah or other household antiquities together in one place. Everything was really pretty — unless it was more of an oddball. Like the Menorah shaped like a cactus.

Yeah that exists.

Check it out, along with other wicked things like an actual full-scale recreation of the Statue of Liberty’s torch arm, here:

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Noah’s Ark

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Now over on your right you’ll see the much less serious portion of our trip through the Hebrew arts.

The Noah’s Ark side of the museum was pretty heavily built-up as well considering it was the one portion that we needed to reserve a time to get into it in advance.

Unfortunately it wound up not actually being an informative, historical look at the story of the flood. No sort of deeper examination into whether actual evidence existed or any sort of intellectual approach of that caliber.

No, Noah’s Ark was a play place for young children.

While it wasn’t exactly a place meant for us to enjoy, there were some pretty cool things about it. All of the animals on the ark were interactive or made of some wacky material that all contributed to a very interesting style overall.

Seriously check out some of these animals. Lord knows a few of them may just be in your nightmares tonight.

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While I had a great time at the Skirball with my family, I’m a little exhausted after doing that museum visit alongside a trip down Mulholland, a stop at Mambos for a Cuban lunch and a half-a-dozen other different things this afternoon.

This would have been up way earlier if not for that… So I’m not going to waste too much time concluding things.

Mostly I wanted to take this last opportunity to point out a couple of funny things we found in the museum’s gift shop. Because yeah the super pretty collectible glass Menorah and Jim Henson puppets that were available all made for lovely gifts. But they’re also way less funny then some of the random novelty goods.

For example, this series of books.

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You know. For when you want to teach your kid how to be a Yiddish dork that throws random words out at their Catholic friends to confuse them.

Or hey if reading isn’t your thing, maybe you’re more into board games. Well in that case, this is the perfect gift for you:

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I love Monopoly, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing really inherently funny about the game itself.

What I think is hilarious is the fact that if you’re playing a Jerusalem-themed Monopoly game, something like the Wailing Wall just HAS to be a location on the board, and I can’t get over the idea of building a hotel on the Wailing Wall and forcing your friends to pay $1,000 just to go pay their respects.

That’s just funny no matter who you are.

But anyway, that’s all I’ve got to say on the matter. Hopefully you enjoyed this little visual tour of the museum with my family.

If you’ve got any fond Jim Henson-based memories, let me know about them in the comments! That sounds just wholesome enough to be fun.

Even if I get that Kermit vine spammed at me. Which I probably deserve.