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by Elliott

Pull Up a Chair: Game Night

1:08 am in PUAC by Elliott


Game Night

We always played games growing up, a lot of board games, I liked Clue and Parcheesi and the times I got to play Life at my cousins, for some reason that wasn’t in our games closet. Never cared much for Monopoly, it just went on and on – but we didn’t know the rules, really. Also a lot of card games, we played a lot of cards. I learned how to play bridge in college, that’s a great game, Gin Rummy is good, too. In high school a lot of my classmates played Pinochle, but now I can’t remember how it goes.

Oh, and Backgammon.

What games do you play when you get together with friends and family?

One of our fun favorites is Yahtzee, and Scrabble, too. Maybe a table of Hearts, someone always Shoots the Moon. Been awhile, but Trivial Pursuits used to be a fave game for a gathering, although I admit the version I have is DATED.

Are there good new board games out? Read the rest of this entry →

by Elliott

Pull Up a Chair: Ice Ice Baby

1:57 am in PUAC by Elliott

Good morning everybody. No doubt you’ve seen the clips of various people taking the ice bucket challenge. My grandmother had ALS, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis aka Lou Gehrig’s disease. She was only in her 50s when she passed on, it robbed us of a grandmother. It’s a merciless death.

So I’ve personally been appreciative of all the ice bucket challenges accepted and posted on youTube. And better still, all the money raised, hopefully speeding up new treatments and perhaps prevention. Do you know anyone who took the challenge — besides Cindy Kouril, that is?

My favorite so far is the Riley Boys:

Bendedict Cumberbatch had a lot of fun with it:

Here’s Patrick Stewart:

Now that’s the way you do it.
Here’s a lol compilation of challenge FAILs: Read the rest of this entry →

by Elliott

Pull Up a Chair: Coulrophobia

2:36 am in PUAC by Elliott


Are you creeped out by clowns? There’s a word for that, Coulrophobia: “Extreme or irrational fear of clowns.”

Here’s how it happened to Jordan Gaines:

A couple of weekends ago, I came down with coulrophobia. Unfortunately, I have yet to shake the disease.

Because we are Halloween masochists, my friends and I drove out to the Lancaster [PA] area for Field of Screams, which can be best described as a horror-movie-set-haunted-house on steroids. Sprinting from room to room offers a completely new, dizzying experience, with different themes and scary people to touch you or chase you down with chainsaws.

But this one room. This one room was unlike any other…

It zigzagged. The walls were tiled with 2×2″ black and white checkers. There was a strobe light. I was holding my friend’s hand and trying to keep my eyes shut through the flickering.

Out of nowhere, sitting in the corner, tiny and dejected, was this freaking clown. It looked so far away. Then suddenly, not one second later, it was IN MY FACE. The strobe light betrayed my perception of its speed and distance. I cried out. Please, just take me now, and do it quickly…

Gaines was a doctoral candidate in neuroscience when it happened so she goes deeper:

Psychologists believe that this kind of fear may have less to do with clowns and more with the unsettling familiarity. A normal-sized body with a painted face, big shoes, colorful clothes—but what’s under there?

“People are typically frightened by things which are wrong in some way, wrong in a disturbingly unfamiliar way,” says Paul Salkovskis of the Maudsley Hospital Centre for Anxiety Disorders and Trauma in London.

Anthropologists may approach the phobia from the clown’s perspective. In 1961, Claude Levi Strauss wrote about the “freedoms” that masking oneself allows. A mask gives a clown the chance to adopt a new identity: “the facial disguise,” he writes, “temporarily eliminate[s] from social intercourse that part of the body which…the individual’s personal feelings and attitudes are revealed or can be deliberately communicated to others.”

In other words, the clown—with its painted-on expression of happiness and humor—limits the range of feelings we’re supposed to feel. The clown insists that we laugh. We may not want to laugh. The situation becomes, at best, awkward, and at worst—combined with the unsettling colorful familiarity—terrifying.

It doesn’t help that scary writers write scary stories about scary clowns, take Stephen King’s “It” (please!) which was made into a scary tv movie.

Apparently clowns know nobody likes them and it hurts their feelings. Leigh Cowart’s long read from the 2014 World Clown Association Annual Convention tells their side of it, but her friends didn’t want her to go there.

Our complicated relationship with clowns spans everything from the circus to the sex dungeon, from Saturday morning Bozo to Tim Curry peering up from the storm drain, from Patch Adams to Insane Clown Posse, not to mention the ubiquity of that flame-haired, greasepaint visage, the placidly smiling face of what is surely the 20th-century Ozymandias: Ronald McDonald. Every person I told about my plan to attend the clown convention voiced concern for my well-being…

Read on, Don’t Be Afraid Of The Clowns.

I’ll close this on a cheerier yet coulral note:

Photo by Donnie Nunley under Creative Commons license

by Elliott

Pull Up a Chair: Elephant Rescues

1:07 am in Animals, PUAC by Elliott

Raju, a 50 year old elephant captured when young and grossly mistreated, was rescued recently. He wept as he was freed.

Wildlife SOS, a group established in 1995 to protect endangered wildlife in India, set out to rescue Raju on the night of July 2. Raju is around 50 years old and was likely captured as a baby and bought and sold many times over the course of his life. He was forced to work as a begging elephant in Allahabad. His legs were bound in spiked chains that made walking difficult and left him with chronic wounds. He was also beaten.

Wildlife SOS found out about Raju’s story through India’s Forestry Commission. When the group attempted to rescue Raju on the night of July 2 in the Uttar Pradesh region of India, his owner and mahout — an individual who rides elephants — apparently attempted to dismantle the effort with a standoff, Nikki Sharp, the executive director of Wildlife SOS-USA, told The Huffington Post Monday.

Raju’s captors layered tighter chains on him and attempted to confuse him by shouting commands, but their efforts proved futile. A team of 10 veterinarians and experts from Wildlife SOS along with 20 Forestry Commission officers and two policemen managed to rescue the abused elephant, according to the Mirror, a British tabloid.

The poor creature was kept in chains 24 hours a day. As you can see on the video, he is slowly recovering at the rescue center.

And here’s a baby elephant rescue in Kenya, workers from the Amboseli Trust for Elephants have to force the mother and other elephants away so they can get the baby (Timmy?) out of the well, but the mother and child reunion makes up for the temporary distress of the rescue.

Elephants are amazing creatures, so much more complicated than we gave them credit for. I knew they were emotional animals, I didn’t know they cried.

Do you think we should resurrect their Woolly Mammoth cousins?

by Elliott

Pull Up a Chair: Caturday Edition

2:58 am in PUAC by Elliott

Buenos Dias! Two more days ’til Cinco de Mayo. Here’s four videos, who can supply the fifth for the fiestivities?

HAPPY dogs, Pharrell style

Fun at the beach, too cute not to post — and it’s appropriate for a Caturday since (imo) Kitty mans the backups like a boss. I do wonder if he’ll go along next time, though. Remarkably well behaved dogs, don’t you think?


Presenting Didga the skateboarding cat:


And here’s a rescued squirrel stopping back to visit his old cat buddy.

What’s happening with your creatures these days? My cat is enjoying the spring weather, likes sitting on the windowsill watching all the birds go by. I taught him a trick, I can get him to roll over, or at least flop over on command request. I say “Flop!” and he flops. (It’s a start.)


Sincere condolences to Marion in Savannah, she lost her Cute Stuff this week, but you know he’ll be waiting for her at the Rainbow Bridge. He lived a loved life, he was lucky for that. This is dedicated to you and your cutie, Marion.


by Elliott

Pull Up a Chair: Sugar Season

4:54 am in Food, PUAC, Uncategorized by Elliott

Good Morning. It’s maple sugar season now and when I saw this I knew I needed it, Maple Creme Brulee (or more fancified, Maple Crème Brûlée).

Yes, please.

Apparently it isn’t a wildly unusual concept as there are many recipes on the interwebs, although this was the one I saw the other day.

Here’s a video version with walnuts, I confess I’ve never made brulees myself and if you are like me it helps to see how-to:

My Vermontian brother had friends with a sugar house, so he would bring us gallons(!) of maple syrup when he came to visit. What a welcome treasure! Sadly he doesn’t live there anymore so we have to buy our own — and once you go pure maple, there’s no going back. My little sister was notoriously wanton in her use of it. She’d drench her pancakes, drench!, I tell you. It was a horror to have to wash all that goodness off her plate after we ate, you’d think she was using Log Cabin Jemima Buttersworth or something.

My cousins lived in eastern Ohio near a mapling center, as kids we’d often get maple sugar candies when we visited. I liked the grainy crystals melting in my mouth. For a do-it-yourself treat my brother suggests Sugar on Snow:

Heated maple syrup in a small pitcher – plate of fresh powdery new fallen snow – pour the syrup onto the snow base and voila – chewy threads of wonder!!! (kind of a Vermonter’s variation on the traditional “Funnel Cake” ha ha!)

That fine land-grant university in New York, Cornell, has a handy FAQ for more info, like grades and stuff and even a small bit on other consumable tree saps. (You have to admit, drinking sap is weird.)

Maple syrup is produced only in the northeastern United States and eastern Canada, the region in which sugar maple is found. Although maple syrup is not produced in other regions of the world, some other species of maple are tapped. For example, in Korea, people tap a maple species called Acer mono and pipe the sap from the mountains down to the village. They drink the sap but do not boil it to produce syrup. Birch trees may be tapped in Alaska and Siberia but the sap is lower in sugar content and quality than maple sap.

So what are you having for breakfast, or dessert?

Photo by Annie Corrigan/WFIU Public Radio, used under Creative Commons license

by Elliott

Pull Up a Chair

4:52 am in Animals, Holidays, PUAC, Sports by Elliott

Rabbit Rabbit

It’s Super Bowl Week USA!


Last week dak went into Super Bowl menus because as we all know besides the commercials and then beer/soda – tomorrow is a day of FOOD.

Don’t forget, there is the Puppy Bowl X (starting lineup pics here -and the kittens) with penguin cheerleaders, and a halftime show starring non other than Keyboard Cat.

And now there’s even a kitten bowl too.

So if you aren’t going to watch the game(s), what’s your alternative?

by Elliott

Pull Up a Chair: Why?

4:55 am in PUAC, Sports by Elliott

So this is what happens when your Christmas Sweater has a 3some with your Flag and Quilt…”


USA Olympic Uniforms, Now With More USA! **

O.M.G. This is what the Americans are wearing in the Opening Ceremonies for the Sochi Olympics. It’s so bad even the State Department is warning the athletes not to wear the stuff in public.

According to the USA Olympics website the design is a “dynamic mix of patriotic references in a classic color palette of red, white and navy”. I suppose that’s one way to put it.

“Drawing on the heritage and sophistication of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and a tradition of refined American style, the uniform features a meticulously knit patchwork cardigan highlighted with handcrafted details and emblazoned with stars and spirited graphics.” And also too, “sporty” black leather boots – with red laces!

Ralph Lauren (here’s a note on his inspiration) won the contract to design the outfits away from Roots in 2008 and has been doing it ever since. But can’t Vera Wang do it next time? Aravosis says “this is what happens when you take the ‘gay’ out of the Olympics.”

But Ralph & Co are pleased:

It’s a proud moment for us to watch these premier athletes as they walk out representing our nation on a global stage in front of billions of people worldwide.

All in all, the uniforms are not as loud as the Norway Curling Team’s suits (I told you they were loud), so there’s that.

ABC has a slideshow up if you want to see the rest of the line. Team USA to Display Ugly Sweater Parade in Opening Ceremony? (seriously, they say that.)

So who’s psyched about the games? My mother loved watching everything, she’d tape whatever she couldn’t watch live. And we always watched the opening and closing ceremonies with her, most memorable for me were the 1984 Closing Ceremonies in LA, All Night Long. I don’t watch much but I do go in for the figure skating, I admit. Plus this year the ladies get to rattle their delicate bones ski jumping, looking forward to that. But it’s hard to watch the snowboarding events because I’m sure they’ll all break their necks. How about you?


by Elliott

Pull Up a Chair: Pets

3:49 am in Animals, PUAC by Elliott

Too cute not to share.

What was your first pet? We had dogs growing up, my parents were not cat people so I was in 6th grade before I could get my first kitty, and only after I signed a contract promising to care for the little tortie. We also had the occasional hamster, budgie and mini turtle you can’t get anymore because of the salmonellas. No way did we get pink bunnies or blue chicks at Easter although we wanted them, as usual parents know best, or so they kept telling us.

What about you? And your kids.

And feel free to Caturday this thread, firepups and firecats.

by Elliott

Pull Up a Chair: Winding Down

4:33 am in PUAC by Elliott

Rituals. I don’t have a bedtime ritual.

How do you get ready for bed? It’s last night right now as I write this and I’m a bit keyed up so I brewed a cuppa Nighty Night tea. I enjoy the funky“minty, mildly bitter and sweet, with notes of citrus and spice” taste and find the warmth of the drink soothing in itself. Since I don’t drink coffee during the day, caffeine isn’t an issue for me – but you? What time is your cutoff?

I do have a very bad habit of a light snack late in the evening, probably adding to my waistline, but I’m one of those completely distracted if I think I’m hungry.

It’s winter cold outside so I’m dressed in my flannel jammies. I’ll tuck myself into my flannel sheets. It’s 7°F right now, so I’m wearing my cap, too, a soft kitted beanie. Are you fussy about bed linens and night clothes?

Once you’re in bed, how do you get your mind to stop wandering? I usually have something on to listen to, not to watch, maybe a documentary (I do like to go to bed with Liev Schreiber). As for music, I sometimes get in the mood and will listen to classical music, maybe Tchaikovsky or Vivaldi. Sometimes just ocean waves is enough to distract me to slumber (best in person reclining on the lanai but that’s not happening anytime soon).

I’m not good at reading before bed, though. For me, I keep concentrating on the story so I won’t lose my place so my thinking brain doesn’t let go. Plus to read you have to have your eyes open, I wonder if books on tape might work ’cause I’m not seeing Schreiber stopping by to read me bedtime stories anytime soon, either (how lucky his kids are to have him read to them at night). Anyone try books on tapes at night? Maybe you have a podcast series that soothes?

The most frustrating thing for me, though, is to drift off to sleep but then wake up too refreshed maybe a half hour later – then I’m up for hours. Haven’t found a cure for this yet.

Since you’ll be reading this in the morning, let me offer you some coffee, cream anyone?

H/T watertiger for the wee little motor boat