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Archive for the ‘Happiness’ Category

Chicago Athletic Association Hotel

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

It was a men’s athletic/social club built in 1893, now newly resurrected as a grand hotel, with interior design courtesy of the team behind the ACE New York. I mean, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t drag Hurly to The Chicago Athletic Association Hotel for an investigative getaway.

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The first floor of the building is somewhat of a gateway to the true hotel above, but retains the club’s original Euro-style tile and impressive marble stairways.

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Also at ground level, for public over-indulgence, is the most glorious and glossiest Shake Shack in America.

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Shakes and/or super malty malts were ordered all of our three days in Chicago. On the handout for the self-guided architour I later gave myself I learned that “What is now Shake Shack used to house the club’s Turkish bathes.” Definitely the best and most swoon-worthy sentence I’ve read in quite some time.

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To rise above the black + white shakes and get to the hotel proper guests take one of four elevators paneled with original court flooring featuring the old Fencers Club insignia. How’m I supposed to truly live now, knowing that old club is dead?

Sigh…

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Then the elevator doors open and you walk into a tartan and turkish-rugged wonderland.

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Lots of leaf-colored leathers, and electric Edison bulbs. The hotel’s a working time machine with just enough mid-century and modern tweaks to lead the eye back toward present day.

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I spent a lot of time just purring at all the swanky grandeur while Hurly and my sixteen year old niece traded amused glances at my decor-oriented rapture.

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But when a space’s fireplace is huge enough to incorporate two conversation seats within it…

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…and features wooden relief sculptures of century-old footballing brutes, how can you not freak for the majestic chic of it all?

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The morning after we arrived my niece’s allergies hit like bricks, so she and Hurly lazed up in our suite all afternoon. I didn’t mind having to entertain myself though. I hunkered down in the library-like room one step up from the hotel lobby and studied my favorite of the club’s decorative arrangements: large leather daybed, kilim pillow piles, and odd-coupled oil paintings arranged gallery wall style.

Whole hours of my life passed, exactly like that.

There’s lots more club to show, and I’m a gonna show it all!

 

Fiele For Fall

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

The bottles come tied up in earthy little satchels.

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And the labels are made of linen-y fabric, lending your dresser top tray an extra dose of luxe.

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I usually pick out a new fragrance for fall and this year I went with Fiele’s Pogostemon. It looks so rich, and with its Indonesian patchouli base it smolders with a spiced, camp-fiery scent perfectly mood-enhancing for the season ahead.

Fiele offers four other wildcrafted and organic scents including Cedrus (cedar) and Myrrha (myrrh), but Pogostemon definitely had my name spritzed all over it.

Pep Squad

Monday, December 8th, 2014

I saw this sweatshirt on the Hickorees site and its vague goofiness amused me.

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So I bought it for myself so I could properly front my own One Man Pep Squad. I’m basically a 67-inch tall exclamation point when I pull it on.

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I’ve had a lot of luck with Hickorees this past year, picking up an expanding stash of Japanese-made sportswear with overtly American undergrad-ish graphics inked across them.

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They make me look like I’d grown up a member of all sorts of wild and rugged clubs I wasn’t actually quite cut out for.

This “Making of Contra” video makes life worth it.

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

As you will soon see in this new documentary about the creation of a not-that-new-anymore album, Rostam, the band’s smirky keyboard player, blacked out the white letters “YAM” on his favorite little keyboard so that it just reads “AHA” instead.

AHA, for sure!

The lives of these musical brainiacs are one brilliant lightbulb moment after another and I’m locked in the ultra-bright glow.

Northwest Passage – The Road to Twin Peaks

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Northwest Passage, if you didn’t know, was the working title for what would eventually become the very best anything ever: Twin Peaks.

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I was an impressionable and not fully-formed fourteen year-old when the series washed onto the shores of television, wrapping a dead girl in plastic and possessing my mind and spirit ever since like a supernatural demon. My bucket list isn’t terribly long, but touring the series’ shooting locations near Seattle has definitely sat toward the top of it for at least a decade now. Thanks to a Washington state wedding Hurly and I were invited to, my bucket list is now one entry shorter.

Come see what I saw.

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The night before the wedding we stayed at the Salish Lodge and Spa in Snoqualmie, used as the exterior of the hotel where Special Agent Dale Cooper stays while investigating Laura Palmer’s murder.

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The interior scenes in the pilot were shot elsewhere, which made it all the more difficult for the lodge owner’s daughter Audrey to walk in on my breakfast and ask if my palms ever itched. But right below me and my (not) damn fine cup of coffee (cause I can’t really stand coffee) was perhaps Peaks’ most iconic location…

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…The falls outside the Great Northern! Just steps from the spa, the Snoqualmie Falls looked exactly how they do in the series’ opening credits, though perhaps less sepia-tinged. The stunning spray splashed up to my face as the show’s theme song flowed over my ever-humming lips. In this moment Twin Peaks wasn’t just a show, it was real a place after all, and I was in it, at last.

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On the far side of Snoqualmie’s historical district sat the high school where Laura’s classmates learn of her death. I couldn’t get inside since it was summer and shut up tight.

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But I could, and of course did, faithfully re-enact the scene of the un-named Twin Peaks Senior High School teacher running from this door, shrieking with her hands on her face right before the Principal tells the student body to go home and grieve with their families.

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Not five minutes further down the road was the location of the Welcome To Twin Peaks road sign. Right behind Hurly, right where our ruby red rental car parked, that’s where the sign once stood. The summer foliage and mid-morning mist shroud the twinned mountain peaks in the distance compared to the image used in the first shot of the opening credits and on the show’s soundtrack album cover. I might’ve missed the spot altogether, honestly, if it wasn’t for the assistance of the otherwise useless Siri.

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Most of what was used as The Packard Saw Mill closed and collapsed years before, aside from this one building.

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The office for the actual mill was used as the Sheriff’s Office. In the pilot, if you look past Agent Cooper and Sheriff Truman you can see the mill right outside the interrogation room windows. The Sheriff’s Department structure, thankfully, hasn’t been torn down yet, although now it houses some sort of outdoor adventure company.

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Next stop was Twede’s Cafe AKA The Double R Diner. The cafe’s interior is now decorated tragically with Tweedy Bird stuffed animals so I refused to sit and order a slice of cherry pie purely on principal.

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Instead I alternated cell phone selfies with D-SLR shots snapped courtesy of Hurly and recited my favorite Double R line of Donna Hayward dialogue. “Why don’t you sit here and hold hands and try and figure it out.”

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Bar-brawly juke joint The Roadhouse was actually filmed using two locations. The interior was a Seattle performing arts center only my iPhone’s eye was able to enjoy.

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The exterior was located outside Snoqualmie and no matter how hard I listened I couldn’t hear Julee Cruise crooning from inside.

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Way out in Washington, far from anyone who might hear Cousin Maddy scream, was the Palmer Family home. Completely blocked from the street by towering bushes and thick brush it was eerie, sneaking through all that green to get a good glimpse, and thinking about all that had gone on inside that house. On the television show they never shot it from an angle that demonstrates  just how hidden the house really is from view, but seeing the truth of it, there was a sinister, symbolic sense to it.

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As our tour wound down, a dreariness came over me. I’d made it as far into a make believe place as is possible and there was an emptiness to that. I couldn’t ever get any deeper into Twin Peaks, or any closer to Cooper, or ever actually ask Audrey if she needed extra help with her amateur investigation into One Eyed Jack’s.

The complete un-realness of something that has always been and felt so real to me was brought to light. And yet, even if the ugly emptiness of the modern world insists on tearing down every last saw mill structure or slapping Tweedy Birds all over its restaurant walls to remind me TV shows are just shows and they live for a while and then they die – Twin Peaks has always felt real to me and amazingly, it still essentially does.

 

Black on Black

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

It was January when they first caught my eye.

February or so before I decided I for sure needed them…

BirkenstockShoes

Late (and still snowy) April before I thought it made any sense for a soul to be buying sandals in Minnesota…

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And then suddenly everywhere/shop that I looked, the austere all-black Birkenstocks they call The Monterey (not Arizona) were sold out, a subversive style from a season or three ago. Seemingly never to be revived or replenished.

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Then June came, just about the earliest it makes sense to manual-up in Minneapolis, and I found a pair in Germany that only took a week to work their way to me.

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A happy ending as summer finally gets around to beginning!

They’re my third pair of Birkenstocks in as many years, but the way they bridge hippie-chic with Helmut Lang I thought them wonderfully wearable and insanely un-ignorable.

Ace Hotel Los Angeles

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

Our last three getaways were to California. And we’d just visited Los Angeles less than a year ago. But I had such a transcendently sublime time at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs this fall for our non-honeymoon that I really wanted to check out the newest Ace location in L.A. basically A.S.A.P.

And so Hurly kindly jetted us off to the Golden State for the fourth time in under 12 months so I could scope out the just-opened awesomeness.

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The L.A. Ace is located, notably, downtown – helping shift the area’s once shady status from down-and-out to up-and-coming. A majestic movie theater/office tower Charlie Chaplin and his colleagues built in 1927 to showcase their United Artists’ films is the Ace’s set of bones.

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The grandiose theater lobby I thought would act as the lobby/public space of the hotel – but the theater is solely/separately dedicated to Ace-curated public concerts/shows and unfortunately closed off otherwise from the hotel and its guests.

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The hotel proper is carefully crammed into the theater’s adjacent thirteen-story office tower. There isn’t even barely a proper lobby, just the front desk/gift shop and then the hotel’s coffee shop/bar/restaurant called LA Chapter.

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But Ace’s strength is creating striking visual moments at every scale, and assembling beauty from mixing the old and the new with the high and the low.

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In the rooms, the little things bring big rewards. Southern California was crudely cool when we were there and the color-blocked Pendleton co-branded wool blanket on our bed was a soothing, snuggly comfort that I keep thinking a ton about, back here in the blizzards of Minneapolis.

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The in-room reads aren’t just generic city-centric publications, but indie zines about girl drummers and man-dating men. 

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Ace locations are famous for their in-room turntables, which our 12th-floor suite indeed offered – as well as our very own guitar and a stack of blank sheet music we used to effortlessly transform Hurly from a simple tourist into a soulful little troubadour!

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Nodding to its Hollywoody past, signage at Ace DTLA is stenciled atop schlocky old screenplay pages.

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And the walls of its restaurant are professionally doodled in images of tinseltown’s richest and most famous.

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Diners can sit around and order ricotta pancakes or avocado toast while subtly trying to celeb spot (pencil sketchings of) Keaton and Dern and Schwarzenegger.

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Or do as I incessantly did and gawk at all the ivy leather and tricky tilework and beautiful brass tabletops that makes LA Chapter so aesthetically delicious.

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If you ride the elevator up to the roof the sign for the sorta Less Than Zero-seeming Upstairs bar beams bluely at you.

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But once you step into the sun the scene gets a little less Less Than-ish. There’s countless kilim pillows, cement knick-knacks, a shrimpy swimming pool and, on our last day there, a chic from the last three seasons of Gossip Girl and a dude from the only season of Ringer.

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Other places, two semi-celebs from old CW shows might be the coolest and most beautiful things around you – but at an Ace, they just fade blandly into background players since its the hip-chic scenery that really shines.

Hot and Cold

Monday, January 6th, 2014

Last night, as Daisy and Mrs. Patmore swirled into the modern world with the arrival of an electric mixer in their Downton kitchen, I myself took a step back.

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Hurly said temperatures the next few days in certain spots in Minnesota were going to be colder than on Mars. He knows everything about almost everything, but I didn’t believe him until that moron that knows almost nothing about nothing (AKA Siri) proved him right. Last night Mars was -51 or something and this morning Bemidji had a windchill of about -52.

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Friends in my Facebook feed have dubbed it the Freezepocalypse and so to ensure Hurly and I didn’t frostbite-the-bullet in our sleep, I filled up the German hot water bottle I received at Christmas and tucked the sunshiny little thing under our covers right before bedtime.

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Battling the apocalypse-ish elements really isn’t so bad if you can do it in retro rubbered style.

Ace Hotel & Swim Club

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

We’re still deciding exactly when and where to do our official honeymoon, but the day after we got married Hurly and I headed to Palm Springs for a four day pre-honeymoon – or “honey’muse-bouche” as I dumbly dubbed it.

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Most people want to visit certain countries or celebrated cities. Part of me does too, but more and more my soul is centered around wanting to stay in certain hotels. We chose Palm Springs for a number of reasons, the main one being it’s where the Ace Hotel & Swim Club is located.

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Built as a Howard Johnson’s in the 1960s, the complex remains true to its roadside motel roots. It’s the majorly stoned site of the next five Lana Del Rey videos, the cinder-blocked setting of that sweat-stained Matthew McConaughey movie you never got around to seeing cause it never got around to being made.

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Being an Ace, I knew it’d be hip. But having never stayed at an Ace, I didn’t know if it’d be dickish and douchey.

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We arrived on site a few hours before our room was ready, so we headed to the hotel’s re-did restaurant, King’s Highway, for a lazy lunch. Originally a Denny’s, the restaurant has maintained its diner-style counters with swiveling stools, refrigerated dessert case, and breakfast-all-day menu.

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The food as well nods to the site’s greasy spoon past but updates it with a Californi’organic twist. Fish tacos, kale and date salads. Sunshiny stuff like that. They had something called Jamaica Pie which was key lime with hibiscus and worth a try just for its name alone.

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They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, and it must be true, because after two bites of Jamaica pie I was in full-on crush mode for King’s Highway and falling hard for The Ace all around.

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We’d reserved a honeymoon-worthy suite. It was big, but the little things made the biggest impression on me like the Red Nosed Reindeer double bulbed sconces over the bed…

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And the happy bag of Have’A corn chips stocked in our mini bar.

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After we got settled in our room we explored the grounds, armed with no less than three cameras with which to mount the first of our many Married-Men photoshoots.

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Our suite had two patios. The larger one had a citrus tree growing over the wall…

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And a fireplace I’d enjoy each morning while waiting (and waiting and waiting) semi-patiently for Hurly to eventually wake up.

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One day we hit the Feel Good Spa. I considered a hippie-dippy spirit cleanse involving crystals, but went for a clay wrap instead. It basically felt like getting massaged by melting butter and some warm maple syrup and there ain’t nothing not delicious about how that feels.

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The Amigo Room, the hotel’s dark and divey bar regularly books live musical acts.

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Hurly and I stayed up way past my bedtime our last night at The Ace to check out some cigarette-jeaned band that was scheduled to go on at 10. While they set up their instruments I stayed busy by super-modeling mob-boss style.

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I’m usually ready to head back home after a vacation winds down but leaving The Ace was absolutely awful. It wasn’t the least bit dickish or douchey. Every staff member was warm and normal, not icy or intimidating. Every sign, and sofa, and song, and french fry, and bathrobe, and cactus at the complex was perfect and magical.

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It’s bar none my favorite hotel I’ve ever been to. And it doesn’t make tons of sense to go back to it right away, instead of finally going to Japan or seeing what Africa is like or visiting the town they filmed Twin Peaks in, but I mostly don’t care.

I just wanna go back to The Ace, ASAP.

Tied

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

On our tenth anniversary of being together, Hurly and I drove to the ritzy courthouse in St. Paul and got hitched. Like legally!

For someone who can hardly buy a bottle of spring water without wonder-worrying about its aesthetic impact on their life, I was surprisingly intent on keeping our big day totally low key. I wanted the focal point of our nuptials to be us and our love, not how expertly/obnoxiously art-directed and Design*Sponge-y every needless little detail was. Enough of my life is sacrificed ritually to the Style Gods above. A wedding day seems like it should be void of all that ego-driven energy.

I mean, I own American Apparel tote bags more expensive than my suit was. And I looked at dozens of rings but the one that excited me the most was a vintage, twenty-buck thing off etsy. From top to bottom, our wedding day remained remarkably immune to my otherwise omni-present materialism.

And although we had small-scale simplicity in mind from the beginning, that isn’t to say that plotting our wedding day was easy or stressless. Being among the first same-sex couples to be married in our state, Hurly and I were working without a template or set of traditions to follow that reflects our generation’s revamped definition of marriage.

We kept it simple, partly just because we’re two dudes who grew up figuring weddings were for everyone but people like us, but I really hope in the coming decade that same-sex couples will begin to establish their own thoughtful traditions for future generations to adopt. And that it gets easier and clearer to envision what a Guy on Guy wedding should/could be.

Once it finally went down, our own Guy on Guy day was great. I don’t remember what words our judge used to tell Hurly and I that it was finally legal and that we could kiss, but after we kissed, all I wanted was a hug. Not from my new husband, exactly – but from my old friend, from my favorite friend.

My first pet name for him was Treasure and the name of this blog actually (plus my whole life) is a wink and a nod to him.

Adventure Time

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

As soon as the snow sticks around, I’m giving up (for a while) on Anna Karenina and cracking open my copy of Shadow on the Mountain.

I spotted it at a Scandinavian pie shop in Wisconsin this summer and the first sentence and a half of the synopsis sold me.

Norway has been invaded by Nazi Germany! Fourteen-year old Espen
is quickly swept up into the world of wartime espionage…

That was it. That was all I’d needed to know. Shadow is just the kind of old-school boys adventure story I like to read once Christmas time starts a comin’ and winter picks up speed. 

And I didn’t even know/notice until literally six minutes ago that the inside is inked with Moonrise Kingdom-worthy maps, and lyrics, and pronunciation keys!

I really never figured I would’ve spied something so treasurable in an otherwise tasteless little pie shop.

The Magic Kingdom

Monday, April 1st, 2013

During our trip to L.A., Hurly understandably needed a break from all the non-stop shopping, so we made an impromptu visit to Disneyland one morning.

The best part about The Magic Kingdom to me is that much of it never changes. Although It’s A Small World was closed for renovations in order to make it less racist/retro/worth it. It seemed the maintenance crews were in the midst of repainting/priming the ride’s facade and I thought the wintery colorlessness made everything all the more striking.

The last time I’d been to Disneyworld I don’t think Captain EO had even come out. There was a 25 year anniversary re-release screening and it was everything that was perfect and absurd about the 80s in under 25 minutes. And also, the audience was way over 80 percent Asian.

My favorite ride was as a kid was The Matterhorn. It maybe still is, although now half the reason is probably cause I’m all about Alps-ish type fonts.

And finally, I finally earned my first ever pair of MousketEars!

Everyone called me by my middle name, Scott, when I was a kid, so that’s what I had the grey-haired lady stitch into the back of my cap.

When she took it off the embroidery machine and showed it to me she exclaimed, “Oh, that looks real nice!” Maybe she says that to all the boys, but something in her voice made me believe it completely.