Off-Topic 009: 52 Yo Mama
and Atlanta Part II

20Aug04 (Monthenor): Friday already? I haven't typed up the other half of my travel notes yet, and this is definitely the wordier half. Which means it's going to be over half of the know what? Shut up. In the meantime, we have above my new comic idea, coming Sometime After GerbilMechs.

Origins of 52 Yo Mama and Bloot: While Justice was doing signing-up things at Georgia Tech, his mom and I sat around in the graduate student "office" and occupied ourselves with...nothing, really. On the chalkboard in the room was some funny-looking math thing like "(funny-looking math thing) < very small". Hahaha math humor. So I drew a cheerleader much like the above, with a big word balloon saying "7^2 + 3 = Yo Mama!". Then I drew a little blobby thing by her feet (without the eyestalks, but with floppy donkey ears), and he said "Bloot!". Bloot! The reproduction and the addition of coloring went really well. I'm excited.

But that's still a year or more off. Next week GerbilMechs returns.

20Aug04 (Monthenor):

A Continuation of Monty's Atlanta Travelogue:

Being the Part Which Proceeds From the First, and Upon the Same Subject

Thursday: The trip out of Nashville was going swimmingly until we hit Chattanooga. A mere five miles before our exit on the final leg to Atlanta, traffic suddenly backed up and came to a nearly complete halt. As we had left five hours of slack time between our projected arrival in Atlanta and when we had to pick up Justice at the airport, it didn't concern me too much. At first. All told, it took two hours to travel the last five miles to our exit. It felt like even longer because at some point my phone informed me we had finally crossed into Eastern time. I had time to finish the last of the White Castle leftovers. So HOLY CRAP when the clock was three hours later than when we started, we finally took our exit and found that an accident involving a semi trailer and both guardrails was what had slowed us down. After inching past the police roadblocks, there were four open lanes of no traffic, during which everybody tried to make up for lost time.

It was during this trip that I got my first taste of driving on things that could be termed mountains. It was rather fun riding the brake for a full five minutes down a 6% grade. For comparison, moving south to north across eastern North Dakota is a 3% grade for the whole state! There was some beautiful scenery out there which caressed my eyeballs while playing havoc with my ears.

After crossing into Georgia I noticed two recurring road signs, and I'm not sure which amuses me more. "Bridge may be icy in winter" is funny because of the phrase "may be". Hahaha South. The other is "Stay off the median", which is repeated every twenty miles or so. Is this a problem in Georgia? People try to drive in the median often enough to require signage? I especially liked it when these signs were right next to the center guardrail of a bridge. I sincerely hope there are no actual cases of somebody trying to drive on the non-existant median of a divided bridge spanning a river.

We arrived safely at the Atlanta hotel, another example of exterior-hallway Southern silliness. Finding the airport, and specifically finding Justice at the airport, was dead simple. That's a nice layout they have down there in Atlanta.

Friday: This was the most unfortunate day of the entire trip. The day of Moving Justice's Shit. I had already packed his stuff into five linear trailer feet up in Fargo, and now I got the pleasure of taking it all out into a Budget truck, and thence into his apartment. Argh! Before this we fueled up at the hotel's Green Derby breakfast buffet, a marvel of lukewarm foodstuffs. Tasty, just...a bit old by the time we got there. From there we went to Georgia Tech to drop off Justice's luggage (thus freeing up room for the rest of us to check out of the hotel). It was then that 52 Yo Mama sprung forth from my hideously bored mind.

After Justice finished his paperwork we went to Budget to pick up the moving truck. Since they had thoughtfully rented out all the 10' trucks, they gave us a 15' for the same price. These extra five feet, along with the extra foot or so that the truckbed was raised off the wheels, would prove to be the crucial difference between the pain of the Fargo loading and the anticlimax of the unloading. We took the car and truck to the hidden citadel of ABF and unloaded all of the painful Fargo work in less than an hour. Since the Budget truck turned out to be larger in all three dimensions than the one in Fargo, without any stupid wheelwells or gas caps intruding into the interior space, it was a breeze to fit everything in. How lame is that?

By this point we were all ready for a lunch break. Normally I don't partake of lunch, but waking up at 7 does weird things to my internal clock. I obtained some delicious french onion soup from a place called Panera, which is apparently known for their bagels. After this we unloaded the Budget truck into the apartment. Justice managed to score a really cheap place in a really nice part of "town". It looks like a cabin in the middle of the woods, actually. Check this out. Again, it seemed a lot easier than any of the hauling in Fargo, probably because Justice's living room was a huge target.that required minimal stacking.

After this came the shopping trips to Wal-Mart and Target for simple furniture and accessories. I hated riding in that Budget turns out I have an irrational fear of rollovers. Nevertheless, furniture was acquired and conveyed home with a minimum of traffic accidents (zero).

Once the furniture was unloaded, we had no further use for the Budget truck. Justice and his mom would drive the truck back to the rental place, and I would pick them up in Justice's car, and then we'd have dinner. That was the plan. What actually happened is what I like to call Monty's I-285 Adventure. This is the adventure represent graphically:

Ha HA! What great fun that was! A self-guided tour of this five-mile stretch of outer Atlanta, leaving my friends stranded at Budget for twenty minutes! And neither of us had our cell phones with us! It all started with that first spike on the left, a wrong turn at the target road. Flipping a U there accidentally put me in a lane that funneled directly into 285 again...after which I made several bad guesses as to what exits went where. I knew exactly where I needed to go, which I wouldn't exactly call lost, but I couldn't find the roads that would get me there.

The end. That's enough Friday for any two men.

Saturday: Saturday was the big tourist day in downtown Atlanta. Breakfast took place at Waffle House (it's actual name), a franchised breakfast restaurant housed in a small hut. Orders are taken and filled in true short-order style, by which I mean that they're shouted across the restaurant and there is utter chaos behind the counter, cooks and waitresses mingling and jostling for position. It didn't occur to me until later, but this is the source of the hashbrown metaphor in Bad Touch. Waffle Houses don't exist very far north of Kentucky, so I had no idea the song was referencing a specific place.

Our first destination was the CNN Tower. Hurricane Charley was still ripping shit up in the Carolinas, so we got to watch CNN making live Saturday-morning broadcasts during the tour. Our tour guide took us through the basics of teleprompters and blue screens before showing us around the studios. Attention to the cute Asian Headline News editor with the Buffy figurine on her computer: marry me.

We walked a few blocks across town to the Coca-Cola Owns You museum. Coke was invented right there in downtown Atlanta over a hundred years ago, and they own the restaurants much as Delta owns the airport. This caused friction with Justice's mom, who is a die-hard Pepsi drinker. How embarassing is that? To ask for Pepsi in Coke-town. Anyway, the museum was fun in a bow-to-your-corporate-overlords way, with large Wonkaesque set pieces to entertain the kiddies. By far the most important portions of the building are the free tasting rooms. One room is devoted to different Coke flavors from across the US. They had Tab (yes!) and Fanta Birch Beer (diet root beer?), but otherwise nothing I couldn't get in Fargo. It was the next room, the International Room, that everybody remembers. Here we have a collection of strange flavors from every nation Coke has ever touched (all of them). Thai Lychee Nut (light, with almondy aftertaste) sits next to Korean Watermelon, Mozambique ginger ale next to Chinese lemon-lime. The breakout star of the room is definitely Italian Beverly. Billed as a "Bitter Aperitif", it will live forever in an unbroken chain of people who have been tricked into drinking it, who then must trick somebody else into drinking it, et cetera for ever and ever amen. I downed a whole glass just to be contrary.

Olympic Park was a nice quiet respite in the middle of the skyscrapers. It's a lot of big empty greenery with small sculptures or mosaics around the perimeter. Nice place to visit, but not much to type about.

For dinner we were determined to get Justice's mom to try sushi, so Justice found an "Americanized" place that was within a reasonable drive from his place. We didn't find this Ru-san until it was too late, but we did find three other sushi bars in the area. After mistakenly driving into an IBM corporate park, we settled on Hashi-Guchi at random. Holy crap did we luck out. Nothing says authentic sushi like menus completely in Japanese. It was a lot pricier Yukihana here in Fargo, but we paid for a lot of ambience. Justice's mom tried sushi and was ambivalent (and scared), I finally tried sake and decided I didn't like it, and we all had a lovely dinner. Highly recommended.

Sunday: Up at five AM Eastern (!) to reach the airport in time for our flight. Finding gas on a Sunday proved to be more of a hassle than I thought, as the first three places we stopped were closed, closed, and a car wash, respectively. I had White Castle for the final time. I will miss you, WC. And, barring lots of boring driving across Minnesota, that's that. I'm alive!