Articles by " Blair"
18 Apr
2017

World Juggler’s Day! No… Wait… International Juggler’s Day!

  1. Baqet III is buried in the Ancient Egyptian cemetery site, Beni Hassan. Painted in memorials of life’s loves and life’s joys hieroglyphics donned upon his tomb reflect weavers, acrobats and, pictured below, the earliest known record of juggling.
  2. April 18th isn’t World Juggler’s Day. World Juggler’s Day is the Saturday closest to June 17th. April 18th is International Juggler’s Day which is another way to say World Juggler’s Day which, as you learned earlier, isn’t today. I asked over at r/Juggling why this was and user thomthomthomthom provided a reliable answer:

  3. In 1998 my mother and I come across a juggler at Monroeville Mall who was demonstrating and selling a VHS instructional video and 3 ball set from a company called More Balls Than Most which mom bought on the spot for me. From their pristine, succinct and humorous instruction I grew skilled in technical juggling tricks such as; the cascade, showers, the reverse cascade, columns, the yo-yo, the oy-oy, the claw (what it would look like if cats could juggle), Mill’s Mess, Rubenstein’s Revenge and, my mother’s personal favorite, juggler’s tennis.
  4. Clouds of dancers and fog pall over the whole stage; lights crash, a creaking and wooing-ahhs and yelps of the choir spill over as a half-lizard/half-man appears from his smoggy chrysalis emerging into a heap of human-ish form. The clouds part, a cosmic witch of the stars peers through the darkness and drops a ball into his hand. I am enraptured by the poetic menagerie of Viktor Kee’s use of his body, the conquering of the space around him, all for the juggle.

  5. In 2000 my high school gym teacher Mr. Verico had to put up with not only me but also Shannon Norman in his class. Sometimes he’d teach the whole class yelling from his best Henry Rollins impression (whom he looked like) while wearing Shannon’s studded and punk patch bedecked leather jacket just to make a point; we were people to him, we weren’t just high school kids. For 2 years Verico let me juggle as my gym credit. I showed him progress, he charted it, I aced it.
  6. Contact juggling is when the ball, usually a large, heavy, clear acrylic ball, glides smoothly across the surface of the juggler’s body. David Bowie in the movie Labyrinth, for example, is contact juggling. BUT! IT’S NOT BOWIE! It is Michael Moschen who is crouched, blinded, behind David Bowie and with his right arm under Bowie’s arm he is the juggler behind the Goblin King’s crystal balls.

  7. In 2010 I made 6 videos for a friend on the basics of juggling and how to get started. Heavily influenced by More Balls Than Most I imitated their teaching style and made a sarcastically awkward set of instructional videos ridden with snarky quips about my balls. Here's step 1!

  8. I spent much of 2016's summer in the park filming myself and sharing the videos on Instagram and on YouTube when, through various video editing apps and after an incident of accidental artistry, I found I was able to convert my videos from what juggling looks like into what juggling looks like to me. The video series shows the transcendentally emotional, psychological and psychedelic connection that I have to juggling. I have never felt as if I were singular but rather, something plural and as I have always referred to myself as “we” and or “us” then that makes me a “they.” In the video series I show my selves in cooperation; I show you them, working as one.

  9. In 2016 Shipwreck Asunder is in the middle of barber school dreaming of straight razors and carnival tents when Mike Willis and T.J. Harris at Modern Era Weddings call him up and hire him to wrangle Pittsburgh’s finest circus artists. Modern Era Weddings (winners of 9 “The Knot” awards), a full service wedding entertainment, planning, DJ, and documentation company decides, “you know what? Pittsburgh needs a full service, comprehensive circus arts collaborative and we’re going to give them one!” Shipwreck calls me, tells me to get my balls and meet him in the South Side for practice. Now after 18 years of juggling I accept my first job as a juggler. I choose the stage name Zero, a character from my children's-book-for-adults "The Adventures of Zero and The Girl" which, with all the world's fingers crossed, will be published and on sale at Kards Unlimited in the nearing future. 
  10. Speaking of the nearing future... I will be working with Kards Unlimited staff to develop a juggling props and magic tricks section for the store. How will you know Kards Unlimited will be selling juggling props and magic tricks? Why you’ll see me and my friends from Pittsburgh’s Circus Arts Collaborative (website coming soon!) giving demonstrations and inspiring the youth of today to follow in our playful footsteps. Perhaps one day some child's mother will turn him or her into a juggler because of me. Which I think would be pretty slick.
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4 Mar
2017

ITS GRAMMAR DAY OR IT’S GRAMMAR DAY!?

Your probably sitting their on you're couch reeding this like, "I'm a native English speaker I don't knead a lessen in grammer."

If that sentence made you want to die on the inside, then this blog is for YOU! Let's get some things straight though.

First rule of grammar club:

We DO NOT make fun of incorrect grammar usage by someone who speaks English as a second language (ESL) because

you probably can't explain why it's wrong. I've rarely heard someone laugh at a poorly written sign and say, "HAHAHAHHA MORPHOLOGY STRIKES AGAIN!"

A person who uses ESL probably knows more about English than you do; as a native English speaker we take the rules for granted and don't question them, but someone learning English is like "THIS IS THE STUPIDEST LANGUAGE" and in many ways, it is! Remember this old gem?

and this classic:

A lot of the rules we were taught growing up (and by we I mean 30-somethings and above who remember diagramming sentences in grade school. If you were me, it was the BEST! If you were a normal person, it was the worst...but if you're reading this, you're in the former camp).

But here's the thing (ack! I started a sentence with but! Shame!) the reasons we were told we couldn't do certain things are not relevant anymore. For example, one of these ancient rules is "you must not split an infinitive." WHY MUST WE NOT??????? Because (eeek I started a sentence with 'because'!! I FEEL LIKE A MILLENNIAL!!! I'M GONNA STAY UP PAST 9 TONIGHT!!!) Latin.  The infinitive in English takes the form 'to (verb)' as in "to go". So when Captain Kirk says "to boldy go" he is splitting up that sexy infinitive coupling with a motherfucking adverb. WTF amirite? Here's the thing though, in Latin, "to go" is only one word, "ire"...BUT WE DON'T SPEAK LATIN ANYMORE.

{Can I side track to nerd town for a sec? K thanks. Before I went to graduate school for Speech Language Pathology I had to brush up on some basics, but I realized that these basics weren't exactly basic to your average native English speaker. I fell so deeply madly in love with my Phonetics textbooks (and teacher, ahem) and as a result fell so SO back in love with language.

Getting outside the realm of grammar specifically, here's an example of a super awesome thing: an allophone! So in English, we've got these letters that makes sounds, let's take the letter /t/for example: it's called a phoneme; it represents a sound. When you weren't looking, /t/ went out and made a family! That's right, /t/ has it's own fucking family, and they are called phones. The [t] in tar is different from the [t] in star; if you put your hand in front of your mouth when you say "tar" you will feel a puff of air, and that is called an aspirated [t] and has it's own separate symbol! The [t] in "writer" sounds like a [d] when spoken, so that gets ITS OWN SYMBOL (called a flap) and this goes on, AND THAT'S JUST ENGLISH! These other /t/ sounds are allophones of /t/, aka, bastard children.

And don't get me started (yep I started a sentence with AND; screw you, Ann Landers) on how beautiful actual 3D depictions of spoken language are.}

End side track...you forgot you were in brackets didn't you! We're back to sassy town.

The 2nd rule of grammar club:


We DO make fun of the president of the United States if he makes a grammatical error, and here's why:

BECAUSE HE'S THE GODDAMN PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES AND HE SHOULD KNOW BETTER AND IF HE DOESN'T KNOW BETTER HE SHOULD HIRE PEOPLE WHO DO KNOW BETTER BECAUSE THAT'S HOW LIFE WORKS

Going to leave you with a couple wonderful links: one will take you to a twitter account called TrumpGrammar...no explanation needed, and the second is a link to a study by CMU that found Trump's grammar to be just below a 6th grade level, Aslan save us all.

PEACE OUT (that's right I'm ending on a preposition. EAT IT.)

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3 Feb
2017

THE CUTEST CARD HOLIDAY ALL YEAR!

...is why we LOVE Valentine's Day!

and also we love love. Like a lot. It's our thing.

I'm going to try my very best to stay calm and not to shout at you during this tour of our best Valentine's Day cards. Look how calm I am. No hyperbolic exclamations. NBD. Whatev. I could care less. Ok let's look at some cards.

OH MY GOD THO LOOK AT THE PUNS!!!!!!!!!

punlove

Pun Love

Not only are these cards the CUTEST, and fair-trade recycled, they also happen to support an amazing cause.  The card makers are women who have escaped sex trafficking in the Philippines and young adults orphaned by disease in Rwanda. Each card is signed  and so connects you to the life you are helping to transform. I know. Crying. I can't even. Also from Good Paper, some adorb gay/lesbian designs because LOVE IS MOTHERF***ING LOVE! Ahem.

loveislove

Maybe puns aren't your thing. How about some SCIENCE! I'd say the more romantic sciences are Chemistry (duh) and astronomy (man crush on Neil Degrasse Tyson):

 

 

Science not your thing? How about the 80s! The 80s is everyone's thing. Except curmudgeons. These cards are by a new company we are IN LOVE with called The Found:

retrolove

Retro Love

Maybe you want that vintage vibe; check out these beautiful water color cards from Driscoll:

dricoll

How about these naturally occurring hearts in nature from the lovely Hearts Happen line, we have a bunch and they are all so sweet:

Hearts Happen

Hey if you like nature, maybe you like NPR? Eh? Safe assumption? Animals? Eh? Try out these cards from Lady Pilot, also a new favorite:

liberllove

Let's get serious now. Let's get down to the best kind of love. NERD LOVE. And the best kind of cards, OUR CARDS! That's right, these are homemade fresh out the oven best served with geek sauce.

hplove

 

nerdlove

But seriously, we have serious cards too. We have it all, and we sincerely love to help you find the perfect card so if you need some ideas, just ask! Hedgehog card? Yep! Cats? Duh! Dogs? C'mon. Cards from my grams? Of course! And don't forget, Galentine's Day is real, don't forget to send your friends some love. This party isn't just for lovers anymore;-)

with love,

Blair.

 

 

 

 

 

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23 Nov
2016

Top 10 Things We Are Thankful For!

thanks

Now more than ever we need to remind ourselves what we are thankful for and not take those things for granted. So without further ado:

  1. Nerds. You make the world go round. Enthusiasm is the spice of life, in a Dune kind of way.
  2. Leftover Halloween candy. Rotting my teeth as we speak, and Starburst are literally flying across the office at an alarming and dangerous rate. 
  3. Books. But seriously, can you even imagine life without? Don't. Don't try. It's awful and cold and dark in that place. 
  4. Pets. Along with books, make life worth living. Sometimes I look at my cats and get really tripped out that this super fuzzy little creature with legs and a face that exists on this planet is living in my house and likes to hang out with me. 
  5. Harry Potter/J.K. Rowling. We're pretty sure that Harry Potter is 95% of what we talk about here at KU, and the other 5% is usually about reminding the males to use the bathroom spray in the employee bathroom. (Note: We need more bathroom spray.)
  6. Each other. We like to create a family here at Ku, and right now our staff is aces. We are really lucky to have really good people working with us.
  7. Game of Thrones references.  Ok I lied, our conversations here are 60% Harry Potter and 40% GOT. We like to yell "YOU KNOW NOTHING JON SNOW!" at trainees. But in a nice way.
  8.  Star Wars references. Ok I lied again. Our convos our 50% Potter, 20% GOT, and 1,000% Star Wars references. Most used: "these are the cards you're looking for" and "that's no (insert moon-like object).
  9. & 10. The last 2 are dedicated to YOU our wonderful and loyal customers because I want to talk about you for more than as sentence. You are sincerely what makes us love coming to work everyday. Interacting with you about what you're reading, watching, eating, and especially hearing you laugh, reminds us why we're here. We have fun with each other here, but it's the customers that really make it all worth it. 

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your families, human and feline and canine and all. 

-Kards Unlimited

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3 Nov
2016

National Sandwich Day: Tips from a Pro!

Nobody gets me like you do sandwich

Nobody gets me like you do sandwich

 
On this special day, we have outsourced this blog to a pro sandwich lover, the one and only Marne Orenich. The girl has sandwich tattoos on her body, what more sandwich street cred do you need? Enjoy her recommendations!
 
I would never call myself a "foodie" (wretch), and I admit that I've been slippin' on checking out the ridiculous amount of awesome restaurants popping up in the Burgh, but if there is one thing I know to be real and true, it's that I am obsessed with sandwiches. If you want proof, you can talk to Bree, who drove 7 hours across the state with me to go to the Sandwich Club summit last year, or the tattoo artist who permanently drilled a hoagie onto my ribs on the way back from said summit (Bree got a grilled cheese on her leg). 
 
For National Sandwich Day, my dear friend Amanda asked me to write a little something, so I thought I'd share a handful of my favorite sandos from our delicious city. 
 
Buffalo Chicken Hoagie- Spak Bros
Spak Bros knows how to do a hoagie. I delight in anything buffalo-related, so I go with grilled chicken (to be healthy, right?), and ditch the veggies (wait, that's not that healthy), provolone cheese, and of course blue cheese on the side (yes, double cheese). Honorable mention to the Seitan Melt (or "Smelt") that every vegan or vegetarian in PGH is obsessed with. 
 
Tuna Melt- Hanlon's (Crafton)
Hanlon's is a little treasure, and a favorite of everyone I work with in Crafton. Their Tuna Melt isn't anything fancy, but it's done perfectly on toasty bread with cheese and tomato. 
 
Banh Mi- brillobox
Everyone I know LOVES this sammie. I actually prefer the tofu version, even though I eat meat, but pork and chicken are also available. I recommend getting the optional jalapeños if you like it spicy. (Please note that I do know of Lucy and her magical Bahn Mi's in the Strip, but our beloved Rick Sebak has already highlighted her, so I thought I'd give brillo a deserved shout out.)
 
Baba Jaga- Apteka
Described as "Veg pate, Polish pickles, smoked onion remoulade, pickled beet, mustard, house seed bread", it didn't necessarily appeal to me until I tried half of my friend's. It immediately blew me away and became a sandwich I knew I'd come back for. 
 
Rosemary Braised Beef- Gaucho Parilla Argentina
This one is memorable on flavor and size. When I first got it, I knew there was no way I could finish it in one go. Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs, and this beef is perfect. 
 
I wanted to keep this list short n sweet, but if you're hungry for more, I'd suggest watching Rick Sebak's Sandwiches That You Will Like, a must see for any sando lover. In closing, I ask you what Rick asks at the end of his tasty documentary: Which is more important in a sandwich? The bread, or the filling?  A true question for the ages...
 
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5 Jul
2015

International Kissing Day (aka Everyday)

My first french kiss.

My first french kiss.

It was 1989, I was 8 years old, in the 3rd grade.  I lived on a military base in Winter Harbor, Maine. Every Friday, a van would come and pick up all the kids a (in a legal non predatory way) and take us to Millbridge, the nearest town to see a movie. [INSERT EPIC MINDBLOWING UPDATE: while writing this I googled the theater, which is like googling an image in a dream you had or like that scene in High Fidelity where John Cusack finds his ex listed in the phonebook and screams "She's an extra terrestrial, a ghost, a myth, not a person in a phone book!"...basically you don't really expect it to exist outside of your brain because it's YOURS and it's the PAST...anyway, an article posted TODAY telling me that the owner died and the theater will be closing after 36 summers. True story: here's the article.]

milbridgetheaterSo despite my tears I'll keep typing. There was a boy I liked, but he couldn't decide between my friend Sarah and I (I eventually fell for her too, oof.) We all compromised and he asked both of us to be his date that night (yes, 3rd grade.) During the movie he had his arms around both of us and I was happy and sad and full of existential angst. On the ride home I started to pull away as the new Aerosmith song "What it Takes" (To Let You Go) played on the radio. It was raining, and I had my head against the window-it was pretty epic; one of those moments that NO ONE IN THE WORLD COULD EVEN UNDERSTAND because YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW because I was the ONLY PERSON TO EVER LOVE ANOTHER PERSON, etc.

So we get back home and as I go to get out at my stop, he takes my hand, pulls me toward him and says "let me french you goodbye" but without waiting for an "ok" from me. Everything went into slo mo and all I could see was his mouth open really wide and coming toward me like Alien to Sigourney Weaver. I closed my eyes and parted my lips for my first kiss:

wetness

strange suction

a tickle on the roof of my mouth

a slick tingle around my lips

what actually happened: his mouth was just on top of my mouth, we kept them wide open, he licked my hard palette and then circled my lips like he was Burt's Bees. Done. Over.

Suddenly, all that angsty existential darkness lifted as I realized I NEVER wanted him to kiss me again. I looked at Sarah and smiled as I gave up my claim on him and turned my sites toward her. Let's just say thanks to playing house I learned how to really enjoy kissing, and haven't stopped since. My fiance and I were featured on the cover of DC's city paper kissing at the Pride parade because we are both huge Allies, and because we both looked pretty hot. pridekiss (1)Just saying. I mean but really. When I'm 80 I'll remember these boobs fondly and be happy they made it onto the internet.

So, kissing pro tips:

1. Don't force it; move with your partner, compromise your styles if they are different and find your rhythm.

2. As I learned when I was 8, don't go in with your mouth wide open and don't try to eat your partner.

3. Remember to swallow once in a while.

4. Date or be engaged or married to someone super hot.

5. KISS THE ONE YOU LOVE EVERY TIME YOU THINK IT. If you're like me you worry about death a lot. So kiss before sleep, at goodbyes, and every moment in between. Because, death.

6. Don't think about death.

HAPPY KISSING EVERYONE!!!

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8 Nov
2014

Stoker? I Hardly Bram’d Her!

 

"I find that joke to be hilarious!"

Credit for that genius pun goes to a book club friend who shouted it out during a meeting.  During the month of October we read Dracula, and at first I wasn't on board. I thought Jonathan Harker was a complete idiot (appropriately played by Keanu Reeves in Coppola's version) and I could barely get past the scenes where VERY OBVIOUSLY TERRIBLE THINGS should have turned him around on his journey to Dracula's castle. If people looked at me and constantly made the sign of the cross I would maybe reevaluate my decisions in life. But really.

I am very happy I stuck with it though. As the diary entries from Harker decreased and the letters and entries from other characters like Mina, Dr. Seward, and Van Helsing increased, I was sucked in. One thing I love about this book is how everyone is constantly telling each other how much they love each other; literally every letter and every meeting is filled with praise about how great a friend and overall awesome human everyone is. It was hard to get some of the imagery from the film out of my head as I read; Stoker's Dracula is nothing like the movies, and the sexy parts are certainly not as sexy. I remember anticipating the scene in which Mina finds Lucy in the garden having animalistic sexy time with Dracula as a wolf...but in the book this scene isn't nearly as hot. Also, Coppola's version makes Van Helsing (played by Anthony Hopkins) a total pervy lunatic a-hole with Asperger's. In the book, Van Helsing is noble and compassionate, and does NOT engage in leg humping while screaming "she's the devil's concubine!" No thank-you. My favorite line of the book by far is Harker to Van Helsing upon their first meeting: "Doctor, you don't know what it is to doubt everything, even yourself. No, you don't; you couldn't with eyebrows like yours." HA! I want to start saying that to people all the time.

So about Stoker...weird to think of him as Irish, no? The name is so drenched in Eastern European-ness that I was surprised to learn he was a total ginger. I'm not going to go into a bunch of boring facts about him so I will highlight the good stuff:

  • He was bedridden with an unknown illness until the age of 7.
  • He got a BA in mathematics from Trinity. (ladyboner!)
  • His first work of non-fiction was called "The Duties of Clerks of Petty Sessions"........no thank-you.
  • He snagged Oscar Wilde's woman! (They both used her as a beard. I SAID IT.)
  • The original manuscript was lost and found in a barn in Western PA in the 1980's, ha!
  • In 1922, a German company illegally made Nosferatu and Stoker's wife sued to have all copies destroyed. She won the case in 1925, but luckily copies survived, and Herzog (my boyfriend) remade it in 1979.
  • It took him 6 years to write it! Mainly because he was a devoted slave (and maybe more) to Henry Irving, the greatest actor of the time, and worked tirelessly for him as the manager of his theater, the Lyceum. Dude skipped his own honeymoon to hang with Irving. Dislike.
  • Count Dracula was "Count Wampyr" originally.
  • Contrary to popular belief, Dracula is NOT based on Vlad the Impaler. Dracula means "devil" in the Wallachian tongue, but that's the only reference in Stoker's notes--and he was a METICULOUS note taker.
  • In the last years of his life he was such a homophobe that he was for the imprisonment of gay authors, despite his long friendship with Wilde. This is mostly attributed to his own closeted sexuality. BUMMER.

I will leave you with a gem I found in the spider-webby vaults of YouTube, featuring Mr. Morgan Freeman as Dracula:

 

 

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16 Oct
2014

Dear Best Boss Ever…

GameOfThrones_Teaser04_Screencap_12

So. Maybe it's her love of pencils. Maybe, it's when she said "Here's $1500 to never crap on me or anyone ever!" (I'm going to let you figure out that context. Hint: Take it literally. Hintx2: This is just a shadow of what we discuss openly.) Maybe it's how she speaks in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS ALWAYS, or maybe it's because she's the only other human I've ever met EVER that uses hyperbole as much as I do about EVERYTHING EVER because EVERYTHING IS THE BEST THING EVER ALL THE THINGS OMGGGGGPFFFFFF. Maybe it's because we understand each other when we say "can you do that thing because of things".  Maybe it is her load (hehe) of adorable catch phrases and colloquialisms that make my heart 'swell three sizes that day' like the Grinch. I'm going to run with the whole Grinch thing here not only because she loves Christmas (don't ever call it x-mas) but because it's sort of a brilliant segue...

The thing is, I was the Grinch for a while there. It was one of the darkest times in my life, and I'm 33 so I can say "one of" and mean it, as opposed to those people who are 17 and write autobiographies. I lost myself for almost a year, but thanks to a handful of people who loved me, I didn't lose touch completely. My boss, my friend; she gave me little doses of her light every so often, and she waited. She waited for me to fall in love with life again. She waited for me to remember how to laugh again. She gave me reasons to laugh. She reminded me that you get to decide who your family is; she reminded me that I'll always have a family at Kards Unlimited.

Happy Boss's Day to you, Kristen. I raise my glass to you, even though it's filled with champagne AND I HATE CHAMPAGNE.

P.s. I will now explain/admit that I totally used the game of thrones pic to lure people here. Not at all because IT'S THE BEST SHOW EVER OF ALL TIME.

Brian Boitano. I'm out.

brian-boitano

Love,

Blair.

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