Running: WDW Inaugural Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon

Welcome our new guest blogger, Cristina’s sister, Cara!  You can read about Cristina’s inaugural WDW Star Wars 10K race here.

For a long time, I had a dream of doing a half marathon in Disney World.  When they announced the first Star Wars half marathon in Disneyland, I really wanted to do it.  But then I got pregnant and only wanted to lay on the couch eating McDonald’s.

I had my beautiful baby girl in June 2015.  I did not have an easy pregnancy and was barely active.  I was even on bed rest the last month of pregnancy.  I also ate A LOT of McDonald’s because it strangely was the only thing that didn’t make me nauseous.  I had a lot of work to do afterwards to get back on to a healthy lifestyle.  When the Star Wars half marathon was announced in September, it was just the motivation I needed.  My husband said he would do it too, and on September 29th we officially registered.

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Concert-ing: They Might Be Giants in concert

We want to welcome Bill Plasse, our new guest blogger!  Now here is his review of They Might Be Giants in concert!

IMG_0590Hi, everyone!  It’s great to be a guest columnist on NOLA Nerd Couple.  I work with Kurt and Cristina and always enjoy their outlook and viewpoint, so it’s fun to share mine here.

On April 2, I was finally able to cross off an item on the bucket list that I thought would never happen.  I saw They Might Be Giants in concert.  This might not seem like much, but if you have a favorite singer or band, you know you want to see them live.  TMBG has proven elusive to me – they have a habit of coming to New Orleans whenever I’m out of town.  This year, however, I proved them wrong and saw them at the House of Blues.

Who are They Might Be Giants?  At its core, the band is two guys named John.  John Flansburgh plays the guitar, and John Linnell plays the keyboard, accordion, clarinet, and bass clarinet.  Both sing – in their albums and show, they trade off lead vocal duties.  As their success grew, they filled out to a quintet; they are currently backed by  Marty Beller on drums, Danny Weinkauf on bass, and Dan Miller on lead guitar. They might be best known to the general public for “You’re Not the Boss of Me,” the theme from Malcolm in the Middle, or “Particle Man” and their cover of “Istanbul (not Constantinople)” due to their use in Tiny Toons, but their anthem is “Birdhouse in  Your Soul,” from their album Flood.

As for the show last night, it was more than I hoped it would be.  Two sets and two encores – counting a twenty-minute break, the concert ran about three hours.  TMBG opened with “Robot Parade,” from their first children’s album No!  This was an interesting choice, as enough of the venues on this tour are restricted to ages eighteen and up that they made a social media post asking parents not to bring kids to those venues.  However, the song’s hyperkinetic pace set the tone for the evening.  They Might Be Giants have been active for over thirty years, and might be forgiven for just standing on stage and cranking out their standards.  They did not do that.  The band put their all into every song, with just a few of their slower songs to let folks catch their breath now and then.

From there, they launched into their eponymous “They Might Be Giants” which ponders all the things they might be or might do.  Over the course of the night, they played songs from at least a dozen albums, including favorites like “Don’t Let’s Start,” “Ana Ng,” and “Particle Man.” Flood was the best-represented album with seven songs performed.  After that, the newest album Phone Power had several songs, which you might expect – a highlight from that was their cover of Destiny Childs’  “Bills, Bills, Bills.”  The art history teacher in me was delighted to hear “Meet James Ensor,” a (very) quick bio and analysis of the Belgian pre-surrealist.  They threw in what they call a “venue song,” a song dedicated to and about the House of Blues.  They closed the second encore with the song that everyone was waiting to hear and to sing along to, “Birdhouse in Your Soul.”

The band’s humor was evident in their conversation with the crowd. On taking pictures: “This is very important.  Take as many as you want.”  They warned that if anyone had giant smartphones, the people behind them in the standing-room only crowd would hate them.  They found the two people in the audience who didn’t have cellphones and chatted with them for a minute.  We cheered when they announced they would do two sets, and then they informed us that the second set would be much better than the first, so that we’d stick around (as if anyone planned to leave early).  They then admitted that the first set was about “sixty or seventy percent” as good as the first.  Their hope was that by the end of the first set, we’d think they were okay, and then our opinion of them would improve to “pretty good.”  Also, fans can download Phone Power from their website for whatever they care to pay.  You can guess the option that many people selected.

All in all, this was an awesome concert by one of my favorite bands.  Because of the accordion and the absurdist lyrics of many of their songs, it’s easy to compare them with Weird Al (another of my favorites).  TMBG is not strictly a comedy band.  Many of their songs are funny, but they usually ask listeners to reflect on themselves, their identity, and their world.  For example, in “Someone Keeps Moving My Chair,” the singer discusses the many ways he and his friends might torment Mr. Horrible.  Oddly, Mr. Horrible is unconcerned with their threats, as there are more mundane things that bother him.  We should focus on the things we can change, the song says, or maybe if we sweat the small stuff, the large stuff will resolve itself.

To sum up, I have been a fan of They Might Be Giants for about twenty-five years, and this concert proved exactly why.  If you want to hear great songs by great performers, look up They Might Be Giants.

Running: Surviving the Crescent City Classic by Guest Blogger Rochelle Pedersen

I’m happy to announce our first guest blogger to The Adventures of a NOLA Nerd Couple: Rochelle Pedersen! She is writing a great blog on a classic New Orleans tradition, the Crescent City Classic. – Cristina

2015 Crescent City Classic - In my costume!

2015 Crescent City Classic – In my costume!

Each year on the Eve of Easter, New Orleans hosts the Crescent City Classic 10K Road Race – the GREATEST road race on the planet! There are four main types of racers you might encounter at the Classic: the Runners, the Drinkers, the Chatters, and the Survivors.

The Runners make up the vast majority of the participants at the CCC, and they are there to run because they LIKE IT. They have all of the gear and they are not afraid to use it. I’m sympathetic toward their apparent Stockholm syndrome relationship with running, but there is really no saving them. I mean, I have witnessed runners in thongs and see-through yoga pants hauling ass. If you run in a thong, you are too far gone in my opinion. My husband is in this group – minus the thong – and he waits (and waits, and waits, and waits…) for me to cross the finish line every year like a good husband should. Bless him.

2015 Crescent City Classic - Heading out!

2015 Crescent City Classic – Heading out with my Runner husband.

The Drinkers and the Chatters are often intertwined. These folks use the Classic as an excuse to get drunk early on a Saturday morning and/or catch up on the gossip about ya mama and ‘dem. The folks often stop at establishments along the route for drinks, donuts, coffee…if they are selling it, the Drinkers and Chatters are buying it. Many of the Drinkers and Chatters sport matching t-shirts that proudly display their “team” designation. Others wear matching costumes that range from simple tutus and the ever popular “bunny” get-up to majorly inappropriate ensembles. Nothing is off-limits and hilarity ensues. There was a rather large group of Storm Troopers this year, one of which rode the shuttle bus back to the start with us. I was mistaken for a Drinker/Chatter this year at Champions Square by a water volunteer. It was an honest mistake. You see, I am a complete goober who dresses up for the Classic all by my lonesome. When she complimented “our” costumes, she obviously believed others were not far behind me.

2013 Crescent City Classic - The crowd on Poydras.

2013 Crescent City Classic – The crowd on Poydras.

No ma’am. I’m a gen-u-ine, one-of-a-kind, goofball.

Now my friends, we come to the Survivors category, which is where my crazy ass is firmly planted. The survivors are an eclectic group of brave souls who may or may not be ready to admit to being a Survivor. These people are not in the prime of their physical lives. I say that with squishy big girl love. (Remember, I am a Survivor!) Many of them are working towards better physical fitness and they are meeting goals by finishing this 10K – HOT DAMN! So very, very many of the female Survivors buy special outfits for the occasion – new shoes, new pants, new, rather strange, tops. This year in particular I saw lots of off the shoulder numbers and one very interesting twisted back pseudo-shirt. Hey, more power to ya, ladies. If it makes you feel good, WERK IT. Incidentally, what makes THIS Survivor feel good is a tiny top hat and half-tutu bustle. I am a member of the amazingly talented Mardi Gras dance troupe, the Nola Nyxettes, so I had to represent with my black and pink tee. All by myself. WERKED IT.

2010 Crescent City Classic - this is what happens when a survivor tries to become a runner

2010 Crescent City Classic – This is what happens when a Survivor tries to become a Runner.

I am proud to be a member of the Survivor group, huffing and puffing along, praying for the next water station. I am never more Catholic than I am during the Classic, y’all, and the day before Easter the paramedics might need totry and raise me from the dead one of these years. Not yet, though, and at the end I find my husband waiting (and waiting, and waiting…), ready to head to the post-race party. Watch out, folks. I’ll be heading for the red beans and jambalaya and your drunk ass better get outta my way.

2014 Crescent City Classic - In front of the Superdome.

2014 Crescent City Classic – In front of the Superdome.