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Saturday, November 16, 2013


I had kind of a comics-themed morning*. I signed off my last post with "LOVE AND ROCKETS," which pinged tangentially into a twitter conversation with Monster Magnet (I know, right!!?), whom I ended up twit-troducing to Darryl Cunningham, who recently completed a really great comic about Ayn Rand.

Anyway, on the topic of comics, I have some pretty rad friends. Like our Official Photographer, Kendall Whitehouse (involved in above conversation).

From his blog post San Diego Comic-Con 2013: Recap and Photo Highlights:  
To get a few photos of Gillian Anderson for my friend composer Melissa Dunphy, I camped out for the X-Files signing  in the IDW booth with Anderson, series creator Chris Carter, actor Dean Haglund, comic book writer Joe Harris, and illustrator Joe Corroney.
Yeah, that's right, he got me a signed copy of the new X-Files comic book because he knows I'm an X-Files freak. Like I said, I have some rad friends.

Here are photos of his procurement from his set X-Files: San Diego Comic-Con 2013:

San Diego Comic-Con 2013: Gillian Anderson

San Diego Comic-Con 2013: Dean Haglund

San Diego Comic-Con 2013: Chris Carter


I wish Gillian Anderson were my best friend. I have a feeling that if I met her, I would get nervous and behave like an awkward loser with the IQ of a fish and she'd do everything in her power to get away from me as fast as possible, but I still wish it.

And here's the end result!

I started reading the issue a couple of weeks ago, and had to put it down after the first page because I got too excited. Is that weird? Probably. I just knew I needed a quieter headspace to enjoy it, because as soon as I opened it, I started hearing all of Scully's dialogue in Scully's voice and it was TOO MUCH. Yes, I am aware there might be something wrong with me. I finally picked it up again today and felt pretty silly; I forgot how terribly short issues of comic books are because I'm used to graphic novels. My appetite whetted, I'll put "Season 10" on a backburner next to Game of Thrones; that is, I'll wait till the whole thing is finished and available, and consume it all at once. I suck at things that are serialized.

*I am not a comic book nerd, but I sure seem to know a lot of comic book nerds. Some fairly hardcore ones, too. I appreciate (some) comics, and I sort of hate that I'm clueless, but I understand the time commitment it would take to become ... clued? clueful? and I know I don't have that kind of time or brain space. There should be a word for people in this position. Cultural associate, or something.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Space Tourists: Collecting the whole Saturn V set

A week ago, Matt and I returned from nearly two weeks of traveling in a mini Roadtrop that took us to the Mountain Oasis Festival in Asheville and the Voodoo Music Festival in our love haunt, New Orleans. We hung out with some old friends from the NINternet and met a few new friends, and generally had a marvelous time, as evidenced by the photos in these slideshows:


New Orleans and back again:

But perhaps the most important part of the trip was the completion of our quest to see all of the publicly viewable Saturn V displays. Because SPACE ROCKETS ARE AWESOME. If you were following our Roadtrop last year, you'd know that we already visited Kennedy Space Center and Houston's Johnson Space Center (and Stennis Space Center), so most of the work was done. All that was left was for us to drop in on Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama, and for us to seek out the out-of-the-way Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans while we were down there.

Incidentally, I am a proud Space Academy Level II 1994 alum:

Not pictured: my very first ever "boyfriend," Mark from Michigan, with whom I awkwardly made out for a week. (Apparently I have always been attracted to the American Nerd.)

 Anyway, back to the Saturn V's.

Here is the list of Saturn V displays from the wikipedia entry, along with our proof of visitation:

Saturn V displays

  • SA-500D is on horizontal display made up of S-IC-D, S-II-F/D and S-IVB-D. These were all test stages not meant for flight. This vehicle was displayed outdoors from 1969 to 2007, was restored, and is now displayed in the Davidson Center for Space Exploration.
  • Vertical display (replica) built in 1999 located in an adjacent area.
Saturn V at Space Camp  Saturn V at Space Camp

Saturn V at Space Camp   Saturn V at Space Camp
  • One at the Johnson Space Center made up of first stage from SA-514, the second stage from SA-515 and the third stage from SA-513 (replaced for flight by the Skylab workshop). With stages arriving between 1977 and 1979, this was displayed in the open until its 2005 restoration when a structure was built around it for protection. This is the only display Saturn consisting entirely of stages intended to be launched.
Houston Johnson Space Center: Saturn V   Houston Johnson Space Center: Matt and the Saturn V
  • One at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex made up of S-IC-T (test stage) and the second and third stages from SA-514. It was displayed outdoors for decades, then in 1996 was enclosed for protection from the elements in the Apollo/Saturn V Center.
Kennedy Space Center: Matt with the Saturn V  
Saturn V outside Michoud Assembly Facility  Saturn V outside Michoud Assembly Facility
OK, here's the thing: we TOTALLY went to the NASM for our anniversary in 2012, but ... we forgot to take photos with the Saturn V. I KNOW. What is wrong with us? I guess we'll have to go again. But here are pictures of us at the damn NASM, and I'm wearing my TARDIS dress, does that count?

  • A possible object to be displayed is a flown F-1 (rocket engine), which was lifted from a depth of 4.000 meter (12.000 feet) in the Atlantic Ocean during a 2013 expedition by Jeff Bezos,which has been confirmed as F-1 engine number F-6044, the center engine in the SA-506 rocket which lifted Apollo 11.
I don't know why this is included in the wiki. It's just an F-1. So let me instead include this picture of us with an F-1 at the Stennis Space Center:

Stennis Space Center: Saturn V F-1 engine

Stennis Space Center: Saturn V F-1 engine

Anyway, point is, DONE.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Tenth Anniversary recap! AUSTRALIAN SURPRISE!

On September 7 (yes I know it was over two months ago, shut up, I've been busy), Matt and I celebrated our tenth anniversary.


We have been married for ten years (and two months, and two days).

Usually the first reaction we get when we tell people how long we've been married is incredulity, because we apparently don't look old enough to have been married for ten years. And it's true, we were basically little tiny babies when we got married. I mean, look at us:

We're wearing matching wedding diapers
The story of how we met and married is kind of epic, but the very, very short version is that we began corresponding over a love of Nine Inch Nails back in August 2000, and we met and fell in love when I came to the USA on vacation in April 2002 (for a recap of the tenth anniversary of that vacation, including goofy pictures, see this blog post). In December of that year, Matt came to Australia to meet my clinically insane family and propose to me, and in June 2003, I moved to the USA on a K-1 fiancee visa. Technically, when I slipped that engagement ring on my finger on New Year's Eve, we had been in each other's company, face to face, for a total of three weeks. A lot of people thought we were nuts to take the plunge, but we thought we'd be nuts not to do it. And here we are, still in love and having adventures, more than a decade later.

As I mentioned in a previous post, for our anniversary, we threw at party at PhilaMOCA for our friends, and played an Up Your Cherry gig with Jess Lennick guesting on bass, and Jamie Keagy from Slow Andy and Chris Braak contributing some guest vocals.

That was the plan. But as it turned out, a whoooole other subplot was unveiled that wasn't in the script. While we were setting up the space that afternoon, Matt got a phone call from his dad, who wanted to vet a couple of people with whom he had been corresponding for some time. "Matt, I've been talking with these Australians who claim to be friends of Melissa. They're planning on showing up tonight, and I just wanted to check with you that you do know them ... Jason? And a ... Linda Chesterton?"
"Don't tell Mel."

Jason and Lucy are my best friends in the whole world. We have a history that I can't even begin to describe, but it's long, and intense, and amazing. I hadn't seen Jason since he came to visit us five years ago, and I hadn't seen Lucy since I was last in Sydney in 2006. Of course, I'd sent them facebook invites to the anniversary party, because, well, I wanted to include them, but it was a wishful thought; I never dreamed they'd be able to attend. That's at least 20 hours of travel both ways, and thousands of dollars. Neither of them had been able to make it to our wedding back in 2002, and that was completely understandable to me.

But back to the linear version of events. Two of the first people to walk through the door at PhilaMOCA were my friends Julie and Meiling. This was unexpected. Back in 1998, Julie and Meiling had been Texan exchange students at the University of New South Wales, and they lived in share housing with Jason and me; Matt and I had stayed with Julie in Dallas on our Roadtrop last year, but I hadn't seen Meiling since she left Sydney (she now lives in Colorado). Needless to say, I was surprised:

Julie on the left, Meiling on the right. Photo by FIL Bill.
What were they doing here!? They hadn't even RSVP'ed! They were supposed to be in other states! This is very, very strange!! I hugged them, dumbfounded.
"Come outside, Melissa. We have a present for you." They took me by the arm and led me toward the street.

Why are we going outside to see a present? Did they buy me a car? But that's ridiculous. A car would be too expensive. And I don't need or want a car. We have two very nice cars, and I like them very much. Seriously, no car you could get us would be better than our cars. Such was the nature of my deep confusion.

I stepped onto the sidewalk and immediately my brain broke as I saw Jason and Lucy waiting to greet me.

Photo by Bill

Jason has a sound recording of the moment, and when I recovered my voice, all I could say, over and over, for minutes on end as we hugged and cried, was "What is going on!? What the fuck is going on!?"

Photo by Bill

Photo by Melissa Nicholson
In the aftershock of this moment, Jason pulled me aside to let me know that the surprises were still coming; unbeknownst to Lucy, her boyfriend (also named Matt) was flying to New York, where he planned to propose to her on Sunday. We had to figure out a way to get her to Central Park to rendezvous with him and a gospel choir. Shhhhh.

(This really happened. Skip to the end of this video to see.)

The only way I could mentally continue with the planned evening's events was to get extremely drunk. I'm actually pretty glad that nobody got a good recording of the Up Your Cherry Show; the few videos I've seen demonstrate that when I sing drunk, you can very much tell that I am drunk. Drunkenness affects the inner ear, and also the part of the ear that governs how intonation works. So embarrassing! But fun, as the pictures demonstrate.

Our official photographer Kendall Whitehouse was on hand -- here' a slideshow of his rockstar photos:

Also in attendance: amazeballs photographer Kyle Cassidy! Here are a few of the photos he snapped:

Here's one of my favorite shots of the night, taken by Matt's work colleague Art Noir, from our finale performance "I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper":
Photo by Art Noir

Things left behind: we received some really cool gifts, including lots of fun art, and some terrific entries on the "guestbook" we set up near the entrance:

Up Your Cherry: Matt & Mel's 10th Anniversary Party

The steadily more drunken offerings were typed on silk which I'll eventually get around to framing or making into cushion covers or something, and included OMG an allosaurus drawing by Bob Walters:

And the next day:

I love everyone. The end.