Saturday, February 29, 2020

Drag Queen Bingo YAAAAAAY!

Cacophony Daniels sings with a few members of the Lesbian and Gay Big Apple Corps drum line. My favorite shot of the night! Click on any photo for a better view.

February's a rough month at work. There are multiple deadlines, all of which are important and none of which care about the existence of the others. Ends up involving a lot of long days at my desk.

One might even say February can be A DRAG!

So what better way to celebrate the end of the month than with WOOHOO! DRAG QUEEN BINGO! 

My friend Gail, who's been having a great time with all sorts of music following her retirement last year, joined the Lesbian and Gay Big Apple Corps  four months ago as a piccolo player. They perform as a symphonic band during the wintertime, and then in the summer they morph into a marching band. For grownups! How much fun does that sound like?

And in keeping with that spirit of fun, their big winter fundraiser is a Drag Queen Bingo Night.

Gail had mentioned this on her Facebook page earlier in February, and I just grabbed onto the idea of celebrating the end of February with a good friend, a saucy entertainer in sequins and heels leading
 a corny old-fashioned game, and some yummy cocktails. Gail was happy to have me join her and although I'm not quite as done with the February grind as I'd hoped (had to get an extension on the last project), it was everything I'd thought it would be. Just so much fun!

It's funny, I am a theoretical fan of drag - I like the idea of a glammed-up performer skewering gender expectations, singing their heart out, and getting an audience laughing hard with bawdy jokes - but I'm not sure I've ever seen a drag performance live!

I do have one great memory from one of my summer evenings at the barge formerly known as Pier 63 Maritime (now Pier 66 Maritime) - there was a drag show fundraiser at the barge and at one point some naughty, naughty person on board the fireboat John J. Harvey started up the water cannons. The wind was blowing the spray from the display onto the barge, right towards a bevy of the evening's stars. They saw it coming (you may insert a salty drag queen joke there if you like, hee hee!) and started to run away as fast as they could in their glamorous gowns and towering heels. I threw my hands up in the air and shouted "Run, drag queens, run!" and one of them heard me and grinned and caroled out "RUN DRAG QUEENS RUN!" and a minute later there was a full stampede of drag queens squealing "RUN, DRAG QUEENS, RUN!"

My gosh, what a Pier 63 moment that was.

And what a blast I had last night. What a great spirit there was in that room - the band and friends of the band are a really nice and enthusiastic group, with so much love for their 41 year old organization. Great stuff! Walked out saying "How did I make it 52 years without ever going to Drag Bingo?" Looking forward to next year already, if not an earlier opportunity -- and I'll definitely be going to the Corps' Spring concert. Sounds like fun! 

Ooh sparkly!

Me and Gail and our evening's fabulous hostess,Cacophony Daniels. Oooh, she's sparkly too!

Opening number

Getting ready for the first game

There were fun musical prizes for each game - this one was for everyone's inner hippy: bongo drums and a pair of finger cymbals.

Calamity introduced a variety of games. This one was called "L is for Lesbian".

The corps' Chairman of the Board managed to steal a little of Cacophony's thunder. Maybe that made up for the drum line giving her a little more thunder than she'd expected earlier. Her song with the drum line only lasted a minute because they were drumming with such vigor that she couldn't hear her music (she said "I didn't think this one through very well!") but it was fun while it lasted! 

Closing out the evening with a love song

Everybody dance! A great ending to a great night.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Cartoonist Steve Breen's tribute to Katherine Johnson

Just had to share this amazing tribute to Katherine Johnson by cartoonist Steve Breen. It gave me shivers.

I was so sad to read about her passing this week. What a remarkable life. I'm grateful that the "Hidden Figures" movie was made - I read a lot, but I doubt I would have stumbled across this history without the Hollywood production pointing me to the book. I enjoyed the film so much, and I enjoyed the book, with its broader range of coverage of the story of what these women did for NASA, even more.

BTW, I must have said something about the Hollywoodized scenes in the movie after I read the book, and a friend shared this really interesting site where you can see scene-by-scene analyses of what was true and what was added for an emotional punch. Pretty neat what they did - click on the bar for Hidden Figures and mouse over for the comparisons.
and then mouse over for the comparison. - 

Tuesday, February 25, 2020


Oh, that FB algorithm...sometimes it shows your nice things, but sometimes it's definitely trying to push you into a fight, just for the heck of it. Don't you think?

I put this together in response to a flippant meme about plastic bags that FB has been showing me repeatedly, from a variety of friends. If you've seen it, you know the one I'm talking about. If you haven't, it's basically grumbling about how since in the store is in plastic, why should we be bothered to use something other than single-use plastic bags to take it home?

It bugged me the first time I saw it, and then with each reappearance I was more and more annoyed. Finally sat down during lunchtime and made this response.

Photo was from Sheepshead Bay on Sunday. Seemed appropriate. 

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Logrolling Contest at Sheepshead Bay

Went out to Sheepshead Bay to enjoy the sun and check out the winter ducks that hang out there this time of year. I wish I'd taken my little Optio that does video because the action going on on this floating piling was pretty entertaining!

For gulls and mallards, the piling wasn't a bad perch, as you can see in the first picture. But when the Canada geese started trying to jump up there, things got a little unstable. One goose could get away with it, but then when another goose would try their luck, the piling would start to roll. If the 2 geese (and whatever smaller birds were on there) managed to stabilize it, that would last until a 3rd goose tried to board. I think 4 geese was the most that managed to be on there at the same time.

I wish I'd gotten video but here are action shots from a few minutes of watching - click for a slideshow view. I was really wondering if this was a game! 

Friday, February 21, 2020

Florida Day 3 Continued: Myakka River Tram Ride

My sister on the tram

After the chilly boat ride on Lake Myakka, my sister and TQ and I met up with my folks and Belle the dog. The three of us had reservations for the 2:30 tram ride (no dogs allowed on either the boat or the tram, so my folks weren't participating in those), but after a quick discussion we decided to change to the 12:30 tour, so we wouldn't have to keep a close eye on the time over lunch and birdwatching. One definite bonus to visiting the Myakka River State Park on such a chilly day - it may have meant most the lake alligators had said "See you later", but it was definitely easier to get on the tours you wanted. If you're ever visiting this park on a nicer day, you definitely need to get there early to get on those.

We'd been there exactly one week too early for the tram the year before, and my folks were disappointed because they'd really enjoyed that on earlier visits to their Florida friends. I'm not sure why our timing changed this year but again, this was a bonus to that. This park is one of Florida's largest, hhere's a lot to see and a variety of beautiful Florida environments. Our tour guide knew so much about the various areas she took us through, and she did a great job of taking the local history and biology and weaving it into a well-imagined story of what you would have found here and done here if you were an early settler.

She also found us more alligators - we drove into a Wilderness Area (with a sign with multiple warnings and rules and also vultures circling hopefully overhead) and shortly found ourselves in a sheltered swampy area. This turned out to be a popular nursery for the mother alligators, who are very protective of their babies and take very good care of them.

We also saw one deer - TQ was able to get a photo of her with his phone, I was still fumbling with my zoom lens when she left, but here was TQ's photo.

Before we went into the wilderness area, we drove past a floodplain - dry in the wintertime, it floods in the spring and there's a beautiful explosion of flowers. After the alligators, we drove on through woods and prairie, learning about saw palmettoes (which will cut you up if you run through them) and sabal palms (whose hearts are edible, nicknamed "swamp cabbage", and from what the guide was saying, pretty yummy), and the lichens and air plants that carpeted the bark of the trees, and the wildlife for whom this is home (our guide pointed out a pig trap, and we'd seen some pigs during the boat ride - pigs were brought to Florida by the Spanish explorers in the 1500's and thrived; the park has to work very hard to keep them under control). Even the Spanish moss dangling from the trees got into the story, as harvesting the stuff was one way of making a living in this area. Cattle also provided a livelihood, and in fact before the park became a park it had been a ranch - you can read a short history at the website I linked to in the first paragraph.

I'm so glad we got to do this this time, it was a very interesting tour by a very knowledgeable local.

Note later: It's bothering me as I think about this post how there's no mention of the people who lived here before the Europeans came. The nature of the tour guide's narrative wasn't a complete history lecture, she was focusing on what it would have been like to be a certain person living here at a certain time - but to add in that older history, this was originally the territory of the Calusa

All photos after this - click on any of them for a slide show view.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Presidents' Day Paddle 2020 - With Seals!

I couldn't have asked for a better kickoff for my local 2020 paddling year! I do have a little more Florida to share, including my 2nd and 3rd paddles of the year (no pix from the 3rd but it was very similar to the 2nd), but the Presidents' Day Paddle I called for was so spectacular, I have to share a few pix now.

Took a while to get to this first paddle out of Sebago - 2020 had so far been teasing us year-round paddlers with lovely paddling weather on work days and weekends of high winds and/or heavy rain. I have been heading for work wanting to play hooky so many times this year, but we finally had a day off coinciding with wonderful weather. Hooray!

Forecast was for temperatures in the mid to high 40's, and winds...well, as shown above. Sweet, huh? I put out the suggestion to gather at the club at 10, launch at 11, and head out to Ruffle Bar to check in on the seals we've been seeing out there regularly this winter. I had a number of "oooh sounds great but..." emails but by Saturday night I had a couple of friends interested - and what fun, it ended up being the ROMANY GALS (won'tcha come out today, and dance in the sun on the bay)!

It's a little silly but I do just love the look of multiple Romany kayaks out on the water together, plus Chris and Lori are just lovely people to paddle with. Lori's actually gotten a Rebel kayak that she mostly paddles these days, but she still has her pretty powder-blue-decked Romany, and with the Rebel being a lower-volume boat, and winter gear (even on a nice day) being pretty bulky, she decided to bring that one. So that was a silly little thing that I was gleeful about! 

The air was so clear we had beautiful views of the Manhattan skyline - Chris took this one, I took a similar one of her and Lori, and then after the photo break we headed on to Ruffle Bar.

Beautiful wispy clouds and reflections - 

And then when we got out to Ruffle Bar, we couldn't quite figure out what was going on on the sandbar here. We've gotten accustomed to seeing one or two seals hauled out here on the sandbar - this turned out to be six seals all snuggled up together in the sun. Unfortunately, because we weren't understanding what we were seeing, we got a little too close and it became six seals stampeding for the sea. :( 
As we were watching the seals, we saw another paddler approaching - he had a good forward stroke and we were expecting it to be someone else from the club, but it turned out to be a Manhattan-based paddler who owns a Pakboat and can jump on the city's ferry system when he feels like seeing someplace new. He's actually friends with 3 other Sebago paddlers who were formerly at New York Kayak at Pier 40 on the Hudson (boy do I miss having that shop so handy) but was just out exploring on his own, launching from the Rockaway Peninsula (possibly at the suggestion of Johna at Wind Against Current). As we were chatting with him and watching the seals head back towards the sandbar, another strong paddler came into view from the south side of Ruffle Bar - this did turn out to be a clubmate, Derrick, who'd decided to join us only left home too late to make our launch time. He actually saw us paddling out of the basin just as he arrived - we didn't see him but he's a fast paddler and our pause at Ruffle Bar was long enough for him to catch us. 
After a couple more minutes, we said goodbye to the visitor and the seals. My original suggestion had been to just go around Ruffle Bar, but we all seemed to be veering off towards the east side of Canarsie Pol, and when I suggested we could go around that, too, everyone agreed. 9.2 miles and just as nice as we could've hoped for. Lovely, lovely start for my NYC paddling year!

BTW, if you enjoyed these and are a glutton for er I mean and you'd like to see a few more photos, and in slightly better quality, I've put up a Flickr album. Click here to visit.