Category Archives: pageantry

Long Live Eurovision (a post by Anna)

Eurovision 2015 was one for the books. Austria brought flaming pianos, Slovenia brought air violins, Georgia brought crow feathers, and I brought Static Guard.

En route to Eurovision!

Before I dive into my Eurovision 2015 experience, here’s an overview of this mind-blowing annual event for the newbs:

Eurovision is an international song competition that’s the most watched non-sports event in the world. Recently celebrating its 60th anniversary, it’s one of the longest-running annual television broadcasts. Think: American Idol meets the World Cup, where every country performs a song with more pageantry than you can possibly imagine. Songs must be original, the performance must be shorter than 3 minutes, and no more than 6 people are allowed on stage. Past years have included rapping astronauts from Montenegro, techno vampires from Romania, and my favorite twin brother Irish duo named Jedward. It’s all for ultimate European glory because the winner gets to host the next year’s competition. We can thank Eurovision for introducing us to artists like ABBA and Celine Dion.

Eurovision 2015 was held in Vienna, thanks to last year’s moving performance by Conchita Wurst, who hosted the green room this year. I got insider info from my Austrian friend Elaine, who told me Vienna turned into a Eurovision haven for the month, complete with a Eurovillage and Euroclub. All public transit announcement featured Conchita’s voice, and the crosswalk signs were modified to feature same-sex couples. They even attached speakers playing old Eurovision music to the gutters. All in the spirit of Eurovision!

Vienna's Eurovision traffic lights

Vienna’s crosswalk lights during Eurovision

The final competition aired on Saturday May 23 at 9pm in Vienna, so we Americans made a day of it. As I left my apartment, Gwen grabbed a camera for the equivalent of parental prom photos, only this time I was dressed in metallic, had crimped hair, and in my late 20s. 

First stop: MAC Cosmetics to get Eurovisioned! Erica had the foresight to sign us up for free makeovers MAC was doing, as promotion for a new line of eyeshadow. I misunderstood this to mean that MAC was doing Eurovision makeovers and shared this with everyone I know. It wasn’t until we arrived at the Lincoln Center location that I realized most of the MAC staff had never even heard of Eurovision. Despite their confusion about our early morning Euro glam, we all became fast friends.

Getting Eurovisioned at MAC.

Then we migrated to Hibernia in Hell’s Kitchen.  It was PACKED.


There were raffles. There were brackets. And there was non-stop cheering.

Things are getting real!

In the end, Serbia rocked it, Israel rapped it, and Belgium got its rhythm back. The UK’s light-up costumes reminded me of that time I went to the Holidazzle Holiday Parade in Minneapolis, and for a country of amazing talent, they once again let the rest of Europe down (or up, depending on how you think about it). Although Australia was denied future hosting rights, they took at stab at the crown this year for the first time ever; I was an insta-fan because I love Guy Sebastian’s Lupe Fiasco solos.

After each of the 27 performances were over, we watched all 40 countries announce their votes with building anticipation.


Montenegro! (Their votes were later disqualified for complicated reasons I can’t fit in this caption.)

I stared at my Eurovision app, feeling jealous that the US was left out.

The iPhone app forbade me from voting.

Eventually, the Eurovision executives got on the screen and announced they had done the maths.

Swedish singer Måns Zelmerlöw won the gold, which meant he got to sing “Heroes” again, with the exact same set-up and choreography as every other time he’d performed that song in 2015.

The balloon drop at Hibernia was easily as epic as the one going on in Vienna.


Best balloon drop of my life.

Other awards and observations were noted by my friends:

Just when I thought the excitement had ended, the University of Melbourne announced that they’re adding a course on Eurovision this fall. The syllabus is amazing. The subject looks at Europe through the powerful prism of the Eurovision Song Contest, and it’s all I can do not to move to Melbourne right now. Until then, guess I’ll just listen to this Eurovision playlist on repeat. See ya in Sweden!


Monkeys Riding Dogs (a post by Anna)

When I lived in Texas, I learned that monkeys riding dogs was a thing. There’s a guy who refers to himself as “Wild Thang” and trains costumed monkeys to ride around on dogs. During my three years in Texas, I attended rodeos, barn dances, and hootenannies, hoping to catch a glimpse of said monkey/dog duo. I never fulfilled that dream.

This is real life.

The Dream

Flash forward to when my pal Patrick invited me to see the NY Giants. It was my first professional football game, and my knowledge of the sport extends no further than Tim Riggins and various terms I picked up from my young adult book club’s fantasy league.

The day started at Penn Station. We met up with our Belgian friends Reggie and Victoria, who’d bought Giants t-shirts and read up on American football on Wikipedia. We had a lively discussion about European soccer on the way to the game.


The stadium was mayhem, but we entered through the VIP entrance and headed to our private suite, which belonged to a charter jet company.


The staff in our suite asked us what we’d like to drink and mentioned that if they didn’t have what we want, they’d run out and get it. I ate three plates of buffalo chicken mac and cheese and a dozen chicken fingers.


I learned that Giants fans are intense. To our rear sat an over-served woman who provided constant commentary. If not for her, I probably would’ve had no idea what was going on. We cheered in sync with the crowd.

2014-09-21 14.10.49

I was sitting there, taking it all in, when lo and behold — halftime arrived. And then I got blitzkrieged with… MONKEYS RIDING DOGS. It was unreal.

Wild Thang and his monkeys and dogs

Wild Thang & Team Ghost Riders

I’ll end this story with this:

monkey gif

Hot Diggety Dog! (a post by Anna)

When it comes to pageantry, the fine folks at Animal Planet do not mess around. This was my biggest takeaway from attending the 10th annual Puppy Bowl Experience. Against my better judgement, I trudged through the madness of Times Square on Super Bowl weekend where organizers were expecting a million visitors. And doggone it, it was worth it.

If this is dedication to puppies, I don't know what is.

This represents my doggy dedication.

I double dog dared a couple friends to meet me at Discovery Times Square.  It was quite the dog and pony show, consisting of 20+ interactive booths full of puppy-themed activities.

The Puppy Locker Room

The Puppy Locker Room

Fun facts about the Puppy Bowl:

  1. The real thing is filmed months in advance.
  2. Pups must be between 12 and 21 weeks old to participate.
  3. These lucky dogs are rescues, and most get adopted before the Puppy Bowl ever airs.
  4. Producers smear peanut butter on camera lenses to attract the pooches.

First, we met Mo, the spokesdog for Mohawk Carpet, and were offered some free carpet samples.


Talk about a dog’s life!

The Most Out-of-Place Award goes to: the Twizzlers booth! Unlimited Twizzlers for all!

There were so many coolers of Twizzlers.

Sooo many coolers of Twizzlers!!

Then came dogtag time. Puppy Bowl reps were cranking out dogtags faster than you can imagine.

This is for a future joke.

My dogged effort for a practical joke.

Then they threw us a literal bone! With this exclusive bone chair!

Obligatory Game of Bones photo.

Obligatory Game of Bones photo.

And that’s not all folks… we visited the Puppy Bowl Hall of Fame.

Most Drooled Over Toy

Most Drooled Over Toy

There were 30+ screens playing past Puppy Bowls, but nothing compared to the fanfare of the real deal. One dog-tired pup was sleeping on the sidelines, while others traded in and out of the game. Except for a few dog eat dog moments, it was spectacular!

Puppes Gone Wild

Puppies Gone Wild

Finally, we exited through the Puppy Bowl gift shop. In the words of Florence Welsh, “the dog days are over” for me, but I couldn’t have asked for a better time at the Puppy Bowl. For now, I’ll be following @Meepthebird as she tweets live updates and waiting for Keyboard Cat to play the halftime show. Happy Puppy Bowl Sunday, yall!

The Night I Got Carried Away (a post by Anna)

I hadn’t really planned on going to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon inflation event, but once I left work and realized it was 36 degrees and rainy, I couldn’t resist.

Upon arrival, they gave out free Dole Fruit Squish’ems: the perfect rainy winter night treat!
I can't turn down anything called a "Squish'em"

Lee once ate one of these at Starbucks for breakfast, only to realize it was actually baby food.

It took roughly two minutes of balloon viewing for me to start asking strangers to take my picture:

How It All Began

The Photo That Inspired a Montage

Face to the ground

The Porta Potties really make this shot.

The woman who took this photo suggested my pose.

The woman who took this photo suggested I pose on the railing.

I had an older French man take this photo. I don't think he was impressed.

I asked an older French man to take my Spiderman photo, and he couldn’t have been less excited.

The photographer cut off the dinosaur topiary that was supposed to the the focal point of this photo.

The photographer cut off the dinosaur topiary’s head, which was supposed to be the focal point of this photo.

Don't make faces - they might get stuck that way.

Remember that time I got my face stuck?

The fun

Photo credits go to lady with the best Southern accent!

Hello Kitty

It was a blessing that no one decided to steal my iphone throughout this montage.

Kool-Aid Man

A Vanna White Photo

My hands went numb after 30 minutes, so I decided to call it a night. Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!