When I was a kid, I learned in science class that you can make crystals by dissolving certain mineral-rich powders in water. I remember asking my mom to take me to the grocery store to buy alum powder. I made a handful of crystals with it, marveled at them for a week or so, then threw them away.
Although my conscious mind forgot how much fun crystal-making was, my unconscious did not. Without telling me, my left kidney decided that crystal making would be a good hobby. Next thing you know, I developed a kidney stone, which I passed a couple of weeks ago. (Note, "passed" is simply the polite word for "pissed"). I'm so impressed with Lefty's work that I'm auctioning it on eBay. Just go to www.ebay.com and search for "kidney stone," or "Andisheh Nouraee" and you'll find it. I've even included a photo. My kidney stone will make a wonderful gift, so bid a lot. Like Rick Astley said, "You wouldn't get this from any other guy."
I Want Candy: I read that Halloween is the second most popular holiday in the country. That's impressive considering we don't even get the day off work for it. I certainly didn't. Poor oppressed me had to get dressed up and work! My first stop was Midtown's Biltmore Hotel for Q100's sold-out Jack-Q-Lantern Ball. The entire first floor of the building was taken over for the party. The two ballrooms on the ends of the first floor were converted to DJ'd dance floors while the long corridor between was a giant bar/mingling area. Other than dancing and drinking, the main activity was walking around and checking out people's costumes. In addition to over-used Halloween classics like "devil," "grim reaper," "guy with afro wig," and "sluttier than I normally dress," there were some impressive originals. Dead Princess Diana was a particular favorite of mine, perhaps because I thought to do it back in 1997 but didn't have the courage. There were at least four men dressed as Enrique Iglesias with moles of varying sizes. The biggest laugh I got from a costume all night was from Yoda. It was just a guy in a black robe and a store-bought mask, but there's something hilarious to me about watching Yoda sipping booze and flirting.
My other Halloween stop was Club Europe for the 95.5 The Beat Boo Ball. Although smaller than the Q100 party, the Boo Ball had a costume contest with a $2,000 grand prize. As a result, the party attracted quite a few people with very elaborate costumes. Boo Ball also featured some impressive dead celebrity outfits. Someone dressed quite convincingly as Aaliyah from the Queen of the Damned movie. There was also an enormous foam Elvis costume, the size of a couple of large bookcases. Is it just me or is oversized Elvis redundant? Dominating the "sluttier than I normally dress" category were two women dressed (barely) in immaculately authentic homemade Las Vegas showgirl outfits. If not for the fact that their bodies were more eye-catching than their outfits, I think they would have won.
Quiero Dead People: One of the great things about this city (and this country) is that if you're bored with the usual selection of American holidays, you can always start celebrating one of the ones we keep stealing from other countries. Last weekend for example, Woodruff Arts Center hosted Dia de Muertos, a festival to coincide with Mexico's Day of the Dead holiday. The Day of the Dead honors those who've died during the previous year by placing a photo of the deceased on an altar along with their favorite food. (Note to my friends and family: large pizza with black olives, onions, garlic and artichokes).
I didn't see any pictures of dead people at the Woodruff party. However, the organizers did put a couple of fully dressed Mexican skeletons along Peachtree for passersby to see. Festivities included singers performing Tejano karaoke accompanied by pre-recorded instrumental tracks. If meat and beans is your thing, there were plenty of booths selling that as well. For some reason, there was a Waffle House tent staffed by two people giving away Waffle House stickers and buttons. It's community outreach, I know, but I just don't think that associating with death is a good idea for a restaurant. Can't they just stick with Cinco de Mayo? More logically, there was also a tent where people were selling pinatas. I would have bought one if I'd had enough cash. By Sunday afternoon, they'd been marked down from $25 to $15.
Not that kind of speed, silly: The Andretti Speed Lab in Roswell is not an Italian-style crystal meth factory, but rather a Dave & Buster's-style playground with an indoor, high-speed go-cart track. I went there Sunday night and honestly, I'm not sure how to get there because I was driven there by Boundless Entertainment Transportation on a crowded party bus whose windows had fogged up.
For the full Andretti experience, go-cart racers get to dress up in helmets and jumpsuits and have their race results displayed on a board inside the lounge area. The Lab also includes one of the strangest collections of video games I've ever seen. There's a dancing video game called Pump It Up, where players stand on electronic sensor pads and dance for points. It's sort of like playing Twister really fast. There's a game called Wacky Duck that allows you to earn tickets for a prize by angrily punching innocent ducklings. I was so good, I won a York Peppermint Patty. There's also a sniper game called Silent Scope. The game's tagline: "Bring Him Down With One Shot." Nice.