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I pity the fool

Who don't have a happy Thanksgiving


I covet the bearded dragon.

That's not a euphemism for anything smutty or illegal. On Saturday afternoon, I went to the Atlanta Reptile and Exotic Animal Show and I fell in love with an adorable little bearded dragon. This leathery love that probably shouldn't have dared speak its name blossomed at the Dragons4You table. Dragons4You was one of many vendors at Duluth's Gwinnett Center last weekend peddling the latest and scariest in extreme household pets and accessories.

As much as I wanted to, I didn't buy a bearded dragon. If I had, though, I'd be the proud stepfather of a 15- to 25-inch (full-grown) Australian reptile that eats mustard greens, flowers, crickets, and most importantly to me, has a long upwardly curved mouth that makes it look like it's always smiling. I would have taken it for walks, given it baths and maybe let it come to work with me. I keep calling the dragon an "it" because, according to, "it is hard to sex at a young age."

The most popular reptile at the show was by far the snake. Nearly every table had snakes and more snakes. The big ones were kept in cages and the smaller ones, believe it or not, were usually stored and displayed in those little plastic containers in which grocery store delis pack prepared food. The sides were punctured with ball point pen-sized holes so the snakes could breathe. I never considered myself scared of snakes, but there were so many of them packed in the same flimsy plastic tubs that Whole Foods packs its tuna salad in (minus the rubber band they put on at checkout) that I did get nervous chills a couple of times.

What do deadly snakes cost these days? Good question. A baby albino Granite Burmese Python (which grows to 18 feet in length) can set you back $450. Feeding them isn't cheap, either. I saw a guy buy a bag of 50 frozen white mice for $25. If your python turns out to be one of those food snobs that only eats fresh rodents, you can easily quadruple that per mouse price. If you ask me, though, that's a small price to pay to be "that dude at the park with the snake."

Gimme some money: On Sunday night, the always charitable and generous Jake's Toadhouse decided to raise a little cash for a cause close to its beer-filled heart -- itself. Toadhouse regulars coughed up $10 for an evening of music, beer and pork -- a more expensive night than usual, but all in the name of raising money for some needed renovations.

The music playing during my couple of hours on premises was bluegrass. A band called Packway Handle was beautifully authentic, even when it covered Madonna's "Like A Prayer." Bobby Miller & Friends were also fantastic, with Miller's mandolin in particular managing to be virtuosic, but at the same time loose and party-appropriate. The band was so hoppin' that a woman in a German beer frau costume was inspired to hula-hoop to it in front of the stage.

Near the end of his set, Miller asked, "Where would we be without Jake's?" A woman from the audience replied, "Home sober."

Comical: Next time I'm in the market for an expensive hobby, I think I'm gonna pick up comic reading and collecting. I never really paid much attention to comics before, but on Sunday afternoon I went to the Atlanta Comic Convention with my friend Pete, whose knowledge of both quality classics and history's hilariously awful comics, finally made the world of comics seem inviting to me.

Me being me, I tend to remember the hilariously awful ones rather than the quality classics. The hilariously awful one I saw on Sunday that I keep thinking about is the super-collectible Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen series. They're visually appealing, but the plot lines teased on the cover (e.g., "How can Jimmy cut Superman's indestructible Hair of Steel?") indicate that perhaps they'd stretched the Superman franchise a bit too far.

I can't afford any Jimmy Olsens, but I didn't come home empty-handed. Sitting next to me right now is a $2, beat-up copy of Welcome Back, Kotter, the comic book. "Those sensational Sweat Hogs are at it again!" teases the cover. I also bought a Mr. T doll for $8. The price tag said, "I pity the fool who don't buy me!"

Art-a-roni: Last Friday night, Agnes Scott College's Dalton Gallery held a closing reception for its terrific group show, Gathering. The show consisted of art made from found or discarded objects -- objects "gathered" by the artists.

I arrived a little late, so if there was any fighting, cursing or a hula-hooping beer frau, I missed it. With the gallery mostly empty, I did get to focus on the art a little more than I usually would, though. My favorite piece, and according to co-curator Lisa Alembik, one of the most popular pieces in the show, was Thornton Dial's bleak "The Fog At Night." On a wall-sized surface, Dial created what looks (to me, anyway) like a snapshot of the remains of a demolished home. Its tangled rags and sheets, a broken doll and a single shoe are covered with a mostly white and gray sheen. I think what amazes me most about it is how a pile of garbage with a little dull paint is capable of evoking so much sadness and horror.

The other most memorable piece wasn't a piece at all. It was a room. Bridget Conn took one of the gallery's large alcoves and turned it into what she called "Pantheon (Incantation Room)." The walls were lined with mass quantities of stiffly arranged objects such as tiny shelves holding up single sugar cubes and several rows of teacups with a single dead bee in them. To the casual onlooker, though, the installation's most outstanding feature was rice. Four floor-to-ceiling swaths of rice. Each set consisted of about 40 perfectly straight rows of single grains of rice lined up next to one another. Imagine Uncle Ben's apartment shortly before his friends intervened and forced him to seek treatment for his OCD.

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