Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Polaroid 420

In the winter of 2011 James bought me a Polaroid 420 Land Camera from a cozy photography shop in Tremont. I quickly became obsessed with instant photography.

I've got three packs of the now discontinued Fuji FP-3000B film left in my fridge, each with a November expiration date.

The remaining packs traveled with me from Seattle to Monterey. Along the way I tried my best to capture most of our stops along the way. I shot two surfers at Cape Kiwanda (one of those shots blew away, unfortunately), a bookstore cat in Seattle, redwood-lined roads in Northern California. And then I broke my foot outside of the Monterey Bay Aquarium and missed the opportunity to shoot all of Monterey, Big Sur, San Francisco, and Berkeley.

So now those three packs are back in my refrigerator, here in Lakewood, in the house I bought from the owner of that cozy photography shop in Tremont.

I don't know what I'll do when I've finished the last pack of my favorite film, rendering my beloved 420 obsolete. I don't know if I'll switch formats, if I'll feel the same passion for photography.

I don't know if I'll start playing shows again, finish the chapbook I'm working on, record my Christmas EP, produce regular sketch shows, or do the other hundred things I've wanted to do over the years. All I know right now is that I want to try harder.

So I'll make the most of these last 34 shots, and while I do that I'll spend more time on other projects that matter to me. That's all for now.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Denver Day 4: Tulo!

Breckenridge Brewery served us an insane brunch. Their western-Mexican culinary flair manifested itself in spicy queso egg bakes, creamy chorizo gravy over biscuits, seasoned homefries with bell peppers and onions, bacon, and delicious green grapes coated in yogurt and drizzled with the same agave nectar that's used in their famous Agave Wheat.

With my breakfast, I threw back a surprisingly hoppy and subtly spiced saison that I probably won't ever taste again. Their brown ale was also quite good. In Cleveland, we are never far from Breckendridge's oatmeal stout, Avalanche amber, and vanilla porter. It was cool to sample some different non-flagship beers from the 'ridge.

Another thing I respect about the Breckenridge brew pub is that they are a barbecue restaurant. Most of the brewpubs we visited (if not all of them) offered the same mix of ethnic sausage platters, pizzas, beer cheese soup, and burgers. Seeing a pub that specializes in something different different was refreshing.

After our Breck tour, we somehow ended up getting a private tour of Great Divide outside of regular business hours.

Great Divide's pub is tiny. Our group of 30 stifled all natural movement and filled the place with hot breath and noise. It wasn't until our group split in half for tours that I noticed the cool handmade wooden boxes filled with found objects hanging on the walls. I instantly fell in love with the Hoss, a rye lager branded with a label like a Woolrich jacket. My smoked baltic porter was also a treat.

The tour was brisk, but interesting. The guide, like the others, assumed that we were already familiar with the brewing process and instead concentrated on the history of the brewery and pub, which was once a milk bottling plant. He explained how Great Divide received a grant to build their brewpub in this vacant and somewhat depressed area, as they promised jobs, environmental stewardship, and tourism. For as much as these smaller breweries teased New Belgium for its in-your-face touchy-feely mission statements, they all kind of do the same, with just a little more subtlety and a healthy dose of self-awareness.

On our last day of organized brewery touring, James and I scored two tickets to the would-be sellout Rockies/Giants game at Coors Field. Sated by a coal-fired veggie pizza, we hiked up the steps to our seats, located above the purple row of seats that marks a mile above sea level.

On that night, the Rockies were still playoff contenders, though their hopes have pretty much been dashed since. Early in the game a foul ball sliced into the stands and the stadium heaved a collective gasp. I laughed and noted to James that this was a pretty dramatic, reactive crowd before realizing that it has been so long since I attended a sold-out baseball game. The last Indians game I attended had only 6,000 other attendants. In a crowd like that, you don't get that grand reaction. You hear individual conversations float lazily over rows of empty seats. From the right spots you can hear the guys in the press box announcing for radio.
It was in that moment of sonic unity that I became invested in this game. The stakes were tangible. I rose excitedly for every base hit. I slammed my fist against the armrest when the starting pitcher got lit up in his first few innings. I high-fived the big dude next to me who was kind enough to share his giant bag of peanuts, so long as we agree to tolerate his newlywed jokes.

We watched the rest of the game after the fifth from various walkways throughout Coors Field and happily stayed to holler and high-five when the game came down to a thrilling play at the plate with two outs in the bottom of the tenth. This kind of win in the cold thin September air always takes me back to the golden years at Jacobs field. October baseball felt close again at Coors Field. It broke my heart to think of returning home to the losing team I call mine, but for that one night I got to hang my hopes on somebody else's hometeam. I hope it wasn't my Clevelander aura that jinxed them when we packed up and left town after that big win, four games behind in the wildcard race.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Denver Day 3: Business Time

Our three-brewery excursion exhausted us. We woke with dry mouths and nagging headaches which would only be quelled by a rigorous morning workout and several cups of tap water.

Working out at this elevation is humbling. Just shuffling on an elliptical with little resistance for a mile was taxing. I took shallow and unfulfilling breaths. Still, to commit to working out while slightly hung over and still jet lagged gave me a burst of positivity that I carried with me on the bus to Boulder.

James and I were nuts enough to crack open a beer on the way to more beer. We shared a crisp, malty blonde sharply packaged in an aluminum can by Ska Brewing Company. As we polished off our can and turned our eyes forward, we were overwhelmed by the beautiful severity of the Rocky Mountains beyond the bus' dashboard. We were driving into those mountains, or they were about to consume us. Either way, the view was impressive. We wondered about the scattered lodges and houses built onto the sides of the mountain range. Recalling Colorado's recent brush fires added drama to the scene.

A skankin' good brew

Boulder Brewing Company stands at the feet of the Rockies. The door at the loading dock rolls up to reveal the snow-crested mountains. When we first arrived at the scene we were greeted with an outdoor beer garden picnic, complete with centerpieces and decorative hop vine garlands. The grillmaster hooked his iPod up to a portable stereo and we all received a pint of our choice to as a party favor. I opted for the Buffalo Gold, a golden ale that I've never seen in Ohio, even though it's been a staple at Colorado's first microbrewery since 1989.

If I worked at this brewery I'd keep the door open year-round

Our tour guide, affectionately dubbed Chicken Dan for reasons less interesting than the nickname itself, was goofy, sarcastic, wily, and endlessly entertaining. He led the tour in Willy Wonka fashion, madly gesturing towards various brewhouse elements with a long metal keg rod. His humor and vibrancy set this tour apart from the others. You can only see so many towering fermentors and bottling lines before they all start to look the same.

Chicken Dan and his pole

One anecdote that I fondly recall from Dan's tour is that Boulder Brewing Company started in a goat shed. For this reason, Boulder decorates its mug club mugs and pub walls with goats.

Our picnic at Boulder consisted of grilled burgers, brats, and hot dogs with a delicious potato salad and chips. I gave the vegetarian barley burger a shot, and it was delicious. The best beer I tasted on our trip (or one of them) was Boulder's dark mild English ale, named Business Time. This flavorful well-balanced session beer was fresh off a gold medal win at last week's Great American Beer Festival. The brew was so named because its low alcohol content makes it a manageable lunch hour beer, but when the marketing folks got a hold of it they turned the name into a Flight of the Conchords reference. Because James removed my garter to this song at our wedding, a marketing guy printed us two limited edition posters for the beer on excellent stock for no cost.

Sampling toasted malt gave us a great idea for a new cereal

The tour of Avery Brewing was fast and unremarkable, though our guide was personable enough. I think he knew we were already familiar with the brewing process and just wanted to get us to the good stuff: the beer. Avery is oddly located in an industrial park, so even though the pub itself is comfortable, it's tucked away in a place that I would probably avoid on weekends if I were a local. But again, the beer is what's important, and Avery does a fine job creating delicious small-batch treats. Some standouts included the casked sour ale (tapped by a tough dude with a sledgehammer!) and a passionfruit wheat beer unlike anything I've ever tasted. We spent some time playing with two retrievers hanging around the brewery and took home free branded glasses.

Tap that sour!

After two straight days of consuming nothing but beer, my new husband and I required a different kind of refreshment and some time away from the throng. For cocktails, the concierge recommended the Brown Palace, Colorado's oldest hotel, conveniently located a block away.

We were not prepared for the elegance and classic opulence of this hotel. Marble, onyx, carved wood, disarming high-ceilinged beauty. Our footsteps patted against the floor and their echoes hung importantly in the air. We were walking towards the Churchill Room, a cigar bar that James noted was probably once meant to be enjoyed by men only. For whatever reason, I found this to be dreadfully romantic. I ordered a Manhattan, which arrived in halves: one in a martini glass and the other in a shot glass placed in the center of a small, shallow bundt-shaped pan of ice. This perplexed me and I felt like a rube until our waitress assured us that this serving method was a Brown Palace exclusive.

James and I traded puffs of a mild cigar and he shared the muddled cherries from his old fashioned. Yes, we capped a day of drinking with more drinking. But being in a dark oaky room with James and looking into his eyes through the cigar smoke that rolled fluidly from his lips made me realize why we are doing this thing together and I felt overwhelmingly in love in that room.

Our beer tour friends let us snuggle in the throne at Avery

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Denver Day 2: Is that Ed Helms?

These people can drink. They are tireless and unflinching in their consumption of beer. They put me to shame. They also do not weigh 115 pounds, so I try not to get discouraged when I can't keep up.

We had our first brewery tour today at New Belgium, but our bus mates were not about to wait until we got to the brewery in Fort Collins to imbibe. They drank Oskar Blues and Ska Brewery cans from a cooler on the seat across from us. We were patient.

New Belgium is the third largest craft brewery in America, behind Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada. This fact was surprising to me, considering that New Belgium's distribution is limited to just a few states. While Ohio may get surprised with the occasional errant sixer of Fat Tire, we do not get to partake in any of their beers 99.9% of the time.

One of the limited edition New Belgium bicycles.

I have to say, I fell in love with New Belgium Brewery. They are real environmental stewards in every way. Yes, they tend to brag about it, but they have every right to. Their brewery has been employee-owned for several years. They rely on natural light, solar panels, and wind power to produce their beer. Spent grain goes to farms (a fairly common process). They reuse water. They have communal bikes that employees can use to travel around Fort Collins. And after each employee's first year, he or she receives a free limited edition New Belgium bicycle. After five years, they receive an all-expenses paid trip to Belgium. It sounds like a truly awesome place to work. There's also a metal curly slide that takes employees from the catwalk above the bottling area to the main floor of the brewery. We got to go down it!

I did my best to catch James coming down the slide!

Our beers were fantastic. My favorite was the 1554 black lager. It was crisp, roasty-toasty, and refreshing. Brewing black lagers seems to be a big trend right now with craft brewers, and I'm totally okay with that. I also got a snifter of one of their "Lips of Faith" beers, which are basically experimental small-batches that they release for brewpub visitors. This one was called La Folie, a sour ale that tasted like granny smith apples. So good. The best beer of the day by far. It's a shame that I'll never get to drink it again.

For all the Fat Tire worshippers out there (I personally think it's solid but hugely overrated), we got the scoop on the name of the New Belgium flagship. When the founder visited Belgium for the first time, he took his mountain bike so he could travel like the locals and immerse himself in their beer culture. Because the mountain bike was a relatively new invention and most of the Belgians had lighter, more street-friendly bicycles, they all laughed at his crazy "fat-tired" bike.

Since we had some time after our tour of the very spunky, very hip New Belgium, we got to take a bit of a diversion and visit Odell Brewery in downtown Fort Collins. James and I broke off from the group early to explore the area and we came across a ton of cool cafes and shops, including one very tiny toy store with a crazy science teacher-type dude who tried to wow us with his inventions. James and I enjoyed our time away from the group. It got me really excited for our road trip west after our time in Colorado. Adam will be happy to know that we crossed over the Poudre River! Go, Poudre!

All inside jokes aside, the river and the trail were beautiful.

We found this bear on the main street in Fort Collins.

Odell Brewery was an absolute treat. It's a small brewery with the same heart and a similar philosophy as New Belgium (everybody lives "green" out here!) The beers are just as solid, and the fact that they're a small batch brewery gives them a lot of freedom to experiment. The tour was fantastic. We got to see some of the barrels that they age certain beers in, and were surprised to learn that some of the fresh unused barrels come from a company that was formerly located in Canton.

James sniffing some dry Amarillo hops at Odell Brewery

On the way in, we each got to pick a ten ounce pour of a beer of our choice. I opted for the Curry Wheat beer. Although I normally think wheat beers can get boring and are often uninspired, the introduction of one of my favorite spices was too much to bear. And yes, it was excellent. Very well-balanced, and the curry was present but not overwhelming.

If I would have known that we would each get our own six beer sampler upon completion of the tour, I would have said nay to the 10 ouncer. Alas, I had to drink more beer. I got the "pilot" sampler, a selection of the brewery's new experiments. James got a sampler of their flagship beers. One of my favorites was a wheat beer that had a strong hop presence. The wheats are really different out west. It's awesome. They also had this beer called the Ellipsis, which was a British-style imperial sour or something like that. It was absolutely nuts. Sour plum, apple, sugar...just candy in a glass. So complex and tasty.

Yes, we drank all of these beers. We are champions. Big, bloaty champions.

We did some souvenir shopping at Odell, leaving with a branded bottle opener that we can drill into our wall and a $25 250 mL bottle of the Woodcut aged lager. We'll have to crack that open with the family at Christmas!

After the pleasant surprise at Odell, we were jazzed to visit Left Hand. This is one of my favorite breweries. Their Sawtooth ESB is a favorite of mine, a definite standby that I order when I can't be forced to make a decision. And it never disappoints.

We were so shocked at how small Left Hand was. They have a huge footprint around the country and the world, but their production numbers are so low. Because their beers are available everywhere in our area, we definitely didn't expect to see what a comparatively tiny operation this was. The brewery tour was short but sweet, and we finally got to see the bottling process after the previous two breweries seemed to be on break in the bottling area. Yeah, it was cool. Lots of Laverne & Shirley jokes with diminishing returns.

Left Hand was kind enough to serve us a pasta dinner after a day of drinking. It kind of reminded me of Joe's Happy Fun Barbecue when they placed two big pans of spaghetti and pesto bow tie pasta on a buffet for us. We feel huge right now.

I got to taste a Jackmans Pale Ale and a Twin Sisters Double IPA on cask. So, so good. After the tour I ordered a Sawtooth ESB. Like any beer, it tasted so much better from the tap at the brewpub than it does out of the bottle. So awesome. I also enjoyed a pub exclusive called Starsky & Scotch. By that point, I could tell that the beer was good, but I just wasn't enjoying beers anymore. I kicked James' butt in checkers because he was so checked out.

I bought a pub glass with the left hand logo. On the side of it it reads, "sometimes you just don't feel like drinking what everybody else is drinking" or something like that. It was too perfect, and a steal at $4.

We haven't gotten too much free stuff by mentioning that we're on our honeymoon, but that might be because we're on a big tour with a bunch of people. We did get free stickers and chapstick at New Belgium, but mostly people are just being nice and kind to us when they hear that we're recently married. There's always tomorrow.

So right now my goal is to find the best hole-in-the-wall Mexican joint in Denver. There is SO much Mexican food out here. Is any of it better than Cozumel? I don't know, but I'm bent on finding out!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Denver Day 1: Rich Girl

Our early arrival in Denver this morning ended up being pretty fortuitous. We stowed our bags behind the desk at the hotel and set out to explore the city. With no beer tour commitments until 7:00, we had plenty of time to get to know the mile high city.

We spent about an hour roaming the stacks at the Tattered Cover, a multi-floored bookstore that I understand is somewhat of an institution in Denver. After browsing all that time, we left empty-handed but we hope to return and pick up some souvenirs for the road. Hopefully that creepy kid sleeping on a chair upstairs with a coffee table book spread over his lap won't be there next time. We also rested our heads on some riverside rocks in Confluence Park, though we never did end up finding the dog park. (It's all good--we passed several fine canine specimens throughout the day).

Our best decision was to shell out $16 a piece to see Denver Aquarium. I go to a lot of aquariums. I won't say that this was the best, but it was a lot of fun and we got to see several species we don't really get to see out east, like Wolf Eel, Hawkfish, and several kinds of trout. The exhibits were all very well maintained and viewable from several angles, so I got to get in there with my new camera and show off.

James tried to make a connection with a river otter, and then we realized that it was being, uh, mounted. Disturbing? Romantic?

I got to see so many kinds of sharks. Denver Aquarium really spreads the sharks out, placing them in almost every region of the building. We saw epaulet sharks, pajama catsharks, swell sharks, leopard sharks, sawfish, zebra sharks, sandtigers, nurse sharks, and brown sharks. They all glided overhead and around us amongst green sea turtles, barracuda, and unicornfish. My favorite part of the trip was seeing living shark embryos in their egg cases. It was so cool seeing their gills move and watching their little tails twitch. There are some species of sharks that give live birth, but several species lay eggs in these cases that are often referred to as "mermaids purses". Stupid, I know. Oh, speaking of stupid, there was a "mermaid demonstration" at the aquarium, which basically meant that two sort of average looking girls with wigs got to sit in cheap-looking costumes at the edge of the stingray touch pool and block my shine. No matter. We still touched those rays something fierce! The cownose rays were especially friendly, slapping their fins against the side of the pool and sticking their noses up, begging to be touched. Very sweet animals!

I never get tired of aquariums. This visit was the perfect start to the trip. Well, actually the real perfect start to the trip was when we took our shuttle from the airport to the hotel: the driver heard "Rich Girl" come on the radio and just cranked that! We had a sing-a-long together while James and I noshed on our bag of Combos (the BEST road trip snack).

First observations on Denver:

Bikes! Everywhere! Fit people riding lightweight bicycles, obeying traffic laws, getting respect, looking sharp and healthy.

Marijuana! Everywhere! Yes, you can get medicinal marijuana here. We passed a truck advertising "unique cannabis options" and a few centers where you can get it.

Beer! We had our first beer ahead of schedule today at Wynkoop Brewery. It's the oldest Brewpub in Denver, and a very very cool building with free shuffleboard and billiards upstairs until 7:00 and a comedy club in the basement. The beers are excellent. I had a Schwarzbier that bordered on a porter--very toasty, very robust. James had a vegetable ale with chiles in it! It was insane! So good, and it paired well with his burrito. I enjoyed a vegan sloppy joe.

Tonight we dine with the other beer tourists at Denver Chop House where we get free dinner and two free beers. Cheers!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Pedal Pushers

Though I've lived on the western side of Ohio City for about ten months now, it never occurred to me that biking to Tremont was something that would not only be simple, but fun. Perhaps it's because more than half of those months were dominated by crippling cold.

Tremont is one of my favorite communities in Cleveland. The old-world roots mixed with creative contemporary cuisine by some of the city's best chefs, plus the abundance of galleries and the green space of Lincoln Park make it the perfect formula for a diversified urban experience. Before I lived downtown, I would visit as frequently as I do now, stopping into Visible Voice to browse through the books, or to Civilization (featured in the book Celebrating The Third Place) for an iced coffee on a hot day. Then there's Grumpy's, the best breakfast in the city, in my opinion.

When my fiance and I discussed taking a bike ride a local bar, we unanimously decided on Prosperity Social Club, located in the heart of Tremont near Lincoln Park. Prosperity, as it's known to its regulars, is a bar that satisfies my need for both a dive bar atmosphere and for tasty snacks and high-end beer and cocktails. The walls are adorned with vintage beer advertisements, including two separate illuminated Schlitz globes that spin slackly above the bar. Whatever's playing on Turner Classic Movies is almost always flickering on a decrepit television in the corner. The jukebox is predictable yet satisfying. And in the back room, a stack of board games lies in wait next to the always occupied pool table.

I opted for a Left Hand Sawtooth Ale from the draft list and we played a few rounds of Connect 4, all the while being charmed by our sweet bartender and tales of her rescue dog Tulip. The second bartender, a guy who's poured me many a beer over the past few months, teased us mercilessly as we allowed the beers to get the better of our Connect 4 strategy. It's a harder game than I remembered. Perhaps I never had the discipline to really finish a game as a child. Or perhaps I lost too quickly back then. After we both downed a Founders Red Rye, a dizzy ride across the street took us to the Lincoln Park playground, The sweet smell of marijuana idled through the thick air of the evening, its origin unknown to us. We ignored the abandoned tennis shoes beneath the swingset and tore through the sky together, commandeering the playground and the night, kicking our legs forward with some trepidation and landing safely on the padded ground.

Just as we mounted our bikes and began our trek back home, a group of about five young people whizzed by us, and one of them hollered "come with us!" This was a Saturday night. They were on bikes, we were on bikes, it was Tremont. We turned around and chased them.

We ended up meeting them outside of South Side, an unmarked Tremont hot spot with fantastic food and an absolutely electrified night life. The girl, the holler girl, was this kind of flawlessly, naturally beautiful person. She exuded joy as we approached her. Her friends welcomed us with curiosity. It turns out that this was her going-away party. Going to Portland for some reasons I couldn't make out over the bar. New start, just to leave, cousin in Seattle. I caught fragments as I sipped my last beer of the evening, 21st amendment's dark-roasted Back in Black IPA. In a black can, it looks deceptively like a cheap beer and was the cause of much intrigue amongst our new friends.

As we made it to the patio, I felt this total tranquility that I always get amongst strangers, this feeling that I can be the best version of myself right now, untainted, fresh, appealing, free of cynicism. We talked about music, art, the city, our favorite bars. It was the kind of conversation I'd have with my best friends, but the excitement of exploration made it even more thrilling.

I gave my emil address to a sweet girl there. I don't expect her to email me, but it felt good to make a connection with someone new, however fleeting.

This is the way I must live from. I must continue to take these risks, to experiment, to engage, to reach over and sample a stranger's hummus. I need to turn around more instead of putting my head down and powering through. I am open at last.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Novel-tee of Good Grammar

As far as I know, Big Dogs clothing stores do not exist outside of America's outlet malls. This notion first occurred to me as a little girl on family vacations when my parents would take us to the outlets to find bargains. I don't know why my family had such a penchant for patronizing outlet malls on our vacations, but I distinctly remember stopping at one outside of Las Vegas, one in Florida, and another somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. My parents just really like bargains.

As a kid I loved dogs. But I never appreciated the rapier wit of Big Dogs' novelty clothing enough to ask my parents for a St. Bernard-branded piece of apparel. I've never owned a Big Dogs shirt, boxer shorts, pajama pants, sports bra, or Frisbee. For years, finally far from the pseudo closeout deals of our fine country's outlet malls, I actually forgot about the lumbering canine's existence. I can honestly say it's been years since I've seen an item of Big Dogs clothing outside of the musty racks of the Salvation Army. I've never known anyone who owns a Big Dogs novelty t-shirt, although I have definitely judged the strangers who do.

Imagine my surprise when yesterday I discovered that this company is still in business! For some reason, probably the result of a conversation about our nation's obesity problem (who actually remembers the origin of the seed that spawns most Google searches?), my fiance and I found ourselves at http://www.bigdogs.com

I can say that not much has changed since Big Dogs' groundbreaking misogynistic, machismo, and semi-relevant parodic t-shirt designs first came onto the scene in 1984. Although there are more fecal jokes than I remembered from my youth. Phrases like "If you're not the lead dog the scenery never changes!" and "Gasoline is like sex: self service is always faster, easier, and cheaper!" and the oh-so-piquant, "Bleep You You Bleeping Bleep!" (I imagine that there is an understood comma after the first "you") burst forth from these oversized tees that cost as much as $21.99. Seriously, what is this? American Apparel? You can buy hideous shirts like this on the boardwalk for $5.00.

That brings me to the point of all of this. Whilst browsing through hundreds of sexist, trashy, and mostly unfunny designs, I found this little number:

Yes, this is a ladies tee design, although it's also available for men, in a much more "masculine" typeface. I'm sure your mental image of what kind of woman would actually wear this shirt is just as good as mine. Keep in mind that this design is also available for women in 2X.

For those of you who have even the slightest mastery of the English language, the incorrectly placed apostrophe in the word "costs" should be glaringly obvious. It was to me, though admittedly, I am a freak when it comes to spotting these things.

Now usually when it comes to grammar and spelling, I know how to pick my battles. Editing so much writing on a daily basis has taught me that sometimes as long as the information is understood by its reader, then everything's okay. If I spot a distracting error on the website of a company I admire and respect, I might send the webmaster a quick email to report it.

This is a tough one. On one hand, I think that this error is printed, en masse, and sold as a product. That makes this a bad product. Someone should say something about that, right? When I was shopping for wedding invitations and noticed that one company misspelled a day of the week on an actual printed invitation in their portfolio, I reported that to them. It was an awful mistake for an invitation printer to make, and it could turn away tons of customers. But on the other hand I think, whoever wears this Big Dogs shirt is probably a total dolt who either doesn't recognize the extraneous apostrophe, or doesn't care, and could potentially sit on me and break all of my ribs.

And then there's this sick part of me that wants to email the creator of the wearable fart joke and experience what it is like to correspond with that person. So I do. My email to Big Dogs Clothing:

Good afternoon,

I am emailing to make you aware of a grammatical error on one of your shirt designs. I happened across your website and saw that the "Gas Costs So Much" design has an apostrophe in the word "costs." Obviously, there shouldn't be an apostrophe in the word costs, as it is not possessive.

I don't know if this error will prevent you from selling this shirt, but I wanted to bring this to your attention regardless.


Marissa DeSantis

I tried to remain professional. I tried not to go all David Cross ala his open letter to Larry the Cable Guy, even though I really, really wanted to run train on Big Dogs. My politeness must have paid off. Surprisingly, they actually honored my email with a response!

Dear Marissa,

Thank you for your email. Big Dog graphics are fun for wear and are not meant to be grammatically correct. Just as with the Redneck Grrrl, Girl is not spelled correct. You will find from time to time, that not all graphics will be spelled correctly. We do appreciate your feedback and the fact that you took time to send us this email.


Big Dog Sportswear
Customer Service Department
800-642-DOGS (3647)

Alright, so this is ridiculous. The phrase "fun for wear" is just silly. And creating a product that isn't "meant to be grammatically correct" is only cool if you're making an inspirational poster that says "Nobodys Perfekt" with a kitten making a mess in a bowl of spaghetti.

The sentence "Just as with the Redneck Grrrl is not spelled correct," is not actually a sentence. Also, yes, there is a design that says "Redneck Grrrl".

Acknowledging that their products often contain spelling and grammatical errors just shows that they think their customers are careless and stupid (which, hey, is a pretty easy assumption to make). It shows that they know they don't have a product that is 100% quality 100% of the time. So here's my response to that:

Thanks for your response.

I understand stylized spellings of words like "Grrrl". I get it. It's a pun, and it's also a slang term born of the riot grrrl movement of the early 90s. Clever spellings of words are fun, and I'm sure you use them a lot to fit your "dog" theme.

I just think that an apostrophe in "cost's" is a clear error. It does not serve any joke or enhance the shirt design in any way, except that it's funny to people like me because it's a grammatical error on a professionally printed shirt.

I don't want to be snooty. Clearly, you do a good business since you've been printing novelty shirts since I was a kid. I'm grateful that you actually took the time to respond to me, and please don't feel like you have to respond to this, but I still don't understand why an incorrectly placed apostrophe is fun.

Oh well, I've obviously spent way too much time thinking about this. Again, no need to respond. I just wanted to further justify my complaint.

Best of luck to you in your business pursuits,


Yeah, that showed 'em! Seriously though, "costs" isn't misspelled to be clever. If it were, it would say something like "clawsts". You know, a dog pun. Because those are hilarious. I doubt that I will receive further acknowledgment from Big Dogs. At this point they're probably aware that I have no intention of purchasing any products from their line.

If there's anything that this exchange has taught me, it's that some companies cash in on the stupidity of their consumers to turn a profit (see: Miller Lite Vortex bottle) and some companies are just stupid. I'm still not totally sure which one of these Big Dogs falls under. But I do know this: next time you see a huge dude walking around the hood wearing a t-shirt with a foul-smelling grammatical or spelling error, blame it on the Dog.