Day 1: CITY Newspaper’s Best Busker Contest

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I was technically going to kick this whole thing off by going to the Lilac Festival. As the official start of festival season and summer, it felt like a good place to start my 100 days project. But, when life hands you buy one get one free lemons with free entertainment, plans change. Last night, I hit up CITY Newspaper’s 6th Annual Best Busker Contest, where street musicians perform to win guitar pick votes, and several bars and restaurants along East and Alexander offer food and drink specials throughout the night. This was my first time going, so I was very excited to check it out!

If I’m being 100% honest, we did a lot more eating and drinking than we did checking out the buskers. I walked over after work with my friend Kristen and we were both hungry, so we decided to hit up Havana Cabana and Ox and Stone before their specials ended. I ordered a blue fruity drink from Havana Cabana, thinking, “How strong can some blue fruity drink be?!” The answer is VERY. Also, very delicious. We did get a chance to take in some of the performances as we walked down East, and they were all fantastic. Of course, I’m the person in a crowd who claps half a beat off from everyone else, so I’m not the best barometer for musical talent. Although we didn’t get the chance to vote for any buskers, I ran into a few friends I hadn’t seen in a very long time, so I don’t regret lingering over the food. Despite being a Thursday, there was a fair crowd outside on the patio at Victoire, where we ended the night with pomme frites and some beers.

I’d also like to give a shoutout to the Mark Groening Gallery, who lent us a roll of duct tape when Kristen’s sandal snapped halfway down the street on the condition that we browse the gallery. His blown glass stuff is really cool, and he was willing to help us out so Kristen didn’t have to limp like a zombie back to the car.

 

100 Days of Rochester

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The winter of 2015 was, in meteorological terms, “fucking miserable,” and has left me feeling slightly like a prisoner finally starting to emerge from a severe case of Stockholm Syndrome. (I took the snowbrush out of my car last Sunday. Baby steps!) But now, seemingly overnight, the trees have exploded into being. My friends have (mostly) stopped threatening to move to California. I have to start shaving my legs again. We’re almost upon the most glorious time of year in Rochester: festival food season summer!

After the awful winter we had, I have a feeling it’s going to be a great summer. The city really comes alive when the weather is nice, and I think most of us are going to spend as much time as possible enjoying the summer weather and events. So in that spirit, I came up with a list of 100 things to do in Rochester:

Festivals

  • Lilac Festival
  • Canal Days
  • East End Music Festival
  • Corn Hill Arts Festival
  • Park Avenue Summer Art Festival
  • Clothesline Festival
  • Fringe Festival
  • Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival
  • Sterling Renaissance Festival
  • Rochester Real Beer Week
  • Casa Larga Purple Foot Festival
  • New York State Festival of Balloons

Food and Drink

  • Get a plate at the original Nick Tahou’s
  • Compare BBQ at Sticky Lips and Dinosaur Bar-B-Que
  • Public Market Food Truck Rodeo
  • Tour the Genesee Brewery, then grab a meal at the Genesee Brew House
  • Get Abbott’s at the original location on Ontario Beach
  • Have a pint and some chips at The Old Toad
  • Try the Cuban sandwiches at Georgie’s Cafe
  • Tour and tasting at Black Button Distilling
  • Grab a coffee at Java’s
  • Eat at Jay’s Diner…but only if it’s after midnight
  • Shop at Hart’s Grocers
  • Eat at Dogtown
  • Explore the South Wedge (I’ve been meaning to check out Butapub…)
  • Meatballs and cider at Skylark Lounge
  • Eat all you can eat at the Thali of India lunch buffet
  • Munch on Tapas at MAG
  • Enjoy the outdoor fire pits at Fairport Brewing Company
  • Have some gelato along the canal in Fairport
  • Take in the sunset and drinks at Hedges
  • Sip some wine at Flight Wine Bar
  • See if Lux really does have free pizza…
  • Even more coffee at Jembetat
  • Take in some art with dinner and drinks at Village Gate
  • Yet more coffee at Joe Bean
  • You can never get enough coffee at Pour Coffee
  • Eat every meal at a Wegmans location by eating off the breakfast hot foods bar, having lunch at the Burger Bar, and dinner at Next Door Bar and Grill
  • Get your Belgian beer buzz on at Victoire
  • Check out dollar oyster Tuesdays at Lento
  • Try the extremely strong margaritas at Maria’s
  • Dinner and/or drinks at The Revelry
  • Pretend to eat healthy at The Owl House
  • Have a beachy drink at Marge’s
  • Be an adult in a candy story at Stevers
  • Pretend you’re in college again at Insomnia Cookies

Rochester Art & History and Day Trips

  • Find Susan B. Anthony/Frederick Douglass’ graves in Mt. Hope Cemetery
  • Letchworth
  • Niagara Falls
  • Finger Lakes
  • High Falls
  • Genesee Valley Park
  • George Eastman House
  • Rochester Museum and Science Center
  • Strasenburgh Planetarium
  • Memorial Art Gallery
  • Strong Museum of Play
  • Susan B. Anthony House
  • Check out a book at the Rundel Library
  • ZooBrew at the Seneca Park Zoo
  • Genesee Country Village and Museum
  • Corning Museum of Glass
  • Stroll the ArtWALK in NOTA
  • See a movie at the Little
  • See a movie at the Dryden Theatre
  • See a concert at Eastman Theatre
  • Visit a Saturday Public Market
  • See a movie at The Cinema, then grab milkshakes at the Highland Park Diner
  • ARTISANworks
  • Rochester Contemporary Art Center’s 6×6 exhibition
  • Explore the on-campus art galleries at RIT
  • Explore the on-campus art galleries at UR
  • Sonnenburg Gardens
  • Take a cruise on the Sam Patch
  • Take a cruise on the Colonial belle
  • See a show at Geva Theatre
  • See an RPO show
  • Attend a Young Urban Preservationists/Landmark Society event
  • Visit a First Friday at the Hungerford or Anderson Alley
  • Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse
  • Explore Highland Park and the Lamberton Conservatory
  • Cobbs Hill Park
  • Get lost in the Pittsford Wegmans
  • Webster Park

Activities

  • Seabreeze
  • Darien Lake
  • Whispering Pines mini golf
  • Take a class at the Rochester Brainery
  • Jump at SkyZone
  • See some raptors at Wild Wings sanctuary in Mendon Ponds Park
  • Feed the fish and see the Mushroom House in Powder Mills Park
  • Play Frisbee Golf in Ellison park
  • Destroy your friends at go karts
  • Get destroyed by your friends at Laser Tag
  • Take a yoga class from a local studio
  • Go shopping along Park Avenue
  • Survive a rainy day at Eastview Mall
  • Go hiking in Fairport, a.k.a. Trail Town USA
  • Take a class at Rochester Parkour

Entertainment

  • Get your quiz on at bar trivia
  • See a Roc City Roller Derby show
  • See a movie at the drive-in
  • Party in the Park
  • Watch the city’s 4th of July fireworks
  • Check out some local talent at an open Mic night
  • Red Wings Game
  • Rhinos Game
  • Buffalo Bills Training Camp
  • Partake in some nightlife at East & Alexander

Now, this list is nowhere near exhaustive. It’s just a list of things that I think would be fun to do in Rochester to make the most of this summer (which is why the food and drink related section is the longest). But that’s just the thing: anyone can make a list of things to do in Rochester. You don’t even have to be in Rochester or know anything about us or even be accurate! *coughcoughMovoto.comcough* I could sit here right now and make a BuzzFeed list of “20 Forests You Absolutely Need to Fart in Before You Die,” but I’m still just sitting in front of my computer screen instead of seeing any of these breathtakingly smelly trees.

So this is not just a list. It is my Summer Manifesto. Between the Lilac Fest and the Fringe Fest, with the help of family and any friends who want to join in for the ride, I’ll be attempting to experience every single item on this list. If you took the time to count things up, you’ll notice there’s actually more than 100 things. If there’s anything life has taught me so far, it’s that shit happens. There may be an event I miss for some reason, but I still hope to complete at least 100 items from the list, if not more. I’ll be posting about my adventures here and on Instagram and Twitter @akachela, using the hashtag #100DaysOfRoc. I hope you’ll join me by following along, checking off a few items on the list yourself, or even trying to take on the challenge!

Disney’s Hydraulic Goats: A Cautionary Tale

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In an effort to write more, I’m going to…well, I’m going to write more. I want to work on being a better storyteller and joke writer, and the best way to do that is to tell people stories. That means you’ll* have to suffer through my practice, so I’ll try and make it good.

(*my parents and the three Twitter followers who read my blog)

Anyway, I just recently got back from Walt Disney World, where I went #DrinkingThroughDisney with my family. I don’t have much of a story to tell from this trip, except how the Italian Margaritas at Epcot are still tasty as always. I did get evacuated from a ride for the first time, but it was the Winnie the Pooh one. Decidedly not exciting. So instead, I thought I’d share my favorite story from another trip. In 2004, we went to California with my brothers and took a day to go to Disneyland and eat dinner at Downtown Disney. Our waitress was a former cast member at Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion, and started telling us stories about the attractions. Now, technically, I don’t have any evidence that this story is true except for her word. In fact, it’s probably not true. It’s one of those Disney urban legends that you could only hear from a cast member or someone else who was there, so there’s no way to verify it. But I still tell it to people, because oh my god, I want it to be true so badly.

If you’ve ever ridden Pirates of the Caribbean at either Walt Disney World or Disneyland, you know how the ride works. If you haven’t, there’s videos on YouTube, because I guess there are people out there who like to watch grainy videos of slow-speed boat rides from someone else’s vacation. At Disneyland specifically, there’s a scene with a bunch of women being auctioned off by an pirate with a whip coiled in his hand. Hey, it was 1967. Times were different. Next to the auctioneer, on the archway the boats travel under, is a goat. The auctioneer’s arm moves around, as does the goat’s head. These animatronics are actually hydraulic based, and according to our waitress, red hydraulic fluid is used to allow imagineers to easily troubleshoot leaks in the system. She also told us the water in the ride is a nasty mix of water, oil, hydraulic fluid, and probably bodily fluids, so remember that when they tell you to keep your hands inside the ride at all times.

As I previously mentioned, the auctioneer’s whip is currently coiled in his right hand, but it wasn’t always. It used to be lose in his left hand, next to goat. As his arm moved around, the whip would move as well. Not like an actual whip or anything, but it would trail up and down and left and right through the air, occasionally gently brushing against the goat. However, even gentle motion will cause some wear and tear after all those years, and the motion of the whip against the goat’s pelt eventually wore a hole in the fabric, exposing the plastic hydraulic tubing below. Again, friction began to take effect, wearing away the tubing carrying the bright red hydraulic fluid to the goat’s head.

Finally, one fateful night, the whip weakened the tube enough that it burst under the pressure of the hydraulic fluid, forcefully spewing red liquid out of the slit created by the whip…directly across the goat’s neck. Pirates of the Caribbean may not be the most politically correct ride by today’s standards, but I’m pretty sure even Disney draws the line at depicting “ritualistic animal sacrifice.”

The worst (or best?) part is that the cameras on the ride are positioned to look at the boats, not the scenery, so that cast members can monitor for stuck boats or unruly guests. As our waitress recounted to us, she had no idea that the goat appeared to be gushing blood from a slit throat until the first boat to witness it pulled into the loading dock full of crying children and outraged parents.

So next time you find yourself at Disneyland, have a drink at Downtown Disney. Ride Pirates of the Caribbean, look for the goat, and you might just hear the faint scream of a traumatized child…

Oh wait, that’s just the baby behind you.

Well, whatever you do, keep your hands out of the water.

No goats were harmed in the making of this blog post.

The Worst Valentine’s Day of My Life

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Okay, maybe not the worst, but at least the most interesting.

It was February 14th (duh). I had just turned 21 that year. My birthday is February 3rd, and my roommate’s was February 18th, so I was milking her DD status as much as possible over those two weeks. A friend of ours, who was also not yet 21, suggested doing a “Galentine’s Day” dinner, as they were both single, and invited me along too.

I wasn’t quite single that year, actually. I had just started seeing a guy a few weeks beforehand. The only date I remember from those weeks was going to see The Green Hornet together, which proved to be a surprisingly great date movie. On Valentine’s Day, we met up on campus and he gave me a box of chocolates and a Hallmark card that said “I really like you,” clearly designed for the couples who have the misfortune of hitting Valentine’s Day before they’ve said the L-word. I’d never had a boyfriend over Valentine’s Day before, so I felt like I was getting access to an exclusive club. I had finally passed the velvet rope into the fabled realms of chocolate and fancy dinners and silly romantic gestures, except for one minor detail. My boyfriend was scheduled to work that, and he couldn’t get out of his shift.

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The Ultimate #DrinkingThroughDisney Strategy Guide

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If you thought Disney World was just for kids, prepare to have your entire worldview changed. The first time I went to Disney, I was nine, so I wasn’t exactly looking to score some sauce. According to my parents, at that time the best place to grab a drink in Epcot without sitting down for a full table service meal was at the Rose and Crown in the England pavilion. But over the past few years, there’s been a cultural change, and Disney has realized what the rest of us have known for years: screaming children are waaaaay more tolerable with some booze.

You may have heard of the Drinking ‘Round the World challenge, where people try to have a drink at all 11 pavilions in Epcot’s World Showcase. It’s presented as the pinnacle of Disney drinking, a pure challenge of both liver and mental stamina. But I’m here to tell you that it’s really just chump change. So you spent one day drinking around the world. BIG DEAL. I’m going to teach you how to do the real #DrinkingThroughDisney, spanning multiple parks, resorts, and every single day of your vacation.

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