Saturday, January 22, 2011


Last weekend I went to my roommates' hometown of Almenara, Minas Gerais.

Almenara is a small city close to the border of Bahia with a population of roughly 36,000 people in a river valley located around 750 km from Belo Horizonte. The city is nestled in a cattle-raising community in rural MG that also produces coffee, coconuts, bananas and sugarcane. According to Wikipedia, "More than 3,000 people depended on agriculture for a living. Only 33 farms had tractors, which was a ratio of one tractor for 30 farms."

A smaller city in Brazil was sort of a change of pace for me. Until then, I had mostly visited major cities like Salvador, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Foz de Iguaço. Besides simple curiosity, however, I was also convinced by the fact that there would be a regionally famous Micareta, which is a Carnaval out-of-season.

The Micareta was rad, and has gotten me very excited for Carnaval in Rio this March. The basic setup was the following: three semi-trucks lined with speakers paraded up and down the main 2-3 km drag of the city, with some of the country's top headliners playing with their bands on top of them. People parade behind the 'trio eléctricos' and dance, make-out, and engage in general carnaval-esque debauchery until 6 in the morning.

The area is rural; that much is unmistakable. It's the kind of place where everyone in town knows each other, and keeps up on what's going on. That said, I met a ton of people over the weekend, everyone from my buddy's highschool physics teacher to uncles to old friends and strangers. Everyone was extremely friendly, and ready to enjoy themselves for the town's annual mega-event.

I was able to see some great acts including Claudia Leite, Psirico, Tatau, and more. Eventually I'll put up some youtube links to some videos...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Back to the Future

I have now been back in Belo Horizonte, Brazil for full week.

I left the Thursday after Beth and Cesar's wedding weekend, that was also coincidentally Labor Day weekend, which was also not coincidentally on Labor Day weekend. From a personal perspective, I really enjoyed the opportunity to see so many friends and family in such a short time before I left, besides the fact that oh, yeah, I guess it was fun to see Beth and Cesar get hitched on a blue-sky sunny day in an otherwise lazy summer in St. Joseph, Michigan.

And the wedding was killer.

In BH, things have started to roll for me. I'm living with good friends right in the center of the downtown in a great location with tons of bakeries, lunch spots, butchers, and a shopping mall within 2 blocks, and the giant city park and nightlife in Savassi just a few more blocks away. I got a job like 8 seconds after I got here for a place called Travel and Studies(yeah great name, right?) where I teach English, and will also arrange for short immersion programs for students to do intensive English programs in the States. I'll also be setting up airfare and transfers, contracts with schools in the US and visas for the students. Even the teaching part, which I was a bit hesitant about, has actually turned out to be very interesting. Most of my students are my age or older, and for some of them I give lessons at their work, which has put me giving lessons to managers at the headquarters of Bradesco bank in Belo Horizonte, and at a Peugeot-Volvo dealership.

As for my own grasp on the language, it's going well so far. My two week trip in the end of July was a great warm up, and my feeble attempts at slang and cursing are much more fluid now. I speak Portuguese the wide majority of the day, even in my classes as many of my students speak and understand at a very basic level. I am co-habitating with 3 Americans, however, which gives me a release to speak jive-ass English a couple times a day, an opportunity I would have disliked in my first 6 months here but that I am quite pleased with now.

I really do love this place, though it's hard to pin an explanation to just a couple reasons. Last night I had a conversation with a friend of a friend about what people from the outside think of when they think of Brazil. We both acknowledged that people usually conjure some mixture of the women of Carnaval, the wilderness of the Amazon, beautiful beaches and samba, and the violence of Rio de Janeiro. Where I live, there are no beaches. In fact, Belo Horizonte refers to the "Beautiful Horizon" landscape that the very mountainous landscape provides. True, the women are beautiful, in fact, incredibly beautiful, but they do not wear head dresses that they stole from peacocks. I live on the 8th floor of an 18 story building where I have broadband internet, and most Brazilians, the wide majority, have never even seen the rainforest. Brazilians do love to dance, though samba really only lives in the mountains of Rio de Janeiro, as the local dance clubs here are either discotheques or for a Tango-like pair dance called Forró. For a country with about 90% of the landmass of the US, trying to describe Brazil with so few images is like trying to summarize the US with rodeos and rap music and Hollywood and religious freaks. I enjoy the parts of my day here where my expectations are made laughable.

Anyways, I hope to make some time to record whatever it is I am doing here as the time rolls on so that you may laugh with me. Even though frankly, this post was about as funny as a box of kittens trapped in an apartment fire.

Until next time!


Sunday, May 11, 2008

the meat man

I don't ordinarily consider myself one of those people who enjoys thumbing through a People magazine or the National Star or whatever celeb gossip pages the tweens are buzzing about. In fact, I would say I pride myself on the fact that I couldn't pick Hannah Montana out of the line up of Melrose Place. Yesterday, however, I had a sighting that made my pants really dirty really quick; Stew, the meat man.

Stew, of course, appeared in the three season long Comedy Central series Strangers With Candy. The show is an after school special featuring Amy Sedaris as a 46 year old ex-boozer/user/loser who returns to high school to make the same mistakes, but this time she's doing it the right way. The series, which also featured Paul Dinello and Stephen Colbert, is bar none my favorite show that has ever appeared on television. Between the series and the 2003 movie, guest appearances were made by Paul Rudd, Winona Ryder, Will Ferrell, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Sarah Jessica Parker, Cheri Oteri, Matthew Broderick, Janeane Garofalo and more. To see Stew, then, turned me back into a 15 year old girl clamoring to see JC Chavez after the fall of the N*Sync empire.

I'm at home in Illinois writing this post after a mid-finals family wedding break. My cousin Pat was married last night, and for me the wedding was a perfect union of drinking and dancing. Particularly, I thoroughly enjoy seeing those periphery family friends I would never have otherwise seen or spoken to. There's something about seeing a few of the folks that formed memories my brain has intentionally repressed today, in their current state, that is oddly gratifying. Not to mention that the Napleton family is bigger and baudier than your average room full of car dealers.


Gambling, anyone? I placed my first bet on a sports betting website called CentSports this morning, Cubs over Diamondbacks on the money line. The site is a free site where you are originally given $0.10 and may place bets with Vegas odds on most games, and potentially win actual cash. Ordinarily I wouldn't bother to investigate a sites real potential to cash out, but I give props my teammate Yosef who has already cashed a check from the site for introducing me to it. On the plus side, anytime you lose the original ten cents, you get another ten cents. The site derives profit entirely from advertisements, and you'll never have to gamble away that new kidney money!

Monday, May 05, 2008


Check these out, because it's good for your soul;

Horrible People
A mini soap-drama with members from the cast of Wet Hot American Summer and Flight of the Conchords created by A.D. Miles. Watch the teaser, and you'll be saying, "tough titty said the kitty, but the milk's still good" in no time.

Wainy Days

For any fans of Amy Sedaris, Michael Showalter, and Stella; check out this mini-series. It's a little off-beat and more absurd, but still has the ability to induce involuntary urination. Peep this episode featuring Paul Rudd as 'Mystery'-ous dating expert, Alias.


Meanwhile, here comes two very shitty weeks of academics. For all those who find themselves cramming this week just to puke it out next week, I raise a silent fist to you.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Notre Dame, Stumble

Don't hate, quit hating, don't be a hater, stop continuing to possess hatred... It's been a long hiatus. So it's been a while, so I've been "masturbating" and "crying" too much and haven't been writing; don't get all sensitive. It's not you babe, it's me.

I have been reasonably busy. Not busy like having a full-time job, or a part-time job, but busy like drinking all the hours I'm not studying. Most recently, I've accomplished perhaps the biggest feat of my excessive college experience. The warm weather arrived about two weeks ago in Madison, and after the veritable motherfucker of a winter, was welcomed with open beers. Thus began a nine day bender that can be summed up in a few words; Chicago Cubs, Wii bowling, Old Style, the porch, pornography, Samba music, and more pornography. My roommate John and I were the only two in the house with the cajones to make it all nine days, but I guess that's just what separates the alcoholics from the boys.

Two weeks ago, I went down to visit my sister Katie at Notre Dame. The Saturday of that weekend was an event the Irish call Pigtostal, which makes shit for sense except that it's a pig roast. After some careful coordination, I was able to spend Friday night at the University of Illinois with my dime-breezy Natalie as well as my favorite Bass Wrangler (though he specializes in Mogans) Pat. After leaving at the buttcrack of dawn, we met my brother Matthew and Katie and began the festivities.

I'll preface my next comment with a disclaimer: I do not normally speak favorably of the University of Notre Dame. It is not far down the list of things I hate beyond #2 sticky hands, or #3 running. That said, I had a great time at the party and later that night. Looking back, my surprisingly fun time can be explained by simple mathematics. According to the Associative Property, it is given that,
a.)I have fun with Katie and
b.)Katie has fun with friends

Danny + Katie = fun
Katie + Katie's friends = fun
Danny + Katie's friends = Lucky for Katie's friends

Think about it. I haven't.


In other news, if you are looking to forfeit your free time and get in touch with that inner geek, check out Stumble Upon. It's a internet surfing tool that fits in the toolbar of your web browser that puts preset categories of random interesting websites just one click away. By giving a website a thumbs up or thumbs down, the program determines which sites other users have found interesting that you are more likely to enjoy. Basically, the longer you do it, the better it gets at giving you pages you are going to like. Beware; by turning your porno machine into a bona fide web browser, expect to waste countless hours.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

terrace, shamrocks

It's only a few hours until my geology exam, and I'm too anxious to sleep. I'm not particularly anxious for the exam, just the ending the year and moving out part, followed by the three months at home part, and the endless shuffle of work.

The past two weeks have been a blur. I, in my naivety, had planned on not drinking both the week prior to finals, the weekend, and the week of finals. On the friday of the last day of classes, I was grocery shopping with my dear friend Kelly when my water polo teammate called me to inform me that he had just finished his last class at UW, and that he would be drinking a few beers and playing cards at the terrace at the union. So my other teammate Sam and I met up with Alex, planning on a few beers and leaving after an hour or two. Seven hours, countless pitchers, and many laughs later left me stumbling into my dorm at midnight, 36 hours from the start of my exams. While not exactly the best start to finals week, I don't have an ounce of regret.

Monday night, however, after three days of intensive studying and three exams, I was looking to go out. My first exam was a casual conversation with my TA and my partner, Louise. Louise is graduating this week, and upon completion of her thesis was looking to start a week long bender, of which I could only oblige in helping her. I met up with her at the Come Back Inn, a solid bar with live music and a $2 margarita special that will leave you saying, "I wish I hadn't flashed that cop in Taco Bell through the window." After a few drinks, I was about ready to get home when Louise's friends decided to head to another bar, so I decided to tag along while we headed in the same direction. The Come Back Inn was far from my dorm, and as I got lost in conversation I ended up at the door of the next bar.

I was already out, and it started to rain so I stopped inside for a drink while the rain died down. When I walked in the bar I began to put together some clues I had missed along the night. Louise's friend, Brian, had just come home after a trip abroad, and was fairly vocal that he was looking for some ass. I'm a believer in the healing power of TLC, especially after a long trip abroad, and because Brian was gay didn't make him immune. There weren't too many people at the Come Back Inn on that Monday of finals week, and the scene was very casual. So that when we finally went to second bar, I should have assumed it was a gay bar. Maybe it was the fact I'd never been to a gay bar, or that the name Shamrocks doesn't have a ring to it like 'The Nut Bush' in Oak Park, but I'd been caught off guard. So I stayed close to Louise, half in an attempt to chat before I headed back to Chicago, half out of unwillingness to move around the room. Once I went to the bar to get a drink, the bar tender asked me for a second form of ID, which I didn't have, so I left. I walked the rest of the way back to my dorm, and I could only laugh when I told my floor mates to ask me about it in the morning. Only on a monday night of finals week in Madison, I suppose.

In my extensive studying, I've come across some goodies. Feast, but at your own risk, this game is both thoroughly addicting and time consuming.

The Impossible Quiz

Sunday, May 13, 2007


I'm fully aware that about every two to three posts, I express how busy I am, followed by complaining, then probably a little crying, and a post. Today is not much different, and I'm not going to mess with a recipe for perfection. It's finals week here in beautiful Madison, WI, and in a week I promised myself intensive studying and plenty of sleep. I've filled my quota for frisbee, beer, time on the terrace, going to car shows, and time on the internet, so all I've got left is studying. I've been studying solid for a week, and I think the most valuable thing I've learned is best way to fit a live Bulls mini-feed, music program, and Microsoft Word is to set the layout to normal instead of page on Word and put other programs on the right side of the screen. Decidedly.

In other news, I've been using a music program by the name of for the past few weeks. The idea is that you download the program, and whenever you play music it takes note of every song you listen to and records it to your profile. Then, based on what you listen to, the program puts recommendations based on your taste, and you can play it for free as a radio feed. Oh, that's not all. If you are looking for more music like a specific artist, you can listen to a 'radio station' of similiar artists. You can search any music by any word a user has tagged a song with. It's basically a way better version of the 'other listeners also liked' list. The shit is tight, and I feel a duty to share with loved ones.

In my book of sonnets Of Madison and Beauty, I explore into the balanced beauty of a bustling city at one with the warm sun and the peaceful lakes, but let it suffice to say it's the balls y'all. The terrace outside the union has got to be one of the best places in the country to relax on a lazy sunny afternoon. If you've never been, just take my word for it, because if we fight over it the terrorists win.

Fuck finals. Seriously.