Wolfpacks, Acorns and the Beast of Evil: Raleigh, NC

I’m in Raleigh, North Carolina for Christmas (don’t you love a timely updated blog?). The weather is a balmy 60-something Fahrenheit, which in actual temperatures is around 15-20C. You know, Christmas weather. Much to the chagrin of my friend, there’s no snow in sight. I, being a kindly person, scooped up a cup of Iowa snow and brought it down with me, but by the time I got to her, it had turned to water. Bloody Global Warming.

Having said that, my legacy of good weather continues, as I awake on the second morning to find that there are tornado warnings across the county. Fortunately we can stay inside and enjoy BBQ. The BBQ around these parts is a vinegar-based affair and delicious, wholly superior to the sweeter sauces I’ve encountered elsewhere. There is apparently some feudin’ and fightin’ over the BBQ because, well, yeah. The other culinary encounters of North Carolina were more of a mixed bag:

Red Velvet MilkNo.

Espresso Chocolate Wine Bad Carolina, stop that.

And lastly, vodka soaked cranberries:

Vodka Cranberries Well. Okay, you can stay.

It seems that, outside of BBQ, there are two main forms of food in North Carolina: normal liquids with weird stuff added, and stuff that is fried. We visited a seafood restaurant where it wasn’t even a question. I can’t even remember seeing the word “fried” on the menu, it was just going to be fried and you were going to sit there and like it (which we did). There was fried meat, fried okra, fried pickles, fried fried things. There is something I heard tell of, though did not see, which was horrific. I’m ashamed to say that even Scotland, with its wonderful legacy of deep frying things that don’t need deep frying, could not compete with this. Deep fried stick of butter. Stick o’ butter. Battered and fried. But in case that’s slightly too healthy, you can coat it in a sugary glaze.

During one of the many, many meals of North Carolina, my belt popped open. I didn’t think that happened outside of cartoons.

By contrast, the Christmas meal had only the slightest amount of deep fried ingredients. There was even non-deep fried fruit on offer. But unlike the rampant food bacchanalia of Thanksgiving, this one comes with presents. A friend and her family very generously invited me to spend Christmas with them and witness the exchange of all of the presents, all the presents ever made. It was like someone had mugged Santa, but very nicely and probably only beat him up with candy canes.

My friends also took me to see the North Carolina State basketball team, the Wolfpack, and, much like the Cleveland Browns, they are now my guys and woes betide anyone who says anything bad about them. I mean, I don’t do anything to them myself, but hopefully some woe will all, like, tide them and stuff.

WolfpackNC State fans here seen doing the traditional Wolfpack sign and not, as you might imagine, rocking like a mofo.

I do like how different sports and cultures engender different ways of screwing with the opposing teams. From the chanting of the football crowds, the accusations of wanker-ism on the part of the referee and, of course, props:

Distraction Props

Now that we’ve eaten, basketed some balls, there’s only one thing left to do to this year of 2012, and that’s to drown it in champagne and drop an acorn on it.

Raleigh, the City of Oaks, joins in the tradition of dropping stuff on New Year’s with its own delightful acorn:

Acorn DroppingBest game of Conkers ever

The rest of the night descends, like most New Year’s celebrations, into an entirely sober, sombre affair in which we reflect on our lives. In a bear costume:

Bear SuitI bearly remember this.

The most memorable part of Raleigh wasn’t the city, it wasn’t the cow breaking into a building (though that is going in my evidence dossier), it wasn’t the cool museum of natural sciences, it wasn’t even the BBQ.

Bovine Break InCows are endlessly plotting.

It was, of course, this monster:

Heart of Darkness

Okay, it looks somewhat harmless in a picture, but that’s because evil is motion-based. Even Hitler looked sweet motionless:

Hitler on a SledOkay, not the best example (source)

I mean, what you haven’t noticed about the picture is the dead monkey and penguin (the dog picture, not the Hitler one). Don’t be fooled, this creature knows exactly how to attack you. It goes for the soft underbelly, it goes for the throat. It’s a killing machine.

It’s so terrifying I had to turn to drink, and to drinking from these:

Redneck Wine Glasses

Now that I’ve eaten my own bodyweight, then deep fried that and ate it too, celebrated Christmas and knocked out another year, there’s only one thing left to say:

Go WolfpackGo Wolfpack!

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