Monday, July 28, 2014

Branson Fashion

Ah, Branson. I can't believe I went to Branson. Do you know how close it is to Arkansas? Terrifyingly close.

Last month we had a Houdek family reunion there. I can see how Branson appeals to some people, but it didn't exactly appeal to me. It was CHEESY in every way. Country music playing everywhere. Mullets. Overalls.

This. Everything looked like this.

I was in Branson less than 3 months after getting home from France, so it was a bit of culture shock for me. Yes, you can feel culture shock even in your own country :).  I love my country, but Branson was TOO American for my liking. I need little doses of European, Old-World class in my life now.

If you've checked out my blog before, you might have seen my Jerusalem Fashion or French Fashion posts...where I spent time taking stalker pictures of people so I could discuss Israeli and French fashion. I felt like it was only fair to be a creepy stalker in my own country as well. Before getting to Branson, I was already anticipating that there would be some 'interesting' looks to be found there.

I saw the first mullet before we even got to the hotel. And it was decided. For the rest of the trip I was on the lookout for example of typical Branson couture.

Haha. I just used 'Branson' and 'couture' in the same sentence. That has never happened before, I guarantee you.

Hey look!
The socks and sandals on the left almost distracted me
from the life-size eagles on the right.
Sometimes I like to guess people's occupations
 based on what they're wearing. My guess for this lady: gym teacher.
Dude. You don't need to wear that shirt.
 I can already tell you're from Arkansas.
I feel like the artful messiness of this updo probably
 took a lot more time to achieve then just, you know,
 brushing the hair would have taken.
Remember when I said that Branson was a bit
too American?
And, my personal favorite. This exemplifies Branson fashion.

I didn't know there were actually people like this! You learn so much when you travel.

What Branson is apparently known for are its shows. A lot of them are of the family banjo jamboree band variety (but thankfully not all of them!). One of the ones we saw was a dog stunt show. The dogs were very enjoyable, but the humans attempting to act- not so much. 

What absolutely killed me was at the end. They showed a short documentary about dogs that serve in the military. Weirdly unrelated, but the show was about dogs? So I guess that was fine. But then. Patriotic music starts playing. Red, white, and blue lights cover the stage. And then every cast member (dog and human) comes onstage wearing matching patriotic sequin vests. 

SEQUIN VESTS. This happened.

They spent money on those outfits for the sole purpose of standing onstage looking out solemnly at the audience for 2 minutes. Do you ever witness something so bizarre that you can't possibly comprehend where they were coming from at all?

So, I probably won't ever come back to Branson. At least not willingly.

I must say, though, that I still loved spending time with the Houdeks.

Yes, even in Branson. :)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


The other day my parents were daydreaming about which (warmer) state they would want to retire to. I enjoy having strong opinions about different states, so it got me thinking about how I would rank each state based on where I’d most want to live.

So in honor of the 4th of July this week, here’s an ‘American’ blog post on my international blog. I’ve only been to just over half of these states and I’ve only lived in 2 of them. So a lot of these rankings are just based on my random stereotypes. I think you’ll see a theme that I like places that are cold, green, and lack cowboys.

1. Wisconsin: Okay, so obvious. If you know me at all you’ll know that I have a lot of state pride and I LOVE Wisconsin. Besides my college years and my traveling year, it’s the only place I’ve ever lived. I can barely imagine living anywhere else for the rest of my life. The people are nice, it’s beautiful and green, Milwaukee and Chicago (yes I know Chicago’s not actually in WI) are cool cities, my family’s here, and Packers. Enough said.
2. Minnesota: By FAR my second choice state. It has most of the things I love about Wisconsin, but it’s even colder (yay) and it has the Mall of America.
3. Illinois: A little flat for my tastes, but it’s close to home...and I do like visiting Chicago!
4. Michigan: Besides Detroit and the U.P., it’s fine.
5. New York: I like both New York state and New York City. Beautiful state and one of the best cities in the world.      
6. Pennsylvania: One of my favorite states that I’ve visited. Beautiful. History. Amish people in case you ever get bored.
7. Massachusetts: Never been there, but I’ve always wanted to visit Boston! I picture people from MA as being sarcastic. You know I would just hate that.
8. Connecticut: Gilmore Girls. 
9. Vermont: Can you tell I’m pro-New England?
10. New Hampshire
11. New Jersey: It’s close to NYC. I hear there are allegedly gardens there.
12. Delaware 
13. Rhode Island
14. Maryland: Been there a few times and seems normal.
15. North Carolina: Southern charm, but not too southern.
16. Colorado: Highest ranking western state! Congratulations Colorado. I have positive perceptions of you. I met a lot of Coloradans at BYU and 99% of them were cool and normal. There was only one adult woman that played with dolls, and that was it.
17. Ohio: Northern Ohio is pretty.
18. Washington: I’ve never been there but it’s GREEN! But it’s in the west. But it’s green! But they’re liberal there. But it’s green! (the western side at least...).
19. South Carolina: In my head South Carolina has that kind of southern culture that’s classy and not hickish.
20. Oregon: It might be ranked higher if I knew I could live there without being persecuted for pronouncing it “Oregone” and not “Oregun” like everyone who’s not from Wisconsin is prone to say.
21. Kansas: I have family in the Kansas City area and I’ve always thought it seemed nice there. But Western Kansas is too flat and Nebraska-like for my tastes.                            22. Maine: Lowest ranking eastern state. For being too rural and in all likelihood too Canadian.
23. Indiana: Midwestern, but not quite close enough to the coolest part of the Midwest.
24. Missouri: St. Louis seems alright. Kansas City seems alright. But this one time they tried to murder everyone in my church and I still hold a small grudge. Plus at the moment I'm in southern Missouri and I'm not loving it.
25. Tennessee: I’ve been to Tennessee several times and I like it (going there again next week, in fact!). It’s beautiful, but I think I’m too much of a northerner to live here. I don’t do country music.
26. Virginia: I like the D.C. part, but not the hill people part.
28. West Virginia: More hill people.
27. Kentucky: I’m scared of hill people.    
29. Alaska: I know it would be way too rural for me, but I think I would love the weather. I hate summer.
30. Florida: Love it as a vacation spot, but the summer heat would be horrible. And there’s always the weirdest crimes in Florida.
31. California: Northern California would probably be fine. But crowded, plastic surgeried Southern California is not for me.
32. Hawaii: Same as Florida, minus the weird crimes.
33. Iowa: It borders my beloved state, but I’ve driven through it enough times to know that there’s pretty much nothing there.
34. Arizona: HOT. Desert.
35. Nevada: HOT. Desert. 
36. New Mexico: HOT. Desert.
37. Texas: I’ve never been to Texas but somehow I know I hate it. It reminds me of Utah in weird ways.
38. Alabama: Seems slightly better than other southern states?
39. Georgia: Gone With the Wind. But Honey Boo Boo.
40. Louisiana: Swamps. At least they’re French?
41. Mississippi: I pretty much have bad perceptions of all of these deep South states. Obesity, poverty, and poor education come to mind. Mississippi seems the worst to me for some reason. Maybe that whole Jim Crow thing played a role. 
42. Nebraska: I’ve developed a unique and special hatred for the endlessly long and exceptionally flat states that I’ve had to suffer driving through back and forth to Utah. The word ‘Nebraska’ just makes me shudder. I hate that it’s considered part of the Midwest because my Midwest is so much cooler.
43. Wyoming: Same deal as Nebraska. It is prettier than Nebraska, but it has even less people and there are cowboys there, so....
44. Montana: Do people even live here?
45. Idaho: I’ve been here a few times. I still don’t believe that Boise is considered a ‘city.’ I also don’t think I could deal with people that take BYU-Idaho too seriously. And all the farm people. No.                   
46. Oklahoma: Tornados. Dust. I think that’s it.
47. Arkansas: The capital of Walmart. In my mind, Arkansas shares the bad qualities of the other Deep South states, but also lacks culture. And the Duggars live there, which makes me think everyone there is weird.
48. South Dakota: I’ve been there twice. It was fun when I was an innocent child who had never been anywhere cool before, but when I was there at 19 I was really suffering. We had a Houdek family reunion there, and on this one day everyone was given matching cowboy hats before taking a chuckwagon ride together and being serenaded by a pasty child folk singer named Whitey. It was then that I vowed to never go back to South Dakota. Mount Rushmore’s not worth it. And Crazy Horse is DEFINITELY not worth it.
49. North Dakota: I imagine it’s even worse and more rural than it’s southern neighbor.
50. Utah: Ah, Utah. I realize you’re better than a lot of these states, but I’ve already tried you out. And it didn’t go so well. Your ‘eccentricities’ almost ruined my college years. So I have to think I’d rather give a different state a try before living in you ever again.

I'm sorry if I hate your state. But not really that sorry ;)