Hello, person and/or people and/or robots of the future! Thank you for coming to allnewyear.com. This project is over, but I wanted this post to serve as a beginner’s guide, so you can get a sense of what this this site all about.
What is this site all about?
Good question, fictional question-asker! All New Year was a project started by Opus Moreschi, in which he did something he’s never done before, once a day, every day, for a year, and blogged about it.
Some of the most popular posts on All New Year were Taco Tuesdays, a weekly event in which Opus would eat something he’s never tried before, from freeze-dried larvae, to strange mexican candies, to dog food. Opus occasionally posts new Taco Tuesdays at his other site, HeyItsOpus.com.
I just saw you did something rather small and lame for a New Thing on this day or that. Does that count?
Listen, Fictional Question Asker. I used to like you, but now you’re getting a bit uppity. Yes, admittedly, some of the new things were lame. But you try finding something brand new to do every day while working full time, blogging daily, and trying to retain some semblance of a social life. It ain’t easy, chump.
What are your favorite New Things?
That’s like asking, “Which sharp stick did you enjoy getting poked in the eye with most” But here are the ones that resonated with myself or others:
The reaction was overwhelmingly positive, with people from all over the globe writing me with suggestions, and support, and only very very occasionally to tell me how stupid I looked. But by far, imitation was the most awesomest form of flattery. Several people attempted to do their own All New Years - to varying degrees of success. I am not judging that in the slightest - it’s a difficult thing to do, and just giving it a try is admirable enough.
Emily decided to do her own Em’s New Year, along with a Taco Tuesday spin-off called Mini-Muffin Monday.
Dani, from the UK, started up Dani’s All New Year,: her version of Taco Tuesday was called Fritters on Friday.
Grace was inspired to do her own twist on the genre by making sure her next year was her Favorite Year.
Popular YouTube vlogger Paperlillies recommended my blog to her many fans, her brother were inspired to do a Taco Tuesday, calling theirs Burrito Wednesday. Her accent makes here single edition far cooler than all of mine combines.
Are you going to keep doing All New Things?
God, no. From now on I will simply sit very still, concentrating very hard on never again trying anything new. (Fine, okay, I’m sure I’ll always be open to new experiences in a way I haven’t been before. Is that what you wanted?)
Do you realize you switched from third person to first person halfway through this list?
Opus Moreschi does realize that I did this.
How do you feel about it now that All New Year is over?
How do I feel? Honestly, relieved. All New Year was a huge pain in my ass. Don’t get me wrong, I am glad I did it, but it was exhausting, draining, frustrating, confusing and upsetting at times. Still, I wouldn’t change a thing.
What have you learned from the All New Year project?
I wish I had a pat, Carpe Diem, Oh-Captain-My-Captain, Bucket List sort of answer for that. But life doesn’t serve up easy answers - and if it did, it wouldn’t be as interesting. I started the project because I noticed a tendency in myself to remain too comfortable, to not step outside my own boundaries, and to not explore new things. If I saw those qualities in another person, I would probably be inclined to dislike them. By forcing myself to do new things, I was forcing myself to confront those qualities.
What I learned is that we have boundaries for a reason. And it’s always good to push those boundaries, test their elasticity. Maybe you’ll find what terrified you a year ago is easy for you today… or that something you’ve always shied away from is something you actually really enjoy.
But I think its just as valuable a lesson to learn that it’s okay to have those boundaries. If I don’t want to go clubbing until dawn listening to house music and taking illegal pills I buy off a guy in the bathroom who won’t give me his real name but tells me to call him “The Fixer” - that doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with me. It means I know what I like - scrabble, ben & jerrys, and an early bedtime. Ain’t nothing wrong with that.
Do you have any other sweeping, grandiose projects planned for the future?
I’m getting a lot of interesting comments, links, and emails from people who have only discovered the blog now that it’s all over. Hi, new people! Sorry that my life is boring now. I need a break.
However, I couldn’t quite leave Taco Tuesday behind… there are brave new frontiers of weird food to try. So I’ve moved it over to my “personal” blog at Heyitsopus.com. Check out the all new episode.
Also I want to give big props and thanks to Alaskan singer/songwriter Marian Call, who was touring through Los Angeles and came by my All New Year Wrap Party. She was moved to write a song for the All New Year, of which she has yet to record, but sent me the lyircs, which I find hearbreakingly charming. This is Marian’s song:
A poor girl on her own in
the city, bemoanin’
The troglodyte males who molest her
Found welcome relief,
In good breeding, when her host impressed her –
At a very fine party
Not snobbish, but arty
And full of the finest of folks –
With wit and panache
And a grand ex-moustache
And punchy yet civilized jokes.
Oh, heaven preserve us
from louts who unnerve us
And bastards who pinch us and grope us
Here’s to the hepcat
who brook have none of that –
Our very own maaaaaaaaagnum Opus
Wow. Nobody’s written a song for me before (and I am guessing they won’t from here on out) so I am speechlessly thankful to Marian. Thank you to her, and everybody who has supported me in this crazyass project.
A lot of people have posted links and sent me great encouragement over the past year, and I’ve tried to give them all the proper thanks and I’ve surely missed some people along the way. So, if you’re reading this, thank you. Unless you’re reading this in order to find some way to stalk and/or murder me, in which case, please, do not stalk and/or kill me.
Just as the All New Year finished up, however, I saw a huge increase in people watching and subscribing and commenting on my videos on YouTube. I didn’t quite figure out why suddenly hundreds of people were interested in a now-extinct project, until I found this video from Youtube User Paperlillies.
She’s kindly given me mention midway through her vlog (which has a considerable fan following), at around 2:10. She even is considerate enough to pronounce my name correctly, which is a rarity.
A small fraction of my All New Year videos have made it on youtube, but I’m gonna head back and upload some old ones for Tigerlillies and others to watch, and enjoy, and comment about in adorable british accents.
Many thanks to everybody who came out for the All New Year Wrap Part a few days ago, including Erin Gibson, who took these phenomenal photos.
All New Year may be over but I’m going to try to post a few more times - to get some closure on the project and thank the wonderful people who helped me so much. And maybe one or two new Taco Tuesdays. Stay tuned.
Tonight’s penultimate new thing was once again at Machine Project, where Zabeth, sister Kate and I all took a class on cheesemaking.
Our teacher was named Nance Klehm, a fascinatingly bohemian artist/chef/urban farmer from Chicago. She spoke at great length about her “decentralized orchard” in that city, where she took tiny bits of green space in the city and planted various foods all over them.
She also talked at length about her belief that milk “wants to be cheese.” To illustrate this idea, she told a story about coming back from a dairy farm with a truck full of raw milk when she passed out for two days. (No explanation was given for this, nor did it seem like she felt one was needed). When she came to, she had found her milk had curdled into cheese, and so naturally, she brought it to a friend’s party and served it as appetizers to unknowing guests.
As she told this story, she passed around a jar of cream, which we shook until it became butter. Kate was actually the one lucky enough to be shaking it when it finally butterized.
Nance is the sort of person who has an amazing amount of knowledge about a subject, so much so that normal people may have a hard time following it. Or at least, that’s what I told myself as I found it difficult to completely understand all of the details of the history and cultural significance of cheese throughout the ages.
The real fun came later when she brought us into the kitchen to make some cheese of our own. We started with yogurt, warming some raw milk and adding natural yogurt cultures. Then we were to take our jar of warm milk home, wrap it in a towel, and take it to bed with us. Yes, that’s right, we were supposed to cuddle that jar until it became yogurt. It had to stay warm, you see, and Nance eschews the “traditional” or “easy” route.
Then we got to make Ricotta cheese. As I was stirring the milk as it heated up to 185 degrees, I was struck with a strong sense memory of the smell of my father’s pasta shop when I was young.
After it was strained of its curds (see? I did learn something) the cheese was delicious - fresh, a little lemony, and still warm. And rediculously easy to make! Of course, this was just baby, beginner cheese, but I had a great time. Even though, I will admit, I did not sleep with my yogurt that night. Sorry, yogurt, you’re just not my type.
It was just a few years ago it seems that Segways were a product shrouded in mystery. Known for a long time only by a code-name, they eventually were unveiled. Everybody agreed that they were a marvel of technology and design, and unlike any other product every developed, had the revolutionary ability to make anybody using one look like a total doofus.
I have never had a problem looking like a doofus before, personally. Its just one of those skills I’ve been born with. But I wanted to try out this gyroscopic two-wheeled dynamo. So I visited SegWow, the site of a local businessman who has made a name for himself offering Segway tours of Los Angeles.
The guy’s name, no joke, is Axel, and he is passionate about Segways. One of the best things about All New Year is meeting people with this level of passion about the things they do - whether it be the study of words, or their chosen religion, or their devotion to fitness through bitchy workout routines. I am a cynical writer who looks at everything askew, so when I encounter somebody who wholeheartedly loves what they do, I am always amazed and impressed. Axel loves Segways.
My sister Kate, Jennie CC, and I met Axel in Beverly Hills for a tour of the hills. He brought out a consent form (how many of these things have I signed in the past year?) saying we weren’t responsible if we hurt ourselves, or, more importantly, the Segway. These little guys cost at least $4500 a pop. He also asked us over and over if we wanted helmets. Being vain, we demurred, and he continued to ask. Axel is a man who does not worry about how he looks in a helmet. I think for the entire time we spent with him, he wore his, even during the extended periods we were not actually riding the Segway.
The Segway operates this way - it is a little platform on two wheels. Inside the platform is either a computer, or a magic elf, which keeps the platform upright at all times. The Segway also knows when you are leaning slightly forward on the platform that you want to move forward, and when you are leaning slightly backwards, it is time to move back. This is either because the computer inside is very sensitive, or the magic elf is reading your mind, or some unholy combination of both.
After we got used to these crazy future machines by driving around the park a little, passing each other and yelling, “Hello from the future!”, we made our way up into Beverly Hills.
Our first stop was a house that Axel said belonged to “one of the Stallones, probably Frank,” which did not fill me with confidence on the celebrity-level of the tour. However as we went along and saw houses belonging to Steve Martin, Kurt Douglas, and David Geffen, the celebrometer rose.
Except we didn’t actually see many houses. We saw a lot of gates, fences, hedges and walls. But not a lot of houses. Axel enthusiastically encouraged us, “look through the bushes here, you can see part of Jay Leno’s house!” But none of us felt really all that inclined to spy on a celebrity we were only marginally interested in to begin with.
But that being said, we were having a blast. Segways are crazy fun. I know, I still agree, people look pretty dorky on them. But as long as you can admit that and put it aside, you’ll be a dork with a smile on your face.
Axel continued the tour. It struck me that he normally gives tours to tourists, and so his quips were aimed towards those who might not know the industry. Now, I work in television, Jennie CC in management, and my sister owns her own DVD player, so we proved a little more knowledgeable than Axel may have been prepared for. “Greta Garbo…” he asked, “Have you guys heard of her?”
As the tour stretched past two hours, it began to get colder. Segways can go up to 12.5 miles per hour, and that can get a bit nippy.
Around this time, I had a bit of a crisis of Segway faith. We were heading downhill from the huge Greystone estate, trusting this little computerized platform on wheels would keep us from shooting down slope at a rapid rate into oncoming traffic. It was a lot of faith to put into a tiny computer. The same sort of computer that loses my work after three hours of writing, that wrongly books my airplane tickets, and causes power outages due to a software glitch. I was overcome with a very strong urge to jump off. The only thing that kept me on was the fact that I had signed a form saying I’d pay for the little machine that would go skittering away from me if I did jump off. I had never put a price tag on my own life before, but I guess if I did it would be less than $4500.
All in all, the Segway tour was fun - not because of the tour, really, just because we got the opportunity to zoom around the empty streets of Beverly Hills on the two weeled wonders. And all without helmet-hair.
After our disastrous, non-relaxing relaxation session at the Zen Zone, we headed up the way at Universal City Walk to our next destination: The Saddle Ranch.
The Saddle Ranch is as much a western bar as Pizza Hut is a fine Italian eatery. Instead, it is a place for aspiring hollywood actors with pre-distressed woven cowboy hats to wear them. Every person who worked there looked as if he or she had a headshot, just waiting to whip out if the opportunity arose. In continuing with my theme of crankiness today, I was cranky.
We sat down for a beer and the “Monster Appetizer Platter” - a dish of different items all fried to such a degree that the chicken strips tasted exactly like the fried mushrooms. Understanding the bland nature of their food, the Saddle Ranch was kind enough to provide four different dipping sauces, which added a different dimension of bland.
We were merely killing time, of course, before the main event: The mechanical bull. It sat out front, unused, daring us to climb aboard. With my cranky level nearing high, I considered blowing it off altogether, but I didn’t want to have sat through the saddle ranch “food” for no reason. So we paid our four bucks a pop and signed a release that said the Saddle Ranch was not responsible if I broke a bone, died, or accidentally was thrown on the bull so vigorously that I landed and accidentally impregnated a passing tourist.
As I climbed aboard the mechanically bull, a small crowd gathered. A couple of fratty boys from the bar wandered over. Before I even started, they began yelling what can politely be called “encouragements”.
“Yeah,” said one guy, “Ride it! Ride it hard!”
“Fuckin’ A!” said the other, and then noticed the small child a few feet away. “F’n A, I mean, sorry.”
The operator pushed a button and the bull spun around several times, like a compass trying to find magnetic north. Then, just as suddenly, it stopped. Was that it? Had I beaten the bull?
“Can you take your glasses off?” asked the operator woman.
“Yeah, take it off!” yelled a fratty guy.
My glasses came off, and we started over. The bull began to buck forward and back, and spin wildly.
“Oh, yeah, get that!” cried a frat boy lustily.
“Dude,” I said, trying to speak his language, “Your sex talk is not helping!”
Then, after 21 seconds of bucking and shifting, I felt myself getting tossed and rather than risk a sprained wrist (or a paternity lawsuit from a passerby) I let go and came crashing to the mat below.
“It was a very graceful fall,” said the ride operator, using an adjective I think no cowboy wants to have applied to him. My sister went next, and the fratty guys continued their catcalls, so at least they were equal-opportunity. And despite not jumping off a mountain, and wading through a sea of cheerleaders and getting suprise-massaged by a stranger, I found myself smiling and laughing. Against my better judgment, I was having a good time.
I awoke with the sun this morning, and got dressed in comfortable, loose layers of clothes suitable for jumping off a mountain. My sister Kate came in from New York late last night, and we were both ready to go Hang-Gliding. As we were preparing to make the trek out to Sylmar (town motto: “When you can’t afford Los Angeles, there’s always Sylmar”) I did the recommended thing, call the flight instructor to make sure we were cleared for takeoff.
“Hi,” I said, with the bright, chipper voice of a person excited to jump off a mountain, “I’m Opus, and me and my sister are about to head out to go hang-gliding with you, and I’m calling to check to make sure the weather’s okay!”
“Where do you live?” came the weary answer.
“Um, I’m in Los Angeles.” I said, a little uncertain where this was going.
“Look out your window. How does it look?”
“Um… a little overcast?” I replied.
So, much like my attempt to fly a small airplane last weekend, it that hang-gliding was called on account of inclement weather. It was as if even God was sick of me trying new things.
I broke the news to Kate and we sat down to figure out Plan B. We briefly entertained the idea of visiting every food-shaped building we could find in Los Angeles (there are a surprising amount - three donut-shaped donut shops and at least one hot-dog shaped hot dog stand) but I thought of a few ideas I had meant to get around to and never did. I may not be able to go hang-gliding but I could head up to Universal City Walk and go to an oxygen bar, and then ride a mechanical bull.
A word about Universal City Walk. Universal Studios already had a hit on their hands with their theme park, but some wise mind thought, “What if we took the amusement park and took out all the rides? Leaving just the crowds and the over-priced stores and restaurants? If we added enough neon signs and flashing lights, perhaps people won’t notice that there’s not actually anything to do?” Thus, Universal City Walk was born.
Also, they charge eleven bucks for parking.
So, it was with a huge and weighty chip on my shoulder than I strolled into Universal City Walk with my sister Kate. Immediately, I noticed something unusual. There were cheerleaders everywhere. Squealing, shrieking cheerleaders. There was, apparently, some sort of Squealing Shrieking Cheerleader Convention in town.
But before you and Chris Hansen get any ideas in your head, let me put it to you plainly. There was not an attractive cheerleader in the bunch. They all wore make-up like they were trying to hide something, and had the sort of severe pony-tails that doubled as cheap facelifts. Each of them was texting or camera-phoning or clinging to one another as if life weren’t happening without a third party to view it. They were Schroedinger’s Cheerleaders.
Of course, as one who has written about every day in the past year, I am not one to talk. But this is the cranky attitude I had coming into it.
Kate and I made our way to Zen Zoo, the last remaining oxygen bar that I could find in Los Angeles. The oxygen bar was a brief trend a few years ago - a place where, for a fee, you could inhale flavored oxygen. The trend died out as quickly as an unattended jar of Sea Monkeys, and now only preyed on the curious tourists looking for something, anything to do at Universal City Walk.
To that end, Kate and I had to wait for gaggles of giggling cheerleaders to finish their turn on the tanks before we could have our turn.
I am cranky, waiting. Note the cheerleaders behind me.
Finally we were summoned, and individual rubber tubes were unwrapped and attached to the machine. A man handed me the tube and told me to put it in my nose, and then walked away. I looked at the machine, which had four flavors and four switches. The flavors were “Chillin’” “Calming” “Zen Blend” and “Tranquility.” These were all synonyms.
A woman approached us from behind. “Hi!” she said, happily, “can I show you our Happy Hands massager?”
“Wait a minute,” I said. I will admit, at this point, i was a little testy. “Some guy just told me to put this in my nose. I have no idea how to work this machien or what it’s supposed to do. What’s going on?”
She patiently explained the different “aromatherapy flavors” and showed how switches could turn each one on or off. She then proceeded to explain the massager, and give both of us a demonstration.
This is another part of the Zen Zone experience that gave me the opposite of comfort. Every few minutes, a person would approach and use a different “calming” product on you, often without warning. This is how my sister Kate was attacked with a vibrating scalp massager which, she explained later, put her on the verge of tears with how uncomfortable it made her.
Worse than that on myself or my family members was the guy who was massaging the teenage cheerleaders. Apparently an employee of the Zen Zone (though I never saw any definitive proof) he was taking his sweet time massaging the shoulders, necks, and lower backs of a row of young girls. If that is not a creepy enough image, then let me add this to it: He had a mustache. Yeah.
And how was the oxygen? I fiddled with the switches and had various blends, but overall, as my sister pointed it out, it smelled mostly of rubber tubing. Probably because of the rubber tubing that I had stuck up my nose.
Between the creepy inches-away-from-molestation massages, the near-dog-frequency shrieks of cheerleaders, the rubbery smell in my nose and the constant sales pitches to buy another kind of relaxation device, I left the Zen Zone more stressed than when I entered. More stressed, in fact, than I had been in ages. So much for zen.