Ladies and Gentlemen…Roll Cage Mary

July 12, 2010 at 10:25 pm (In Our Down Time)

Temps: -20 C / -4 F
WC: -28 C / -18 F
Winds: 6 kts
Pole: -60 C / -76 F

Roll Cage Mary. My Antarctic Band. Definitely the coolest and most fun thing I’ve been a part of down here. Nathan named us after the statue of Our Lady of the Snows, called Roll Cage Mary by anyone who didn’t erect it (hey) for Richard T. Williams.

Williams was a construction driver whose bulldoser broke through the sea ice and sank on January 6th, 1956. His body was never recovered from under the ice. He was hauling materials meant to build an airstrip to support exploration and the construction of South Pole Station. The airstrip project was later moved to a different location, which became the currently operating Williams Air Operating Facility, or more fondly “Willie Field.” Besides a propeller memoriam plaque at the airfield, the other memorial to Williams is “Our Lady of the Snow,” a statue of Mary in a fashioned grotto which has been repaired by workers over the years, though now stands in more of a cage than a grotto, and is often called “Roll Cage Mary” in McMurdo landmark fashion.

From afar at sunset…

And close up…

Kevin Cole on lead guitar…

Justin Dolan on bass…

And the stellar and uber-patriotic Nathan Murphy on drums.

The gang, all of whom kindly stayed up way past their bedtime. We were supposed to start at 9:30, but the auction didn’t end until 10:45.

We packed it in just after midnight, just like real musicians.

Some video for you. Though the sound quality’s poor, you can see we had a real nice time.

Goodnight, Antarctica!

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Proud to be an Antarctican

July 5, 2010 at 12:20 am (In Our Down Time)

Temps: -22 C / -8 F
WC: -32 C / -26 F
Winds: 9 kts
Pole: -69 -92

July Records
High: -4 C / +25 F (1956)
Low: -51 C / -59 F (1960)
Snow: 6.2″ in 24 hours (1966)
Winds: 102 kts / 117 mph (1984)

God Bless the USA(P)!

Happy Birthday, America! We celebrate your Special Day with much debauchery and very little dignity, but down here, we worship a different flag:

That of the Unites States Antarctic Program.

Oh sure, we Don the Red, White and Blue…

(Brooks in Hoop.)


(Patriotic finger bling with Cedar and Hayden — The Foreigner.)

…Use Our Patriotism to Humiliate Everyone Else…

…Show Off Our Trashiness…


(And what’s trashier than Kornhole?)


(Hey Everybody, it’s Guess Who Sports That Tattoo? . . . I won with over 50% correct, but I did cheat a little.)


(A closer view. Trashy!)

…Gorge on Food and Drink (four kinds of ice cream — thank you, Scientists; funnel cakes — thank you, Josie; cotton candy — thank you, UTs; beer — thank you, VMF; and a chili cook-off — thank you, Bradley, for making yours so spicy it gave me hiccups).

…Do Things That in No Way Fall Under the Category of “Safe”…


(Ahhh, the ole Twirl-n-Hurl. A McMurdo County Classic.)


(Human Jenga. Because there aren’t enough ways to die on this island. And because we’ll do anything the BFC girls tell us to do…”Here. Put on this harness and then stack these 10 boxes and stand on ’em. Don’t worry, we’ll catch you. Promise!”)

…Light Fireworks Bright Green Laser Beams…

…and Drink Copious Amounts of Alcohol. All in the name of YOU, America USAP!

At 8:00pm sharp(ish), Moose and Louie began the McMurdo County Live Auction. At the MCLA, money is no object. Mostly, because we have nothing else to spend it on. Secondly, people will pay anything for the comforts of home, which someone else has been hoarding all season long. And finally, the station manager had no idea how much money was thrown around at this thing agreed to match us dollar-for-dollar and donate to the Red Cross. So, people were ready to spend.

How much will the Budweiser go for?

Box of Cap’n Crunch — $60
Gallon of Chocolate Ice Cream — $30
Sixer of Miller High Life — $85
Shaving Mark Scowden’s Head — $300

Four Signs the Linemen Stole From the Firehouse — nearly $1000*
*each sold separately


The most expensive toilet paper on the planet.

Cedar, Bethany and I bought a delicious meal prepared by the lovely BFC girls, along with entertainment provided by the enticing Nathan Murphy for the low, low price of $50 each. Worth every penny for Murphy alone.

Where does all this money go, you ask? Well, somebody, somewhere, decided that, by law, we are no longer allowed to donate money to charity. So, instead of helping to support Blind Kittens or The Arts, we will use the nearly $6000 for an End of Winter Party. Seriously. We’re going to try and fly in Beyonce and Jay-Z, special!

Save your fork, there’s pie!

…in the face!


(Corrine…meet the Wrath of Keri.) She will also insult you or your mom for tickets.

Mostly, however, we celebrate the fact that, although I have gained 20 pounds since getting here in October (70% lack of fresh food and metabolism, 30% cookies), my ass doesn’t look all that bad.

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In the Unassuming Little Shack

June 1, 2010 at 8:37 pm (In Our Down Time)

Temp: -25 C / -33 F
WC: -30 C / -22 F
Winds: 3 kts
Pole: -64 C / -83 F

Here at MacTown, during the summertime, if one knows exactly where to look and exactly what to look for, one might just stumble upon one Unassuming Little Shack. This Unassuming Little Shack has been sought out by The People for the past many years — during the summertime, of course, as The People can only really handle short visits during the warm season. Tourists, we like to call them. The People have threatened, cajoled, and used rabid dogs to sniff the Unassuming Little Shack out. Alas, they have been roundly unsuccessful, and their consternation and anger rises anew every winter, when the Unassuming Little Shack makes its annual appearance to make the Icies happy and slightly more well-balanced.

Now, there it sits, that happy Unassuming Little Shack. Just outside the Firehouse, where one can reserve some quality time in a nice warm tub. There are no bubbles, but it’s cleaned daily, and there is a working heater — both for the water and building itself — and it’s about the nicest place to go on a cold winter’s day.

*No peeing or glass bottles allowed.

Me and Brooks, chillaxin’ in the tub.

Justin, a true pleasure and delight, who is always good for a smile.

The inner sanctum. Oooh, Tropical Themed!

Brooks and Cedar.

That’s not wind. Our swimsuits just froze immediately upon exiting the building.

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Conrad and Margarita, Live and in the Flesh

May 26, 2010 at 4:53 pm (In Our Down Time)

Temps: -23 C / -9 F
WC: same
Pole: -56 C / -69 F

Believe it or not, there is even more to do on any given evening on The Island than at home. Each weeknight, we poor souls must choose between athletics, movies, music, games, and any number of ridiculous non-HR-approved manners of entertaining ourselves. One such event is our soon-to-be-monthly Open Mic night. Everyone knows how painful an Open Mic night can be. You’ve all had that tearful look in your eye, realizing you came to the right bar on the wrong night, and wondering how quickly you can bolt outta there without insulting Sparkly Tuba Lady Sings the Classics.

Open Mic Night, MacTown Style, however, is not to be missed. Some of the hightlights…

Russell…chef by day. Soul man, all of the time.

Nothing hotter than a lady drummer, and Wendy’s been coming here for 15+ years. Kevin, Zak, Justin and Jim backing her up.

Terrorist Fist bump for the Birthday Boy. That’s Moose and Will Coe, who has never heard the band Wilco.

Brad and Corrine explore where Inappropriate Line gets crossed.

Keri. Always beautiful and delightful, and this was her first guitar recital. She also rocks it with the all-girl Antarctic band, Sophia and the Bitch Pops.

Wally and Mike do Buffett…

…while Nathan makes us all sound good.

A little Mark Scowden, aka Poobacca, who runs the Waste Water Treatment Plant, aka Cleans Up Our Shit.

Margarita: Just a small town girl.

Conrad: Just a city boy.

And a sampling of Conrad and Margarita, Live at the Hotel Casanova. He loved her the first time he saw her at that strip club last Tuesday. She…is wasted.

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