Friday, February 29, 2008

Yummy Hives!!

The Hives rock! 4Ril! Last night was a super high energy awesome show at First Ave. At first I was a little stunned by Pelle Almqvist’s blatant pleas for more attention. My God – is the adulation of this sweaty mob not enough for you?? But after it continued throughout the show I got it – they were playing the part of the cocky young punk band. And you know what? They were perfect. Climbing on speakers, prancing like Mick’s chicken walk, toying with the front row fans…it was all good, baby. They played fast and furious and the crowd was totally digging it. They sounded good, even if exactly like the album. But the energy was unreal. I danced the whole time.

By the way, if you decide to tape the entire show on your cell phone, well, don’t stand next to me. I’ll get real dang tired of your elbow smacking my temple and your stank armpit in my face…Don’t make me whip out the beatin’ stick…

I have a whole bunch of true stories and bacon taste tests start tonight…stay tuned, my righteous reader!


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Mr. Chicken Takes One for the Team

Hello, Darling Readers! Today I interviewed applicants for an internship at our gallery. They were all very good, eager, earnest young faces looking to advance careers with energy and passion for the arts. I was so reminded of myself when I first moved here. One of my first real gigs was as a craft assistant for a television show on PBS. It was the pilot of the show, and we were all excited for the work and the opportunity to work on a national show. (The show shall remain nameless, but it rhymes with “Tonna’s Tay”)

Have you ever worked on a show with craft segments? You haven’t? Well, somewhere behind the scenes are people who feverishly build all the craft “swap outs”, you know, a sweater octopus with 3 legs, a sweater octopus with 5 legs, etc. so the viewer can see what the project will look like as it’s being completed. It’s a crap job, for sure.

The job was made worse by the tyrannical behavior of the director, whose whims were both eccentric and absolute. Examples? “No one says the word ‘brainstorm’ in my presence…EVER!” “I asked for this to be copied on Goldenrod paper and this looks like Sunburst…GET IT RIGHT!” or, my personal favorite: sending a certain minion on a quest throughout the building with a coffee cup and a mission – don’t come back without the sixth mug. That’s right, yours truly, walking into conference rooms saying, “Umm…excuse me…Mr. X has six of these very special mugs and one is missing. Has anyone here seen it?” Arrggh.

I worked with my good friend Lynn and she was smart. She reached her limit and quit. I soldiered on. I could take it, right?

Wrong. Once, at the zenith of the crazy, I was getting ready to go to bed and I heard something in the living room. I crept into the other room and heard a distinct sound. It was a mechanical sound of a rooster. A tinny little “cock-a-doodle-do” (or if you’re in France, “cocorico.”) Up on the mantle in our apartment was a fake rooster. He made of Styrofoam covered with real feathers. He was called Mr. Chicken because he was somewhat ambivalent about being male. He actually looked a lot like the one in the photo.

I had never heard him make sound before. It was clearly coming from him, though. It was a scratchy rooster sound, coming from our heretofore silent display rooster. In the morning I asked my then-husband, “Did you know that Mr. Chicken can talk?” He laughed and said you must’ve been dreaming. No, I was wide awake. We debated whether this was possible, but I had heard it. I held it in my hands while it was making a sound. To prove my point. I ended up taking a long beading needle to Mr. Chicken, trying to prove that inside him was a sporadically functioning sound mechanism. Of course there wasn’t.

Auditory hallucinations - a sure sign you’re under some serious stress.

And who made the ultimate sacrifice? Mr. Chicken…he went down without a sound.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Star Wars, Bad Tunes and Bacon Vodka

Final Jeopardy
Every now and then I get to watch Jeopardy, much to the chagrin of my children. Yesterday, worlds collided when the final Jeopardy question was read. I think the category was biblical geography... “In ‘Return of the Jedi’, a planet shares its name with this home of a witch who summons a spirit for Saul.” You never saw two kids get whipped into a frenzy like that, man. Something as flat out dull as Jeopardy is allowed to ask questions about kid topics? What’s next? Hannah Montana questions? “I’ll take Mac n’ Cheese for $200, Alex?” The answer was What is Endor? None of us got it right. Mainly because we’re heathens…there wasn’t enough Star Wars info in the clue for this crowd. It was pretty damn funny, though, that one contestant answered, “What is Tatooine?” Very biblical sounding.

Bad song, man
Grossest song I’ve heard on the radio in a while: Missing by Everything But The Girl. Dude, the main lyric in the song is “And I miss you…like the deserts miss the rain.” First of all, I don’t think deserts miss rain. Their defining characteristic is a lack of rain. Rain would just confuse them and leave them with no identity. Like in Memento. Secondly, the song sounds like rear. It should’ve been recorded by Sade in 1985. Ewww…

BLTinis this weekend
It seems like the BLT-inis are going to be had this weekend. The container of bacon vodka looks like it came from an evil lab: the vodka has taken on a weird cast and the bacon has all congealed into one big piece. It really looks like a specimen in formaldehyde. (Am I making you thirsty yet?) I have yet to figure out the lettuce part…perhaps an endive spear? At any rate, there will be photos and reviews of the entire spectacle.

Despite the rising temps, I cannot get warm. Am I still recovering from the opening on the weekend? I dunno. But from Brookstone (land of things no one needs) comes this ridiculous thing – a jacket that heats itself. Me, I just buy cases of handwarmers at Menards and tape them to my skin.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Oscar night

Well, a great time was had by all at my friend’s Oscar party. The food was amazing! Sadly, she did not have red carpet coverage, so I missed the funny by Gary Busey, but that’s what YouTube’s for (keep smilin’ keep shinin’…). I have to say, I totally tanked on the ballot…Steve won by a long shot.

Who were the beautiful people? Anne Hathaway, not a fave actress of mine, looked lovely. Katherine Heigl was beautiful as always. The Rock, really not a fave of mine, cleaned up nicely and Javier Bardem was yummy like puddin’.

Who looked nasty? Well, Nicole Kidman had bizarre, off-center necklaces that bothered the home audience. Tilda Swinton was wearing a very odd black bat ensemble. And Daniel Day Lewis looked, well, eccentric and not in a good way. The worst of the night, though, was poor Jennifer Hudson. Wha? Did she say to her stylist, “I’m looking for something that makes me look gigantic and droopy”? She’s lovely and could look so much better.

I thought Jon Stewart was great! (I read today that Oscar viewership was at an all-time low, so maybe not everyone agreed with me.)

Thank you, thank you Mr. Stewart for bringing Marketa Irglova from ‘Once’ back to give her speech. I loved the movie and that song is so wonderful. Oscar nominated songs are so often the over the top Alan Menken/Disney theme things. Once was intimate and beautiful and that song was a critical point in the film. Delish. ‘The Swell Season’ is the name of a group that Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova perform in. They’re coming to the Orpheum Theater in May, which is way cool, and will be performing songs from ‘Once’ among other things. Tickets go on sale this weekend, but they start at $32 which is a wee bit spendy to see a band that doesn’t have Elvis Costello in it.

Who was happier than me when the Coens won? Only Frances McDormand. You know I love those Co-Bros. In the interest of full disclosure, I admit to being a bit inebriated by the end of the awards. I didn’t drive, so I perhaps was a little freer with the red wine than I should’ve been. Oh the shame…not really. I’m a grown up…I think.

This coming week will bring the bacon vodka / BLTini tasting, helping Drummer Guy ™ move and THE HIVES! (I am so excited!!) And I decided not to buy tickets to Kate Nash…I might go see Tapes n’ Tapes instead. Enjoy the warm up!! And happy last week o’ February!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Opening and Oscars

It was super opening, but COLD! Yes, I was unbearably cold...shivering, the whole nine yards. I don't think I warmed up until morning. There was magnificent food, though, and no sign of my beloved admirer, which I was grateful for. I did find a new suitor in Larry, the ice sculptor, but I think it's not meant to be. (How could I, a perpetually cold woman, even consider a future with a man who works in ice?)

Tonight I'm off to an Oscar party. I don't think I'll win anything, but I do have jewels provided by Fred Leighton. Or Target, I forget. I'm hoping that it's a big night for the Coens, because I loved No Country and I love the Coens. Good directors and politicians come from Edina apparently. (Go Big Al! He's good enough, he's smart enough and, doggone it, people like him!)

More later, my groovies! Our Feet Are Sane!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Bacon cookies

Yes, my friend, I made bacon cookies. They are outrageously good. And easy peasy. I wanted a fairly sturdy cookie, with a rich sweetness that echoed the smoky flavor of the bacon. The brown sugar base of a Toll House cookie turned out to be perfect.

The recipe as I made it:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 lb. thin-cut bacon cooked, drained and crumbled to tiny pieces
Sugar coating:
2/3 cup granulated sugar and1Tablespoon cinnamon, mixed in a small bowl
Turnbinado (aka raw) sugar for sprinkling on top (optional, but so nice)

PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in bacon. Drop cookie dough into sugar coating mix by rounded tablespoon, roll to coat and place on ungreased baking sheets. Sprinkle tops with the Turbinado sugar, if using. BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

This American Opening

How much do I hate MPR pledge week? A lot. What really bugs me is that the pledge drive continues even after you donate. There should be a magic switch that allows people who have already contributed to listen without the guilt trips from Lynn Rosetto Kasper and the like. That said, you know I love Ira Glass...even during pledge drive. I went to hear him speak at Macalester years ago. It was his first out-of-Chicago speaking engagement for This American Life. He said his staff were all teasing him that we, the audience, couldn't possibly be interested in what he had to say. Instead, perhaps Macalester had invited him to deliver some dish on the workings of NPR. Then he leaned up to mike and whispered, "I have some dirt...Sylvia Poggioli is a man. Even worse? A Canadian." Oh, how I loves me some Ira Glass.

Tonight is a big night - it's an opening at the gallery! You know what gallery it is - don't make me say it. It's going to be a great party, so stop on by! (And say hi to me, unless you're a stalker, in which case I'm the burly man in the corner with prison tatts.) (Note to self: find guy with prison tatts to wear my name tag tonight.)

Apologies and Teeth

Hey! I fell asleep, fully clothed on the couch, only to wake up to the melodious sound of my teenage jewelry box. No, wait...Love Story was on TV. It was close to the end...Dang, O'Dell! Those were two fabulous looking people. As we all know, though, love doesn't mean never having to say you're sorry. Oh well, they looked radiant anyway.

My younger one lost a tooth tonight, leaving him no top front teeth. He was ridiculously pleased with his appearance, and kept looking in the mirror. Yikes! That reminds me...the tooth fairy better come soon, before she forgets, falls back asleep and there's a lot of backpedaling in the morning. Not that that's ever happened here, no. And yes, that means that I am the tooth fairy. You had to learn it sometime. No, I'm not the tooth fairy for everyone, just my own kids. That reminds me of a TRUE STORY:

When I was little, visiting my grandparents in Park Ridge, NJ, I loved to play in my grandmother's top dresser drawer. It was where she kept all these fancy little boxes from jewelry know, little velvet or leather covered treasures to be revealed before snapping closed on my fingers. There was one box in there she told me not to touch. "It's an old box, very fragile," she said. I dutifully obeyed, but I was curious. Years later, when my grandmother died, my grandfather asked if there was anything special we wanted from the house. I asked if I could look in that box. He had no idea what I was talking about and said, "Sure, go get it." I went upstairs and the little square black leather box was right where it had always been. I was determined to be outrageously careful with this precious thing. I would've worn conservation gloves if I'd had them. I brought it close to my face and slowly opened the lid. Arrrgh! Teeth came flying out! It was a box full of my dad's baby teeth.

Even after she was gone, Grandma was protecting me from the reality that parents leave rewards under heavy warm pillows and murmuring sleepy heads. She wanted me to believe as long as possible. There was no greater treasure in that drawer.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Feverish Rant on Grimace

I’m still sick. When will it leave? I dunno. But in my fevered state, I read a bulletin from my MySpace bud E. where she complained about the antics of the Hamburgler. Now I have nothing against the Hamburgler, mainly because I don’t eat hamburgers. Sure, he’s running afoul of the law, but it’s not like he’s hiding it or anything…the suit is kind of a dead give away. It’s Grimace that gets me.

I used to like Grimace. In my child world where going to McDonald’s was a rare and special treat, I would get McDonaldland cookies and save all the Grimaces until last. But why, oh why, did the evil McD corp get rid of Grimace’s extra arms? Part of my Grimace love was that he was so clearly a mutant. Not that looking like a furry gumdrop on steroids isn’t enough, but the four arms really sealed the deal for me. Sometime in the 70s, the clown whisked him away to South America for a secret arm-ectomy and he came back as if nothing had happened. (If you secretly removed a third of my appendages I’d complain, pally.) Actually the same thing happened to the Fry Guys – they’re legs were removed and they became Koosh balls given away with Happy Meals.

Come to think of it, he’s also always grinning and stupid…me thinks the Grimace gots a love of the Oxycontin. Call Hazelden, man. Or call me and see if the G-Man’ll hook me up…my head hurts.

For you Brit: Happy Friday, y’all! Where ats my dang Cheetos?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Whatdya Think?

1. Music stuff
Kate Nash tickets are on sale... I can't decide if I like her or not. You've probably heard the song "Foundations." I frankly thought maybe I was listening to a tougher version of Lily Allen. (Although both songs are about a former lover, Allen's "Smile" is a little more subtle in it's contempt than Nash's song "D*ckhead") What do you think? Should I stay or should I go?

I'm lined up with shows for the next month...The Hives/Donnas is going to be amazing, Springsteen on 3/16 and I'm for sure getting in the pit this time. (Okay, I'm again trying to get in the pit.) And of course, my beloved Mike Doughty on 3/23. This is one of several reasons why I could never live in NYC...when would I have time to work to pay for all those damn shows? Not to mention, I'm actually a grown up, I think...

2. Flu
Arrgh. Did I luck out and get the strain of flu that isn't covered by the vaccine? This Strib article suggests maybe so. I can't complain too much -- I haven't gotten the flu in years, so if this is as bad as it'll get, I'm okay.

3. The Weekend!
If I get better by Saturday, I'm going to pop in at Franklin to see the show by Tectonic Industries. Looks good. I'm definitely going to my friend's Oscar party on Sunday night, although I'm a little disappointed that there will be an Oscar show. I had kind of hoped that each guest would do a dramatic re-enactment of the nominees and then we'd vote. I guess it's just as well...the rehearsals of my 5-minute version of "No Country for Old Men" were scaring the hell out of my kids. (Sadly, I've already gotten my Javier haircut...)

Happy warm-up, my babies!

New Blog, Old Reason

Photo credit: ChuckEye/Flickr

Well, well, well...

Here we are again. It seems that I am a magnet for lunatics. Sure, I knew that, but at some point isn't it going to change?

It is true that some gals have gaydar, some can find a rich dude in a crowd, but my special skill is that if you let me loose in a room full of men, the 8 craziest will make a beeline for me. And within 12 hours I'll be engaged because he NEEDS me.

So no more references to where I work, or where I live, even though I'm pretty damn sure I could take anyone in a fight. I underestimated the creep-out factor of receiving 12 e-mails a day from someone I don't know who wants my picture on his cell phone.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

It's an Ugly Bizarrely Organized Partial Archive!

tuesday, february 19, 2008

No fun blog today, friends – I am running a temp and coughing like nobody’s business. It’s not flu (flu shot) but it sure sucks. Boo hoo – I’m going to miss Mike Doughty’s in-store appearance at the Electric Fetus tonight. Somebody go and tell him that I love him, okay? (alright, the truth is I got the restraining order from his lawyer. Maybe you should leave my name out if it…)

Bundle up today, my groovy ghoulies!

sunday, february 17, 2008

Walker After Hours
Pretty fun, man. How’s the Worlds Away exhibition? Pretty good. Not fabulous, but good. I LOVED the Jessica Smith’s gorgeous fabrics inspired by trash day on the ‘burbs and cloverleaf traffic patterns. I also really like Paho Mann’s photos of re-inhabited different Circle Ks and of course the Chris Faust and Angela Strassheim photos as well. 

I think I’m going to have to go back to see the exhibit during normal hours to really see the labels and get a sense of how it’s organized. If you haven’t been to an After Hours party, they’re super crowded. This one was perhaps a little tamer than most, maybe because it wasn’t linked to a monster show. It was still a great time, especially since I went with Drummer Guy ™ who had never been to one of these shindigs before. After Hours is the deep end of the art poser pool, 4ril, but it’s also a chance to wear black and see friends and be swell. (Okay, so I was already wearing black – if you ever need someone to accompany you to a funeral, I’m your girl.)

I rented this movie out of desperation and let me say, while it does have some effectively unsettling and creepy moments, it’s not a good movie if you can fall asleep for a fourth of the film and not really miss a beat. Plus it’s still a little weird to me to see Samuel L. Jackson…I feel like I haven’t quite recovered from ‘Snakes on a Plane’ (Don’t you judge me, Lone Reader…I went through a phase of seeing any film that looked sufficiently distracting. Yeah, I saw ‘Descent’ what of it? Even worse, I made Lynn go with me. That’s friendship, man.)

Ken Jennings
That’s right, the Jeopardy guy. Turns out he has a pretty enjoyable blog. I especially enjoy his lists of obscure movie lines that are useful in everyday life. Plus he referenced a Ricky Gervais quote, which makes me think Ken Jennings has magnificent taste. Sadly, Starkist doesn’t want Jeopardy winners with good taste…

Have a great week, Lone Reader! LYLAS!

thursday, february 14, 2008

Bacon Porn, Karaoke and the Arts
Wow - three things you never thought you'd see together...

1. Bacon Porn

From the packaging of the Vosges Chocolate known as “Mo’s Bacon Bar”
“Breathe…engage your five senses, close your eyes and inhale deeply. Be in the present moment, notice the color of the chocolate, the glossy shine. Rub your thumb over the chocolate bar to release the aromas of smoked applewood bacon flirting with deep milk chocolate. Snap off just a tiny piece and place it in your mouth, let the lust of salt and sweet coat your tongue.”

Taste test of Mo’s Bacon Bar: It’s certainly odd. Maybe if you really like chocolate you’d like it. (I don’t like chocolate – yes, I know; bizarre, un-American, blah blah blah.) My quick review: like most foods, not enough bacon.

2. Karaoke last night!

Yes, I sang “Fever” – and it was smokin’ hot, if I may say so. I helped my friend Brandi (names changed to protect the innocent…and my friends) sing “Mein Herr” from Cabaret. That is a song that will never, ever leave your head. And I don’t even know it. Then Brandi and I sang “I Think I Love You” which was my ludicrous choice – who knew David Cassidy had such a range? We sounded like girls calling into school as their dads. (“Uh, hello...Brandi is really sick and she wont be in school today”.) Later I realized that all our song choices would be known by a 60-year-old from Tonganoxie. We gotta find an 80s punk bar…at least then we’ll be within 30 years of contemporary music.

3. I Heart Arts Advocacy!
I spent the morning at the MN State Capitol, helping MN Citizens for the Arts lobby for the passage of a referendum on adding a constitutional amendment to the state constitution in support of the arts and the environment. Guess what?!! IT PASSED! While we in the gallery, watching with clasped hands and held breath! Hundreds of arts swarmed the legislators today, making our presence known as employers, employees, and consumers of the arts. Over 200,000 artists live in MN. The arts contribute over 1 billion dollars to our states economy every year. And lets face it, without the vitality of cultural and environmental life in Minnesota, it would be pretty hard to live here. Support the amendment in November, people! I would no sooner choose to live without art than I would clean water or trees. This important amendment will help us keep both.

Keep hope alive…I was going to write about Baracklash, too, but really I’ve got to actually live my life, not just blog about it! Soon, love, soon.

wednesday, february 13, 2008
The Giant Concrete Buffalo, Part 1
Well, Lone Reader, a few times now I’ve made reference to my love of bizarre roadside attractions. In Kansas there are a number of oddities to enjoy, and some of them are roadside attractions. I offer you the following TRUE STORY:

In grad school I discovered the beautiful world of outsider art, in particular the grassroots art environment. You know, crazy concrete sculptures made some dude with a religious bent, or a bizarre garden made of bottles and cans…that sort of thing. Some of these creators were driven by religious zeal, some by demons, some by boredom. At any rate, I find this sort of thing fascinating. I’ve taken many a grotto tour in my day, let me tell you.

In search of these kind of authentic homemade monuments to whack, my then husband and a girlfriend and I set out on a western Kansas road trip. Sure, we wanted to see Dodge City (don’t bother) and the yellow brick road; but we also wanted to find the truly offbeat sights, like S.P. Dinsmoor’s Garden of Eden. (Whoa I’ve totally got to blog about that…Mr. Dinsmoor is laid to rest at the site – in a glass-topped crypt!)

On this particular day, we went to find the environs of Ray O. Smith, builder of a gigantic concrete buffalo. He was reputed to be a little crabby, but supposedly had entertained a large group of art students on a tour and they found him charming. We attempted to call him, but no avail. Against the art environment credo, we decided to just show up at his farm. We drove into town and stopped at a restaurant called (I kid you not) “Hamburgers and Ammunition.” We asked about Ray O. Smith’s place, got directions and a warning – he might not let you in, ya know. Undaunted (okay, a little daunted) we headed out and found ourselves at the end of a long drive way. On either side of the driveway were signs, one read “DANGER! Wild animals” and the other said “No visitors!” Normally this would make a person turn back. But now we’re in the middle of freakin’ nowhere…we headed slowly down the drive.

Like Burma Shave signs, every few yards there were more warning signs. We pulled up between a modest farmhouse and a trailer, right next to the giant “Beware of dogs” sign. We sat in the car for a while, hoping to see some signs of life. Maybe he’d come out to us, right? We drew straws as to which of us would get out of the car and ring the bell. Okay there were no straws, Jenny & I ganged up on the spouse and said, “Aww, c’mon…you do it” until he got out just to shut us up. No sooner had he stepped from the car than we heard barking in the distance. Holy crap! It’s the dogs! It sounded like 20 dogs! The mister dove for the car door just as a pack of vicious canines rounded the house. Only they weren’t vicious – there were about 4 tiny dogs ranging in size from Chihuahua to yorkie. The clatter brought Mr. Smith to the door, and then the real adventure began.

To Be Continued… (You don’t have time to read this whole story now – get to work. I don’t have time to finish writing this whole story now, I’ve got to work!)

Stay tuned!

The Giant Concrete Buffalo (A TRUE STORY Part 2)

Striding toward us was Mr. Ray O. Smith himself. He was about 70; skinny, craggy and hunched with the posture of someone who’s worked hard physical labor for many years. We fell all over ourselves with introductions and apologies for dropping by unannounced. He was very jovial and said he’d be happy to show us around. Out first stop on his ranch was his gigantic scale map of the US – made out of concrete. It was outside, very large (you could stand on most states) and each state featured a rock that he had collected there. We asked, “So you’ve been to all 50 states?!” He proudly said, “That’s nothin’…I got lots to show you!” Next we entered the trailer.

Now if this were a screenplay, at this point the crusty old man would shove into a stiflingly hot trailer. As the rusty door slammed shut behind us we would find ourselves locked in a completely dark trailer. When we finally find the light switch, the flickering fluorescents pulse to life only to reveal glass cases filled with human heads.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Okay, it was a little close to the truth. We were in a stiflingly hot trailer, with seemingly no way out. There were no human heads (other than our own) and the lights were on. They did flicker, though. Instead we found ourselves trapped in a very hot trailer with a rancher who seemed starved for an audience. We looked at his pictures of his time in the service, his autographs from astronauts and politicians, his memorabilia collection from a long, full life. We each lost about 3 pounds in water weight in the 45 minutes we were in the trailer.

We finally asked if we could see the buffalo. He said, “sure” then showed us a buffalo herding device that he had invented. It turned out that Mr. Smith’s love of the bison reflected his long-time career – he had established a herd of buffalo in Longford, KS in 1962. Mr. Smith then asked if we wanted to see the animals. Now this was becoming quite a long visit, and we still hadn’t been out to the concrete buffalo. “What animals are you talking about?” we asked. “Well” he said with a slow grin, “I do raise a lot of wild animals here now. I got lions and tigers and bears.” Oh my!

Thus ends the second installment of the story. I PROMISE it’ll be concluded tomorrow.

Ciao, bello/a!
friday, february 15, 2008
The Giant Concrete Buffalo (A TRUE STORY Concludes)

Yes, Lone Reader, Mr. Ray O. Smith, in his 70s, raised wild animals on his ranch. He really did have lions and tigers and bears. We walked out to the pens with him, and we saw a few skinny lions, several robust brown bears and two tigers. The tigers were in separate pens. One on them came right up to us as we approached. Mr. Smith cooed a few sweet things (in as much as a 70-year-old buffalo rancher can coo) and the tiger cocked his head to the side, offering up his neck for a scratch. Then the tiger put both giant paws on Smith’s shoulders, raising himself to full height. Let me tell you, man, that freaked me out. It looked like the tiger whisperer was gonna get et up right there. But Mr. Smith just said, “Oh, this baby wants to play!” and pushed him down. He followed that up by asking us if we had ever petted a tiger.

Hmmm…how to answer? If I say no, then clearly he would want me to touch this “playful” beast and I really didn’t want to. If I said yes, he’d ask the circumstance…my mind was whirring along, weighing this. Hmmm… My last name is Ringling? I had a tiger rug at home? As a child I had appeared in Esso commercials? A costumed character of Tony the Tiger had been inappropriate with me and now I’m too ashamed to speak of it? So many choices. Having no viable options, I said, “No.”

I rubbed the top of his head. (The big cat, not Ray O. Smith) Tiger fur is very coarse. The tiger let me touch his head, then suddenly moved which made me quickly retreat. (And wish that Depends had been around back then…kidding.) Mr. Smith laughed. After we had each touched the tiger, we said our goodbyes. We had spent several hours talking and it was time to hit that long flat road to our next destination. We never did make the trek to photograph his buffalo monument up close…we settled for a picture from the car window on the way out of town.

Ray O. Smith died at his home in 1999. He was a rancher and a gentlemen who raised big cats and tiny dogs. He was laid to rest under the gigantic concrete buffalo just southwest of Longford, Kansas.

tuesday, february 12, 2008
A Troika of Reviews, man

I Love You, Beth Cooper! by Larry Doyle
I actually picked it up at the library because I loved the cover by Evan Dorkin. This is a funny, fast-paced coming-of-age book about a dorky high school senior who falls for a goddess named Beth Cooper. The title is from my very favorite passage in the book, when the protagonist delivers the valedictorian speech at his graduation and veers markedly off course. (What would it look like if every time someone had a public forum he told the truth? Something to think about, Mr. President.) The declarations of truth from the podium were startling and hysterical and yes, moving. (sorry, it had to be said.) It’s a quick read, and as a movie reviewer would say, a rollicking ride. 

Cat Power at First Ave.

Well, last night I went to see Cat Power. I have to say, my reaction is a little mixed. Her voice sounded great, and the Dirty Delta Blues Band sounded awesome, but there was something lacking for me. Has she gone too far toward professionalism? There was none of her trademark craziness over the sound or her stage fright, both of which were not missed last night. There also wasn’t much personality…there was however, a lot of bizarre pacing and I’m-trying-hard-not-to-pee kinda moves. I dunno. I liked it, but didn’t love it. And may I just say, opener Appoloosa SUCKED! wow, 4ril bad. No actual instruments, just a dude with a synth and a gal who couldn’t sing. It was truly painful.

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days

Yowza. This is a very, very good movie. It was really gut wrenching, amazing filmmaking. Watch out, though…the film is about a woman and her roommate trying to get an abortion in late 80s Romania. Visually it is brutal, claustrophobic and carefully controlled with a constant threat looming in the background. Some threats are made good, some just lie there festering. The relationship between the two women is complicated, and even the side relationships are beautifully complex. It won the Palme d’Or at Cannes this past year and it was really amazing. Not for the faint of heart, however, and really not the feel-good movie of any year.

When’s the warm up, dude? I’m ready for some balmy times. Be cool, my babies.