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.

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