Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Are You Kidding Me?

I head to Google this morning and I see some kinda carp (yeah, I said with it) by Jeff Koons behind the Google logo. Man, oh man, I don't care for that dude or his art. Blecch.

Alright. I'm calming down. Better post later today, I promise. ("Sorry baby, but why you gots to make me so mad?!")

Monday, April 28, 2008

These Nitrates Don't Run

Apparently military folks serving in Muslim countries cannot have pork products in their MREs -- too culturally offensive. Enter those porcine princes of J & D's Bacon Salt. They're sending a few pallets of the always Kosher, always veg. Bacon Salt to our fine men and women in the service. God bless the USA. link to the story on

And FYI, bacon salt + bacon = spontaneous combustion.

Trolling for art

I delayed my report from the Art Crawl because, well, I wasn’t sure how to describe it. I always enjoy going, but there are also those awkward moments when you walk into someone’s studio, you can tell immediately that it’s something you don’t like and then you’re trapped…the artist is right there. “Umm, hi.”

It was snowy and cold here on Saturday. We went in the early afternoon and started in the Northern Warehouse. We also ended in the Northern. After visiting all six floors, my youngest was in no frame of mind to appreciate the aesthetic endeavor. Highlights were: Michael Bahl, who practices “paleo-osteological restoration”; Betsy Dollar, papermaking; and Kristin Schue, photography. We bought an oil painting by Tom Harsevoort. It’s small, maybe 8 x 13”, oil on wood panel and non-figurative. It’s quite lovely and just the tiniest bit ominous -- a fabulous combo if you ask me.

My elder child was enthralled and had to be reigned in – “Why can’t we talk to ALL the artists? Why can’t I take a BUNCH of cards? Why can’t we buy THAT one?” The younger one was sullen and dragging his feet, wouldn’t speak to anyone and kept asking, “Is THIS the last one?” Sigh. The experience really isn’t meant for two kids under 10.

I have to figure out where the new painting will go. Right now it’s very close to Bucky, my corrugated deer trophy. Yes, Lone Reader, I finally got 'im. All I had to do was cackle, “How ‘bout a little fire, cardboard deer?” and he acquiesced. The box cutter went through him like butter. Next stop: a safari in search of the elusive craft paper Rhino.

Happy hunting!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Bacon Reviews

I’m pretty much a supermarket bacon person – no schmancy charcuterie meats for this gal. I’ve tried most of the readily available bacon and what follows are completely biased opinions of low-rent bacon.
Trader Joe’s bacon stinks. It’s cut so thin that when you pull it from the package it tears into shreddy bits. Cooks too fast, and doesn’t taste like much.
Oscar Meyer comes in a variety of styles and claims to America’s favorite bacon. Probably true, based upon the real estate they hold in the meat case in your local Piggly Wiggly. Ehh…just bacon. (meaning good, because it IS bacon.) Also has a fake-y smoked taste.
John Morrell – surprisingly good, given it’s often among the cheapest bacon in the case. It’s cut somewhere between regular and thick, making for a satisfying crunch/chew combo.
Neuske’s Applewood smoked – the real deal, Bill McNeill. Absolute heaven. Don’t waste it on a recipe, man.
Corn King – blecch. This is Tyson's budget entry in the bacon market - disgusting and cardboard-like.
Hormel Black Label – this is identical to the Oscar Meyer in my book…nothing to write home about, but still bacon.
Farmland – this is the surprise in your local grocer’s meat case. Farmland is pretty darn good, for a low-cost bacon. Christopher Kimball of America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Illustrated declared Farmland Bacon supreme among supermarket brands.
And for the record, ALL microwave bacon is gross. Seriously nasty.

Happy nitrates, baby!

Saturday, April 26, 2008


It's April 26, man. Not right...

Friday, April 25, 2008

Rainy days and Republicans always get me down

Well, this is a pretty grim weekend in the Twin Cities…today nothin’ but rain and tomorrow, snow. It’s okay, though, ‘cause I went to Costco today (home of all things gigantic) and got snacks and the two pack of Agent Cody Banks movies. (Be still your jealous heart.) Tonight is going to be all about curling up in a warm house and watching really bad kids’ flicks.

Tomorrow I’m going to the Art Crawl with my young ‘uns. I’m trying to get them hopped up about it, but really, it could go either way. Yes, it’s way cool to go to artists’ studios, but is it really cool enough for a 6-year-old? I dunno…I’ll report back. I haven’t been for several years, and I’m going to be handing out tons of cards and schmoozing it up. Hopefully I’ll see some things I can’t live without that are in my price range. (The first part is easy; the second, hard.) I also anticipate that it’ll jump start my desire to start my own art-making again. Will I make good on it? Stay tuned…and I’ll post a review of the crawl when I get back.

Sunday afternoon is a reception for church stuff, which should be good. Yes, I said church. The Unitarian church has been amazing for me and the wee ones over this past two years. It’s a place I feel really comfortable, even when I didn’t think I’d ever know comfort again. Despite my insistence that internet jokes are lamer than my mama’s excuses, I offer you two Unitarian jokes:

Q. What do you get when you cross a Jehovah's Witness with a Unitarian?
A. Someone who knocks on your door for no apparent reason.
Three people are discussing when life begins.

The Catholic says: Life begins at the moment of conception.
The Jew says: Life begins at the moment of birth.
The Unitarian says: You're both wrong. Life begins when the last child goes to college and the dog dies.

And apropos nothing, the YouTube link to Obama giving Hillary the finger. Why? Because it’s raining and I’m feeling sophomoric. So there.

Happy weekend, Lone Reader! Make art, not war!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Divest Now, Ask Me How

Part Two of my Criminal Past, A TRUE STORY:

Back in the day I was in college and livin’ the dorm life. One lovely late spring day I was heading outside with some gal pals for a little sun on the lawn in front of the dorm – wearing a swimsuit, shorts and flip flops. (To those who know me now, this was before I was mortified at the prospect of swim apparel in public…ahh, the beauty of insouciant youth.) As I was heading out the doors, a protest march came down the road, with about 150 people chanting about divesting University funds from South African investment. (The chant was a little more catchy than that, but my memory fails me.)

Maybe it was my liberal upbringing. Maybe it was because I was profoundly moved by the plight of those living in apartheid. Maybe I just wanted to get some sun and see what was up. At any rate, I joined right in. We marched across campus to the Endowment Building. People started holding hands, and singing, blocking the doors. Now at this point, many of the crowd kind of fell away, supporting those who chose to get arrested but not foolish enough to actually do it. Not this li’l protester – no, sir! I joined hands and promptly got arrested for trespass and blocking access to a state building. I was cuffed and taken to a holding cell in the County Jail. For 5 hours. In a bathing suit.

Weeks later I offered a plea of ‘no contest’ and served 5 hours of community service to get my record expunged. Bowing to pressure, the university divested all funds from South Africa two years later.

“Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will.” Frederick Douglass, a bad-*ss if there ever was one.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

On the run from Johnny Law

Yes! My J & D's Bacon Salt has arrived! And it is all they promised it would be. Okay, I haven’t tried it on anything but popcorn, but boy howdy! It IS good. Nummy. I still haven’t made the roasted chickpeas but will do so soon. I did make pizzas with Trader Joe’s pizza dough and I can heartily recommend it. It’s a pretty wet dough that comes in bags in the fridge section. By far the best was a prosciutto, spinach and goat cheese number. (Wait a minute…no bacon salt?!) I also tried the Trader Joe’s sparkling Mojito soda – tasty, but lacking in something, I can almost put my finger on it…oh yeah, booze. Definitely better doctored up with fresh mint and a little rum. (What isn’t?)

So here’s what’s goin’ on with the blog…the gallery had an opening on Saturday. (well attended, lovely folk, etc.) and it’s been pretty low-key. Not much going on to report about in my now life. Yes, I did facepaint at a school carnival, but you don’t want to read about that. (and no, I don’t know how to paint a ‘Charizard’ pick something else, kid.) So, without further ado, Part One of my Criminal Past, A TRUE STORY:

When I was in college, I had many jobs, one of which was as a ‘deskie’ at the dorm. One evening I got a call from the front desk saying, “Some lunatic just called here and said you’re some kind of thief.” Wha?! And within a few minutes, the lunatic called me. Apparently he had lost a starter set of checks in a local restaurant. Weird, ‘cause I lost my driver’s license in that same restaurant. Now someone was using my name and his checks all over town. The guy on the phone was super nasty, even after I explained, and I told him I'd go to the police dept. in the morning.

I walked into the station and asked to talk to someone. I laid out the whole story and the police officer said, “Okay, there’s something I need to say here…you have the right to remain silent…” I’m not sure what was said after that, because I covered my ears with my hands and rocked back and forth in the chair yelling “OHMYGOD! OHMYGOD! YOU’RE ARRESTING ME! ”

Despite the fact that I was so clearly cool under pressure, it did take a while for the Sheriff to calm me down. They just wanted to question me. And it turned out that, because I had reported my license as stolen before all this happened, I was off the hook. For years after that, however, I would get letters demanding payment and I’d have to dig out the court papers clearing me and send them certified mail.

The lesson of today’s story is twofold: 1) don’t eat at Border Bandito, for many reasons, and 2) covering your ears and yelling is not a strong legal defense. (There’s a reason you haven’t seen that tactic on Law & Order.)

Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time, Lone Reader!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Chow Now, Brown Cow

This week I made rice pudding from a Cook's Illustrated recipe. Easy and delish, but adding the cinnamon whilst cooking gave it a funky, khaki color. Next up is roasted chickpeas, which the folks at ChowHound are gaga over. Oh, and today, more banana bread. Sadly, the bacon experiments are on the backburner, figuratively, as I attempt to get caught up on both sleep and sleep.

I might have to read Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World
 by Dan Koeppel. Two people have recommended it to me, including a dear friend whose bibliadvice (add to the Velma Dictionary – ed.) is never off the mark. Apparently the author was on Fresh Air and discussed the shelf life of organic bananas. They seem to go from green and hard to mushy and brown in a span of about 30 minutes. (I exaggerate, but just a bit.) At my house, this means a never-ending supply of banana bread. And for the record, my standard recipe is Mark Bittman’s without the coconut (weird) and baked 25° cooler.

Music with a Food Title:
Well, I’m excited about the new Weezer coming out. The full CD doesn’t hit until June, but the first single, Pork and Beans, comes out next week. Weezer took a turn for the smarmy and overproduced, and it sounds like they’re headed back for the funny, crunchy power I loved in their early stuff.

True Food Story:
When I was a kid, there was an unwritten list of things we didn’t eat – no Nestlé products, no Wonder bread (they supported Nixon), actually no white bread at all, but chief among the verboten foodstuffs were grapes. Solidarity with Chavez, etc. While attending a wedding when I was about 6, I disappeared at the reception. Once my parents noticed I was gone, a search commenced and I was found – up to my elbows in a giant bowl of fruit salad, my eyes wild, juice running down my chin and my cheeks packed tight with the forbidden fruit.

Happy weekend Dear Reader! Tonight I am doing facepainting at a school carnival…wish me luck! Love, Velma

Monday, April 14, 2008

Nancy of Shreveport

Okay, I’ve had some bizarre travel experiences…who hasn’t? When I was flying from Minneapolis to Amsterdam, I sat next to a couple in their 50s who had never been on a plane in their lives. (“Looky there! It’s got seatbelts just like a car!”) We were in the front row of steerage and could see first class. I had to break it to them that the flight attendant wasn’t going to come back and give us champagne. I don’t think I made it past the Great Lakes before I moved to an empty seat.

By far the most annoying person I’ve ever been seated next to was Nancy of Shreveport, Louisiana. Yes, even now, seven years later I know her name. She said it about 20 times. Does anyone think it’s appropriate to proselytize on a cross-country flight? ‘Cause Nancy did. She plopped down next to me and my then two-year-old daughter, introduced herself and started talking about her boss, the Jewish carpenter. After we were up the air, I broke into our food supply. Sadly, it had been most of a day spent in an airport and my daughter’s lunch consisted of four Chicken McNuggets and a bad looking banana. As I opened the box of nuggets, Nancy leaned over and said, “I sure am hungry, little girl. I didn’t get a chance to eat my lunch.” I started to respond that hello, this was a child’s lunch but before I could finish, my daughter had surreptitiously taken a small bite out of each nugget. (You gotta teach ‘em young to guard their food.) I found this rather funny, but Nancy found it to be very un-Christian and told us in no uncertain terms. She forgave us, though, because she’s like that.

It was a long flight during which she offered us her lip balm (ewww!), gave my daughter a fistful of nickels (for the slots?) and tried to hold our hands and pray. She also talked on the phone with her boyfriend, “a sensitive man who’s a real sh*t, you know the type?”

Wishes for Nancy P: I hope things worked out with you and Mr. Sensitive Sh*t. I hope he got his money back for the leather jacket that you just hated. I hope he finally figured out that you can’t be bought off with stupid sh*t like that. Mostly though, I hope that you’ve developed an intense aversion to air travel. But, as you requested, if I’m ever in Shreveport, I’ll look you up. Somehow I don’t think I will be.

Friday, April 11, 2008

New words to use and love

Dejected sigh…
Lone Reader, I hope I never make invitations again for as long as I live. My God…working for an art gallery is at least 80% great but the remainder is extra cruddy. So if you get an invitation from me, post it proudly, RSVP promptly and love it, baby.

On this rainy, gloomy day my thoughts have turned to linguistics. Why? Who cares. I present for your review a listing of new terms. Use them and let’s make it in to Oxford, man.

caffeinol / ‘ka-fə -nol /noun High powered caffeine goodness. ex: Tab is loaded with caffeinol AND the threat of saccharine-related cancer.

crapometer /krap ‘ä-mə-tər/ noun The internal device which tells one that he or she is producing substandard work. ex. Todd Rundgren is capable of producing great music, but chooses not to. His crapometer is broken.

dip-thong /dip- thȯŋ / noun A woman who wears low rise and talks all stoopid. You’ve seen it, you don’t need an example.

glammypuss /’gla-mē-pus/ adj. Silly over the top girlishness. ex: When Buck put on the silver platforms, he felt all glammypuss.

poo-taco /ˈpü-‘tä-kō/ noun Something very nasty, and not in a good way. ex: Man, it was a poo-taco platter at work today.

sphincterrific /ˈsfiŋ(k)-tər-i-fik/ adj. Something so bad, it’s good. ex: The movie Xanadu is sphincterrific.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

From the ashes will rise the phoenix

Okay, so it’s time for me to eat crow. It would appear that I had done a bit of bragging about my air hockey talents – yeah, I gots mad table skills, what can I say? Well, Lone Reader, a certain drummer got sick of the trash talk and challenged me to a game or two. I was brash, talkin’ smack and confident. I’ve VERY rarely ever lost at air hockey. (Well okay, I lost at Gameworks a few years ago, but there were drinks involved and it was a freaky table that suddenly shoots out multiple pucks. It overwhelmed my mojito-addled brain.)

Well, you can see it comin’…Velma got schooled. It wasn’t a total blowout; I won one game out of four. Sigh. I’ve got to start my serious training for the re-match. (Wax on, wax off…) I did flog his fanny at basketball and Ms. PacMan.

And for your edification:
the USAA (United States Airhockey Association) World Rankings (note I’m not on there.) Yeah, I know you're thinking, "Has Wil Upchurch finally been knocked off the throne?" Nah, not yet, but my money's on Brian Accrocco - he came outta nowhere.

Don’t let the crummy weather get you down, man. Just click your heels three times and say, “There’s no place like Spring, there’s no place like Spring…”

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Corpse Flower

Yes, it's that time of year, Lone Reader -- the corpse flower is beginning to bloom. For those not in the know, the corpse flower is an extremely rare flower that blooms for just two days and has the distinct aroma of rotting flesh. Don't all rush to the Como Conservatory at once, now. For those who want to watch the delight without the olfactory assault (i.e. wusses) you can see the whole shebang on the Corpse Cam.

CORRECTION: The corpse flower blooms once every 15 years. The one that was in the news for blooming last year in MN was a different plant.

Monday, April 7, 2008


More tomorrow, Lone Reader...

T minus 2

Two hours to go...I can tell you a secret, right? I'm scared, man. Memphis looks mean.

Eyes on the prize...

Rock Chalk, Jayhawk

This is a photo from KU Sports of Mario Chalmers flyin' high over NC.

I'm so excited for tonight I'm gonna puke. I know, I need to calm down...but why? And for the record, yes, I'll be wearing the same clothes I wore on Saturday. No worries, Lone Reader -- I washed them! Oh no! Did I wash out the luck? Nah...just the salsa and lime juice.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


Did you hear screaming last night at about 10:05? You did? Was it high pitched girly screaming? Oh...that was me. My sister and I were doing the Tipper/Hillary dance, hugging and screaming and dancing at the same time. And the dude in the pic? My brother in San Antonio. Rock Chalk, Jayhawk, KU!

Friday, April 4, 2008


It's what's for dinner.

Wait a minute...I think 'Octodog' is trademarked. Oh yeah, this company makes the 'Frankfurter Converter'. (for the record: yes, we ate them and no, I don't need a tool to cut the end of a hot dog into 8 pieces.) Which is more frightening...the thought of eating an Octodog or the fact that someone sells a tool to make them?

It's Rat Day

Yes, today is the sixth annual World Rat Day. How will you celebrate? Watch Ratatouille? Scamper gleefully? Be willfully destructive and chew through the back door of a restaurant? So many choices...

Nah, I've never owned a rat. The tails kinda freak me out. My family has had a number of pets, though. Let's see: a parrot, a cat, about 10 dogs (never more than two at a time), an owl, a ferret, hermit crabs, a turtle and many fish. The owl was found by my dad when he was in the woods. It was a baby and its mother had been killed by hunters. The baby owl imprinted to him, and we ended up raising him. We named him 'Hootie' but there were no blowfish.

I have some amazing pictures of my brother and me sitting on our swingset with a great horned owl resting on the top bar. We gradually got Hootie acclimated to hunting (don't ask) and he flew off into the sky at sunset one night. He came back about three minutes later, being chased by a throng of crows. It took about another month before he silently glided away in the clear Oklahoma night.

He'd never wear a mortarboard, give a hoot or eat a Tootsie Pop. I loved him anyway. And Hootie would've LOVED Rat Day. (again, don't ask)

Happy Friday, gorgeous! Enjoy your freedom and don't let the crows get you down!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Today is the birthday of one of my very best friends. To mark this momentous occasion, a few random thoughts:

1) When R. visited me in the days pre-kids we took a tour at the now-defunct brewery on West 7th. Contrary to what you may have heard (or personally witnessed) I'm not much of a beer drinker. I guess I was that day. We stayed for the tasting afterwards. We stayed until the shiftworkers came in and had a tasting. We stayed until they said to us, " should go." Then we staggered down the street to Cossetta's and I burned my tongue on some delicious pizza pie.

2) Once when we were crazy young teens, we were riding with her dad on the highway back from Kansas City. R. started singing a solo and I giggled. The car immediately swerved over to the shoulder, and her Army dad barked out, "Are you making fun of my little girl's singing?!" I was scared that he'd make me get out of the car and do push-ups on I-35. No such of a thing -- I just apologized and we left it at that.

R. is one of the rare people who has been a through-line in my life. We saw each other through gay boyfriends, parental divorces, painful break ups and bad haircuts. We also danced like you wouldn't believe to 'Xanadu' and the music from 'Hair', sang along with '1776' and wore trash bags to a bar. Despite her love of a) sci-fi, b) Air Supply and c) air guitar, I adore her. Happy birthday, Honey! May the year ahead be sweetness and light.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Don't Get Fooled Again

I have no April Fool’s post. I’m not one for practical jokes…maybe because my early life was so filled with uncertainty and crazy that I didn’t really get most pranks. (You’ve got to have a base of normal to play against…) Anyway, I was talking on the phone last night and recalled this TRUE STORY:

As I’ve mentioned before, my family moved a lot. No, we weren’t on the lam or a military family…my parents were misguided East Coast intellectuals who thought they could live off the land and be pioneers. Plus my dad’s first offer to teach was in Oklahoma. We lived there for four years and in that time I went to three different schools in three different towns. I spent two years going to a reservation school, where my parents thought it would be good for us to live like homesteaders on the edge of a reservation. My brother and I got beaten up every day for two years, with breaks (of course) for summer. It was really, really hard. When I saw Sherman Alexie speak late last year, he said, “The rule on the reservation is you never hit a girl…unless she makes you mad.” After to listening to him for a few short hours, my entire stint on the rez was re-framed and I saw that it wasn’t about me or my brother being singled out, it was a culture of desperation and violence that we stumbled into. Okay, it was also a little about us being the white kids, too.

Anyway, I was profoundly gullible as a kid. Just way too trusting. (Am I still? I dunno. You tell me.) Two points of evidence to support this claim:

1. Everyday at the reservation school we ate the same lunch: an orange-colored cheese stick, black-eyed peas, white rice with a spoonful of white sugar on top and some kind of canned fruit. Every day. And every day, the same girl in my class would pick up my cheese stick and say, “Guess where it’s gonna break and you can have mine AND yours. If I guess, though, I get to eat both.” Then I’d guess, and what d’ya know? Every day I got it wrong. She must’ve really been hungry or really loved government cheese.

2. At the school after the rez school, they had a campaign to “Send A Mouse to College.” It had a poster with a super cute little mouse wearing a mortarboard. We saved change to bring to school to…....wait for it… lab rats for the American Cancer Society. “Send a Mouse to College” sounds so much better than “Give a Mouse a Metastasized Tumor and a Smoker’s Hack.” Anyway, I was pretty young (7? 8?) and I actually thought mice would go to college. I’m not sure what I thought they’d do there…maybe run mazes and eat orange-colored cheese sticks? When my dad told me what the money was really going to be used for, I was really upset. I cried, “Are you kidding me? They don’t even get the hats?!”

Here’s hoping that this April Fools’ Day no one takes your cheese and you get to wear your super cool hat. In the words of our exalted leader, “Fool me once, shame on …fool me twi…fool fool…uhh..don’t get fooled again.”

Bacon-y bacon w/ bacon

No, this isn't an April Fools' post. Lucky's Pub in Houston offers up their Bacon Wrapped Bacon appetizer. Italian pancetta is wrapped in Canadian bacon which is then wrapped in American hickory smoked bacon and served with a maple butter sauce. It's a veritable UN of nitrates, with a coronary on the side. (via Bacon Unwrapped and Neurotic Fishbowl)