Thursday, May 29, 2008

Mini Reviews n' More

After a super crappy day, I’m finally past my whining stage…or am I? Nah, I’m just messin’ with ya. The lowdown on my latest media meals:

1. May I just say that the free single of the week on iTunes is quite possibly the worst ever? I thought so. Judge for yourself, but to me, blecch. “Blind” by Hercules and Love Affair. It’ll make you wish you were “Deaf.”

In other iTunes news: I finally bought the new Elvis Costello CD (“Momofuku”) and it’s right tasty. Thank you, Sir, may I have another? But why oh why is the numero uno song on Elvis’ iTunes the dreadful “Veronica”? Sad, man.

2. Set your TiVos, people! The Daily Show has Scott “Narc” McClellan on Monday, June 2 and the very next day, David Sedaris. It’s all good, man. I don’t have TiVo, but I do have insomnia so it’s no prob, Bob. There’s also a possibility that I have a sick love of the Top Chef…I’m secretly looking forward to the finale so I can end this disease.

3. In a Slackin’ Festival of the Inappropriate, I watched “Strangers With Candy” and “The Aristocrats.” Strangely, I didn’t enjoy the Strangers…I loved the TV show and no on simultaneously fears and adores Amy Sedaris as much as I do. The Aristocrats was better than I thought it would be and gave me a new level of respect for Gilbert Gottfried. (It’s not saying much, but hey, you gotta start somewhere.) And about 10 minutes into it I realized this didn’t feature loveable Parisian kittens, but I still enjoyed it.

4. Did I or did I not say on April 18 in this very blog that the new Weezer was juicy fine?! And it is. Plus that mega-freakin' video is too funny. Video wizard Nick McGlynn has deconstructed the clips to make a reference companion video for those who truly need to know. I love you, Weezer. And Nick McGlynn.
Happy media-whoring, baby! (I was just talking to myself there.)

Hard times at the OK Corral

Bad day, man. Sick child and still no child support from my once and ne'er again spouse. That's right...he hasn't paid his May child support. I don't get spousal support -- it's just for the kids. Sigh. Divorce ain't a pic-a-nic basket, Boo Boo. Then again, neither is being married to a loon.

Wish me luck, Lone Reader. I need it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Another night of poor sleep, Lone Reader. Why, oh why?

And a sad goodbye to Sydney Pollack. He was a fine director, but I always appreciated seeing him onscreen. I loved him in The Player and he was great in Michael Clayton, too.

Now I should I rambling? Oh Hypnos, why hast thou forsaken me?

Alright... enough self-indulgence, although that is truly the bastion of the blogger. A more entertaining post later, I promise.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Lion, the Witch and the Locksmith

I. I took the kids to see the latest Chronicles of Narnia movie yesterday. Hmmm…what to say? Mediocre, I think.

The negatives:
a) Ben Barnes, aka Prince Caspian, so clearly designed to be a pitty-pat draw for young girls. So sad that anyone over the age of 13 won’t be able to stomach his poor version of what others call “acting.”

b) Whoa, that’s a lot of battling, man. 4ril. For some, like my son, that’s a good thing. For me, not so much.

c) The bad guys just don’t seem really evil – more like a corrupt, morally bankrupt leader who feels omnipotent leading a group of blind followers…wait a minute! We’re talking about a movie, right?

d) Is it just me, or do all the bad guys look "swarthy", mediterranean or Jewish? Hmmm...pastiness is next to Godliness?

The positives:
a) Really spectacular cinematography and art direction. This film has “epic” written all over it.

b) Peter Dinklage, the mouse and the badger are phenomenal.

c) The Pevensie sibs almost make up for their lack of emotional range with their tremendous beauty. You know what I mean…that translucent skin, blank stare, Bridehead Revisted kind of thing. (see photo above)

Conclusion: Not a waste of cash, but not something I want to sit through again, either.

II. DAMN IT! I locked my keys in my car. I normally lock it with the remote, but I was in a hurry and pressed the inside lock button. As the door closed, I looked and saw the keys on the passenger seat. The car has but one set of keys – the other was lost years ago by my beloved then-spouse. When I had work done at the dealership, I asked about getting spares made. “$90,” was the response. (This is some kind of special computer- coded key.) Well, now I’ve given that much to a locksmith. Sigh. There’s bad lock mojo in the air this weekend – yesterday I helped a friend break into his apartment after a roommate accidentally locked him out.

I should buy a slim jim and a bolt cutter and set up shop...

Happy Memorial Day, Lone Reader! May locks swing open magically at your touch!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bust loose, Geek

Whoa, Nellie. Three gals groovin' at a Best Buy. Geek Squad dude has some scary moves. He really takes off around:40. (apologies for the bizarre post format.)

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Springtime in Luck-land

Yesterday: Someone had his *ss handed to him at air hockey last night. Okay, then he beat me the next three games, but for one glorious moment I was a superstar. I was also schooled in the ways of mini-golf at the delightfully retro Spring Lake Park Amusement Mini Golf. Super fun on a lovely Wednesday eve.

This weekend: Chris Monroe, whom I adore, is doing a reading at Red Balloon Bookshop on Saturday. I have this file labeled 'Important Papers'. It has some very important things, like passports and birth certificates, but mainly it's things like pictures of my dream haircut ripped out of a magazine, my temporary tattoos from being a member of Pee Wee's Playhouse Fan Club and cartoons torn from the New Yorker and other places -- cartoons that I thought I really couldn't live without. The single most saved comic is 'Violet Days' by Chris Monroe. I truly love it. Some of them in the file are so yellow and faded, you feel like you're sifting through grandma's scrapbook. If you haven't seen Chris Monroe's work, get yourself to a bookstore, Strib or some other place and share the funny, man.

There's also an opening at The Soap Factory on Saturday night. What intrigues me most about the opening is the exhibition of Roger Roger, a work by media artist Traci Tullius that reflects on her Oklahoma upbringing. From the web:

Connected by musical interludes performed by the artist’s father in a deserted, Ford dealership showroom, the 6 projections that compose Roger, Roger form a semi-narrative, quasi-factual, spatial poem. Part folk tale, part fantasy and part down-home jamboree, this multi-channel video phantasmagoria is an Oklahoma-centric epic reflecting the inherent weirdness of the middle of nowhere. The main action (and often inaction) revolves around the landscape; the vast midwestern sky, like an inverted sea, dominates both the frame and the characters’ movements. Featuring guitar distortion, a spectral farmhouse, Elvis-impersonating toddlers and the strangely disquieting nullity of the plains, this 6-act fable continuously mingles the banal and homespun with the ethereal and peculiar.

Pretty heady stuff, no?

Also, I think I'm going to plant stuff. Is this the year that I actually plant things, tend them and reap the benefits? Who knows. I just know that every May I feel the urge to drop serious coin at some garden center, only to watch the plants wither and die a month later. What can I say? It is my way.

Happy seriously Spring weather, Lone Reader!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Pic of the day

How funny is this picture? Via BoingBoing and Telstar Logistics.

On With The Show, This Is It...

Many moons ago I fancied myself a burgeoning singer. I auditioned a lot and was in a fair number of musicals. A few things I learned along the way:

When someone in front of you auditions with the song, “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” but instead of singing “You like potato, and I like potahto,” etc., sings “You like potato and I like potato, You like tomato and I like tomato, Potato, Potato, Tomato, Tomato Let’s call the whole things off” don’t laugh. (The casting director will…you don’t need to add insult to injury. I never saw a director laugh that hard. He asked, “What is it you think the song is about?”)

If you’re asked to sing a Juice Newton song, don’t do it.

If you do alternating line readings with an actress who happens to also be a best friend, the outcome may not be good.

There are no small parts, just crappy ones.

To quote an odd film, “It’s showtime, folks!” Now get out there and show ‘em what you got…

House 'n' More

I’ve been a little remiss, Lone Reader, in my posting. Is it because my fabulous life precludes me from sitting at the computer? Nah. I spent almost the entire weekend alone, working on house stuff. This, BTW, is NOT my house. (Stalkers & all that jazz.) It's from morguefile.

I. House
In case you didn’t know, I live in a 106-year-old house. It’s all cool, with maid’s stairs and an original boiler and no insulation and sketchy wiring, wait…oh yeah, it stinks. No, the truth is somewhere in the middle. I love the location, with great neighbors, near Grand Ave and the delightful yet spendy Kowalski's. I really like the large fenced yard. But you know what? If you have a yard, you’re supposed to mow it. WTF?!

So my pride of the moment is that I mowed the yard with what I consider to be a very scary lawnmower. I loved the old lawnmower, a battery powered beaut that was quiet and environmental. This house, however, has too much yard for the battery, so now I have a nasty, gas spewing thing that could take off a toddler’s leg. (Ed. note, via legal – keep toddlers away.) Anyway, I have a ridiculous amount of pride at the half-assed job I did mowing the yard. (Quote from daughter: “Mom, the lawn has a mohawk!” or is that a “mowhawk”)

On other house news, a plumber is coming tomorrow morn. Will I actually have all water sources working sufficiently? Only the plumbing fairy knows for sure.

House dreams for the future: Finish basement (Yay! “Kids, get all your junk downstairs!”) Finish attic. (Yay! “Kids work out your own bathroom schedule – mom’s got a master’s suite!” or would that be a mistress suite…I don’t like the sound of that.)
Paint LR. Move back door entry and finish kitchen remodel. So whaddya think? Can I get it all done for 10K? Thought not. Oh well, I can always paint. And buy a spa.

II. General pop culture

Movies: I saw “Baby Mama” and expected it to be stupid and a waste of time but with a few funny moments. It was far better than I anticipated. And a little stupid. But with many, many keeper lines…”B*tch, I don’t know your life!”

Reads: a biography of Elvis Costello and the Sherman Alexie book, The Absolutely True Diary…

Tunes: Downloading the latest Breeders in prep for the wicked sweet concert that my sis and I are going to at the end o’ the month.

Food: I only love you, bacon. I’ll never love another. (except maybe mangoes and watermelon. and palak paneer.)

Peace out, my splendid simpatico reader!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

This Mango is Now Bacon (inside joke, sorry.)

Contrary to popular belief, I was not the model for the Mango Rose logo. Whoever she is, she's either wearing a skin-colored top or is missing a few things, poor girl.

So what’s up with the mango everything right now? TBell has some kind of mango slush, Bacardi has introduced mango mojito flavor, all yogurt brands seem to have a mango flavor…I love mangoes. And they are the most consumed fruit on the world, for what that’s worth. But why now? Oh, who knows the whims of mass-marketed foodstuffs…only the behemoths of ADM and the like.

And I must say, I’m kind of glad the bacon wave seems to have crested a bit. (Have all those people moved on to offal? It seems so.) More nitrate goodness for me, Heather of Bacon Unwrapped, and Mosley of Mr. Baconpants.

Mango + bacon = love. I’m gonna try this Blobby Fey recipe (not a typo):

Mango-Glazed Bacon
1 cup sugar 
1 cup red wine vinegar 
1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted and coarsely chopped 
1/2 pound thick sliced bacon
Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Place sugar and vinegar in a small saucepan and cook over high heat until the sugar is melted and the mixture has reduced by half. Add the mango and cook for 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and process until smooth. Strain the mixture into a bowl.

Place the bacon on a baking sheet and using a pastry brush, brush both sides with some of the glaze, bake until just crisp, about 10 minutes.

Happy nice weather, comrade…don’t let the hippies get you down!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Brushes with Artists

The image is Rauschenberg's work Bed, in the MOMA collection.

Robert Rauschenberg died yesterday. I loved him. Okay, I didn’t know him, but I loved him anyway. One of my best professors in grad school said something so lovely about Rauschenberg – he was a through line to contemporary work. (He also said that about deKooning, but in this instance he was right.)

I saw Rauschenberg once, dressed all head to toe in purple. Most odd. I also once held the door at the Walker for Frank Stella, but that’s a different story altogether.

Safe journey, dude. You made good art.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Half Pint Doesn't Live Here Anymore

Sigh. Mother’s Day is such a sham. Don’t get me wrong – I had a lovely day. The kids made me breakfast in bed (microwave bacon, a muffin and a Tab – all a mom could want) and we had a lazy afternoon of playing and fun. The traditional laundry and floor cleaning followed. It was very sweet, but the kids were nervous at the beginning of the day – what if my present isn’t any good? Good lord. There are ads on TV for just what mom deserves for HER day – a diamond necklace, or a digital camera, etc. How ‘bout a little tenderness and a day without bickering? That’s what I got and it was phenomenal. (I also got some lovely cards, flowers and a few beautiful, heartfelt handmade things.)

The weirdest thing was this…

As we were headed home from a lunch with the beast that shall remain nameless, it looked as if there was some kind of accident ahead of us. I could flashing lights and traffic stopped. There was no place to turn, so we continued until we could read the orange traffic sign on the back of the police car: “Wagon Train Ahead.” Does that make sense? I turned the car away from the traffic jam in front of us and darted down a side street. Sure enough, there was a wagon train! There were several covered wagons and a stagecoach and riders on horseback headed down Summit. We raced home and jumped out of the car. We made it to the corner before the horses and watched them pass. In celebration of Minnesota’s sesquicentennial, a wagon train was making it’s way from Cannon Falls to the State Capitol. (The above photo is from the Strib, and obviously not in St. Paul.) Kinda surreal to have a line of covered wagons pass by your house. It reminded me yet again of how very grateful I am not have been born in pioneer times. For God’s sake – it almost did me in when the dishwasher died. Nah, I’m not a homesteader at heart…I’m more of a farmer’s market/ Sunday NYT/ cold Chinese food kinda girl. (“My God! How did I get here?”)

Happy day, O Pioneers!

No, Speed Racer, No

Holy Carp, Batman! ‘Speed Racer’ sucks. Who is this movie for? Too complex for kids; too painful for adults. Rationale behind this review:

1) It has several nonlinear narratives structures, flashbacks, Speed racing against the ghost car of his dead brother Rex, blah blah. Well, you know what? Having a complex structure and no plot is kind of a problem. The kid audience was saying, “Which one is Speed? The little kid?” And parents were frantically trying to explain, “Well, they’re both Speed, honey. The director is using a hackneyed device to show inner conflict and the passage of time.”

2) There are several swear words, including a choice word by Speed. Why is it more palatable to me for the bad guys to use foul language? I dunno…it just is.

3) The color is outrageous. It is sooo saturated. This is really the only way that I see any glimmer of success in this movie – the ambiguous era, crazy vivid wallpaper and futuristic Tokyo-bright world is pretty intoxicating. and painful. and seizure-inducing.

4) Yeah, it’s picky…but using a wipe transition of characters moving across the screen every single scene change gets old and confusing. It’s like being trapped in a pinball machine with things popping up everywhere and no relief in sight.

5) It just isn’t that much of a stretch to think of Christina Ricci as a manga character – she’s got that gigantic head, with huge eyes and shiny black hair. Scary.

6) Lastly, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! 2 hours and 15 minutes?! That’s not a red scarf around Speed’s neck…he slit his own throat, praying for release from this hell.

Not good, man. Really, not good. ‘Underdog’ was better. (and that’s saying something.)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Rachel's Yogurt is mixed

This morning was Yogurt Fest ’08…woo-hoo! In search of the absolute freakiest, girliest yogurt flavors known to man, this morning we sampled 4 flavors of Rachel’s Wickedly Delicious yogurt. The varieties? In order of my preference:

Pomegranate A├žai: (vitality) tangy and smooth, with just the right amount of yogurt funk.

Mango Pineapple Passionfruit: (Exotic) pretty good, but a little too tart for me.

Pink Grapefruit Lychee: (refresh) not good, man. Tastes like Lemon Pledge…ewww.

Plum Honey Lavender: (calm) blecch…tastes like an old lady’s bathwater. (I’m guessing here.)

What are the things in parenthesis? The goofy descriptions from the packaging. All but the mango one are from the ‘Essence’ line: "blissfully blended mood-inspiring yogurt. The essence of scrumptious satisfaction." Some of the varieties even claim to have aroma-therapeutic qualities. Kooky.

It appears to be all-natural, but not organic and in the US is made by WhiteWave Foods, makers of Silk and Horizon products.

This healthful breakfast was followed up at lunch with a nachos supreme and a large diet from TBell.

It was a good day. I didn’t have to use my AK.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Zoom zoom

Okay, this cheered me up. From Boing Boing - the hamster car.


Sigh. I’m not in such a great way, Lone Reader. I’m not sleeping well again, and that always gets me down. I had a great weekend, but this week brings lots of work and the prep for a garage sale with my sister on Friday. Preparing for such an event is so defeating – seeing the things your family cherished whisked away for mere coins is a bit of a downer. Don’t get me wrong – I love getting rid of things. I love having less clutter and reducing the kid junk that remains all over the guest room. (God help me if we have a guest.) It’s just a lot of work and at the end of the day you’ve got around $40 to show for the hours of tagging and setting up. Am I bringing you down, man? Sorry.

Part of what’s getting to me is that I can’t find two important papers. It has been drawn to my attention that I may have a wee problem with misplacing things. I know I need a better system. Or any system. I’m very organized at work, it’s once things enter the house they vanish…sigh. I’ll get it together at some point. Okay, starting now, I’m a new woman…organized and on top of things. (Raise your hand if you buy this. Me neither.)

Did you see this story in the news? Someone hit a poor woman’s dog and is now suing her for damages to his ’97 Civic? Man, that’s seriously bad karma, dude.

In other crazy news, a guy in Alabama has invented a machine that can make clouds shaped like logos. Disney is going to fly Mickey heads over Disney World next month. Are you kidding me? On the plus side, I can think of some uses of strategically shaped clouds during the Republican convention in September. (hee hee)

Jesus Saves, the book by Darcey Steinke isn’t so much worth it. Interesting and a quick read, but not spectacular. Glad I didn’t pay full price for it.

Well, I just got off the phone with my sis, who always makes me smile. I’m a little better. I promise I’ll return to the breezy, entertaining blogs of yore. I have so many TRUE STORIES to share: My love triangle with Oprah, a row of animal heads on hooks in the catacombs of Disney, even more bacon lore. Oh, we’ll have a grand time, Lone Reader…just bear with me. Thanks…

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Bacon and reviews

Nueske's bacon for breakfast. Good way to start the day, man. And today I'm going to Kramarczuk's in Minneapolis to get some real deal meat. (What is happening to me?)

Are you going to see R.E.M., Lone Reader? I thought about buying tickets, but with the evil Ticketmaster charges, tickets were $90 -- seems a little ridiculous. I am excited about seeing the Breeders with my sis at the end of this month. And I'm SUPER bummed to not get Daily Show tickets. That's right, the Daily Show is coming to St. Paul and I won't be there. Dang, O'Dell. I guess I'll be forced to stalk Jon Stewart from outside the theater.

It's a very low-key weekend here at the Shack deWhack. The kids are w/ the ex and I'm cleaning in the attic, watching movies and thinking about summer. (Not all at the same time.) Last night I watched 'My Kid Could Paint That', a documentary by Amir Bar-Lev about a four-year-old girl who suddenly becomes an artworld darling when her paintings begin to fetch thousands of dollars from collectors around the country. It's a very, very good film, dealing with notions of prodigies, the subjective nature of artistic value and the "reality" of a documentary. It was thought-provoking on so many levels -- I heartily recommend it.

I finished the book 'The Devil in the White City' by Erik Larson. It was captivating, but not the best writing ever. It's about the Chicago World's Fair and it balances the tremendous efforts of the lead architect of the fair's success with the story of a gruesome killer who preyed upon young women in Chicago at the same time. It was, for me, a little forced to have a structure that alternated between the killer's story and the architect. Larson made a compelling case, though, about the many amazing advances that this miraculous exposition provided to the greater US.

What's next on the bedside table? A book called 'Jesus Saves' by Darcey Steinke. The NYT Book Review called it a "disturbingly beautiful piece of writing." Disturbing and beautiful? I'm there, man.

Enjoy the good weather and celebrate the you yet to come!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

When I'm Calling You-oo-oo-oo-oo

When I was a kid, we spent several summers in a research camp about an hour and a half outside Kenora, Ontario. It was really remote –no TV, one faint radio station, and accessible only by a deeply rutted logging road that was very narrow and treacherous. A few brief TRUE ANECDOTES from my time up north:

1)The camp director was a musher – he kept sled dogs. The lead dog, Ajax, was gorgeous and strong; just about the definition of alpha dog. One year when I was up in the winter I complimented the director on his warm-looking mittens. He held up one furry mitt and said, “Ajax is still working hard for me!”

2) One summer there was a pounding on the door of our cabin and one of the researchers was yelling, “We’re evacuating – the fire’s too close!” There had been a fire miles away that seemed under control, but apparently things had changed and now all 200 people in the camp had to get on buses. We were told we could take only what we could hold in our laps. And get on the bus in 5 minutes. My brother and I raced through the cabin grabbing everything we could find, stuffing pillowcases. My dad was in the lab and my mom was trying to get sensible things, like our paperwork to get back over the border with biological samples, snacks, sleeping bags. After much fighting about was TRULY necessary, we got out to the bus. We all sat in packed buses, scared, for about 20 minutes then the walkie squawked that we should return to our cabins, but be ready in case it happens again. It didn’t, but my brother and I kept our special things by the door just in case. When we came back the next summer, it was like driving across a foreign planet; what was towering pines and lush undergrowth had become an otherworldly charred landscape as far as the eye could see.

3) I took a semester of in high school and went with my dad to Canada on his sabbatical. One by one, the students and researchers left the camp as winter approached until finally it was just me and my father for weeks at a time, the only people in a hundred mile radius. I read a lot during the day, devouring Dostoevsky like candy. I was by myself most of the time, with my dad working and me wandering an abandoned research camp most of the day. It was very “Shining” but without the freaky redrum parts. I learned to embrace the long empty days. Even now, when the world is too much with me, I crave the silence and solitude I had so long ago.

4) My dad’s a limnologist – he studies lakes. Part of this study involves getting water samples at weird times of day. One winter night we bundled up in snowsuits and bunny boots and headed out for a midnight sampling. We pushed the boat into a still lake and made our way to the center of the water. I sat there, silent in the dark, intermittently fogging my goggles with my warm breath. As I looked around, I saw the most amazing sight. From horizon to horizon, the midnight sky was filled with stars, more stars than I had ever seen. The surface of the lake reflected the scene above and for a moment I had the sensation of floating in star-filled inky black sphere. It still gives me goosebumps.

Life is funny, eh Lone Reader? Moments from decades ago can still nourish us, but we can’t find our damn keys that we just set down. Sigh. Peace out, man.