Tuesday, September 30, 2008

How I Became a Sort-Of Minnesotan

I lived in Alaska for a year right after grad school. I worked at The Anchorage Museum of History and Art, and the biggest news while I was there was that a K-Mart would be opening in town. (There were no discount kind-of stores at the time…that’s right, Lone Reader, a pre-Target era.) When that K-Mart opened, people waited outside for hours to get in. This is what you’d do for fun, when you’re not hunting or banning books. It was really a frontier, even in Anchorage…I saw a dude go into McDonalds with a gun in the waistband of his pants. Not to rob the place, mind you, just to get a McDLT.

I really, really didn’t want to raise a family there. There was hardly any art and it was so conservative. It was really harsh. My then spouse and I tried to figure out where to move next. We actually filled out all the paperwork to emigrate to New Zealand, and according to their point system, would’ve gotten in. Our families convinced us that this would not be good. And since we’d never been there, it seemed a little foolhardy. We finally made a list of criteria for finding a home: a city that was at least reasonably affordable with good political involvement, seasonal change, a strong arts community, and two newspapers. (That last one was a hold-over from Mike Kautsch, my beloved Reporting I professor. “Any town that can support rival dailies has at least a moderately literate population. Plus, the papers keep each other honest…in theory anyway.”

This led us to very few places – cities on the East Coast like Boston or Philly, Seattle or Minneapolis. (My mom had dibs on Chicago – no way was I going to share a city with her.) Affordable kicked most cities out. I would’ve liked Seattle, but it was right after the big Seattle migration and you’d hear stories all the time about Californians searching for work in Seattle and being massively bummed about the rain. Minneapolis seemed the logical choice – besides, the state had elected Paul Wellstone, a Jewish, college professor, community organizer who was already making a name for himself as an upstart liberal firebrand. Be still, my bleeding heart.

So we said goodbye to the last frontier, packed all our belongings in containers and sent them off to the Midwest. We, then, packed two weeks worth of stuff in the Miata, put our pug dog on the back ledge and drove home. We staggered out of the car in Minneapolis’ 7 corners Holiday Inn only to be told we had made a reservation at the downtown St. Paul Holiday Inn. After all the planning and list-making, we ended up settling in St. Paul because we called the wrong number in the phone book. The politics have been disappointing at times, and Wellstone’s death was heartbreaking, but the arts are almost thriving in the Twin Cities and I’ve been employed since living here. I’ve made tremendous friends and hardly any enemies. (kidding.) I’m happy that my kids were born here. (I’m not, however, happy that they say “pop” instead of soda and “duck, duck, grey duck”.) I don’t consider myself a Minnesotan, maybe because I moved so much as a kid, I’m reticent to say I’m from anywhere…you know, always have one foot out the door. This is, I guess, the closest I’ve ever come to being “from” somewhere. All in all, it’s pretty good in Minnesota. Maybe I really am a Minnesotan. Well, ask me again in February.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bacon, Failed Ben & Jerry's Flavors n' more

Bacon news:
via my meat-lovin’ co-worker comes this link to the AntiCraft. It’s a delightful site that boldly takes on the gosh-darn-cuteness of so many craftster projects. The following pictures are from this site.


Pork Princess

Bacon-wrapped Vegan

And although it’s been written about before, the instructables site on how to make soap from bacon fat is pretty informative. and gross.

My bacon experiments? I find myself stalling out, Lone Reader. I can’t bring myself to do more than just cook the bacon. I know, I need to get on the stick. In addition to my traditional election year jack o’lanterns, I think I’ll carve a pork o’lantern.

Gross food news:
A Montpelier newspaper is reporting that PETA asked Ben & Jerry’s to make their products with human breast milk rather than cows’ milk. Ewww…and who’s going to offer up the goods? What will happen to my beloved Coffee Heath Bar? Will the delicate nuance of Stephen Colbert’s AmeriCone Dream be tainted by the tofu vindaloo the donor ate the night before? Too scary.

Years ago, when I was in Ithaca New York, I went to a Ben & Jerry’s store that happened to be having a contest to create a new flavor. I suggested a sweet cream base with a raspberry swirl and gummi body parts…Creamy Cadaver! Surprisingly, I did not win.

Financial news:
Yes, it’s true - things are bad. We’ll probably end up with wheelbarrows full of dollars to buy a tank of gas. Oh wait, we’re already there. I find myself anxious about our collective future and somewhat fatalistic about the fall of the American Empire, yet there’s also a little bit of schadenfreude, too. I have a friend who is a professional dancer at the age of 82. She’s a rabble-rouser and told me about 10 years ago that the “huffers and puffers have to do their part, too…otherwise we’ll be carrying them on our backs for the next 100 years.” Dang O’Dell – I’m about ready to vote for Florence for president. Or at least have her pick some lottery numbers for me ‘cuz she’s my psychic friend 4ril.

Some repetitive lyrics for you:
My, my, my…Delilah? Let your bright light shine? My my woo?
Yes, yes, yes, I’m impressed.

Bye, bye, bye - Velma

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Urgent Funds Transfer Proposal from US Minister of Bailouts

Making its way 'round the blogospere is the following e-mail. (I didn't write it.) Forward it to 790,000 of your friends and we'll find our way out of this financial mess.

Dear American:

I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude.

I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you.

I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. This transaction is 100% safe.

This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred.

Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to wallstreetbailout@treasury.gov so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds.

Yours Faithfully Minister of Treasury Henry Paulson

Bono v. Palin

What follows is an actual transcript of Sarah Palin’s meeting with Bono at the UN today:

Handler: Mr. Bono, I am pleased to introduce you to Governor Sarah Palin.
(they shake hands)

Bono: I agreed to meet with you today to…

Palin: I’m sorry to interrupt you, but oh my stars…I thought you were killed by a tree while you were skiing! (and I LOVE to ski, by the way.) You look great!

Bono: That wasn’t me and I don’t ski. I’m here to talk with you about the grave problem that all citizens are currently facing…

Palin: Do you have cataracts? My mom has cataracts and ya know, you can get surgery for it. Oh goodness…I interrupted you again. Sorry – please continue.

Bono: I do not have cataracts. I’m here to discuss world hunger. This crisis is of epic proportions…

Palin: I couldn’t agree more. For one American to be hungry in this country of so much opportunity and prosperity shames us all.

Bono: Although there are many hungry in the US, the problem of world hunger is reaching epidemic proportions.

Palin: You know what, I respect your people. You guys really pulled yourselves up by the bootstraps with whole potato famine thing. No handouts, just good old fashioned American initiative.

Bono: You know that that was in Ireland, right?

Palin: Aww, c’mon…you know we’re on the same team. Ever since the war, you’re almost like the 49th state!

Bono (abruptly standing and saying to the handler): I told you this was a load of bollocks…she’s insane! (Bono storms out.)

Palin (calling to the rapidly departing musician): Hey, wait! I have some really slick ideas about sending polar bear meat to hungry kids! And do you know David Lee Roth?

Monday, September 22, 2008

It's a smarty pants blog - back to stoopid tomorrow, I promise

1. A friend asked me why triclosan was bad...here's the answer.

2. National Geographic is reporting the discovery of hundreds of new species of Australian marine life, including this fantastic, bioluminescent jelly comb. Must be jelly 'cuz jam don't shake like that.

3. Okay, so I read this article in the NYT by Natalie Angier...it's fascinating. It describes the way the kind of numerical logic that many animals have - picking a bush with more berries, rather than one with fewer, for example and how humans use that skill in congress with more traditional, math-test kind of learning.

I liked the fact that it came with a version of the test the survey used to determine levels of innate numerical logic. (A version of the test is here.) I must say, I became very, very smug when I got the test correct for eleven times in a row. (It's pretty heady to see that "100% correct") (She'll always be a suck up to the standardized test. -ed.) Somewhere after number 12 it all went south. What does this tell me - I have great mathematical instincts for a very short time, after which point I'll begin to drool and can be out reasoned by a bar of soap? I hope not. I came out at 84% correct after 25 tests, which is the minimum number needed to get a reasonable result. You know me, I'm gonna go practice now...

tired + cannibals = crazy

Well, Lone Reader, I’m not even sure where to begin. The fundraiser is over – YAY! It went very well, with a 23% increase in income over last year’s event. It was an amazing amount of work. (Am I secretly a caterer? Sometimes it feels that way…) There was a lot of complaining and toting heavy things, not enough eating or drinking, but it was super successful overall. Is there a way to do these things that doesn’t burnout staff? If so, let me know.

After the event, I worked like a dog helping to reset the gallery. Sheesh…I was so tired on Saturday that I was slurring my words, my tongue was thick from having consumed NO liquids in 20 hours, and I thought I was having auditory hallucinations. Then I crashed like a baby on Benadryl and slept a lot. The work dreams are still appearing though – I sit upright in bed, thinking about something I forgot, then remember, “Oh yeah, it’s over.” Now I’m ramping up for a donor event in a few weeks, then the annual ask letter.

In other news:
Did you watch any of the Emmy awards? BORING, man. Seriously dull.

I strongly encouraged my boyfriend to watch the Donner Party DVD over the weekend. It’s a 1997 PBS American Experience by Ric Burns. I highly recommend it. Even though I’ve seen it probably a dozen times, I still find this story incredibly compelling. Sure it’s got cannibalism, but so much more…it’s an epic story of survival, perseverance and the tremendous toll of avarice. (Yeah, I own it, so what?) (weirdo – ed.)

Next weekend is a neighborhood party, then the weekend after is both Weezer and a baby shower. (not simultaneously, of course.) One of my sister’s good friends is also a former blog reader (come back to the fold, Em!) AND she’s having a baby. I’d love to make a bacon-themed party, but my sister has far more taste than that. I’m helping with the desserts. Baking is so enjoyable when it’s for fun, not for work.

The image above is by Dan Goodsell, the creator of Mr. Toast, Shaky Bacon, Joe the Egg and so much more. His stuff rocks. Visit his world here.

Well, I’m off to work, now. Yes, it’s late to be going in, but don’t you judge me, Lone Reader! Peace out, Velma

Friday, September 19, 2008

Think good thoughts...

OMG it's fundraiser day. I'll be at work from 8 am 'til 11 tonight. Wish me luck, Lone Reader! (No whammy, no whammy, no whammy...stop!)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Funny things

Funny stuff about a not funny thing:

The Sarah Palin offspring name generator. My name would be Meat Notgay. I'll stick with what I've got, thank you very much.

Tryg Palin, the latest offspring of the Gov and First Dude of Alaska has a middle name of "Van" in tribute to the band Van Halen...get it?

Tina Fey as Palin on SNL - I didn't see it on TV, but you can't avoid it online. Doing my part to advance the blogosphere's obsession...

Genuinely funny stuff:
Comedy Central has announced that Stephen Colbert will be producing a one-hour Christmas special, "A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All!" Even better, Elvis Costello will appear on the show. If they could get Sharon Jones to appear, life would be dang near perfect. (That'll be after the election and I'm nothing if not an optimist.)

Stay classy, Wassila!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Random poo, just for you

1. The art gallery where I work was broken into last night. WTF are people thinking?
2. I think I've survived a visit from the x-in-laws...I'll know for sure by tomorrow morning, when they leave town and I can breathe again.
3. I want to go see Burn After Reading but I can't until After the Fundraiser.
4. TMBG at First Ave was crazy freakin' tasty. I'll love those nerdy boys so much.
5. Did you see this story about a 33-year-old mom who stole her out-of-state daughter's identity so she could enroll in high school and be a cheerleader? Well, now you have.
6. I've had bacon but once in the past 10 days. My blood isn't used to flowing so freely through my arteries, man.
7. Try the spinach scramble at the Highland Grill - spinach, egg, and Brie. yum.
8. is my lucky number.

Love, Velma

Friday, September 12, 2008

Crazy days and zealots always get me down

I don’t have time for this, Lone Reader! It is officially crazy time around here. Tonight I go see They Might Be Giants – it’ll be awesome, 4ril. Tomorrow bright n’ early the ex in-laws arrive. (The X-in-laws! Appearing soon at a theater near you…) I am bracing myself for a distinctly-them mix of pity, judgment and scorn. Sigh…

Tomorrow night I’m working at a huge opening ‘til 11:30. Sunday morn it’s church w/ the ex-in-laws. I’m really not sure why this dictum came down to me…they’re the most devout Catholics I’ve ever met. (When a priest tells you to calm down, you’re rabid.) Me? Unitarian. The last time these folks visited my church they dropped to their knees and genuflected. Before what? I’m not sure…was it the sight of hippies and open thinking? I dunno.

Sunday afternoon is a picnic, if the weather’s nice. The x-in-laws have requested that they join us at this event. Nay. We don’t need to do that, man. Life is hard enough without having to explain who the white people praying behind me are.

And on top of that, my gallery’s only real fundraiser of the year is next Friday. (Yes, it’s my baby and it wakes me up at night as such.) Oh, and I have a grant due Monday.

And my 1906 Victorian house is beginning rodent season. Blecch. I am tidy and never leave food out, so don’t judge me, Lone Reader. My house is so old that it’s essentially open to the elements, and that includes pests. So, this time of year for me involves all kinds of nasty poison blocks thrown under the deck (“Bon appetit, Mickey!”) and two weeks of traps inside the house. That does the trick, but it’s pretty grueling to be the mouse patrol. And since I have young children, there’s a lot of “You guys wait up here for a few minutes…mommy’s gonna, umm…make a surprise breakfast! yeah, a surprise breakfast…” while I rush down to make the rounds and pitch the corpses. Of course, then the kids come downstairs and say, “Where’s the surprise?” Surprise! I’m letting you get your own breakfast! Woo-hoo! They don’t fall for it again, let me tell ya.

Happy weekend, Lone Reader! Wish me luck for this weekend’s battles, be they rodent or relatives…

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mmm...trans fats...

What makes me a sucker? SO many things, really. The latest example is the 100th anniversary package of Hydrox. I saw it at the Rainbow Grocery in the 'hood (and it is truly in the 'hood). Do I like Hydrox? I don't recall ever having had one. I know for a fact I don't like Oreos. I bought it anyway, just 'cause the packaging was so lovely. Hey, guess what? For all the hoo-ha, they're pretty much Oreos which are gross.

The package sure is purdy, though.

I Stand Corrected!

Apparently in an earlier bacon-related blog I posted a picture of the band Stryper and called them the band "Bacon Hawk." Thank you, JC for the correction and having looked at Bacon Hawk's myspace, your music is 2,000 times funnier than Stryper's. If you come to Minneapolis, send me an e-mail. (And Lone Reader -check out the song The Gravitron - it's awesome!)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Coen Bros Reverie

Well, on my way back after dropping off the kids at school, I happened by the Roseville Keys. Okay, it’s several miles out of the way, but I just had to make a surreptitious drive-by to see if the Coen brothers were there. They’re shooting a film in MN and this week they’re in Roseville. It appears that they were at the restaurant…there were cops all over the place, apparently so stalkers can’t get into…whatever.

It went nothing like this: I pulled into the parking lot and got out of the car. From a distance, Ethan Coen sees me and remarks, “Who is that vaguely Sephardic woman getting out of a slammin’ silver minivan? We need her in this film!” He murmurs as much to Joel and the two of them head over. Upon gracious introductions, the bros. immediately insist I sit in a booth in Keys, just in the background. The blintzes are free, so I agree. Sadly, after two takes, a pasty PA comes over to me and says, “The brothers need a word.” Uh-oh. That’s right – I’m out of the booth. Says Joel, “Your beauty is too damn distracting to be a bit player. I insist you have lines…the camera loves you.” I demur. “No, no,” I protest, I’m not an actress.” “That’s what makes you so remarkable,” says Ethan. Out of the corner of my eye I see Frances McDormand shifting uncomfortably in her seat. Has she been through this before, I wonder. They show me the scene on a tiny monitor…why, my goodness! The camera has not added 10 pounds, but taken away 20. I look damn good…I acquiesce and never look back.

Two years from now when I accept my Golden Globe from a slightly inebriated Jeremy Piven, I’ll thank you, Lone Reader. Maybe.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Reviews and other junk

Yes, there’s a palpable crazy in the air…it’s fundraiser season. I wake up at 2 am in a full panic, startled into full alert by the thought of attempting to match the shade of the lemonade to our new brand standards' CMYK. Arrgh…

So what did you do over the weekend, Lone Reader? I had a bit of a lonely weekend, with no kids for this first time in a month. It’s always an adjustment. Sigh. I’ll get used to this, right? (I’m still waiting. –ed.)

I did get a fair amount of sleep, and went bowling…dude! I got two strikes! Yes, I stink at bowling. My highest score ever was 84. (read my previous bowling post here.) It was still fun, though I wouldn’t want to do it more than every few months.

I also went to see the Don Cheadle movie Traitor. Dude! Seriously fab-ola. I really didn’t know anything about it, and just went with a few girlfriends who were intent on distracting me from my job. It was really good. Pretty standard structure, but a great narrative and the character development was phenomenal. Don Cheadle can read the phone book and I’d pay to see it. Plus it had Guy Pierce in it - bonus! (I loved Memento so much, man.)

Tonight is book club – we’re discussing My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Piccoult. I read it a long time ago, and thus should’ve fessed up to book club so that we could all read the book at the same time, but hey…I needed to coast for a bit this month. I started out the book liking it and found myself getting less and less interested as the pages turned. As the plot progresses the characters become more simplistic and ending of the book made me downright hostile. Should be an interesting discussion tonight, if only because I think some people really liked it.

Well, I’m off to consume my third Tab of the day. (All those fundraiser bad dreams have me a wee bit sluggish today.) Keep hope alive, Lone Reader & I promise bacon soon!

Friday, September 5, 2008

An open letter to the Tooth Fairy

Dear Ms. Fairy, (I assume it’s Ms…if not, please excuse the error)

First let me thank you for visiting my son’s room last night. He is reaching an age where some parents might object to an unknown woman entering their son’s bedroom at night, but I always say, “As long as they leave cash, they’re alright by me.”

That said, WTF!? I’ve heard breathtaking tales of bounty you’ve left behind…Bionicle kits, a ten-spot, a silver charm. In Woodbury I know for a fact you leave Burberry wristlets. Here in Saint Paul, one lousy buck!? This is outrageous -- an egregious case of geographical bias! Why back in 1972 I would get at least a couple of sweaty quarters. That’s the equivalent of $2.57 in today’s dollars. (Annual inflation over this period was about 4.65%.) You’re not paying for gas; I assume you have little need for food, being a fairy and all. I demand equal pay for equal teeth – this is our inalienable right, right? If you decide to correct your irrational discriminatory ways, we would like $10 Target gift cards. And if you promise something from Tiffany, you can check under my pillow as well.

Best wishes,

Thursday, September 4, 2008

More politics?!

From Adam Nagourney's article in today's NYTimes

“The Gore-Cheney series of vice presidencies have changed the nature of the job,” said Gary Hart, a former Democratic senator from Colorado and a friend of Mr. McCain. “What McCain has done is to try to revert to the 19th-century model, early-20th-century model of vice president — the ‘job isn’t worth a warm pitcher of spit’ model, which means you don’t do anything.”

“But we don’t live in that kind of world anymore,” Mr. Hart said. And, he said, that is a particularly relevant question given Mr. McCain’s age — 72 — and health problems. “I’m sure John thinks he can live forever, or at least for eight years,” Mr. Hart said.

In an interview a month ago on CNBC, Ms. Palin went so far as to disparage the job of vice president, saying, “What is it exactly that the V.P. does every day?”

I know what you're thinking, Lone Reader...when is she going to go back to bacon? How did the Elvis cake turn out? Where is the promised TRUE STORY? Who can take a sunrise, sprinkle it with dew?

Answers to these and other pressing matters soon.

Does that make McCain Bill?

How funny.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


FACT: Sarah Palin's oldest son, Track Palin, was born 8 months after the wedding. Hmm...conservatives don't fall far from the trees?

BLOG RUMOR: Sarah Palin's middle daughter, Willow Palin, is not actually related to the family at all. She's actually a very short Dominican national whom the family purchased online as a live-in caretaker.

FACT: The Vice-Presidential candidate has left the country only once in her life - last year. She does, however, live in the closest state to Russia.

BLOG RUMOR: The Vice-Presidential candidate does have extensive foreign affairs experience if you count her negotiations with her Dominican nanny and the time she thought about buying a Hyundai.

FACT: Bristol Palin's boyfriend/ fiancé/ babydaddy will attend the RNC tonight.

BLOG RUMOR: After making his appearance, Sarah Palin will shoot said babydaddy in the face and chalk it up to Vice Presidential privilege.

Okay, so maybe the "unnamed source" here is actually named Velma...who can say?

(photo from Mudflats

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

In a world where one announcer does all the trailers...

Sad. Don LaFontaine, known as the deep-voiced movie announcer, died yesterday. Here's a great interview with him. Bye, dude.

Anarchy and the AK

Photo from the Strib

Hmmm…what to say? Do I live in a police state? It kinda feels like it. Yesterday the helicopters were overhead all day, there were police cars on my block and every exit on 35E that I passed had a trooper poised at the ready. On the news I saw video of the sharp shooters on top of downtown buildings. For the record, I am not an anarchist…I just really like to wear black. Everyone I know who was involved in the protests was peaceful and respectful. And all of this fuss just for the first day of school? It seems like too much really.

Yes, the kids are off in school. It is quiet and a little sad, but also pretty heady to be able to schedule my work time according to something other than the whims of a child. What shall I do with all this free time, Lone Reader? Bonbons and Oprah? Jagermeister and Food network? Nay, I’ll opt for tremendous quantities of Tab, some arts administration and a li’l bloggin’.

Sarah Palin update:
I find it totally bizarre how much bandwidth is dedicated to the possibility that Sarah Palin’s fifth child is actually her grandchild. Who cares? The moral of the story is that, despite Palin’s insistence that abstinence education works, it doesn’t. And I feel tremendously sorry for Bristol, the pregnant daughter. She’s had a really hard year – 5 months out of school for mono, then pulled to be home schooled, 3 traffic violations, now this. Plus, no one on myspace will message her anymore for fear of the secret service showing up.

I don’t actually care much about Sarah Palin’s childrearing abilities. It’s very scary, however, how little planning/ vetting went in to this decision. From today’s NYTimes: Disclosures on Palin Raise Questions on Vetting Process.

Oh, Mr. McCain, you should hung tough with Tom Ridge. At least he woulda brought more than 3 electoral college votes to the table.