Monday, March 31, 2008

thousands of armpits can't be wrong ...



last week was rife in mediocrity, except for live music-wise. live music-wise, i've now got a bad case of homegrown fever and there isn't a strong-enough smelling armpit in a thousand pizza luce audiences to cure it. also, this week, i've decided to incorporate fannie's opinions on reality tv -- mostly because i think the current bachelor would totally love her if he knew her. as for these glasses, just don't you worry your pretty head about them.

FOODS [not] MADE BY ME
rice fried vegetables [via vegetarian times]: technically chuck made this. i just made the rice. in a rice cooker. while he read the rice cooker instructions to me. but if you are the sort of person who enjoys watching your boyfriend chop up lots and lots of green vegetables, you will love this. i guess i also fried the egg to a sort of omelet with the aplomb of a person with spatulas instead of limbs.


MEALS TAKEN IN PUBLIC
"hells kitchen": it has taken me awhile to get to one of our newish restaurants because i heard the most horrifying story about one diner's experience. we're talking urban legend proportions. like, the only thing that would scare me more than having this particular story happen to me would involve swimming, mushrooms, basements and unplanned pregnancy.

but i have a short attention span for being revolted out of my mind, so we decided to give it a shot and i managed to have the most mediocre entree i've had since the last time i ate a lean cuisine. i had the ham and pear crisp, which apparently jane and michael stern feature in one of their cookbooks, meaning i will never be able to listen to the splendid table again without silently judging these "experts." it was basically a ham and cheese sandwich that looked like i'd left it in my purse for a few days. and you KNOW i know what that looks like.

the sweet potato fries, however, were great. [i'm really getting into those little buggers. these are served with a restaurant-made chipotle sauce that was pretty good. hell's kitchen also makes its own ketchup, which was also good.]

for dessert i had habinero and mango ice cream. it doesn't taste spicy, per se, but your tongue burns while cooling itself on the cold. i liked it, although my senses were a bit dulled since i'd also had a habinero-flavored beer with dinner. [also okay. it was more watered down than the brewhouse's jalapino beer, and for some reason tasted like they had added a shot of vodka to it.]

chuck had a reuben that was stacked with so much meat that only a muppet-mouth could possibly clamp down on that sucker. i took to calling it "the wall of meat." he ate half of it with a fork, and put the other half in my trunk, where i'm guessing it will become a great wall of stinking mold that i won't find until national "watch me buy a jeep!" day.

i will go back, but just because i want to try the lemon ricotta hotcakes. if those rival tv dinners, the sterns are officially dead to me.

ONLINE

bret easton ellis feature, via fimoculous, via la times: i never tire of reading or reading about bret easton ellis. this story is about how he has never gotten positive attention from critics. i, of course, think he's a freakin' genius ... although i'm still holding an epic '80s grudge for not being old enough to go to a less than zero house party.

eschew review: nyt's story on words overused in book reviews. i'm guilty of "compelling." luckily i'd never be able to use "eschew" in a sentence.

READING
"things i've learned from women who've dumped me," edited by ben karlin: considering the contributors' bios, i expected this to set a new standard in hilarity: comedians, sitcom writers, the onion, late show scripters. it's actually repetitious, half assed, and largely forgetable. like the writers owed the editor a favor, but not that big of a favor.

now, scanning through names of the different chapters, i can't remember a lick about the story where the guy compares life with his wife to the time he dated a stripper or even the gist of todd hanson's essay "things more majestic and terrible than you could ever imagine."

on the other hand, the good is pretty good. a few, by the writers i alread knew i liked, stood out: neal pollack's story about his cat is fantasticly disgusting and great; and the time dan savage lost his virginity [to a woman] is easy conversational humor. i also liked paul simms' essay "i'm easy" where he clocks how long he maintains a crush on strangers who catch his eye. [45 minutes here, 30 seconds there.] he elicited the biggest laugh of the book with this line: " ... you've ordered your drink and paid; do i really have to stand here for another 45 seconds while you repack your purse, the contents of which you've spilled out on the counter like you're setting up a f-ing yard sale or something?"

TV
"the hills":

* spencer is so patrick bateman. there is totally a head in his freezer and the new york style section pasted to the floor by his couch. he's all listening to huey lewis and the news.

* lauren should be sentenced to wet seal clothes and claire's boutique jewelry and should not be allowed near needles, thread or curling irons. i physically could not watch parts of this hour-long episode, and i'm a strict hoodie sort of person. i'd have passed out if i actually cared about fashion.

* heidi, already a wisp of a person, lost 10 pounds in her face. fannie thinks it was injected into her lips.

* i like how spencer grew out his depression scruff, a few extra scraggles on his face to represent pain.

* whitney says her 'g's weird, but its fine because she is still my favorite character.

"the bachelor" episode 2: are these women more looney than usual? lorenzo lamas' daughter is totally one of those women who would chain bachelor matt to a bedpost, read him scenes from a soap opera she wrote and then feed him pickled pieces of his own spleen. if i were matt, i'd be careful. this may be the season where shayne takes a strand of his hair, a pair of his socks and his used dental floss to do some voodoo pregnancy stew.

my early favorites are robin and amanda.

fannie says it best: "so far i don't like anyone who (a) has sung, danced or played an instrument; (b) is lorenzo lamos' daughter; looks like they're wearing a toga."

TV MARATHONING
"the wire" season three: by far the best season. the rub with the wire -- they make you fall in love with every rogue cop, mid-level drug dealer, crooked politician, bumbling confidential informant, and would-be boxing instructor ... then they shoot him in the face.


THINKING ABOUT
i got the show "benson" stuck in my craw a few days ago. luckily, 31 episodes are available on hulu. you know you want to watch it. or at least download the theme as your new ringtone.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

perfect duluth cliche ...

so i was at the co-op , ordering a large bowl of smoked mozzarella pasta from the deli. to my right was a small hippie family. you could tell they were die-hards, not ust casual recyclers who play the sitar recreationally, because the mom seemed to be wearing the entire contents of her closet -- a skirt, pants, a few shirts and a couple sweaters with more layers tied around her waist. the man's beard was braided.

they were feeding their toddler mushy handfuls of what looked like jalapinos. the woman was complaining because last week she bought a quiche from this very same deli and then couldn't eat it because, duh!, she's vegan.

the toddler poked me in the back with a large novelty pencil and when i turned around he had this big cute old grin on his face. [of course, that could have been a look of firey agony from having hot peppers shred through his soft little pink puffy digestive tract.]

"quit stabbing the lady, beezlebub," hippie mom said.
he poked me again.
"quit stabbing the lady, beezlebub," the hippie mom repeated.
really, i didn't mind. he was cute.
"it's so hard since he doesn't understand english," hippie mom said to me.
"oh really?" i asked. assuming he was adopted from the ukraine.
"well, not yet," she said. gave me a "duh" look.
"oh. right," i said.
"he's from a different country," she added.
i just looked at her. i thought we'd already covered this.
"it's called in utero," she said.
"i've been," i wished i'd answered. "it was crazy. i barely remember it at all."

if i were to write a screenplay about duluth, that scene would sum it up. except the kid would have been ramming me with an incense stick instead of just a common pencil.

Friday, March 28, 2008

no static necessary ...



we sat down at our table. i took off my polar fleece. a lavender flavored fabric softner fell out of it and landed on the floor of the restaurant. my life seems oddly filled with fabric softner sheets in weird crannies. whatever. i'd just pulled the coat from the dryer like four seconds before we left the house. chuck pointed and laughed. i scooped it up and put it in my pocket.

***

we went to luce to see the black eyed snakes and there was one of those long luce lines outside that always crack me up. ids meticulously checked. cover charges paid. fire codes acknowledged. i like it when one band can attract every hippie, hipster, punk, thug, prep and virgin in the area code.

the black eyed snakes were amazing. i don't know how to describe this without sounding like a 15 year old writing a fanzine, but we pushed into about the third row so chuck could shoot photos. we were off to the side, and out of the area that eventually turned into a two-minute mosh pit, then subsided. at the height of the night, the crowd turned into a pulse. you could feel the music coming up from the soles of your shoes. "i thought my phone was ringing," chuck confessed. it wasn't.

al sparhawk has this fantastic presense where you feel like you are in the front row of one man's swan dive from sanity. he's cavorting. he's bouncing. he's screaming. he's having a seizure. he's making crazy bird calls into the microphone. he's jim morrison. no, wait, he's heath ledger. meanwhile, the girl in front of me is stealing dance moves from the jane fonda workout tape.

over the course of tonight's 45 minute show i felt a) cooler than i am for merely being here; b) so duluth; c) so kind of electric.

for some reason, whenever i see the black eyed snakes, i feel like i'm seeing some epic historical duluth moment and i think of the thousands of people at home, in bed, who didn't see this ... sorry.

the music ended early. the band was loading the van when i went outside. a guy next to me was trying to hint that he'd gotten there late and wanted to hear another song. he kept saying, a too little loudly, "one more song" while the band ignored him. someone brought out the last guitar and stuffed it inside the van and the drunk guy next to me pulled a film canister from his pocket and opened it. he took a whiff and put it back in his pocket.

"what was that?" i asked. knowing he was drunk enough that my curiosity would be answered without hassle.

he took it out and held it under my nose. i shook my head. no thanks. i was pretty sure it was glue.

"it's empty," he said. "but see, it still smells like pot. ... smell it."
i looked into the canister and small fragments of plant were stuck to the edges.
"you aren't into that, are you?" he asked.
"nah," i said.
he smelled the empty container again and put it back into his pocket.

***

back inside i went to the bathroom. stall one was occupied, stall 2 had been subjected to the trifecta: nos. 1 and 2 and barf [hopefully not in that order]. i settled into no. 3, peed, finished and realized there was no toilet paper. well. unless you count the semi clean pieces stuck to the bathroom floor like mini paper mache volcano science projects. by now stall one had cleared out. i was alone. i could do the pants around the ankles penguin dance into stall four and try my hand at that dispenser. or ...

i reached into the pocket of my polar fleece and pulled out that sliver of lavender fabric softner. fate, my friends. fate.


photo by chuck, who said: "how fun would it be to just go totally mental like that on stage?" answer: "um. super fun?"

Thursday, March 27, 2008

death to a single-lensed dream ...


this piece of modern art is a self portrait of my eyeball taken a few months ago. in real life, my skin is a much pastier shade of translucent.


today my new eye doctor, a one-man laugh riot, said the funniest thing while standing in the same room as me.

"bifocals?" i repeated, like it was a french swear word.
"oh we'll call them pals," he poo-poo'd me. "progressive addition lenses."
"bifocals," i repeated. this time it came out more like the meatiest of luggies.

we chatted and came to a compromise: i'll stop reading the printed word in anything smaller than billboard sized and he will not yet banish me to walmart's spinning tower of unfashionable eyeware. deal? deal.

one of the weirdest things about having been birthed by people who fell in love as mere teenagers is that not only do i remember my mom's 27th birthday, i also remember the day her crossword puzzles went fuzzy and the two of us went shopping for her PAL. it doesn't seem that long ago. she was probably in her thirties ... oh. so now, not only do i bite my lip the same way and share her knees -- each puckered to look like round, cheerful little smiling faces, i, too, will soon learn how to hold my cell phone in the sweet spot where i can tilt my head back, peer down my nose and dial -- doing an interpritive dance that looks much like when our early ancestors first tried typing on computers.

when i have these little milestones en route to menopause and she seemingly stays the same age, i feel like my mom and i get closer and closer to a common peer group. [my mom makes 56 look pretty appealing. she's a cute lady. i can say that because she is not on the phone with me right now asking me what i wore to mass on easter.]

i'm sure bifocals have come a long way since the time pa ingalls built a pair for ma out of an old moonshine bottle and penny candy from the olesen's store, then sent the ole blue hair out to pasture with some kindling, a leg of lamb and the bible.

bifocals certainly can't hold the same stigma they did 20 years ago. it certainly doesn't for me. if, in 1988, you told me i'd be a 32 year old wearing a 62 year old's glasses, i'd have sprayed my bangs into a petulant peacock tailed fortress of neverending youth and said "nuh uh!"

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

almost [saw someone] famous ...

like anyone who tries to maintain even the most opaque veneer of cool, i am just not that into celebrities. this is what i tell myself: they are just normal people wearing larger sunglasses. and instead of a camera adding 10 pounds of fanny-pack-like ponch, the limelight seems to add five inches to each of their fibula.

i seem to have been lying to myself. when i found out that george clooney and renee zellweger were going to be in town today, stepping through the doors of the depot at 1 p.m. to pimp the movie "leatherheads" and remind us that we really are an ugly people here in duluth -- i decided i needed to be in the audience. i even set my alarm so i wouldn't miss it.

i'm not sure we get a lot of celebrities stopping here in duluth, although once nickelback played at the DECC. so we sort of make our own. one time i was at a party and alan sparhawk of the band low was standing a few feet away so i manufactured some excitement with the help of a free bottle of lake superior special ale. one time when i was at the lakeview coffee emporium, chuck pointed out the poet louis jenkin's sitting down next to the lakewalk. there is a woman i know who, everytime i remind her that i'm dating chuck says: "you're dating chuckers chuckenstien? he's faaaaaa-mous." [that's right, lady. and sometimes he shrugs off his fame long enough to scramble me an egg and squish it between the halves of an everything bagal. i can get you one of his used cough drops for fifteen dollars."]

i first saw fame when i played basketball on a traveling team. some famous-sorts were staying at our hotel before playing in a celebrity hockey game the next day. i received a bunch of signatures on embassey suites stationary: kelsey grahmer was one, and the male stripper from the movie 'summer school' was there, too. i feel like alan thicke made an appearance, but sometimes i recreate history. the point is, hours after getting his autograph, kelsey grahmer returned to the hotel very wasted. we watched him booming in the lobby from over the railing a few floors up. i took a photo and in that photo he looks pissed.

by the time i saw the new kids on the block in concert, i knew that it was cooler keep your squeals in more pleasing octaves and occasionally roll your eyes about famous people. all around me, girls my age were weeping over jordan and joe. it wasn't until donnie wahlberg, wearing an american flag t'shirt, mounted a cat walk dangled above us that it felt like i had been snorting 7-up and knew that i was powerless against my own tears.

i saw evan dando at first ave. it doesn't count. he slipped into the audience to watch the band that proceeded his.

i saw an olympic medalist, a sprinter ... dan something ... at a track meet in santa barbara in 1995.

don't get me started on art garfunkle. ...

one time i almost saw matt damon.

i fell asleep with my cell phone lodged into my rib cage so it would wake me. and at 11:15 a.m., i turned it off and fell asleep again and was actually having a dream about jcrew and george clooney when jcrew called to see if i was going. in the dream, she and i were in a parade and i was curling my hair and she was mad at me. standard stuff.

parking, she said, was fine. she got a spot easily. i left the house at 12:30 and made it six blocks before she called again.

'i'm on my way,' i said.
'it's over,' she said.
'wha?' i said.
and here she blurted out a really long sentence involving george clooney's autograph and touching his shoulder and blah blah blah. it was like in spanish or something.


so i missed it. at least it will be awhile again before we're reminded of how we are all a little mediocre looking and dressing. and whatever. i'm dating someone famous.

Monday, March 24, 2008

locked in the target center ...


this week my landlord let me touch a fifty dollar bill. it was intense. we also cleaned the apartment and the whole place echoes like we're locked in the target center.



FOODS I MAKE
penne with asparagus and spring herbs, via vegetarian times cookbook: this pasta sauce is a food processed mix of vegetable broth, garlic, tofu, dijon mustard, tarragon, chives and parsley. it is served with steamed carrots and asparagus. apply grated parmesean cheese until the onset of carpel tunnel because the parmesean is the difference between eh and hmm not bad.

GROOMING
crest white strips: it takes about three days to stop gagging about the snotty gel glued to your teeth, but it seems to work quickly. and i have pretty dirty teeth.

LISTENING TO
hot chip, made in the dark (2008): less than a day after musing to myself, 'hmm ... i should find some french techno music. some obnoxious explosion of synthesisers to listen to" chuck happened to mention 'hey, you might like hot chip.' i played it without listening too hard, but my leg heard it and started jumping all over the place. not french techno, but british electropop works for now.

mountain goats, heretic pride: this recommendation came via flenker. for awhile i couldn't get past the singer's nasally 'they might be giants' voice. after some band investigating and multiple listens, it's growing on me. i am in a deep passionate love with the song "autoclave." it's very catchy, cute and clever and i don't even mind that it has been stuck in my head for a week.

joseph arthur, could we survive: i'd like to thank joseph arthur for releasing eps with the frequency that i change a roll of toilet paper. unlike the toilet paper, his stuff is anything but crappy.

MEALS TAKEN IN PUBLIC
fitgers brewhouse: as long as they continue to have wildfire on the beer menu, i will continue to have daydreams about doing laps in a wildfire pool. between the french fries, that beer and the way you can't throw a frisbee without hitting someone dressed in northface from head-to-toe, this is suddenly my favorite restaurant.

i had the beau burger: a burger with a layer of bbq sauce wearing a layer of cheddar cheese and raw onions. chuck's bison burger came with sweet potato fries -- and, aside from color, i couldn't tell the difference between mine and his. [definitely not as good as the sweet potato fries from the whistling bird.] the difference must be something that is supposed to trigger one of the dead spots on my tongue. we split turtle cheese cake, which i expected to taste like carmel-flavored refrigerator burn -- like it does when you get the same thing at burrito union. it did not. it was creamy and pretty damn good.

MOVIE PROJECT
"million dollar baby" (2004): hey, it's old yeller. this surpassed kramer vs. kramer on my sob-o-meter. my entire sweatshirt was wet. now, finally, 9 years later i can finally stop seeing a boy when i look at hillary swank.

PUBLIC MEAL TAKEN PRIVATELY
pizza luce: the only thing better than tuna noodle salad is when luce delivers to your doorstep it's take -- tuna caliente -- a jalapino'd version on what your mom made three times a week. i enjoyed mine with the spicy veggie nuggets -- which are chicken nugget like things, with a bunch of vegetables playing the role of "meat product." i also had a large brownine caked in peanut butter and a strawberry soda and enjoyed a solid two hours of sugar rush. thanks, luce!


READING
"love is a mix tape: life and loss, one song at a time," by rob sheffield: the least pretentious book about music to ever be written by a person who loves music. for me, i would be physically unable to have kriss kross's "jump" [which, don't get me wrong, i could listen to] eventually segue into siouxie and the banshees in seven strokes, the penaltimate step being mariah carey's "love takes time." but this is why he gets to be the genius mixer.

the story that unfolds from this soundtrack is a young couple meets, they fall in love, marry ... and she dies suddenly and he's left with the mix tapes, music being the one thing they really had in common. i like how he writes about renee, pulling out the sewing and the hats and the alarm clock she ordered. the drinks and the songs and the duets in the car.

i'm not sure why i gave this only three stars. it just wasn't enough of something.

THINGS WATCHED FEATURING TORI SPELLING
"hush," (2005): i learned quite a few valuable lessons, which i believe are applicable in all lifetime original movies:

*when you move back to your husband's small town, that woman he is "just friends" with has probably had romantic relations with him;
*when you tell her about your failed attempts at invitro, don't name the clinic. she will get a blonde wig, make ringlets, and use the gunk from your invitro freezer to get herself pregnant;
*if your new friend likes to hang out and listen to loud music in a tower, at some point you may find yourself dangling from the ledge of that very same tower;
*do NOT tell anyone if you have a peanut allergy, for if they are your secret enemy, they will make a sponge cake using peanut oil and then you are a goner.
*one way to really get another woman is to say: "i gave him what you couldn't ... no one wants a BARREN WOMAN!"

tori spelling's jewelry collection on HSN: i really thought tori would stumble onto this channel -- which is basically cable access with hairspray -- and she'd be wearing the clunky ring or the green gem necklace, earrings combo. no dice. just one humorless woman talking about "what tori likes" and "what tori wears" and "hollywood style" while a live model stood motionless in the background and words like "empower!" flashed across the screen.

"i'm SURE she's going to be on," i told chuck as we fastforwarded through the hour-long show. "no way," he said. "she's not going to come on here and sell this stuff." the only sighting came via small inset mug shot in the upper lefthand corner of the screen. WTF, tori.

trick, 1999: this straight-to-dvd movie has a very thin plotline. gabriel is shy and gay and meets a male go-go dancer. they spend the night trying to find a place to hook up. tori plays his best friend, an actress. i prefer her as the barren nina hamilton.

TV
"the bachelor, london calling: in the first episode, matt the bachelor from england was sexually assaulted by a drunken tart and he whittled his selection down to 13 women and two trannies. should be a good season, as this bachelor seems to have a personality.

"what i like about you,": tivo keeps recommending this show, so i keep watching it. it is not funny or interesting, but the actresses [including jennie garth] have long bouncy hair. and really, i've liked shows for less.

"the wire" season two: i've found this season to be not as satisfying as last season. take me back to the projects. please.


Saturday, March 22, 2008

here comes the irregular ...

for many years i was a bit of a regular at a certain bar on first street. so comfortable was i bellied up to the long six-top table by the door that i often likened that ole barn to hanging out in a friend's rec room. sometimes i made popcorn. sometimes i poured my own water, belly flopping across the bar to get a squirt from the gun. often i was one of the last customers, ducking out of the bar as the bartender tapped in the code for the alarm.

i saw the owner piss on his barstool. mists of my own grainbelt premium breath clogged the karaoke microphone. a bartender locked me in the bathroom stall and tried to kiss me and i scooched out underneath the door like a dirty little seal.

i still haven't been to europe because i used to spend a lot of my money in this bar, and this bar has made it impossible for me to wake in time to get a passport photo.

i haven't hung out here regularly in forever. once or twice, here or there, but not with any frequency and never on back-to-back nights.

i stopped in last night. there was a new-to-me bartender working. youngish and pretty. her hair far too clean for this bar. she looked more like a dental hygenist than a bartender. i bet she has never even dated a single customer or been involved in a fist fight with another woman. her boyfriend probably isn't an alcoholic and i doubt she hangs out at this bar, drinking luke-warm shots of whiskey and ripping open pulltabs on her nights off. she's probably never made a bad decision in her life.

long ago, this bar sold 32 ounce mugs upon which you could have your name [or nickname] engraved. my landlord has let me use his. so has some dude i met only once who goes by the name sasquatch. last night i tried to order a 32 ouncer and this pristine bartender [who wasn't even showing a single bra strap] denied me.

"you don't have one," she said.
"so?" i said.
"these are for the customers who have paid for them," she said.
"give me sasquatch's," i said.
"no," she said.
"get a pitcher," she suggested. "it's less expensive, anyway. pitchers are just four dollars."
"i don't want a pitcher," i said. "i want a 32 ounce glass. and stop talking about math."
"no," she said.

she obviously didn't know who i am.

Friday, March 21, 2008

hot eats cool treats ...



oh, lake superior, you gigantic freshwater urinal, today you look like a mr. misty. blue raspberry. my favorite.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

feet made of gaping mouths ...

* today's everything bagal and egg sandwich included chives. CHIVES!
[sometimes i make very important meals, and forget to use the leftover herbs.}

* i hunker down with the most recent epi of "one tree."
[every week, on tuesday, my internet partner in tv-show geekery laurie posts some sort of almost "one tree hill" spoiler as her facebook status. my interest is usually so picqued before i go to bed that i spring out of bed early, start chuck's car, point it toward the post office, hand him his travel mug filled with coffee and push him out the door. "but it's only 10 a.m.!" he tells me. "you'll work overtime and you'll like it!" i say. "and mail this for me!"]

* were i to try to describe this episode using only my most basic physical responses, it would look like this: goose bumps, goose bumps, weeping, weeping, weeping, weeping, weeping, anger, weeping! goose bumps, goose bumps. then finally anger because the show was cut off by some inane something involving a meth addict's tonsilectomy and i never saw if dan strangled that hussy former nanny in that dirty hotel room.

* i buy hippie shampoo and conditioner from whole foods. why? because it makes my head's pores feel like each individual hole is eating lemony-flavored halls menthol cough drops.

* i visit toonses, the orphaned cat. since our last meeting, he has had diarreah in close proximity to the litter box, and i've received another new yorker. since i'm in the neighborhood, i look for my tax information and my insurance card. i find half of the former, all of the latter.

* i buy a book, stopping by the music department to visit the rock star, see if she wants to gin margarita the shit out of each other later tonite, only to eventually stare awkwardly at the man working and grunt "amy here?" "she's off," he replies. i buy a book.

* i wander the dregs of the mall with a huge quandry: i want legging, but they only sell them at wet seal. wet seal, for the uninitiated, is for whores. if i were a person who washed my hands with any sort of frequency, i'd be in a full lather before i left the store. i stop by sears and am amazed that this world exists beyond christmas time when i'm looking for a place to get a gift certificate for my dad. and, true story, sears is where i got my eighth grade graduation dress. i felt great shame. whatever. i wander past the photo studio to h&r block. i'm going to let them do my taxes this year. prompted only by the fact that i got a letter last week from the IRS asking me to stop doing math on my fingers. we set up an appointment. later i browse the mrs. field's counter, treating the chocolate this and thats just to give my pms something to look at. leaving the mall, i realize i've seen a lot of really sad things.

* i get my oil changed. when i see that they've finally employed a woman, i want to joke with her, call her "alex" and make "flashdance" references. i'm showing my age. the cashier can't stop smiling. his customer-service face bugs. and i leave surprised that i'm not flogged for negligence. i consider the cost of an air filter to be my pentance.

* at target i find the right shorts in the wrong sizes. i find the wrong shorts in the right size. socks. a new sports bra. i've become a champion-brand loyalist. later, i will be dressed in head-to-toe in champion attire. i like the idea of me in the ad, fresh from a run, my gut circled in red with the words "i like cheese" written on it with a red sharpie. walking through the store, i almost drop the socks and spill my water bottle right by the greeting cards. i flag down a target employee to clean it up. later, about four employees are gathered around the scene of the crime, one woman hovering with a warning sign dangling over my mess. this is probably why you shouldn't BYOB at target.

* i'm watching an original lifetime movie starring tori spelling. admittedly, it's a little scary. trying on my new shorts, fast forwarding through a commercial, i hear my phone vibrating. i run to it, but its not my phone. i run to the bedroom to see if chuck left his phone at home. but, no, we've already texted today ... i check his old phone to see if it was doing some who-do-voodoo-shit residual. it's completely dead. the vibrating phone? no idea. a man hiding in the closet? very casually i pack my gym bag and back out the front door, freaked out, but somewhat quelled by the fact that I'M NOT DEAD YET, MR. VIBRATING PHONE! if he really wanted me dead, he'd have done it already. this is cocky talk in my head from when i'm safely in the car. from BEFORE i realize i'd left my purse inside. i creep back into the apartment with jcrew on the phone. i can't think of a better witness-by-cell-phone to my untimely strangulation. i leave unscathed, but the apartment smells like oranges and i don't remembe either of us eating one. ... this is a mugger with a citrus deficiency.

* i go for one long run. i'd love to tell you about ole OCD on the treadie next to me ... but this person wrote themself into their own post entirely. stay tuned and i'll tell you about breaches in treadmill etiquette. [hint: airborn sweat. airborn snot. armpits.] mostly i'm thinking about what i'm going to do when i'm done with the run, now that an orange-eating closet hider is in the apartment.]

* i get "the wire," more bagals and pizza. this time fannie gets to monitor my cell phone death knell. she stays on the line as i wander through every cranny of the apartment.

* chuck secures the premises when he gets home.

* on tuesday night i said: "i think we should go out tomor-" and chuck cut me off like and screamed "yes!" he then told me that i hadn't gone out since feb. 24. "how do you know that?" i asked. "i checked your blog," he said.

*we go to the brewhouse. i'm craving the fire beer. dthe red star lounge is pumping with a techno light show. "take me to the hippies, stat!" i beg, longing for the comfort of unkempt beards and home brews instead of sequins and ace of base remixes.

* the brewhouse is having a festival of sorts. a strong smell of petoulli, wild rice, folk music and hops fills my nostrils. we walk to carmody, instead.

* it takes us three drinks to loosen up. by then it is last call. a last call that was not announced and that i do not was called legally. we cab home. i can't walk. i'm on negative calories for the day. i can only walk home if the route is paved in pizza and my feet are made of gaping mouths.

* first we listen to music, then watch the moment of truth. we close the night with an episode of scoobie doo. [we tivo scoobie doo.]

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

thumbs up ...


chuck posted this photo recently and seemed to casually wonder when his wants diverged from tivo's suggestions.

"this isn't my fault," i've told chuck. "i swear."

although, it could be. maybe. it all started last week in the wee hours of the morning when i gave "dawson's creek" a thumbs up. it was an early episode from season one. joey is still sublimating sexual tension by verbally attacking dawson one four-syllable word at a time; dawson is mentally scripting the most spielberg-esque first kiss with jen that his squeaky pubescent hockey-haired brain can muster; pacey has coaxed ms. jacobs into some after-school "tutoring" -- or should i say "tittering" -- if you know what i mean. [pacey is dreamy.]

i sat there involuntarily beaming, teeth glowing blue, transfixed by this 4 a.m. televised gift. then, when i noticed my own goofy grin i stuck it and nudged chuck to show him how, now, i was now paralyzed in an eternal state of glee.

"give it a thumbs up," he suggested.

i looked at a stack of dawson's creek seasons 2-through-final on the floor, but gave it my approval anyway. it was more of a way to give the show a round of thankful applause. to say, "hey, dawson's creek, stay sweet." wink, finger point. i prefer to watch "dawson's creek" in marathon form than one episode a day until, like, a book falls from the shelf and lands, open, in my lap and i accidentally start reading. or some small child's soccer ball rolls into the yard and the little pigtailed rapscallion asks for 50 cents a day and my mentorship.

this was the same day that i created a wish-list for shows featuring tori spelling. talk show appearances, pimping her wares on QVC, the E! true hollywood story ... anything with my new favorite: ole squash boobs.

then soap operas began popping up as tivo suggestions.

tivo used to suggest a lot of "will & grace," "CSI," and "romancing the stone." everytime "casablanca" is on tv, tivo tries to talk us into playing it again. sam. now we get "general hospital" and "all my children."

when i say "we" i mean chuck. it's his tivo, attached to his tv and in his apartment and his season pass to "my name is earl." i try to respect that relationship between them, since it was in its earliest incarnations when we started sitting on this couch together oh so many months ago. while i am allowed to add according to my whims -- "nip/tuck," "gossip girl," "one tree hill" i try to spare him the "the-v" shows he loathes:

"the hills"
"the bachelor"
"the real world"

besides, i can watch these online -- which in some cases is better. heidi's icy glares and spencer's climactic door-slams are really best captured on a 400 dollar laptop with dirty ipod ear buds.

and, yes. i did recently solicit soap opera suggestions. right here on this site. but i didn't yet put that project into motion, and it's not like tivo can read my blog. or can it?

maybe i am to blame.

i like to think of tivo as a small puppy standing in the middle of the road. me on one side, chuck on the other. the poor little mongrel yapping, his little head craning from side-to-side. he takes a step toward me, chuck rattles the bacon bits he has hidden in his pockets. i just coo and say "oooshee boooshheee, baby tivo ..." chuck douses his arms in barbeque sauce and slips into a fire hydrant hat, yet the puppy prances to me.

and i get to teach tivo some new tricks.

Monday, March 17, 2008

indian food for astronauts ...

last week i learned that i really like asparagus, and that either i take great photos of food or the food at the new scenic is very photogenic. we started watching "the wire" which means that this summer i'll probably want to vacation in baltimore.

DOWNLOADED ON A WHIM
"unwritten," by natasha bedingfield: what if i put this is a 4 minute, 15 second reminder of "the hills" alone on a cd and had it always playing in my car. and then what if my car was like a sound-proof chamber. i would mark my arrival with a waft of this song as i opened the car door and took one ginger recycleable shoed step to the curb, quickly muting it as the door closed. then, what if whenever i walked into a room, this song would announce my arrival. this is not the first song i've wondered this about.

"run," by gnarls barkley: as soon as i heard that this video was banned from mtv and other places because apparently it causes seizures, i had to see it. it's important to know if you are the sort of person who needs to keep a thick leather wallet handy in case of sudden convulsions. going into the viewing, i kind of felt like i was in "the ring." i escaped with slight dizziness. i think the black and white retro swirls hypnotized me into liking the song. it has good beats per second, so i added it to my running mix.

DRINKING
schell pilsner: through brew52, i'm learning that the first sip is always painful, but after four sips i'll drink any genre of beer.

finnegans irish amber: ... and here is where i practice the art of nonprocrastination and try next week's beer in the same sitting. this tastes like a potato famine, freckles, and leprechauns. i wish it was green.

SNACKING
archer farms curry baked potato crisps: after last week's romance with archer farms' wasabi mustard potato chips, whiskey marie suggested these. i feel like these delicious crisps are what the astronauts eat when they want indian food. it was a strange phenomenon, having my hands smell like curry yet nary the digestive rumble of having recently eaten a saag, paneer or aloo anything. these are good, my friends. not to mention that i like a snack where if you accidentally consume an entire bag, you haven't blown your caloric wad over the course of a single episode of anything.

MEALS TAKEN IN PUBLIC
new scenic cafe: with any luck, i will get my first hot flash at this restaurant. it is the area's most estrogen-rich place to eat in the area. the local art on the walls, the fondue forks, the way a woman's swath of grey hair looks like wind. wine, book clubs, wild rice soup. small press poetry chapbooks and fresh berries. i love this restaurant.

i'm always in a panic when i look at the menu. instead of 2 items i'm toggling between about nine. i don't get here often enough and so i definitely want the tempeh reuben my favorite of favorites, but i should try the butternut squash ravioli because i've heard such great things ...



first we had the tallegio fondue, with a mix of -- i'd say three different breads for dipping. my favorite was a cranberry nut bread, but there was also a garlic bread.



chuck had grilled quail: whiskey fennel sausage, yams, medjool date cumin puree, stock, apricot, saffron glaze. he liked it, but said he was always aware that he was eating little birds. i like how it looks like a baby quail was sacrificed over a bed of yams, dripping saffron glaze from his little pores.



i had grilled egg and asparagus: gruyere, fried egg, frisée, butter, lemon basil aioli on grilled ciabatta. it was amazing. note to self: more meals featuring asaparagus.

damn i love this place.



for dessert we had tart with a base of cream cheese and topped with wild berries and whipped cream.

READING
"plan b: further thoughts on faith," by anne lamott: short essays on anne lamott's life with each centered around her take on faith, which is a hodge podge of what she likes from different religions. as always, she is funny and messy and irreverant, but each story turns to give a sort of "afterschool special" style of resolution. and because they are essays, she gets a bit repetitive. at the barest level, she is saying: stop. breathe. think. be nice. have fun.

THINGS WATCHED FEATURING TORI SPELLING
good morning america, tuesday: whoa does she look nervous. i see that tori has mastered the hybrid i was attempting, and has no qualms about wearing white after labor day. i think they said she is pregnant, but the only ripple of convex i see is in her round red mounds of cheeks. [maybe the fetus is incubating in her face?] here i am touting tori as the dona of hilarity, and she only got to say one funny thing: asked how she blew became $200,000 in debt, she mentions that she got a lot of cute sweaters. c'mon, tori! you can do better than that!

the view, tuesday: somehow, in walking across the hall at abc, tori changed into a fantastic dress and kicky shoes, dropped eight years from her face and has lightened up considerably. these view women are a tough crowd, though. they make that couch seem like a clucky, drunk, menopausal and judgy thanksgiving. they only attacked her once, with joy demanding that tori move out of LA. i bet it is getting boring, talking about her relationship with her mom this much. i should volunteer to do the second half of her book tour.

jimmy kimmel, friday: i'm going to say this interview packed the most punch. kimmel firing off questions like an auctioneer, and occasionally tori keeps up and gets in some quick wit. kimmel tries desperately to get her to reveal more than she wrote about and she shuts him down. she's good, that tori. guess we'll never know who andrea zuckerman hooked up with. on the other hand, he spends more time considering that her first kiss was with screech from 'saved by the bell' and doesn't go into the whole candy spelling nose-job story -- thankfully. i'm starting to think that tori needs at least a shot of tequila before she does any more interviews, fetus be damned.

TV MARATHONING
"the wire," season one: holy crap. typically i give a new series four episodes leeway to work out characterization bugs and develop a sticky plot. this is completely unnecessary here. this took four minutes. each episode is this compressed wad of goodness and the characters are so well-drawn that even the most souless has some facet of likeability. once again, i'm having crippling panics if there are not at least five unseen episodes in the house.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

according to mr. movies ..

today i went to mr. movies and, understatement, it has been awhile since i've rented from this little ramshackle warehouse where you always kind of feel like you might get pregnant or mononucleosis if you touch one of 99 cent movies.

but blockbuster only has season one of the wire, and i felt that we needed to start season two more quickly than chuck's netflix could deliver. i use blockbuster online, which is mostly just another way for me to mismanage finances in 20 dollar increments. put "the wire" in your blockbuster queue, and it says "long wait." try season two and it says "extra long wait." by my estimations, i should finally receive season four of "one tree hill" right around the time i get my AARP card. anyway, so i went to mr. movies, dodging scabbies piles as i ducked into the store.

"i'm not sure if i am able to rent here," i told the girl working.
she looked up my phone number, then my name, then confirmed my identity by rattling off an address that was four duluth neighborhoods ago.

i updated the address.

"and ... you have here that [photographer photographerer] can also use the account?" she asked, referencing a twoish-year relationship from um ... sevenish years ago. so long ago that when he said his first name -- which is the same as my former roommate's first name -- i made a yuck face and said "uh. no. get rid of him," thinking of the former roommate.

only when i was walking out of the store did i realize she had said the photographer's name. little did he know that up until three hours ago, he could have totally rented tons and tons of movies under my name at mr. movies. not sure that would really be worth the trip from omaha ...

that's when i started to feel bad about making the yuck face. he wouldn't get a yuck face. i kind of felt like going back inside and telling the girl that i wanted to take back the yuck face, as it wasn't warrented in this situation and i'm sure i'll need it for the next time someone sneaks a mushroom onto my pizza. on the other hand, i'm not sure what the appropriate facial response should have been ... maybe a "huh" followed by 15 seconds of pensive consideration, a nod, a small smile, then moving along.

anyway, now i have completely severed myself from any sort of past. according to the records at mr. movies.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

sexy ...




me: oh. and i need a lighter, too.
super america cashier: hmm ... okay. this one fits your personality.
me: does it say nascar?

Friday, March 14, 2008

getting it ...


self-promoting behavior at the at&t store.




it's the girl who plays defense on your youth soccer team who will get it first. if, on the way home from the field by the prison, you're pulling orange pulp from your front teeth, doing surgery to remove sweat-soaked shin guards and wondering what exactly happens to a jersey left in direct sunlight that makes it smell so bad, and your dad says something like "that stephanie sure can boot the ball ..." he has, naively, conjured it. stephanie is going to get it. soon. maybe right this second.

then things really take off. pretty soon every girl who was in the back row for the christmas pageant the previous year will get it. it's like your music teacher mrs. s-, the orange nylon wearing triller, shelley long's doppelganger with a glockenspiel, has cast out puberty spells with the flick of her director's wand.

occasionally someone will get it out of order. on your way to the playground after lunch, colleen pulls you to an out-of-the-way girls' bathroom off the cafeteria. "i think molly's faking it," she confides, her voice hollow from inside the stall. "i don't believe she got it. ... but i did and she doesn't believe me!"

the door swings open and colleen gives you visual proof that you didn't ask for. truth? you think colleen, a burgeoning great soap opera mind, squirreled away some of her mom's blue food coloring and went all jackson pollack in that little stall. and somehow you have received co-star billing for a later meeting on the playground. "yes," you'll say, exhausted. "colleen got it." secretly you'll wonder why, though: she's shorter than you. but she weighs more. maybe getting it has to do with weight.

some girls won't tell anyone. they will clam up when the conversation turns to the invisible chalk board where we are keeping score: the got its versus the don'ts. maybe in high school you'll find out: betsy? fifth grade? really? should have known. she really "packed a wallop," according to your dad.

some girls come to school, rosy cheeked and ready to start their day, nay, their life, as a woman. by 8:50 a.m., everyone knows. by 10 a.m. she's making a huge show of digging her her le sporte sac, putting something lumpy in the one-pocket uniform skirt, whispering in mrs. o's ear and skipping down the hall. group bathroom breaks are ripe with the sound of aggressively tearing into a plastic resealable pouch. to the uninitiated, it probably sounds like she's gorging on snickers bars in there.

but this can all just be a grand show, too. like the time you noticed the telltale strap across gina's back, grew indignant -- she was as flat as you! -- and went home and hinted that it was time for a, you know, training bra.

[when you later realize that the strap was from the slip gina was wearing that day, and that your own training bra makes your back itch, you hide it away for a few more months. ... dear diary, you write in your puppy journal. a lot has happened in the past few months. i've been wearing a bra for so long that i don't even wear it anymore. this is a true story.]

the worst part about getting it is telling your mom. she sat you down years ago to explain it using the complex medical terms that she surely must have needed flashcards to remember. endrometri-who? she hid always medium absorbancy pads, suspiciously packaged like diapers, under the sink in her bathroom.

first, you wonder about the shelf life of this product. then, when you get it, you wonder how you can sneak into her bathroom and retrieve the supplies without the crinkling of wrappers and the rip of adhesives -- zwaaaaaak --- announcing: look out, mom. there's a new woman on the block! hide the avon products and jean nate! you start to wish you had hidden the supplies in your own bathroom so you could avoid the pageantry, the streamers, the parade, the donkey rides your mother surely has planned.

mrs. k explains how to use a tampon to a room filled with sixth-grade girls. every month for the next 20 years, you remember her advice: aim for the small of your back. in sixth grade, seventh, eighth, you are loyal to the pad. pads are your politics, your religion, your husband. you are as fiercely devoted to them as you are to pin-stripped jeans. when you tell your mom: i'll never not wear pin-stripped jeans, you are also saying i'll never wear a tampon.

why? because kelly s.'s mom is a nurse. and one day, a group of girls are sitting on an l-shaped couch in her mom's new husband's huge living room. you are debating tampons versus pads, and pads are winning. "my mom says she will never wear tampons," kelly announces with authority. "because when you have a baby, the doctor has to pull out handfuls of leftover cotton." this is another thing you will think of every month for the next 20 years.

getting it is a disaster waiting to happen. paranoia ensues. baggy jeans and long sweatshirts, beneath which you're wearing biker shorts to hold this mess in place. "can you see it?" you whisper to fannie on your way to class. "am i leaking?" neva is your worst-case scenario: she got it during coed summer basketball camp, right through a pair of light green shorts, in the old gym. word-spreading through a hot, airless gym. mr. g knew she was a woman before she did.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

wascally ...

last night i could not get over a mob of rabbits playing in the yard across the street. there were five or six and i kept going outside to watch them. they were insane: running in circles, mounting, hiding, boxing, humping, chasing ... i saw one with at least a six inch vertical.

then chuck told me about the march hare and rampant rabbit craziness. there is so much i don't know. thank you, jesus, for inventing wikipedia.

i think more amazing than the fact that i've started to cook as a hobby and own recycleable shoes is the sudden interest in animals. see, jcrew? it's not all bad.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

in an otherwise fairly clean apartment ...


a few weeks ago this was potato and apple soup. by the grace of science and neglect, at some point it morphed into diarreah.


this pear cake turned to a dusty mold after just a few short months. i'd not seen anything like it since buffy stopped incinerating vampires. 'slow cooker', more like 'quick molder', eh? the edges of this former cake still seemed a bit edible, i thought dumping chunks into the garbage can.

sometimes i wonder if there is a such thing as a too laid back lifestyle?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

huffing graham cracker crumbs ...


when did i start to resemble an anime version of myself?

in first grade i was sick on jean day, one of the most important days on the school calander. jean day meant trading in plaid jumpers for a pair of size 6x jeans. shirts didn't have to be collared or white. throw a 10 cent box of lemonheads into my pocket and the day had the potential to trump halloween.

sometime before lunch i started to feel better. my mom curled the edges of my bowl cut, and dressed me in a white turtle neck with a light blue oversized button up work shirt over it. i kept it unbuttoned so you could see my tin-clip rainbow suspenders. she gave me a flat box of black licorice-flavored throat losenges, which were shaped like mini bodies of christ. [when i wasn't sick, i used these to play first communion with my friend allison.]

she dropped me off at the curb of the empty playground. running up the steps to the school i caught a glimpse of myself in the mirrored window of the faculty room. i looked pretty cool. inside, i felt like a hero, prancing into mrs. c's class, written off as sick, but better now with the day half-over. this would be my preferred version of a sick day for the rest of my time in school.

***

i hated being sick in high school, when missing one day could mean missing a tidal shift in the entire social structure. luckily, i had memorized the phone number to the pay phone in the lobby by the gym. at 2:10 p.m., i would call that number. someone would answer and seek out princess linda for me. she would pass the phone around and i could get immediate reports on every glance, inferred wink, lunchroom gaffe and rumor that had occured over the past seven hours.

***

today i am on the mend.

i managed to not get sick when chuck was, even though he got his germs in my hair and in my ears when we were sleeping. no, i got sick because on friday night i went to a house party at sicker mcsickersteins house of the viral spore. an innocent game of cranium infected first my throat, then my head.

the inside of my nose feels like i was huffing graham cracker crumbs. and sometimes it flakes out of my eyeballs.

THINGS I'VE INGESTED TO MAKE THIS PROCESS GO MORE QUICKLY
red machine naked juice
power c naked juice
chicken dumpling soup from erberts and gerberts
upwards of 62 ounces of water a day
australian yogurt
garlic in its many forms
two doses of theraflu
28 honey-lemon cough drops
four dosages of two advil each

Monday, March 10, 2008

goo from a can of raviolios ...



last week i got my own car back from the fixers, ate mediocre chimichangas and remembered that if one's achilles tendons hurt, she should consider incorporating stretching into her workout. i sang along to "baby please don't go" by chicago and had a dream about tori spelling.

DRINKING
synergy, gingerberry: pretty bottle, demon drink. it has a very yeasty smell, and at room temperature tastes like dirty socks. i was a little worried about the warning on the label that, because it is fermented, it could contail .05 percent alcohol. so, much like o'douls, if you accidentally drink 25, you could probably get wasted. i'm kind of glad i don't like it because it costs more than naked juice.

brew52, lake superior special ale: i've always thought this beer tasted like fresh air.

FOODS I MAKE
mock green papaya salad, via vegetarian times: i spend thirty minutes grating green apples for this mix that included onions, lime juice, garlic, curry paste and soy sauce that sits atop watercress or arugula [or, in my case, mixed greens.] it tasted fine. nothing too hot. although, this version from recipezaar looks better, and i like the idea of eating it with chicken instead of just greens.

LISTENING TO THIS WEEK
the new amsterdams, at the foot of my rival: this marks another shift in my music listening. this is a very college radio band, by the old definition of college radio. it reminds me a bit of the gear daddies. definitely of the two years i spent following martin zellar around southeastern minnesota. i like "silverlake" and "lost long shot." here is a pretty bad version of "story like a scar." this band came to me via 'one tree hill.'

dresden dolls: i've talked about this band before, but i've had another surge in fandom. as a person who could reasonably go the rest of her life without seeing another large venue, live show [i'd make an exception for prince], i hate to picture a world where i do not see this punk cabaret band perform. they are heavy on piano and fishnets, with creative quirky lyrics ala the smiths meet anais nin. favorites include: my alcoholic friends, and mandy goes to med school.

MEALS TAKEN IN PUBLIC
guadalajara, superior, wis.: my chicken chimichanga was meh, my seven dollar margarita was meh and the deep fried ice cream would have been good if it hadn't been stuffed in a cryogenic freezer during lincoln's presidency. but the bus ride was fun. and the guacamole was good. but really, i'd eat my arm if i was wearing avacado-flavored deoderant. i'm not sure what chuck had, but the only part he liked was the sauce, which he said tasted like the goo from a can of chef boyardee raviolios.

MOVIE PROJECT
"super troopers" 2002: the first time i saw this movie it was 8 a.m. and i was on a bus with about 25 sleeping 20 year old boys and i had to squinch my mouth shut with hilarity tears so i didn't wake anyone. right meow, i can get through it with mere chuckles.

"my life without me," 2003: a poor man's 'beaches.' i failed to understand some of the dying 23-year-olds motives. like the thing with mark ruffalo? but if you're looking to involuntarily bleed snot ...

READING
"the uses of enchantment" by heidi julavits: a high school field hockey player is either abducted or an abductor, when she disappears for a few weeks ala an older student from the school who faked her own abduction years earlier. the novel follows through storylines: what may or may not have happened in the time she was gone, present day when she returns home after the death of her mother, the notes of the doctor who develops a psychological theory based upon a loose version of the story the girl isn't so much telling, as inferring.

unfortunately, i spent a lot of time with no idea what the hell was going on, toeing the fine line between eagerness at learning more, and annoyance because i couldn't learn more fast enough. whatever. i gave it three stars. i'm willing to give this writer another shot because of her ties to the incestuous, albeit intreguing, dave eggers literary posse.

"story telling" by tori spelling: like you, i hated donna martin for the first few seasons of 90210. mostly because she has really weird cleavage, and no one ever talked about it. picture a cutout area the shape of a squash, with its round bottom sitting on her chest. tori spelling's cleavage. this never detracted from her popularity at the fictitious beverly hill's high school. if she'd gone to my high school, everyone would have called her ole squash boobs and filled her locker with vegetables.

however, i grew to like her in later seasons and when she was making tv movies, she was making exactly the kind of tv movies that i liked to watch. i watched "so noTORIous" last winter and absolutely loved the show. it was hilarious.

i kept hearing it billed as having some super big secret, and i'm not sure what that was. i, for one, didn't know that she was on again off again with brian austin green while she was on the show. [she also says that everyone in the cast of 90210 hooked up with everyone else in 90210. i'm glad i never saw the after effects of mr. walsh and andrea zuckerman.]

i'd have liked to see more about 90210 ... that segment ends quickly and with a sentence that gave me goosebumps: the tenth season would be 90210's last.

she also spends a lot of the book driving home the point that her mom is cold and a control freak. the book is fine. pretty watered down and often repetitious. i think "so noTORIous" -- which was based loosely on her life -- was a more entertaining version of her story.

that said, i remain a fan and when chuck wasn't looking i programmed tivo to record anything with her name on it.

SNACKING
archer farms wasabi and honey potato chips: yum. as a person who uses sushi as a wasabi vessel, here wasabi is the vessel for salt. if only there was a way to incorporate cheese ...

Sunday, March 9, 2008

like all 24-54 year old women ...

recently a local radio station switched formats. they dumped all their fergie and justin timberlake, irreverant morning show personalities and booming repetitious kia commercials in favor of the likes of lionel ritchie -- who incidentally ushered in 92.1 FM's format change with one of my personal favorites: "hello." 92.1 FM is now a soft rock station. while this song-choice is not nearly as punk rock as when KJ104 FM out of minneapolis reverse-evolved from joy division to the billy ray cyrus genre in 1992 -- signing off the former with REM's "end of the world as we know it" -- 92.1 FM's inagural song was a cute gesture.

i've never denied that i'm a bit of a lionel ritchieist.

when it comes to radio, i'm typically a public radio sort. not only do i enjoy the soft drones of a pledge drive and the way ira flato freaks on science friday, i also consider it one way of making sure i'm not standing in line at target, giddy about this lime green champion sports bra, when something big has happened out there in the world.

this format change on 92.1 FM may mark a format change in my lifestyle.

the first song i heard on the new soft rock 92.1 FM was "true" by spandeau ballet. the second was "i've had the time of my life," sung by bill medley and jennifer warnes. i've also heard: "stuck on you" by lionel ritchie, "faithfully," by journey, "in the air tonight," by phil collins, "you've got a friend," by james taylor and "i'll have to say i love you with a song," by jim croce. more recent soft rock instant classics have included: "unwritten," by natasha bedingfield and "she will be loved" by maroon 5.

this music reminds me of, in no specific order:

roller skating in my parent's unfinished basement; listening to the xanadu record with my head smooshed in a pair of my aunt's gigantic, futuristic headphones; a pair of jean shorts cuffed at the knee; waiting in the car for my mom to get groceries; seventh grade mixers. ballet on ice.

additionally, the format change marks the return of the nationally syndicated "delilah" show, where a soft-hearted creature channels kasey kasem's "long distance dedications," tugging listeners sympathy ducts with the equivilent of a soft-rock magic 8 ball: boyfriend falsely imprisoned for lifting twinkies from a pump 'n' munch? delilah can make you forget with "nothing's going to change my love for you" by glenn medeiros.

according to the new radio station, they have targeted a certain demographic within this format change: women between the ages of 24-54. granted, they have cast a pretty wide net -- or should i say maxi pad -- in determining their audience, but this is where i get uncomfortable.

i hate being part of a demographic. just because i'm between the ages of 24-54 doesn't mean i'm going to like that station. i do, but still.

i hate that if i pulled up at a stoplight next to the station manager and i was cooing along, bobbing my head to "rocket man" by elton john, the station manager would nod and say "yup. i knew it." i hate that they are right about me. i don't necessarily have the interests of a 24-54 year old woman. lean cuisines are geared toward my demographic and i don't eat them; unbridled enthusiasm for bed and breakfasts is probably a key interest of my demographic, but you don't see me walking around with creases in my cheek from a night of snoozing on a decorative pillow with "i'd rather be golfing" cross-stitched into it.

[i do, however, like creating profiles for certain demographics, and then getting all judgey mcjudgerstein about it. i wonder if that is standard practice for 24-54 year old women?]

Saturday, March 8, 2008

in the serene east hillside, woodland neighborhood ...







Friday, March 7, 2008

a superior telenovella ...



on the off-chance that we ingest enough margaritas to impair driving, chuck and i take the bus to superior, wisconsin, tonight for dinner at guadalajara. this restaurant may be located in the saddest place on earth: superior's mariner mall, which really isn't a mall at all. it's a speedwalking track framed by chiropractic clinics, that seemingly only one reebok'd woman knows about. she has the run of the place.

***

full disclosure here. i forgot to mention in yesterday's post that on thursdays i tend to eat the combined weight of a fleet of bison in restaurant food. like the whole world is my very own old country buffet and i have a golden fork. after my second strawberry fanta in a row last thursday, i burped and sneered at chuck: i'm trying to consume as many calories as possible.

so. yeah.

***

while we're waiting for our transfer bus at the holiday center, a man who will eventually be a busmate, is picking his nose and using his excavated findings to create art on the glass doors. it seems i was wrong when i hypothesized that duluth had just three types of people.

"it will be a miracle if i'm still hungry when we get there," i tell chas.

***

the tv in the bar is giving me political news and commercials in spanish. i'm trying to pick out words -- aside from 'clinton' and 'obama' -- that i recognize from a text book i read in 1993.

the ball is rolling. i'm vowing to myself that i'll relearn spanish via telenovella immersion. this is my new project. sitting cross-legged, back straight, in front of baby tv, repeating the phrases aloud:

"¡Pero juan, ella es mi hermana!"

"hola," the mexican bartender says, walking past as my reverie is taking shape.
"hola," i respond automatically, then inwardly groan.

while, in the early '80s, it was my mom who absorbed the texan accent of another hockey mom in any conversation that lasted more than four seconds, it was my dad who pulled out a british-pig latin hybrid when we were at the epcot center years later.

"'elo," an employee said as we toured a gift shop.
"hoi," my dad responded.

***


s'fire and ick-nay, vegans, join us.
"do the beans have lard in them?" s'fire asks our waiter, an ambivilent, lard-afficianado sort.
the waiter shrugs, pencil still poised, without realizing that this is an actual question and not an icebreaker.
"what, you don't like lard?" the waiter asks, incredulous, like maybe after work he's the sort of guy who likes to veg out on the couch and do lard shots out of his girlfriends naval and can't believe not everyone shares this proclivity.
"i just don't eat animal products," s'fire explains.
the waiter nods, confused, pencil still poised.
"yeah, i don't know," the waiter says.
the pause is palpable. it tastes like crisco.
"i could go ask," he says. not like he's going to, but like hypothetically if this situation were to occur in the future he would know what to do.
after some deliberation, cheese and sour creamless veggie fajitas are ordered.
"do you still want the beans?" the waiter asks.
"yes," s'fire says.
"'cuz i've never seen any lard back there," the waiter says confidently.
and here is where i picture a wooden keg -- a mis en place -- with the word 'lard' writen in cartoonish font on the side. a half-dozen cooks dumping ice cream bucket-fulls onto the grill, kneading it into their dry forearms, walking through it barefoot to cure callouses and sometimes doing that prank where they douse a friend with it in slow motion while the song "good vibrations" plays in the background.

the fajitas come with sour cream.



***

thankfully, ick-nay drives us back across the bridge, thank god since we'd chittered right through the last bus outta dodge. considering it took three hours to drink one margarita, i'm guessing my car could have been a reasonable mode of transportation.

***

then, finally, i get to have the moment i've been waiting for since i heard of its inception:


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

it's gettin' a little girlie in here ...

so, i can't lie. i'm a little like the goth girl from high school, carving anarchy signs into her trapper keeper and writing poetry about how prom is for sheep, and this school is filled with sheep, this archaic tradition is just an excuse for cheerleaders to contemplate upsweeps and tulle.

and then, when she doesn't get asked, she's not mad -- per se -- she didn't want to go anyway. but still, at least the guy with the eyeliner in her spanish class could have asked her. she'd have said no, but still.

i started running again in mid-december. with it came a whole new lifestyle: chuck says when we met i was a kitten he found eating out of a dumpster behind taco john's ... i haven't had super potato oles since summer; i gnaw so many vegetables that when i floss, i pull dirt from my molars; aside from valentine's day week, i rarely drink more than once a week -- and sometimes not even that; i go to the Y at least three times a week, but more often four or five.

i am doing some serious clean living. i've lost just four pounds.

five years ago i lost 30 pounds worth of natural light the course of like four months. i just stopped drinking at all. i worked out a little, but lived with the consumate hamburger helper chef and so indulged in a lot of liquid cheese and salt. this time, i didn't specifically start running to lose weight. but now that i've lost the equivilent of what most people flush down the toilet each morning, i'm a little insulted.

***
i won't lie. i like the idea of being able to stab an assailant with a hipchecked stab of my jutting hip bone. that it wouldn't take a flesh-cave spelunker to find this anatomical weaponry. but my top reasons for running again were along a different vein:

living in duluth, there are three different sorts of person you can be:
1. artistic: a guitar player or fan of guitar players. a painter or a fan of paint. a writer or a reader.
2. athletic: an outdoor sports enthusiast. runner, hiker, backpacker, kayaker, snowboarder, snowshoer, speedskater, sled dog racer.
3. in transit: a person with a two-year plan that ends somewhere near minneapolis.

and all of the above are drunks and most of them have dogs. but i digress ... i strive for No. 2 [this goes along well with polar fleece and recyclable shoes] and No. 1, minus the guitar.

i genuinely enjoy running. the drops of sweat that don't land in my eyeball, actually taste like salt & vinegar chips; when i catch a glimpse of myself in a reflective surface, my arm in motion looks like the contorted arm of a rubber doll; it's a good way to obsessively listen to the song "mr. brightside"; it gives me an excuse to limp, wear leggings, and be self righteous about nonrunners. and afterward, my body smells like used hockey equipment left in a damp basement. you just can't bottle that shit.

i like the physical possibilities of a body that is in shape: the cartwheels, the impromptu soccer matches, and the flippy bar tricks.

i genuinely believe that if i run enough, my last bastian of unhealth -- the smoking -- will cure itself.

so maybe i'll drop a few pounds, eh?

***

the number i'm at feels like a score, in a golf way. if i, hypothetically, had been hitting the driving range a few times a week since mid-december and my score didn't improve it wouldn't matter to me that i was driving a lot further and that my chipping accuracy was up to 80 percent. eventually, i would probably wrap my 5-iron around a tree, make it rain a 24-pack of pink titleists, strip out of my plaid knickers, my nike sun visor and start playing tennis.

in keeping with the golf metaphor, i feel like my handicap should have improved by at least seven, eight strokes by now. not to mention that i've always wondered what it would look like to be about 15-under-par. just for a few days. or even minutes. just long enough to watch a grape squinch through my throat, and veer toward my stomach. a tiny bleating bulge in my skin as it moves slowly through my intestines. just for the sake of science.

and this is stupid to even talk about. i can tell my body is different. i'm not, like, shopping at gap kids, but i'm also not going to suffocate chuck with arm wing fat if i accidentally fling my arm across his face in the night.

BUT THE NUMBERS AREN'T CHANGING!

"but muscle weighs more than fat," jcrew is obligated to say. this is a trite greeting card we pass back and forth.

"isn't it enough," chuck asked, "that you're able to run further and faster than four months ago?"

it would be. if further and faster was a smaller number.

bring it ...

plan a: one episode of 'one tree hill,' an egg and everything bagal breakfast, two pots of coffee, a long, long run, doubling back to the benetton sale, hunting the city limits for fashions last seen on my seventh-grade body followed by three loads of wife beater-fused laundry and giving the refrigerator a bleach bath.

or plan b: this four-day headache, dizziness and nausea that can only be cured with parmeasan cheese with a sprinkle of angel hair pasta on top of it turns out to be a living, breathing sick and i spend the day testing the limits of a pair of pajama pants, zonking in and out of sleep, flipping through 12 back issues of the new yorker, injecting thera flu into the webbing between my toes, playing 78 point words in scrabulous and praying for a "mother may i sleep with danger" repeat on the lifetime network.

it's win-win.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

redefining courtesy ...

the first time the battery died on my "courtesy" car, i blamed myself. since the radio didn't automatically turn off with the nova, i figured i must have accidentally left it on when i last parked. i like to cruise around busting out the bass during "talk of the nation" until i fall into a doughey and pliant state of zen known as the neal conan trance. forgetting would be so easy under those circumstances.

this meant walking two miles to the YMCA, then getting picked up by my landlord in his flashy albeit unseasonable pink sebring convertible, and brought back to the not-so-super nova.

the next day, when the battery was dead again, i wondered if i had accidentally hit the radio button when i got out of the car. if my 40 pound backpack or 30 pound purse or 25 pound head had grazed the button. perhaps a passive attempt to conjure neal.

once again, my landlord came zipping up the street in the sebring. this time he mumbled something about wanting to look at the engine, check some wires, but all i took away from this suggesting was the sound of grunting and his paws stained with oil and the mavericks cooing from a boom box in the back seat of his car. i said "nah. i think i've got it covered now."

today when the battery was dead i decided i was driving a bona fide piece of shit. i sat in the drivers' seat, mocked by a no-smoking sign on the dashboard, unable to elicit even a gasp from the engine. courtesy car, my ass. it's the least courteous car i've ever driven -- i don't care what they have stenciled on the door. i could stencil "karen carpenter" onto the small of my back and it doesn't mean i'm going to call a grape dinner and have the voice of an angel.

a college-aged neighbor boy -- probably one i've narked out to the fuzz -- got home just in time to jump it this time. it was a cold and clinical transfer of battery power. all i know about him is that he had just gotten home from class, thought he might know how to jump a car, and had a loaf of white wonder bread in his back seat.

it was the "might" that worried me. i didn't want to still be picking shards of the courtesy car out of my cheek bone next thanksgiving.

he got it started and i took the car immediately back to the auto body shop and traded it in for the gold version of the same car. they didn't seem surprised that it had died three times.

"batteries die," was the response.
"but what about 'courtesy'?" i wanted to ask.

this car has a more streamlined version of the logo and three no smoking signs. the alingment seems a bit off. when the car guy asked if i had filled the gas tank before returning the other car, i reminded him that every time i took the key out of the ignition, the battery zapped dead. i gave him a bit of that "batteries die" action.

i can be courteous, too.

Monday, March 3, 2008

jamaican me crazy ...


here we are at the post-triathlon party at the YMCA. cake, carrot sticks, and mesh victory shirts. you probably thought i was kidding when i predicted they would be decorated with a potato on a treadmill. ta-dah! my -- unbenoticed by me until now -- super tall friends the greeter (left) and f. scottie (right) also won. as for me? i'm standing like a scoliosis patient. and this photo does not accurately convey my hybrid. up until the flash, i was wearing a hat.

this past week the battery on my courtesy car died twice, and i was one of the last three people to see a certain deer alive.


FOODS I MAKE
chickpea tacos (via vegetarian times): mexi-med fusion food. mashed avacado, add a can of chickpeas, garlic, salt, pepper and lemon juice as a meat substitute in your taco, taco salad, burrito. i'm going to make a wop of it in a giant metal garbage can next time i have a "my super sweet 16 marathon."

tofu custard with fruit (via vegetarian times): two packages of firm tofu, one cup of powdered sugar, a shot of vanilla. food process. pour into graham cracker crust, top with fruits. chill for two hours. nothing would please me more than to make this for a pista family gathering, see looks of glee morph into sheer terror when someone spots an empty tofu container in the garbage can.

MEALS TAKEN IN PUBLIC
the whistling bird: now that chuck has a new car, we are no longer confined to the city limits. [no one wants to ride more than four consecutive miles in the passenger seat of my rig.] it's quite liberating. the restaurant's entire parking lot -- in gilbert, minn. -- smelled so good that i wished i could eat spoonfuls of air.

we got a great cozy alcove booth in the bar. like all bars should be in basements, all meals should be taken in alcoves.

i went with the house favorite because, when in gilbert, do as the jamaicans. i had island coconut chicken that was good, but chuck won with the jamaican jerk pork tenderloin. silver dollar sized chunks of pork wrapped in bacon with a jerk bbq sauce that was very salty and sweet and also amazing on my sweet potato fries. i bet if i put some on my finger, i'd accidentally ingest my own digit. for dessert: deep fried cheese cake. like the county fair exploded, without the acid washed jeans.

for the rest of the night, "jamaican me crazy" to the tune of OMC's "how bizarre" was stuck in my head.

MOVIE PROJECT
"mary reilly" (1996): julia robert's invents an accent, taking subtle cues from irish peasants and louisiana hair salons. john malkovich proves, again, to be a great physical comedian in this different perspective on the jekyll and hyde story. a scene involving the skinning of a life eel made me queasy.

"a life less ordinary" (1997): cameron diaz is spontaneously kidnapped by a desperate, recently unemployed, newly single ewan mcgregor. they fall in love to the tune of tequila shots and "beyond the sea" karoake. i think life needs more bartop choreograpy. but not to the level of, like, moulin rouge. i hate pagentry.

"gods and monsters" (1998): a loose bio pic about the director of the frankenstein movies at the end of his life. he passively seduces a young heterosexual lawn boy -- brendan fraser, who seems in this movie to be an amalgamation of 99.8 percent of my exboyfriends -- by saying things like "no i'm not attracted to you! you're gross. now take your shirt off, please. so i can draw you. it's for the art." while not exactly a comedy, per se, this movie is pure hilarity.

"friends and lovers" (1999): chuck: "what's this about?"
me: "i don't know, let me check. ... um."
chuck: "let me guess, a bunch of friends get together for a weekend--"
me: " blah blah 20 somethings on a ski trip ... um, yeah."

at least four times this movie was so terrible that i recoiled in embarrassment. there goes that baldwin family's standard of excellence.

"waydowntown" (2000): senior year. homeroom. i sit in front of no. 17. on days when i am not late, he tells me the plot line of what happened on beavis and butthead the previous night. he can hardly get through it without erupting in laughter. most of the time, i've seen the episode and found it kind of funny. but something about no. 17's description makes it funnier than it was. i decide to rely on his take, and stop watching the show.

if i explained the plotline of "waydowntown" to you, it would be impossible to make it sound bad -- so sound is the premise: four office workers have a bet to see who can stay inside the longest. they live downtown, they work downtown. everything is connected by skyway. the movie starts at the one month mark and takes place over the course of a day. sounds awesome.

wrong. it's okay. the sort of movie that a 24 year old hipster would watch and then make deep, stoned arguments about: corporate america [although its canadian]; ants on an ant farm equals office workers in a skyway; blah blah blah. this movie really wants to be pretentious, but isn't done well enough.

"zoolander" 2001: you've probably seen this. i have 17 favorite parts that i'll spare you.

ONLINING
i read a lot of blogs. a lot. an empty google reader makes me edgy and desperate to the point of reading the rochester post bulletin online. this is my most recent favorite. j-money writes dr. phil episode overviews in haiku and can run 20 miles at 7:44 pace. and very funny.

READING
the soul thief, charles baxter: whoa. this is like a mirror looking into a mirror looking into a mirror -- which is funny, because i forgot that there is a scene where this happens early in the book. i'm not sure what to think. the gist: nathanian mason becomes absorbed into a new group of friends, falls in love with two women and in the meantime is having his life story stripped away and claimed by the creepy jerome coolberg.

the end is a sort of punchline.

i'm not sure that plot will ever really matter in a charles baxter novel. i read "feast of love" years ago and all i remember is that i loved it. i couldn't name a single plot-point beyond a man going for a late night walk. i'm pretty sure that happens in the first chapter. but he writes great sentences. and mini stories within stories. and hypotheticals.

i gave it five stars on goodreads.

TRIATHLONING
i finished the YMCA's couch potato triathlon and decided the whole experience was like an episode of wife swap. i left the safety and comfort of my home [the treadie] to try living in a new place [among the callous keistered bikers and chlorine marinated swimmers]. sometimes it was fun. sometimes it made me want to drown humanity. but now i get to go back to my happy place -- hello, treadie. lessons were learned: i can swim if i have to and biking isn't a terrible form of cross train.

TV
quarterlife: a vlogger tells the internet intimate details about her roommates and friends. her friends find out about the site. meanwhile, she loves him, he loves his best friend's girlfriend, his best friend is probably cheating on his girlfriend with a car saleswoman ... cast includes the aforementioned vlogger, an alcoholic actress, three film geeks working in advertising, and a one-dimensional girlfriend who's only job seems to be creating sexual tension. pretty cliche: my so-called life meets thirtysomething meets teen soap operas while dressed in hoodies and chuck taylors. i could watch this. hopefully its monumentally disappointing premier numbers don't send it spiraling back to myspacetv.