Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Dinosaurs ...

Our Internet broke, which means everytime I walk in the front door, it is like I'm on a fieldtrip at a pioneer era school-house.
My only means of interaction with the world is this phone. Just like Laura Ingalls used to do. If using my phone as my primary computer has taught me anything, it is that I don't forsee a kindle in my future. I can barely handle reading a 3 paragraph blog post, let alone the complete works of Tom Clancey.
Last night I almost blogged with a pencil and paper.
Instead I did a hodge lodge of cleaning: putting away laundry cleaned 3 weeks ago, throwing away birthday cards from last august ... All sorts of stuff civilized people do every day. Then chuck came home and sublimated Internet with an accelerated cleaning frenzy.
I wonder what the inside of my car would look like if I quit the Internet?
PS: I hate that my phone makes it hard to not properly punctuate and spell. Charm sucker.

Monday, March 30, 2009

gnocchi oh. ohhh oh ...

this past week i bought groceries, left one of the bags at the store, and the next day returned to retrieve them. the grocery store people let me just wander through the store, refilling my basket with the missed items.

"do you want to check my old receipt?" i asked a cashier, standing there with saltines, coffee and sandwich bags.

"no," he said. "but if anyone stops you at the door, just run."

okay.

in other news:

MAKING FOODS


potato gnocchi with butter and sage: making gnocchi is so satisfying. it costs about 13 cents and is a little gooey, but filling and easy. although, let this be a lessen to me: next time i make gnocchi, i need to remember to put spinach in it. otherwise it is this bland soft food with absolutely no zip. it's like eating gerbers carrots.

BEEN READING

Lowboy: A Novel by john wray: There is this moment in John Wray’s Lowboy where a character says to the schizophrenic hero: “Listen to me, Heller. You’re beautiful and you make me laugh and I want you to take me to that place that we just saw, but you need to stop saying things like that. They creep me out, okay? And you’re not creepy.”

And that completely sums up the experience of reading this novel, which spans roughly a day in the life of young teenager Will “Lowboy” Heller.

full review here.

Coin Locker Babies by ryu murakami: I'm guessing a lot of people wouldn't make it past the first sentence of Ryu Murakami's novel "Coin Locker Babies." On the other hand, it serves as a sort of litmus test: if you can get past that sentence, you can get through the rest of it. The gauged eyeballs, exposed brains that look like tofu, and part where a character takes a scissors to his own tongue.

This novel is the anti-coming of age novel. It's the story of Kiku and Hashi. Both were discovered stuffed into boxes and left for dead in coin lockers. They meet at an orphanage and forge a friendship through their shared survival. Kiku plays the role of fixer: he kicks some asses and becomes really good at the pole vault; Hashi is more timid. And when he leaves home to find his birth mother, he lands in an uninhabitable area in Tokyo called "Toxitown" where he sells his body to men, and eventually meets one who can help further his career as a singer.

review will be here.

MOVIES
Vicky Cristina Barcelona: one way to completely nullify the effects of two attractive women with pretty hair: make them sound exactly like woody allen. i'm not sure if this is a testament to allen as a creator, that scarlett johanson's voice even sounded like his, or if it is a gaping hole of hubris. funny movie, but the sounds of a neurotic old man? totally distracting.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

the things you don't tweet ...

recently i was reading a post by someone who uses twitter, and said now she always, in her head, narrates her life in 140 characters or less. [i can't remember who's post this was, so i'm sorry i'm not giving proper attribution.] i find myself doing the same thing.

unfortunately, since the items i post to twitter also go to facebook, i have to really consider the resale value. i have more facebook friends than i have people who read my blog. and i'm guessing some facebook friends have a more touchy stomach than others.

i always consider one specific facebook friend: one of those nice men with a quiet life filled with outdoor activities and kids who go to colleges that don't rank in playboy's list of party schools. kids who graduate in four years and immediately get jobs and know how to wear a scarf. the kind of guy who probably doesn't want to know that i have cramps or that toonses is regular to a fault. it's because of him, and people like him, that i can't write things like:

until today, i've never really understood how someone could lose control of their bowels during a run.


or

i swear i just went to the bathroom, but there is no evidence in the toilet. that's not satisfying at all.

so some of my observations or exaggerations or fan fiction about the world around me have to go unrealized. ...

***

tonight i was standing on our deck and the street was quiet and i overheard two guys talking as they walked. they couldn't see me. first one said, about three times in a row: "i be the baby's daddy. ... i be the baby's daddy." and then expressed concern that someone was saying he was not.

this was funny.

it was not funny when he said:

"look at all these frat houses. it's saturday night ... they're empty. we could just walk right in. no one's home. it's saturday night! we should go home, drink some beer, come back and get our money."

this scared me shitless. and frankly, continues to scare me shitless as the night progresses.

Friday, March 27, 2009

try walking in this fashionista's shoes ...


for the fashion curious: today i had the opportunity to not only wear this home from the ymca, but also to make two stops in public before returning the room beneath the stairs where chuck keeps me locked up with a dirty mattress and a tin bowl half-filled with scum-covered water.

dirty cap from urban outfitters' 2007 collection [this smells suspiciously like a hockey helmet]

sweater from american eagle with a cowl neck that doubles as a dorito holder -- unfortunately i rarely notice the doritos until hours after i think i've finished them. more unfortunate is that i haven't found a hat that can double as a guacamole holder.

off-white thermal that used to be white until i got all crazy and stood within a mile radius of coffee

champion workout pants that shrunk to an unflattering point of my legs. [let it be known that i'm a champion-brand champion. if champion ever needs a ridiculously average 30-something runner to strut around in their awesome bras for an audience of 30-something average runners who shop at target, i'd totally think about it before saying no.]

knee high suede boots that fortuitously start right where my pants end. nicely played, nicole brand -- whoever the hell you are.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

one ply toilet paper and bobby pins ...

the tampon dispenser is a white rectangular box. feed a dime into the crank, and the product rolls to an opening the size of a mail slot. yesterday i saw a dime stuck in the corner of the slot, thought "free dime!" and tried to dig it out.

retrieving a tampon is easier. it's circular, so despite the small space, there is something three dimensional to grab. a dime is more difficult: it's small and flat. i took off my ring to make my hand more aerodynamic and still the slot scratched my knuckles.

it's amazing how much time passed -- my hand flailing around. even a bit of pain at having jammed my hand in this space -- before i wondered to myself "what are you freakin' doing? it's a dime."

in my defense: i'd just used that dispenser. sacrificed a dime in exchange for a tampax: regular absorbancy. i can justify my behavior by believing that i was looking at it as a refund. a free tampon is better than a free dime under some circumstances. [although it's not like i could turn around and stuff a tampon into a vending machine as partial payment for a coke].

i briefly considered all the children who had broken their tiny limbs drying to grab a ho-ho from the bottom row of a vending machine. or had been crushed beneath one of those bulky feeders trying to shake free a dangling bag of cool ranch.

finally i eked the dime free and whooped. i took about two steps and twittered my victory, the message as usual went straight to facebook:

Just spent ten minutes digging a free dime out of a tampon dispenser. I realized this was pathetic about 4 minutes into it.



mostly i received strong support for going plus-10 on the day's expenses. but one response sucked the "win" out of my windfall. it came from le leche:

Are you talking about the one that's left in there in case anyone needs it? Shame on you.



i had no idea there existed this sort of woman-to-woman solidarity. this penny next to the cash register at the gas station. this code and this community: we're here to save your granny panties. in case of emergency, use this dime. replace it when you can so that another woman can be spared from macgyvering a sanitary napkin out of one-ply toilet paper and bobby pins.


other people must know this. it's not like an emergency would strike and a lady would stand in front of the dispenser wishing, wishing, wishing she had change for a quarter -- then notice the small dime tucked into the slot. no. you'd have to know it was there.

how did i not know about this? and what other similar luxuries are available to me?

derivatives of "shame" statements hit especially hard. i remember my kindergarten teacher mrs. miller, a mrs. butterworth type, arms folded across her chest saying the words "oh, for shame." shaking her head.

so a half hour later, i put the dime back. so now you know it's there.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

hot damn ...

yesterday i was taking off my running shoes and my left calve muscle clenched up and i screamed and mouthed the eff word. the face i was making, i've seen it in commercials featuring geriatrics. i sought solace in the face of the only other woman in the locker room.

she looked terrified.

i felt my leg, and it was thick and hard, like the throat of a snake swallowing a rat.
i limped around trying to remember what causes such pain: lack of calcium? lack of water? elliptical machines? taking my shoes off without untying the laces? previous crimes perpetrated against humanity? laughing at the misfortune of others? not running for three weeks? luck?

mother-effer that hurts.

today at the y, this grunt jumped off his treadie and did a neanderthal walk 20 feet to the disinfectant station. that bowlegged, practiced boy walk done by a guy who greets you with an inverted nod.

for the 9,000th time in my life, i thought: i'm glad i'm not dating one of those. i considered making a vimeo reenacting it as a cautionary tale to other men who are selecting the walk that will carry them well into their 30s.

i'm absolute horseshit at life balancing. i cannot run, read, write, and make delicious foods in the same day. i can run, read and make foods. i can read, write and make foods. it is the running and writing that refuse to coexist.

in other news, hot damn i love rainy weeks.

Monday, March 23, 2009

photos not available ...

last week i finally got back to reading and cooking and movie watching. it's amazing how much time one has when she doesn't run one iota. [i had to build some absence from the treadie to see if my heart grew fonder. ... and i'd gotten tired of everything on my running mixes. ... even you, bonnie tyler.]

FOOD PROCESSING


egyptian red lentil soup: vegetarian cooking confession: until this, i'd never used lentils in anything, which basically means i'm a total carnivore. but this soup was delish -- better, actually, the second day. stay tuned for when i start eating this for every lunch for a month straight. so easy, filling and delish.


cuban ropa vieja: this required 2 pounds of chuck steak, which is about 2 pounds more of steak than our frying pan has seen over the course of two years. chuck likened the slab to the thickness of a dictionary.

i invented a song called "meat party! meat party!" while it roasted in the crock pot.

so i took this hunk of meat and turned it into ropa vieja, which means "old clothes." which is funny, because as it cooked, it made my old clothes smell like ropa vieja.

good stuff. my yearly allowance of red meat wrapped in a tortilla. i'll make this again ... after i get the fur out of my teeth.


pomegranate-pineapple granita: this is like ice cream with this written on the label: >1 g fat.

mix unsweetened pomegranate juice, pineapple chunks, maple syrup and cinnamon in the food processor, freeze in ice cub trays, mush ice cubes up into snowy consistency, stuff into your face, love it. then eat something very salty for medicinal reasons.


HOW ABOUT A MOVIE?

"lost coast": hulu.com is showing indie flicks that scored at SXSW, including this story about two dudes who used to hook up in high school. one is now straight -- and a little homophobic; the other is gay and can't take more than four steps without playfully wrestling his friends to the floor. they are looking for fun on halloween night, but they seem to be the least-fun people on the planet. everyone gets a little moody remembering the romance of yesteryear. oh. and there is a dead body.

worst. movie. ever. lost coast? you give indie flicks a bad name.

Run, Fatboy, Run 2007: i have a new favorite actor. his name is dylan moran and he's got messy hair, i bet he smells like feet with undertones of booze and cigarettes, and he's hilarious. i liked him in the british sitcom "black books"; and now i know it's not a fluke because he turned something directed by ross-from-friends into pure hilarity. great, great, great movie.

i would very much like it if dylan moran would get ahold of eliza dushku and meet us for dinner some night.

HOW ABOUT A MOVIE AT A THEATER?

"taken" 2008: we only went to this in the theater because slumdog had started already and one of us doesn't subscribe to the 7-minute rule, which is: as long as you're at the theater within seven minutes of the start-time, you should still go to the movie. trailers always take up at least seven minutes. but, noooo. that doesn't matter to one of us.

[granted, this is how i missed the unfortunate zipper scene when i saw "there's something about mary" in the theater.]

god. "taken" was intense. i was audibly concerned for the well-being of liam neeson's daughter. but, he had some sort of CIA super powers and never lost or blinked wrong. he also had some of the hokiest lines i've ever heard uttered in a movie.

the most memorable thing about this movie: we were both dying of thirst so i ran out to get a coke and a water, and somehow got tricked into spending 7 dollars on liquids -- one liquid which turned out to be a pepsi. wanna feel old? bitch to your boyfriend about concession stand prices at a movie theater.

i felt like andy freakin' rooney.

BOOKIES
The Sky Below by stacey d'erasmo: Sometimes you end up sitting next to a stranger, who has your undivided attention for a few hours. She starts telling you a story in a low storyteller voice, using pretty phraseology and vivid imagery, and just went you’re kind of lulled into a word coma, she says something funny. You have to go back and rewind the line in your head, hear it again, laugh, and then continue listening.

Then all of a sudden, the storyteller goes a little loco. And you’re like “I was with you up until the point where the protagonist starts feeling for feathers growing out of his neck. And by the way: What the hell is he doing in Mexico?” She just looks at you, and keeps going. Puts the protagonist in a tree, wearing wings. Kills a little girl with bad teeth. He hatches an egg. And you feel a little misled because this was a good story. You trusted this storyteller to stay honest. But this deviation has you second-guessing everything she said, all those words you liked, two hours ago.

full review here.

for those playing along at home, i'm reading Lowboy: A Novel right now and i'm madly in love with it.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

i'll have what she's not having ...

i was at the wine store tonight looking for a just-better-than cheap white wine. my wine criteria is:

1. the first bottle should be in the $12-15 range;
2. the second bottle, which should only be penetrated in the case of emergency, should be $7.
3. the packaging should be pretty.

i grabbed a german wine for my first bottle. it was a brand that said to me "swedish pop duos" "go-go boots," men with shag haircuts slow dancing, and white leather couches. perfect.

this dewy coed comes hopping around the corner, retinas still mere slivers from the photo shoot at the DMV marking her 21st birthday. she's chanting "polka-dot. polka dot." i look at the bottle i'm holding:

polka dot.

i show it to her, and point to it on the shelf. i think she squealed, but i'm not sure because i didn't have my dog whistle.

"is it good?" i ask.
"it's sooooo good," she says. "but don't get the yellow label, that's gross."

she sashays, gum chews, flip flops down to the end of the row. points at a bottle and squeals again:

"berringer! that's the stuff me and [whoever] were drinking that one night! weee! it was soooo goood!"

that's when i put the polka dot back on the shelf. i'm no wine snob. but something told me i didn't want to have what she was having.

Friday, March 20, 2009

no reason to ever be stupid again ...

at first i felt like a total fraud for having an iphone. it's this clunky plastic wrapped in an obnoxious hot pink rubber skin, and with my first greasy finger print i'd marred it aesthetically so it no longer looked like the phone in the commercials. plus, we all know that i'll eventually drop it in a toilet.

pulling it out of my pocket felt show-offy. like oooohhhh, look at my iphone, i can change my facebook status from the fitting room at american eagle.

lilgrl: Smuggling crisco into American eagle so I can try on skinny jeans
3:05 PM Feb 21st from twitterrific




it's not like i needed an iphone. hell, i barely need a phone. i blew my idle-chit-chat allowance in high school, and now i'm perfectly content to hear about people's lives on their blogs, and listen to the voices in my head. and if you want to know about the minutia of my day: it's all here on blahblahblahler.blogspot.com.

jcrew: do you want to see my photos from italy?
me: i saw them on facebook.
jcrew: that was just some of them. i have my photo albums--
me: [rapid blinking]
me: can't you just put them on flickr?
jcrew: you can just look, i won't explain them to you.
me: [awkward silence]

ever since i got trapped on my parent's itchy paisley couch, listening to my mom's story of her "pilgrimage" through italy:
stone by stone,
saint by saint,
priest by priest,
stained glass window by --

my pavlovian response to "do you want to see my photos from italy?" will look like that scene from the afterschool special where helen hunt gets hooked on the drugs and goes hardcastle & mccormick through a window.

i didn't need an ipod, either. i have a cute little nano, filled with songs i don't listen to. and as far as i can tell, the iphone as an ipod hoovers the life force from the iphone.

so here i am with my piece of technology, feeling a little uneasy. until i used the map to find one of those small northern minnesota towns you hear about and drive through but can't remember where you saw it.

pike lake who?

the GPS: led me straight to the spot. in fact, it showed my movement along the map. this also came in handy huge while we were in LA.

sweet.

lilgrl: See mr. [redacted]? I knew I'd never need to know how to read a map. #gps
13 days ago from twitterrific

the camera is far better than my actual camera, even without having a flash or zoom or a special icon with party hats and fireworks:



the constant internet presence means i have no excuse for stupidity. scene: four people standing around in the bar at pizza luce. no one can remember what band johnny thunder was in.

huzzah! i yank out old pink and clunky, a few clicks on wikipanion later: new york dolls.

the phrase "i wonder ..." has become obsolete.

but my favorite thing is the shazam, an app that allows me to stand in the middle of abercrombie, push a button, and find out which swedish pop duo is going to try to coax me into buying 60 dollar sweatpants, self tanner, winter flip flops and spontaneously rolling eyeballs.

song: sunshine in the rain
band: BWO
do you want to buy it?: hm ... maybe later.

i did that again tonight in the car while listening to college radio. i felt very secret agent lady.

song: walking on a dream
band: empire of the sun



so i don't know. suddenly i'm hooked on all these things i didn't rely on three months ago that make my life easier and fill it with a never ending stream of information. so when i finally drop it in the toilet and can't afford a new one and get stuck with a 20 dollar nokia flip phone from a cereal box, i'll always feel like i'm camping. suck.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

iSee ...

me: it just seems weird to picture an 8-year-old with an ipod touch. it seems like such a huge piece of technology ... but i suppose it's just an ipod, with games.
chuck: ... is it because when you were her age, you were using a needle nose pliers to change the channel on your tv set?
me: oh. yeah.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

SPF 45 ...



some days it sure is fun being a green eyed, red haired freckle-face with blueish skin tones.

Monday, March 16, 2009

rancid, expired swill ...

oh, let's see. in the past week we went to los angeles, but saved the real rock star antics for duluth. in other news:

THINGS MADE IN THE KITCHEN NOT BY ME

french onion soup: this time with fresh beef stock, instead of that rancid, expired swill i tried to use last time!


caprese omelet: chuck made this omelet to match the one i had while we were on vacation. so. darn. yum. just tomatoes, basil and mozzarella cheese. so fresh.

PRODUCT ENDORSEMENT

jupina: pineapple soda. fantastic. not for calorie counters. this bad boy has 200 in a can.

MOVIES
Choke: this movie is great. chuck palahniuk has such great stories -- in this one, that guy who seduced drew berrymore with scrabble and shake n bake in charlie's angels, is a sex addict who works as a historical tour guide and is trying to learn more about his childhood from his dying, drug addled brained mother -- but his whole OCD tick gets really annoying after threeish books. it's so much nicer when someone comes along and translates what palahniuk would have said if he didn't have tourettes.

Let The Right One In: this vampire movie is pretty hokey, and the cheesy english translation from swedish puts it on a par with 1970s kung fu. but it is a necessary watch, if only for the cat attack, and the epic finale.

Shopgirl: we rented this so we could have another glimpse of LA. i remember loving the book and the movie. this time there was an overriding creepy factor that i'd either repressed or forgotten or not noticed before. fan fiction-wise, i like to think that steve martin wrote this as an elaborate apology to the 22 year old he seduced when he was in his mid-50s.

READING
ANNA KARENINA by tolstoy: There are two ways to read Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina: in a dead sprint, where you try to cram as much of it into your brain as quickly as possible before you lose steam, or you take advantage of the tiny, bite-sized chapters, and read a piece a day for the rest of your life.

I fell somewhere closer to the former. But it wasn’t fast enough to hold my attention. Parts charmed me and I cooed and clutched the book and made jokes like “Oh, he’s a total Vronsky,” then when I slowed down I got bored and started to resent any paragraph that included politics or the word “peasant” or “Levin.”

full review here.

TV
the city: this is a micro look at the 20s dating scene. this could just be crappy editing, but it's pretty accurate either way:
1. jay doesn't tell whitney that he's going on tour [doesn't want drama];
2. jay tells whitney he's going on tour, but first gets mad at her because he assumes she's going to be mad at him because she won't trust him while he is touring [which is true. she won't. but she shouldn't.]
3. instead she gets mad at him for not telling her earlier.
4. jay continues to be mad at her for not trusting him. [she hasn't said a word about not trusting him.]
5. whitney tells him he's not listening.
6. jay goes stoney cold and says "how can you say that?" and acts hurt.
7. thankfully, they break up.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

vatican three ...


the most delicious part of having been raised catholic is the mcdonalds' filet-o-fish and shamrock shake combination that the pope insists his people consume on friday's during lent.

this is one of two catholic doctrines that i continue to practice. [the other is that when i wear khaki pants with a collared shirt, i feel like i am in dress code. but because my shirt is not tucked in, i'm in violation of said dress code].

i only allow myself the luxury of the filet-o-fish/shamrock shake once during the month of march. with fries, this meal is upward of 850 calories. this season, i waited until i was excruciatingly hung over to indulge: right this very second.

it. was. fantastic. i come to you with my sweatpants stained with globs of tartar sauce, minty breath, and a green tongue. my innards are teeming with catholic juice.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

laundromat bingo explained ...


this photo is called "as my clothes turn"

so before i go anywhere, i usually compile a general list of people i will run into at that location. today, on my way to the laundromat, it was something like:

* overweight woman in tight white leggings
* misbehaving children under the age of six
* hippie girl sitting in the corner reading [besides me]
* cute couple giggling over unmentionables
* someone eating something from mcdonalds

i didn't do so hot. i missed "man with underwear the size of a hammock and his disobedient service dog," and man with 14 pairs of jeans picking stray fabric softeners off the floor and mumbling to himself "people who throw things on the ground give me the willies."

but i got most of the rest of it right.

today it would be called laundromat bingo, but it is ever-changing. it could be called "rock the block bingo," "target bingo," "walgreens after midnight bingo."

tonight it will be called pizza luce bingo. i plan to see a handful of 25-35 year old men dressed in leather, yelping AC/DC and motley crue lyrics.

that's my whole card.

Friday, March 13, 2009

back alley liposuction ...



i made a grave error in not cleaning out the refrigerator before we went to los angeles. when we got back, it smelled like it had been moonlighting as an outhouse at oz-fest.

we could have grown sunflowers in that compost heap of rancid peppers, wilted scallions and liquified lettuce. beyond that, it was like a time capsule: ruinous jars of salsa, marinara, veganese ...

i dumped all of these things into a giant, sealed bowl, so that if the bag busted open before it got to the garbage can, it wouldn't look like i'd had back alley liposuction.



"would monsieur like some veganese with his pineapple salsa and olive marinara sauce?"



the finished product was too satisfying to go undocumented. we filled it with only new, unsullied food stuffs with expiration dates far, far into the future.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

oh the places you'll eat ...

so we are back from LA and it is a magical 9 degrees back in duluth. swear words. most of our time in LA was spent eating thai, japanese, vietnamese, cuban, mexican, italian and armenian food. our lone nod to USA came in the form of an in and out burger.

here i've cleaned out my cache of iphone photos:



some people think it's precious when their pet sits in their luggage and they attribute all sorts of complicated human thoughts to this miniature stink pot. "oh, look, honey! toonses wants to go with us to LA." i say, it's more like:


a) toonses saw an opportunity to annoy me when i'm awake, which is outside of the box for him; or b) he's afraid of my cartoonish training bras.



i thought this store at the minneapolis airport was an ikea. i need to bump up the prescription on my glasses, which will help me read better, but probably won't do anything to improve the part of my brain that thought that a traveler could be coaxed into buying swedish assembly-only bookcases at an airport.



chuck and i have a rule that if there is a window seat available, he gets it. he thinks he's winning, but that's because he never gets to sit in the middle next to a middle aged man from the east coast who spends three states berating himself for tipping the flight attendent $4 for a $3 sandwich.



i didn't really feel like i was in LA until we climbed up to the griffith park observatory. finally i was able to look down upon lauren conrad's kingdom and understand.

i finally got to try the infamous in and out burger. that's a crave that is hard to kick.


my sunglasses broke as soon as i got to LA, which a lot of people would probably think is a good thing. i'm not sure why i think my sunglasses should be bigger than my face. i think it's because of something mary kate and ashley olson did. i almost got these as a replacement, but cath gently coaxed me toward something that looked less like an old woman wearing a silk robe decorated with flamingos and a scrabble tournament.




this is what chuck would look like if he was a professional wrestler, super villian or in the band insane clown posse.




this is where i really started to notice that chuck was on vacation and befriending what he usually refers to as something like "demon sunlight."



this would be in the top 3 of foods eaten on our trip: a pastrami sandwich from cafe tropical in silver lake. the only way i could have enjoyed it more was if i was hung over.


this was a dessert from a cuban restaurant called florida that we went to on saturday night. it was like candied papaya with a layer of cream cheese. it was meh. they also put country time lemonade mix in chuck's margarita ... which was awesome.



arroz frito from florida. just cuban fried rice with some shrimp. and fried plantains, which i will be incorporating into every meal now that we are back.



our first night in LA, cath took us to this great thai restaurant called torung. it was totally delicious, totally inexpensive. i had red curry, which i drank like it was gatorade. the next night, after a few drinks, we ended up back at torung to soak up the suds. shrimp cakes and some sort of kabob. the next night, chuck and i went back to torung, and had more appetizers with the same intent.

sometimes people complain about intenstinal back log while they are traveling. let's just say that this food remedied all intestinal back logs from every trip i've ever taken. i can no longer look at the picture of the kabob without my colon seizing.





this is machaca con huevos from el conquistador, a mexican restaurant in silver lake. this also ranks in my top three dishes. meat and eggs coaxed past my trachea with the help of a pretty potent margarita.



when we were in chinatown, we ordered shrimp rolls from a vietnamese restaurant. we ate them too quickly to get a photo. they were good, but for some reason i couldn't look at them while i ate. the shrimp were layed in such a way beneath the thin skin of the roll, that it looked like dead shrimp caught in a frozen lake. i just had to coat them in peanut sauce and stare straight ahead.



a writer with palm trees as a back drop.


another view from the roof.


i had this omlet at a place called alcove in silver lake. it was fantastic. basically just egg folded over a cup and a half of diced tomatoes with mozzarella cubes and basil on top. holy night it was delicious.

we went to carousel for armenian food. i had falafel and bulgher. before the meal, we got a tray of olives, beets, carrots, cheese and cucumbers. there was no reason for a meal-meal after that.



there is something a little familiar about this mannequin. i felt like i was looking in the mirror.


back in st. paul, we stopped at queen of sheba for ethiopian food, before driving back to duluth. this strip-mall restaurant was teeming with men playing a game similar to pool, without sticks and elementary school-aged children who had the run of the floor. it was like a daycare.

somewhere between ordering and eating, they cranked up spongebob to rave levels on the big screen tv. the toilet was broken, there were no paper towels, the bathroom door didn't shut. the food was fine -- chuck said his tasted like it might have had hormel chili in it. i couldn't think about the food again until i knew it was safely planted in my gut with no chance to bounce back out.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

hollywood to-do list: complete ...


LOS ANGELES --
1. reenactment of the fateful events of october 31, 1993. check.

things comedians talk about ...

LA -- yesterday we took the subway to Chinatown, where I made the very adult decision that if I ever make mini pistas this is where their LA souvenirs would come from:

"you want this 50 cent yoyo and a 2 dollar coin purse? Sure thing, little rabbit!"

Then we went to Cuba libre for comedy -- although in the case of some of the performers, that would be comedy in quotation marks. I noticed some trends in material. Here are things comedians talk about:
Fat people
Rape
Booze and or weed
STDs
What it is like to br married and or single
How other cities are inferior

Everything was funnier than not.

Also, I found myself elbows deep in mrs. Roper-style wares at forever 21. Readers, I drank the kool ade.

Monday, March 9, 2009

can you see and wait for my stare ...

LOS ANGELES -- in the grand history of my life, last night might have been my greatest adventure to date. it started at a mexican restaurant where we caught a strong case of the fiestas! from a table filled with accountants celebrating an ultimate frisby victory to the tune of lethal margaritas.

machacas con huevos con tequila con oh-lay-oh-lay-oh-lay ...

we left a little dizzy and continued the party on cath's roof with a nice view of downtown LA and a neon sign for the motel we almost had to check into when we realized we were locked out of the apartment. cath in her tiger stripped slippers, wondering how they would withstand a subway ride into work in the morning. this excitement ended 13 minutes later when the building manager in a neon blue three-piece suit with a blue tooth leached around his ear let us in.

chuck and i wandered down the street to the white horse, a bar where bukowski allegedly used the corners as his own personal urinals, the stools as makeshift teeter totters and the women as drink holders. the bouncer was watching the movie "street fighter" on his portable dvd player. he paused briefly to welcome us to hollywood. this place closed ridiculously early, considering it was the bacterial breeding grounds for one of our nation's finest dipsomaniacs.



"i've come from a goth party on the corner," a man smoking a clove cigarette told me. "apparently the guest of honor is really into D&D."

from there we went to relax, a thai bar where i recognized from the tingy pop sounds coming from the speakers that there was the potential for karaoke. i asked our non-english speaking bartender if it was karaoke night, which i pronounce "kah-roh-key." she looked at me puzzled, and frowned.

"kare-ee-ohkey?" chuch asked her.
she beamed.

the selection of american pop songs left much to be desired. no fleetwood. no "let's hear it for the boy." no beyonce.

"mah-doe-nah! mah doe nah!" the dj suggested.
i selected "crazy for you" and began singing. the thai-to-english translation of this song was suspect:

"i see you through the spooky hair."
"it's always new."
"can you see and wait for my stare."

stuff like that. my quick glances at the screen were interrupted with my own giggles. i sang from memory, closing my eyes and pretending i was in the shower. to the left, a table filled with friends laughed and laughed and laughed. i got the distinct impression that if i spoke their language, i would hear a lot of bad things about myself.

when i finished singing, the DJ said to me "endless love?" he wanted to do a duet to a song i haven't heard since FM radio was invented. i explained to him through mime that i didn't know the song. by then we were on the second verse and i found myself breathing heavy sighs into the microphone"

"my. endless love."

the DJ followed up with the song "hello" by lionel richie.

the dj slapped chuck on the back and said "you sing." chuck said "nah ..." and the dj looked at him and said "you sing," more emphatically this time. by then the music for "hit me baby one more time," had started; chuck sprinted to the stage. chuck performed his growly punk rock version of the song.

this had the hecklers in a tizzy of giggling.



this was the alternative version of chuck's fannie.

from there, the stage was overtaken by an alternative version of myself: a thai woman in a green hoody, with a pony tail. dominating the stage with her take on thai pop songs. duets, solos, song after song after song. she was fantastic and i cheered her on, hoping the universal language of clapping would dull her table's desire to mock us.

"this place is like the thai-o," chuck said, likening it to the pio, a diveish bar where i spent about 3/4ths of my life savings and killed my common sense and built up a resistance for most communicable diseases for my first six years in duluth.

i decided to take a proactive approach and tried to ask the bartender, the DJ and the table o'gigglers what i could sing that they wouldn't make fun of.

"mah-doe-nah! mah doe nah!" he said.

i sang "papa don't preach" and the regulars ignored me instead of giggling. it was a nice change of pace.

***

having exhausted my money, i asked the bartender for an ATM. she wandered into a super secret back room to wrestle up the karaoke dj. through the door, we could see another layer of party, cigarettes and men. i like to imagine there was cigar smoke and cock fighting, too. but it was obvious that this was some sort of super-secret-party room where we were not invited.

the karaoke dj, who spoke the most amount of english: ATM and madonna, guided me out the front door of the bar and down two store fronts, ushering me into the building and pointing me toward a cash machine.

i didn't look at any signs. maybe that was on purpose. from the corner of my eye, i saw "lesbians" written on a small sign atop a collection of movies. i'd taken a wrong turn, and doubled back to another aisle, realizing that 30 male eyeballs were watching my every move. here, too, there was a secret back room. the growls made it sounded like someone was holding a t-rex in captivity. i quickly got my money and left.

back at the bar, i shook a finger at the DJ and said "sex shop!"
he gave me a quizzical look.
i immitated the t-rex and he smiled "yes! yes!"

soon the bartender stopped serving people who weren't in the special VIP room. she unlocked the front door and let us out on hollywood blvd. we needed something to soak up the liquid, so we stopped for the third time at torung, a thai restaurant with quite liberal hours of operation.

we shared two appetizers and stumbled back to cath's.
when i woke up, it was like i was trying to give birth to a litter of chinchillas.

***



we did other stuff yesterday: the museum of jurassic technology, the la brea tar pits and the LACMA.


i couldn't really get a feel for the theme of the first museum, but it had some cool stuff: small sculptures of a pope in the eye of a needle, two mice on a piece of toast, portraits of the dogs that had been in space.



it all ended in a room draped, but a little sunny and completely quiet. a woman was sitting, reading, with an afghan hound resting next to her. i wasn't sure if he was stuffed, a scarf, or a pet until i finally saw his stomach rise and fall.

"would you like some tea?" she asked us, filling three mugs.
we sat there quietly and drank it.
i'm not sure what any of this meant, but we all agreed it was straight out of a david lynch movie.

at the la brea tar pit, we saw a woolly mammoth mom sinking in the muck while her husband and baby watched from the shore. i've written up some dialogue to explain the conversation going on at this exact moment. i'm going to turn it into a play.