fredag, marts 30, 2007

Almost Home

We visited Lol's husband Ray's new office and found these decorative magnifying glasses. Weird.

Almost home. Long week, but rather productive (as I see it). Much good should come of it. Excellent.

Off to the PBI airport in a moment, then the CLT, then the MSP. Looking forward to seeing the Muse.

torsdag, marts 29, 2007

Miami Vice

The view from our dinner table just off South Beach last night in Miami.

Good fun last night after a long long drive to Miami from Boynton Beach and a long long day of meetings. It took two hours to get there, and that included four hideous back ups--I'm referring to traffic, hey--but the night drive home had far more manageable traffic and took only a little over an hour.

Exhausting day, indeed, but all-around quite educational and worthwhile.

(Dear Muse, if you are reading this, please know some of the folks I was with tried in vain to get a pedicure because they dearly wanted a guilty escape during the work day. Alas, the appointments couldn't be made. Your news of indulging in one was a thing of envy here.)


I had that moment of business travel vertigo when one thinks of where one is yet cannot quite believe it. It isn't because you think, "Hey, look! I'm in Miami!" It's that you think, "I'm in Miami, yet I'm indoors. All day."

For a spell, it's no different than being back in the conference rooms of Bismarck or Reno or anywhere else you may have bunkered down and TCBed.

The engineering nerd in me could not help but photograph a landfill because it is the only type of hill you'll find in South Florida.

Escape was needed, so in the evening a good group of us went to South Beach and ate at a place called Mango's. It was, to say the least, a revealing establishment.

Good god...but good fun. We had a cluster of tables right along the road so got to enjoy snipets of the bar dancing (literally, dancing on the bar; both men and women employees took scantily clad turns dancing to the Latin music), some hot hot cars (including the bar owner's Bentley parked next to us), great weather, and plenty of people-watching.

There was even a bathroom attendant, though this practice seemed sorely out of place there and even the attendant seemed to wear an expression of, "If Fate is to place me in the loo, why is it Mangos' loo?"

For a moment, I was a citizen of Miami.

Drank mojitos and ate an avocado-chicken wrap. Good stuff and good stories all around. I must write more about Miami some day--it was such a curious place--but not today.

tirsdag, marts 27, 2007

Humpty Was a Foodie

Digital Underground's "Humpty Dance" has been in my head this week.

It's odd to think that a group--let alone a rap group--putting out an album titled Sex Packets can get anywhere with a band member who wears a Groucho-esque nose and glasses in all public appearances.

Perhaps a Hard Rap Cafe will one day emerge and you can marvel at Humpty's fake nose and Flavor Flav's clock behind glass as you eat a bacon burger and listen to old Def Jam tracks.

(I do miss having a copy of Def Jam's 4-disc anniversary album.)

And might I just remind you all that 2Pac was part of Digital Underground? It's sort of like imagining Justin "Bring Back Sexy" Timberlake as a childhood dancer on a Disney glee club show. And then you wake and realize it hadn't been a ridiculous dream afterall but the ridiculous life you're living.

But I suppose Humpty wasn't kidding when very early in his self-titled dance song he warned us that he's "about to ruin the image and the style that your used to." Indeed.

The Foodie Emerges

A further inspection of the song reveals that Humpty wasn't just a braggart about his sexual exploits, asanine dancing, and all-around craziness. He was also quite a foodie.

Exhibit A:
He notes that he's going to "drink up all the Hennessey you got on your shelf." (But at least we had fair warning.) This drink emboldens him, apparently, for afterwards he introduces himself--and proceeds to coach us on how to pronounce his name. ("Pronounced with an umpty.")

Exhibit B: While other rappers might be satisfied telling us they like their beats funky--Who doesn't?--Humpty takes us a step further. He proclaims, "I like my oatmeal lumpy."

Exhibit C: You thought only your bottles of Hennessy were at risk around this modern-day Gargantua? You'd be wrong, friends. He further threatens to "eat up all your crackers and your licorice."

Exhibit D: His attraction to food is so intense that he "once got busy in a Burger King bathroom." Good lord.

Exhibit E:
The lurid associations to food set in. He proclaims that his nose is "big like a pickle." He makes no clarification for the falseness of his stage nose, thus adding, I think, a dildo-esque line of thought.

Exhibit F: This isn't even the first Digital Underground tune in which his pants-splitting foodie interest is revealed. He takes a moment in his own dance song to remind us that in "Do Whatcha Like" he was "the one who sang, 'Just grab him in the biscuits!'"

Humpty = Foodie.


Too busy to write this week, but not too busy to update some scenes from this current Florida trip. Welcome to Boynton Beach!

Big thanks to Ray and Lara for letting me stay in this wonderful home. I sat out for an hour last evening reading and taking in the late day sun--just ahead of watching a bit of Dancing with the Stars. Hey, mambo! Mambo Italiano...

mandag, marts 26, 2007

News from J & R

Big thanks to Ryan & Jessi for the update! Tiny Jordan Elise has arrived in the world and is already charming the hearts of millions.

J & R: You are missed here in Saint Paul. Get yourself some teaching gigs up here! We'd love to reimport you and this new babens.

On the Road Again...

Every office should have a baby for a mascot. We've got little Ryder, seen here with the Mom-E.

I'm in West Palm Beach working at the office, but I cannot brag about the weather to the folks back home (Saint Paul, Minnesota) for it's nearly as warm there. Good on ye!

Lol takes over.

And this is my baby: my con leche and the laptop set in the conference room with the AC cranked ostensibly to protect the server but really to protect my internal systems from overheating in this outrageous Florida air.

More soon.

fredag, marts 23, 2007


Last film seen in the theater: Casino Royale

Last film seen on DVD: Strange Brew

It's around 60 today. Everyone is spacey. The urge for an afternoon beer is strong.

I haven't seen any of Days or Passions for weeks.

Pieces of the British press today

1. A parsnip is the root of all evil
2. An all female, asexual creature with a 100 million years of diversity
3. And the Hogwarts Express received a beating (BBC) at the hands of what the Sun entertainingly called "yob kids"

Enjoy your Friday, ye good folk

torsdag, marts 22, 2007

Smash and Dash

Ah, bugger. One side of my car's rear lights was cracked last night in the side parking lot of the Dacotah Building on my block. The Muse and I had stopped at Frost for a nightcap after dinner at the Town Talk Diner--pretty good squash risotto and killer carrot soup. We'd stopped at Frost on the possibility of encountering our boy Hulles (who of late has parlayed his talent for lurking into a series of Chasing Windmills appearances).

No Hulles. After an hour, we departed. That's when we found my car with its smashed-in light and mildly loosened bumper. Dammit. After a bit we decided it would be best to get the report for insurance purposes. We called the police. Cool.

About five minutes later. A squad car rolls up to the corner. The officer looks over at us, I nod, he takes off--and goes right down the road to Fern's, where officers often take their dinner break. (Fern's serves large, affordable dinners that are usually pretty good. And they serve until midnight.) Fern's is within easy sight of Frost.

For an hour, I can see two squad cars there. We call the police again. The woman on the phone apologies and says there have been a number of emergencies in the neighborhood.

I hang up. Totally emasculated by the moment, I say, "More like an emergency on spicy meatloaf."

"You poor boy," the Muse says.

Another hour passes, and for half of it I'm watching a lone squad car at Fern's like a hawk. I'm convinced they're all down there on an extended dinner break.

"I know they've got to eat," I say, "but...but...."

What can I say? I'm at their mercy.

Finally, a very nice, wide-eyed officer shows, notes that the damage is probably going to be fixed for no more than the deductible anyway (Hence, "Can't we just let this go?") but after waiting two hours it seemed like a dumb idea not to just collect the official form and have it for a report, especially in the event something was actually wrong with my sweet sweet Altima.

The report was another 15 minutes. No biggie. The car runs as it has for ages. The basic lights (brake, blinker, and reverse) are still in view and functioning--but I've got a couple suspects and will be trolling the streets of Saint Paul in search of them.

Not even the sight of this sunflower takes the edge off my desire for revenge.

onsdag, marts 21, 2007

False Fronts

Wow. I knew Woody Harrelson only for his hemp love, his Woody Boyd stint on Cheers, and a number of movies (most of which I didn't see). But I didn't know his pops had been such a suspicious character.

For instance, he claimed to have been involved in JFK's assassination--this after denying a role in a federal judge's murder (and for which he was imprisoned). At what stage in incarceration does one begin spinning a larger tale about one's life?

And is that any different really than the stories spun by the rest of us out of cheekiness, impishness, loneliness, compulsive lying, embarrassment, nervousness, the hope of advantage, the sheer joy of embellishment, or as is so often the case the unintended kneejerk response to which we must make all other stories match?

I recall a comedian saying, "Did you ever see the film with Meryl Streep and the horse?" And the comic says, "Yes," then thinks, "What the hell do I stand to gain from this lie?"

The Italian Non-Soccer Star

In an Italian restaurant in Florida, during a very good dinner, a 75-year-old host told us numerous tales of his former life in Italy. This included being the only member of a particular Italian soccer club (Torino) not to die in the infamous Superga plane crash that killed the squad (4 May 1949). But looking up that incident, the survivor's name is not his. So why does he tell it?

Maybe he was on the junior squad and would never have been on the plane anyway. Or maybe someone had told him he might be called up. There are many plausible scenarios. But if he had no chance to be on the plane, why so many years later would it become a truth to him that he narrowly escaped death?

Or was it a way for him to reconnect with an emotional event from which he's long-removed? Or was it just a yarn to make one's restaurant experience that much more memorable?

The truth is a country from which we all emigrate and, conversely, in which we become immigrants.

tirsdag, marts 20, 2007


Sign of getting older: I'm celebrating getting an appointment with my CPA to finalize taxes on April 2.


The Henry Within

Henry's the smug one.

In the fall of 1998 I began a story with the words “Henry Burger was in doubt.” It wasn’t a good story, but it became an important one—to me, that is. Literature couldn’t give a damn, really. Even my writing director wrote upon it, “I’ve read this twice and still don’t know what it means. But I know it means something.”

At the time, Henry was in his 60s and the story’s original conception was something of an Americanized baby of Ionesco’s short novel The Hermit and Kurt Kusenberg’s short story “Meine Diebe” (“My Thieves”). You needn’t know either work. I don’t believe the latter has even appeared in English and am sure I can no longer understand its German.

Further confusing matters, Henry was in many respects a cousin of John Berryman’s Dream Songs poems.

I had big ideas then. I still do, but they aren't that outrageous.

So Henry was in his 60s. The story ran something like 60 pages. (I believe I edited down to 40 or so for handing it out to the workshop.) And while I never did anything else with that Henry story, and while Henry never had a thing to do with other workshop submissions, I kept on writing Henry.

Henry became an alter ego and creative partner. Whenever I didn’t know what to write, I started to write about my life but referred to myself in third person and by the name Henry. Soon, Henry would take over and fictionalize things. Soon, I lost track of the boundaries between us. I lost track of whose experiences I recalled, much in the way even an obviously fanciful dream can sit in the mind like a truth for a good spell.

The castle tour, the hawk you caught on your wrist. The beginning of an affair.

Henry grew younger. He became much more like me. (That was easier, I guess, than me trying to age 30 or 35 years to catch up to him.) He used to look like me but is now more of an Ichabod Crane. He's had money, been homeless, inherited a tidy sum. He's a shut in. He travels. He's uncontrollably happy. He's unhinged and suicidal. He rarely reveals anything about himself to others but they do to him. He tells himself stories about them, loses track of what he's invented and what they've told him. He feels forever in need of departure but finds himself, no matter where he is, greatly relieved to be home. He's in love with life. It crushes him.

Sometimes I think a good number of my secret smiles are Henry's doing. Henry isn’t talking out loud. He isn’t a voice moving around me. Let's not loose the medication. But he does seem to be part of a dialogue deep down inside my brain. He produces the cat-who-ate-the-canary grins. I’m sure of it.

mandag, marts 19, 2007

Geek Alert

I like this Jeopardy! news too much not to share. I like Jeopardy! There. I've said it (again).

Cheers, fellow geeks!

lørdag, marts 17, 2007

St Patrick's Day Images

As it's happening:


torsdag, marts 15, 2007

Against the Grain

Ahead of her family's arrival and my impending trip to Florida, the Baroness and I went out on a school night and feasted at downtown Saint Paul's A Rebours, which means "Against the Grain," I believe.

Glorious food! We drank cosmopolitans to start. (They were served with a rather refreshing twist of lemon zest.) We ate micro greens with goat cheese and blood orange slices. We ate steak diane and rack of lamb. We drank a gorgeous bottle of Jean Louis Chave Saint-Joseph--98% syrah, and with an acidity that evaporated shortly after pouring...I was stunned to taste wine that really did seem to open up; I'd thought that was just silly wine talk.

(Later, I realized that Chuck from Solo Vino was seated at the table next to us. Perhaps he sells some wine to A Rebours?)

And we finished it off by splitting a slice of ginger cake served with a raisin compote and a bit of lemon-buttermilk ice cream.

Dear god. Food like that....A Rebours was a wonderful experience. The server was intimidating in her knowledge of the wine list and the intricasies of the food (though we did wonder if her take on the "bacteria" argument revolving around fresh vs. farmed salmon was actually a miscue and she'd intended to say "mercury level"). The food was filling in that way that really well-prepared, well-presented, really really good food is--it sneaks up on you. You think you're eating a small portion. You eat slow. You talk too much. You cover your mouth when you laugh because there are other people trying to have conversations around you. You take another few bites. Suddenly, you know you've had too much. How did I get so full on what seems to be so little?

A wonderful night. And it afforded some photo opps later on...

The Jaded Scientists

Trying to Be Jaded

Never Jaded


tirsdag, marts 13, 2007

Photo Tuesday #2

My Euro 'hood finds itself unexpectedly on the cusp of spring and feeling sleep-deprived by the extended daylight due to an earlier onset of daylight-savings time.

It's another Photo Tuesday! Why? Because I've only time today to speak in 1000-word bursts. Some things that have happened:

My sister had a birthday!

I ate the gang dheng--AGAIN. I think I order that 99% of the time I visit Pad Thai. It's been this way for six years here. But that red curry is unbeatable!

The Baroness made some kickass pizza: a base of egg and sour cream, caramelized red onion, prosciutto, grilled pear, and goat cheese on a flaky, unleavened crust.

Even Kitty liked the pizza.

From now on, no one will make the World's Best Bartender do it without the fez on (just as Steely Dan pleaded).

And life's alright, you know? Messy hair and all.

mandag, marts 12, 2007

Death Wish cK

Oh, the possibility for revenge! Big thanks to c in Memphis for sending me this doctored photo (Duh!) of me in Charles Bronson-style facial hair...and holding the Axe of Revenge without Mercy (ARM).

This should help me reaquire my filched Iceland hat.

The Neocons Have My Hat!!

Guh. In my haste to leave the pub work the other night and see my Muse, I left my Number 1 stocking cap--my Iceland hat--in the pub. One of the many total bastards I know left with it and is ransoming it back to me under the guise of being a revolutionary neocon group.

Ransom Note #1

"We have your socialist headwear. If you value your warm skull you will do as you are told. Await further instructions. Do not attempt to contact us. Our Neocon agenda will not be stopped."

The hat is even crying for help!

Ransom Note #2

I love this Patty Hearst in My Hat image. "He has seen the error of his former commie existence warming your socialist noggin. His now vicious behavior knows no bounds."

But like Mel Gibson in Ransom, I'm about to kick some ass. Give me back my hat!!

fredag, marts 09, 2007

Before and After

Working feverishly today but feeling like my world is loaded with progress. Good. Quick looks at the pub's progress in before and after modes:


February 17, just prior to the interior tearing apart.


March 9, 12:15 pm. Plenty of cleaning still to do, but damn if it isn't a dramatic change. New paint. Revived woodwork and paneling. Loads of stuff put on the walls (and clean stuff!). And even daylight floods in...something the old bar seldom knew of. (They'd walled up two vital windows.)

And look! It's the living ghost of William Watkins in search of a Guinness!

Have a good weekend, friends.

torsdag, marts 08, 2007

A Closer Look at Rob Base’s World

Though the Beasties' MCA is known for strapping on ear goggles, I put on some protective eyewear to tackle the Curious Case of Rob Base.

Many people have been gloriously clued into the wisdom of Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock. It makes perfect sense, really, that for things to go right two is better than one. Does Rob do it alone? Nope. Even he’s got back up (EZ Rock) and he acknowledges that as one should.

That diaper-wearing astronaut may have been more successful if she’d had a little back up, you dig?

This dynamic of two is especially important for making something out of sight.

But we can’t just focus on the central lesson of “It Takes Two.” Rob Base is a more complicated being than that. In fact, he’s quite grim, talking as much as he does about weariness (and inflicting it), dissin’, and not caring.

Lord. He even invites a lewd act upon an iconic corporate cheeseburger.

In truth, I think he cares if we hear his message, but, perhaps uncomfortable in his own persona, he disguises his feelings with plenty of misdirection. In order to find my way to the center of Mr. Base, I’ve dissected “It Takes Two” and divided its proclamations and seemingly rambling notes into the categories of Simple Facts, Desires, Likes, Dislikes, Boasts, Brutal Honesty, and Commands.

Hit it!

Simple Facts
1. Will neither “fess” nor wear a bulletproof vest
2. Rob’s up front, EZ Rock has back up
3. Rocks the mic with the help of EZ Rock

1. Rocking (right now)
2. Wants to share with you his idea
3. You to comprehend
4. Ducats
5. You to listen to his mission-oriented rhymes

1. Getting down
2. The kids--the guys, the girls
3. The Whopper

1. Communicable diseases and other contagious ailments
2. Smokin’ Buddha
3. Sess (huh? I just know he “can’t stand” it)
4. Dirty shirts (See Commands list)
5. The Big Mac (which he invites you to fuck)

1. Known to rock the microphone
2. Gets stupid (by which he means outrageous)
3. He’s the winner (not the loser)
4. He chose to be an MC
5. Ladies love him, girls adore him (even the ones who have never seen him)
6. They (ladies and girls) like the way he rhymes at shows
7. Got a real funky concept
8. Will keep you (the listener) in step
9. Is bilingual (“number one, the uno”)
10. Will stomp all suckers
11. Puts you (the listener / follower) in rapture
12. Is a slick brother who can easily outfox you
13. Is “known to be” freshest on the mic (though provides no primary sources in support of this claim; only his own vocal performance)
14. Starting (I’m not sure what) shouldn’t be too hard
15. As he’s not a sucker, he does not need a bodyguard
16. Is the leader, aka “the man superior”
17. His rhymes are not counterfeit
18. Record sales make this song a hit
19. Listening to Red Alert won’t hurt you
20. Is the one who knows about things that make you weary
21. Has clout
22. Will turn out the party
23. Won’t stutter
24. Will speak clearly
25. Neither Rob Base nor EZ Rock is soft
26. Is cool and calm “just like a breeze”

Brutal Honesty
1. Not internationally known
2. Does not know why ladies and girls like him and his rhymes so much
3. Doesn’t care if you like his idea
4. Though bold and black he won't protect all his followers
5. Wants only respect
6. Is not a doctor
7. Is reluctant to lend rhymes not just to foes but even good friends because he’s “kindy stingy”
8. Though he’ll take care of you, you’ll get wearier
9. He’s all about dissin’
10. Not afraid to stand alone
11. Doesn’t need anyone
12. Just came to have fun
13. Doesn’t need friends who act like foes
14. Has an ego, bro

1. Take off your shirt but take care not to let it come in contact with the dirt
2. Don’t cheer him, just hear him out, dammit
3. Shout “Ho!”
4. Go to the Wiz, select his record, and take it off the rack but put it back, by all means, if you think it’s wack
5. Throw up your hands and go for what you know
6. Slack up (if you think either Rob Base or EZ Rock is soft)
7. Get busy (Note: This command is only for EZ Rock and is to be executed when Rob counts to three)


onsdag, marts 07, 2007


While this photo was taken in what Hulles endearingly calls "the redundantly named" Nina's Coffee Cafe, my paparazzi--or paparazzo, as there was only one--experience was at the Coffee News Cafe in the Macalester neighborhood.

I was photographed this morning. I was dressed in my big boy clothes having just come from a meeting and I was buying coffee ahead of my haircut. A girl sitting on a bench used some sort of camera phone thing. I turned, looked quizically at her. She turned her eyes down and slowly put the camera back in her bag.

As a celebrity, I'm almost used to this.

Other thing: Go get your drink on with Lollie!

Off playing adult and all that today with an article interview and a haircut. Dressed in suit. Woo!

In the meantime, allow me to recommend chick pea curry (with extra spice), jasmine rice, and a bottle of Herdade dos Machados (Reserva 2001), which is a gorgeous Portugese red wine and quite affordable.

"Good at any price," said the woman in the shop.

"And the grapes are described as noble," I said.

She paused. Turning away, looking a bit depressed, and with her voice weakening as truth had to be revealed, she said, "That's actually a grape classification."

But it was really good wine! Thank you, Solo Vino. And thanks much to Erin for the chick pea curry.

tirsdag, marts 06, 2007

Timmy Wing Update

Timmy Wing has visited the post office. That is all.

mandag, marts 05, 2007

Memory Stick

That it is or was even real is and will be a mystery to me. Early evening in a warmer month, or mid-afternoon on an overcast day, Allison came by on some sort of scooter. A Vespa. Something like that. We were maybe 17.

She was showing off this new mode of transport in her life. She took off out my driveway, drove a block and returned. A police car pulled up.

The officer checked her license, told her she was not allowed to ride this thing without either a helmet or protective eye wear. We asked if that included sunglasses. He said it did.

So when she left soon after this encounter she left with a pair of my sunglasses (which would have been my only sunglasses as I detest the feel of glasses on my nose). Or maybe I had a pair of fake glasses (as even now in my 30s I still have perfect vision--THIS is what I'm bragging about! Lame--and must pretend I need them when I want to look like a smarty pants).

Or maybe I gave her a pair of clear protective goggles for working, say, on home construction projects. Maybe I gave her some of my father's protective eyewear.

But I recall her on the scooter, and I recall the cop. And I recall her driving away once (the initial event that drew the police officer to us). But I don't recall her on that thing again or even hearing about it.

Pilgrim's Progress

We've progressed a great deal at the pub. Here's a shot from a ladder looking down the bar side of the joint. (The restaurant side is about to be converted from a wood prepping and construction room to an actual restaurant.) We've much more to peg to the booth walls and quite a bit of post-demolition work to do around the bar, but the major stuff is out of the way on this side.

Bill's just about resolved the electrical crap and has the kits ready for the walls, John's just about finished the trim work, and Gary's almost done with the sanding, staining, varnishing and painting.

Big thanks to Kym, Jordan, Chris and Linda for stopping by to help clean up the joint. Frank and his wife continue to tackle a kitchen that no food should have come out of. (Dear god. This place won't have had food this clean since that equipment was first installed! Frank: You are a prince for strapping on those gloves and taking on the grease.) Keith: Keep working on the wi-fi, you magnificent bastard! And Walt, Dick, and Jennifer: thanks for dropping in to check on the progress. We appreciate your interest.

More soon and God bless the Welsh!

Happy days,
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