søndag, maj 20, 2007

The Curtain Falls

The lake shot I take each return to the cabin. I'll return there soon, but the Drama Mater is done. A new blog will appear, though--perhaps--in September. I'd say, "Don't try to find me!" but I'll probably be blowing trumpets.

Now my charms are all o'erthrown...

I love this vista. Always. I wish it was more apparent on film that the lake opens up there in the distance, that the wall of trees breaks and leads you into larger water. It isn't clear from this spot, not on first look. One might feel hemmed in. But if you know it's there...

This Drama, At Least, Is Done

I'm keeping this blog up for the sake of having my regular read links along the side and for keeping a commenting profile. But otherwise I will not be blogging for the immediate future.

If I take it up again, it will be with a new blog, new name, new look. (The Drama has been Blog #2, and maybe I need another three or four-month hiatus before inventing Blog #3.)

Too much going on. Sleep needed, no time to sleep, no want of sleep. Much work to be done, much more work needed to be secured. And serious non-work work (i.e., fiction) needed for sanity. I miss that writing dearly, and it's been kicking at the walls in my head a great deal lately, so time to dedicate my free-writing time to that (and actual letters to be sent by post) again.

For those of you still writing online, I'm still reading.

But everyone, hey: You are good souls.

A Passage I Adore

Now my charms are all o'erthrown,
And what strength I have's mine own,
Which is most faint: now, 'tis true,
I must be here confined by you,
Or sent to Naples. Let me not,
Since I have my dukedom got
And pardon'd the deceiver, dwell
In this bare island by your spell;
But release me from my bands
With the help of your good hands:
Gentle breath of yours my sails
Must fill, or else my project fails,
Which was to please. Now I want
Spirits to enforce, art to enchant,
And my ending is despair,
Unless I be relieved by prayer,
Which pierces so that it assaults
Mercy itself and frees all faults.
As you from crimes would pardon'd be,
Let your indulgence set me free.

- Bill Shakespeare, The Tempest

torsdag, maj 17, 2007

Tick Check Weekend

Off to the cabin this weekend! Back Sunday afternoon.

onsdag, maj 16, 2007

On Behalf of Illinois...

On behalf of the state in which I was born and out of which I rarely strayed before age 27, allow me to apologize for this.


tirsdag, maj 15, 2007

The Meaning of Sports

Zero. Absolutely zero. Our CEO pay packages are ridiculous enough, but how can we live in a nation that pays a guy $28 million to work once every five days (that is, to pitch baseballs) for five months of employment?

How can we let our publicly-owned companies invest billions in "sports marketing"? in skyboxes and advertisements and clothing licenses?

How can we let cities and states subsidize the construction of stadiums that will now cost over $1 billion?

How how how can we do this when at the outset of summer, when on this night, May 15, when I'm not even looking to watch sports (I've too much work to even have flipped through channels once tonight)--how is this possible when our two primary sports networks, ESPN and ESPN2, are showing:

a. A rerun of the 2006 Poker Championships, and
b. A rebroadcast of the National Spelling Bee?????

Were I going to watch "sports," right about now I'd accept some beefy gentlemen named Magnus throwing kegs over walls or maybe men in kilts flipping cabers.

C'mon, ESPN. Really. You couldn't put even a glimpse of a sport up against American Idol? Are you serious?

Amanda Cello

Recent events of indulgence have left me wondering whether bruschetta or mini-quiche is a more-satisfying culinary achievement.

The bruschetta is in my mind due to the steak and jalapeno-mango salsa bruschetta made by a friend in San Francisco during vacation with the Muse. (She has since duplicated this recipe. It's awesome.) It was an entirely different variety of bruschetta than I've had before. I love the traditional (basil, tomato, fresh cheese). I love the wintry varieties (e.g., greens, feta, balsamic, duck confit). And this spicey steak-daddy version was outstanding. An absolute joy.

The mini-quiche is in my thoughts because they were part of the open house Horn O' Plenty at the pad of friends Katie and Sunday this past weekend in celebration of Phillip's instrument-making degree.

Ol' boy broke out some of his work: an electric guitar with bass range, an acoustic, a mando-cello hybrid, and a cute ukelele.

The mini-quiches were a treat. Classic, yes (e.g., broccoli-cheese), but really good. I ate probably six of them. That's like an entire slice of quiche disguised through the bite-sized delivery scheme.

Of course, one need not play favorites. But if one did....

A last look at the spread:

Big thanks to Katie, Sunday, their 'Rents, and Phillip for inviting the Muse and I. It was part of a busy Saturday--must write up a note about the symphony soon!--but very welcomed. And Phillip: Good luck with the Maine trip!

fredag, maj 11, 2007

Conversations with the Damned

In a former life, I worked for five years in a conventional office and grew a bit more bitter about the world day by day. Now the ghost of that person sits here and recalls, sometimes with real anger, sometimes with deserving fondness, moments from that existence.

The Damned

The communication approaches of my former co-workers were often outrageous. One of them, however, I suspect was actually a social comic planted in the office by some former intern or producer of Candid Camera.

Her deadliest approach was this: to instigate conversation, then participate in it by simply repeating a few words of what you've said and adding an acknowledging "huh."


Her: So what's cK's story?
cK: Just drinking my coffee.
Her: Drinking coffee, huh?
cK: Yep. Just getting my day going.
Her: Getting it going, huh?
cK (still trying to play it cool): Yeah, you know. A lot to do today. I--
Her: A lot to do, huh?
cK (beginning to panic): I've two articles due.
Her: Two articles, huh?

Most conversations would end when she seemed to have extracted your energy (perhaps absorbing it into her own central core for later utilization). She might then return to the beginning of things, much as comics do to tie off their sets, and say,

Her: Boy, I tell ya. Just drinking coffee.

And then she'd walk away laughing.

Now, I will say this: She was very sweet. Painfully sweet. And that's why you could tolerate it. You might do things like keep your hands on the keyboard in hopes this would sign "No time to talk" (No time to talk, huh?), but you wouldn't correct her, really. Because she was a nice person.

But that conversation style. Oy! It's well worth trying on your friends. Just see how long you can get away with it before they either clam up (having caught on) or you just start laughing.

torsdag, maj 10, 2007

Kittens and Questions

I'm thinking today of a former neighbor who moved to Los Angeles to concentrate on his playwriting. He'd sold two one-act plays to theater companies ahead of this so packed up and headed west.

From what I recall of infrequent updates, he was happy and doing well and still writing, though not making his money or building a reputation with his theater efforts. (I recall the plays being very bizarre things that really couldn't take off. The sort of productions in which hosiery might be a character.)

So he lived across the hall from me. This was in southern Illinois. One day he went out and picked up a kitten from the animal shelter. He was really happy. The kitten was supercute. And he sat in his apartment smoking and watching the cute little kitten scampering about the cinder block and wood plank bookshelves, about the lazy-boy, about the second-hand, sextagonally shaped end tables.

He often stayed in his apartment and smoked. It worried me for a long time. I tried to keep the writers out and about and talking to one another. Reclusiveness, I thought, was a self-destructive trait for what was already a lonely pursuit.

After four days, I saw him outside smoking on the stoop so popped out to see how he was. He wasn't feeling very good. He'd brought the kitten back.

What was wrong?

It had been coughing, apparently, from the amount of smoke in his apartment.

Q & A

I submitted a number of questions to various bloggers. Their responses can be found here:

Country Mouse Tales
Mips, the Skyylark
Lollie's Follies

It's further along in the week than I want it to be. I want the weekend, yes. I want Saturday (open house for a friend who just earned an instrument making degree, drinks with my sister and her husband, going to the symphony with my Muse, and possibly meeting up with a writer friend I haven't seen for 7 years).

But I've much to accomplish in the next 24. Would appreciate Hiro's power from Heroes right about now.

tirsdag, maj 08, 2007

You Been Served

At Boulevard in San Francisco, our waiter was an oddity. He sounded as if he was from Louisiana, had a totally bald head and meticulously clean-shaven face, and something of a chickeny thinness. He had a habit of winking, half in jest, half seemingly because a light was in his eye. It was a wink that had a flinch. And he'd jut out his jaw, and he'd lean forth to take an order and his head would do a little upward hitch almost the way a pet's might when seeking to be petted.

And he was an awesome waiter. Very good. And perhaps that's one of the elements of a great dining experience. It isn't just the company (which was grand) or the food (which was letter-worthy), it may be the good quirks of a great server.

The triple chocolate truffle cake from Boulevard. Mmmmm.

I'll contrast that with the guy working at Pizza Luce on Selby the other day. It makes me sad for a place when the wait staff really isn't with it.

So I'd brought a bag of coins to the bank, thrown 'em through the change machine, and out popped a receipt for $19. Pizza money, I says to myself. I headed for Luce.

The guy working the bar took my order. He had a Jeff Spicoli aura. (Spicoli was Sean Penn's character in Fast Times at Ridgemont High.)

Things were good in general. I worked on the free wi-fi while waiting for food. Then it arrived, but I was not given any napkins or flatware. So I looked over at the servers. Three of them. They were talking animatedly, oblivious to the five tables or so in the room.

I wandered over. I stood in their circle. They kept on talking. To one another. Huh?

Finally the woman with the tattoos said, while stretching, "I need to go put peanut butter on my jelly...I mean jelly on my peanut butter sandwich."

She turned into the kitchen. Spicoli walked after her. He did this duck walk with his ass sticking out. "I'll peanut butter your jelly," he said. He added a countrified, "Hyuck, hyuck."

At this point the tall guy with the tattooed arms--the guy who seemed to be the sentient member of the bunch--noticed me. His eyes widened. "Ah, oh, what can I do for you?" he asked.

"Napkins would be good."

"Cool." He handed me napkins.

I returned to my table but realized that I would indeed need fork and knife. So I waited a couple three minutes. The PBJ girl was in the kitchen eating. One assumes it was a PBJ. The table she'd brought some waters to earlier looked around helplessly. Eventually, the tall guy with the tattoos took care of them.

I waited maybe three minutes. At that point, Spicoli returned to the bar. I walked up there and asked for silverware. The tall guy observed this. Spicoli handed me flatware wrapped in a napkin and said, slowly, stoner-like, "My faux pas."

When he walked away, the tall guy said to him, "You are the worst bartender ever."

He might be.

I will end with a fonder memory. Oh, that cake...

mandag, maj 07, 2007

San Francisco

Had to photograph it. Had to.

Finally I'm getting things in order. New accounting software has been purchased and 2007's fiscal year properly organized well-ahead of next year's filing (and next month's incorporation). More importantly, I'm finally getting around to recalling the San Francisco / Oakland / Sonoma trip that the Muse and I took April 27 - May 1.

A Few Notes, Mostly Visual

I should have used a macro setting on this photo of the Muse's dessert, but the real point is that the dinner and desserts at Boulevard are fantastic. Lord. The four of us--Erin, cK, Scott and Daniel--just sat there sort of blissed out by the end of the meal. We'd had a late dinner on that Saturday (Reservation at 9 pm), and we'd been a bit ambivalent about that, but the late dinner was really nice. The restaurant was still very lively with the 7 pm and 8 pm diners blissed out and laughing and the 9 pm reservations coming in with eagerness to get to it. We weren't fortunate enough to sit in the room with the wonderful Bay Bridge view, but that's no matter. It was a wonderful dinner. Erin and I are going to write a letter of praise to the pastry chef, Jessica Sullivan.

Our hosts in a moment of false suspicion. Daniel (right) owns an excellent hair studio. Scott suffers from Calculust.

We got to sneak in some brunch with friends Andy, Jakki and cute little Billie at the New Zealander in Alameda. We miss these kids in the Twin Cities!

Sunset burning through the fog and overcast sky as we took the ferry away from the city.

Alcatraz? or fog-borne boat?

I'm looking really ragged from the Sunday wandering in San Francisco and Monday's long day of touring Sonoma and drinking wine, but it was such a good trip. Aptly, we snapped this photo at the truly gorgeous Paradise Ridge vineyard. So very comfortable up there and great wine. Though they produce only 5000 cases per year, one of their distributors is in Minnesota. The wine shop on my block, Solo Vino, sells it. Mmmm.

More soon. (And those of you who asked for five questions will be getting those in the next 24 hours!)

onsdag, maj 02, 2007

Q & A

Lollie recently participated in a Q & A blog thing. She invited a writer to ask her five questions. Then Lollie posted the Q & A with an invitation to her readers to invite five questions from her for them to answer on their sites. Here goes Lollie's questions to me:

1) Which has had a greater influence on your life: Paper or plastic?
Paper. True, a segment of the plastics industry has provided most of my post-college income, but I write obsessively. I could exist in other work situations, but I won't give up writing.

2) What celebrity hair could you envision on your head, and what is it that appeals to you about it?
I like the simple yet flexible styles seen on David Beckham's head. (I wouldn't mind having his face too.) I can't shoot for any celebrity hair that's too outrageous. My head won't cooperate with that...and I despise greasy hair (which is in stupid vogue these days). But if I followed Beckham I could sport the faux hawk you encouraged not long ago, Lol.

Of course, the celebrity hair style I tend to wear is something more like Edward Norton's. This is to say, "cleverly without style." (I think he may be aided by hair plugs.)

3) If you had to have a hand cut off, would you choose your useful right hand that you would miss terribly or your trainable left that would be less missed?
Wow. How did I get to Iran? Oh, well. Cut off the left, please. I know I might get a tv movie made about me if I had to learn how to write with my left hand, but I'd rather maintain functionality.

4) Where do you want to end your days?
I'm going to interpret this as a retirement question rather than an actual death situation question (in which case I might say, "Well-cared for in a hospital renowned for not killing patients either through malice or negligence" or possibly "standing cluelessly with a NYC map in the ever-expanding shadow of a rapidly descending grand piano"). I haven't seen enough places in this world to know where specifically, but I'd want it to be by a large body of water, I believe. (No bathtub drownings, thank you.) An ocean or a lake. Maybe even a major canal in a waterfront city, such as in Copenhagen. And I'd want to be either buried or have my ashes buried or scattered at the Madge Evergreen Cemetery in Washburn County, Wisconsin.

Then again, it would be fun to be snorted by Keith Richards.

5) What other normal girl name suits The Muse? Example: Could she get away with being named Susie?
Erin fits her quite well. And similar to Erin/Aaron, I think she could wear names that also have a homophonic male form. For example, Andie.

Though the name wouldn't be right on her, I think she could be Joanie, but only if I was Chachi.

Some women's names are so common in our generation though that they too could fit without question. Names like Amy or Jennifer. But I think there would be a vague sense that the identity was off. It might lead her to do silly, ostentatious things like insist on signing her name with branded initials.

So now it can be your turn. Just follow these simple rules.

1. Leave me a comment on this post saying, "Interview me."
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.
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