Monday, December 31, 2007
Sunday, December 30, 2007
So, four nuns die in a car accident and immediately are whisked to the gates of heaven where they encounter St. Peter. To gain entrance to the gates of heaven, St. Peter tells the nuns he needs to ensure their chastity and asks them to line up before him.
The first nun approaches. St Peter says, "Dear sister, to ensure your chastity, I must ask you this question- have you ever touched a penis?" The first nun looks ashamed and says, "Yes, St. Peter, I once touched a penis with the tip of this finger." She holds up her finger and St. Peter says "Okay, you can dip your finger in this bowl of holy water to purify yourself, then enter the gates." She dips her finger in the bowl and walks through the gates.
The second nun approaches. St. Peter says "Dear sister, have you ever touched a penis?" The second nun looks ashamed and says "Yes, St. Peter, I once held a penis in my right hand." St. Peter says, "Okay, you may dip your hand in this bowl of holy water to purify yourself, then enter the gates. So, she dips her hand in the bowl and walks through the gates.
The third nun begins to approach St. Peter, but the fourth nun pushes her aside and rushes up to St. Peter. St. Peter says, "Dear sister, why have you pushed aside your fellow nun to reach me?", to which the fourth nun replies, "Hey, I'm sure as hell not gargling that water after she's dipped her ass in it."
While at the Walker, I decided to tour a few other galleries. As much as I am loathe to admit it, I am not much of a museum person, particularly when it comes to modern art. I have some shame about this, being reasonably well educated, articulate and appreciative of the arts. Anyway, one of the galleries was carrying an exhibition called Brave New World, which apparently was about globalization. I missed the point completely and gave up trying to understand when I came to a pile of camping equipment, looking suspiciously like the corner of someone's garage.
Another exhibit that had gotten some good media attention was the Tino Sehgal exhibit. Tino Sehgal's work is not art objects, but people behaving in a manner that is scripted by the artist. The gallery that I visited was about 1500 square feet of completely white room. At the far end of the room was a young man lying face down near the far wall. As I approached, he began rolling on to his back in slow motion with his fingers near his eyes. I was the only other person in the room despite the museum's other galleries being quite busy. I'm guessing the other guests had assumed that a homeless dude had wandered in and fallen asleep and decided to leave him alone. Anyway, he rolled back and forth a bit for me, occasionally opening his eyes, and I left the room. I guess I'm not very cool or deep for not getting this- sort of like when I left the movie PI annoyed at having lost two hours of my life, while 20-somethings were all around me proclaiming it a masterwork.
Curt and I had a nice Christmas Eve. This year was the first that I didn't cook for us. Instead, I suggested we eat out, let someone else do the cooking AND the dishes, then come home and open presents. Because of some previous business dealings at the Marquette Hotel, Curt had a gift certificate for a complete dinner for two at Basil's- the in-house restaurant. Sweet. We asked for a seat on the balcony, which overlooks the IDS Crystal Court. (By the way, Basil's is recently remodeled and looks great.) The lights in the court were dimmed to highlight the 30-foot Christmas tree and the other trimmings. It was lovely. I ordered the flash seared tuna wrapped in nori- remarkably well prepared and presented. Curt had the ribeye with apple smoked bacon- mmmmm, bacon. After dinner, we came home and exchanged presents.
The next day we went to Curt's brother and sister-in-laws home in Champlin for my third Christmas of the weekend. We had dinner, gorged on cookies and settled in to open presents. The gift giving in Curt's family is very organized with the kids going first, then the adults- youngest to oldest- opening gifts. All the aunts and uncles in the family buy for all the nieces and nephews under 18. Everyone over 18 draws names for eachother. This means LOTS of gifts to open. I love Curt's whole family dearly, but damn, the gift opening takes a year. By the time we're done, I am hoping to never hear another child's voice until the following Christmas and ready to crawl in to a cave from over-exposure to people. I think I am the only introvert in the whole clan. By the end of the evening, they're all still smiling, while I find myself completely tuning out conversations and staring blankly in to space. Being an extreme extrovert, Curt has some trouble understanding that being around lots of people completely saps my energy, while his is increased. Oh well.
This year, we have no plans for New Year's Eve. I am secretly celebrating this, hoping for maybe dinner and a movie, while I think it is driving Curt a little crazy. Typically, we go to some friend or the others' home, eat lots, make a little noise at midnight and go home. It is always a nice time, but mostly I just get very, very tired since midnight is two hours past my bed time.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Monday, December 24, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Here is the view coming in to Chatfield, MN. Chatfield is a little village nestled in what is called the Chosen Valley. Lots of businesses use the name Chosen in their titles- Chosen Bakery, Chosen Bar and Grille, etc. Surprisingly, with a name like Chosen, there seem to be very few Jews in the area- not a Chosen People Synagogue in sight. I threw a few Yiddish exclamations at the Kwik Trip clerk just to test the waters and got a bland expression. Nope. No Jews in the Chosen Valley.
Here I am grimacing and cursing the heavens for sending such poopy-pants weather for my drive. My stocking hat had mussed my hair and I clearly haven't shaved since Friday. I'm sure if you look closely enough you'll see some graying nose hair and a few things in my teeth. Today's questionable hygiene, combined with the weather made for a rough ride.
Nearing Minneapolis, it started to snow and continued blowing- so much so that the conditions depicted above were quite common for several miles at a stretch. If you look closely, you can see a little gray shadow that represents the car in front of me. You might think it is dusk in this picture, but it is only 1 p.m. (WARNING: Junior drivers, do not attempt to take pictures in a white-out. It is a stupid thing to do and should only be attempted by bored adults who have even less common sense than you.)
The house I grew up in, and where my dad still lives, is on a hill with a very steep driveway. Generally, this isn't a problem. Today, however, we had a big winter storm with lots of snow and ice. My dad has never been one to hold back on his criticism, especially for his children. Here are a few of the comments on my driving that I got, all within 100 yards of our driveway:
"Jesus Christ, aren't you going to slow down to make the turn?"
Followed immediately by:
"You better speed up so you can take a run at it!"
I managed to maintain my composure at this commentary, but it didn't last.
Seeing that the driveway is covered with several inches of snow and ice, I took a run for the hill. Just as I'm just about reach the top, my car stops, starts spinning its wheels and sliding backward toward the ditch. (If you know the driveway, one side is a smallish ditch, the other side a minor ravine. Guess which I was sliding for?) And what do you suppose my dad says? Hey, let me tell you:
"Well, Jesus Christ, don't you know how to drive your own god damned car?"
Snap! Because I was attempting to stay out of the ditch, I couldn't stuff a cork in him. So instead I barked: "You are so not f*cking helping right now! Just sit there, be quiet and LET ME DRIVE!" You would think that having sensed my irritation he would have kept his remaining comments to himself. Oh no. All the while I'm trying to back down the hill, he's commenting on my technique and the direction I'm headed, and on and on. [Please, gentle readers, if in 30 years you see me embodying these characteristics of my father, shoot me. No warning or explanation required. Mind you, I also have great affection for many of my father's less irritating qualities. I just couldn't find them in that moment.]
Anyway, I ended up being able to wrangle the car to a spot beside the bottom of the driveway and regained control of my breathing. My dad, who is 80, whose vision is not what it should be and is very unsteady on his feet, had to be left in the car while I walked to the top of the hill to get his 4 wheel drive truck to retrieve him. Even though a little hypothermia might have quieted him down, I did follow through and get him back up the hill. After setting him in at home, I left to go meet some friends for dinner.
Another joyous family holiday drawn to a close.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
On the way to Decorah yesterday, I was listening to Duncan Sheik's Lighter/Darker CD. Even though I think he only cracked the top 40 with two songs, he has consistently put out some great albums, has a voice and song writing style I can relate to, and, oh, can't forget, is SMOKIN' HOT! He also proves my belief that there are indeed things other than cheese that get way better with age. So, my first ever Finely Aged Cheese Blog Award goes to Duncan Sheik. Here's why:
So, check out this video from 1996. You might remember this tune from the radio back then. Definitely not the best song on the CD, but the video provides a nice way to look at this fine man. Can't you just hear the director in the back ground as he's lip synching saying things like "Smolder!", "Pout!", "Pout more!", "Okay, smolder and pout at the same time!" Nice.
Fast forward to the new millennium, add about 10 years, 15 pounds and a beard and the man just can't help but be even hotter. Sorry for blog drooling here, but damn. In addition to his "nice to look at" credentials, he recently co-composed the Tony winning musical "Spring Awakening" for Broadway.
Friday, December 21, 2007
One of my favorites started on the very first Christmas we were together. Even though we had only been dating for about 7 months, I think we both knew the relationship was going long term. So, I bought him the 1999 Swarovski crystal ornament and said that we should buy one each year until our tree is covered with nothing but crystals. So far, we have nine of them that you might be able to pick out among the other ornaments. And even though Swarovski keeps jacking the price up by $5 every other year- $70 this year!- we'll keep the tradition alive despite my cheap Lutheran-bred tendencies.
Another tradition is Curt setting artificially low spending limits for each other and me whining about it. I love to buy him presents. Despite the fact that we're both well employed and are actively saving for retirement, we must adhere to the guidelines. So this tradition basically amounts to me whining for about a week, and Curt getting a warm but annoyed feeling in his heart knowing that I want to lavish him with gifts.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Our bed is an odd looking thing in the winter. Curt starts off with just a flannel sheet, then adds our thin down blanket during the night, then takes it off later. My half of the bed is a different story- flannel sheet, down blanket, thick comforter and a double fleece throw. After 5 nights in a good bed, but not my own, it was like a dream to crawl into our nest. Louis jumped into bed, crawled under the blankets, plastered himself up next to me and we were off to sleep. Aaaaah, home.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
5. The Highland: Tonight, instead of walking the same 5 blocks of downtown, I took a cab to a part of town called The Highland- a very charming area teaming with restaurants, little shops (all close at 5!) and tattoo parlors (4 of them in a relatively small area). Tattoo shops in The Highland must be the equal of wig shops downtown. The surrounding neighborhood consisted of turn of the century stone and brick homes, many decorated with lovely holiday lights.
6. Cafe Mimosa was recommended to me by the bellman and the front desk gal, both in their twenties, as a good sushi joint. It also was in The Highland. The ambiance was not that of Caviar, but the sushi was really, really good. I ordered the chef's choice Sushi and Sashimi plate for $19.95 and was expecting a small plate of sashimi with a roll. Instead I got a ginormous plate of really amazing red and white tuna, salmon and eel, with a huge roll of unknown name that was de-licious! I heart sushi. I'm frankly a little surprised to have found two really good sushi restaurants here. Who knew?
7. Rachid, my cab driver for the evening, was very friendly and had a good sense of humor, but seemed quite bundled up for the 45 degree weather. We got to talking and I discovered that he had immigrated from Morocco- explains why he was so bundled- only six months ago with his wife and child. He knew no English when he arrived, which to me is amazing. His English was very broken, but so admirable, and he was so friendly that he got a great tip both ways. If I were dropped in a foreign country with a language very different from my own, I just don't think I would be functional enough after six months in the new language to find a toilet let alone drive a cab. Go, Rachid.
8. Hairspray in men's restrooms. Every restroom in our training facility, public restroom in my hotel and every restaurant restroom I've encountered thus far has a spray can or pump bottle of hairspray in it. And yes, I'm in the men's restroom. I love it. Could men's hygiene be more evolved in Kentucky than in Minnesota?
Monday, December 10, 2007
1. Lots of wigs for sale. (See below). I am not adverse to a good wig. Curt is probably more adverse to me wearing one, so I try not to put on a big beehive around him. Though he would be amused in private, maybe not so much though out in public.
2. Higher tooth count than anticipated. People in Kentucky have teeth! In fact, I think the teeth per head count is nearing that of Minnesota. Remarkable.
3. There are two sushi restaurants within walking distance of my hotel. One is called Raw and doesn't have its hours posted, but was open tonight on my walk to the other- Caviar. So, tonight I had a spider roll and a Caviar signature roll. Holy smokes. The signature roll was T-A-S-T-Y. Inside was yellowtail and albacore tuna, salmon and cream cheese. Outside was two types of roe and tempura flakes. Drizzled over all this was eel sauce, a hot sauce and a wasabi dressing. Wow. Yum.
4. There aren't any gay boys in sight. However, I have seen lots of t-shirts for sale that say I heart KY, so they must be somewhere. Any time you have t-shirts professing a love of a personal lubricant, you have to have some concentration of gay boys nearby, don't you think?
Sunday, December 9, 2007
In my short walk, I passed THREE wig store in about 8 blocks. Hmmm. So, here's the thing. I'm thinking, okay we're near a medical center, so maybe there's a demand for chemotherapy wigs, that sort of thing. However, not one wig looked like something a cancer patient would wear unless the cancer patient is a stripper named Amber (the universal stripper name). Did you know that they even have long wigs with the roots grown out to various lengths? I guess if you're going to get a wig, you might as well simulate a really bad hair day? Maybe they put their trashiest wigs in the window, hoping that they'll get stolen? I such a small area, why the need for so many wigs? Should I ask the concierge?
Blowhard: I only use live frogs as bait to catch the big bass.
Group member: Yeah. I've done that before with some real small ones. Worked good.
Blowhard: One time I put a big one the size of my palm on the hook and let him swim. Pretty soon, a bass hit him so hard that the frog flew up out of the water pretty much riding on the lower lip of this huge bass. His mouth was so f*ckin' big I swear I could have put fist in it.
Group member: How much did he weigh?
Blowhard: Well, he stripped the frog off the hook so I didn't get him.
Group: (chuckles and gives the blowhard a little ribbing)
About 15 seconds later, blowhard starts in again-
Blowhard: This is gross, but I know some guy in Pennsylvania that uses live kittens as bait to fish for muskie and northern.
Blowhard: Yeah, I guess it has something to do with the way they thrash around in the water that gets the huge muskie excited.
Group: Stunned (I'm guessing) silence.
Group: More silence.
Blowhard: Well I only saw him do it once, but he didn't get anything that day.
So, I'm stunned and horrified that these words would even come out of this guys mouth, but I figured they must be pure bull. Until, I googled "kitten fish bait" and saw this. What???? I guess if it can happen in Europe, it can happen in Pennsylvania. But, what the hell would have to be wrong with a person to do that???? Aaarrrgggghhhh!
Friday, December 7, 2007
1. Macy's has their holiday loop going. Each time I visit I hear Jingles Bells- not the happy upbeat tune I fondly recall from my childhood. No. Instead it is a dated jazzed up version in which the male crooner sings a line, followed by a trio (or so) of women singing "I like a sleigh ride." So the song goes:
Dashing through the snow
I like a sleigh ride
In a one horse open sleigh
I like a sleigh ride
O'er the fields we go
I like a sleigh ride
Lauging all the way
I like a sleigh ride
Bells on bobbed tail ring
I like a sleigh ride
... and so on until I'm ready to puke. Make it stop!
2. Our cafeteria at work has a CD going called Inspirational Christmas that contains a jazzed up version of The Holly and the Ivy. This is a lovely melody when sung straight. However, with syncopated phrasing and a choir that sounds like The @%$#*@&! New Christy Minstrels on happy pills (hork!), it gets under my skin. Quickly. Deeply.
3. Any version of Little Drummer Boy or Do You Hear What I Hear is a bad thing. These songs should be sung only by 2nd graders, not Celine Dion or David Bowie paired with Bing Crosby. Feh! Feh!
Okay. Cock. Aim for the speakers. Shoot.
I feel better now.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Sunday, December 2, 2007
Woman: Oh, my mother just loved Christmas.
Woman: Uh huh. Every year she would just go crazy and lose her mind.
Friend: She did?
Woman: Oh, yes she did.
I was walking the opposite direction so didn't catch anything else. I assume that the woman was talking about her mother going crazy decorating, but she didn't say that. Then, there's the friend who answered in disbelief that this woman's mother loved Christmas. Really? It's kind of an annoying conversational habit that I even catch myself doing now and then, but despise. I think it comes from either a lack of listening or just a need to add some noise in a pause.
Or, perhaps, the woman's mother loved Christmas so much she really did lose her mind. I can see that happening.
She sort of looks like she's checking the tires, which might be what you expect of an autistic girl when the car is on fire. Damn. That night, Heather took it from the judges too, but didn't go home. Instead, she went to China with the rest of the ladies.
The next week, in China, the girls had to do this dumb Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon ninja posing on flying wires. Bianca, our Heather's nemesis skank- who is also very pretty, flipped out and couldn't do it because of her "trust issues." Give me a break. Heather, however, did well and won the challenge. To share her shopping spree prize, she chose Chantal (uppity) to go with her. Basically it was 500 bucks in the cheap looking markets around their hotel. Hmpf.
Then, the girls had to do their Cover Girl commercials and photo shoot. The thing I hate about this challenge every season is that the lines they have to deliver are so frickin' dumb. This year, the tag line was "Every woman is a queen." To that I say, "Pffffffffft!" They didn't hear me and went ahead with the dumb commercial. No one did well, but two gals, Lisa (stripper) cried all the way through, and Heather (autistic girl) couldn't deliver a single line and made faces at each flub. Her photo shoot went okay, but not great. The picture kind of reminds me of the scene in Adamms Family Values when Wednesday creaks out a smile after watching Disney videos as punishment- a little creepy, a little pretty. See for yourself:
Like I said, not convincing. Anyway, judging was harsh for all the girls, but Lisa and Heather landed in the bottom two. Lisa went home because she was just losing it under all the pressure. Sad, because next to Heather, she was the prettiest girl in the competition.
This week, the girls had to venture out on "go-sees", where, as the name implies, they go see designers to try to get booked in shows. There were 5 designers and 6 hour in which to complete the task. Most girls got in 3 go-sees. Heather, spent 3 hours wandering the street in front of the correct building, before "finding" the designer. The next 3 hours were spent finding her car. She arrived 40 minutes late, and was disqualified along with two other contestants.
The photo challenge this week was to stand out among a Chinese New Year celebration. Most of the girls did okay except two. Heather was sort of lifeless, but took a great picture. Jenah (bucktooth Daisy Mae) just sort of blended in to the background and pissed off the photographer (judge Nigel Barker) with her "humor". Both were in the bottom two, but Heather went home, because, as Nigel put it- "She doesn't make the camera focus on her, the camera just sort of finds this pretty thing and takes a picture of it." A pretty damn good picture, I might add.
So, that's the end of the Heather story. I will probably follow the rest of the season and harshly criticize the remaining contestants, since I'm not rooting for any of them. Hmmmpff.
1. John Asscroft singing some nightmare
2. Celine Dion (and some other skank) covering AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long"
3. Rick Springfield and Cheryl Ladd (!!!) covering the Loggins/Nicks hit "Whenever I Call You Friend"
I can't stop watching them. Eeeeeeeeeek!
Anyway, every time I get a cold of any consequence, I end up with a wicked sinus infection complete with crappy bend-over headaches. This has been going on since I was in high school. Anyway, the problem is that I apparently go to a hippie clinic where no one will prescribe antibiotics, and instead say comforting things like "It's viral, just ride it out," or "You're just going to have to suffer through it." Thoughtful, kind. Last time I had a sinus infection, I went to three doctors over the course of 8 months of misery. The last finally ordered a CT scan of my sinuses ($225 out of my pocket!), prescribed antibiotics and called to apologize that I hadn't gotten them sooner. Nice, but not so nice. Flash back to our last trip to Puerto Vallarta where I did some exploration in the local farmacia and discovered that I could buy antibiotics over the counter. I did and, after much internal debate, have been taking a nice 5-day course of Azitromicina. (Dr. Ben is going to have something to say about this.) Sinus infection seems to be clearing up, but I've missed three half-days at work, two classes at the gym and the 5K I was supposed to run in yesterday. Bummer. I've also been a horribly crabby baby. Big bummer for Curt. Ah, healing.