Wednesday, December 31, 2008

by no means comprehensive ...

that sassy tv show "what i like about you"
homegrown day six
grilling out
"ghost adventures"
gouda mac
the teenagers' "reality check"
"dirty sexy money"
bon iver's "for emma, forever ago"
pomegranate blackberry nutrisoda
david cronenberg
cloud cult's "feel good ghosts"
pumpkin stew made in a pumpkin
making challah
the movie "son of rambow"
burrito union burritos made to my specific order
america's next top model
"the wind-up bird chronicle" by haruki murakami
drunken noodles from thai krathong
metromint water
"the wire"
half-marathon running
okra on toast when deep in the drink
egg bagels
"mad men"
girl talk's "feed the animals"
dr. horrible's singalong blog
"my horizontal life" by chelsea handler
swedish pop duos
the spirit valley street dance
moving into my boyfriend's deluxe apartment in the sky
tall ships in a big lake
hot dogs from vendors
the band uh huh her
toy poodles
rt quinlan's
mates of state "re-arrange us"
battlestar galactica [in theory]
american eagle sweatpants, green
lemon ricotta pancakes from hell's kitchen
mtv's "the paper"
cover songs
"it's always sunny in philadelphia"
potage with pesto
ely's peak
having purse thieves get thwarted and escape with little more than a dirty sports bra
sitka sushi sandwich from northern waters smokehaus
the bristol stool chart
"colin meloy sings morrissey"
guitar hero
chester creek cafe's french onion soup
homemade french onion soup
tofu custard with fresh fruit
bike helmets
whole foods co-op
turkey meatloaf
vegetarian times
mountain goats
"the l word"
movie projects
tivo suggestions
fondue from scenic cafe
chickpea tacos
on-demand roulette
the YMCA's couch potato triathlon
"the soul thief" by charles baxter
cheese: specifically gouda, havarti, brie, parmesan, cheddar, aged cheddar, swiss, easy, and whiz
making homemade bread
wildfire beer from fitger's brewhouse
the national "boxer"
red machine naked juice
black runner's toenails
moon boots

"twilight" stuff
pumpkin pancakes
"all the sad literary men" by keith gessen
eating the amount of challah that a batch makes
little-heard of 1980s movie "the smithereens"
tempeh burritos with tofu cream sauce
sci/fi failure "logan's run"
"are you there vodka, it's me chelsea" by chelsea handler
the outhouses as the spirit valley street dance
getting robbed at gunpoint
"snuff" by chuck palaniuk
cell phone thieves
getting toonses acclimated to a new apartment
700 calorie head-sized suckers
coming across paraplegic deer in the middle of the road
my laptop's usb ports
sloane crosley's "i was told there would be cake" [or whatever it's called]
instant messaging
broken molars

a carol christmas
macy's passport celebrity catwalk
how to lose your lover
coed call girl
death of a cheerleader
mind over murder
scary movie ii
family plan
"the hills"
stocking caps
tori and dean: inn love
mother may i sleep with danger
e! true hollywood story: tori spelling

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

danger ranger ...

tonight i was on a treadmill, and a woman came in toting a car seat filled with what appeared to be a small, infant girl in a puffy pink snow suit. the woman placed the bundle in front of her treadie and began running.

in case you were wondering, i was listening to the ting tings just to mix it up.

this was fun. it gave me something to look at that was not monday night football or the bush of sweaty hair on the neck of a cyclist in front of me, a patch that looked like magnum pi's mustache after a sweltering go-round in a hot tub.

the puff ball sat quietly, watching whatever popped up in a 6-inch radius of her squishy face, muted briefly by a thumb sized hunk of rubber that she kicked out while making a face that suggested she'd had lunch at taco bell.

i suddenly became very skittish about this person laying on the floor. what if a stirup from a stationery bike whapped her in the head? what if my treadmill tipped over? what if one of those zitbacks saw the cardio sign and thought it said creatine and accidentally wandered over and stepped on her?

i was seeing danger even in the towel dangling from a handlebar 10 feet from her head. well, i thought, at least the cardio area is fairly safeish, i guess.

when the marshmallow finally whinnied, her mom jumped off the treadie to tend to her. she had toned legs, sculpted to something that rivaled mount rushmore. i'm guessing she gets these .25 mile intervals in anywhere and everywhere she can.

then the woman moved her baggage to the nautilus equipment. this made me a little more uneasy. not that a hip flexor is going to come unwelded [dewelded?] but what if the multitasking mom accidentally went max-out on the hamstring fixer and sent that car seat sailing? visions of cotton candy caught in the spokes of a rowing machine, that's what i was having.

still, the mom was closer to the ground on the nautilus equipment, and i tried to hold on to that.


this story is not any sort of judgement on the mom. as you have probably noticed from the fact that none of my bra cups have snaps or zippers or whatever, i don't have children. but i do have a raging case of imagination.

the moral of the story is that there is not enough bubble wrap in the world for me to have children.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

a moment on the lips, a lifetime on my jowels ...

this past week was marked by a ridiculous amount of cheese: aged cheddar, cheddar, gruyere, havarti -- with plenty more where that came from. a moment on the lips, a lifetime on my jowels.

in other news:

Definitely, Maybe 2008: christmas eve found me alone on a pull out bed as comfortable as breaking into a science museum and throwing a top sheet over the skeleton of t-rex. thankfully, my parents are rich in cable and i missed just 30 seconds of this ryan renyolds classic. he tells his daughter the stories of three women he dated or dated-ish over the course of a few years and she tries to guess, despite the nicknames, which is her mother. pretty cute. but i'll toss it in that "fever pitch" category of not good or bad enough to see. although, there were tears.

Netherland: A Novel: Months after everyone has read Joseph O’Neill’s Netherland, I’m going to add a “me too” to the mess of people who added it to various “best of …” lists.

Hans is a Dutch banker, a passive go’er with the flo’er whose wife lights back to London from Manhattan after 9/11, taking their son with her. Already an aimless sort, Hans continues to drift and falls in with Chuck Ramkissoon — an international man of mystery who is obsessed with trying to build a cricket community.

full review here.

"the hills"
* lauren < heidi < heidi's mom
* poor heidi. this stupid wedding is like waking up from a bad dream and realizing you gave birth to a 22 year old, unemployed hobbit. MADD should have her do an advertisement on the evils of tequila.
* i think if a psychiatrist got justin bobby alone with a box of crayons and some ink spots, they'd find the following personalities cowering in a corner of his pea brain: a biker d-bag in a beanie, jason mraz, both of the cops on CHiPs, and dakota fanning. the one i'd most like to see date audrina: dakota fanning.
* um. i watched the aftershow. i have no further comment, but it felt weird to not own up to it here, where i write my most honest and private thoughts.

ghost adventures
this week the gang travels to a gruesome penitentiary in ohio, where many have been imprisoned, murdered, executed and committed suicide. highlights include:
* an old man, former guard, who literally tips over while talking to our hero zak bagans. i thought this was hilarious; chuck questioned its inclusion in the show; i still think it's hilarious.
* zak goes on a terrific spree with the word "bro." how much do i wish he'd called his buddies "brah?" too much.
* after a vicious ghost-taunting, zak finds himself alone, in the dark, in the hole. he turns the camera on himself to confess that he's not taunting anyone now ... no, he's scared.
* a new rule has been added to the drinking game: every time zak makes aaron do a menial task that it would be simpler for him to do himself, you drink. "aaron. hand me your camera and make an X in that spot right there for our night-vision camera."

possible that we are the only people in the world who curl up with fajitas and ghost adventures every week? i wonder.

"rock show": futbol writes about a rickety bus and a trip to see a band who's name translates to The Indian Solari and the Air Conditioning Fundamentalists. "Essentially, the man has become a cover band of himself, and all the moshing in the world can’t make up for that creative failure. Indian, I feel for you."

embracing leisure in six simple steps ...

3 p.m. -- wake, gingerly, to a fresh new day. it hurts in that place in my stomach where the wine was living.
3:05-6 p.m. -- facebook IMing with my friend hinz. topics broached: the dating habits of various members of the class of '94; robbery; other people's funny facebook profile photos.
6 p.m.-10:05 p.m. -- many, many, many consecutive episodes of "it's always sunny in philadelphia." weep when charlie climbs out of a fountain saying "i love sinbad, i have all his tapes!" weep when charlie cuts the brakes, calls himself a "wildcard" and leaps from the moving rape van; weep when sweet dee runs out of a store in stolen shoes and runs head first into a parked car.
10:05-11 p.m. -- massive cheese consumption. presently enjoying a gruyere. have also dabbled in aged cheddar and brie. this was the christmas of cheese.
11 p.m.-1 a.m. -- lifetime movie about a sex addict house wife, have moved on to chocolate chip cookies. each time i go in for a handful, i think the phrase "cookie party!"
PREDICTION 1:15 a.m. -- forceably removing myself from anything resembling tetris.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

i get wordie after very little wine ...

ma pista is a bit of a multi-tasker. she made a kazillion-course meal, only once in awhile ignoring conversation to say aloud to herself: "okay. 16 tablespoons of butter." i really liked her shirt. it was quite risque. here she tends to the potatoes, etc.

christmas eve was an offer i couldn't refuse: upward of 40 people, snacky food that included beer & cheese soup, and sherbert and ginger ale slush at a favorite aunt and uncle's home in rochester. i mean, we'd have gone anyway, but i was actually looking forward to it the way one is supposed to look forward to a holiday. giddy. it was my carrot, dangling. i loved the idea of this loud room full of personality and food and young cousins zipping around.

briefly: my aunt j, the host, married my high school track coach, a corny jokester i still call mr. m-----. my aunt's son, my cousin drewcifer, and i are pretty close. like i was his confirmation sponsor [joke's on him] and i love that little long-lashed, curly haired nerd more than i love about 98 percent of the rest of the people i know. [even when he was in high school, he got on my case about bouncing checks.] he was a horrible kindergartener who waited for my bus on the playground at st. pius, then chased me into the elementary school. every. single. day.

i could write an essay on drewcifer, and it would certainly include the time i woke up in his st. paul apartment after barfing up breakfast food from mickey's diner and leinie's honey weiss from some sort of crazy young professionals meeting he'd dragged me to. then we stole wifi from his neighbors. he took me to a john mayer concert that didn't suck at all and he wears dress shoes. sometimes he calls me and holds the phone up to his computer and makes me listen to something like the song "i kissed a girl." now he is in grad school in DC. and, actually, today is his 25th birthday.

this proved to be as much fun as i'd hoped: i have a cousin with a word tattoo'd down the length of his arm, but i couldn't read the word; my uncle mr. m----- showed me a youtube video of shadow puppets, AND has a photo of our track team after winning a meet and holding a trophy in 1994; two junior high-aged cousins explained to me why e-mail is obsolete; another cousin broke the headlights on her car, and searched desperately for a needle nosed pliers to fix it. drewcifer asked me to be his life coach and showed me photo albums where his ears are like satellite dishes attached to a pea head.

eventually chuck and i left, and went to my parents house, where, in the time since thanksgiving, they have turned the downstairs bedroom into a proper guest room, instead of something akin to a show box with a 100 watt bulb stuck to light it. it's goldish hued in a very disco-fabulous way that i really like. kind of like the regal beagle. plus, there is a bed instead of a giant air mattress.

chuck fell asleep three minutes later.

my dad woke me in the morning. early. then he woke me again. i finally woke with my mom standing at the foot of the bed, staring intently at my face:

no "good morning" no "hello suzie-Q" she simply said: "DO YOU WANT ME TO DISH YOU UP SOME HASH AND EGGS!???!!"

i came into the kitchen and chuck was enjoying coffee [which we brought along to avoid a 4-year-old frozen batch of folger's crystals my mom keeps in the freeze] and conversation with these sleep breakers. goodie good, much? i think so. like a magician, he did this thing where he distracted my parents from looking in my direction while i drank coffee and grew accustomed to the daylight hours. god love him.

brother pista, sister-in-law pista and my niece mel, and my aunt p, another fantastic sort who, when i tell a joke, chuckles in this great way and says "oh, chris ..." showed up when i was in the shower.

presents: we made out like bandits. there is something to be said for having a hobby [cooking] and a blog [] and a brother who reads it [hi, brother pista!] i got a mixing bowl filled with three or four artisan cheeses and other gourmet foods, a canister filled with cookies!, a cute bottle for olive oil, i also got a pretty elaborate food processor and a mint scarf. i got a digital photo frame that i'm going to exchange for something wii related because it's not christmas unless i'm returning something, and this is the only option.

i probably told pa pista i wouldn't post this photo of him in his new hat. but i think it is a cute photo. and he doesn't read this site. so ... do the math.

chuck plays with a camera during a down moment of present-opening.

the grandparents pista got mel a digital camera. my favorite part of the day was when she disappeared into the bathroom with the camera and two webkinz and came back out like 10 minutes later. sister-in-law pista checked the footage, and found no strange "webkinz in the bathtub" photos. still, pretty funny. almost as funny as this look she's giving me. ME! the person who taught her how to take self-portraits. sheesh.

ma and pa pista recently returned from a religious journey to italy where they licked pebbles kicked by the pope and prayed to saints they'd not yet heard of. this pilgramage has turned my mom into a bit of an italianophile.

dinner, she promised, was going to be a four-hour affair.
"i don't know if i have four hours," my aunt p said when i warned her.
i nodded solemnly.

it started with an antipasto. crostini with artichoke and cheese:

on a scale of 1-5, 5 being mint, i give this a solid 5. we each received two toasts. yum!

the next course was pasta carbonara:

i'm going to give this another solid five. it had pruciutto in it. dee-lish.
then came a very, very, very extraneous course: lasagna.

i thought this was a pretty solid five as well. although, in retrospect, i didn't need lasagna on top of everything else that rolled in my path. i'd either have eliminated this phase or made it the finale.

then came the main course:

okay. left to right: pickled asparagus with pruciutto, salad and a four-inch think wedge of pork. i added the diced potatoes later.

seriously. that is a lot of meat.

there were also things. like olives.

and then, dessert. of course, tiramisu.

this was an insane meal. we drove back to duluth and immediately went to bed at 8:30 p.m. and didn't touch the food again. well, until i woke up at 11 p.m. and ripped through the chocolate chip cookies and then fell asleep again.

i plan on feeling normal again in 2009.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

the vortex of yuck ...

one time when we were shopping at super jubes, chuck saw something and immediately started cracking up. as soon as i saw this photo of the meat manager, i knew it was the instigator. i'm not sure why this is funny, but it is. not the act of being meat manager and nothing
about the photo, just this lone portrait hanging in the store, wrapped in garland and hidden behind old wisconsin snack sticks.

yesterday i was running some errands and i wandered past subway. just as i was making a mental note to double back for lunch, i caught a glimpse of a man sitting inside with a full palette of condiments dripping from his face.

i got pretty queasy.

while delicious, there is nothing about hellman's and dijon mustard spackled over acne scars that says to me: "hmmm ... subway." no. it said something more like "what? were they out of sweet onion teriyaki sauce, bud?" i tried to shelve the image in a place where i wouldn't find it if i returned for lunch in, say, and hour, but where i could find it if i ever needed to exorcise to contents of my stomach.

awhile later, i returned to the same subway. just inside the door, i glanced to my right and seemingly every single person in the shop was chewing with his/her mouth open. it was like watching synchronized garbage disposals mawing full heads of lettuce.

i'm completely off subway. again.


i saw a man come out of last chance liquor, turn toward the building and do a farmer's blow. for whatever reason, this doesn't gross me out when runners do it. it does when random non runners do, though. enough to dry heave.

i have spent the past two days in a vortex of yuck.


speaking of being off things, i'm off the ghetto spur. sometimes being a regular has it's privileges. sometimes being a regular comes packaged as a belly full of $8 worth of gas station burritos and tiger woods' gatorade and the realization that the employees know you by the sound of your cackle as you spill out of your taxi. social shame. i believe i've played out that hot spot.

i now take my business to the super america. it's closer, and they close at 10 p.m., so there is no logical reason for me to shame myself by drooling over a wheel of roller dogs. no. i never drink before 10 p.m. at super america they will know me by my blue machine naked juice and toilet paper purchases.

today i noticed a handwritten note on the counter:

the gist: an employee wants to know if he should get the area just below his lip pierced. it has turned into a sort of survey, filled with the scribbled thoughts of other customers. it is an archaic version of blog commenting. it was funny as heck.

when i took a photo of it, an employee pointed out their store's christmas tree. then he asked me if i wanted this thing:

"can i use it as a cutting board?" i asked.
"probably," he said.
"ummmm ... then, yeah," i said.

he changed his mind, though. his name is leo.
these are my new people.


look at this snow on our grill. it doesn't even look real. it looks like it's totally faking it. like one of those girls who wears an 800 sweat suit to the gym.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

the sentry* ...

i call this one: fun sucker. all that fun potential, all those meals of grilled vegetables eaten on the deck -- the drunk college student observation deck -- under all that snow.


* i just read this word in a book and filed it away for future use. looks like today is that special day.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

an ill use of my imagination ...

this week was defined by snow and tetris:

the former fell in large, paralyzing amounts and i played the latter enough to have the theme song permanently embedded in my brain. i am actually seeing shapes when i close my eyes and as i was reading, i was imagining which configuration of blocks would fit best at an indent mark.

oddly enough, i'm still not good at tetris.

here is why i hate winter driving: i am not convinced that some 20 year old idiot isn't going to t-bone me. a few days ago i imagined what it would feel like to be severed at the torso. this is an ill use of my imagination.

anyway ...


tomato and goat cheese galette: this is pretty much an onion, tomato, goat cheese and thyme pie. and it. is. awesome. i can't wait to screw around with the recipe and see what happens with some onions, tomatoes, basil and ricotta cheese. it's going to be INSANE!

fajitas!: i just wanted to take a photo of all these peppers. not a good photo, just a photo. all fajitas should always have zuccini in them.

Never Let Me Go by kazuo ishiguro: I’m going to be brief here, because everyone should have the pleasure of reading this book without knowing a lick about it.

This is a tricky book to talk about. I didn’t know anything about it when I cracked into it, and 100 pages later I probably would have called it a coming-of-age story about three kids in an English boarding school. And at that point, it wasn’t super gripping, as far as coming-of-age novels go.

full review here.

Northline: A Novel (P.S.) by willy vlautin: This is exactly the kind of cliche, mediocre plotline with a kitchy quirk that I want to watch a movie version of on the Lifetime Network the Sunday after one too many Grainbelts. It is that movie “Waitress” in the way that every story about a woman and her abusive boyfriend and an unplanned pregnancy and getting a GED are the 2007 movie that starred Felicity. Reading it, though, just happened involuntarily with no change in my blood pressure or body temperature.

full review here.


Fever Pitch 2005: the only possible way i would ever see this movie is if it was accidentally on tv on the exact channel i was watching and my thumb was too apathetic to bounce on the remote. not that i assumed there was anything wrong with it, it just falls in that passive grey area where i'd forgotten it existed. the stars aligned in just this way this week. i'm delighted to say, it was an adorable movie and i, of course, got weepy. i could listen to drew barrymore lisp all day.

2003: wow. move over holiday tradition of watching "gremlins," we have a new winning holiday movie. we'll have to put phoebe cates' shocker about how her father died when he got stuck in the chimney on ice this year.

ghost hunters: the foil to ghost adventures is the much more credible team. "ghost hunters" features a group that can get through entire episodes without using the word "orb" or "dude!" while they investigate. they first try to debunk alleged hauntings. they have heat sensors that ghost adventurers can only drool over, and only one psychotic investigator who would fit in with the bagans' posse.

ghost adventures: zak bagans experiences a fit of 'roid rage when his henchman nick tries to flee a haunted bathroom in bobby mackay's music world. zak growls at his weaker counterpart, telling him not to run from his fears. later, zak experiences burning sensations on his back after trying to antagonize a demon spirit. cameraman aaron semi undresses the hero to find scratch marks down zak's back. the pained ghost adventurer storms out of the room, throwing his hands up in dispair, only to spin around and COME BACK AT THOSE GHOSTS! like it was a common bar room brawl.

in a more tender moment, zak has a one-on-one with a catholic priest who warns him that he's messing with something powerful and dangerous.

"is it wrong that i just want to go after them?" zak confesses, subtly flexing his triceps.

how can two shows about ghosts be so different, and so great in such opposite ways? and how is it possible that every week, zak starts to look more and more like something you'd find gyrating on a life sized speaker at 18 and up night? god bless him.

"the hills"
* lo calls whitney a "career girl" with a sneer. lauren responds "no, but it's good!"
* i totally misjudged spencer. this getting heidi crunk on patron and marrying her in mayheeko is what hallmark has in mind when they sprinkle glitter on their cards.
* now that lauren is dressing like an olson twin, i think she and audrina will get along better. it also makes that rumor about her and justin bobby seem not so far fetched.
* i hope lauren gave whitney some tips on how to be the star of a successful reality show. step 1: it is important to never close the door on a potential enemy.


lykke li Youth Novels : why? two reasons: swedish. pop.

stuff and nonsense ...

i started my christmas shopping today, about five days ahead of schedule. first i had to take the bus downtown to get my car, which i'd stashed in a ramp to postpone the inevitable $1,500 trip to the body shop that happens every year.

i'm victimized by lesser drivers.
my car has had more work done than the statue of liberty.

the bus was 20 minutes late. this was uncomfortable for two reasons:

1. i was getting cold, but hadn't put my hood up immediately when i left the house. when i finally did flip it over my head, the confetti of snow made it seem like i just won myself a national championship.

2. i was sharing the stop with a man who had the rare bus-rider qualities of a) being freshly shampooed, b) not wearing sweatpants pulled up to his mustache and a transistor radio on his shoulder. the longer we waited, the weirder it seemed that we weren't talking about the 13's tardiness. finally he just headed east on foot. this is exactly what needed to happen to make the bus come, and i'm glad he took one for the team.

while traveling down sixth avenue east, i listened to an 11 year old girl, a self-described "grammer freak" talk about a classmate using the word "ain't" to taunt her. "everyone knows i'm a grammer freak," she said to her mom.

i wondered if that was necessarily true.

"who's bethny?"
"you know bethny ... blonde? long hair?"
"no ...?"
"the grammer freak?"
"oh! why didn't you say so! the grammer freak! right! bethny."

getting to the mall was a treat. it only took an hour and felt like i was going to slide backward into the lake once.

* the mall was, of course, packed. a woman slid in front of me just as i started to look up a book on the computer at barnes & noble. so i stood just a little too close to her and made sure she knew i was watching her type "oscar wilde" into the search field.

* i heard the name ayn rand pronounced six different ways by one couple over the course of three minutes.

* at the counter, i thank the woman who rings up my purchases for her speedy turnaround. the line had been well into the yoga paraphernalia, yet it took no time at all. i do this to undo the bad karma from the oscar wilde incident.

trying to find a present for a second grader serves to remind me how far removed i am from elementary school culture. what did i like in second grade?

* michael jackson's "thriller"
* puffy stickers
* garfield
* saltines
* snow days
* tom e.
* my own cursive writing
* scribbling poetry
* smurfs
* donut sunday
* roller skating in the basement to lionel ritchie

but this particular youngster, my niece mel, is a different breed of second grader. for one thing, she's smart. for another, she doesn't have a mullet.

whatever. my shopping is 90 percent done. every time i dawdled, i realized i was in a race with the weather. like that sand timer at the beginning of "days of our lives." i got close to home, ditched my car in a snowbank and had myself draped in sweatpants seven seconds after i walked in the door.

i freaking hate winter.
i should add that i completed almost all of my shopping without buying something for myself.
i caved at the end and got a book.

Friday, December 19, 2008

a mouthful ...

photo by chuck

tonight, at the birthday rally in spirit valley, the sky parted and someone gave me the perfect set up for possibly the funniest line i've ever delivered in my life.

unfortunately, i have to wait until morning to know if it is appropriate for my site. doh! personal censorship sucks!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

real live tears ...

this is the demon door that i smashed my right hand in twice on tuesday afternoon. first right on the meat of my hand, then when i screamed and yanked my hand out of the door, it closed on my middle fingernail.

this is the bench where i sat and cried for six to eight minutes.

bruising ensued.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

alternate title: al dente ...

pro: i love my winter coat. it is so cozy and warm.
con: when i wear it, i feel like i have early onset rigor mortis.

Monday, December 15, 2008

fireball! ...

this past weekend i blew my stir crazy allowance before the snow came. doh!


snow people from christa pista on Vimeo.

fought over any good books lately? i'm always composing a roster of people who i could be in a book club with, but i also have a psychic image of what meetings would look like. this always pushes the idea out of my head. nyt delves into the harshness the right group, then finding the right book.

in which sometimes it takes years: molly lambert writes about a 9-year-old pick up artist who wrote a book on how to get girls. one nugget: “The best choice for most boys is a regular girl. Remember, some pretty girls are cold hearted when it comes to boys. Don’t let them get to you.”

it's the holidays. how about just one: the moral is: being sober can get you out of a lot of holiday parties.

fireball sighting: i actually saw this when we were driving back from my parent's house on thanksgiving. it was pretty amazing. i didn't know what the heck it was, but it was really pretty and really brief and really cool.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall (Widescreen) 2008 : know what's worse than a bad movie? a movie that shouldn't be bad that is. like this one. it's actually funny. but its like it's overwritten so the jokes lose their punch, and also sometimes they go too far off path to make a joke. but god i love veronica mars.

The Goonies 1885: i'd forgotten what a funsucker martha plimpton is in this movie in the decade and a half since i last saw it. it left me feeling a little creepy when i remembered the strong feelings i'd had for sean asten in the mid-80s. especially since he went all hairy toed hobbit.

St. Elmo's Fire 1985: thank you tivo suggestions! in other things i've forgotten in the past decade: emilio esteves is positively painfully awkward in this movie. also, i remember wishing that, like demi moore's character, my wrist and head clanked with jewelry everytime i moved. such a nice soundtrack.

While They Slept: An Inquiry into the Murder of a Family
by kathryn harris : In late April, 1984, Billy Gilley,18, killed his parents with a baseball bat. And when his little sister Becky wouldn’t go upstairs while he finished, he beat her, too, which eventually killed her. Jody Gilley, 16 at the time, stood frozen in her bedroom, disassociating, imagining she was a character in a book and wondering if that character would jump out the window to get away from her brother.

When he was finished, Billy Gilley came upstairs, bloody, and said to his sister: “We’re free.”

full review here.

and, for further reference, i've posted a list of the 10 best books i read in 2008. this was pretty hard to do, since i believe i only read about 4 good books in 2008. anytime a personal best-of includes a book by chelsey handler ... well, that's just weird.

best book i read in 2008: wind-up bird chronicle
best book i read in 2008 that was written in 2008: soul thief by charles baxter.

now, now every children: i saw this band live in november and i really like them. they are totally cute. the girl reminded me of juliana hatfield. i like "not one but two" and "cars."

Saturday, December 13, 2008

snow business ...

it took a few years to figure out that in the event of a pending snowstorm, that most importantly, your duluthian must stop at last chance liquor. a good rule of thumb is: at least one bottle of wine per predicted foot of snow.

when i got home, chuck was playing mario galaxy and said this sentence me:
"after getting instructions from a talking penguin, i'm riding on a fish's back down a river in the sky."

we made some chump from pizza luce bring dinner to the front door: shrimp pesto pizza, artichoke dip and tiramisu. i cracked a bottle at 12:30 a.m., then proceeded to stay up until 6 a.m., listening to music and watching classic lita ford/ozzy osborne on then i slept until 3:30 p.m. and woke to a few cruel realities:

1. despite carefully plotting my wine purchases to minimize my chances of waking with a headache, my brain won and there it was, an 11 pound ball of compost banging against my skull.

2. my assault on the weather had been in vain. the accumulation of snow was laughable.

i plodded around the apartment. canceled plans out in the world that called for pants and clean hair. watched four episodes of "it's always sunny in philadelphia." we passed a giant chocolate covered rice crispie bar back and forth, taking bites and making chocolate skid marks on our front teeth.

"who are we?" chuck asked.
"people who sit in bed watching tv and eating rice krispie bars," i said.
"in other words, awesome?" he asked.
i nodded.

then i waged a battled with narcolepsy for an hour and woke craving potato chips.

by now, chuck had reached the level where he turns into a bee in mario galaxy.

i made a grocery wish list, compiling every craving that could hit in the next two days:

salty potato chips
2, no 4 cokes
soft shell tortillas
kitty litter
veggie nuggets

at the grocery store, i added corn dogs to the mix. as these items rolled down the conveyor belt, i realized that i was the very person whose items would gross me out if i was standing behind myself in line.

"corn dogs, potato chips, coke and cookies. now we're eating like a daycare center!" chuck said.

by the end of this weekend, i'll have been wearing a hooded lourdes sweatshirt and green sweatpants for 64 hours.

Friday, December 12, 2008

dirty thirty(six) ...

this photo is from the first of chuck's birthday parties that i went to in 2006. those goalie pads were attached to the wall and chuck's fannie burned them off with a lighter. i strapped chuck into them. they were upside down.

today is chuck's birthday. he will be three years older than me for the next eight months, which would be totally scandalous if i was 12.

finding a gift for him is impossible. he doesn't seem to want things. i never open an urban outfitters catalog to find he's dog-eared an ironic t. he doesn't pet inanimate objects at the mall. when he goes to target, he just comes home with deodorant.

if he does want something, he does what you do: has a few beers, gives his wallet a yank and buys it from amazon.

every day since the day i realized we would be a couple that might exchange gifts at some point, i have been paying very close attention when he talks about things in a favorable way. plotting how i can parlay that into something wrapped.

if i had to guess at the contents of his birthday list, it would be this:

1. more hours in a day when he is awake, alert, and not at work or about to go to work or just home from work;
2. me to do something with the stack of rubbermades that have been left right inside the door since i moved in;
3. less stuff.
4. photoshop.
5. a bonfire fueled by the pizza boxes we've collected over the past three years.

at least three of my ideas were squelched because, before shopping, i'd mentally assigned prices to them that were more realistic in 1958. not that there were automatic car starters in 1958. or iphones.

so i got him a few small things. two of them noted on the package that they were acceptable for children 8 and up. this seemed okay by him.

this is also from 2006. i made angel food cupcakes for chuck. it was the first time i'd put anything in an oven besides dirty dishes in, like, ever. it was also the first time i'd done anything cheesy in, like, ever.

jcrew helped.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

i know i like dancing with you ...

me: how many times do you think i listened to the song 'kiss me deadly' by lita ford tonight while on the treadmill. you'll NEVER get this.
chuck: five.
me: oh.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

introducing the ghost adventures drinking game ...

i see now that last week was worthless.

A Carol Christmas 2003: tor-tor stars in this hallmark family movie as a scroogie television talk-show host who hates things like kids and meals on wheels and when her employees have lives outside of work. she takes a nap before the live christmas eve show and is visited by ghosts who show her the past, present and future. spoiler: when she wakes, she has turned into a nice person and everyone is happy. and she gets the guy. includes gary coleman and william shatner. neither as "the guy."

"coffee" by christoph niemann is a story of a man's love for coffee, told largely in coffee-stained illustration. totally cute.

No One Belongs Here More Than You: Stories by miranda july: The truth is, I don’t like most contemporary short stories. They feel contrived and purposefully engineered to be “out there” or inaccessible. This is a problem with all but two and a half of the stories in this collection.

full review here.

ghost adventures: "this is a show you love to hate," chuck said mid-way though the episode at a haunted penitentiary in boise, idaho. true. as soon as they spent five minutes addressing zak's fear of snakes, it became obvious that nothing was going to happen during lock down.

at one point a dark shadow caresses zak's arm.
aaron's pocket with a water bottle opens.
an unexplained noise occurs, and seems to be two ghosts talking.
an orb is deemed not a ghostly energy.

we're creating a ghost adventures drinking game.
one drink whenever zak says "energy."
one drink when aaron says "dude."
finish your drink when zak's nipples show.

meanwhile, the google hits for zak keep coming. more people are coming here looking for info on his tattoos and this week i got the inevitable "zak bagans gay."

my favorite ghost adventurer has become aaron. his natural instinct, when scared, is to turn the camera onto himself and go "duuuuude! i just totally felt something on my arm."

also watching:
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - Seasons 1 & 2

Saturday, December 6, 2008

it ain't no big thing ...

so friday was completely unnecessary. might as well not have even existed on the calendar. i woke up at 8 p.m. after what must have been demonic possession at rt's the previous night. somehow the stars aligned. as did the shots. it was truly epic. i've remembered birthdays more clearly.

after a solid 18 hours of z's, we ordered food delivery from luce. since "everything" seemed like an ambitious order, i made due with cheese bread, veggie nuggets and a cold pasta salad. i took one bite of each and groaned. water has never tasted to good. if my kidneys could talk, they would have sounded like a gunny sack filled with hungry kittens.

reader(s), i watched a lot of tv last night.

today i did that stupid thing where i go to a mall on a saturday in december. chuck's birthday is next week, so i've been hunting down a present that will secure my place in his heart. it was bittersweet. nothing for the mister, a new winter coat, purse and book for selfish mcsselfisher.

a few weeks ago i was at luce and my friend icknay went apeshit over my current purse. he told me he hated it, and demanded that i get a new one. even volunteered to go to the mall with me. i'm sure he'd hate this one, too. it's pretty awful, but goes well with my itchy case of arrested development.

i passed out on the couch about 80 pages into my book, and had a weird dream about gravity.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

oh, paparazzi ...

unscrupulous paparazzi catches dirty hippies eating dinner.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

on majoring in creative writing in the mid-to-late 90s ...

everyone is more complicated than me.

no one wants to read poetry about always going to homecoming with the wrong guy. or short stories where the protagonist's inner demon is a midnight curfew. i have spent the past 18 years wearing solid color shirts with collars, pants without patch-pockets. not drinking, not smoking, no weed. one hickey, though.

even at st. thomas, more upper-echelon boarding school than university, i see that majoring in creative writing has an edge that i don't. and that "well, my mom says i write like erma bombeck" is a bad way to try to relate to my classmates.

stace's hair grows wild, prairie grass or a gift plant unwilling to die. her clothes are a collection of things, like she strolled through her cluttered apartment picking up items and randomly putting them on her body with no consideration for their function, color, or seasonal appropriateness.


a leg warmer.
an earring.
this headband.
a half-shirt.
a sweater.
a scarf.
these shoes.

she is the best writer in our class, by far. her first poem is just a collection of sensory words about riding the city bus. it doesn't rhyme as much as it sounds like it does; her first short story is about a woman who works as a phone sex operator.

dan is post-secondary. a 17-year-old kid in baggie jeans. red hair and a bloated pasty face that is prone to acne. he writes poems about anna, always about anna. they dated for a few weeks a few years ago, and now his love for anna lives in a bucket with a hole in the bottom, he writes.

dan and i are friends. i write a poem about the way his faded gap jeans dangle from his hips, which they do. it's like they are wet. he visits my dorm room and makes me listen to the song "running to stand still." he tells me this is how he feels.

"what's with you and that kid?" my roommate asks me later.
"nothing," i say. "i just really like this song."


we have a mom in our class. a nontraditional student with no ticks in her cursive who has a hallmark way with words. she knows a ton about birds.


whit always sounds like she has a cold. when she uses the word "pastoral" i forget to look it up in the dictionary. she gets out of workshopping her stuff one afternoon by saying she ran out of money to pay for copies for the class. when i try this, it doesn't work.


kath has a cleft palate. it doesn't affect her writing at all.


we have a few rules about writing that go beyond anything suggested by houghton-mifflin:

no "and then i woke up" endings
no "and then everyone died" endings
no defending a piece of writing with "but that's really what happened!"


one of the women in my writing class has a nike swoosh tattoo on the back of her neck. i notice it during my j-term step aerobics class. the under part of her hair is shaved, with a curtain of long hair covering it. when she wears a pony tail, it's like a cap. i can't figure her out: she is literally a cheerleader in black lipstick who writes short stories about suicide sponsored by nike.

there is a pre-law student taking this class as an elective. his face is wind-tanned and hard. he seems like the kind of guy who's mom wears a $20,000 christmas tree pendant at party on new year's eve. a family party where, afterward, he'll accuse his wife of getting drunk and flirting with his brother. he will probably hate his dad until his dad dies, then he'll buy something expensive. he's got an east-coast accent that makes all of his stories about drug-fueled hallucinations and road trips as easy-on-the-ears as a white noise machines from sharper image.

the pre-law student isn't half as interesting in our christian marriage class.


our professor begins hosting classes in the basement of the english department. providing us with tea served in styrofoam cups with hot water from the coffee maker. she is a published poet from a family of writers that includes a sister who is about as famous as a writer can get.

aside from stace, our professor doesn't seem to really like any of us. when she writes HA! in green ink in the margins of my portfolio, it doesn't feel genuine. i, however, find her fascinating: long, free flowing hair, giant earrings, she's a little messy. she looks like a mother's best friend: the one who keeps protest signs in the trunk, has never lived in one place for more than eight months and uses endearing names for kids, like "hey, you little rugrat."


the soccer player, as i hope his diploma recognizes, is the first attractive male in history to take an upper-level creative writing class at st. thomas. his blond hair is feathered; it looks like the top of a cupcake. for weeks, he never contributes his stories for workshop. i feel like his translator between the thrift-store junkies, closet cutters and someone who may include the phrase "shots on goal" in his work. i'm no stranger to having my last name embroidered on a purple nylon jacket with UST written on the back.

finally. finally the soccer player brings a story to class, passes out copies and begins reading aloud. the gist: a suburban soccer star with a tyrannical father can't deal with the burden that comes with talent. he waits until the last sentence to shoot himself in the mouth.


in my final act as a creative writing major, i write a short story called "the writing group" that is published in the university's literary magazine. [i'm on staff]. the fictional class consists of a happy couple writing love poetry back and forth; a kid who carries an empty guitar case, doodles van halen logos, and instead of writing claims to be tapping into another creative medium; a dark dark poet who writes of dead animals and the romance of halloween. a hippyish professor, with dangling earrings, propped up on a radiator listening.

at a reading in the st. thomas library, one of the other english department professors laughs and laughs and laughs as i read. real HA's without green ink. he's apparently met some of these people.


years later, i ran into my writing professor in front of my rental on fairview ave. she was with her husband walking the greyhounds they adopted. i was a week from graduation.

"you and daniel were always just writing poems about each other," she said.
"no," i said. "nothing ever happened there."

fourth alarm ...

while i haven't discussed my bladder lately, i still have one. and for its exemplary service as of late, i've given it a promotion: emergency alarm.

i'm caught in pedestrianism's cruel clutch, a clutch that smells of bread sticks from the olive garden. hot with "nights in rodanthe" fever: trying to go to bed before the "two and a half men" reruns segue to cutlery informercials and then outdoor fishing; trying to wake before final jeopardy.

my cell phone is set with three alarms. 9 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 9:45 a.m.
my bladder? it could go off at any time.

part of my new bedtime ritual involves a 70 second keg stand over the water faucet. when, finally, my bladder is distended like a water balloon, locked and loaded, i go to bed confident that physically i will not be able to oversleep with that sloshy mess waiting to happen.

this morning around 6 a.m., i had a dream that i flooded the bed.
i woke up gasping. it was just a dream. still, i had to detonate early.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

why ... he looks like an ultrasound! ...

i have spent the past eight days completely off the social grid. although my lack of showering would make it seem like i was completely off the grid. this left me a lot of time to do things like getting over my preconceived notion about elliptical machines being for pussies.

i heard an interview on "all things considered" with emily wells, a young violinist slash hip hop fan on saturday. she totally won me over with a cover of biggie smalls' "juicy." also awesome, fare thee well the requiem mix. it reminds me of something that would be in a modern take on the tv show "fame." she's this violinist who changes things up in the climax of the movie, in my rewrite.


mini garlic naans: i think i've made this before. this particular recipe has the unique quality of being detailed half in metric. i guesstimated in the most literal sense, and these little buggers turned out great.

in other experimental news, i also made a meal i'll call "untitled":
saute extra firm tofu and an onion; add other favorite vegetables like tomatoes and red pepper -- whatever you like currified could be added; apply a can of aroy red curry and let the mess simmer. eat with basmati rice.

Stir of Echoes 1999: kevin bacon stars as a supernatural naysayer, who, after a few beers and a go-round with hypnosis at a neighborhood party, is opened to an otherworldly experience: solving the mystery of the disappearance of a local girl -- a story he hadn't really heard much about, despite the fact that this tight-knit hood spends an inordinate amount of quality time together. whatever. it's terrifying and great. a total on-demand roulette score.

Roadside Prophets 1992: got it: just because adam horowitz was my favorite beastie boy in 1992 doesn't mean that a movie starring the zitty adolescent known as ad-rock is going to send me in a tiger beat magazine frenzy. no, this is pure crap. also, john cusack pops up -- the only decent moment in this wickedly shitty flick. i can only hope this film doesn't appear on his resume.

The Fifth Element 1997: hmm ... willie wonka meets die hard and zoolander and parties in space. milla jovovich is fantastic, in a way i never thought possible when she was the face of seventeen magazine.

My Cousin Vinny : my lunar cycle threw some jabby elbows; i got weepy at the end of this movie.

An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England: A Novel
by brock clarke: Life lesson learned about myself while reading this book: I prefer my slapstick humor visually served up by Leslie Nielsen, as opposed to in book form, like this.

for full review here.

Weeds - Season Two : just as good as season one. better than season three

Weeds - Season Three : as i fully documented, 20-something episodes of this show can make a person go a little batshitcrazy, what with the theme song and all. also made me want to drink frapuccinos. still decent, but not as quirky and funny as the previous two season.

The L Word - Seasons 1-5 : in the two best episodes of this solid season, the gang gets completely wasted at jenny schector's house party, and in the other, there is a black out. songs that need to be downloaded from this season:

"i want you back" by jackson five
"goodbye" by asobi sksu
"spoon me" by ohm
"kiss me deadly" by lita ford
"all the girls" by costanza
"swimming pool" by freezepop
"white laughter" by heartthrobs


here is the zak bagans screen shot of the week, from a moment where he hears an unexplained noise. he looks like an ultrasound. i think zak bagans is to 2009 what tori spelling was to 2008. at least on this web site.

"ghost adventures": in this week's episode, zak bagans, his two-man posse and one strange pair of mc hammer pants travel to edinburg to spend some time in the haunted vaults beneath the city. the boyz spend from sundown to sun up trying to rile "mr. boots" a tyrant landlord who may have killed a prostitute. before the lockdown even begins, bagans tries to warn mr. boots that they are going to be in his space tryin' to make him mad.

lots of cold, hard breezes; the sound of a woman singing; and a teddy bear that moves inexplicably. i'm not sure how long this show can last without anything supernatural actually happening besides goatee'd cameraman aaron growling "duuuuuude!" and close up terror faces, night-vision shots up bagans' nose.

but i may be underestimating the audience, as recent google hits to my site have included:

"zak bagans"
"zak bagans workout"
"zak bagans nude"
"zak bagans tattoos"
"tell me about zak bagans tattoos"

so ... he has fans, that's for sure. i'm still loving this show, but seriously. i need at least a creepy shadow and soon.