Sunday, May 30, 2010

LA-LA-LA ...

I guess the processed food that most-resembles my brain right now would be a pink and mangled brick of Velveeta that has been melting in the back window of a Pontiac. In 1985. Doing this trip -- 12 days of a Pink Floyd laser show-like sensory extravaganza in Los Angeles -- any justice would require more words than I know how to spell. And not doing it justice would be a crime against my soul.

This morning I woke up and every thought and feeling was already fading. Like satisfying muscle pain, but two days later. I'm back home, wondering what in the refrigerator is edible, and what is on the fast-track to the science fair. Ticking off a back log on TiVo. Hasta la pasta to the memory of the mortification I experienced when I realized I'd sent Hilton Als, theater critic for the New Yorker, a writing sample from the time Gallagher performed at Grandma's Sports Garden. Embarrassing. 

The gist is this: Every day for 11 days, starting at hours I didn't know existed on modern time-keeping devices, our group of about two dozen people went to writing workshops, tutorial sessions, and had one-on-one meet ups with biggies in the biz. We toured LA in a huge, roving pack. Shuttled here and there. Lunches, dinners, more of this and that. Then every night we went to a theater performance. Some gut-wrenching: I'll never look at mustard the same again; Some hokey: I've had the song "From a Distance" stuck in my head for days. Twice we had college-like cram writing assignments that went into the wee hours of the night; More often we had booze fests that went into the wee hours of the night. The two times I strung together six hours of sleep, I felt like She Ra. I slept with the shades open in my hotel room so that my singed eyeballs would wake me if my alarm did not. That did the trick.

I learned some important things about functioning on about two hours a sleep. I have two notebooks full of other stuff I learned -- the stuff I went there to learn and more -- but I can't bring myself to open them yet. Too much wisdom from too many smart people to revisit right now. It's like going back for seconds on dessert at Old Country Buffet.

And the people. Oh, lo, the people. I have a new appreciation for The Real World, and the way you can quietly lose your mind, laugh until inertia makes it impossible for your diaphragm to stop bouncing, and then spend an entire plane-ride across country looking for something -- a song, a word, a phrase, a brand of pretzels -- to explain why you are dripping snot all over a tray table. I'm having a hard time reconciling that I will never have that exact same experience with those exact same people. I guess that happens every time you experience anything. But this time it's especially heavy.

When it came to the final hug session on the final day, I looked at almost everyone in that group and thought: Oh my gosh. I like you all so much.  
You have the craziest laugh or  
the best stories or
Cigar smoke smells delicious, put it in my hair or
I love that you conduct interviews out of a trailer, or
you are the person who I hope to be in six years or  
I wish we'd talked more, or 
I wish I had one more day with you or 
you are so brave,  or 
you remind me of my friends back home.

My amigo favorito was a film-freaking, American Spirits-smoking, map-reading, screen-play writing, math-doing, online contributing, beer drinking, whipped cream in his coffee, barefoot running "Buffy" fan from DC. We'll call him Dawson. I lucked into sitting next to him on the bus the day we picked the person we were charged with making sure did not get stabbed, kidnapped, or recruited by the Manson family. We were also next-door neighbors, which was helpful because I could never find my room. He's the kind of friend that I felt comfortable enough to turn to and say: "So-and-so made me cry today." But mostly we just drank just north of moderation and tried to out-funny the other person.

My second favorito amigo was a young lad from Buffalo, No. 9, who would send me text messages that said things like "Watch her hair when she claps." We became friends the day that I watched him Google "donkeys wearing costumes" and then upload the images to Tumblr. He made me laugh so hard every single day that there was the threat of choking on my own bobbing uvula.

So, instead of doing a daily download dump of what happened, I'll list some of my favorite memories from this trip. Grab a quick nap before jumping in. This will take awhile:

We had a body movement session with Kay Cole, an original cast member of "A Chorus Line," in a mirrored studio on the USC campus. A man sat in the corner providing a dance soundtrack on a medium-sized keyboard. (I really wanted him to bust out some Erasure. Perhaps "Chains of Love"). We were all still strangers then, and Cole got us to leave our inhibitions in the shoe pile, and dance.

One woman, a wonderfully animated, hard-working, question-asking and self-controlled (until she smelled wine) Wisconsinite was struggling with dancing in front of the group. We were asked to do a solo: A 10 second improv dance and end it by shouting out our name. Wisconsin did her dance reluctantly, then fled the room. But she came back a few minutes later to give it another shot. And as soon as she did, Cole asked her to do another solo. The entire group groaned in unison. Like, "Oh, Kay. No. Please. Can't you tell she is uncomfortable?"

But Wisconsin did it. And we all cheered. That's when I realized: "Shit, dawg. This group already really cares about each other." And then I thought: "You go, Wisconsin. I'm so proud of you." And then I thought: "Wow. Kay Cole has a pretty amazing way with people."

While the majority of the group went to a Lebanese restaurant, four of us -- including a vegetarian -- went rogue and found an In & Out Burger. "You can eat hummus any time, but cheeseburgers are a novelty" No. 9 said. ... "There it is," No. 9 said. "That red and yellow building. The one that looks like ketchup and mustard." After some serious elbow flailing, we found a table and ate this amazing delicacy moaning and groaning and giddy. Special sauce bled from my cheeseburger, down my hands.

It took more than a week for me to get into a position where the Hollywood sign would be visible. Then, there it was, but I couldn't see it. "See that tower? Look just down from that," Dawson said pointing out the shuttle window. Nada. "See that tower? Look down!" Nada. "SEE THAT TOWER! LOOK DOWN!" he said. Nope. I thought he was snorting goldfish crackers until I saw it for real two days later. By the tower, but down.

The Troubadours are this clever troupe based out of Burbank, and we got to watch them rehearse for an upcoming original production: "CHiPs the Musical." Sexy girls with Farrah hair, and songs about sexual tension. Numbers performed on makeshift motorcycles, and a van wheeling out of control down a California highway. Ponch, of course, and John.

They were a total riot, and during the Q&A session afterward one of the group's founders ticked off a list of other original performances they had done: "Alice in One Hit Wonderland," "The Wizard of Ozzy Osbourne," "As U2 Like It." Known-plays-turned-musicals. For the rest of our time in LA, I vied with Dawson, to come up with the best title for a show using this template. His best: "Jesus Christ and Mary Chain Superstar." And my best (a much longer list): "Whamlet." "The 2 Live Crucible." "The Laramie Alan Parson's Project." There's more where that came from.

No. 9 and I were in the front row for "The Arsonist," at Odyssey Theatre -- this space that resembles a bowling alley. In the play's greatest moments, the character Schmitz drowns his plate with a soup of mustard. He mows down on a sandwich, food falling from his face, squeezes a tomato. He wags a pickle, drenched mustard. It's all over his fingers. He dips into a gooey 3-minute egg the consistency of a loogie. Chicken skin hangs, like a goatee across his chin. I'm surprised I got out of there without getting food-flavored spit in my hair. It was such gooey goodness, so utterly revolting.

As you know, in my happiest moments, I'm gagging on a visual.

Nearly every single night we went to this bar near the hotel, where the patio area was set in a narrow alley. There was always a DJ, usually playing Smiths-caliber songs while something like Animal Planet or a Japanese horror flick played on a large screen. Heat lamps and pints of Sapporo.

Afterward, Dawson and I would sometimes go for a smoke in the hotel's Japanese garden -- which, if I could remember it, was probably a very stunning place. I'd point to an area and say: "Let's stand over there!" and he'd say: "That's where we stood last night."

Of course, I couldn't remember this night to night. Heck, I couldn't find the place in the light of day. And always on our way back upstairs, I'd fill my palm with a wad of hand sanitizer (which was kept near the elevator) and whip it at him, forgetting I did that, too, the night before.

Our leader held a dinner party in her beautiful Pasadena home filled with wide open spaces and original art and fascinating people. We drank gin & tonics in the backyard, and she played conversation matchmaker, directing us toward strangers who we should meet. I, of course, was socially awkward and went blank when paired with the books editor from a major newspaper. ("I like books." Crickets.)

After dinner, we converged on her living room and were given an intimate tutorial on musical theater by Jack Viertel. Nice light, wine. There was a private concert with Georgia Stitt on the keys, and solos by the likes of Shoshana Bean. It was stunning. Surreal. When it was over, we were standing around in the backyard near her pool -- more of a landscape piece than place to train for the Olympics. "The only way this could be better," I mused, "would be if there were Playboy bunnies making out in that jacuzzi." A man from Oklahoma took a second to picture it, then drawled "That's kinky." But it was more like "Thahht's kinkaaay."

A bunch of us went to see "The Tomorrow Show" a variety show that started at midnight in Hollywood. But first we went to a frou-frou club-club, where I got tripped up by a bartender who wanted to know what kind of whiskey I was angling for. ("The kind old men in Westerns drink?") Our group had been on the go since early in the morning, and didn't blend well with the little black dress sect. We were cas, in jeans and sweatshirts and camping hair. "We're the ugliest people to ever set foot in this bar," I told Ari. (True story. They made us come in the back door). "They're probably thinking: Those are the longest shorts I've ever seen," she said. I made a few jokes about HPV, and we headed to the show.

This group frequently features Brendan Smalls, and when he came out on the stage I gasped like a groupie. Of all the funny in the world, his "Home Movies" is among those I find funniest. I sat there with a goofy grin, detecting vocal nuances from the 9-year-old film geek voice he uses on the cartoon. And then I started wondering what life is like for Brendan Smalls' girlfriend: his "Oh baby" sounding suspiciously like something animated.

The highlight of the night was a sword swallower who ate sharp until the tip touched his stomach lining. You could see the movement of the weapon in his throat. I almost barfed so hard.

Dawson wrote a short play, a scene from a horror flick, that included a sassy quick-witted Veronica Mars-style female lead. He cast me in the role -- apparently he thought I could handle sarcasm, and wouldn't mangle his zippy dialogue -- oblivious to the fact that I am where acting goes to die. I panicked a bit, worried that I'd stumble on my lines and break his play. And in all of that anxiety, I missed that he was having one of those super stellar life moments, his words acted out for an audience. God, I'm a dick. Afterward, I read on Twitter about how stoked he was. Awesome that I got to have front-row seats for a friend's big phat moment.

We spent part of an afternoon skulking the perimeter of Balboa Island, with its toy houses and chocolate covered frozen whatevers. When I saw the Newport Beach Club, I couldn't help but think of the time Chino got in a fist fight at cotillion, and then of Marisa Cooper's tragic death. There wasn't enough time for me to lay in the sand and see what shade of blue the sun could turn my pasty flesh. Regret, numero uno.

I talked to Jeff Weinstein about food writing, and food making, a conversation with interruptions to give me some Pasadena history; I told Texas about the time I was robbed at gunpoint, which oddly enough ended with her trying to convince me to try stand-up comedy; I had a moment with TT and Liz, where I confessed that I was really uncomfortable during a performance art workshop where we were asked to act like we were walking on glass and having an orgasm at the same time, and it reminded me of what it was like to have a good group of girl friends;

I told three stories about times I've wet the bed after drinking too much, and HipHop convinced me to write a series of essays called "The Urine Trilogy"; A group of us went to the bar, and left with a catch phrase: "Hot dog down a hallway." I knew one guy for almost three days before he finally said to me: "You know, I'm from Minnesota, too"; We made up variations of the joke: "Show me on the doll where (blank) touched you";

No. 9 and I took jokes too far, and invented scenes where we would arrive at a dinner party, realize it was being held in a hut, that Cloris Leachman was taking a bath in the middle of the living room, and the host would sacrifice a goat for dinner and make a cream sauce out of breast milk.

Sitting at a massive table of at least 30 people at an Italian Restaurant in Pasadena, poking at cheesy pillows of gnocchi and talking food with Dawson (Me: "Mushrooms suck, too bad about this risotto") while my bottomless wine glass magically filled.

I looked across the table to No. 9 who was having this intense conversation, something that bore a resemblance to flirty, and sent him a text: "Baum chicka baum baum." Half an hour later at the theater, Dawson looked at me and said: "You are drunk."

This is what I think about when I think about moments I'll never have again. 

So now I'm back. And fragile. And inspired. And weepy. And stirred. And itching to write, learn, read, travel, think, meet people, do more things that make me sad that I'll never get to do them again. I wasn't prepared for the mental exhaustion, or the missing of these people who were in the bubble with me. I'm a little lonely, and finding that "And then No. 9 said ..." stories don't translate to my real life. I'm also super freaked out, and super foggy.

And I don't know if I want to feel normal, because normal means going back to coasting along, never taking any risks. ("Risk" being a big word at this particular summer camp).

I think I lost my mind in LA.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The thing about your 401K ...

I found this photograph of me online from a session about Photoshop from a few days ago.

It looks like I'm about to tell you a books-worth of secrets  about financial security.

That would be hilarious. Financial security. Huh.

Tomorrow I make words about my trip. Right now I de-frag.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The need for cheese ...

LOS ANGELES -- Five days in LA and I still haven't seen the Hollywood sign. So, as far as I know, someone stuck me in a cardboard box, spun me in circles, dumped me out on a random street in Nashville.

I've seen like four performances, deconstructed the fashion stylings of a New Yorker writer who seemed to not hate my use of the word "skullet." An original member of "A Chorus Line" let us dance around the padded floor, mirrored wall space on the USC campus. She didn't think it was cute when I faked an ankle sprain. Apparently my limp is super convincing.

Almost every meal I've eaten has included ginger and wasabi, including some ramen this afternoon that lashed against my face as I slurped. It was like being at a broth-based car wash. I also had Bahn Mi that knocked my sock holes off. That said: I have never wanted to lodge my face in a log of Velveeta more in my life.

In the past two days, I've had like six hours of sleep. Last night there was booze at this bar set in an alley between two buildings, with a hip hop DJ and heat lamps. Today I found a Japanese book store with a small section of fiction translated into English, including some Ryu Murakami I've never seen at my local booksellers. I'm going to raid that mess before I leave.

I've made a few friends, people I would dig in the real world, too, and also gone hours without saying a word out loud to anyone. I've begun hoarding snack pack sized Fig Newtons and Pringles.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pasty, with a touch of Canadian accent ...

LOS ANGELES -- I did so much stuff today that when Chuck asked me how my afternoon went, I was all "De que estas hablando, Willis?"* (Futbol is still in Duluth. That was for him). I mean, the afternoon was old news. It happened three events, and some bread pudding ago.

The bread pudding: Milk Chocolate and Guiness Bread Pudding, with Jamison Caramel and Bailey's Ice Cream. It was like hot and melty St. Patrick's Day in my mouth. Speaking of St. Patrick's Day, someone told me today that I totally have that Scandinavian look. Is it so obvious that I am working on a vending system wherein lefse rolls out of my purse like touchless paper towel dispenser? Really, I'm not that Scando. Just a touch, and whatever of Chuck's Scandinavian dried skin flecks that have gotten into my hair as I slept. I've fended off two Fargo jokes, one "You Betchya" reference, and when, during a one-woman performance, we were faced with a photograph of some Minnesotans dressed in H2T camo, I was forced to admit that, yes, that is what my people dress like.

Exciting news that only Jodi will understand: One of the 24 strangers is from Wilmington, NC, where Dawson's Creek was filmed. I audibly gasped when he introduced himself. In a perfect world, I'd have busted out my falsetto and sang "I don't wanna wait for our lives to be over."

* What are you talking about, Willis?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Stepped off the bus ...

LOS ANGELES -- Here I am for the next almost two weeks,  in Little Tokyo and covered in a silt of Strawberry Pocky. (My own doing). The vague deets: I'm here with about two dozen strangers for intensive courses in a specific area of word-making, and got here by getting a fellowship from some nice people you've heard of.

My flight was unremarkable until somewhere over the Rocky Mountains when I looked at the gape-mouthed stranger seated next to me, and wondered how to politely taken him from Stage 4 REM to the cruel reality that I had to pee hard. This was awkward for everyone involved. Especially since he fell back to sleep while I was in the bathroom. He got me back with an aural attack: I think he called his wife "Pookie" when he called to tell her the plane had landed. Oye.

I  went to dinner with Cath and J, two former Duluthies I didn't know when they lived in Duluth, but do now. We ate at a Japanese restaurant (tempura veggies), then J showed me how to get to skid row from the hotel.

Remind me to tell you about how Futbol came from Argentina to visit. (In fact, he's still visiting. I'm just not there to see it).

Friday, May 14, 2010

Cherry ...

I saw the movie "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" for the first time when I was 10-years-old, and somewhere every line of dialogue must be scrawled on some floppy disk of my sub conscience next to "The Act of Contrition" and the first 18 lines of "The Canterbury Tales" (in Olde English, of course, blah blah English major).

Plot-wise I don't remember much. Just Sarah Jessica Parker's wild-child BFF sassy-ing up her Catholic school plaids every day after the bell. Yanking a fistful of hair into a pony tail that she planted on top of her head. I was similarly sentenced to the unfashionable and stiff swatch of blues and greens, knee high socks, white or yellow button ups or polo shirts, cardigans that collected eraser dust. And for awhile after seeing that movie, I did my own clunky version of Lynne Stone's striptease. Tugging off the skirt to reveal jams made of fabric made of modern art patterns. Going a notch lower with the buttons of my oxford shirt to reveal a hot pink tank top. Rolling my socks around my ankles, like donuts balanced atop Keds. Pony tail. Wad of Hubba Bubba. Red-tinted lip gloss from a long-gone dress up kit.

My rebellion didn't go much further than that. It never occurred to me to sample spoonfuls of Gordon's gin from a plastic bottle in a small cupboard by the sink. Probably a leftover from a New Year's Eve party in 1974. So I just laid around and watched "Three's Company," looked at my hair in the mirror, ate Saltines.

Last night Chuck and I saw "The Runaways," at Zinema 2 (Awesome. Seriously), and my first thought was: "Thank God I didn't see that when I was 10." There wouldn't have been enough gold lame in that house to fulfill my Cherie Currie crush. Not to mention the lack of access to pills stronger than Women's One a Day. And then I was kind of jealous that I didn't see it when I was 10 years old. I'd probably still be collecting cat suits, smokey eyeliner and growling "Hello, Daddy. Hello Mom ..." into every recording or voice amplifying device I encountered.

And then I thought: Who am I kidding. At 10, I would have wanted to be Joan Jett. Hell, at 5 I wanted to be Joan Jett.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Crutch's calling card ...

I went to check the mail last night and found a crutch, a common crutch for like a broken foot, enclosed between the screen door and the front door. I stood there terrified, on the edge of a diving board of a gigantic, horror film scream and called for Chuck.

"Why is there a crutch on our front porch?" I asked him.
He had no idea.

The logical answers are this:
1. There is (was?) a crutch in the garage. Maybe a neighbor kid broke in and stole it, got busted by his parents, returned it anonymously.
2. We are of course living in a new-to-us house. Maybe someone borrowed it from the previous owners and just returned it -- not  knowing they moved.

But the first thing I thought, before I even considered the logical answers, is that the Crutch Serial Killer was leaving his calling card. That he stalks his prey for weeks, eventually leaving behind a crutch. Then he sneaks into the house, hides in the spare bedroom until the right moment, and then he skulks into the shower, and breaks your leg. That crutch on the front steps is like a punchline before the joke. The Crutch Serial Killer and his maniacal laugh: "Whaa Ha Ha. Now you know why I left behind the crutch."

And that is how I know I'm watching too much "Criminal Minds."

Monday, May 10, 2010

That's all she wrote ...

Much like Christmas, "Homegrown" is a word that I can barely tolerate the taste of in the aftermath. So let's all just take down the lights and box up the tree until what-say February, 2011. It's the so much that I am so much over. But here are a few of my favorite sights, which I will just have to describe:

Friday night we picked up Chuck's Fannie to take him downtown. I did a lane change and caught a glimpse of him in the back seat. Hmm ... I thought. Flesh-toned T'shirt. That's an interesting look. It was only when I was back face forward that I realized that was a hairy flesh-toned T'shirt. I whipped around and found him topless in the back seat. Like he was two zips from hopping into a sauna.

"It's hot in here," he said.


This kicky band at The Main Club that sounded like they would play a Twister party in your basement or a rock opera at 3 a.m. at an underground theater in Northeast Minneapolis.


A rockabilly show starring four dudes in matching workman jumpsuits at Norm's in Superior. The lead singer incorporated PBR into his act; His flashiest dance move was flipping off the audience. He would not, would not, stop playing. No one really wanted him to.


The glam band Bone Appetit's mosh pit, with ladies clamoring to touch Hot Rod Heartthrob's leg. Meanwhile, his mom was sitting on the edge of the stage.


Free trolley rides down Superior street. And up Superior Street.


Seeing the same 30 people every day for a week.


A packed RT Quinlan's that smelled like the beer fart-body odor combo meal. One of my friends looked around and said "I feel like I'm at a senior citizen center." The night devolving into sharpie mustaches and Miller High Life.


Running into my sophomore year Homecoming date, and still eking out a bit of social shame over what I wore to that dance. Think Claire's Boutique brand prostitution: Hot pink suede skirt and a multi-color raw silk shirt. Tucked in. With black nylons and black shoes.


After waiting 15 minutes outside of Pizza Luce deciding: Homegrown. Done with it. Catching a cab for home, the first time in like six years that I haven't seen the final show on the final night.


Feeling good enough to go to brunch at Luce on Sunday morning for Brie French Toast with Rnam, Em, and the Rock Star Amy Abts.

And that is all I choose to remember.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

These festive moments ...

It's Homegrown week here in Duluth, Minn., which means trying to pull some sort move from a Kirk Cameron-body switcheroo-flick from the late 80s. In my version: PJ PANTS CRUSADER IS SNATCHED FROM HER ELASTIC WAIST BANDS AND ITCHY TIVO TRIGGER FINGER IN FAVOR OF SEEING OTHER ADULTS IN PUBLIC PLACES AND TALKING TO THEM WITH HER MOUTH!

Homegrown is more than a week of local bands going apeshit on ukes at two dozen venues all night every night. This includes scarfing down fistfuls of dinner en route to the next whatever, throwing wary glances at the YMCA, and creating tap water in my own armpit in packed bars. It's the annual event that first made me love Duluth. I remember the moment in, whatsay aught-two, three or four. It was like 3 a.m. and I was standing on a table in the back of a packed Pizza Luce watching a band play long after the bar had stopped selling silos of PBR. From that year on, I was always conscious of this early May madness of jaywalking drunkoids and ringing ears and beer breath and how it, for lack of a better word, rules.

So I've been out Sunday night. Monday night. And Tuesday night I tried to not go out, but there was a primo parking spot when I dropped Chuck off at the Twins Bar, and all of a sudden, there I was, in public again. Albeit briefly. And I should add that I've done this without so much as a nip of Vanilla Extract, because as we all know, once I get into the Vanilla Extract, that gateway drug, it's lights out. If you thought I was socially awkward when I'm 15 beers deep and begging you to carry me around Michigan Street, you should see how socially awkward I am after 0 beers. It's a lot of G-rated jokes that make Disney look like perverts, and conversations that start with: "Wow. It has really been warm outside.

Tonight I finally cried "Uncle." Equal parts because I had "Root Canal the Sequel: Now with More Singed Tooth Fragments" early, early, early this morning; TiVo was bursting at the seams with shows starring teenagers with bouncy hair; My pajama pants were losing their muscle memory.

Tomorrow: Back up on that old horse. Friday: I drink a beer. Saturday, too. 

Monday, May 3, 2010

Phyllo foe ...

Two weeks worth of input in one. Go nuts, my friends. Go nuts. 


Spinach, Feta and Tomato Quiche: I believe that I have made this before, but it was long enough ago that I was a lower level of rookie, and when I was faced with phyllo dough I ended up using it to swab my tears of frustration.

Before settling in with this recipe, I thought of VNick, who at one point told me a trick for working with phyllo dough. It was like "leave it out on the counter overnight so it thaws," or "clap three times and blow on it." I made a mental note of it when he told me, then lost that mental note.

Regardless, this turned out well. It helped that I used a really kickass brand of feta that a hippie once upsold me on at Whole Foods. He promised it was worth the extra three dollars and readers, he was right. The hippies are always right.

Anyway, this recipe is a keeper. Although it took longer than the 40 minutes advertised.

Xihongshi Chao Jidan
(Stir-friend Tomato and Eggs): Let's call a spade a spade: This is just duded up* scrambled eggs made in a wok. Saveur's recipe calls for stirring the mixture with chopsticks. That's crazy talk, considering our utensil drawer runneth full.

Is it good? Of course. It's scrambled eggs with tomatoes. The only way it could be better is if I added chopped basil and feta. But how about a shout out for the sexy name I can't pronounce!

Tandoori Tofu: Sometimes when a recipe calls for using a grill, you should use a grill. This is probably a lot better grilled. As is, it was highly forget-able. Plus, I didn't feel like the marinade made enough marinade.

Raspberry Swirl Cupcakes: I'm confused. what is the difference between a cupcake and a muffin. And what if you take a muffin and add frosting to it? Whatever. This was not exactly what I wanted, but they were okay enough.

Chunky Artichoke and Chickpea Salad: I loved this. It's like Artichoke Dip, but it's also like a sandwich spread salad typically filled with egg or tuna. It made a nice, light, healthy dinner, and was even good the next day when I swabbed at it with pieces of bread and chips. This recipe doesn't include Veganaise, like the recipe I used. I'll give you one guess on if a Super One in West Duluth carries Veganaise.

Spring Vegetable Minestrone: This was really good and healthy and made me excited for vegetable season.

No Impact ManThis documentary about a NYC couple who tries to eliminate its carbon footprint is exactly the reason I like documentaries. It was just enough like reality TV. Not to mention that every time I've gone to the store since watching this, I've berated myself for not bring a reusable bag. Grr.

Restraint: Your classic small town terrorized by unpredictable trigger happy idiot and his slutty sidekick with a twist: When they take a local yokel hostage, they quickly learn he is agoraphobic. This means that in that scene where they all get drunk on champagne and vanilla ice cream and listen to first edition jazz records, he won't make a break for the door. No, he'll happily grind away on the slutty sidekick instead. This one had a Cinemax feel to it. Lots of boobs.
Ferris Bueller's Day Off:  Best served with pizza.

The Hurt Locker:  Before my high school boyfriend went off to the Marine Corps, he made me watch "Full Metal Jacket." That's all.

The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee by Sarah Silverman: Silverman’s story is equal parts memoir and stream of consciousness. It has a dab of confessional, when she reveals bedwetting that lasted well into her teen years and a prescription that allowed for more than a dozen Xanax per day. How her dad coached her to shock and awe people with her adolescent potty mouth, and that time when she was five and bombed in front of her family with a joke about her dead brother.

Full review here

Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis:  Before there was "This is your brain on drugs," there was a little novel by Bret Easton Ellis more jarring than any image of eggs sizzling in a frying pan.

In "Less Than Zero," Ellis's 1985 debut, Clay, a richie-rich from Los Angeles has returned to his hometown during winter break from his East Coast university. Nothing has been touched in his bedroom since he left four months ago, right down the Elvis Costello poster on the wall; His posse of trust-funders, male models and drug dealers is still running fast and loose. Clay and his old girlfriend Blair are re-defining "It's complicated," and his best friend Julian is MIA. 

Full review here

* This past week I had to reintroduce myself to someone who I've met plenty of times. He told me he didn't recognize me because the last time he saw me at Luce I was "duded up." I took that to mean he didn't find my pony tail and fake animal fur hoodie on this day to be all that memorable. "Duded up." I'm going to use that.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Holding out for a hero ...

I'm unsure what the patron in question did, but the punishment for his crime was his immediate ejection from the bar. The bartender leaped from his post to the pedestrian side of the bar, and put an 80s era wrestling move on the bad guy. The ejectee's stomach rolled over his belt in the hubub. Our friend Carlbomb went in for the assist, grabbing the man's arm to lead him outside. Carlbomb, a natural at 6-foot-a thousand probably helps 86 someone from the bar every weekend.

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed another person had entered the fray: My own Charles McChuckerstein went in as back up. He and Carlbomb dragged the man out the door and onto the sidewalk, while the bartender went back to filling drinks.

I didn't see this part, but I'm told the man threw a few punches at Carlbomb, landing one on the brick wall. Chuck helped restrain him. The man eventually left the scene, obeyed the rule that he not return to the bar. Carlbomb gave the man back his glasses, which had flown off in the mess. Carlbomb is known for his civility in times of bar scuffles.

The boys came back into the bar and bellied up. They got another drink and rehashed what happened. The look on Chuck's face was precious: One part exhilaration, one part pride. Princey and I sent our dudes an appreciative shot.

This was whole thing was so freaking cute. Unfortunately "cute" and "adorable" aren't the words bar heroes necessarily like to hear. But I can't think of better words to describe it.

Meanwhile, this is what color we painted our bedroom yesterday: