Saturday, December 30, 2006
Part of me wants to declare anecdotal bankruptcy; simply avoiding mentioning any of the events that have transpired in my absence, and just starting fresh.
But so much has happened.
I went to Italy, my brother got married, James Brown died, Christmas happened. So much…
Italy was beautiful, and I owe some anecdotal information to everyone on that trip.
Do I just try to slip it in as I go?
If so, I'll start with this.
In Florence, at the Uffizi, I stood, transfixed for 20 minutes, just staring at a painting. It was the most beautiful painting I believe I've ever seen. It was this:
This is the most beautiful Madonna I've ever seen, and the painting just sings of perfection to me. It gets even better when you know the story behind it.
Fra Fillipo Lippi was a monk. He fell in love with a nun. They eventually left the order to get married.
She was the model for this painting. His love for her and for the Virgin Mother meld so beautifully. And the cherub who's looking at you just draws you into the moment. He invites you to share it, to adore the Virgin and child. It's not a private moment, you've been beckoned.
It's enough to make one religious.
Speaking of religious experiences, I had another in Venice. Venice is a beautiful city, but it thrives on decadence. So much so that the decadence isn't seedy, it just is part of the Venetian experience.
It's the perfect place to party with the green fairy.
Absinthe is illegal in the states, and for good reason. Apparently, regular consumption leads one into mental illness. I can believe it, just drinking it...
In reality that's superstition; it's simply a very potent, very smooth liqueur. It's too strong to go down as easy as it does, and it can get you in trouble very quickly.
And this is what the bottle of absinthe looked like after we'd finished it.
It makes your body feel like it's been wrapped in cotton, and like your fingers are big fat sausages. While it's nice at the time, it also makes you very groggy the next day...
There we go, it's a beginning anyway. It's getting back into thew swing of things.
Monday, December 04, 2006
Sunday, November 19, 2006
New luggage is never broken in until a cat has slept in it.
That's not trick photography, by the way. She is that evil.
Tuesday morning, we leave for Rome... so much to do, so much to do!
I will try and put together some sort of pre-trip post, but I am way to excited and busy right now, so this may be it for now kids.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
If not, it's too late, so never mind.
Most everything I wanted went my way on the ballot this time, so it was a nice change from previous elections. While I don't want to delve too much into the political realm, I wanted to babble on about a couple things.
Where I vote, there are two precincts that have their polls in the same room. They each have their separate tables to sign in and voting booths. This is fine, or it would be, except that nobody in one precinct appears to vote, and everybody in the other one does. Unfortunately, mine is the one where everyone is more politically active. This is a good thing for the democratic process, but in my personal realm, it translates into me standing in a long line waiting to vote, while on the other side of the room are a half-dozen empty booths that are reserved for the other precinct.
Also, isn't it somewhat important to know what you're voting on before you get to the polls? By this, I am referring to the people that sat in the voting booth for 20-30 minutes while I waited. Was it the first time they had seen a ballot? Had they never heard the issues before? Were they teaching themselves to read? I don't know, but I do know it took me like 60-90 seconds to vote.
Here in Ferndale, where I live, we had a local ordinance on the ballot that passed. I am very happy about this. It's a human rights ordinance that basically makes it illegal to harass people in the city based on their sexual orientation.
I don't know that I've said much about Ferndale here, but if you don't know where Ferndale is, we're a smaller city on the other side of Eight Mile from Detroit. And we're a city with a large gay population. It's surprising that this act took three times to pass here, but now that it has passed, it's a good sign that Ferndale will continue to be the open, diverse community we saw when we moved here. Plus, maybe my inbred, white-trash neighbors will finally move (Segue, my neighbors could give yours a run for their money)!
The nice thing about living it that city that's known for having a large gay population is that it means interesting people move into your neighborhood. Ferndale attracts musicians, artists and cool independent businesses and restaurants. It's a great place to be... again, aside from my neighbors, but that's neither here nor there.
Friday, November 10, 2006
Another Ice Man has come and gone...
It was the coldest one I've ridden yet, but once again, we all finished. Barely. Nicole limped (can you limp on a bike?) across the finish line with a sprained knee, cracked rib, dented helmet, minorly concussed melon, a leg that had been transformed into one giant bruise and a pair of racing tights that were stiff with dried blood.
She hit some sand and endoed straight into a faceplant five miles into the trail. For those of you playing along at home, that means that once she climbed back on, she had a 23-mile death march to endure in order to finish. Finish she did. That is (and pardon my Italian, but I am practicing for my trip) fucking hardcore.
We sucked down a couple beers at the finish line, then went back to the hotel for a soak in the hot tub, where we were greeted by a twelver of Bell's Oberon, the official beer of summer for the whole world (and if you live in a part of the world without Oberon, that means you live in a part of the world without summer and it really sucks to be you), courtesy of Writer Mom and Zilla. They weren't there, and thus missed out, because had they been there when I found that cold happiness waiting, they would have both gotten a kiss - full on the lips. As it was, they only got hugs when I met them the next day.
All the Angry Monkeys were pretty beat down that night, especially our cheering crew, who'd been enduring the grueling challenge of standing and cheering us on while nursing hangovers. It kept the revelry to a dull chaos, and there were no needs to call Zilla for bail money as she had offered. We barely made it away from the hotel, although we did wander far enough out for a certain member of the Angry Monkeys to kick a stray pumpkin in a rather aggressive manner. You know who you are...
We didn't even manage to get thrown out of a restaurant or bar, although it was touch and go at our pre-race carbload the night before. Apparently not everyone who goes to nice restaurants considers graphic descriptions of various items that will not be repeated here to be appropriate dinner conversation, especially when it's being done loudly by a large boisterous group of people already gaining the effects of pre-race adrenaline. Oh well, I just don't get people sometimes.
The morning after the race consisted of breakfast with Zilla and brief meeting with Writer Mom, Dr. Tom (Dental Dad, but Dr. Tom is so official-sounding!), and the legendary Jack and Pickles. Forget what you read, everyone is better in person than their respective sites would have you believe, and we are making plans for a more extended meeting. Zilla has even offered up a place for couch surfing.
As this season draws to a close, I want to congratulate all of the Angry Monkeys who put in the miles this year, and thank out support team for cheering us on, and making sure that the beer and warm dry clothes were there for us. There was no better feeling than dropping over the hill that leads to the 17-mile checkpoint and seeing your screaming faces holding the Angry Monkey banner, and seeing your grinning mugs at the finish line as you simultaneously peeled me off my bike and handed me a beer.
You guys rock.
GO GO ANGRY MONKEY!
Next year, I'm thinking about riding Iceman on one of these.
Monday, October 30, 2006
There are seven ages of man.
There are seven seas.
There are seven deadly sins.
There are seven wonders of the world.
If you look here, there is an essay that calls out many more significant sevens, including the superstitious idea "In Iranian folklore the cat has seven, not nine, lives."
No matter what you believe, seven shows up in too many ways and forms to not be significant.
Seven is also the age of my marriage today. It's apparently the "wool anniversary", but we are treating it instead as the "pasta anniversary". We have reservations at Mario's tonight. It's easy to get last-minute reservations in Detroit on my anniversary, due to the whole "Devil's Night" paranoia that grips the suburban dwellers on this night. It's unfounded anymore; Devil's Night is more or less nonexistent in the city. That arsonists seem to have moved to Highland Park, a small suburb that has all of the blight of Detroit in a smaller area.
Reservations will probably be easier to get in the light of recent events in the news. Today, Detroit was named the second-most dangerous city in the U.S. We came in second to St. Louis. That's two second place finishes to St. Louis in one week! Always the bridesmaid...
So Happy Anniversary to me! And thanks to Nicole for putting up with me all this time... here she is at our pirate-themed Halloween party this weekend, suffering the effects of a recent mutiny...
Thursday, October 26, 2006
I was going to begin this post by apologizing again for not posting in a while, but:
A. I think you're all a bit used to that by now, and…
2. I just read this post where they compiled a bunch of posts of people doing the same thing, apologizing. (That 2 may or may not have been intentional, but I'm not apologizing if it was. I won't apologize for anything today.)
Things are whirlwinding right now. Two weeks ago, I was in Chicago. It was a blur of a weekend, and rather eventful and non- at the same time. I saw a lot of great old friends, drank a lot of wine, and even sat on the banks of a river, drinking Jager Bombs and watching beavers swim by at 4 AM (which prompted a phone call to ST, a phone call that I am not apologizing for today).
I like my new job a lot, as much as anyone can like a job. It may simply be the honeymoon phase, but I feel valued here, and while I may not be curing cancer, I am doing some things that are mildly important.
The World Series is off and running. How 'bout them Tigers? They may be down a game, but I think this is a series that will go back and forth.
It's exciting when we can get something like this in Detroit, just to get the city going and to pump some cash down there, but I'm done hoping this will be Detroit's big break. It seems like however many big breaks we give this city, they go nowhere. Casinos, new ballpark, new football stadium, All-star game, Superbowl, countless hockey and basketball championships, now a World Series… and then things will go back to normal, back to Detroit's quiet decay.
I just read this stat: in 1984, the last time the Tigers were in the series, Detroit's population was 1.1 million and climbing. Today? 868,000 and falling.
Why is that? Well there are a million reasons, but here's another then vs. now stat: in 1984, GM had 44% of the US market share, and today it's 24.7%. That's one big reason there.
I work downtown now. I work in a big building that was designed by Albert Kahn. His work is a decent example of what's going on in Detroit.
Kahn was a prolific builder, designing well over 1,000 buildings in his lifetime, many in Detroit. He designed buildings and factories, including the Packard Plant, the Donovan building (which housed Motown Records) and the amazing Belle Isle Aquarium. He's famous in architectural circles, has around 60 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and people travel far and wide to see his work.
In Detroit, many of his buildings have been allowed to fall into disrepair, until they can't be fixed. The lucky ones are then condemned and demolished. The unlucky ones are just condemned and allowed to become silent hulks. Detroit - home of the vacant skyscrapers.
That being said, I do love this city, and I love working downtown. It has vitality still, but it's sick, and getting sicker. Hopefully somebody can find a cure before it dies.
Now that I've become thoroughly depressing, I do have some good news. Monday at St. Andrew's was the BoDog Music Million Dollar Battle Of The Bands, and although I had no idea who was playing Iwent, because I was asked to be a guest judge. It was pretty cool, plus I got some free drinks out of it. There are A LOT of awful bands out there, but I do think just about all of the bands that deserved it made it to the next round, especially In Erupt, a heavy group from Kentucky, who drove eight hours to do the show, and witnessed a knife fight when they got here. Welcome to Detroit. They were very talented and very friendly. I wish them luck.
Also, why does blogger seem to be getting less and less reliable about uploading photos?
Plus, once I again, I am getting so excited about the impending trip to Italy. Wow, Nicole's birthday in Italia? Last year was Paris, are we entering a dangerous upward spiral of birthday expectations? In a few years, I'll have to buy her an island with its own herd of ponies. Either that, or renting a roller rink for the afternoon. Either way, once I hit those two, I'll be tapped out of ideas.
Friday, October 13, 2006
Fuck it all. I quit my job today!
Here it is, in better words than I could come up with:
I guess it doesn't matter anymore... I'm outta here, and I'm going to Chicago for the weekend.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
At any rate, while researching ways to combat they symptoms of Short-Timer's, I stumbled on this pretty little video from some of my favorite musicans and showmen, The Dresden Dolls. I love these guys, and I hope you do too.
They write the best songs and look great while they do it, no?
BTW, some of this was shot here in Detroit.
I think many things are better when they are little versions of the big thing, don't you?
Some things aren't for sure, like drinks, burritos and monster trucks, but in this case, I definitely think she's awesome.
Monday, October 09, 2006
What happens when you die? That's one of the heaviest questions of all. Some would have you believe you simply cease to be. Some believe that the good guys go up and the bad guys go down.
Viewing that as too simplistic, and trying to justify the existence of their bureaucracy, the Vatican like any good corporation sought to break it down even further. They added Purgatory and Limbo.
Purgatory was named in 1254. It's the place where you go if you weren't that bad, and you weren't that good. It's a halfway house and a waiting room. It's where you go to take care of the bad things you did and finish up the paperwork. If you subscribe to this view, it's where most of us will end up for a while.
Limbo is an odder place. Limbo is essentially a place where good people went who didn't get into Heaven. The reasons why they end up there are multiple, but mainly limbo is a place for babies who died without being baptized, and those who lived and died before Jesus came to wash away sin. Babies and caveman, swirling through space. It's not a bad place, they say, although I can't imagine a space predominantly filled with infants and cavemen is all that organized, either.
The new Pope is discussing abolishing Limbo. That would be nice, then the babies and cavemen can go to Heaven.
It would be nice to have the power to simply make a place like that go away. It makes me wonder what other powers he has. Could he abolish Hell, then? Should he? And what about Ohio?
Maybe I'll see if I can ask him when I'm in Rome next month.
Friday, October 06, 2006
The prison system is an odd thing to me; I mean, I understand the need to take the bad guys and lock them up where they can't do bad things anymore, but then they just keep them there for a while (based on the bad thing they did) and then dump them back onto the street, where they do more bad things. Rinse and repeat as necessary.
The point of this post is not to get too deep on the nature of the prison system; I don't really know enough to get into that, but it doesn't seem like there really is any emphasis on making the person NOT do bad things any more. If anything, they seem to come out worse than they did before.
Is this revenge or is it reform?
I don't know but it shouldn't be the norm.
-I Object, "Intra Muros"
(If you've not heard I Object, you should really check them out. Serious hardcore band with a pissed off singer and really positive lyrics about all sorts of social issues. Anyway...)
Here in Detroit, it's not uncommon to see prison work crews in the city. In the summer, they're cleaning trash along the freeway. In the winter, they shovel snow - a necessity since a previous mayor sold off many of the city's snow plows without telling anyone (it wasn't discovered until a major snowstorm during a subsequent mayor's administration that the city had no snow plows and was too broke to get more).
Prisoners in the U.S. make license plates and pick up trash until they are released for the period of time needed to commit another crime and get put back in the system. It just doesn't seem like the best model for rehabilitation, does it?
In Australia, they're training prisoners to replace Steve Irwin. The Darwin Correction Centre is teaching inmates to "deal with crocodiles, repair crocodile fences, build enclosures and write reports." Aside from the report writing thing (then again, what job doesn't have paperwork?), that sounds like a sweet deal. Good luck finding someone around here to teach you to be a croc handler on the corporate dime! It's hard enough to get a student loan.
Australia has always been ahead of the game on the care and feeding of criminals; it's how they got their start, so it's no surprise that they'd still be ahead of us. But the whole idea of teaching prisoners a skill that's actually useful when they get out isn't a bad idea, but what is there to teach the American inmate? We don't have any crocs (although if we did, I might jaywalk or spit on the sidewalk a few times just to get in that program), so what is there? Sure, I know you're thinking that clownpunching is a great idea, and while I agree wholeheartedly, how would they make a living doing that when so many people are willing to walk around punching clowns and kicking mimes for free?
I can't think of any other job that could work that isn't run by an organized labor force. What are your thoughts.
Then again, maybe Australia isn't onto such a good idea. What happens when an organized force of hardened criminals goes on a crime spree supported by a brute squad composed of trained crocodiles? They'd be nearly unstoppable.
Is it time for another Australia? A prison colony where we could send the really bad guys and force them to forge their own lives? If so, where? Granted, we could fence off Wyoming, but that's a lot of chainlink to patrol.
An island would be the best solution. In Guatemala, there was a prison that was run by the inmates for more than 10 years. They produced drugs, lived in homes with luxury goods, and had stores and restaurants. The perimeter was patrolled by guards, but the inmates ran the inside. The only problem was that prisoners lived in luxury conditions and used cell phones to control criminal empires from within. Security forces took control of that prison last week.
I don't know of any islands big enough to be the next Australia, and I doubt the Australians would like to move so we can start over. Do we send the prisoners to space? That's probably too expensive.
So what's left? Where do we put the bad guys when there's no more room?
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Mazzola and Hank III
This is Mazzola (eating the Kitty Shoe). He is a very old friend. Nicole has known him since high school and was a part of our wedding party. He lives in Chicago now, where he;s the drummer for Piel Plastica, an excellent band that was kind enough to drive out to Detroit to play the breast cancer benefit for free.
He is also a talented sound guy who tours with bands, which lead to him calling us on Saturday. He was at the Machine Shop in Flint, an hour from us, because he was on the tour with Hank Williams III. Did we want to meet up? Definitely.
Oh my God.
Hank III rules.
The guy played for three hours. He started his set with country (real country, the kind his grandfather played, not the watered down music of his dad), then went into hellbilly rock, and closed the set with a hour's worth of balls-out heavy metal.
It was tremendously sweet.
New Boots And New Contracts
Simply put, I quit my day job (not the about.com gig) and got a new one. I think I'll like it much better. I don't think I can say more.
It looks like Nicole and I will be spending a week around Thanksgiving vagabonding across Italy. I have not started my Italian lessons yet, so I'm just hoping to be able to competently order a bottle of vino. Anything else is details...
Speaking of Vino...
If you're a beer drinker, you might want to think about switching. About a month ago, I wrote about a malting barley shortage in Europe, and the possibility of beer shortages and/or rising prices.
The situation has gotten worse. A warehouse fire in Yakima, Washington just destroyed 4% of the nation's supply of hops. This, I believe, is a conspiracy to get rid of good beer. My favorite beers are very hoppy, but a spokesman shrugged it off:
"I'd be surprised if there were any impact, because hops are a minor component in beer, and 4 percent is not an incredible percentage of the whole hops supply," said Ray Daniels, a director for the Brewers Association, a Boulder, Colo., trade group.
Sure, if you don't mind making fewer hoppy beers, and forcing everyone to drink Coors Light.
There, you've all been brought up to speed as succinctly as possible. Ciao!
Friday, September 22, 2006
More on the good news in a second. First I just want to say that I love fall. It's the season of Halloween and my wedding anniversary. It's the season for jeans, sweaters and jackets. It's when the air is crisp, and the season when Shane stays outside extra long, and when he comes in I grab him and give him a big hug and press my face into his fur and he smells like dead leaves and fresh fall air.
Fall is for lazy Saturday mornings drinking coffee and reading the paper. It's the season for backyard bonfires and mulled wine, hard apple cider and scotch on the rocks. It's the season when you leave the bedroom window open because you want to, not because you have to; because you want to snuggle under the covers, not because you are desperately trying to lower the temperature in the bedroom to just below that threshold that prevents any sleep at all.
Fall is simply the best.
And now on to the first bit of good news.
First, I have to say that I am very excited about tonight. Tonight, I will be fortunate enough to witness one of those things that will be henceforth known as an event. It's a cinematic event of proportions that probably won't be topped for quite some time, and in fact will most likely become a modern standard to which modern films will be compared. It's like witnessing Citizen Kane before everyone knew Rosebud was a sled or the Blair Witch Project before you knew what it was about (I can say I did the latter one).
Jackass 2 comes out tonight.
I am all over this one like a donkey on a waffle. I will get there early, at the Emagine Theater (they serve beer there), to get my tickets, and to prepare for this monumental event.
I love the Jackass guys. Not only are they geniuses for figuring out how to get paid for this, but these guys are my friends. They're not literally my friends, of course, but they are an interchangeable metaphor for my friends and I, and the assorted stupid stunts we have pulled and will probably continue to pull until we are subdued by forces beyond our control (possibly injury, but more likely... god forbid... maturity).
Now on to the next big news, on a related, but more serious nature.
This is one of those confessional blog posts that I am often against. It's where people reveal items of a personal nature because they feel protected by the anonymous nature of the interwebs. My friends who read this already know about this, so I feel comfortable talking about it here.
For years, I have been afflicted with psychological condition. My friends and family have been very supportive of me as I deal with it, attempting to (often unsuccessfully) control its symptoms. It's been a long, strange confusing trip, but it is what it is.
The medical field has now given it a name, therefore recognizing it for what it is; it's a condition, not a quirk. It's a sickness, and not a flaw, and that makes me feel immeasurably better. It makes me feel less alone.
The disease has a name. It's called Psychological Neoteny.
Psychological Neoteny is an inability to reach psychological maturity. It's often a by-product of an overactive desire to learn. The brain focuses on new ideas and experiences with "a child-like stance of receptivity to new learning, and cognitive flexibility," preventing "the attainment of psychological maturity."
It's a smoking gun; the medical discovery of Peter Pan Syndrome.
It's what leads me to race my mountain bike, decorate my Christmas Tree with beer caps, carry a bacon wallet, play flameball (ask me about that some time) and to think that Jackass 2 is the be all and end all in filmmaking.
It's what makes me me, but now I have the added bonus of responding to those who tell me to grow up with a simple, "I can't. It's a medical condition."
So far, there's no known cure.
I wouldn't take it if there was.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
I am crazy busy today, or I would have done a long, pirate-themed post today. Instead, I'll leave you with this. It's strangely addictive... and strangely disturbing...
Then, once you've watched, go back to 1:28, and look at the freeze frame of the guy... you'll have nightmares...
Friday, September 15, 2006
These are the wheeled warlords that cruise the streets of Chicago spreading mayhem. I mentioned them in a photo essay from Chicago earlier this year. They are one the things that make Chicago the frightening apocalyptic wasteland it's become.
If you were thinking about visiting Chicago soon, now would be the time to do it, because all Segways are currently under recall due to "a software glitch that can make its wheels unexpectedly reverse direction, throwing off the rider -- and in at least one incident, break some teeth."
Even if these guys don't get theirs in for repair right away, there's still the chance that they'll be zipping around, out of control and being thrown about. That's a rather comical image.
The Segway was a major bomb; it was intended to revolutionize the way we get around. It was supposed to make walking obsolete, and move us more quickly toward the day when our children's children would be born without legs, modern technology having atrophied their limbs into uselessness.
Fortunately for us as a race, it didn't catch on. People decided that walking wasn't that difficult. Score one for our lazy, obese species. As a result, only 23,500 were sold, a large number to police stations around the world.
I don't know about you, but if needed, I could outrun a cop on a Segway. Score one for the perps.
According to the Segway Website, this thing "makes businesses more productive by allowing workers greater visibility, versatility, mobility and carrying capacity. It does it all by harnessing some of the most advanced, thoroughly-tested technology ever created." In short, it eliminates the need to get around under your own power, and prepares you for the days you'll spend sitting on the couch doing nothing, because in addition to your motor and balance skills, your brain has atrophied to the point where a robot has taken your job.
So this is one technology that I am glad is having a hard time catching on; even being a gadget whore, I can only condone making life so easy. And an anti-walking vehicle doesn't make my list. Especially when it's one anybody can use.
Well, almost anybody.
Link to news story.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
When you're in a business such as mine (and I'm not talking about what I do to make money, I'm talking about the frequenting of local drinking establishments), you make friends with many bartenders. You have favorites. Often the bartender of a particular place will become a definitive reason to visit a particular place.
Bartenders are not just members of the service industry. At least good ones aren't. They are entertainers, counselors, teachers, debate opponents, critics and friends. The fact that they are also providing you with alcoholic beverages is beside the point. It's a calling, almost a holy order, and I look back at the days that I tended bar with fondness.
At my wedding, my mother made the observation that "only my son would invite the owners of his favorite bar to his wedding." To be fair, they are old friends and we have visited them at home and hung out socially, but the fact of the matter is, we met them at their bar.
Now here's a new one. Saturday will be the wedding of one of our favorite bartenders. Mickey from the Belmont is getting married, and he has asked Nicole and I to honor him by providing the ultimate service - he asked us to bartend his wedding. After all the time that he served us drinks, to know that he thinks enough of us to ask him to return the favor for an evening, it's an honor and a privilege.
I hope I'm up to the challenge.
I don't know why. Maybe I just felt that other people would say it better than I would, and they did.
With a little bit of perspective, I'll say a few things because it's the right thing to do. It's probably not right to write a eulogy for the Crocodile Hunter and then lapse on this tragedy's anniversary.
On the day in question, I was at the office, in a meeting. One of my employees (back then I was actually in charge of people, before they learned better) stuck her head in the meeting and said that they'd just announced that a plane had smacked into the World Trade Center. Like many, we assumed she was talking about a Cessna, and joked about how someone had screwed up royally.
The second plane hit just a few minutes after I got back to my desk.
My company was a tight-fisted advertising agency with a pathetic client base who forced us all to stay and assume business as usual. It wasn't of course, and while we were held there, nothing was accomplished the rest of the day.
I spent much of the day trying to reach a cousin of mine who went to school in Detroit but lived across the border in Canada. With the borders closed, I knew she was trapped in the states and wanted to tell her she had a place to stay. I never reached her, and she drove several hours to her parents' house.
Nicole was sent home, and she went to be with her mom. They went to a bagel shop (their regular coffeehouse had closed). There was a little boy there, excitedly telling anyone who would listen it was his birthday, not understanding why his parents hushed him.
My friend who worked on Manhattan and lived on Staten Island had to walk several miles to get home because the ferry shut down. She bought slippers in Chinatown because she was in a pair of dress shoes, and the smoke and dust gave her breathing problems that persisted for months.
As the economy crashed, a lot of my friends lost their jobs. I actually had an interview scheduled for 9-11, but the position went poof!
That was my 9-11. Nothing compared to the people who lost their lives, or their families, but pretty typical. We were all hit pretty hard that day, and thinking about it now still hurts, still feels fresh.
Now for 9-12... in observation of 9-12, I am returning you to your regularly scheduled madnessositynous.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
First off, I was always a fan of Steve Irwin. I used to watch the show a lot. As a kid, I grew up with Marlin Perkins and Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, as well as any National Geographic Shows I could find. They were interesting, and I loved to learn about animals.
But then, along came The Crocodile Hunter. Steve Irwin was the Johnny Knoxville of nature shows. He taught you about animals in a much more exciting way, by placing himself in what appeared to be harm's way. He knew what he was doing, though, and although you knew he would always be able to escape the croc's jaws in time, there was always that thrill, that adrenaline ruch that maybe, just maybe, this time he wouldn't.
And then, one time he didn't.
It doesn't matter that it was a stingray, or that it was a freak accident, eventually things caught up with him. Regardless of his skill or knowledge, it was bound to happen in his line of work They say you're more likely to die in a car accident than be killed by terrorists, but if you hang out with terrorists all day, I bet it skews the odds.
So it was really tragic, and I think that the world has lost a great entertainer, one who taught kids about the world, nature and conservation while at the same time making them scream in a giddy sort of terror.
Those of you that read Life In The Pumpkin Shell are Familiar with this Pickles. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about real pickles - the kind that we spent all day Monday canning. Making pickles is a smelly, labor-intensive process, and nobody in their right mind should do it. It's expensive, the house smells vinegary for days after, and there is no instant gratification. It's weeks before you even know if they're any good.
Still, that's what we did for over 12 hours on Monday. It felt good. It felt like the way summer should be brought to an end. It felt like tradition.
Nobody would ever make their own pickles unless they wanted to, or they had to. And it felt like we were carrying on the traditions of our ancestors, preserving the summer's harvest to last all winter (nevermind that our harvest came from the farmer's market, not from the sweat of our brows or the bounty of our lands), just to have the energy to plant again in spring.
I will say that the most satisfying part of pickles (other than eating them, which won't happen for quite some time) is that tiny metallic *ping!* that echoes through the house as the jars cool and they begin to seal. The *ping* is an integral part of the process; it means that you've canned them right, and even if they taste awful, at least they won't kill you.
So, I'll let you know how they taste in a few weeks, but until then, we have tomatoes to can...
The Bacon Wallet
In a way that made me feel really hip, people started blogging all over about the bacon wallet a few weeks ago, like these posts here and here. I felt particularly hip because I bought one in Seattle weeks prior at the world's greatest store, Archie Mcphee.
I think this makes me a sort of trendsetter, even if it's a geeky trend...
If you want a bacon wallet of your own, go to the source. Go to Archie for it.
Abishag and children were over at my house for hot dogs this weekend, and as their little dog ran about the backyard chasing and being chased by Shane, it came up that he had stolen a drumstick from her daughter a few nights prior. Her daughter was bummed because it had been the last.
We joked briefly about the leg being the best part of a chicken, and how it was a shame that they only had two. Then I forgot about it.
Until I saw this story.
A four-legged chicken was born in New Zealand.
Now, you all know how much I enjoy the discovery of new animals to be eaten, so I wonder if there isn't a way to breed chickens this way. According to the story, it's happened before (and in fact, I remember a story on The Daily Show years ago where it was pointed out that it looked like they had taken one chicken and simply shoved it up another chicken's ass).
I can't find anyone mentioning that they've eaten one of these chickens or discussing the possibility of breeding them.
Just think, though, if there were two more legs on the table. It would resolve more than a few arguements, I'm sure,
Link to story
One Hell Of A Souvenir
So this guy from the UK goes on vacation in Ireland and dies of a heart attack. They perform an autopsey and send him back to the UK. When he gets to the UK, they discover he's got an extra heart and lungs thrown inside him.
Do they just have extras lying around over there? Are they used like packing peanuts to keep his own guts from rattling about during shipping?
It's just a bit odd, don't you think? Link
So, that's all I have right now. Until next time, have a happy Fight Procrastination Day, and be sure to do something you don't feel like doing!
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
This is Shane.
Shane is technically not our dog. Technically, Shane belongs to D. Technically.
You see, shortly after Nicole's giant Newfoundland passed away we had decided that we were ready for a new addition to our family. We were engaged, and we already had a big, angry cat, but we were ready to take that next step and ask a dog to come live with us.
We went to the animal shelter on a near daily basis. We looked at dog after dog after dog. We played and petted with dogs, and fell in love with some and felt pity for others. I at one time had Nicole pretty much convinced to get one of these.
He was this big, too. But he was very sick and the people at the animal shelter were convinced he was going to be very expensive and probably wasn't going to survive. We didn't have the money (we were still college students at the time, waiting tables), and anyway, after the heartache Nicole had gone through with losing her dog, it wouldn't be fair to ask her to take that on again.
So we went to the animal shelter over and over again, waiting for the right dog. The people at the animal shelter got to know us. Primarily, we focused on the aisles where they kept the younger dogs - less than two years old. We didn't want a puppy, but we didn't want a dog that might be too old and set in its ways.
One day, someone at the animal shelter told us they wanted to show us a dog. They took us to the back of the section reserved for older dogs, and showed us a homely little mutt that they insisted was perfect for us. This dog was skittish and jumpy, and really not a good fit at all. It was quite obvious there was no love connection.
But, right next to this dog, in the furthest cage from the entrance, was a little black and white husky. Shoved in the back, with the adult dogs and the dogs with the the signs that said "I bite" on the door.
Nicole asked the employee, "What about this dog?" The employee seemed very indifferent about him. Nobody was quite sure about why he was shoved in the back, he just was. Nicole reached into the cage, and he was so relieved to have physical contact, he just melted against the door. We let him out of the cage, and he reared up and just wrapped his front legs around Nicole's waist and pressed his face into her stomach. He stood like that for a long time.
Some other people were there, looking at dogs. They saw Nicole holding this dog and asked, "Is that your dog?"
"Yes. I think he is."
It was the love connection we were looking for.
There were a few problems.
One - He had been shoved in that back corner for a week. It was his last day. He was due for execution the next day.
Two - We were renters, and while we had our landlord's permission to get a dog, the animal shelter would not let us take the dog until they had spoken with him on the phone. Our landlord was not a reliable person, and just like when the tree fell on our house and laid on it for two weeks, he was nowhere to be found.
Three - In order to adopt the dog, we needed to pay up front to have him fixed. While getting him fixed was on the agenda (listen to Bob Barker, kids!), that was a prohibitive expense at the time.
These problems could be circumvented in only one way. If the dog's actual owner were to show up (which wasn't going to happen, as he'd languished in that cage for a week), the dog would be released immediately, for just a few dollars in impound fees. As I said, the people at the animal shelter knew us, and they knew we were looking for a dog, so we couldn't pull that ruse.
On the way home, afraid that this little sweet dog was about to meet an untimely end, we hatched a plan.
We stopped at the store to buy a leash and a choke chain (the dog had no collar, and we had no idea what size to buy) , and then went to D's house.
We returned to the animal shelter, and Nicole and I walked into the dog area. Nobody gave us a second glance.
A few seconds later, D entered the animal shelter and informed the people at the desk that he had lost his dog. They said he could go look. When he entered the area, we were standing in front of the cage. I subtly pointed out the dog, who seemed saddened when we walked away.
We went back out to the car and waited. $50 in impound fees later (Although at one point, while D was paying the fees, Shane shook off the choke chain. Thinking quickly D simply said, "Yeah, that's how he got away the first time."), D and Shane walked out. Shane gave me look that said, "Hey! I know you!" and hopped into the car and onto my lap. I drove him home that way.
So that was about 10 years ago. Shane's a bit of an old-timer now; he spends most of the time lounging on his dog bed. We've had some big adventures and some big scares, and he's my Shane.
I still threaten to send him to D, though, because technically, that ain't my dog.
I just realized that Kit Burns was framed! began over a year ago with a little inauspicious blurb, and then I just kept going. It's been a really fun year, and a really big year. I found a gig that basically consists of blogging and going out, two things I was doing anyway. I've made some wonderful new friends. My blog friends, you are people I consider colleagues, and I have come to greatly respect many of you, your writing abilities and your opinions. I consider you to be friends.
And to the people who read what I have to say, I just want to say thanks. I have ranted, raved and digressed, and many of you stuck it out to see if I would ever say anything of substance. I'm not sure that I ever did say anything of substance, so that means I owe you an even bigger dose of gratitude then, doesn't it?
So on behalf of myself, and all the staff here at Kit Burns was framed! (which is me), thanks, and cheers, and all that.
We now return you to the general madness.
Monday, August 14, 2006
I actually had fun that weekend. I rode my bike around town. We found the only bar still open, and sat on the patio drinking beer with some guys wearing homemade t-shirts bearing the slogan "Blackout 2003: No Shower Until Power". Then the health department showed up and shut them down. Apparently it's illegal to run a bar without electricity or running water.
We were fortunate on the food front. The Dream Cruise was that weekend, and a carnival was set up on Woodward. They were generator powered, and I ate corn dogs and elephant ears all weekend.
They say it "probably" won't happen again. I'm inclined to believe it; otherwise it would have happened a few weeks ago.
The Woodward Dream Cruise is back this weekend, and the cars are already cruising Woodward. I like the days leading up to the Cruise best; cars are actually cruising Woodward right now. The actual days of the cruise are a cluster-bleep, as thousands of classic cars trudge slowly up Woodward, crawling until they overheat. No cruising on the weekend, it's more of a dream crawl.
Last night we rode our bikes on a long trip around the city. It was partly to see the cars, and partly just to get out. We rode by the Detroit Zoo, pausing to peek through the fence and see what we could see. Not many animals are placed for through-the-fence viewing, but there are a few. There were a few lemurs lounging in the dusk, a bunch of deer, and some camels. One of the camels took offense at our after-hour intrusion, gawking at him when he was off the clock. He kicked dirt in our direction and bared his massive choppers.
Leaving the fellow to his evening, we rode on. Up Woodward, past 11 mile, up to 12 mile. We stopped at the Shrine of The Little Flower and sat in the grass, watching muscle cars rumble by in the cool evening. Then we made our way to downtown Royal Oak for some ice cream and home again, home again, three hours and 14 miles later.
Summer is starting to wind down; there won't be many more nights like this left. I'm just glad to be able to get out and enjoy them while they're here.
Friday, August 11, 2006
I haven't seen An Inconvenient Truth yet, but I expect that I will agree with it. There has been a lot of talk about global warming lately. People who are against the concept (largely conservatives) say that it's paranoid Chicken Little "the sky is falling kind of stuff". The people who believe that global warming is an issue (largely liberals) are saying that people are simply trying to ignore the truth, hoping it will go away.
Whether you're conservative or liberal, it's time to tear down these partisan barriers and admit that something is going on. Like it or not, global warming is becoming a reality.
There was a heat wave that tore across our country last month. We all felt that at some time.
When I was in Seattle, the temperature of the ocean had heated up to 15 degrees higher than normal, hence the lack of oysters.
Many of you will disregard that as simple summer weather. We've had heat waves before, right? Life goes on, doesn't it?
Here's something you may not know: this heatwave also caused a brief but bad drought in areas of Europe. The result? Reduced grain production.
What does this mean to you? Well the price of malting barley has soared in recent weeks.
What does that mean? Next year, you might be paying a lot more for European beer.
That's really hitting us where it hurts. Are you with me now? Isn't it time we did something?
Link to story
The Kitty Shoes go to Seattle!
We're back from Seattle, a few days before all of this hullaballoo is causing massive chaos at the airports. It's a good thing, too; I raised enough red flags in security this time. Apparently, when your carry-on contains a metal lunchbox which has an iPod, a camera, and a cell phone with all their assorted chargers in it, it looks a bit odd on the x-ray. Not strip search weird, but weird enough to require you to stand there for a few extra moments while they rescan your bag and stare at the screen.
It's also a good thing that we came back before the clampdown, because I also had a case of fish from Pike Place Fish Market. Now that it's almost been completely consumed, I can honestly say it was worth the hassle of carrying it cross country.
The salmon was good, but I also would have done it just for the halibut.
(Read that last sentence aloud if you missed the pun.)
Seattle is always a grand adventure. We spent some time drinking by the water with our friends Steve and Cupcake. We had originally been really looking forward to mass consumption of beer and oysters, but apparently the recent heat wave had left the oyster beds with a bacteria infection. No oysters anywhere on the West Coast. It was disappointing, but the seafood was still good.
And we went on some grand adventures.
We made some new friends.
And spent some more time drinking by the water.
This is the little white minnow. She was my first rental car. There will always be a soft spot in my heart for her. (You never forget your first, do you?)
And most of all we ate. A lot of awesome seafood. This is a crab pot, where they literally dump a mound of crab, shrimp, clams, mussells and assorted veggies in from of you, give you a mallet and a fork, and let you go at it.
Eating with a hammer is awesome. Crab pots are this amazing combination of barbaric tendencies and gourmet dining.
He's a shrimp.
I love seafood. I love Seattle for (in addition to many other reasons - like the record stores where I spent A LOT of money) its proximity to fresh seafood.
Crab is good. Crabs have been in the news lately. I always like it when animals that are good to eat are in the news, as well as when new animals that might be good to eat are in the news.
First off, Norway is being invaded by giant king crabs. The solution to helping stem this tide? You know it. Catch more of them and eat them.
Also, in England, this guy caught a crab with three claws. Everybody knows that the claw meat is the best part. He unfortunately gave it to an aquarium rather than eat it. It's a shame really.
Just a bit of silliness I thought I'd mention. It's easier than dwelling on the craziness that's going on in the airports right now. Or the sheer stupidity.
Stuff like this is all over the news:
Passengers at the Palm Beach International, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International and Miami International airports were being told to arrive at least two hours early for their flights and throw away or pour out all liquids before trying to board their planes -- even liquids they bought in the airport. Link
A foiled terrorist plot in the United Kingdom late Wednesday meant Elaine Carlisle, 59, had to pour out her 2-year-old granddaughter Megan's sippy cup of juice Thursday morning before the family could board their American Airlines plane in Dayton, Ohio. Link
You see apparently, these terrorists had liquid explosives that were stable when alone, but became extremely volatile when mixed... so why are they having people pour out these liquids in the airports? Wouldn't that just create the potentially volatile mixture earlier than later?
It just seems a little knee-jerk, and I don't know what's going to happen. It's already hard enough to stay hydrated on a long flight, now you can't take a drink on the plane. Will there be a permanent ban on carryons in the near future? Will people not being allowed to carry iPods or Walkmans on the plane lead to better inflight entertainment options? Or more cases of air rage? Perhaps they'll just start administering sedatives to all passengers so that there is no risk of one flipping out.
Or will things just slowly get back to normal?
Will things ever be normal?
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
I went to the Warped Tour on Saturday. As always, I had a great time, and saw some great music.
And we learned something.
We learned that Joan Jett is very pretty, very sweet, very nice, and very willing to let us escape the 94-degree heat on her bus for an hour or so.
Talk at you next week!
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
I'm not judging by any means. I'm just saying I'm not surprised. I think I'd be more surprised if he was the only one...
The details are quite interesting, actually. He's dating Reichen Lehmkuhl, the guy who won season four of CBS' "Amazing Race."
Even more odd is that he and Joey Fatone are developing a sitcom pilot inspired by the "The Odd Couple." Bass is going to play a gay character.
It's almost like he waited to come out until it would help his career. Like he was holding onto that bit of trivia until he was ready to relaunch himself into the public eye. It wouldn't surprise me if the same people who manufactured 'N Sync are still handling his career, telling him when it was a good move to come out.
Sitting at the starting line, waiting for the relay exchange. Check out my wicked wheelie!
Nicole and I hanging out at base camp. Note the red plastic cups. For those who are unfamiliar, this is the universal sign of public alcohol consumption. This also means the photo was taken after the race.
(Almost) the entire crew. This was taken before the race, and Paula, our starter couldn't sit still to pose for a photo, as she was raring to go. This is because Paula is hardcore, and she does 100-mile races. We are not as hardcore as Paula.
The next two photos were taken by an on-site photographer:
Team Angry Monkey flying the Jolly Roger. We're pretty.
(c) 2006 Ten Mile Media - Hans Nybergand www.tenmilemedia.smugmug.com
This is my relay team on the "winner's podium". Chelsea the dog was an honorary member. That's Paula in the front. We finally got her to sit still. This is after she rode her bike an hour to the race, raced, rode an hour home, showered and changed, and came back for a beer. It's not easy to get her to sit still.
(c) 2006 Ten Mile Media - Hans Nybergand www.tenmilemedia.smugmug.com
This is Adam of Team Angry Monkey crossing the finish line with the Jolly Roger, which had been discretely handed to him at the beginning of the finish chute.
Proof of the win (AKA the booty).
Friday, July 21, 2006
Long story short: this married couple in Connecticut were arguing.
What were they arguing about? Who knows. Maybe it was about money, maybe one of them dented the car, maybe he just forgot to take out the trash. It doesn't really matter what the argument was about.
The thing is, the husband got mad, so he chucked a carrot at her.
It poked her eye out.
Now he's being charged with second-degree assault and disorderly conduct.
I can't help but think that something went horribly wrong here.
What if they were simply having a little spat about something really inconsequential, and he simply was very frustrated and he lashed out?
It's never right to throw something at someone; our parents stressed as much to us, usually with the threat that one could poke someone else's eye out. Still, I can't imagine this guy meant to seriously injure his wife.
If he had, he'd have chosen something large, or heavy, or with a more dangerous point than a carrot. He'd have thrown a brick, or a tire from a 1976 Volkswagen, or maybe a Rottweiler.
Still, the damage is done; she lost an eye, he's facing charges, their marriage is probably over.
Think about that the next time you're in an argument with someone you love. Is it really worth the satisfaction you'll get from throwing some small inconsequential item if it could lead to permanent physical damage? Or even just irreparable hurt feelings?
Just some thoughts.
Link to news story.
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Monday, July 17, 2006
I'm heading out to Seattle in two weeks, for the wedding of an old college friend. We're taking a few days off to make a vacation out of it, too.
I'm looking up some cool places to take off to for day trips, to do a little hiking in the mountains. This lead me to read about Mt. Rainier National Park on the AOL City Guides, which, in turn, lead me to read user reviews. I like reading them, because you can occasionally get helpful hints about places from them, and sometimes I like to just read bitchy comments by people that I can tell I would immediately hate if I met them.
This comment on Mt. Rainier, is most awesome, though:
Lies , Lies and more lies 08/20/2005
The most wonderful place on earth is not a volcano that is set to go off in the future while ignorant people worship the monstrous thing. The most wonderful place on earth is YERUSHALEIM the place where the blood for the atonement for the sins of the world was shed. Give your life to the LORD YESUS CHRIST WHOM CAME ON THE FLESH AND WHOM GAVE HIS LIFE IN ORDER THAT YOU MAY HAVE LIFE ABUNDANTLY AND WHOM IS AT THE RIGHT HAND OF THE MAJESTY IN HEAVEN AND WHOM WILL ROLL UP THE HEAVENS LIKE A CURTAIN. IT WILL BE FROM YERUSHALEIM WHERE HE WILL REIGN AFTER HIS RETURN TO EARTH TO DESTROY THE ANTICHRIST SYSTEM AND IT'S FUTURE MONSTER RULER WHOM WILL SET THE MARK OF THE BEAST SO THAT NO ONE CAN BUY OR SELL UNLESS THEY HAVE THE MARK OF THE BEAST OR THE NUMBER OF HIS NAME WHICH IS 666. IT WILL NOT BE FROM MT RAINIER NOR MOSCOW NOR WA DC NOR ROME NOR EUROPE WHERE THE MESSIAH WILL REIGN BUT IT WILL BE FROM YERUSHALEIM- REPENT FROM YOUR SIN AND RENEW YOUR MIND WITH THE WORD OF THE
OK, WTF? What prompts someone to put a semi-literate religious rant on a tourism site? And who gave these people Internet access in the first place?
Watching this person type this out would have been probably amazing, as they got swept up in a religious fervor and decided that NOW WAS THE TIME TO SLAP THE CAPS LOCK DOWN AND PUNCTUATION BE DAMNED. I wonder if they walk around with the smug satisfaction that they really accomplished something today?
And does anyone have any good recommendations for day trips out of Seattle that don't require that I repent from my sin and renew my mind with the word of the creator?
Friday, July 14, 2006
The piano has been drinking,
my necktie is asleep,
and the combo went back to New York,
the jukebox has to take a leak.
So Tom Waits is coming to Detroit next month.
Said roar, roar, the thunder and the roar
Son of a bitch is never coming back here no more
The moon in the window and a bird on the pole
We can always find a millionaire to shovel all the coal.
Tom fucking Waits! This is a guy who doesn't tour. He hasn't been here in something like 20 years.
I don't wanna have to shout it out.
I don't want my hair to fall out.
I don't wanna be filled with doubt.
I don't wanna be a good boy scout.
I don't wanna have to learn to count.
I don't wanna have the biggest amount.
I don't wanna grow up.
The tickets went on sale today at 10 am.
I will leave behind all of my clothes I wore when i was with you,
all I need's my railroad boots and my leather jacket,
as i say goodbye to Ruby's arms, although my heart is breaking,
i will steal away out through your blinds, for soon you will be waking.
I logged onto Ticketmaster, and got a pair of balcony tickets. So I called Nicole and told her. She said, "buy them," and rightly so.
And you can ask any sailor, and the keys from the jailor,
and the old men in wheelchairs know,
that Mathilda's the defendant, she killed about a hundred
and she follows wherever you may go
waltzing Mathilda, waltzing Mathilda, you'll go waltzing Mathilda with me...
I tried to buy them, and Ticketmaster crashed.
So give it up and throw me down a couple of quid.
Everybody wants to see The Eyeball Kid.
So I tried again. They were sold out.
Tain't the mince meat filagree
And it ain't the turkey neck stew
And it ain't them bruleed okra seeds,
though she made them especially for you
Worse won a prize for her bottom black pie,
the beans got to thrown to the dogs
Jaheseus Christ I can always make room when they're cookin' up a Filipino Box Spring Hog.
I tried again, just in case. I'd already told Nicole we had them, how could I tell her that I lost these tickets to a chance-in-a-lifetime show?
I got the powder but not the gun.
I got the dog but not the bun.
I got the clouds but not the sky.
I got the stripes but not the tie.
But hey I'm big in Japan.
When I tried again, I got eighth row. Right down in front.
The world is not my home,
I'm just a passin thru.
Come on up to the house.
Jesus. I'll be able to see the sweat on his whiskey glass.
Friday, July 07, 2006
The weekend kicked off with the wedding reception of Mike and Paprika.
There was food, drink, live music...
(That's Abishag and Stray Thoughts, BTW)...
...and hula hoops. This is the bride and groom in action (That's Wally Pleasant on the guitar).
He was followed up by Scotty Karate, shown here with one of his biggest fans.
After the reception we went to my parent's cottage on the other side of the state. We played with the nieces...
and had a great time, until...
Baby No Name ate his grandmother!
We were powerless to stop him! Oh, the humanity.
This is why you never turn your back on a baby.