Thursday, June 28, 2007

Two great features of Detroit

There have been tons of good times as of late. Not just the events of birthday week, which I will getting around to posting pictures of some day, there have been other random fun things.

Last night we went down to the Belmont to pick up some art pieces left over from the benefit. Ultimately, the pieces ended up being locked up somewhere, so we didn't get them, but we did drink a few (dozen) $.75 PBR drafts, and we got to eat dinner at Polish Village.

Polish Village is a very old-school type of place. It's a tiny little basement restaurant in Hamtramck and it's very cheap.

We got in there, and waited a few minutes for a table. The place is so tiny, that if the bar is full and you need to wait for a table, your only option is to mill about in the center of the dining room. Stuff like this just adds to the charm.

That, and the fact that they don't take debit cards. We had this exchange with the waitress:

Me: Do you take cards?
Waitress: No, cash only.
Me (toward TFN): Do you have any cash? I only have $20.
Waitress: That's probably enough. It's cheap here.
Me: Yes, but I want to have drinks, and I want to be able to tip you.
Waitress: We also take checks.

Who still takes checks? It just so happened that we had our checkbook, and were thus able to order whatever we wanted without looking at prices. We drank giant mugs of beer, and ate massive amounts of Polish home cooking, including cucumber salad, sausage, pierogi, saurkraut, mashed potatoes, stuffed cabbage and potato pancakes. The bill, before tip, was $20.72.

That's why I love the place.

Today at lunch, I wandered over to John K. King Books. That's another amazing place, and it's just a block from my office. The largest used bookstore in Michigan, the building is four stories, piled floor to ceiling with used books. One could spend many lunch hours there and not see it all. And that's just the stuff they have on the floor. Rumors of what's contained in their off-limits areas are also amazing, as this list indicates.

The store's occult books section conjurs up images of the library at Hogwart's, too.

Two little blurbs about two places that deserve much more notice, but that's all I'm feeling right now.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

You're all kitten haters...

I know that I am a bit outdoorsy. I like to get out, ride in the woods, have bonfires, etc., and I do worry about the environment. I watched "An Inconvenient Truth" and did find it disturbing, but recent facts have come to light that have forced me to question that global warming could be good... or at least cute.

You see, Global Warming = Kittens. And we all like kittens.

Apparently, according to this story, the rise in temperatures equals longer breeding seasons for cats, which equals more kittens. So, if we were to fight global warming, it would equal less kittens, and that's bad by basic logic.

I mean, any little girl could figure it out. Just ask her (Let's use Pickles for example), "Pickles, what's better? More kittens or less kittens?" She's definitely going to answer "more kittens, please." (She's so polite!)

And she'd be right.

I can see the anti-environmental folks using this as an argument: "What, you're against global warming? What's the matter with you? Do you hate kittens? If you hate kittens, you must also love terrorists and hate America, too!"

Who can argue with that?

So, as a result of all this, I can only urge everyone to use their A/C and their heat at the same time, wage war between your humidifiers and your dehumidifiers, and drive bigger cars. I thank you, and the kittens thank you.

Then again, global warming could lead to our eventual demise, as we're smothered by a giant mass of kittens. What the hell, at least it would be a cute way to go.

The Apocalypse is coming... and it's fuzzy.

Give this guy an Oscar!

This is, without a doubt, the best five seconds of dramatic footage available anywhere on the Interwebs. This guy will be snubbed if he's not nominated for an Oscar. Or at least named Oscar. Oscar is a good name.

Click on it to watch. It's only 5 seconds long (but you'll be watching it repeatedly...)

For those of you who've asked, the benefit went very well, as did my birthday week. (Yes, it turned into a week-long celebration!) I do have photos from the benefit, as well as some birthday week photos, that I will post as soon as I can.

But tonight is the summer solstice, so that means loading the car up, heading north, letting the dog run on the beach, and celebrating the shortest night of the year by a fire. That's how we do it in these parts.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Limited Seating Available

Because you asked...

Red Corduroy with yellow walls doesn't look that bad.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Tired... AKA Rachael Ray is The Bomb

There has been considerable hemorrhaging of money out of our bank accounts as of late; in addition to all of the recent expenses, like the new furniture (which is arguably not a necessity, but you should see the state of the old furniture), we have purchased 12 tires in the past month.

Each of the cars needed a full new set, as did both of our mountain bikes. Again the bikes may not seem like a necessity, but we put so many miles on them on such adverse terrain and they were wearing smooth and slipping and were no longer safe. Besides, four mountain bike tires at the deal I got do not add up to the price of one automotive tire, so even as a luxury, it was minor one.

You expect so much more out of a big purchase than you get with a new set of tires on your vehicle. It seems anticlimactic. Granted, the cars are no longer hydroplaning on the flooded sections of road that are all too common right now due to excessive rain and sub par road construction, but it just feels like they should be doing something… more.

Additionally, the television died this morning. There is sound but no picture. It’s a 10-year-old set, and is due for replacement, as were the tires. But combine that with the fact that my car started making funny noises, we need a new roof this year, and also really need new siding and windows, and it looks like the flood of money outward won’t be ceasing in the immediate future.

Where am I going with this? I don’t know. Partly it’s a rant about the fact that everything seems to go at once. Partly it’s an observation that there is good reason that we’ll be staying in a lot in the foreseeable future (both to curtail spending and to enjoy recent home improvements). And partly it’s an opportunity to express my love of Rachel Ray.

(Bear with me, this goes somewhere)

I love Rachael Ray. I love her shows and her personality. She seems like the type of person that would be really fun to hang out with, and even more fun to cook with. It’s not a simple crush, mind you (which is why I avoided using one of her pinup shots from FHM with this, but they are readily available on the Interwebs if you are so inclined to find them), so much as a feeling that I think she’s incredibly awesome. Over the past few years, she has turned us onto such great dishes as her 30-minute Salisbury steak, herJambasta and just the other night, her Root Beer Bomb.

The Root Beer Bomb is essentially a root beer float with the addition of spiced rum. She calls for butter pecan ice cream, but we’ve been doing it with vanilla. I had never before considered the addition of rum to a root beer float, but it adds a little special something that makes staying at home on a hot summer night just a bit more bearable; it’s a decadent treat that is perfectly suited for sitting at home, watching TV (which I need to replace).


I was just reading a news story from Wisconsin that skeeved me out. Apparently a guy dropped his cell phone down the grate of a storm drain. He then lifted off the grate, and reached in to retrieve it. He pitched face first into the drain, where he became stuck, with his head and shoulders underwater, and drowned.

That's it in a nutshell (but you can read the story here, if you're so inclined), but you may not realize yet the part of the story that I found so disturbing. Sure, this was just a guy that I'll never know who did something stupid. These things happen, but if you do anything more than muster up a simple "Awwww..." everytime you read about the untimely demise of someone you don't know, you will be debilitatingly depressed all of the time. But in this case, the story had an element that I am upset by.

The storm drain.

I have this fear, well it's not so much a full-blown fear as it is a phobia, that I will accidentally drop my keys down a storm grate. When I am walking somewhere, and I have to step over a storm grate, my hand is in my pocket, maintaining a death grip on my keys. This way the keys are protected by both my grip and the pocket, and there is no way that storm drain will get the keys.

And it's that bad too, where I envision that not only is there a remote possibility that my keys could drop into the drain, but that the grate has somehow latched onto some basic primal sentience, that knows not good nor evil, but simply exists to hunger for my keys, and that it will do whatever it can to sway the fates in such a way as to get them, just as I take extra precaution to prevent it.

I don't know where I developed this fear. I don't know anyone who has ever dropped their keys in the drain. It just appeared one day. But, in the scheme of things, although it's odd, it's rather minor and doesn't maintain my focus for longer than the instant that I am stepping over the grate (or in this case, when I read about a guy who fell prey to the bloodlust of a storm drain), and I think I can deal with it sans therapy.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

I Can See A Little Light

Life has been running rampant again, but at least it seems like it’s going somewhere for a while.

The benefit is this Saturday, and I am stoked about the quality of bands that are going to be playing. It’s going to be mad fun. The guys from Piel Plastica will be coming in from Chicago, and we’re putting them up. In honor of that event, we got new furniture.

OK, it wasn’t exactly in honor of that; our couch and loveseat have gotten a lot of mileage over the past ten years. The cushions had been flipped to hide threadbare spots long ago, and they were nearing the flipping point on the top layer as well. Countless people have surfed those couches, and the summer that TFN had a broken ankle we lived on them – her on the couch, me on the loveseat, feet draped over the arm. It was time to bring in furniture reinforcements.

We went to Ikea for the new pieces, and ended up with a red corduroy couch and loveseat. We were a little nervous that, when placed on our yellow walls, our living room would look even more like Romper Room, but the effect is actually very soothing and warm. After making two trips home from Ikea – they wanted $100 for delivery – with furniture hanging out the back of the wagon in a torrential downpour (they were wrapped in plastic and weathered the trip well), they have taken up residence. They have made it through the first night of vegging in front of the television – for the season premiere of Hell’s Kitchen, no less.

I am soooo glad that show is back on the air, even if it looks like this season’s cast is all really young. They don’t play well together, but it’s nice to see Chef Ramsay busting their heads. He made some people cry, which led me to use a literal “If you can’t take the heat” reference, but actually had Chef Ramsay tell the guy (who, at 48, is actually the veteran in the cast of kitchen folks who are mostly in their 20’s) to “Stop fucking crying!” Late he told the same guy, "Sir, do you mind just wiping the snot off your fucking face before we serve chicken and snot?" He’s eloquent. And a ball breaker. He rules.

I don’t like much Reality TV (although I am an enabler, having been an avid fan of the first two seasons of Survivor), but I am a sucker for the cooking ones.

But that’s enough about reality TV - back to reality.

Some other home improvements have been happening. The bathroom floor is tiled and the basement is tiled (moving me toward that ultimate dream of the basement bar), and furnished in perfect basement style with the beat up couch and loveseat that once populated our living room.

We’ve also been to a lot of shows as of late. Some have been awesome, some have been not so much. Some of the standouts that I have seen and you should check out, though, are Aqueduct, The Nekromantix, The Heart Attacks and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.

That’s a fun part of working on my other site, but it can also be a pain. I know I’ve got no right to complain about all the shows I see for free, but I do like to have some evenings free, and when I go to these shows, I have a notebook in hand, where I frantically scribble notes, set lists, impressions and quotes. Sometimes I leave feeling like I missed some of the show.

TFN has it even worse, shooting some of the shows, wading into the crowds at the front of the stage, elbowing drunk punks out of the way to get shots, getting shoved around because she’s affording more protection to her camera than her physical self. It can be rough, but she’s damn good at it.

Sometimes, though, it’s nice to go to a show to see it, and not to cover it. Which is the case with Bob Mould.

Bob Mould at SXSW

Bob Mould is legendary. At one time he was the frontman for the West Coast hardcore band Husker Du (who are incidentally booming through my earbuds right now) and then he went solo. His songs are sweet and heartfelt. When we saw him at SXSW, which is where TFN’s photo is from, she actually had tears in her eyes. He’s an amazing performer.

When we found out he’s putting in an appearance at The Henry Ford, we made a decision. Rather than going to cover and shoot the show, we bought tickets and are going as fans. We’re going on a date, and we’re going to watch and stomp and cheer and sing along.

He’s amazing, check out this song:

Even with the physical rigors of shooting a show, it’s a tough decision for TFN to make. Some bands we choose to cover because she likes the opportunity and challenge of shooting them. Some bands, like one of my current favorites Valient Thorr are so energetic on stage that they afford an amazing opportunity for photos every time, like at SXSW when Wayne Kramer of the MC5 got on stage with them (that’s also a show that TFN hadn’t planned on shooting, but had her camera just in case). We ended up being the only publication with photos of the event, and the band has a video of it, which actually has TFN in the front, hoisting her camera.

Video evidence (That's her, front and center, camera in the air, 1:56 into the video, or at 1:02 on the countdown, depending on how it displays):

And here's one of the resulting photos: